The Narcissist at Christmas

(I published this post a couple years ago, but thought it might be helpful again.  I know that some will say this is letting the narcissist off the hook, but the plan is just to let you off the hook.  The more you prepare, the more you understand why the narcissist does what he/she does, the better your chance at having a reasonable holiday.  I will be praying for all of you.)

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

I suppose that it’s true to say that narcissists usually ruin Christmas as they do almost all other holidays.  There are so many stories of narcissists spoiling special family times.  Their need for control and attention seems to rise to new levels on special days.

But it may be that narcissists don’t really understand holidays.  The special days are either terrifying or exciting for them and for the same reason.  Remember that everything must revolve around the narcissist in order for him to be comfortable.  As long as he can control the things around him, he is okay.  But when an extended family gets together, the narcissist’s comfort is threatened.  There may be someone who doesn’t like him.  There may be someone who is better than he is at something.  There may be someone who understands him.  None of these is acceptable.  So, strange things happen to avoid or ruin family times.

It may be an office party with all the positioning.  It may be a special time at church that could put him on the spot.  It may be the exchange of gifts, where he can’t be sure that his gift will work to focus attention on him.  Whatever it is, the narcissist is probably going to be uncomfortable at Christmas. 

Just think about gift exchange.  If the motivation for the gift isn’t love, what is it?  Because the narcissist will be unhappy if his gift to another is larger than the one he receives, and he will be unhappy if his gift to another appears to be smaller than the one he receives, he can’t win.  And, since he is unwilling and unable to take the time to actually know a person well enough to give a sensitive gift, he can’t ever be sure how well it will work.  Often, the narcissist will focus on funny gifts, designed to make himself look clever, rather than enter into the real giving spirit.

And this is just one part of the holiday stresses for the narcissist.  Are they coming to her house?  How much work are they worth?  Will she be expected to entertain them or wait on them?  Will she have to cook for them?  And laugh at their jokes?  And smile for them?  On and on.

So, this holiday season, lower your expectations.  You will probably see your narcissist at his or her worst.  Relax.  Of course something will happen, but the narcissist only defines himself.  As much as possible, enjoy your family and friends and remember what Christmas is all about.  You are loved!

35 Comments

Filed under Freedom, Narcissism

35 responses to “The Narcissist at Christmas

  1. Tia

    Hi. Thank you for this posting of a Narcissist at Christmas – I had such a strange experience this Christmas with someone who clearly is a Narcissist. Just need to share this for what it’s worth. Maybe advice or confirmation. My “boyfriend” is a Muslim. I have maintained an open mind and one of curiosity about Islam but will never convert. He is very jealous of my ex husband, with whom I have a cordial relationship for the benefit of the children and who comes on Christmas. I’ve assured my boyfriend there is nothing to worry about. So, on Christmas eve around 6 p.m. he called to tell me he left his watch in the men’s room of the mosque in a town about an hour away from where I live. He wanted me to go get it for him. I told him I would but I couldn’t with the family there. He seemed annoyed – even angry that I wouldn’t do that. The next day was Christmas. I called to ask him if he was able to retrieve his watch and to take a peek in on his mood. He was cold and told me he wasn’t the least bit upset, but that he was cancelling our New Years Eve weekend plans because he was going to go see a woman friend – who he knows I don’t care for – and wouldn’t be able to spend the weekend – as we had planned – with me. I got upset and since this has been such a long-standing problem with him, I decided to end the relationship. The point is – he tried to upstage Christmas and then he tried to punish me with cancelling New Years plans. I tried to talk to him, to tell him how hurt I was, etc. But, he was like ice and just cut me off and said he had to get off the phone. So, the bottom line to this is – you are absolutely right. They will try to steal Christmas – like the Grinch – even if they’re not Christian.

    • Tia,
      You didn’t pass the test, right? I would be interested as to whether your relationship continues. If he cannot control you, he may simply abandon you. Or this may be the preview of things to come in your relationship down the road. If he is a narcissist, he will have to know where you stand in the order of his life. If you present a factor which he can’t control, he will be uncomfortable and there may be many such tests. On the other hand, if you give in and fall into the place he wants, you will find your part of the relationship becoming less and less important.
      You really can’t win with a narcissist. I rarely tell people what I think they should do in a specific sense because I don’t think that’s my place, but I would certainly want you to be aware that these things do not get better. If you feel tempted to restore your relationship with him, you might want to do some reading on the subject. One book you may appreciate is “Help! I’m in Love with a Narcissist” by Carter and Sokol.
      There are so many questions I would like to ask. Has he always been a Muslim? Is he from that culture? It goes through my mind that narcissism in relationship may be viewed as positive for a man in that culture. You don’t have to give me any answers, of course. It just offers a question for me to think about.
      Please feel free to write with any questions or thoughts. Thanks for the note!

