How Codependents Leave Abusive Narcissistic Relationships

Courtesy Wikipedia

Courtesy Wikipedia

You may be feeling crazy because you love a narcissist and are afraid to leave the abusive relationship.  It will be easier to help yourself leave the more you know about codependency and narcissistic personality disorder.   Abusive narcissists require someone who is willing to cater to their needs and to give up their own desires.  Narcissists are self-destructive people with concealed low self-esteem and insatiable needs for attention and nothing to give. They parasitically attach to a giving, supportive person who avoids center stage and thrives on taking care of others.

Expecting something from an abusive narcissist who has nothing to give can make a codependent feel crazy.  Trying to pretend that the narcissist is someone he or she is not can drive you wild.  So what is codependency?  Codependents are people who have spent years negotiating with reality concerning particular people from their past and present.  Codependents spend years trying to get mom or dad to love them in a certain way, when that parent cannot or will not.

The development of codependence has its roots in dysfunctional family systems and occurs over a fairly long period of time.  Overly rigid, dogmatic, or authoritarian types of families where there may or may not be alcohol abuse or dependence appears to produce codependency.  These families tend to emphasize discipline and control where rewards are given for compliance with strict and often illogical rules.  Children learn that any positive feelings about self are dependant on the mood of someone else.  These families may appear to be perfect to neighbors, but there is a great deal of pain and secrecy behind closed doors.  Children learn early to not express their thoughts or feelings and to ignore family behavioral problems.   This family survival response effectively raises the child’s tolerance for emotionally abusive and inappropriate behavior in others.

As adults, these children have a greater tendency to get involved in abusive painful relationships with people who are unreliable, emotionally unavailable, or needy.  Lacking entitlement to their feelings, these adult children tend to be indirect about their needs, deny feelings, and distrust intimacy.  They start with the belief that love is sacrificing for my partner and putting up with what ever my partner wants to dish out.  This is a set up for making the abusive relationship more important than you are to yourself.  Generally, codependents feel consistently unfulfilled in relationships and are the ones who tend to get deeply stuck in purgatory with an abusive narcissist.

If you are a codependent in a relationship with an abusive narcissist and are asking yourself, “Why am I feeling so crazy?”  It’s time to let the narcissist go.  It is time to let him or her off the hook.  Like your caretakers, the abusive narcissist is constitutionally incapable of loving you. That doesn’t mean you can’t love that person anymore.  It means that you are ready to feel the immense relief that comes when you begin accepting the truth and stop denying reality.  You release the narcissist to be who he or she actually is.  You stop trying to make that person be someone he or she is not.  You deal with your feelings and walk away from the abusive relationship. You stop letting what you are not getting from the narcissist control you and you take responsibility for your life.  You then begin the process of healing and loving yourself.

Get angry, feel hurt, and land in a place of self forgiveness.  Your life in purgatory will end.  You will no longer be a victim of abuse.  You will recognize that you have been mistreated and allowed yourself to be mistreated.  You will no longer create, seek out, or re-create situations that victimize you.  You stand in your power and no longer live in quiet desperation.


Thank you for reading this article. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my  experience.  In the past, I’ve sacrificed my emotional and spiritual well-being for perfectionism and looked to others for approval at the cost of trusting my intuition and developing my self-worth.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about relationship abuse and what it takes to put an end to the self-judgment.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

253 thoughts on “How Codependents Leave Abusive Narcissistic Relationships

  1. Hello,
    Thank you for this wonderful site. It has been so helpful for my sanity and inner peace.

    I have some questions, if you don’t mind.
    (1) I cant wrap my head around this – I dont understand WHY the narcissist cant love. How can they be so loving (in words) and then cold and indifferent to the pain they cause? My mind literally wont accept this and is constantly attempting to understand. Its crazy
    (2) Again, how can my narcissistic mother not love me? So any show of affection or loving overture or words of endearment is an act?? They are lying? If so, do they know it?
    Again, my mind is in some kind of mad scramble to understand – because their actions are so painful! But its your mom… crazy making

    I just read the book, “The wizard of Oz and the other Narcissist.”( I so recommend it to others). And now realize I am codependent. Never realized it and Im in my 40s!
    (3) How does a person become UN -codependent? Therapy?? Because I attract narcissist at an alarming rate. I am currently living right next door to my narcissistic ex? boyfriend. He knocks on my door everyday and his children and mine are best friends. Im at a loss as to what to do because I still feel the draw to be with him, even though I caught him lying and cheating in February, then march, then July, then August…then realized he was a narcissist and that this isnt “cheating”, this is a life style! He has an ongoing harem of women! All levels of intimacy to pen pals, to texts (sexting), to sex partners. I literally cant keep up with all the women coming out of the woodwork. He tells me, he will never leave me. I am his “main chick”. The others are just side chicks for F**king. He asks, Why do I have to be so insecure and selfish – he gave me his heart, they only get his body. Right about here is where I lost my sanity. He talks in circles around me while I feel gutted. THEN, back to kind, wonderful man I love. Its crazy and I feel crazy.
    I dont know how to get away with him next door.
    (4) Why doesnt he just let me go? Isnt all my crying annoying to the narcissist?

    A complete Mind-f**k!

    Im grateful for any insight or direction you can share. Thank you

    • Dear Stop this train – I want to get off!!,
      Thank you for commenting. My heart goes out to you. Reading the comments from this blog article will answer your questions and help you understand what has and is happening to you. The best thing you can do is invest in yourself by learning about codependency. The unhealed codependent is a mark for the narcissist. Use your pain to motivate change. You can do it! I am wishing you an abundance of grace.

      Best Regards,

      • I’ve been free 4 yrs.
        3 & 2: keep reading, keep learning as much as you can. Read every day. And try to have face to face counselling.
        1. They cant love because they have suppressed/shut down their emotions to protect themselves from further hurt and got lost locked in a cycle of doing what they think they need to do to be approved. Don’t try to figure them out, doing so will just suck you dry, the experts say they almost never heal or even seek treatment so don’t try to change this one… Find a way to escape

  2. After 28 years I finally left my wife. I was at the point the last four years of wanting to die of cancer, it got that bad. You throw alcohol and Valium into this equation and I never saw myself getting out. It was Jeckel and Hyde, never know who was there. Threats, both verbal and physical got gradually worse. Fortunately the three children were just out of the house and on their own before I got the courage to leave. 6 months into the divorce and it’s all about her controlling and threatening, peppered with remember when times in life. She doesn’t know where the kids live and they want nothing to do with her. How could a mother be denied by her children? They, and me, saw the real person. Outside of the home it was for the most part hidden. No one knew. Who knows what she’s saying. I don’t care at his point.

    I also agree no contact is the only way. She tries to get me back in her trap but I’m not bitting. What s horrible situation, unless you live in it you can’t understand it. My codependency only made matters worse. Any sane person would not tolerate it and would have left years ago.

    All I can do is work on myself and heal. My relationship with the kids is great and I have family support. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. It makes you crazy.

    I feel like I’m finally walking out of the darkness and secret of the marriage. I’m 55 now and trying to start over. I’ve learned to give myself grace when I need it, I can’t change the past, just the present.

    Thank you for the article. It’s been a revelation to see the “dance” between the narcissist and codependent. She can dance with someone else.

    • Dear Robert,

      A relationship with a narcissist is incredibly disillusioning. There is a gift in walking away from the insanity. You are not alone and it helps that others know how real the nightmare is that you have experienced. I am wishing you much validation and peace. Thank you for commenting.

      Best Regards,

    • Hello Robert, So great to read your story. It sounds much like my brother who is 54 years of age, 3 children and is with a woman who I believe has NPD. They have been together only 18 years so you give me faith that one day he too will see the light. Great to hear that you have found the courage to leave this horrible relationship. Life can only get better. Cheers Linda

  3. I have married one…it is hard to admit because i see that i am stuck financially. ..Therefore all the enlightenment and displeasure i experience does not take away from the fact that i do not have a viable way to care for myself and 2 boys to have freedom. It is no longer a unfaithfulness with another woman that i await to feel that i can emotionally mentally move forward it is rather the thing these articles never really discuss Strategy to financially do so.
    I need some creative help what possibilities to try.. i am more than willing to the point of feeling my heart grow sick.
    Help me.. i will do the work….what must a person do to be able to realistically afford freedom?
    I am looking for tangible answers and not poetic ones.
    CAT R

    • Dear CAT R,

      You can contact a local women’s domestic violence shelter. You will find a link under my resource tab. They can provide safe shelter and a chance for you and your children to get on your feet. Financial insecurity is the worst fear. Your situation requires faith, hard work, and courage that you will find a way to take care of yourself and children. You might find it beneficial to read the comments from my article “How Codependents Leave Abusive Narcissistic Relationships. I am wishing you much strength.


  4. I just left an emotionally abusive relationship with a narcissist, and having bipolar disorder I’m a bit of a codependent. This was exactly what I needed to read! I’ve been trying for so long to pull all the good things out of my ex and make that the true person he is, but I have come to realize how much damage that is doing to me. He once told me my disorder and anxiety is all in my head and everyone feel the way I do and just handles it better. He denied me of the ability to accept my disorder for a long time. It got to the point where I’d preemptively buy him things he liked before I went to see him just to set the mood correctly. He’d take my cigarettes, take things from my house promising to bring them back, then get defensive when I asked him to stop doing that. Every time we fought he insisted I didn’t love or care about him to the point where I felt like an awful lover and an awful person. I didn’t want to believe he was abusive because it was never a physical abuse, but now I see how much emotional abuse can take a toll on a person. Even now I am fighting the urge to admit guilt and fall right back into the old same patterns with him.

    For anyone out there in this kind of relationship I promise you are better than how the abuser makes you feel! You can get through this! Every day is hard but we’re all better than this!

    Thank you for this read it has made me feel like I’m not crazy!

  5. I am in the most of letting go of a very abusive relationship that has left me feeling as if I’m spinning . There is zero contact now , but for five years the abuse- physical, emotional and sexual has taken a toll on me . I do know it is what’s best and healthiest to be away from this ex boyfriend of mine , but the aftermath is very confusing . I long for an explanation ” why did you suck me into your life only to break me down “? I feel guilt and shame for allowing one single man to turn my life upside down . ( I’m a single mom , with enough daily struggles already ) I want to thank you for this information I came across today , it helps to know I’m not alone and the stories I’ve read are so spot on its scary. Starting my journey through hell til I get to the other side .

    • Dear Andrea,

      You are so welcome. Hang in there and walk through the sadness. Clarity and peace are on the other side for you and your child. Show up for the tough times by fully completing your grieving. Please avoid a new relationship until you are okay being alone. You will never regret facing your fears and protecting your child. I am wishing you the best and sending you much grace on your journey. Thank you for sharing your struggles.

      Best Regards,

    • Thank you. I felt like I was reading my own post. Your story is exactly like me. Even the years together. He would be so mean with his words. Nice in the beginning, but over the years, he was quick to be accusing, call me names, I soon forgot who I was. It was always about him. I felt like I was walking an needles, careful what to say, for fear of him just blowing up if I said the wrong thing. My feelings never mattered, he could make me cry and just look at me, turn around and walk away just like that. He broke up with me so many times, then beg me to come back to him, be so nice, then once again, slowly ignore me, tell me to leave him alone until he was ready to text me, tell me he was busy. Seeing me was conditional on his time clock. I was once a cute, bubbly person, but he sucked the life out of me. It was like he enjoyed seeing me miserable, as if it somehow made himself feel better to destroy my self-esteem. He would tell me he loved me one minute, then call me names the next. As long as I praised him, put him on a pedestool, complimented his acheivements, told him how smart he was, told him his hair looked nice, told him he was good-looking. As long as I agreed with his opinion, he would like me. He stopped complimenting me, if I wanted to talk about something about work or school, or something that I was worried about, he would tell me he did not want to talk about it, he would tell me not to put him in a bad mood. He would tell me he would call me, I would wait for hours for his call, careful not to bother him. If after hours I would text and ask if he was going to call, he would then say “See I told you I was, now you put me in a bad mood, I am not going to call you now. Goodnight” I had to be perfect all the time. He would go out with his friends and expect me to wait at home for him on a friday or saturday night, text me at 1am and ask if I was up and tell me he was hungry, that he would come over and make him something to eat. It didn’t matter if I had to get up for work the next morning. If I said I was tired, he would say, “no worries, I will see you when I see you.” I found myself isolating myself from friends, not going out for fear he may text me and want to come over. I don’t know why I put up with all this. It was like I just wanted his approval, to be validated. I wanted him to love me as much as I loved him. I wanted him to care about me. I wanted him to say sorry when he hurt my feelings. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Today is the first day leaving him. My heart physically hurts. I feel broken and lost. I have felt this way before, not hearing from him for a couple of months, I start to return back to the old me, feeling better as each day passes. Then out of the blue, he would text me “HI, I hope your having a good day” and the vicious cycle starts all over again, like the movie Groundhog day. I hope I can be stronger this time.

  6. Your words in this post have really hit home for me. I’ve left the relationship and have come along way in my healing process. Occasionally I have times (like tonight) when I doubt myself and fall into the pattern of feeling lost and hopeless. This article renewed my strength. You’ve made a positive impact in my healing and for that I am grateful! Thank-you for making a difference in the lives of us survivors and for dedicating yourself to helping us make sense of the insanity.

  7. I can’t believe the things I’m reading, scary and exactly the same exact characteristics of my ex. He has abused me physically, financially and emotionally. You know I couldn’t understand why I kept going back., I’d get so mad at myself but it’s Because it’s easier than the torture you go through trying to stay away. I let him move in to my home and we were going to split the bills, a month later he tells me he’ll pay me if I put his name on the deed to my house. Lost his job, charged up all his credit cards, drank excessively and made my life miserable, physical abuse got worse. So here I am 18 months later, he hasn’t paid a thing. I left 4 months ago, went back only a couple times. Gave him his thirty days to vacate 3 months ago and now I have to evict him… HES LIVING IN MY HOUSE FOR FREE. won’t leave me alone. Everything that’s happened to him is my fault….. People don’t understand why I haven’t gotten an order of protection….. Just more for him to retaliate and blame on me for ruining his life. I took me 3 years to fealize you can’t convince him of right and wrong and that his morals are really messed up, he’s a sociopath and a narcissist, nothing is their fault and they only have remorse if their actions affected them.I feel like. I’ll never be free!!!!

    • Shelly,

      My heart goes out to you. A true narcissist doesn’t feel remorse, but they can give academy award winning act as if they do. I hope he has moved on since you wrote in February. Please be kind to yourself. If he is still with you be very careful. You can get a police officer to be present when you move him out. Who cares what he thinks of you. What matters is what you think of yourself. You have permission to no longer accept the abuse. The abuse is a deal breaker. Be sure to change all your locks. You might find it beneficial to read the comments in this post from people who are in or have experienced your nightmare. I am sending you an abundance of courage and self-compassion.

      Best Regards,

      • Yes, he’s still here. Felt bad about putting him on the street. I have to learn to put myself first…. Hard to do. I care about him… Well the guy I was hoping he could be. He can’t be that person, I’m really seeing that he has a true substance abuse problem. If it’s not alcohol, it’s something else or both. He’s really holding me back from my life and I’m tired of the broken promises. Thanks for your reply.

  8. Awesome article…. I ended up diagnosing my ex-boyfriend as a narc as this was the fifth time he has walked away in four years…. As a therapist, I never ever diagnose friends/family members but this time, I had to which helped reinforce the decision to go no contact. Before, I always thought he would walk away because he wasn’t working (career change to firefighter) and I supported him through all the schooling until he got the job. He took me ring shopping this time, sent me emails of wedding songs, made honeymoon plans, and even asked his cousin to be his best man. He also told both our families we would be engaged by the end of September. When he finished fire academy and got the job, he told me that the chief told them not to make any major decisions in their first year of probation…. I thought he was trying to throw me off on proposing but from that point on, I changed and began questioning everything…. And the excuses kept coming (he lives on a couch wih his mom and grandma and said he couldn’t get married because he couldn’t move out, didn’t want to live close to my family, be related to my family, and because I wouldn’t live with him first and sign a prenup (I have my own money and would,never take his)….he ended up breaking up with me on the phone while I was at work with a 14 hour day ahead of me and three days before thanksgiving. The worst part is that he moved on with a nurse from his hospital job less than two weeks later and took her to the firefighter ball with my mask….. So officially it’s been 19 days no contact…. Was doing better in the beginning but now really struggling with depression and anxiety…. Because I don’t want to run into them since we live in such a small town…. Blessed to have amazing family support and hoping 2016 is a year of new beginnings….

    Ty again for the article…. Talking about what happened has helped in realizing what he put me through was abuse and not because he didn’t have a job

    L 😉

    • Dear L,

      It can be shocking to discover this illness so close to home when you are a healer. I have been there. Your clients will benefit from your life experience. I am wishing you a quick recovery and many gifts from your pain. Thank you for sharing your adversity.


  9. Thanks for your article, it was really valued reading.

    I have recently broke it off with my narcissistic/BPD ex for the final time after three attempts.

    I got over the double standards and the lack of trust that was said to be imaginary on my behalf even though i was continually being questioned and being accused of being somewhere else when i was 5 minutes late or early , not responding to a text in 5 minutes when im busy at work , going out to a work meeting, not being able see my freinds because she didn’t know them well enough , couldn’t go to the football in the case i would see someone she didnt know and in the instance i would be late and i would have a panic attack to make it home on time to eliminate the questioning, told that if i loved her i would have paid off her debts , told that if i loved her i would not buy a new car instead give her my old one then buy a new one so she could sell hers to pay off her debts , went guarantor on a personal loan and car loan and told not to rub it in her face, brought her diamond earrings for our anniversary and was ridiculed because they were the wrong coloured gold, brought her a tag watch and was ridiculed because it ws not brought from a tag store and the same went for the egagement ring i brough her…….. Continually was accussed of having anger issues and could not express for 2.5 years , although she punched me in the back of the head five times and pushed me to the ground on another occasion and im not a small man.

    Even after all the above plus alot more that i havnt mentioned i still miss her…. WT!!!!

    • Dear David,

      You are a loving person that is why you still miss her after all the insanity. Remember it is not okay to go back for more abuse. The tough lesson is to accept that she is not capable of loving you. Truthfully, she is not what you are looking for. You deserve a loving manageable relationship. Complete your grieving so you can attract the right partner. Show up for yourself. You will be forever grateful.


  10. Roberta,
    Thank you for posting this. I feel like posting a comment for all the men coming to this page to let them know it happens to us too. I have been married for 8 years to manipulative woman and thankfully I don’t have kids. I have been wanting to leave, but I didn’t have courage or support from my family who think my wife is a perfect angel.

    I run a successful business and earn a large 6 figure salary. My colleagues think I am a total Alpha male at work and many look up to me for guidance and support. Yet I have no power when I go home. My wife is always ill or upset and needs constant love or ‘snuggles.’ If do not show immediate affection, I receive some sort passive-aggressive action such as pouting, silent treatment or withholding sex. I am asked “Don’t you love me” about 1000 times a day.

    I feel like I am good husband, I give my wife anything (including unlimited spending), but she is never satisfied. I have been loyal my entire marriage, don’t drink and I work hard, but i’m always treated with suspicion. I have even been checked in on while using the shower or toilet.

    In the last nine months, I started working on myself. Going to the gym every morning, meditating, and returning to my motorcycle hobby. For the first time in 20 years, I have six pack abs and my coworkers say I Iook great. Yet my wife is the opposite, instead of telling me I look good or she is proud of my progress, she simply says “oh, you are so vain” “quit being conceded ” or “why are you wasting time lifting weights when you are over 40.” It just kills my self-esteem and I feel powerless or like a child.

    Regardless, I have kept working on myself and getting more courage to leave. This last weekend, I wanted to go out for a motorcycle ride to clear my head. Yet, I was afraid at what she might say if I go out alone. I agonized for hours on if it was worth receiving her scorn. Then I realized I have self will to do anything. I then left and had nice ride, coffee with some buddies and came home happy. She was visibly pissed off when I told her I had fun, but I finally didn’t care. I feel like I need her less and less.

    Nine months ago, I didn’t know how I got into this situation, but I realized that this is how my mother treated my father. I subconsciously thought it was normal. I am finally ready to leave this week.

    • Dear Some Random Dude,

      I suspect you have a sense of humor and you are smart. There certainly are female narcissists. They present a little different from males, but tend to be very shallow and extremely concerned with their false image of perfection and status. You know how to be decent and take care of yourself. Show up with integrity, that
      is what you will take away. I am wishing you the best.


    • I wish you the best, I know you have what it takes to stop the abuse and the demeaning. It is unbelievable how exhausting it is to try to find love, support and empathy from a black hole who is not able to give anything. All I can say is that everytime I left my narcissistic girlfriend, I started getting into great shape, had more friends and family around me and spent more on me. Needless to say, when I returned to her, gradually became more and more of a ghost, existing only for her and her insatiable, voracious need for attention. Until I figured out exactly the same as you: nothing was never going to suffice; and yes, I was also trained to perfection by an abusive, emotionally absent mother. Now I am gradually becoming ME. I know you will as well!

    • I am a woman and am treated very similarly. It seems to never be OK for me to go anywhere. And in my codependency I really need the approval. Ugh.. Anyway, its interesting to see that whether male or female… The abuse seems to be the same.

    • Yes, alpha male can be castrated by evil NPD/NARC and provide things that will never fill their “EGO” lifetime agenda. It’s unfortunate, but great that you found courage to stand up, and work on you. This has been the running theme of the crazy making. They don’t have any humble or appreciation in them. Also the empathy radar is broken for them.

  11. I wish I had all these resources 11 years ago when I divorced my ex. He is so incredibly narcissistic. My nightmare only got worse when I left him, however, because I had to co parent three children with him. I nearly went mental trying to do that. Our youngest just turned 18 and you’d think the nightmare would be over but it’s not. He’s taken her and alienated her from me. My heart breaks daily.

    • Dear Karen,

      My heart goes out to you. I think you are being asked to change again. You probably are the only one who can. I would take this time to be courageous with nurturing self-love and figuring out what you really want for your life. I bet if you focus on growing and clean your side of the street your daughter will eventually see the truth. She needs to see that an abused women or her mother can create a manageable life and love herself. I am wishing you an abundance of love.

      Best Regards,

  12. Beautiful and empowering article. I had grown up in a family where my mother was abusive, emotionally unavailable and really angry. Whatever I did would not satisfy her. My relationship with her wore out after class 9th. Eventually I grew up lonely and lived alone because I wasn’t cared for and my father was an excelled codependent who is now 100% loyal to my mother with no say in what is right or wrong. I realized that with time even he plays mind games with me. After two abusive relationships one in my school and one as my second marriage, I realized I need to no more feel lonely and that I need to overcome my ability to give relentlessly. Although this was a painful metamorphosis I have cut off from my parents regardless of the bullshit they gave me and I no more feel the same about my second husband. It took me a year’s convincing to see the actual side without the colored glass of why was I betrayed when I gave it my all or why was it so difficult to understand me. I am now strong, confident, I don’t give in to the bull shit that any one gives me with devaluation and I stand up for myself. SO much so that when someone taunts me I either give back in the same measure or voice out rather directly that I do not appreciate that and its none of their business.

    After thirty three long years I feel power – Power over my life and this time I want to preserve it an not give it away to another emotionally unavailable parasite!

  13. I really like this article, primarily for the balance you strike between victimization and accountability. I have been deeply confused by a protracted involvement/separation from a person who may or may not be a narcissist; she certainly has tendencies. But I struggled to be loving in the relationship, too — we seemed to trigger each other — and I have wondered what pathological label I might likewise apply to myself. In any case, you are right that moving on is choice to be fully responsible for oneself, and to accept the other for who s/he is. Well done; thank you.

