Trusting the Narcissist

It’s Narcissist Friday!

 Years ago I saw a book title that went like this: “You can trust the Communists (to do exactly what they say).”  It appears that the book was popularly distributed under the name, “You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists).”  I like the second title more. 

One of the reasons we have difficulty with trust is because we expect things from other people based on our desires.  We want someone to keep a secret, so we tell them and expect them to keep it.  We want to be treated kindly, so we expect people to treat us kindly.  Then, when these things don’t happen, we have trouble trusting others.

Narcissism gives us a good example of how to educate our trust.  The narcissist has definable goals and perspectives that must be taken into account.  The narcissist lives in fear and protects himself by trying to control his world.  He sees others as simply part of that world.  People are not categorically different from cars or computers in the narcissist’s world, even though they are somewhat more complicated.  The narcissist has to create or discover ways to control others, just as he does the things of his world.

Knowing this gives the person in relationship with a narcissist both power and freedom—and the opportunity to enjoy a certain trust.  If you expect your narcissist to think and act like a narcissist, rather than like you, you can plan your actions and feelings accordingly. 

For example, if you tell a narcissist a secret what happens?  The secret becomes part of the narcissist’s tools.  He or she will use it when it serves best.  Your feelings will never factor into the decision to bring out your secret.  You will feel betrayed and hurt, but the narcissist won’t care.

On the other hand, if you know the narcissist and understand how he or she thinks, you are able to make a wise decision.  You probably won’t tell any secret that matters to you.  You will be careful not to betray the confidence of a friend to your narcissist.  Why?  Because you trust the narcissist to be a narcissist.

Now, there are two problems with this.  First, part of the narcissist “super-power” is to get secrets and compromising information about people.  Narcissists are expert at making people trust them.  They speak casually about their own “secrets” and make you feel like you should reciprocate.  They ask pointed and probing questions that make you feel a little uncomfortable, then assure you they care deeply about you.  Later you find that what they shared with you either isn’t true and they easily deny it or they were facts that didn’t matter.  You, however, have been compromised. 

It is hard to know this at the beginning of a relationship.  Perhaps the best thing to do is to be cautious with everyone.  Don’t tell secrets that can come back to harm you to anyone, especially at the beginning of a relationship.  Most people, by the time they realize they have connected with a narcissist, have already shared too much.  The only thing to do then is to find ways to make it unnecessary or unpleasant for the narcissist to share your secrets.  Maybe you can end the relationship before the information is shared or maybe you can find something with which you can hold some control over the narcissist.  He has secrets, too.  Real ones.

The other thing that must be recognized in this is that people are not consistent.  Narcissists are among the most consistent, I suppose, because their fears and motives are so strong, but even they will surprise you once in a while.  Any time you refer to the characteristics of a group, you must remember that the individuals in that group may or may not have that particular characteristic.  We may rightly say that dogs have four legs and we may occasionally find a dog with three legs.  Some narcissists have learned how to live in relationship to the point of respecting another person.  Even if the underlying motivation is self-serving, the effect might be appropriate or even kind.  Some narcissists really do not want to lose certain people in their lives. 

So when I say that you can trust the narcissist to be a narcissist, I don’t mean that he or she will always betray you or always do anything.  I mean that is a characteristic of the group.  Be prepared to see that characteristic in your narcissist.  If you don’t share that secret, you won’t be betrayed, whether or not the narcissist would do so.

Sometimes people ask me why I write so much about narcissism and why I speak so bluntly.  Mostly it’s because I have seen so much pain from those who didn’t know what they had gotten into.  Narcissists really do not think like other people.  We expect certain things in relationships because we project our desires and feelings on others.  Many times we are right, enough so that we move through most of life in peace.  But narcissists have issues that you and I don’t expect naturally.  Educating ourselves and discussing these things seems to help.  If nothing else, it helps to know that you are not the only one…


Filed under Narcissism, Relationship

14 responses to “Trusting the Narcissist

  1. Kelly

    Very good post Dave. I am getting married to a wonderful godly man in 7 weeks and I cannot overstate how different our relationship is than the one I had with my ex husband narcissist, I had to play the games to communicate with NPD ex. My fiance and are so relaxed, free, peaceful. There are no games. There is trust and love is reciprocated. I appreciate you talking about the narcissist because he/she is a real threat and danger to those who get entangled. I wish with all my heart that no one ever had to suffer at their hands and most of all, I wish things weren’t done to these people that caused them to set up a pseudo-personality to operate out of to begin with. God will wipe away every tear in heaven.

