Who is the Narcissist?

It’s Narcissist Friday!


Who is the narcissist?  He or she will never tell you.  He will do almost anything to prevent you from finding out.  She is hiding.  She presents a false identity so that you will focus on that instead of her.  He hides behind his created ego.  You will only see the image.  He wants you to admire the image, even worship it; but whether you do or not isn’t the real point.  The real point is that you don’t see the truth about him.

All your attention must be focused on the image.  Everything will be sacrificed for the image.  Relationships mean nothing in comparison.  No other person exists except the image—which isn’t real.  What a strange life!

Most people think of the narcissist as someone who must always be right, always be the center of attention, always be in control, or always be served and satisfied.  They think the narcissist is in love with himself.  But the truth is much darker.  The narcissist is the weak little child hiding in the corner making a big shadow on the wall to keep people away.  We are all supposed to look at the shadow.

So the narcissist is slave to the image he has created.  He must support it and worship it.  He must do whatever is necessary to maintain it.  If his image is smarter than everyone else, then he must be right.  He will lie to cover his error.  He will attack to defend his position.  He will distract from any evidence that suggests his image is somehow less than he wants you to think.  If her image is to be the victim, then she must be the most needy and most deserving victim.  She must oppose any other victim who might pull at your heart.  She must be the center of your attention and service.

Because the narcissist spends so much time and energy maintaining the image, he expects that you will also.  You must.  Your service to the image affirms him.  If you don’t worship the image, you frighten the narcissist.  He fears that you might be able to see the truth he has worked to deny.

Chances are that those who have been in narcissistic relationships have never really known the narcissist.  They have only seen the image.  It is something like those stories where the person has one name and identity but is really someone else, someone much different from the person they see.  There is a hidden evil, a shame or sin, that must be covered and contradicted.  There is a weakness that must be hidden.  They have never known the real person.

So, of course, they suffer feelings of betrayal when they discover the lie.  When they realize that this person has been a deception all along, they become angry.  They think it has all been a lie and they have been used.  And, for the most part, they are right.

But discovering the lie is not the same as discovering the truth.  Most victims of narcissistic relationships find that there is no resolution, no closure, after the relationship.  They learn that so much has been false, but they still don’t know what is true.  Any escape or culmination feels empty.  Victims are left with wondering why this all happened and what could have been done differently.

Sadly, the truth about the narcissist may never be known.  It is usually too hard for him to share.  Even with counselors, the narcissist will evade and deceive.  Pieces of the story may be revealed, but the pain of the heart will probably not.  Even when the truth about how she was raised comes out, she will shrug it off as though it didn’t matter.

It is important for me to close this post with a warning.  It is normal to feel some compassion for the narcissist when the sadness of his or her life is considered.  But compassion and trust must be two different things.  We may desire to understand what would damage a person so much, but we still must guard against more manipulation and cruelty.  Love and care from a distance.  The narcissist doesn’t care how he hurts you, so you have to maintain boundaries and distance.  There may be all kinds of reasons the dog will want to bite you.  You must make sure you don’t give him the opportunity.


Filed under Narcissism

21 responses to “Who is the Narcissist?

  1. HopefulSorrow

    Oh how I wish I had read/known this (especially the last paragraph) before meeting the narcissist! It is so affirming now, though! Thank you.

  2. noel6119

    This so describes my relationship with my ex-husband. We dated for 4 years and were married for 45. The impact of finding this out was tremendous. It has been 6.5 years and still there are very few people who understand. I invested the best years of my life with him. I’ll say one thing. It has strengthened my faith in God. I don’t have much faith in man any more.

    • lewisham

      How very true,I never knew what it was called until my cousin told me
      about it(1 1/2 years ago),it still hurts a lot.
      I agree with you,not many people understand,and they don’t want
      to know,the truth is so ugly,they all run away,leaving us in more pain!
      I too invested my best(28) years,for what?
      My faith in God is very strong,but I don’t trust many people anymore either.
      45 years is a long time!!
      The sad problem is,most of us only find out when it’s too late,when we are
      hooked.The last years of my marriage it really felt like an addiction,now I
      know why….

