How many times have you felt like you’ve gone mad because one day your narcissistic partner loves you and the next day he is mean or simply not empathetic? (Or if you’re divorced to him, perhaps he acts very cooperative one day and then he is completely uncooperative and not logical the next).
Let’s say you are upset with him, and you say to yourself, “This time I am done. This is over.”
But because he is a savvy manipulator, he’s already onto you, and sense your retreat.
And because narcissists have a huge fear of abandonment as well as someone shattering his false image, he will do everything he can to make sure your anger at him was truly nothing.
He may first…
• Negate your feelings and call you overly emotional
• Position himself as a victim of YOUR bad behavior
• Position himself as a martyr in that he has sacrificed so much for you and the family (so how dare you need things from him)
So you then…
• Say sorry
• Think he’s right
• Feel horribly guilty for having such feelings of wanting to leave
• Rewards you for seeing “the light” or seeing “his side”
• He is nice for a while, kind, maybe even really loving
So you then..
• Silently think you were crazy for thinking anything was wrong because he is now proving to you how nice of a guy he is
• Pretend that anything he has ever done wrong didn’t exist
• Give, give, and give some more, hoping he will love you the way you had always hoped.
• Feel him slipping away as he gives you only shreds of hope, just enough to keep you around.
• Become depressed, unwanted, validated that you are unlovable.
• Ask him for attention, question his busy life or work schedule, want him to pay attention to YOU for five minutes, all for the hope that he isn’t the person who you think he is.
So he then:
• Negates your feelings and call you overly emotional
• Positions himself as a victim of YOUR bad behavior
• Positions himself as a martyr in that he has sacrificed so much for you and the family (so how dare you need things from him)
And so the cycle repeats itself again, and again – which is what I call the Cycle of Narcissistic Despair, which is what I cover my Break Free course.
This cycle is perhaps the most destructive to someone who is involved with a narcissist. If it goes on for years, it can significantly impact your self-esteem and you can be stuck in the relationship forever.
But know this – you are NOT crazy – all you want is unconditional love, but unfortunately, you are never going to get it from a narcissist. They are incapable of unconditional love.
You CAN break free – I’ve done it, my clients have done it – now it’s your turn.
Wow! It seems as if you are a “fly on the wall” in my home. The pattern of his behavior and my response to his behavior, is spot-on! Your email is a reminder to me that I am not crazy at all.
No you’re not crazy, I’m glad you’re seeing that!
This is my first encounter with a man who is like this. It’s been 3 years and I am making the necessary arrangements to leave. I know my limits.
I will never trust another man again or anyone for that matter I am more messed up than I thought I was like I literally feel crazy and I don’t even believe me like wtf??? I don’t even want to tell anyone anything bc I’m scared they won’t believe me and think I’m crazy like I think I am
I already think I’m not pretty enough or good enough in general I have no self steef I have been depressed before but not formthis reason I have never had a man that has been with me for 3 years making me believe he loves me and I’m.crazy as hell I mean it blows my.mind that this is a real person it does
I believe you, you are not crazy, they make you feel this way. No contact is the only way, it takes along time to heal, ptsd, flashbacks, it’s a huge process for your mind to unravel. You will get there, please hold on, this has happened to me I completely get you, take care of yourself, lots of self care and positivity, they look for good, honest people that care and love, they are incapable of this, big hugs 🤗 Xx
Help!!!!! This is exactly what i am going through!! I have been dealing with this for over 15 years and i just can’t break free. Everyday i say I’m going to leave as soon as…and then i never do. He starts to “change” and the “light” is good again until bam and I fall for it again. I’m pretty much not allowed to have friends or do anything because them I’m reprimanded by him. I can’t even see a movie without him feeling that i “owe” him a break from being at home with myself and the kids. I can’t go on like this any more.
