June 27, 2008

Narcissists Lack Emotional Depth

The Little Deer by Frieda Kahlo



< ------Okay. That's my portrait: the little dear who was ignorant about the beauty and tragedy of her ability to feel and feel deeply.

I’m not alone in my ignorance. Most people assume emotions are a common ground connecting us to one another. However, it’s important to know that the capacity for emotional depth and thus moral reasoning, is not universal. Unfortunately, we may only learn this after the archer landed five or six shots and expected us to stay on target for the seventh.

If there are people who are not imbued with deep emotions, how do we know if our feelings are being mimicked, targeted, or ruthlessly manipulated by imposters aiming for our heart space? Well, if we’re clueless about narcissism, we'll never see the arrows 'til we’re bleeding; or in the case of con artists: after we’re broke, humiliated and disillusioned.

The answer to protecting ourselves is not becoming as indifferent as the archer. At first, deer folks might react with rigid defenses protecting themselves from another attack. But rigid defenses are not a healthy solution. Not in the long run anyway. The answer to self-protection is becoming aware of our soft spots while educating our selves about ‘pathologicals’ who depend on our ignorance to guarantee they’ll get a good shot.

At this point, there are numerous websites offering free information about narcissists, sociopaths and manipulators. This pleases me no end. It’s my belief that the main reason people are targeted by intimate partners, cults, or organizations is because we are/were naïve about people with emotional voids where their hearts ought have been.

People make the assumption that feelings speak a common language whether we’re in southern Idaho, France, in a church, a seminar, or a cyber-group. We say we feel sad and people respond because they know what sad means without offering the details of our sadness. We say we feel happy and people respond by being happy, too. We say we feel cranky and people keep their distance; though there are those pesky codependent-types (the ones who can empathize with an ice cube) who still try to make other people feel better. That would be me, of course. “You feeling cranky today, sweetheart? Here, let me make ya laugh so we can both feel better.”

Being able to empathize is something I value, though I’ve had to reclaim my appreciation for empathy after losing my Pollyanna several years ago. Alanon updated my boundaries teaching me to let cranky people own their emotions without feeling responsible to fix their cranky. (Just a note to anyone who’s also been accused of being co-die simply because you’re a cheerleader type: Is the Cheerleader a Type ‘C’ personality? Or maybe we’re a B+ or a Type A- depending on how high we jump??)
Alexander Lowen writes: “I would define the narcissist as a person whose behavior is not motivated by feeling...acting without feeling is the basic disturbance in the narcissistic personality. The greater the denial of feeling, the more narcissistically disturbed the individual is.”
I’ve been reading Lowen’s book again. I didn’t know anything about Narcissism when finding this book in our home library. Lowen’s book was my introduction to the geographical flatland of the narcissist’s interior self. Where most people have a moral compass in their solar plexus, the narcissist has an emotional void. Where most of us have a heart, the narcissist has a frozen chicken nugget rarely thawing out since their blood runs colder than a Sub-Zero.

You may think I’m being snotty.

I am.

But that’s because I’m making a very important point: Narcissists do not have emotional depth. They have emotions because everyone has emotions, but their shallow emotions are as steadfast as nailing jell-o to a tree. They do not feel the solid tug of the gut pointing people towards right & moral behavior. Oh, they know the morally correct thing to do and they understand social rules and all, but they don’t feel the unbearable pain of remorse for having served themselves to the exclusion of others.

Narcissists pretend they have feelings by mimicking people's behaviors which is why they are called imposters. They are acutely aware of what YOU are feeling even if they can't feel it themselves. They have observed people's reactions to a specific emotion even if they do not experience that emotion themselves. So, if you’re feeling sympathetic towards a narcissist who hurt you, it’s likely because he wanted you to feel sympathetic. If you’re feeling sorry for a narcissist who hurt you, it’s because he set you up to feel sorry for him. He counts on your assumption that tears=guilt and guilt=remorse and remorse=changed behavior and changed behavior=love.

It doesn’t.
“Exploitativeness is common to all narcissistic personalities” ~Alexander Lowen
Narcissists get us to feel love for them without a loving response on their part. They get us to feel sorry for their victimization without reciprocal sorrow when they victimize others. They exploit people’s emotions, manipulate their feelings, pretend they are feeling when they aren’t.

Become intimately familiar with your soft spots. Protect the precious emotions that make you human, keep you tender, and establish a strong foundation for intimate and healthy relationships.

And don't be fooled. There is always something missing in the narcissist's emotional response (or lack thereof). Even as well as narcissists can mimic behaviors they've observed in others, something's not quite right. We can't put our finger on it...but we know something's off. Their performance is either exagerated or flat, but it's never just quite right.