    • Cate,

      Many people have features of personality disorders that don’t meet the criteria for a full diagnosis. Those of us that get stuck in these painful relationships tend to be normally neurotic. Often we are being challenged to love ourselves. Thank you for your kind remarks.


  14. I am in this now….been in this for years. Left a few times. “Had” to come back…. I have read many of the comments and I completely agree …. I am there — in that — it’s like most days I wait for my daily being cussed out or belittled in front of my boys….. I am not Married but I am not financially unstable to leave and he knows it….. I also cannot fathom our youngest having to be with him without me — so I stay because I would rather take it than the little one without me here with him…..I just want out and away from him for good 😦

    • Dear Jenna,
      My heart goes out to you. You can get out and it will take your patience and intelligence. You must have a clear plan that protects you and the children. There are battered women shelters that can even provide you with a new identity ( I do understand the challenge you face. Those of us that have been there do not judge the back and forth process it takes to leave the nightmare. I am wishing you much grace and courage. Thank you for commenting.

      Best Regards,

  15. I have been stripped of everything. And I don’t want to be the victim anymore. I feel he has my head feeling like a roller coaster ride. He is a psychopath we have three children. I have always been a very well liked beautiful person and he has broken me down. Everything I do he has to do but 10 times better and run in my face. He has done everything possible he can to break me physically, mentally financially etc. I feel like I am coming out of the cloud. I want to leave but I’m trying to get myself financially ok so I can take cRe of myself and children how do I do this without him getting wind and really being a psychopath.

    • Dear Sue,

      You need to be very smart and get some help. You might talk to a counselor at a local women’s shelter for advice. I would definitely get some guidance from a therapist. My heart goes out to you. I am wishing you and your children the best.


  16. A Narc will destroy everything you once loved about yourself. Manipulators Liars Abusive Cheaters Abandonment issues Charmers Disrespectful and WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT LOVE IS OR HOW TO LOVE! Anybody they touch they tear down…sad part they blame their behavior on everybody else. Set free stop allowing then to dictate your life

      • I came across this article and couldn’t believe it. I’ve been struggling and looking for answers/explanations re: what has been going on for 30+ years and here they were! I’ve been with my husband for almost 36 years, I have left him 5 times and have gone back to him 5 times. I am now preparing to leave for the 6th time, and I am now hopeful that this will be the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. I have no friends, cannot go out socially with my husband, and have not been myself for 3 decades. I could go on and on, but am just going to say THANK YOU! What a blessing it is find your blog.

        • Dear Bgoodtome,
          More power to you. You can make it in your new life. My heart goes out to you. I would force myself to get out socially with like-minded people. If you are a member of a church get involved. There is a website called Meetups that offers socials groups for many interests or hobbies. You are lovable and not alone. The dialogue in your head will tell you different. Keep learning about what has happen to you. I am sending you much courage and grace. Thank you for writing to me.

        • I could have written your story myself. I have left my abusive boyfriend 5 times but have always come back. I don’t have a plan to leave again yet but i know that the day will come again where i will. I feel that if i had more of a support system that i could have stayed away from him. I made the mistake of talking to him again a few weeks after i left and that was all it took to let him suck me back in again. It would be easier if we didnt have kids together. I also have no friends, no job and no life outside the house unless he is with me I pray that you do leave again and that you get the help and support you need to stay gone. If you ever want to talk I am here. . Hugs to you!!

          • Tracy, sounds like you were talking about me when you said you made the mistake of talking to him again and got sucked back in! I left my boyfriend for 3 months , not having any contact with him during that time. Then I thought I would be strong enough to set and maintain my boundaries and be able to talk to him again, but I was only fooling myself. Now I am right back where I started and will have to go thru all that emotional turmoil again! I always feel really bad “hurting” him by leaving him. I stayed in a marriage for 34 years for the same reason, it was easier for me to live being hurt/unhappy than to hurt someone else! Everything I am reading about the narcissistic personality is telling me I’m not really hurting him at all because he doesn’t have those types of feelings. I have been doing research on narcissist/co-dependant relationships and this blog is a god-send! I pray for strength for you as you continue on your journey! God bless you! And thank you Roberta for your candid insight and for sharing!

            • Dear Kathy,

              Thank you for your support of Tracy. Self-compassion is your (our) saviour. I am certain you have had enough pain. Fortunately you have control over self-created emotional pain. The narcissist loves thinking that they can continue to suck the joy out of our lives forever. You (we) have to complete our healing to take our power back. If not, we continue to be victims and the kind of love we desire cannot be obtained. I believe you know this in your heart. It is not okay to hurt yourself and a partner worthy of you would know this too. It is essential to care about yourself and allow your partner to be responsible for himself. You can do it. You are worth it. I wish much strength.

              Best Regards,

  17. Hi Roberta,

    Thank you for that article. This information really helps people like me to understand what is happening with their lives.
    I’ve been married to a narcissist for 16 years, we have 2 kids. I’ve been with him since I was 18. I didn’t had too much experience with men before we got together… so that’s how I think it all started. Of course in the beginning he was a charmer, caring and loving.
    This completely changed, especially after having the kids. I was absolute codependent to him – financially, emotionally.
    I moved with him in another country, I didn’t know the language, so I couldn’t make any friends on my own. I lived in a total social isolation for years. We never had any friends. He was my only connection with the world.
    He became extremely verbally abusive. Everything I did was wrong, he was always right. He really made me believe I don’t deserve any better.
    My live was hell, I was always sad and crying. My only joy were my kids.
    I lived like this for years, I don’t know how it’s even possible this time to go by like that…
    Leaving him had never occurred to me, at all!
    Last year though he told me he will leave me – in six months.
    Those six months were the worst for me ever. I did anything possible to keep him, I would do any wish he has, and any wish I would think he might have.
    I was so afraid to be left alone. He was telling me, and I believed him – I’m so terrible, nobody will ever love me.
    He was telling me that even my parents don’t love me. All my friends are pretending to be my friends. He’s the only one that ever really loved me – and he cannot even stand me.
    That nobody else would sacrifice themselves to live with me. I’ve heard horrible horrible things about me, and I believed all of them.
    I was so desperate and afraid, I’ve been even thinking about suicide.
    The only thing that stopped me was my kids and that they need me, because he’s not a good father too.
    Few months after he left – all of this looks like some kind of a nightmare, it looks unreal.
    I can’t believe I allowed myself to live like that, and I was even so desperate to keep living like that.
    I’m still trying to understand how I allowed this to happen to me.
    It’s like being blind for years, but I’m finally starting to see again.
    I’ve build my confidence again.
    Turns out during those years I’ve learned the new language good enough to find a good job and to make many new friends.
    I haven’t cried ever since he left. I’m smiling again!!
    With the kids in my house we laugh, and play, and just do whatever we want. We have fun!
    We are not staying quite, walking on eggshells, terrified and just waiting for his rage to blast.
    I’m still young and pretty, I’m receiving plenty of men attention.
    And even though I’m not ready for another relationship just yet, one day I know I’ll find my soul mate and I will have real love relationship.
    I will be much more careful this time.

    I was not strong enough to end my relationship. But my husband leaving was the best thing that happened to me.
    I should have left years ago. I can’t believe he tangled me in his web and brainwashed me so much.
    If you are in relationship with narcissist, I hope you’ll be stronger than me and be able to leave.
    If you do so – you’ll be so much happier. Don’t waste your time and energy.
    Don’t believe them!
    You have the right to be happy. You have the right for real love.

    • Dear Mon_79,
      Thank you for writing to me. My respect to you for the courage to turn victimization into empowerment. Please take the time to fully grieve the ending of your purgatory. Learn to be comfortable alone and how to protect your vulnerabilities before your enter another relationship. This could take years. You are worth it. I am wishing you and your children an abundance of love.

  18. Thank you for the phrase “You release the narcissist to be who he or she actually is. You stop trying to make that person be someone he or she is not.” He would tell me that I expected him to be someone he’s not and that he just is who he is. I could t understand how expecting him to care in a four year relationship was such a problem for him, but this phrase especially helps me get it. This article has also helped in releasing the blame game I’ve played with him. I’ve been searching for the ways I can take my responsibility and not be a victim and theses phrases truly help me do that- thanks!! Feels better to be in my power.

    • Dear Julie,
      The best way to take back your power is to surrender a victim mentality. You do this because you want to feel loved by yourself and be released from your painful past. I am sure you have had enough pain. I am wishing you much courage and grace. Keep showing up for yourself. Thank you for commenting.

    • That statement spoke to me, as well.
      I’m divorcing a narcissist after 12 yrs of being ignored emotionally, physically, and mentally. I used to wonder and lament on why he could continue to ignore my pleas for any kind of closeness. He withheld kindness from me and I now know that he would have been content with watching me live out my years sad and alone… and with zero effort to improve things from his end. It’s shocking to think that I stayed with him that long and that he was narc husband #2 for me. I consider myself a smart woman so it’s hard not to feel humiliated. So many years wasted trying to please ‘unpleasable’ men. I am so glad that I finally see my part in this and can move forward with my life. The patterns I’ve repeated are clear as day now and I’m able to see how my upbringing played into my codependency as an adult. I know my life won’t be without challenges but I look forward to living freely; Accepting my self and loving myself!

      • Dear Lizzy,

        Life throws us some tough lessons. When we grow from our adversity we always end up in a better place. I am sending you much courage and strength. You are lovable and deserve better. Don’t give up, I am sure you have tolerated enough emotional pain. Thank you for commenting.


  19. Hi,

    I am back I did post recently after just cutting off my narc and going no contact. It has now been three weeks today no contact. I am finally beginning to realise fully things that happened are not my fault. I would just like to say to anyone going No contact – hang in there and the only thing that will heal you now is time the longer the time goes on the easier it gets. I changed my number and vacated for a few weeks so no one would be able to find me I am now home and have heard nothing from the narc. I am feeling so much stronger after spending so much time with someone whom made me feel suicidal with no hope for any sort of future. Someone who made me feel worthless to my core and why ? I am an attractive young intelligent woman with so much going for me and I have felt no existence for so long. I just want to say to anyone feeling like this hang in there it does get better and if you return nothing will EVER change except get worse. Find the strength within yourself.

    This page really helped me my upmost thanks goes to you you are doing a wonderful job helping these people like myself x

    There is hope !

  20. I don’t know what to do…I need help….this is the second time I’ve had to put out my boyfriend of 3 years. He’s a recovering addict and alcoholic. A few days ago he got drunk picked a fight and assaulted me and my 17 year old son. About 2 years ago he got into a fight with my oldest son as well. After being away from home for 6 months he went to rehab and an outpatient program, my son moved out and I took him in. During his time away I took him food and helped him. He was living in an abandoned house it killed me so much. Now after doing the same thing it’s obvious that I can’t have him near my 17 year old. my family is on my case his dad and everyone. What do I do when he’s living in his car no bath no food no bathroom no sleep how can I stop feeling so bad. I’m the most compassionate person and I’ve been on my own since I was 17. Had my son at 14 all I’ve known is to take care of everyone. I feel like I just wanna die so I won’t feel anything. I’ve been sitting in my room for days, my baby girl who’s 7 doesn’t understand seeing me like this but I can’t help it. I know what he can be but no one else does. His parents won’t even give him a plate of food, how sad. They are very religious folks and I guess they are fed up but as a mom I don’t know if I could ever see my child sleeping on my steps hungry and kick him off. That’s just not me who I am. I’m a professional. I’ve worked hard to have everything I wanted on my own but I feel so lost; everyone has turned their back and I have no friends to talk to and the one I love is down again and I don’t or can’t help him up. I love everyone more than I love me I wish the world was warmer. I get emotional when I look outside the door and see nothing but drugs and wasted lives. I watch tv and can’t without crying and feeling compassionate. I’ve been blessed with a good heart I always say. But why me I just wanna fall asleep and never wake back up. And I can’t afford therapy because my copay is ridiculous and like I mentioned I do well but also I do it all. No one gets me he’s gonna become a homeless addict and that guilt I can’t deal with. I won’t be able to see that I just cant. I need help and support. I hear everyone say leave get out yeah that’s true but you can’t get rid of feelings.

    Thank you I need ao.e advice.

    • Dear yayaly910,
      It is hard to watch an alcoholic/addict destroy their life. It is also very painful to be one of their casualties. I know that you have a loving heart. What I am hearing from your words is that you are hurting yourself by enabling this man to not grow up. Your children are also being hurt. His problem with substance abuse and violence is more powerful than your love. The most helpful thing you can do is let him hit his bottom without rescuing him. I have treated alcoholics/addicts for several decades and what I know is when they are left to suffer the consequences of their behavior there is hope that they will surrender to their addiction. Tough stuff to have to witness. You might find the 12-step program Al anon a great support. Meetings are free to attend and they will teach you self-compassion. It is okay to let him go. It is not okay to hurt yourself. Turn that loving heart onto yourself. I am wishing you the best.


    • You are not responsible for his choices. You can never force someone to live up to their own potential. Only they can choose that for themselves. So choose better for yourself.

  21. Finally crashed. But not burned.
    After 7 or so attempts to end the face the sickening reality of being suck dry by the most empty and selfish person I have had contact with, I finally did it, 7 months ago, after a 3 year relationship. Just after the final breakup I stumbled upon information about narcs and my own emotional disease as a codependent. One of the things that has helped me enormously to not return to a sadder, more humiliating stage with her (the narc) is the support I get from these notes and finding about similar experiences.
    When I stumble and fear to fall (no contact is hard, being that we work at the same company), I return to this article and recover the strength I need to keep going. She almost drove me to bankruptcy, always arrived late at everything related to me, stopped me from seeing my friends and relatives, had sex with another guy on my back, treated me as a furniture at his apartment and expected I did all the spending and hard work involved in keeping our “relationship” alive, among many other forms of abuse. And as surprising as it is, yes, Roberta is right: nothing REAL and TRUE to give, but sorrow and a very mediocre company in exchange, almost enough to counterbalance the pathological solitude of a codependent like me.
    I am improving now, taking care of my needs, spending time and money on me and slowly recovering a personality and a self value I lost along the way with her.
    My heart to all of you who are breaking free of such a hellish experience and deepest thanks to Roberta and all the experts.

    • Dear Berna,

      Thank you for the compliments and supportive words to those still suffering. It helps to know you are not alone or crazy. Good job on getting out of the nightmare. I am wishing you the best.


  22. Hi,

    I have been reading a lot about narcissism but myself being the codependent haven’t really understood myself why I have behaved the way I do.

    I have two days ago changed my number and disappeared to leave my narc, we didn’t live together. I am pregnant he had been disappearing for days and returning to abuse me emotionally and sexually. I am so exhausted and feel unable to cope at the moment but after sobbing for a full day two days ago whilst he was screaming at me to get rid of our baby (which he has begged me for for the past year) I decided to take the decision to find whatever strength was left within me and come away with my already two children and be completely unavailable to him so I can regain some strength. I am in a really bad place and not really holding it together but I know I can fight through this deep down. No contact is the ONLY way to go.

    I don’t think he will be happy till he has completely destroyed me, and I have two children that already depend on me. It is so sad as I don’t want to terminate this pregnancy but if I don’t I feel I am going to be the victim of life long torture. I am terrified now….

    As much as it hurts it seems no contact is the only way to go.

    Thank you for this it is very informative.

    • Dear Jules,

      More power to you. You are right, no contact is the only way to freedom. Hang in there and take good physical care of yourself. You might find reading the personal stories in the comments helpful in keeping your resolve. Getting guidance from a healing professional will help you regain strength. I am wishing you and your unborn child the best. Thank you for writing to me. You are not alone.

      Best Regards,

  23. Dear Roberta,
    I, like many others, can so relate to what you write here. I’ve just come out of a 5 year relationship with a partner I loved very very deeply, whom I am now recognizing is a narcissist. It’s been very painful to come to terms with this, and acknowledge that his love was always, always conditional. He loved me until he didn’t, then it was like I was less then a person to him. During our time together, I would have done anything for him, and I adored him. I moved across the world to be with him, such was my commitment and devotion. Now that the relationship is over and I have moved back home, the physical distance and hindsight has given me some much needed perspective on the reality of what that relationship actually was. I almost feel like I am escaping from some bizarre cult returning to normal civilization. Looking back it was a nightmare and I’m horrified by what happened.

    My ex partner would constantly blame everything on me and never once apologized or took responsibility for his own actions. He would verbally and emotionally abuse and rage at me, call me horrible names and say I was pathetic and undeserving of compassion while I sobbed on the couch. When I would protest at him saying this to me, his response was that I brought it on myself and had provoked him by not obeying his wishes that we not talk – we lived together for 2 months after the relationship ended and he insisted throughout that entire time that we not speak. This was tortuous for me and he knew it. I would try my best to give him what he asked – I wouldn’t talk to him for a few days – but if I cracked and tried to speak (did what he didn’t want me to do and wasn’t perfect) he would explode at me and then say that he wouldn’t be so verbally abusive or horrible if I had just listened to him. Now looking back, I do see the sadistic twist in this – he could have very easily moved out and stayed with his sister (I was in a different country so had no family to go to) but he instead chose to stay. On some level he enjoyed watching me struggle and squirm.

    After the breakup, he told me he wanted to be friends. He also told me to be careful in my future relationships because someone who was not ‘as strong’ as him would have resorted to violence, infidelity, or self harm long ago, essentially saying I had it coming as well as complementing himself in the process. In his world, those are his natural reactions, and I see how horrible and truly sick that is. It’s devastatingly sad but I know that I need to separate myself from such a sick and unhealthy mind. I’m ashamed to admit it, but after being with him in that environment for so long, I actually started to believe what he told me. I actually started to believe that I deserved to be treated that badly. I actually started to believe that the way he treated me and reacted was normal behavior and I did accept it, as a codependent. I felt like I deserved the abuse because he was constantly telling me I did, never apologized, and I was blinded by my own love and devotion to him and that relationship.

    There were so many red flags but I missed them all. 1) He actually has the Narcissus painting in this post hanging above his bed (no, I’m not lying. yes, I too can’t believe I missed this red flag). 2) During the domestic violence incident between Rihanna and Chris Brown, he told me that he could imagine her ‘provoking’ Chris Brown into hitting her. 3) He’s told me before (we broke up twice before this) to be careful of my behavior in future relationships, that it may cause me to be hit. 4) When we first met he told me he was selfish, but I didn’t believe him..and was won over by his confidence and charm. But I should have took him at his word. 5) The countless incidents where he was blameless and all of the focus and criticism was on me. Thank you Roberta for your articles – sadly I can relate to them 100% but it is empowering to learn more about this specific type of abuse. With time I will find peace with what that relationship truly was and realize that the narcissist will never apologize or be able to give unconditional genuine lasting love. Thank you.

    • Dear hma,
      You describe an excruciatingly painful soul murder. The protective factor in the trauma is your intelligence. Fully grieve his abuse so you can reclaim your life. Don’t let him continue to suck the joy out of you. This man feels all-powerful in his capacity for cruelty and would love to think he has ruined your life forever. It takes some time to detox the sadism and I know you can do it. You have an opportunity to heal from this trauma and become a self-compassionate and deep-rooted woman. My heart goes out to you, I know the man you were with. I wish you much grace.

  24. Thanks. I ended it this morning. I am codependent he is narcissistic. He claims I was narcissistic refuted what my therapist advised, belittled degraded me to another woman via Facebook trying to get sex with her.yet I’m the ” crazy”one. I am healing one day at a time.I am not too social media apt this is my first post ever. Freedom.

    • Tootie,

      Good for you ending the nightmare. It’s the best thing that you have the support of your therapist. Invest in yourself by learning about what has happen to you. I am wishing you much courage and strength. You can be free!


  25. I have been I’m a solid marriage for 18 years and a survivor of childhood trauma and an ex abusive relationship(3 decades ago) I overcame a lot of life challenges and completed university degree and married the nicest man ever. I have had a great job as a social worker for almost 2 decades. I let a narcissist into my life 18 months ago. He went to junior high with me so when he contacted me via Facebook I accepted him as a friend. He was sending me messages that he was going through a divorce and had been kicked out and claimed he was suicidal. That was how he hooked me.I gave him my cell number and even though he lives almost 2000 miles away he started stalking me thru social network and threatening to tell my husband I was having an affair with him. He was sending me texts, phone calls, e mails, using mutual friends to get messages to me. He told me he loved me and wanted me to marry him. He said I was the love of his life and he hadn’t been around me for decades. He was married 6 times already and hated all of his ex wives and repeatedly belittled all of them. I made it clear I am married, he would ignore and reply no you’re not really married you are just roommates. I would tell him I can’t talk to him and he would threaten to tell my husband about our contacts. He would send me job links for good jobs in his hometown. He was always upset and drinking alcohol every night(a ton). I don’t drink alcohol or smoke so I would tell him I could never be married to an alcoholic, he would flip out and tell me how terrible a person I was to not accept him as he was. I was shocked by his denial and total lack of ability to take any responsibility for his life. He got my husband’s cell number and started texting him saying that I was having affairs with all of these different men and it wasn’t true. Fortunately my husband knew it wasn’t true. I recently realized I was dealing with a narcissist. I wish I would have realized it 18 months ago. He has told all my high school friends that he has had contact with that I’m a whore. I blocked him on Facebook months ago, he would get drunk and slander me on Facebook. I choose to not respond to his rants, most people can see through his craziness but it still hurt having friends call me and tell what he was posting about me. Most have blocked him now. He was extremely jealous and calling and accusing our mutual guy friends from high school of having affairs with me, none of it was true either. My husband and I have completely blocked him from all sources. I have a high school reunion coming up and pray he’s not flying in for it. Funny when he first began to contact me I should have not responded, I thought this man is going to ruin my marriage. I now understand why this man was doing this to me. My childhood trauma, he sensed it was a weakness in my soul and targeted me. Just wanted to thank you for your knowledge and wisdom. I was feeling really traumatized by this man and thankful to be free from his crazy ranting. I’m a professional and happily married woman, the narcissist is very cunning, I have never wanted to have an affair but fell for this guy over the phone. I am in no contact phase with him now. I occasionally check my spam messages, he recently sent me a slew of hateful vicious verbal attacks, he has slowed down now. I think he is harassing some other poor soul or soul’s. My husband told me I know you liked his attention. I told him I was sorry and would not respond to the narcissist anymore. I admit I am codependent, thank you very much for the information. I pray everyday to forgive him and myself but it’s still a fresh wound. That was a merry go round straight from hell that I pray to not go on again. Thanks again for the support!

    • Jenn,
      Thank you for writing to me. There are some deep lessons in your experience with this dangerous, sick man. I am concerned for your safety. I feel a need to be very straight with you. I recommend that you shut off All channels of communication. That means telling friends you do not want information about him unless they truly fear for your safety. You need to stop reading any emails you believe are from him. Taking a break from social media would be smart. I think it’s highly likely he will attend your High School reunion. I ask you to consider your attendance. This dangerous man will more likely go away when you commit to “No Contact.” Hopefully he has already found a new source of narcissistic supply. He has been destructive to your marriage and your husband is one his causalities. Your husband is in pain also. Compassion, accountability and open-heartedness is needed for yourself and him. I am wishing you and your husband a quick recovery and a deeper connection. Please be good to yourself.

      Best Regards,

  26. Thank you. This was an excellent article that helped clarify to me what narcissists are and what happens when we are codependent.
    I do, personally, believe that there are varying levels of narcissism, but it all still boils down to all you said. I know people who do not seem to be 100% this way, yet still manage to do most of the damage you talk about.

  27. Reblogged this on Emmagc75's Blog and commented:
    Please read this extremely important article.

    “Generally, codependents feel consistently unfulfilled in relationships and are the ones who tend to get deeply stuck in purgatory with an abusive narcissist.

