March 05, 2010

Gossip, Rumors, and Smear Campaigns

Release from Deception by Francesco Queirolo

Slander, scandal, 
sugar and spite,
Right is wronged 
and black cast white

Rumors, renouncing, 
aspersions and slights,
Devouring her prey 
in perfidious bites

Women gossip. Even men gossip, though they pretend they’re newscasters passing on information and facts. This is how my parents separate men’s gossip from women’s gossip but basically, people talk. And that IS a fact. People are interested in what other folks are doing, comparing themselves to one another. Social research even suggests that gossip is healthy and natural, that it is a means to establishing rights and wrongs for communal living. Behavior that has negative impact on a community’s safety is outed and spouted from one whisperer to the next.

Gossip is a way to create closeness between friends as two people intimate to one another that they share similar perceptions (and limits on unacceptable behavior). “Oh by the way, what do you think of so-and-so? Well, I'm glad you said that 'cuz I can't stand people who talk all the time either!”

Gossip teaches us as much about what not to do as what we should do. When someone is gossiped about, they become a living example of mistakes we need to avoid if we’re going to fit in. We learn the rules of community, we form alliances through intimate discussions about people who don’t play by the rules, or think they make up rules for everyone else. Gossip can also reveal players, users, hypocrites, cheaters and liars. This way, everyone knows to steer clear, or at least remain cautious around people who have proven themselves untrustworthy 'cuz they steal your money and your heart. If you’re foolish enough to dismiss community gossip because you know that person better than everyone else and gee, they’d never take advantage of you like they did all those ‘other folks’, the next bout of gossip in the coffee shop will be about your disregard for your social warnings.

In a way, gossip can be a means to self-moderation and healthier integration with people who share similar values and restraints. Knowing people will gossip about your behavior may moderate impulses---keeping your ego in check and increasing pro-social behavior. Still, most people hesitate saying anything bad about another person because we know “people in glass houses ought never throw stones.” Which reminds me of a very strange joke click here, but I won’t interrupt my train of thought in the retelling right now; otherwise, we’ll all get lost on the point, including myself. Which also reminds me how hard it is to keep my mind focused now that I’m over fifty which is neither here nor there really though it came to mind as a way to explain how a woman can start typing and forget what she was typing about by the time she’s writing the third paragraph.

O yes. This is my point: Gossip may reduce anxiety and stress when we ask another person if they had a similar experience with So-and-So. Research tells us that we gossip about 65% of the time, what we usually call chit-chat. That’s a lot of gossiping going on and everybody does it though rare it is for someone to admit enjoying a bit of tattling now and then! Gossip might also be validating to someone who is being hurt or bullied. Talking about, breaking the silence, and telling on someone can reassure us that our perceptions aren’t inaccurate because other folks have the same perception based on similar experiences with this person. Gossip, in other words, has pro-social value. Inclusive value. Ways to prevent the isolation people feel when a bully-type person manipulates, uses, abuses and isolates their prey (who more than likely, feels bad about saying anything bad…even when it’s true.)

Gossip may be useful, even instructive;
but sharing gossip is not the same thing as spreading rumors

Rumor does not have a pro-social value. At least in my definition. Rumor is intentionally malicious and socially destructive; both for the rumormonger and the listener. Critical think is bypassed; emotional reasoning prevails. Facts are dismissed when the juice of the rumor is emotionally satisfying, especially when it targets someone who for all intents and purposes, is a very good person. There’s nothing quite as delicious as destroying someone’s character if they threaten our sense of self.

“Well, here’s a little rumor I heard about that uppity woman, though I don’t have any proof. But where a rumor is, there’s sure to be truth,” people whisper to one another, forming an alliance with the very worst parts of themselves. The more uncertainty there is in our lives and the more insecure we feel, the more likely rumors will spread like wildfire. Cyberspace is the perfect place for malicious people to play Whisper Down the Lane Games.

Bystanders and Onlookers

It’s awful to admit but there’s probably not anyone on this earth who hasn’t used rumor as a means to feel superior at some low point in their lives. In fact, the worse you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to tear other people down in order to feel better! Sometimes feeling better about ourselves means destroying another person so there’s nothing left to envy, and then whomever we perceived as superior to us, no longer is.

Spreading rumors is the ugly result of comparing ourselves to others and coming up short.

Joining the rumor mill is such a delicious self-deception that we go to amazing lengths defending our complicity. When rumor replaces critical think, we participate in mendacity ever bit as much as the originator of the rumor. We embrace envy with open arms especially when we’re insecure. When there is nothing left to envy because we have shredded someone’s character, we falsely empower ourselves in the pleasure of destruction.

