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Relationship problems caused by my narcissistic husband's personality disorder
Signs of narcissism personality disorder in a bad relationship
This is the story of the relationship problem caused by a narcissistic husband from a horse's mouth. The page is about personality disorders that are leading to unhappiness and a bad interaction with others -- and my own research and experience into the signs and symptoms of narcissism as well as the severe disruptions in my life caused by the effects of a narcissistic spouse.
The unfortunate truth is that for a normal, average person its very difficult to identify the bad relationship as a pathologically problem relationship. As long as the spouse is not beating you up and is not addicted to alcohol, games or sex -- the problems should be just something that one would be able to sort out or cope -- facing the fact that people are different and have the right to be so. For the person involved in a pathologically bad relationship due to a personality disorder it takes a long time to understand and see the situation for what it is -- as normal people tend to accommodate differences -- be that in habits, beliefs, opinions, needs or even wants.
Normal people tend to negotiate, they have the abilty of self criticism, they try to reason before all other reaction -- and they take it for granted that others would do the same.
Photo of a sign of personality disorder? from SickRose
I made this lens about relationships for my fellow sisters and brothers that need advice and compassion. Do not loose hope, no matter how unhappy you now might feel! You can turn around your life and be happy again. Take care of yourself!
What is a narcissistic personality disorder?
The Narcissistic person is deeply unhappy -- never relaxed, constantly fearful about his perfect image
If you read this, chances are that you are worried about your own relationship problem and a narcissistic partner. As someone that has gone through of years of confused frustration myself -- the best thing you can do at this stage is reading further and searching for more about narcissism and psychological disorders. Only after you fully understand this mental disorder as abnormal and pathological, can you start to decide what you are going to do -- in any case, information on narcissism and personality disorders will help you keep sane and see your priorities.
Fact is that things are extremely confusing -- we all have a healthy degree of self awareness and should be assertive for self preservation -- and people with personality disorders are not necessarily evil, they do not line up the towels in the bathroom as in the movies and threaten you for not doing the same. They might even try to control their own behavior as much as they can -- somewhere deep down they know that they have a problem. They are unhappy and insecure but try to suppress it -- they try to avoid the truth and reality by all means possible, even at the cost of self destruction. In fact they inspire sympathy for their constant unhappiness to the person that is hooked to love them. To reason with a narcissistic person it is simply not possible -- and a normal person has difficulties to understand that. A person with narcissistic disorder can simply not understand how a normal mindset works -- they always know better everything than any one else and do not even realize it -- their mind works such that everything is filtered through their own viewpoint that they believe to be the only one existing. Their perspective is like a brick wall and no light can shine through.
Narcissistic personality disorder -- short introduction
Narcissistic personality disorder -- still to be fully accepted by medical bureaucracy
Narcissistic personality disorder -- causes and signs
First read to identify the nature of your relationship problem
A possible reason for bad relationships between partners
I am married to a man that I thought to be caring and discovered only after marriage that I mistakenly perceived a personality disorder as a caring nature. I further discovered other signs of a severe psychological disorder in my partner's behaviour but it took me years to identify them for what they are -- as I believed at the beginning that it is only a matter of differences in our personalities or cultural backgrounds. I thought that the bad relationship is mainly due to communication problems. I tried for years to be patient and hope for improvement. Later I just tried to cope -- but without success. Eventually I had to face the fact that I am unhappy and that something is constantly going very wrong -- so I started to read and get informed about communication difficulties which further led me to read about relationship problems and finally I found out about the formal definition of personality disorders and more to the core -- about narcissism. It took a few more years to accept that our relationship can go nowhere better.