    If you are a codependent in a relationship with an abusive narcissist and are asking yourself, “Why am I feeling so crazy?”  It’s time to let the narcissist go.  It is time to let him or her off the hook.  Like your caretakers, the abusive narcissist is constitutionally incapable of loving you. That doesn’t mean you can’t love that person anymore.  It means that you are ready to feel the immense relief that comes when you begin accepting the truth and stop denying reality.  You release the narcissist to be who he or she actually is.  You stop trying to make that person be someone he or she is not.  You deal with your feelings and walk away from the abusive relationship. You stop letting what you are not getting from the narcissist control you and you take responsibility for your life.  You then begin the process of healing and loving yourself.

    Get angry, feel hurt, and land in a place of self forgiveness.  Your life in purgatory will end.  You will no longer be a victim of abuse.  You will recognize that you have been mistreated and allowed yourself to be mistreated.  You will no longer create, seek out, or re-create situations that victimized you.  You stand in your power and no longer live in quiet desperation.”

  28. I want to thank you for sharing this information. After 4 years, and 4 breakups with the narcissist, I ended things myself almost 3 weeks ago. it’s frustrating for me that I know this is the right thing to do, while at the same time still missing him, wishing he would call back, and still secretly hoping he’ll somehow get a clue, realize how good of a woman I’ve been to him and come back a different person when I know based off research he’s probably already replaced me. I feel like a fool, and wonder why I gave him so much time when I’ve never done that with anyone else, but what’s different for me this time is that when I have these moments I immediately start looking up more information so that I can be reminded of why I broke up with him in the first place. My only hope is that at some point I’ll stop doubting my decision; right now I feel like I’ve made a mistake and will never be in love like I was with him – at the same time, I see how never being in love like that again will actually be a blessing.

    • Denise,

      Thank you for writing to me. You can walk away from the insanity. Keep learning and make sure you get support. Making a list of your partner’s cruel behavior to read when you are thinking of going back to purgatory. You have a loving heart that deserves better treatment. Please be kind to yourself. I am wishing you much grace.


      • Hi Roberta
        I’ve just come across your great article “how to stop obsessing over a Narcissistic Relationship” and its so true. My difficulty is getting him out of my head, I know he’s bad and it was me who ended the relationship but yet I cant stop obsessing about him. It consumes my waking thoughts and I find myself ruminating over and over about what he did and how can I make him pay and I can’t stop, how do I stop this practice and get him out of my head so I can move on with my life

        • karentherese,

          Thank you for writing to me. You can move on with your life by practicing stopping negative thoughts and telling yourself the truth. I think much suffering continues because we want to hurt our abusers for their cruelty. This is part of the healing process. Ask yourself, “How much more pain do I want?” I’m sure you have had enough and it’s time to feel compassion for the woman that withstood purgatory. Eventually you will experience and want peace more than chaos. My heart goes out to you. Don’t give up.


    • Denise,
      I am in month two since ending an 8 year relationship with a narcissist. The road has been difficult but comforting to see I am not alone. I often felt crazy and like I was the issue but I realized I tolerated way too much. I too often miss him but get angry at myself wondering how I could possibly miss someone who was emotionally abusive and truly psychotic himself! I hope over time I can heal and find a positive relationship.

    • Hi Denise,
      I just wanted to say that I can SO relate to everything you said. I feel exactly the same..Self doubt, but knowing the breakup is actually a blessing. And looking up more info when im feeling desperate (like now). It’s been 3 weeks for me of no contact, although my N is showing up to my exercise classes. Anyway I hope you’re doing well? I miss my N like crazy but also hate them & what I allowed them to do to me at the same time. Its a crazy mix of emotions. Thank God for posts & the internet

      • Hi M, I also 100% relate to you and Denise. I am 2 weeks of no contact from my N after 4 years of questioning my sanity and self-identity. My N is also and alcoholic and drug addict. I too find myself missing my N terribly and wanting to go back but I am finding that if I literally tell myself (out loud) about why leaving was 100% necessary it helps to ease the feeling of loss. This type of online support is also 100% amazing. Glad to you know there are others out there that feel exactly like I do and are healing. Good luck to you al!


    • You are in the same position as me, it’s only been a week after years of on/off. I felt so crazy that I had ended it yet still want him to do something, when I know he’d be straight back on dating sites looking to fill the void. This type of relationship is the most excruciating one to go through, I hope it gets better for you soon 🙂

  29. Just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your efforts here. I have spent the last year reading everything I can on the “cluster b” personality disorders and then burning way too much energy trying to formulate a diagnosis about where she is at on the scale. Constantly wondering if she is a Narcissist, a Borderline or a Psychopath. Maybe it is all part of the journey to clarity … I don’t know? As I read your article I felt a sense of relief and sadness. Many articles I have read elude to the codependency, but I have never experienced the perfect clarity that came with reading this article. For several months now, the only question that seems to matter is “why can’t I walk away”? The answer is not unique, pretty much the standard obstacles…. denial, disbelief, desire for closure and accountability and maybe some arrogance( thinking if I just “Love” her the right way she will one day wake up and appreciate what a noble, loving man I really am.
    What has come perfectly clear to me is that am sadly lacking in Love of self and your simple statement “is constitutionally incapable of loving you” just kind of broke it open.
    It is time to get mad, be hurt and move on! 🙂
    Thank You for providing the catalyst for clarity. Words are inadequate to express my gratitude to you !!

    • oh yeah … and most importantly …. forgive myself. That is the piece that is missing. I have been very unforgiving of myself.

    • Jeff,

      You are welcome. Many of the personality disorders share similar features. Keep investing in yourself by learning about what has happen to you. You have begun the journey into self-respect and love. Don’t give up! Thank you again for your kind words.


  30. Dear Roberta I have just come across your site and ready your honest, open posts and identify strongly. I have just finished my 7 year relationship with a man who was exciting, flamboyant but not really emotionally available. I left but am beating myself up about it and now realise that I am/was codependent with a narcissisitic, emotionally abuse person. Even now I find that hard to write as maybe he wasn’t and it was me.

    I realise that, growing up, although our physical needs were met – we were dressed, fed, live in a lovely house, went on holidays, – our emotional needs were not met. We were not allowed to express our feelings. My father was (is) a flamboyant charachter but narcissistic. He as the only person allowed to express his feelings but, although he told me he loved me, was never really there for me. My mother supported me but was not there emotionally for me even though I know she loved me.

    When we met, there was such passion, an instant connection. However, it was based on a lie. He told me that he was single but after a few weeks I found out he was married but in a deeply unhappy relationship. He told me it was over and, against my better judgement, I continued to see him. He is a very creative man, can be absolutely wonderful and we have had so many wonderful times together. He is 12 years older than me, told me age didn’t matter but as time went on my insecurities crept in.

    We have been on a rollercoaster all this time; leaving and getting back together and each time I would blame myself. He could be so loving, doing small kindnesses but could out of the blue be cruel (verbally/emotionally). I tried to discuss these times, my feelings, etc – I would get ‘ok’ thought he understood and would try again.

    As time went on, it got worse. I moved in with him two years ago (he’s still separated) but I never felt at home. He would be evasive and one evening when I was away, I phoned him and he was in a public place. I asked him where he was and he said ‘with friends’. Out of interest, I asked which friends and he became incredibly evasive. Over the next few days, I didn;t let it go, Maybe I should have given him the space. He eventually told me he was going to meetups (mainly ones where people are looking for a partner). He said it was because when I was away, he had no friends (which he doesn’t, he is a bit of a loner) I was astounded that he didn’t tell me. For me, a relationship should be open enough to discuss these things. If he had told me in the first place, I would have let go. He said that he didn’t tell me because I kept asking.

    My trust was broken and over the past 2 years I have never let go. He can be evasive, has mutliple mobile phones and I became more and more convinced he was seeing someone. I couldn’t prove anything and he told me that it was in my head and I should let go of these things. Maybe he wasn’t but I couldn’t let go.

    I became so needy, desperate he would leave me. I was constantly checking, asking questions. I know he needed his space. When I did manage to let go at times, he would then ask me where I was and who I was with (when I went away for a few days with a girlfriend) So there was no trust on either side even though I always told him what I was doing (whereas he didn’t).

    I do think he tried to make things work. we had lots of arguments, he would tell me it was off and I would go back to him and he would take me back. He didn’t want me to see the father of my children and finished with me a couple of times because I had contact with him (we still spend Christmas together even though they are young adults).

    I blamed myself for every incident, defined myself in relation to him. Talked to my friends ad nauseum about the problems and stopped seeing my friends because I was afraid that if was away from him he would meet someone else/leave. I did not value myself and find that very hard to do.

    I realise that this was not healthy, that I was not giving him space either. but couldn’t stop myself. Maybe he is codependent too.

    Two weeks ago, I finally left because he had flipped when I went to see the father of my children and I needed to ground myself, move back to my own house. He calmed down though, and now I think he was reaching out to me but I couldn’t see it. However, a few days later he was angry with me, wouldn’t tell me why. I text him saying it was hurting and we should talk. He asked me not to push it. I know I had left but I couldn’t stand the silence.
    I do keep pushing and it’s a pattern. I keep pushing until my fear of a man leaving me becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I know he is out doing everything he can to meet someone new now and it’s as if I didn’t exist. I am, hurting so much and blaming myself (even though I left! )

    Here I am going on and on about it and feeling hurt which is bad so I need to do something about it before I lose sight of myself altogether.

    Sorry to go on (if you have got this far!) but having read your posts, I can now see where my pattern comes from and I need to seek help.

    Thank you Roberta. Wishing you well.

    • Ann,

      There are many that feel support for you when they read about your nightmare. Keep learning and let your pain move you forward. No Contact is the only way to stop the abuse. Thank you for writing to me. I am wishing you much self-compassion and endurance to walk through the grief.


      • Thank you Roberta. Having just read back my post I realise how upset I was at the time as it was pretty jumbled. He is 12 years younger than me, not older!
        I am starting to move on – I think! Finding it hard to let go as he has chased me.

        • Ann,

          I am literally in the SAME EXACT situation as you were in. Its as if you are telling my story. I wouldn’t ever go anywhere with my friends in fear that he would go elsewhere or make another “mistake” that would lead to another argument. I did EVERYTHING to try and solve our problems and would implement plans on how to avoid futher issues, etc. However, he would never try. He would just say “ok” or worse, would just give me the silent treatment which made me more mad. We got into an argument on May 3rd and he was drunk. I was driving (completely sober), and he told me to pull over in a parking lot so that we could talk. When I did that, he grabbed me by the neck (around the trachea) so I tried calming him down. He then took me into a chokehold and wouldnt let go until i gave up my phone to which I dropped for him. It was terrifying. However, a month later here i am and its like ive forgotten all the hurt that he has caused me. I have repressed all of these horrible situations, feelings / emotions toward him and so i’ll be happy for weeks and then all of a sudden a little bit of what i had repressed comes out in pure anger. I went on no contact but we have a child together so felt bad. I started texting him again and its like i’ve gotten sucked back into this black hole and I dont know how to back pedal. I can’t find the strength but am trying so hard. Its like i’m in love with love. so each day still I’ll wake up loving him, almost as if its a restart for us and our relationship. Deep down I know the truth, but I know that I have some serious co-dependency issues because I’ve realized that all of my relationships (except maybe 1), I’ve dated people that I have to “fix” because I’m so empathetic and try placing myself in others shoes. Basically, treating those people equally as I would others regardless. You’re not alone.

  31. Dear Dr. Cone and all Cos,

    I wish I would have seen this article 25 years ago, not that it would have changed my attitude about marrying my Prince Charming. However, it would have definitely planted the seed that I was NOT crazy. I won’t rewrite my story, because every story written before this, has at least one or two same situations I lived.
    What I want to say is, there is hope, happiness and love after the abusive relationship, no matter how long after the split. It’s not an easy thing though and I am still recovering. From my experience, hope came first. I have spent almost as many years divorced as I was married now…. And hope was what I had to go on for about 7 years. Yes you read that correctly, 7 years. Then one day happiness showed up about 3 years ago, and every day I became a little more happy, and today I am a happy independent woman who truly loves herself, and it feels wonderful!! So on to the next part, love. This stage, is a huge trial too. For clarity, I am not talking about me having an issue with loving it being loved by family, friends, or even my finding love in volunteering (which I did a lot of and it brought sheer joy). No, I am talking about dating and relationships. This my friends, is a big step. So many emotions, so many signs, so many memories, and feelings. I am a long way from finding love, so I by no means am saying I have conquered this stage. However, what I can tell you from, my experience is this. If you start feeling the way you felt with your Narcy, your mind, or stomach is probably right. Don’t ignore that feeling. No one should be able to take away your happiness or hope. You shouldn’t have to compromise in a relationship, you should be able to collaborate together. That’s where I will stop this post as, that’s the point I am at in love. One day at a time…. Thank you Dr. Cone for this post and everyone who shared their experiences.

    Best to all,
    Recovering Co

    • Recovering Co,

      Thank you for your honest and inspirational words. You have done an excellent job at being entitled to your true feelings and you are helping others. Keep showing up! You have a lot to contribute. Wishing you much tender love.


  32. Hi Roberta,

    Thank you for putting this article together. I am slowly coming out of a co-dependent relationship where myself and my ex are both incest survivors (any sexual abuse by “caretaker” roles fall into the incest category), and we have been through a lot within the last couple of years. He has lost a friend to suicide, I have lost my father (who was abusive) to a horrible illness that took two years to force him to ask for assisted suicide, and in that timespan have been doing my best to be an emotional support system for my ex. He has a severe victim complex, which indicates that he is obviously unhealed from his trauma, is very resistant to seeking help, and often times comes up with excuses, such as “my therapist died and I don’t trust anyone else./I’ve been in therapy for 10 years, it didn’t really work for me.” He would speak of himself in such a way that indicated to me he also had narcissistic tendencies, “No one does what I do for others./I’ve done everything for you/him/her” and use these as justifications or excuses to scream at me, invalidate my emotions, and essentially be incapable of communicating to me other than giving me defensive responses. It got to the point where I felt as if I had to walk on eggshells and watch what to say because I wouldn’t want to “freak him out” and have him go over the edge, only to endure an onslaught of screaming and yelling and eventual self-victimization. I’ve been in situations where I felt unsafe being in the car with him as he screamed at me and have had to find ways home, many hours away. I’m not perfect in the relationship, and I am a firm believer that change is healthy and a continual process — that we go through various stages in our lives, and I’d prefer to make the most of it. But he doesn’t think he can change, as he has told me, that he “never will.” He has also told me that, “I don’t deserve that type of treatment and that it’s not ‘me’ it’s ‘him.'” At the same time, all of his friends (whom he essentially pays to do work for him or pay for their meals, etc.) hear the victim complex reiteration of an incident between us, which excludes the full perspective of why I choose to walk away then per say, and have constructed me to be a horrible person who manipulates him. I’ve done nothing but attempt to be as patient and understanding to the best of my ability, but I cannot endure that type of abuse without having to defend myself and leaving.

    My codependency tells me not to abandon him. That I love him, and to keep trying, to find other ways of getting him the help he needs. There have been times where he has agreed to help, and yet other times he has outright made up excuses as to why he can’t get himself help. I feel that I’ve been the one to approach him and try and work on our relationship more so than he has and at this point, I know he expects me to make the same attempts. Our last fight occurred this past week and he has not yet asked if I made it home safe, or how I’ve been feeling (it was the first year anniversary death of my father this past Monday). The fight erupted over me asking him to change the subject from discussing people (his friends that abhor me) he still communicates with that I no longer have contact with. And despite all of the anger, betrayal, disappointment, and sadness, I still have love for him and want to reach out but I know that I have to refrain from this and remind myself that I can no longer be mistreated like that and abused. It is ultimately up to him to decide if he wants that help for himself, and if and when he is ready, I will be there to support him.

    Ughhhhhh. The emotions are the most difficult thing to deal with. I think about him all the time and I love him so much, but I have no other choices. I can’t put myself in that situation.

    • Angie,
      I apologize for such a long response time. I have been working on projects that have been taking all my energy. I am hoping you have found the strength to stay out of the relationship you describe. It is not okay to hurt yourself and I suspect you had enough pain. As I have said to other readers, “You have met a great teacher with a painful lesson in self-worth.” Codependents are incredibly loving people to others and have a terrible time leaving an abusive relationship. Keep showing up for yourself and don’t give up. You deserve a loving partner and a relationship that works.
      Best Regards,

  33. So glad I found this site. I moved out in early January, well I was actually pushed out due to being mistreated for years. She began pulling away again months ago. I am a man and I was married to my wife for 5 years. Beautiful women but could never let me into the deep parts of her heart. We served as associate pastors together but even in that I was always emotionally abused little by little behind the scenes until I didn’t know who I was anymore. My heart was shattered by her or me letting her. All we have left is to do our taxes for last year. She is mailing me her w2 so I can get the taxes done. We don’t talk at all unless an email for business and this should be the last piece of business. I miss her deeply but I was in love with the fantasy of what I wanted our marriage to become. That is on me. I know this is a crappy gift from heaven so I can get passed my codependency from childhood. I waited 8 years in celibacy to deal with this so I thought. The first time I kissed her was on our wedding night. She was the source to show me my brokeness that was deeply hidden from me. This hurts soooooooo bad and like I said I miss her deeply BUT I don’t miss the abuse and shame. I just want to become whole so I don’t go down this path again when it comes to my future. Her family loves me so much and miss me greatly, but I have to protect my heart even though I love them all. This is the second hardest thing ive been through since my 17 year old son died 5 years ago. We were courting during that time.

    Of course the idea of her in another mans arms haunts me and that is my problem I need to break free from. I cry a lot (crying was never a problem) and I am now letting emotions rise up that have been hidden for years. I was always able to love and protect others well, but never my self. I have been looking at my childhood where this all started and learning it wasn’t my fault that my parents hurt each other and us. I have a ways to go, I was lost but now I am found, I was broken but I am healing, My heart was shattered but it is being put together the way is was suppose to be. I am living with a safe buddy who understands and have started my healing process journey. It’s sooooooo hurts soooo bad but I have to move forwards – it’s life and death. I chose to live and become whole because this relationship was killing me slowly the way it currently is.

    One day I will look back and be grateful for this gift. Just not today .

    Thanks for this site


    • L,
      Life throws some tough lessons. I can hear resiliency and courage in your words. If you continue to stay out of the victim mentality deeper compassion will be a gift. I suspect this important to your life’s work. Use your resources to stay on track. My condolences on the loss of your son. You are a special man. I am sending you an abundance of strength and love.

    • L,
      I am a Christian and got out of a 17 yr Christian marriage 2 yrs ago. I have very often thought and said “I had my fairy tale, yep I was in love with a fairy tale or fantasy.” Funny that you said the same thing. It does get better over time so hang on. Don’t give up. Start being thankful and look forward to the ‘new day’ He gives us every day. It’s something that got me through and still I marvel at the wonder and beauty of the rising new sun every day. Night time is for ending the day, sleep for removing the debris and then a new day dawns with many new possibilities. You will get to that better day. Stay strong.

  34. Hello Roberta,

    I was wondering if you had any advice for helping out a friend. I have a friend who is a truly lovely person, but she is very codependent. Lately she has been in an abusive relationship with a guy. So far, I have discovered that he:

    comments on how she is overweight to the point that she lost 50 pounds within just a few weeks because she basically starved herself.

    tells her that he doesn’t want to do something with her, but when she turns around and tries do that same thing with us, her friends, without him he gets mad and throws a literal fit, bombards her with abusive messages in social media, messengers, text, etc. Oftentimes she’ll try to talk to him, work things out or otherwise make up with him, but he’ll ignore, unfriend, block her, etc. Sometimes he has done this, then later re-adds her only to send her horrible, hateful messages, even saying that he hates her sometimes

    gets extremely distraught if he loses contact with her for even a little while – there was one time that she lost internet and could not chat with him through skype so he actually started repeatedly texting one of our mutual friends, harassing him and demanding to know about her

    has gotten upset with her on multiple occasions and torn her down in his anger, insisting she is worthless and her life won’t go anywhere

    takes up all of her free time so that the past few months that they have been together, she has just constantly been in some sort of contact with him, to the point that she rarely interacts with friends (or at least MUCH less frequently than she had before.)

    We have tried to talk to her about it but she has insisted that she is in fact the one that causes problems, that she has just gotten him upset, or that he just has problems and she wants to be there for him. We have repeatedly told her the relationship she is in is abusive, but she is completely terrified of being romantically alone that even when she nearly outright acknowledges that yes her relationship is probably abusive, she still refuses to leave him. There have been times that they have broken up and she has insisted she won’t talk to him anymore but he apologizes and she’s with him again with a day (sometimes just a few hours).

    It is absolutely awful to watch and furious that it’s happening and I just don’t know what to do to help her. Some of my other friends have insisted that they have given all the advice that they can and refuse to hear about her and him anymore, but I don’t want to alienate her from me like that if perhaps something worse might happen. I am completely terrified for her because she already has such a strong tendency towards depression and anxiety and I hate to see the way this is hurting her usually very excitably and happy demeanor; she has even begun to act sourly towards me when we’re just having fun and joking around together. (I’m used to her being a very complimentary person, the type that loudly and proudly tells everyone she cares about that they’re beautiful and wonderful all the time and now she has started to say mean things to people and it feels completely utterly painfully out of character.)

    Please help, please! I really want to help my friend get out of this! I can’t stand watching it anymore. She deserves someone as wonderful as she is!
    – Dani

    • Dani,
      This is a tough and painful situation to watch happen to someone you care about. Unfortunately you are not powerful enough to change her path. Ultimately, you can’t know the purpose of her life lessons. Being a loving and calming presence without giving advice is the best thing you can do. Your friend has heard the message repeatedly that she is in an abusive relationship. It is important that you let her know if she ever fears for her physical safety to tell you. You can tell her that it is painful for you to witness the mistreatment and that you love her. You can draw a healthy boundary and let her know that you want to stop discussing his mistreatment. Separating yourself from her issues and not feeling guilty is important. You do not have to take on her problems to be loyal or loving. Easier said than done. She is not ready and can’t be forced to make a change. Setting limits in your conversations and moving forward with your life is the kindest action you can take for yourself. I am wishing the best for both of you.

  35. After reading this article is really make me wonder if i am in one of these relationships. I have been struggling for quite some time now with the relationship I have with my “best friend.”

    …here’s the situation….. I am 28 years old and we have been friends for about 8 years. I have been in the same relationship for 9 years. My friend on the other hand has probably had at least 20 + different men in her life over the last few years and I’m not exaggerating…..there are 2 main problems that follow this pattern. Every time she is single our friendship is good and seems somewhat normal because she is participating in it. She calls, I hear from her more, she tells me how much she loves me and I’m her best friend, she comes over..etc. Then bam the new guy comes around and it’s like I don’t exist.

    She is all about the new guy and moves so quickly…every relationship starts with her drowning the men with her problems… usually its her car…some feel the pressure and leave because she is too much and others buy into it and actual buy her a car. The car ratio is about the same as the relationship ratio….then she usually packs up her and her daughter and they move in with this
    new guy after only dating a short period of time…currently she just received a new car and has been seeing this guy for 10 weeks according to her.

    That’s my second problem I am really close to her daughter and it kills me to see her put around guy after guy…it can’t be good for her I just pray that she doesn’t remember it because she is so young….

    Lately it has gotten a lot worse between us and I don’t know how much longer I cant keep going through this with her but I bite my tongue because I feel its the adult things to do because her daughter really needs me…I have also tried going to see her at least 5 times no answer then she will text me a nice text like everything is fine but its so rude that she ignores my call…. I had a serious emergency when i called her 3 times in a row no answer then she called me back rattling on about her trip at the cell phone place… i had tears rolling down my face. I’ve given her money, put clothes on her daughters back, shoes, always there for every big day. Helped her get her own place so she could be there for her daughter more hoping it would slow down the hopping from guy to guy…I have done so much….

