Futile? No, but hard!

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


I often read or hear about people who suggest that we should just fight the narcissists in our lives. After all, they are wrong and we are right. Stand up to them. Gather others against them. Tell your story and others will listen and believe you, they say. Just say no to the narcissist.

But that’s easier said than done. In fact, I wonder if those who give that advice have ever tried to do it, and I wonder if they succeeded. Most of those who try to stand against a narcissist find an opponent far stronger than they expected.

Why is it so hard to fight a narcissist? Well, most of us have never really fought anyone, and a narcissist is one of the most formidable people you will ever meet. Many strong and capable people have lost everything when they dared to go against a narcissist.

Here’s why:

1. The narcissist will be prepared. The narcissist prepared for battle against you before he ever heard your name. He has been preparing for battle all his life. The narcissist’s life is a continual battle. From the beginning, the narcissist was building relationships, gathering information, and watching your weaknesses. He has been expecting your opposition.

We have talked about how the narcissist boyfriend will pretend to be so interested in every part of the young lady’s life, but is really just gathering compromising information to use later. The narcissist boss knows what happened at your last job. Your mother has read your diary. Your narcissist friend has heard your secrets. They are preparing for the battle. You would probably not be in this relationship if the narcissist didn’t already believe he/she could beat you.

In most cases, the battle will be over almost as soon as it begins. The narcissist is so ready that you are defeated before you start. When you finally tell people there are problems in your marriage, they already know because your spouse has told them. They have already formed their opinions against you. When you decide to stand up to the narcissist at work, you find that the boss already has complaints against you. When you finally tell that friend not to call anymore, you find that other friends have already heard how uncaring and unkind you are. The narcissist was prepared.

2. The narcissist will be committed. Competition (battle) is the lifeblood of the narcissist. Winning is everything. The narcissist is willing to say things you would never say and do things you would never do. Narcissists cheat and lie and manipulate because the only real goal is winning. Whatever it takes to win, the narcissist will do.

You must understand that the narcissist has fought or cheated to get almost everything he/she has in life. Fighting is easy, even natural, for the narcissist. Not only that, but narcissists are very good at it. All that practice has made them the best.

3. The narcissist will be vigilant. They are always watching you. It will be hard to do anything for which he/she is not prepared. I know of narcissists who logged the miles on their wives’ cars. They knew when lawyers were contacted, when funds were drawn out of the bank, when friends were informed about the situation. The boss knows when you gather with other employees and what you talk about. Someone in the group will almost certainly be compromised by the narcissist. I have heard of pastors who bugged the meetings of church leaders to which the pastor was not invited. That friend knows when you are home and when you are not answering the phone. They know.

The narcissist will stalk you, talk to your friends and family about you, and find you almost wherever you hide. They will come to your home, your workplace, your gym, your church. Information empowers the narcissist, so they will find out what they want to know.

4. The narcissist will be ruthless. Narcissists don’t only love to win, they live to win. Winning is everything. But even that isn’t enough for most of them. The winning isn’t complete until you are humbled, perhaps even destroyed. Not only must you lose, but you must regret losing—regret even trying.

Narcissists will use any compromise, any relationship, any information they have to hurt you. People have told me that their spouses would deliberately provoke them and then record the conversations. Your darkest secrets will be exposed. Today we have “sex tapes” that are shared when narcissists want to humble a lover. The narcissist will never think he looks bad, he just wants to make you look bad.

If you stand up to your narcissistic boss, you better have another job in hand—and you better hope the boss doesn’t already know about it. It will not be enough for him to fire you, he will want to make sure no one else hires you. You might even be blamed for something you didn’t do. Others will already believe you did it because the boss will have prepared that perspective of you. Heaven help you if you actually did something and the boss found out. That compromise he was “overlooking” will almost certainly come back to haunt you.

“Wow, Pastor Dave, that’s depressing!” I am sorry. Really. But you have to know what you are getting into if you want to confront or fight the narcissist. I have heard too many stories of wives being overwhelmed by their husbands as they approach a divorce. The lies and the manipulation are shocking. Too many stories of the intensity of angry narcissistic ex-friends. I have seen good workers lose their careers because they dared to stand up to a narcissist. I know of too many who contemplated suicide during their battle with the narcissist.

