When Does The Narcissist Reveal His True Nature?

The Narcissists Unmasking

(Read Time: 1-2 mins)

The narcissist reveals his/her true nature gradually to his victim, while using her as the supply he needs to continue to cultivate, maintain, even strengthen his image of being a thoughtful, considerate, all-around great person to others. This is one of the most invalidating, distressing, unjust, and profoundly frustrating aspects of being involved with a narcissist.

Narcissists are expert manipulators, and they are subtle in their approach. The initial love-bombing secures the victim. She believes she’s in paradise. Then, the “death by a thousand cuts” begins – the “I’m just trying to help” criticism, followed by affection and looks of approval when the partner accepts and appreciates the “helpful” criticism. This emotional manipulation and conditioning primes the partner for the devaluation and abuse to come.

It is the narcissist’s pattern of behavior over time that ultimately reveals his true nature. His criticism escalates to total devaluation, verbal/emotional/psychological/in some cases physical abuse, gaslighting, continual invalidation, coercive control, sneers, cold glares, and looks of contempt, with randomly occurring intermittent periods of love, approval and affection. This process dismantles the partner’s sense of self. She becomes her own harshest and most unforgiving critic, conditioned into this role by the narcissist’s emotional manipulation and abuse.

It is within this this toxic dynamic that the narcissist unfurls his true self: a controlling, punitive, manipulative, abusive tormentor, and one day – it could be months, it could be years – the partner looks in the mirror and sees nothing but the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cuts, gashes, bleeding wounds, and scars. She sees a sad, insecure, beat-up, faded, black-and-white version of someone she used to know. She does not recognize the landscape she is trapped in. She does not recognize herself.

As difficult, shocking and painful this realization is, it is a moment of mind-saving, soul-saving, lifesaving clarity. When she looks in the mirror and sees the cut-up, beat-up, faded, black-and-white version of someone she used to know, is the moment she recognizes the narcissist, sees his true colors, and realizes she needs to break free.

Partners get entrapped by narcissists because it’s not easy to know from the “get-go” if you’ve gotten involved with one, because they are so manipulative and adept at love-bombing their victims. Sticking to the following three guidelines in a relationship will help you get out before the narcissist’s toxic reveal of his true nature progresses any further:

  1. Know your non-negotiables, i.e. what you will tolerate and what you won’t tolerate in a relationship. Do not make exceptions.
  2. Establish and maintain strong personal boundaries. Do not accept violations. Violating a personal boundary = bye bye
  3. Trust your gut
  4. When someone shows you who they are, believe them first time  – Maya Angelou

The Collapsed Narcissist

Never contend with with a man who has nothing to lose, for thereby, you enter into an unequal conflict.  – Baltasar Gracian

(Read time 1-2 mins)

A collapsed narcissist is a narcissist who has experienced a severe enough narcissistic injury to have every piece of the scaffolding that holds up his false self, splinter and break, leaving him in a figurative heap on the floor. It may be so severe that he experiences disassociation temporarily. He has nothing to lose, no one to distract him, no one onto whom he project his inner hate, envy, rage and trash, no one to prop him up.

He is alone, and forced to deal with all of the darkness, turmoil and hate that he is typically able to avoid by inflicting it on his partner. He has to deal with himself, since he has no one to foist this onerous, toxic burden upon.

A collapsed narcissist can be dangerous. Being the target of a collapsed narcissist’s emotional frenzy, rage and wrath is very disturbing, distressing, and traumatic.

When a narcissist feels he has lost everything – his partner/supply, his control, his false self, his carefully-crafted reputation, he spins totally out of control. When a narcissist feels he has nothing to lose, it is not unusual for him to fly into a raging frenzy, and even go berserk.

