It’s Narcissist Friday!   


“I just want to know everything about you!”


To the young girl who has, perhaps, been pushed aside by friends or parents, those words seem wonderful. She has met a young man who listens to every story she tells about her family, her school, her dreams, her failures, her secrets. It’s so easy to talk with someone who actually listens and so nice to talk to someone who cares. He is so sensitive, so loving, so intimate.

But five years later, or ten, or two—the young man is very different. His ability to listen is gone, along with his caring. Now he is mean and he uses her secrets to hurt her. He knows things about her family and her friends and he hints at using the information unless she does what he wants. Now, instead of intimacy, it’s all about control.

Those who have walked this path would tell the young lady that it was all about control from the beginning.

Narcissists are usually predators. They watch and they listen. They seek openings they can use to their advantage. It might be a marriage or family, it might be at work, it might be what seems like a friendship, or it might be in a church—but the narcissist knows things. Somehow he learns things he shouldn’t know. Somehow she pries secrets from others. Then there is power.

There is an old marketing saying that we should all remember when we meet others:

If I know more about you than you know about me,  I can control the conversation.  

If I know more about you than you know about yourself,  I can control you.


Few people notice how the narcissist controls the conversation from the beginning of the relationship: learning more and revealing less. Gradually and methodically, he gathers facts and stores them away, like the spider that stores its catch to consume later. When he has enough, his plan begins to bear fruit.

Many have related how they told so much to the narcissist, yet never felt like they knew him. He had their secrets, but they had nothing. I have known people who just never got around to telling a spouse about a previous marriage, even children. Knowledge is power and power is held by the narcissist.

Eventually, as the narcissist gathers information, his power goes beyond the controlled conversation to the control of the victim.

Most of us are good at deceiving ourselves about ourselves. We ignore things we don’t like and focus on fantasies about what we can do or what we might do. We go through life with a certain bemusement that allows us to look forward and get things done. But the narcissist wants to know all about the things we would rather hide. Then he feeds them back to us when we least expect it, when we are vulnerable.

When I was active in church denominations I asked pastors if they would take an embarrassing personal struggle to their denominational leaders, even those who claimed to be caring about the special struggles of pastors. Everyone I talked with said they would not, and I certainly knew that I would not. One told me, “Once you tell (the authority) about that, you can forget ever moving ahead. That will always be there in the background.” Perhaps we all knew that denominational leadership is often a haven for narcissists.

So be careful with your secrets. Tell your children not to share things they don’t want used against them, especially before they are married. If the conversation is one-sided ask why. Perhaps you are being set up.

I believe that Jesus is the one with whom we should share our secrets. He already knows and He already loves us. Nothing we share will shock Him and He will never use the information against us. In fact, there is an interesting statement in the Bible about what real relationship is:

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.

Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

1 Corinthians 13:12


I shall know as I am known. The power isn’t on one side. The power is in the relationship. Real relationship is sharing knowledge and love. There will be a day when that is normal.


Filed under Narcissism, Relationship

36 responses to “Knowing

  1. Carolyn

    This was my life. I am glad to say “was”. Never in my life have I ever had someone I loved use the secrets, shames, regrets of my past to hurt me and to control me until me ex-N. I will never forget the first time it happened. I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach. I could not understand why he would do that. I spoke out against it to him. It only served to infuriate him, and the next time, it was even more cutting and hurtful….and so the pattern continued. I think this is one of the most tell-tale signs of being in a marriage with a narcissist. Praise God for His protection for me and the eventual removal from this horror story of a marriage. My heart goes out to those who this is still happening to.

  2. On some level I think they have to self justify their cruelty. If they know what a “bad” person you are then they feel less guilt about treating you poorly. They need this information to elevate themselves and to know that you are “worse” than they are. I’m not sure that any of this is deliberate, but there is a definite pattern.

    In the beginning they are so desperate to understand the “power” you have over them as they fall into “love” much quicker than you do. This leaves them feeling exposed and vulnerable in the event that you could walk away from them. So that’s why they dig for “dirt”. It reduces their sense of vulnerability. The devaluation phase of things is actually about their need to feel less vulnerable. They are constantly telling themselves “I could just walk away” to ward off the feeling that they need your narcissistic supply desperately.

