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Did My Abusive Husband Ever Really Love Me?

Updated on August 29, 2015

Escaping and Healing from Psychological Abuse

In my quest to heal from years of extreme mental manipulation, ambient abuse (aka gaslighting) and control, I am seeking answers. Are you?

I am hoping you can help me (and others in abusive relationships).

This is the third in a series of pages created since my husband of 28 years has stopped any normal interaction with our kids and me. Long story short, once we began to see his lies and abusive behavior for what they were, he decided not to have anything more to do with us. I have learned this sudden abandonment of children (and spouses) is sadly common among narcissistic personality disordered men.

It's hard to imagine, even to us, that his abuse was hidden for so many years. I know it sounds a little crazy when I say that we thought, despite his often abrupt, mean, and rude behavior, that he was also loving and had our best interests at heart. Certainly, no one is perfect.

Now we aren't sure if we were much more than favorite objects to him. Why else, when he can't control us, are we no longer of any use to him?

While he is gone in from our home in body, his angry tones and brainwashing words still echo in my mind. I am suffering the effects of trauma: fear, nightmares, insomnia, reliving traumatic events, and an overall feeling of distrust. I need to educate myself on controlling people and malignant narcissism and continue to heal.

I also feel the need to share what I have learned, to help others, and to help spread awareness of this most harmful type of abuse. While abuse of another person's body is highly objectionable in Western culture, abuse of the mind (the heart, the very soul) of another seems largely misunderstood or ignored. This must change.

My thanks for any and all thoughts you share with others and with me. Perhaps we can make a difference, somehow, in someone's life.

(and please also visit the other pages in this series)

(image by Andrew C., Romania, via

What IS Love?

Perhaps They Don't Know.

Maybe Love Means Something Different to Him? - Inside the mind of a previously self-centered man.

This guy has several videos on YouTube. He seems to have valuable insights.

Some Controlling People are Narcissistic, Angry, and Self-Centered

Narcissistic People are Self-Centered - They Care About No One But Themselves

It's All About Him: How to Identify and Avoid the Narcissist Male
It's All About Him: How to Identify and Avoid the Narcissist Male

Real-life examples of how narcissists act, personality traits they possess, and more.


FREE BOOK DOWNLOAD with Amazon Prime! - Start reading Controlling People on your Kindle in under a minute.


Possible Answers: Is He Capable of a Healthy Kind of Love?

I am not sure.

Some Controlling People are Narcissistic, Angry, and Self-Centered

I believe this is the case with my abusive husband.

Definition of NPD:

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

~ Mayo Clinic Staff,

* * *

"Narcissists "love" their spouses or other significant others as long as they continue to reliably provide them with Narcissistic Supply (in one word, with attention). Inevitably, they regard others as mere "sources", objects, or functions. Lacking empathy and emotional maturity, the narcissist's love is pathological."


* * *

"He loves the romance, the attention, admiration, adoration, promise of ideal love and hope that he has found "the one" who will tolerate all his weirdness without question. When his beloved begins to question him, differ with him or make demands, his "weirdness" escalates. He resorts to his manipulation techniques to get you to stop bringing his issues to the forefront. And his greatest manipulation technique is to dump it all on you. It is your fault. You are too demanding! You don't accept him as he is!"

~, Did The Narcissist Ever Really Love Me?

* * *

The narcissist's "love" is hate and fear: disguised fear of losing control and hatred of the very people his precariously balanced personality so depends on. The narcissist is egotistically committed only to his own well-being. To him, the objects of his "love" are interchangeable and inferior.


* * *

"Perhaps he loved the idea of you. Perhaps he loved how you made him feel. Perhaps he loved the fantasy of what life with you could bring him. Perhaps he loved the idea that he has finally found someone who will love him unconditionally and ignore his shortcomings (which are a lot)."

~, Did The Narcissist Ever Really Love Me?

Kindle eBooks


Were We Just Props in His Self-Centered Life?

