The #1 Thing About Narcissistic Behavior That No one Seems to Mention

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When most people think of a Narcissist, they think of someone who is vain and self-absorbed.  This is in large part why I hate the word “Narcissist.” The meaning has been totally diluted to the point where the word doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to mean.  Kinda like the words “epic” and “forgiveness.”  People walk around all the time using (or in the case of forgiveness) not using the words.

To describe a Narcissist’s behavior as simply “vain”, is along the lines of saying battling cancer is simply “inconvenient.”

And to reduce either one to those definitions would be missing the point completely, as I’m sure a survivor of either would be quick to tell you.

Frankly, I find this watered-down definition of a Narcissist simply being vain to be infuriating and really damaging and demeaning to what victims go through with these people. After all, for those of us who have experienced the devastation of a Narcissist know that they are so much more than a person who plasters their duck-faced selfies all over Facebook and Instagram.

But what’s really weird to me is that Narcissism, as in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, is a problem of epidemic proportions (also like cancer), so you’d think that there’d be more research into it, as well as more public awareness programs for it. But nope, there’s not really anything–even when I worked at a domestic violence shelter, I still never once was taught about Narcissists or Narcissistic behavior.

My mind is still blown away by that.

I didn’t come to understand Narcissism until I got tangled up into two different serious relationships with covert Narcissists in a span of five years, and I had a hell of a time trying to piece together what I had experienced! I was even seeing a therapist at the time who never used the words Narcissist or Sociopath/Antisocial.  And of course, when I started using the word “Narcissist” to describe my ex’s, people looked at me like I was nuts. After all, it doesn’t really make sense that someone who is vain would lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, and otherwise act crazy.

 The #1 thing about Narcissistic behavior that the vast majority of people don’t seem to understand is that they are incredibly and intentionally destructive.

Narcissists do not care. They don’t care about me, or you, or how their actions affect anyone. They only want what they want.

Narcissists are so destructive, because they are driven to feed their ego, and they do this by getting as much “supply” as they can. (Narcissistic supply is often people, and Narcissists target people generally for some combination of food, clothing, shelter, sex, money, to help their public image, or for social status.)

Supply for a Narcissist is like heroin for an addict: they’ll do whatever they need to do in order to get it. Their search for supply is also accompanied by a whole host of destructive behavior, such as lying, cheating, stealing, and manipulating anyone and everyone they need to in order to get what they want. And like an addict, no one is safe or off-limits from their behavior: their spouse, their parents, their co-workers, even (and oftentimes) their children.

A Narcissist’s behavior often destroys families, not just physically (through divorce) but emotionally,  psychologically and often financially as well.

A Narcissist’s lack of regard, lack of remorse, and lack of empathy is absolutely jaw dropping.

Of all the emails I get, the one I get most frequently has to do with people trying to understand how another human being can go from being so loving to so hateful, demeaning, destructive, and humiliating all at seemingly the flick of a switch. It’s hard to wrap your brain around that one–I totally get it–I was there once too.  There are so many different levels of destruction, that until a person goes through it they’ll never really understand it.

…And probably my second most popular type of email that I get is one that starts off with something along the lines of, “I didn’t realize these types of people even existed…”  Yup. I didn’t either. After all, we are taught as children that monsters don’t exist, but the reality is that they do, and worse, they often look like fantastic people until they know they have you.

Oftentimes a Narcissist takes their victims to the highest of highs, only to drop them to the lowest of lows. The first time I had this happen to me, I remember thinking that all of the secrets and lies, besides being malicious and hurtful, were just so…unnecessary. After all, at first I didn’t want to be in a serious relationship. I was fresh out of a divorce and needed time to breathe. I even encouraged him to date other people, but he wouldn’t have it. He only wanted to be with me.  …Or so he said.

So when I found out he was cheating, that made even less sense, since I would have been okay with him seeing other people. Maybe in his mind he thought that his con would only work if I fell in love with him (which I ended up doing further down the road), or that being in a seemingly monogamous relationship was a good cover for his kinky sex life. Or maybe it was because he was hoping to build me up as high as he could for the thrill of knocking me down. Or maybe, and actually probably the more likely scenario now that I’m typing it out, is that he wanted me to finance a business, and his pretending to be in a relationship with me was added reassurance that we were partners, and that it would be a good idea for me to combine my life with his, so he’d be able to have the social status of being a business owner, with none of the risk–I was going to be the one on the hook for the loan.