Since people gossip as part of our social natures, it’s important to recognize the tempting trap of empowering ourselves by illegitimately dis-empowering others.

Malicious Rumormongers

Rumormongers depend on listeners to do their dirty work for them. They start the lie, they tell it to people they know will listen and those listeners pass it on, all in the guise of innocent gossip. What's important to know is that the rumormonger:
1-exploits listeners' emotions and sentiments
2-justifies suppressed hatreds, fears or desires
3-cannot verify allegations
4-is unwilling to confront the 'target' of the rumor
5-tells a plausible story that is easy to remember
6-keeps the rumor simple by omitting important facts
When we listen to rumormongers, the alliance is other-and-self destructive. Why? Because with the exception of pathological personalities, most people reproach themselves afterwards. For them, spreading malicious rumors is ego-dystonic. In other words, lying contradicts their values, morals, and internalized principles, so they feel lousy about themselves and their self-esteem takes a nosedive. For the originator of a malicious rumor however, they do not feel bad about their behavior. They are ego-syntonic with lying, destruction, even deriving sadistic pleasure from destroying a good person’s character.

Smear Campaigns

A smear campaign is an attempt to malign someone’s character, credibility and reputation based on lies, half-truths and malicious rumors. Cluster B personality-types distort facts with twisted conclusions, perceiving themselves as victims, seduce listeners with faked intimacy by sharing secrets. AND, they are highly persuasive. So persuasive in fact that they convince both themselves and others that their rumor is true.

What has fascinated me about Smear Campaigns is people’s willingness to suspend disbelief. People silence their conscience and their intuition if the rumor is sufficiently tantalizing. Intuition takes a back seat when ego empowers itself through the spreading of lies. So an offensive tactic of the narcissist is to use smear campaigns to malign, discredit, and reduce targets to inferior beings---to strip them of power by derogating their character. This tactic also divides and conquers by pitting people against a supposed ‘foe’. Targets are stuck between a rock and a hard place, right where narcissists like them to be: Damned if they defend themselves and damned if they don't.

This process is never accomplished by a single person, though. Smear Campaigns require a mob to finish the job the rumormonger started and just like chickens in a coop, one hen is singled out and the others peck her to death. The originator, who selected the target for destruction, can sit back and enjoy the show while other hens commit an atrocity.

What Do We Do?

When this happened to me, I was stunned. It didn’t make sense and I defended myself, which as we all know, makes a person look guilty. The advice we’re told is that you don’t have to defend yourself if you aren’t guilty so that means anyone who argues against rumor must have something to cover up. Saying someone ‘doth protest too much’ is a silly folk wisdom and one that is pretty much unbelievable to me but whether people have drawn silly conclusions or not, it’s what they think and therefore important to know.

What stunned me most of all was that people were willing to believe rumors, despite what they’d witnessed with their own eyes. Or believe I was this or that and the other because so-and-so had told them so. I was hurt and sad and defenseless. Nothing like this had ever happened and I had no clue how to get through it without giving up on cyberspace and crawling back to my kitchen which of course, is what the rumormonger had intended all along. This is what I finally concluded and it pains me to write it even now:

People believe what they WANT to believe. Even friends and family pretty much believe what they WANT to believe and you can’t convince them otherwise if they want to believe you are as awful as someone told them you were.

I finally learned that nasty folks enjoy destroying other people’s reputations and undermining their credibility. The better someone's reputation may be, the more amusing the tumble from grace. In the pathological person’s mind, “No Good Deed goes Unpunished” and if you don’t believe me, just watch what happens when you crawl out of the proverbial crab barrel and try to be as good as you really are.

What do we do if we're the target audience...or the target?

A lot of people say: “Don’t dignify a rumor with a response.” This bit of folk wisdom is bad advice because an undisputed rumor flourishes unabated. In a group situation, most people react by withdrawing, pretending they aren’t listening, or silencing themselves. Say something. Ask questions. You might even say, “Stop. I will not listen to your toxic bullshite.” (It’s doubtful most of us will take that stance, but be aware that as long as you say nothing, you are assumed to be in agreement. ) Narcissists are adept at twisting the situation, which means you are complicit because you said nothing. You may even discover afterwards that the narcissist's mean and nasty comments were attributed to you. And who will people believe then? Your defensive self---or the persuasive narcissist?

Rumor mongers dislike confrontation which is why they're reluctant to approach the ‘target’ directly. Tell the rumor-monger you are a peacemaker and you love keeping friends together, not apart. Tell her you’re willing to be the mediator and open a new dialog. Start texting the target while the rumor-monger gulps for air.

Ask for facts, not interpretation. Assess the facts and use critical thinking, not emotional justification.