Until she blocks him, it is not unusual for the ex-partner to be on the receiving end of the following (including, but not limited to):

  • abusive/raging/sarcastic/self-pitying/I-love-you-so-much/please-give-me-another-chance/how dare-you-do-this-to-me texts and phone calls (even upwards of 30 texts a day, and 30 phone calls a day)
  • proxies that the narcissist manipulates into calling the partner to try to facilitate a reconciliation
  • threats of suicide, screaming accusations of abandonment, raging screaming fury
  • crying and sobbing fits begging for another chance and promising to change, desperate attempts at love-bombing vis-a-vis carrots on a stick such as money, trips, marriage, you are the only one I have ever loved, etc.
  • subtle and not so subtle threats of revenge
  • attacks on her reputation  
  • stalking

Leaving a narcissist can cause a significant narcissistic injury, which can cause the narcissist to collapse. Statistics show that women in abusive relationships are about 500 times more at risk for harm when they leave their abusive partner. Therefore, prior to leaving the narcissist, it is important for the partner to have an exit strategy in place that includes a safe place for her to go, a support system, and documentation of abuse, if at all possible.

The collapsed narcissist that the partner experiences following a narcissistic injury, is the true narcissist, the narcissist without his mask: the raging anger, vindictiveness, threatening behavior, emotional manipulation, coercive control and the dark, frenzied, punitive behaviors.

It bears repeating, a collapsed narcissist can be dangerous.

*Please note: All of my articles are written with the use of masculine pronouns to describe the narcissist. This is solely due to my own experience, and not meant to imply that men are not also victims of narcissistic abuse, as they are too.

Do Narcissists Feel Regret?

Do narcissists feel regret when they hurt their partners? Regret is a powerful, toxic and very dangerous weapon in the hands of a narcissist, that he/she draws out once the partner’s love and loyalty has been firmly secured. Regret, in the hands of a narcissist, is a sophisticated form of coercive control and total fakery used to manipulate the partner into compliance.

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What Are The Hallmarks Of A Relationship With A Narcissist?

Anything that costs your peace is too expensive

(Read time 1-2 mins)

I was recently asked what are the hallmarks of a relationship with a narcissist. This is a good question to ask, because it provides important guideposts to the partner to assist her in evaluating her relationship based on the following hallmarks, and whether they are present:

  1. Verbal, emotional, mental, and physical abuse, if not all, certainly at least one form
  2. Criticism and devaluation
  3. Pathological control
  4. Gaslighting
  5. Making the partner wrong
  6. Humiliation
  7. Jealousy and provocation
  8. Manipulation, especially using guilt and shame as a control tactic
  9. Blameshifting
  10. Walking on eggshells
  11. Complete absence of emotional intimacy, support, and trust
  12. Chronic feeling of emptiness within the marriage, isolation, loss of hope
  13. Infidelity, if not physical, then emotional
  14. Betrayal on every level
  15. Dehumanization and trauma

A relationship with a narcissist is loaded with tension and anxiety, and it puts the spouse’s emotional, physical and mental well-being at risk. The longer the partner stays with the narcissist, the worse off she or he will be. Narcissistic abuse is progressive. The abuse becomes more severe, the wounds deeper, and the  trauma bond stronger. It is possible for the partner to become so devalued and invalidated over time that she loses herself completely.

As the partner clings onto the love-bombing version of her NPD partner, and with fierce hope and a desire to have what she thought she was going to have with him, she will continue to try to make her narcissist “see the light” and believes that once she does, he will “get it” and change back into the man she met.

What is really happening, however, is the toxic trauma bond is being reinforced making it more difficult for the partner to maintain her sense of self, identify that she is being abused.

Narcissists are masters at manipulating their partners to question their own thoughts and feelings, even to the point that the partner herself will become her own worst critic, and over time, automatically assume any feelings she has are wrong. Invalidating her own thoughts, feelings, ideas and reactions becomes an automatic reflex. The result is that the partner is conditioned through narcissistic abuse to negate and invalidate herself. This exacerbates the already serious risk to her well-being, and ultimately will make it nearly impossible for her to ever leave the narcissist.

It is critical to get out of any relationship where abuse is occurring, and get to a safe place. Recognizing the hallmarks, and leaving a narcissist takes tremendous strength; but it is possible, and empowers healing and growing, and positions the ex-partner to empathize, support and empower other victims.


*Please note: All of my articles are written with the use of masculine pronouns to describe the narcissist. This is solely due to my own experience, and not meant to imply that men are not also victims of narcissistic abuse, as they are too.