Hugs,
CZBZ

Resource


Lowen, Alexander, M.D. Narcissism: Denial of the True Self. 1997 edition







35 comments:

  1. Great insight, thanks. With my ex, instead of seeing that the emotional shallowness was what it was: a sign of his narcissism, I thought it was simply a sign that we complement each other. I naively thought that we were opposites attracting and fulfilling what we each lacked through the other, when, in fact, it was a Broadway sign of his inability to love and be compassionate. I thought that I would bring it out in him. The jokes on me.

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  2. "they don't feel the unbearable pain of remorse"

    That seems to be true of my husband most of the time. He feels guilt and shame, but it seems to be focused inward, rather than outward. It seems that what he feels bad about is being exposed as imperfect, rather than feeling bad that his behavior has hurt someone.In his efforts to avoid acknowledging his mistake, he makes everything worse.

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  3. "The answer to self-protection is becoming aware of our soft spots while educating our selves about ‘pathologicals’ who depend on our ignorance to guarantee they’ll get a good shot."

    Absolutely true.

    CZBZ, you have created a fine out line here about the emotional strategies of narcs. What once was difficult to decipher and describe in really quite simple.I figure 2 things in the equation that keeps a narc in business..the naivety of the target and the denial of instincts of the target.

    The trickery of words can really keep a person confused and ungrounded in terms of responding to gut instincts. I mean for me my head was ringing so loud with n-words I had forgotten I had a gut! Sheesh ~

    GOOD STUFF,

    Anonymous eyes

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  4. Thanks for posting a comment, Laura. I think most of us lacked context for what we were witnessing in a narcissistic partner. It didn’t alarm me particularly that my spouse was less emotional than myself but then again, I assumed everyone had emotions but expressed them differently. For all I knew, he was one of those reserved men who compartmentalized his feelings. Some people do that but they are still able to ‘attach’ to other people and they still have emotional radar in the gut, guiding their decisions.

    A lot of us have been surprised to learn about pathological narcissism and discover we had interpreted some fairly funky behavior according to our life experience, having nothing to do with the N’s reality. I still shake my head at the many clues I misinterpreted. Fact is though, how could anyone know until they knew? I missed the Broadway signs, too…LOL…Loved your description!

    Hugs,
    CZ

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  5. Dear Jennie,

    You make a very important point about the narcissistic pathology: their guilt and shame is about imperfection---not about changing their behavior.

    Why do we change behavior when we feel remorseful? Maybe we do this because we care about our impact on others. Change, as difficult as it may be, is less painful than the relentless agony of remorse. That’s how I’d describe it anyway. But key to remorse is the ability to empathize with those we’ve hurt. Since narcissists lack the capacity to empathize with others (the way most of us describe empathy), they will project the blame on the person they hurt rather than taking responsibility for having harmed another person.

    A narcissist might even SHAME his victim/target for being upset, or hurt or sad. By doing this, the narcissist offloads his shameful feelings by blaming others as the cause of their own abuse.

    “You made me do it! If you weren’t so (fill in the blank), this never would have happened!”

    And then we feel terrible about being soooooooo sensitive. In fact, we are probably ashamed of ourselves.

    Et voila. The N's Shame-Dumping Mission is accomplished. He feels great and now we feel terrible.


    Hugs,
    CZ

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  6. Thanks for the validation, Anonymous Eyes. It is key for people to increase their self-awareness and become familiar with their responsibility to protect soft spots from being sullied, destroyed or demonized by the narcissist. What’s a soft spot?? Well, I can tell you one of mine though you probably already know that about me already.

    I have a marshmallow heart. It’s a medical miracle but yes indeed…if the doctors x-rayed my chest, they’d find a big, white puff of fluffy stuff shooting sugar and corn syrup throughout my veins. For a while, I had to build strong defenses against a literal skewing and roasting over a raging fire. It got kinda toasty but that’s okay. My heart didn’t turn into a lump of charcoal.

    What this experience has done however, is taught me that my responsibility for being blessed with a marshmallow heart, is to protect it from being eaten up by Ns who relish marshmallow with a wicked passion.

    We can get ourselves out of sticky situations having learned a few hard lessons about life: that it’s not fair; that there are predators who spot white stuff from a mile away; that we are much stronger than we believe; that the terrible things that happen to very good people do not mean marshmallows are a bad thing. It just means we need to be extra careful about who we invite to nibble on our dessert.

    LOL

    Hugs,
    CZ

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    Replies
    1. Perfect metaphor- marshmallow heart. I'm divorcing my covert N and it is starting to heat up. But I have N's in my family, have dated them before, and then found myself another one. I'll give my soon-to-be-ex credit though, he's very slick. No one has a clue about him. Everyone loves him, the shy, affable, easy going guy...with a taste for marshmallows and blood. HIs game is to support others (first wife, son, me) goals and dreams. Sounds good no? But that is the trap to create dependency and in the shakiness of transitions, he's there to let us know of his disdain for our choices. And the control begins...in full N force.