Ask the rumor monger: “When I am not here, do you disparage me?" Whether you are conscious of that thought or not, it IS in the back of your mind! This is how people are divided against each other as rumors drive wedges between groups, neighborhoods, workplaces, and even families.

Ask the rumor-monger: "Why do you want to believe that?"

Don’t protect the rumor-monger’s anonymity. This is not ‘affiliation' with one another, it’s akin to trauma bonding. Why? Because it’s painful admitting our cowardice or our complicity. And once you’re in, it’s hard to get out. You find yourself caught in a sticky web having strung a few gossamer strings yourself. As the theory of cognitive dissonance suggests: human beings are adept at self-deception, justifying our behavior as right, even when we’re wrong. Better to face the situation immediately than to stay awake all night because your conscience won't let you sleep. When you wake up at three-in-the-morning feeling chagrined, hold on to your sheepish feelings and promise to do better. Make sure you don't lie to yourself to avoid feeling guilty.

The key to restoring self-worth is taking responsibility for our mistakes and changing our behavior. No one is immune to tearing someone down to build him or herself up occasionally, so we need to be wise about Smear Campaigns and avoid passing the malice forward. Be the best person you can be without tearing people down to inflate your self-esteem. Ask yourself when you're reflecting on a rumor: "Why do I ‘Want’ to believe this?" and then hang on to your self-worth when the answers blow holes in your defenses.



Introduction by Sally Wert and Peter Salovey

A Social Comparison Account of Gossip by Sarah R. Wert and Peter Salovey

Rumor and Gossip by Ralph Rosnow and Eric Foster


  1. Yes, it would be better to let the rumormonger know that you aren't interested in promoting her views that seem to leading to trouble among social friends.
    I believe there must be a rumormonger club in the gym where my grandchildren train, and someone volunteers as rumormonger of the month! Then the person acts as though it never came out of her mouth the next time you run into her.
    They just have to get it out, don't they? When their face shows no emotion so you can discern the current mood, you learn to walk the other way, hoping that you don't have to listen to the envious babble.
    We should all birth children that are perfect in every way, and then they would have to complain, because it is usually negative, about plants or animals, or something else besides their perfect children.
    I can see perfectly clearly that the problem is that their children are less than perfect, and that somehow it is my fault because my grandchild constantly achieves above them.
    If I had totally mediocre grandchildren, what would they have to say, then?
    Dr. Hare is correct in his view that it all stems from envy.
    Better to have a hobby and talk about that.

  2. Hi Doris!

    Envy is a tough one. I daresay most of us have confronted this ugly emotion but nobody takes envy to the extreme like a pathological person. What really 'gets me' is how they use other people to carry on their work. Keeping ourselves out of the 'web' is not as easy as it sounds.

    I can make suggestions all day long but when we're suddenly face-to-face with a rumormonger, it's hard to know what to do. I tend to withdraw which hasn't worked out very well for me. ha! I'm still learning...

    If you SHINE, you will be targeted. That's as true as it gets. For those of us who love community and being with people, it's a tough fact to accept. We might even 'hide our light under a bushel' to avoid criticism and isolation.

    That doesn't work too well either.

    I guess the bottom line is Not Repeating the Lies. Ya can't stop a pathological from living true to their diagnosis but you can stop yourself from joining their insanity!

    Bicker, bicker, tattle, tattle, chit-chat.

    Do you think people realize that they tear other people down in order to build themselves up?


  3. Yes, I believe that on some level they know what they are doing because they tend to know right from wrong, as opposed to the seriously deranged who don't know and don't really care.
    Gossip has been so useful to them in their lives, that it is a successful tool for their goals: to look good at your expense.

    The problem is that they justify the gossip because they are suffering inside, and this leads to their urge to balance the act.

    Those people who are honest and successful by their own hard work and talent don't need to gossip to "get ahead of things." They have their own satisfaction and rewards from their own efforts.

    Sometimes when someone asks me a leading question, I remember to say "let me get back to you on that matter because I don't have my facts on hand, and I need to check things out." Or something mundane in that order. Then I speedily make an exit. No matter how much I desire to have the facts in order in a conversation, I am teaching myself to let gossip go, because some of it is so boring and immature.
    I would rather speculate about the really big stuff in life that matters to everyone.


  4. "I am teaching myself to let gossip go, because some of it is so boring and immature." ~Doris

    I write about things I need to tell myself. ha! Avoiding rumors and malicious gossip has finally taken root in my heart and not because I'm a spiritual angel but because of my experience as the victim of rumors and juicy gossip.

    Nothing brings the cruelty home quite like being torn to shreds by people you thought were your friends.

