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End the Emotional Abuse

Stop Being a Soft Target


(For Part – 1 in this series click this link)

Are you aware that we all regularly monitor for clues about the status of the people around us? Clues that help us decide if they are higher or lower in the pecking order than we are?

Humans are herd animals that operate in a hierarchy, and whether we acknowledge it or not, we all look to see where we rank amongst the people around us.”

I write more about this in my series on dealing with verbal abuse in our earning respect members subscription.

If you think it isn’t right that humans judge each other like this – you may as well shout in the wind to complain about it. We live on a predator vs prey planet and to be unaware of this fact is a form of denial that is bound to see you end up prey.

Humans may not eat each other, but unfortunately they do tend to give a lot more resources, courtesy, time and respect to people they perceive as higher than themselves in the hierarchy.

And bullies (there is a little of this in us all*) also tend to victimise, isolate and scapegoat people they perceive as lower status and weaker than themselves.”

(*Do you doubt this? I wonder if you’ve ever prided yourself on a bargain you found – knowing full well it was probably made by slave labour — but because the person who made it is so much lower in the pecking order than you are – you decided not to worry about that? Just about all of us are guilty of taking advantage of someone lower in rank or status than us at some stage in our lives – so don’t think this theory only applies to psychopaths or narcissists!)

What is really sad about this fact – as the movie above demonstrates – is that being victimized at any stage in your life may leave you with anxiety and fear that can cause you to remain a target/scapegoat in the future.

And scapegoats are what narcissists thrive on!

Because a narcissist is unable to face their own shame about themselves and their developmental gaps – they are always looking for a soft target to blame their shortcomings and moral weaknesses on.

Like too many of us blame the uneducated for the problems on this planet – while at the same time we exploit their labour.

Because yes, this kind of unhealthy projection occurs right throughout our society. The question I want to answer today is how do we defend ourselves from this? How can we stop being soft targets?

Stop Playing Victim

You will never ‘out victim’ a narcissist. Even if you can prove how they have hurt or exploited you, they will always claim that in reality they are the victim. So instead you need to raise your own status and profile and stop letting yourself be a soft target!

a. Work on your posture, gait and personal appearance. Take time with your makeup and wardrobe without trying to stand out in the crowd. Choose clothes that are similar in style to what the people you associate with wear and if possible try and choose a style that will help you ‘fit in’ in as many different social circles as possible. In wartime what uniform a person wears is all that determines whether they are an ally or will get shot at – so don’t underestimate this one. (There is much more on you becoming someone who people feel for and have empathy with in The Little Book of Empathy Love and Friendship)

b. Don’t allow yourself to be provoked or drawn into non productive arguments or fights: Do you really think you will change someone’s mind by arguing with them? What will you gain from allowing that person to provoke and make you angry? Instead you need to take note of people whose values are out of step with your own and decide if they are really who you want to associate with? Even more important is you figuring out why ‘your narcissist’ needs to provoke you? Do they need you acting angry and crazy to justify their own crimes and bad behaviour? Stop letting them pull your strings. Learn scripts that will help you diffuse the conflict and walk away from fights and arguments that will not benefit you. (See 12 steps to end a fight in progress and chapter 2 in The Love Safety Net Workbook)

c. Learn from what your emotions are telling you: Instead of acting out your emotions in the heat of the moment, learn to read them instead. Later when you have cooled down – don’t forget your anger but ask yourself what it was telling you? Why does this person need to provoke you? What are they hiding that they are ashamed of? Likewise start to learn what all of your emotions mean and the important messages they are giving you. (Learn what your emotions are teaching you)

d. Stop allowing yourself to be intimidated: When my daughter was young we lived on a large property with no cats and dogs and a rabbit as her only pet. She started playing a game of running away from the rabbit as if she was scared of it. We had to stop that game very soon after visiting friends where even the tamest and most friendly dogs would act aggressively towards this same ‘fear’ game she was playing with them. Likewise it is very important that you learn not to let people intimidate you.