The methods of a Narcissistic partner to brainwash and create the feeling of dependency in his/her victim
The web of little tricks that builds the bubble of your isolated unhappy existence
If you feel emotionally drained because a frustrating lack of communication with your partner, if you feel socially isolated, if your partner takes decisions that affect both of your lives without consulting you or considering your point of view, if your partner makes you feel dependent on his "care", if he makes you feel that you wouldn't be able to do things unless he is "supporting or helping" you, if he keeps you in the dark about his future plans (that affect you too) -- and if you feel constantly unhappy and unable to be your old lively self -- read the articles below. I checked them personally and found helpful description of this emotional disorder, very important for a victim of a relationship with a narcissistic partner in order to understand what is happening. The process of brainwash and the creation of a sense of dependency of the Narcissistic partner's victim on the Narcissist is not taking place overnight but in a period that leaves the victim emotionally and even physically drained and weak. The victims of a Narcissistic partner are usually severely affected and traumatized after a period of Narcissistic abuse and it is very difficult for them to take action and free themselves. People from outside will rarely interfere -- and in most cases they just ignore what is happening inside the relationship as the Narcissist is carefully building up a bubble around his/her victim while showing a perfect image of him/herself to others. This is a way of life for the Narcissist -- he/she is not even conscious of his actions in detail. Usually, there are not many "others" anyway, as the Narcissist will have little real social interaction -- his contacts being limited to occasional and random socializing as the Narcissist is afraid of the long term challenge to keep up with a perfect self image that he/she created. There are no credible statistics about the prevalence of the Narcissistic Disorder as a Narcissist will resist to seeking treatment -- in his/her view he/she is perfect anyway. There are many Narcissists undiagnosed, being in positions of control over a family without anyone ever interfering from outside. The number that some researchers would advance from recent observations would be a 16 % of the population from which 75 % are male. The high incidence in male Narcissists might be due to traditional educational backgrounds -- the Narcissistic disorder develops in childhood leaving the child to grow up into a deeply unhappy and troubled person
Remember, Narcissism could be defined as an emotional disorder rather than a mental disorder. Do not let yourself being drained of your vital energies till death -- gather your strength and free yourself. There are ways to do that -- and the first step is to get information.
And never hope for a closure in a discussion or after a break up -- a Narcissistic partner will never ever accept any part of a blame -- even if he will acknowledge some "mistakes" -- he/she will always add that it happened "because of ..." that or that or something other -- meaning that it was never really his/her fault but most frequently your very own. Regain the trust you've lost -- in your own judgement and the right to have one.
How is the victom of a Narcissistic partner driven to the feeling of dependecy
Methods of brainwashing of a Narcissistic victim by the partner
There is never a closure in a discussion with a Narcissistic partner
What is a personality disorder?
Reading from the resources found by clicking the links below you can get a better understanding of about personality disorders.
To understand the difference between the usual normal human display of personality with a healthy degree of assertion of the self and the pathological personality disorder, one should use one's own judgement too, based on personal feelings of constant frustration, unhappiness for a long period and stories of other people involved in bad relationships with partners diagnosed with a personality disorder. Get the information and take care of yourself!
Read informed article about the types of personality disorders that affect relationships -- find out what are you dealing with from professionals and read real storiesAn article on a more positive note about personality disorders by child psycologist Nick Petrovic -- ending by a message of hope to recovery for those affectedComplete overview of the Schizoid Personality Disorder
Lucky you if the relationship problem is only about bad communication skills
Communication can be improved
If you are lucky, communication might be the problem in your relationship. Reasons for bad communication might be of many types, quite innocent in fact, like different cultural backgrounds, or simply lack of education in that field. The good news is that communication can be greatly improved between individuals of healthy attitude towards others, commitment and relationships. You might want to find out if your relationship problems stem only from a lack of communication skills before you identify yourself with the scores of people that have a "real" relationship problems because of a personality disorder of the one or both partners in a couple. When communication would improve, the couple behavior will also improve and building empathy, tolerance and common activity can save people from separating or the individuals involved in the relationships from a long term frustration. We all are in various relationships -- modern life does not allow to be anywhere outside human community, except in very rare cases. Our happiness depends on good relationships with others, be it a spouse, family member or friend, co - worker, or simply a neighbour that we have to be in contact with. Problems in relationships can cause so much misery in one's life that efforts to improve have always rewarding effects on the quality of our lives.
Take a personality test -- and share information on forums for personality problems
Start getting information from people living with -- or living with people with personality dosorders
You can take a personality test by clicking here yourself -- the link takes you to a site for teens and young adults that want to know more about themselves. Its never bad to know your own person in the first place and an early age. It would help to further appreciate the problems you have to deal with. You can also search for forums dedicated to personality disorders -- communities where one can ask for practical advice and shared information from individual perspectives and personal experiences.
Are the signs of a personality disorder visible at the first glance?
How others see a person with a narcissistic personality disorder
My husband makes always a good first impression on people he meets.There are no visible signs of a personality disorder for an outsider although he usually speaks only about himself and his past business experience -- but that is all fine in an introductory discussion. It is true that he remembers himself to be a successful businessman, quite better than his business results would actually show -- but people have no knowledge about his real financial status. This is the stage of socializing that he likes and the only one he can take. We never follow up on someone we meet on some occasion -- except if that someone is a single woman and visibly impressed by him. Men are usually less prepared to admire another man, so they are out after a first and by chance meeting. Women that are not in awe of him are also greatly ignored. People that have little contact with a narcissistic person would never realize the pathological nature of the person's condition. People suffering from personality disorders show their best sides to the public anyway as that is the one they best like themselves. A person suffering from narcissistic personality disorder will go undetected forever -- except if you get close to him and that means being in a relationship.
