Do You Love a Narcissist?

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Codependency and Narcissism by Darlene Lancer, MFTIt’s easy to fall in love with narcissists. Their charm, talent, success, beauty, and charisma cast a spell, along with compliments, scintillating conversation, and apparent interest in you. Were you embarrassed when your mate cut in line or did you shudder at the dismissive way he or she treated a waitress? Once hooked, you have to contend with their self-centeredness, demands, and criticisms. The relationship revolves around them, and you’re expected to meet their needs when needed and are dismissed when not.

What it’s Like

In the beginning, you were delighted to be in the narcissist’s aura. Now you’re tense and drained from unpredictable tantrums, attacks, and unjustified indignation at imaginary slights. You begin to doubt yourself, worry what he or she will think, and become as pre-occupied with the narcissist, as he or she is with him or herself.

After a while, you start to lose self-confidence. Your self-esteem may have been intact when you met, but your partner finds you coming up short, and doesn’t fail to point it out. Most narcissists are perfectionists, and nothing you or others do is right or appreciated. Talking about your disappointment or hurt gets turned into your fault or another opportunity to put you down. They can dish it, but not take it, being highly sensitive to any perceived judgment.

Narcissists have no boundaries and see you as an extension of themselves, requiring that you’re on call to meet their needs – regardless of whether you’re ill or in pain. You might get caught up in trying to please them. This is like trying to fill a bottomless pit. Their needs, whether for admiration, service, love, or purchases, are endless. You might go out of your way to fill their request only to have your efforts devalued because you didn’t read their mind. They expect you to know without having to ask. You end up in a double-blind – damned if you displease them and damned when you do. Narcissists don’t like to hear “No.” Setting boundaries threatens them. They’ll manipulate to get their way make sure you feel guilty if you’re bold enough to risk turning them down. You become afraid that if you don’t please them, you risk an onslaught of blame and punishment, love being withheld, and a rupture in the relationship. All too possible, because the narcissist’s relationship is with him or herself. You just have to fit in. Nevertheless, you stay in the relationship, because periodically the charm, excitement, and loving gestures that first enchanted you return.

Do Narcissists love?

In public, narcissists switch on the charm that first drew you in. People gravitate towards them and are enlivened by their energy. You’re proud to bask in their glow, but at home, they’re totally different. They may privately denigrate the person they were just entertaining. You begin to wonder if they have an outward “as if” personality. Maybe you’re reassured of their love when they bestow complimentary and caring words and gestures, are madly possessive, or buy you expensive gifts, then doubt their sincerity and question whether they’re being manipulative or saying what’s appropriate. See “How to Tell if a Narcissist Loves You.”

Sometimes, you might think they love only themselves. That’s a common misconception. Actually, they dislike themselves immensely. Their inflated self-flattery, perfectionism, and arrogance are merely covers for the self-loathing they don’t admit – usually even to themselves. Instead, it’s projected outwards in their disdain for and criticism of others. This is why they don’t want to look at themselves. They’re too afraid, because they believe that the truth would be devastating. Actually, they don’t have much of a Self at all. Emotionally, they’re dead inside. (Read about Narcissism and Self-Love.)

Early Beginnings

It’s hard to be empathic with narcissists, but they didn’t choose to be that way. Their natural development was arrested as a toddler due to faulty, early parenting, usually by the mother who didn’t provide sufficient nurturing and opportunity for idealization. They’re left with an unrealistic view of themselves, and in time make you experience what it was like having had to feed the needs of a cold, invasive, or unavailable narcissistic parent. Anne Rice’s vampire Lestat had such an emotionally empty mother, who devotedly bonded with him to survive. The deprivation of real nurturing and lack of boundaries make narcissists dependent on others to feed their insatiable need for validation. Like the mythological Narcissus, they don’t know themselves, but only can love themselves as a reflection in the eyes of others. Poor Narcissus. The gods sentenced him to a life without human love. He fell in love with his reflection by a pool, and died by the water, hungering for a response from his reflection.