Can a narcissist be beaten? Sure. That’s not the question. The question is whether you are ready for that kind of battle. And sometimes you have to do it anyway. If it is less intense for you than I have said, that’s great. If not, you knew before you started.

Am I right about these things? Those who read here can tell you. Some of their stories are very intense and very sad. Some have lost so much, been through so much. And yet, these are stories of survivors. It may be hard, but it can be done.

If nothing else, this is a warning for anyone thinking about a relationship with someone they suspect is narcissistic. It is a lot easier to get in than to get out. And, if you are in that kind of relationship and have the chance to get out, maybe you should take the opportunity. And, one more, if the narcissist leaves you, let him/her go.

Fighting the narcissist may cost more than you know, more than you are willing to pay.


Filed under Narcissism

31 responses to “Futile? No, but hard!

  1. susanbotchie

    Dear Pastor Dave and Friends, Wow, narcs act just like their master (satan).

    • Georgette

      Susan, you are correct they serve their master (satan). Three times I saw demonic entity in my ex-N in the four years we were together. Paster Dave you are correct the N is always a step a head of you! Mind blowing how quickly they react! Within a week or two the church was against me without me saying anything! I made the mistake of telling the N that how he ended the relationship had stirred a rage in my heart. He took that comment and created a life of it’s own. It is hard to let go of the N b/c you want that fake love he showed in the beginning, you crave that fake love. Year later: people in the church are seeing the real N. He still has control of the leaders and the leaders of the recovery ministry, which is where he gets his energy from!

      This sentence I revised it for you 🙂 : And, if you are in that kind of relationship and have the chance to get out, you take that opportunity and get out!

  2. kkbritegam

    I don’t know that we’ve “beaten” my narcissistic in laws and sister in law but we’ve learned to say no and to, for lack of a better word right now, “ignore” their manipulate and awful texts, calls, and voicemails. I had never dealt with people like this until I met my husbands family. I am happy to share our story if it would even have the remote chance of helping someone else going through it. No one deserves the pain, etc. that people like this can make you feel and my heart goes out to anyone having to experience something like this as it is truly life changing.

    Katie Young


  3. dombeckblog

    EVERYTHING you say in this article has proven itself true to me personally. It is depressing. There is a hefty price for leaving the narcissist relationship, even if you don’t fight. Lke you said, they were preparing to destroy you before you knew their name. Terrifying really. The important thing is, however, to get out. Staying will destroy you.

  4. Rebecca Farris

    I did battle with a Narcassist and won, and continue to win. How? By God’s grace, a lot of study, much self control, and a great deal of time.

    After 21 years of marriage, I realize now, he married me in order to have someone to battle with. Narcassist wake with an insatiable urge to win and most often it’s through hurting those closest to them. For us, it was myself and the kids.

    I would go to friends — they had already been told a story.
    I would go to pastors — the way they would look at me — like I was crazy — because they had already been told a story.
    I would go to his family — begging for help — but they had already been told a story.

    Those years were lonely — and yet not. Each step of the way, God used for good, what my husband meant for bad. Lonely? No, because it forced me into a deep relationship with Christ where I learned patience, self control and to bite my tongue.

    I begged for a divorce, the Lord did not give permission. 21 years later, I heard a loud and clear, YES. I filed and now realize, the Lord was preparing me… the whole time…. for His rescue plan.

    I had means to support myself and the kids, I understood the evil I was living with (I didn’t have to battle feelings of returning), and I had the experience to know how to battle through a divorce (I had been practicing for years!).

    Don’t try to battle til the Lord has prepared you. Follow closely his instructions. They saved my life and my kids.

    To God be the glory — great things he has done.

    • Diana

      Rebecca – Thank you for your post. I too have been waiting for a “Yes” from God to move on while learning how to protect myself from the abuse. It’s not easy. Sometimes I doubt my own reactions and convictions.