Protect yourself -- find out everything about Narcissistic Disorder - Inform yourself in order to understand
Where did I go wrong? Did I make a mistake or it was just bad luck?
Research shows that there is a certain type of personality that ends up being in a relationship with a narcissistic individual. There are people that are accommodating by nature and soft, ready to sacrifice themselves -- not necessarily in a straightforward manner but by being less certain about themselves. This can happen because a strict upbringing or low self esteem due to various reasons.
Narcissistic individuals seek out vulnerable people for partnerships
In my case, things were complicated by the fact that I am in a vulnerable position. Trusting my partner, I quit my workplace and moved to another country so I am dependent on him financially too. I have no work permit yet, after six years still waiting for permanent residency and the permission to get a job -- not that I will ever find one as I am currently living in a small town with little opportunities and those are kept for youngsters and locals anyway. When I got married, my husband said he will provide for my needs. I also put all my good faith into the marriage so I kept trying my best to make it work. By nature, I like to go through with a task. I am from a background that prepared me to be a team partner, a good sport, lively, and give my love unconditionally to the people I get involved with. I am positive and I managed to go through hardships in life -- so it is/was very difficult to give up on my husband. I feel now sorry for him and see how he struggles with his condition -- how he never has been happy in his life. But I'll have to go -- for my own survival. As vulnerable as I am -- staying further in this stressful relationship will do no good for me. I have been diagnosed with cancer and doctors say that I should be happy and looking for good reasons to want to live. I sought ways be not dependent on my husband and build up my escape to a normal life. In hindsight I know that I should have never agree to leave Botswana, my job, my independence. I should have never allowed myself to be so vulnerable and exposed. To my excuse I only can say that my husband seemed so perfect, so caring and so perfectly reliable.
Everything seems wonderful at the beginning -- signs of narcissistic personality disorder are not visible at the beginning
The man I met seemed to be caring -- the first time we went in his car, he leaned over and buckled my safety belt. I thought it very considerate and felt protected -- an experience altogether very new to me! After half a year we got married and I really thought that only happiness was to come. I also was prepared to work for it, expecting the usual problems of getting used to each other's differences. My husband took me to South Africa and I have been taken by the beauty of the country.
People suffering from narcissistic disorder need to keep under control everything
Narcissists are constantly unhappy about something
Well, the signs of what was to come -- the narcissistic personality disorder -- appeared the very same day of our getting the marriage officiated. Suddenly, from the lively woman I used to be, with my own and sometimes very personal views on things, my husband suddenly was expecting me to approve of everything he did or said -- as he says, unconditionally. After the marriage, everything suddenly came under his control, he was to buy the groceries, he took all the decisions, major and minor. I was not supposed to cook as he thought I can not prepare the food the way he liked it and he did the washing too, he said I don't know how to do it proper. He refused to use the washing machine I brought with me from Botswana, instead bought a new one when his old machine broke down. He silently packed away all my kitchen ware and other household items that I had before we got married and brought with me He permanently watched what I was doing and he was controlling me with regards of how much dish washing liquid I should use or other such simple things. He was never smiling and seemed to be unable to relax -- everything was like an assignment under his control, a duty, never fun anymore. When going on a trip, he never asked me whether I would like to go there or there -- he just decided where it will be. He was always unhappy about something, no matter what we were doing. Those were the times when I never even heard about narcissistic personality disorder and I thought that controlling people with personality disorders are the serial killers. Throughout my life I have been lucky to be in close relationships with normal people. I have been even married once before and did not have a good marriage -- but nothing prepared me to what is life with a partner suffering from narcissistic disorder. So -- I was just confused, concerned and lost.
The passive aggressive stand of the narcissistic person.