  2. Tia

    Thank you so much for your kind response to my comments. Yes He has always been Muslim and is from Jordan. He “used” that woman with whom he broke our New Years weekend date to spend some time with for years before meeting me. She is married and was in love with him which annoyed her husband (yikes!) BUT, he adamantly maintains that she is only a friend (because she’s fairly unattractive. Figures, right?) to get a job. Then, after he got the job, he “allowed” her “find” an e-mail I’d sent him so she would become angry and not want to see him anymore. I’d asked him to tell her about us since she is only a friend, but now I realize he was playing her to get the job. Anyway, some time ago i began to wonder if he was a naracissist because whenever I’d ask him to tell her, he would get angry and then demand that I stop being so “insecure” and “jealous.” I knew that it was all wrong. So, I often would try to leave the relationship, but then would give in, call him and we’d be back together for awhile. Until it would happen again. I began to also see my own complicity because i was kind of “stuck” on him – even though he claimed to love me. I couldn’t stay away for a long period of time. I knew the time would come that i would have to. So, this last time, it had been a couple of months since she found out and we’d been getting along beautifully. I wondered if maybe it could work and that I’d been wrong about my assumption he was a narcissist, but i promised myself that if he did it again, i would pray for the strength and courage to leave the relationship. In the meantime, he’d asked me to marry him (which thank God I wouldn’t) and basically everything was fine with us. No arguments. Nothing. But, last week i began to sense a shift in his energy again. It’s as if another person is in him that comes to the surface and then things get bad between us. He is mean, cold, indifferent, doesn’t call and accuses me of things (like my ex husband)
    Also, his mother and his family don’t approve of me because I’m American and Christian. Since I’d been active in the inter-faith peace network in Buffalo, I had an open mind toward Muslims, but this guy is no scholar and really is a very strong Muslim. He tried to convert me and I just tried to keep an open mind to his religion, but told him despite all the faults the “church” may have, I am a Christian through and through. Sometimes he would argue with me about the faith, i.e. Holy Spirit, Crucifixion and I would just tell him that he was entitled to his ideas but i was just fine being who i was. Recently, he was making a bigger deal of his praying 5 times a day, and gave me a Qu’ran and was telling me he was afraid of burning in hell and seemed to be more and more fearful in general. i was deeply concerned about his deteriorating psychological condition because he was becoming more and more wrapped up in the Qu’ran and it’s fear-based controlling religiosity.I couldn’t debate with him or he’d get angry and tell me that I was going to go to hell. I soon realized that we couldn’t have any common ground and that this would be a battle someday and i would have to walk away because nothing in this world could take me away from Jesus Christ. How funny that he would stage this on Christmas? I just can’t over it. I had no choice but to end it. So, that’s it basically. No I am never going back to him, even if he were to call. He’s staging his great silent treatment which is what he does. So, i don’t expect him to call and quite frankly I’m really glad this is ended at last. You’re right about the Muslim male arrogance. Also, as our relationship grew from the beginning when he chased me for weeks to go out with him, he would occasionally let it slip about his marriages. At first he said he had an exwife – so i thought there was only one. After a few more months he’d tell me about another and another. Recently he told me that he has had 6 wives, two of whom were first cousins. I knew I was going to end this anyway, but he set the stage and I saw my way out. So, it’s done. I can almost hear you laughing. It’s so ridiculous, I’m shocked that I stayed in it for a year, but love has a strange power over the mind. Now I know this isn’t love at all – it’s something dark and I don’t want anything to do with it.
    Thank you again. Your thoughts are very helpful. I admit I’m still a bit wounded by it and wondering if I was wrong in my assumption that he’s a narcissist or if this is just the way Muslim men are. In either case, I can’t be with him – maybe for both reasons. I welcome your thoughts on this.

