3 Ways Narcissists Consume Your Cooperation (Which Leads to Your Exploitation)

You live by the Golden Rule, treating others as you’d like to be treated.

You take criticism to heart, reflecting on how your words and actions might affect other people.

You are highly empathic, having the ability to sense the emotions of others and respond instinctively in ways that help those in need.

You have a high level of tolerance, embracing the beliefs, practices, and lifestyles of other people.

One thing is true of victims of Narcissistic abuse.  They are the most caring, thoughtful, helpful people I’ve met.  And if you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you possess these same traits I just described.

If everyone in the world boasted your qualities, we’d live in a Utopia.  But, sadly, the world is full of manipulators who seek out and exploit people with your character profile, especially your toxic partner.

Does this mean you should turn villain, acting with cold-hearted callousness – in other words, take on the character traits of your abusive, manipulative, and exploitative partner?  No.  Believe it or not, there are actually people in the world who would love and respect you for your reputable qualities and morals.  Even more, people who would reciprocate them back to you!

However, regarding narcissists and other manipulators, your friendliness and compassion are like a big, flashing neon sign that says, “Hey!  Over here!  I’m like the Energizer Bunny!  I can take a licking and keep on ticking!  I’ll keep going and going and going and going and going and going and going and going and going and going and going…”

You get the picture.

So, how do you maintain your core values while maintaining your dignity and trust in others at the same time?  It starts with knowing how narcissists think and how they use your very best qualities against you.  This knowledge will help you establish boundaries going forward, and allow you to save your efforts for people who truly deserve them.  Following are the top three accommodating qualities narcissists look for in prospective sources of supply.[1]


Being cooperative is generally a good thing.  It helps us gain respect, excel in the workplace, and form friendships and other relationships that have the potential to be long-lasting.  However, where cooperativeness gets us into trouble is when it turns into unbridled selflessness.

Narcissists look for cooperativeness in partners because they know that they don’t possess this trait at its most basic level, and excessively cooperative partners will put in the work of two people to keep the relationship going, projecting their own desirable traits onto the narcissist, thereby filling in the yawning gaps in order to make the relationship seem more normal.   This high level of cooperativeness is the most significant trait narcissists look for in partners because they intuitively know that such partners will stay in the relationship with them way beyond reasonable limits. [2]

Narcissists test their partner’s level of cooperation by starting out with small boundary violations and, over time, are able to get away with severe relationship crimes while simultaneously keeping their cooperative partner believing there is hope for change and improvement.

Signs of excessive cooperativeness –

  • All of your efforts at cooperation result in outcomes that only benefit your partner
  • Your level of teamwork smooths the cracks that result from your partner’s non-cooperativeness
  • You believe that the more cooperative you are, the more connected in makes you to your toxic partner and that he or she will eventually acknowledge your efforts and appreciate them
  • You consistently compromise your own interests and goals to help your partner achieve theirs

What to do:  If you find yourself making all the compromises and consistently putting your own needs last, it’s possible that you’ve developed pathological altruism (which is very common in dysfunctional relationships) and may need therapy to work on boundaries and empathy-derived guilt issues.[3]


Your partner has suffered a string of failed relationships, a terrible childhood, and is always taken advantage of at work (if they even have a job!)  In turn, you stay with them because everyone else has left the Narcissist out in the cold, and you believe your love might one day change them, or at the very least, prompt a divine epiphany where he or she suddenly realizes the pain and suffering they’ve put you through.

You’re always there to lend a sympathetic ear, though they barely stifle a yawn when you attempt to confide in them your own problems.  (Or worse, if your problems involve them, you’re suddenly faced with a hulking brute who’s hell-bent on making you pay for pointing out one of their flaws!)

Ironically, your high levels of empathy trigger you to forgive the narcissist repeatedly because you believe his or her behaviors are derived from causes outside of themselves.  You feel sorry for them down to your core and don’t want to leave the relationship because you feel personally obligated to help them and not abandon them.

Believe it or not, the narcissist doesn’t need your empathy, but instead uses it to maintain power over your emotions and the relationship. The same can be said for your high level of cooperativeness (Brown, S.  2009).

Signs of excessive empathy (or hyper-empathy) –

  • You offer compassion and understanding in the face of your partner’s severe cruelty and abuse, believing that your undying patience will eventually have an effect on them
  • You try to educate your partner on the underlying reasons for their weaknesses, character flaws, and emotional wounds, believing that doing so will help them see the error of their ways – even though they’ve raged at you for doing it before
  • You often wind up helping your partner at the expense of your own needs

What to do:  Excessive empathy can be a sign of an underlying mental or emotional problem and can also increase the risk of substance abuse and other unhealthy behaviors (such as codependency). If you find yourself participating in extreme empathy, talk to a therapist who can help you set boundaries and resolve unhealthy relationship patterns.


Tolerance is defined as the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

Have you tolerated the following in your relationship:  pathological lying, numerous infidelities, sexual deviancy, financial abuse and manipulation, porn and other addictions, and/or your partner’s long-term unemployment?

Though you never would have thought you’d put up with these behaviors from a romantic partner, the narcissist likely started out with small boundary violations until they were eventually bull-dozing over all of your deal-breakers, while having you tell yourself it isn’t all that bad (much in the same way that they tested your cooperativeness).

As you can see, tolerance can reach pathological levels when you’re in a relationship where all of your values, deal-breakers, and personal ethics are violated on a consistent basis.  The Narcissist’s ability to have you tolerate more and more unbelievable behaviors on their part feeds their sense of entitlement and dominance over you and also perpetuates their power to get you to tolerate even more awful behaviors the next time (Brown, S. 2009).

Signs of excessive tolerance –

  • You’ve stayed with your partner through their long-term affair (and/or numerous affairs)
  • You agree to sexually demeaning acts to “keep your partner happy”, even though it brings about severe self-loathing (this may include threesomes – with your partner asking you to find the sex partner, an ‘open’ relationship, participating in degrading acts you’ve never considered before
  • You’ve lost hundreds or thousands of dollars to your partner, perhaps even going bankrupt or losing your home due to all the money you’ve given them

What to do:  Make a list of your top five deal-breakers and be willing to walk away from anyone who doesn’t respect them.  This will feel uncomfortably awkward at first, but only by setting personal boundaries and enforcing them will you be party to healthy relationships where you are respected on an individual level.

Remember, cooperativeness, empathy, and tolerance are all good qualities to have, but offering too much can cause you to lose your voice, feel used, and walked over – which in turn can lead to depression, anxiety, and PTSD in the context of pathological relationships.  If your good qualities are filling the cracks of your partner’s scandalous shortfalls, you can decide today that you won’t let them exploit you anymore.  Get yourself into therapy or a CoDa group in your area, work on setting healthy boundaries, and commit to breaking unhealthy relationship patterns so you can live the happy, fulfilled life you deserve.

Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

Healing from narcissistic abuse?  Join the Let Me Reach Facebook Community!

How to Do No Contact Like a Boss! Currently #1 in Personality Disorders and #9 in Divorce on Amazon!

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[1] Brown, S. (2009). Women who love psychopaths: Inside the relationships of inevitable harm (2nd ed.). Penrose, N.C.: Mask Publishing.

[2] Brown, S. (2009). About Her. In Women who love psychopaths (2nd ed., p. 131). Penrose, NC: Mask Publishing.

[3] Schreiber, K. (n.d.). Too Much of a Selfless Good Thing: Pathological Altruism. Retrieved July 20, 2015.


7 Signs You’ve Arrived as a Survivor of Narcissistic Abuse

7 Signs Blog Pic


Recovering from narcissistic and emotional abuse can seem like an ordeal of the most grievous kind.

You may have endured months of struggle and suffering without knowing if you’re making any progress because the pull to go back remains strong.  You miss the moments under your abuser’s sway because, in your traumatized mind, cognitive dissonance and memories of so-called “good times” cloud your objectivity.

How do you know where you stand on your road to recovery?  Victory isn’t always in-your-face.  Arriving as a survivor of narcissistic abuse comes in waves, even ripples, but if you experience the following seven signs, you can feel gratified knowing that healing is within your reach.

1)  You’ve begun to appreciate that self-care is something you need to participate in consistently. Not only because you are healing from emotional abuse, but because healthy people in general understand the importance of putting on their oxygen mask before they can help others.

Life can be stressful enough without the added obstacle of toxic abuse.  It only stands to reason that if you’re healing from narcissistic abuse, your body and mind require extreme self-care.  This might include reducing social engagements, staying off of the internet, saying “no” to friends and family, taking a nap when you feel exhausted, and making time to do meditations.

You resist the urge to make excuses as to why you can’t take care of yourself, realizing that even single mothers can work self-care into their schedules.  If you are a single mother, you deliberately get a babysitter on occasion to take yourself out.  You do guided meditations at night.  You journal and do mirror work.  If a friend asks you to visit and you don’t have the energy, you respectfully decline.  You take the initiative to be a little “selfish”, because you understand the need to do so after putting out other people’s fires for too long.

2)  You do what it takes to protect your mental and physical space. You no longer acquiesce to things that intrude on your privacy and peace of mind.

Most narcissists and other Cluster-B disordered individuals pull out all the stops when trying to hook a previous source of supply back into their realm of crazy.  They pretend to have changed, to want to be friends (especially for the “sake of the kids”), to be just another normal person going through a typical breakup or divorce.  They may go so far as to tell you their relationship problems with their new partner.

Arriving as a survivor means you no longer want, nor tolerate, any of those things.  You want peace and autonomy so badly that you are willing to go complete No Contact and resolve not to let them into your home anymore.  You don’t leave yourself open to any of their tomfoolery, and instead put up all necessary boundaries to protect your new sense of peace.

3)  You no longer care about how your Ex will react to your decisions. You don’t worry whether your life choices will make your Ex angry or make life “inconvenient” for them.  You understand that true fulfillment means honoring your own dreams, desires, and ambitions regardless of how your ex may respond.  As long as you abide by any court orders in place, you know that your future is in your own hands.

4)  You may start to notice that some of your other relationships have been a big energy and time drain, and you resolve to do something about them.

You’ve gotten into the habit of honoring yourself and releasing that which doesn’t serve your highest good.  Consequently, you’ve become more sensitive to other relationships in which you feel taken advantage of.  This doesn’t mean that you would dump a friend in need, but rather that you’ve started noticing your relationship ‘climates’.  In the same way that a long-term weather pattern creates a climate in a particular region, if the climate of any of your relationships has proven – over time – that you typically feel put upon and used, then those are the ones that you now consider releasing.

5)  You’re more concerned about what you’re doing with your life than what your Ex is doing with theirs. You no longer obsess about your Ex with their new supply or the fact that they seem so happy because you’ve come to understand that your Ex is destined to repeat the same cycle of abuse with anyone they are with at any given time.

6)  You no longer focus on problems, but on solutions. You realize that you have the power to conquer and change your circumstances, rather than remain defenseless against whatever stunts your Ex might be playing.

You understand that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If you need to delete an email you’ve had for years because your Ex emails you from different accounts, you delete it.  If you need to file a restraining order because your Ex is stalking and harassing you, you drive to the courthouse and file it.  If you see the need to change your cell phone number and insist that they call you on your landline, you do so.  If your Ex sends you unwanted gifts and flowers, you mark them “return to sender” or refuse the delivery.  You fight the good fight to protect your newfound freedom.

7)  You no longer consider what happened to you a punishment, but rather an eye-opener because you understand that it happened so you could heal the wounds you’ve carried since childhood.

You’ve arrived as a survivor from narcissistic abuse because you no longer look to your Ex for approval or appreciation, knowing that even the appearance of those things comes with a high price.  You accept that there are people whose behavior is disturbingly damaging, but you no longer open yourself up to it.   Instead, you respond appropriately, with full awareness of why it’s necessary to do so.

You’ve arrived as a survivor because you no longer tolerate anything that discounts your value – from anyone – for you’ve become your own best friend and advocate.

Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

Healing from narcissistic abuse?  Join the Let Me Reach Facebook Community!

How to Be Smart in a World of Users

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

But before I do, be forewarned – you may be offended, disgusted, or even downright furious.

You might be driven to kick yourself at the obvious simplicity of it all once I lay it out for you.

Or, you may say to yourself, “Who does this woman think she is?”

Nonetheless, I’m going to say it because it’s not easy to come across this information unless you spend hours combing narcissism and codependency sites, and even then, it’s not always laid out for you in the way I’m about to do for you…

Here it is – if you want to know if your partner appreciates you, you need to stop being so nice.  You see, while you may pride yourself on being overly giving and a hard worker, your nice and giving nature may well be what holds you back, at least when it comes to meaningful relationships.

No duh, right?  I mean, you’ve probably realized by now that people often take advantage of you when you try to be nice to them.  But, I’m not talking about the friend who calls you for emotional drive-bys – you know, the one who vomits all of their problems onto you and hangs up feeling refreshed, while you are left feeling antsy and slightly annoyed.  (Although that’s a great topic for another article.)

No, I’m talking about the guy or girl you just started dating or perhaps have been seeing a while.

Maybe they’re never happy – you work your butt off to appease them, while they sit on the couch barely noticing your efforts, hinting around about your wonderful future together as they take another bite of pizza during their Netflix marathon.

You, on the other hand, have put in many long months of struggle and sacrifice working for that dangling carrot they call a future together, yet they never really commit to you or put in their fair share towards the relationship.