      But I think I've learned my lesson. Protect the tender heart because it's a gift not to be shared with just anyone.

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    2. Hello Jay!

      Those covert manipulators are the worst! I'm so sorry for what you're going through...it can be very crazy-making. How much easier it would be if they'd just say they HATE US. Then we could keep our minds on track. But no...they say they love us and want the best for us WHILE doing the most despicable things. (Don't confuse me with a psychic mind-reader, haha, I'm just speculating on your situation).

      People with narcissistic personalities are each unique; however, many people have written about the covert narcissist and his/her seductive lure that makes people feel SAFE.

      My X supported my dreams and goals and just when I was venturing into the field of my interest, he pulled the rug out from under my feet. People who aren't familiar with narcissistic relationships, have no idea how traumatic this betrayal can be. I Over-trusted my spouse, for sure. In retrospect its easy to see. But the truth is that covert narcissists present themselves as trustworthy, removing any element of doubt.

      I hope your divorce isn't a lengthy drawn-out process. If you can get through quickly, you'll be better off. Narcissists are notoriously litigious which can take a serious toll on our mental and physical health. Take care of yourself, Jay. Best wishes...

      Hugs,
      CZ

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  7. CZ- I am glad I stumbled on your blog. I've researched this subject until my eyes are bloodshot and for the life of me, I STILL cannot begin to comprehend how someone could take the affection and genuine love shown to them, lap it up and then abruptly smear it under their shoe like dog squeeze. I don't understand how it is possible for a human being to do this. It's like I keep hitting my head against a brick wall, hoping that the next collision will somehow satisfy my questions. We are left with a wound of massive proportions and the N walks away unscathed, ready to do it again to another innocent, loving, giving person. It literally nauseates me to think anyone could be so coldly cruel. And the worst part?? I miss him and fight it every single day. How f***ig stupid is that? Will this ever stop hurting and will the need for a rational understanding ever cease?

    Marshmallow # 2

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  8. Hello, Marshmallow #2! I'm glad you found my blog so we can talk about loving someone who couldn't attach to us like 'normal' folks do. It's a mind-bender, for sure. Nobody gets through the N-experience without obsessing on how someone could smear us into 'dog squeeze'. I have described myself as a grease spot but maybe I’ll be more accurate and use your description. Ha!

    There's a big difference between a person who ends a relationship and someone who maliciously hurts their partner when they leave. We might not be able to put our perceptions into words, but many of us sensed their underlying malice. The pain a narcissist causes a former lover seems to satisfy their arrogance and superiority---which is a hard thing to hold in your mind if you believed you were in a mutually loving relationship.

    It takes awhile to accept a reality we didn’t know existed. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You have a lot of company these days since most of us didn’t know a thing about pathological people. We’re all learning at a fast clip and perhaps talking about our experience will help other people avoid similar relationships in their lives. That’s sad for us, but hopefully beneficial to others.

    Thanks for posting on my blog!

    Hugs,

    CZ

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  9. my now ex-boyfriend had all of these signs~very argumentative, saying I made him feel inferior, not able to be there emotionally. Saying the relationship wasn't right, yet always finding a way to reel me back in when I would begin to agree. While I was caring for my 29 year old son who had terminal cancer a little over a year ago, my then boyfriend was moving on without telling me. He got rid of my personal belongings in his apartment, and never took a day off to support me. Now I find out he was on-line dating, and has found a new girlfriend. He has created his own convenient realities about our relationship. Sadly, I have been in such a shroud of grief over my son, that just coming out of it I am now hit with this reality. I don't know if I will ever trust my judgment again, it is not the first. But I really thought this guy was someone who he wasn't, and oddly, I am reeling from this, even though he could not handle my son needing attention and threw me away at a time I needed him the most...

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  10. Dear Anonymous,

    I am so sorry to read about your son. You supported and loved your son through it all, which says so much about your good heart. Bless you for being there for him.

    I'm not sure there's any way to know if a partner will be able to support 'us' during our trials; until of course, they don't. Most people are shocked to discover a partner had been surreptitiously seeking an alternative partner---shocked because they would never do a similar thing themselves. So, why would they suspect it?

    And of course you are reeling from this! It's horrifying to realize we cared about someone who was unreliable and untrustworthy!

    I think one of the hardest things we go through is feeling objectified. nothing reduces our humanity quite like being replaced by another person; i.e.: "object".

    You will be able to trust your judgment again, anonymous. Anyone---and I do believe ANYONE can be fooled by a narcissist.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. I appreciate each person who takes time to read my messages and reply.


