What happens when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out

9 minute read

Are you at the beginning of your recovery journey from narcissistic abuse? Are you learning all about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and coming to grips with the abuse you’ve suffered? If so, chances are you’re waking up to the ugly truth of it: what the pathological narcissist is, and what they are capable of. And the question ‘what happens when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out’ is front of mind.

Understandably (and very necessarily…), with these realisations, the urge to free yourself is rising within you. Equally reasonably because of the nature of the disorder, you may be stressed, anxious and possibly also fearful about what will happen when they know you’re onto them.

Pathological narcissism exists on a spectrum, with a variety of differing profiles covering the continuum including overt, covert, malignant, and sociopathic narcissists.

Specifically how each one reacts when they know you’ve figured them out therefore varies. There are however commonalities.

In preparing to set yourself free, this article sets out for you likely responses from the narc.

The mind of the bully

Understanding what fuels the pathological narcissist is the closest a non-disordered individual can get to following the irrational thought processes that drive their behaviour.

Let’s set the scene and attempt to sketch this out with respect to what happens when they are sprung.

Where your relationships are based on connection and genuine care for those you choose to surround yourself with, this is not so for the Narcissistic Personality Disordered (NPD) person.

People to the narc, are tools that serve a distinct purpose which is to feed their beliefs about the fantasy land they have created where they rein as supreme, omnipotent, special, and perfect beings.

in the narcissist's mind they are perfect

This need is such that they are effectively addicted to securing corroboration that supports these beliefs, hence the term ‘supply’.

The narc’s addiction is the dependence on this external reinforcement that their false self-beliefs are based in fact, in order to keep knowledge of their true selves, at bay.

As with any addiction, withdrawal has significant repercussions for the afflicted. It is centred on the belief that without satisfying ‘supply’ needs, survival is jeopardised.

It’s therefore no surprise that faced with being unable to score their hit, your supply, the very darkest aspects of the narc take over.

The narc’s tipping point

Most of the time, their denial is (almost) bullet proof and successfully shields them from their awful truth. It is (almost) inconceivable to them that they could be flawed. This is evidenced in all the blaming you cop for their actions & behaviours, the projection, the denying irrefutable facts etc.

The construct of the disorder is such that conscious awareness of feeling threatened is infrequent. The tipping point of vulnerability for the narc, is generally a culmination of circumstances occurring when:

  1. You are still useful to them as supply, and they therefore haven’t as yet, planned to discard you. In other words, feeding their addiction is at risk.
  2. They are unaware that despite their relentless efforts to gaslight you into full submission, you have retained some of your autonomy, clarity of thought, self-belief, ability to question the reality they create for you, and will to be happy. This fracturing of their control over you, deeply challenges their self-concept.
  3. AND, you have done something that penetrates their shield sufficiently to threaten their false perceptions of grandiosity, superiority, entitlement, and/or power (a.k.a. a narcissistic injury). This would be anything that communicates to them that they are not in control, for example, discovering you have raised your concerns about them with someone else; not complying with their directives and doing your own thing; calling them out on their disordered behaviour in an exposing way, etc.

So, what happens when the narc knows you’ve figured them out?

Power and control

The only way the pathological narcissist knows how to regain their inner equilibrium and get back to feeling safe in their make-believe world, is to re-establish control and power over you.

what happens when the narcissist knows you've figured them out? re-establish control

And this they will do in a frenzied, manic, their ‘life depends on it kinda way’.

Control and power for the narcissist invariably involves proving you wrong. To their way of thinking, if they establish this for themselves, they also nullify the threat you pose to their false selves. (For more on the importance of invalidating you read Invalidation and Narcissism: Why they slowly erase you).

Remember that for the narc, flaws/mistakes/being wrong cannot be integrated into their view of one being due to splitting (see the Narc Wise Glossary for any term refreshers). You can be either all good, or all bad. All right, or all wrong.

To confirm your ‘wrongness’ in any department, is sufficient to cover all bases, including your suspicions about them.

And by invalidating you, and your views, they reinstate their control over you.  And ultimately, control over themselves. The threat you presented, has been eradicated.

Amplification of their ‘go to’ methods

As stated, flavours of narcissism vary. As do preferred modus operandi.

Some are fans of aggressive physical/verbal violence & bullying; some the ‘poor victim’ approach; some are gaslighters extraordinaire stealthily and steadily breaking the trust you have in yourself; some the illusion that they are, above all else, the world’s greatest giver and lover.

Whatever their primary go-to is, expect this to be amplified. They will use whatever their ‘forte’ is, full throttle.

Predictable narc mechanisms when they feel threatened

1.       Narcissistic rage

This is fury and vitriol like you’ve never witnessed before. It is the external manifestation of the narcissist’s internal short-circuiting. Their complete inability to cope with the truth of who they are.

It is the rage sparked by being unmasked as weak, out of control, and false. Their glimpse of what lies beneath their denial and their momentary understanding of being flawed to the point of being disordered. It is a snapshot of comprehension of what they spend a lifetime obsessively hiding from.

In the moment of narcissistic rage, they are completely out of control. This does not mean ‘out of control’ with respect to intentionality, awareness of actions & behaviours, nor consequently of responsibility. It means ‘out of control’ in terms of consequences be damned.