Perhaps you’ve been thinking to yourself, “If I just show them that I think of their needs before they have to ask for anything, they’ll see me as good relationship material”.  You buy all of their favorite foods, take them to their favorite restaurants, and buy them special gifts ‘just because’.

You hold out hope that they’ll see your value, but instead all you get is a bored yawn when you sit next to them on the sofa.

Puzzled, you’ve started putting in double-time, because you think maybe the stuff you’ve already been doing for them isn’t enough and if you do more, it’ll be painfully obvious that you’re the perfect person for them.

If you’re wondering what gives, I’ll tell you.

If you’ve been giving 150%, while getting nothing in return, your partner is a User (and probably a Narcissist).

The sad truth is that they don’t need to change or commit because you’re already doing everything they want and taking care of their every need.

You’re effectually rewarding them for their lack of respect and commitment!

I know it’s hard to swallow.  I remember how I felt when I realized I’d been taken for a ride while being made to believe there was a happy future out there on the horizon.

All that time and effort down the drain.

I had to learn the hard way, but you don’t have to.

How to find out if your partner is a User

If you’re not sure where your relationship is going, pull back on your efforts.  Stop being available all the time.

And while you’re at it, start doing more things for yourself.

After a while, one of three things will happen:

  • If your partner is a manipulative user – or worse, a narcissist – they will experience an injury when you stop catering to them. They took everything for granted and expected you to do those things for them because of their sense of entitlement – knowing that the only thing they had to do in return was whip out the ole “seduction of the tongue”, telling you everything you wanted to hear while delivering nothing in return, save for their World Title for Couch-Riding.  There will be name-calling, blaming, and more attempts to get you to play into the “Possibility of Commitment” game.  (If you’re married, they may promise to stop cheating if you’ll just go back to them.)
  • The person who took so much, yet gave so little will reflect on how much they’re missing out on with your being gone and realize they need to step up to the plate. No name-calling, no blame-shifting, and no ridiculous excuses.  They’ll realize that your leaving was your way of placing yourself in the “High Value Category” and they’ll start seeing you that way, too. (this is only possible with non-narcs).
  • You won’t hear from the person again. If this happens, it doesn’t really matter ‘why’.  There could be any number of possibilities, but instead of focusing on the fact they haven’t called, realize that the Universe, God, fate (whichever Higher Power you believe in) has opened up a pathway for you.  You won’t have to worry about sinking anymore time and effort into a relationship where you wouldn’t have been appreciated.  Isn’t that a comforting thought?

Turn red flags into deal-breakers

Whichever of the above scenarios plays out, there’s one thing to be mindful of.  Going forward, you’ll want to make a list of deal-breakers and stick to them.  No more turning a blind-eye or working harder to prove your worth.  Deal-breakers are non-negotiable.  You don’t have to throw them out on the table on the first date, but you do want to make them clear if someone crosses the line.  A deal-breaker list may look something like this:

  • I will not accept name-calling
  • I will not accept infidelity
  • Communication should be open and mutually beneficial
  • I will not accept anyone being mean to my children
  • I will not put in the work of two people to keep the relationship going
  • I will not stop talking to friends or family at a partner’s request , whether verbally or forced through punishment
  • I will not be in a relationship with someone who constantly talks about other people behind their backs

Those are my personal deal-breakers.  The list isn’t long because most other things can be negotiable and agreed upon through open and respectful communication.  Your list of deal-breakers might be similar.  Maybe you’re vegan and you want your partner to be vegan, too.  If so, that’s something that shouldn’t be open to compromise.

The bottom line

If you want a truly healthy and loving relationship, your first line of action is to stop accepting anything that devalues you and your sense of right and wrong.

If you want your relationships to change, you have to be willing to change what hasn’t been working for you, even if that means walking away.

Because the cold, hard truth is, you can’t change other people.  You can only change yourself and your circumstances.

That doesn’t mean that a healthy and loving relationship won’t have its ups and downs.  All relationships do.  Just look at lovebirds…they sometimes get annoyed and peck at the other, but two minutes later, they’re snuggled on their perch again.

They worked it out in a mutually beneficial way.

Plucked ChickenWhat about you?  Which lovebird will you be?  The one snuggled up with a respectful partner, rocking a content look on your fluffy face, or looking like a plucked chicken because you’re constantly stressed – or worse – because your feathers were pulled out by your disrespectful, demanding partner?

The choice is yours.

Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

Healing from narcissistic abuse?  Join the Let Me Reach Facebook Community!

Grieving the Death of Addiction

by Lindsay Kramer on November 20, 2014 in Living in Recovery, Love and Relationships

According to therapist Lindsay Kramer, an addiction is a lot like a relationship: at first, both addiction and a new relationship lead to feelings of excitement and euphoria, craving more time with the new beloved, and putting a high priority on spending time together. But it’s not long before the addiction becomes a dysfunctional relationship, where the dependence on the drug becomes so intense that it takes an ever-increasing amount of time, money, and energy to maintain.

For someone who’s going through the addiction recovery process, there comes a point where they realize that they can’t have a healthy relationship with the object of their addiction, and that they have to say goodbye to it forever. And for most people, this gives rise to a strong emotional response that can include all kinds of feelings—anxiety, sadness, anger, grief—that can feel very confusing.

Lindsay Kramer explains, in this article at Recovery.org, that thinking of the addiction in terms of a relationship can help recovering addicts work through these feelings and come to a state of acceptance—where they can understand and accept the fact that addiction is no longer an option, and can look forward to a new life without wanting to return to the old one –

As a systemic therapist, I look at most everything through the lens of relationships. In working with my substance-dependent patients, the analogy of addiction to a drug is no different.

Like a new relationship, at first, the use is thrilling. There’s the high, the intimacy, the butterflies that come from anticipation of time spent together. When that time becomes more frequent, the attachment becomes stronger. Then comes the increased time spent getting high, followed by the isolation, the cravings for the drug, and placing the addiction as the only priority in one’s life. The feeling of love may even be developed.

I wasn’t having an affair with any other person, but Oxy became my best friend. I was in love with it and never wanted to be separated from it.

The dependence continually intensifies, money is spent to excess, and the “relationship” can become a full-time job to maintain. The drug becomes a permanent fixture that will never leave the now-addict. What once was exploratory and fun becomes dependent, shameful, and confining, further polarizing the relationship with addiction from the real relationships with everyone else. “My husband actually thought I was having an affair because of the time spent away from the family. He knew I was lying about something, but he couldn’t figure out what was happening,” a patient once reported to me in explaining her relationship with prescription opiates. “I wasn’t having an affair with any other person, but Oxy became my best friend. I was in love with it and never wanted to be separated from it.”

In my recovery-based work, I personify addiction as means to help my patients understand the severity of their addiction and their need to separate themselves from it in order to progress within their recoveries. In working with these patients in treatment, there is a significant emotional response when they come to understand that in order to move forward in their recovery, they must first say goodbye to the notion of ever being able to have a healthy relationship with their addiction.

