The Chase

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


Those who read this blog regularly understand what I mean when I refer to the narcissist’s “super-power.” It is their amazing ability to manipulate what others think of them. While family members and co-workers see their duplicity and mean spirits, others see nothing but positive.

However, like many things in life, this is easier to initiate than to maintain. Taking on a pet, for example, is an initial expense and effort that might be easy to manage. The real cost of a pet, however, is spread over years of feeding and care. The same is true for a vintage car, a house, or anything else that requires regular maintenance. I used to have a sign in my office that said, “Almost everything in life is easier to get into than to get out of.”

So the narcissist often has many acquaintances and few friends. First impressions are easy for the narcissist. They read people quickly. They understand just what to say and how to act. Contrary to what those who enter long-term relationships might think, narcissists actually value acquaintances. Who knows whether one might come in handy some day. So the extra effort, the extra kindness, might pay off later. It is worth the initial investment to the narcissist.

But the long relationship is much harder. What seemed like patience and kindness in the beginning cannot be found later. Rather than being complimentary and helpful, the narcissist becomes critical and needy. The person in the relationship is expected to service the narcissist. Any failure is met with harsh words or cruel actions.

Narcissists are great at making new friends and impressing the people they meet, but they are almost always ill-equipped to maintain long relationships. They love the mystery and challenge of dating, but marriage quickly becomes a chore. They like new customers at work, but hate the regulars. They enjoy the new baby (and the attention it brings), but find children to be a drag. Some narcissists seem to jump from marriage to marriage (or have multiple intimate relationships), just because they get bored or burdened. It’s the adventure they seek, not the responsibility.  The chase proves to be more fun than reaching the goal.

Never forget that narcissists judge people by their usefulness. An acquaintance is something held in potential. Someone who might become useful. The person in the relationship has already proven to the narcissist that her/his usefulness comes with a price. Most narcissists are quickly unwilling to pay that price. Words of encouragement and gratitude, quickly given to the acquaintance, are rarely heard by the person in relationship.

Many people speak of the 80/20 rule. The narcissist sees 80% of the people as requiring 20% of his effort. The 20% require 80% of the work. So why spend time on the 20%? And why would he seek to bring anyone from the 80% into the 20%? Instead, people are kept at arm’s length. The fewer close relationships the narcissist has, the better.

Well, you say, those acquaintances are not paying the bills, washing the clothes, or doing the work of the relationship. The narcissist knows this and doesn’t like it. If the narcissist could find a way for acquaintances, people with whom he/she barely has to relate, to send money and do work—it would be a perfect world. Instead, he/she is stuck with people who expect time and connection in order to happily serve. That’s not a good thing in the mind of the narcissist. You and I should serve joyfully and adequately without any reciprocation. Just because the narcissist is so worthy.

It might seem like the narcissist loves mankind, but hates people. In truth, the narcissist uses anyone and everyone to the point where they become more effort than they are worth. Because the narcissist is not omniscient, he/she sometimes gets into relationships expecting more fun or more service and finds boredom and responsibility. The person in that long relationship often finds the narcissist to be angry, distant, and wandering.

Always chasing the elusive prize of satisfaction and fulfillment, the narcissist is disappointed again and again that no person can meet the longing of his/her heart.


Filed under Narcissism

27 responses to “The Chase

  1. Lene

    Oh my. I see my ex in this. Soooo many acquaintances, so few true friends. The few friends he had before our divorce have left him because he burned his bridges there.

  2. Lea Anna Curtis

    So true!! They can make grandiose first impressions that leave most people thinking they are great!! But they have another side to them. I just wish I knew if they realize they are self-centered, and also wish I knew how God sees Christian narcissists. It is very confusing when they seem to worship God in church.

    • Janet

      I know what you mean about worshipping in church, yet behaving in a most un-Christ-like manner. Her fruit seems really synthetic.
      The Lord showed me in the case of my N sister in the Lord, that He is using her in my life to refine me. As for her, He showed me that for Him to get inside the stronghold of pride she has built around deception, pain and fear, He has to bring her to a place where she will trust Him enough, trust His love and care for her enough, trust His control in her life enough that she will allow Him to deal with the traumas that led her to take the self protection route of Narcissism. She doubts His every move in her life. She is always needy, yet tries to portray herself as strong. She fears letting Him control her life. What I gathered in my conversations with the Lord is that He feels extreme pity for her, deep compassion and wants so much to heal her devestation that built her NPD. She is damaged goods. He knows only He can truly heal her pain and release her from her prison. But she will have to want Him to. Right now, she treats God like a vending machine, and kicks Him when He doesn’t do what she wants. He understands her thouroughly. He has been teaching me to see her as HE does, rather than focus on all of the horrible ways she has treated me.

