Dating After Divorcing a Narcissist?

Dating After Divorcing a Narcissist?

Have you experienced a divorce that involved a narcissist? If you’ve been through narcissistic abuse and you’re now thinking about entering the dating world again, there are some things you need to think about first. Let’s face it, a divorce can be a traumatic experience especially when you’ve dealt with narcissistic abuse, and jumping into the dating scene can be more than you might be ready to deal with. The only one who will know if you are truly ready to start dating after a divorce is you, but here are some things to consider before you go on that first date.

Are you really ready to date after your divorce?

This is where you have to take stock of your own emotions and what it is you are looking for after getting divorced. Only you can really answer this question but something to think about is why do you want to start dating again.

Are you lonely and think that dating again will help fill that void left by your ex-spouse? If this is the case you may not be ready, because the person you date may not fulfill your expectations, particularly if you do not know what it is you want out of a new relationship.

If you look at it from the point of asking yourself what you want from a new relationship you may find it easier to make a decision about dating after your divorce.

Are you confident enough in yourself to date safely?

Going through narcissistic abuse can destroy your entire self in so many ways, the least of which is a complete erasure of your self-confidence. So, when you’re ready to date again, its’ a really good idea to do a double-check and ask yourself if you’re really confident enough to get back out there. Do you have what it takes to deal with someone in a dating relationship?

For many survivors of narcissistic abuse, simply going through the divorce itself can be devastating. You need time to recuperate and to heal from the years of trauma you’ve just been through. You have to ask yourself if you’re ready to deal with someone on that emotional level again. Are you confident enough in yourself that any letdown or rejection during your foray into dating will not damage your emotional state?

Do you know what you’re looking for in a potential partner? 

What kind of person are you going to date? How detailed are you being in your “checklist” of wants and needs in a partner? Your tendency may be to try and find someone who is the complete opposite of your ex-spouse – and who could blame you if that person was a narcissist?

While this may sound logical, you might be missing something important if that’s the direction you’re planning to take here. Why? Two reasons.

First, you were attracted to your ex-spouse for a variety of reasons, none of which involved the toxic person they later showed you they were. Because your marriage didn’t work doesn’t mean that you didn’t like some of the things that attracted you to your ex in the first place. You need to accept people for who they are, not who they remind you of.

Second, there is more than one type of narcissist, and on the outside, a covert narcissist may appear to be the complete opposite of an overt one. This can lead to you getting involved unknowingly with another toxic person who may act a little different but who might still be the same level or type of toxic as your ex. For example, I personally looked for a person who was the opposite of my narcissistic parent and I found him. Sadly, he turned out to just be a different kind of narcissist – he flew under my radar because his external behaviors were so different. But underneath it all, he was exactly the same.

Are you prepared to deal with trigger moments? 

After you’ve been abused by a toxic narcissist for a long time, you might be a little sensitive in ways that won’t make sense to your potential dates. As I mentioned, knowing what you want is important, but be careful not to overly compare anyone you date to your ex-spouse. Certainly, there are toxic behaviors you’ll have to watch for and avoid in a new person, and it will make it even more difficult if that someone you are dating seems to do some of the things that your ex used to do that drove you crazy.

Realize that most of the time they will be unaware that they are doing something that reminds you of your ex-spouse. Their otherwise innocent behavior might trigger you in a way you’re not expecting, and it might erroneously lead you to assume you’re dealing with a narcissist. If this is a concern, you’re going to want to have a pattern interrupt plan in your back pocket – as in, be prepared to pattern-interrupt yourself in the moment so you can consider what happened later, when you’re not feeling scattered or afraid.

Are you ready to take it slowly (and safely)?

Listen, I get it. After a toxic relationship, you might just want to hurry up and move on with your life. And I get it! Heck, we’ve all heard the (really terrible) advice of “If you want to get over someone, get under someone new,” right? That is completely off-base, just in case you wondered.

If you really like this new person in your life and you want to give them a chance, then they might be worth it. BUT, despite what your heart seems to be telling you, you should not rush into this or any relationship – and you should give yourself some grace here.

The most important piece of advice I can offer here is to take it very slowly, even if you’re sure this is your actual soulmate. The thing is that while a toxic person might push you to move faster in the relationship than you want to, someone who is really “your person” will be happy to take it slowly and not rush things.