Life Lessons Learned From A Narcissistic Relationship

“Painful lessons will turn into magnificent blessings, if you choose to travel the road of learning them.”

(Read time: 1-2 mins)

The aftermath of a relationship with a narcissist is wracked with pain, confusion, turmoil and suffering. Along with this, as painful as it is, comes valuable lessons that can help keep you from falling again into web of narcissistic abuse. The road ahead is bright and filled with opportunity. Take the following lessons with you as travel insurance, you’ve already paid for a lifetime policy:

* A man who says he trusts no one, can be trusted by no one

* A man who repeatedly accuses his partner of infidelity and lying is himself doing all of those things

* Pay very close attention to the simplest of behaviors that seem “off”

* Trust your gut, not your heart

* Evil doesn’t appear with a cape and horns, but that it appears as everything you’ve ever wanted

* A man who has nothing good to say about anyone is himself a bad person

* Never again question or doubt your instincts

* Never settle for anything less than what you know you deserve, you are supposed to be loved, valued, empowered, and happy in a relationship, not depressed, anxious, irritated, angry, walking on eggshells, isolated and abused

* A man without any meaningful friendships has serious issues

* It’s not your duty to try to stand by an abuser, no matter how many times he vows to “work on” his coldness, and his disrespectful and abusive behaviors

* Leave any relationship that is deteriorating, dysfunctional, and detrimental

* Run at the first sign of a red flag and do not – under any circumstances – look back.

Many thanks to Kimmie Browne, a Quora contributor, for sharing these wise lessons.

*Please note: All of my articles are written with the use of masculine pronouns to describe the narcissist. This is solely due to my own experience, and not meant to imply that men are not also victims of narcissistic abuse, as they are too.

The Turmoil Trap and The Path To Freedom

“The path to freedom requires but one thing: that you choose to take it.”

(Read time: 1-2 mins)

One of the most distressing elements in healing from narcissistic abuse is the intense emotional conflict between the relief at being free from the toxic dynamic and abuse, and the longing to have what you thought you had, with the person you fell in love with. There is a tidal quality to this emotional and mental struggle. The conflicting feelings ebb and flow, and sometimes pound the shore of your soul. It’s a turmoil trap of pain, confusion, and emotional exhaustion. Read More

Creating A Masterpiece From Tragedy

(Read time: 1-2 mins)

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein

A victim of narcissistic abuse often does not fully realize the extent and depth of the trauma she (or he) has endured until several weeks, or even months after the relationship is over. Initially, there is a period of shock, a state of feeling emotionally frozen, rooted in pain, confused, anxious, betrayed, and grief-stricken.

Anxious rumination sets in, and it is common to rummage through your devastated memory bank, trying to make sense of what happened, trying to put the shattered pieces of yourself back together, and analyzing the relationship from every angle, the what-ifs, and the what-could-have-beens. This can go on for weeks, even months, and can be very distressing, and exhausting.

And, it always leads to the inevitable conclusion that you can’t make sense of the relationship, and the trauma you have endured. This is because narcissists subject their partners to sociopathic behaviors, and a mind-bending toxic dynamic that healthy functioning people are just not equipped to comprehend and integrate. In order to heal, it is very important to let go of the need to understand the narcissist, and accept that he is a toxic, disordered, manipulative, abusive individual – full stop.

This is a difficult truth to accept. This is made even more difficult from the pain of finally comprehending the full impact of the present circumstances and the tragedy you have experienced: the trauma the narcissist inflicted, the loss of your dreams, the betrayal, damage to your self-esteem, adverse impact on your friendships, finances, and health (many ex-partners develop C-PTSD). Healing, and ever feeling normal again, seems impossible.

But, healing IS possible. It is more than possible. Despite the overwhelming circumstances, you can emerge stronger, wiser, and be freer and more successful than you ever imagined. This sounds great, but, how to get there? Patiently. Healing does not happen overnight. Healing is the product of time and intentional effort. It is not a linear process. It is a forward, backward, sideways process.