      My grown children have been hurt by my NH actions and now the N wants to apologize to my son and ask for forgiveness after 4 months from a hurtful situation the he created. I am suspicious of his ulterior motives; he never apologizes and I don’t want my son to be hurt again. It’s difficult to get evil to go away. I’m praying for God’s intervention and insight how to deal with this in a Christlike manner. Little by little I can see God leading me out of bondage.

      • Rebecca Farris

        I’m over 18 months past the divorce now and it’s easier with every day. I have limited to no interaction since only the youngest son, age 13, sees his father about once a month. (the other 4 kids are 15-21 and do not have contact with their father) However, that one day a month when my ex parks outside my home — my heart begins to pound so hard I feel it, my mind races, I begin sweating profusely, and I typically throw up with in an hour.

        It’s been more than 18 months, yet my natural responses are there — thankfully, I’ve learned to deal with them better each time. It amazes me how much damage one person can do. It is nothing shy of evil. Praying for you and your son Diana

    • Kimberly

      Yes, it’s a Jezebel spirit!

  5. Sunflower

    And they never give up. Even if you don’t fight. Eight years after leaving xh I was engaged to another. XH said he wanted to meet this man to make sure he wasn’t a pervert…….to protect his children, you know (um, and he wasn’t a pervert?). I had to say yes to this meeting, and I did invite another older man as witness and sort of mediator. XH asked two simple questions, then spent the rest of two hours putting me down to my fiance. The ‘mediator’ was really frustrated. And XH already had a new relationship himself, so why would he still care? No, if he couldn’t have me, nobody could. Now, another 12 years later, I still can’t talk with him on the phone.

    Which brings me to a question. What kind of person does a N ‘get along’ with? XH also remarried 12 years ago and they seem quite ok together. I do know that she is very demanding herself, and he seems to have become rather submissive to her. Because she has lots of money? I could never persuade him to help me or do things for me, as in normal fix jobs around the place, etc., yet he seems to be her little slave, having totally renovated two houses for her and built another, complete with gorgeous landscaping, etc. I did read somewhere lately that the only way to relate to an N is to say no the very first time they try to manipulate you and make sure you NEVER let them get away with ‘crap’. Like the young woman who was dating a man, and one day he spoke to her disrespectfully. She immediately had him stop the car, she said, “You will NEVER speak to me like that”, she got out and walked home in the dark, not even looking back when he called to her. They married and supposedly were fine. Could it be that someone can be that strong in their own skin that the N actually respects that? All children are Ns, and they really are looking for someone to help them be the right kind of person.

    • dombeckblog

      I think money is a huge factor for narcs. If there is something to be gained by being nice, they will do it. Otherwise I think they surround themselves with subordinate types that think they have something to gain by being nice. I don’t think mutual respect is possible.

    • Rebecca Farris

      My ex Narc stopped physically hitting me and limited his insults to behind closed doors when I got a high paying job. Course he spent every penny…..

      He would always evaluate everyone he met according to how much money they had. If you didn’t have it — you were not worth his time. If you did — he’d hate you and pretend to be your best friend.

    • Georgette

      My ex-N fourth wife is condescending, demanding, has risky sexual behaviors. This fits his porn addiction she can fulfill his sexual fantasies from his porn. He has conflict issues, communication issues and money issues, (I learned this from pre-marital counseling which he did not want to work on) and porn addiction for 43 years and counting. Not seeing Godly love or any kind of love here are you? I think sometimes God allows two severely dysfunctional people to marry so that maybe one of them though these two are ‘saved’ will humble before the Lord and change and will cause the other to change. I understand that there hearts may be closed to what God has to say. I have been advised that they may not change at all! They have been like this and this is all they know. This is the only way they know how to deal with their pain. I just pray that God’s will be done in their life. I was raised by a psychopathic narcissists, she did not change until just before she got dementia.

    • God's Girl

      I believe that everything we do in life has a comeback. Every action, every thought, every deed has a reaction. Maybe she’s his.