Sarah, PLEASE please buy my course Break Free From Your Narcissist. It has everything you need to get you through this, with modules you can listen to, work sheets, etc. 99% of people who bought my course have been able to break free, and they are all living a much better life. I have a private FB group for members where you will get additional support. Go to http://www.breakfreefromyournarcissist.com. 🙂
I purchased the course, and I still warch and listen to the videos and gain insight with Linsey’s resources. I didn’t think I had it in me to break away, because I felt so poorly about myself by the time my “n” had discarded me. It was a horrible experience, but also a huge learning opportunity for me about boundary setting and the importance of self-care. I also learned that I had similar patterns of behaving in different relationships in my life with friends, work situations, (people that I needed to have strong boundaries with), so this wasn’t a problem exclusive to my relationship with my “n” only…… it was a re-occurring pattern in my life. I urge anyone who is in this sort of a down-hill spiral to take advantage of Linsey’s life-long membership. The support and counseling she provides, through her own life experience and research is invaluable- you cannot put a pricetag on it, nor can one equate monitarily the value of being mentally healthy. You have one life….. fight for it! If you have children, or people who care about you…. which all empaths do…… then know that Linsey’s course will help you to love yourself enough to grow, become stronger, and no longer be bait for disfunctional individuals to latch onto you for supply.
Thank you Prima for your kind words! ❤️
Being with a narcissist is Def a life changing experience I love this man so much with everything in me until he turns to the abusive mean cold hearted person that makes me hate him I can’t understand it how can he say such horrible humiliating things to me how can he treat me so mean and disrespectful and not think twice about it I get strong and I leave I say I’m done I can’t handle anymore a couple days goes bye and I start missing that nice loving man I’m so in love with
Been there- 8 years of back and forth- mean, raging, lying, cheating- then loving, buying me things- refused to let me see people or have a life without him- caught me trying to make plans to leave and took my $ so I had to stay. I finally left with the help of friends and family. I still love the good side of him but know I can’t live with the bad. I finally feel calm and not anxious. It’s super hard in the beginning l!! Especially if you keep talking to them so know your strong and brave and can do it! Remember who you used to be- and don’t keep the pattern going! It will never change!! Just better manipulation and more crazy making! Love yourself and your future more than him. Good luck to you!
I know exactly how you feel, I’ve been with my boyfriend for 5 years and I’d say this last year and a half he’s shown his true colors. It started off slow and as time passed, day after day the sweet, loving amazing man I fell in love with would disappear more and more. I would tell myself that he’s in there somewhere but the truth is he was never there to begin with, it was just a lie…this whole time. And that’s a tough pill to swallow. I’ve invested 5 years of my life falling deeply and truly in love with a person who doesn’t love me and never has and never will. The man I fell in love with is gone and never really existed. That’s tough, he not only promises to change he acts it out for weeks until he can no longer do so. He’ll even go as far as saying he knows he has a problem, that he’s the problem and he needs help and he’s going to get it and work on himself. He even tells me to correct him when he’s in the wrong or losing his cool. He becomes loving, sweet, considerate, romantic and even does things like buys flowers or my favorite candle and even during sex he just acts like it’s all about me. The minute I say anything or even take his advise and correct him when he’s wrong he doesn’t like it, well because in his eyes he’s never wrong. And just like that the love bombing has fizzled out and he takes it all away from me again and withholds it and he’s enjoying it too. I’m left with nothing, The monster is back and with a vengeance. I think we all have the tiniest bit of hope they will change and we’ll get the person we fell in love with back. It’s a viscous cycle and no one truly understands my situation, they say “why do you stay?” “Run!!!” “Leave him!” Unless you’ve been in this situation you will never truly understand why it’s so hard to leave.
Mine is a crazy Narchole. I gave up after two affairs in our family home and he continued to act as a victim. I’m always the bad guy so I filed, Feb, 2016 and DDay came shortly after I was discarded in minus 20 winter a few days before Christmas. He already had new supply moved into my house, unbelievable! Now we are going to trial finally on Feb. 28 I want to see my kids!