Healing also involves proactively changing the negative, self-critical, self-invalidating thought patterns that the narcissist created in the toxic, abusive dynamic. It sounds trite, but find, and focus on something positive. Rebuke negative thoughts. Instead, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” (Phil: 4-8)

When you feel exhausted, beat-down, tired, overwhelmed, hopeless and empty, remind yourself it’s temporary, and it will pass, and your life is unfolding in a wonderful, new way. We become our thoughts and beliefs.

Healing is not easy. None of this is easy. It requires strength, determination, and perseverance. The reward is, it makes you stronger, wiser, and positions you to be a source of empathy, strength, and inspiration to others who are suffering.

So, stand firm. Keep standing. Keep looking forward. Do this from a perspective of hope, and growth. You can turn your trauma into a wellspring of creativity, hope, and strength. You can use what you have endured, and learned, to forge a new path that opens up your life in ways you never could have imagined.

It’s not the end of your story. It’s the beginning. It is your starting point; a beautiful, open book. You hold the pen, the brush, and the paints, in your hand. You can create a masterpiece. Truly, you can.

What have you learned on your healing journey? What ways are you creating your masterpiece? Please share your inspiration below!

Clearing The FOG Of Narcissistic Abuse

(Read time: 3-4 mins)

“Some sensations … take up all the extent of the mind like a fog, don’t let us think, don’t let us act, don’t let us live clearly.” – Fernando Pessoa

“Keep on moving forward. The fog will lift, a fresh wind will heal your mind, you will see clearly, and you will be free.” – Grace

FOG is an acronym that is used in the narcissistic abuse community for Fear, Obligation and Guilt. The narcissist uses FOG in relationships to manipulate and control his partner during, and even after the relationship is over. Fear, obligation, and guilt provoke intense feelings, and the narcissist knows how to use them very effectively against his partner to exert control.

Fear

Fear is a powerful manipulative force. Narcissists are vindictive, which becomes evident over the course of the relationship. The narcissist harbors a constant “You hurt me, I’ll hurt you!” mentality, and makes sure his partner knows this. His abuse, explosive rages, temper tantrums, and hostility increase his partner’s undercurrent of fear, and walking on eggshells anxiety that generally becomes chronic.

Many partners of narcissists experience a gut instinct that the narcissist is capable of doing anything, and has no limits when it comes to exacting revenge if he feels he’s been wronged. Because of this, the partner “stays in line” out of fear of what the narcissist might do in retaliation. The partner becomes fearful of being herself, of feeling her feelings, of speaking her mind, and having her own opinions. The narcissist is so critical and devaluing of the partner that she begins to restrain her own personality, her own self, because she is fearful of the narcissist’s reaction.

Physical abuse, which occurs in a number of narcissistic relationships, and the mental, verbal, and emotional abuse the narcissist inflicts on his partner, further suppresses her inclination to stand up for herself, defend herself, and often prevents her from leaving the relationship. And, if the partner manages to leave the relationship, she is often fearful of the repercussions, which can include stalking, defamation of her character, potential violence, and other cruel and vengeful acts.

Obligation

Obligation is a very potent form of manipulation. The narcissist starts to cultivate obligation in the lovebombing stage of the relationship. He leads his partner to believe she is the only star in his universe, she is the only one who truly understands him, his soulmate. He leads her to believe that she is the only woman in the world who can satisfy his needs. He combines this with “woe-is-me” stories from his past, depicting himself as the tragic victim. This plays on the partner’s compassion, and her desire to be the one who can make everything better for him. And, the physical intimacy that narcissist typically – and successfully – rushes his partner into, reinforces the partner’s feelings of intense bonding, and her desire to be the one who can make him happy, and feel true love.

The result is that the partner, intoxicated by lovebombing, and emotionally manipulated by the narcissist, feels that she, and she alone, truly understands the narcissist, and that she is uniquely qualified to give the narcissist the kind of love he needs, to heal him of his suffering. The narcissist plays on this repeatedly until the partner’s sense of obligation to, and compassion for, him are hardwired into her brain.

