Warning Signs & Stages of Toxic Relationships

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If you haven’t been exposed to a toxic relationship with a Narcissist or Sociopath, then you probably have no interest in learning about the conscience deficient, 4% of the population, that Dr. Martha Stout describes in her fascinating book, The Sociopath Next Door. But if you haven’t learned to spot the early warning signs, red flags, and the three distinct stages of a toxic relationship, then you might be at risk of falling into one of these loveless torture traps. According to Dr. Stout, clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, 4% of the population are sociopaths and don’t possess a conscience. According to research studies, 1%-4% of the population meets the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) which is characterized by a lack of empathy.

That may not sound like much, but using the world’s population currently estimated at 7.4 billion, that means that 4 percent equals approximately 385 million people who are without a conscience, not including a large number of people living on the planet who lack empathy. Unless people learn how to spot these personality types, so many will continue to fall prey to the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and sometimes financial destruction they cause. Narcissistic abuse does not usually include forms of physical abuse with physical signs like bruises. The signs of narcissistic abuse are invisible, which makes it much harder to identify. The abuse is more ambiguous and difficult to prove, but it is no less damaging because it’s a form of spiritual rape. Over time, the abuse chips away at the target’s self-confidence and self-esteem. The target isn’t even aware it’s happening until the damage has been done. The abuse is always about control. The narcissist or sociopath sees the target as a means to an end and will seek to control the target and drain them dry emotionally, financially and every which way they can. They gain the targets’ trust and love and then extract all their good qualities, with declarations of ideal and everlasting love, and absolutely no intention of delivering any in return.

Since the abuse is covert, very few outsiders understand, and as a result, are not able to offer support or empathy. Even many therapists aren’t adequately trained or knowledgeable in dealing with the damage and the post-traumatic stress often experienced by narcissistic abuse survivors. This is why it is so important to find out about the early warning signs that you might be dating a predator, and learn about the three distinct stages of the toxic relationship cycle.

Stage 1: The Idealization

“If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. But if it walks like a duck and talks like a swan, it’s a narcissist.” Anonymous

In this stage, the narcissist pours on the charm to lure their target, to emotionally gain his or her trust. He becomes the ideal partner and portrays himself as generous, loving, caring, empathetic, and a romantic person.  He will be doting and say and do all the right things to trick his target into falling madly in love with him. He, all without exception, uses a technique called “love bombing” to some degree or another.

This technique is called love bombing because he will literally bombard his target with tons of romantic gestures. Such as adoring texts, phone calls, and Facebook posts professing their love and admiration.

Within the first few weeks or month, he will often claim that no one has ever made him feel this way before and that his target is the “ONE” for him. It can be quite flattering for the target, because the narcissist morphs into the target’s “ideal” love partner, saying all the things the target has ever longed to hear. The narcissist will also claim to share the same interests, values, and dreams as his target de jour.

The narcissist will quickly declare his target his “soulmate, ” and since the target feels like she has finally met her perfect match, it feels true.

But the intoxication from the love bombing is just a ploy. Just as people who drink too much alcohol become intoxicated and lack good judgment, the intoxication of the love bombing also serves to impair the target’s judgment, and hook her into letting her guard down and the narcissist in.

The narcissist is very intense and will romance his target like no other. The honeymoon phase of the relationship will be like a scene from an epic romance movie because that is just what it is, it’s all an act. He will move the relationship at lightning fast speed and use another tactic called “future faking,” where he will talk about future plans, such as moving in together, marriage, children or vacation plans, etc….very early on in the relationship.

One of the reasons the narcissist moves the relationship so quickly is because it’s quite difficult to keep up the façade of being a loving, giving, sensitive, kind and caring individual when he really is not. He also moves the relationship quickly to destabilize his target and get her invested in the relationship before she has a chance to figure out his true character and agenda.

By the time the target does get a clue about the numerous short-lived, intense past romantic relationships with previous “soulmates,” or finds out the real reason the narcissist  is staying on his friend’s couch and doesn’t have his own place, or starts to wonder why the narcissist seems to have a ton of acquaintances, but no real close friends, it’s too late, the target has already fallen deeply in love with him.

Stage 2: The Devaluation

The once Dr. Jekyll turns into Mr. Hyde, who quickly changes the atmosphere to one of confusion, worry, and uncertainty about the relationship. The change can be swift and potent or slow and treacherous.

Once the narcissist is aware of just how much the target has fallen for him, he will become his true self, and the roller coaster ride will begin.

The narcissist, who once loved and admired everything about the target, and showered her with love, adoration, and attention, will begin to criticize and nitpick (a form of abuse much like browbeating) just about everything she does. The displays of love and affection will fade, and he will demand more and more from her while giving less and less.

Confused by his sudden change in behavior, she will instinctively work harder and harder to try to please him, and restore the relationship back to its once perfect beginnings. The narcissist will delight and take satisfaction in seeing the once confident, happy, successful target slowly sinking into despair caused by his intentionally created chaos and confusion. His ability and desire to emotionally control others gives him great pleasure and reinforces his need to feel superior and in control. Depleting a new target, via a relationship, is an excellent source of narcissistic supply that he craves in the same way a drug addict craves drugs. Supply is collected from the target, and it fills the narcissist up like helium and helps sustain, albeit very temporarily, his false sense of himself. He directs his whole behavior in the pursuit of extracting supply from others. It doesn’t matter if the supply is in the form of praise, adoration, attention or control, inflicting pain, or emotional distress. Supply is supply to the narcissist.

During the devaluation stage, no matter how hard the target tries, or what the target does, to attempt to make the narcissist happy, it will never be good enough and will not please him for any length of time.

This is the hallmark of this second stage. The narcissist will run hot and cold, and the target will feel like they are always walking on egg shells. He intuitively knows when to provide glimpses and crumbs of the idealization stage, much like a slot machine, to keep the target hooked and chasing the proverbial carrot, in hopes of recapturing the initial “love” he once provided.

Stage 3: The Discard

Narcissists detach so easily because they were never attached in the first place. The discard is inevitable and will usually blind side the target. This is the narcissist’s coup de grâce.

He will discard his target in the cruelest, most heartless ways, to inflict the greatest amount of suffering because the more the target suffers, the greater the narcissistic supply.

Often they will discard their targets before a holiday or coldly through email or text. The once professed “love of their life” will not even get the courtesy of a face to face breakup and some closure. Sometimes they will discard their target because their target may be getting wise to their games and challenging their control. Narcissists will abandon whoever they can’t control. Or perhaps, the narcissist may have extracted all they could from their target by draining their target emotionally, financially, and spiritually. They will begin to despise the target for not being the confident and happy person they once were and consider the target useless. The target, now thoroughly pillaged, will have nothing left for the narcissist to take, and he will become just plain bored and move on to fresh supply.

The narcissist will act as if you never existed or may attempt to twist the knife a little deeper by publicly flaunting their new “soulmate” within days or weeks of the break-up.

So many victims are left confused and suffer from extreme emotional pain and often descend into a major depression. Many well-intentioned family members and friends may suggest the target “just move on,” or treat the situation as a typical break-up and expect the target to just “get over it,” which only further destroys the target’s sense of self-worth.

If you recognize the early warning signs of love bombing, moving the relationship at a fast pace, future faking, or signs of the devaluation stage, the best remedy is to proceed with extreme caution or just stay single.

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Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychopathy in her blog FreeFromToxic. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a dedicated advocate, educator, and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.

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93 thoughts on “Warning Signs & Stages of Toxic Relationships

    1. I’m shocked how you nailed my “relationship” with this narcissist/sociopath:

      The idealization stage where I finally found a really smart guy “who understood him” who told me he loved me soon after we met. It took me a while to get involved because his track record with women wasn’t so good. I questioned him about it, but was swept off my feet. Once he knew I was in, the abuse began.