Remember too that what you see and think may not be what they intend for you to see and think. It is hard for a new person to prove they’re not like your ex, and they shouldn’t have to do that, necessarily. Rather they should be themselves and you should try to judge them on their own merit. It isn’t really their job to help you overcome the demons of your past relationship, even if they seem to want to try.

It’s Okay (And Recommended) to Wait Until You’re Ready

Avoid dating at all if you’re not ready to do it – there’s nothing wrong with waiting until you’re ready, mentally, emotionally, and otherwise. At the same time, don’t be afraid to enter into the dating world after your divorce when you are ready, but at the same time, you need to know who you are and have the confidence to find what you are comfortable with when it comes to dating. Trust yourself to make the right choice and chances are you will thrive as you begin your new life dating after divorce.

Not Sure You’re Ready to Date After Divorce?

Take this free self-assessment to find out if you are ready to date after a divorce from a narcissist. 

Related Resources for Dating After Narcissistic Abuse


Is The Narcissist Spying On You? Tips To Know For Sure

Is The Narcissist Spying On You? Tips To Know For Sure

After the narcissist discards you, you may have mixed feelings. Maybe you’re feeling relieved after struggling with whether or not to leave the narcissist, but they saved you the trouble by discarding you first. Or maybe they’ve left you, and you’re still really, really sad, and you wish you could be with them again. Perhaps you’re still with the narcissist and they are actively neglecting you, attacking you, or giving you the silent treatment, but you don’t know why.

Either way, you might have noticed something kind of odd: somehow, the narcissist seems to know every detail of what you’re doing even when they’re not with you – and that seems to be happening even about things you did or said when you were totally alone in a room or your vehicle. What the heck is going on?

Is your narcissistic ex spying on you?

Here is the unsettling truth. The narcissist that you thought disappeared from your life might have decided they don’t want to let you go. Or they might feel they need to spy on you because they don’t trust you. Or they could just be incredibly controlling and paranoid, causing them to feel obligated to know what is going on

Whether or not you’re still in the relationship, the narcissist might decide they still need to keep tabs on you. They might feel they need to know what you are doing. The same obviously applies to the case of you going no contact with them. How do you know if the narcissist is spying on you for sure?

Watch for Suspicious Vehicles Near Your Home (and Elsewhere)

Do you notice an unusual car that is parked near your home often, one you’re sure doesn’t belong to a neighbor? Do you ever see the same vehicle around town or in parking lots of places you shop or do business? That is fishy. It’s possible that this is the narcissist, using a different vehicle to spy on you – one that is not recognizable to you. Or, it might be one of their flying monkeys, doing the narcissist’s bidding for them.

If you’re worried that you’re being followed, don’t just assume you’re crazy. The narcissist did their best to make you doubt yourself, your perception, and your sanity. But if you feel that someone is spying and following you in a vehicle you don’t recognize, take down the license plate information and if you can, have a good look at the person in the car – even if the car has tinted windows. Even better, try to snap a few photos of the car and license plate with your smartphone.

Don’t hide what you’re doing if you choose to snap photos, and be sure to snap pics each time you see the car in different places and on different days. This will allow whoever is in the car to know that you’ve got proof of what they’re doing – and it’ll provide potential evidence in case you need to file for an order of protection.

Narcissists Manipulate Through Your Smartphone Or Devices

If you notice something is abnormal with your devices such as your smartphone, tablet, or computer, there’s is a chance they’ve been bugged. The narcissist could have discovered a way to bug your device to spy on you – and it’s not difficult or too expensive to figure it out these days.

For example, they may have a program installed on your phone to copy them on everything you’re doing, or they might have access to your social media accounts because you shared your passwords in the past, or because you didn’t remove your password information from a shared computer or device.

They might also have installed spying apps on your smart home devices or have hidden cameras and/or voice recorders around the house – even ones that could be motion or sound activated and feeding the information they gather to the narcissist’s phone or computer outside the home. That means that as long as the batteries work (or as long as its plugged in), the device could continue to feed to the narcissist indefinitely.

Don’t believe me? I get it. Here’s how you can fact-check me here: just get on the internet and look around. For example, a quick Amazon search using the term “spying devices” returns a whole host of affordable and easily hidden cameras, voice recorders, and more.  There’s this very average looking pen for less than $40 that is secretly a voice recorder.