Look at the end of the movie above and the girl’s reaction to simply being told she will need to speak up. A confident person would not bat an eyelid to that request and would probably not bother making a response at all. Later in the interview (not shown here) the female interviewer ends up taking over the interview and talking down to this woman in a very patronising way – telling her how young and inexperienced she is and how much she still has to learn. The interviewer also ends up making the interview more about what she herself knows and believes – than being interested in the woman she is interviewing. Personally I think it would be quite humiliating to have this happen in an interview. Look for examples of this yourself. Watch interviewers try and get the upper hand with their guestsΒ and watch the ways that authoritative people deal with this successfully or unsuccessfully.

Do you apologise too much and for no real reason? Are you too eager to please and too attentive when people are being haughty, self indulgent or rude and really not respecting you? As important as it is to know how to show people you are listening and respect them – it is also vital you learn how to break eye contact and not give your full attention when someone starts being haughty, bossy or intimidating. This is not the same as ignoring someone, being rude or provoking a fight. Learning how to let comments pass, change the subject or divert a person’s attention successfully are all skills that you need to find good role models for and watch, learn and practice from their example:

e. Gain mastery over yourself and your own will so that you are able to stay true to your own values, goals and interests:

(a bit of music to help bring this next point home!)

We all have a conscience that tells us what is right and wrong and judges our own behaviour. Our conscience also knows the likely outcome of our actions. That judge however plays a passive role to our personality which tends to dominate our internal life (and is what we call “I”). Our personality while dominant tends to be fairly erratic and will often let our better judgement down.

Perfecting ourselves by mastering our own will is available to anyone and everyone. We simply need to find the courage (and wisdom) to lay our behaviour and plans in front of our conscience and allow it to be judge. Do you feel shame about things you sometimes do and say? Find the courage to let your conscience look at your worst behaviour. Stop trying to avoid the embarrassment and pain you feel in having your consciences judgement do its inner work. This is unpleasant certainly – but will make you much stronger as a person and less of a soft target. It will also make you a great positive role model of how to constructively deal with and express shame, which is exactly what the narcissist needs.

For instance I used to drink too much and was very ashamed about that until I let my conscience do its worst and really look at (and judge) what I was doing. After this it took time but I got on top of my drinking and no one was able to look down on me for that anymore. If anyone wanted to stand over me by alluding to my drinking, I could bravely say “I know I used to drink too much and I’m not proud of that – but I have faced that in myself and done something about it. I wonder if you have the same courage?” I have seen people wince at me being able to talk about myself in that way – but also treat me with more respect after that.

f. Don’t isolate yourself: Are you scared of facing your neighbours because you think they may have heard you fighting? Put on a brave face and get out and say hello when you walk past and make some small comment about the weather. Talking about the weather is perfect with neighbours. It is friendly and confident but without risking anything contentious or leaving yourself open to be judged or criticised. If they are rude and ask questions you feel uncomfortable answering, simply say, “Thanks but really that is no concern of yours”, or, “I would prefer not to discuss that at present”.

Likewise get out and join in some activities in your community or at work. The narcissist would like to be the centre of your world – but don’t let that happen. Allowing yourself to be isolated will make you boring to be with and even more of a soft target.

Pull yourself out of their spell and get out and surround yourself with people in your community. Pay attention to Part 2 however and don’t take on activities that leave any room for doubt or jealousy. It doesn’t matter if the narcissist in your life doesn’t like what you are doing (more on that in a moment) but don’t walk out of the frying pan and into the fire by giving them any real cause to feel abandoned or jealous!