  6. Whisper

    This column is a “life line” for me. It’s so helpful to know that someone understand how hard it is to have a N in your life. I am a trusting, loving person who got caught in a trap. After 16 years of marriage my trust has turned into distrust and my love has turned to indifference. I tried fighting back and only found myself flattened. Now, I try to anticipate every possible reaction from the N as we live our lives together. He is always one step ahead of me. I have confided in friends only to find out that he’s already poisoned their opinion of me. My best tactic has been to have separate friends, activities and a church. This is where I can be myself and not worry about his manipulation. Thanks to this column, I feel strong (most of the time) and his behavior impacts me less. It is not easy.

  7. Mark

    Out of probably hundreds of arguments over the years, I remember only two I’ve won against my narcissist. The first one was debating a view he had. Usually he doesn’t care about the truth – just the power of winning, but in this case, he cared about the truth, and when I got past the narcissist shock and awe tactics and was still making my case, he completely lost it. The second one was when I was able to show that the means used to change church bylaws were not legitimate. Now that I understand narcissism – I see he was being groomed by some narcissists, and he was so bewitched by them that he couldn’t see that their tactics were completely underhanded.

    Now that I “get it” I try my hardest to avoid interacting with him at all, and if I do, the weather is just fine. I’m not going to talk about anything personal.

  8. guardyourheart

    its good to be aware of this and be reminded. been away from the destructive people for a couple of years, just feeling triggered quite a lot these days especially when listening to other people and when around people who exhibit controlling behaviour or those to seem passive aggressive…

  9. mls

    I look so forward to your emails. Thank You. I can’t put into words how healing it is to read truth laid so straight regarding Narcissists. It stirs up the anger in me too, I must admit. But…if it weren’t for being faced with it regularly, I would be tempted to think he could change. And he wont. And I wish so badly I had listened right off the bat and not wasted the past 6 years.

  10. hazelnut

    There is no battle if I’m/we are not in it. We/I can step out of it and away from the person intent on making the battle happen, learn how to calm myself/ourselves, and look at the interactions as an observer.
    Thank you Pastor Dave for your weekly blogs on this topic. Took me a long time work that through, think clearly of what is actually going on, and figure out what they need is a battle, power, domination, admiration, adualation, and having their way. “Give it to them” while making plans to get away from the unrelenting battle and drama. If this can be done while recognizing that one of our deepest needs is a sense of belonging and safety, (which having those needs met is not possible with a narcissist) we gradually get to recovery of ourselves. It is very hard. This character structure and personality is fixed and does not change. However, there is God’s grace and mercy.

  11. I’ve noticed that they LIVE in the place of battle/chaos/devouring. There isn’t nuance with narcissists like there is with most people. They seem to have a simplified life to me. They just want dark energy to feed off of and they will create it if they have to. Being “nice” or “helpful” to selected people is shallow and is only there to help set up a feeding situation or to escape detection. I’m one of those that believe it’s a spiritual issue, not a psychological one.

    My experience is that they have more and more difficulty in regulating their fake “niceness” as they get older, or are just simply are getting tired of the work needed to manage the facade. I think a lot narcissists come to be seen as cantankerous or manipulative when elderly even by those who don’t know anything about narcissism and wouldn’t know to put them in that category.

    • Seeing the Light

      Prairie Girl, I wonder if the difficulty as they get older is that they see how they are aging just like the rest of humanity and that they are going to die just like the rest of us. I think this makes them mad. They are special and should be immune to it. Just an idea.

  12. Betsy

    I have a question that hopefully someone will take a stab at. I’m wondering how many people married to a narc have sex with them? I can’t bring myself to give myself to something that, in my mind, is supposed to be a celebration of a good, healthy, mutually loving/respectful relationship. But we have the command in scripture to not deny our partner except for a time of prayer, so I have awful guilt. I haven’t turned him down bc he has stopped asking for it, but I don’t pursue it either. I feel like I am in unrepentant sin and feel awful. But I just can’t do it when there is so much emotional pain outside of the bedroom. Do other people feel this way? How do you handle it?