And this tiny camera appears to be a little bigger than a quarter – which means you could hide it almost anywhere. And let’s not forget the little box you can attach to someone’s car to find out where they’re going when you’re not with them– all for under twenty bucks. Would you even recognize this if it were placed under your vehicle or even in the trunk somewhere? Honestly, I don’t think anyone would.

Tips for Discovering the Narcissist’s Spy Devices and ‘Bugs’ on Your Phone

  • If the narcissist has installed some kind of listening device or recorder on your smartphone, you’ll hear a slight echo while you are on calls.
  • If the narcissist has bugged your smartphone using a spyware program or even a hidden geo-locator app,  your phone might feel hot to the touch, especially when the narcissist is actively tracking you.
  • If you charge your phone and the battery starts taking a lot longer than usual to charge, you could have spyware on your phone.
  • If your battery suddenly starts running out faster than it used to, they might be tracking you.
  • If you’re getting weird texts, new ads, and are using additional mobile data, they might have installed something to follow you or listen to you on your phone.
  • If your phone suddenly slows way down or no longer performs as it did before, it can be a red flag of some kind of spy app.

Device-Specific Tips for Discovering Spying on Your Phone

Tips for Android Users

For Android users, you can find spyware by looking in your phone’s settings: Go to Settings, then Applications, then Manage Applications or Running Services. Look for services or files that you don’t recognize, but be careful not to delete anything important. Note that the most effective tools will be difficult to see as they probably have fake names in order to hide them.

Tips for iPhone Users

For iPhone users, it can get a little more complicated. Since iPhone has a built-in system to prevent spyware and the like, your narcissist will have to get a little more creative. They might just know your passwords and access everything from their own computer, or they might actually have done a “jailbreak” on your phone, meaning they’ve corrupted the system. More likely is that they’ve had access to your phone or account and have secretly installed something to track you or listen in. This could be easily figured out by reviewing your installed programs.

Check with Your Service Provider

In either case, a factory reset of the phone can remove spy programs. It might also benefit you to go to your service provider’s store or office to have the phone checked out – and worst-case scenario, you can always replace your phone. Better yet, get a second phone and keep the original one for awhile. Just stick it in a drawer in a quiet room and check that it’s charged every couple of days. This way, the narcissist won’t know the new one exists and they won’t know what you’re up to.

Tips for Discovering the Narcissist’s Spy Devices in Your Home

Has Your Computer Been Hacked?

Even if the narcissist is not good with technology, they can hire a hacker to hack into your computer. If you see odd things such as popup ads or toolbars that you never installed, there is a good chance the computer was hacked. Unfortunately, skilled hackers can bypass the firewall. If your computer runs very slowly, that is another sign of hacking. Certain protection programs and antivirus programs might help, but to be safe, you should have your computer examined by an expert in the field to know for sure.

Does Your Home Have Hidden Cameras & Listening Devices?

A narcissist can find a way to install a hidden camera in your home. But there are several ways you can test whether you have hidden cameras in your home. Here are a few to start with.

  • Turn off the lights around you and notice if there are unexpected LED lights, usually red or green.
  • Look at your mirrors to see if there are small spots that might hide a tiny camera
  • .You can even install a bug detector that will reveal whether or not you have a hidden camera.
  • This article from Turbo Future offers a comprehensive list of tips for discovering in-home spying devices and hidden cameras.
  • This one from Howell Law Firm offers some additional really helpful tips for figuring out if your house is bugged or if your smart devices are being used against you.

How and Why Narcissists Use Smart Home Devices to Gaslight, Abuse, and Control You

This video offers additional tips on how narcissists might use your smart home devices to gaslight, abuse, manipulate and control you.

The idea of being spied on by the narcissist is scary, but if you notice any abnormalities in your home, on your devices, or that someone is following you – then there is a good chance that the narcissist is spying on you.

Turning It Around: Ways to Find Proof You’ve Been Cheated On 

If you happen to need to use technology to prove that you’ve been cheated on to show the judge in divorce court, you’ll want to take a look at this video, which offers tips on how to find proof a narcissist has cheated on you.

