Do Narcissists Cry?

It’s Narcissist Friday!

 

Of course they do!  It is often tempting to portray narcissists as evil villains who prey on innocent victims.  Sometimes that’s an accurate portrayal, as some reading this will testify.  But most narcissists live in a broken and painful world.  They are very aware of their fear and insecurity.  They just don’t want you to be aware of it.

The difference is that the narcissist handles fear and insecurity by manipulating others.  Perhaps it is fair to say that this is a common trait among narcissists.  Some are overt, boldly running the lives of those around them.  Others are covert, preferring to manipulate from the quiet shadows.  But they all manipulate.

So, yes, narcissists do cry.  For the same reasons babies cry.  Because they are angry, frustrated, and needy.  They cry to get you to do something.  They cry to make you think they are feeling what you want them to feel.  They cry when limits are placed on their behavior or when their secrets are in danger of exposure.  Crying is a natural practice for almost everyone, given the right motivations.  But don’t think that the motivations of a narcissist are the same as those of everyone else.  They cry for their own reasons.

Some therapists suggest that narcissists are stuck in the emotions of infants due to some type of trauma such as abandonment or abuse.  Those who have raised children may remember how easily tears could be turned off when the goal was reached by the child.  In fact, many parents have suspected that crying was a form of deception, lying, for the very young.  The reality is most likely simple learned behavior.  If crying works, the infant will use it.  So will the narcissist.

And, when the trumpet blows and the narcissist’s controlled world begins to collapse, he or she may cry tears of fear and loss.  Unfortunately, the tears won’t be for the victims of the narcissist’s manipulation and abuse.  The narcissist cries for himself.

29 Comments

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29 responses to “Do Narcissists Cry?

  1. Yes he does! BIG tears of hurt for himself. The narcissist in my life cried like a baby, a big ugly baby. He’d cry through words of apology, which I trusted at first. The “I promise to never do that again” statement was always a lie. But even when he did do it again, he’d say it was because of something that I had done or didn’t do that DROVE him to do it. In the end, I told him that he never really loved me for me. I explained that love is supposed to grow from immature romantic love to mature unconditional love and beyond. I told him that he was simply in love with being in love. He hated that I had my own VERY strong opinions, yet he used those opinions often disguising them as his own with others. He used me for knowledge, sex, status, and simply to feel good about himself. Without a woman, this guy is nothing. It’s sad.

  2. D

    Paula, what you wrote is literally exactly what I could have written about my own experience with my narcissistic ex-husband who also used me for knowledge, sex, and status, personal gain. So, yes narcissists do cry, but for the pain he caused to himself, not for the pain he inflicted on others.

  3. Dont we all cry for our own pain? When something hurts us deeply, arent we crying for ourselves? I say this because I was in love with a narcissist whom hurt me very deeply. I played my part as well, as I am not a doormat. He would get it back, I just didnt lie down and let him treat me in horrible ways. I would lash back at him. No, I didnt feel bad about standing up for myself but my heart hurt over the things he would say and do to me. I would never intentionally set out to hurt someone on purpose. If I do hurt someone, I do feel badly and I did feel badly even when I would lash back at the N. But the tears, they were for my own pain, not his.

  4. Jonathan

    Of course we all cry for our own pain, the difference is that a narcissist is crying because they want you to see how much you have hurt them and to make you feel guilty about it! They also want to make sure that the attention is well and truly upon them and fully deflected from you. If they don’t get the expected reaction from you, it is amazing how quickly the tears turn into cruelty and rage??

    • Aww, so well put and yes I see it clearly now. What you have just said here is exactly what he did….EXACTLY. My own guilt gets in the way sometimes of seeing things clearly.

  5. Yes, we do all cry for our own pain. Most of us no longer use tears or sobbing to manipulate others, but some never quite seem to grow out of that. I think it is fair to say that crying is a normal response to heart pain.

    However, there is another serious difference between normal people and the narcissist. Normal people have some sense of the pain of others. In fact, we can sometimes sense the pain of others so strongly that it feels like our pain. When we see parents grieving the loss of a child, for example, we can think about our own children and how much we love them and we can relate to the loss those parents must feel. When others suffer rejection, abuse, loneliness, etc., we connect their situation to ourselves and feel something like their pain.

    This is something foreign to the narcissist. He cries only for himself because he doesn’t really understand that others are real. He says incredibly insensitive things about the pain of others because he cannot relate, even though he expects sympathy when he goes through the same thing.