    Hugs,

    CZBZ

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  11. Hi, I am so thrilled to find your blog. I was divorced 3 years ago after a 19 year marriage to a man who it seemed I could never make happy. No matter how I tried, I could never reach his "core". After reading so many of your writings, I can so identify with so many things like how he never could show empathy for me or others. I thought it was just a psychological thing based on the fact he always felt rejected by his parents and was sent to Boys Town to live for 3 years when he was 13 and where he was sexually abused, so had an attachment disorder. And of course, I had enough love for the both of us. He never kept a job longer than a year and mostly only for 8 or 9 mos. for the entire 19 years. He's a very good-looking, charming man, so could easily find another. I am a teacher and stable and I just kept always thinking that he would grow-up and wake up to all the good things he had in our children and me. Why I'm writing to you is because, it's been 3 years since the divorce and I still can not get over him. When I read in some of your letters that this is a normal thing for women after a N-relationship , I was floored. Even though he has remarried, I cannot get past the fact that the divorce was wrong. He never blamed me for anything except to say that if I hadn't gained weight we might still be together but he would own up to the fact that he was wrong in leaving. Even though he had affairs, I felt it was because he was just "lost" and our family was worth saving so I waited until I did finally come to the place that I just couldn't wait any longer. It hurt too much. He was never verbally abusive, but it was the affairs and the emotional distance that was abusive. Then there was the other side of him. When he was home and seemed to be working on our relationship, we were great together. He's a great communicator and we could talk forever. I miss that. But he would say the most hurtful things about how I had gained weight and he wasn't attracted to me. He said he needed someone he could be proud of when they went out together and why couldn't I take better care of myself. Then he would leave again and that cycle you talked about guilt=remorse, remorse=love (he never had tears) would always be at work and he'd come back. But there was never empathy or true repentance. I was ALWAYS confused. I never knew it had a name - Narcissism. I knew(thought) the connection we had was strong so never thought he would REALLY leave. And since the divorce, I have been so, so confused and unable to move forward because I've been unable to figure out how he could really leave. He "loves" our girls - talks to them daily and spends as much time with them that he can - but he chose to move 5 hours away from them to be married to this skinny, blond woman. This is the 3rd marriage for both of them. This completely blows my mind. How could a father who says he loves his kids move that far away and not be a vital part of raising them? He pays his child support (when he has a job which right now he doesn't) and is very caring towards them, but he can move 5 hours away from them (they are now 17 and 19). I don't get it. So, I think in a nutshell what keeps me bound up in all of this is the seemingly polar differences in his behavior. Anyway...I'm interested in what you think. How can I get free? But I deal with a part of me who doesn't want to be free. What's wrong with me?

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  12. Dear Shell,

    Great Question! Why is it more difficult for partners of narcissists to move on with their lives? I know it is because of all the people I've met online (and face-to-face), whose relationships manifested all the indicators of a N-relationship.

    They struggled/struggle just like myself. In fact, my s-l-o-w healing process is replicated so often that I tend to believe people who MOVE ON "simply, elegantly and without obsession" were NOT in N-relationships---even if they think they were. Ya know what i mean?

    I am going to think about your question and post a new essay with some of my thoughts.

    You are definitely invited to respond and tell me if my experience mirrors yours.

    I'm glad you found me!

    Hugs,
    CZBZ

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  13. Hello CZBZ - I have read your blog for some time now, and find it wonderfully warm, astute and generous.

    Where your said: "There's a big difference between a person who ends a relationship and someone who maliciously hurts their partner when they leave. We might not be able to put our perceptions into words, but many of us sensed their underlying malice. The pain a narcissist causes a former lover seems to satisfy their arrogance and superiority---which is a hard thing to hold in your mind if you believed you were in a mutually loving relationship." really speaks to me.

    I am embarrassed to admit I am still trying to fathom this part, even though it has been a few years since he left. My mind wants to make sense of it. He did many cruel things to cause maximum damage on way out the door, but somehow left no fingerprints for anyone else to see. He left me wondering why is this painful when he says he isn't doing anything? It was so confusing to feel the malice (good choice of words), contempt, etc and have him constantly tell me I was angry for no reason, and that was why there was a problem. But I think my anger was like a chained dog, being teased by invisible tormentor. You end up not being sure about anything. I had the choice of one reality or the other, and they didn't match. Felt like an impossible choice - I want to knit my life narrative back together and can't.

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  14. I found this page through Google and it seems you have hit the target on narcissistic ways of being. I grew up with a narcissistic mother, and I am stunned at the lack of empathy, emotional concern, and any real care about my welfare when I was growing up. A mother suppose to be the rock, the one who cares about you most. Instead, I got abuse, abandonment, manipulation, and neglect, rage, and much more. Anything but love and care. I am a broken man now because of it. Nothing was ever about me, everything was about her. There is so much trauma I've went through that it is tragic to think about. Things that don't make sense... a cold hearted, uncaring mother doesn't make any sense to me, but I'm sure most people on this page know the feeling.