More Helpful Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Related Articles for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

Get Help and Support in Your Narcissistic Abuse Recovery


Divorcing a Narcissist

Divorcing a Narcissist

Divorce is always difficult and life-altering. When you’re divorcing a narcissist, there’s a whole other layer of manipulation and controlling behaviors involved. And, as painful as it is, it is less uncommon than you’d hope.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost half of all marriages end in divorce. If you are planning, experiencing, or have recently gone through a divorce with a narcissist, there are things you should know about starting over.

How Divorcing a Narcissist Affects Your Health

Research tells us that while most people are resilient after a divorce, surveys indicate that 10-15% of divorced people find it very difficult to manage to start over. If you’re dealing with a narcissist during divorce, you’re probably in that 10 to 15%, sadly. This means that your divorce was or will be quite traumatic. You may be feeling stuck, confused, lost, and abandoned.

Mental Health and Stress Issues When Divorcing a Narcissist 

You might feel like dealing with narcissistic abuse for as long as you have could leave you without the skills to cope with loss and start over. And you would not be alone in that feeling – as it turns out, we have seen thousands of narcissistic abuse survivors struggle through divorcing a narcissist. You might suffer from increased anxiety, depression, and a variety of symptoms related to C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) related to narcissistic abuse in your toxic relationship, both during and after the relationship.

You might also feel excessive stress that can lead to additional mental and physical effects. Due to the rejection you feel during divorce, you might struggle with even deeper mental health and emotional wellness issues. In a study published by Ovid Technologies, researchers found that oxytocin, a pleasure hormone associated with social bonding, may have protective health benefits. A separate study published in the American Journal of Science showed that the brain areas that sense pain are also activated with social rejection.

And, according to one researcher, dealing with your parents’ divorce as a child increases your risk for divorce. This makes sense for narcissistic abuse survivors on a deeper level, as a large percentage of narcissistic abuse survivors are also the adult children of narcissists, according to my own research and experience.

The Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), which measures the relationship between life events, stress, and illness, tells us that divorce is rated as one of the top stressors – and this is just general divorce – not necessarily divorce involving a narcissist. Divorce is topped only by changing jobs in the list of stressors. Other top stressors include moving to a new place

Physical Health Issues When Divorcing a Narcissist 

Divorcing a narcissist can be all-consuming, but it’s very important that you put yourself and your health first if you’re going to survive this safely. If you’re not careful, divorcing a narcissist can have serious physical health ramifications. Not only could your brain health be affected in surprising ways, but you might even die earlier than you would have otherwise. A study published in the Association for Psychological Science journal shows that people who are separated or divorced have a 23% greater mortality rate than married people.

With that being said, ongoing narcissistic abuse is known to cause mental and physical health issues that might even be more profound – and divorce may be the first step you must take in order to begin to heal yourself from the long-term trauma you’ve been dealing with. In any case, when you’re dealing with divorcing a narcissist, you’ve got to take good care of yourself.

Research tells us that staying physically healthy and mentally positive are the most effective ways to overcome the health risks associated with divorcing a narcissist.

Starting Over After Divorcing a Narcissist 

Staying mentally positive can help you overcome challenges and be resilient when starting over after a divorce. You can do some basic things to help yourself be resilient.

  • Do your research
  • Let yourself feel
  • Get professional help
  • Self-care
  • Practice coping skills
  • Embrace challenges

Research is a really easy way to empower yourself during any stage of a divorce. I always say that knowledge is power, and that is definitely true when it comes to divorce. There are many amazing self-help books you can read that are specifically related to overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships, including some on divorcing a narcissist (see our favorites here), a variety of narcissistic abuse recovery support systems you can engage, and professional legal resources available to help emotionally, mentally, and financially.

Learn What Other Narcissistic Abuse Survivors Have Experienced in Divorcing a Narcissist 

Since divorce with a narcissist might be more common than you’d expect, there are many others who have survived it. Their stories, ideas, and advice can help you start over. See some narcissistic abuse survivor stories here.

But be careful here and don’t allow anyone else’s experience overshadow what you are going through. How you feel may be different from what others have experienced, and my friend, that is completely okay. You are not required to relate or to do anything because of anyone else’s experience. Divorcing a narcissist is difficult and painful and the experience, as well as the healing, is going to be completely individualized for each person who experiences it.

That’s why it’s so important that you give yourself time to process your feelings instead of bottling them up or pushing them aside. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my own recovery from divorcing a narcissist was not allowing myself to take the time I needed to grieve the relationship. I thought that because I was “out,” things would just immediately get better. And in some ways, they did – but I needed to take the time to mourn the relationship.