    Lately she doesn’t even say anything when I do nice things for her and I keep doing it out of the kindness of my heart because I am a good friend. Her Birthday was a few weeks ago and I drove over a cake and even took her a gift from me and got her a gift from her daughter and a really cute card. She never mentioned it again until 2 weeks went by and I asked her if she liked her stuff. I even took it over to where she was at her new boyfriends and again I do it for her little girl if nothing else. But wow not only did I go there on her Birthday but i took her a gift from both of us, even got her a cake and her favorite drink and a Happy Birthday wine glass and not another word until i squeezed it out of her….not to mention the same deal with the Christmas gift i gave her…never a word about it…nothing….i am always the giver…and she is so unappreciative….So twice in once month and i keep giving…why? because it’s who I am? I love to give to others….I am always thoughtful and I don’t want to be like her…just feel silly for always giving and then being treated so badly….but if i don’t then it’s a red flag and an issue too. .

    Anytime I have something big going on she never wishes me good luck and its big stuff like my nursing exam..job interviews…but yet I am always there for her….I almost feel as though she gets jealous?

    Ultimately i feel if I tell her how I feel she will keep her daughter from me and I love her with all my heart …..I have been there for her daughter since she was 4 and love her like my own. She has spent so much time with us and I couldn’t imagine life without her. She calls me her aunt and my fiance her uncle and my mom her grandma…it’s not fair to walk away and leave her behind… I know it’s only a matter of time before her mom moves in with this new guy she is already saying her rent is going to be to much and that’s usually what she does she starts talking something down when she wants out…it’s the same pattern….

    I have never had a friendship as complicated as this and when I have had people treat me bad I walk away but given the fact that I am close to her daughter its different. What is the proper way of dealing with this and what is your take on my relationship with my friend it is driving me nuts and I just want to be free, life is beautiful and this is taking up way to many of my days leaving me empty and when I see what I put into the friendship I just don’t get it.

    Thank you for your time I truly appreciate it and appreciate your article as well.

    • Bethany,
      Your life situation tugs at my heart. It is apparent that your friend is a taker and you are a giver. It sounds like you have to be victimized in order to maintain your relationship and I suspect the child is being used as a pawn. You will not find an intellectual explanation for your friend’s emotional problems, but could drive yourself crazy trying to find one. The biggest challenge is your high tolerance for inappropriate behavior and how you are treating yourself. Your friend’s self-centeredness and lack of respect has to be painful. Setting limits on giving is necessary for your well-being and could mean the end of the friendship. I really feel for you regarding the child. I have been in similar circumstances and stayed in a painful relationship longer than was good for me. I kindly invite you to look at your ability to receive support from others and ask for what you want/need. Givers who find themselves with takers often have difficulty receiving love. I don’t mean to sound insensitive to your pain by being direct. You deserve to be loved and valued. I am sending you an abundance of good will and grace. You are a special woman.
      Best Regards,

  36. Thank you for your post. After reading it I’ve finally accepted that I am in a codependent relationship. I’ve been resisting the knowledge that my partner is narcissistic for some time now, mostly because I want to believe that he loves me, that someone, anyone finds me worthy of loving. Your article is very well written and led this blind gal right to the edge that she’d been dreading the most – I have to leave. I’ve known it for some time now, but have sat on the fence figuring it wasn’t that bad because he doesn’t hit me or call me vile names, or that I wouldn’t get very far on my own and would soon be homeless with kids in tow. My early history of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse helped me rationalize it away every time he invalidated me even though I became more and more angry with myself for it and ended up developing an overeating disorder which I struggle with. I’ve been in this 19 years now and we have 5 children(oldest 16, youngest 7). I have no support system at all, family gave me up as a lost cause years ago, I have no friends, and no community network at all(we homeschool). We’ve moved many times over the years, the most recently about 4 months ago, so no community support network that I know of. What advice would you give to a woman like me?

    • Jess,
      You have begun the process of leaving. I would put the focus on accepting what is good about you and practicing self-compassion. Being willing to build a support system is imperative. Keep investing in yourself by learning about what has happen to you. Don’t give up on finding your solution. Thank you for writing to me. I am wishing you and your children the best.

  37. In a narcissistic codependent relationship. I never considered myself a codependent because I always thought of co-dependency as care-taking and I seemed to want someone to take care of me or rescue me. This article helped me see that giving ourselves to the point of harm so we can be loved can also be codependent. This has clarified so much for me! I have in the best gone back and forth believing I was the narcissist, now I see the relationship between the c and n perfectly. Thank you!

      • I very much admire souls that are willing to be their best by also sharing open hearted real knowledge.
        Thank you Roberta….
        I am bleeding from some sadist/narcissist interactions. The hard thing is that it is my niece, whom I wanted to protect after my brother died. Now it is me that needs to be protected from her. Seeing her from who she is, is liberating. I was locked in grief and guilt, as I thought maybe I could just have been more present, maybe I could have done this and that…. She wanted to move in with me, but I work from home and cannot possibly give away my survival need for space, autonomy and peace. She is taking this as a rejection and is finding any possible way to hurt me. It is scary, but I am not giving up myself. I also have a dog, which would not be safe with her. I am responsible for him, love him to bits and will not allow that.
        The other day when I saw her, she told me in delight about a girl that had her nose broken and was badly injured at school, from what she told me, she kind of manipulated the situation and she has very deep seated envy of the girl that was beaten. I was shocked. But as much as I love her, I am committed to protecting myself. My mother is the same as her, and I just found myself repeating the scenario in different costumes…. I even thought about suicide as I felt soooo trapped in guilt.
        Now I am within my instincts and I am breaking free, even if I have to die for it.
        God bless our warrior souls and let love guide us.

        • Mutty,
          You are a strong woman. Good job on setting boundaries for your “space, autonomy and peace.” It sounds like you must be watchful with your niece and use your intelligence. I would avoid power plays with her and if you fear for your safety talk to the local police. Finding a healing professional to discuss your fears and get guidance from is important. Thank you for your kind words.

  38. I am in abusive relationship with a verbally abusive narcissist schizophrenic. I found out who he really was after it was too late. He is blackmailing me to stay with him and I am frightened of what he will do if I kick him out. He has changed his name to make people believe we are married. We are not married. I feel forced to tell people we are in love. I am afraid of the trouble he will cause with my work place and for my kids if I disappoint him and don’t give in to his constant demands. I feel exhausted. He keeps constant tabs on me. If I happen to work late, he will drive to my work place to make sure I am working. I feel my best option is to pay him off to go away. I am at my wits end. What do I do?

    • Debra,
      Thank you for writing to me. You might find some benefit from reading the comments in this post. Ending your relationship requires a well thought out plan. Contacting a local Women’s shelter for advice and participating in their Personal Empowerment support groups would be good. If you are keeping his behavior secret from family members and friends that you trust, please stop. Getting expert advice would be wise. I am wishing you the best.

  39. I am a young adult still dependent on two narcissistic parents and living with an abusive younger sister. Every day is awful and they consistently find new ways to bring me down, crush my spirit and sap my energy. I’ve wanted to leave years ago but can’t ever find a way to support myself. What should I do?

    • Anastasia,
      Thank you for writing to me. As scary as it can be, you have to take a leap of faith and get out of your childhood home. Find a room to rent and take any kind of job that can support you. As long as you stay dependent on your family you will continue to be victimized. Feeling and using your anger to motivate change can help. Telling yourself that you will find work and not listening to the voice that says you don’t have what it takes is imperative. Getting support from a healing professional will make the change easier. Many community clinics and university’s offer low cost or no cost counseling. There are also support groups like Codependents Anonymous that will teach you to believe in your goodness and worth. I can hear that you are afraid to be on your own. Making a plan to leave and working towards it while finding safe people to discuss your fears with will empower you. One step at a time you can do it. I am sending you much grace and courage to free yourself.
      Best Regards,

  40. Hi Roberta,
    Thank you so much for this article. I’ve been researching what may be my problem & I think I have found it. I sort of had a feeling I had a codependency issue, because the last few guys I have dated I believe are narcissists. I just broke up with a guy I was dating for over a year. I should have been paying attention to the red flags, but he constantly would give me excuses, and if I questioned them, he’d always remind me of how insecure I am. (Which I am, but he has truly made me very insecure in our relationship) Some examples are: he evidently searched for “escort sex” on his iPad when he was away on a trip. The search was for “escort sex”, then back to his online banking, then back to “escort sex” then back to his online banking. He claimed that another pilot in his company borrowed his iPad, then he changed his story & blamed another pilot who “lived out of the country”. I requested to talk to whoever used his iPad, so I may gain clarification & he refused to allow me to to do that stating that he had to “protect his employees”. His boss (a married man) would send my ex explicit texts of girls with their legs spread & my exboyfriend replied: “I’d f… her, where is she?” He claimed this was “small talk” and that I was insecure once more. He also had secret apps downloaded onto his phone, that you couldn’t see on his phone, only traceable through the “purchased” section of the app store. They were apps that actually hide phone numbers & photos from anyone viewing them on your phone. He claimed that he has those secret apps because he travels a lot. The pilots he fly’s with brag about cheating on their wives & talk about hooking up with escorts as well. He seems to love the guys he works with. They like to talk about cocaine use & how easy it is to get away with it, because the FAA won’t be able to detect it in drug tests, because it flushes out of the system quickly. He would turn his phone off when out of the country & he didn’t want me to know his whereabouts. He even had a flight attendant remove pictures of their whereabouts from her Facebook. He claims he’s not an alcoholic, but he does drink about 4 to 5 drinks per day (at least the amount that I’ve seen) and he literally passes out. He has even passed out at the dinner table when we’ve been out at a restaurant. He would literally gawk at other girls walking by- usually they looked like stripper types, meanwhile he would want me to dress classy, Ralph Lauren type clothes. I told him it wasn’t nice to gawk at other girls while I was in his presence, and he said: “I would understand if you looked at other guys who are better looking then me.” He even made my body an issue as of late. (I’m 5’8″, 120 pounds) and he had stated that I wasn’t in the same shape I used to be in when we first started dating, that I have cellulite on my butt & legs.) Meanwhile he has gained about 30 pounds & his cholesterol is 220 and I had never made his weight an issue. (Only wanted his health to get better but I never even once told him he was overweight, I always told him he was perfect to me. I recently discovered also that he (although he is very cheap) he had started renting out a public storage unit while we were together….he wouldn’t tell me the contents of the unit. I finally made him show me….and when he opened it, there were piles of garbage, crumpled up money, old rotting sandwiches, rat feces everywhere. The cable guy also pointed out to me one day when he was installing cable that there was a storage unit behind my exboyfriends apartment that was filled with used high end liquor bottles, someone had been hoarding them. The cable guys says to me: “You have a serious alcoholic living in this building.” …..Come to find out, these are the same type of high end, expensive bottles of liquor that his company supplies to the passengers of his aircraft. But of course my ex denies this too. He says he has no knowledge of it. There was a time also when he said he didn’t think he was that attractive. I told him: “You are so handsome to me” And he looked disappointed & said: “What about everyone else? Am I attractive to anyone else?” I made attempts of breaking up with him & he would become clingy, literally one time he wrapped his arms and legs around me and kept saying: “Please don’t go.” He also walks around with his zipper down (and no underwear on underneath) I don’t know why he did this so often. He claims he zipped himself up one time & he doesn’t like to zip his pants up since. He does always wear Ralph Lauren clothes mainly, so he cares about his wardrobe, but at the same time, his hygiene is not great, so he usually has a bad odor to him. There are so many other issues, I just have been so confused as to why he’s always had excuses for everything & hides everything, and sadly I’ve always been finding things that have made me even more insecure. My gut has told me nothing adds up, but my heart wanted to believe all of the excuses. So I’m guessing I’m a codependent & he’s a narcissist (along with being a hoarder & alcoholic as well) I broke it off again recently & I hope & pray it is for good. I just can’t live with all of this anxiety anymore.

    • Amy,
      I can see how painful this relationship is for you. I do hope you find the strength to stop all contact. I would make sure you block him from all means of communication (Facebook, email, phone, etc.). Otherwise you might weaken and let him back to victimize you more. It is imperative that you get support from a healing professional and friends you can trust. It is not okay to hurt yourself. Thank you so much for your enthusiastic support of my other posts. I am sending you much grace and courage to end this nightmare.
      Best Regards,

  41. Wish I knew all of this long ago. I lost so much to my narcissistic/codependence marriage which lasted seven years. My eye opener came when I reconnected spiritually…then stumbled on a teaching on Jezebel/ Ahab spirits. I think this talking about the same thing from two different stand points. In narcissists I see Jezebel and in codependents I see Ahab. What do you think?

    • Jide,
      I do not know enough to say much about Jezebel and Ahab spirits. Their actions were about taking control and acts of evil. Good for you reconnecting spiritually and leaving an unhealthy marriage. Thank you for reading my post.

  42. I am recently trying to find my way after a 7 year relationship with a man that is emotionally abusive. It’s only been 3 months and I feel more lost and lonely than ever! It’s funny because in our culture(Puerto Rican) men are very head strong and the thought is that the man is the head of the house. Which is fine, but when the man is the one that is being taken care of that is where my problem lies. Constantly telling me that I am never there for him, that everyone else is more important to me, that I don’t love him because if I did I would do any and everything for him. Yet when he’s in a good mood its all the opposite. He left the house willingly over a stupid little argument and expected and still expects me to go to him and tell him to come home. I miss him more than anything, I still see us having a future but I refuse to be treated like that again, that is why I haven’t asked him to come back, because there is no remorse, no accountability on his part, it always seems to be MY FAULT. Then he twists the words to make it seem like I’m blaming him. I feel so lost, my family has sworn that if I get back together with him they will give me their backs and to me family is soooo important. After he left, he came back to the house took all the furniture including gifts he made to me, luckily I took my daughters TV and electronics and even the dog or else those would have been gone too not to mention the fight we got into where he broke my car, kicked me and would have beat my face in if his mother didn’t get in the way. To top it off I have a 12 yr old daughter that is not his child but has raised her that tells me all the time, “Mommy I miss him a lot but I just don’t like the way he talks to you and makes you cry”. I know that I am a mother above all else but when he calls crying that hes sleeping on the floor, that he has no money, that he loves me so much and can’t live without me it breaks my heart because I truly love him, I don’t feel pity for him. So I am at this crossroads that has me so confused because I believe people can change and I forgive him. I’m so lost!!!

    • Lainey,
      Some people can change behavior that is out of character for them. Typically it takes a high level of emotional pain and a true desire to take responsibility for their actions. In other words, you have to really want to change and be accountable. A partner that does not feel remorse and blames you for their problems is not capable of changing. They will not apologize for their cruelty or acknowledge how they hurt you. The destructive behavior is an enduring, life long, pervasive character trait. It sounds like your ex is more like a child who wants a mommy to support him. The greatest predictor of physical violence is from someone that has already committed it. If it has happened once, it is likely to happen again. People who do not feel remorse are often academy award winning actors at displays of pretend emotions and promises to change. Once they get their foot in the door it is just a matter of time for the cycle of abuse to begin again. Enduring the loneliness and completing your grieving is so important for your daughter to witness. Otherwise, she is likely to learn that men are abusive and women just take the mistreatment. You say that “you forgive him.” This is the key to releasing him and building a life that works for you. It does not mean that he gets to come back to abuse you again. Please listen to your family and show up for yourself. Thank you for writing to me. I am sending you strength and courage. You deserve all the love life has to offer.
      Best Regards,

  43. Oh my, I’m not in a relationship with a Narcissist, but abusive nonetheless. He is part Asperger’s (mild to moderate) and he has paranoid and ocpd tendancies, which simply means he is extremely controlling with very little empathy. Your blog does my heart good. I am trying to leave. I am working on trying to understand why I would stay for 30 years. I came from alcoholic parents who abandoned me in every sense of the word, and my very ocpd spouse takes care of me like I needed as a small child. Unfortunately, this has stripped me of my identity. I’m working with a counselor who is very gently trying to show me the way out. The little girl in me wants to cling to the only person who has ever taken care of me (my spouse), and the adult wants to run away as far and as fast as she can. One step at a time. Thanks so much for your blog. It gave me so much understanding of who I am, and it gives me hope that I can leave.

    • Levi,
      You are so welcome. Adult children of alcoholics are special people conditioned to have a high tolerance for emotional pain and inappropriate behavior. Codependency develops as a coping strategy to survive the insanity. Please keep learning about what happen to you growing up. You are being readied to let go of your painful marriage and deserve a life free of emotional abuse.

  44. Thank you for the encouragement. Your blog was one of the ones I discovered on Jsnuary 1st 2014. Your writings have helped me tremendously! I was so lost that night! But you and others made me realize this was not a simple run-of-the-mill mess! It was real. My obsession was suffocating! Despite my earlier difficulties with “no contact”, I am happy to say that something made me angry one day a couple of months ago and I have not spoken or even looked at the mess-and-a-half since. I don’t miss the nonsense. I have fleeting moments of “how/wihy did I even allow this person to treat me so poorly! I am still healing and working on forgiving myself for such a serious lapse in judgment. But just today you gave me so great advice … To stop talking about him. That is my new challenge that I will begin today! It is over and long past the time for me to truly truly move on.

    Treating myself wonderfully,


    • eoftheu2014,
      More power to you! I believe it’s imperative to eventually stop talking about what happen to remove ourselves as victims. A narcissist loves nothing more than to control your thoughts and continue to suck the joy out of your life forever. You are a strong women who is worthy and deserving of a loving intimate relationship. Thank you for writing to me and reading my posts.

  45. I was in a long distance romance with a narc for six months. The first time he visited me, he restrained me! I was sick, and taking medicine, and he said I was a drug addict?!! What?? Then he explained he was in AA, and thought people took too much medicine. I was trying to get away from him, and he grabbed and held me. He finally let me go, and changed into Mr. Wonderful again. He wanted me to visit him and we spent about a month together. During that time, he started to berate me, and pick fights. It was awful because he ended up making me quite angry and I said some unkind things to him, and yelled! I never do that! I was married for a long time and my ex husband and I never screamed at each other, or called each other names. I became a different person around the narc. I found him disrespectful and aggravating, and his need for constant attention for everyone and anyone was sickening to me. In the next visit he broke up with me. I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. Really? A dysfunctional guy that you are, you are breaking up with me? OK. No problem. Of course, it was not that easy. I felt very hurt, suspected he had someone else, and that was why he was so quick to break it off. I cried, and I told him I what I thought of his lies, to which he replied: “When I said I loved you I meant it at the time”. How narky snarky is that?! It was so outrageous, seriously unreal, that I didn’t even ask him to change his mind or anything of the kind. I came home and didn’t contact him again. However, we eventually spoke again, and he wanted to visit, but I said no. I have been reading these posts, and the information on narcs, and they are simply not worth it at all to be in love with, to care about or anything else. They have no feelings. I feel compassion for my narc as I know he was made, and not born. He was raised in a brutal environment with a horrible alcoholic father. I wish he could get well, even if he was with another woman. I wish it for him still. I hope he will get help. I think he might be seeing that all is not right with himself. I hope he will as he gets older, realize that he needs some help, therapy. He is highly intelligent, creative, and in some ways very wise, so I feel that eventually, he may want to help himself, but not because he loves anyone else. So, I am now free of my narc. I haven’t seen him in five months, and I am much, much better than I was at first. Learning what narcs really are like, and how they view things helped me let go tremendously. Being only human, and a woman, and of course having a feminine ego too, I agonized that my narc would find someone and be super wonderful to that person, and that she would be happy having my narc to herself, and that perhaps I wasn’t the right one for him. However, the truth is that he will abuse anyone and everyone that he is with, and he is not right for anybody. The only person that will put up with him is the person that he will despise the most! So, i still read these sites, but not as often. Having the encounter with the narc caused me to evaluate my own life, and take more responsibility for my happiness. I am now a much happier person! So, in a way, I thank the narc for that. I woke up! Now, I also am educated and know the signs of narcisissm, and will not fall into the clutches of a narc ever again. I hope anyone on here who is grieving for a narc will write down everything mean that the narc said, did, etc., — which for most will make a LONG list, and it won’t be hard to come up with things at all. That list will help you break free of the narc! It will give you the reminders of the ugly treatment that he put you through because he is a sick person that will not seek help for his problems. Look at that list daily, or anytime you feel weak, or anytime you are wishing the narc would contact you, or you want to contact him, or you feel any kind of feeling or thoughts about that person. Read and list, and you will be strong, and not give in. Every day will get better and better, and easier and easier, and one day, you will realize, as i have in the last week, that there will be hours and hours, and even a day when he doesn’t even cross you mind. Keep yourself busy with projects. Write a list of daily goals, and meet them. Start going out with friends, and meet other guys. Date wisely. Good luck. Hugs and love to all the ladies here, and strength and valor to you all.

    • Sally,
      Good job on stopping your victimization. The longer you stay away the easier it will get. The trauma you have been through and the grace you are experiencing is so important to share. Thank you for commenting. I am wishing you an abundance of love and self-compassion.

  46. I have done so much research on my relationship and came across this site and to the T this is me. I have struggled with codependency all my life. My childhood was not the best and my father was/is controlling and full of negative reinforcement. I seem to attract the most narcissistic men that are out there. But never have been in a relationship I am now. Only been in for over a year but have known him for several years and seen him in relationships that come and go.(flags that I ignored) and thought ours would be different as I believe all of us do. Honeymoon portion was great moved in with him quickly, we traveled and always have a good time.. then the comfortable feeling sunk in and now he could care less if I was around or not and I sit here thinking what went wrong?? Asking me my opinion to sell his condo and building another home so we “start new memories” I agreed and we have been living apart waiting for the new home.. how things have changed with that, first he did not want my 17 year old daughter living with us to I don’t want to lose you and wants us both to move in to never mind I changed my mind again and he is quick to tell me that I am not a good mom but I am awesome person. Who does this?? And this is just a small dose of what is going on. He has no empathy, no feelings and what he does is reel me in on a good day and throw it out on the next day.. he goes on how his life is so frustrating but never takes the time to see how my life is going. I love him, I know he does not love me back the way I am suppose to be loved back, I know I should break it off with him and just cant seem to do it. My quality of life is decreasing everyday that I know my loved ones are being affected by it. i don’t want to do anything but lay around, my mind races a 100 miles a min and when he calls I feel better for a short time then it all goes back to the roller coaster ride. How do I let go, what am I afraid of? This has been one of the most difficult times of my life.. I am lost! I hurt! I have anxiety every day!

    • Mal,
      I can hear your feelings of sadness and fear. I think this man is in your life to teach you to set boundaries. Realizing you are being victimized is the start of owning your power. You are powerless over his behavior and need to remove yourself from this relationship. You deserve to find happiness and a life that works. Surrendering to and accepting the inevitable painful feelings of ending this relationship is how you heal. This is no easy task. Consider making a commitment to what is in your highest good, and no to what isn’t. I am wishing you the best that life and love have to offer.

  47. I have been in a situation with a noncommittal man for over 7 years who is now a practicing pulmonary critical care doctor. However, he was dependent on me for the first 5 years while trying to get his medical license reinstated after giving up his license due to alcohol/drug abuse. I hung in there thru recovery and rehab and all of the job rejections and requirements of the medical board. His family has been close to me for over 20 years, he and I had been friends during that time as well. We ended up running into each other after we each got divorced.