    Thanks for this web site.

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  15. Hey CZBZ,

    Another wonderful, humorous and insightful article!!! Kudos to you woman! :) After four years of tears and asthma attacks, I realize the level of cruelty and heartlessness of a narcissist. Now when I date other guys who exhibit similar heartless behaviors or knife-cutting words, my red warning radar goes off immediately and I know to stay away from those types of guys. Thanks to my last four years with a narcissist, it has sharpened and heightened my sensitivity level to insensitive NPD men and now I will not hesitate to run for the hills as two pastors have told me during these last four years. Thanks again...you are angel from heaven!

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    1. OOOOohhhh...I am so glad to hear about your RADAR...that it's up and running and working well. Stop wasting your precious life on meN who cannot grow up with you! That's my new mantra for all you folks who are still dating!

      You know, there are so many wonderful, heart-ful, marvelously loving and kind men in our world that it's a damn shame so many good people end up with self-centered narcissists.

      We were kinda trained to go for narcissists, don't you think? Those up-and-coming ambitious folks who for all intents and purposes, appeared to be great catches. Then we discover they are only focused on one thing: their goals. Their ambitions. Their achievements. And we become the collateral damage in their war to prove their worth to the world (and themselves!)

      Thanks for posting. I love hearing from readers who glean something useful from my ramblings!

      Hugs,
      CZ

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  16. My ex narc was very loving at the begining, as they all are. Then came the devaluation. It was all so subtle, i didnt realise what was happening, except that i felt less worthy. I look after my child who has special needs, and he said, what do you expect me to give you a prize for it, its just what everyone does. Something just didnt add up with this guy, and it took me a few attemps to eventually end it. What was hardest to take was the fact he had simply made the whole thing up. so much so, that several months on i still struggle with this fact. never again will i be taken in.

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    1. Hi anonymous!

      Bless your heart! Taking care of a child with special needs is challenging. Yes, there are rewards. Oftentimes though, the work and our dedication, is minimized. Loving people caretake because they love the child, never expecting to be given attention or awards.

      We do however, expect to be seen and appreciated by the people closest to us. We need to be seen and appreciated---especially because this work is draining, emotionally exhausting, even isolating(depending on the child of course). We need our partner to buoy our spirits and at least say how much he values us, even loves us.

      I can only imagine what it would be like to have a narcissistic partner. Narcissists are so draining in and of themselves that to be caretaking a special needs child too, well! That is too much for anyone...he was probably jealous you weren't able to give HIM more attention! He probably resented the child---even if he'd never admit it.

      (Just a guess, but did he complain about being neglected and ignored?)

      When he said "do you expect me to give you a prize?", my blood pressure went up about twenty points. That is EXACTLY what narcissists say! Exactly! They cannot give you what you need (emotional support and appreciation) so instead, they put you down. They minimize your good qualities, your good deeds, your heroism and make you feel guilty for expecting them to give you a compliment at least! As if YOU are the one being needy when in fact, narcissists are so 'needy' that they have nothing to give other people!

      I really hope your life will be N-free from here on out. No More Narcissists!


      (((Hugs))),
      CZ

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  17. Hi there, thanks for the blog..I've only just begun to read some of the articles. I have a question...is there such thing as someone being half, semi or partially narcissistic? Sounds like a dumb question..but my Boyfriend (of 9 months) has ALOT of the tendencies of a narcissist but for the most part he expresses feelings honestly (I think) maybe they arnt right, but I dont think he is faking emotions. He's very sensitive to criticism which i did read that the N can emulate the emotions he thinks he is suppose to feel and sometimes that comes across by an over the top emotional reaction He is very sensitive to any type of bad/unsettling feeling that he just cannot deal and the reaction is yelling rage or shutting down or crying. He moved away 3 weeks ago and he was extremely sad and emotional and we cried for a week together. It seemed very sincere and not fake. I struggle because almost everything else about an N is a character trait i see in him. He doesnt have a job because he says he cant have a boss. He says he cant deal with authority so he's always trying these idealistic attempts at making money and they never work. I just got a really good job. I try to vent to him about it and he yells at me and says he doesnt want to hear it because at least I have a job and im making money so I dont get to complain. he says He's had more hardships than me so im not allowed to talk about mine. They are "real" hardships. if I ever have a differing opinion from him no matter what the subject matter, he yells at me and tells me how wrong i am for feeling differently than him. I eventually just told him its sad that I cant ever have an opinion around him. Even though he has no money, no job, a beat down car and lived (until recently) with his parents at 38, he always puts me down for my job which is a really good job and pays well and a huge accomplishment for me. He moved back to his home town 3 weeks ago, we are supposed to try to make it work :/ (I know what youre thinking. He told me "at least one of us had the balls to go make money"...what? I was insulted! Ive been here working my ass of for 6 months at my new job and he hasnt even tried to get one and has no money. He idealizes everything. He picked up and moved his whole life with one weeks notice. He had a falling out with his parents and brother so he left and thinks he's gonna make all this money now. He has no friends, he has had falling outs with every single friend here and every ex girl friend he HATES. He is very fatal (as in cuts them off) in relationships. He can either love or hate you. And if he neither loves you nor hates you, he is using you for something he needs. He projects ALL of his insecurities on me so much so that its almost laughable.He never takes responsibility for anything wrong in his life. He plays the victim and he enables himself. He believes the lies he has told himself about his life. He has never physically abused me but he does verbally, by all the above mentioned. Im walking on eggshells bc I never know what will set him off. He does this thing where he's mean to me and makes me cry and THEN gives me what I want. Like he has to make sure I cry first to prove how sorry I am or how bad I want to go somewhere and then he gives in and gets nice.