    I think that in many cases the narcissist holds onto this knowledge and doesn’t use it for anything more than knocking you down a few pegs in their mind. It’s when they do something that people disapprove of (like cheat on or abuse you) that they need to smear you by exposing your most painful secrets. It’s an insurance policy to make sure everyone knows that they were awful to you because you deserved it, not because they needed new narcissistic supply. They need a way to explain throwing away a perfectly good relationship to feed an addiction to feeling “the most special” in somebody’s eyes. Most of the time they don’t stop to consider what this does their partner who still loves them deeply. If they did they might stop.

    What makes narcissism truly malignant is when there is dawning of awareness of just how cruel they are being and no conscience prevents further cruelty. You are simply a problem to be eliminated and disposed of and a breakup is not about grieving the loss of what was and helping the other person salvage some dignity even as the narcissist moves on to greener pastures. Rather, the conscience they try to suppress feels awful about what they are doing and they resent the person they are hurting because they don’t want to feel guilt, so they actually cultivate hate for you by thinking about all of your secrets and what is so wrong with you. That’s how they can justify cruelty that they would never inflict on a stranger even.

    • Carolyn

      Beautifully and honestly explained, Katherine. Wonderful post.

    • Kate

      Yikes, I find myself doing this in my own mind with the narcissist — thinking of all the wrong she’s done to justify my distance and nurse my own rage toward her. I still get snagged on “who’s the narcissist, anyway?” This is where I need the most help. Am I being self-aware and self-protective or just plain self-centered? She acts so innocent, as if she really doesn’t know all she’s done, and it’s very effective. She believes it so it must be true. Even part of me believes it. But ultimately I have no trust in her and in my gut I don’t believe a word she says.

      I am still brooding after all these years, unable to accept the way things are now, unable to even be in her presence. Unable to forgive? I’m the one hanging on to the hurt and resentment. I’m the angry one. I’m the one replaying everything I my mind. Who’s the narcissist??

      • UnForsaken

        Kate, you have a conscience. And you are questioning yourself. I don’t think Ns could do that. But they can make you feel that their problems are really yours.

        Forgiveness is not forgetting. Your struggle sounds more like the stages of grief and second guessing. Yes, when they believe their own lies it becomes so convincing, but God is our reality. Keep looking up, sweetheart! 😉

      • Kate, I think you are experiencing the healthy anger that comes when you face the true nature of the narcissist’s long term pattern go behavior towards you. There is a long period where you are struggling with the cognitive dissonance of trying to reconcile who you thought the narcissist was versus who they have revealed themselves to be through a long term pattern of behavior.

        The anger has a protective purpose. It keeps you from subjecting yourself to future harm and/or helps you create stronger boundaries. You can’t be in her presence because you can’t interact with the persona she is projecting because it is false. That’s not a sign of being a narcissist. That’s a sign of being authentic and not wanting to make nice on a superficial level. I suspect that if her persona was to crack and there was a public understanding of her true nature you would have less trouble interacting with her because she wouldn’t be able to control and manipulate you and others as well.

        Here’s the ultimate litmus test: are you actively seeking to harm her or are you simply sickened by the level of deceit you have come to understand exists? If you fall into the first category then maybe you’d benefit from asking God to reveal to you your motivations for doing so. But I suspect your mind is still trying to make sense of what happened every time you have to interact with the outwardly sweet persona of a person who has done some very bad things. Keep in mind how much rage Jesus had towards the Pharisees; he called them “whitewashed tombs full of dead mens bones” .

      • Sandy

        Kate thanks for this post I am at the same point as you, and reading your post and the replies of the others really helps me to understand and not judge myself to hard for being angry and unforgiving.

      • Kate

        Unforsaken, Prodigalkatherine, Sandy: thank you for the perspective and the pep talk. No, I don’t seek to harm her, but I can’t say with certainty that she seeks to harm me either. I just feel that she is so motivated by serving herself that others’ feelings don’t factor into her decision making.

        One thing of hers I keep turning in my mind is a story she shared from when she was a kid. She resented when her little brother was born, and calls the time before his birth the “glory days.” One day they were playing on the butcher table in the kitchen, and she kept trying to convince him to jump off the top so she’d catch him. He was scared, so she kept reassuring him. Well guess what — he finally jumped and she didn’t catch him. She laughed instead. And when she told me the story she said how she didn’t even feel bad about it — and still doesn’t. Chilling. So maybe she did seek to harm him. To top it off, now that they’re adults, he’s wanted the butcher table for his house and she won’t let him have it!