      • NPD is like a demonic disease so opposite of who God is and what He can do in our life.

        Look at this verse in light of narcissism:
        He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

        Thank you, Dave, for that weekly boost for our heart. God and you keep us anchored in the storm.

      • Maya

        Christian Narcissist is an oxymoron. No such thing. Their worship is fake, a lie, a show to be seen and admired by others.

    • Noel

      The key word is “seem”. My xnh used to attend church, but he stated later that he didn’t believe all that God stuff.

      • Janet

        Its really quite baffling! I used to get so angry at God over the fact that He seemed to never do anything about my N very close friend sister in the Lord, yet if I behaved the way she did, He’d be all over me!! For years I thought He hated me and prefered her, even with her shocking un Christ like behavior. I was so confused!!! I couldn’t figure out what was going on and my faith in Him finally failed to where just recently I was preparing to leave ministry, the church and Him. I could take no more. But He intercepted me with a download of what all of these years of abuse and betrayal has meant. I now see everything from His point of view and have healed tremendously. This blog was a HUGE part of that healing process. I am exceedingly grateful.
        You gals who have suffered from N husbands have had it WAY worse than me. But I am also a very damaged and codependent person. Thats why my N friend clocked me and latched onto me. I do not open up easily. I am very wary and damaged goods myself. So, I bonded with her more deeply and identified with more acutely than anyone I had ever done in my whole life. But little did I know, I had no idea such people existed who could pretend to love you, deceive you, use you and betray you shamelessly, and then turn around and accuse you of everything that they did to you. I was destroyed. My spirit was crushed. My fragile trust in God and man absolutely betrayed. Leadership only saw her “sweet and meek” side. So when I tried to explain what was happening, I was the one who was blamed and disciplined, ending up both victim and perp, falsely accused and blamed for all the strife. They completely believed her. And in all those years, God SEEMED to not stand up for me, and I was left vulnerable and alone. Of course NOW I understand the whole process and I have come forth with treasures out of darkness and refined as gold.

  3. Dear Pastor Dave and Friends, I know the Lord has used narcs to get the dross out of me. And yet I am still peeved at the narcs – and want nothing to do with the sorry lot of ’em. Still peeved, still dross that has to come out.

    • Oh, Susan, my heart goes out to you. I’ve felt your hurt then found my solid ground by receiving support from being with sane people, peers who are pursuing healthy personal growth. I did it by starting my own small group studying Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend DVD/Books. I recruited interested women through our church’s small group ministry. The Cloud-Townsend Resource Store has plenty of titles, my present favorite being “Whose Pushing Your Buttons!” Definitely a classic for those involved with difficult people and personalities. When you surround yourself with loving people, study narcissism and learn how to respond or leave alone (as outlined in the Pushing Buttons book), it fills you with love and confidence so the sting from negative people lessons more and more. God bless you as you move forward.

    • Carrie

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting nothing to do with narcissists. I don’t think that is what God really wants for us. It is a painful existence and very damaging.

      • Lea Anna Curtis

        Carrie, but if a person realizes that they are in a marriage with one, and that spouse is only emotionally immature, not physically abusive, then I don’t believe God would want you to leave them, do you?

        Maya, I know some narcissistic people (my that really do seem to know Christ and worship Him and don’t seem to realize they are narcissistic. I tend to think that God will mercifully work it out of them somehow, though, if they really belong to Him. Could this be possible, Maya?

  4. Anne

    Lea Anna,
    I don’t think that physical abuse should be the only criterion for leaving a spouse. There are many who say that verbal and emotional abuse are more harmful than physical because there are no obvious injuries. Yet the soul and spirit are affected deeply by ambient narcissism and leave lasting inner scars that may never heal.

    I agree, there is a big difference between emotional immaturity and narcissism, but normal people can grow up. Narcissists, on the other hand, get worse with age and never see the error of their ways. I only learned this over the past few years when I finally realized that my marriage was in deep trouble and began reading everything I could find on my ex’s behavior.