    Obviously he is extremely handsome lol, and charming all the times he is not acting like this. I feel really silly writing all that and still being with him. Why am I so blind? Im a very sweet, caring, down to earth, stable, attractive (i think) girl. I dont know why Im settling for him. And the part I know sounds the craziest...I love me SO much and I feel like he genuinely loves me very very much. And I feel such an intense connection and chemistry with him. Im so weird!But Ive lost myself in him since the day we started dating. He's been a soul suck. Thats what I call him. Sorry that was really long! Any advice (from anyone) would be appreciated.


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    1. Hello dear confused anonymous woman with heart of gold and a stomach full of knots,

      You asked: "is there such thing as someone being half, semi or partially narcissistic?"

      Yes, there certainly is. That's why I call my blog "The Narcissistic Continuum." Someone might have only two narcissistic traits but that's enough to cause relational problems. The two scariest traits you must look for are:

      1) Their capacity for EXPLOITATION (using other people as means to an end)

      2) Their sense of ENTITLEMENT.

      Of course, any of the narcissistic traits are frustrating for partners but those two lead to extraordinarily tragic relationships. Like feeling ENTITLED to all your girlfriend's resources and then EXPLOITING her without remorse.

      If you just want a short-term romance without family ties, then a narcissist might be the funnest guy in the world. If you want all the things people hope for when they fall in love, then a narcissist is a terrible gamble. I’d list all the warning signs you posted in your comment BUT you already know, don't you? You know this guy is a user and a loser even if he's handsome as Satan surely must be. *wink*

      I wanted to clarify one thing though because people assume narcissists aren't emotional. No. Narcissists are emotional, they have very big feelings---but those feelings don't run very deep. OR, their feelings are solely devoted to themselves and not for you.

      I think the most concerning behavior in your message is that he sees himself as a victim. Narcissists see themselves as the victim of other people's insensitivity, criticism, judgment and malice and because they see themselves as victims, they JUSTIFY victimizing others. It's never a good idea to hook up with a man who cries 'victim' because more than you want to know, narcissists use pity to garner attention, sympathy, and compassion to keep us hooked. And they never get better. Never.

      Another really rotten sign is that he HATES his x-girlfriends.

      Be careful of the good guy-bad guy. This switch from one extreme to the other can make you crazy. You will lose your sense of reality and you WILL lose confidence in yourself. You may want to read this article:

      The Jekyl-Hyde Split: http://n-continuum.blogspot.com/2011/06/jekyl-hyde-split.html

      If your boyfriend does not recognize that HE is the center of his own hurricane, the eye of his own storm, there really isn't much hope that he will grow out of his narcissism. You Will Get Hurt...and you will suffer far more after devoting years to your relationship than you will suffer cutting your losses now and starting over.

      Most of us underestimate the damage untreated narcissists will cause in our lives. It sounds to me like you are a competent, ambitious, talented woman who deserves a partner who reflects your same values and lives an honest, mutually beneficial life.

      Actually, your boyfriend sounds so entitled, my knuckles started cracking. Don't put up with his bullshit stories about not wanting to work for a boss 'cuz he's gonna strike it rich on his own. He doesn't like being controlled and he doesn't wanna do anything someone else might benefit from. (that will include you at some point). I'll bet he keeps track of his hours to make sure his boss isn't cheating him, doesn't he?

      I'd say this guy's a Tosser. ;-P Move on. When narcissists seriously tackle their relationship issues, they often need a new partner without any history reminding them of their failures. And WE, the long-suffering and hopeful partners, are easily replaced no matter what sweet nothings they are whispering in our ears. No matter how many tears may fall.

      If he thinks you might be leaving him, you can bet a month's salary that he's already checking out his options. Sometimes tears are used to keep us 'hooked' into believing they are making amends---while in fact, they are pursuing our replacement.