Things to Avoid When Divorcing a Narcissist 

Going through narcissistic abuse is, on its own, an extended trauma in your life. Pile divorce on top of it, and you’re looking at a whole new level of concern. It is never easy, and we all make mistakes in the process. But if you are at all able to avoid the following, you will be doing yourself a big favor when it comes to your narcissistic abuse recovery process (not to mention the process of moving on after your divorce).

  • Avoid doing anything, especially making life-changing decisions, out of desperation. Always take time to THINK before you act, even if that means you refuse to make any decision related to the divorce on the spot. Get away from the narcissist and take some time to think in a stress-free zone.
  • Don’t allow the narcissist to treat your children as negotiation or manipulation tools. Do your best to keep any kids you have out of discussions that do not involve custody or the business of raising them. Stay calm and only focus on FACTS when you must communicate about the children. Try to keep your emotional energy to yourself during the divorce – at least when it comes to the narcissist and their flying monkeys.
  • Don’t share everything on social media. Be careful with how much you share about your divorce and/or your soon-to-be-ex on social media. Rather than posting on your persona page, consider joining a private online narcissistic abuse recovery and/or divorcing a narcissist support group.
  • Be careful to avoid developing or resuming bad habits or addictions. This one is harder, but while occasional indulgences might not hurt, long-term bad habits can be hard to break. Focus instead on what you can do to make yourself and/or your life better in this process. So, rather than eating ice cream every day to feel less stressed, or having a glass of wine (or three), maybe you could add in a stress-relieving walk or a daily meditation session. (Or if you’re like me, your walk can BECOME your daily meditation!)
  • Avoid becoming a hermit. Divorce can lead to social isolation. Don’t get back together with your ex or date anyone available out of desperation or loneliness. Try socializing with friends or using your time for medication and self-care instead of engaging in risky behaviors. I suggest you wait a minimum of one year beyond the finalization of your divorce to allow yourself to have plenty of time to heal.

Divorcing a Narcissist When You Have Kids

If your divorce will involve children, you might be interested in getting this free toolkit designed to help you smoothly transition into being a single parent.

Get the Help You Need When Divorcing a Narcissist 

You should not be going this whole “divorcing a narcissist” thing alone. There are plenty of resources available to you, whether you’re looking for one-on-one coaching narcissistic abuse recovery coaching, one-on-one divorce coaching, a support group, or even a therapist. In any case, it definitely helps to talk to someone, be they a coach, counselor, or another mental health professional during a divorce. In some cases, you might even be lucky enough to have a friend or family member who is willing to listen and who may understand.

Since divorce is one of the top life stressors, don’t take this lightly – your health is essential, and NOT getting the help you need can put you at unnecessary risk. Even just talking out your problems with a friend can make a difference and allow you to develop resilience.

Remember too that self-care should have a space on your priority list. While there may be practical issues to manage, like living arrangements and dividing property, do not forget to make time to allow yourself to heal. You will need to practice your coping skills to start over and seeing a professional can help you build the resilience you need. Embrace the challenges of starting over with the knowledge that you are creating a new, different, and better life for yourself.

Divorce is almost never easy, and narcissists make it miserable. At times, it may feel like your whole world has changed, and that’s because it has – but my friend, that can be a very good thing if you allow it to be. Point your eyes toward your future and start intentionally choosing what comes next. You can take charge by starting over with an intentional mindset with focused and specific goals as you move forward. You might even want to consider strategizing your own personal “comeback” with one of our coaches.

Resources for Divorcing a Narcissist


What Is Reactive Abuse?

What Is Reactive Abuse?

If you have dealt with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship, chances are that you’ve experienced a confusing phenomenon called “reactive abuse.”

What is Reactive Abuse?

Reactive abuse is when you, as someone who is being abused, lash out toward your abuser in response to the abuse to which you’re being subjected. However, the truth is that it is a manipulation tactic that allows the user to shift the blame on to you. s shift blame from themselves onto the victim. You’ll be told that you’re overreacting or being overly dramatic and you’ll be accused of being the abuser yourself.

In other words, reactive abuse refers to what happens when you react in a significant way to a toxic behavior that is repeatedly used to control and manipulate you. Often, it involves a situation in which your reaction confuses or concerns you, and it causes you to begin to wonder if you are in fact the abuser in your relationship. This happens because often, narcissists are so abusive and manipulative that they provoke you into reacting in a way that, out of context, might seem abusive.