    • Tia,
      Good for you! I grieve for those who marry narcissists and I am glad that you have been able to get out before that. I hope you have a system of protection in case his anger leads to violence. Typically, narcissists aren’t violent, but some are and others have no particular qualms about hurting physically if they think it will help their cause. And they are amazingly good at blaming their violence on their victims. So, please protect yourself.
      We are usually deceived by the things in our own hearts, the needs that have grown there over time. Those needs blind us to the red flags we should be seeing in relationships and decisions. As you realized, it isn’t love as much as it is the promise of having those needs fulfilled. It seems that there are always people willing to take advantage of those needs in us. You might find some benefit in exploring why you were open to someone like this, especially when so many clues were there early in the relationship.
      Narcissists, in general, are very attractive. I don’t mean physically, but emotionally. They know just what buttons to push and just how to manipulate people. They have been doing it for so long and it is necessary for them to be good at it. It is easy to be impressed with or even to fall in love with a narcissist. Like many predators, they lure their prey with attractive and addictive bait. Then, after a while, the other “person” you mention comes out. Too often, the connection is strong enough by that time that the narcissist is able to control his or her victim. Sounds incredible, but this is just how people experience it.
      No, I didn’t laugh, although I did allow myself a gasp. 😉 He has done this to six others! (At least six that he has admitted to you.) Amazing! You are wise and blessed to get out.

  3. Tia

    Thank you. I feel such a mixture of things – I feel sad for him, for his interior emptiness, loneliness and inner agony. i feel sorry that when I have to defend a boundary of mine, one which he has invaded, he feels attacked, even assaulted and retreats into his inner den. It’s sad that we can’t have an honest exchange of ideas that have any real depth. I feel sad that what began so beautifully, so full of promise, turned out to be a fist of ashes. I feel very sad for him. But, I cannot stay with him because I too have a life to live and mine is authentic, vitally alive and full of hope for happiness. He seems to resent my joy, which stems from a full engagement with life, even those who are hurting. I know I can’t help him and that too is sad. I can only leave. And, with God’s grace I will continue to look forward and never backward. That’s the key, I think: never looking back and knowing you’re doing the right thing. I also know that there is something in me that must have unconsciously invited his predatory behavior and that I have to look at and take responsibility for. That’s my life lesson in this. Anyway, thank you Pastor Dave. Your blog has been very helpful. I wish you much joy im this new year.

    • joni24walter

      i had my christmas & christmas eve party spoiled this year by an adult child chooses to stay up all night and sleep all day at my house during christmas after presents are opened. this year i evaluated the same ongoing situation for the last three years seeing a pattern. i decided to not spoil grandchildren christmas by having the adult child host christmas morning at their house for opening presents that way me and my husband were free to leave whenever we wanted to and they could sleep all day at their house. I will christmas dinner at my house for them to decide if they want to show for it all if they want leaving the responsibility for their choices on them not me!!

      • Yea! Good for you Joni! Sometimes it takes a while to realize what is happening, but the answer in many situation is simply setting boundaries. Boundaries put the burden back on the narcissist/user. Expect whining and arguing, but stand strong and you will see changes. Narcissists have needs and will compromise to get those needs met. Boundaries force them to see you as separate from themselves. Next week (2-2-12) I will write about boundaries. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Cecilia K

      I hurt with you, Tia. I know we all do. I hope the Lord has brought healing and peace to your heart over these last couple of years.

  4. Dee

    After having a relationship with a narcissistic mother for 43 years, the only feeling I have left is sadness. Sadness because my father stood by and witnessed and experienced the same I did however no one came to my rescue. It was through therapy and setting clear boundaries that I’ve managed to keep her at bay. I’ve moved cross country 2 times in an effort to create more miles between us but the “mandatory” phone calls are dreadful and they drain the life out of me. To the point of not caring about trying to keep her in my life for the sake of my father. At this point all I can say is that I look forward for the day when I don’t have to deal with her, ever…..

    • Dee, I grieve with you for what you have never had. Children should have parents who care and pass on love and health. Your father is a victim as well, but he still should have intervened for you. It sounds like you are working through your feelings. Negative feelings are valid feelings also. The desire for distance is part of the victimization.