Rather than tolerate grief for the harm they caused others, take responsibility to fix the mess they created, live with the sadness of knowing they hurt their family/partner, etc. the narcissist will avoid responsibility by replacing the people in his life.

We are props in a theatrical presentation and having been judged incompetent and imperfect, his highness dismisses us without warning.

~ Midlife & Narcissism, The WoN Connection

Photo by & Copyright 2011, Janienne Jennrich
Photo by & Copyright 2011, Janienne Jennrich

Or Perhaps He Feels Entitled?

Not only do abusers feel entitled to what they want, but also how they want it, and when and where they want it.

-- Steve Becker, Getting Inside The Head Of The Abusive Personality

For a man to be successful in a modern marriage, he must develop the habit of acting on his sense of inadequacy as motivation to improve his relationship. He must clearly understand that his bad feelings are not punishment; they are motivation to be more protective and loving.

-- Steven Stosny in Anger in the Age of Entitlement, 2010

Entitlement is the "overarching attitudinal characteristic" of abusive men, a belief in having special rights without responsibilities, justifying unreasonable expectations (e.g., family life must centre on his needs). He will feel the wronged party when his needs are not met and may justify violence as self-defence.

-- Characteristics of Abusive Men, Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System

Entitlement is the abuser's belief that he has a special status and that it provides him with exclusive rights and privileges that do not apply to his partner. The attitudes that drive abuse can largely be summarized by this one word.

-- Lundy Bancroft, Author and former codirector of Emerge, the nation's first therapeutic program for abusive men

"The hardest thing is accepting that one's spouse never cared for you,

but only himself."

I would really appreciate your input. - Thanks.

In reading and educating myself about controlling, angry men (and/or narcissistic people), I have learned that their abusive behavior stems from a very self-centered attitude. They see themselves as inherently better than others. If we are not showering them with admiration, approval, or being what they want us to be, we are seen as worthless to them.

A fellow abuse survivor wrote, "The hardest thing is accepting that one's spouse never cared for you, but only himself."

I think she's right. Do you? It's a horrible thought, isn't it? Maybe you can help me wrap my brain around this?

Do you think he ever really loved me?



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    • anonymous 3 years ago

      It's hard to believe they never loved us, but it will help you heal if you accept that, They have something that prevents them from completely loving someone. No matter how much you want them to or try, it's never good enough. I am going through a divorce with a man that has no emotion about anything. He texted me he wanted a divorce, told me I ruined him and he won't date for a long time. He told me last Sunday he is now dating a divorced woman with two children. We have two children also. He is living in the marital home and having her spend the night. I told him that I did not feel that was right since we are not divorced and he turned it around and got angry at me. I don't believe he ever loved me. He would always date me then break up with me or cheat on me with someone else. He would not talk t me for days (gas lighting) when we would get into a simple argument. Even if it was his fault we were fighting I would apologize and beg him to talk to me. They are selfish and only care about what benefits them....They do not care who they hurt. As long as they are happy.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      No, he never loved me. I wonder how many woman he's been with since we got married. that would be upsetting to a normal person but i'm so broken and at the end of myself i muse about the idea of some woman coming to my house to tell me she's pregnant. I almost pray for it. Walking papers. I think of myself when i was younger, strong, confident almost abnoxious at times.I hate to look in the mirror cause i don't know the person looking back at me. I don't want to know her. she makes me sad.The sound of my laughter irritates him.He'd rather die than hear a good word said about me.Have you seen demon face? I think you have.Will i ever trust another man again? I'll work on trusting myself.He would love for me to believe that i don't matter.He can break my heart, my bones and objects that are meaningful to me but he will never break my spirit. God gave that to me and he has no right to it. I am grateful for sites like this. Each time i share a little more poison is expelled. Yes, they are skilled thespians but this show is over.15 years.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I am currently asking myself that question. After44years of marriage and that same number of years askiIng that same question, I am sorry to say the answer for us both is no. No, they did not love us. Maybe they loved the idea of us, they probably loved the sex, but I doubt they loved us as real person with a unique, separate,,distinct personality made on God's image who has a right to autonomy and a destiny not chained to his own. I think narcissistic abusers do not see the separate and unique status of each person, bit view us only as an object and only as how we belong to them and fit into their life.