That means that in toxic relationships, abusers will do whatever they can to avoid taking responsibility for their behaviors. This results in a number of different manipulative and controlling behaviors, one of the most frustrating of which is deflection and blame-shifting. That means if you are the victim and you are being abused, you might fling insults, scream, throw things at the abuser, or lash out at them.

That is essentially the definition of reactive abuse. Basically, reactive abuse is what is happening when your abuser has provoked you into reacting in an extreme way (that is generally outside of your character) to their abuse and manipulation. Then, they will retaliate by calling you the abuser because of how insulting them and rude or disrespectful you’re being.

But guess what? Abusers count on this tactic and they use it to their advantage at every possible opportunity. I know, you’re shocked.

Examples of Reactive Abuse

For example, if you punched your partner in the face, you would be physically abusing them, without question, right? But things get a little muddy if you punched them in the face because, after they knocked you down and beat you up, it was the only way you could escape.

Or, if you burst into a red-hot rage and call them every name in the book when they just say a single sentence to you, you would be abusing them. But if that sentence was, “I’m stealing everything you have, I’m cheating on you with your best friend, and you look fat in that dress,” who could blame you?

Or, you’re at a party and you witness your spouse flirting with everyone in the place. You stay calm and say nothing, but when you get n the car, you ask them about it. They might then say you’re crazy and that they were just being friendly – and that you are insanely jealous, and they find that very unattractive, and if you’re always going to accuse them of this stuff, they might as well do it. This, along with a string of personal and painful insults, might lead you to be cussing them out by the time you get home. The neighbors might overhear it and feel sorry for your spouse because they have no idea what happened at the party or in the car.

What Are the Consequences of Reactive Abuse?

Mental & Emotional Stress and Illness

While there are probably very few people who will actually blame you for reacting to such abusive behavior in an extreme way, you probably still feel bad about it, primarily because it is not something that is normal for you. You aren’t abusive and you don’t hurt people. But every now and then, your abuser pushes you to the point where, for a moment, you no longer care what they do to you because you are so mentally and emotionally drained and overwhelmed. This puts you into an unhealthy mental and emotional state and can lead to many other complications, including C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder).

Keeping You in an Abuser’s Control

When you have these extreme reactions, your abuser may exploit them to prove that you are the unstable one. For example, some abusers will pull out their phones and record your meltdown, but fail to acknowledge the amount of brow-beating and gaslighting they had to do to get you to that point. The abuser will then call you crazy, mentally ill, sick, stupid, and/or otherwise unsavory.

They will spread rumors and tell everyone how awful you are so that people will both feel sorry for them (offering additional narcissistic supply) and also be a little bit afraid of you (and/or feel sorry for or disgusted by you). Of course, this will also give them a permanent reason to continue to abuse you, because they will keep holding your reactions against you all of the time and forever. The abuser will always remind you about when you were abusive to them and of what a nutjob you really are.

And as I noted, they conveniently forget that they were the ones who instigated your reaction. Abusers will even use this kind of “evidence” against you in court or other legal situations. This just one of the many reasons I highly recommend dealing with these people with the gray rock method.

Abusers Manipulate Their Victims To Push Them to React

Abusers know that their victims will react to the abuse and manipulation to which they subject them, and push them to the point that the victim might sort of “abuse them back.” If you’re involved with a narcissist, you might have experienced this. Knowing they can get you to react and to even retaliate, they will sometimes take the opportunity to even potentially record what you’re doing or saying during this time. This, of course, will later be used against you in the various smear campaigns the narcissist runs against you.

Not only does this help them to “remind you how crazy you really are,” but the narcissist is even likely to attempt to use it against you during court and other legal proceedings.

But are there actually situations in which the victim may actually be abusive by nature as well? Yes, and this is called “mutual abuse.”

Is Reactive Abuse The Same As Mutual Abuse?

Mutual abuse is what some people call it when both members of a couple appear to be abusive to each other. This is more of a myth than truth. In other words, narcissists and other abusive people will tell their abuse victims that their responses to the abuse are also considered abuse. And those reactions can sometimes be considered “reactive abuse,” as we’ve discussed – but in reality, this is yet another manipulation tactic.