    • nomore

      The difference…when the Narcissist cries, always feeling sorry for himself…the victim as a decent human being responds with some caring and sympathy. When the victim cries because of the abuse he is inflicting, he responds with a heart as cold as ice.
      I am here because of the traumatic relationship my 19yr old daughter has just endured at the hands of her boyfriend of 1 yr. I was looking at abuse in relationships when I stumbled across NPD and found all his traits defined!
      We would beat ourselves up trying to figure out how what appeared to be the perfect boyfriend could turn at the flick of a switch to be so cruel, abusive, aggressive, dismissive, uncaring, manipulative, controlling. She tried so hard to reason with him to no avail he always assumed the role of victim.
      The gaps between the good times got shorter and shorter. He drove her to attempt suicide in despair and showed little or no remorse and I found it disturbing how he would continue to push her knowing how fragile she was. This research has answered so many questions whilst chilling me at the same time.
      I felt I had to share the findings with her to ensure she understood why she had to cut all ties with him. This revelation has brought her new trauma to realise the whole relationship was fake and I am trying desperately to help her to deal with this. Meantime he has posted nasty indirect comments online implying she was the problem and poor him etc and of course true to form he has amassed a posse of sympathetic females to lavish attention on him while she is trying to pick herself up off the floor!
      I want so much to expose him but realise the futility of it and the risk for her to endure further abuse. Why is life so unfair?

      • prodigalkatherine

        The trying to goad someone to suicide is the most mind twisting part. I would think it was made up unless I had directly witnessed 3 cases of it. What could they possibly gain? Perhaps a feeling of power? If that’s the case, it really is like murder. It’s incomprehensible.

      • UnForsaken

        nomore, welcome…I am Praying for you and your daughter. Thankfully she has you to help guide her to truth and gently Be there, showing her there is more to life, and To Her, then tragedy. Come and cry here as often as you need!

  6. Annie

    So true. I remember the day I left. He begged me literally. Crying and yelling. “please stay, we can work this out , have mercy, have mercy”. He followed after me blocking my way and more of the same. I managed to get in my hire car (after mine was destroyed in the flood) . He jumped in the car yelling and pretend crying. Honestly there were NO tears. “have mercy, don’t leave me. Have mercy have mercy!” I’d never ever seen anything like it from this so called Christian man!! I yelled “Get out of the car” several times. Finally he got out, slammed the door very hard and turned from “sad and upset” in an instant to violent and angry!! I was strong and powerful in that moment, drove round the corner, stopped the car and cried and cried. For him it was all about his losses …. Money (mine) prestige, (mine) and his battered pride. For me it was tears of devastation. For lost love, lost marriage, lost hope, loss of my friend, loss of my home. He locked me out, changed the locks, commenced damaging my name with lies. I had the clothes I was wearing. The first night I stayed in a motel after I went to a girlfriend for 4 months. It took four months to get my belongings back, my furniture, even personal effects. I had to get court, solicitors and police to get all back and an AVO. During this time there was just more pain to protect him. The tears he shed on a female friends shoulder (the wife of the pastor who married us…. His Bestie) enabled him to get his sympathy and make me look bad and unforgiving. Good Christian people believe their lies and further damage the victim. Their tears are only for manipulation and for what they can gain back. As a psychologist myself, I do feel sad for the totality of the early damage to these Narcs. However as victims we can’t cure or heal them. We need to be far away. Hopefully there are good Christian people that will hold these Christian Narcs (if that is even possible) accountable and thus help them start the process of getting in touch with their own reality and maybe, just maybe begin to heal.

  7. Rita Cizek

    These comments trigger reverberations – back and forth between the chambers of my heart, up to my brain, my memories of my experiences – the comments are all eerily familiar, and make my pulse race in remembering my own repeated years of trauma and leaning on the Holy Spirit for survival…does it ever go away??? I want them to be just memories, not triggers that feel like a block of cement tied to my foot that drags me down, down, whenever something triggers memories….

    • Fellow Survivor

      Rita, ” I want them to be memories, not triggers” is so true. I have fond memories of past girlfriends that broke my heart, but those memories don’t hurt anymore. We are both trying to get to the place where the memories are just that, happy times remembered that are part of us but don’t direct and control our thoughts and emotions.

      • Fellow Survivor

        The bad memories I just want to forget. The cruelty, anger, and rages I just want to forget those times. That behavior is so odd. I can tell you that things do get better in matters of the heart. 3 months ago I was a bowl of mush and now I am starting to rediscover myself. I was actually a preety happy guy before I was painted as a great big looser by my ex.