Diagnosis

All personality traits, including narcissism, exist on a continuum from mild to severe. Narcissism ranges from self-centeredness and some narcissistic traits to Narcissistic Personality Disorder (“NPD”). NPD wasn’t categorized as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association until 1987, because it was felt that too many people shared some of the traits and it was difficult to diagnose. The summarized diagnosis is controversial and undergoing further change:
Someone with NPD is grandiose (sometimes only in fantasy), lacks empathy, and needs admiration from others, as indicated by five of these characteristics:

1. A grandiose sense of self-importance and exaggerates achievements and talents
2. Dreams of unlimited power, success, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. Lacks empathy for the feelings and needs of others
4. Requires excessive admiration
5. Believes he or she is special and unique, and can only be understood by, or should associate with other special or of high-status people (or institutions)
6. Unreasonably expects special, favorable treatment or compliance with his or her wishes
7. Exploits and takes advantage of others to achieve personal ends
8. Envies others or believes they’re envious of him or her
9. Has “an attitude” of arrogance or acts that way

Of all the narcissists, beware of malignant narcissists, who are the most pernicious, hostile, and destructive. They take traits 6 & 7 to an extreme and are vindictive and malicious. Avoid them before they destroy you.

Codependency and Narcissism

People with codependency lack a core Self, and define themselves based on others. This is true for all narcissists, whose Self is so weak and insecure, they need constant validation. Stereotypically, they’re not interested in taking care of others – but some narcissists are caretakers. Many narcissistic men do this with money, because it boosts their self-esteem.

When two narcissists get together, they’re miserable needing each other, yet fighting over whose needs come first and pushing away. On the other hand, codependency and narcissism often fit like hand-to-glove. It can be a perfect fit, albeit painful, for ordinary codependents, because their low self-esteem is boosted by the narcissist’s attributes and aura of success. It also allows them to tolerate the narcissist’s emotional abuse. They feel needless and guilty asserting their needs and caring for a narcissist makes them feel valued. Because they feel undeserving of receiving love, they don’t expect to be loved for who they are – only for what they give or do.

Treatment

Narcissists don’t usually seek help unless a major loss shatters their illusions, but some do and can benefit from treatment. Codependency can be healed with courage, time, and a commitment to yourself. Recovery entails improving boundaries and self-acceptance based upon real self-knowledge. Psychotherapy and joining a 12-Step program are beneficial ways to start. Building awareness, doing the exercises, and implementing the strategies in Dealing with a Narcissist – 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People.

You can email me to join my mailing list and get a “Checklist of Narcissistic Behaviors.”

Read more about narcissists and their partners.
© Darlene Lancer, 2011

 

Do You Love a Narcissist? – Helpful information and advice about Codependency and Narcissism provided by Darlene Lancer, MFT, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Santa Monica, CA, and author of Codependency for Dummies

 

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Allie
Allie
4 years ago

Hi, Darlene.

I wanted to know what your opinion and advice would be in dealing with a covert narcissist vs. an overt narcissist. Is the protocol with dealing with and healing a relationship with them the same?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Allie

Yes, generally the same. The steps in Dealing with a Narcissist apply to both. One area that may differ might be in whether and how the covert narcissist is abusive. Rather than overt abuse, it may be in passive-aggressive or in the form of manipulation. See “How to Spot Manipulation.”

nina
nina
6 years ago

Thanks for the helpful article. I have been in an on/off relationship with a narcissist. He has many characteristics of a narcissist and I I have experienced his narcissistic injury ,abuse and … My question is about this new phase we are in. Which is after months of getting to know each other , he insists that he wants me in his life as a friend not anything more. and he has confessed to me his narcissism well kind of ! , and his inability to have a relationship because he is a loser in relationships ! he has confessed… Read more »

Struggling
Struggling
6 years ago

I’m struggling in a failing marriage with my partner of 21 years. If I please and accommodate her, all is well–she feels loved by acts of service. If I say no, or take care of myself or another, she’s deeply wounded and launches into a verbal tirade of criticisms, name calling, threats and character assaults, often in front of our children. I’ve become withdrawn physically and emotionally, which makes things worse. Couples therapy was a disaster; anything I shared was used against me. I fantasize about leaving, but am paralyzed by fear and sadness. How can I understand why I’m… Read more »

jason
jason
6 years ago

Hi Darlene, Thank you for these posts, I am trying to wrap my head around being married to a narcissistic for 4 years and trying to accept that I am codependent. We are back in counseling although the advice from my last counselor was to split because we are inevitably doomed to fail. I brought up to my wife that she may be a narcissist and she turned it around to only convince me that it is ME who is the narcissist, without fully critiquing her own self. This is why I predict therapy will be a futile attempt again… Read more »

Codependent wife of Narcissist for 26yrs
Codependent wife of Narcissist for 26yrs
6 years ago

Your article was a revelation for me. My husband and I have been together since high school and married 26yrs. I have always been the “pleaser” that is rooted in my childhood and find myself always trying to “be there for everyone”. That was until chronic illness introduced limitations that I (or he) weren’t prepared for. His childhood consisted of a father that left physically and a mother that left in every other way. He was always very “competitive”, almost “threatened” by the possibility of a controlling woman. In fact, many of our family relationships are fractured because of his… Read more »