Her feeling of obligation becomes hardwired from the lovebombing bonding biochemicals that her brain releases during this phase of the relationship. The frequency, and amount of oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins released during the lovebombing phase with a narcissist are in much higher amounts, and with much greater frequency than would ever happen in a healthy relationship. So, while the partner is being groomed and manipulated into feeling obligated to the narcissist, her brain is releasing, at the same time, a flood of very strong bonding biochemicals. The result? The partner becomes biochemically bonded to feeling obligated to the narcissist.

Guilt

Guilt is one of the strongest forces of control and manipulation that exists. Narcissists are experts at inducing guilt in their partners through projection, blameshifting, self-victimization, and being punitive. The narcissist will provoke situations with the sole purpose of upsetting his partner, blameshift onto her, and cause her to feel guilty. When she reacts to the narcissist’s provocations, he aggressively pushes back, invalidates her feelings, and punishes her, accusing her of hurting him. He will call her uncaring and self-centered. He will pout and give her the silent treatment, leave – anything that causes her to feel guilty and ashamed of her feelings. And, the powerful stress biochemicals, adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine flow in her brain. When the partner capitulates to the narcissist, and apologizes, he will show his approval with lovebombing gestures, affection, approval, even physical intimacy. And, the powerful love bonding chemicals flow in her brain.

This toxic abuse cycle spins like a wheel, repeating itself over and over and over. Every time it does, the partner’s brain becomes more biochemically hardwired to the abuse cycle, and FOG dynamic that keeps partners trapped in relationships with narcissists, and ties ex-partners to the narcissist after the relationship has ended.

The narcissist’s manipulation of fear, obligation, and guilt causes the partner to become psychologically and emotionally conditioned to:

  1. Fear retribution for being herself, and standing up for herself
  2. Feel deeply obligated to care about the narcissist’s feelings and put his well being above her own, and
  3. Feel guilty and ashamed of her feelings, and her reactions to the narcissist

The FOG Will Clear

The good news is, leaving the abusive relationship with narcissist, establishing safety, maintaining No Contact, and focusing on self care and healing, will clear the FOG. It will take time. It is important to be patient with yourself, and the healing process.

Tips to clear the FOG:

1. Don’t allow the FOG to victimize you. Take ownership, and validate the feelings of fear, obligation, and guilt. Accept that they are normal feelings to have in these circumstances – but they are not permanent. *If you fear for your safety, are being stalked, harassed, and/or threatened, always contact the authorities, and take the steps you need to stay safe.

2. Tell yourself the truth: feelings of FOG are a conditioned response to a toxic, abusive relationship. It is a conditioned response, it is temporary, and it will pass.

3. Surround yourself with support: There are a number of online support groups for narcissistic abuse survivors where you can receive the validation, understanding, and encouragement you need to keep you moving forward. Life coaching is very helpful, and therapy by a licensed professional counselor who has experience in treating victims of narcissistic abuse is very helpful, and often necessary – given the level, and complexity of trauma that victims endure.

4. Engage in activities that make you happy and give you peace: have you ever wanted to learn to paint with watercolors, raise orchids, knit, crochet, volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter, learn to play the violin, work a 1,500 piece jigsaw puzzle, join a book club, write a novel, take a cooking class, do yoga, train for a marathon? Reach out and explore your interests, you may discover a gift and talent you never knew you had!

5. And, most importantly, take care of you, and be kind and compassionate to yourself: celebrate your strength, celebrate the wisdom and resilience you have shown by getting out of the abusive relationship, and staying out. Be encouraged, knowing that you can use your experience to help and empower others someday – that you can be a force of beautiful strength to help other abuse victims move forward and thrive in their lives.

“Making a decision to see through the fog is a commitment to life.” – Chosen

Articles are written with the use of masculine pronouns to describe the narcissist, and feminine pronouns to describe the partner. This is solely due to my own experience, and not meant to imply that men are not also victims of narcissistic abuse.

The Empath and The Cold Empath: A Perfect Storm

(Read time: 1-2 mins)

Says the empath, “Milan Kundera is right, ‘For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.’”