The expression of their rage will vary, however the greater the narcissistic injury, the greater the reaction, which may be verbal through to physical aggression.

2.       Cruelty

Following narcissistic rage, is the shift back to calculated manipulation and abuse. It is the return from being out of control, to fully in control and mindful of all actions and behaviours.

The malignancy the pathological narcissist is capable of, and that you experience in some forms regularly throughout devaluation, is at this point fully unleashed.

Not only to teach you a lesson about who has power and control over you, but to punish. To cause harm. Because in their minds a) they are entitled to do so, and b) you deserve it.

what happens when the narcissist knows you've figured them out? cruelty

So, what does this cruelty look like? Again, this will depend on the flavour & ‘go to’s’ of the narcissist.

Common strategies that leverage the knowledge they have of you based on vulnerabilities you have shared with them are:

  • Baiting – deliberately provoking and antagonising you to react negatively by jabbing at your deepest wounds.
  • Gaslighting – ramping up efforts to have you question your sense of reality and mental health (for more on this strategy read 5 ways to counteract the narcissist’s gaslighting).
  • Withholding/Stonewalling – removing your access to information, emotional or physical resources you either depend on or value the most. Denying access to children for no valid reason, isolating you from emotional/social support, and financial abuse, are all examples.
  • Smear campaigns – spreading false information and gossip, to discredit, undermine, control and isolate you further (for more on smear campaigns & how to tackle them, read Narcissists and smear campaigns: Why they do it and What can be done to stop the narcissist’s smear campaign).

3.       Hoovering

If the narcissist believes that there is still a possibility of brainwashing you back into their make-believe world, and you retain some usefulness as supply, hoovering will hit hard. These are all the strategies used to suck you back in.

Once more employing all the knowledge they have of you, and activating the triggers they have programmed in you through their abuse, you can expect:

  • Love-bombing – bombarding you with professions of love, promises of the future emotionally healthy relationship that lies before you and their forthcoming changes.
  • The fauxpology – often accompanying the love-bombing, if the narcissist deems it necessary for the purpose of the hoover, is the ‘sorry not sorry’. An apology devoid of sincerity, accountability or empathy, yet rolled out much like love bombing messages to give you what you want to hear (for more on the fauxpology read The narcissist’s apology: Sorry, not sorry ).
  • Using fear, guilt and obligation – tailoring pleas and demands to stimluate your deepest wounds, and elicit pre-determined reactions to pull you back in. These ones may sound like ‘how could you do this to me, after all I’ve done for you’, or ‘no one will ever love you like I do’ etc.

DO NOT BE FOOLED GORGEOUS ONE.

These ones are arguably the most difficult to withstand because they target what you want most and fear most. This is precisely why they are used on you.

don't let the narc be your puppet master

You are not a puppet. Cut those strings now.

(For more on these tactics read How the narcissist hooks you: Hoovering & baiting).

4.       Discard

On the other hand, if the narc figures their game is up and you no longer represent usefulness as supply, the final phase of the cycle of narcissistic abuse will be instigated: discard.

This is the follow through of all threats implicit throughout devaluation coming to fruition. It is your callous rejection and abandonment, devoid of any closure.

In most instances, the narcissist will already have alternative supplies lined up. These will often be intensified prior to your discard to ensure your awareness of replaceability as added punishment.

For more on the phases of the cycle of narcissistic abuse, read From ‘soul mate’ to worthless: What’s behind the narcissist’s 180? The narcissist’s ‘soul mate’ effect: How & why they do it.

What to do about what happens when the narc knows you’ve figured them out

Many of the abusive tactics cited, as you know, are present throughout a relationship with an abusive narcissist.

When applied once the narc knows you’ve figured them out however, the difference is they no longer have anything to lose. Specifically, your supply. Which brings on the ‘no holds barred’, Satan rises, kinda situation.

This may strike the fear of God into you. Clearly this isn’t without basis.

Gorgeous one, please don’t take the possibilities of what may occur and likely fear, as rationale to stay in the situation you are in.

Remember that the fear, and myriad other negative outcomes on your wellbeing and whole-of-life outcomes, that you sustain from the abuse of the narcissist, ARE the reasons you must break free.

You are not alone. There is help.

If you need support in preparing to leave your abusive situation, reach out to your local domestic violence service providers or call your national domestic violence hotline for referrals and to develop a safety plan.

For support with self-harm or suicidality, please contact your local suicide prevention service. For services near you please refer to the resources provided by the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

If at any point you fear that you or anyone else is in imminent danger, contact emergency services immediately.

Gorgeous one, you’ve got this. A thousand times over. You’ve got this.

Wake up from this nightmare. Prepare. Plan. And set yourself free.

For more practical tips on disentangling from the narc read:

As always, please share your thoughts, experiences, and insights on the issues in this article in the comments below. The more we share, the more we teach & help one another in reclaiming our freedom.