  3. brian samuel adams

    This site , as so many out there that attend to those of us waylaid by a disordered person, proved invaluable to me. Praise God.
    Take to heart this metaphor. To narcissist we are his favorite toy which is a yo-yo. He loves to play with it more than anything so much so that is an obsession. It’s the only skill he’s ever been accomplished at. The Yo-Yo itself is of no value to him. If he loses it or wears it out or breaks it, as he so often does, he can easily get another one. So ,your thinkin’ of your self as his yo-yo now, specifically your, mind and emotions. He loves to wrap a string around you nice and tight, throws you, your spinning so fast you can’t make sense of any thing and don’t know what to think, he plays a trick or two with you while you spin and before you stop spinning, your at the end of the string and he jerks you back to his grip. He can play some more, hes learned lots of tricks. Up and down you go till he can’t get you to do good tricks any more.
    At this point it’s always the same, always was always will be. HE NEVER CHANGES. It’s always the yo-yo’s fault his tricks don’t work. NOTHING IS WRONG WITH THE YO-YO(YOU), but as any spoiled brat does, he gets mad at his old toy, breaks it on purpose and throws it away, Then off he goes to the store(society), were he’s steals(hes good at that too, because he acts so nice no one suspects him) another yo-yo(victim) AND NEVER THINKS ABOUT THAT OLD YO-YO AGAIN, he’s got a new one now.
    It’s sad but true, don’t be anyone’s play toy. It’s abuse in the worst way. God needs you free from that. It’s His work to heal their brokenness and the only thing that can.

    • Fellow Survivor

      Brian, right on. A Yo-Yo we were. In my case after I had almost completely withdrawn because of all the lying, she sent me an email saying how much she missed the old me, the one that loved her and took care of her. (Withdrawal basically means that I wasn’t going to roll up on that string again so she could keep playing) I sent her a note back, one I thought was romantic and sincere that said the old me that loved you and served you is still here inside of me, but he is not coming out until all the yelling, blaming, mental, verbal, emotional, and now physical abuse stopped. I told her it had worked for the last 10 years, but no more. I told her we need to learn to have discussions like all normal people about the problems and challenges that all married people face without raising our voice etc. Just be normal. I told her how much I missed holding her and pampering her etc. Because I would not roll up on that string she divorced me after 23 years. On another site I read that this is a common trick of the N. Basically, its says something like “come closer so I can hit you again” All I was saying that I am not going to open my heart up to you again unless you promise not to break it on purpose. But that’s no fun, is it. I mean, its a game right? When I was a kid I loved kicking the soccer ball around. If one went flat we just got another one. To pick up on your metaphor, they enjoy kicking us around. But we are not soccer balls or Yo-Yos. (Well, we may actually feel like Yo-Yos for putting up with it for so long)

      It was a bad night and day for me brother. Woke up thinking about her at about 3 am. I got to stop doing that. My daughter’s birthday is Sunday, she will be 17, so thinking about that day obviously includes very intimate wonderful memories with her N mom. So many memories of making that baby, having that baby, and raising that baby all include the N mom. I just can’t escape it.

      On a separate note, it would be interesting to see how many of the Ns we all know never bonded with their fathers or mothers. Because I feel like I almost have a PHD on this subject, all the Ns I know now all had bad relationships with their dad’s growing up. A common thread.

      • admittruth

        YES! They ALL have poor or non-existent relationships with their fathers, and often the fathers are narcs, too.

      • Joy

        My N ex husband was neglected and rejected by his very cold mother. I think he is an N as part of an attachment problem. And he is very definitely passively aggressive in his deep anger…and he directs it towards the woman he can punish instead of his mother…me.

  4. This is so true. Though it is comforting to be validated… it’s quite disconcerting to reading about your experiences online or in a book. Few people understand unless they have been through it, and therefore it is a very lonely journey whether you choose to maintain the relationship or walk away.