      The devaluation stage where, I was tap-dancing, trying to soothe him, or challenging him.

      Then the discard, because I told him he was passive-aggressive. He “broke up” with me by text and Facebook, never face to face, and posted photos a new relationship a few days later. All this in four months. This is a 49 year old man. Apparently he is engaged to this new victim from two months ago.

      Good luck to her.

    2. Holy Guacamole! You have just written an article about 10+ years of my life…By the grace of God I survived being a NVS. The memories of that relationship are only fleeting now. Your article brought a lot of clarity to those years of misery, thank you, thank you, thank you. I am happy to say that I am happily remarried now and don’t put up any guff from no one…..

    3. My relationship/marriage with my wife I thought was a happy ever-after one until her manipulative abusive behavior in every aspects transformed our unity into a “once upon a time there was a nightmare”

    1. Dear Bree, I just had “The Discard” 4 days ago. My friend sent me this article yesterday evening, after my first day back at work where I could barely get through work. I was so depressed. After reading this article, everything made sense and I am now able to free my mind that I had antything to do with it, which is the real problem I was made to believe that I had flaws that made even the guy who “I was perfect for, his soulmate, he never met anyone like me. “Thank you for filling the void in my heart and in my life” which came to my work on a dozen red roses less than two weeks ago.” He was starting to find very annoying flaws in me which I was apologizing for and trying to fix etc. then, he just so coldly said, “I don’t think we are a good match. I don’t want you to (use the plane ticket that you spent almost 400.00) to come and see me this next weekend. I was stunned, but I just went along with it and got off the phone. Then the depression set in. This article saved me. Thank you!

      1. I left out an important detail. I was calling him on his irritable way of dealing with me so I guess I was on to him and he had no further use for me.

      2. Hi K, I am so glad my article helped you make sense of his non-sense and assured you that you were not to blame or at fault. And yes you are right to assume that you challenging and questioning him is what most likely made him in my opinion, pull a power play, and discard you. Stay strong and know better things are in store for you!

  1. Thank you for this! Though I couldn’t express my emotional pain in words or have a name for my Narcopath ex boyfriend, I have been there… And God did I think I’d never get over him! Now that I’ve read this and have an assumed name for what I went through, I can express this to others and give warning to friends and family falling prey to the same emotional rollercoaster. Though I’m a tough woman and have seen and been through things most people would fall apart over, this one in particular sank me to my lowest. I have obviously since then recovered and trust when I say, it was definitely a lesson learned.

    1. Tina, what you expressed was my exact motivation for starting this blog! So thank you! There is a name and it is a form of abuse that is hard to identify and even harder to describe. I’m glad you will be able to warn others now so they will hopefully never have to experience a relationship with a Narcopath.

  2. I spent 22 years married to a Narcopath–he actually was observed and diagnosed as a psychopath with narcissistic tendencies after he built emotional drama and had inflicted so much pain, that I mistakenly felt that I was better off dead, and attempted suicide right in front of him, and he watched me eat an overdose and told me I deserved the consequences! He did not try to make me throw up. Didn’t call 911. Didn’t raise a hand to help me.
    He terrorized our children ages 12 to 5 into being quiet. They were watching me die.
    Finally, as he was acting as if a normal day was occurring, and was making dinner for them, my 12 – year-old, asked what he was going to do with the body when I was dead?
    Suddenly, he realized he would look bad, since I had been suffering the effects for nearly 5 hours, and that there were consequences. So he locked the kids in the basement, and carried me to the car, telling me how worthless I was and how all this was my fault. I was so victimized that I kept telling him how sorry I was. At the hospital, unbeknownst to me, I had a huge bruised hand print on my face where he had struck me. There was nothing to be done as the drugs had coursed through my veins for hours, except to observe and document. I told them everything was my fault.
    they could see it was not. He was confronted, and fled.
    Although, I refused to divorce, and he came back, I had agreed to see a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (still thinking everything was my fault, that I was a failure, and that I was a bad person for attempting suicide). 8 years of conversation, vomiting verbally all the abuse to my therapist, and being reinforced through positive feedback, I was strong enough, when he finally erupted and left us for divorce! He already had his new victim, snowballed, ready and dying to marry him.

    1. I’m so happy to hear that after 22 years of abuse, you managed to get out. You got strong and he could no longer control you, so he left. Good for you! I feel sorry for his new victim, as I have no doubt she is experiencing every bit of the abuse that you did.

  3. Thank you so much for this article. It’s like you were describing my relationship to a T. I feel a bit better having read this.

    1. Kelly, I’m glad that the article helped you to feel a bit better. I think reading about it helps to confirm the feelings that something was just not right, but never had a name for. Stay strong!

  4. Just out of a relationship with one of these men…I recognized many signs and stood up for myself. This made him crazy. He has begged and cried to get back together. When I refuse he becomes very nasty and tries everything to upset me. The calmer I remain the worse he gets. About 90% of this describes him. He has even gone as far as to try to tell me not to speak to his ex wife or wear jewelry that was given to me as a gift. When the text of threats and insults start they last for hours. I have finally started saying do you want me to act mad and upset? I will if it makes you feel better. That usually ends the rants for a while.

    1. Louise, it sounds like all his usual tactics didn’t work so well on you! Narcopaths will get supply any way they can. Sounds like he resorts to trying to push your buttons and cause chaos to get supply and retain control when other tactics don’t work. Good for you for seeing through him and not playing into his games!

  5. Sadly, I married a Narcopath… I’m still being drained by this financial parasite. It was a short marriage of 3.5 years – but she’s dragging out the divorce while she lives for free (2 years and counting).

    This article should be required reading for busy professionals today who use eHarmony, Match, Plenty of Fish, or any other website or program to meet people for dating.

    I wish I had read this in early 2009 before I was “lucky” enough to get mixed up with one of these 4% of the population!

  6. This is *exactly* what I wish people would understand. After marrying a narcopath, I tried so hard to tell people what I went through only to be shamed, blackballed and bullied by enablers since I was “slandering” the abuser. Unfortunately no one gets it unless it’s too late. I wish there was some way to get people to learn about sociopaths as part of standard education!

    1. Joanna, I completely agree! If we speak up, we look like we are bitter or trying to slander our abuser, when in reality, we are just speaking out about the abuse that we suffered that we didn’t recognize was a abuse at the time. My experience and the experiences of others has sent me on a mission to bring emotional literacy programs to high schools and educate teens early on about Narcs and sociopaths. It is currently in the beginning stages but the more people we can get to promote awareness and education the better! I can’t wait until the day the word NARCISSISTIC ABUSE is as common and as understood as the word “love”. Thank you for your comment. I will check out your website!

  7. How can I tell the difference? I have suffered an 18 yr N relationship. 5 years out I have met a lovely man. Kind, flattering. All the narc tendencies… Rushing the relationship. He’s 10 yrs older than me, at 63. Got money and says he wants to look after me and my family? How can I tell??

    1. Lynn, most normal people don’t love bomb. They don’t engage in over the top flattery. They don’t make promises of eternal love right of the bat. They don’t call you the love of their life or want to settle down without even knowing you very well. All these behaviors should be very suspicious because they are the common lures of predators. Proceed with caution. Control the pace of the relationship. Have firm boundaries. Ask a lot of questions. Unfortunately, you can never know if you are with a covert narcissist for sure until you get pretty close with them. Keep reading and researching about narcissism and trust your gut!

  8. Great article!! Thank you for this article. It is the best one I’ve ever read and nails ‘my feelings and thoughts’ exactly. It made me feel more understood than ever.