With gratitude,

Maggie x

bir4d

Bibliography

    • Brennan, M. P. (1986). In consideration of C.G. Jung’s individuation process for healing narcissistic woundedness: The pathologies of addiction and multiple addiction (Doctoral dissertation). The Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations. (Order No. 8917300)
    • Fenichel, H., & Rappaport, D. (Eds.).(1953). The Collected Papers of Otto Fenichel, Volume 1. US: W. W. Norton & Company.
    • Levy, N. (2014). Addiction as a disorder of belief. Biology & Philosophy, 29(3), 337-355.

Hungry for more?

The Sociopath Next Door by Dr, Martha Stout, and Psychopath Free by Jackson Mackenzie both shine the light on the machinations and dangers of the triggered malignant narcissist/Antisocial Personality Disorder’d (APD) individual.

In line with healing your gorgeous self, any book you pick up by Brene Brown will feel like the sweetest salve to all your sorest bits. Please, please, please read Rising Strong. It has nothing to do with narcissism or APD, but everything to do with you picking up those shattered bits of yourself from the hell you’ve been through, and choosing that free and joyful you that is busting to claim the day. Read it now!

45 thoughts

  1. Dear Maggie,

    I wrote a comment to you a few weeks ago about my situation with my narcissistic ex (and father to my daughter) I just wanted to tell you that your articles and your replies here helped me so so so much! I called my areas women help line and have a meeting with a psychiatrist specialized in women who suffer or have suffered from abuaive relationships. I also talked to a lawyer who advised me to sort a contract and pay-off plan for the money I owe my ex, that way he could never demand all the money back at once as long as I pay what we agreed on. With a little confidence (that I haven’t felt in a decade) and some (narc)wise words from you, I got that contract sorted. The narc can no longer cause any damage to me materially or financially but I’m still scared for my baby girl…he’s feeding her with idiocy as that she can’t call me when she’s with him or that his apartment is her primary home and mine is just temporary extra even tho she’s with me more than him. How he’s going to react is freaking me out but I’m currently planning to go no contact.

    There’s a chance I can get a contact person to do the communication between us regarding our daughter. After talking to my psychiatrist (in 2 days) I will tell him to get out of my life and not talk to me at all, whatever he needs to say he can tell my dad and if necessary my dad will forward it to me. If he can’t accept that, I will ask for a restraining order that includes calling/texting/emailing me. If he won’t respect that I will report the physical abuse he caused me 2 years ago along with claiming everything I didn’t take when I divorced him (including child support) and he wouldn’t want that, he may even face a custody loss (which I hope for ofc cause I don’t trust him with my daughter) but I don’t want to be the one starting that war, 1) to save her from the pain it means if it’s not necessary and 2) cause I don’t want to come across as the vengeful ex wife. But if he’s starting it, my strongest winning card is that I didn’t take ANYTHING with me as I left and the only thing I wanted was my freedom…now it’s gone so far that he’s gonna try and take the only thing that matters to me (my baby girl) simply because it’s the only thing left for him to take. All I wanted was my freedom, turning my back on thousands of dollars and personal belongings just to break free, and he can’t give me that, he would even hurt his own daughter to hurt me…and hopefully that’s how I’ll win.

    Thank you for the strength and courage you’ve given to me, I will treasure it forever!

    1. Dear Zarah, how very wonderful to hear from you. I am beyond thrilled for you. You have come such a HUGE way in a very short time. Your mindset has completely turned around. You are now in charge. Fully in the drivers seat of your life. Look how your mindset has set in motion an avalanche of positive action to support you getting to where you want to be (a place of freedom & peace)! Allow me to say (in a 100% genuine and hopefully non-patronising way!), I am so very proud of you. I hope you are so very proud of you. You should be. The strength you have found within yourself is awe inspiring. Take a moment to acknowledge this. You have shifted from ‘it is completely impossible’ to ‘anything is possible’. I have no doubt that this is a significant turning point in your life. Not only in freeing yourself of what could have been a life sentence. But I imagine that from this point onwards, very little will hold you back. Making it through hell has a way of making this happen. Congratulations dear lady. I pray many read your messages and are inspired by your story of victory. In fact, if you at some point feel you could share your story and publish it on Narc Wise under the new section ‘Your Wisdom’, this would be an honour. Email me if this is something that you would like to do maggie@narcwise.com. Sending you a huge congratulatory high five. Light & love to you Zarah, Maggie x

    2. My daughter is 14 and I can’t fathom the damage her father has made to her. PLEASE if you can ( AND YOU CAN) muster up the strength to go to war. GO TO WAR. Report EVERYTHING, don’t wait!! GET that full and I mean FULL CUSTODY and child support! It will be BEYOND worth it to protect yourself and your child in the long run!