Ima B
Ima B
7 years ago

Hello Darlene! I am a codependent married to a narcissist/borderline/sociopath….Cluster B, in any case. He refuses to be tested so I may never know for sure. We have been together going on 30 years. We are currently separated. I just read the book by Ross Rosenberg titled: The Human Magnet Syndrome. This book describes in detail the “dance” between a codependent and a narcissist and how we were magnetically joined. I have read 25 books on the subject and have participated in therapy for years (14 therapists). Therapy is something I have always valued. I have been so dissolutioned by… Read more »

Maggie
Maggie
7 years ago

Hello Darlene, Thank you for this post, very timely. I was involved with a narcissist for a little over a year. My question for you is what are your tips regarding closure? I recognize it’s not possible to receive typical closure from a narcissist as they don’t acknowledge their faults. I’m in a wonderful healthy relationship now but have an unbelievable amount of anger left towards my ex, and am not sure how to resolve it. Also, any tips on how to interact with said ex narcissist if we encounter each other in public? I’m struggling with how to empower… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Maggie

You raise very good questions. First, in any relationship although closure is ideal, it’s not always possible. Sometimes, the other person is dead. Closure is an inside job. One suggestion is to write your ex a letter, say whatever you want, then read it to a counselor, sponsor or wise friend. Throw it out or do a ritual with it. You may decide to send an edited version. Before you do, I’d suggest writing a dialogue with your ex, and have him reply with your left hand. (You’ll know just what he’ll say.) Keep going until you feel some resolution.… Read more »

Annette
Annette
7 years ago

Hi Dr. Lancer, I enjoyed your article. Thank you for caring enough to write it. I have recently (finally – after 4 years) come to the realization that I am in love with a man that suffers from NPD. I’ve spent hours reading about it and have also come to realize I am codependent on him for, well lets face it, my misery. We are sales partners, business partners and he has become my best friend and plays a big role in my 10 year old daughters life. To make matters worse we have a 20 year age difference between… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Annette

Begin to ask yourself how is it that you want to love or be friends with with someone who is emotionally abusive toward you? How does it make you feel? What are you doing to protect yourself? What do you sacrifice by being with him. When you start to value yourself more, you will begin to find answers. First, to raise your self-esteem, and set some boundaries with him. I suggest my Codependency for Dummies book and ebooks on my homepage. Join a CoDA meeting or seek a counselor for support, if necessary. Roll up your sleeves, and work on… Read more »

Mark
Mark
7 years ago

“The cause may be linked to a dysfunctional childhood, such as excessive pampering, extremely high expectations, abuse or neglect. It’s also possible that genetics or psychobiology . . . plays a role.” There is no body of research on the psychobiology at this point. Yes it can go either way .But there is now a thought that it is to do with genetic makeup, chemicals in the brain white matter etc, as much as parenting. I can only say that I have seen this behaviour run in siblings one of them I know for sure has similar rages the other… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Mark

One problem for codependents is their willingness to take on the role of saint and sacrifice themselves, but they’re unaware of the debilitating effect due to their shame about their needs and idealization of self-sacrifice. Resentment and low self-esteem grow as their happiness declines.

rossh
rossh
7 years ago

I am a recovering codependent for about 7 yrs.,although that recovery revolved around a codependency cd series by Melodie Beattie and meeting once a week at local mental health for a two person group for families of alcoholics (consisting of myself and a case manager,in total)for 5 yrs.and I found an al-anon late 2011 almost an hr and half away….Ive been separated from an alcoholic husband since late 2011 after a relapse….**How can you tell if an alcoholic is a narcissist? My current issue is with my alcoholic sister…released fro a mental facility this year after a year long stint.She’d… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  rossh

You sound understandably overwhelmed with troubles in your own life, and need all the energy and support you can possibly get. Whether you reach out to your sister is a personal choice, as well as how much effort you put into it – whether it’s referrals, taking her somewhere or talking on the phone. Your program teaches you that you can’t convince her to do anything and trying will only drain you. I recommend my ebook on assertiveness, that can help you decide what boundaries you want to set and to do so in a way that respects you both.