    I loved a narcopath and lived with him for 3 years. I gained 90 pounds, got terribly sick, lost my friends, my hobbies and self esteem and was emotionally and financially destroyed. Then one day he flipped out permanently on me and I told him if you leave again, that’s it.

    The discard was so brutal I still am having trouble and it’s been 1 year tomorrow. He conned me into opening a credit card and buying $3,000 worth of furniture that he would pay. A month later he discarded me, our house, the bills, etc…

    and Without so much as a real goodbye, my ‘fiancé’ never spoke to be again and then slandered me publicly. And still does. He put a lawyer on me tried to have me evicted and even contacted my coworkers to get me fired. All this while I struggled with my health and was on my sick bed. He called my friends and family to play the victim card. I had to take out a bank loan just so I could eat and pay the bills as I only had a part time job at the time. And he knew he was destroying me.

    So when I read in your article there is an actual victim mental disorder I finally exhaled. I’ve never experienced such trauma and pain from a breakup. I keep saying I have PTSD. It’s more about how I was the love of his life and then how he discarded and treated me post breakup. He live bombed me on large scale and said everything I wanted to hear. However in my gut I never felt emotionally safe or emotionally secure with that man. I always felt he was a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ that could turn on someone in an instant. I tried to leave but I already lived him and he convinced me I was the problem.

    I’m having trouble reconciling all of this and just hope I’ll find a therapist who can put the pieces of my self esteem back together again. Thank you for this amazing info and sharing it with the world. . I feel like printing it out. 🙂

  9. I have been married to this type of person for over 21 years. He said all the right things in the beginning and made me feel loved and wanted. Throughout the years he cheated on me several times, was addicted to drugs and there was some physical abuse. After the first 10 years I started feeling horrible about myself, but was unsure if he was the issue or if something was wrong with me. I would talk to my friends and they would say to get rid of him, but he would tell me how much he loved me and how nobody loved him like I did, and then he would say how my friends were a bad influence on me and only wanted to break us apart. Well, fast forward to last year. He pulled an all nighter out and when he came home I told him to get out. More honestly I said I could not take any more and he had to decide whether to stay or go. I said if he stayed he had to pay the rent, so he took his money and left. I told him once we told the kids, I would not accept him back. My oldest daughter (age 19) said if he came back she would walk out of my life for good. My love for my daughter won and every time I weakened to maybe let him back, she reminded me that she would leave. He moved in with a female friend half his age. He continued to stop by and tell my son how much he loved me and how we should get back together. My son still thinks he is a good guy. My husband then started ignoring me for months and then laying on the charm again. It turns out all the times he lays on the charm, I discover that he is flat broke. I am now strong enough to be done with him. I have been paying his $100 phone bill since he left a year ago. Two weeks ago I told him I was cutting off his number and transferring it to his name so he can pay it. He has now started slandering me all over social media. In fact, he says horrible things about me and then follows them with things that I said to him like, I said we need to do more things together and spend time together, you should spend more times with the kids, we need to plan to buy a house. But, the kicker is he is saying that he tried to buy a house with me and he tried to be good father and he wanted to spend time with me, but I just refused any attempts he tried to make our relationship work. I am devastated and want to rebuttal with all the horrible things he did to me over the years, but anytime I make a comment like, I am now thinking of my happiness, He says how selfish I am and how I only care about myself and this is how it has been all along. I keep telling myself that the people who read these things about me can make their own decisions about what kind of person I am, because this past year has been the most relaxing of my life. In fact, my kids spend more time with me in the living room now then they ever did when he lived with us.

  10. I was married to one for 19 years. He told me he wanted a divorce the day before Mother’s Day while he was stationed in Greenland for a year. He was already engaged to his now wife and when he came home on leave that October I found evidence that he had placed an ad on Craigslist looking for others to have intimate relations with. When the divorce was final I was left indigent with a special needs child that I was still trying to figure out how to help. I’m finally making progress in my life after 4 years but I still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, my family doesn’t understand or want to understand the needs of my son and have pretty much said that the child and family investigator report filed during the divorce that made me out to be an unfit mother and mental case and my ex to be father of the year was all true. His side of the family abandoned me because of the lies and half truths he told them and people I thought were my friends abandoned me during the divorce so, I have no support system. It’s been a long hard road but I take it one day, one step, at a time and will continue to do so for the sake of my son. Thank you for the article, it was very enlightening.

    1. There is a lot of recent research that suggest that people are born with a genetic predisposition and other biochemical and biological factors that are linked to NPD. Environmental influence such as parenting can enhance or suspend the expression of these factors.

  11. I recently walked out of a relationship like this. I was married and so I am going through the divorce now. I was always looking for the physical abuse and not the emotional and mental ones. Luckily I figured it out and as soon as i did I was gone. I am a single mom now but I managed to get my own place despite financial issues. I feel great about it!
    The thing is that I started talking to someone else recently and he is doing all the things in the first sign. I do NOT want to go from one abusive relationship to another so what kind of questions should I ask to get a feeling for if this person is a Narcopath?

    1. The problem with asking questions is that if he is a narcopath, he will lie and his answers will be all very convincing. The best way to tell is to observe his actions and trust your instincts. Read my article the 9 Definitive Signs You Are Dating A Narcissist. But I think the key thing in the beginning is normal people do not “love bomb”, this is a typical lure of predators.

  12. I am stuck, married, in one of these relationships. He builds me up the cuts me down and makes me think it’s my fault. Deep down I know it’s not and it’s his need to control and keep me where he wants me but at the same time I keep thinking I married him I put myself in this situation, moved away from family and friends, committed myself to buying a house and car together and basically taking care of both him and his mother. Almost daily he berates me for making mistakes and not doing something the right way, his way. But when I call him on it he becomes either defensive and starts talking about how we are no longer compatible or he starts crying that he doesn’t know how to be any other way. Then I either panic that we’ll break up or I feel like I’m being to hard on him. The worse part is I have no one to talk to because we have no friends and the friends I had were left behind. Also I am NEVER alone long enough to get on the phone and talk to someone about it. I see all the signs I just wish I had known before I changed my whole life for this.

  13. I went through 8 years during my college days with a Narcopath boyfriend. This cycle of abuse was repeated over and over again for many years without me even realizing what was happening. I should have known better because, he admitted early on that he grew up in abusive home with a drug addict mom who was absent and her boyfriends would beat on him and probably sexually abuse him. He never admitted to the sexual abuse but, I believe that it did happen. That actually made me fell sorry for him….part of the Love Bombing technique. I was too young and naive at 18 years old to understand early on that this man was toxic as well as the relationship. He was very charming early on and was constantly calling, coming by the house, knocking on my window late at night, searching for me till he would find where I was. He said very early on….How did I find someone like you?….Love Bombing.

    I was completely devestated after college when we reconciled and he gave me all the lines to pull me back in. He gave me all the love bombing lines and actually told me that he wanted to marry me. Only 2 months later, he was moving to another state. I was suspicious and very upset/confused. Low and behold, I find out that he was engaged to a woman he had previously left me for once before!!! They are now married with 2 children. He actually told me that he forced her to have 2 abortions when they were together and we were apart!!! She was married and must have divorced her 2nd husband to go back to him. Big mistake but, not for me. Her mistake saved me from a life of hell I have no doubt. I still battle with the lack of closure and understanding why but, I also feel grateful. I dodged a huge bullet.

    These type of people have disease and are truly evil and not fixable. STAY AWAY FROM THEM! You will never fix them know matter how hard you try to get through to them. It has been hard for me to have relationships after going through this. I truly do have post traumatic stress disorder with dating after years of emotional/psychological abuse. It is not worth the risk of your mental health or wasting time when you could be finding someone that would never treat you this way.