Narcissists are never relaxed
After a while I felt sad and did not know what to do with myself -- I only could water the flowers -- my husband watched me doing it and seemed so happy that I just said let me be patient and wait till he starts getting to know me -- I was waiting for his trust that I was prepared to build up by good deeds and improve our relationship. Unfortunately, my deeds have never seem to be good as he never said anything good about what I did. He just noticed things that were up to criticism -- anything he could not find fault he just seemed not to notice. He was never relaxed and smiling. He had a passive aggressive attitude whenever I tried to make him notice that I have done something good or I tried to interest him in my activity. He got offended whenever I had a different opinion about something, no matter what. Johannesburg is a big city and dangerous -- I was not to go out on my own as I did not know the neighborhoods. When I asked him to take me to a certain shop or to a theatre in town, he just said: we'll see! and we never went. If I brought the matter up again -- he frowned and said I am impatient. Making a mention for the third time -- I was nagging -- so I gave up slowly and became confused. A simple request for a minor thing made him say that I am always complaining -- and I never did understand why but there was no way to reason with him -- it all ended in him getting offended and angry and me feeling frustrated. He was trying to make me happy though -- but it had to be under his terms, whatever he thought to do, to buy, to say -- everything under his control again and again -- and if I did not seem happy enough he got offended and angry. He got offended when I wanted something that was not what he was giving me. Even the food had to be the one he approved of. I did not have any say in the household -- then he started telling me that I am not doing anything as a wife. "What wife?'' -- he asked when I called myself his wife in a totally innocent mention. He did not let me cook -- and after a while was saying " you have room service!". He did not let me wash, said that I don't know how to operate the ashing machine -- and later I found out that he was complaining to others that I am not doing anything, just sitting, which was untrue anyway as I was painting full time. The way he acted was passive aggressive, he never said no when I asked for something but he always postponed making it happen by saying "we'll see!" until I had to insist -- and then it became "impatience", "nagging", "you, always you!". But little did I know those days about "passive aggressiveness"! It was just frustrating, hurting and very very confusing. We never went to see anyone and anyone ever came to see us, so I could not make new friendly social relationships and he did not really have any. I was on my own and had no one to confirm or infirm if I did something wrong -- or that things were wrong by themselves. My husband never liked anyone -- he always found people to be stupid or he was simply not interested in others at all. He needed no relationships with others but seemed to be self sufficient in all aspects.
The victim in a relationship with a narcissistic personality
After three years I was programmed for being the shadow of my former self and at that stage I tried to rather cope than hope for an improvement. I felt completely hopeless in a better relationship and saw the problems overwhelming. The more I gave in, the more he restricted my space. Eventually I started to rebel -- and that made him very frustrated and unhappy. Offended. We started arguing a lot. Whenever I tried to reason with him it ended in a disaster. He never remembered the reason for the argument or the problem it brought it up -- just that it was an argument, and resented them -- said that I am difficult and causing problems all the time. He never addressed the issue but rather accused me of being impatient and selfish. He used to walk out on me when he decided to end a discussion -- which was never in fact a discussion. In five years, we never sat down to discuss something -- he just made a statement, standing, then left the area. If I tried to follow him and finish the issue till sorted, he just kept doing something else. Soon I gave up on even try to say something -- and he never had too much to say to me anyway as he never discussed any aspect of our household or life together as he never expected my input. He just took his decisions and acted upon. After a while we almost never spoke to each other except the very basic usual things. Our relationship went from bad to worse and I started to identify the problem
How to cope with a narcissistic personality of people you are living close by
Narcissistic personality disorder is an illness
Narcissism is a severe emotional disorder creating a major depression
I was desperately looking for the good sides of him to be able to maintain the minimum good relationship necessary to live in the same house. I discovered slowly that his controlling behavior comes from his personality disorder and that he is the first to be unhappy because of it, living in a permanent state of depression. I felt grateful for the opportunity he created for me to paint -- my whole life up to my current marriage I had to work for a living and had no real time for it. I soon got accepted in the best art gallery in the region, of a respectable standard. and people said my work is good, although very different from what the local tradition is expecting from artists. Professionals advised me to go to Cape Town and find an agent or a gallery -- but my husband never ever took me there for this purpose. Whenever I tried to bring up the topic, he just said "we'll see". So, I gave up on future professional plans. I tried desperately to improve communication with him -- always hoping that once he could understand that I am not against him we might improve our relationship too.
The change of attitude after marriage of the narcissistic controlling individual
I could go on with countless examples of how our relationship deteriorated -- but it could take too long and I guess the picture is quite clear by now. However, for those who read to understand their own relationship problems I just make a list of what and how changed just after I became the "wife":
-- before, we had fun, we laughed and he smiled -- after, he could never allow himself to relax and smile or laugh
-- before we had a good physical love life -- after, I could never initiate anything in this regard. I just had to stay and do nothing, otherwise he panicked and got limp. He had to be in control of the whole "process" and was overwhelmed by it.