    Recognizing how people tear others down to feel better about themselves is nothing new, though. We've all seen it happen or done it ourselves when we were youngsters. I can remember sitting with my girlfriends and 'pecking' another girl to pieces which of course, made us feel superior to her. Fact is: she was competent and very nice and I felt so bad about being mean to her.

    So there's adolescent gossip to level the playing field; and there's grown-up gossip and rumormongering that's malicious. Once a few people join in the thrill of the 'peck', it turns into bullying, even mobbing.

    Better to avoid being a mobber by cutting off the conversation from the get-go.


  5. I think your distincion between gossip and rumour may be the most useful thing I've read all week.

    I don't like gossip and I tend to stay away from it ... because I've been burned so often by the rumour-mill and it's hard for me to distinguish the innocent from the malicious. (Fact: I have been told my highschool classmates still like to trade stories about me that are almost 20 years old. They're not even interesting stories, let alone true.)

    And you're right, the desire not to be rumoured-about does lead us to stuff our light under a bushel lest we draw attention, and it never works. I'm slowly learning to take the bushel off and risk the condemnation and ridiculous stories that will circulate when I do, knowing that people who truly care for me and love me will be pleased for me.

    Sadly this does not include my family.

  6. Thank you for writing this post. I have commented here before on another of your posts. I felt compelled to thank you for this, as I am going through the very same thing and you have hit the nail on the head here. I have been the victim of online gossip started about me behind my back by none other than my best friend of many years!! I was so shocked, but to be honest I should have known she was not above targetting me just because she called me her best friend because she has talked about everyone and her husband and usually to me to the point where I would change the subject somehow or just not speak to her. When I found out about what she had done I was so angry but ofcourse responding in anger and being defensive against someones lies doesn't work especially when the person doing the rumours is a narcissist aswell as someone who is convinced they are not only always correct, they way they interpret events is the correct if not the ONLY true interpretation and also has to have everything done their way. It's like I was fighting a loosing battle trying to get her to see sense. In the end after confonting her I got an appology which turned out to be false as she went and done the whole thing again twisting the situation round once more to her favour and making me out to be the bad guy as usual so, I havent confronted her this time around I chose to not speak to her for a while and have a break, I feel difficulty though in completley breaking up our "friendship" I am well aware that she cannot be a friend to me to act the way she is or to say things she does, she often puts me down albeit in a sort of jokey way to make it look better than it is, she does this to all friends including her husband on a daily basis and nothng her husband does is ever right she is always moaning about how he does something it has to be her way or she has to be the one who knows better so you have to do what she says. We've been friends so long, she stuck around when I lost my family to cancer, others didn't stand by and I was on my own alot of the time, I felt isolated and very vulnerable, but she was there to talk to. Maybe if things had been different I would have cut her off sooner. I don't know. Now though, I know for my health that we should probably not speak, she is a toxic friend to have around, infact what friend is she to do that to someone? Not a friend obviously, yet I can't seem to just walk away, it was 5 weeks today since I spoke, and I went and sent her a's not like I won't make other friends I know my trust will start to grow as I grow in confidence again. I think my family's passing has impacted upon my confidence in such a way as for me to think there's still something worth holidng onto in an old relationship because it's an old relationship, despite how hurt I end up, sometimes I have actually felt I don't deserve a good friend, or I am so incompetent ....etc,. My self esteem is pretty low at the moment.

  7. As i said in previous post self esteem is low, thank you for this article and this website as a whole I am starting to feel that I am not alone in this, and that I can loose these toxic friendships and go forward into better ones as I grow in strength. I also feel that I am now awake to theese issues and can fully see the true colours of my friends. Now my rose tinted glasses are off!!!


  8. Hi Bec!

    It sounds like you feel obligated to remain friends with her because she was there to support you in a time of grief and loss.

    As callous as my comment may sound, narcissists feel superior to to us when we are ‘low’. As long as they remain the strong one, the one we rely on when we’re suffering, they are feeding their sense of superiority.

    We assume they are empathetic to our pain and for that we are grateful. However, when the tables turn and we are back on our feet, the narcissist will attempt to keep us in an inferior position---even if that means gossiping about us. Criticizing us. In a ridiculous way, asserting their superiority to a friend they perceive to be weaker than themselves.

    The narcissist operates on a consistent need to see themselves as superior to others.

    This includes being the person other people rely on for strength.

    We feel gratitude AND they feel grandiose. Then, when we are back on our feet, the narcissistic friend feels ‘threatened’. Now he or she will react to our ‘strength’ as a threat to their superiority. Make sense?

    If your so-called friend has shown you, through her actions, that she is fully capable of destroying you to serve herself, then take a hard look at your tender gratitude and question whether or not you are being haunted by ‘obligation’.