    Slowly he started getting more and more verbally abusive. We are now apart because the last cussing was so bad that after he went to work I packed up all my stuff and left. I was driving 2 hours a week as I did not quit my job when he relocated. I had no intentions of coming back to him and still haven’t as 2 days after we split I heard he was on and in touch with his previous girlfriend. He contacted me immediately to say he was sorry and then several hours later I would get an email or call saying it was my fault due to insecurities and I was crazy. Every time I would bring up something he did with regard to inappropriate conduct he would cuss me out so bad with terrible words telling me that if I didn’t change my attitude I could get the ——–out and take my stuff with me. I could never prove anything but my instincts were so strong it would wake me from a dead sleep. He constantly pushed every weekend to know exactly what time I was leaving on Sunday and if I talked to him any time after I left he was always hateful. The majority of the time he was so good to me, kind and giving with all of the gifts, trips, dinners at the club, etc., etc. He said for me to get counseling and let him know how it went and then we could discuss things because I need it for me insecurities and he was sorry for “raising his voice” but I am the one that is delusional. I wrote him a long letter and just let him have it about how I had sacrificed the time in my life, my kids and grandkids and all the support/money/time off work to help him, etc., I have not heard anything back and that has been 2 weeks-he now has his big house, big truck and is making $500,000 or more a year-guess I’m not needed anymore. I decided to do no contact after that letter. While we were together I sold my condo and bought a new car and now I regret both of those decisions but I know there is nothing I can do about those choices now.

    How can he possibly justify all of this? I am so hurt and so sad. I can’t believe after 7 1/2 years a man would just walk away, see other women but in the same breath say “I love you more than anyone I ever loved but we can’t live like this until you get help.” I can’t quit thinking about it all the time. Why in the world would I do all of this for a man that never promised “commitment” just material things. I have done a lot of research and have realized that perhaps I have just been in a narcisstic relationship and was too dumb to realize it. I was a single mom for over 30 years until my 2 daughters were grown and worked 2-3 jobs to accomplish that goal. About ten years ago I was finally able to work just one job and really started enjoying life. I have always been a head strong, confident gal who had her act together. How will I ever learn to stop caring for grown men and focus on me???? The sad part is I do miss him and what I thought could have been…and sometimes wonder if I should have stayed, and I now go through all of the should have, could have, would have, etc ., but I know if I ever go back it would just be worse. On the other hand, I have not heard from him and mutual friends say I won’t because he is riding high now and doing so great. I am sure he has found or is in the process of finding his next victim. I am on such an emotional roller coaster…

    • Annette,
      My heart goes out to you. The best thing to do is continue learning about codependency and abusive relationships. Recovery takes time and emotional support is imperative. You might benefit from reading the comments to this post for a further understanding of what happens in a narcissistic relationship. The “confident gal who had her act together” is still within you. I suggest you force yourself to get out socially with like-minded people and find/return to interests that are fulfilling. Isolation is dangerous and increases the likelihood that you will go back to your EX-partner. I am sending you self-compassion and wishing you an abundance of grace.

  48. Hello, I have a written a few times before and unfortunately as I write again my situation has not changed. I cannot seem to let go completely and stay away from my abusive ex-partner. Things officially ended last January and there have been periods of no contact that I’ve been able to maintain the longest being a month, but somehow I keep going back for more abuse and pain. I’ve been seeing a therapist and though it has helped I keep letting him come and go as he pleases. I know he’s been with other people but as early as a week ago he came back and gave me a deadline to be with him 100% and on his terms otherwise he told me to go F myself forever. He has been squatting in a home that has gone into foreclosure and then he told me that he’s staying with a “friend” When I ask him where or who’s he’s staying with he tells me that it’s none of my business since we’re not together, I wasn’t a real partner and there when he needed me, and that he’ll only disclose any information when and if we are back together. He’ll constantly tell me not to contact him and then I don’t and just when I start to feel a bit better he comes back around like he knows I might be a little better and I get hurt and set back all over again. I keep looking at his public postings on Google and this past weekend I saw a reply publicly from a female and of course because I’m a glutton for punishment I found postings on another social media site where he is “following” her and she’s “following” him. I deleted the account I had on that site because the only reason I created it was because he asked me to in order to send me things about he wanted to dress me etc. It cuts me right to my core because that’s what he’s doing with her now. I’ve been crying nonstop, cannot focus on work, and am an emotional wreck. I waste so much time trying to figure out why he does these things to me. I’m stuck thinking how happy he is with her and how miserable I am. I also think that she must be better than me and I’m comparing myself to her and how lucky she is because I’m sure he’s being so great and doing all the nice things and events he used to do for me with her now. I don’t understand why he keeps coming back to me if he’s found someone else? Why tell me he still loved me and wanted an “us” and then I see the other female? Is he with her? Did he do all this on purpose for me to see? Does he think I’m an idiot and it’s a game to him to see if I’ll keep hanging around? I’m so hurt and feel so unbelievably low. I know I deserve better treatment. I wish he would stop treating me this way. I wish I was stronger and felt better about myself. I wish I understood why he keeps doing this to me.

    • Alec100
      My heart goes out to you. You are describing the symptoms of an addiction and I know it is a nightmare to surrender. Don’t give up. Keep trying to be abstinent. You might find my post, “The Emotional Hangover after Leaving an Abusive Relationship” helpful to read. I am wishing you the best.

    • Jennifer,
      I totally understand where you are coming from and it is an addiction. I do real well for several days or I finally get angry and say it is over and then he comes back around and says something nice and I go running over there. It is so hard and not healthy and I cry all the time as well and wonder how I am going to make it now that I am 45 and essentially single thought I haven’t finalized my divorce with him. We live in the same area and he works at the same hospital as me. I can’t stand but be reminded. I just want to fix it but he is not fixable and I have to realize that this is not me it is him. I did all that I could do.

  49. I am a 46 year old man who has been living with a narcissist for the past 5 years. I realize now I am a true co-dependent man with the sorted family history of emotional dysfunction. However, up until this relationship, I was lucky enough to not have met a true narcissist. When she met me I was divorced from a loving, wonderful person who had one failed trait of cheating. I could not forgive her for this and went through with a divorce. However, looking back I realize I would have taken her back if I hadn’t already met someone that I adored, soon after the separation. A classic trait of the co-dependent, needing to be in a relationship. So when I met my narcissist partner, I had gone through a lot of self growth and can honestly say, was able to love myself. I had rebuilt my life, bought a house, did many sports activities, (wake boarding, scuba diving, traveling, working out, and lots of dating different woman. The one thing that was missing was children in my life. I desperately wanted to have children.

    I met Jen and she immediately played hard to get with a touch of you are everything I have been waiting for. Initially she was so giving in every way possible and fun to be with. She soon moved into my house, her insistence, seeing as we weren’t getting any younger and we have to see if we can live together. After that we decided we were compatible and planned to get married, all within a year of meeting each other. On a side note, sexually she was exciting, wore sexy underwear and was always interested in having sex, when we saw each other and it was great sex! There were a few red flags that I should have noticed but didn’t heed the warning. She was extremely suspicious of any woman that I interacted with and I had to constantly appease her suspicion. One night, albeit it was very late, I got a call from a woman that I dated. I hopped out of bed, said who is this? And then immediately said I was in a serious relationship, she is sleeping beside me now so please don’t call me. This wasn’t enough for her, she was completely suspicious. Another time before we got married, my Mother, Jen and I went out to the mall together. Mom rarely visits so I took this as an opportunity for her to get to know her soon to be, daughter in law. Mom and I were sitting in two easy chairs, drinking coffee, when Jen walked back in and I immediately tapped the arm of the chair and said, please have a seat. She declined and sat by herself at another table. All to make me feel guilty because she thought we were talking about her.

    Regardless of these red flags, we married. It wasn’t long before my family, one by one was excluded out of our lives. My Mom was thrown out of our house because Jen thought we were talking about her, behind her back. We were talking in the kitchen, adult conversation, quietly because kids were present. Mom left and never returned to my house again. We had two kids within three years and she got worse. By this point, I no longer did anything I liked to do, no golf, no outside friendships, no anything outside of the house and taking care of business there. I renovated the entire basement to keep myself happy and continued to work at a good career. Nothing I did was good enough for her. She would wake me up at 4:30 or 5 am in the morning to take care of the kids before I would go to work. Some days when she knew I had to drive three hours at 6am, it didn’t matter to her. She starved me sexaully, whereas it was no longer exciting, rather mechanical and would happen once every four to six months. One could not bring this up in fear of suffering the consequences, better to wait and be patient. I learned that if rarely something came up socially, we were invited out for dinner with friends for example, I would pay for even considering doing this. She would make my life miserable up to the date of the event, so inevitably I would cancel. I learned to not make plans. If I made plans without her, the same treatment would exist so I learned not to say anything, to the day of. Housekeeping wise it was a nightmare. The bedroom was a cyclone of clothes going from one laundry basket to one of the other four laundry baskets in our room. She didn’t take any pride or care of anything she owned. Our room was so messy there was four big green garbage bags, of maternity clothes, sitting there for eighteen months! When I finally said enough is enough and cleaned up the room including her things, she went crazy. How dare you touch my things. No one asked you to do this. She tore me down as a husband too. She had a friend come over and when I first met her, they were in the basement. I just came home from work and said jokingly, hey what are you two doing in my basement? Then we met each other. Jen was horrified and said her friend thought I was jerk. I tried and tried to explain it was just joke. She knew it but insisted she could not bring friends around because I was not like other more normal husbands. She tore me down as father to our children. She constantly said I was a terrible father to our children. I took care of them every morning before work, dressed, fed, changed diapers, played with them. I would come home from work, change diapers, feed, bathe, read bed time stories and fall asleep with them. I adore my children, this is what I always wanted. Psychologically she played on this so I tried even harder to be a better father to my children. She in a round about way, accused me of touching our son inappropriately. This is when I saw her GP. (Our son was crying in the tub, she rushed in and said why is he crying, I told her I don’t know I am washing him, she said with soap? I said yes, she said we don’t use soap and why is the door closed? ) I lost it at this point and she never corrected me if I asked her if she was accusing me of molesting our son. She also noticed some sheet burns on my elbow. I told her they were from our Son’s bed, just moving around trying to get comfortable. She continued to not accept this explanation and said it was odd. If I happened to come across an attractive woman while we were together, she would immediately say, do you want her? WHy are you looking at her? It got to the point where I would prefer to just look down and not ahead, in fear an attractive woman may approach.
    This went on for three years, constant walking on egg shells and abusive treatment. She literally said to me with disgust, do you know you chew really loud. It’s kind of obnoxious. So now I couldn’t chew my food around her. She never complimented me or ever said sorry. WE would endure a week of silent treatment if I went out with a friend for just a few hours. I would always be home before 11 pm and leave the house at 8:30. This would happen maybe three times a year!

    This is where it went bad. I was planning an exit strategy, kids or no kids but i didn’t have the courage to do it. I knew I was in a dysfunctional relationship but I kept thinking it would get better some day. This is where it went from bad to worse. A professional, successful woman, started admiring me and saying some very complimentary things. I told her, I know I shouldn’t have, that my wife doesn’t feel this way about me. I was starved for emotional connection and this woman started emailing me and texting me. I broke it off twice with her but kept being drawn in. I needed this affirmation in my life, I had been without it for years. There was nothing sexual. Just emails, then it took a turn for the worse, for I started fantasizing what it would be like to be in a normal, loving relationship again. We kept up the confidant, adoring emails until one day we kissed in her office. I knew this was wrong on so many levels but it just progressed to that point. I still loved my wife but I needed this emotional connection. My wife found some emails, this woman saying she loved me and how she couldn’t wait till we were separated. This got the ball rolling where there was no chance of talking or reasoning with her. I tried desperately, first owning up to my mistakes and hurting her, and asking for us to work this out. She shut me out and has steam rolled me into separation, leading to divorce. There will never be a chance for reconciliation or even counselling. I sit here in pain of all that I have lost, mostly the future of bringing up my two boys as a family. I feel such guilt and rage for what I have done. She is completely the innocent one now, washed clean of any blame for the relationship to fail. The two that will suffer the most are our two little boys, we both love them dearly. My Mom has never even met my youngest though.

    • Shawn,
      Thank you for writing to me. I feel for you and the painful lessons life is bringing. Getting support from a therapist will help you handle the changes and make good decisions. Your boys need a grounded and emotionally available dad. If your family is safe this might be a good time to reconnect. Reading the comments on this post will help bring more clarity and resolve to your situation. Your dark night of the soul will end when you commit to growing from your victimization. The soul’s courageous journey is victimization to empowerment. I am wishing you the best.

  50. Thank you so much for this article. It has REALLY helped me. I am ending an 18 year friendship with a Narcissist who is now a colleague of mine. When working with her- she is an administrator and manager of people and I am her subordinate- I could no longer ignore her extremely narcissistic behavior. Even though I have had an idea that she has been using me and mean to me, I am now able to see it so clearly. It is like someone finally turned the lights on.
    I accept my responsibility in being a willing victim, but now realize that I do not like her or enjoy her company. I did something that hurt her for the first time in our relationship of 18 years and I believe I was subconsciously motivated so I could break free from her. She confronted me and tried to both scare me subtly over the security of my job and at the same time act as my savior. Wow! Just telling you this is making me realize how much I now realize about her.
    I have been struggling with INTENSE anxiety over what I did to her (talked behind her back), guilty and a fear of how she will punish me. Her boss, my ultimate boss, is also extremely paranoid and narcissistic. (Is it common for two narcissists to bond and work together?)

    Your article quelled my fears and anxieties. I am extremely grateful for that.

    • Dear J,
      Many can relate to your moment of clarity knowing you are dealing with a narcissist. Please invest in your well-being by learning about narcissistic personality disorder and what has happen to you. This is time to use your intelligence. If you can, act as if everything is okay at work until you can find another job. This will probably satisfy your boss and make her feel all-powerful. To answer your question, narcissists tend to align with other personality disorders in the workplace. I am sending you an abundance of courage and self-compassion. Thank you for writing to me.

  51. I’m 19 turning 20 this year. I’ve been dating this guy for almost 4 months. During the first month, everything was perfect. He was always there for me and promised me that he would do anything to make me happy. As naive as I was, I believed most of what he said. It was only from the 2nd month onwards that things started going downwards. I used to go out for dinner with a guy friend, but he was okay with that(or so I thought). One day, he told me that he had just found out that his family’s in debt. He was stressed out and he snapped and told me to stop meeting my guy friend or he’d beat my friend up.
    I thought he was overreacting due to the stress. Plus, he had a female best friend whom he was always hanging out with in the same way. He assured me they were just friends and I shouldn’t worry, so I thought it wasn’t fair of him to say that when I could tolerate his female friend. A few days later, I went out for dinner with my guy friend and a few other people, so it was just a group outing. But he still didn’t like the idea and refused to talk to me when I met up with him after dinner.
    Later that night, he texted me saying he wanted to kill himself. I went to his place and found him chain smoking with a knife in front of him(I never knew he smoked). I calmed him down. At first, I thought he was depressed because of his family’s debt. As I talked to him, I realised that he was upset about the dinner! I felt that it was my fault for being so insensitive when he had family issues, so I promised to not contact my friend ever again.
    I found out that he was a heavy smoker, but had been hiding it from me. I found out that he lied about his degree, his credentials, his family, his exam results(we’re both students), his past relationships, etc. He could be a in a good mood one moment, and go berserk the next when I mention something that I would never have thought to be offensive. And he’d blame me for it(eg. “Why are you doing this to me?” “I’m do everything I can. I’m going to go insane!” “Is it because you’re seeing someone else?!”). He was never physically abusive to me, but he would attack any inanimate object in sight(eg. smashing his phone, throwing a chair, punching random objects). And when I’m busy and don’t contact him for a few hours, he accuses me of avoiding him and having someone else. I’ve always been faithful to him. I have no idea where he even got that idea.
    I decided it was time to break it off. But he begged and begged. Being the naive person I was, I pitied him. He told me sob stories about his past(child abuse, etc) and promised to stop smoking. He did everything I asked, and said that after everything he’s been doing, I should at least trust him.
    I knew that he had cheated on me, kept intimate pictures and videos of his ex and even showed some of them around to his guy friends just for bragging rights. But he didn’t know that I knew about it. He begged me to stay while saying that he’d been faithful and honest with me. To get my pity, he even told me that he was sick and possibly dying. He even got his bestfriend to testify that for him(but I found out the truth in the end after his ‘miraculous’ recovery).
    Somehow, the unreasonable part of me that was still in love with him took him back. We talked it out and he admitted to his wrongs. He promised to delete the photos and videos of his ex. He also admitted to having dated his female bestfriend up to a month before we got together. I felt so insecure, but he promised that he would change. For us. He promised he would do his best to control his temper.
    A few weeks ahead, I started accepting him again. And he started going back to his old ways. We had an argument a day before his big exams. He told me I was stressing him out and he wanted to skip the exam so he’d fail it. I felt so guilty for stressing him out and decided to give in. But I knew that this relationship would not last because he’s back to guilt-tripping me.
    The last straw was after his exams. We had an argument over dinner(because he promised to show me some emails from his exes to clear things up once and for all, but they had conveniently been wiped out because he “didn’t want to keep bad memories”). We finished our dinner and got into the car. Then he started to drive like a madman and almost crashed the car. He said he had done everything I asked and was telling the truth. The emails were really gone and he had no way to prove it. I calmed him down and told him I believed him.
    Now that his exams are over and I’m on a semester break, I’m breaking it off. I’ve told my family members and friends about just in case I think about going back with him. I’ve cut all contact with him and his friends so he can’t threaten me with self-inflicted harm again.

    • Liana,
      My heart goes out to you. What you describe is a dangerous man. I respect your cutting off all contact because it is the only way to break from him emotionally. I suspect you are investing in yourself by learning about what happen to you. Please don’t hesitate talking to a therapist if you find it difficult to stick to your boundaries. For preventative actions, you might want to discuss his behavior with school authorities before you return to school. His emotional instability sounds unpredictable. You are strong; give yourself permission to insist on being treated well in a relationship. I am sending you much courage and wishes for swift healing. Thank your for sharing your experience.


  52. I have been with a Narc, and still am, for the last 3.5 years. Never in a million years did I ever think that I would be in this situation. There is so much in this article that I felt it was written right to me. I am only NOW starting to accept that things will NEVER change. The glimpse of hope that he gives me is only to keep me holding on. I am terrified to leave but I am more terrified not to. Every single moment of every day I have obsessed over him and his whereabouts since I found out he cheated, With that being said,,,I feel stronger each day and know that it is just a matter of time that I will cut contact. This isnt about him anymore. This is about unhealed wounds from my childhood that I need to resolve so I do not repeat this pattern.
    This article is a keeper and reminder. Thank you!

    • Allison,
      My heart goes out to you. Quiet desperation is a painful existence. I do know what you are feeling. So much support is available as there is growing awareness of the pathology you are living with. I suggest you read the comments to this post. Many can relate and have asked questions you probably have. Thank you for writing to me. No matter what happens, you can make it out of your nightmare.

  53. Hi there, your article, like so many on narcissism and codependency, rang true with me. I’ve recently come out of a 4.5 year relationship with a narcissistic, codependent woman. I feel like I lost not only my life but my very soul to her. I know she is a very damaged person herself but I am slowly letting go of her, having left in February this year. She went straight into another relationship with no doubt another caretaker! It’s been a real struggke but through online help and attending CODA and AA meetings, using the 12 steps and my HP, I am slowly getting back my life. It has taught me never to let my own self die again. I am now on my path to finding out who I am and what my needs and values are. God Bless all of us living in highly damaging relationships. Thanks for your post.

  54. This WAS me for a very long, painful time. It’s still the very early days and I have put myself through the ringer way too many times for my baby girls father. After I had her I finally did some online research and made the (what was to me) horrifying discovery that every word I was reading was like a million knives in my heart, I was devastated. I am scarred for life, EVERY SINGLE TIME HE GOT DRUNK HE WOULD JUST SNAP OUT OF NOWHERE AND GET THIS TERRIFYING EVIL LOOK IN HIS EYES AND START TORTURING ME MENTALLY, PHYSICALLY AND SEXUALLY ALL NIGHT LONG  FOR NO REASON, thinking I was cheating. He would make up something stupid just to start on me, it was a living nightmare. But stupid me had to go and fall in love (with this being my first time I was actually in love) with one of THE WORST PSYCHOPATHS IN THE WORLD!! I won’t go full on into it or I would be here for 20 years, lol, but let’s just say I’m FINALLY running and not even so much as taking a peek behind me!! I’ve left him a million times before so no one I know believes I’m for real this time, and I must admit that they have every right to feel that way, as I knew that too every other time, but this time feels so different, I have finally stopped telling myself 24/7 that no matter what happens he is “in love” with me, what a total stupid idiot I’ve made myself be and look like! I was actually the one that left him for once (he was always abandoning me for the mother of his children from a previous relationship) and sure enough, he was back with her within 2 seconds of me leaving him. But don’t u worry karma has finally sunk her teeth into him and she’s nowhere near finished yet! (unfortunately a lot of people were and are very hurt during his karma, but at least the nightmare me, my 3 kids, and his 6 other children have been living through is finally OVER. Just after he got back with his ex he got drunk and attacked her and child services finally took all 6 of their children (notice how I didn’t mention the nightmare being over for his ex). I felt really bad for her when I heard the news (even though we despise each other because she is a bad mom and person) until I found out she is still living with him and STILL standing by him! I know she is also one of his poor victims, but she makes me sick how poorly she treats others, especially her children. He is still with the mother of his other 6 children in a trailer park and I recently found out she CHOSE him over her 6 children. It makes me sick! But 3 of them are living with my ex’s parents. Me and my kids got to see them over the weekend, they were SO EXCITED to see their baby sister and the best part is my ex (their dad) and their mother have lost all parental rights. I can still have their children in my life without ever having to deal with them! As their grandparents are not allowed to take them anywhere just yet and the children aren’t allowed to stay anywhere else but their grandparents house till child services inspects anyone else who wishes visitation and sleep overs at their house with the children. Me and my children have to visit them at their grandparents and their parents are NOT ALLOWED near the house!!  So believe it or not that’s a SMALL PART of my story, lol! The reason I commented was because as early as 1 month ago,  I NEVER thought I’d finally let go, this relationship took me for all I had and I still wanted more more more. This charming fake ass horrible oxygen thieving man was my drug of choice and I was severely ADDICTED. I honestly thought I was “defeated, dead and buried” and that I’d never be “free”. AND NOW I FINALLY AM FREE AND I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER!! Anyway my point is that I commented here just in case someone is going through this nightmare themselves right now and thinks they will never be free. Fight with all your might to work up the courage to LEAVE. Don’t “wait for a reason” like I did, you know they have excuses for everything and so do we for them. Enough is enough, trust me I never in a million years thought I could “live without him” let alone be free, but if I can do it then trust me ANYONE CAN! There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I know this because I’m a survivor. I hope by sharing my story I can save someone from having to go through what me and all our kids have. I’ve had my rough days, but I’m a fighter and a survivor. IM STAYING STRONG AND NEVER EVER LOOKING BACK. Even if I help just one person understand their own situation better and help them see YOU ARE NOT ALONE, then I will be satisfied xo

    • Sarah,
      Thank you for your words of support. I know leaving the abuse is really hard for you. Please don’t give up on loving yourself. You are free from the nightmare. The first few weeks, months, year is the most challenging for grieving. My heart goes out to you; this is probably one of the harder life situations you will face. Keep on walking and staying out of a victim mentality. You are a survivor. I am wishing you the best.

  55. I have been divorced from my narcissistic ex husband for 18 months after 13 years of marriage. When I met him, I felt like we were soulmates. He told me he loved me, and we were inseperable. We were married very quickly (and very young), and soon had the first of two children. About 2.5 years into the relationship, I caught him online talking to other women. I was devastated. I forgave him, because I knew he was a broken man. His mother had abandoned him when he was a little boy, and I felt like leaving him would be repeating the same injury to him over again. He begged me not to leave him. So I stayed. This began a cycle that played over and over again for the rest of our relationship. We had violent fights. He blamed me. I felt unloved and betrayed. I couldn’t understand how he could hurt me so deeply. How he could lie to my face while I cried. Surely he loved me as much as he said he did! Eventually, I began having an affair myself. It made me feel better about myself. He found out, and after a lot of horrible drama (including a hospital stay for myself) I ended up leaving him. I gave him the house, joint custody, I didn’t fight for anything. What I did was nearly grieve myself to death. I couldn’t understand how he managed to turn everything around on me. For years I had forgiven him, loved him unconditionally, even found his bio mom for him so he could get some closure, and he couldn’t forgive me for having an affair. He blames everything on me. Has called me terrible names in front of the children. He treats me and he makes me feel like I am crazy. And yet I still have this sick desire to have him in my life. I have been in counseling for several years now (since before the relationship ended). It has really saved my life. I am learning to love myself, and learning that no matter what I did, he could never love me. Yet still, it kills me to say that. I still have a lot of healing left to do. Thanks for this site. Very informational.