This is where the analogy of the death comes into fruition.

Why does the relationship with addiction have to be explained as grieving a death?

Thankfully, relationships with people can be impaired or improved. People can grow and work to resolve problems. Conversely, one may try and get back together with their toxic “ex,” and they may find that the honeymoon stage is transitory and the same underlying problems continue to surface. I equivocate the latter process to a relapse; in order for us to be healthy, we must separate ourselves from the unhealthy. And as morbid as it may seem, comparing the relationship with addiction to a death provides a concrete finality that addicts need in order to reach the stage of acceptance. They must understand that despite how much a part of them loves their addiction and wants a relationship with it forever, their addiction will never be able to reciprocate healthy love in return.

“They must understand that despite how much a part of them loves their addiction and wants a relationship with it forever, their addiction will never be able to reciprocate healthy love in return.”-LINDSAY KRAMER

Death in this regard is the symbolization of the ending of a very deep relationship. It’s important to endure the grief process in order to understand the depth of the addiction itself, but to surrender also means to accept the death and move on from it.

How does one go about applying the analogy of grief into addiction treatment?

In working with grief itself, I’ve come to understand that 1.) it [unfortunately] is a lifelong process, and 2.) it endures many stages, several times over. That’s when the Kübler-Ross model (1969) of the five stages of grief comes into the limelight. For those needing a refresher, the stages are Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression and Acceptance. When applying this analogy of grieving the death of addiction, I explain and process each stage with my patients in order for us to understand where they are in their overall recovery.

    • Denial: This is addiction in its active stage, and there is difficulty in acknowledging that the consequences of maintaining this relationship outweigh the benefits of the relationship itself. Denial may present as the addict not wanting to surrender the relationship due to fear of change, fear of suffering, and/or fear of “doing the work” involved in the grieving (i.e. recovery) process.Denial in this stage appears as taking the stance of the problem being everyone else’s and not of their own. “I’ve got this handled; I can manage it on my own.” The addict is not yet connected to the toxicity of this relationship and will defend it to others. A common stance in this stage may be, “why would it hurt me?” Perhaps, the addict is aware of the pain that the relationship has caused to others, but they are still in disbelief that it would ever cause pain to him/herself.

“In this stage, the addict is desperate to demonstrate to everyone else that the relationship is not toxic by attempts to prove that ‘things will be different this time’…”-LINDSAY KRAMER

    • Bargaining: This is an area in which relapses can occur, if any sobriety has been achieved. The addict attempts to bargain with recovery by means of “only just having a few drinks,” trying to maintain friendships with using friends, or by not declaring one’s sobriety to others in attempt to minimize the severity of their addiction. “I didn’t tell anyone I was sober outside of the people in my meetings, and I ended up relapsing several weeks after I got out of treatment,” is a common declaration from patients in this stage after they return to treatment.In this stage, the addict is desperate to demonstrate to everyone else that the relationship is not toxic by attempts to prove that “things will be different this time,” or that they “can control it this time.” The addict may even blame others for why the relationship isn’t working, and may displace emotional reactivity onto those that attempt to separate him from his use. This is the stage where the addict realizes that the addiction is not within their control, however they are persistent in their attempts to demonstrate any shred of control that they have over this relationship.
    • Anger: This is the stage in which the addict becomes angry at the clarity that this relationship is toxic, has caused them pain, and cannot be controlled. The anger is experienced at the awareness that the addiction has lost them jobs, cost exorbitant amounts of money, ended healthy relationships, and has ultimately caused them much pain. The addict may be angry at feeling abandoned and betrayed by the addiction, despite how they had tried to defend it early on in the relationship.As I strongly believe that anger is a secondary emotion which blankets our deeper pain and motivates us to take action, anger can be projected onto the relationship itself, or onto oneself for allowing the addiction to cause such immense damage. In this case, the addict experiences being angry toward the addiction and much more toward themselves, causing a frenetic urge to take responsibility and action away from the relationship.
    • Depression: Aside from the chemical depression resulting from the recalibration of the Hedonic Set Point (Brickman & Campbell, 1971), depression is likely the primary emotion covered by anger, and takes many forms in this stage. This is where the addict may experience sadness over the awareness of the wreckage that was caused by the addiction. “I became very sad once I realized how I let the addiction treat me and how it abandoned me,” one patient expressed. There may also be depression at the realization of how the addict has treated themselves in the course of their addiction.In this stage, the addict may become depressed due to the realization that they aren’t ever going to be able to drink/use again and that they do have to say goodbye to their relationship once and for all. Depression sets in about the idyllic thought of not being able to enjoy a glass of champagne at a wedding, use more responsibly like they did in the earlier stages of the relationship, and/or over the fact that their recovery is one they will have to manage every day for the rest of their lives. Depression may also be felt over the realization that this traumatic relationship is one that may have to be re-experienced daily in order to prevent the addict from returning to the relationship.Depression is akin to acceptance, but differs by deeper emotional responsiveness when the addict in recovery finally begins to grieve the loss of this relationship.

“Acceptance is vocalizing the understanding that this relationship is a disease that will only continue to kill them if they continue to keep it alive.” -LINDSAY KRAMER

  • Acceptance: This is the triumphant stage in which the addict in recovery accepts the loss of their relationship and begins to apply the conceptualization of living life free from addiction. This is the stage in which the recovered readily acknowledge that the fantasized wedding champagne toast could lead to a DUI following the reception, that the hangovers were exponentially worse than the highs, and that they want to experience lasting, healthy relationships in the future. Acceptance is vocalizing the understanding that this relationship is a disease that will only continue to kill them if they continue to keep it alive.Acceptance takes form as surrender, as freedom, and as the choice that the recovered make in order to say goodbye to this relationship forever. In my experience, those that reach this stage are active in their recoveries and go on to assist others in earlier stages of this grieving process. The recovered that have accepted the death of their addiction go on to lead lives that are not without struggle, but the most important change is that they are now able to lead their own lives again.

Photo Source: istock

Lindsay Kramer
With over seven years of experience treating the chemically-dependent population of San Diego, Lindsay Kramer is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) that brings expertise, compassion, and perpetually-evolving insight into her work at Caroline Stewart and Associates. Lindsay graduated from the University of San Diego with her Master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy 2008, but began her work with families and their children in 2004 by providing parent education and social skills groups to hundreds of families in San Bernardino country.

Find more articles like this one on Recovery.org

Ghosting – Silent Treatment or No Contact?

Ghosting One

You’ve probably heard by now that Charlize Theron pulled a big disappearing act on Sean Penn.  It’s all over the internet on sites such as US Magazine, The Huffington Post, and Jezebel.  The couple seemed to be the epitome of happiness in cozy beach photos, walking hand-in-hand on the red carpet, and getting engaged.  It seemed they’d each met their match when suddenly, Charlize stopped answering his texts and phone calls.