    Narcissists ‘hook us’ into remaining humble and grateful for their friendship. You can keep your appreciation to yourself, Bec. You don’t have to become her indentured servant simply because she was there when other people couldn’t be.

    I also find it interesting that oftentimes, narcissists come to the rescue because they are not overwhelmed by their emotions. Sometimes our really good and empathic friends are so impacted by our suffering, that they withdraw not because they do not care. But because they do.

    When our friends continue to suffer with us (because they have deep feelings and empathize with us), they may step back for awhile though they usually WISH they could support us the way we need them to.

    This vacancy allows space for the non-empathic narcissist to step in like a hero and listen to us intently—not because they are suffering with us, of course; but because they are not impacted the way normal people are.

    She helped you. That’s great. Narcissists aren’t complete assholes. What you have to look for however, is how she treats you once you ARE back on your feet and don’t need her anymore. That tells the tale of the narcissist do-gooder.

    You might text her now and then because you appreciate what she did for you when you needed someone to listen. But please, have no illusions that her support was based on empathy and equality.

    And be careful with whatever you might say to her. Sounds to me like there is nothing she will not do to prove her superiority to you.

    You will also find that by setting limits on your relationship with her, your self-esteem will increase. Maybe even dramatically. When we feel powerless to help ourselves or prevent being hurt by someone, our self-esteem lowers.

    Setting healthy boundaries between yourself and someone who has proven she is not your friend, is Taking Exquisite Care of Your Self. Because YOU are worth it. Your feelings of incompetency will decrease when you trust your perceptions, your feelings and your experiences and take action!


  9. My husband told his bit on the side that i had an affair...not true....but the rumor went around until everyone was feeling sorry for him and understanding why he would look for someone better. I loved him for 32 years even though it was an emotional wasteland. I felt helpless and i hid away...broke my heart. Thank you so much for your wise writings....and i enjoy and need and have laughed out loud at your humor. You give me hope that someday i will recover. Hugs to you. xx

  10. Sounds a lot like tactics used by Organized Gang Stalkers. Organized Gangstalking is used to paint the target in a criminal light through the spreading of vicious rumors, with common fake allegations being that the target is a wife beater,an abuser a child molester (this is a favorite used against women too and not only men), a prostitute, drug-user, a racist, an imposter at their place of worship, is mentally unstable, acts weird, or is a thief. See for more info.

  11. When I became a target of a smear campaign I'm afraid I responded destructively out of anger and disbelief at the betrayal. I spent time defending myself to anyone who would listen and came off sounding like I was conducting a smear campaign (by telling the truth, but not being believed). I was paranoid that everyone knew the lies, and I felt so bad that it just came out without me being able to control it for a while. Anyway, as time passed on, I realized that less people knew than I thought and I've calmed down and am trying to find constructive ways to respond. However, I get discouraged at the damage done by the original gossip. It's been a long, educational road to deal with, but I feel like I win more than I lose. I've got a whole new set of friends who are not narcissists for several years now. My N's circle disses me a lot and it's sad when I was friends with some of those people before he was. At least I don't have to deal with his passive-aggressive tactics anymore, which were constant when we were on 'good' terms. He has a close circle of friends who are willing to pick up his messes.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Don't assume my reactions were anything to brag about. It's been a long, learning process for me, too. Some of the Ns wild-arsed accusations stick around far longer than we'd hope which means we'll still be dealing with the aftermath of the smear campaign years later.

      You can discern between an honest misunderstanding with someone and the pathological's Smear Campaign because pathology never changes. There is no change of heart, or awakening, or taking of responsibility, like normal people experience.

      I've made mistakes who hasn't, and once there's some distance from that person with a little bit of introspection, I can see that my 'situation' was influencing how i viewed the issue.

      This doesn't seem to happen with pathological narcissists whose vengeance and envy sits on the back burner just waiting for ignition! Even years later, their emotions have NOT changed; they lack insight into themselves; they have the same limited, myopic and narrow view as always. It also seems that in some cases, their resentment has been nurtured like a precious jewel. OUCH!

      If we assume the narcissist is processing events like we are, we'll be in for MORE hurt. I think this is where people make their mistake. They assume that because they have examined the situation upside-down and backwards, that the narcissist is doing likewise. It doesn't take long before the narcissist is re-heaping the same load of insult they did before---only this time, they're INSULTED that you expected them to FORGIVE you. Or worse, that you FORGAVE if THEY need YOUR forgiveness. pppffftttt! So if you try to reconcile by suggesting both of you talk about the 'issue' and work it through now that a couple of years have passed, you won't find a humble person on the other side of the negotiations table. HE or she might be EVEN more indignant than they ever were.