Joining a local church for instance and seeing what activities they offer (choir, flower committee etc.) can be a great start – even if you are not religious. You will still meet some new people and church tends to be welcoming and inclusive of newcomers. Make sure you do your best to make a good impression with these folk and show them the responsible and lovely person you really are. Join in the activities on offer and if possible see if some of the members might visit your home regularly for a cup of coffee or tea, or even drop you home and come in for a short visit if you are concerned there might be trouble when you get home.

g. Deal with your fears and anxiety: There are so many things you can do to help yourself with this; cognitive therapy, meditation, yoga breathing, diet, exercise and silent prayer (listening for God’s voice in the silence rather than talking!). My favourite at the moment is spirulina. It tastes like pond water and takes some getting used to – but makes me feel so good I hardly notice the 30 seconds it takes to get a glass of it down. Another help is making sure that a large percentage of the calories in your diet come from healthy fats. Avocados, butter, nuts and a little Olive oil – and if you are not a vegetarian fatty lamb, beef and oily fish like Mackerel and Sardines. I know you probably grew up being told that animal fat was bad for you – but do your own study and you will find that the most up to date research has not substantiated that. Don’t be scared of eating carbohydrates as well, but put resistant starches at the top of the list.

h. Stop turning yourself inside out every time someone is unhappy with you: At first your narcissist isn’t going to like these changes. Just like a kid who is used to getting their way from throwing tantrums, they may even yell and scream about it. As long as you have done your work and learned how to stop the fight escalating and to not get pulled into the argument – you should be okay. You need to learn to walk away and say “I will be back in an hour I am just going out to work in the garden etc. I will talk to you when I have cooled off.” And if they stay angry for a while – what of it? If you believe you have to keep everyone happy all the time you will always be a soft target.

Like people who can’t make the consequences for their children’s bad behaviour stick, because they are terrified of their child hating them or walking out and leaving. Parents like this end up terrorised by their own children. The kids suffer too (probably even more than their parents).

Don’t be a sucker and fall for this type of emotional manipulation. If your narcissist wants to stay angry that you are doing what you must to protect your own freedom and happiness — so be it. Once they see they cannot control you with their anger any more they will get over it and eventually stop using it to try and control you!

This gets to the heart of why many people allow themselves be dominated by people who are neither nice nor fair:

The reason is that many of us have been brought up to feel responsible for our family’s happiness — and so feel incredibly guilty if anyone close to us becomes upset or angry with us.”

If this is you, vow to break this conditioning in yourself right now and in doing so change your destiny! Because if you continue this way no matter how many roles of the relationship dice you throw — you will always remain a soft target!

You don’t owe your life to keeping rude and demanding people happy. You need to toughen up, stop walking on eggshells and learn better ways of handling this type of emotional manipulation. (10 Steps to Overcome Codependence)

Just like taming a lion or a horse – You cannot tame a narcissist by pointing the finger at them and demanding they change. You need to take charge of yourself and develop your own authority in taking charge of the situation.

Kim is the author of seven books on the topic of relationships and emotional intelligence.

A prolific multi-media content innovator, Kim has created and shared a library of articles and multi-media educational tools including radio shows,
movies and poetry on 'The NC Marriage', and 'The Love Safety Net'.

This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. I am always amazed at how brilliant this advice is. It is simple, yet brilliant. Thank you Kim and know that you are acknowledged for the huge impact you have made on my life. Thank you for continuing to give the gift of your knowledge to us even in challenging times.

  2. Wow!Originally I wasn’t going to read “walking on egg shells,” because I thought I have things under control a little better and that’s ok. Glad I read it. Now I understand the “don’t make yourself a victim” saying. I never understood it before, because people would say it and never tell me how I was doing it. Now I understand. My husband always complains that I’m “too soft.” Also I noticed something I do wrong and right at the same time. I did start walking away when hubby’s upset, but I’d tell him I’d be back after HE calms down instead of saying “when I calm down.” Big difference, because he doesn’t like anything put on him. Thank you for the article.

  3. d. Stop allowing yourself to be intimidated:

    What if the person doing the intimidating is physically superior to you and/or has a weapon (gun, knife). How do you go about deciding what is worth dying for and what is not?