Ross
Ross
7 years ago

Thanks for your reply…I want to get the ebook. However, I have so many issues, I’m not really sure which one to work on first.Realistically, it woud be the one that is the most troubling.But seeing as how there are several troubling things that have been going on its still overwhelming to know where to begin.So what I’ve done is try to deal with all, and well, you can imagine how burned out I am. I have thought of some boundaries that I could set . I just don’t know (1) should I help? am I enabling if I do?… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Ross

Yes! You can imagine how hard it was to organize Codependency for Dummies! But it is the most concise and well-organized book on the subject. The book is laid out so that takes you through a recovery plan. Read it and spend time with each chapter doing the exercises. You can go back and do them again and you’ll get different results. You can work it for years. Be patient with yourself. See what others are saying here. Best wishes!

Cynthia
Cynthia
7 years ago

I recently discovered that I myself have been a codependent for many years. I was in a 5 year relationship with a narcissist and it took my own life safety for me to leave the relationship. Then after leaving him a year and a half later I found myself again in another relationship with a narcissist that was very unhealthy, he was addicted to drugs and alcohol and I kept finding myself trying to help him, while giving up my own life in a way. Nothing was ever good enough that I did, and found myself being very emotionally abused.… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Cynthia

Thank you for your honesty. Your story is true for so many people – men and women I see who repeat relationships with abusive or withholding partners. As we build our self-esteem, the quality of our relationships improves. We can only allow as much love in as we believe we deserve – like getting attention or compliments that might make us uncomfortable. How we talk to ourselves and core beliefs is important and something we can change. My ebook, 10 Steps to Self-Esteem focuses on working with our inner critic – that’s half the battle. My coming book on shame… Read more »

Bronwen Williams
Bronwen Williams
7 years ago

I am the mother of a narcissist, and find the following line from your article incorrect, distasteful, unprofessional and revolting – to say the least! My son could not have been loved, cuddled, listened to, supported in every way, or valued more by me! ‘Their natural development was arrested as a toddler due to faulty, early parenting, usually by the mother who didn’t provide sufficient nurturing and opportunity for idealization. They’re left with an unrealistic view of themselves, and at time make you experience what it was like having had to feed the needs of a cold, invasive, or unavailable… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago

Thank you for your comment. Perhaps I should have added that sometimes, a parent can be overly attentive or indulged. From the Mayo Clinic: “The cause may be linked to a dysfunctional childhood, such as excessive pampering, extremely high expectations, abuse or neglect. It’s also possible that genetics or psychobiology . . . plays a role.” There is no body of research on the psychobiology at this point.

Wife of a narcissist
Wife of a narcissist
7 years ago

I believe that I am married to a narcissist and I can finally admit that I become fully codependent. Married nine year and four of which he has used drugs and recently started gambling. We own a business and I have become the over-functioning spouse while lately he has taken on the under-functioning role for more reasons than the drugs. I have FINALLY set boundaries and out of spite he has stopped helping with our home and business, completely. His vengeance has been cruel as a result of my standing up for myself. I could ask your guidance and advice… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago

Congratulations for setting boundaries and finding your voice. To your question, there are no easy answers. This often comes up when financial matters are involved. Getting professional advice from lawyer an accountant is wise. One question to continue to ask yourself is what is the most loving gesture toward yourself. Similarly, just because an addict ruins a holiday meal and won’t help out, that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t make it – if done so for oneself, without expectations and resentments. If you’re saving the business for yourself and your family, you’re taking care of yourself and feel grateful. Working the… Read more »

Friend of a Codependent
Friend of a Codependent
7 years ago

Help!! My girl friend is in classic codependent/narcissistic relationship. She is the codependent. Her ex-husband (they were married for 10years) is the narcissist. He cheated on her. She keeps going thru the same cycle over and over of distancing herself, but getting sucked back in by this selfish chump. Everyone else can’t understand how she can actually believe his “promises” of wanting to still be with her. He only says it when he senses her leaving. When she returns, he says he still needs space. And it’s almost like his cheating never happened! It’s like he’s doing her a favor.… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago

I’m sorry to say that there’s no way you can help your girlfriend. She has to want help enough to get professional help. You may be surprised to learn that repeatedly trying to help someone who doesn’t want to change IS Codependent behavior. Get my tips on Letting Go, and read my book. If your friend is interested, she can also get a copy. Best wishes to you both.

