Tag Archives: relationships

The Narcissist Who Chased Me

I have had a particular search term show up a lot lately: narcissists who chase women (or words to the same effect). Narcissists do chase women, but those who chase women aren’t really chasing women. Sound confusing? Read on.

Unlike this lake, a narcissist can be good at hiding a ruffled surface.

First of all, my apologies to those who have suffered through a female narcissist. However, the fact is that most narcissists are male, hence the search for information on narcissists who chase women. I admit to having something of a bias in this area because I had a relationship with a male narcissist and I often write about my experiences with him and about what I learned. However, I was raised by a narcissist – my mother. It’s taken me a long time to see that and to even admit it or say it out loud or write it here. (It took a lot of reading and thinking and chatting with my blog friend Ursula at https://www.anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com. Thank you, Ursula.) So, to those who have experienced female narcissists and who may also feel a bit like they’re stepping on female territory, or who feel left out, don’t. A narcissist is a narcissist and that’s that. They may take different approaches, but the damage they cause is profound, no matter what sex you or they are.

Narcissists do chase, mostly because you have something they want or they think you have something they want.

They like to hang on to people whom they have for the most part discarded when they’re in the process of collecting someone else, just in case the new subject gets away.

They like to return to someone they have discarded when they are in between “relationships.”

The point is that they are never without someone. (Please see the piece I published about that particular situation.)

The first example – that narcissists chase when you have something they want or think you have something they want – is probably the trap that catches the most targets. Narcissists are usually determined, highly motivated and extremely single-minded when they have zeroed in on a target that they see as very suitable – in other words, when they have zeroed in on someone who fits a set of characteristics that they believe can be easily exploited.

Narcissists are never direct or straight.

There are degrees to which they will pursue, however. The less important you are to their wellbeing or sense of self and/or success, the less seriously they will invest energy in you.

The more desirable you are to whatever it is they need, the more ardent they will be.

So, if they really want something, and they believe that you have whatever it is they want and you possess the right characteristics, they will chase you. They will study you to find out the information they need in order to get you to trust them, and then they will put a lot of energy into proving that your trust is warranted. During this phase, you will feel like you have landed in the nirvana of relationships. It will feel absolutely wonderful.

What comes next, though, is devastating, because once they have secured you, once you are no longer a challenge, once they have achieved what they wanted from you, you will become, at best, unimportant. At worst, well, that could be anything that another human can do to you to hurt you.

A narcissist can clean you out.

Do narcissists chase? Yes. They do. It is what they do. It is their defining characteristic. It is how they survive, emotionally and financially. They chase women, men, colleagues, neighbours and children. They will chase anyone who fits the “profile” and from whom they can get whatever it is that they determine they need.

The important thing to remember though is that they aren’t really chasing people. They’re really chasing stuff.

So, now it’s your turn. What do you think?

Moving on after the Narcissist

A lot has been written about the difficulties involved in leaving a narcissist, especially if there are children involved.

A lot has also been written about going “no contact” or involving a third party to minimise contact if there are children.

What I haven’t seen a lot about is the business of how to move on after after. That is, after you have left the narcissist or the narcissist has left you,

Life is rich again.
Life is rich again.

and you finally know that you don’t want him or her back again.

After the assets and possessions have been dealt with or the custody issues resolved (and yes, I realise that if there are children, there are likely always going to be problems with the narcissist, but I’m referring to finding a situation that’s perhaps as good as it’s going to get) and the dust has settled.

You have your life back.

Now what?

You might feel deflated.

I’m not kidding.

For example, in my case, it only took four months from the time I separated from my ex-narcissist to the time that my divorce became final. I had a good lawyer who fast-tracked my case on the grounds of cruelty. She was concerned (needless to say, as was I) about his unstable behaviour, the death threats he had made and the continued stalking. The police were involved. He had threatened some of my friends and had written a letter to my employer accusing me of unprofessional behaviour. My employer had turned the letter over to me, unopened.

I also made the difficult decision to buy him off. I’m not wealthy, not by any stretch, but I felt that if money could allow me to turn the corner on this, could secure me some measure of security, then it was worth it.