        It’s stuff like that. I guess I replay that story in my mind because it is so analogous to my own experience with her. I’m sure everyone has similar stories.

        Perhaps we can arm ourselves with “knowing” too. Everyone has done bad things in their lives, but who shows remorse for what they’ve done? Not the narcissist.

    • m notProdigalKatherine…Wow…they are desperate to understand the Power we have over them…and they fall in “love” quicly. Hmm I would like to add I think they fall in love easily and often too. This is another piece of the puzzle for sure. Well said and Oh so enlightening. Wow again. Even the N in my worlds wife is onto him. He does this. He gets enthralled with people. Men and women…it’s not a relationship thing with him. Control…Supply. Can he use us??? Once he determined there really was no supply of anything here, he left. Plain and simple. Only I didn’t even know what Narcissism meant. I of course had heard the word but had no idea. I was just trying to wade through the pain of trying to understand shunning when I found this site. What an Eye opener.

      Im not sure yet what this guy learned from me and how he will use it. Fortunately I guess I do where my heart on my sleeve. Everyone knows I had a disfunctional background. I let people know up front so they do not have to be self conscious around me. You are free to share with me and i WILL NOT use it against you. I feel compassion Something an N does not!! I have to tell myself daily…This is not normal. In fact I met someone Normal this weekend and I was like…Oh…Normal…Yeah I remember Normal!!! The N brainwashes you and sucks you in, confuses reality, belittles you and then throws you to the curb. For no reason. No one deserves that.

      • Sorry again. My Ipad is playing tricks. M not….did not belong in front of ProdigalKatherine. Certainly could be misconstrued. Non of that here. This is a happy, kind zone…With tolerance for jumpy ipads i hope 🙂

  3. Portia gray

    The blog, knowing does paint a clear pix of how narc people operate in their lives. I began to question things in my mind about him – bro or sis did not come over, bro & sis are close to each other, and how he has spoken badly bout them including his mother, other ppl, and spoken of his father’s exploits. He started to curse at me, blaming me, false accusations, and insulting. I challenged him telling him I do not accept that and kicked him out of house sending him back to his house. He can back and did better for a while; the cycle was repeated – the kicking him Out of my house 15-20 times in 12 and half years. I’ve always answered back to him saying ” why are you with me then” and has never said sorry to me. Finally, I got weary of his lies, cheating, insulting, trying to control me, and cussing; he bought me jewelry, paid for our trip, fixed my car and etc. (His Guilt). I felt relieved that I was able to muster spiritual strength to kick him out telling him ” he is never welcomed in my home again”. It’s been a year and half with “no contact” with him. He has a new gf who is of limited intellect him & also a narc. I know He feels superior over her; she obeys him To keep him. My ex was unable to control me because I am tough woman. My peace without him.

  4. Pam Musser

    Very well written article…spot on. I’m out of the marriage by his choice. I told him I loved him but didn’t know how to trust him anymore. I told him I had no natural respect left because of the way he treated me. I was discarded immediately. Although painful to walk this out with the Lord…I am free! Your article described him so accurately. I’m so thankful I don’t have to live in an environment of manipulation and control.