Lisa Richards
Lisa Richards
7 years ago

This was a very helpful article – thank you so much. I am a codependent, who feels so trapped by a narcissist. It has just been the last year that I have come to realize that I am codependent and my spouse is a narcissist. Is it possible, through counselling, for the narcissist to realize his disorder??? Or does he just manipulate his way through that as well – could you ever really be sure that he has changed??? Once trust is broken in a relationship – it is so hard to repair. I feel scared and trapped, frozen by… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
7 years ago
Reply to  Lisa Richards

Lisa, there are varied levels of narcissism. Many people have a little, and extreme narcissists are cruel and vindictive. Some benefit by therapy, but most are too fragile to examine themselves and don’t stay. Regardless, therapy would benefit you to rebuild your self-esteem, learn to set boundaries, and leave if you choose to. Don’t scare yourself thinking you have to leave before you’re ready. Try counseling together, and continue if he doesn’t. Join CoDA and do the exercises in my book and ebooks. There are reasons why you married him and were in denial so long. Find out. Start working… Read more »

Allie
Allie
4 years ago

Hi, Darlene.

I wanted to know what your opinion and advice would be in dealing with a covert narcissist vs. an overt narcissist. Is the protocol with dealing with and healing a relationship with them the same?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
4 years ago
Reply to  Allie

Yes, generally the same. The steps in Dealing with a Narcissist apply to both. One area that may differ might be in whether and how the covert narcissist is abusive. Rather than overt abuse, it may be in passive-aggressive or in the form of manipulation. See “How to Spot Manipulation.”

J
J
5 years ago

how likely is a narcissist able to admit and seek a diagnosis/treatment?

Darlene Lancer, LMFT
5 years ago
Reply to  J

Not usually, unless a due to depression or a crisis, such as a major loss, divorce or threat of one, impels them, too, because they see their problems as externally caused. They may start therapy, but leave after a short time. However, narcissism exists on a continuum, and some individuals are more introspective and can feel guilt or regret about their behavior and want to change it.

Thomas
Thomas
5 years ago

I am not sure I agree with the bias of the article. I understand you are empathizing with those severely affected by a narcissistic partner. But, were are talking about a disorder here; behavior. I am a firm believer behavior can be changed by instruction, social clues, guidance, therapy, etc. My fiancé is clearly a classic narcissist. But, she has extended bouts of lucidity, caring, love, bonding, that eclipse by far what you would expect from a narcissist. She suffers from every symptom on the list, yet unexpectedly knows herself. I just wish there was a better regimen offered by… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Thomas

I agree with you, and as I said in the blog, narcissistic traits vary in intensity on a continuum. I also recommend you read my peer-reviewed article on treating narcissism at the bottom of my “Articles” page. You may think she’s “classic,” but if she’s able to truly empathize, then she doesn’t qualify for NPD. Sub-clinical narcissists can and do change with therapy and education. Classic narcissists lack insight and empathy and generally lack any motivation to change. However, if they’re motivated to do so, they can be helped by therapy, provided they’re willing to take responsibility for their behavior… Read more »

Thomas
Thomas
5 years ago

Thank you truly,

The problem is going to be coaxing her into therapy. Her narcissistic-rage on the other is clinical; those episodes are very bad. So, I truly need her to believe it was her idea to get help. I don’t like being deceptive even though it will help. I just haven’t come up with an “inception” plan to make her think it was her idea.

Vera Buckley
Vera Buckley
6 years ago

This is wonderful testimony that i most share to you all the people in the world.i got married to my Husband about 3 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side.i have never love any man in my life except him.he is the father of my child and i don’t want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today.few month ago he now… Read more »

Mark
Mark
6 years ago

I’ve been in an almost 20 year marriage. Our relationship has been rocky since day two. It seemed that I always did something wrong to make her angry. I have always been the quiet one and have felt that I’ve been walked all over. After about 15 years, counseling, and men’s groups, I’m finally concluding that I believe she’s a borderline narcissist and I’m really realizing (today in fact) that I have been truly codependent. I’ve always felt that since she is in a caring field and does appear to care for others that she is therefore “good”, though I… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Mark

What to do is your decision, but 15 yrs. of therapy should have addressed these issues long ago and rebuilt your self-esteem autonomy. Work with someone who understands codependency and do the exercises in my books. Go to CoDA meetings. See my blog post for Codependent Men.

Marcus Zoe
Marcus Zoe
6 years ago

I will like to share my testimony to you all.i just got married to my husband about a year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed, fighting about little things he always comes home late at night, drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side.i have never love any man in my life except him.he is the father of my children and I don’t want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today.few month ago he now decided to live… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Marcus Zoe

You needn’t be alone. I urge you to go to Al-Anon meetings. ALso read and do the exercises in Codependency for Dummies 2nd ed./a>

nina
nina
6 years ago

Thanks for the helpful article. I have been in an on/off relationship with a narcissist. He has many characteristics of a narcissist and I I have experienced his narcissistic injury ,abuse and … My question is about this new phase we are in. Which is after months of getting to know each other , he insists that he wants me in his life as a friend not anything more. and he has confessed to me his narcissism well kind of ! , and his inability to have a relationship because he is a loser in relationships ! he has confessed… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  nina

This is something for you decide, as with any relationship. Perhaps you can enjoy his good qualities – that many narcissists have. It´s a growth opportunity for you to know to what extent you´re vulnerable and how to protect yourself from becoming emotionally attached or being abused.