      Be cautious.

      Hugs,
      CZ

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  18. CZ, thank you so much for your wise words.

    I didnt even touch on all the things he's done. But yes, he is very selfish, very entitled, and does exactly what he wants and wont listen to a damn thing anyone tells him. We just got off the phone (well he hung up on me, he always does when I have an opinion he doesnt want to hear), he wants to sell his car and go without one when I think its very unrealistic for him. When I said he should think about it, he said that he has made his decision so we need to talk about something else and he yelled and said sarcastically "thanks for being patient!" and hung up. Then texted saying "fine, just forget about me then". Playing the victim. But he is the one that creates the conflict but he also is the one that cant handle the conflict so instead of talking something out, he runs, hangs up or gives me the silent treatment. My feelings are never justified with him. They are always wrong according to him. He can not communicate with me over the phone at all. He shuts down, waits for the issue to pass, THEN will call and act like it never happened and if i bring it up, he will get mad and hang up again. Its been 3 very long weeks. I know I am in denial about the reality of this relationship. Youre right. I feel like im CRAZY! Im a crazy person. Im normally this stable, level headed, reasonable person and then when it comes to him, its like im from mars all of the sudden.
    Interesting you said the Jakyl and hide reference, I will go read the article. But for the first 7 months I thought he was bi-polar. I researched it, but something was still off about it. Being N makes more sense. He is very extreme, in every direction. He used to refer to his other personalities when (i think) he recognized his extreme behavior. I get the feeling though, he is hanging on to me right now because i am literally all he has. He has no family and friends anymore. Hes depressed in a different city with no money, no friends. He doesnt want anyone one to talk to him because he is embarrassed about his situation.He turned down the only job offer he had, which was actually really good. Im scared if I walk away and he doesnt get his life together soon, that he may hurt himself. I know he has had bad thoughts before and i dont know if he would actually do something to himself or if its an act. Scary huh? If i told him right now to get lost, he would cut me with his words so deep. He would make me feel so badly. And then, I would be scared for him. So I feel stuck between my unrealistic hopeful visions, and my realistic, down to earth, gut-feelings. I thought for a while he was making ME bipolar!! lol Thanks for listen.seeing this written out helps me see it how it actually is.

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  19. Hi CZ, I love this post. I read it for the first time about a year ago, before I started commenting or blogging. It's such a great post. And I agree with you that exploitation, and entitlement are the key indices. I re-read this one periodically, to remind me what's what. love CS

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    1. And.....I'm back! I need to reread this post occasionally, especially as I'm going into the belly of the beast in a few months, hopefully for the last time (before any funerals, that is). My NM is exactly this type of shallow narc who mimics emotions. She 'mirrors" but without the feeling behind it. If you're sensitive to facial geography (which I have learned to trust), you can always tell when people are feeling what they're acting or not. A great post. I love strolling through your archives. Hope you've had a good few days gardening, hands plunged in rich soil, planting living growing things. You're good at that. love CS

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    2. Hello dear CS! That feels so validating, knowing this article helps you cope with your N-mother!

      I have a certain person in my life who does the 'face mirroring' in such an obvious way, even "I" catch on! And that's saying something since I tend to be rather naive about people's faked emotions and manipulative mirroring. HOW I WISH I had known these things thirty years ago, even TEN YEARS AGO when life was falling apart in tiny little pieces. And big chunks too.

      Thanks for thinking of me in the garden this week-end. I even spent most of today outside and can hopefully sit at my computer all day tomorrow. There's a number of people in my house too---my sister, daughter and nephew. Weekends can be pretty hectic with chores and conversations. We do a lot of talking on the weekends since everyone is employed except for me. It makes it very difficult to spend any length of time on the computer because inevitably, someone has a crisis they need to talk about. haha!!

      Thanks for letting me know you were reading my archives. I've thought about 'cleaning' up my old posts and then decided to keep things exactly the way they were when I wrote them. A blog works like a journal, too.

      Love,
      CZ

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    3. A blog does work like a journal. I love your posts the way they are, because I can hear moods and places where you were, stylistic venting sometimes, that really makes the posts special and unique. So I'm glad you're keeping them as they are, an archive. ps I wrote a comment on your post about boundaries, you'll see it when you get around to it. No need ever to explain time away from the computer. What could be healthier than real face time conversations in your home, and time spent gardening?? love CS

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    4. I have learned the hard way, to take time for myself. When I first started writing to people on a forum, I spent hours and days and weeks on the computer---never taking time to nourish myself. There was such a steady stream of questions and pain and misery, I felt guilty tending roses or sewing drapery. I suppose when you open your eyes to a world full of suffering, you must come to peace with your place in it.