What you wrote can describe me also. I don’t know how many times I have said that’s it I am really leaving but I stay. Almost 20 years for me now…how are you doing
Wow! From these comments it seems like I may be the veteran here, 20 years in and I am just now hearing this N word, I researched it and sure enough it describes my husband to a T! As a SAHM with 4 children I’ve always felt stuck…. No money, no where to go…. This can’t be my life! I’ve been up since 4am this morning, mind spinning trying to figure out what to do…. At least I have another word to add to my husbands bi-polar alcoholism, narcissistic…. Just great… ugh cry smh
There are not words in the dictionary for how good it felt recently when—poof!—in the middle of a circular conversation with him, I was able to snap out of whatever spell he’d had me under for 16 years and see this EXACT scenario play out as an observer rather than the participant that I had been for so long. And there’s just no going back after that. Lindsey, your blog and podcast and book recommendations were a huge part in helping me understand how I’d gotten so lost, and finding the confidence to move away from that toxic mess. Sincerely grateful for your work and happy to see you back in my inbox.
Amanda, that is awesome!! I love it – ‘poof’ – that’s a great word! Keep on thriving girlfriend!!
As someone who divorced a narcissist after about 18 years, I will say that this pattern still goes on *(we have a son together). But, while life is harder I do not regret leaving. It feels so good to have myself back and be trying to rebuild my life on terms I can understand. Thanks for giving this clarity, it helps fight the feeling crazy/guilty/unlovable cycle.
I can relate. Unfortunately I’m still dealing with my X-husbands crazy behavior. I have three children with this man and he is not civil with me at all. I remain civil as he continues to be spiteful with everything especially when his child support is due. It’s never ever on time and he could care less if I have no food on the table for the children. He still wants to be in control of my life. It is extremely difficult dealing with this sick human. I only remain civil with him out of respect for my children who did NOT ask for a father of his characteristics. I can’t wrap my head around his behavior! I can’t believe a person can be so malicious and heartless when it comes to there own flesh and blood. It saddens me that I made such a bad decision when choosing a person to spend my life with.
This sounds exactly like my story. Together 22 years and married for 17. He is always late with support and won’t pay for what is to be shared costs. If we don’t meet his specifications or beliefs then he withholds his love and his presence in my daughter’s life. We struggle to get ahead as life as a single mother is not easy with all the day to day expenses. My daughter dances and is doing very well with it. It is expensive and with no help is becoming increasingly impossible to keep up with. I don’t think the “wasband” will ever change. I know not to expect anything from him. They are incapable of change. Once they discard you, it’s like they are discarding a dirty rag. They never think of you again. They are emotional void. To top it off he’s jaded his entire family so cutting off all connections and making it much more difficult for his daughter to be part of his family. I’m free 4yrs but I still struggle with the fall out. I had no idea that so many others have suffered this as well. Scary how many narcissists are out there.
I know exactly about no food on the table I still eat from a food bank but at least I’m in control
My husband left me for his office manager after 40 years of marriage. His words to people were is more to it than that. And how he is not happy so he did this. Your comments hit very close to the heart
Your husband will never find happiness, if he is truly a narcissist. They keep searching for supply but it’s a bottomless pit. Don’t think that he is happier, and don’t give energy to it either. Find happiness within you!
This totally feels like my relationship, I am still working out if my partner of 10 years is narcissist and this isn’t just all in my head. We have 3 children together, I am taking antidepressants for the past few years and the amount of times he uses ‘you’re mad’ and ‘you’re crazy’ is really upsetting as its mainly started since he has known I am on antidepressants. He had an affair for 8 months and plotted all sorts behind my back with this lady who also had a family. She knew my whole life without me realising it. I struggle with this still now and its been just over a year yet if I try and speak to him about it its like I am now doing something wrong as its been so long and he isn’t being punish for it anymore. He won’t be open with his phone yetbI have always been open as I have never had anything to hide.
I always doubt things when we fight as I feel like I forget whats happened and question, is it me? In the past he hid my makeup bag before I started work, knowing I had trouble and insecurities with my acne, I found it behind the tv on the wall mount, his reason for this was, I never put things back properly and where they should belong so he can find things easily, so it was my fault he did this. He is a good Dad, supports us financially and I can’t fault him for that but one thing I hate is how he speaks about me to the children (all joking he says) but sometimes very personal.
He will never admit when hes at fault but punished me and would not speak to me for over a week for something I said that upset him. He would not speak to me until I apologised, yet he calls me all sorts and will never admit he is at fault let alone apologise, he said he always admits when he is wrong ?! Im just questioning everything, is it me? I’ve always struggled with self confidence but he has me at rock bottom now. He calls me thick and that I have no intelligence, he doesn’t make me feel attractive and makes me feel stupid daily. I just can’t seem to leave, even though I have said I am so many times. He then turns around being all nice with me for days until the idea passes.