Kendall
Kendall
6 years ago
Reply to  nina

I would also ask yourself that question……can YOU be in a relationship with him and remain ONLY friends? Is this what you want? Can you obtain a mutually satisfying relationship with this man…even as friends? Remember, pulse check and consider your own feelings first.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
6 years ago

I believe my husband of 26 years has many narcissistic qualities. He has had an affair for 4 years with 1 a lady but also relationships with others too at the same time which I discovered last year after cracking his secret email. He booked himself into an addiction psychologist after I told him to leave, saying he only wanted me and his family and realised he was in a hole and needed help. He had only about 6 sessions of counselling which she did bring out how he always wanted to be right and he does see this in… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

See my blogs on “Rebuilding Trust,” and After Adultery“, and find some CoDA or SOSA meetings (for partners of sex addicts. Be patient with the counseling. Sounds like it’s working, but it will take a long time. I imagine it will be hard for you to trust him again.

Trina
Trina
6 years ago

I am 36 Female and recently read When Love is A Lie by Zari Ballard and im here to just vent and work through issues. I started with what was supposed to my ex he is a 100 miles away I left because of the way he was allowing his precious daughter who does no wrong treat my son then i had a really bad accident where i needed to be taken care of so my mother and father took me in i didnt understand why he had compete control over me we were together 8 years apart for 2… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Trina

You definitely need some therapy to heal the trauma and damage to yourself and self-esteem. Also attend CoDA meetings in your area. You’d benefit from doing the healing exercises in my books, Conquering Shame and Codependency for Dummies, 2nd Ed.

trina
trina
6 years ago

Thank you so much maybe when I get my son and away from my mothers control I will be able to get help but right now I laugh at my shrud behavior and remarks thanking god she uses the God complex on my son and not abuse still damaging but I work with him daily now im undrstanding so much more he dosnt understand the way she treats me he just knows she thinks he dies no wrong but he and I talk nightly about our day and only to him lovingly I try to get him to talk about… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  trina

Meanwhile go to a 12-Step Program and do some self-help.

Struggling
Struggling
6 years ago

I’m struggling in a failing marriage with my partner of 21 years. If I please and accommodate her, all is well–she feels loved by acts of service. If I say no, or take care of myself or another, she’s deeply wounded and launches into a verbal tirade of criticisms, name calling, threats and character assaults, often in front of our children. I’ve become withdrawn physically and emotionally, which makes things worse. Couples therapy was a disaster; anything I shared was used against me. I fantasize about leaving, but am paralyzed by fear and sadness. How can I understand why I’m… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Struggling

Leaving any long term marriage is usually sad and difficult. In your case, it’s much worse because you’ve sacrificed so much of yourself and suffered verbal abuse that has whittled away at your self-esteem. You need extra support to rebuild your confidence and autonomy. You need to start setting little boundaries and stand up for yourself. Go to CoDA meetings, do the self-help exercises in Codependency for Dummies and my ebooks, and seek counseling.

Julie
Julie
6 years ago
Reply to  Struggling

You can do it. I sacraficed a lot of myself in my marriage and now trying to get out. However, I don’t want to live this way the rest of my life. I had cancer two years ago and he wasn’t there to take care of me. He has excuses, they aren’t working. I beat cancer, I can beat this.

Alistair
Alistair
6 years ago

I think I recently got snared by a narcissist too. A few weeks ago I met a wonderful girl at one of my gigs and we hit it off immediately. For the first few weeks she treated me amazingly, and it was bliss. Then suddenly she tells me that she’s pregnant. I was surprised but overjoyed. One night she just turned on me and said things like “Prove yourself to be a good father, or pay for the abortion” and “You are so useless you make me miss my ex”, then denying ever saying it. Then a few days ago… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Alistair

I cannot diagnose her, but also read my post: “Loving a Borderline.”

Alistair
Alistair
6 years ago

That is spot on more like her! Thanks ever so much. Really not sure what to do about her.