    With the help of therapists, books, and blogs like this wonderful one, I came to the painful realization that my husband was a covert narcissist and had been living a double life throughout our long marriage (44 years). What I thought might be an affair turned out to be promiscuity. Not only that, he was doing it with men all our lives together and didn’t think it was any of my business. I do have proof but have chosen not to share it with my daughters as it would kill them.

    This was a man I had on a pedestal for decades and who most people thought was an honest, upstanding man. The fact that he could deceive so many people for so very long indicates to me how deep his personality disorder is. Although I do feel like an idiot for not putting the pieces together sooner, I have slowly forgiven myself for that. As for forgiving him, no, I’m not there yet. He has never admitted anything and continues to try to convince our children that I left the marriage for my own self-fulfillment.

    When cornered, these people show their true selves and what I saw was evil. I can pray for my ex-husband’s soul but I’m not sure he even cares about it. I hope your situation is not too bad but the fact that you’re hear says to me that you’re conflicted. The book that helped me the most was “Why Does He Do That”? by Lundy Bancroft. Then I went to Patricia Evans’ books on controlling and verbally abusive people. But there are so many more. Good luck!

    • Cindy

      Lea Anna.
      The person(s) you are dealing with is apparently not a true narcissist. Selfish and a user, yeah, but narcissists inflict harm intentionally. They are evil, like Anne said. Take a hard look at your friend. Is there love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and (the biggie) self-control? If there is any one of these fruits, it’s not narcissism.

      • Janet

        Hi Cindy, I think revenge and vindictiveness is inflicting abuse, and so think its Narcissism. That is what my N sister in the Lord did to me to keep me in control and never confront her on her unChristlike behavior. When ever I did, I got drama and vengeance. My husband also thinks she is just emotionally immature, but the abuse I received made me think covert Narcissist. There are also those on this blog that disagree that Ns are evil. I still also wonder though because the behavior is chosen through pride, and reflects demonic influence.

  5. Maya

    Lea Anna,
    The person(s) you are dealing with is apparently not a narcissist. Selfish and a user, yeah, but narcissists inflict harm intentionally. They abuse and suck people dry like emotional vampires. They are evil, like Anne wrote. She’s also right, in my opinion, that they do not get better, but grow worse with age. Now, how can a person like that be a follower of Jesus? Can’t happen without surrender. The best thing is to run from a narcissist like Mr. Bancroft advises.

  6. Carrie

    Lee Anna,
    What do you mean by emotionally immature? Is he emotionally abusive? If yes, then yes I do believe that God would want you to leave. And I am speaking from first hand experience. I am 2+ years into a divorce after 19 years of marriage and no end in sight. The abuse continues, though it has never been physical. I used to think it was “just emotional” and I used to think that I got the worst of it. I was staying for my kids and trying to stick it out until they were grown. Society and religion tell you that is the best thing for kids even in a less than perfect home. If it is truly abusive to the level of a narcissistic parent…LEAVE.

    I found out that my daughter was cutting herself because she couldn’t handle the pain of that abuse…even though it was emotional abuse and not physical abuse. That is a dangerous situation and I had to leave before my daughter went further. My son begged me on a weekly basis to leave. Both of my children suffered abuse from their father. It is very damaging and it doesn’t leave bruises so people don’t understand it or think it is that bad.
    In retrospect, the abuse was not just emotional. It was psychological. It was financial. It was verbal. It was sexual (just to me…not the children…but I was his wife, so not allowed to think that way.)

    So the questions you need to answer are…Are you the only target? Is there more abuse than are willing to/or allowed to admit? And from the way you characterize him, is he truly a narcissist. Narcissists are not willing to self examine. They may pretend to if they are in the dog house, but there is no conviction. Its an act and things never change. If he is a narcissist, Yes, I believe God wants you to leave, especially if you have kids that are being damaged in the process.

  7. Lea Anna Curtis

    Carrie, from what I gather from my studies on narcissism is that it happens around 10 to 12 years, from some emotionally trauma in their life or a not having a real emotional connection with at least one of the child’s parents or grandparents. (Whoever raised them) For this reason, the child resorted to whatever performance they could do to get attention, and became addicted to that attention and praise…and their emotions were not able to develop because no one helped the child to sort out their feelings and weren’t taught to try to feel empathy for others and care about other’s feelings, and all the things kids need to be taught. So the result was: Emotional Immaturity or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Now I know their is a spectrum…where some are worse than others…even to the point of being what is termed a “Malignant Narcissist “. Those would be the ones that I would think that you should get away from, for sure. However, any type of it is hard to understand completely. But I believe it is real. I am not in danger, however, I am praying for several people that I believe are narcissists. And they all claim to be Christians. I said claim. I don’t know if they know they are narcissistic or not. But I do believe God can heal anything.