  5. This is so true Dave. The N knows how to come across as caring and loving, while we are so giving and grateful that they care and want to know us deeply. We don’t realise what they are doing at the time. Reading these blogs and other sites regarding Narcissism and Sociopath/Psychopathic behaviour has helped me to put the pieces together….. in retrospect, in hindsight. At the time everything happens so gradually, so slowly, unsuspecting….. it is only looking back that we often piece it together. Such is the power of the King/Queen of Manipulation. I think they do it intentionally in that they have done these behaviours for so long AND they have worked for their very survival that they continue to use them. Survival? Yes…. I believe so…. they survive through their enablers who very very quickly take their side and believe their stories. The chief enabler of my ex…. who unfortunately I worked with…. told me “You seemed so happy with N….. I saw you weren’t happy at all before you met N. I was absolutely stunned when she said that. He had worked his work. I WAS very happy. The truth was…. this person HAD NEVER met me or seen me PRIOR to meeting me when I got engaged to him. I didn’t meet her at work until AFTER. I realised she had based this information solely on the web he had spun using information from me regarding my unhappiness after my first marriage broke up….. which was 10 years before!!! I had long moved on and was happy in my career, home and personally. I had witnesses to prove that (I asked them just to ‘prove’ to myself that I was happy…. such is our need to find the truth). Things that he used against me to screw my emotions were a direct result of personal information, even accusing me of still loving my husband if I talked about him stating “You always talk about him…. why is that? What is that all about?” He completely denied he EVER talked about his first wife and mother of his children…. which was not true. I think he used my first husband (of 30 years) against me often (and with my adult children) as he found out how much I loved him and how devastated I was when we broke up etc. I believe that N had no concept of that depth of love in himself and was projecting that onto me, accusing me of still loving my ex. I also believe he thought he could alienate my children from me and try to manipulate them against me. He didn’t…. One thing he didn’t understand was what true love and care of a parent is…. as he has never experienced it from his own mother or from his own kids to him. It didn’t work…. they were on to him long before I was and completely closed ranks around me to get me safe and protected when the truth came out. He also used other intimate details about me, my childhood, my child abuse, my involvement with some women’s issues…. he would accuse me of the ‘old feminist Annie’ coming back if I made a comment ….. which led to massive verbal abuse…. after a lovely dinner and night out at the movies. The ‘walking on egg shells’ syndrome. Later he started to apply my story and other peoples stories to himself… like child abuse, abuse in the church, being neglected, his son suffering from ‘absent father syndrome’. A little knowledge is so dangerous with these people…. they try to get more and more knowledge and they use it against their prey. His sons have nothing to do with him because of the constant abuse which they witnessed and the continuing abuse with his next two relationships. He has a daughter as supply. Why? I have come to realise she is useful as she is the one whom he gets his family information from…. she thinks he has a right to know… He also alienated me from his adult children in the last year…. what I didn’t realise he was doing was alienating me from his children’s mother…. her son told me she ‘hated my guts’….. as she had only met me twice, and I found out from the son…. he had been passing on lies to his daughter knowing that the information would be getting straight back to his ex. These men get information out of us….. they use the truth and they also twist the truth and they also make up lies. Whatever they need to control the situation. Last weeks post on CHAOS fits this post as well. What they are doing in that control is creating the utmost CHAOS so that we are constantly walking on egg shells and in the end don’t know who we are, what we are doing, why we are there…. but most importantly… “How in the hell did I get into this mess in the first place, what do I do now?”. The only way we can find the answer to that is to get SAFE and make NO CONTACT. Once I was free, my therapy was able to be meaningful as he wasn’t in the equation to continue to manipulate my thoughts and emotions. Once I started researching the truth from a comment from a friend about ‘Googling’ the word “Narcissism” and “Narcissism in the Church” my eyes started to open WIDE. PS That’s how I happened upon Grace For My Heart….. I’ll be forever grateful. Healing doesn’t come straight away…. it is a long and very difficult road. Finding the ‘me’ from long ago again AND then some…. takes time. They why, when, how, what, who….. all has to be answered. Educating ourselves is very important. The support of friends, family and finding a good therapist are important. No-one wants to be manipulated. As a professional I thought I knew about manipulation. Nothing can prepare us for the level of deception and manipulation of these people. How horrendous is it that a person whom you know intimately, you give your mind, body and emotions to…. betrays you in all of these ways. They do it to cover their own back…. to keep their supply. They MUST do it or they cannot survive. Sadly their supply believe they are the loving caring supporters and giving them God’s Grace. Sadly leaving out the accountability to one another. They also forget the loyalty to the victim…. and believing that other Christian person… and supporting and loving that one. God can get us to a place of healing and love. It is hard, even coming close to losing our faith at times, and doubting God cares. We may always have a level of sadness and the odd relapse into sadness, and yes sometimes even depression… but we can and must work on all of these torn emotions…. our very being depends on it. We must build those parts of our brain back into truth. We can only do that through knowledge and taking those years apart piece by piece. Only then can we put that CHAOS back into normality. Take care everyone….. Feel the hugs and loves from Dave’s wonderful Blog…. feel the hugs and love from other people who care. Read Psalm 35, 36, 37 and know in our hearts that God is on our case.

  6. UnForsaken

    An excellent reminder. I was talking to my sister about this the other day. For all our lives we have been called overly private. I believe that is because we had a natural feeling as to what would be safe to share, and most of the time it was the smallest everyday things we sensed would be disastrous. It certainly keeps conversations short, but much more worthwhile.