Maybe the truth is that he pretended to be monogamous and truthful for a little of all of those reasons, of maybe for none of them. I’ll never know what was going through his head. All I do know for sure is that he is a very destructive person, and someone I hope to never encounter again.

The truth is that their behavior comes across as so erratic, nonsensical, and unnecessary, because it is erratic, nonsensical and unnecessary. They love having the power and control over the situation and over our emotions. This is why they come home out of the clear blue and announce that they want a divorce, right after you just renewed your vows. This is why they drain your bank account or rack up a ton of debt you don’t know about and then leave town–even if they just won the lottery or got a sizable inheritance.

They do these things because they can, and, well, because on some level they enjoy seeing us suffer. Yes, you read that correctly. They enjoy it. The more we suffer, the more it shows to them just how important they are. The bigger the reaction, the more important they feel, and the more their ego gets fed.

See, any emotional response we show, either positive or negative is a win for them. So in reality, they’ve created a game they can’t lose! Unfortunately the victim doesn’t realize they are playing a game until the bitter end, when the Narcissist’s mask slips, and they see their sadistic lack of empathy and remorse in all its horrible glory.

This is why it’s important for victims to go gray rock or no contact when trying to leave a relationship with a Narcissist.  They know that once you find out what they are up to, you’ll do one of two things: either leave (at which point the hoovering will most likely start), or you’ll accept their excuses and cling to hope that they’ll change, and then their behavior will continue to get worse, because now they know you’ll put up with their nonsense, and fall for their lies.  But make no mistake–they never change for the better, and their behavior only gets worse.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Frustrations? Ideas for blogs posts or videos? Need some support? Just want to say hi? Let me know! You can email me, or find me in my support group on Facebook.

 

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Dana

I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse.

My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.

Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.

It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
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About Dana 308 Articles
I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse. My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life. Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics. It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.

12 Comments

  1. I’m on my way out of a situation with a narcissist and I’m taking everything I have learned about myself from this experience and I recognise What a lonely world a narcissist lives in. I feel empathy. I also recognise the necessity to accept the difference between us and walk away, without bitterness because bitterness will eat me up and not allow me to move forward. I applaud us for the strength we show in releasing the control we tried to maintain and I feel empowered by the fear of going back there, just to see if ‘i’m strong enough’. Blessed be and be true to your own thoughts and feelings. x

  2. Hi Amber,

    I really admire your attitude, empathy, and clear thinking during this time. You are correct in that walking away is the only thing that you can really do, and that staying bitter will only serve to hurt you more. For what it’s worth, another “trick” that helped me was to visualize the negative thoughts I was having as bubbles, and then I’d visualize wrapping them with light and love, and watching them float off into the sky. I wish you all the health and healing possible. <3

  3. I am reminded of the fable of the scorpion and the swan. The caring swan cannot understand the emotional sadism of the scorpion. But the scorpion knows nothing else.

  4. I think narcissists are riddled with guilt, they think they are unworthy of life and everything and they completely hate themselves 100per cent.. they Are extremely insecure. They need to be on their own.. People going thru that much pain inside need to stay on their own.

  5. Dead on. It has been extremely hard for me to move on from this nightmare. Normally I am really good at just shutting the door on a relationship. Not this time.

    And the fact that NOBODY understands this issue unless they have been in it is incredibly frustrating. Thus, the only people I talk to abiut this is his 1st ex wife and his sustet…his family has disowned him at tjis point. I am his second wife. His 3rd historically violent relationship and the mother of his 7th child….none of which he sees or supports. I only knew of a set of twins with his first wife and his son wuth his other aforementioned serious relationship until I booted him the final time. He is currently on probation for domestic assault. Nightmare. Sheer nightmare.