      Cuz the narcissist can smear your name, lie about the events, call you all kinds of names and castigate your character. If you however, dare suggest they were anything less than perfection, it'll be punished as a capital crime. I've encountered this over and over with narcissists.

      She tells people I did something terrible, like plagiarism or (fill-in-the-blanks). I say in defense, "I did not do that. She is going through a terrible time in her life and she might be displacing some of her anger onto me."

      And my 'understanding' is received as insult (betraying her privacy). Now she demands the death penalty.

      Narcissists overreact to criticism. Always remember that. Just like we learned in gradeschool, "They can dish it out but they sure can't take it."

      They are hypersensitive to any suggestion they failed or aren't perfect. Tits don't equal Tats with narcissists. You can remember that, too (but don't attribute it to me, HAHAHA).

      They hit you in the face with a baseball bat and consider it justice because you burnt the toast.

      So when we defend our integrity, the least little thing we say in our defense is perceived by the narcissist to be evil beyond our wildest imagination. How d-a-r-e we!

      I'm really sorry you lost friends and that people chose to believe his lies rather than give YOU the benefit of the doubt. Narcissists are so convincing, it's hard to blame people for choosing to believe them. It still hurts though--you have my sympathy.


  12. Hi CZ and hi you all lovely people,
    I should have read this before, because my partner does this all the time about me and other people.
    Though I 'think` by now I recognize right away when someone is making someone a bad person or tells the truth. But now I am writing this down, I am actually not sure.
    I have a nice story : Once upon a time I knew a boy and a girl who were both my friends. I liked them both. I saw the boy a lot because we were working together. The girl I saw occasionally. Than the boy started to talk bad about the girl. At first I took his story with a pinch of salt. But he continued talking bad about her. Slowly she turned from a nice girl into a wicked witch. Than one day, we were all at the same party. I was together with the boy and a few other friends. Than I heard her voice calling my name.' Hey! Flower bud!` How nice to see you!.I stepped back.' Yeah, hi.`I said, trying to keep away. She didn't notice it and asked how I was etc. I was so sure she was a witch that it confused me. She was just as I knew her in the first place. I told her what happened and took a distance from the boy from that time. Since than, I never fell for such thing ever again.
    Unfortunately I since than never think bad about any one and that made me fall into the trap of a group of people talking bad about me when I was the most vulnerable. The only good thing about it is that I can easily pick the people who are not to trust (the people who love the juice of the gossip) and the people who don't fall for it and like to find out for themselves.
    I recognize the stories above of feeling trapped by your own friend and/or becoming paranoid that every one is against you.
    CZ, I still find it wonderful that you use all your experience to help other people. I tried to do the same with my partner, but I didn't know narcissism yet. It is still a relieve for me to read the stories of people who went to the same trouble and are so good at heart.
    I think the family of my partner is extremely unhappy with themselves. With Christmas they seemed to have a contest who could talk the most foul about the members that were not there.LOL!

    Many hugs,
    Flower bud

    1. I grew up with gossipy people and had to learn overtime, the difference between pro-social gossip and pathological gossip. The kind of gossip that's meant to destroy another person to build up one's self. I had to educate myself on the distinction because 'abused' people are prone to silence themselves. They WON'T talk. Somewhere between self-silencing and pathological gossip was a healthy way to talk about the problems we had with certain people.

      You can "sense" the difference when people talk. You can tell they are ripping other people apart because they LIKE it. Most people don't like it. They are reluctant to say anything that isn't "nice". It can be tricky knowing where to draw the line when talking about others.

      I loved your story though!! Perfect example of the way manipulators use gossip to Divide-and-Isolate their "prey." You are lucky to have an experience that taught you the difference when you were young...some of us take longer. ;-P And we get ourselves in a lot of hot water. ;-( BUT we can learn at any age and change any behavior that causes problems. ;-) So, it's all good in the end as long as we keep learning, unlearning and relearning!!


  13. After 36 years of marriage, I've come to realize that I'm married to a gossip monger. And the person he gossips the most about behind my back is me. I never even suspected until things got weird between a mutual friend and I. We used to all go out together and have fun, suddenly there was no room for me. A year later I was talking to my husband about us possibly going out again and was told the other person didn't want me around anymore at all. Not knowing what was being said behind my back, I questioned him as to the reason for this because I'd never heard a word about any problem we'd been having. He claimed that I had gossiped about the other person and ruined his relationship with someone else. This was ridiculous, as I hardly even know this other person, much less gossiped about my "friend" with them. I kept haranguing my husband for details because this just didn't make any sense at all to me. All I got was a lot of "I don't know"s. I tried E mailing the friend and apologizing for anything I may have done to upset him and got absolutely no response. Finally (shame on me) I looked into my husband's E mail to see if there was anything there to explain what had happened. While I was there a chat session between the two of them popped up. The stories he was telling about me were enough to curl my hair. He was 2 rooms away from me, making up all of this stuff, I just couldn't believe it! I have yet to confront him about it completely, the few things I've even hinted about knowing, he lies to me about. And it seems to come so easily to him. I'm not sure where I'll go from here but something will have to change. I'm still a bit shocky about the whole situation. This is a man I've spent most of my life with. We raised a child together and run a business together. I'm so deeply hurt I'm not quite sure what to do.