    Anyway, where wisdom fails sometimes time steps in . I look back and still see a lot of mistakes, but every mistake is a lesson learned! For anyone who tends to feel as guilty about mistakes as I do ( Ns can really make you feel like you’ve sinned ), please remember it is Not your fault. It is far better to learn from “ignorance” innocently than to be like Ns and Choose to be ignorant! We have a big chance to look the truth in the face now…. and a chance to choose when it is wise to speak or refrain. 🙂

    • Annie

      Wise words Unforsaken. We do have a big chance to look truth in the face…… I am much more careful whom I speak to and what about. Sadly we should have been able to completely trust the one that we loved and married. I am encouraged by getting back to basics of who and what does God say I am. That has certainly helped. Also a little book by Joyce Meyer called “A Confident Woman” and also a 365 day Devotional called “The Confident Woman Devotional”. My niece (who is only 4 years younger than me!) recommended it. I devoured every word. As for gossip about us …. Joyce quotes Psalm 31:20 “In the secret place of Your presence You hide them [us] from the plots of men; You keep them secretly in Your pavilion from the strife of tongues”. Amen to that.

      • UnForsaken

        Annie, sweet words of encouragement! I loved the verse. Yes! Getting back to the basic, simplest, and most loving passages in scripture, truly is one of the best healers I know . 🙂

      • Unforsaken and Annie. Wise words by both of you. My comment dropped in to wrong spot before Annie. I will look for your books and Unforsaken I will try to feel strength knowing that my mistakes were innocent mistakes. All I wanted to do was see if there was something wrong with the N. I did not know he was an N there. I thought there must be something really awful happening in someones world that they would start shunning me. Well almost half a year later, I have been back stabbed and completely discarded if I wasn’t already before I opened my big mouth. So the N has taught me what a real friend looks like. It shouldn’t be work. Someone with a pure heart doesn’t make you work for their Games. I love the people around me and anyone I know I feel is lucky to be my friend, because I am a great friend to have and likewise I want to feel lucky to have them as my friend. This needs to be a two way street. That is the part I missed with the N. I keep wanting it to be two way. it is not. It is his way.

  7. Jennifer

    Dave your comment about women who were perhaps unloved in their families being particularly vulnerable certainly rings true in my case. My N-mother was always very partial to my brother, and when my father died when I was 10, it culminated in him being the obvious favourite (although I had always been compared with him from even very little and remember that happening explicitly in a few instances). It was to the point that when I was 16, she literally wrote me out of the will in front of my face, with no explanation except that of course all the property and cash went to the oldest son. It’s the way it had always been done. When I pushed, she “left” me a couple of pieces of furniture that my brother wouldn’t want anyway.

    It left me unmoored so to speak in the meaning of love. I had been unloved and always felt a bit “fish out of water”-ish even in my friendships. I had never dated to speak of because I had no confidence with boys and exuded no confidence to them. When I moved to a new city/new church, this fellow picked up on this, I’m sure, in spades. He was my “knight in shining armour” waiting to happen.

    He cultivated a friendship for a year, but it was among many friends in the college/career set, so I didn’t notice anything special. But then one night, he asked me to go for a walk, and he strung me his line, and I so very, very willingly took the bait. Apparently he “knew” I was the “one for him” within a month of meeting me. He told me what an outstanding Christian I was, how much he admired me, what a perfect mother and wife I would make. Within 6 weeks, he asked me to marry him, and I agreed. I felt so very special. He knew that though. My gut instinct was that there was something wrong, but I didn’t trust my gut, and nobody had ever said anything remotely like these things to me before. He was a Christian after all, right? And well respected in our church, right? What could go wrong?

    Within six months of our marriage I knew I’d made a terrible mistake, but I was pregnant with our first; my mother was no better; I’d spoken my vows and felt I needed to be faithful to them; and most importantly, who would believe me. And probably more important, if I told anyone what he was really like, I would not be believed and he would be absolutely furious. I was too scared.

    It took me 20 years to figure it all out, name it, and claim my freedom.