In fact, the claim of “mutual abuse” is often heard by domestic violence counselors, such as those at

“Many times, we speak with survivors of abuse who want to address concerns they have about their own behaviors. They will often express that their relationship is mutually abusive, a concept used when describing a relationship where both partners are abusive towards one another,” the organization reports. “But ‘mutual abuse’ doesn’t exist.”

The counselors at agree, noting that, “perpetuating the myth of mutual abuse is at best irresponsible and at worst dangerous.”

“To say partners are mutually abusive or equal in abuse puts undue blame on the survivor,” says an article on their website. “When a survivor hears that he or she is mutually abusive, what’s heard is that he or she is to blame, and that reinforces what the batterer has been saying all along—that the abuse is the survivor’s fault. The myth of mutual abuse also reinforces the behavior of the batterer—that his or her actions were justified.”

All of that to gently remind you that if you’re being abused, your reaction to the abuse cannot be considered equal to the abuse.

How Can The Victim Stop Reacting To Abuse?

How can you prevent yourself from falling for the abuser’s manipulation tactic?

Remember that when you are being abused, it means that someone is holding power over you. If you are struggling to reclaim your power during narcissistic abuse, you will want to learn and employ the gray rock method, when possible.

What is the Gray Rock Method?

The grey rock method (also known as Gray Rock) was named and first published by a writer called Skylar, who advises that you act boring and don’t react to the narcissist’s attempts to engage you in drama. The tactic is highly effective but also infuriating for narcissists to experience. Be careful and use this method with caution if you are dealing with any physical abuse as the abuser may not react well. Learn more about the gray rock method here. 

More Resources on Using the Gray Rock (Grey Rock) Method

You’ll want to be careful to avoid reacting and try to focus on staying calm and being almost boring. Try to avoid name-calling or physical violence, if you can.

If you are fortunate enough to have a friend to whom you can send a code that tells them that you need help, that is a great tactic. That also means you have to be honest about what you are facing if domestic violence is involved. You should never suffer in silence.

This video offers additional insight on reactive abuse.

 Resources for Narcissistic Abuse & Narcissistic Abuse Recovery


How The Narcissist Sees You: Narcissistic Supply Explained

How The Narcissist Sees You: Narcissistic Supply Explained

If you’ve ever met a malignant narcissist or someone with traits consistent with narcissistic personality disorder, chances are you know someone addicted to narcissistic supply.

Most malignant narcissists are addicted to admiration, at least on some level, and nearly all are addicted to having people “give themselves” to them!

What is Narcissistic Supply?

Narcissistic supply means attention, admiration, emotional energy, and other “services” the narcissist requires to function and maintain their ego. It can involve just getting attention, or it might involve sex, money, caregiving (and caretaking), and more.

The narcissist’s need for your emotional energy can be likened to the mythical vampire’s need for blood. They require it to survive. It nourishes them and keeps them feeling comfortable with their lives.

They get their narcissistic supply from people, but in some cases, they might even get it from a pet or group of people.

What does it mean when you call someone “a narcissistic supply?”

In the narcissistic abuse recovery community, we often refer to the victim of the abusive narcissist as “the narcissistic supply.”

We mean the “source of narcissistic supply,” which is sometimes misunderstood. People might think by calling ourselves “supply,” we are minimizing ourselves.

But what we are doing is acknowledging that the abusers in our lives only saw us for what we could provide to them – not for what and who we actually are.

In other words, we are reminding ourselves that, as a “narcissistic supply,” we are used by the narcissist to get attention, validation, admiration – all the “supply” they need to feed their ego.

What is it like to be a narcissistic supply?

If you are among the people the narcissist considers to be part of their inner circle, or if you’re the spouse, child, or another family member, you are most likely being used for narcissistic supply, or you were in the past.

They demand your respect even though they don’t earn it. They demand your support, but they never return the favor unless it benefits them.

They love being told they are amazing – and they love it when you freak out, scream, and act crazy. That’s especially true when they drive you to it.

They want attention, whether it is positive or negative. That also means they demand compliments, money, sex, and anything else that helps them keep their false self alive.

The continuous attention and admiration that the narcissist gets from you help to feed their over-blown, bloated, secretly non-existent sense of self-worth and esteem – that false self they project to the outside world.