  2. It’s so hard to trust after lies have been uncovered. My ex narcissistic boyfriend would lie to me for months at a time and then come clean with it. The lies at the time hurt me, but it hurt even more when he would tell me the truth because it would dawn on me that he made me to suffer with the lie for so long, that the truth did not set me free. It brought a different kind of pain. Knowing he had lied with intent to hurt was very damaging to my esteem. I felt no worth about myself. He was not even embarresed that he had lied, he even laughed about it. Then I would think back about the lie and recall all the lies he had said about the lie. The story compounded. The stories were hurtful to me, he told them with intent to hurt. When he would finally tell me they werent true, it mustve been that he decided I had enough punishment of being hurt with the lie itself. But what it would do is make me even angrier and even more hurt that he would carry on the lie to me for that length of time. As if he thought the truth would unleash me from the hurt he was causing with the lie. I gave him several chances, tried to restore the relationship to no avail. What it boiled down to in the end was there was no longer trust. I still cant believe I got involoved with someone who was so deceitful and that would want to hurt me like this. I find it so difficult to find peace in my head and to come to peace with the situation. Why would anyone do this?

    • CatalinaMagoo

      I have been discarded in a ruthless way as well. MY HEART BREAKS for all that have been mislead by these disordered usurpers. My connection lasted 3yrs. Four times I tried to end it but N would not allow it but was already cheating with at least two OW. Three months ago I spent 5 days in the hospital for pnuemonia. During this time the N sourced new target and planned trip as well the the day after I was released I was so happy to be able to be well again only for N to say hes dumping me now and said he has a new women. I started NC VERY NEXT DAY. To no avail after 26 days he is on my doorstep wanting to be friends. WOW really … I told him to STAY AWAY!!! I’m not sure now what will happen. Im prepared to call the police if he hoovers again for TRESSPASSING! Im sick of the stupid mind games.

  3. lisa

    In a very deep depression from my narcissist. This helpped

  4. praying for healing

    in a very deep depression from my narcissist husband

    • Please find some quality counseling. Depression is serious and often dangerous. If you have no money, find a women’s shelter or even go to the emergency room of your hospital. You probably don’t have to give them your real name. Just find some help. I am praying for you.

  5. Cecilia K

    This comment isn’t so much related to the subject of this article overall, as it is to one small part of it. When I read the paragraph about consistency in narcissists, it reminded me of a little revelation I had recently about my ex, and how some of his behavior was INconsistent.

    One of our earliest disagreements was over our respective roles, should we get married. I had always desired a traditional wife role, but he is very modern in his thinking, and he was insistent that I would work full-time outside the house to pull my weight in the relationship. Granted, he also said that we would NEED two incomes to survive, which I understood, and was okay with his wishes, if it was for THAT reason.

    One other thing he said, though, seems inconsistent with typical narc behavior. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something to the effect of he didn’t want me serving him, I gathered because he thought that would be demeaning to me, and he didn’t want to seem like an ogre husband who just orders his wife around. I tried to convey that it would give me joy to serve him – but not as a SERVANT; as his wife. And as long as he didn’t treat me like I was OBLIGATED to serve him, but rather showed appreciation for it. And when I say “serve,” I mean help, like Eve was created to be Adam’s helper. I may not be articulating this quite right, but i hope you get the gist.

    Anyway, so that seems like a pretty admirable attitude for a guy and non-narcissistic, right? Because a textbook narc would probably expect his wife to BE his servant, running to and fro to meet all of his needs/desires. But then further down the road, he became very demanding of my time, jealous of my friendship with my roommate, angry when I disagreed with him, angry if I wasn’t very talkative on the phone, etc., etc., in other words, much more typical narc behavior, where he seemed to feel entitled to my worship/adoration. These two attitudes seem like polar opposites to me. Am I explaining this clearly?

    Was just wondering if any of you have any thoughts on that, regarding a possible explanation of these contradictory attitudes.

  6. Penny

    Ns are the embodiment of contradictions. I DO understand what you are saying, and my response is that the “idea” of you serving him was condescending to him, as tho he “needed” you to do so. The carefully-crafted image that the N shows the world can NEVER be “needy” (which would make him inferior) but rather, it must always be “superior”. Thus, even tho Ns demand to be served and adored and admired and worshipped, it is b/c they are the center of the universe, NOT b/c they “need” you. In the convoluted mind of a narc, they don’t “need” you; you “need” them: to feel worthy, alive and important. Then they destroy you for needing them–you weak, worthless, pathetic, needy little twit. You aren’t worthy of being needed by them! Get it?? It’s why it’s crazy-making.