    • Jennifer, you have been my rock. I am so proud of you that you made it through to the other side and can help others with your hard earned knowledge. To you I owe some peace. I tend to obsess but with just this little glimmer of knowledge it frees my mind into knowing. This is not NORMAL, this is not me. I did not deserve this, earn it or anything else. He is a phsychopath who has exposed himself only to me. So far. Because of you, I understand this and today I walked in said Hi…like I do to everyone else. I was playing his game…but you said no game. I said Hi….hahahaah he left. seriously left work. haaaa. I’m sorry but you must see the humor too.You gave me a moment of glory. And a peaceful day.

      • Jennifer

        Lol! Oh oh. You’re on to him. 😉 This is dangerous for him because maybe, just maybe you might expose his ways. You may not do that overtly (Hey everyone, do you know what narcissism is? Let me show you an example in our office. 😛 ) But you may do it covertly by openly and honestly NOT playing the game; by NOT showing any fear of him, or any confusion about him, by NOT being enthralled by his charming ways; by NOT treating him as if he were on a pedestal, but rather as an equal among colleagues (although if he is above you in terms of his office position ie. a manager or supervisor, always giving him the respect and submission due his office, and doing so with no fear of compromising this new found knowledge of yours. The office he may hold, and the person he is are two different things).

        In this way (Hi! How was your weekend?), you let him know that you are not his to control any longer. And very quietly, this lets the office know that you are your own person because they most certainly have picked up on his differing treatment of you, even if they have said nothing and let you dwell in this isolation.

        And if you can do all this in love, for the N’s sake, for Christ’s sake, for the sake of Truth because it is one of Christ’s names, then even better! Enabling an N does him no good at all. He also must face truth and if not in this life, then in the next one. If we can extend love and truth to even our enemies, then we ourselves are more and more being perfected in the love of God.

        So rejoice! God has given you a great opportunity to grow in Him, and that’s what this life is all about, right? In the end, we can only offer to Christ who we have become in Him during our life. 🙂 ((((hugs))))

  8. Penny

    “I believe that Jesus is the one with whom we should share our secrets”
    I second that. It’s hard to not become jaded. I used to be happy & outgoing, wearing “my heart on my sleeve”. Not anymore. I can see/sense/smell a narc or an abuser from a mile away & I just shut down. The sting of betrayal is still too fresh & I trust no one. I keep my mouth shut & my eyes open. I feel sad & alone, but it’s better than feeling exploited. Sometimes I say (in my heart); “Jesus–did you see that?” “Lord–did you hear that?” But I no longer confide in people. I listen but no longer reveal myself to anyone; I prefer privacy & anonymousity. I don’t want to be known. I just want Jesus.

    • Jennifer

      Learning to trust again is difficult, but I would encourage you towards it otherwise you will grow a very hard shell on your heart which will be difficult to live with, and which will now allow God to shine through you as fully as He would like.

      The key is though that you need to test the waters. We who “wore our hearts on our sleeves” knew no boundaries in this. We routinely threw ourselves bodily into relationships and trusted everyone wholly all at once. This is the hallmark of naivety. It is how a child thinks. If someone offers them yummy candy, the child automatically is ruled by their desire and trusts that if someone give good gifts then the person must be good.

      But as adults we are to be as blameless as doves and as shrewd as serpents. We need to not take for granted that a person who is offering a nice personality is necessarily ergo a nice person. We dip in a toe and offer a little bit of ourselves to see how this person handles it. Then if that goes well, we offer ourselves up to the knee as a test. Is this person offering themselves back? Is the relationship on an even keel that way?

      My counselor said it takes at least a full two years to get to know someone. Friendship doesn’t happen in an instant. It grows, and the slower the growth the more “rooted” is the frienship. This goes for family as well although you are a bit more “stuck” with them. Certain of my kids I trust more than others, sadly, but it is what it is, you know? I’m more careful of what I talk about around some people than others, but this depends upon the risks at stake.

      With family the risks are higher because you risk losing someone close. With acquaintances on a holiday, the risk is lower because I will never see them again. The risk here on this board is probably low, although we are still a bunch of formerly vulnerable people who, if a predator came among us, could be badly hurt. With your boss or a particularly ladder-climbing colleague, the risk can be great indeed.

      So don’t crawl into a shell just yet, Penny. Remain open and vulnerable towards those with whom you’ve established an equally open and trustworthy relationship; but be very, very skilled at building walls and boundaries quickly where needed and at guarding your heart until you know trust is established, Read up on how to discern healthy relationships, how to establish trust, red flags in relationships etc. Train yourself to know evil and immaturity so that you can freely give and receive the good out there!