    1. Hi Jason, this is why this article is titled emotional abuse. Dealing with physical abuse is different but still you need a very solid plan in place (with outside backup and support on hand) to keep yourself safe and not just cower or feel you have no choice but to move away from your home (run away). Domestic violence doesn’t tend to happen in isolated incidence. It is a downward spiral that is reasonably predictable. In this way it is usually possible to 1. Learn techniques to de escalate the aggression in the moment. 2. Put a strategy in place that protects everyone involved and stops the downward spiral. Codependents are not the only people hurt by DV. People with NPD has a much higher risk of death by violence than your average healthy individual. Provoking other people to hide your own shame is not a safe game to play long term πŸ™‚

  4. Hi, The guy I love was mad because I didn’t look at them when he was shouting at me. He said not looking at him was rude. I said I was ADD in normal tone. His mom also looks away. He treated me as if I was his former ex’s or anger at mom maybe. I did nothing wrong…but he tried to push my buttons but could not. He only wanted people who had endomorphins for him. I loved him…but was afraid of him. He had a temper and was very sensitive. He wanted respect and thought I didn’t give him respect. He made too many incorrect assumptions. He didn’t know who I was. All the times he felt I should say sorry…but I didn’t do anything wrong added up unresolved. I lived in the present…let go of the past and didn’t bring it up. He wanted to get rid of me since I was not smiling. I was sad since he rejected me. He rejected me because I was sad a vicious circle. He tries people out…if they work he keeps them in his life and the rest he gets rid of. I did not know how to make it work. I did nothing wrong except not look happy eventually. I don’t defend myself. I read a New age book that said it is a waste of time to defend yourself. Defending keeps the situation going. Not defending stops the argument. I don’t think saying “whatever” is a strong statement. To me people are strong if they don’t need to defend themselves. I now push him away even though I love him dearly. He tried to hurt me too much and likes revenge and doesn’t believe in forgiveness. He tries to get me jealous as if it would hurt me. He points out his new relationship. He would not let me be myself…wanted me to only be a mirror to him. If I have to sell my soul to be with him…it is not worth it. I love him but he is not mentally healthy so the relationship cannot work. I never got a chance to hardly be with him. He is not having a married woman come help him unclutter his house and excuse since he doesn’t want to be alone. He is flirting with her…it is an affair in my mind except maybe no sex. She has strong endomorphins for him. He can only handle being with married women…he runs from love. I don’t know if this women will divorce her husband for him…but if she did he may run. Others have divorced to be with him since he has much charm.

  5. HI, When people are sick…like Autistic/codependent/Narcissistic who are Celiac. They may not act normal…may act passive or like a victim. Tests may not work to diagnose Celiac so most people don’t get help. I eat no gluten/dairy/soy/sugar…take vitamins/good oils and LDN. This makes me less passive and have more of an opinion….less sick. Having an opinion is not appreciated by the Narcissist who wants the other person to match their opinion 100% of the time or they less disrepected. Being strong may make the narcissist not want to be around you. They want the weaker/happy person. Maybe a pet instead of people would make the narcissist happy if they are kind to it and take care of it. I didn’t realize the guy was testing me to be his “prey” instead of to date. I didn’t qualify since I was too bold and he could not control me. It made me sad since I wanted to be with him. I didn’t want him to mirror me, but be himself and let me be myself…and not try to censor me. What good would it be to just be like the “walking dead” to be with him…smiling. I need to be myself. I feared he would take away some of my medical help if he didn’t get his way and then I would not be ok. He lives in an isolated farm far from people. I would not feel safe there and could not get my needs met there. I may get Lymes or STD from him or his kids may put wheat in my food to hurt me if they thought their dad was not happy or as a group their family would give me the cold shoulder and not talk to me. Verbal/emotional/physical abuse is not ok. He can come to my area maybe when he is older and may less likely to hurt me?