    • JJNW 3 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Thank you. I agree. The divorce is final now and the kids and I are trying to move forward. Yep - they do often appear charming in public! And it is never your fault. ((hugs))

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I say that it is indeed very sad for those of us that are not affected with this trait in being unable to love,how we waste a lifetime with our partners building a family and a full life only to find out it wasn't real. It happened to me , He replaced me one week after I became ill after 34 years of marriage and after looking back he did have all the traits of a narcissist. Thank you for the information, now I know that there was something wrong within him and not something I did to destroy our marriage.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      He only loved me when it was convenient to him; hating me came easier to him.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      No. They make think they do, but they go from "loving" you to hating you within seconds. "Love" is shown only when you turn a "blind eye" to all they do and also don't do (don't do for you). Only then do they show you some kindness. Im learning that its not my fault my husband treats me with such cruelty, has double standards, and fills with extreme anger. He has an inflated sense of entitlement and boasts about how intelligent he is. He has special rules for himself that do not apply to me and if i try to communicate the one sided behavior, i may as well just ask for the beating ahead of time. These NPD men are severely abusive in all forms. I have learned that it is the charmers you must run from. The ones everyone likes, because anyone who is an honest and true to themselves type of person, is not one to go out of their way to be the "star" in every setting. The attention seekers and people pleasers do it for one thing: supply. Im starting to work on my escape plan and i suggest you all do the same, it never gets better.

    • ChristyZ 4 years ago

      I think if he is a narcissist he probably did think he loved you. Even though narcissists cannot genuinely love and care about another person, they feel something and since they don't know what true love is they don't know that it's not what other people feel for their loved ones. They are broken people.

    • dindy_marshall 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing! It means a lot to me to read others lenses on this subject I am just beginning to heal and am expressing myself through writing. When I read about others situations and how they learned to cope, it reminds me Im not alone and to stand strong. You are appreciated more then you know.

    • Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      In his way, he loved you, but you're better off without a man who would suddenly desert you and the kids. Better times are coming.

    • catherinelovestv 4 years ago

      My husband is very narcissistic but he does love me, I still have major issues with him thinking he deserves special treatment in our relationship. When we had kids, he found it difficult to deal with and used to say, "we need to love each other more than we love the kids, as they will leave us one day and we will only have each other". Sorry mate, my kids come first! He's accepted it and things were really rocky for a long time, now I make fun of him when he starts his narcissism and I call him on it. He is trying to change as he knows I'm ready to leave and take the kids with me, its actually liberating to finally work out what he is, it took a long time to find out what was wrong with us, I kept thinking it was me, but he is the issue and we are trying to mend our relationship, whether it works or not I don't know but I'm willing to try until I have no hope left.

    • Donnette Davis 4 years ago from South Africa

      Strangely enough, in their own warped way, I believe people with NPD can and do love, perhaps not as much as they love themselves however.

    • justmelucy 4 years ago

      I say yes out of my own personal experience. Having been involved with a man and I use the term man loosely, who was a narcissistic, bi-polar, psychopath abuser, I felt loved at times. However, the term love has far too many definitions. In short, love can be negative and controlling or positive and unconditional with many variations in between.

      I am in early recovery and asking the same questions as I rebuild my self-esteem and reclaim my life.