  2. This is a great read. Thank you so much for sharing insight while I stave off two intense narcissists invading my life for revenge. I too blog on this, please check me out when you can at haloshereadstaort.com

    1. Dear Adrian, so sorry to hear you are battling a narc invasion. And for revenge! With NPD at the helm, this undoubtedly quite the war being waged. You will conquer though. For sure. Wielding a fiery sword of revenge has a funny way of revealing one’s true colours. In the end. Of course, you won’t see this come to fruition, cause you are/will be, too busy leading your best life. No time for smallness, in the pursuit of a big life. Still for right now, at this moment, the furious injustice of needing to stave off such hatred is beyond yuck. I feel for you. Stay true to you. Light & love to you Adrian. Look forward to checking out your blog. Maggie x

    2. It’s been over a year since I finished with him he stole money made up a life that never existed and had women 400 of them on his Facebook I used a secret camera to catch him stealing money as he was happy for me to think it was my kids that were doing it.He has been hiding ever since as he only lives a couple of streets away but i cant understand why i am still so upset he nearly destroyed me I tried counciling but stopped because I didn’t th8nk they were familiar with this kind of abuse.Anyway I heard he was moving away so should be really happy but I’m not at all keep thinking how could he of been so cruel when I really did love him and still do I will make a correction and say I love the man I thought he was.My brain tells me it could never work he is too damaged and it’s best it’s over but my heart tells me different

      1. Dear Anonymous. Unfortunately what you describe is part of the healing journey. Healing from a relationship that contained narcissistic abuse, is not the same as healing from a relationship that ended. It is much more complex, and overcoming that cognitive dissonance you speak of ‘My brain tells me it could never work he is too damaged and it’s best it’s over but my heart tells me different’ is part of the journey. Perhaps dear Anonymous you could try another counsellor & check their experience first with domestic violence, trauma and cluster B personality disorders? You will get through this gorgeous one. Hold tight knowing that this is part of your journey. Light & love to you. Maggie x

  3. I am very much a victim of a narcissistic being. I do not doubt this whatsoever. He hasnt always been this way though and i know a lot of people will say that he has been but has hid it. I would believe that too if we haven’t been together for 7 years . He didn’t begin to let this trait shine through until about a year ago. At this time i also discovered that he started a new fling with crystal meth. It has turned him into text book example of a narcissist. Anyone else experience anything of this nature when it comes to this disorder? If so is there hope for them to go back to who they once were?

    1. Dear Meganv.
      If I’m understanding right, you don’t believe this person had displayed any narcissistic tendencies until they became addicted to crystal meth. Is this correct? If your answer is yes… 1) The nature of addiction is that it will turn the most docile, the kindest person, into an unrecognisable person compared to who they were before the addiction. 2) As you research, do the behaviours of this person align with those of someone with NPD? 3). As you research, the harm described to victims, does it resonate with what you feel? 4) Gorgeous, most precious person that you are. Whether the answer is this person is addicted to crystal meth, or diagnosable as having NPD – do EITHER of these situations make the harm to you ok with you? Do either of the make the hram diminish?
      I get it. You want to know the probability of things turning around re NPD vs. crytsal meth addiction.
      Hon, the thing is, either way, it’s the same gamble. Both are addicted. The issue isn’t who is more or less addicted. I know you know this. The issue is what is the impact to YOU of this addiction which you have no control over.
      Dearest Meganv – you deserve every happiness. Believe this. Please believe this. And let this be your guide. Light and love to you gorgeous one. Meganv, you’ve got this. Maggie x
      Dear other gorgeous ones in the Narc Wise community – please weigh in on this if you have experience with Meganv’s situation. Share your insights x

      1. Dear Meganiv, I can relate somewhat to your story. My ex didn’t show his narc personality until I started to defy him. Why would he? I was exactly what he needed, I loved and worshipped him. As soon as I started doing things for myself he started to boss around and create arguments to stop me from doing it.

        The thing is, when I started to educate myself in this disorder just a bit over a month ago, I realized that he’s always had these treats. When we first met he put me on a pedestal and more or less stalked me. He called me 10-20 times a day, write me love letters, sent me song lyrics and poems. I cooled it off because it felt awkward to be chased like that by someone you’re just starting to know. He upgraded his game and asked me to move in, two months after we met…and unfortunately I did (I was kinda desperate to start a family and saw my chance) after three months he asked me to marry him and a year after we met we were husband and wife.

        This phase is called love bombing and it’s amazing. You haven’t felt this loved before and it’s like you’re floating on pink clouds. You’re so up in it you won’t even notice when the devaluation starts. You will excuse it as a bad day, stress at work and especially after having kids.

        My ex was extremely controlling and jealous and at first it was kinda cute. But then I wasn’t allowed to meet up with my female friends either and that’s when it started to get uncomfortable for real. Six years into the relationship is where I started to be uncomfortable with him, I started to question if this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. And six months later I told him I wanted a divorce. He went back to love bombing for a while just to make me stay but I already knew it wouldn’t last. During this time I met my new husband, I won’t tell that entire story…but he showed me what real love and compassion means. This gave me the push to dare leave my toxic relationship and I did, not a day too early. This was when the physical abuse started. I knew for sure we would never ever get back together after that and I haven’t given that choice a second thought since and it’s 3.5 years ago I moved out.

        Due to shares custody we had to stay in touch but he has been stalking me since. Ringing my door unannounced, calling me at least once a day. He still thinks he has the right to butt in my business and he’s still jealous. He is still trying to pick fights but I’m not up for that. Learning about NPD is one thing, that’s when you realize what you’re dealing with. Then realizing your own part in this as the empath, you will go through most of the grief stages here as you realize you’ve been changed without even knowing it. Now this is when you start to heal, read about it, gather knowledge of the disorder and yourself as the empath. Grieve and be upset but then, it’s time to heal.