  6. HI, I agree you the N. with think they are more of a victim than you. No say sorry for things you didn’t do wrong. I agree they have developmental gaps. The daughters think I hurt him…he is the victim. They try to protect him. I didn’t do anything wrong. They are strongly bonded to him. The older daughter acts like the mom to the narcissitic father trying to protect him and the younger daughter seems bipolar and strong temper. They think their dad is like a movie star and enjoy that all people love his charm. They are very private…family secrets. He is paranoid. His mom wanted him to find a wife after two divorces. Maybe they don’t realize he is narcissistic. I did nothing wrong but didn’t know how to talk to a narcissitic person who was also bipolar. One time he loved me and the next time hated me. I didn’t change…it was his mood/thoughts/assumptions. I tried to ignore the bad like as if he was ADD and start each day fresh…but I got sad when he abandoned me when my dad was dying. He only wanted to hear about happy times. He asked how my dad was doing. I said he died. Then he lied, tried to pretend he never got an e mail about it. I got sad and it was never the same after that and he tried to get rid of me.

  7. Sorry…I should have proof read my last message. It should have said: I agree with you. The N. will think they are more of a victim. I just ate some must have swelled my brain causing cognitive errors. I can’t have gluten/dairy/soy/sugar. Starch changes to sugar in the body. I will maybe need to stop eating organic brown rice now. Thanks.

    1. Hi Sasha, You mention many times that you didn’t do anything wrong. While I understand what you mean and I also agree that is probably the truth – I also think you need to look at life objectively sometimes and at the results you are getting rather than what is right and wrong. Not moving into a situation where you would have been at his mercy was very smart of you and I am glad you followed your good instincts there. But just ignoring someone’s anger is not smart no matter how you qualify it as the right thing to do. It’s like saying you were right to run from an angry dog. It may be logical sure but really it isn’t the right thing to do if you want to stay healthy and safe! The comebacks in the movie in this article are valid and do work. I saw that with my son who went from having to be taken out of school because he was being bullied so badly and retaliating with violence himself. It was a territorial battle and he lost! 4 years later and he was prefect of his new school. That kind of transformation of someone’s standing in the hierarchy doesn’t happen by chance. He did about 1 weeks coaching with us around the dinner table where we got him to practice the comebacks in that movie and that was one of the biggest turning points for him at his new school when he started having problems there too. It is not academic or about what is right or wrong – it is about what works. The other thing about dealing with someone else’s anger that’s important – and I probably should have mentioned in the article is that in responding to someone who is emotional you should mirror their level of intensity in your response. So if they are all fired up and raising their voice and looking you right in the face you should not say you are going outside for awhile to cool off talking softly and looking at your feet. Matching their intensity shows them that you acknowledge them and what is going on. being unaffected by someone else’s anger or distress is a form of emotional abuse of it’s own. It is like you are saying “What you feel doesn’t matter to me — look at how calm I am – I am so much better a person than you!”. These points are taught to people who work in customer service and sales – and so why don’t marriage counsellors learn them as well? I don’t know but I think they should. Right or wrong has little bearing on our steps and techniques. I am only interested in what works πŸ™‚

  8. Hi-
    I have been reading Kim’s blogs for 5 years now and even quoted them in the sessions with my therapist.
    My story is I had my N to come back to me after I took the time to get stronger and react differently.
    However, at that point, he told me that I have changed and since he no longer was getting his way with me, he started threatening the relationship and eventually he started telling that he is not attracted to me anymore and so long story short, we separated again. After about 3 months he started asking me if he can have my dog for a week out of the month. He now has “relationship” with my dog as she is not questioning his authority. I was hoping that with me learning new skills on how to stand my ground, my N will change his ways too and we can have a loving, respectful relationship.
    My point is that as you get stronger, you N might now be interested in you anymore.

    1. Hi Natalie, I am sorry to hear it – but am also glad you are feeling stronger. Not all the stories here end like Steve and mine did – but most people find their situation improves and they are happier if they learn the steps we offer. I wonder if you worked through The Love Safety Net Workbook to the end? It would be interesting to know if you did the last exercise pulling it all together? Maybe you don’t want a relationship with this person anymore – but the fact he still wants to see your dog tells me he hasn’t forgotten you πŸ™‚

      Although people with narcissistic tendencies do sometimes walk away when they are challenged – it is interesting that I find many of them choose older partners that do have it in themselves to tame them with a bit of work. Like I used to be a target – but I am also a tough girl and about 7 years older than Steve. He had every girl in town after him – and I think there is no coincidence he choose me. I may have been a push over back then but so were plenty of the girls who liked him. The difference was that I also had the guts and the brains to eventually take him on. So at one level they don’t like being stood up to, but on another level I think they really do want to get better and are looking for a worthy opponent to take them on!