    • siobhanryan 5 years ago

      Truth be told he was only capable of loving himself--


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      • anonymous 17 months ago

        He is not able to love anyone, especially himself, and certainly not anyone else. This is only one of the tragedies of narcissism.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        actually I truly think he hated me..although he was the best husband for 5 years! he was so great, I never thought to second guess him...prolific LIARS...24/7

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I've been contemplating this same question for two months now. My conclusion is that it is important to know that your feeling were genuine regardless of what his were.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        No- they cannot love anyone including their parents and children

      • anonymous 3 years ago


      • anonymous 3 years ago

        No. It's like a pair of jeans; they were your favorite when they were new and fit great and they made you feel great. After you've worn them for a while, the glamour of newness wears off. Now you're looking for another pair to make you feel that positive way. The jeans serve a purpose but they are interchangeable. Divorced froman abuser who abuse me emotionally for 7 years. Also found myself consistently dating sociopathic men. They seemed so together; later you see it is all a carefully created facade. The two types go hand in hand.

      • anonymous 3 years ago husband never really loved me.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I think there is a scale of narcissists going from those that have a kind of conditional love to those who don't at all. My husband was a narcissist but not of the worst manipulative kind. His idea of love was idealistic and always felt that he would be fulfilled when 'the one' came along. I was that for a while until I got sick of always being ignored and being way down the line in his priorities, and realised I was the only one really inputting into the relationship. When I began to criticise and asking him to change he grew more distant and eventually believed we had no future because I wasn't 'ideal' anymore. As soon as the opportunity arose he found another woman who was his new 'ideal' and started a text affair with her. He is currently visiting her overseas to see if they have anything 'real'. The funny thing is she is another narcissist and is just like him! Despite my pain I am interested to see where that goes! I have realised that narcissists partners are often co-dependant people. Often they go into the relationship only with those tendencies but the narcissistic behaviour brings that out as a form of trying to control their crazy behaviour. This was me and well worth looking at if you have been in a relationship with a narcissist or anyone with a behavioural problem.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I believe my abusive husband of 48 years really thought he loved me in the beginning, but as I came to recognize his abuse and narcissism and called him on it, the "love" changed to hate and blame. I even saw where he had written "I blame my wife for everything that has gone wrong in my life" I don't know if that was a realization or an excuse. I finally left him, but I am deeply damaged by his treatment and it will take a long time to recover from this relentless abuse (many kinds).

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Sadly no. He might have thought he loved you, but only if you did what he demanded. By standing up to him, he believed you were no longer someone worthy of his love. Although, he thought love was what you feel toward someone who serves your selfish interests.

      • TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

        Only insomuch as you served his selfish desires. Once you became a threat to what he wanted, you became an enemy who must be gotten rid of. He really only ever loved himself.

      • Carolan Ross 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

        No, but never take that personally. The bottom line is that such a person is not capable of love of another, only self-love. They can put on an extremely good act that LOOKS like love, but the real intent is to control, they are desperate to control others. But truly genuinely love another? Impossible.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        i am not sure cus this is the same question i do myself last 5 years but now i need to take some pills for depression and visit every 15 days a physicology i know it s hard but they said they love you and then they just think u are worthless always they look for be approve for everyone and they get that ! but inside your house you live with a monster....i really wanted things be different i don't know why this happens to me or to us or to all us here in this page i read all the comments and it just break my heart

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        they are not able to love as you love .......... so No ......... he did not love you . will never love you . let it go and be free!!! dig a hole and fill it with every piece of him that remains............ and live!

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        It is one of the most difficult things in the world to accept that your partner did not love you. But worse than this, at least in my case, is that he treated me as less than human. Do not mistake flowers, gifts and wining and dining for love, kindness or even liking - I did. I know it's hard but please don't spend too long trying to wrap your brain around this. I have wasted years trying to understand. I don't think that people who possess empathy, have the ability to see another's point of view, are not self-centred and do not dehumanise another can ever really get their heads around the mind of the narcissist. That is what keeps us hooked in. We think they are like us and treat them accordingly. I kept thinking if I was patient, kind, caring and understanding and explained myself reasonably he would 'get it'. Wrong. I ended up with PTSD. Please take care of yourself and expend less energy on trying to understand. I know how difficult it is but focus on you not these truly horrible narcissists.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Not if he is a true Narcissist. My 33 year marriage to a Narcissist/Sex addict

        ended a year and a half ago when he walked away, and never looked back. He was already involved with a girl our daughter's age, and moved in with her. He has not looked back once, and has no contact with me, or our two children. Reading Malignant Narcissism, by Sam Vaknin,PhD. has helped me enormously.