  5. Fellow Survivor

    I have come up with a term that helps me put this whole N thing in perspective. “Bad Code” Its like a computer virus that infects all other programs and takes over the hard drive(the essence of the individual). Once it takes over the hard drive it does everything possible to infect others and destroy other hard drives (lives) Like a trojan horse virus, the N puts on the pretty face, seduces, sneaks into our lives, and then destroys everything. Malware, Trojan Horse, Bad Code. Its all the same.

  6. J

    The identity of the narcissist is so difficult to discern. Even after receiving treatment and working a 12 step program, my NH is still an enigma. He wants to file for legal separation one day, then claims it’s a mistake the next. I’ll admit it would have been easier to say goodbye had he remained a raging, abusive jerk. But now he’s “changed” and honestly seems to be making good progress with his program. He says he loves me and wants our family to be whole, but I just can’t imagine reconciling. I’ll admit I don’t have any feelings of love anymore. Those were all crushed long ago. Only hatred and revulsion remain. But amazingly, if I didn’t have 15 years of nightmarish treatment under my belt and, more importantly, the knowledge of this condition, I most certainly would have caved by now. The fear of having a failed marriage or devastating the kids or my family or being destitute would have all been too much for me to tolerate. But now I’m trying to decide what is right for me. Truly there can be no intimacy without trust, and that trust is so broken. I suppose only time will tell what needs to happen. So much healing needs to occur. Please pray for me, guys. I have so many overwhelming changes and decisions to make right now. Just terrifying.

    • Fellow Survivor

      “There can be no intimacy without trust” so true. Sorry for your situation. In reference to this statement in quotations, has anyone had the experience where the N basically says ” Why don’t you trust me when I am lying to you?” “Why don’t you believe my lies?” I mean really, they basically say that. They lie to you. You point out with proof why what they say is false and said to you knowing it was a lie, and still ask why we don’t believe them. My X N actually would say why don’t you trust me. I would say because what you said on this date was a lie, and on this date, and on this date. The lies were always about “where are you going?” and ” who will be there?” and “what will you be doing?” All of this behavior is what you would expect from a typical teenager. In my case with my X it was like this:
      I am going shopping but really going to nightclubs.
      I am going with my sister but really with a bad news friend
      I need these fancy clothes for this trip because we will be going to the Broadway Shows, but really she needed the clothes for the nightclubs. It was all about Narcisstic Supply. Someone raving about how beautiful she was or how smart she is or how hardworking she is. These people need to be constantly validated as important, or pretty, or smart, or whatever. My greatest fear is that this bad code is past down to my daughter. It is a learned behavior and my daughter so much wants to please her mom. That is my life’s work right now. This disorder stops here. The other two grandchildren are very likely to become like the grandfather. But not my child. She must not and can not become someone she is not in order to gain acceptance from her mom, just as my X became someone she is not in order to gain acceptance from her dad.

      The worst part of loving an N is that the relationship brings out the worst in us. How it changes us. J, you mention two strong emotional words, Hatred and Revulsion. I actually never had hate, but revulsion, yes. Anger yes. Bitterness yes. I can’t tell you how many times we were in shouting matches over nothing when shouting is so not me.

      We are all on this site because we are believers. We are being attacked but we must never loose faith. Our N spouses are only unknowing agents of the evil one trying to break us. Why? Because we Love. The strongest, most powerful, most important emotion there is, which is a gift from God himself. To be able to love is a gift, we have it, but Ns don’t.

    • Rhonda

      Going to my prayer group 10-16-13 9:30-10:30 a.m. Will include you in our prayers….N has been in my family for generations. Prayers tomorrow for all of us,including the N, to be set free from these generational curses.

  7. noel6119

    I am curious. Does any one know of a case where someone with this disorder has been helped to the point where they can have a normal relationship?

    • Donna Roberts Walker

      I read an article that stated that it has rarely happened and then only after many, many years of counseling.

    • MJ

      Check out narcissismcured.com . There is a couple in Australia who claim that the husband was / is a narcissist and supposedly he has worked through it a bit and they now have a healthy marriage. It’s an interesting site and their materials may be helpful for some.

