Step 2 – Build Trust
Humiliation, Abandonment and Betrayal
You probably cringe just reading these words. Because psychologically they are some of humanities worst fears.
And as much as you may feel it necessary (or even fair) to threaten your narcissist partner with any of these — it is not going to help if your intention is really to tame them!
I remember reading that threatening to leave a child behind is one consequence you never should use as a deterrent. Likewise humiliation and betrayal are not teachers of anything but disrespect and anger.
The narcissist has already suffered these torments as a child growing up and if these being used as punishments didn’t improve their behaviour back then – they are not likely to help now.
So how do humiliation, abandonment and betrayal look when played out in a child’s life?
1. Publicly drawing attention to a child’s physical shortcomings or psychological weaknesses.
2. Privately doing the same – but in a haughty or disrespectful manner.
3. Talking about a child in third person while they are present.
4. Talking about them in social situations while drunk or under the influence of drugs.
1. Leaving a child to go hungry.
2. Threatening to leave them behind if they don’t hurry.
3. Telling the child’s other parent or grandparents etc. that time is being spent with a child when really the person is spending it elsewhere (using the child as an alibi).
4. Leaving a child with a TV, computer or toys as their main form of company.
5. Drinking or taking drugs in the evening during time which should be spent with children.
6. Not paying attention when the child is talking.
1. Allowing the child’s other parent to abuse them without taking action against that other parent or talking to the child about it or believing them.
2. Neglecting a child for a new partner or romantic interest.
3. Allowing the child’s other parent or a new partner (step parent) to humiliate a child.
4. Selling your child into prostitution.
Now the reason I have made these lists from the perspective of parenting is to really hit home about how emotional most of us feel about this kind of abuse.
And I hope this helps bring into perspective — that opening these old wounds is not sensible as a form of remedial therapy.
If your narcissist partner was humiliated, abandoned or betrayed as a child – you threatening to leave them, trying to make them jealous by flirting with other people or putting them down in front of others is only going to make them resentful and angry.
If you want to leave – start taking action and get our advice in the last chapter of Back From the Looking Glass and do that wisely and safely. But leaving has nothing to do with using leaving as a threat.
And if you don’t want to leave — then stop threatening that you will — and instead let your narcissist know you are making some changes, but that you are not going to leave and that your intention is to stand by them.
Building trust is very important in any relationship and (as hard and unfair as it may seem) this is even more important with people who are manipulative, exploitative or abusive.
This does NOT mean leaving yourself open to be exploited or that you should build trust to try and please this person, expecting they will suddenly be nice (and play fair) in return.
I will have more for you next week on learning to stop being a soft target – but for now I want you to stop trying to force the issue if you are pushing any of these nasty buttons.
It is common advice that threatening to leave – or playing hard to get, flirting etc. are ways to get a person more interested in you. But divorce, desertion and physical abuse are also very common — and so my strong advice is “Don’t play with fire!”
And if you want to become an expert at building trust (and in doing so improve all of your relationships) please get started on the exercises in The Love Safety Net Workbook. We have now received over a thousand testimonials from families that this book has helped. So if you haven’t started on the exercises in it yet, I wonder what you are waiting for? How bad do things need to get before you decide it’s time to do our boot-camp?