        This is a devastating thing to go through, and it does get better. You will be in my prayers.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        From what I've read, not all narcissists (Ns) are psychopaths (Ps). But all Ps are Ns. I thought my spouse was N, but later learned he was P. Please consider this possibility. I doubt he ever loved you, although that had nothing to do with you. He wasn't capable of loving you or anyone. The hard part for me is that they take pleasure in their cruelty.

      • Mary 4 years ago from Midwest

        No i do not. This all sounds just like my husband. I have been with him since i was 21 years old and i am now 52 so it's been most of my life, he is all i have ever know.

        The reason i say this is because as a kid i didn't feel loved now with all these years with him no love. I'm going to die and had never felt the felling of being loved. Makes me very said.

        I'm glad i ran into this lens.

      • Joan Haines 4 years ago

        It's hard for us to wrap our heads around, but no, he didn't love you the way you loved him.

      • cynthiannleighton 4 years ago

        Indeed, 'tis hard to accept. I suspect he only loved my six figure income. Ironic, for in destroying me he lost that which he valued (financially) because I broke. Healing.

      "...there are individuals on this earth who have been taught from infancy that control is love,

      and extreme control is extreme love,

      which includes justifying any action in the crusade to control."

      -- Abuse forum post

      Do you think abusive, narcisstic people are capable of love?

      See results

      This book was recommended to me...

      Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover and Move On
      Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover and Move On

      From an Amazon reader review of this book:

      "The biggest thing I took away from this book was that it wasn't my fault, and I cannot have any contact with him going forward. He will continue to use me if I let him - knowledge is power, and I will no longer let him charm me, or let him play the woe is me card to get me to give in. If you're going in a relationship where you even suspect your partner has this disorder, this book can give you that knowledge to give you power. "


      Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you.

      -- Dr. Joyce Brothers

      I hope to review this book soon. It has good ratings and sounds helpful.

      Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse
      Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse

      If you feel unfairly criticized, controlled by others, or are afraid of being lonely, you could be suffering from emotional abuse.


      "That you would trust and honor you both with one of the greatest gifts one human can offer to another..."

      The Abused has No Blame in Trusting & Loving

      This helps me...

      "Trust is a gift. If you gave and it was not well and honestly received - YOU have no blame. That you would trust and honor you both with one of the greatest gifts one human can offer to another, makes the betrayer the person who is sorely lacking. You must not diminish the magnitude and beauty of your gift - by belittling yourself for having given."


      The new symbol for domestic violence and abuse of women - the turquoise ring.
      The new symbol for domestic violence and abuse of women - the turquoise ring. | Source

      Kindly leave a message.

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          VooLoo 3 years ago

          JJNW~ thank you for writing and sharing your hell. I liked this article, I think I am having the most trouble with the sudden abandonment. It's like I never existed. Or we were just going steady like in jr high, not married. Of course we weren't, IN HIS MIND. I will continue to watch for your writings. Blessings....

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          lisa-knight-knight 3 years ago

          hi im 42 and have currrntly sepaREATED, FROM MY VERY abusive husband of 23 years, im emotional wreck and always been finacally dependant on him he has always bckmailed about commitinng suiadace, as alwayshad one night standss, but keeps telling me he loves me, i now know ive wasted all these years on a man who never really loved me only himself, if anyone could me advicewud be apprecited , as feeling very confuesd x

        • JJNW profile image

          JJNW 3 years ago from USA

          @anonymous: I wish I could help. I still have trouble accepting that he would not change to hold onto his family, his home, his kids, his dog. Thinking the best for you.

        • profile image

          anonymous 3 years ago

          Am happy you could leave. am still stuck in here..looking all over online for even at least one article that says he changed and they lived happily ever after..but NONE. am so frustrated but at the end of the day i know what to do...