      • MJ, thanks for this resource. I held back the comment until I could purchase and read their book. I have some concerns about this couple and have addressed this in my most recent NF post (8-9-13). I removed the link from your comment simply because I am not comfortable connecting with their site, but you are right that their materials might be helpful for some.

  8. Donna Roberts Walker

    This article is spot on. Makes me very sad that I’ll never know who my husband really is… only this shadowy facade that manipulates and lies to cover the real person. He will die before he’ll reveal the dark, abusive, child-like demon within. I’m always being manipulated, of this I’m aware. He becomes frightened if he feels ‘disconnected’ from me. He called me as I got to church last Sunday. He was crying because he felt there was distance between us. He was correct… I was taking care of myself and not thinking about him. So very, very sad. He is needy and rebellious yet, he is powerful, controlling, manipulative and eventually abusive to everyone who has the misfortune of believing the image he projects of being a really great person… Innocent victims assume he has normal human emotions and feelings. The thing that makes me most sad is that I am convinced I’d really like the real person… I can hardly stand the presence of this shadowy impostor. This false being has brought nothing but pain and grief into my life and the life of our children and I hate him… Yet, I forgive and hope.

  9. John

    This is another great post – spot on. In my experience, one way to distinguish arrogant people from those with NPD is that NPD individuals cannot be alone. I read it somewhere that when it happens it is like water being poured on the wicked witch and they literally melt. I believe the term is decompensation. I witnessed this several times with my ex-wife when trying to leave her. She would withdraw to her bedroom, in an almost indescribable panic trying to get me to come back. She would call and say she was bleeding, or going to commit suicide, or had swallowed something poisonous (all lies) and would literally beg me to come back. I always (faultily) interpreted this as her intense love for me. In retrospect, I think when they are alone, they are getting peek at their true selves, something so shameful and horrible in their minds that they will do anything not to face it. By the way, an arrogant or pompous person may be difficult to stomach, but would I do not believe they behave this way if faced with a lover who is leaving.

    As the blog post points out, it is easy under these circumstances to have sympathy (or even empathy) for the person you are in conflict with. It is easy to get drawn back (yo-yo) and misinterpret their behavior. What makes NPD individuals so destructive is what you don’t realize. When you go back, you think and are told that you are making up (usually from something cruel they have said or done). You are not. No real apologies are ever given, only pseudo-apologies or promises the NPD’d will not fulfill. What they actually do is, I believe, keep track of you leaving once again as an abandonment, one that they will ultimately punish you for later (when they leave). They also see you as increasingly weak for taking their abuse, believing their lies and coming back. Their BS and their cruel behavior then goes up notch by notch. Yes, there is a huge void inside them, an un-faceable amount of shame. But somewhere in there is also a huge well of rage, that ultimately gets projected on those responsible (you) for making sure they do not face themselves. This is why I think the author of the blog rightfully is warning us. It is not just that the NPD individual doesn’t care, they actually get pleasure out of releasing this rage, just as their parents probably did by releasing it on them. Distance, time, and understanding are the only tools left for those like us most deeply affected by NPD. Thanks for another great blog post.

  10. Shonda Rucker

    I ended a 10 yr relationship with a narcississt, nearly 3 years ago. It is still not finished. He goes away and then abruptly pop’s back into my life and hurts me any way he can from a distance. I go to therapy every month, he refuses, he says nothing is wrong with him. It is the saddest thing I have ever been involved with and am stil trying to escape from it all. Escaping is not easy

  11. Lene

    Thank you for posting this. I just found it, but I also just got out of a 20 year marriage to a narcissist. Everything was great, until it wasn’t. Now I know that I need to quit looking for closure and work on myself. My poor son still has to spend 50% of his time there, but I know that once he’s of age, his choice will be to spend most of his time here, where it isn’t all about dad. At this house, it’s about FAMILY and GOD, not one individual.

  12. Nice site Dave , thanks. Little knowledge or support on N in Australia. How do we actually know a partner has N? Many traits did appear to be there. Does one have to go through the ‘Hoover’ a second attempt , repeat the patterns and then know for sure? N seems so deniable and one doesn’t want to believe it. Regards, Andrew.

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