And all this concerted effort and financial incentive worked.

I was granted a very timely and efficient divorce, without opposition.

The ex-narcissist continued to pursue me for some time afterward, but that tapered off and then eventually stopped. I haven’t heard from him for a couple of years now.

I had gone into counselling to deal with my feelings and sense of inadequacy about this situation, but that, too, stopped. One day, my counsellor told me that I didn’t really need him any more.

So there I was, with my life back. Suddenly.

It was what I had desperately wanted. But it felt strange. Odd.

It felt like something was missing.

And really, something was missing: all that adrenaline, all that worry, all the quick changes to the house with new locks, new doors, a new alarm system. Attempts at measured calls to friends, to the police. But they could tell anyway that I was frantic. Meetings and e-mails. Trips to the bank. Forms and papers. The not sleeping.

And before that, there had been my decision to divorce him. And before that, there had been that terrible life with him. A life of constant stress, of constant hectoring and confusion and volatility. A life in the land of the narcissist. And that is a strange place.

After all that, just being with my real life was no longer familiar. I had to learn it again. And I had to incorporate all the stuff I had learned.

So, I wasn’t really going back to my old life. That was forever gone.

I had a new thing. It was sort of my old life, but also not. I had the same job, the same house, the same friends and the same family. But I was a lot wiser and happier and yes, sadder, especially about how I was also partly responsible for putting myself in this situation. I found myself processing for a long time afterward.

I am still processing, and will likely always be processing.

Because to close the book on an experience like this is to move on before the full set of lessons can become clear.

And that’s dangerous. It might invite false confidence. To think that we know everything we need to know, well, isn’t that kind of narcissistic? There’s always more to learn.

So, once you have finally dumped that narcissist and gotten your life back, allow yourself to explore this new reality.

Take your time, and value the positives that have come from it.

Let yourself be okay with having gotten mixed up with a narcissist.

Incorporate what you have learned into your new/old life.

Realize that you might feel deflated. That’s okay, too.

Remember that a new beginning is a good thing, and don’t forget to be forgiving of yourself.

 

Over to you. 🙂

For J

This is for my beloved sister J, who passed away on December 26 after a short struggle with cancer. I love you, J.

 

You have always been kind and tough and thoughtful and practical.

And you learned early how to deal with the family’s narcissists. Before it was popular, you knew a kind of no contact and lived it. Your own kind.

Distance did it. Physical distance. Mental distance.

I, much younger, didn’t really know you.

Not until much later. Not until now, really.

And then, we faced another narcissist. This time, together. Looked at our heritage.

But you handled that, too. Adroitly, as you always have. Even as you grew smaller and smaller and your world grew smaller and smaller.

The one who wasn’t “smart.”

The one who always knew but didn’t fuss. Just lived.

I’ve had a good long life, you said.

I wish it was longer.

I wish I didn’t have to say good-bye.

Stop Trying to Fix what is Broken…

Sometimes, when something is broken, it should stay that way.

An Upturned Soul

It’s difficult isn’t it?

Trying not to do something… especially once you’ve started doing it, whether physically or mentally. Many actions take place in the mind, more than in physical reality. It’s easier to stop doing the physical stuff, than the mental stuff. If the mental stuff is directing the physical… once you start doing something… it’s a ‘mare to stop!

And if your emotions are involved in your mental stuff… stuff is going to just keep happening and going and happening because it just can’t stop itself or you or others.

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“I took the other road, all right, but only because it was the easy road for me, the way I wanted to go. If I’ve encountered some unnecessary resistance that’s because most of the traffic is going the other way.”
― Edward Abbey

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I once read somewhere that the mind can’t process negatives.

My mind found…

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How to Get a Narcissist to Love You

The title of this post arrived in my search terms about a year ago. This query also came up for Ursula over at An Upturned Soul; she posted a excellent response that you can read here.