  7. Penny

    Cecilia~as I thot about your question a little more, I think it’s also prudent to point out some “red flags” in your comments about his views about women.
    His insistance that you work full time b/c he wanted you to “pull your weight in the relationship”, then trying to legitimize that by saying “we would NEED two incomes to survive” is the Ns subtle way of devaluing you. Many narcs have an odd pre-occupation with money that deprives you of inherent worth as a human being. But you aren’t “human”– you an “object” to be used to meet their insatiable desires; in this case the “object” is an ATM machine. Many here have testified to the narc pressuring them to work while they remain unemployed, over-spending & racking up hidden debt in the name of their so-called “beloved”. Narcs seek two things: power & control. Finding a responsible spouse who will agree to work 24/7 so the marriage can “survive” is NOT about the marriage surviving, but rather about the narc’s entitlement to “stuff” and/or pleasure. Many narcs marry precisely b/c they see their spouse as an ATM (object) that is full of $$$. “Pulling your weight” & “surviving” are both reduced to monetary terms, rather than as love, commitment, fidelity, honor, honesty, empathy, etc., all of which are God-given traits that have inherent worth “far above rubies”. God Himself values us b/c we are created in HIS image, not b/c we can “buy” things for Him! God’s image, His essence IS perfect love, perfect honor, perfect fidelity, etc. The primary purpose of marriage is not to “make us happy” but to make us holy, to make us more like Him. (Happiness is of course the byproduct of a healthy marriage, but holiness is an act of worship that pleases God.) So, in the subtle, powerful way that narcs behave, your ex de-valued you as a child of God, created in HIS image, not the narcs, and then further de-valued your God-given gifts (of love & honor) as necessary to survive. It’s all about them–not you, and certainly not God. Because narcs are gods unto themselves……and their purposes are always twisted.

    • UnForsaken

      Penny, your words are spot on and bring several things to mind. Your first comment describes my N nicely. The confusion of the Ns continually contradicting attitudes is useful in several ways: they never have to admit or even understand their own feelings , while keeping us on our toes. It helps to take whatever they “state” as not worth a grain of salt, because tomorrow they say the reverse….and that they never meant the other, or said it.

      Your second reply – WOW! He uses money to devalue me all the time. ( Mine loves playing the “generosity” game, but it’s hard to know which angle he’ll take on any one occation. I must look terribly spoiled to most people, but I’m a scrounger like my grandparents and like things to look quality. Unfortunately, this usually plays right into his hands. ) And how you described views on woman! Fundi and patriachal groups encourage this kind of thinking, but the woman – including myself – are mistaken when they think it has nothing to do with de-valueing. It eventually started leaving a bad tast in my mouth, even though I’d bought into patriarchy more than he had. It was another tool to him, one that I’d been primed all my life to believe without knowing it. But, perhaps it’s common for most Ns to feel they have to believe their own sex is superior, and put down the other one. I know my grandfather was more open to woman’s abilities – and not using them, but respecting them. ( So much for people’s idea that past woman were denegrated and enslaved by his generation. It has always been up to the individual man: in his thinking, ego, self-esteem, and ethics.) My N once stated he thought the world would have fewer problems if woman had never started going ot college! Again, my grandfather valued education And us. He would have been proud of us Whatever we chose, and realized it was Our choice. Unconditional.

      ‘Pulling your weight” and “suvival” are so common in our society. I believe it’s easier for us to become cowards and think manipulation is a work to be proud of, still calling it ” the work ethic” . But life isn’t completely about survival, it’s about Living, about being what God wants us to be, and about praising Him for it! You put that So beautifully: “holiness…an act of worship that pleases God”. I believe that what we do everyday can be worship, no matter how humble. He looks at our hearts and loves His small children’s attempts at pleasing Him.

      Thanks Penny!

    • Cecilia K

      I’m sorry it took me so long to respond, Penny, but I did want to thank you for sharing your thoughts on my question. What you said makes a lot of sense (or with narcs, I guess nothing ever really makes total sense, huh? ha ha).

      And on the weight pulling comment, yeah, I didn’t like that either. I had inadvertently conveyed to him that I wanted a traditional role so I could just laze around the house and entertain myself while he did all the work to provide for us, which wasn’t what I meant, but I could see how I gave him that impression. Anyway, so he said he didn’t want to be “doing all the work” (i.e., breadwinning + household chores), and I told him that I intended to do the household stuff and could run errands for him and so forth to save him time, and then we could have more time to spend together when he was home. I’m not sure he believed me. I told him I would probably WANT to work part-time outside the house because I would get bored being home all the time, but that still wasn’t enough, because we would need two full-time incomes, I guess.

      After our fourth(?) reconciliation, he said he would be okay with me working part-time. That hadn’t been a reason for any of our break-ups, but it was nice to hear nonetheless (of course, I was assuming he meant it, but like UnForsaken said, who knows?).

      But anyway, I see what you are saying. Thank you again!

  8. Dana Conroy

    Hi Im new to this site and am so glad I found it — Christian based :)))
    I, too, fell in love with a N and its been a daunting experience ever since ~3 months into it. In fact we have been in break up mode for over a year. I stuck it out since he is my neighbor and there are a million really neat things about him, of course. Anyway I discovered a youtube channel that has been very helpful. Sooooo much that is out there is hardly endorses a “loving” approach to dealing with and/or healing from a N and the havoc it wreaks.
    “Patrick Doyle, The Dove” has a host of videos that are taped roundtable discussions, from Christian perspective. These videos have helped me to understand both myself (half the equation) as codependent, and him.
    I have exhausted the internet resources, there is so little out there and pop psychology pretty much says “Run for the Hills”. Hope this helps.

  9. Fellow Survivor

    Welcome to our forum Dana.

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