      I have suggested to others that they let the answering system take the calls. Get caller id so you know who it is and stand right there while the machine takes the call. Doing that will give you a feeling of control. Then you call her back with the tv on and a cup of coffee/hot chocolate in your hand. You have to call back or it doesn’t work, but you call on your time and when you are feeling good about yourself. The tv is available to distract you when she starts her thing. Also, if you call you will feel more confident when you are ready to end the call.

      these little things are surprisingly difficult for most victims, but they aid a process of healing without the separation. The problem of separation is that you still aren’t in control of the relationship. Her words and attitudes are plugged into your mind and you want to be able to overcome them. Doing this in active relationship is very helpful in giving you freedom while you are apart.

      Of course, I am not at all suggesting that you reestablish anything you have already ended. I don’t know your situation, so I am speaking generically. Maintain your distance and your control. Both are possible and both are healthy.

      Meanwhile, I will be praying for you. I never know where people stand, but I do know that the Lord loves you. He really does.

    • Russ Hudson

      I, too, have a cold and narcissistic mother who ruined every holiday, birthday or special occasion growing up. I, too, had a sweet and loving father who, unfortunately, never stood up to this woman for fear of her wrath. He passed away 10 years ago and I have had to cut my mother out of my life for good for my sanity and that of my children. I bought lavish gifts for her over the years, made the 12 hour roundtrip by car visits over and over to no avail. She always treated me the worst, and I was the one always doing things for her. I am one of four children, yet I was the only one who had her move in with me for three years after my father passed. She never lifted one finger around my house, nor complimented one single meal I prepared, yet she complained about how I raised my children, etc. My two brothers are narcissists like my mother, while my sister and I turned out to be the doormats. It’s been two years since I cut her off completely (of course, she’s never tried to call or write to ask why), and my life is better off without her. Narcissists do SO much damage, don’t they?

  5. Cybil (Anonymous)

    I have been in a difficult marriage for 19 years. We have three children. Recently, after my husband decided to refuse to have anything to do with my father ever again, I sought out therapy, and have come to realize that my husband has a lot of the characteristics of a narcissist. Today I was thinking about how to handle Christmas. My husband never gives gifts unless he thinks they are “good for you.” Usually that means no gifts at all. I don’t remember him getting anything for the kids in the last ten years, other than five subscriptions to business magazines for my daughter, whom he wants to go into business. Over the years I have received several vacuum cleaners. Last year he cleaned out the garage (which was nice, but something that bothered him more than me) and for my birthday in April, cleaned it out again. He has never enjoyed gift exchange on Christmas Day, is slow to come and reluctant to participate. This year I asked him what he wanted to do, and he suggested that we clean out a storage area in our home together – and I agreed. Today I asked him when he would like to do it, and he accused me of not valuing his time. Thank you for explaining what is going on in his mind at Christmas. My husband was abused both physically and mentally as a child. As his wife, and as a Christian, I am committed to showing love to him. It’s just been hard to realize that he just doesn’t have a lot of love to give My mother died about a year and a half ago. Christmas was always the time of year she was happiest. In her absence I have wanted to really give my children the joy she had. But it’s hard because my husband doesn’t want us to spend Christmas dinner with my father or our old family friends. Even though we have changed our traditions for his sake, to all our sadness, my husband is still upset with me – at this moment barely talking to me. I will take all the prayers and advice you can offer.

    • “Cybil”, I apologize for not writing back sooner. I have and will continue to pray for you. I have another post about holidays and the strange reactions of narcissists during what should be special times. If you haven’t read it, you might find some ideas. It is so hard to give adequate counsel because each situation is different, but your husband is acting out of the fear and need in his heart. That doesn’t excuse anything of his behavior, it just helps you to understand that he may actually not be trying to be cruel. There may be other motivations in him. When he works so hard to control you, he is revealing his fear.

      https://graceformyheart.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/what-will-he-or-she-do-this-time/

      You are welcome to contact me directly or here again. I will be praying.

      • Cyble

        Thanks for your comments and your prayers. I have been reading some of your other posts, and think they offer some great advice. The best one for me is the reminder that the image is protection and that the “treasure” is the scared and hurt boy. When I get a glimpse of that, I feel I can love, and my resentment starts to dissolve.