  8. Lea Anna Curtis

    Thank you, Janet, Anne, Carrie, Cindy & Maya, for responding to my posts. I appreciate you caring and we need this blog to help each other figure out how to deal with narcissism. Thanks Pastor Dave for starting this and for all your posts. I really appreciate you all. Let’s pray for each other.

  9. Lea Anna Curtis

    Yes, Janet….I too, want to see Narcissists, as God sees them and feel toward them the way that He does. I too, agree, that the information I have read here and on other sites on NPD has helped me tremendously.

    • Carrie

      Lee Anna,

      At some point in life, people have to stop being a victim. If it is not okay for me to mistreat others due to the abuse I have suffered, it is not okay for them to do it. i am teaching my kids this because The worst thing for them would be to become the monster. I’m sure your friends have matured in other ways past the helpless child stage. It is necessary for them to also do it in this respect. Otherwise, it’s an excuse. Sorry my thoughts… Been there and done that…

  10. Savedbygrace

    Hi Dave – I am very thankful for this post as it is something about my nh that has puzzled me: that facility to make acquaintances easily and the fact that he genuinely values acquaintances, and I have seen the value/use/discard cycle in play and been mystified- why aren’t these people friends, why does no one move from acquaintance to friend? seeing it in terms of ‘utility’ explains a lot. I scanned thru his FB friends the other day and it reads like a who’s who of every stage of our lives, every acquaintance he’s ever made.
    I also can relate to :
    It might seem like the narcissist loves mankind, but hates people.
    My n was a minister and he had this very conflicted relationship with the congregation because of the above dynamics. At the time I was trying to be helpful thinking he was just relationally clueless and with guidance he would develop skills – When I talked about listening more to people, he said to me I can’t listen to them, I’m just not interested in their stories (ie life stories). That hit me between the eyes. I realised then this was not usual or desirable!
    Just part of the long journey out of the fog.
    I notice in your posts you use qualifiers like MOST narcissists- and I realise you want to leave room for ns to change and in particular acknowledge God can change people, but I really would like to hear what you ( and others) think – if the n truly submitted to God and took the time and effort can he/God rid himself of this disorder, it just seems to cut so deep, can there be significant healing or change for the n?
    My nh has been in counselling and recovery groups for 2 years now and would say he is changed and certainly exhibits some differences, one of which is that he has a ‘best friend’ now….. narcissism is so deceptive I am skeptical, should I be more encouraging of him?

  11. Lea Anna Curtis

    I would say just keep praying for him. It is a miracle that he would go for counseling. So sounds like there is hope. God can do anything. But he might need comtinued counseling for years to sort everything out and learn how to empathize and learn to think of others before himself.

  12. Janet

    Micah 6:8

    “He has shown you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justly,
    To love mercy,
    And to walk humbly with your God.”

    This is God’s will for all people. You can see, it is fundamentally EMPATHY. Keeping justice, showing mercy, and being HUMBLE before God. Surely God would work over time in the heart of Narcissists to get them into His will for them.

  13. Maya, I agree with you about a Christian Narcissist being an oxymoron. A Christian has the fruits of the spirit, even if not all the fruits at once. A narcissist Christian is a complete fraud! It’s been almost 8 months and I am still very angry with my ex narcissist boyfriend, especially since this man claimed to be a Christian. He attends church weekly and judges women who don’t. It seems to me that he has a lot of anger directed primarily at women and a low opinion of women.

    • Maya

      Well, that opens up another wormy can. I believe that male narcissists are also misogynists. My ex told me more than once he does not like women, and that if he did not “need” a woman, he’d be single throughout life. Made me feel like crap, but I’m very strong in the Lord and I realized it was a huge problem for my ex. And that I shouldn’t take ownership of that problem. He refused counseling, communicating with me, all my efforts to help. Misogynists and narcissists both are cocky and arrogant with women, and the misogynist actually gets a dopamine rush on treating a woman poorly.

  14. Lesley Paquette

    My Ex-Narcissist used to say we had a 50~50 relationship… He made the mess, and I cleaned it up ! Everyone laughed, but it was true…

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