Frankly, I considered responding but then dropped it because I felt very ambivalent. I wondered if it was a real question or if it was in fact a narcissist who was just trolling. If real, what would I say to someone who is looking for an answer to this? I felt a little depressed every time I thought about it – there’s some poor, desperate person out there who is  trying to save a marriage, an engagement, a friendship, a relationship of some sort. But Ursula encouraged me to try – to give my take on it.

This person – I’m going to call him or her “Terry,” has likely done at least a little research because he or she has learned that narcissists have been categorized as being unable to love.

But undaunted, Terry perseveres. There must be a way! There must be some hope out there! Some obscure research or study or enquiry that espouses an approach that claims to work! That does work! I’m going to find it! And proclaim it to the world! I will not give up! I will not be a cynic who gives up on someone!

I wanted to say: Dear Terry, have you ever heard of snake-oil salesmen? Of bridges for sale? Of swamps that can produce the elixir of youth? Of spaghetti that grows on trees? Are you one of those people that P.T. Barnum indelicately described as being born every minute? Wake up, grow up, throw up or do whatever other “up” you need to do to get your head out of your ass and understand that narcissists are completely incapable  of loving anyone, ever. Oy!

That’s what I wanted to say.

But then I thought about it. Why shouldn’t Terry have hope? Why not? If we human beings had allowed ourselves to be stopped by every obstacle that ever came our way, then we would be a very sorry lot. No antibiotics. No lunar landings. No dinosaurs. (Oops. That one was fiction.)

But that’s the point, though, isn’t it? It’s okay to have hope, as long as it’s realistic. Maybe some day, we will know enough about narcissistic brain function to effect a “cure,” whatever that means. Medication? Talk therapy? An operation? Better parenting? Maybe a combination of all of these? Who knows?

But then again … maybe we won’t find a solution. Hope is good thing to have, but it has to be balanced.

Fear and emotional desperation can tend to unhinge us, can make us behave in irrational, illogical ways. And that’s what the narcissist generates. It’s intentional. In this highly subjective situation, hope is, well, it’s hopeless.

There we are, emotionally sickened and dangling by one fingernail while we grasp at any vestige of possibility – what can I do to get him back, to get him to love me (again)? The interior disintegration is profound and swift. We are like addicts who will do anything … That’s why it’s important to separate ourselves, to go “no contact,” to endure the pain of withdrawal so that we can get our lives back. Because this drug is bad for us. Really, really bad. It has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It just is what it is, and it does what it does, and you are nothing more than the gravel under its feet or the sky over its head.

So hope? Yes. After you have disengaged from the narcissist and re-established your life and maybe even had some counselling, because let’s face it, if you have been involved with a narcissist, there’s a reason for it.

A reason that you have buried, that you have ignored, that you have spun. You have to face yourself and your part in this.

Cautiously. Carefully. Deliberately.

I tried to get my ex-narcissist to love me, again.

I desperately wanted to get him back into that idealization phase, even though I didn’t know at the time that that’s what I was doing. I sometimes encouraged him to talk about love, because I wanted him to put me  and love together in his head.

Not that he really needed encouragement, because he loved to talk about hate love.

He ranted endlessly about how poorly he had been treated by every female who had ever crossed his path for more than five minutes. We were all “scorners of men” who were lying in wait and planning to trick, trap, or otherwise punish every male in creation.

We were Eve incarnate, juicy apple in hand, enticing patter at the ready. We were evil landlocked mermaids with nothing but the siren call of total male destruction in mind, day in and day out. We were impulsive Pandora, straining to free all those spites and careless of her husband’s warnings.

And then the cycling would start:

Women, yes. I love how you smell. I love your clothes. I love how you look on my arm. I love … I love … I hate you!!! I hate what you represent!!! I hate you because you are women, and you have more than me, and I hate you!!! I love you! I hate you! I want you! I don’t want you! I want what you have!

Yes! That’s it. I want what you have! Give it to me! Give it to me, pleeeese. If you don’t give it to me, I’m going to take it, and make you wish you never tried to stop me. And I’ll swallow it. And then you will be weak and I’ll be strong and then I can feel better. Yes. It’s okay now.

I love you.