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  7. Chrysanne

    This is such a lovely site I have stumbled upon. I am the 63 year old daughter of a narcissist mother . She has come to my home for Christmas. I have limited it to a two day visit but even that is hard. I can’t help but see her now as a small child in an 88 yr olds body. She is so demanding and uncaring. It used to hurt me when I realized there really was no love in our interactions but now I know it is not possible with her and she will never be any different. My children do not want her to come to Christmas with us ever again. My daughter in particular finds her most repellant. She said she worries about attacks on our souls. I showed her a prayer that asks for soul protection. It helped me in some of my darest hours…. It’s great to be able to talk about these things on this site..thank you from rural Australia. Chrysanne

    • Hi Chrysanne! So good to hear from you. I have gotten behind on my replies over the holidays, but I appreciate your note.

      Yes, at 88, there is little hope for change. It is possible, but unlikely. Yet, knowing the enemy (narcissism) helps to understand the pain of the past. You were not wrong. She was cruel and manipulative and so many other things. It wasn’t your fault. This is who she was and is.

      Your daughter may look at her grandmother and worry about becoming like that. Unless you have reason to think your mother suffers from a mental illness, assure your daughter that this is the result of choices your mother made throughout her life and now she can’t do anything else. This is who she has become, but it is not who your daughter will become. She may also pick up offenses against you and have no real way to deal with them. Assure her that you are trusting the Lord to deal with and care for your mother and you are learning to let these things be in His hands. She needs to see her grandmother as you have learned to see her – a mean little child who has never been anything else. Very sad, but not contagious.

      You are always welcome to come here and ask questions or make comments. You are also welcome to contact me directly. I am praying for you.

  8. Jones

    I am a 49 year old woman who has been savaged by two narcissists since 1998. I am referring to my mother and sister. Ever since my father was diagnosed with Dementia in 1998 I have become a more obvious target for them both. They have always treated me as a dog’s body, slave and idiot as I grew up but once my father was out of the picture their disgusting behaviour increased.
    I had a very close relationship to my Dad and when he got sick the love left my life. My mother and sister are not “warm” people – they have a very distinct reserve regarding others. They dislike all of my friends and treat them accordingly. They do not hug me or tell me they approve of me in any way. If I do either of them a favour, it’s not big enough. I can ruin my social plans (I am mostly a “home body” so I don’t go out a lot) but that doesn’t matter – their needs are paramount.
    I remember breaking up a dinner party at my house to go out and buy pizza and deliver it to my mother’s house because she didn’t know the number. I only did this because she claimed she had not eaten for two days and being a diabetic I was extremely worried. She lied. It never occurred to me at the time that if she hadn’t eaten for 2 days she would have gone into a diabetic coma and died. She was delighted when I arrived and sucked me into watching a DVD with her. Hardly a woman on the brink of dying. But they have this hold on us.
    My sister is another story. I’m just too exhausted to even go there.

    • UnForsaken

      Dear Jones, the exhaustion is is something I feel often too. I’ll be praying for your peace of mind …and physical health. Take care!!

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  10. Joy

    My ex husband is a narcissist and he revels in Christmas. It is his time to star….he cooks the best turkey, and he ran around making himself indispensable to our guests and helping me left and right, even tough he only did this when he had an audience. I usually spent the whole holiday having people tell me what a “keeper” he is. He likes to buy expensive presents and if it’s a gift exchange where he might become part of the crowd he will think up some little quiz or competition for the person who receives his gift…..as long as the gift he gives receives the most attention he is happy.

    This year was the second year we are divorced. The first year he had our adult children for Christmas and I had Christmas with my kids the week before and then went to my relatives out of town…my first Christmas without my kids. I thought it would be easier for them to do what they please without worrying about mom who is only a half mile away. This year I had the kids for Christmas. Ex was invited to his sister’s home, but he made excuses (that didn’t hold water) and made sure the kids knew he’d be home alone (he loooves pity), but they were holding firm to going to my house and not splitting the day. Then he told his dad he’d be home alone..so his dad decided to come and be with him on Christmas day. The kids , started making noises about going to his house for part of the day because “Grandpa wanted to see them.” After I pointed out that they were already splitting the day with inlaws and me, they told their Dad that he’d have to pick a different day. He tried to pick Christmas Eve…so he could have he kids in church with him and I’d have to sit alone (we still attend the same church). Once again I pointed out to the kids that they went with him last year, and I got out of the way. If they go to church with him on his year, and then go with him on my year so he won’t feel bad, then when do I get to sit with my family on Christmas Eve? They finally told him he’d have to pick a different day. So he did…………..and then he showed up at Christmas Eve service with his new girlfriend who he’d never brought to church before. ….more attention, I guess.

