My understanding of a narcissist is not scientifically backed, nor am I a psychologist in any shape or form. However, I was married to a narcissist, and survived just.
My husband, a CFO of a Global Bank, good looking, popular, clever, and charming, was an acute narcissist. He never raised his voice, never raised a fist to hit me, as he didn’t need to, his weapon was the most dangerous of all, his sharp, acerbic tongue, cutting through my heart leaving a scar deadlier than any knife could wield.
The collateral result I understand to be as psychologically damaging equatable to a form of PTSD. When my marriage ended, leaving me with our much loved and planned for eight-week old baby daughter to raise, I was confused, angry, depressed and in such a state of shock that it took me years to fully comprehend what had happened.
I read many articles on narcissism, they all seemed to have criteria of personalities all filled with rage and violence, which confused me for a very long time, as my husband did not display any of these characteristics, yet was an extreme narcissist.
I am writing to warn you that your partner does not have to tick all the boxes. What I do hope you begin to understand is how cunning and dangerous narcissists are.
From the bottom of my heart, I hope you don’t have to experience the pain and tragedy they can and continue to inflict upon us, the innocents who are simply their prey.
Narcissists are extremely clever, and they never reveal their true self to you until they know they have you completely blinded by their immense spell. They only display who they think you want them to be. They are in a way chameleons, modifying their behaviour to whatever the situation may require.
Relationships with a narcissist are broken down into three main stages:-
The first being the LOVE PHASE.
I’m sure your relationship, as did mine, began in a cloud of love. Think of this time as the ‘love fest’. So much so, it appears at times they are too good to be true. You are not used to this much adoration, but after a while you feel ‘Why not, lets enjoy this?’.
It's hard to believe you have found somebody so in tune with you, your beliefs and your dreams. All in perfect synergy. You most probably existed in a cocoon so perfect for a while.
Within a very short time-span, you are convinced ‘He is the one!’. You have let down your normal boundaries that are quite strict as you realise, ‘This guy/woman adores me’. Then you move from the love fest to the second phase.
This phase is scientifically described as the DEVALUE STAGE.
This is where he begins to cut down your confidence, your self-esteem, your sense of you. You may not understand this while experiencing it but when you are out the other side it is perfectly clear what his strategy was. It is to erode your confidence and succumb to his demands. This is the beginning of his control over you. If you are not married to him by this stage, you are extremely fortunate.
Then things start to change, very slowly and subtly.
He makes it clear he doesn’t like your family or your closest friends, the ones that he knows have your best interest at heart. He makes life uncomfortable when you are out with your friends, to the point he’s rude and the easiest way to keep the peace is not to socialize with your friends; the friends that have been in your life forever. Why do you succumb to this, to keep the peace? Anything for a peaceful life.
He then may go to the next step and begin criticising your personal appearance. It could be your hairstyle, your make-up or clothes, whatever he doesn’t like he will insist you modify it, particularly if you are wearing something revealing - or sexy. Again, you acquiesce and adapt your appearance to once again keep him happy. Anything for a peaceful life.
Listen: Osher Gunsberg discusses when your partner hides things from you on social media (post continues after audio...)
This may be the time when (if you are lucky) you start to see cracks in what you assumed was the perfect partner and begin questioning him? You are beginning to feel hemmed in, controlled, and you suspect he is lying to you. Things just don’t seem to add up?
Women, believe your intuition. If you even suspect your partner is lying or being dishonest, because he is. Warning……..If you dare confront a narcissist accusing him of lying or being dishonest be prepared for the onslaught. He will turn the conversation around, and by the end of the discussion you will be accused of lying and being dishonest, and you will be totally confused as to what the discussion was originally about.
Note…Narcissists are pathological liars, who make you feel you are at times going crazy. You are not crazy, insecure or delusional, you are simply in a relationship with a narcissist.
The last stage of a relationships with a narcissist is the DISCARD stage.
If they have obtained what they required from you and the relationship, whether it's prestige that you are going out with him as you inflate his ego, or money or whatever the need that you are filling in his life.
If his use of you has been sated, you will now be discarded like a used newspaper and replaced with a newer model that continues to feed his ego.
GET OUT BEFORE THEN. WALK AWAY with your head held high and CUT OFF ALL CONTACT.
Narcissists are damaged human beings, and no matter how much you want to help, support, fix the man you love, you cannot and will not change this man.
He is who he is and will continue to be this person. Leave and you will find somebody who will be able to love you fully. Narcissists cannot feel, they can’t love, they are devoid of empathy and true feelings. He might tell you a million times a day that he loves you, but if you watch his actions, they are not actions of love.
Love makes us feel safe, wanted and protected. You know deep within your heart the emotions you are currently receiving do not make you feel like this at any time.
My strongest advice if you resonate with above, is to get your Nike runners on and run, run, run as fast as you can away from this toxic relationship while you still can.
I survived a marriage to a narcissist, so this is a piece of cake. Keep strong, keep reading about narcissists and most importantly keep moving forward in your wonderful life.
Megan Holgate is a Divorce Coach and is writing a memoir on her experience of marrying a narcissist.