  8. Missy

    My breaking point was on the 31st of July and I at first thought if mybe I didn’t provek him by my need to resolve our conflict’s and instead of going for yet another rollercoster ride. Just accept that he saw things different than me and mot people I knew for that matter. His rage over me questioning him on something he had done to me totally floored me…until I dicovered he was a N. Now I recognize the similarities. I realize it was all a game. Keep posting my fellow survivor’s…it helps so much!

  9. Missy

    ….sorry for the errors….I’m sure ya’ll get the point all the same!

  10. Kathleen

    After 11 years of being with a narcissist, a textbook narcissist, I am coming to terms with the fact that he never really loved me, just what I could do and provide for him (e.g., uninterrupted adoration and attention and praise, sex whenever he wanted (never on my terms, always on HIS terms and to his liking), and total deference. I feel like a stupid idiot for wasting so much of my life thinking this would turn into happily ever after love someday. Live and learn@ I am just glad that I didn’t stick around to become hollow, empty and deformed like he is. I still kept my warm and overly compassionte and loving heart. I believe next time God will bring me someone who appreciates it.
    Love and peace.

    • prodigalkatherine

      I was in a similar situation. I gave my youth (20-32) to a man who did not see marriage vows as a reason to treat me with honor. No need to get into the ugly stuff (quite a bit) but I found myself the single mom of 4 young children (3-9) back in 2006. While it has not been an easy journey, I am more convinced of God’s faithfulness every day. I have learned that the correct head of a household is not a husband. It is Jesus Christ. Even if I do not have a husband to lead me, I am led by and protected by Jesus Christ. I take great comfort in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those that love Him and are called according to his purpose.” That promise has been fulfilled time and time again so I now trust that even if I have deep grief about a current situation, it is simply the “middle of the story” and that if I fix my eyes on Jesus, the mourning is transformed into gratitude as I am able to open my eyes to just how perfectly I am provided for. God does not allow us to experience gratuitous pain. While the narcissist’s actions are sinful, Jesus Christ conquered the power of sin through His own death and resurrection. Give Jesus your grief and ask Him to direct your steps. You are being introduced to the mystery of faith that transforms our deepest pain into our deepest understanding of just how dearly we are loved by Jesus. I am saying a prayer for you now, that you will find hope in understanding that you will not always hurt the way you are suffering now. -Katie

      • Noreene Bostick

        I am 56 wife of 31 years, three children ages 37, 30 and 24! I am also a grandmother of a 14 weeks old granddaughter! My narcissistic husband has shown me that he does not have any respect not only for humans bur for God also! I am grateful to have let go and let God show me the truths that have set me free! Although we are not divorced as of this comment, I am thankful that the Holy Spirits have led me on a journey to keep the focus on Christ first! Thanks for sharing that Jesus is in your life also! My husband has to answer to everything he says, does and thinks! God has blessed me very well with multiple talents! My husband has no heart for even himself. He has no love for himself and does not value himself with love, strengths, talents or understanding. The great pretend he is, God bless me to stay strong to be able to stay all these years while raising my three children and also pursuing my lifelong endeavors of being a Singer/Musician/Entertainer! Facebook has been a place for me to connect worldwide with others who have the desire to seek the love of God and want God in their life! My husband needs help and only the Holy Spirits, Jesus and God can and help him! My strong desire to want to know the truths since a little girl has motivated me to stick to what I, me, myself desires! God does bless the child that has their own reach to God! Smiles

      • Virtuous

        Katie, thank you so much. You’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know.

    • prodigalkatherine

      @ Virtuous- please feel free to contact the site administrator for my private email if you’d like additional support/a shoulder. I was the beneficary of so much kindness during my darkest days- it’s my turn to encourage now!

  11. SM

    I say be careful to paint the whole canvas with one brush. Not all of them cry. Mine never did. She was stone cold. She accused me of being the weak and unattractive one when I broke down. There is not one list or single attribute that are the end all, a tell in a poker game…some do, some dont. What they all do and have is nothing but pure selfishness and a lack of the one thing that qualifies us as being true humans, emapthy.