    I hated having to counter each thing. I left the year before thinking that the next year, I’d have a peaceful Christmas with my kids. I did end up having a very fun day with the kids and attending Christmas Eve service with them the night before…but the weeks before Christmas were filled with these attempts to have the kids spend Christmas with him. …it was stressful just because every other day or so I’d hear of some way he was trying to get them to his house for Christmas.

    He’d played similar games with Thanksgiving too….holidays are definitely a sticky time, even if you are divorced from a narcissist.

    • Fellow Survivor

      Joy, I know it is difficult and the games they play can be downright frustrating. My x wife also is the big star at any party and especially at Christmas. Her Christmas Tree is a sight to behold and the source of never ending complements. One time a friend made a comment to me ” you must be very proud of your wife”. Its the same thing as when your friend told you ” he’s a keeper” I thanked the guy but under my breath I was saying to myself ” you marry her and see how you like it”

      Our only daughter is 17 and very mature for her age. We have traditionally spent Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with the x’s. So this Christmas my daughter spent Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with the x’s. However, there was the small matter of where she would spend the night on Christmas Eve. She told me it was hard to decide. I told her of course I would love it if you stayed with me but I know how important it is to your mom and gave her a big hug. How did the mom handle it? She told my daughter that it was in the Divorce decree that she HAD to stay with her. Insert LOL her please. When my daughter told me that she was a little put off. She said “I am 17 and I can do whatever I want to do”. I told her it isn’t worth the grief. It probably would be better to just stay with the mom. Really it is. The mom makes Christmas morning really special and always has.

      There is more to the story. Christmas is always special with family but for me and my daughter the best part was the Christmas Eve Service at our church. That one hour was more valuable than Christmas Eve, or morning or day. Our hearts were totally focused on the Glorious Gift and it just brings tears to my eyes writing about it right now. But I got the better deal.

      • Fellow Survivor

        After the Christmas Eve celebration with my family we came back to my house to get my daughter’s car. It was about 10:30 PM. She came in and we played with the cat and its new catnip toy for about an hour or so. Then we sat down on the sofa and hugged each other. We are both very sad about this episode in our lives.

        It was getting late and I said to her ” daughter, I know its hard for you to tell me you have to go so I will do it for you” She said ” its not hard for me to tell you dad, its just that I don’t want to”
        That will warm any dad’s heart

        The presents and the action and the decorations are at the mom’s. But in my home all I can offer is unconditional love, acceptance, and validation. Just so you know, I am still in the anger, resentment confusion state of mind about this entire life change. Still trying to make sense of the nonsensical, which can’t be done by the way. I am still working towards acceptance and moving on and letting go. It would be great if there was like a base or a target or something that you could just run to and put you foot on and be safe, but unfortunately it does not work that way.

  11. FS–She appealed not to love but to law.
    I believe my husband, immediately upon marrying me, felt so certain I could not truly love him that he set about with intention to be sure he made it impossible for me to love him. Then he turned all his claims to the legality of our marriage. I was legally bound to him. His only hope was in the law that tied us together, and my respect for that law. He could not risk the heart love. Your ex did the same with her daughter. She cannot appeal to her or anyone else on the basis of love because she knows, in her deepest knowledge of herself, which she cannot bear to face, that she is unlovable. So she must throw up the law and demand her right to presence.

    It’s so sad, this sickness. It really does kill love that could have been there, real.

    • Fellow Survivor

      Oh Repol. I miss heart love, I really do. The first time I felt and experienced it was in 6th grade. It is a feeling like no other and apparently after life experience it is very rare.

      I raised my/our daughter (her words, not mine) and so I know she knows how to love. She loves her mom very much and desperately wants to have a heart connection with her but it is just not possible. Relationships with these kinds of people are all based on control, whether it be religious law, money, sex, fear, whatever.

      I believe true heart love is based on total and complete freedom, without boundaries of any kind. With true heart love they just aren’t necessary. But maybe that’s just in fairy tales. My belief and faith in true heart love is what got me in trouble in the first place. A marriage with no boundaries. Because i trusted her with my heart when my heart was not even in the equation when she was making decisions on how she would behave in her life. I should have thrown up 10 foot high boundaries around my heart from the beginning but I just kept right on trusting that she didn’t mean to break that boundary, then that one, then that one, and it just kept on going until all trust was completely gone. Without trust love can not flourish or survive.