  14. this article nailed in on the head for me it’s like you’ve been in my bad relationships! I try not to have regrets but I wish I’d seen this years ago when I was young and naive, I hope many other people see this and get out of these toxic relationships

    1. My hope is that many young people and people who have not had this experience become aware that 1 out of every 26 people you meet are narcissists/ sociopaths. Everyone needs to know the signs to watch for to protect themselves. Thank you for commenting.

  15. Big Sigh of resonation!! Like most everyone else here this article hits home and my life to a “T” ……I did get out of the marriage but unfortunately he is the father of my 4 ½ year old twin boys. I feel like I sold my soul to the devil because now I have to (and my children) be exposed to his sickness for the rest of my life. I’m trying to find some coping skills but I am falling short because this situation is making me ill. I pray for my children’s sake it doesn’t shorten my life. I need to learn how to not let him get to me.

      1. Eileen, co-parenting with an adult 5 year-old who has no idea how to co- anything as in compromise and work together is a huge challenge. Many people opt for what is called parallel patenting instead. I have posted some articles about this on my Facebook Page Narcissistic Abuse and Toxic Relationship Forum, but you can use google to find lots of information about the parallel parenting technique. One of the main things is to only communicate over email and text and cc a third party on all correspondences. Keep a journal of any deviations from the parenting plan. The more you can reduce contact with him the better for you. Keep him from denying, lying and twisting the truth by always having a third party around whenever you have to discuss anything. Hope this helps! Wish you all the best and most of all peace- Bree

  16. Would love to do know your thoughts. For many years I went out with narcotic behaviour and was super controlling. Years later it was explained to me that people like this can be this way due to some abuse in their lives, maybe steaming from their childhood, weather it be physical,, mental or sexual abuse.
    Hope you can help me to understand this

    1. Hi R, In my 15+ years as a practicing psychotherapist, I have heard stories of unspeakable childhood abuse. Most child abuse survivors do not develop personality disorders like NPD as a result. But to answer your question, yes , I believe many narcs have probably endured some sort of childhood abuse whether it was physical, emotional, sexual or parental over-indulgence. Research indicates that there is a biological predisposition that is either enhanced or suppressed depending upon environmental factors such as parenting etc… Narcs know what they are doing is wrong. They intentionally inflict pain, manipulate and control others. They can turn it on and off. So although, previous child abuse may have contributed to their disorder, to me, it in no way lessons their culpability in my opinion.

  17. WOW! I’m dealing with the end stage now after seven years. The love bomb did set off warnings for me, but i felt so good. There really was some awesome stuff for the first two years, but now I am a mess. I even took her back after she cheated about two years ago. Fortunately, I never shared financial info with her. I will share this info with my daughters.

  18. I was in this kind of relationship for 3years, i was convinced i had found the man of my dreams. As it turns out, he turned into My mental living nightmare. I was 100% blind sighted. I couldnt believe he cut me down, chopped me up n fed me to the ants. Such pain that i ended up going to the doctor for depression. Amazing the damage one human being can do.
    My son asked that i dont get another boyfriend cuz he didnt want to see me cry anymore.
    So all this was almost 4 months ago. now im dating a wonderful guy, but the sad part is that everything he does im looking for signs to a narcissist. I want to keep seeing him, but im so leery about so many things.
    Is it me being cautious or is this normal?!?!

    1. Mayra, after what you have experienced you should be cautious! Very cautious. Trust your instincts! They will not mislead you. You know the red flags now, so don’t ignore them. Keep your boundaries very firm and most of all, set the pace of the relationship. Take it slow. Narc’s hate that because it gives you time to figure out who they are and their history. Best~ Bree

  19. Bree Bonchay, I was wondering if you could email me I have a few questions I would like to ask about writing my story living with a narc. It’s very long and even though divorced the battle still continues. The consent fear and control this man has over my life is a nightmare. It’s time to put him in his place. For a few years I have thought about writing about my 25+ years with him. I’ve just recently learned the word narassast from my therapist and it fits him to a T. He emotionally, mentally and financialy abuses me still to this day. I came across your blogs on Facebook in hopes you maybe able to help me. I can explain more later. Please email me at nanihulagirl@gmail.com if you can lead me in some kind of direction. THANK YOU

  20. Holy Mary, Mother of God! Everything you write on this subject is a true copy of my (Only,..luckily!) 3 year marriage! My Monster finished of any feelings I ever had for him with a supposed suicide attempt…… (I survived my own attempt, or rather stupid, stupid action in connection with getting drunk, and, No! I do not usually drink and haven’t touched alcohol since, which was last year in May)…anyway, his attempt, where he only took pain killers. I am sorry to say….NO! Happy to say, that from the moment he did that, I felt nothing. Remembering his treatment of me and his attitude…(“How could you be so selfish and do this to me! That’s so evil and hurtful, I’ll need therapy now”! And indeed yes, he has been seeing therapist and psychiatrist ever since, blaming me, and “all the bad” I’ve done!….(Like; cooking, cleaning, laundry, looking after the dog, doing the yard work, washing “his” car, cutting his hair and his toe nails because the dude is 460lbs and can’t do it him self!, and a lot of other things, like, everything! LOL!) Like I said, I felt absolutely nothing. He spent one week in psychiatric ward, as I had done a year before, and wow!, he was completely changed when he came home! Cold-hearted, mean, even more than I have ever experienced. But now I know why. He knew I was good and well on to him,and he knew I did not love him anymore. And so, his big finale; I couldn’t sleep, and got up to chat with my sister online. Dude comes in, “What’s wrong”? Me: “I’ve had it with you. I’m leaving. I’m tired of your play acting.” Dude turns and storms out , rattling his pill bottles in the kitchen, then slams the bedroom door. Okay, I’m a sucker, I fell for it! As much as I don’t give a rat’s…”bottom” for him anymore, I don’t care to see people try to kill them selves, right? Wrong! He’s not going to do it anyway. So I go in and try to open the bedroom door, but he has jammed his walking cane under the door knob, so I can only open it about 5-6 inches. Low and behold!, Dude sitting on edge of bed rocking his 460lbs back and forth vigorously…crying…to 911! “She’s trying to break in! She’s going to hurt me! I know she’s going to hurt me…she’s trying to break in”! My phone was in the charger in the bedroom and I told him to stop his nonsense and give it to me so I could call the police. But, the brilliant Dude had already done that! I opened the door to two scared looking police officers, one spoke with me and the other to my husband. The other came back in to me and said words to the effect of “I think it’s time you begin to take care of your self…I think it might be time to get away from this man.” I have no doubt in my mind that they very well knew what was going on! It’s called “framing”. Unfortunately, for the Dude, it didn’t work. This has been an ongoing theme throughout our marriage. I have always stayed honest, kept my pride in doing so, and in spite of the fact that I put up with this person for three years, I have never been in doubt of certain things. 1. I am a good person possessing the typical good traits (As I now have learned) that makes for a good Narc Victim 2. I never did a single thing to deserve this treatment. Every time he has called the police, I see the confusion in the eyes of the officers. And I have known every time that they do not believe my husband. So, when this last officer said what he said to me, knowing that it was from the goodness of his heart, and probably not the politically correct thing for a police officer to say, i knew it was time. In the early morning hours the Dude left the house, and I called a police officer to come and pick me and my dog up and take us to a Shelter. I have now been away…and intend “NO contact”…3 months. I apologize for this “novel”, but I feel that it helps me to speak of these things. The more people who know, the better. It helps me feel stronger and I know that those who read this, know and understand every word. I have thought of whether it can be dangerous to be so open about my life, but seriously, I do not care. I will not be silenced and controlled anymore. i am safer among many who know and understand, than I am alone. My heart breaks for the one who I read has spent 22 years in this kind of hell! The thing that hurts me most is to hear about the ones who are still caught up in it! God bless each and every one of you, whether you be still in it, or well out of it, or like me, slowly on my way to recovery, and feeling new born!