        • profile image

          TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

          Peace of conscience on your part (knowing you only tried your best to be loving) is something the other person can't ever have. He has an outward act of calmness and sanity, but inside is a raving lunatic who is scared out of his wits. He knows he's wrong but won't admit it, and his conscience burns like fire telling him he ought to change. Ignoring this kills the conscience and solidifies his psychopathic super-selfish tendencies.

        • JJNW profile image

          JJNW 4 years ago from USA

          @Soldiersister8184: Soldiersister, you are so kind to reach out to me in the midst of your own situation. I am so thankful my children are older and saw the abuse for what it is. We can help lift each other up, we survivors. Thank you for speaking out. Thinking good thoughts for you and your children.

        • profile image

          Soldiersister8184 4 years ago

          There are more of us survivors than we, perhaps, believe there are. I finally stood up and refused to cover for him anymore, and off he went without a word. I think the worst part for us is the fallout for my ten and five, it's very hard for them to take in. But we are strong, and we will make it. Don't let the finances get you down to much - I know it's difficult, but there is always a way. You were strong enough to get out, you are strong enough to do this too. And you are not alone.

        • profile image

          cmadden 4 years ago

          I'm glad he's gone from your home, and hope the rest follows - peace in your mind and soul, and a better financial situation.

        • Linda BookLady profile image

          Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

          I'm so glad you're free now to build a happier life for you and your children.

        • JJNW profile image

          JJNW 4 years ago from USA

          @donnetted: Makes you think --- yeah! Oh dear. They must be the best actors in the universe. I am so glad you got out alive and are here on Squidoo. Thank you for the blessing and for speaking out.

        • profile image

          Donnette Davis 4 years ago from South Africa

          I love what Sidther says. I was also married to one such person, who claimed to love me beyond reason and then burned my home down with me in it when I left. Makes you think.... Blessed x

        • justmelucy profile image

          justmelucy 4 years ago

          I thank my angels, spirit guides for leading me here. I found your lens link on the sidebar of my lens. I thank you for this great lens and look forward to reading all that you have to offer. Yes, I have been gaslighted.

          I am new here and rebuilding my life. Your lens has given me much insight. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

        • quickcutterss profile image

          Mary 4 years ago from Midwest

          Great lens, this was what i was looking for.

          I'll have to read the others that started this 3 part lens.

        • Joan Haines profile image

          Joan Haines 4 years ago

          I say, kick him out of your head. This is your life now. (I'm telling myself that too.) "Squid Angel blessed."

        • cynthiannleighton profile image

          cynthiannleighton 4 years ago

          Hmm. Healing takes time.

        • sidther lm profile image

          sidther lm 5 years ago

          Whether or not he loved you does not mean as much as the fact that others do. I was with a guy for years who controlled everything I did, who I spoke to, where and when I went out and took my paychecks... for a while I really wanted to know if I meant anything to him at all or if I was just an accessory- I stopped caring about whatever was going on in his head when I found out he was being investigated for serial rape. It may be hard to hear that he probably didn't love you (probably not capable) but it is his shortcomings, not yours- as long as you are asking the question about whether he loved you, he still has some control.

          I hope that you will find some sort of peace with this soon, there are others out there who do genuinely love you.

        • TapIn2U profile image

          TapIn2U 5 years ago

          You are always loved by people around you and you are worth to be loved. Sundae ;-)

        • lclchors profile image

          lclchors 5 years ago

          am glad you saw him for what he is and got away frome him. Now heal yourself and help your kids so they do not repeat your life. Good luck and God bless

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          Be on your both sides.. always of mine :) Much love to you.. dear friend :D

        • siobhanryan profile image

          siobhanryan 5 years ago

          You deserve only the best-demand the best and you will receive it

        • profile image

          Ruthi 5 years ago

          Janienne, you are worthy of love and so much more. And I can tell that you already know that and it is that which does my heart good.

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