  12. Michael

    Wow! Reading this is very sobering. I an not a victim of this, but the oppressor! I admit that I have been this way. I am saved but I am discovering that my while life I have really been a selfish narcissist. My question is this- is hope for an unempathetic narcissist like me? I am honestly sick and tired of my selfish ways and the way I’ve hurt others and have lacked any empathy or emotional feelings for others. I trust that Christ can help me out of this, but does anyone have some advice or testimony for a narcissist who WANTS to change? I always see alot of literature for the victims of narcissistic abuse and I give my utmost respect to the victims, but what about us perpetrators who want to give this up? Any feedback put advice will help. Thank you guys! Great blog post!

    • prodigalkatherine

      There’s a book called “How people Change” by Cloud and Townsend. There’s a lot of good insight, but what has really stuck with me is that the process of allowing yourself to enter into deep grief while you are in a place of asking the Holy Spirit to change you is the way that character patterns can be broken.
      Character disorders are difficult to treat because while the narcissist can intellectually make the connection between his/her behavior and the destroyed relationships that come after, what tends to be mostly upsetting is the consequences the narcissist is facing, not the acts themselves. When distractions come that cheer up a narcissistic individual (falling in love with a new partner who is not bitter about the past tends to be the number one cure for depressions like these) there is no motivation to examine past failures.
      Only in “going off the morphine” of positive distractions that enhance self esteem can the narcissist be in a place where there will be sufficient sustained motivation to untie the complex reasons why they exploit and hurt people exist. They have to learn to sit with the shame of accepting responsibility for the consequences rather than blaming the victim and “moving on”. Relationships aren’t like pieces of paper where if you make a mistake it’s ok to crumple up the paper and throw it away to begin a new, perfect drawing. You can’t crumple up people and throw them away even if it seems easier in the moment without doing a ton of damage to someone. That damage is why narcissists burn so many bridges. It’s not that they are less lovable or skilled in relating to others (often they are more, not less desirable friends/partners on that level)- it’s that they are addicted to shifting the blame of their mistakes onto the person they hurt.
      Have you ever heard the phrase “to add insult to injury”? I suspect it was generated by narcissistic abuse.

      You can only change when you are willing to slow down and accept some responsibility for the broken relationships you’ve left in your wake. Inviting God into the grieving process and not running away from the pain of facing shame is the only way to the other side of a depression that is related to consequences of your narcissistic behavior. Getting “a new sheet of paper” won’t solve the underlying problem. It will only compound it when you inevitably make a mistake that causes you to crumple up that relationship by blaming the other party. We all make mistakes in relationships so it’s not like you are more shameful than others. It’s just that you’ve never let yourself feel that shame and the grief that comes after.

      That is why you are stuck.

      • Michael

        Wow, thank you for the insight prodigal Katherine! It bothers me alot that i lack love and empathy for others. I can’t feel life the way I want to. I think my narcissism problems are largely fear-based, over rejections that happened to me at a young age. Also, I admit I’m just addicted to pleasing my self and I don’t know how to truly love someone else. It is no fun being a narcissist, it is miserable. It really bites when it seems everyone else around you knows how to love and feel deep empathy and passion, while you’re feeling “stuck in an emotional bubble”.

  13. prodigalkatherine

    For what it’s worth- a lot of people are miserable an self absorbed and can’t get better because they attack other people instead of tweaking the parts of their own behavior that have led to self sabotage in the past. I agree that it’s no fun being a narcissist – in so many ways, healing from narcissistic abuse has required my examination of the narcissistic patterns I have unconsciously absorbed- and it’s very painful to realize that I’m not an “innocent victim” because then I can’t flee to a sense of self righteous martyrdom to feel better. We ALL struggle with narcissism to some degree.

    The way past this particular obstacle for me is accepting the shame that comes after inviting God to “sit next to me” in my ruminations about a relationship failure. Rather than pretend that it’s all the other person’s fault, I’ve had to face where I’ve been so in need of affirmation and identity that I have compromised my own integrity (that’s my big issue- probably not yours, just giving an example of being convicted). And then I’ve had to cry a whole lot as I examined the “goodwill” I offered a narcissist that was exploited- because the conclusions led me to understand that while it’s never ok for the narcissist to violate and exploit me, my reliance on the narcissist to provide too much of my identity is my fault, not theirs.

    Grieving my own deep insecurities helped me come to understand why I was vulnerable to narcissists and how to guard against exploitation in the future. It also helped me release the shame of being abused.

    You mention early childhood and that makes sense. We all develop certain psychological defenses to ward off emotional pain when we are small and dependent. I have no doubt that certain adults were careless with your developing heart and once you can accept how vulnerable you were caused you to develop certain patterns of relating, you will understand that by the grace of God you can unlearn those no longer helpful patterns of relating. The key is: don’t be scared to face shame. Facing shame doesn’t mean that you will be proven unlovable. Rather, it will enable you to grieve the sins committed against you as a small boy so that the seeds of empathy can grow within you. Emotion pain is not the enemy. It is the path to healing and if you stick with it you can come out the other side.