    Much love, hope and prayers, and thank you for reading this xx

  21. I was part of a relationship like this, except he was also physically abusive which adds so much more anxiety and tension and multiplies that “walking on eggshells” feeling to the extreme. I left him, pressed charges, and now he is engaged to someone he used to compare me to. I worked with a counsellor for two years to undo the damage he did to my whole being – I am still working on it. Thank you for this article that defines so accurately what I experienced and will help others avoid it.

  22. BPD male here, pretty much convinced that I have been in a relationship for almost 2 years with an NPD woman until she dropped me by letter in April this year. Let me state up front, I have been far from perfect. I don’t use my abuse as a child as a defence, but it was there nonetheless. I never felt safe enough emotionally to share it with her so intimacy suffered from the start. I was also a sex addict and sexual anorexic with massive abandonment issues (from both emotional and sexual abuse as a child). So, not a good start. I also quit my high pressure job 6 months after we met, thinking it was the job sending into a depressive downward spiral. Her solution to that was to invite me to move in with her….and her two sons, which obviously sounded very attractive given that she appeared to be my perfect match AND my history makes me susceptible to having/wanting a loving family of my own…My plan was to follow my dream of being a designer and artist on a freelance basis, which she openly and energetically encouraged despite my warnings that it would make money tight for some time, and which of course was used against me at the end. She swore she was not interested in material things or money…also used against me at the end.

    Our first date (at her house), she practically jumped on me, dragging me to her bedroom (I know how that sounds but it’s true. red flag 1.), though I made it clear I wanted more than a one night stand. She informed me early in the relationship (during the love bombing phase) that she didn’t ‘do conflict’, and it soon became clear that actual communication was nigh on impossible for her (red flag 2.). This made things VERY difficult given that one of her sons has behavioural ‘issues’, and to this day I’m uncertain if it really was sensory processing disorder or passive aggressiveness. Either way, she did nothing about it in terms of child rearing or treatment, which caused friction, especially when his bad behaviour impacted on my own Son and on the quality of life of the family. Her admission that she often ‘didn’t confront her own children in the hope of an easy life’ was red flag number 3. I was made to feel like the bad guy because I don’t stand for bad manners or behaviour and take my parenting my Son very seriously, while she did nothing in terms of setting boundaries or disciplining either of her sons (she started to reprimand my Son for nothing indiscretions towards the very end of the relationship, in order to ‘even’ the score)…..tbc assuming I don’t get too much abuse…

    btw this is the best description of NPD I’ve come across in my weeks of research….

    1. Rich, thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad you are doing your research on NPD and hope you are getting counseling for your BPD so you may enjoy more satisfying relationships. Peace & Happiness to you!

  23. There’s a lot that I’d like to say, but I’m not comfortable talking about it yet on here. I’ve been reading all of these articles and omg, I’ve finally discovered what I lived with for so many years. I was diagnosed with ptsd and manic depression a couple years after my divorce. I don’t know if I even know how to get back to this site again. All of this information has helped me tremendously. I will keep reading until I get the courage to post more.

  24. Thank you for this post! I only discovered this site today, so feel free to point me to another post where you tackle the delicate question: What made me vulnerable? This is a challenging question because it can all too easily fall into victim-blaming! I don’t mean it at all that way. There is a fine line between blaming the victim (e.g., “it’s your fault because you didn’t see the lovebombing”) and empowering the victim to protect themselves (e.g., “if you do xyz, lovebombing because less effective”)! The blame still rests squarely with the abuser because he/she took advantage of vulnerabilities, heck, he/she targeted a person based on certain (often, imo, rather positive) characteristics (like a big emotional heart…).

    This is just like I wear sunblock to protect myself against sunburn, I am wondering if there’s something I can do to make myself less of a target to a narc – because by the time the lovebombing starts my brain is so muddled, I find it hard to disentangle myself. 🙁 It seems like they smell that lovebombing works on me… (I just recently ended a relationship in which the guy advertised himself as helping me heal from a marriage to a narc – only to do the same thing all over again! Talk about painful! I thought I had learned but I am guessing now that intellectual understanding isn’t enough…)

    1. I might’ve just found my answer: I didn’t know about this website! 🙂 Seriously: I just read about selective ignoring – and I started to remember all the selective ignoring I ignored! It annoyed me, yes, but I didn’t know that this is a warning sign! Ha! Maybe it *was* information I lacked after all. Well, and trusting my instincts and setting boundaries – including with the selective ignoring… Yes! Feeling empowered 🙂

      (Here’s the link: http://relationshipedia.me/2015/06/04/the-early-warning-sign-of-a-toxic-person-you-never-hear-about/ ).

    2. Rachel, that’s a great question! I like your analogy about sunblock. I am actually in the process of making a You Tube Video and writing an article about the 4 things you can do to make yourself less of a target. If you haven’t already, follow my blog via email and it will be delivered directly to your inbox! Thank you for your insightful comment. ~ Bree

  25. These happened to me. She poured it on, I fell, she turned insanely toxic. When I brought up about how she has become with me, I got blamed, told that I’m the one that has a problem and if I can’t handle her, then that is my fault; never her’s. Anything I tried to tell her was always reflected back at me as thought I was attacking her when I just wanted her to be nice to me.

  26. I’m trying SO hard to understand exactly what he was/is. He did the love bombing/devaluation and discard so he fits the early warning signs. But he blamed me because he tried to “steal” me from the man I was living with (that all his lovebombing made me question this relationship and consider leaving the man I was living with), but I couldn’t run out on this other man. Things went too fast and I felt in my gut it wasn’t right. I was in a bad place because I knew I was doing things wrong, but I was hooked in and didn’t know what to do. He actually discarded his wife and 4 adult children for me (I had told him to slow down and to NOT leave for me). I wanted him to leave because he was finished with his marriage He told me how mean and abusive she was. He left her with no notice while she was at work and wanted to move right in with me (I think he was scared to be alone). Anyway, it’s been a couple years and I was totally devastate because I found out he had another woman the whole time, moved away and married her all the time telling me I was the one he wanted and they were only friends. I told him he had every right to move on since I was not out of my relationship and all I asked is he tell me he was moving on. Of course he did not. He coldly left without a word (like his ex wife) and less than a year later flaunted this new wife on Facebook, praising her and how happy and in love they are. Even though I understand he had every right to move on, it’s the way he moved on. I still felt betrayed and hurt. It’s like he never knew me. I struggle with that because I was always nice and supportive to him and thought he loved me. So, is he a narcopath? I read so many websites saying how rare narcissist personality disorder is. I’m afraid he IS happy with her and it WAS my fault as he told me time and again. I hate to admit this, but I DO NOT want him to be happy after what he did to me and his ex-wife. Is it past behavior is best predictor of future? I would appreciate opinions. It’s been 2 years and I can’t move on from this 🙁

  27. This describes my situation to a T!

    I left my N when I started digging and researching. We were only about 2 months in.

    The first month, he was the perfect man. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, talking about him. I was completely in love. He would write beautiful and true and seemingly genuine things about me… Love notes. And we would just stare into each others eyes. Just for an hour straight. I felt like we were talking to each other with our eyes. His gaze was warm and welcoming. He was incredible and warm and caring and loving, really everything I could ever ask for. And he made me laugh until I cry. I would’ve married him in a heartbeat.