        Whether it’s because of drugs or because of a disorder, you my gorgeous lady deserve way better! Set yourself free! We are many that will back you up!!

    2. I don’t know about the drug part… but I’ve been with my husband 15 years, and only in the last year as I’ve woken up to how I was being controlled, that a true Narcassist appeared in my marriage… it’s not that hey weren’t before, it’s just what triggered it off, or the reaction of calling them out like the article… mine has developed into crazy controlling, gaslighting with jekyl and hide love bombing… threatening, holding money over my head, getting out children involved, even creating scandal and rumours about my family and trying to split me from my family.. (basically trying to remove any support base and help if I leave)… long story short I’m in the “I know I need to leave” stage, but the fear keeps me from leaving – fear of the unknown, fear of the damage he will cause, fear for my children, fear he has already turned them against me knowing I may leave, and bribing them with presents… I just need to find the strength / courage. I know in my heart what I have to do, I just don’t need know if I know how
      ,

      1. Dear Me. You do know how gorgeous one. The key is right there in your message. Fear. This is the thing to confront. All of us feel the fear. This is 100% what the abuse is about. Controlling you through fear. But you know this. My point is more about what we do with the fear when the realisation we need to save ourselves hit. The fear is engulfing. Paralysing. And so, we think ‘I must overcome this fear so that I can leave’. The thing is though, gorgeous one, overcoming the fear will not happen. It is about making a choice. To continue living with the fear knowing that the abuse is escalating and hence the harm and fear will increase correspondingly. Or, walk straight through the fear towards a life that will be fear free. It will be scary as hell. There will not be one thing about walking through the fear and out the door, that will be easy in the short term. But walking through that fear is the only way out. The catalyst for me was realising I only had two choices. Stay knowing this will kill me; or leave and take a chance on the possibility, however small, that I can create a different life for myself free of fear. I promise you the moment you make the decision to save yourself knowing the fear cannot be overcome…this is when courage and strength comes. As will all the answers to all the obstacles you will need to overcome. Dear Me. I believe in you. Set yourself free. YOU’VE GOT THIS. Buckets of truth, courage, light & love to you gorgeous one. Maggie x

    3. My Ex Husband, once I started to see under his mask, became a drinking pot smoking fool. He would spend at least 400 a month on booze and pot. Narcs can not “go back” to who they were FOR YOU in the beginning because that fantasy has been shattered. I had to strategize for a bout a year to get him OUT. the technique I came up with was presenting him with choices. After spending 3 of 5 years running circles around “our” marital problems – thanks to gaslighting and intimidation- I realized that it had to be set up as a WIN for him. I watched him manipulate therapists and refuse to see the one marriage counselor who was NOT buying his schtick. I told him I was done. He now had to make a choice and I would not argue or try to convince him of anything other than his choice. He could commit to individual therapy and really work these demons out of his psyche with my full support or divorce me. Post therapy he would be happy in our marriage and live a full life. Divorce and he could go on to freedom, living his life as wants. Win/win. When he chose divorce he was stunned that I didn’t fight or cry or beg or anything. I took charge of filing papers, getting a lawyer and paying for it (this is what the year of strategy produced). He went right to rage and threats and finding a new supply. Even though it was HIS Choice….which I reminded him of regularly. Lucky for me he was not physically violent. It was a very unpleasant 4 months to be sure. He wanted to WOO his new love and live in my house. I owned my house 16 years prior to our marriage, He threatened to take 1/2 of the equity- what a joke- but the cost of lawyers in legal and financial discovery was huge! His parents were giving him 20,000 (yes that’s right) to either buy his own house or pay for lawyers. I was super hurt by this. they should have said house only. At age 49 his parents were his biggest enablers. I ended up signing over a retirement fund that I had opened while we were married. The best night was when he was talking to his new girlfriend and asking for her advice. I said,” are you and a new woman discussing how to take my money? Wow, and to think you once said you would love me forever!” he siad- “well, she has an MBA” Oh ok, so that means she’s smarter than both of us? After taxes and fees he ended up with 3,000. whoopdee doo. He was gone! Now, 3 years later, that fund is back up to 16,000 and he has nothing. Ha!

  4. I am in the most confusing, tangled mess and I’m trying to figure out if I’m dealing with a true npd or an addict or both. Would you be willing to listen to my story and give insight?

    1. Dear Mindy, I’m sorry you are in tangled mess! It is so very yuck. My opinion is that those with NPD are addicts in terms of addiction to supply. I.e.: to the need to secure external reinforcement that the belief systems they have created of their ‘false selves’ are in fact their real selves. I don’t know whether this simplifies things for you at all? I do offer coaching in supporting individuals to realise their goals by cutting through the fog caused from narcissistic abuse. If you are interested in this, email me at maggie@narcwise.com. My first questions to you gorgeous one, would be why do you need to figure out whether what you are suffering is due to NPD or addiction? Is it because for the latter you believe you can hold onto hope that things will improve? Dear Mindy, if so, I would ask you another question – in either scenario, does the impact on you and what you are suffering diminish at all? Think hard on this gorgeous one. Light & love to you Mindy. Maggie x

  5. maggie,

    i wrote to you about my situation with my kids. i’m doing grey rock because of the kids otherwise it would have been sayonara.

    her jabs are now very mean and loud and direct. – does this indicate she knows i’m on to her as her mask seems to have dropped?

    as i’ve read Emotionally unhook yourself and starve the narc of supply, i realize that reading it once or even a few times is not enough. There is much practice that needs to be done. Just like trying to be good in any sport, this needs to be practiced.