  9. HI, Thank you for your awesome help!

    The guy I loved… when I ignored his anger…he turned it up a notch and got more angry. I didn’t mirror him and was calm. I was very sick. He wanted validation and acknowledging of his words…but I didn’t do anything wrong so there is no real comeback to say. I talk less/retreat when someone attacks. I walk away. He wanted someone he could tangle with. I back out of a fight…don’t want to fight. I want it to end by not being baited and just release it. I am not really relating then, I can talk with him when he is not angry…but I never get the chance to. He is Narcissistic and bipolar. He loved me one time/hated me another time it was his moods and what he was thinking. It had nothing to do with me. I never changed. He could not manipulate/control me. I think it got him mad. I would have loved a long conversation with him…but usually could only get a few words out of my mouth. His body language was either smiling or in between. He smiled when I said my dad died. I had a hard time talking with him all of the time. He said what happened to you? I said I am sick. I think he thought I was another person…ex wife maybe in his mind.

    Kids may tease less after Junior High…each go their separate ways. I am glad your son learned to be confident. I was a Junior high teacher. I saw kids divide into groups starting in 7th grade…by 9th they were sorted out. 8th grade…hormones are strong and they have more anger in moods. They may pick on someone who seems different/quiet/alone/shy/sick. Some adults may bully also when given the chance. If I say people are attacking me they will also attack thinking it is fun to also participate in it.

    1. Thanks Sasha but I am not sure how I have helped? If you are not prepared to work on changing your own reactions to people – there is very little we can offer. You can still walk away from an argument without getting entangled – that is our whole message – but if you want the other person to feel heard and de escalate the conflict it is best if you mirror their intensity somewhat when you say that you are going to go and do something else for awhile and cool off. As you say yourself when you ignored him it would cause him to turn it up a notch. And I think I should explain that it really was the comeback lines that helped my son and not just that kids stopped bullying him. The change in him happened between 2nd grade and 5th grade in primary school which is some of the worst years for bullying. You mention adults finding it fun to attack you (being bullies) and so I really think it might pay for you to take in some of what we offer here as we really do have a lot of techniques that will help you be able to relate to people more easily if you are prepared to put in a little work.

  10. HI, I have fear…so get quiet/run. I isolate myself from attackers. I can be bold…but when I am sick I am not as bold. I could have told him off and then he may have thought I was his equal and backed off. His daughter treats him like a kid and she is the mom and bosses him around. I don’t want to fight…just want the conflict over. He may have more respect for me if I fight back…but to me that is repaying evil for evil not overcoming evil with good. I think the N. guy I loved wanted it to work between us but he also had many other women. I could handle watching him flirt with other women…use same lines he used on me. He is lonely but didn’t want to be limited to one female. He had a double life…kept girlfriend from knowing about the others. I don’t know I can change so then maybe I will never be able to be with this guy. I refuse to be censored and not allowed to be myself. I can’t just mirror him…that would be like selling my soul. I want it to work…but there are too many obstacles. See him in heaven only? or on earth when he is very sick? I think he would chase all the women in a nursing home if he was there. He may not want to be with only one women. He would not be lonely in a nursing home. I still can’t figure it out…I am not passive, but sick. I don’t defend myself. I am assertive but have fear. If I told him off he may walk away..not respect me more.

    5th grade they call the naughty nines. I am glad your son was able to be treated well. When I got more sick students also tried to hurt me. Adults want to “fix” me…but this is the best I can be. I am slow at learning…but still try to learn. I know that when I am looking more confident/assertive students didn’t try to hurt me…but only if I seemed sick/passive.

    1. Hi Sasha, Your learned reactions to fear are not who you are. Just as you teach your students things they didn’t know before – we are here to teach people who want to learn better ways of relating. Matching someone’s intensity while de escalating a fight is not evil. This is not about fighting back – but rather acknowledging the other person’s feelings.