-- before, I could express my opinions. Although never further discussing them, he did not seem to be angered by them. After, he got offended for every deviation from his own views.
-- before, he used to tell me about the life he previously lived, about his family and childhood -- after, I was not allowed to mention anything about that.
-- before, he gave me hugs -- after, we never had real moments of intimacy -- of any kind.
He seemed to obsess about having an image of a perfect man. Trying desperately to keep this image, he never could relax. He lived permanently under the tension of denying reality as it is and live in this bubble where he is perfect and knows everything. Under this pressure he refused anything new, be that an information, a situation -- even a new kind of dish. Anything new made him panic -- so he postponed or denied any experiment that would take him out of his usual environment, up to the smallest details. Being so wrapped up into these concerns, he obviously had never had any energy left for "hearing" what I ever said.
People suffering from narcissistic personality disorder are not necessarily violent
Please note that he never hit me and made always sure I have "food on the table". He also tried to give me the food that I like, although only if it first came from him. He asked "beef or chicken?" and I could choose -- but when I wanted prawns, it has not been possible. He just said "another time" but it never came.
He always says" I never deny you anything" and " I did everything for you". There is no comment accepted to these statements. "I put food on the table" -- is another of his favorite statements.
Well, I just felt hopeless and depressed but failed to admit to both conditions. Kept getting frustrated and said I cannot be depressed because I went through difficult situations in my life and managed them. Finally, I was diagnosed with cancer to my left breast, in an early third stage -- I neglected to check periodically my health.
During the long and difficult treatments I went through, my husband gave me his support of driving me to the clinic, buying me a juicer that I asked for. He also made great efforts to be polite -- but he never gave me a real hug or any sign of an emotional support, although I asked for it and everyone said to us how important it is for healing. I realize now that he is just not able to do so. He means things well but has no ability for empathy.
Let's laugh a bit -- narcissists in a funny light - What would be life without laughing?
Narcissists can not really laugh -- whenever they do it is not for fun. A narcissist can laugh when his self importance is proved -- he cen never laugh at self and never can really laugh from heart, fully enjoying something.
Life with a Narcissistic partner -- how to cope and protect yourself
Last stage of a bad relationship -- leaving the bad marriage
Leaving a narcissistic controlling husband
I am now dealing with the last stage of our relationship disaster: leaving. It is a difficult experience as I have mixed feelings for my husband -- I still love him in an unconditional way, I feel sorry for him, I am scared of my own future on my own. However, my illness helped me to identify my priorities -- I don't know how long I am going to live and it would be a sad waste to keep trying the impossible and be miserable for the rest of my life -- as short or as long as it might be.
I went for help -- there are organizations that help people with family relationship problems. I am also getting legal help as there is no reason why I should take responsibility alone for the break up of the marriage.I feel sorry for him -- I can see that he is starved for affection too, the same as I am. However, he can not take affection from me and never could, after we got married. There is something that has prevented him from intimacy with me because he had to feel "in control" over me all the time -- and that is his personality disorder that I only now can truly identify and accept as real. From what I read, people suffering from narcissistic personality disorder can not feel empathy or they just have a low degree of that ability -- or they deny those feelings if they have them -- and have fear of intimacy. The worst is that there is never ever a closure in a relationship with a narcissistic person, not even for a single issue -- they completely lack the power to look at their own actions and be critical of themselves in any way, so they never can go through a discussion about how they affect the relationship.
At this stage -- everything is my fault, although I do not even use the word "fault" myself when trying to make sense of six years of my life. He is recalling all about me having "free room service" and not contributing with an income -- although I had my own piece job earnings that I spent for the house -- besides it has never been an issue before. Any attempt to reason and get closure on our problems so that we can part and start clean is driving me more frustrated as it goes nowhere. He just gets opaque, sits and wouldn't talk or says something that is not addressing the issue but the form that he finds incorrect, so I just give up and go -- I think I should be happy that I am still able to do so.
Life is a journey!
Life is a journey. It took me to some difficult crossings now and then. It also took me to Africa on a wonderful trip to learn and grow. More adventures are waiting for me to happen. I keep walking and enjoy every step in the new landscape.
Free yourself from a Narcissistic partner
If you still need more information, click here for a good resource on narcissistic personality disorders -- a comprehensive description of both the narcissistic person and his/her victim. There are 100 characteristics of a Narcissist described -- you can easily identify your situation if you make an evaluation according to them. More to the topic, you can also find out why did you get into a relationship with a Narcissistic person -- and what you should consider to avoid it in the future.