Sorry for the long post. I just need to make sense of my life.
I broke free but we have a son together so life is tough as she doesn’t understand how much I miss him and she is so unreasonable regarding contact.
I went to court for better access but now only see him mainly alternate weekends. My life without her is far better but I feel so guilty and bad about not being around my son and fear for his welfare as I believe she is a narcissist and has a personality disorder. Life is tough as he’s only 7.
Ian, can you fight to have more custody? I see this all the time with men and it’s not fair. Unless she has proven you to be unfit, there is no reason you shouldn’t see your son more. Get a better lawyer if you can, but keep fighting this. Stay strong!
I went through a divorce from a narcissist one year ago. We were separated for two. The above article describes him perfectly. It was so tough because I thought I was going crazy. I am so glad to be out of the relationship. He is very rude and does not talk to me at all. We have a Child together and she cries to go with him. Unfortunately the judge didn’t see his sick addiction as a reason for me to have more time with her and we have 50/50. It has been a year and she still cries to go with him. I remain civil because my daughter means the world to me. Your articles have helped me tremendously. It took me reading them over and over and a lot of time healing to realize, it wasn’t me.
I am trying to divorce my husband right now. I keep wondering why I want to get back together with him. I know he will never change yet he keeps pulling on my heart strings. I’m trying so hard to not believe him and do what’s best for me and the kids.
This resource is so refreshing. I have been married less than a year and the last draw has been when he QUIT his job to start his own business. I begged him not to leave his job since all the finances would lie on me. He quit and then things did not work out.
We tried counseling and I asked that he move out when he became emotionally abusive and blaming me for not helping him out.
After a month apart he promised he would attend counseling and get a job and keep it. Since returning home he has had 2 jobs in 2 weeks because “they didn’t like him”. He starts a new position soon, but I am tired of him not taking responsibility for his actions and sticking me with the financial responsibilities when he feels like it.
I have asked for a divorce and now his response was, “You love to kick me when I’m down”. He takes no responsibility for his actions and blames the divorce on me for wanting financial security-crazy right ?!?! (I’m being sarcastic).
Since he sees that I am serious he has reverted to being nice and wanting to talk. I have been through this cycle a few times and I’m getting off this train.
I appreciate you writing about this topic and helping individuals identify characteristics of this unhealthy cycle.
Been there and done that! Glad I had made the decision a year ago to stick to my guns, deflect the manipulation and move on with my life.
I don’t even know where to begin. I have planned suicide, divorce, counseling, etc. I am so alone and unhappy just not even sure what to do next. I am a highly educated person so how did I let someone make me become this unemployed shell of a person? The cycles of gifts and love always followed by fights soon after is more than I can take. The gift he got me last week brought me to tears immediately and he of course thought it was due to surprise and joy and admiration for a job well done on his part but my tears were knowing that within a week the big fight would be happening. Today it happened, he is away on business and he always chooses these times to start fights as he loves the control of being able to hang up on me and not answer my phone calls the rest of the trip. I need help!
I didn’t even realise I lived with a narcissist until he left me 18 months ago as he felt like he “needed to put himself first for once” (we have two young children). We were together for 12 years, I moved away from family to be with him and I’ve come to realise that over the years I completely lost myself as he very slowly wore me down. He’s never been physical but mentally he could be very harsh. He questioned absolutely everything I did, every decision I made to the point that I stopped making decisions because he made me feel like absolute rubbish. He made me feel like I was worthless!! I was heartbroken when he said he was leaving as there was no warning but somehow I was still made to feel like it was something I did, something I did wrong maybe.