    And then we started traveling together. I met him while he was sober, and when we began traveling, he began to drink again. (He’s also an alcoholic, something he hid from me as well.) I confused his behavior change with his drinking, when in reality, he showed every single trait of a true narcissist. Maybe it was the drinking too, I will never know.

    And the sex. It was the best sex of my life. But it started getting weird, he would choke me, which I liked, at first. I stopped liking it when I made the realization that he could only get off when he was choking me hard. Sex was just a performance for him, and he always strived for an orgasm all times of the day. I would wake up to him watching porn on multiple occasions.

    And he would lie and lie and lie, and he would believe his own lies. Somewhere along the way, he stopped every single bit of eye contact, and when I called him out on it, he would STARE intensely into my eyes and I remember wanting him to stop looking at me. Once he did it in the first month, and I said jokingly, “You’re looking at me like you’re about to eat me!” And then I laughed.

    And he never wanted to stop bragging about himself. He would tell the same stupid stories, all centered around him, or name dropping. We met celebrities together in the first stage, and he acted like he had no interest in them at the time, and then whenever we were around his friends, he would tell fabricated stories of their interactions with him, still playing it off like it wasn’t a big deal to him. It was ridiculous to watch.

    I broke it off just three days ago. I find myself still incredibly in love with the first version of him. Oftentimes I just want to call him and run back to him, and help him through everything. It is in those moments that I resort to these articles and remember. I hope its killing him that he DIDNT win. NOT this time. He calls me and says fake things. “I can’t stop thinking about you.” eat ect ect. In a reaaaally strange, acting tone. I have deleted him off social medias and gotten rid of his number, but I still wonder about him.

    My main question, (One that I can’t find an answer to on google) In the first idealization stage, how were the eyes of your N? Were they seemingly genuine and warm and welcoming? Any descriptions of eye contact in the first stage will be so helpful. I would really like to know this.

    1. Hi, that’s an interesting question and I almost thought you were describing the x narc until you mentioned the best sex of your life part. During the idealization stage my x N would do the same long staring into each other’s eyes part. He would always ask me, “do you see it?” I would respond, “see what?” And he would say your future. At that time I was in love with him and didn’t notice anything odd about his eyes.
      But later I did, they were flat and hollow at times. I said it to him once. He replied, “don’t say that”. I thought it was a weird response. But Google psychopath stare. You will find that in the beginning of relationships they do use that ‘loving ‘stare in a hypnotic way on their targets.
      I think in the beginning their eyes are more lively because they are putting on a facade and probably get a bit of a rush from having a new target in their cross hairs. Hope that helps. Good for you for protecting yourself. Stay free and happy!

  28. 15 years of my life – discard as i faced major illness and on my birthday – 2.5 years now of sheer insanity and begging him – i am too much of a headcase after reading your website tonight and i am sitting here in disbelief – questioning am i insane – thankyou – my marriage was a lie – one big stinking lie

  29. wow. I was married to this 3.5yrs but didn’t know his behavior had a diagnosis. I wonder if it is hereditary? When I left him, his mother called me a couple of times trying to brow beat me into going back to him. She said I should act like a real woman/wife and go back to live up to my vows and how could a marriage work if I wasn’t willing to change and be what HE needed me to be so he could be happy. We have a child together so I still have to deal with his behavior occasionally but he takes meds now so it isn’t like it used to be!
    Thank you for your article. it is truly enlightening and confirmation I really DID do the right thing by leaving.

  30. Over four years of googling , this is the most accurate and profound information that I have found . I cannot thank you enough

    🙂

  31. Hi Bree,
    I wondered what you might think about my weird experience… with a Narc? Sociopath? Bi-Polar? Schizophrenic perhaps?…
    W. contacted me via Facebook. W contacted me via Facebook last October. As an active member of many fan groups dedicated to music I post quite a lot of stuff. He was just added to one of the groups, saw my posts , liked them and immediately sent me a private message.
    As a 52- years old childless and separated woman I got a bit curious who this guy might be. He sounded funny, witty and smart, so I decided to continue our conversation.
    W. asked me to send him a couple of photos and provided me with a few of his. He was a good-looking, handsome and sporty type of a man of 70, but did not look older than 60. A retired and divorced nurse, with adult kids living all over the country.
    Soon we were chatting on Messenger for three, four, sometimes six hours and daily. I started to become addicted to our chats I must admit…
    Since I had nobody to talk to ( my three dogs do not count much) , I think it is easy to understand.
    On the fifth day he said he had fallen in love with me. Proposed to me on day six.
    I was very suspicious and cautious ; I thought, ” How on hell could this guy have fallen in love with you knowing NOTHING about you??” We could not even meet in person, for he lived in Canada and I live in Central Europe…

    W was very smart with words. When he dropped his first L- bomb I said ,”Look, I don´t like big words.” He replied at once, ” Oh, Canada is such a big country! We use a lot of big words here”. He always seemed to have the perfect answer to just anything I might doubt or distrust.
    In a few days he started showering me with his over-the-top flattery, affection, attention – whenever I logged in, he was there – online ( ” I am here for you 24/7″). I thought to myself , ” This guy must be making fun of you”, so I took it lightly and just played the game to see what is going to happen next. After a short time h e made me feel there was strong connection between us in spite of 8,300 km; he was always able to sense how I was feeling in that particular moment – sad, excited, upset, happy, depressed. Whenever I was depressed, he immediately phoned me to cheer me up. I said to myself, “Wow.. if this guy is able to sense how you feel from that huge distance, what might he be able to do if he were here with me?” It was just amazing and … magical! Yes, I felt that way. I was his soulmate, the love of his life. The reason for his life, God blessed him with me. He loved me more than life itself.
    After several days he started being more and more pushy and I said I loved him too, and when he proposed to me I accepted, actually still taking it all as a potential joke.
    But then, one day I suddenly saw a long post on his Facebook page announcing all his friends and family he had found “the one ” and “special” woman, was ready to commit to her and relocate to Europe!
    I could see a lot of comments made by his ex-wife, his sons and stepdaughter congratulating him and wishing both of us a lot of good luck…
    I have to admit I was perplexed, my mouth almost fell on the floor. Literally.
    After he had posted his announcement along with a photo of me, his flattery and attention were almost endless, I could hardly take a breath.
    I knew W was divorced and homeless living in his small car, so I got suspicious he might be just one of those losers who had nothing to lose anymore, but were trying to gain a lot.
    He must have sensed my doubts because that moment he asked me , “Do you have any doubts about me?”. I replied, ” Do you expect me to support you in the financial meaning?”. he replied, “No.”
    I read in one of his earlier posts on FB he did not fancy the idea of paying high rents for expensive rooms or houses, so he decided to live in his car and save up for a motorhome. Alright, it all made sense to me. He received his regular pension, so he was not an unemployed guy with zero income after all.
    Our daily chats were still great, however… from time to time something strange appeared. Now and then W. sounded very childish and immature, he seemed to be living in a childish fantasy world.
    Once we were roleplaying a situation I was not very comfortable with ( it involved some quite graphic sex) and said, “Hey, watch out…sorry, a red flag”. That moment he got offended, quit the conversation saying ” Now I was hurt and must go and reflect” and went offline. So did I..
    I think any normal person would apologize and promise not to do it again. He did not.

    The next day he was not on Messenger, but instead wrote me an email saying the thing he hated the most was “changing rules in the middle of the playing field”, how I “floored him” with my comment the previous night, wished me good luck in the future and used a lot of expressions such as, “God bless you “, etc. and telling me how he will hold me in his heart forever. How he hates having to say goodbye to me, but there is nothing else he can do….