      Repol, as far as my daughter goes, as I have told you before, she is an awesome child. I have equipped her with Jesus as her primary tool box for life. I have tried to give her shields to protect her heart from the slings and arrows that will be fired at her heart by the mom and made it known to her that with me there will always be peace. What else can I do?

      I need to have the conversation with her that the mom is incapable of empathy. Where there is no empathy there can be no compassion. Without empathy and compassion there can be no love. How do you tell your kid that the mom can’t love? She is just not capable of love.

      Side note: Have you seen the movie “Frozen” yet. It is fast becoming a teen classic. My daughter has seen it 4 times already. She has to go see it with me because I can not walk into a Disney Princess movie as a single dad, that would be weird.

      • joy

        First I want to thank you so much for replying to my comment farther up this thread. You truly understand what it’s like to be with a charming narcissist.

        Second, I want to say that I am right there with you on trying to help the kids (even though mine are young adults now) understand what’s going on, so they will be better able to deal with the N’s behaviors, and to notice when he’s giving and charming to notice if it’s actually attempts to control. For a long time, I covered for him while we were were married: “Daddy’s tired.” or “Daddy probably didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” etc. I wish I hadn’t done that now.

        Now, since I am no longer involved in the relationship between him and the kids, I’m no longer a buffer. I try not to talk against him because of course the kids love him and I don’t want my life to be about being bitter, but when they tell me about some behavior of his that’s frustrating them, I now acknowledge that. I want them to trust their instincts, because when he turns the charm on it can make you doubt all you saw before. So now I say something like, “Yes, I know that’s frustrating.” or “I’m sorry, that must have hurt.” They are starting to see that while everything is about his feelings, he has no understanding about the feelings of others, unless it starts to infringe on something he wants. For instance he sees the kids as some game to compete with me in…and will become very ingratiating with them if he has the idea they are spending more time with me. It appears as if he cares about their feelings. It might not even be true that they are with me more, but what matters to him is that he “wins.”

        On a day to day basis, I don’t have to worry much about his games, as we have little contact. Now I mostly try to support the kids when they stand up for themselves, and I still have to stand up for myself when it comes to the holidays. This year, he has tried to manipulate that again, and managed confuse what should be a simple plan to share the time. This time he moved the whole holiday to daughter’s house (3 states away), instead of having it at his house as planned. He thought son would fall in and do the same. Instead he is ending up spending the holiday only with daughter since the son does not want to leave town on Christmas and make his wife miss her family’s Christmas Eve. I don’t think it’s worked out quite the way he imagined. His having Christmas at daughter’s house meant that the whole holiday was moved from her husband’s family’s home to hers. A lot of people not having the Christmas they’d planned…..all because of one manipulating person.

    • I kind of want to bury a comment in here. I love it if any of you regulars here follow over to my blog to read what I’m thinking about. I do truly love that. But if you do, and want to comment (and like all bloggers, I love comments and conversation), can I ask that the nickname Repol just stay over here? I know any person can connect the dots. I’d just prefer to keep it a little less obvious. Thanks, all. I do, really, really do appreciate you all. Just a very minor safety thing to consider. Thanks.

    • Cecilia K

      I think you have articulated this well, Repol. I had not quite thought of it in that way. I thought at times there was heart love, but ultimately, it was about meeting expectations and obligation. In my case, I was not legally obligated to my ex-boyfriend, but perhaps he doesn’t believe anyone is really capable of loving him, so he tries to demand it in other ways. Or perhaps he was raised by the law, and that is the only way he knows how to relate to others.

  12. I have seen Frozen, and I loved it. You must see it. Pronto. There are at least three separate sermons in that movie. And all of the four loves are represented legitimately, with agape clearly winning the day. See it now!
    And toss out that legalistic view that you can’t see it as a single dad. God see the move. But if you can, go with your daughter. The first is OK. The second is worlds better.

  13. Fellow Survivor

    Repol, what I know so far is ” Do you want to build a snowman” and that there is a prince that doesn’t have a shot at the kingdom because he is the 13th of all the other brother princes. Now this is what got me interested. My daughter told me ” he behaves and acts like he is something he is not to get the Princess to fall in love with him so he can rule in her kingdom” Did you get that impression?

