Subtle narcissism in relationships
This isn’t a problem in itself. I got rid of the problem a little while ago. This is some information for those who may be, or may in the future, become involved with a narcissistic personality. I had an 8 month relationship with a narc and it is both frightening and somewhat amazing what can happen in such a short time.
So to the beginning. I started seeing M and at first I couldn’t believe my good fortune. The weekends away, gifts, loads of attention, just kept coming. He was expansive with his views on our relationship to everyone. When we had first met he told his daughter that we were ‘deeply in love’, I remember thinking, gosh that’s a bit strong, but he was such a great guy that I put stuff like that to the back of my mind. We were seeing each other all the time. When he wasn’t seeing me he was texting love poetry, writing little notes, etc. I remember one friend in particular saying this seems too good to be true. Again, I didn’t listen to the warning signs. To me it was a whirlwind romance, straight out of a novel.
I have to add at this point that up to then I’d been an independent woman, going about my life and enjoying what I did. He was an extrovert and me being an introvert I put his declarations of love down to the fact that he wears his heart on his sleeve and really was keen, so why question it.
This, however, I found out later is the first stage when being with a narcissist. It is called love bombing.
The first time I got an inkling that somethings were not just as they seemed were when we had arranged to spend the weekend together. Suddenly on Saturday night he just announced he was going and would see me tomorrow. I just said OK. I thought something must have come up that he had to sort out. I didn’t question him, just said great see you tomorrow. We did meet the day after, but there was no mention of what had happened that Saturday night, so I just left it. We went on to have a great time. I didn’t think about it again, just assuming it was his private life, and whatever it was must have been sorted.
As we went on I found out more about his past partners. His ex-wife had got pregnant within a month of meeting her. Another live in partner moved into his house after meeting her only a couple of weeks ago, she was married at the time and moved quickly from her husband’s house to his. This all should have rang warning bells but it didn’t.
I only really started to question things when a couple of months into the relationship I was seeing him so much that I wasn’t getting time to do anything else. At around that time he started to want to know everything about me. He was spending time at my place whilst I was at work, him being early retired. I began to feel I had no privacy but didn’t like to say anything much because at the same time he was such a great guy.
At around this time however the second stage kicked in. This is called the narcissistic triangle. Enter Elaine the narcissists female best friend. While I was at work he was seeing Elaine most days, texting and speaking on the phone about her relationship problems. He liked to show me the texts, he said to be open about their friendship. I was a little perturbed when I saw one which was a love note which he had sent to me, which he had sent to Elaine first to check if it was OK. I said I felt a little uncomfortable about that because I value my privacy. He was apologetic. Soon after that quite often we would sit down for a meal and there would go the text again, Elaine, more relationship problems. Now I have some good male friends but I see them (or used to see them) just occasionally and on a very casual basis. I said I felt he saw a lot of Elaine and questioned the closeness of their relationship. At this point at the same time as telling me I was jealous he stepped up the relationship, seeing even more of her. I was confused wondering what was going wrong and wondering why I was such a jealous person. I hadn’t asked him to stop seeing her, just questioned it.
At around this time I noticed he wanted to be with me every time a saw my friends, when he did come along he acted like a bit of a prick, embarrassing me in front of my brother, etc. The worst thing was when we went to see my parents. My stepfather was dying of a drink related health problem, because of alcoholism. He showed them a film on UTube about someone drinking more and more and becoming very drunk, until he was falling all over the place. He said he had thought it was funny, my mum and stepfather didn’t. I wondered how someone could be so insensitive. Later on that night he said my stepfather was ‘a mess’. He couldn’t see what the problem was. Luckily we are quite a close family and it didn’t cause a row. This is another narcissist trait, trying to cause problems between their partner and others. It gets the partner isolated, and so under the power of the narc. I also noticed a number of times he would build a triangle when we were his friends where I would be castigated for something I had said or done, in a joking way.
You may think these are only small incidences, however, by that time I was feeling somewhat separated from my friends emotionally. After we finished they have used words such as ‘controlling’ and ‘having an agenda’ to describe him.
By this stage he had asked me to marry him. I don’t know why I did but I had said yes. Friends and family were a bit shocked by the suddenness of it but didn’t want to say anything at the time. Plans for the wedding were going ahead. We had decided we would live at his place and he was pushing me to sell mine, change my will, open a joint account. When I look back at this it still scares me that I got so near to giving up my independence. I didn’t do any of these things, thank goodness. You are probably wondering what was this woman thinking about but I look back now and realize that things were moving so quickly that I just didn’t have time to think. That again is how the narcissist gets their power over you.
Things came to a head just after Christmas when we had a massive row. When I suddenly had enough and told him that I didn’t want to move in with him. He took this really badly, but then instead of talking it out, started to text/phone his friends and family, telling them how he had been so badly treated. I watched in horror as he texted people and then read out their responses. Bt this time I was embarrassed and upset. I asked him to leave, he refused to and became threatening, only going when I took the phone outside and said I was calling the police. After he had gone it took some time to stop from shaking.
After the end of the relationship I was so confused, not understanding what had gone wrong. I talked to people about it and googled a lot trying to find answers. It was not until I found an article on narcissism in relationships that I understood what had been happening. Narcissism comes from deep rooted self esteem issues. The taking of power occurs very subtly over a period of time, so it is hard to recognize in the early stages. I dread to think what would have happened if I had married the guy. I can see now how I nearly lost my – independence, friends/family, home, funds, even my sanity. A narcissist will never admit they are wrong. They have a strong neediness for other people. They will just keep taking and taking until nothing is left, not even yourself. I hope if anyone is reading this and they recognize any of these traits in their partner they will stop, spend some time along, and just think. I got off very lightly but the consequences can be immense.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
My daughter has been in a relationship with a guy like that for years. He buys the champagne; she puts up with his crap. Everyone in the family is sick of all the drama, etc. I no longer respond to all the hysteria. Still, it breaks my heart.
Good luck to you. You are going to be fine - much wiser now.