    I am so ready to tell her that i know who and what she is and that what she has done in the past 20+ years will no longer continue – flat and direct to her face. I wonder if that would be the right thing to do?

    thanks

    danny

    1. Dear Danny. I completely agree. It is entirely about practice. When in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, one is trained, programmed to respond in a certain way, i.e.: to feed them supply. To do this, they target vulnerabilities and the things of greatest importance to the individual, because doing this is guaranteed to evoke supply until that person learns to detach and no longer react.

      Clearly, getting to the point where we no longer react to what hurts us most takes monumental focus, strength and dogged determination to break the cycle. And getting to that point is not linear, there are steps forwards, and sideways, and backwards – but ALL of this is progress when coupled with diligent practice. Just as you say – much like it is with any sport.
      Finding the touchstones that take you back to the position of focus, strength and determination will be invaluable in supporting you on making this happen for you.
      So you know all this, I can read it in your words – this is fabulous. Kudos.
      With respect to your questions. Escalating her behaviour is very much about recognising that what previously worked, is now not delivering the same results, hence heightening attempts looking for those hits of supply. She may not consciously know why you are doing it (i.e.: that you are ‘onto her’), but she clearly has some level of awareness that you are not giving her what she needs causing her to try and manipulate/control you into doing so.
      In terms of telling her ‘that i know who and what she is and that what she has done in the past 20+ years will no longer continue’ I fully appreciate the desire to do this. Of course you want to do this. And you say you wonder whether this is the right thing to do. My questions to you are – are you considering this from the point of view of being the right thing for you in terms of providing yourself with release, or from the point of view of seeking her cessation from the escalations? If the former, what do you think may ensue post that moment of release in terms of her behaviour? If the latter, do you think that this would cease her behaviours?
      Separate to reflecting on these questions, let me say, boundaries, boundaries, boundaries dear Danny. This is very much about stating what is and isn’t OK which does relate to firmly & clearly communicating AND following through with, what will no longer continue for you.
      Sending you light and love Danny. Maggie x

  6. maggie,

    thanks for the quick response and insight. yes, i’d like to let her know the truth for the release and to stop the escalations, but i know it WONT change her as she’s never wrong and has absolutely NO SHAME. looking back all those years, every argument she could slither away like a snake and have the snake snap in my direction.

    you are absolutely right about boundaries and CLEARLY implementing them and not backing down is something i MUST work on diligently. for a fact, i have already conditioned myself to NOT expect absolutely anything from her so this makes it a bit easier.

    it will be a process and practice.
    thank you again.

    danny

  7. Dear Maggie,
    I’ve been/was in a relationship for 3years it started with the love bombing. I had never been treated like that before so I fell for it all. We quickly went into this relationship, it was going fast for me, but even with doubts I couldn’t stop it I think I wanted it just as much as him. He moved in within 8months of being together. Than, he became extremely jealous. And I mean even jealous of me spending time with my kids. He would get angry if he called and my phone would ring more than a few times and when I would answer he would accuse me of being with someone else. Needless to say, I finally couldn’t take the arguing and accusing, he would actually give me anxiety so I made him leave my house. But, we still stayed together he had this way of making me feel so guilty and feel like maybe it was me who was the problem. (And that was with every situation) long story short. I was trying to avoid him in the last 2months I maybe talked to him 3times without us fighting. Than this weekend surprisingly he did not call, and like I said he makes me feel guilty or bad for him so I tried calling and his phone was disconnected. On Monday I thought I would stop by to check if he was okay and he was with another woman. I was shocked I mean Friday with no response from me he was sending me messages professing his love and how much he missed me but here he is with another woman. So my question is after all the research I’ve done I was sure he was narcissistic but now is he just a cheater? Sincerely, Confused

    1. Dear Confused, how yuck. All of it. I’m sorry for what you’ve been through. You’ve experienced betrayal on so many levels. I’m hoping that you have reached out because you have well and truly begun your journey of healing. In terms of your question, I cannot say. But dear Confused, I ask you with kind directness: what difference does it make for you if they are narcissistic or a cheater? This is a serious question for you to think on. Really, what difference does it make? Does either label diminish the pain they have caused you? Does either label diminish their behaviour? Does either label make it OK for you? And if your answer is yes to any of these questions, why is that?

      Separately, let me say that there are some types of pathological narcissists and those who fall within the Antisocial Personality Disorder profile who are serial cheaters…this is an aside though. What matters is you. And why you are asking your question, and why the answer matters.