    • Michael

      Wow thank you for that insight. I will also add i have a great deal of apathy in my life. It’s like i don’t care about others, God, life, or even my own well-being at times. But having Christ in my heart, it’s like the Holy Spirit wants it but my flesh does not.

      I never handled shame or rejection well as a kid. At a young age, I was bullied in school until the end of my middle school years. I wanted acceptance from my peers- from women I wanted attention, from men I wanted respect. I didn’t receive either, so I put on a facade of myself to fit in so I would be “accepted”. My whole life I’ve been emotionally numb, and I hate it how it’s like I don’t even cry when i should, like when a loved one passes away, or when someone shows a deep display of love, just as Jesus did. Even in my Christian life, I feel like the Gospel hasn’t really penetrated me on that deep heart level yet because I cannot really love or feel love. I guess only God is the answer to this, because i sure can’t do this in my own strength.

      • prodigalkatherine

        I’m sorry that this happened to you. Anyone who has faced long term bullying has scars from it. Those who are able to suppress their emotions seem to be untouched, but your experience proves that suppressing your emotions come at a cost. How can you be merciful to others if you can’t even be merciful to yourself?

        When I say merciful I don’t mean- excusing yourself from a sense of blame for actions that hurt others. I mean merciful in the sense that you consider- I did hurtful things because I am blinded by my own pain. My emotional literacy/empathy is underdeveloped because when I was younger it didn’t feel good to interact with others and the only relief was in retreating from my emotions. Your actions may have been cruel but it’s not because you are bad or unlovable.

        But you don’t do mean things because you’re too damaged to be lovable. You do them because you’re defensive because it hasn’t been safe to be vulnerable. When you’ve suppressed your emotions you have gotten positive feedback for being strong (or at the very least, aren’t bullied anymore) Because your relationships have been transient it almost seems worthless to keep investing. The way you are makes sense based on the experiences you describe. Thoughts like: “Why be patient with others and show self restraint to protect their feelings if you just wind up hurt in the end?” “It’s just easier to stop caring and cut your losses.” are what drive you to act in an unloving manner when you get crossways with people you care about. It’s a self protective strategy that makes sense.

        The awesome thing about having Jesus come to earth and participate in the human experience is that we have proof that even God got hurt by human interaction. He got disappointed when his friends were petty and when they betrayed him. He had to disappear into the desert for long solitary periods to get his heart right after participating in the human experience. And ultimately, His love for flawed people got Him killed.

        If anyone can understand your pain it is Jesus. I encourage you to invite Him into your experience and let Him comfort you as you grieve.

        Matthew 5:6
        “Blessed are they that mourn, for they will be comforted”.

        Peace, brother. There is love on the other side of grief.

      • Cecilia K

        Michael, how wonderful that God has opened your eyes to your condition and that you have admitted your problem, so He is able to begin the process of humbling and healing. Your testimony touches my heart and gives me hope for my ex-boyfriend. I have nothing to add to Katherine’s beautiful insights, but the idea of a mentor came to my mind after reading your testimony. Several months ago, I heard a Focus on the Family broadcast of the testimony of a couple who had separated after several years of marriage, and after receiving mentoring from strong Christians, they healed and reconciled.

        The story doesn’t mention narcissism specifically, but it sounded like the husband at least exhibited some narc traits. It really touched my heart and encouraged me that there IS hope. If you would like to hear the broadcast, you can do so on the Focus on the Family website. It’s the broadcast with Tom and Sandy Ralya. I realize you may not necessarily be trying to heal a broken marriage, but perhaps you might still find it helpful.

  14. James Fields

    This was an astonishing read and it describes the 2 extreme Narcs (and one BDP) who I got emotionally involved with before I began the journey to heal myself.

    The first N sucked my life dry in less than 2 months and cried as if it was the end of the world when I decided to end things all of a sudden. The 2nd N cried apologetically when he found out he was effectively losing control over me. The BPD guy who I dated for several months cut himself and cried like a child when I told him things were over.

    I had no idea I had strong co-pendency and self-steem issues. I’ve been walking a long journey towards healing and I have finally understood why did I keep attracting and falling in love with sick people exclusively. This article is 100% spot-on.

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