    1. Hi anonymous! Thanks for posting your comment which proves once again, that narcissists are prone to gossiping. They use gossip to secure "bonds" with other people who "close" to the narcissist because they're sharing a secret. Your husband is using this method to create pseudo-intimacy with friends while also alienating them from you.

      Some people do this because it's how they learned to create friendships, albeit dysfunctional. They aren't intentionally malicious. However, the way your husband lied to you when confronted and reversed the "real victim" (you) by blaming you, is a serious concern. That you finally resorted to reading his email says a little something about your ability to trust him. I know it's hard to betray our values and snoop; but even I had to do that in order know what was REAL and what wasn't. I have no regrets because I needed to know what I needed to know in order to protect myself from myself. I am incredibly gifted in seeing the best in others and trusting their intentions more than their actions. You may be the same way.

      I have had similar experiences with friends and even family members gossiping behind my back, ruining my relationships with people and I was never the wiser until people started acting funny around me. I understand what you are saying and it's crazy-making until we can get to the truth.

      Now what should you do with this information? Before confronting your husband (if you choose to do that), investigate other areas of concern---such as your joint business. Narcissists are notorious for "ruining" a partner's reputation just prior to ending the relationship. They may encourage their partner to relocate before they "leave" in order to have more control over the environment.

      With confrontation comes outlandish defenses that could border on 'delusional" so I'd suggest getting more information first. Find out if there are any other indiscretions you don't know about. Very often, narcissists are highly-protective of their family image and won't say anything critical about a partner. Put your discovery to good use and prepare yourself before confronting him.

      Hopefully, gossiping is just dysfunctional triangulation he uses to create a sense of closeness with other people. If that's the case, he'll be sorry for what he's done. He'll want to know more and he'll spend HIS time fixing HIS problem.


    2. Thanks for your reply. I'm still not sure what to do next, been struggling with that for awhile now. I haven't seen anything else crop up but I'm keeping my eye on him. It's hard to not be able to trust someone I've thought so highly of for so long.

      Yes, the snooping was a low for me but I just couldn't get answers that made sense. I know that's justifying bad behavior, but it's all I've got....

      I'm really hoping it's a mid life crisis thing for him, but it's so very hurtful to see. And it continues. Time will tell. Thanks again for listening.

    3. You can hope for the best (I do!) and prepare for the worst (I do!). In many circumstances, it's just dysfunctional communication skills that people learned as children and our society reinforces. If you have studied the Drama Triangle, check that information out. I think most people use triangulation without realizing how destructive it is.

      I'm hoping things work out best for you because I hate hate divorce. Feel free to comment anytime. I'm always willing to listen.


  14. I'm recently going through an online smear campaign by my ex. It's been so hurtful and shocking that some days I can't believe this was ever the person I loved at one point. He has many friends and online "followers" due to being a musician. After the breakup he suddenly started posting horrible posts saying I was a liar, fake, even a sociopath! Mind you I left this man because he is a textbook narcissist, at least once I got to know him really well and ended it after 3 yrs. The posts he's made online are so vicious and cruel that sometimes I'm amazed how he's managed to convince so many people of this. He has no respect for me at all. He's even discussed things to strangers that I considered personal, things I shared with him in trust...big mistake ever doing that!! I keep getting told by trusted friends and family to ignore him and eventually the smear campaign will fade...yes, but in the meantime I feel as though I'm being left not only brokenhearted from it being a fresh breakup but also I have people believing the most crazy, embarrassing, humiliating lies about me. It's so unfair! I've eliminated all online social networks because of this man, but some days I do think about going back online and defending myself to all his "fan club", even though i know inside his actions will more than likely get worse..and plus he's already convinced them I'm this person. Its so humiliating. Any advice or words would be appreciated while I wait for the smearing to pass...

    1. Hi anon! The online smear campaign........I'm so sorry to hear about your experience since there isn't much that can be done. Unless he is 'naming' you directly and impacting your ability to earn a living, there isn't much you can do other than No Contact. Just as other people have suggested, ignoring his accusations stops the escalation. Many narcissists become even more aggressive when people defend themselves. So at some point, we will still need to swallow our pride and back down. Better sooner than later is what most of us come to realize (some later than sooner).