She ghosted him.

To the general public, it may seem her decision to suddenly cut him out of her life was harsh.  After all, how many people have been at the receiving end of ghosting – which is the act of not returning emails, calls, or text messages – and felt the humiliating sting of sudden rejection?  Considering that brain scans have revealed that the same brain regions get activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain, ghosting someone would appear to be an act of ultimate cruelty.

Or is it?  The answer lies in one word – intention.

Ghosting as a means of Silent Treatment

In the world of Narcissism, victims of emotional abuse get ghosted Ghosting 1all the time.  And while Narcissists are notorious for lying, cheating, and manipulating, they are absolute masters at issuing the Silent Treatment.  What makes their “ghosting” so difficult to heal from is that often, just when their target of ghosting has begun to lick their wounds and move forward, the Narcissist pops back onto the scene, effectively repeating the whole abuse cycle from scratch.

Another narcissistic move, which is more uncommon – and in some cases, more difficult to heal from – is one in which the Narcissist seemingly disappears off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again.

In either scenario, the intention is the same.  For Narcissists, creating emotional devastation is their way of demonstrating power.  They know that the wound of abandonment is at the core of human experience.  It’s a primal fear that’s been passed down to us by our ancestors when being ostracized from the tribe meant less access to critical resources such as food, shelter, and companionship.  In most cases, it was a death sentence.

In today’s world, ostracism, endured for a long time, leaves people feeling depressed and worthless, resigned to loneliness or desperate for attention—in extreme cases, suicidal or homicidal. In healing from ostracism, there is a “coping” stage, when people try to figure out how to “improve their inclusionary status.” They pay attention to every social cue; they cooperate, conform, and obey. [1]  Most Narcissists, especially of the overt ilk, take advantage of this phase by insisting their partner hasn’t tried hard enough, isn’t forgiving enough, isn’t attractive enough , and so on, in order to extract copious amounts of narcissistic supply.  Their target, wanting desperately to avoid the emotional damage of ostracism – a.k.a silent treatment – complies with the Narcissist’s every demand.

I don’t think, however, that Charlize implemented the Silent Treatment (sorry New York Times!)  I believe she grew tired of Sean’s controlling ways and possible affairs and went No Contact.

Ghosting as a means of going No Contact

I doubt it’s mere speculation to deem that Sean had it coming to him.  He made history after having beat the crap out of Madonna when the two of them were married.  And let’s not forget what he does to those pesky paparazzi.  According to Cracked.com,

“Penn was a rage head who dealt with annoying paparazzi by shooting at them, dangling them upside down from balconies, and smacking them with rocks”.

Imagine being in a romantic relationship with someone who has a hair-trigger temper, is insanely controlling and jealous, and flirts with other women to boot.  Oh wait, you probably don’t have to imagine it, as most Narcissists fit that description.

Ghosting 2I believe Miss Theron ‘went Casper’ on Sean because he got out of control and she’s too much of a lady to smear Sean’s name to Hollywood.  Whether it was out of fear, we may never know – as I’m sure many of you can sadly relate to.

Do you need to ‘go Casper’ on the Narcissist in your life?  Find out how by Going No Contact Like a Boss! Currently #1 in Personality Disorders and #9 in Divorce on Amazon!

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[1] Ostracism hurts—but how? Shedding light on a silent, invisible abuse.  (2011, April 27).  In Association for Psychological Science.  Retrieved 6/28/2015

5 Narcissistic Abuse Hacks – A Cheat Sheet for Decoding the Top Narcissistic Manipulations

How many times have you engaged in frustrating arguments with your toxic partner, only to come to self-defeating “compromises” in which they made you feel utterly responsible for their relationship crimes (and possibly had you apologizing for their errors)?

Have you forgiven your narcissistic partner a ridiculous number of times for lying, cheating, watching porn, and frequent disappearing acts, yet came away with mind-bending “resolutions” that you’d be mortified to share with your closest friend?

How often have you settled into a false sense of security after the narcissist apologized or hoovered you, only to get punched in the gut when you discovered they were still cheating, and in fact, never stopped?

If this sounds like your life, following are some Narc-manipulation hacks that you can use starting today:

Cheap shots and Blame-shifting

Narcissists are so good at getting away with blame-shifting because their targets actually spend time reflecting on how their own behaviors affect the people in their lives.  For example, if the person you love claimed (with a sadistic tone) that they watch porn because you: gained weight, stopped working out, got pregnant, aren’t adventurous enough – then you probably believed them and started an action plan to correct your so-called flaws.

Narc-Hack – The reality is that cheating and watching porn are the average narcissist’s favorite things to do[1].  I’ve been working with narcissistic abuse victims for almost two years, and even those who look like models are cheated on, lied to, and experience the humiliation of their partner’s PIED.

Narcissists cheat because: they are devoid of morals; they get bored; they like having cyber-sex with an image from the internet catalog; they use sex as a tool to hook their targets.  As an added bonus, they use cheating as a form of triangulation to keep you in a perpetual state of fighting for their attention and working overtime to prove your worth.

Rehab, Counseling, and Yellow-Brick Roads

Whether it’s promises of getting treatment for their “sex addiction”, anger issues, or lack of employment, Narcissists promise all over themselves that they will change so that the two of you can “get back on track and live the life you’ve been dreaming of”.  It all seems so real when they pretend to eat humble pie after you point out how hurtful their actions have been.  When they believe you are serious about leaving, it’s all, “I care about you and don’t want to lose you.  Let’s find a good counselor so we can fix this.  You deserve better”

Narc-Hack – Narcissists agree to counseling for a few different reasons, none of them related to making your relationship better.  What typically happens in a “therapeutic setting” is that the Narcissist uses it as a stage to make themselves look like the victim, further invalidating their abused partner.  You can read more about why therapy is a lost cause in my article, Why Going to Therapy with the Narcissist is a Bad Idea.

Torn Between Two Lovers

Though Narcissists genuinely enjoy hiding their affairs, there’s another manipulation technique they often enjoy even more – i.e., shacking up with a new mistress whom he says he just met, but in reality has been seeing for the past few months behind your back.  He tells you he was so lonely when you broke up with him over his cheating, that he unsuspectedly fell into the arms of a new lover.  But, he still somehow loves you and wants to make it work.  He just has to find a way to let the new girl down easy because she’s fallen madly in love with him during the course of a whole three days (as he would have you believe – remember, in reality, he’s been seeing her for some time).

Narc-Hack:  What’s happened is the new girl isn’t fully drinking the Kool-Aid.  Right now, she’s sipping it through a coffee straw and the Narcissist isn’t sure she’ll make good supply.