      However I don’t think you are ready to take this man on! Instead I think you need to give yourself all the time love and care you need. Learning at your own pace is good as long as you are learning πŸ™‚ Our Love Safety Net Workbook would really help you. It has a number of exercises that will help you learn how to gain others respect and understand your own emotions better. Hiding is not a great way of dealing with abuse as it will tend to leave you isolated and hence vulnerable to attack. But it is valid until you are ready to take on more. Right now I don’t think you are ready to stand up for yourself as there is too much uncertainty and fear in you for you to do that effectively. Doing so may get you hurt (emotionally) and so I would suggest instead that you take our exercises at your own speed until you feel you have the confidence to start putting them into action.

  11. HI, I read as many books I could on bipolar/narcissism/relationships/videos on,Your material which was excellent…. trying to make this relationship work. I usually retreat and ask God to bless the person. I got attacked two times already on the internet today. It doesn’t feel good. I remember attacks…hard to release them. It hurts. I read one New age book that said not to defend yourself…it is a waste of time. Another said be the change you wish to see in the world. I try to model what I hope they will treat me like. I know I am somewhat blind to how I come across. I know I don’t validate other people enough. I appreciate your insights. I think I am attracted/bonded to him due to him reminding me of my parents. I left home age 18 and tried to detox since then from their emotional life. I am codependent. I am stronger than I was with my parents. Back then I could not be myself and I can’t be myself with this guy. I know he wants me to only smile and not ever disagree or have my own opinion. I think he would like it to work with me too..not just as prey but a real relationship. I think his family is blind to narcissism. They think he is like a movie star….who just needs to find the right person. He changes to new people every 6 months sometimes. He is very charming n public but can be the opposite in private. He and his daughters and act as a group to give the cold shoulder or love to me alternating. One daughter wants her mom to get remarried to him…not get a new person in his life. She would make my life rough … push me away. There are family secrets and many walls/boundaries. I think I was confused since general relationship advise says to be yourself and this guy only accepted me when I mirrored him. I wanted to be in his life…but knew I would not get my needs met which for my health was scary. He may abandon me fast…so why even start a relationship? I already see the lies/cover ups and more. I knew it would not be easily…but I guess I assumed I already knew what I was in for due to my parents. I don’t think I could stay happy/healthy…even though I wanted a chance…but don’t even get the chance. He is a parasite to feed off happy people with endomorphins…and throw them away if they get unhappy. He has a double life. I know all of this…but still think of him 24 hours a day..hoping I could someday make it work with him. Thanks for your knowledge/insights/wisdom. I really don’t want to date other guys…so I feel stuck. Thanks!