        Is this person offering themselves back. No, No. no again. Sometimes I feel all I ever do is give and don’t seem to get back. But with this N, no there is never a give back. What a great clue. Before we dive right in, test the water.

        I thin in my case the pain was so great, the confusion so grand. I thought i was losing my mind. Why does no one see this. Still don’t still why just me. Probably others are not suseptible because they may not be as vulnerable. The on thing that helped me gain understanding is now the one thing I regret most. Just trying to seek help. She brought understanding but she then stabbed me in the back and told the N…something. I don’t even know what but I got the rage. Another clue and a piece to the puzzle.

        So although I am too new to dole advise. I live to regreat trusting anyone. Friends don’t get it, boss used it against me, my own mother just doesn’t have the base of knowledge. Here or other boards are good. a therapist…if you can afford it…good call. It sounds so cold, so ruthless. Why can’t we be happy go lucky. Well we can be with all things that we don’t care if everyone knows. If you don’t want everyone to know. Don’t tell anyone. We have enough to deal with in N world. Who needs repercussions of people who have no clue the gravity of the situation.

        It is a lonely road, but better lonely than shameful too. I feel shame for things I did not do. I feel like apologizing to an N when i can’t even figure out what I did wrong. This is the crazymaking. I should be working but instead I spend countless hours trying to figure out why someone would hurt another soul for no reason. i read that the worst thing about Betrayal is it only comes from friends. Aint that the truth!!


        I will look for a confident woman. The N in my world loves to tell me every chance he gets…well back when I spoke to him, that I have no confidence. Gosh really. I thought I was doing OK. I found it odd that this supposed friend was like trying to brain wash me. You have no confidence. I would be like yes I think we have established that. and I would keep talking. I mean How does one even respond? Yet another clue.

      • P.S. Please disregard typos in my long reply about keeping silent. I am not sure why the typos surfaced as they did. I actually can spell 🙂

  9. Jennifer

    They tell you these things because then you feel so obligated to them for actually sticking with you as a friend. You see? It’s if they are saying, “You are this, and this, and this; but I am still your friend. Aren’t you lucky to have me?” And you, in your mind are saying, “Wow, he is such a great guy and he is MY friend. I must be very special in his sight. He’s so good to me to actually include me.” This is taking advantage of your desire to be liked and have friends, a desire that is common to everyone.

    And then in your mind you find you are indebted to him for this friendship (which is no friendship at all, but a lie). But you aren’t allowed to “grow” as a human because then you might get above the position in which he has placed you. He needs you to stay bottom dog to his top dog. Equality is NOT something that is allowable, so he constantly reminds you of some perceived character flaw. The covert narcs will do this in the most subtle, friendly and helpful way. You can almost feel indebted to them for their forthrightness, and this keeps you in that bottom dog position of submission. (My mother in law was brilliant at doing this. I referred to her “friendships” as her little projects, because she always chose people who needed her help. There was never equality in her mind). Keep that picture in your mind, the one of the submissive dog who licks the alpha dog and rolls over so very grateful for the alpha’s acceptance. This is how a narc works.

    But true friendship rejoices when the other grows and gets stronger. True friendship rejoices when the other gets that raise or finds a husband. True can allow those things because friendship isn’t threatened by position.

  10. Jennifer

    I should just qualify for those reading that my above description is how a covert narc works. An overt one will call you names in front of people, smack you upside the head to get you to stay in line, yell you down and be as foul and retributive as possible to keep you where they need you to be. But it’s the covert ones that can take you by surprise because they are just so nice about it. 😛

  11. Kathy

    Jennifer, yes!! And sometimes they switch from covert to overt and back again — depends on who the audience is!! LOL
    You said that a true friend rejoices when the other grows — that’s so true. That was my first tip-off my mother- and father-in-law were Ns. Their oldest daughter was in college in her late 20s, and got a 4.0 GPA. I congratulated her — and then father-in-law says “Yeah, but did you know she quit school at 16?” He said that EVERY TIME someone gave her a compliment. Never praised her or was happy she was growing. Had to keep her in her place of “the kid who quit school on us” — something that had happened many years earlier.
    So sad.