  6. I’m so sorry that you are going through so much with this man. I would strongly encourage you to develop a safety plan, as it sounds like you may need it. These people can be very hard to leave–for three main reasons: confusion, shame, and hope. Highly manipualtive people do a great job at the slide of hand, and getting us to focus on one thing, while they are doing another. This leaves the victim very confused, and doubting everything–oftentimes themselves and their perception of reality. Because on average it takes a victim of an abusive relationship 7 times of leaving before they leave for good (or are killed), they often are ashamed that they’ve stayed for so long and have let things get so bad. Like you said, if a person isn’t in it, they can’t understand it–and this can be such an isolating feeling. And one of the main reasons victims stay (besides financial dependence) is hope. They hope that their partner will change back to the person they fell in love with. They hope that there will be some sort of solution. It often takes a really long time for a person to realize that they aren’t in a relationship with a normal, decent person–that they are in a manipulation with a very twisted, highly destructive (and in your case dangerous) person. …I just started a forum on my site: http://www.NarcissistSupport.com/forum My goal is to be able to give survivors a place where they can get the support and feedback they need to get the clarity, closure, and healing that they deserve. I hope it will help. …You are not alone. Let us know how we can support you in this. <3

  7. Thank you for sharing. Your story from the inside can benefit people and help them understand what it feels like.

    I’m surprised you had a difficulty learning about narcissistic personality disorder. It seems like there’s a ton of information, both good and bad, on the Internet. I oversee a website that teaches the BIFF Response, which is a method for dealing with hateful communications from difficult people. It’s a project of the High Conflict Institute, which is dedicated to dealing with all sorts of high conflict people. Both websites have of articles and blogs and social media pages. Psych Central also has frequent posts about narcissistic disorders, among others. The Personality Disorder Awareness Network (PDAN) is also dedicated to dealing with these kinds of issues. Googling narcissist and divorce together gets a really long list of results.

    In my experience, it’s a LOT easier to use coping mechanisms once you accept the fact that an NPD person is largely acting subconsciously. Most of them act out from a place of fear. They don’t realize it and so they do nothing to change it – in order to feel good, they must blame others. Asking the “why” questions and hoping / expecting change will make you nuts. Once you let go of that goal, and accept that that’s who the person just is, it’s much easier to shift your focus to managing it, if you can’t walk away permanently.

  8. Hi Trissan,

    I think my biggest issue in finding information was that I didn’t know what I was looking for, and I wasn’t convinced my ex was really a Narcissist or a Sociopath/Antisocial. I just didn’t know what I didn’t know, and was fumbling around in a state of shock, panic, and confusion trying to figure it all out. :/

    I will look into the BIFF Response method, as it seems that is something that would really be use to many, if not most, people coming to my site. …I totally agree that asking “why” and trying to make sense of the nonsensical just furthers the crazy making. …I remember asking myself “why” over and over again, and then one day I realized the answer was simply, “why not”. His behavior was just his behavior. It’s what he does, and it won’t make any sense to me, or anyone else, as he’s fueled by his whims.

    Thank you for such an insightful and helpful comment. <3

  9. Hi again,
    I appreciate that explanation, Dana. ” I didn’t know what I didn’t know” may well be a problem for many. One of the challenges websites like yours and mine face is getting information into the hands of people who need it. In the end, the labels don’t matter nearly as much as finding ways to deal with it. Thanks again!

  10. Hi again 🙂

    Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be adding both of your websites to my “Resources” page. As a former victim, and current advocate, I thank you for all you are doing. <3

  11. I have,A 17 year old son that fits it to a tee i dont want to believe it but he fits he has no remorse everything is not his fault he lies stills manipulation wines blank face very seacertive harrages girls on line sexuality and at school then says there lying and moves on to next victim the world revolves around him or else me and my autismson pay he says see if you only listen none of this would happen ive been pushed internally bleeding but he runs out sid and said help help i was sitting on couch i have liver disease he said il get you evicted one more police car here and they said i would im tired i have my eight year old autism son to raise i baracade my door at night he distroys my house is lound and then dhs thinks he is and angle and they said i lie i studyed abnormalpsychology many years ago my mom was a narcissist now a court date july 12 i cant aford a lawyer but hee get one there’s more im just eshausted i have one more year of hell till hes 18

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