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Alistair

This is something to talk over with a professional to sort out your options. It doesn’t sound like you know what YOU want to do, which is the first step.

jacomina
jacomina
6 years ago

Somewhere along the line she got more and more cruel and less and less able to feel or care. It made me think she had a choice. That she could choose to not be like him. I watched this develop before my eyes for 22 years. I watched her formation. I took so much blame and became horribly co dependant. If she wasnt my daughter it would be much easier to walk away. The guilt, pain and regrets are overwhleming. If only I hadnt let her ever be with him like the judge ordered. I’ve ruined everything. I had to… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  jacomina

That’s a very sad outcome. Children need boundaries as well as love, and sometimes we’re unable to protect our children from an abusive parent. No one should allow someone to abuse them, even when it’s their child. It undermines the relationship. See How to Speak Your Mind to learn to set boundaries.

jacomina
jacomina
6 years ago

My 22 year old daughter has some narcissistic traits. Since she came into my world I’ve been on egg shells and of course, rages or gives me the silent treatment. I am seeing the co dependency in me and dont expect change from her. Although she was born rageful and abusive and I think I’m an above average parent, I started to notice around the age of 13 similarities, exact words even from her abusive father. (I had to leave him when I was pregnant with her). Her gestures, vacant eyes, frothing mouth, body odour, confusing dialogue, absolutely everything is… Read more »

Claire
Claire
6 years ago

Hi, i believe my sister has this narcissistic personality trait. She has recently ruined a family Christmas gathering making arguments with another of my sisters and me for no reason whatever. This behaviour has been going on for years, but the most recent episode was the limit. I started looking into personality traits and really feel she is a narcissist. Trouble is, how do you get her to realise this and get her to treatment? We live far apart, but see each other about twice a year (though she has threatened never speaking to me again now). What can I… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Claire

It’s very painful to have a narcissistic loved one. Relationships can improve with consistent boundaries. I’ve seen some miracles where only one partner is in therapy. Narcissists don’t often come to therapy and I doubt you can apply the pressure needed to influence her living so far apart. Learn more about setting boundaries and not being codependent with her from my books.

jason
jason
6 years ago

Hi Darlene, Thank you for these posts, I am trying to wrap my head around being married to a narcissistic for 4 years and trying to accept that I am codependent. We are back in counseling although the advice from my last counselor was to split because we are inevitably doomed to fail. I brought up to my wife that she may be a narcissist and she turned it around to only convince me that it is ME who is the narcissist, without fully critiquing her own self. This is why I predict therapy will be a futile attempt again… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  jason

It’s useless and counterproductive to label someone. Also, narcissists tend to project as a defense. Your relationship can improve if you work on your self-esteem and setting boundaries when she’s critical. Change your part in the dysfunctional dynamic and the relationship will change.

mom
mom
6 years ago

I have found myself in a co-dependent relationship not romantically or with an addict (my father is a drug addict), but in a non-romantic relationship with someone of the same gender who I idealize as this wonderful person. It got to the point where I started to conform myself and made decisions like join the same church in order to seek approval and acceptance and to avoid rejection. This person is a family member, so it makes it harder to just be who I am even if it is different than this other person because the relationship is important to… Read more »

Lacey
Lacey
6 years ago

Hello and thank you for what you do….your website has had me quite emotional since seeing it. Im 30 years old, was the baby, adored, over protected,coddled and loved with such a fiercness it sometimes felt smothery. Over the summer I met a man, someone whom had tried and tried for months to get me to pay him attention, to no avail. He has a long history of domestic violence, has been in prision. When I first gave him my time it was really because there wasnt much better to do – and often times (while my children were with… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Lacey

There is no shame in being abused by someone. You would benefit from doing the exercises in my books, which you can also find in libraries (or request they order them) along with therapy and 12-Step meetings. Best wishes on your journey of recovery!

Mary
Mary
6 years ago
Reply to  Lacey

It’s like an addiction now with this person. You have to make a plan to commit to yourself. Make it your job to go to meetings, to seek support with healthy people. You need to establish a healthy relationship with yourself- talk to yourself the way a healthy parent would. You can make changes. You have to be a friend to yourself, and that is the ONLY friend you need. Move on, give yourself other things and time. Go to your meetings like your life depends on it, AA and CODA. You are making a great first step in facing… Read more »

Kendall
Kendall
6 years ago
Reply to  Lacey

This reply may find you already on your road to recovery as I hope it does! First..not everyone that comes in to your life is meant to stay forever. That is the beauty of life’s little gifts, people weave in and out to be there when we need them and to teach us lessons we may not have known. Second…You can NOT change anyone, not matter how hard your try. Third….in your situation you aren’t even speaking the same language. He is incapable of hearing what you are saying, it is foreign to him. Fourth…you don’t hurt people you LOVE.… Read more »