“No,” says the cold empath, “Steve Martin is right, ‘Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.’”

Now, imagine these two together in a relationship. It’s like light, and a black hole. Light: the empath, comforting warmth, a giver, a feeler, a healer. The black hole: the narcissist, cold empath, dark cruelty, a taker, a taker, a taker.

An empath and a narcissist together in a relationship is a perfect storm of one-sided woe.

The empath is highly sensitive to others’ suffering, compassionate, intuitive, and has an inherent desire to heal other’s pain.

The cold empath (narcissist), has a cognitive, dictionary understanding of empathy, but no emotional correlation with it, whatsoever. The narcissist is conceptually aware of empathy, but the only connection the narcissist has with empathy is his expertly manufactured pretense of it, in order to manipulate and control his partner.

It is difficult to grasp that a person feels no empathy and has no regard whatsoever for others’ suffering. It is extremely difficult for an empath to grasp and accept this. She truly believes that there is a caring, considerate person underneath all of the pain, and that the narcissist only needs more love, patience, and understanding to draw it out. That the empath believes this, is genuinely noble and compassionate. It is also self-destructive, and is a reason for the empath’s prolonged and intense suffering during, and after the relationship with the narcissist.

All relationships with narcissists are destructive, and involve conflict, confusion, suffering, and abuse. And empaths, because of their natural drive to heal others, are particularly vulnerable to a narcissist’s pretense of empathy, guilt trips, abuse, control, and emotional manipulation. Because of her nature, an empath is likely to remain in a relationship with a narcissist longer than a non-empath would, this magnifies the impact of the toxic abuse, and increases the likelihood of developing C-PTSD.

It is important for empaths to understand that, the devotion they feel to the narcissist is based, to a large degree, on their inner drive to heal and give, and their need to do this in order to feel fulfilled, but that not everyone deserves their unique gifts, and loving compassion.

To help determine whether you are an empath, the following is a list of empath traits, as identified by Judith Orloff, M.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, and author of “An Empath’s Survival Guide”:

1. Highly sensitive
2. Absorb other people’s emotions
3. Highly intuitive
4. Introverted (become overwhelmed in crowds, prefer to limit social engagements)
5. Need alone time to recharge
6. Can be overwhelmed and engulfed in intimate relationships
7. Are targets for energy vampires
8. Are replenished by being in nature
9. Highly tuned senses – excessive noise, talking, smells, activity, can fray nerves
10. Have generous and giving hearts, and can be taken advantage of

Empaths are eternal givers. Narcissists are eternal takers. The empath will give of herself until she literally has nothing left. The narcissist will take until the empath is completely drained, with only wisps, folds, and fragments of herself in a damaged heap on the floor. The narcissist will grind his heel into what remains of the empath. And he will walk away. He will look back at her with contempt, criticize her for not meeting his needs, blame her for failing him, mock her, and move on without a care in the world. He will be a mile away, and he will have her shoes.

But this is not the end of the story. As much as the empath is a giver, she is strong and resilient. It takes an incredible amount of strength to offer the level of compassion and love that an empath offers. All the empath needs to do is take this strength, and give it to herself. It is a transformative opportunity to grow, and develop areas within her that need development: boundaries, and self care, which empowers her to thrive, and share her beautiful and strengths with others, without compromising herself.

*Articles are written with the use of masculine pronouns to describe the narcissist, and feminine pronouns to describe the partner. This is solely due to my own experience, and not meant to imply that men are not also victims of narcissistic abuse, which they are.

Cognitive Dissonance: A Mental Tug Of War

(Read time: 1-2 mins.)

Cognitive dissonance, the state of holding two, or more contradictory thoughts or beliefs simultaneously, is the mental twisting, twirling, tug-of-war that survivors of narcissistic abuse experience during, and after, the relationship with the narcissist. It is very distressing, and can be unrelenting in its torment. Many partners, and ex-partners, say they feel like they are going crazy from the “push-me/pull-you” dynamic running amok in their minds. The good news is, it can be overcome. In order to overcome it successfully it’s important to understand how it develops, and what keeps it going, so it can be stopped.

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