    • Slowly Recovering,
      Life throws us some tough lessons. As the saying goes, “we are perfectly, imperfect.” Thank you for writing to me. My heart goes out to you. Don’t give up on self-acceptance. You will probably not forget your past, but you can heal from it. Be patient and gentle with yourself as you let go of your need to stay in unhealthy relationships. I am wishing you the best.

    • I can so empathize with you. That is what they do best…twist everything to make us feel like WE are in the wrong and WE are crazy. I used to make excuses too for him because his Dad was not a role model by any means. I am sure a Narc himself. But these are his issues, not mine. Every single time he hurt me, I would cry too and he could care less. No emotion. The more I read the more I see how we all have experienced the same problems. Kind of comforting and sad at the same time. BUT recovery is on the horizon. Thank you for your story.

      My prayers are with you!

  56. Its been a year now that i left my ex npd gf. After 3 years I broke up with her, she never even bothered contacting me back. Recently i ran into her, she told me how she was sorry…. I saw how she was being sweet, but didn’t fall for it. These people will never have steady relationships. I hope for everyone, in this type of relationship that they will break the chain and leave. I pray for those who are stuck and have families with NPD wives/husbands. Be strong!

    • Phillipe,
      Getting stuck in a narcissistic relationship is a nightmare. Thanks for your words of empowerment. Good for you to find your way out. The gift is learning that we are strong enough to survive our victimization and temporary feelings of emotional pain. Thank you for commenting to my post.

    • Thank you. I needed this exactly right now. I left 7 weeks ago and feel very pressured to go back because of the emotional and financial difficulties. I need all the prayers I can get.

  57. Hello, I have been looking for someone to speak to for sometime now, in fact today I booked into my doctor to refer me to a counselor or psychologist so I can get some understanding & clarity on an issue that is causing me & my family great stress. My brother is married to a woman who I believe is narcissistic. I have done much internet research & read much on the topic. From what I’ve read I believe she is suffering NPD. My bro has been married to her for 12 years & they were together for 2 years prior. Over the years, she has progressively removed anyone that was close to him from his life, including most of the family he was born into, my family. 2 weeks ago he went to my parents telling them not to send cards or presents to his children any more as they don’t like you & want nothing more to do with you. The kids are 11, 8 & 6. I don’t believe they are old enough to decide something like this & I do believe they were manipulated by their mother into doing this to please her. I also feel my brother was made to go & say this to my parents by his wife. All his kids have issues. The eldest, a boy, is socially inept. He has never made a friend. He has been moved to 3 different schools in his primary school life & he dislikes every other child for various reasons. He has separation anxiety & is unable to leave his parents for an extended period of time & last time we had him at our house (10 yrs old) he cried himself to sleep as his dad didn’t ring him before he went to bed. My bro then rang him @ 1 a.m. in the morning, woke all of us up just to say goodnight to him. I spoke to my bro the following day & told him not to ring the following night as I felt at this age he should be able to stay away from his parents for a night or two, especially as his sisters were also staying here. That night my daughter & I had to stay up until around 3 a.m. until he finally fell asleep. The daughters are both obese, the eldest girl was around a size 18-20 @ 6 years of age. Their mother spends all her days in gym & solarium. She does nothing to assist the girls in losing the weight. My bro works all day, he has his own business. He usually gets home around 7pm, does homework with the children & then takes the girls for a walk in an attempt to assist them in losing weight. My brother is not the person I grew up with. He was always very jovial & laughter was part of his personality. Now he virtually has nothing to say. He seldom sits & talks & most times he is critical of something one of us have done to upset his wife, even though none of us believe we have done anything. Every time we see him he tells us how he loves his wife, how she is his best friend, how lucky he is, how good a mother she is & blah, blah, blah. Finally I have got sick of the way he treats all of us & told him so. I have told him I no longer want anything to do with him or his family. They are self centered, they have no empathy for anyone else & are not the type of people I want in my life. It’s now been 4 weeks & I am very sad. I love my brother dearly. He & I are only 17 months apart & we have grown up like twins. We have travelled together all our lives until he met this woman. We had the same group of friends & socialized together always. I don’t believe my bro is happy. I feel that he just does everything she wants to keep the peace & the more I read about narcissism the more I believe he is just doing as he is told by her. She appears to have complete & utter control over him. I spoke to a friend last week & explained the situation, he had been in a very similar relationship so he was fantastic to speak to. When I told him that I had told my bro I no longer wanted him in my life, he said I shouldn’t have done that. That my bro needs me, even if it’s just in the background & if all the people close to him keep walking away from him, he will be left with no-one & nowhere to go if ever he needs someone. I am now so confused, I don’t know what to do. I am not prepared to be in someone’s life that appears to go out of their way to be constantly critical of my family. I don’t like her, I have began to stop liking his children & I certainly don’t like the person he has become, but saying that I love my brother dearly & feel bad if he can’t see a way out of this situation & he loses everyone close to him. I think you get the picture. Are you able to give me advise on what you believe is the best way to handle this. Thanks 🙂

    • Linda,
      You are probably the only one who can change in your family relationships. You have no power over your brother’s actions or the course of his life. Detaching in love will reduce your frustration and worrying. You can take a break from your brother and allow him to work on his own issues while focusing your energy on taking care of yourself. I think seeing a therapist will help you gain clarity on the pain this creating for you. I am wishing you the best.

  58. I met my Ex BF four months ago. When we first met everything was so great. He was loving, caring, etc. I know the big mistake I made was sleeping with him on our first date. (I know it was the wrong move). But he was so charming I could not resist him. After that night we spent everyday and night together. For the first 3wks we were like two peas in a pod. l loved it and he said he loved me, I responded that I loved him, too. It really did feel like love to me because he listened, shared, opened up to me, basically made me feel really special. Something I had not felt in along time. I loved the feeling. Well on Valentine’s day we had a very special evening planned out. I was excited, called him to comfirm the time I would arrive and there was no answer and I texted him no response. I called 10 times in one hour and texted him 4 more times. By that time I was so upset that I turned my phone off and went to sleep. This is the day that it all started to change. When we spoke the next day, he was very upset that I turned my phone off, and accused me of being with someone else. I never mentioned the fact that the voice message he left me was at 10:00. Where was he for 3 hours if we had plans? That did not matter I ignored him and that made him extremely mad. Well for the next week I was with a man that was still loving, but he started accusing of being with the mystery man. Even though I rode the bus with him to work and was at his house every night by 9. I was just not to be trusted. I was a liar and seeing someone else. Never any proof just accusations and jealously. After that he started wanting to know my every move. If I didn’t anwser my cell I was with someone, if I didn’t call him at a certain time, if i was not at his house at a certain time, I was with another man. All the while his affection for me was changing. He stopped saying he was in love with me, just i love you in text messages. Arguments and being accused of cheating was what I faced. He soon lost his job. Then I began helping him. Buying food, giving him money. I didn’t mind because I loved him. For the next two months I was dating a man I felt didn’t care about me. Yes we had sex and spent every night together, but the weight of caring was getting to me. I tried talking to him about it and he said he understood and he was trying to find work. (Yet every time we spoke during the day he was home playing video games). I was getting tired and the nice me was getting very frustated and confused, because he kept saying he didn’t want me to leave him and he needed me. Each time I tried to leave he would stop me and beg me to stay and I did. because I loved and needed his love just as much as he said he needed mine. So in March, I thought I would take us both away from our stressful live and treat him a weekend of love, just us, we had an amazing time. But once it was over back to usually, now by April the lies he has been telling an I have ne avoiding are not being secret. he acts like he wants me to question him so we can fight. He starting picking fights all the time and he was good at it. Everything was my faught, he turned every work I said aroung and tried to make me out to be a liar on day basis. I was getting scared. But I was fighing back.( wrong move) He started showing that he didn’t care about more and more each day, spending time with his friends drinking, online dating sites. Taking longer to answer calls,. not calling as often as he did, the schedule of calls an texts was not the same. But I was still going to his house every night if you know what I mean. By now it’se mid April and our relationship is crumbing before my eyes. We talked odn night and he said that I have changed. (I know what he meant: I was not giving him money everyday and buying food for him as much/and I started to spending more time at my place). I got sick and he wasn’t there for me. So had a big fight and I called him some very nasty things. I was so out of character. I guess that’s when he decided to leave me. I went to house and he had another women in he bed. I broke it off from that point. We spoke and he said that I broke up with him but never took responsibility for his actions, but I apologized. Then he said that he loved two people me and another and asked if I would just be around for awhile to see who he wanted. But he also said I was no longer his first love, that she was and I would have to see him when he can. I told he no thank you and ended the relationship for good. I still love him so much, Had sex with me one time since the break up, but I now realize that I just need to let go. It’s hard but I have too.

    • Dear ilovTDF,
      It sounds like you know the relationship is unhealthy and it is time to stop all contact. The first month is the hardest time and you are strong enough to handle it. Make a commitment to love and respect yourself, you will be forever grateful. I suggest you read the comments and sharing at the end of this post. You will probably find the stories helpful in stopping you from going back for more abuse. I am wishing you the best. Thank you for writing to me.

      • Thank You for responding to my comment if was very conforting to hear that you care about my situation. I saw my ex bf last night. We spent alittle time together and I listen to his words for the time. I finally listen and not fantasize on what I wanted to hear. He made it clear that he wants to be with me, ok I heard him. But his actions always represent something else. When we broke he was already seeing another woman, I caught him cheating with her. But yesterday and today he asked me to wait one month to clear up the situation and he would come back and be with me, because as he quoted “he made a big mistake, he is sorry and wants to be with me”. I know I can’t trust this. I love with every once of me but it sounds to good to be true. If he wanted to be with me, he would make a decision NOW and we could work out our relationship issues. I feel so insecure in this relationship with my ex and his ability to love me. And I told him that, I’m insecure with how you feel and I can’t wait for you. My response to him was when you clear it up call me. He said trust him. WOW trust him and he cheated.
        Well as I cried with him, I made up my mind to Let Go and Let God heal me. I text him and told him that “I can’t make any love and that I could not be friend and not to call me. I need time to heal” I honestly don’t know what he did to me to make me love him so much because I usually don’t let men in my heart and he just stole it away right from under me. I love this man so much, and it hurts to know that he is not the right person for me and I have to let go. Now how it easy it seems to just sit and wait to he make a choice. I feel that like he did the first time the choice will not be me. And I could not bare to have that on my heart again. In closing I let go in words, and know here goes the process all of over again from my mind. I know he will never leave my heart ( he wasn’t all bad) but I have to start looking out for me and find love with in myself and maybe when Love come around again I will better able to handle my issues with better communication and trust.

        Thanks again I will keep the Faith, and know that everything will be fine! 🙂

        • You are so welcome. More power to you. Please don’t give up on yourself and stay out of a new relationship. This will probably be one of the biggest challenges you will face in self-love. When you feel vulnerable remind yourself that all your ex has to offer is victimization. The truth is that you are the only one who can change. Protect your heart and build endurance to get through the painful feelings. You are worth it and the pain will eventually pass.
          Best Regards,

  59. I filed for a divorce from my narcissistic husband of 26 years. Its been a week since I did this, I felt better the first few days , but now he is buying my 15 year old son anything he wants, and he is turning him against me. I’m devastated, I don’t know how to stop him from trying to ruin me anymore then he has?

    • Tina,
      I understand how painful this is and how powerless you must feel. The only thing you can do in regards to your son is to love him and give up the power play with your husband. Ignore your husband and focus on changing your emotional reactions, even if you have to fake it. Don’t join with your husband to use your son as weapon. If you detach from the abuse and remain emotionally available and safe for your son he will eventually see the truth. The way to torture a narcissist is to ignore them. I am wishing you the best. Thank you for writing to me.

  60. Dear Roberta

    I am in a permanent state of sadness and don’t know how to go on. I was with my narcissistic ex partner on and off for nearly 3 years during which time he verbally, emotionally and eventually physically abused me. During our time together I bent over backwards to be a generous, supporting and loving girlfriend, sacrificing my own needs and rights in the relationship and basically giving everything and receiving almost nothing. There was a period of respite where his behaviour was acceptable and we didn’t fight and he didn’t mistreat me to the extreme as he previously had and this led to my thinking that his previous behaviour was just because he was unsure of the relationship or his feelings for me etc and it is only now after the final break up that I really know what exactly I have been dealing with. My problem is this. After he physically attacked me for the first time last October (alleging someone had relayed a horrible explicit sexual encounter they claimed to have had with me years before we had even got together – which I later came to the conclusion was completely fabricated and he had just made it up as an excuse for his violence) I found out I was pregnant. I am 39 so I could not consider the idea of a termination (I had two in my teens on my mothers instruction and this has always haunted me) his reaction was fouler than I had anticipated and he quickly ended the relationship in a very cruel spiteful manner. He returned a short time after but I think this was only in the hope that I would consider an abortion and to give him the opportunity to hurry me along and when he saw that I wasn’t moving quite as quick as he would like, he ended it again, in the most horrible way, and at xmas. Since that time I have fluctuated from utter despair, to hope that he will see sense and realise just how horrible he has been and that he does indeed love me (god knows why I feel like that – I know it won’t happen and he has done nothing but make me miserable) For some time I was able to do no contact, appealing to his human decent side was pointless as he cannot see just quite how unacceptable and cruel his behaviour has been from day 1 and says its takes two and that I am being ridiculous if I am not prepared to take any responsibility for the demise of our relationship. I absolutely point blank refuse to do so as I put my heart and soul into trying to make things work with him and just stood for his criticisms and cruelty, even apologising for bust ups that he had caused for no apparent reason as he was constantly angry and critical. He was adamant from day 1 that he would never have anything to do with the child but now 7 months down the line he says he wants to offer ’emotional support’. I laughed in his face when he suggested this as I am due in two months time. I don’t know what to do about access. I want him out of my life because he has no respect for me and has been emotionally and physically abusive to me without provocation, but at the same time don’t want to deny my child the right to know their father. He has two daughters in their 20’s who idolise him. They have some idea of his traits as he did similar to their mother but he has painted me in a bad light so they just see it as we had problems and it was 6 of one and half a dozen of the other which I find incredibly frustrating after everything I have been through. They wish to be in touch with the child once its born although have not once been to see me which tells me it is purely the blood line they are interested in and don’t really give two hoots about me. The elder daughter contacted me to say how miserable her dad was, that he wanted to be a father to this child and that I should be grateful for this and start considering the child’s needs, which almost made me blow a gasket! It pulled at my heartstrings though and resulted in my contacting him to give him the opportunity to talk and has only led to allowing him to be even more arrogant and insensitive leaving me totally enraged again and now obsessing morning noon and night about how he could be so cruel, longing to see him and for him to see the error of his ways and blaming myself for firstly getting in touch again and not going to see him when he sent some nice messages to me. During my period of no contact he had hit the bottle and was sending some texts in desperation and then others threatening and insulting and stating he would take me to court for access to the child. I find it extremely upsetting that he ended our relationship as I refused an abortion, threatened to throw boiling water over me and assaulted me when I went to visit him in the early stages of my pregnancy to try and have a reasonable conversation about the future only for him now months later to offer emotional support and say he wants to be involved after all! He doesn’t seem to recall any of the nice things that I did for him during our time together, the endless meals, the support I gave him after his father died and seems to have demonised me as the narcs do with – it was never going to last – she was an a-hole anyway kind of attitude and seems to have no feelings at all for me or what I’ve been through and am continuing to go through. What do you suggest?? I have been to counselling but it was more like a chat and hasn’t really helped. Part of me wants to try and forgive and forget and move forward for the sake of the child, but I am so angry and bitter I’m finding it almost impossible. Another part of me just thinks cut him off all together. We live in a small village so every time I go out there is a chance I will bump into him and we frequent the same places. I want to stop going out but get so lonely and isolated that I relent and we often end up in the same place. I generally ignore him but also feel drawn to him.

    Can you give me any advice – I thought I was healing at one point but I feel like I am back to square one and feel terrified of what the future may hold. I would imagine that he will become involved in another relationship at some point whilst I am struggling alone with my baby and this also tears me apart.

    • Heartbroken,
      Thank you for writing to me. You are facing the greatest challenge to self-love and love for your unborn child. I understand how afraid you are to be on your own, especially with a child coming. The truth is you are the only one who can change and stop the victimization. The man you describe is dangerous and sick. You and your child’s welfare must take precedence. It is imperative that you find a therapist familiar with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Share this letter with him or her. Speaking to an attorney familiar with NPD about your dilemma is important. You can have an attorney communicate to your ex-partner about the child. A local Women’s Batterer’s Shelter can advise you and offer support. You would benefit from attending Al-Anon meetings for people affected by the excessive drinking of someone close. Most counties have numerous meetings every day and many have childcare. Some meetings are better than others. Find one where there are long-term members you can connect with. I recommend reading as much as you can about codependency and narcissism. From reading your communication I believe you know in your heart that you need to stop ALL contact. That means changing your phone number, blocking him and his daughters from email, face book, etc. You will need to lay low (maybe move) and change your personal habits of where you shop, exercise, socialize, and route to work. You might feel encouraged by reading the comments from people who have written to me. Much of the advice I give will answer some of your questions. My heart goes out to you and I’m wishing you an abundance of love and courage.

  61. I am a codependent woman who divorced a narcissistic man after 30+ years of marriage. I filed for divorce because he had another woman, and the judge said we had to live together while divorcing which took almost one year. That was very hard because his other woman lived close to our house and he continued to travel with her and see her everyday while I was at home cooking and doing laundry and mowing the grass with our older teen children. I hoped he would want to reconcile with me, but he wanted the other woman. One condition of our divorce is that we fix up our family home and sell it. No time limit was set by the court. After the divorce we moved to separate homes. He focused 6 months on fixing up his new home and was not willing to work with me to make a decision about choosing a real estate agent, painter, floor man, make decision about repairs etc. Finally we got our house on the market and it has been for sale 2 years. We have had several offers, but no offer is good enough for him. He is unreasonable about the price. Living in another state, he does not understand the buyers market in our state.. Meanwhile he has moved to another state while I am here where the house is. I do what the realtor asks me to do, keep the house clean, mow the grass, while he is in another state relaxing with his new girlfriend and focusing on his new life. Going back to the family home for lawn mowing and checking on the family home for leaks, pests, break in, vandalism, broken HVAC etc. keeps me locked in the past. Years are passing since my divorce and I am not moving forward with my recovery like I had hoped. The house will not sell if the yard is not mowed and the interior kept freshened up. I have mowed the grass 100 times and been to our house 700-800 times to check on the house, do what the realtor said needed to be done, clean, deal with repairs. I asked my ex for 1/2 payment for lawn mowing at a low “family rate” etc and he hung up on me. I don’t know why he thinks I should provide free services for the house we own together.

    • Di,
      Narcissists are notorious for holding on to property of an ex-partner to keep the bondage going. Chances are he knows exactly what he is doing, which is attempting to stop you from going on with your life. It is up to you to emotionally divorce from your ex-husband. There is a saying, “If you want to torture a narcissist, ignore them.” You might speak with your judge/attorney about forcing the sale of the property. It is time to allow joy and acceptance to fill your life. I do know how difficult it is to recover from the abuse. More power to you for leaving purgatory. Thank you for writing to me. I am wishing you abundance of love.

  62. I’ve been on the site before and I am still in pain. The narcissistic person who I’ve been in a relationship with gave me an ultimatum of doing things “his” way because he said we tried doing things my way and it’s been horrible or we’re over. Part of his demands I understand and can deal with but others I cannot. He asked me to block him on facebook because he doesn’t want any reminders of me until and if I’m ever ready to do willingly do things his way. It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve seen him and 5 days since we’ve spoken. I am in so much pain and I miss him very much. My family tells me that they hope this time it’s finally over between us because it’s a constant back and forth. My heart hurts and I think that unless I make the first move it is over. I can’t get the idea out of my mind that he has likely already moved on to someone else too. I miss him and am trying to stand my ground, but he has also blocked me on another site that we used to chat on. I’ve been crying nonstop, my mind is always on him, and I can’t seem to focus on anything else. I’ve never felt for anyone that way I feel for him and in my heart feel that I will never find or love anyone else in the same way. I am completely sad, depressed, and yearn for him. I don’t know what to do because I’ve tried to go out and stay busy, but it hasn’t worked. The more time that passes the more hurt I feel that he hasn’t reached out and the more pain I’m in with the thought that it’s over. Any insight would be welcomed.

    • Jennifer,
      I remember a previous comment from you. Thank you for writing to me again. The pain you are feeling will pass. Telling yourself, “STOP” every time you think about him is imperative. You may have to do this every minute/sec for some time. I want to encourage you to contact a therapist for support. Social Services in your county can connect you with low cost counseling if money is a challenge. Many universities and community women’s centers offer low cost or no cost counseling. You describe what sounds like a withdrawal experience. I am going to give you a quote from an article I wrote Dealing with the Emotional Hangover from Leaving a Narcissistic Relationship.

      “You have to break away in as healthy a manner as possible so that you are no longer emotionally available. If you don’t make a clean emotional break you are likely to go back for more abuse. This can happen because codependent love has an addictive emotional character which results in withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal is similar to symptoms from stopping substance abuse. After the break-up, people will experience an obsessive longing for their abusive partner (drug), debilitating emotional pain, and often engage in self-destructive behavior. This emotional response is why some people feel incapacitated by the hurt and obsess about hooking up with an ex-partner for more abuse. In order to accept years of rejection the “victim” develops an insane tolerance for emotional pain. The high tolerance for abusive behavior is a coping strategy to protect the psyche and is often learned in childhood. This obsession can be changed when we learn to love ourselves. When you accept that the way you treat yourself is the problem, the temptation to go back to purgatory will end.”

      I know this is really hard for you. Please don’t give up on loving yourself. In reality you are actually free from the nightmare. Keep on walking and stay out of a victim mentality. I am wishing you the best.

      • I am in a totally co-dependent narcissist relationship. I have been married almost 30 yrs. He is a hard working guy totally believes if he works all week he can stay drunk all weekend. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\dont care to do the family thing hates my friends…have found out he is actively seeking out internet porn…extremely involved in it……I have had health issues in past but nothing ever to impair our intimacy…buts it is never enough. He thinks he is better than everyone…always loud drunk obnonxious and thinks he is the best looking man around…..I feel ill lost sick inadequate and scared to leave please help me???

        • Cindy,
          Thank you for writing to me. Thirty years is a long time dealing with an abusive relationship. You need a healthy support system and a well thought out plan to leave this relationship. You don’t mention seeing a therapist. Finding one that is familiar with narcissistic personality disorder and alcoholism is an important first step. For additional support I suggest attending Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon is a support group for people affected by the excessive drinking of someone close. Most counties have numerous meetings every day. Attend several meetings until you find a group you connect with. Invest in your well-being by learning as much as you can about codependency, alcoholism, and narcissism. Reading the comments from others and the advice I give in this post may be helpful and answer questions you have. You deserve happiness and release from purgatory. Allow the years of emotional pain motivate change. You do have the strength to change your life.
          Best regards,

      • It is really nice to finally read articles that reflect exactly what has been happening to me. I know it is time consuming to write and keep up with a blog and I appreciate your efforts. Yes, I am now learning that I am a codependent who lived with a narcissist while living abroad for 10 years. As my soul slowly dwindled, I was not sure if it was the ‘culture” or personality. Like a slithering snake, I had no clue that my personality was lost, my passions gone and my joy diminished. I am good at making excuses.