(Cue lines and music from a romantic movie. I say this because that’s literally what would be going off in his head. He might even quote the movie and pass the quote off as his own.)

But, two minutes later or two days later or two hours later:

I hate you!

Terry, do you see how this works? Your narcissist may tell you that you’re loved. But the very mouthing of these words is nothing but a tool. It’s a tool to get whatever it is you have that your narcissist wants. It’s a tool to relieve whatever pressure has built up in this individual’s festering mind. It’s tool to keep you off-kilter, off-balance and off-off, so that you can easily be controlled. It’s not love. For the narcissist, it’s one of many other words that is a means to an end.

The narcissist doesn’t understand love, doesn’t really believe that it exists and is really rather amused that the rest of us could expend so much energy engaging in such theatre. It’s about as real as the starship Enterprise.

And eventually, if you trail after this dickhead long enough, there will be nothing left of you. Not even your smell.

And then you will be discarded. Because what’s the use of keeping an empty shell around? It’s just cluttering the place up.

So, do I have hope for my ex-narcissist? I do. I send him good wishes every time I think of him. He, and those he’s in contact with, need good wishes more than most. But will I ever answer an e-mail or phone call from him? Never. Will I ever see him again? Not if I can help it. He is permanently “no contact,” now and forever. I will never again place myself in that situation.

So dear Terry, separate yourself from your narcissist. Get help. Find your own life again. The life that you deserve. Your narcissist will never love you nor anyone else. She or he is simply not built that way.

Good luck. 🙂

What would you say to Terry?

Where Does Narcissism Come from? Part III

Two recent small studies have indicated that narcissists suffer from a lack of grey matter in the cerebral cortex; as one of them (Altered Brain Structure in Pathological Narcissism) says, there are “structural abnormalities in precisely that region of the brain which is involved in the processing and generation of compassion” (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/1306/19101434.htm). The other study, which I found at psychcentral.com>News>Research News indicates a very similar result. In a nutshell, these studies, through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, indicated that the brains of the narcissists studied are underdeveloped in the areas that control empathy, compassion and selflessness.

So, finally, there is scientific evidence that narcissists have a definitive problem with their brains. This is something that I have instinctively believed right from the beginning of my investigation into the causes and effects of narcissism.

It felt to me, and still feels, that to espouse the notion that narcissism is caused by poor parenting from the mother is totally simplistic and completely lacking in a recognition of the complexity of the human brain; it’s reductionist, to say the least. To say the worst, it just seems to be another attempt to arbitrarily throw responsibility for a societal problem onto the shoulders of women, again.

Yes, there are mothers who are responsible for having perpetrated the narcissistic wound in their children. But there are also fathers, other caretakers, and perhaps anyone else who came into contact with the child who later develops Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

However, I’m getting off-track a little here.

I see these two studies as having a couple of serious problems.

Firstly, there’s no way that the MRI can determine if the damage inflicted was the result of childhood experiential trauma to the tender developing brain or if the child was born with it.  The damage could also be a combination of both brain chemistry and  experience.

Secondly, the studies are both very small. Less than 50 partcipants. What can those small numbers tell us about anything? Well, as for most things in life, researchers have to start somewhere, and so it was that they started with two small groups. There other thing the small numbers tell me is that the researchers had trouble finding narcissists who would participate. In fact, in one of the studies, the participants were incarcerated.

Narcissists, by their very nature, can’t abide any kind of recognition that they might be less than perfect. To participate in a study where you might be confirmed as having a brain development issue – well, that’s just not on their radar.

To me, it’s perfectly understandable why the researchers turned to a, er, captive audience, so to speak. It must be frustrating to try to study a group that refuses to be studied, that in fact refuses to believe there’s anything wrong.

What would happen if, for instance, diabetics refused to be studied? If they refused to acknowledge that their pancreases aren’t functioning properly? I can easily see researchers turning to a prison population to try to get information.

However, I can also see something else, too: the probable, eventual dismissal of any attention to the issue from the society at large. This would be completely normal, really. What to do with a population that refuses to even recognize that there’s a life – threatening health problem?