    • Sunflower

      I’m not saying that this is the answer for others, but will share what I believe God told me to do, because He knew the outcome ahead of time. With nh#1, for 22 years I initiated often (he never would initiate, I just knew when he wanted it), whether I felt like it or not, but one day I just felt sick about it all. I cried out to God, then went to h and said, “From now on, you will need to initiate sex. If you want to be a master and me a slave, just tell me when, and I will comply, but if you want a Christ-church type of relationship, you will have to win my love back, because it’s long gone.” We slept in the same bed 3 more years and never had sex again. God knew that his pride would not let him admit to wanting a master-slave relationship (though he sure acted like it otherwise), and he was not willing to humble himself to winning my love back either, so I was free. Of course, he has since told anyone who would listen, “She didn’t let me touch her for three years!!!” but then he has said many many more hurtful things about me as well, so I just pray that one day the truth will somehow shine. At the time, I was still much more into ‘submission’ than I am now, so if I was in that place now, I think I would just leave out the first part and tell him that if he wanted it, he’d need to win me back, that the act of love needs to be reciprocal or it’s a sham. If there is love, I think one can be intimate even on days one doesn’t feel it much, just because we love them and WANT to serve them.

    • Betsy, I can totally relate. I’ve been married 26-1/2 very long years and for most of that time I submitted because of the guilt of that scripture, but no longer.
      Someone wrote on here, I think, that they struggled with divorcing their NH because God hates divorce, and someone responded by saying that, yes, God hates divorce, but He hates that which leads to divorce even more. This was a HUGE revelation for me!!!
      When I consider how God calls a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church and died for her, and when you consider the marriage vows we made, my NH reneged on his promises and responsibilities the moment the words were out of his mouth… in fact, I doubt he ever intended to fulfill them.
      Then I woke up to the realisation that he married me as a means to an end; to satisfy his needs. He never loved me. And it was day 4 into the honeymoon that I realised I had made a mistake. For him, my main purpose was sex. Initially I tried to comply, but there was absolutely no emotional connection. He treated me like his concubine to use at his bidding… or at least he tried to. But when I resisted it created more problems for family. I was in a deep depression for over 20 years.
      Although I had been a Christian for over 26 years, I never knew ‘the abundant’ life. I lived in loneliness and despair. Then I went to a Christian teaching weekend 1-1/2 years ago and I met the Holy Spirit and everything changed. I hungered for more truth and love from Him.
      Because the husband is called to be like Christ who first loved us, I believe the responsibility of loving, providing, protecting and sacrificing must begin with the husband. And when a wife feels that covering from her husband, she cannot help but respond with love, respect and submission. And when that husband receives the love, respect and submission from the wife, he responds by continuing to cover her with love, provision and protection… and so creates a continuous circle as planned by God for the purpose of reflecting the relationship between Christ and His church, for His glory.
      But when a husband does not fulfill his commitments then a cog in the machinery is broken, and the wife is incapable of producing the proper outcome.
      What I’m saying is I no longer feel guilty. As the head of our home, the responsibility lies with him to genuinely love and care for me. Because he is incapable of fulfilling his responsibilities, it is impossible for me to fulfill my responsibilities. I was never loved, never protected, never valued, never cherished, never appreciated, never cared for… I was alway manipulated and coerced into fulfilling my ‘duties’ as a wife… to satisfy his sexual needs and to make him look good.
      I remember one time he showed me tenderness for about 30 seconds, and my heart of stone absolutely melted!!! I was so shocked and so disgusted with myself!! But I knew then, that deep down I really did love my husband.
      My husband has no idea what he has at his fingertips… I easily could fulfil my role to love and honour and respect and be sexually intimate, if I was genuinely loved. It’s all I’ve ever wanted.
      I no longer have a huge thick rock wall that I hide behind, now I have a boundary. I know who I am in Christ and He has been showing me the truth of who my husband is. I am no longer depressed or hiding, I have my strength and confidence from the Lord.
      Recently my husband came home from being away for 2 months on business. I was determined to be a good wife and submit, with the Lord’s help. I lasted 3 nights and moved into the spare bedroom. He had not changed.
      Now he’s frustrated with me because I won’t play his game, but I have peace. I no longer feel guilty. I know I have been trying to be a good wife for 26 years and it has not made one ounce of difference… I am still just his possession to use as he wants.
      Through all of this the Lord has been working… Currently we live across the ocean from our country of birth and God has caused for our situation to change. In 5 weeks I am moving back home and my husband is going to his work in another continent… very far away. We will be apart for at least the next 6 months… what happens next is all in God’s hands. I believe God is going to do something exciting. I pray every day for a ‘Damascus Road’ encounter with the Lord for my husband… we’ll see what happens, but I won’t be holding my breath.
      My advice is Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Let God be your source of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control. He loves you more than anyone else and He knows your heart. Do not receive false guilt for trying to be a good wife. Bless you! (Sorry this was so long!)