Another possible outcome is that he has absolutely no plans to leave her, and instead plans on keeping both of you in the “Pick Me” queue, wherein he can extract large quantities of supply, while simultaneously having you believe he’s just a skip away from breaking it off with her.

Or, maybe he simply wants to get in a good devalue and discard before leaving you in a heap of raw nerves on your living room floor.

That’s the extent of all possible outcomes.  Don’t fall for the “torn lover” act.

Facebook Fantasy Land

I’d be curious to know how many narc abuse victims have had to go on medications, or worse – lost their jobs – over the Narcissist’s FB postings.  Facebook is by far one of the biggest reasons people have a harder time letting go when trying to go No Contact.

There’s the Narcissist, smiling with his new partner in front of a little grass hut in Bora Bora while she flashes her fat engagement ring at the camera. 

Narc-Hack:  These posts are premeditated and designed to manage others’ impression of the Narcissist, as follows:

  • For You – See how he’s so happy with the new girl? So insanely joyful that he ran off and got engaged in less than a week?  Maybe the problem was you, after all?!  First of all, no healthy person meets, falls in love, and gets married in less than a week, save perhaps arranged marriages in third world countries.  This was all being thought out and planned before your relationship with the Narcissist was even over.
  • For Friends and Family – Look everybody! I’ve found the love of my life and we’re going to live happily ever after!  This is an act designed to complement the smear campaign that the Narcissist began waging before the two of you broke up.

Those without a conscience are able to get away with their sadistic stunts through impression management.  Sandra Brown, author of Women Who Love Psychopaths, describes how Narcissists are able to get away with their pathology in a believable way,

He social-climbs into everyone’s good graces using charisma, a good sense of humor, and an optimistic outlook (at least on the surface).  If his mask should slip a bit, he simply ‘impression manages’ his way right back into positive believability”.

What better way to do that than through everyone’s favorite social media platform?

Crickets and Tumbleweeds

The general modus operandi of the garden-variety, overt Narcissist is to hoover into infinity, as follows: He cheats, the two of you break up, he hoovers, you forgive…and the crazy cycle continues for sometimes decades unless you put a stop to it by detaching and going No Contact.

However, there’s another demographic who writes in to the forums because they’ve heard about how the Narcissist persistently hoovers, but they haven’t seen hide nor hair of them in eight months, so that must mean he wasn’t a Narcissist, after all.  Maybe he could have changed and I gave up too soon.

Narc-Hack:  The most common reason for this scenario is that the Narcissist in question was a cerebral narcissist.  However, overt Narcs may fit these criteria for other reasons including:

  • He no longer wants to put forth effort for damage control – ergo, he’d rather move on to new supply who won’t figure him out for a while
  • He had sufficient supply lined up before the two of you split, which may include numerous targets
  • You can’t be of benefit because he already drained you of everything

In closing, if these manipulations are being played out in your relationship, it’s crucial that you don’t internalize them to mean that you deserve this kind of treatment or in any way caused it.  Further, if you find yourself unable to leave your toxic relationship, it’s likely because you’re experiencing high levels of cognitive dissonance and C-PTSD and it’s vital that you get help by making an appointment with a licensed therapist.  Alternately, you can contact these organizations:

Office of Women’s Health Hotline – 800-994-9662

National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-7233

Copyright © 2015 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

Suffering from narcissistic abuse?  Join the Let Me Reach Facebook Community!

(No gender bias was intended in the creation of this article.  The pronouns “he, his, and him” were used for ease of reading).

[1] Narcissists Watch More Porn.  (2015, January 10).  In PsychCentral.  Retrieved 6/23/2015 from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2015/01/narcissists-watch-more-porn-enter-eroticized-rage/

“He’s Not All Bad” and Other Dangerous Fallacies

It’s hard to admit, but…

You’ve been lying to yourself about your partner.

There’s an ever-widening gap between the person you want him to be and the person he really is.  You have an idea of what constitutes a healthy relationship, yet you forgive your partner when he commits serious relationship grievances because, after all, he’s not all bad.

It started out small, didn’t it?  You caught him in a “minor” lie, but he had a somewhat reasonable explanation for it.  When you put two and two together, his justification seemed sensible, so it changed from being a lie to a “slight misunderstanding”.

Then, when it kept happening, he turned your attention away from the fact that he was lying to your being “suspicious, needy, and insecure”.  So that when you’d catch him in another lie, he’d simply rage about your always watching his every move and how he couldn’t be himself around you.  When that got old, he began chalking up his bad behaviors to your having “let yourself go”.  Suddenly, you were overweight, getting old, uninteresting, and a clingy basket case.  Even worse, he claimed you’d become so “schizoid” that you weren’t good relationship material for anyone.  And so you decided to stay instead of being alone because “he’s not all bad”.

Now, out of a one-month period, you might have one or two “good” days while the rest of your time is spent in misery and complete disaster.  You survive day-to-day, barely staying sane, hardly able to function (or take care of your children) while waiting for the rare occasion that he might be “nice”.  Through all the tears, heartbreak, and sucking it up, you know he’s going to come around at some point because he’s just “a normal person who makes human mistakes”.

If this sounds like you, you are experiencing extreme cognitive dissonance, which is a symptom of C-PTSD.  Cognitive dissonance thrives on your chalking up your partner’s lies and infidelity to dangerous fallacies that we all come to believe in toxic relationships, such as:

  • There isn’t anyone decent out there
  • No one is perfect
  • Most people cheat
  • He acts that way because of his painful childhood
  • I can love him past his character disorder
  • Well, I haven’t been perfect, either

Of course you haven’t been perfect because you’ve been emotionally traumatized.  People who have been emotionally and psychologically abused typically display C-PTSD symptoms that can mimic bipolar disorder.  Judith Herman, author of Trauma & Recovery, describes C-PTSD as a form of trauma associated with prolonged subjection to totalitarian control including emotional abuse, domestic violence or torture—all repeated traumas in which there is an actual or perceived inability for the victim to escape. [1]  This may cause difficulty in regulating one’s emotions, explosive anger, and changes in self-perception which include shame, guilt, and self-blame.  All very devastating for someone who didn’t start out that way.

I’ve been coaching people for a good while now and the people who come to me for help generally share a specific set of personality traits (based on data derived from informal personality assessments).  While there are occasional deviations, most of my clients are INFJ (or generally Intuitive/Feeling), Empathic, and Highly Sensitive.  Knowing what I know about these traits, the person who possesses them is very caring, nurturing, over-conscientious, and generally NICE.  But sadly, they stop believing that about themselves because they’re in a persistent state of nuclear meltdown from being mistreated and manipulated by their toxic partner.

If your partner is constantly lying and being unfaithful, it’s a warning flag of a serious personality disorder – one that cannot improve.  When we forgive and accept their excuses for these behaviors, we inadvertently teach them to keep doing more of the same.  Over time, we lose more and more of ourselves while teaching our children that these events are normal in relationships, romantic or otherwise…and perpetuate dysfunctional relationship dynamics in the process.