In many cases, narcissists can summon up a powerful kind of charm and charisma that seems to help them keep getting more and more attention, assuring a constant stream of narcissistic supply coming their way.

What qualities do narcissists look for in a source of narcissistic supply?

Certain qualities make someone more likely to be used as a source of narcissistic supply. These include the following.

  • Empathetic (especially when it means you react quickly to their extreme emotions).
  • Kind and compassionate (but they’ll call you abusive for setting a healthy boundary).
  • Willing to put others first (though they’ll always accuse you of being selfish).
  • Modest about your good qualities (so your ego won’t require much of them – they never validate you).
  • Attractive (even though they will tell you otherwise to hurt you).
  • Intelligent (even though they will constantly make you doubt it).
  • Independent and able to entertain yourself (so they can ignore you when they want to).
  • Willing to drop everything for them and do whatever they want, when they want, without question (because they need your attention when they need it, but they want you to leave them alone when they want that).
  • Flexible and willing to change for them (though they’ll literally never return the favor).
  • Loyal (because, obviously, they deserve loyalty, despite the fact that you don’t, according to them).
  • Low or reduced self-esteem (often due to having grown up in a toxic family or having previously have endured an abusive relationship of any kind (because it makes you more likely to accept abuse again and/or to have lower standards, along with a higher threshold for abuse, making you more tolerant and accepting of their abuse).
  • Socially brag-worthy (In other words, they’ll be proud to show you off and claim you as their property – even though they’ll do everything in your power to make you feel completely worthless behind closed doors. They do this because it keeps you from believing you can do any better. This, along with all of their other manipulations, is designed to keep you around if and when they want you).

What kind of people typically attract narcissists? 

Let’s talk about the types of people who attract narcissists. In this video, I’ll fill you in on exactly who narcissists are seeking out for supply and why.


How does the narcissist see you?

Whether you are a child of a narcissistic parent, a co-worker of a narcissist, or someone who has or had a narcissistic partner, you could be a source of narcissistic supply for them. Many have a whole circle of supply, which we sometimes call a narcissistic harem.

As a source of narcissistic supply, the narcissist sees you as someone who gives them something they need. This could be simply attention and admiration, or much more. In most cases, they may also get supply out of scaring you, making you cry, or making you chase them or worry about them.

While they may say otherwise, the narcissist sees you as a product and/or a service – or, in many cases, as an extension of themselves. And while they may claim to love you, what they really love is what you can do for them. They love that you are among the people who provide them what they “need,” and yet, sadly, they can never love or feel any compassionate empathy for you.

What happens if you refuse to keep providing narcissistic supply? 

The fact that they see you as a source of narcissistic supply leads the narcissist to literally NEED you on so many levels. And that is exactly why you’re likely to see a fit of narcissistic rage if they start doubting your devotion. FOr example, you might suddenly decide you’re going to start taking care of yourself because you’ve recognized that you have recently slipped in that area. As you do this, you might even start setting a few boundaries and feeling even better.

How does the narcissist feel when you cut off their source of narcissistic supply?

This will lead you to start questioning them and demanding the respect you’re due. They might notice that you’re not bending to their wishes anymore. And of course, being as self-focused as they are, they won’t be interested in your personal growth. All they see is that their source of narcissistic supply might suddenly be cut off. That scares them.

Just for reference, close your eyes for a second and imagine how you feel when you are facing a power outage. If you’re anything like me, you might get a little irritated (or more than a little), especially if you are busy on a particular day and need the power to work on your computer. The longer it is out, the angrier you become.

Or, imagine how you’d feel if you were suddenly forced to fast for 48 hours and you’re not prepared. You’re going to stay hungry (and if we’re being honest, maybe a little hangry, at the very least). And you’re going to be pretty cranky.

Both of these examples offer insight into how the narcissist feels when they are deprived of narcissistic supply.

A narcissist will always look for a source of supply even if you are no longer that source if you go no contact. And if they find a source of supply before you leave them, they will discard you and end up hoovering if their new source of supply ‘dries up’.

How Narcissists Test You: 10 Ways They Know You’ll Make a Good Narcissistic Supply 

How do narcissists test someone to find out if they’ll be a good long-term source of narcissistic supply? This is how narcissists test you to see if you will be a good source of narcissistic supply.

More Resources on Narcissistic Supply

Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support

Helpful Reading for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors


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