      Focus on you. Time to cut that sucker free gorgeous one. Light & love to you. Maggie x

      1. Thank you for taking the time to respond. When I wrote this comment I was so distraught and I thought I needed answers. But now I’ve had a few days to clear my head and just breath, and you are so right. I don’t care what his problem is, and now he’s someone else’s problem. He actually showed up at my work today. And wanted to explain everything that happened and tell me how much he loved me and he was going to win me back, blah blah blah. It felt good to walk away from him, without reacting to him like I usually would have. This experience opened my eyes and I’m tired of hurting. There’s a weight lifted off my shoulders without him around. I hope he leaves me alone like I asked him to because I just want to live MY life now.
        Thank you again,
        Lori

      2. Dear Lori – of course you were distraught! What a horrendous situation. I must say you are quite remarkable. In a short period of time (I’m sure it doesn’t feel that way!) you have turned this around and reclaimed your own sweet self. Despite this individual’s efforts, you know exactly what’s what, and who you are. You’ve reconnected with what you want and need knowing these are your anchors. Kudos gorgeous one – you sound like a force to be reckoned with from where I’m sitting. Stick to the boundaries you have set in place, and all will be well. Take care of you Lori. Sending you peace, and much joy. Maggie x

  8. Thank you for this article. I needed it today. I went through a short lived 4 month affair with a narcissist. It was like a tornado. When I decided I wasn’t going to accept his silent treatment and other awful behaviors, I told him I was done. I think he knew better than to hoover me. However, I am not over him, I miss him. I’m wondering what the timeframe is to feel like myself again. It has been 3
    Months since it ended.

    1. Dear VJ, aren’t they ever like a tornado! And although you note it was short lived, the devastation is still intense. This is the brand of the narcissist/sociopath/psychopath. VJ well done for recognising and refusing the awful behaviours and saving yourself! Your question resonates strongly with me. The timeframe question is one I have asked myself almost obsessively in the past. I think we ask this question because it is a reflection of the depth of pain felt and wanting to know ‘when will this end’??? Gorgeous one, I don’t have an answer for you, other than it will take as long as it takes. This isn’t meant to be glib, but in fact helpful in that the longer we resist or fight pain, the longer it persists. By acknowledging it will take as long as it takes, you are accepting this truth and the resistance decreases, as does the pain. You’ve got this gorgeous one. Stand proud of yourself and escaping at 4 months, you are a marvel! Light & love to you. Maggie x

  9. You are a good writer! As a survivor of a 20 year abusive marriage with a narcissist, I struggle to explain this stuff to people. You did a great job keeping it simple but you hit the nail on the head. I said, “yes!” many times reading this. Will share this article and also read more of your stuff. Thanks.

    1. Dear Anonymous, I’m so sorry that the words rang true for you. And over a 20 year period. Terrible. I’m hoping you are reaching towards another way. Another way that doesn’t involve the eggshells and fear, but freedom and joy instead. A way that replenishes your soul which must be starving right about now. Sending you so much light & love for 2019 dear Anonymous. Thank you for your kind words. With gratitude, Maggie x

  10. Hi, I would like to write about my 25yr. marriage to my narc. husband.It took me a long time to realize what was going on (thought it was ALL ME) I was occupied by our 3 kids- kids and I convinced him to go to therapy. I am working on healing process. Anyway my husband is not being honest with therapist. I go with sometimes and he Lies – I have told her (therapist) the blame game, the silent treatment, takes no responsibility for any of his actions/behaviors, never apologizes, neglects kids events. But therapist states that I am just as much at fault… ITS like she gives him permission to continue his horrible behavior!!! What am I suppose to do???? I have learned to respond instead of react.. Most of time walk away. Working on grey rock ( have to cuz of kids and still live in ( OUR) house. Very hard.. just looking for some relief…

    1. Dear Jill, this is so very hard. Your view is entirely fair and reasonable. So I ask you, can you move forward without him taking responsibility? If this is a boundary for you, then set that boundary and express it. And if the therapist cannot be supportive of this reasonable position, can you investigate other options with different skill sets? I’m assuming you are in couple’s therapy? Or perhaps it is just therapy for your partner? If the latter, it would be worth looking into someone to hear you out, and support you in what you need. Relief will come when you are sure of what you need in order to heal. You need to drive this. Your partner can’t. The therapist can’t (neither his, nor yours, nor both of yours). Do not let them gorgeous one. Without setting your boundaries progress is unlikely to ensue. Sending you light, love & strength. You’ve got this. Maggie x

    2. Dear Jill,
      I experienced the SAME thing with marriage therapy. He was gaslighting me right in session and I did not know how to deal with it because the therapist had NO CLUE! When I would try to present evidence she would say—targeting him is not going to help your marriage. This was before I had heard of NPD. After a discussion about his 10 loads of laundry on the bedroom floor (not exaggerating. He is the dirtiest pig ever! I watched his bath towel once and finally after 8 months I couldn’t take it anymore and washed it. Plus he hung it on a hook over the CAT BOX! but, my expectations were too high! ) She suggested I do a strip tease. For every chore he does I take off some clothes, then sex him up when he is done! I was horrified! WTF?
      The last therapist we saw did NOT buy his crap and held him accountable. after 4 sessions he refused to go anymore. I continued by myself and she and I talked about me leaving. She actually fired me as a client saying- you don’t need me anymore. You are just fine the way you are and you know how to take care of yourself. Divorce him and move on. He is not able to change. She was right. Maybe you need to get a counselor just for yourself? Tell him you now know that YOU are the problem and you are going to work on it alone….that will get him off your back maybe. I had to appease the devil I married until I had a solid plan and funds stashed to leave. It sucks. I did secretly tell my besties and family so I could get support and comfort.