And therein lies the danger in believing the common fallacies we come to accept in toxic relationships.  If you are accepting the unacceptable, are waiting for your partner to change, and experiencing cognitive dissonance via believing things will get better in the face of increasingly devastating emotional abuse, it’s critical that you go No Contact and get help before your C-PTSD symptoms get worse.

Stand up for yourself.  There are good people out there.  Don’t continue sacrificing your morals and self-respect for people who aren’t.

Need help going No Contact?  Get the Book!

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(No gender bias was intended in the creation of this article.  The pronouns “he, his, and him” were used for ease of reading).

[1] Complex post-traumatic stress disorder. (2015, May 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:29, June 17, 2015, fromhttps://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Complex_post-traumatic_stress_disorder&oldid=663915339

When You Should Consider Breaking Your Promises

I’m not referring to the promises you make to your parents or your friends.

And you should certainly keep the promises you’ve made to your children.

However, there are times when you should consider breaking the promises you made when you married a lying, manipulative cheater.

There are many reasons why women and men stay in bad marriages, but one I’ll talk about today comes up often when I’m working with clients.  And truly, it’s heart-rending because I remember what it was like when I was in their situation.  After all, I was once so determined to make it work with my ex that I agreed to be his second wife, but that’s a little extreme and not applicable in most cases.

There is a similar reason, though, which I discuss below.  Following is one of the top reasons people tend to stay in bad marriages, and why adhering to it can ruin your life:

I don’t like being a quitter or breaking my promises

I won’t speak to whether divorce is a sin.  Each religion has its own criteria and exceptions.  With that being said, I’ve had clients whose partners were members of the clergy (male and female), and used religion as a tool to “counsel” others on the sins of divorce and cheating while carrying on their own extramarital activities – so be careful from whom you seek counsel, even within the Church.

What I’ll discuss today is the phenomenon of people having been so conditioned by generational dysfunction that they believe if they divorce their toxic partner, it would make them quitters, losers, and black sheep of the family.

What do I mean by generational dysfunction?  For starters, past generations stuck to the philosophy that marriage was for life, insisting on staying with the person they married, all while there was emotional and physical abuse going on, alcoholism, drug addictions, child abuse, and so on.

Our parents were largely raised by mothers and fathers who were neglected and abused themselves.  Consequently, many of us are so greatly affected by our parents having stayed together that we are codependent, depressed, on anti-anxiety medications, and stay in our own bad marriages or relationships.

Others turn out to be narcissists (but you shouldn’t use that as a reason to justify their bad behaviors or feel sorry for them).

I was once so conditioned by false beliefs and hypocritical societal norms that I believed I had a duty to stick through it all – because that’s what Mom and Dad did, as did my grandparents and great-grandparents, etc.

Or, maybe your parents divorced when you were young and you want to keep a “stable” family unit for your children.  If there is abuse and dysfunction in a marriage, that’s the opposite of stability, and in fact will likely perpetuate the dysfunction – especially in cases where children witness emotional and physical abuse and/or are targets of it themselves.  They grow up believing that love and marriage “naturally” include certain elements of betrayal, abuse, and the allowance of those acts.

Which is why we stayed/stay in our own toxic marriages and relationships.  Sure, there are psychological and biological addictions and trauma-bonding going on, but had we healthy beliefs about what love and relationships are all about, we wouldn’t stay long enough for those to kick in.

Don’t be a martyr

Why should you have the self-sacrificing resolve of Mel Gibson’s character in “Braveheart”, when your cheating, lying partner is out in the world desecrating the marriage vows you took with them?

Why should you stay in a marriage you know is wrong for you and your kids because someone else thinks it’s the right thing to do?

When will you do what’s right for you (and your children) and let go of the opinions and beliefs of others?

I got to that point.  I was so miserable and exhausted at the end of my marriage that I didn’t want to live any more.

But then, a magical thing happened.  I stopped caring what other people think.  I no longer cared what my ex said to me because I knew he said those things because of who he is.  I stopped caring what people would think if I divorced because – truth be told – many of them should have divorced a long time beforehand.

I decided to stop being a martyr, break the promises I made to my abuser, and live true to myself.

Now that I’ve been out of my own toxic marriage for a a while, I am proud to say that I’ve healed enough to where I am no longer affected by the way I was mistreated, nor do I experience sadness or remorse when I think about my past with him.  Well, save for one regret – I stayed in the dysfunction too long and there may be repercussions regarding my children’s sense of themselves.

My oldest son is showing early signs of codependency and my middle son struggles with authority figures.  I can say without a doubt that the time I spent in my previous marriage may affect my sons throughout their lives.  I should have left much earlier.  Now, I can only help them and lead by example.

Leaving wasn’t easy.  There were times when I didn’t have the money for a cup of coffee, but I am now reaping the benefits of my decision…and my children finally know what it means to live true to oneself and that if someone is abusive, oppressive, or just plain mean, then we have every right to kick them to the curb – married or not – regardless of who they are.


Related Reading

Why Going to Therapy with the Narcissist is a Bad Idea

Breaking Up with Facebook – for Anyone Who’s Tired of Losing Face

By the time people find Let Me Reach, they are often in the final stages of detaching from the Narcissist.  Some are being discarded, some have gone No Contact on their own, and yet others exist on the sidelines as the Other Woman or Other Man, waiting patiently for their disordered partner to have The Divine Epiphany where he or she comes sprinting back, pleading for forgiveness, and waxing lyrical about marriage and growing old together.

What’s more, it’s a time when the Narcissist’s former victims spend horrifying amounts of time on Facebook, cyber-stalking the Narcissist and their new supply.  Coincidentally, it’s also a platform that Narcissists use to further degrade their ex-partners and, often, to simultaneously begin early triangulation with the new mate (and yes, it’s all on purpose).

Stalking your Ex and their new partner on Facebook (or any social media platform) is directly correlated with a huge delay in your healing process (I’m talking possibly years here) and, worse, may incite your plummeting into a swirling eddy of despair, perhaps leading to depression and the need for serious pharmaceutical meds.  Sadly, this cyber-snooping has been the ruin of many a victim’s self-esteem as they begin to aggressively pursue the Narcissist in an attempt to make them “see the light”, which instead makes them appear less valuable than the Narcissist.

While Facebook snooping is something that almost all discarded partners do, it’s critical that you get a grip on this urge and do these five things instead:

  • Say FU to FBDeactivating your Facebook profile may be necessary while you make it through the first stages of grief after the breakup.  In addition to being tempted to “casually” find out what your Ex is up to, the pictures of your friends getting married, going off on vacations, and generally having a blast will make your life seem more miserable. If you find yourself being tempted to reactivate your profile, go ahead and delete it.  You can always create another profile later – after you’ve healed.
  • Visit a local pet store – because furry, feathered, and scaled critters help us heal. In fact, perhaps it’s the perfect time to add a member to your little tribe.