      • Lea Anna Curtis

        I am so thankful that you have understood that you are not the one to blame and have found joy in the Lord. I am thankful that you are going to get a break from him and I pray he will have that ” Damascus Road’ experience and will then be the Godly husband that he should be. Thanks for sharing. I wish more people that were in your shoes knew to read this and could be encouraged to draw the boundries and keep the faith. May God grant you the desires of your heart as you seek Him with all of your heart.

  13. guard your heart

    Need some help with a possible narc situation

    i’ve started some part time studies at a local university and the lead teacher is exhibiting some of the narc traits, like arrogance, intolerance, rage, knows better than everyone else, his theories are ‘superior’ to the proven methods, no sense of humour, always has to have the last word. he is very intelligent but seems not very flexible even when you agree with him or give him a compliment he seems angry or has to disagree or just repeats word for word what you said which seems cryptic and reminds me of some narcs that I got away from… I am enjoying the subject but not his teaching and kind of dreading the lectures because when someone arrived late the other day said something very cryptic to this person that sounded like a hidden threat. I feel anxious that if i disagree with him he will make things difficult… I don’t know, the other teachers seem more normal and humble and genuinely helpful and easy to talk to, he seems to even control the other teachers like a micro-manager…. I am getting hyper-vigilant here and unfair to him or could this be some trouble ahead ?

    would really appreciate your views…

  14. In my experience with my ex husband, all of this is true. I did not win by the world’s standards, he got away with illegal activity, he won the money and custody of the kids. The way that I survived was being willing to walk away from it all, when he knew that there was nothing else he could take away from me or do to me that mattered, it was done. I moved to another city and started over, trusting in God that I would get it all back… and he would someday pay for all he has done. I had to not be afraid of losing everything and anything. In this way I have won, because I am not afraid anymore.

    • dombeckblog

      Ditto. My story almost exactly.

      I woke up this morning and realized my ex sabotaged my vehicle too many times to recount. Maybe repressed memory. Among many dangerous and unexplainable car problems, I realized I had put air in my tires only once in the past three years. Same vehicle, when with him it was a weekly ritual. He said it was the cold weather and aluminum wheels that contracted that caused it. And I believed him. I now live further north. Colder weather. No narc. No more problem. Just terrified to drive is all. Just a little PTSD.

      But I’m alive. I did survive.

  15. D

    Read this in a devotional this morning. I’m having a difficult time coming to terms with how everyone says we should treat an N and what I frequently read:

    “Be a bright witness to everyone around you and be kind to everyone.

    Encourage your loved ones to establish and have good relationships with their most vital relationships: God, spouse, children, family, friends, and fellow Christians.”

    The “be kind to everyone” is shouting at me this morning, since I have been trying to make an attempt at No Contact. It seems to be bothering me more than my NH.

    God give me peace!

  16. Savedbygrace

    Hi D, If you listen to Patrick Doyle a Christian counsellor on youtube he has a lot to say about abusive relationships and he says that the kindest thing someone can do for someone who is abusing them is to stop the abuse by eg going no contact or setting a boundary or separating.
    So maybe your ‘no contact’ approach is kind after all:)

    The reality prob is that your NH does know how to relate but chooses not to- has your encouragement made a difference so far?

  17. I didn’t know why this wasn’t put away in my PTSD folder, until today. I needed the reminder right now. Giving the battle to God. Thanks for the reminders.

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