      So now, I take time away to be with my family, to paint, to sew, to cook, garden, to create. I'm no good to anyone if I'm not good to myself. This is another lesson 'victims/targets' need to learn AND practice. I hope you take good care of yourself and your passions, CS.

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  20. Hi Frieda,

    Interesting article.
    I wrote some articles myself about the topic of emotional depth and capacity to feel connected. I also touch your topic "how do we know our feelings a being mimicked": see paragraph "Feeling emotions versus cognitive learning" in the emotional depth article.

    See: Emotional depth
    And: Capacity to feel connected

    I hope to add to your story and wish you interesting reading.

    Best,
    Ben

    As always: feedback is welcome.

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    1. Hi CZ,

      I just read all this after writing my story on another post. It is good information that still has to get though to me. I totally recognize the story of Anonymous from 2012. It is almost the same story. But I am already with him for more than 3 years and am a wreck now, trying to make sense of what has happened. It gets more and more clear to me now. And now I have to learn how to deal with the confusion that it is useless to share any of my thoughts and emotions with him. It is clear to me now and I am still confused about it. I so want him to understand how I feel. But it helps to write it down here and it helps to read all these stories.It will get to me eventually and move on (I think I can when this reality terns into knowledge). I am still flustered at the moment.

      Hugs to all who need it.
      And CZ, I think you are amazing.

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    2. Hi Anon,

      I just came back from watching the film "Gravity" and let me tell you something: We Are All Amazing. When you take a big picture view of the planet, you feel like shouting, "Can't we ALL just get along?!" But now I'm settled back on terra firma and the answer is a resounding, "No. We can't." So we do what we can to get along with each other and usually that means working on ourselves, informing ourselves, making the best choices we can while doing as little harm to others as possible.

      Since you are living with someone who has a narcissistic personality, your relationship has "special needs". After learning how the NPD functions, you can avoid some of the ghastly arguments that occur when you assume the other person functions in the same way as yourself. I don't think everyone had to END the N-relatioNship as long as they aren't being egregiously abused...but if the narcissist is not interested in outside help, you may need to think carefully about continuing in the relationship. I have not as of yet, met anyone who has 'cured' pathological narcissism through self-help. Narcissists need professional help and oftentimes, so do we.

      If you would like to have online support, don't be shy. Take a look at our forum located here: webofnarcissism.com. Each person arrives at a personal decision on their own. We do not advocate a 'one size fits all' mandate. But you will definitely find company in a community that talks about everything from narcissistic family to pets. ha! I have no doubts that my kitty-cat is a bona fide narcissist. ha!

      Hugs,
      CZ

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  21. My X narc friend never connected with me emotionally and I'd cry and cry and she'd walk away and encourage me to do VERY mean things which countered my goals.

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    1. I hope you've been able to heal from this relationship and learn some important things that will protect you from another narcissistic relationship. A person can't handle too many of those without losing her sense of self AND her self-esteem! So right now, it's important that you take care of YOU, grieve if you must, look back to understand your past and look forward to a healthier and better future.

      It is very hard to forgive ourselves when we have done "mean things" that we knew betrayed our principles, our values and our best interests. We must take better care of ourselves by getting in touch with our beliefs and living by those beliefs without being dissuaded by a potential rejection. But the truth is, most of us do or say things we'd never have done had we not been in a narcissistic relationship.

      Best wishes...I hope you've restored your life and forgiven yourself for being human!

      Hugs,
      CZ

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  22. Same anon as before, with the N bestie who was controlling and demanding and jealous, When she broke it off with me without warning after making me almost wholly dependant and reliant on her for 8 years I went a bit off the rails, for almost a year and a half. Still recovering, rediscovering, re inventing and re centering myself in my own life. She was a pain in the ass and against my happiness THEN and I'm still fucked up now. Going to take a while, a few years to go. How do you find a way after someone who put themselves so far in your life you had little room for anyone else suddenly leaves...HOW! A lot of ways to go.

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    1. I've thought about writing about a relatioNship I had with a female friend whom I believed was one of my best friends, someone I could trust, someone who reciprocated my admiration and appreciation. Then one day when I least expected it, she dumped me. But she didn't JUST dump me which would have been a relief. She engaged in a Smear Campaign against me, finding people who would validate her twisted perceptions.

      This is "traumatic" for people who bond to others, people who trust and open their hearts to other people. We can't understand it so we dig and dig inside oruselves for answers. But what I learned (which is contrary to what I've been taught) is that the answers are not "inside" ourselves. The answers are "out there."

      Once we understand attachment patterns and pathology, then it makes sense. At that point, we can hold onto the truths we've learned and reconnect with ourselves. It's essential that we don't blame ourselves. Going from Yikes to Self-compassion is a long journey and it cannot be done in six months as most people hope.

      Hugs,
      CZ

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