        I left 6 months ago, moved back to America to start over at 55 with nothing in my pockets. (I did land a silly pt job and a huge step down from what I was doing before) I know no one but my university children who I do not want to burden with my realities. (I still feel really stupid for staying so long) I have been in counseling, but I get the feeling that there are not many people out there who understand the trama’s of living with a narcissist.

        Do support groups exist for this type of relationship that you know of? It seems like something that would be of great help to most of us. Believe me, I am fighting hour by hour to not jump on the plane and go back to the live that I knew, even with this guy who after time was getting me sick through his manipulations and crazy making. For me it is like sweet and sour.

        I think that this takes a long time to renew ones self after such a relationship.

        Thanks again

        • Susan,
          Thank you for writing to me. Getting out (forcing yourself if you have to) and being with like-minded people is imperative to keep you from returning to familiar pain. The website, “Meet-up” is a good resource for all kinds of interests. Isolation is going to keep you depressed and emotionally vulnerable. I would recommend you invest in your well-being by learning about codependency and narcissism. This is a time of gaining more wisdom in life and giving yourself love. How much more pain do you want? I suspect you have had enough. Let your pain motivate change. I would look for a therapist that has experience with domestic violence. They are likely to be very familiar with narcissistic personality disorder. Please don’t bargain with your love. Life is too short. I am wishing you the strength to not give up. I know you can face this change or you would not have written to me.

  63. Roberta,
    I want to thank you for the compliments on my post. Your work is inspiring to so many in need. I would have never made it this far without a professional who specializes in NPD. I wanted to share what method seemed to work best for me with your readers. Many people have hectic schedules that do not permit much private time. Narcissists sometimes try to disarm their victims by hurting their sources of empowerment; this was a factor in my case. I was able to secretly gain empowerment through counseling using telephone counseling services. I have to say that it is by far the most convenient, comfortable way of obtaining counseling services. I highly recommend it for those who can’t find the time to appear for in person visits. This convenience jump started me onto my road to recovery from my horrible experience. Slowly but surely my empowerment poked through dismantling my abuser. They still live the same life of lies, but are unable break through true walls of my empowerment. This was the first step provided to me for my recovery. Speaking from my own experience, I can’t stress just how important it truly is. Ns plaque us with a ton of bricks, it sometimes seems unberable to begin the breaking free process. I am now committed to my sessions verses being committed to a life of acceptance of the Ns abuse tactics. For those who just don’t have the privacy or time to seek counseling through traditional means, I feel telephone counseling is by far the best alternative. I feel comfortable knowing I can be emotional in the privacy of my own home or place while addressing core issues. I hope this helps those who are seeking counseling but don’t have the ability whether time or privacy to do so. Blessings to all…….it gets better as long as you remain committed to the process of healing.

  64. Roberta,
    I am in yet another relationship with a high level professional who is a narcissist. This one I married. The last one was a doctor with bpd (of which, you know, narcissism is a feature). My first husband was a passive aggressive n and it took me 10 years to figure out what was going on. This husband of 11 months is very aggressive. He stopped raging after I left last time but I just find the abuse morphing. It is insidious. I have a 12 year old son, and I feel like a complete failure. I am so embarrased and finally am realizing until I treat my own codependence these same patterns are going to repeat. I’ve found myself on emotional rock bottom with several different narc men since I left my husband. I lost my job with the last n, and alas this n came in and rescued me and I married him. I have been working on improving my self esteem over the last several weeks and doing all the reading I can which is probably making me hyper-vigilant. When you begin to see the subtle abuse, it’s completely mind boggling. And while I packed my bags once today, I’ve also unpacked them because “obviously I (he) am doing a terrible job of showing you just how much I love you.” I am getting hoovered back in. While I’ve undergone all kinds of abuse with him, it’s the fear of other women (and how he subtly taunts me with that) that is driving me away. He is a professor…doesn’t want me to work, see my family or friends. I can only imagine what he is telling colleagues and primary sources about me. I so want out of this. It’s literally tearing me apart.

    • Tami,
      I feel for you and understand how difficult this situation is. This is a time to let your pain motivate change. It’s imperative that you get the support of a therapist familiar with narcissistic personality disorder until you can make a clean break from your husband. Protecting yourself and your child must be a priority. At this time the emotional trauma is more powerful then you are and it’s not allowing you to see reality clearly. The abuse is a deal breaker! What he might say to other people is none of your business and is just going to drive you insane to think about. This is a time to use your intelligence. Do not tell your husband about your plan to leave. I would let people you absolutely trust know what you are doing. Directly confronting your partner is potentially dangerous and it’s not going to change his behavior. Your best protection is to pretend you are okay until you can make a safe exit. It would be wise to leave on a day when he is not around if that is possible and stop ALL communication forever. That means you change your phone number immediately, block him from email, Facebook, etc. Have an attorney familiar with narcissistic personality disorder speak for you. I would start immediately putting important documents in a safe place and make sure he doesn’t have access to your email or passwords. Set money aside. Please learn from rebounding with your husband and stay out of a new relationship until you and your child have healed. You can read other comments in this post for direction on protecting yourself, preparing for your exit, and snapping out of denial. As I’ve said to someone else that wrote to me, this will probably be one of the hardest challenges in self-love you will face. Staying in purgatory with an abuser is a form of emotional insanity. Don’t sell yourself short or your child. I know how hard it is to build endurance to sit in the painful feelings that come up without going back to the nightmare when you leave. I understand how painful this is for you and I also know you are strong enough to do the right thing. I am sending you an abundance of courage and wisdom. You can handle whatever might happen. You are not alone in your fear.

  65. After reading through these posts, I can honestly say I am not alone. I have the “standard” dysfunctional family background and ultimately landed myself in a HORRIBLE narcissistic relationship. During my relationship, I knew what was happening to me but just did not know how to detect either. I began researching what was going on and “narcissism” popped up left and right. The abuse, especially from a covert narcissist, is unreal and just unthinkable. I discovered my ex was abused as a child and therefore, that explained why he was doing what he was doing to me emotionally. I’m a pretty strong person, or so I thought. I did everything under the sun to correct the issues and work things out including using narcissisitc injury to force him to FINALLY get help for the unresolved childhood issues which provoked his narcissism as an adult. Even THAT became a lie as “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink it”. Although I was FULLY aware of all of the psychological issues going on with him which caused the chaos, I obviously was unaware of what my own were. I never once saw myself as having ANY codependent traits as I’ve been independent from a very young age. However, I became his “care giver”. I cared to give him help so he could live to be the person he cried he wanted to be. Well, that was a show for my eyes only. Although I believe and understand how hurt narcissists truly are AND just how insecure they are, they will live, breathe and die to continue upholding the mask they spent their entire life building. ALL and ANY of the “good times” or “good things” that occurred during the relationship was JUST an illusion. In fact, he simply reflected me back to myself to appear as “my soul mate”. Little did I realize the act. I opted to push him to get help so he CAN live as that person he cried he so wanted to be. NOTHING will change a narcissist unless they voluntarily seek help and/or experience a hard narcissistic injury. It got to the point where I even reached out and said, “I get it, I understand it and can look past it, as long as you get help as you deserve to live a free life”. Doesn’t matter, their paranoia sets in and therefore, they will wait and wonder when you will let the other shoe drop. They don’t believe nor can understand empathy so showing such empathy doesn’t matter either way. They can literally walk away watching their partner die and not care. They are empty as they were raised empty. So, unless they finally see a “light” whereas they truly hate being as they recognize they are, chances are it remains the same. They can spend an entire lifetime acting. They don’t know how else to be due to lack of identity. After I reached my wits end in agony and emotional pain, I realized I needed to seek help. NOT because I was crazy, but simply because they inflict an awful lot of damage. Of course, little did I realize I had my own baggage of damage to contend with; his narcissistic abuse only made mine worse. So I opted for two things. One was seek a great counselor to coach me through this experience. The second was basically studying these psychological traits. The more I found I learned, the faster the healing. Your mindset may hopefully take on a different position once the education begins to set in. So there were two ends I needed to take care of my own emotional health as well as learn about all of these disorders. No contact is so very key as ALL it is doing is feeding their narcissistic supply. Once I realized just how damaged a person they truly are, I was able to release a ton of my codependent behavior. I needed them for NO life support at all, but truly loved and missed who I thought was my soul mate. Unfortunately, we are not soul mates, in fact, we are the complete opposite. So, I felt the need to share my experience as its terrible SO MANY people have dealings with these damaged individuals. They are mere adult children who spent their lives compensating themselves for all they lacked aquiring while growing up. Never ONCE did I feel I would be able to write something from the other side of the spectrum. Even to this day I go through whims of memories that hurt, but they pass quickly as I have knowledge. Knowledge of WHO these people are is so very key as well as understanding who we are. There are reasons as to why we accepted this in the first place. As many posts state, its time to take care of yourself and its ok to do so. I could have easily bailed from this bad situation only to end up in another if I hadn’t taken the right steps to fix me. It’s worth every second to have the right counselor beside you and tell them everything! They will guide you to a better place and help you begin to make healthy decisions. No one deserves abuse whatsoever. Sadly, narcissists also don’t deserve the neglect and abuse they received as a child. Until they recognize it and want help, I know I myself am not a professional to be able to provide that for my ex. Being in a better place and not being at war (or fighting the war with him) allowed peace in my life. A few months ago I wished him to fall off of a cliff. These days I view him with a protected level of empathy with strict boundaries. Whatever you do, don’t believe this is what you deserve or accept. Hopefully one day there will be a MUCH higher awareness to this and perhaps parents will begin to stop creating these disasters early on. Just as now there is a new law for background checks for gun control, there should be some type of counseling all children must go through in order to deter this from becoming a standard into their adult life. You can’t change adults or how they raise their children BUT perhaps kids can begin to think outside of that box early on and rid issues verses carrying them forward. I hope that my experience helps anyone reading this. Narcissists are damaged people and even trying to help them or fix them does nothing more but feed their narcissistic supply. I learned the hard way and wasted quite a bit of time. Although I will say everything happens for a reason. If I hadn’t gone through this, I would have never become educated in this disorder and I would had never taken the time to correct my own. So, take it for what its worth and as my counselor told me, this experience will become a part of my tapestry. It will be an experience I can reflect back on and carry the knowledge I’ve gained forward. One thing is for sure, I do NOT want to repeat codependent habits with my own children once I move into motherhood. Once you are out from underneath it all you will begin to feel strength. Empowerment is everything and from what I’ve experienced, it is the #1 starting point to conquer such a bad experience. I hope and pray everyone gains strength and realizes just how much they are truly worth verses accepting what they do not deserve.

    • Dear FreeAtLast,
      Thank you for your words of support and advice to the readers of this post. Knowing you are not alone or crazy is important to comprehend. For many victims the narcissist becomes one of their greatest teachers. You are choosing the courageous path to empowerment as the gift and lesson from your trauma. I see this as the soul’s journey to healing. Allowing your experience to make you kinder instead of bitter is your key to freedom and also protects you from further abusive relationships. Your ability to deeply appreciate real love with a healthy partner will be a gift you give to yourself and your future children. Part of my motivation to write about this disorder is to educate others to readily recognize this damaged and dangerous personality. You have much to contribute and might want to consider writing about your experience to a larger audience. I am wishing you the best on your path to healing.

    • Truly the best advice I have found after weeks to months of trolling through vast amounts of information on the net. I too have only just got out and emotionally free from exactly this situation and I too believe it will become part if my tapestry. The words you used to describe a mirror of your soul mate, I completely agree with. Truly I couldn’t have explained it better myself. Thank you for your words. Not my actual name on here for obvious reasons. 🙂
      Strength to all those still going through it. X

      • Paula,
        You are so welcome. It is good that information is available to people recovering from or experiencing narcissistic abuse. Knowledge helps to make sense of the post-traumatic stress response. Knowing you are not crazy or alone is a saving grace. I am wishing you the best.

  66. Hi Roberta,
    Both of my parents are Malignant Narcissists, and I have finally decided to go NC with my FOO, since I have been the family scapegoat all of my life. I decided to go LC with my mother because she does help me often by driving me to a Dr.’s appointment or taking care of my dogs when I’m out of town, etc. I have also (finally) realized that my other family members and our family friends are all enablers – which makes them ‘secondary’ abusers. It took me a really long time to finally come to this conclusion – as I have tried, without success, to make them understand exactly what is going on with my FOO.
    They don’t seem to want to know or care about what’s really going on because it would require them to focus on the truth about certain family members – and they’d rather not do that – since they are not the ones being abused. They’d all rather just ‘turn the other cheek’ and continue to engage in the drama and the free holiday celebrations which my mother holds at her house annually. It is both shocking and sickening, at the same time, to experience their indifference towards me.
    My question to you is this: Now that I’ve decided to go NC, how should I address the invitations that I receive from my family and family friends? Should I just politely decline and say, “I’m sorry, but I’ve made other plans,” or should I be forthright and say, “It is unhealthy for me to continue to be in these toxic relationships, so I must politely decline your invitation.” I’m leaning more towards the latter, since saying this will allow me to ‘speak my truth’ and hopefully get across to these individuals that I will not be accepting any future invitations from them (I don’t want to simply ignore them, since they have no idea that I’ve recently gone NC with them).
    I would really appreciate any advice you could give me on this matter. Thank you.

    • Lotus,
      Separating from family issues is usually painful and uncomfortable. It is awful to feel bad about yourself while being victimized by family members. You have a right to begin to feel better and find a life that works for you regardless of whether your family members decide to do the same. Building endurance to work through the feelings of guilt and shame that might be triggered by finding your happiness can be a challenge. You can take a break from your family while recovering from being the identified patient (scapegoat). Taking a break from family members does not mean you don’t love them. It means you want to address your own issues. You are not responsible for their happiness or reactions. I think if you are clear in your communication that you need to detach while you work on yourself, you can leave them with a clear conscience to work on their own issues. Remember taking a break is about you recovering and completing your emotional work, not about punishing them. You are not doing anything wrong because you want a better life. The goal is to detach in love and come back as a different person capable of setting healthy boundaries. This is easy to say and much harder to do. I am sending you an abundance of strength and courage to find the love and life you deserve.


  67. I am trying to break my codependent patterns, but I always end up falling backwards and returning to the emotionally draining husband. He is even in jail, but I can’t let him go. The addiction is so strong. I’ve lived on the edge with anxiety from his past drinking, affairs, insults and withholding of affection as punishment for years and I’m so broken down. He has had so many affairs, he is horrible with money, he controls my life, but I stay. I’ve been in counseling over a year and they all say “leave”, but if it was that easy…I would have left after the first affair (occurred not even a week after our wedding). He was abused as a child, and always falls back on that as his reason for being abusive. The man has no sense of empathy. He blame-shifts everything, so he can play victim and threaten divorce. He has threatened to cheat and divorce almost daily for the past week (Even from jail)…while then making sure I’m calling lawyers so he can come home. Yesterday he asked me to use our money for breast implants. I agreed, but then I said, wait, that’s not something for him to suggest and I tried sticking up for myself. He was so mad about not having a choice in the matter and told me he was disappointed, but would get over it. Tried saying it would enhance my figure. I’m just broken but the anxiety of leaving and the need for his love is to powerful, so I stay.

    • writermelmac,

      Your struggle to leave the abusive marriage sounds frustrating. I suspect you fear not being able to take care of yourself. Please don’t stop trying to break your codependent patterns. A relationships breaking point usually occurs over a series of events many times before the real separation. Keep searching out the blocks in yourself that may be stopping your growth. I want to encourage you to take responsibility for the part you play in keeping yourself victimized. Be open to looking at what you are receiving from staying in the unhealthy relationship, or keeping the cruelty going. You say, “The need for his love is to powerful,” for you to leave. It doesn’t look like he has love to offer, just victimization. What I’m telling you might sound tough; what you describe is a dangerous man. You are strong enough to be alone and to stop accepting the mistreatment. I get that in your heart you really want out. I am wishing you the best. Thank you for writing to me.


  68. Thank you for this essay/article. I am a 49yr old single male who has spent the last 25 yrs reading everything I can to discover why I’m feeling what I’m feeling…why somethings wrong with me…my perceptions. In this last year I came upon something that I’d never considered before. A notion that at first was hard to grasp but gradually became clear. My parents are narcissists. Not just people with normal quirks and fallibilities but narcissists. People who lie to you about yourself with no intention of cleaning it up. Lifelong stuff. Lots of it. Well, at least my “shining star” actor father. My mother is his swooning co-dependent roady to the grave. She’ll back him up at all costs. We are..welI..we’re not even human…my sister’s and I that is. This realization is almost impossible to arrive at. A child of parents like this has a psyche which is specifically formed to negate the very thought, the very truth, the very cognitive connection that mom and dad are lying to them about themselves. In fact it’s like having an implant that explodes with “emotional sickness chemicals” as soon as you get close to considering them. “Oh….wrong thought…” That implant I now recognize as shame and fear. The result is a silent hurt and rage which cannot be resolved. Like being raped or robbed—but unconsciously–or invisibly–where you can’t reach or detect it because they gave you the wrong word and cognitive associations with the crime they just committed on your soul and basic human dignity. Like a demon who won’t say it’s name so you can disassociate from it and know it’s not’s them. So, I understand the co-dependancy issues..well..I mean I’m continuing to peel back the onion…I see this really is a futile fight..I can no longer drag home the invisible bone and feel the hurtful, angry heart…they really don’t want to play. I’m gonna have to leave home in a way I don’t feel prepared to. I’m sad and scared but your article heightened my heart assuring me to “come on”…this way! Thank you

    • Thank you for writing to me. Having your eyes opened and coming to terms with what happen to you growing up with narcissistic parents is a tough lesson. Saying “no more” and disconnecting while you separate their issues from your own can be difficult. It’s a path to self-care that is well worth it and there is no right or wrong way in your healing process. There will never be a perfect way to deal with two parents that are narcissists. Your goal is to care for and love yourself. I am wishing you the best.


  69. Hello,
    I have been with someone in a relationship for over two years. At the beginning he lied to me in a major way, but by the time I found out I had already fallen in love and I was in too deep. The long and short of it is, I’ve never loved anyone or felt for anyone what I’ve felt for him. He’s been a first for me in more ways than one and I can’t seem to let go. He treated me so great and told me things and did things with me that made me feel beyond special. I tried working through the lie he told me and just when I thought I had, he started being verbally abusive and even pushed me and broke some of my personal items when he was angry. He’s in a difficult situation and I feel sorry for him and everything I have tried to do and help him with he knocks. He ends up doing exactly what he wants and constantly tells me I’m unreliable and have not done anything for him but make him feel worse. He is currently living with his mother and wants me to sleep over with him on a daily basis, but the house is in shambles and I just don’t feel comfortable under someone else’s roof like that and being intimate. He’s told me that if I loved him I would do it and that I look for excuses to not be with him. He can’t sleep at my place because I’m living with my family and he is not welcomed there. He wants to get a place together and even though I don’t want to live with anyone until I’m married, I was considering doing so up until the verbal and physical aggression started. I’ve cried so much and the names he’s called me I’ve NEVER heard from anyone. I told him that his words hurt me a lot. He tells me that he doesn’t mean it, it’s only because he’s angry and wants to hurt me because of how I hurt him, and that he’ll try to not do it again. It keeps happening and then he does something to make up for it.

    He gave me an ultimatum last week that we are either together every day and night or we’re done. I don’t feel comfortable sleeping at his mother’s home and his anger frightens me, so I tried to walk away. It has happened before and then he reaches out or I do because I yearn for him. I am in such misery and sadness without him. I constantly question myself and feel like I’m wrong and that I’m not a good person. I don’t know what to do because he hasn’t reached out this time and it hurts so much. I want to reach out, but I know from family and friends (the few that know the situation) that I should not and they keep telling me to be strong. I feel so weak and I am unhappy without him. I can’t focus at work or do the things I need to do because my mind is constantly on him. I’m not sure how to cope because I want to go back to him and there’s a part of me that feels that I deserve better, but I always think about the good things and how much of a connection I feel we have and that if I did things differently he would be different. He has also told me that I’m the worst person he’s ever been with and that he’s never said the things he’s said to me in anger to others, I bring it out of him. It hurts to hear. Please advise.

    • Jennifer,

      I have a feeling you know in your heart what you need to do and it is scaring you. Staying in an unhealthy relationship traps you in feelings of helplessness. Many of us go back and forth in painful relationships before we finally stop taking the abusive treatment. Getting the support of a therapist while making a clean break from your relationship will help you to take loving care of yourself. I want to encourage you to invest in yourself by learning about narcissistic relationships. I am wishing you an abundance of love for yourself.


  70. Omg I think I’m over my narcissistic ex! I never saw this day coming! I am 27 and have always been codependant in my relationships and never trusted myself to be able to create my own great life without a mans approval. I ended up in a dead end marriage,afraid of being alone. I gained weight and unhealthy habits which made my self esteem and codepency worse than ever. I did divorce the first guy but only again to land in another unhealthy relationship ..but this time with a full blown narcissist. This man took me for a ride. A ride I never thought existed. He was a successful passionate handsome Latin man with a great career teaching Tango. I learned quickly that if it looks too good to be true ,its too good to be true lol. He abused me so bad emotionally . Then came the physical abuse. I put up with it like a good little codependan afraid of losing him to someone better like he said he could so easily have. I even became obsessed with my original idea of what our relationship was going to be ,trying to control the whole situation and make it go the way I wanted. In the end he apologized and we became friends but only because I was afraid to let go . Recently though I’ve been taking classes at a community college and it is building up my confidence again. The subjects that I was so afraid of I have been conquering breaking the old belief that I’m not smart or good enough to pursue a life of my own. I don’t feel the need for a man to save me anymore. I saved myself.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. Your clarity is inspiring at your age. I think it is fantastic you are going to college. I got the same message that I wasn’t college material. I had a professor tell me as an undergraduate to, “Keep your eye on the ball.” Education is so important to empowerment. You can do it. Good job for showing up! I am wishing you the best.

      • I am separated from my wife who has always exhibited classic NPD traits, almost exactly everything I have found in my research of it……fits her. She left, but only after realizing that she had lost control of me. I believe leaving was necessary for her because she would not be the one who GOT left.

        My question is this: after a couple months she has come back around and wants to have sex with me, all the time! Sex was always an issue to us…..she rejected me for years and years. What does this mean? I dont want to be hurt again, but I just dont understand what it means, or what I should do.

        Please help?

        • Sam,
          Breaking off a relationship is painful, especially with a narcissist. You are bound to miss her. If your ex is a true narcissist she is incapable of loving you. Sex is way of gaining control. You will be opening yourself up for more abuse. It is not okay to continue to hurt yourself. The big challenge is to say, “No more” and to end all communication. Building endurance to fully grieve your loss and deal with the bad feelings when they come up is necessary. I believe no children are involved based on a previous email I received from you. You can have an attorney speak for you through a divorce. It is important for you to be strong and get out and fill your life with activities that interest you. Invest in your own well-being. You deserve a respectful, loving relationship. My heart goes out to you. The first few months (year) are the hardest. You can do it. I am wishing you the best.