Conversation on the matter would likely go something like this: Well, we’ve tried everything. If they won’t recognize the problem then there’s nothing we can do. We just have to let them go. It’s too bad when they go into shock, but that’s their own fault, isn’t it? Just wheel them out of the road when that happens. That’s all we can do.

Eventually, the only people who might care about those with diabetes would be those who have some sort of personal connection. Most others would likely just melt away. Research would become a niche area reserved for eccentrics. Really, there would be little reason for most people to remain involved.

Of course, this is not how we feel about diabetics. Behaving that way would be cruel and bordering on psychopathic, even if it were true that diabetics are unable to recognize their own illness.

Why is narcissism an exception, then?  It’s starting to take on the same proportions; it’s beginning to become a very serious, international mental health issue. We are suffering from it personally, economically, and politically. It is widespread and is spreading further. All any of us has to do is Google “narcissism” and look at the results. An awful lot of people have been victims of it: it infects our work lives, our home lives, and every level of government and finance. There are also serious concerns about what’s happening to our children and young adults in this atmosphere of helicopter parents and societal fear of failure.

But it’s not perceived as a problem. Or if it is, it’s someone else’s, or it’s the narcissist’s own. Just wheel them out of the road. Or more correctly, wheel the carnage they cause out of the road.

Yes, these scientists seem to be very alone and out in the weeds with their research, but in my opinion they should be supported and encouraged in every way possible. We need the information. Our world needs this information.

What is your opinion? Should narcissism research receive more support? Should we  begin treating narcissism as a serious mental health issue that society needs to work on?

Things I Learned from Rudy

My sweetie Rudy
My sweetie Rudy

Rudy is my dog. Well, he’s technically my son’s dog, but he has lived with me for most of his life. Rudy readily adopted M into his pack and now hates it when M is away. Recently, he also adopted B, M’s son.

Rudy is an amazing dog. And he’s about to turn 15. We’re not sure exactly when he’s turning 15 because he was an SPCA dog. But it’s within the next three months, most likely around the end of February or beginning of March. Rudy is in excellent health and is still living a full life. His hearing and eyesight are not quite what they used to be and he’s got a little arthritis, but those things aren’t holding him back at all.

So in honour of Rudy’s 15th birthday, and in honour of the fabulous guy that he is, I’m going to share with you some of the wisdom that I’ve learned from Rudy over the years.

1. Go for a walk every day. If there’s mud, snow, or deer poo, play in it. (Actually, you can skip the deer poo.)

2.  You sleep better when you’re with your pack.

3. Grow your pack whenever you can.

4. Always wag your tail and show your pack how much you missed them.

5. Be sure to use your bark sparingly, but don’t be afraid to use it if the zombies come.

6. One invitation can negate seven rejections. (No matter how often Rudy is kicked out of the kitchen, he completely forgets the moment he’s invited in for a tasty tidbit!)

7. Demonstrate your loyalty without reservation.

8. Enjoy your food, especially your vegetables. (Rudy loves broccoli, asparagus and peas.)

9.  Roll over and get your tummy scratched as often as you can.

10. Be polite to the other dogs, even if you don’t like them.

11. Going somewhere, anywhere, is a wonderful thing.

12. If someone tells you you’re great, lap it up and wag your tail in appreciation.

13. Grumble if you think the humans are being unfair. They might change their minds. 😉

14. If you need to lick your butt, don’t worry about what others might think.

15. Remember that you bring great joy and pleasure to life. 💜

You’ve brought great joy and pleasure to my  life.

 

This Is for You, M.

Some of you dear readers have probably come to the conclusion that after my nasty experience with a male narcissist that I’m a sort of man-hater. Nothing could be further from the truth. My experience with Harry has in many ways been beneficial and clichéd as it might sound, has helped me to become a better person. Not that I would recommend this method of self-improvement.

Becoming a better person lead me to M. He is the love of my life and the best man I have ever met.

I feel profoundly lucky to have found you.

Love tree
Love tree (Photo credit: @Doug88888)