  • Have a good laugh – Instead of cyberstalking, go visit The Onion or Cracked. If the urge to snoop is too strong, see what comedies are playing at your local cinema.  Invite a friend.

  • Grab some culture – Instead of responding to maniacal strings of phone calls and texts from the disordered, you now have plenty of time to do other things that will help you grow as a person. Check out Meetup.com for local group activites, join a book club, see a play, and check out the events in your community.  Isn’t that more fun than having a nuclear meltdown in front of your computer screen?
  • Start a hobby – Redirect your nervous energy into something new and creative.  The nice thing about starting a hobby is that it’s totally on your schedule and can be as big or small as you want it to be. By choosing a new hobby, it’s all about you: Doing things your way – on your time.  Something you never experienced with the Narcissist.

Mother and ChildYou can create a whole different life by the simple act of breaking up with Facebook – and save your self-esteem (and reputation) in the process.  Need some more ideas?  Check out 38 Things You Could Do With the Time You Spend on Facebook.

Do you have any good ideas for breaking up with Facebook and saving face after No Contact?  Please share below!



The Cerebral Narcissist – A Portrait

Narcissists are convinced that people find them captivating. Their abiding charm is part of their self-imputed supremacy. This frivolous belief is what makes the narcissist a “pathological charmer”.

The somatic narcissist (and/or histrionic) flaunts their sex appeal, sensual prowess, and attractive body.  Somatics are almost always in the latest fashion, driving fancy cars, and acting the celebrity.

The cerebral narcissist seeks to captivate and mesmerize his target with a brainy fireworks display, gaining his worth from his intellectual abilities and achievements.  His mind is the source of his vanity.  He or she would much rather acquire obscure information, use big, complicated words, and write long, drawn out dissertations on their “ground-breaking ideas”.  They don’t usually draw attention to themselves, preferring to go into full character by withdrawing from society; going out in public only occasionally…to remind the lowly human race of their deific existence.

Cerebral narcissists will try to impress others by their scholarly intelligence and command of the language, which is used not only to impress, but also to destroy anyone who questions them.   They are convinced that they are unique and should only associate with other special or high-status individuals. In fact, when confronted with anything that contradicts their sense of god-like stature, you can bet that their reaction will be explosive and malicious.

Contempt is shown for those they deem inferior.   When this narcissist experiences a loss of admiration they will become emotionally and/or verbally abusive. Their verbal sharpness is such that one is left staggering in the aftermath.  In spite of these injurious traits, such a person can be charming and exhibit behaviors widely admired in society.  There can be the ‘appearance’ of a genuine sense of benevolence towards others–though they’re not sincere in nature.

The Cerebral Narcissist generally operates in the same way as the somatic or overt Narcissist when it comes to securing a source of supply.  However, there are subtleties that set them apart, such as:

During the idealization phase: they follow the blue-print when it comes to showering their target with affection and praise. However, the cerebral narcissist goes one step further by exclaiming that the new supply is their intellectual equal.  This may very well be the case, but the cerebral narcissist doesn’t believe it because in their mind, no one can match his or her mental prowess.  Their pretense is impermeable.  Gifts often include poetry, books, and hand-written letters professing their undying love.

As with all Narcissists, this phase is to make you addicted to the constant attention.  Once the emotional and chemical cravings set in, thus begins the devaluation phase.

The devaluation phase is very similar to other Narcissists, though manifests in a slightly different way. Instead of direct, snarky remarks meant to chip away at the target’s self-esteem (which is the MO of the less intelligent Narcs), the Cerebral will suddenly blow hot and cold, withdraw their attention, and give you the overall sense of not being as high of a priority as before.  They begin to throw out occasional morsels in order to keep you in their loop.  But don’t be fooled, underneath the cool demeanor they are secretly cursing your perceived ignorance and mocking you under their breath.

Although it may not come up in discussion, you begin to feel you’re being needy or clingy, so you back off in hopes of recapturing the attention you received in the beginning.  It’s about this time that you may begin to question the depth of their feelings for you, trying to make sense of the widening gap that’s forming.  They make a virtue out of their emotional truancy by convincing you they’re simply giving you space and freedom, or that they’re preoccupied with some big project.

The discard phase is where everything comes to light. It becomes apparent that the narcissist considers himself a gift to civilization.  His intelligent achievements are earth shatteringly paradigm-shifting, forever penetrating and superior.  Periodically interacting with objects of conflict sustains his inner turmoil, keeping the narcissist on his toes…this infuses him with euphoric liveliness.  Should you demand more – you will become an encumbrance. He will dump you, disengaging quickly and remorselessly.  The cerebral narcissist’s discard is often swift because they simply don’t have the endurance to tolerate the bleating morons they call partners.


During the discard phase, the narcissist reveals his or her authentic self. You experience their callous indifference as the relationship ends. You might think this is only a fleeting lapse, but in reality, this is their true nature which has been hidden under a dark cloak.

The scheming charm that existed in the beginning is gone – instead, it is replaced by the genuine contempt that the narcissist felt for you from the beginning.  They feel absolutely nothing for you except the excitement of having discarded another unsuspecting target. It’s at this point you must accept that the dreamlike bond that existed in the beginning was an illusion.

How to conduct yourself in the aftermath, according to An Upturned Soul

Narcissists are very good at finding really nice people. Your niceness is a weakness. They need that niceness because they don’t have it. Their favorite thing is hearing you tell them how wonderful they are, nice people do that, encourage the good in others and give compliments freely. This addiction to nice people is the Narcissist’s weakness. They tell people how wonderful they are, but they don’t believe it, not consciously or subconsciously. They are very aggressive about how wonderful they are, they will fight to the death to prove it… to themselves most of all.


There is always someone else, they discard relationships like we discard trash. They change identities in a similar way, but they never change their pattern of relationship, and they rarely change who they are underneath all of their masks.

One of the most effective ways of ‘winning’ a game with a Narcissist… let them win. If you’ve been in a relationship with a Narcissist for a while, you’ll know that at some point they stop being ‘nice’ to you, it’s an effort for them, and they switch to being mean. They will tell you some awful truth about yourself for your own good, of course, they’re wonderful like that. Don’t try to prove them wrong, that’s what they want, that gives them what they need, all of your passionate attention. Tell them they are right and walk away”.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

**Written in part with content found on Self-Care Haven and her article, Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head.  Visit her site for more information on Narcissistic behaviors and self-care.

This post ran previously.  Feel free to comment!

Surviving Narcissistic Abuse | No Contact | Narcissists and Lying | Devalue and Discard | Love Bombing | Cognitive Dissonance


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