    As far as my current state of mind goes concerning this divorce relationship thing goes, I recognize that I have been systematically tortchord If you have a teenager that is supposed to be home by 11 Pm and they don’t show up and they don’t answer their phone and they have a history of always being home on time, you begin to worry a lot. That’s what happened to me except it wasn’t a teenager it was my wife. She didn’t come home until 3AM that night 13 years ago. I was worried sick. She knew i was worried sick and she did it anyway. That was the first big test those many years ago about how much I would put up with. As I review my life in retrospect there were many more episodes where what she put me through was just pure tortchor. I felt helpless to do anything about it. Trapped by the belief in marriage till death do us part and the concern for the baby. There is so much at stake that they know you value and they use that against you. Pathetic really.

    We watched the classic “Airplane” last night. There are so many inappropriate scenes in that movie but I was on the floor laughing like crazy. Have a wonderful week Repol.

    • Oh yes–SPOILER ALERT–he’s a perfect narcissist. Yep.
      Charmer, too good to be true. And she is sheltered and hope-filled and impetuous. But real love, especially phileo, is very well depicted, and while you’re lead to believe that eros will save the day, the whole thing shifts at the end, and it’s completely upside down in a very gospel-like way, and not a typical Disney prince saving the day kind of ending.

      That lack of concern of your wife being out and not telling you where she was–that is also universal it seems. Time is a commodity, and it belongs only to the one, not to the both. I’ve experienced the same thing. I spent the first five years of our marriage in angst almost daily, thinking I was a young widow, because the words, “I’ll be home in time for dinner” carried a very specific meaning to me and not to him. To him, in fact, it meant only, “I want to get off the phone now and this is what I need to say to do that.” Then, after work, he would just go do whatever he wanted to…shop, go on a hike, visit his parents. He could have had an affair. I have no way of knowing. And dinner would get cold and I would pace the floor and worry. And then he’d come in, 9:00 or so, and be mad at me for caring about him, because it was a violation of his time and his privacy for me to not give him complete freedom. So yeah, I understand. Maybe not quite as severe as that. He was never out that late, but if wanted to be, he would have justified it too. Now, he will call or text if he’s going to be late, but he still doesn’t feel the actual need to keep the plans we agreed upon. He is free to change that at any point, even if I wanted to go somewhere or do something together, or if I made dinner with him in mind particularly. He’s learning the motions to go through, but I never feel like the heart is really invested in it. He’s afraid of losing us, me and the girls, so he’s acting better. But I just don’t know about real conversion. I just don’t know. How can I know?

  14. janelle

    God, I am 42 and unhealed because I still torment myself with thoughts of my mother and perfect sister. I’m sorry for all of you. It is so painful. I am still trying to tell myself I can be successful. Christmas was such a hard time, I have actually faked an illness to avoid the holiday. I don’t think they care or notice much as long as there is someone there to talk at nonstop.

  15. unofficialnarcissist

    For my ex-N, he was part of an N family and his comfort was limited to his family gatherings. He could not abide by coming to my family. It’s strange, he didn’t necessarily need to be the center of attention, but he did have to have control, and he did have to maintain his loyalty to his family dysfunction at all costs. His family actually did holidays very well, but there was no doubt that they were enmeshed and anyone else who came along was an outsider. Or in my case, merely a breeder for grandchildren. His mother was so passive aggressive dinner would be unreasonably delayed as she took her sweet time and my kids would always get hungry beforehand. Lots of unspoken competition and no one allowed to shine lest their precariously perched family dynamic be upset and God forbid,they have to have a feeling or say something nice about someone. Or apologize…they were above apologies in their superiority.Everything had to be perfect. This year, my ex threatened litigation for over 2 weeks to get something he wanted. Then he dropped it. As one of my friends said “he has to be the source of your grief and then the source of your relief” In the world of subtle narcissism, this nails it.

    • Megan

      Wow yes that does nail it, ‘a source of your grief and then the source of your relief”. I am allowed to be happy as long as it is created by my N husband or his family. He is my destroyer but also my savior. (In his mind).

  16. Still Learning

    Personally I believe that our time on Earth is a 75 year long class in learning how to love unconditionally. If true that makes living with Narcissists the ultimate PHD or fellowship level course. I am 40 years into this course but am seriously thinking of dropping out, it is just to hard. My question is do they ever grow up and see the light?

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