      • Hello, my step sister has been a friend to a lady for 50+ years. She has always been very critical. The woman was diagnosed with Dementia a couple years ago. She’s also been an abusive person. She has taken care of her money. She has allowed my sister to live with her. I had broken my upper arm in this friends apartment. I fell down the stairs and broke my upper right arm in three places. I tried to live with them. My sister pays a small rent. My sister does all the shopping & cooking. In all the advertisements her patient cuts things out in several different stores all around the city. Her patient doesn’t pay for any of her gas. Occasionally she’s will throw her $10. My sister comes to get me to help run the errands, as well as, takes me shopping. Sometimes I’m “allowed” to call the house on the house phone. If her patient is angry in the least at my sister, I HAVE to call my sister on her cell phone. There is a lot of verbal abuse! The patient refuses to do anything and sits and watches TV 24/7. If her patient wants some water, her caregiver will do it. The woman is 76 yrs. old. She complaint’s of terrific pain! My sister has a bad back & knees. But her patient won’t even help. Her patient is person that if someone tells her of an illness, it then becomes her. My sister’s patient has money & has told her caregiver, at one time, she will inherit the 2 acre house and property. If my sister was to leave, her patient told her she’s not to come back. She’ll be cut off. My sister feels she’s earned that property and money. Help, my sister doesn’t know what to do. “I know” but she won’t do anything about the problem. If my sister says NO, her patient will say, “what did you say?” She is not used to being told NO! Help! jvh22

        • jvh22,
          I can hear your concern and frustration over watching your sister’s abuse. I respect your love for her. She has been serving her patient and accepting the mistreatment for a long time. She may think it is normal that people mistreat her. She deserves much better and has a right to happiness. She has to believe in this right to take care of herself and to stop the victimization. This is easier said than done. She may need to get angry to make the decision to leave and give up the financial bribe. We all have lessons to learn, some are tougher than others. Accepting your sister’s challenges and being a loving presence is the best support you can give her. Thank you for writing to me.
          Best regards,

  71. Most of you are women here. I guess Im the man who hasnt been man enough to leave the emotionally abusive relationship that has spanned over 30 years. I am 57 years old. I finally realized that I had to detach from my wife emotionally or I would die, there simply was nothing left of me for her to abuse. After disconnecting it took about 3 months for her to leave, that is where I sit today….and I am in agony.

    I feel emotionally raped. I gave all those years being the allstar husband who apparently would do anything for a morsel of love. I gave my heart and soul to a woman who really never loved me, or even had the capacity to love me. I deceived myself into believing that she just had issues…somewhere deep down she really loved me. I am an athletic man who has passed by so many women who enjoyed me and let me know that in no uncertain terms…but I could never betray the person who was actually destroying my self esteem, self confidence, and the very essence of my manhood.

    Why do I hurt? Why do I miss someone who virtually gave me nothing? Can I be healthy again? Can I find a woman who will love me for who I am…and will accept the love I have to give? The pain is tremendous, but I long for the real love I have never had…..holding on by a thread

    • Sam,

      I can see by your words that you are hurting. Three months out from 30 years of abuse is a vulnerable time of healing. If you build endurance for sitting in the bad feelings you will start to feel better. My impression is that your obsessions are more powerful than you are. Getting outside intervention would be helpful as you recover. You can be a healthy and happy person. I would start with investing in your emotional well-being by learning about codependents and the narcissistic match.

      Codependent love can have an addictive emotional character which results in withdrawal symptoms when one leaves familiar pain with an abusive partner. The withdrawal is similar to symptoms from stopping substance abuse. After the break-up, people will experience an obsessive longing for their abusive partner (drug), debilitating emotional pain, and often engage in self-destructive behavior. This addictive love response is probably why you feel incapacitated by the hurt and are obsessing about hooking up with your ex-partner for more abuse. In order to accept years of rejection the “victim” develops an insane tolerance for emotional pain. The high tolerance for abusive behavior is a coping strategy to protect the psyche and is often learned in childhood. Love addiction can be changed when we learn to love ourselves. When you accept that the way you treat yourself is the problem, then your life will change. Research tells us that long-term happy marriages are formed by partners that were already happy before the relationship started. You will find a woman who loves you for who you are when you love yourself. Your learned behavior is not a life sentence. Changing will require a commitment to understand your needs and how to get them met while learning to have fun without an intimate relationship. Please show-up for yourself so you will find a decent and manageable future relationship. You deserve to be loved by a healthy partner. I am wishing you the best.

    • Following is a Comment of Support from SJ about two Previous Posts from Writer Sam.

      I have read your post while doing my own research on this topic. The similarities between yourself and the man I loved are astounding. He is also 57 and been through the most inhuman treatment at the hands of his wife for over 30 years. You will know it all James as I do. Its the same emotional blackmail…the ripping to shreds of his dignity…making him believe he is unworthy of love or respect. The guilt trips, the blame projection…I know it all. Unfortunately for me he went back to her and never really had the courage to leave inspite of making several promises to me. I guess he couldn’t live without his daily fix of abuse!
      But I want to congratulate you from my whole heart…you have taken a very brave step and you must not give up ever. Please stay strong and say YES TO LIFE and no to abuse. Well done James…you are a very brave man indeed. xxx

      • I didn’t ever see this response to my posts….I just want to say thank you. It’s almost four months of not living together anymore and sometimes it feels like thd wounds were inflicted yesterday. I find myself not wanting to believe that she could be so heartless and manipulative. Divorce issues have opened my eyes once again to the cold blooded greed of a narcissist….and I gave her my life. It sort of does make me look stupid.

        I appreciated your reply, thanks!

        • We each have life lessons that push us in the direction of finding our own truth. It often takes struggle, mistakes, confusion, and frustration to break through and learn what is true for us. Thank you for keeping me updated. Sharing your experience gives others strength to make it out of purgatory. I am wishing you the best.

  72. I have been married to a narcissist man for 33 years. Even though I have never been physically abused, I have been emotionally abused and used. He doesn’t work outside the home. He has a small business he runs from the house, but any money he receives is his. If I need a few dollars for food or gas, I have to “borrow it” and “pay it back.” I tolerate this behavior because of my co-dependency (I don’t like the confrontations). I feel like I’m going absolutely crazy. I am the bread winner sometimes even working 2 jobs. He does nothing around the house to help. I stand firm against him by not allowing him to be emotionally abusive anymore, but his anger and controlling is more than I can stand. I have tried to leave him probably 5 or 6 times. The problem I have is not feeling like I can’t live without him (believe me, I know I can). The problem is if I try and leave, he stalks me, he calls my boss and threatens them. I’m so afraid of what he might do that I’m afraid to leave. He has never threatened my life, but with this type of behavior, I’m so afraid of what he might do. I have never read on any blogs or websites of anyone else being afraid to leave a narcissist because of what they might do to them. I only hear about people who are afraid to leave because they feel they can live without them. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

    • My heart goes out to you. Leaving your marriage will necessitate support and a lot of courage. There is information on the internet about how to protect yourself when you fear for your safety leaving an abusive relationship. Learning about codependency and narcissism is an important investment to make in your well-being. Most narcissists are bully’s and cowards. What I’m going to tell you may seem harsh. You have participated in your victimization for many years and are conditioned to accept abuse. You are the only person who can change and you have the strength to do it. The role of being a victim needs to be released. As long as you maintain a victim mentality your husband will have power and control over your life. The quiet desperation will go on and then you will eventually die. If you don’t take responsibility for your life, you aren’t really living. Allow yourself to feel your deep pain and anger to motivate change.

      This situation requires you to use your intelligence and have a well thought out plan for your exit. Do not discuss your plans to leave with your husband. I would empower myself through legal channels and expert advice. Hire an attorney that is familiar with narcissistic personality disorder. Ask the attorney to advise you about filing a restraining order. Report all violations of the restraining order to the police. If you have children in the home their welfare needs to take precedence. Again, you will want to discuss your children’s welfare with your attorney. I would also suggest finding a therapist with experience dealing with narcissistic personality disorder for support through the process of leaving and recovery. Start documenting all of his behaviors, phone calls, text messages, illegal behaviors, etc. Prepare yourself financially by having money set aside, get copies of all financial documents put in a safe place outside the home and change computer passwords. I would find out where your nearest battered women’s shelter is and ask them for advice. The shelter can help you disappear if necessary. I would let people you can absolutely trust know about your plan to leave. Once you leave you will need to stop all communication. You can let an attorney speak for you. Change your phone number, personal habits of where you shop, workout, route to work, etc. Have 911 programed in speed dial on your phone. You might consider video surveillance of your property for evidence of stalking and restraining order violations. If at any time you fear for your personal safety, do not hesitate to call the police. I am wishing you the best and an abundance of love in your life.


  73. I am struggling with a mother who is a passive aggressive narcissist in denial. My father is an alcoholic and a puppet that she controls (which most likely stimulates his drinking.) I am the age of 33 and have had unhealthy relationships my whole life, unknowingly attracted to narcissists. I have been through years of therapy and realized my role as a codependent in both my dysfunctional family and love relationships. My awareness and perspective broadened and I found a man that compliments me, we married last year.

    However, I still struggle with my mother as now that I am married feels neglected, as my time and attention to catering, pleasing and validating her self-worth has diminished. She plays the guilt trip with me, “I never want I bother you because you are always with your husband”, “I haven’t heard from you, and I would like to see my daughter once in awhile.”

    She likes to weave her way into my business make “suggestions” of what I should be doing. I tell her that her advice is not welcomed and she says, “I can’t say anything to you!” When it’s not her place to even intervene!

    Also, she is always helping others, care taking and yet isn’t available to immediate family members that are in need. She enjoys feeling needed and being admired in the eyes of others. Everyone praising her how wonderful she is. She is a loving person, which I love most about her, but the facade in front of others seems very needy and not very genuine.

    In addition, every holiday she doesn’t want to share with my in laws. She picks them apart, gossips and tries to make me agree with her and choose my parents company over my in laws. So instead she wants us to attend a separate party at my folks house to accommodate them. I stand up for myself and say no, this is our family now, we have to join together. She begrudgingly goes along, all the while finding faults and I can read her judgments on her face while at my in laws.

    I feel that she wants me to share all of my feelings, that she wants me to be codependent on her, as she tries to drag info out of me even if I don’t budge, she is relentless in efforts and I end up exhausted and frustrated.

    She expects me to respond to her right away from email or phone, sometimes calling me twice at work and numerous emails too all in one day. I feel suffocated to the point where I retrieve and remove myself completely.

    It saddens me that I can’t be close with my mom, as I love her dearly but I feel with all that comes with it, it is not healthy. I tried to address my concerns with her but it falls on deaf ears, in denial and deflects it onto me with guilt. I can’t talk to my dad because he has no voice and is codependent on her.

    What do I do? How can I have a healthy daughter-mother relationship? How do I communicate myself so that she realizes the strain she has put on the relationship?

    Any guidance is greatly appreciate!

    • Susie,

      Thank you for writing to me. I feel for you in your life situation. Giving ourselves permission to say “no” to what feels bad when it’s a parent is a sad situation to face. I think the profound sadness begins early in children of alcoholics and narcissistic mothers. Unresolved sadness from childhood can keep us stuck as adults. Children of alcoholics/narcissist’s learn quickly to deny this sadness in order to survive. This is how a high tolerance for emotional pain and inappropriate behavior begins to develop. In adulthood the unresolved sadness can get expressed as clinical depression, compulsivity, or even physical violence.
      The rules in the alcoholic-narcissistic family system typically are: “Don’t talk,” “Don’t trust” and “Don’t feel.” Don’t talk about the fact that you are scared, lonely, sad, angry, hurt and emotionally impoverished. Don’t talk about dad’s alcoholism or mom’s cruelty. Quite often these children grow up alone with the family secret while carrying the family pain. Children learn early not to trust because of the unpredictability of the parents behavior often combined with many broken promises. To feel the profound sadness of abandonment is too much for a child to process. The challenge as an adult is giving ourselves permission to have our feelings, express them, and set boundaries. The often unconscious buried fear of abandonment runs deep. This is not a life sentence, you can learn new behaviors. The healing from childhood wounds is a process and sometimes we need to take a break from our family of origin while we re-parent ourselves and learn entitlement to our feelings. It sounds like in order to be with you mom and dad you have to except victimization. You are probably the only one who can change and you deserve to be loved in a healthy way. It starts with a commitment to be disciplined in your self-care. Invest in yourself. Learn a new language (read about alcoholic families and narcissistic mothers who try to get their unmet childhood dependency needs met through their children) for what has happen to you, so you are clear on who is responsible for what and clear on what you are letting go. This will allow you to release your resentments and be done with them. Give yourself permission to learn what is right for you and develop endurance for sitting with the bad feelings that come up when you are breaking the family rules. You might want to consider finding a mantra (i.e., “It’s not okay to hurt myself”) to repeat when the feelings of shame appear from setting a boundary. Feelings of shame (Who I am is bad) for taking care of yourself are likely when you say “no more” to your mother or say, “Dad I will not be around you when you drink.” I really believe that coming out of the family system you described requires mentors and people to support your courage to experience the love and life you deserve. You will probably have to accept that your parents are incapable of loving you in a healthy way. We are really not made to solve our life’s challenges alone. As the saying goes, “It takes a village.” Please leave yourself open to finding positive parent roles models. I am wishing you an abundance of love.


  74. I am a man who has been sucked dry by a women narcissist. It just as torturous for men as for woman, if not more so, since you are raised in a society were you are expected to be a caregiver and supporter to the “weaker sex”.
    Finally, when you accept the horrible truth that you gave all your heart , mind, body, spirit and soul to a mere confabulation of a cruel deranged mind; one unable to and that never had any intention of giving in return, and all you were led to believing in doesn’t even exist, you stop. You have escaped, barley, with nothing but your life. No less than a prisoner liberated from the Nazi concentration camps. Frail, exhausted,and traumatized but finally free you stop. Stop living in fear. Stop allowing yourself to be screamed at, spit on, lied to , stolen from, smacked, ignored, degraded… flat out abused in all ways. You thank God for spots like this on the internet so the truth of your experience hits home that it was real and you do survive and you STOP.
    It was appoint long ago you stopped being a victim and became a volunteer. Now, since you have the testimonies of others and the truth is self evident, you stop. No longer a volunteer, breath that sigh of relief and STOP.
    Amputate yourself from the sick distorted some what less than human entity we call a narcissist. Forgive yourself by loving yourself. Know you process the greatest thing in the world, and that is love, and as much as you wanted to and as hard as you tried you couldn’t get the sick narcissist
    to cherish it, but cherish it yourself.
    We proved our value in the offering. Not unless we have been deceived this way could we have known.
    Thanks for your support

    • Brian,
      Thank you for sharing the wreckage of living in purgatory with a narcissist. My hope is that you use your intellect and the emotional pain you experienced to banish the trauma memories from your mind. As I’ve said in other posts, “Renting space” in your head to the narcissist allows them to punish you conceivably for forever. Recovering from the psychic damage is a process and it sounds like you are showing up for yourself. More power to you! Sending positive vibes for the immense relief that comes from taking your soul back.

    • I too am a male living with a narcissist wife for 31 years. My WTF moment was 5 years ago after I paid for her to go on a six week vacation. It was like my wife had died and never returned. In her place was this person who despised me and I did not know, but was obligated to care for because of my children. She told me she did not love me and never had, she was only here because she had nowhere else to go. She also said the man she met there and knew for three weeks really helped her and knows her better than I ever did. That was her “special connection” that she will not let me take from her. I have tried for 5 years but it has only gotten worse. She has become violent with me and our children, she has threatened to kill me. She has theatened to kill herself more times than I can count. Now that I am finaly reaching my limit with this nightmare she is diagnosed with cancer. My children would never forgive me if I left her before treatment. They are all aware of the pain she has caused but still love her. Once again I feel trapped. This is BS.

      • Ben,
        You certainly are being tested in life. I was thinking as I was reading your email that when we have a good heart people can do terrible things to us and part of us still loves them. For many of us that were mistreated by our parents growing up part of us still loves them. The gift from being a loving person when we leave a destructive relationship and let go of our resentments is that we can then release the person with love. It is really a clean way of acting classy and living with integrity. We do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. As terrible as you see your wife’s behavior to be, it’s the best she is capable of. This doesn’t mean you continue to allow abuse, but you let her off the hook for not being capable of loving you. Thoughts of her actions will no longer rent’s space in your head and you experience true freedom from self bondage. You stop accepting the role of being a victim and your life is open to limitless possibilities. I would suggest you look at your real values and find the right solution to your relationship problems. I am not suggesting you sacrifice yourself, but really show up for yourself. It’s the best gift you could give your children. Thank you for writing to me. Your problem has touched my heart.

        • Roberta
          Thanks for your insightful reply. A point of clearification. You said “As terrible as you see your wife’s behavior to be, it’s the best she is capable of.” This behavior is not just “as I see it”. It is real, not just to me but many others. I have been well aware that it is the best she can do, that is the only reason I did not leave her five years ago. I thouht I was strong enough to handle it. Not. I have had the mistaken belief that my job was like Abraham Lincoln’s, preserve the union at all cost. Well the cost is becoming more apparent to me everyday. It is way too high. You also said “I would suggest you look at your real values and find the right solution to your relationship problems.”
          Real values? Right solution? If we could do this there would be no problems. You have stated the crux of my quandary. There is no winner here. My brother believes I should just disappear from her life and if the court gives her custody of my 14 year old daughter then oh well. If that happened I would feel I have doomed my daughter to be alone with the abuse. I was at the point of having that fight in court but then my wife got cancer. I would really like to know your opinion. Would you have second thoughts about leaving your children’s father while he was facing cancer knowing your children loved him and were trying to help him recover? My brother says it’s none of my business and I am just controling the situation. Is that true? Is it really not something I should concern myself with? Is it not ok to be compassionate based on the changing circumstances? What would my actions be teaching my children? Am I just perpetuating the twisted mind games? Is there really a “right” solution? Is all this really self bondage that I could just walk away from? Am I misguided to think that my actions could do harm and not want that? Am I really the only person I should consider? Still looking for that elusive solution.

          • Ben,
            Regarding your last email, I really understand the purgatory you are living in. What I’m about to say might sound tough. You won’t find a solution to your problem until you give up the victim role. The truth is that your choices and decisions have led to your life situation. Your wife having cancer has nothing to do with getting on with your life. You can be compassionate to her health concerns and be a loving supportive father to your daughter. Your daughter needs a parent who is doing their emotional work so she can feel safe. The best predictor of your child’s resiliency is having at least one healthy role model, preferably a parent. Stopping participation in an abusive relationship doesn’t mean walking away from your child. You will be teaching her that love is not about putting up with abuse. You will be demonstrating that adults make mistakes and can change. It is important that you tell your daughter often that your problems are not her fault and you will not abandon her. Give her a safe home where there is no abuse, even if it’s not full-time. I feel for you in your life situation, I know it is not easy to overcome your challenges. You might find it helpful to get expert advice from an attorney and a therapist familiar with personality disorders. I am wishing you the best.

  75. Pingback: How Codependents Leave Abusive Narcissistic Relationships (Reblog) | Vital Simplicity

  76. I do not know how I lost you, but I’m very grateful you found me. Your work is highly valuable and cuts to the chase. Thank you. I have reblogged this post. Big hugs, Julie

  77. I had a sick mom, sister, and grandmother along with a dad who worked 90 plus hrs to support everyone. I have learned through therapy I am codependent. But, I dated a guy for 4 years that was verbally abusive and had mommy issues. I left him for another guy that works alot and cares so much about money that he has only time for sleep, and work. Plans are always changed and he says deal with it. He knocks me when I know I have a good job, but I don’t make as much, so that is why I have to deal with it. I don’t love him as much as my ex but I am so afraid to be alone. My friends and family dislike him, and his family tells me he is a narcissist. How do I get over everything? I am in therapy, but it’s not helping I still just cry and wine at my current boyfriend and I am so confused.

    • Amanda,
      Sticking with your therapy sessions should help you with your confusion. It sometimes takes a while to recognize the benefits from discussing your struggles. I want to encourage you to talk about your feelings of the progress you are making with your therapist. I’m guessing that trusting others is a challenge for you. Lack of trust in others is a common issue coming out of the family system you portrayed. The emotional unavailability you described with your current boyfriend sounds similar to your father’s unavailability growing up. I believe we attract relationships to learn lessons about love. You may find that reading about codependency or listening to books on tape will speed up the growth progress you are seeking. I can hear your emotional pain and I’m sending healing thoughts.

  78. As a child I was an older sibling to a younger child with a disability. The family focus was on helping this other child. As a young adult I dated guys who were unreliable, emotionally unavailable or needy. I was married to a narcissist for over 30 years. I did not know that he was having affairs from the time our children were preschoolers. I found out after our children were about grown up and decided to divorce him. I had the papers served without discussion. We are divorced now for about a year or two. We still have a house to sell and recently he left town without telling me or our realtor. This leaves me with the homeowner chores of selling the house: mowing grass, paying utilities, freshening interior, sweeping porches etc. When he is in town I am miserable. When he leaves town I am miserable. I don’t know what to do with myself. I spent my life waiting to see what he wanted and doing that. I don’t know what I want or what to do with the rest of my life. I feel anxiety and for a long time low level depression. My young adult sons do not respect me. I feel very alone and in a lot of pain. The adult sons will be with their Dad over the holidays & I will be alone at the holidays for the first time in my life.

    • Diane,
      My heart goes out to you. The emotional and psychic repair from a narcissistic relationship is a process. Learning about what happen to you and the dynamics of the narcissistic personality will give you a language that will help you heal. Emotional self-care needs to be your priority and planning ahead of time for the upcoming holiday season is important. Please think about participating in activities or being with people that nurture you. I believe there are times in our lives when we are challenged with change and fear we can’t take care of ourselves. Listening to the voices in our head that tell us we don’t deserve to love or be loved keeps us stuck in familiar pain. So does renting space in our heads to abusive people by replaying thoughts of their cruelty. The narcissistic personality feeds on this emotional vulnerability to keep his victim trapped (forever). You have the strength to change and love yourself or you wouldn’t have written to me. I am wishing you the best.

  79. I’m a co-dependent who has been married to a narcissist for over 46 yrs…and I still have not “gotten used to being treated this way”…I’ve been in therapy for over 6 months and every therapist that I’ve seen has told me to leave…it’s hard when you’ve been brain washed that you can’t be successful and happy about yourself. I’m so worried what would happen to me financially (losing benefits, etc.); feeling like I’m alone in this world, etc….
    Thank God that I have a twin sister that we can share I thoughts with 🙂

    • Janet it sounds like you have started the process of letting go of this emotionally painful relationship. I would suggest learning as much as you can about the narcissistic personality. You are probably the only one who can change in your relationship. You are strong enough. Wishing you the best.

      • Hello all, just happened upon this site and not sure if it’s ok for me to post like this or not . . but I need advise . . MAJOR ADVICE . . I’m married to an abusive alcoholic narcissist . . and he was arrested on Domestic violence last year, just finished his work project on that and went out and got a DUI the other night – I’ve asked him to move out so we can separate – I have many health problems as well as upcoming surgery and I just don’t want his pain and torture around me through this . . he’s agreed to move out . . but not gone yet . . and I’m scared he’ll change his mind . . I’m also scared of what he’ll do if I do decide not to reconcile which I think is likely . . but here’s the clincher . . the the midst of all this turmoil and tragedy . . being codependent . . I still find myself feeling sorry for him, wanting to help him . . can’t turn my back completely on him . . and I hate myself for it . . what is happening to me?? I have made arrangements to start seeing a therapist . . but OMG am I even more insane than him, none of my friends even remotely understand where I’m coming from . . he’s so cold and calculating, I don’t feel real love from him . . how do I let go?

        • Sandy,
          Thank you for writing to me. You are doing the right thing by seeing a therapist. Make sure they have a good grasp of relationship abuse and the battered women. Your “insanity” lies in your high tolerance for emotional abuse and inappropriate behavior. This is not a life sentence, you can learn new behavior. I suggest you read as much as you can about codependency and the narcissist. Reading the comments to my posts will help you stick to your resolve to end the abuse. Please read this safety plan for ending a relationship. It is imperative that you get support from people you can trust and let them know you asked your boyfriend to leave. You might find it helpful to contact your local Battered Women’s Shelter for advice. My heart goes out to you and I want you to show up for yourself.
          Best Regards,

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