I can honestly say that now, it was the best thing that he ever did. Now he’s removed himself from the home I can see where there was things happening that wasn’t right. Now I’ve grown in confidence, my friends have described me as a flower that’s blossomed. I’m now walking with my head held up high. I still have to deal with my ex because of the kids and I’m very amicable with him as I refuse to allow him to have the affect that he used to have, even though at times it is a struggle, but I feel myself getting stronger everyday. When he first left he would say or do things that would constantly make me question myself, made me feel like I was going crazy BUT now the impact he has on my day to day life is nowhere near what it used to be. I’ve had help and support from friends, family and a fantastic counsellor. These emails have been a huge motivator for me also and they give me a reminder of how far I’ve come especially when I can see that he says things to try and give himself that control Over me. It’s taken time and I know I still have a way to go but I’m getting there.
This is so true. My divorce from my narcissist was final about 2 months ago. I dealt with this cycle of abuse for about 11 years. Unfortunately, my narcissist had addiction problems and he was physically abusive to me. I am finally realizing now that I am out of the situation, that I am not crazy! That statement about me being overly emotional was his excuse to deflect from his bad behavior ALL the time. Life is tough right now, as I am left to raise our 3 children under the age of 5 alone. Thankfully he agreed to supervised visits, because he doesn’t really want to take care of the children. He would rather drink with his new girlfriend. He moved on after about 6 months of separation when he finally realized that I was serious about truly ending the marriage and never going back to him. It still hurts though that he moved on so quickly, because it makes me realize that he never truly loved me. He just used me for the comfortable lifestyle, as I am successful career woman and make 6 figures. Hoping it will eventually get better and I will eventually be able to find true love, because I deserve it!
Spot on! Though he was doing all these toxic responses, I survived and knew I was not looney tunes crazy!
I was in such a dysfunctional relationship for 17 yrs. I believe my ex-husband is a narcissist but didn’t realize it when I was in the marriage. He has since the break up 16 months ago called me the narcissist. I actually believe it to be him with the narcissistic traits.
I was with a narcissist also they have no emotion nor a conscience I did think I was crazy but he was driven to make me think that
So I keep running away from him knowing he was not the one for me now I’m convinced he was never my type or care to give him a thought he was not worth any of me so now I’m moving out can’t stand to even look at him actually I think he is crazy and honestly I don’t like him at all I don’t think I ever did care for him I did things I never would but it’s over I want my life back I hope I never lay eyes on him again I just hope his next victim gets away faster nobody needs this kinda guy nobody’
I read and downloaded the book MAGIC words of a narcissist I used some of it and it worked right away… tried it again and it didn’t work. My Ex husband is the worst person and he knows how to break me down. I tell myself to ignore him but it’s so hard because he is using his narcissism to hurt me but instead he is hurting our 8 year old. I then fall into his trap and I react. I tell myself not too but it’s easier said than done. I can’t live another 11 years with this horrible person in my life. He’s doing everything possible to break me down. He is even using the kids against me and won’t co-parent with me. I’m at a loss and I want to snap my fingers and have everything fixed right now.
I’m always told I’m crazy, I talk too much, or “I don’t care”. Previous relationships I’ve had were never like this, and I’ve been in this one for 6 years- I’m on anti depressants because I can’t cope with life- I used to be full of joy and positive light, now I just seem to survive. Each argument explodes because I walk away or try to “calm” him down- he will then tell me I’m crazy and need to apologize. I can’t share any dreams or fears because he will throw them in my face in a negative way if he gets angry with me. I am always being told how I feel or that “I know you better than yourself.” “You know I know you better than anyone” I always have to think about what I’m going to say before I say it, He asks me to tell him everything, so I do and he gets angry, then when I don’t he gets angry. I can’t win. I can’t tell if I am with a narcissist because I’m starting to believe everything he says.
Same same same. My husband does all these things to me. I finally asked a friend what they thought of some of his criticisms of me and they said they were not even a little true and he was being controlling and downright mean. Then remember, would you do these things to anyone??? No. Because they are abusive and manipulative. Get out.
Hi, Lindsey: I listened to Episodes 1 & 2 with Susan Guthrie today. I then bought the book for my ex-husband’s ex-girlfriend! It’s funny how the world works. We recently met after being in one another’s sphere for 20+ years. As she said, it’s been a long time in coming. She feels that I know exactly what she’s still living on a daily basis. I can’t wait to discuss your book with her. And work on the workbook! #lifelonglearners