Codependent wife of Narcissist for 26yrs
Codependent wife of Narcissist for 26yrs
6 years ago

Your article was a revelation for me. My husband and I have been together since high school and married 26yrs. I have always been the “pleaser” that is rooted in my childhood and find myself always trying to “be there for everyone”. That was until chronic illness introduced limitations that I (or he) weren’t prepared for. His childhood consisted of a father that left physically and a mother that left in every other way. He was always very “competitive”, almost “threatened” by the possibility of a controlling woman. In fact, many of our family relationships are fractured because of his… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago

The first suggestion is to see an independent therapist who yours recommends so that your husband doesn’t think that he or she is biased. Maybe get a referral to someone who treats narcissism. Al-Anon should help you with your daughter and husband. Continue on your own. Also, my book would be helpful.

Michael
Michael
6 years ago

My wife and I have been having difficulties almost from the beginning of the relationship. We have been together 6 years and for the last 4, I have been seeking counseling. At first, we thought I was experiencing anger management issues. Just recently, she handed me an article on Narcissism. I was floored by the truth that I found in those words. So, I admit I have some of the characteristics but not all and I am learning that I am also codependent. I cannot begin to know how to correct this on my own. I see many group therapy… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael

The fact that you want help and therapy is very auspicious and makes me question if you truly are a narcissist. I strongly believe that narcissists are codependent, but I’m in the minority. If you heal your narcissism, you’ll heal both. I would do the exercises in my book on shame. Shame underlies both, and it starts in childhood. Try CoDA and you’ll need individual work for the narcissism. Best wishes to you.

Anna
Anna
6 years ago

So Darlene are you saying then if someone has been in counseling and therapy for a few years and has tried to study and read and figure out what the issues are in there marriage for years someone who has been trying to get help is more then likely not Narcissist ?

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Anna

There’s no way I could make an assessment without interviewing the person, and narcissism runs on a scale from some traits to malignant NPD. That being said, if a person is seeking greater self-knowledge, connection and closeness, he or she may not be narcissist. That you worry you are also makes it unlikely!

Hegoo
Hegoo
4 years ago

Me and my ex wife are narcissistic. I am still in love with her. sometime i dont know why but i cant forget her. is it wise to go back

Northern_Guy
4 years ago
Reply to  Hegoo

I believe I am a “vulnerable” narcissist. (Same core issues except you look for sympathy and validation through martyrdom rather than grandiosity). I seem to be a very dependent, anxious, depressed and avoidant person and I am sure I have been the caretaker/fixer in many relationships. In my marriage, she was allegedly borderline with child-abuse and mommy issues. I would try and “fix” all of her physical, mental, emotional and money problems. She would try and help me with my anxiety and avoidance issues. Since divorce, I have big problems re-defining myself. No relationship now… I just take care of… Read more »

Eric
Eric
5 years ago

so, my wife yells and curses out our 13 yearold. i yell at our six year old.she tells me to not yell, i tell her, “god-d##n, you just just cursed out our son. she accuses me of cursing her,and 5 min later sends me a txt saying she wants to seperate. two months ago she said she wanted to seperate becuase i work overnight and she feels single. note:everyday i come home hand beg her for affection (10am) and she says she’s to busy watching tv or talking to friends on fb. when i go to put my arms around… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
5 years ago
Reply to  Eric

Look for my coming ebook in October, “Dealing with a Narcissist.” Meanwhile, you can work on your codependency and abandonment issues and how to be assertive.

Jan
Jan
6 years ago

I recently decided to leave a ex alone completely who had broken up with me because he couldnt be bortherer for the relationship anymore. I continued to talk to him and after going on a circle of rinse, drain and repeat that maybe he has what you have explained. But as I am in the process off completely trying to forget him, isit normal to keep researching and wondering if it could of worked and could have been friends with him. I have lost all connection with him but at times I message him and he hasn’t now replied. Considering… Read more »

Darlene Lancer, MFT
6 years ago
Reply to  Jan

The issue isn’t whether he’s a narcissist, but that you don’t feel deserving of love and get addicted to such a man. I’d suggest reading my book Conquering Shame and attend some CoDA or Love Addicts Anonymous meetings a get some counseling. Also see my post, “What is Emotional Abandonment?

jan
jan
6 years ago

Thank you for your response. I agree with what you have said. I will have a read about codependency. And will check out your blog, thank you again.

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