  12. Hello Kim and Steve. I got your books and other materials close to 2 years ago. At that point I was trying to figure out what was going on in my marriage and my life in general. I finally arrived at the point where I know I’m mostly codependent and my (almost ex) husband is narcissistic.
    My mother also is a narcissist so it probably is not surprising I attracted this kind of person as a spouse when all the while I thought I escaped an impossible situation at home (I even moved to another country to do that). Unfortunately, the bliss ended after about 3 months. Since then it’s been progressively worse and all this time I’d been wondering why things were not improving even if I did everything I could think of to make this marriage and relationship work. I was bending myself backwards to have the happy family (we have 2 children) I envisioned. I gave up my family, friends and studies to come to London and raise my children. Now, 13 years on, I know that that there really was no relationship to speak of. There was a living arrangement for him and a very false sense of security for me. In January this year I had a break down and decided I couldn’t take this anymore. I thought I had a choice of either going mad or standing up for myself. I started figuring out what it was that I actually wanted and going for it. My intention was to stop counting on him and get the life I wanted while STILL married to him. A man appeared in my life who helped me see how stuck I was and that if I wanted change I had to start with myself. We started texting each other and my husband found out after a while. He confronted me and all hell broke loose. The texts were just friendly exchanges at the time but my husband couldn’t bear the thought of me drinking coffee in the company of someone else. He not only read all of my sms’s making completely wrong assumptions about some people, but he also read emails to my friends, using a dictionary (the messages were in my native tongue). He tried to “win me back” for a while after that, enlisting the help of his friends, but I felt so violated that I just wanted some space to figure out my feelings and what I should do next. He kept coming to me every 2 days pushing me into telling him “when we’ll try to get back together”. When I said I wanted to separate for a while and just give each other space, he said he wasn’t taking it. It was either we are married or divorced. I have just been served divorce papers. He has moved out and sees the children whenever it suits him and doesn’t want to pay maintenance (plays cat and mouse with Child Support Agency as he is self-employed). Probably to punish me. So here I am, over 40, with 2 children, jobless, on benefits, with no family around (they are in another country) and no friends to speak of (I probably push them away too). The only area of my life I can honestly say I am happy with at the moment is my children and I cannot for the life of me comprehend how I allowed for this to happen to us.The funny thing is, he said to me, “I can’t understand this: you are pretty, intelligent and speak good English. Why didn’t you stand up for yourself when i was calling you stupid, ugly and unemployable?” (that was, btw, the 1st time I heard I was pretty or intelligent form him). That was a good question and I don’t know the answer. I have A LOT of work ahead of me and at the same time feel very fragile, abandoned and angry at the person i spent 13 years with who I thought was going to help me. I found the above article very helpful as to what steps I need to take next, irrespective of him coming back or going through with the divorce, it’s just that i feel so drained and discouraged and disillusioned that most of the time I want to just go to sleep and not wake up. I know I can’t because of my children but it’s difficult. I hope time will help heal things too, but in the meantime I know I have to somehow work on my self-esteem.
    Thank you for all your materials, it took me a while to understand fully how they applied to my situation but I feel I’m on the right track now. You are doing incredible work.

  13. I really struggle with standing up for myself and have been looking out for role models (as Kim suggested) to work out how I can behave in a manner that is respectful to myself and others.

    I was recently watching a new Australian TV Show called The Time of Our Lives on ABC. I think the character Bernadette is a great example of a person who effectively controls her emotions, is strong, but at the same time is able to be vulnerable, imperfect and human. I found myself re-winding some of the scenes that she is in to watch how she effortlessly commands respect from the people around her. I think this character exemplifies the qualities that Kim has described above and hope that others may find this character to be a useful role model as well.

  14. Kim,
    Thanks for these great tips! I never thought about showing the same intensity in an argument but not being baited into it. I usually stomp off to another room or go somewhere but this seems so true…next time I am going to try this before I leave the room or start arguing back!

  15. Dear Kim I have a question. In your opinion what is the best way to handle it when your NPD partner does this: When I ask him a question he simple ignores me. I can ask ten time and he will simple ignore me and not answer. It can be a simple question but he will just say nothing. Or when we are in the middle of a conversation he will simple turn around and walk off in the middle of my sentence. I think this is extremly disrespectful and have told him so but ofcourse I cant force him to stop this, yet I also feel disrespected. What can I do?

  16. Wonderful blog Kim and Steve, I have found your work inspiring. I have a NPD friend and am learning a lot more about him. Thank You. One lady whom I think is just wonderful and may be of use to some of your wonderful members. Her name is Brene Brown. – also . There is a lot on YouTube, and I just LOVE her parenting manifesto. She is a researcher on Shame and vulnerability etc. All the best.

  17. Can’t agree more but am wondering about your suggestion to dress like others. I think most folks don’t have an artistic sense – why should one follow the crowd regarding dress sense?

    1. It depends on the tolerance of your community, but generally if you are a more artistic type you will fit in better and be less of a soft target in a more artistic part of town πŸ™‚ I will never forget when I met Steve and I got him out of heavy metal T shirts and into wearing suit jackets, not with a button up shirt underneath but light weight wool knit pullovers instead. He was amazed at how much more favourably people responded to him and that more doors were open to him and he felt more confident anywhere he found himself πŸ™‚

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