      1. Dear Christine, thank you for reaching out to Jill & sharing your story & wisdom. The more we raise our voices in support of one another, the stronger we are! Light & love to you gorgeous one. Maggie x

  11. This was great and very incouraging. I have been in my now relationship for 6 1/2 yrs and the past 4 have been a nightmare. First off I totally moved away from everyone to be with him not thinking anything about it because he promised we would move back in a couple years. Lie #1.
    In the beginning we were always together now not so much. He has even stayed away for days talking to other females telling them I was the crazy ex and so on and when I would question him about them I was wrong or I was snooping. I found out he has cheated but I’m supposed to let that go cause it was my fault it happened if I would have been doing my job right it would have never happened. Well I have attempted to leave a few times but with that I have to have someone come get me from the state I came so that leaves me waiting for 12 to 15 hours which leaves him time to talk me into staying. I’m sorry which I seem to say slot but I am for the long book but like I said I don’t have anyone that I can talk to about this. I know what he is and I’ve let him know that I know and still I’m crazy, and it’s all my fault. Thank you for listening

    1. Dear Donna, thank you for sharing. Dear one, if he is narcissistic, he will never agree that there are any issues. Nor that he holds any responsibility for his actions. Logic and reason will never prevail. You must accept that your logic, reason and how YOU feel is sufficient for any decisions you need to make for you. If you do decide to leave, you must commit to it knowing all the things you’ve pointed out in your message. You don’t need to do it alone. You can reach out for help. Here are some sites to find out where you can go and who you can talk to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_domestic_violence_hotlines & http://www.vachss.com/help_text/domestic_violence_intl.html#org
      Think hard on YOUR logic, reason and how you feel gorgeous one. This what matters. What will you decide to do? You’ve got this. Light & love to you Donna. Maggie x

  12. Hello. Thankyou to the author. This is the first time that anyone understood what Ive been goin thru. What A well written article. I have read numerous articles, blogs and other info on gaslighting and have been so disappointed since none of them had touched on how sinister a narc can be. Socio gaslighting is so cunning and confusing. Its twiststed to the extreme. I was at a loss thinking that I was fighting something no one else had experienced or no one was able to put into words. How refreshing and motivating to find your blog so in sync with my current life & living. You hit the nail on the head as to the lengths that this socio narc has gone to. I started to think that I was crazy because I had not found any information on just how demented some if these people can be. And I was disgusted that there were no stories or descriptions about what Ive been experiencing. As I began reading your blog I knew immediately that your words would change that. It almost felt as tho you were here with me pointing out each and every move as the narc makes it and what happens next. Your article is helping me see right thru them and expose theyre all around sneaky shady phoney and fake behavior. Thank you for sharing this knowlege with the world. It has helped.

    1. Dear Christine Strait, I’m glad you found some comfort in the words, and yet so sorry that you needed to find the validation in the first place. I’m not sure where you are up to on journey gorgeous one, but hope you are taking care of yourself & making decisions to put the awfulness you describe part of your past. If you are just coming across information now that is starting to clear the fog from narcissistic abuse, keep reading! The more you read, the more validated you become, the greater clarity you will gain about what will work for you from now on in your life. Let it be full of joy dear Christine Strait! Light & love to you. With gratitude, Maggie x

  13. All i can say is “Oh my gosh!!” We just celebrated 10 years of marriage. He’s been controlling, bullying, critical, jealous, demeaning and finally physically abusive. I left 7 weeks ago (nearly no contact) He’s now professing his love his mistakes his jealousy his abuse. Says he’s willing to do whatever it takes yet hasn’t gone to any therapy. He’s hanging with his Anonymous sponsor and a couple Christian men from his church. His church, His money. His house. His vehicles. Balked when I wanted to see my daughter and grands 2,000 miles away on their dime. What am I to believe or expect next. I’m confused

    1. Dear K S. Nobody can tell you what to believe or what to expect. Nor do they need to. You already know. Not sure this is so?
      What I read in your message is: You have sustained abuse. Consequently you left. Your partner is verbalising the will to change. You are waiting for supporting evidence of sustained, changed behaviour in action. To my mind, this is entirely rational, logical & true acts of self-care. When you say ‘I’m confused’, it seems that intellectually you are indeed not. There is no intent to diminish the fact that you undoubtedly do feel confused. Reflect on what is causing you to feel confused, I suspect that this will only strengthen your very valid thought process. Make you, your safety & wellbeing your priority K S. You must. You’ve got this gorgeous one. 100% you’ve got this. Light & love to you K S. Maggie x

  14. What this article doesn’t cover is dealing with a narcissistic parent who has made themselves so ill that their life is genuinely in danger and the victim is the only family member who is close enough to do anything to try and save them. (Ie, by calling social services etc). Now you try unravelling the complexities of that situation! And by the way, children of narcicsstic parents are very overlooked on a lot of articles about this sort of thing. Why not include some helplines that they can call as well? Otherwise, a helpful article. One I’ll keep.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.