    • Jennifer

      They seem to be the people who consistently invalidate others. 😦 Your poor sister in law. They are the “yes, you are, but….” people. The “good job, but…” people (My husband is famous for this. He could not give a compliment without invalidating it). The “remember you did this….”people. They are what M. Scott Peck calls “the people of the lie”.

      Even their behavior invalidates. Trying to Cope mentioned that her N at work was shunning her for over a year, but now that she’s figured this out (and her new-found knowledge is obviously very apparent to him WHICH IS SCARY AND WHICH IS HOW THESE PEOPLE OPERATE), he suddenly switches to being friendly thereby invalidating her observance of him being cruel. A couple of days later, when this doesn’t work, he’s back to shunning.

      This is precisely what crazy-making, gaslighting behavior is all about. It switches around when you think you’ve figured it out, causing you to feel like your own observances and understanding is wrong and invalid. It is why people come out of a relationship with a narc feeling like they’ve lost their mind or are about to lose it. It is why they start feeling full of self-doubts about their own instincts. Narcs put you on a very twisted, upside-down roller coaster so that all you know is that you are dizzy and disoriented, and they do all this for control.

      • Trying to cope

        Right on again Jennifer. I just can’t even believe it is happening. I’m so glad someone gets it because I feel crazy and when i say it out loud it doesn’t even make sense. I must be too sensitive. Why should i even care? Well i do care. I don’t like being treated badly. I feel very betrayed.

        I like to be true to the thread and stay on course. So this thread is mainly about the N knowing about you, using it against you and what are you going to do about it. Who will you tell? Hmm. I cracked and went to someone. In hind site bad move. but as I analyze why did i have to do that. Because no one around me, close to me understood. We have to have validation. When you have someone trying to take you out, messing with your psyche, you have to have some anchor point.

        This whole incident has had a very negative impact on my life. The need to understand why someone would do this to another is almost all consuming. What makes it all worse is this N is only one person. I’m concerned I have another N, lots of the characteristics but a different objective. Do N’s even know they are N’s? Do they know what they do to others? Do some people just attract this, these twisted people into their lives? I had a horrible childhood and I strive for way normal. Funny how things can look so perfect on the outside yet if you actually knew what was happening in someones world, you would be shocked. I for one am tired of living a lie. I pray for strength.

  12. Anne

    When I click the send a email like, it take s me to an error page. Is there a way to send a private email? Forgive me if I am missing something obvious.

  13. Anne

    Thank you. I sent an email to the address above, but it came back Mail System Failure.

    • Well, I am not sure what is wrong, but I have the same problem. I just received mail yesterday from that link. While I investigate, I have updated the contact page with my personal email. You are welcome to contact me through that. Thanks for your patience!

  14. I have tried to email you but it came back. Is there an updated address?

  15. Back to Knowing. Today I fight the urge to right a wrong. In this process I described how I went to my superior and told them of this issue with an N. I needed council. We decided that N should not know we talked. It would not be received well. Of course I tried to confront N about his unprofessional behavior at work and he denied, blamed me, basically wouldn’t own the issue and in the end raged at me because I told the superior about the problem. That was when I finally knew for certain I was dealing with an N. So that is the back story. For days I have been fighting this need to go to the superior and ask…Why did you tell the N? What did you say to the N. Mind you this superior is not really a friend or anything like that. They are superior at the work place. And I ponder the words of this post and think…I believe we determined here that secrets are to be kept secrets. Having gone to my superior made a bad problem worse. This would be like opening an old can of worms….except for the part that I’m dealing with the ramifications of my actions every day. So why oh why can I Not get it out of my head that I need this answer. I know it won’t change N. But I want to know how to change N. I don’t enjoy being discarded, left out, shunned. It is painful. I am trying to do my job and I really just want this drama to go away.

    I feel like the devil and angel are fighting it out on my shoulders…talk to boss, don’t talk to boss, it will help, no it won’t. I have never dealt with an N. i have learned that nothing I think or want matters. It is a powerless position and oh ya, the N has a good relationship with boss. Of course he would. He is attracted to power. Probably one reason I was discarded. I don’t even know what supply source I was but Apparently I quit being a good supply. I hate to say but if I knew my supply I would probably supply it. I know that sounds weird but I am being honest and praying for guidance. I do not need to do anything that complicates matters so I am throwing it out to the universe and my family of fellow N survivors.

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