      The humiliation can be excruciating, so I understand where you're at right now. What you must remember when you're considering engaging with him again, is that you will lose. You will lose because at some point, you WILL back down. I assumed this from your comment about him revealing private personal information with other people, something you never would have done. Et Voila---now you know that you'll STOP at some point because your conscience won't allow you to fight fire with fire. You can invite him to a showdown but he'll be carrying a blowtorch and you'll be carrying a cigarette lighter.

      Feel free to write me whenever you feel an urge to re-engage!


  15. Please keep in mind perspective! I witness these labels getting passed around too much. If you feel inferior anyone is a narcissist, for example. If you are hypersensitive, many will have no remorse and empathy. I have been able to gain information from the perspective of the ones acting on the calculated smears. All these bully labels from psychology are used just as that, smears.

    Every definition of this fantasy icon has no causation. There is no defect or significant physical detected imbalance in the human anatomy, for these fantasy icons. Everyone has their own variation. The descriptions are ambiguous, open to confirmation bias and impression. There is no causation or existing defect to even create a logical grouping of symptoms. The ‘symptoms’ are also being assumed based off bias impression of what one alleges someone did. The ‘symptoms’ are ambiguous criteria derived from a persons impression. Actually, it is only the victims or patients, so to speak, that list the signature and very specific traits and MO’s of these types. You can asses David Parker Ray’s psych brainwash manual, as a start. Many of these types, are ‘counselors’. There is a reason why the ‘counselors’ fail to expose the MO’s and signature traits, along with adding vague and ambiguous ‘symptoms’ that can even be applied to the victim or people who are not these types. Again, they are the types that are fixated on what things appear to be. As long as something appears to be something, all is ok. Truth and reality does not matter, it’s what things appear to be.

    “It will appear the she/he is ‘mentally unstable” but really it was me that took advantage of their vulnerability and if they keep taking those pills they will be an entire object that represents me. I can also use that object after my treatment really sets in, and write about them as if I am the competent god if the mind, and get more status gain”.-nurser of the mind.

    These types gain sense of control by controlling others with emotions and private sensitive knowledge about them. Approval and other mind games are a big lever for them. They are more passive and patient with their MO’s. (Slow, steady, prolonged-passive, secretive, well planned) They gain the levers and control through talking and or counseling. They tend to keep it like a secret control. They like little secrets and like you to ‘read in between the lines, so to speak. The most deceptive of these types are woman, as they have more orbital frontal lobe tissue to modulate amygdala, way less testosterone and don’t have the same alpha male drives as men. Pity and sympathy tends to be more assumed, with woman and less suspicious. Most of our serious male killer tortures, were seriously brainwashed and dictated by their mother. The Gaines case is one of many examples. Gaines was a ‘patient’ vehicle of his mother.

    What your likely dealing with is arrested development which is usually at a cut off between 10-15 and your more grown, practiced, calculating and more methodical middle school bully.

  16. The woman I new came home oneday had bruise on her arm tried say I did it,Bummer huh.,,After 11 years, ,I Think God She's Gone.!

  17. No, gossip is not okay. If bad behavior needs to be addressed, you address directly, not through the rumor mill. Gossip is NOT the same as letting people know when you've been a victim of a predator and warning others or looking for support.

  18. I found this post very interesting. I believe I have been a victim of a smear campaign which unfortunately has followed me from job to job and nothing changes. I believe someone I used to work with not only twisted my comments into signs I was jealous of somebody (there was a young woman who had suffered from bulimia and was still so very slim, I made the comment that I thought she still might have issues - but this was not said in malice). My former colleague told her it was because I was jealous. Then she got everyone convinced that when I didn't hear someone speaking to me, it was deliberate. You may argue, how did I know? The fact is, I felt the "vibes", I would raise my head, see the scowls on people's faces and sense something was wrong, especially when they cold-shouldered me for the rest of the day. I believe this was something else she encouraged. I know for a fact she has a history of this, as she had suggested everyone ignore a woman who had transgressed beforehand - and I regret I agreed - it seemed justified. But having been on the receiving end myself, I believe this woman should have been allowed at least an opportunity to defend herself.
    When I was made redundant from this firm, I got another job, and a reference. However, l believe there was an addendum to this, an unflattering character reference.
    So now everywhere I work, when I'm concentrating on what I am doing, or trying to, if I think someone is talking to someone else and not me, everyone believes I'm just ignoring them. No-one gives me the opportunity to defend myself, because as you point out, people believe what they want to, I believe they look for signs they have been warned of, and they find them. I feel powerless to change anything and I think I just have to accept things as they are. But at times it makes me feel very angry, frustrated and depressed.


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