    I was reading this message thinking, “WTF? Is he making fun of me , trying to manipulate something, or what? It was just a GAME, and a pretty silly one. We were not planning the best strategy for the most important war operation in Iraq! He acts like a 7 year-old boy, not a 70 year-old adult man.” . I replied to this email explaining I had no idea about his rules ( he did not tell me), how I thought his reaction was disproportional to the situation and … suddenly I found myself on the defensive end of the converastion apologizing for hurting him ! I also asked if he was sure he was normal and healthy, which I think every average and healthy person would find offensive – he did not. He admitted in his family they had some mental issues, his mom suffered from schizophrenia, his dad was a heavy alcoholic and his brother had some mental problems which led to his suicide at the age of 40, so who knows.

    This incident kept me pretty alerted, to tell the truth. All the time I had a feeling there must be something wrong with that man, but I just could not put my finger on it.
    In December W. decided he could not possibly live without me any longer. He wanted to relocate as soon as possible and scheduled his flight for January 10th. Instead of being happy as a kid on Christmas Day I got really scared. I thought, ” Boy, this is moving too fast!” . Especially when he added, ” I was thinking hard where to find the money for my flight ticket because I will still need to pay some bills in Canada in January and February. I was thinking hard … and – I got an idea! Who cares about some stupid bills! And I do not intend to return to Canada anymore. NoNow , I have the money and I can be with my baby in acouple of weeks!”
    He threw me off balance, totally. What kind of person is the man who he does not honor his financial obligations??
    However, I said nothing to him.To be honest, I was still convinced he must be making fun of me….
    On the day of his scheduled arrival I went to the airport and was waiting in the arrival lounge. And when he suddenly turned up, I got incredibly emotional!
    I ran up to him, hugged and kissed him saying, ” So you did come indeed! I can´t believe my eyes!!” But… his reaction was strange. He was somewhat indifferent, only kissed me lightly saying, “Hi, baby” and immediately made his way to the exit. I could see a stupid smile on his face and felt something was… not quite right. I would have expected him to kiss me more, be much more moved, show a lot more happiness and joy…
    We were travelling to my home by bus and all the way he was talking to all the people around us and flirting with the women who happened to sit close enough. I was now something like a live accessory. Strange. In my flat the situation was similar. So talkative on Messenger, he hardly said anything to me. I started showing him lots of things in my flat as I expected he would be interested in everything in a foreign country – and supposedly his new home. But he could hardly keep attention on anything for a longer time, a few minutes and he was distracted, not noticing what I was telling him anymore. Apparently unable to stay focused for a longer time if it was not his thing. He moved on to the next thing. And again.
    In bed he was good ( although he suffers from PED), however… it was much about him being satisfied with his own performance rather than making a genuine effort to please me. It did not feel quite right.
    The very next day he started criticising everything: my flat ( cold, too small, too bad, sub-standard), the city ( ugly, boring, all buildings look the same – he could not understand why foreign tourists loved it, bla, bla). He could not live in such a country, this not a home for him. Prices are too high. Music ” consumes” me. In bed I was too quiet. He wanted me to be louder and talk dirty to him. He insisted he must be my # 1 prority, as he had only come here for me and all his time, his devotion and his money were mine now, anything else – my interests, passions, friends, job must be my priorities number 2,3, 15 or 29. He is my Number One now. .
    went to work and left him alone for several hours. on the first day. He made lunch, took the dogs out and fed them, all was ready when I returned. Second day the situation repeated, the third day he probably came to a conclusion he had made a great first impression and that was just enough – and he changed. A petty thing made him offended, he did not cook anymore, I took the dogs for a walk. He went out with me – or not. Started to be moody and hurt easily. I began to walk on eggshells not sure what might set him off. Everything he did was “my way or the highway” . No compromises, no respect to my wishes, wants or needs.
    He started making hundreds of plans – once he wanted this, next minute something else. Ordered me like a boss- do this, find this website, look up this information. Next minute all plans were forgotten and he had another idea. In fact, he did not know what he really wanted or where he was going .
    After nine days he said he wanted me and the dogs to … relocate to New Zealand (!!) . Just take the dogs and walk out, get on a plane to Auckland, leave your job, this ass….le.WHAT? I could hardly believe my ears!
    I said no, I was not going anywhere. He got pissed off, went online and said he had booked his flight ticket to Auckland. Then he grabbed his bag with the few things he owned ( a few items of clothing, a very old towel and a toothbrush – ALL his worldly possessions) and walked out to a hostel.

    A few days later I got an email from him saying he was still in the hostel waiting for his plane back to Canada. He wrote it in a very sad, pitiful manner and I immediately got an impression he was trying to manipulate me into feeling sorry he was leaving so that I would take him back home. He said he felt fully responsible for the failure of our relationship, as he was unable to cope with my passion for my dogs and the world of music – maybe a better man could handle it. Like several times before, he wished me good luck in any future venture and claimed his heart was now “locked and sealed” for good
    .I did not reply and he flew back to Toronto to stay with his younger son.

    When he left, I got in touch with his ex-wife to ask her what I had done wrong. She said -nothing for sure , it was most definitely him. In their 30 years of marriage W. was very self-centered, controlling and manipulative. They moved 31 times all across Canada. Before marrying her W. had already been married twice, each relationship failed. Her friends said she was the one who kept W. stable for so long as she is extremely patient and tolerant. However, their second bakruptcy together was the last straw and she decided she was better off on her own divorced from him. She said he could not manage or save money, lived pension to pension. If he wanted something he did not care how this would get paid, for he just went and did it. In this way he was bankrupt at least five times in his life!
    She also said W. had probably overwhelmed me with his outlandish fantasies trying to spend money that did not exist; he did not even have enough money for his way back to Canada and his son had to lend him some. However, she did not want to warn me in advance as she thought I might not believe her and think she was trying to sabotage things, so she did not want to interfere.
    Later I found several articles describing sociopaths and almost everything fits! Incredibly charming, intelligent, witty, funny changing colours like a chameleon. Bragged with a long list of achievements – companies he had, jobs he did, all of them short-lived or only logos or names – he set them up and closed down before starting doing any business due to the lack of finances or investors ready to sponsor the project.. No real life plans, goals, did not know what he really wanted himself. Bossy, selfish, only he knew everything better even if factually he was wrong. You tried explaining the reality to him and he did not get it!
    Taking no responsibility for his decisions or actions, always blaming other people.
    He was dreaming his “Fugue Dreams”, as he called them in which everything was possible – there were no issues, no limits or restrictions, no illnesses or accidents, no money needed. I think this world of fantasy and reality mixed up in his mind creating a bizzare blend of ideas and nobody was able to explain him they were wrong or impossible…
    I know after returning to Canada he only spent a few days with his son who purchased him the flight ticket to Vancouver and W. went to live with his friend. however, after 3 months he fell out with him and moved out to stay in … a forest. Then flew to Florida to pick up a car which he had been promised as a free giveaway, but turned out to be a free scam instead . from there he returned to Toronto by buses, spent a few days in Salvation Army dormitory and thenwas sharing a room with a guy in a building belonging to some foundation. I do not know what is happening to him right now, I assume he has already moved in somewhere else. Or found another victim.
    I was just wondering what agends this guy had – perhpas was trying to find somewhere to live, or a warm bed and a woman to sleep with as a bonus, or perhaps he needed a relationship as an “island of stability” in his totally messy and chaotic life… I don´t know. If you can give me some insight I will be very grateful 🙂

    1. Hi Eva, I have to say his leaving after 9 days was definitely a blessing and you dodged a huge bullet.
      Who can know for sure what his agenda was but from what you describe it’s probably a combination of the things you mentioned. He sounds just as unstable (mentally and emotionally) as his living situations have been. Usually narcs and sociopaths try to meet their basic needs of food, shelter, sex, etc… and the excitement of moving and ideal love probably serves as a distraction from the misery of his internal world. Hope that helps. Peace and happiness.

  32. Scary!! I’ve been with one for 18 years and it’s been one hell of a ride. He’s taken everything from me, my sense of respect, spirit , independence , happiness , health, basically my life is turned upside down. He’s sick, master manipulator and can fool just about anybody. My advice to women out there is if you meet a man like this – RUN!!! They are no good, evil is what I call it. My plans for the future is to leave him and start over. It’s for the best , I deserve better and he needs mental help.

  33. I am a 61 YO man. Divorced, Retired Marine Officer, practice law. Fell in love with a childhood sweetheart. Our weekends together started off great. Nice hotels, great dinners, lovemaking, followed by her furious temper tantrums over things like: accepting a phone call from my brother, who was taking care of my 87 year old father for the weekend, leaving the beach to go to the bathroom, (She disappeared for 18 hours, and I had to contact the police to find her), stranding me in a Wilmington hotel, when we met in Fayetteville, (I had to pay for a cab to get back to my car! Crazy women may be great in bed, but they are not worth the trouble. If you are looking for love, look for love. Let great sex come later!

  34. This is exactly what my ex-boyfriend did. I think, that, apart from feeling sad about the break-up, I would have been fine–I was not as invested in the relationship as he was (or pretended to be), I suspected something was wrong during the “love bomb” phase from the beginning, even though I did fall for him–and I think he saw that I was doing pretty well after the break-up, so he set out to hurt me in extreme ways.

    The standard–sleep with a whole bunch of women while saying he was remaining single (within two weeks after we broke up, after being “so in love”)–didn’t seem enough; he also had to ask to come over and see me, and then sexually assault me. I opened up to him about my history of sexual assault in the early–nice–beginning, and during the devaluation phase he became sexually abusive and demanding; after we broke up, he did the one thing I told him I never wanted to do. Months later, at his urging, I went back to him (this was after yet another relationship in which I gather he did much the same–idealization, devaluation, discard), because I wanted to forgive this “accident.” He was nice to me for a day, and then he raped me again.

    I guess, you know, this was his way of *really* hurting me. He knew the break-up might not be enough, and that stung his narcissist’s pride. So he had to rape me.

    And you know, it worked. I had PTSD for quite some time, have been in therapy, have been depressed for a long time. I’m trying to understand how he could do this, as he showed occasional flashes of empathy/remorse/humanity, and then the predator–the monster, with flat affect emotionlessly describing his predations–would appear.

    I still want to be his “friend.” I want to be his friend because I cannot believe such people exist in the world, who would get into relationships in order to hurt people, who would happily sexually abuse and assault someone who opened up about a past history of abuse and assault. What is the point of this? It sickens me.

    And so he was right–he has certainly hurt me FAR worse by doing this than he could have by doing anything else; and, perversely and paradoxically, it also makes me want to be his friend–what he insisted on after breaking up with me, and was so upset I said no to–because I SO don’t want to believe he feels no remorse about this. I SO don’t want to believe it that I would be willing to consider meeting with my rapist just to find out if he has a soul.

  35. Are narcopaths aware of their actions? Or do they think their behaviour is normal and that they’re not doing anything wrong? The more I read about narcopaths, the more I realise my ex was most likely one. Except I don’t think that he was aware of being one. There were times when he was so sweet, loving and caring, and then there were moments when he was insecure, manipulative and emotionally abusive. Yet I always felt like it was my fault, like there was something wrong with me and I was the bad person… I always felt like I was bad for not “loving him enough”. Is that part of it? When we broke up, I was so blind sided by it. He suddenly decided one day that he “needed space” and left without any answers. It wasn’t until recently that I found closure, when I found out that he’d had some other girl lined up even before we’d even officially broken up… But I think he genuinely doesn’t realise that he’s doing anything wrong. In his eyes his perfect…

  36. I am thankful to have stumbled upon this website. After a ten year marriage derailed (four years ago), I have just recently gotten my life back on track. I had no idea that true medical terms existed for people such as my ex-husband. I have said for years if there was a scrap yard for conscience free men, I’d be rich. I wasn’t crazy, I am worthy of being truly loved and no, he did not damage me permanently. I have journal after journal full of the many ways this man tortured me. It is only by the grace of God that I did not do the unthinkable. I forgave him about ten months ago, I just now forgave the other two. Dr. Bonchay, I am forever grateful to you and the answering of your calling. It is more than mind blowing how accurate these articles are in comparrison to my real life story of being traumatized and tortured. Thank you for putting words and definitions in the many blank spaces of my past. I literally feel free.

  37. Hi Miss Bonchay,

    This was an amazing article. My last relationship fits perfectly with the whole article. I’m from Mexico and I spent a year and 4 months with a girl that has the behaviour that you described. She started all the flattering, she wanted to go to bed with me pretty soon, she said I was the love of her life, that she wouldn’t know what to do without me, that she wanted moving soon with me, that I was perfect and beyond better that her exe’s, that all men treated her very poorly in the past, like cheating on her, leaving her for another woman, etc.

    I started to notice certain things with her that I found uncomfortable and rude, like the fact that she didn’t care about me, she never listened to me, she used to belittle my feelings, but, if something happened to her, my duty was to be there for her. She once told that I was dispensable, but that she had to be the first priority in my life. One of the curious patterns that she had, was that when we had a disagreement, she used to say to herself that she was nothing but shit, the worst person in the world, the worst partner, a bad person, that she didn’t deserve to be with me, that it would be better if I go out and search for other women, etc. That was very confusing and suddenly, my gut started to tell me that something was really off. I began doing my research because all this traits and little by little, paying close attention to her behaviour, her comments, plus all the stuff that I was reading, everything started to make sense.

    It was very painful and hard to notice that all the nice things that this girl told me, were just lies, that she never loved me, that I was an attention and financially supply, that she only saw me as some kind of thing to fill a void in her life.
    When I was finally aware of the whole situiation, the manipulation, the mind games, I started to say NO MORE and, as you described in your article:

    “Often they will discard their targets before a holiday or coldly through email or text. The once professed “love of their life” will not even get the courtesy of a face to face break-up and some closure. Sometimes they will discard their target because their target may be getting wise to their games and challenging their control. Narcissists will abandon whoever they can’t control.”

    That was exactly what happened.

    Thank you so much for such an amazing article. Now I’m wiser and that’s the good thing that I take from this experience.

    All the best,
    Fer

  38. My ex-friend discarded me a month ago. She was not a romantic partner at all. She masqueraded as an LGBT ally and gained my confidence by claiming to be into civil liberties. Only a few weeks into our “friendship” she publicly stated to a store clerk that we were best friends. (I wondered where that came from, I didn’t feel close to her at all.) It didn’t take long for her to use her two dogs as pawns. Suddenly I was their uncle, more than that, The female dog was my “girl friend”.

    Everything about this relationship was peculiar and surreal. I couldn’t develop any meaningful level of trust for her. The one aspect that made me think she might be OK, is that she was in the process of writing an interview-based book about psychopaths. She eventually self-published it. Several months later, she began working on a plan for a podcast based on her book. Once again, I felt strange about her. She has no credentials nor formal schooling in psychology, psychiatry, nor life coaching. Yet, she became a self-styled expert. It was this ethical question that blocked me from bonding with her. (I did bond with the dogs. I stayed in touch with her because of the dogs.)

    The rest of the classic symptoms of narcissistic control were there. Love bombing, cutting remarks, asking for progressively bigger favors, etc. If it hadn’t been for her interest in narcissism and psychopathy, I wouldn’t have discovered the narcissist abuse victims niche on the Internet. Now narcissism videos and articles are a big part of my Internet diet.

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