Narcissists Play These 5 Weird Games With You & It Makes Living With Them Hell

Narcissists Play These 5 Weird Games With You & It Makes Living With Them Hell

Have you ever found yourself Googling stuff someone has done to you and running into something that led you to suspect someone in your life is a narcissist?

Is someone close to you generally cruel, unfair, manipulative, and painfully clear to you or others in ways that don’t make sense?

Identifying Narcissistic Behaviors and Characteristics

While other unifying characteristics aren’t as obvious, the way that narcissists affect your life almost appears to be from some kind of ‘narcissist playbook.’ no different in how they will impact your life. 

A narcissist is a person who is defined by egocentricity, self-centeredness, and grandiosity.  Learn more about narcissistic traits.

The narcissist may or may not be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, a Cluster B Personality Disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention, and a lack of empathy for others.

A narcissist’s behavior can be difficult to deal with because it can be very irrational and manipulative. Sometimes it can be very subtle, especially when dealing with a covert narcissist. This, of course, confuses their victims.

5 Crazy-Making Behaviors of Narcissists

If you are in a relationship with someone who has narcissistic tendencies, some of the behaviors I describe here may seem familiar to you. Narcissists are not the easiest people to be around. Some of the signs of a narcissist are obvious.

For example, you know if someone is arrogant, demanding, has an inflated sense of self-importance, and a lack of empathy, they’re demonstrating narcissistic traits.

Has someone in your life caused you to start Googling things that led you to suspect you’re dealing with a narcissist? Are you the target of cruelty, unfairness, and manipulation by someone you suspect could be narcissistic?

Do you keep repeating the same mistakes in relationships that hurt you but don’t seem to teach you anything?
You’re not alone in feeling frustrated by a lack of change in your relationships, even though you try to fix everything and make amends.

Here are five common behaviors displayed by narcissists that might seem bizarre at first glance but illustrate some very telling red flags about the true nature of your relationship (and the person you’re dealing with).

What to Know If You’re Preparing to Leave a Narcissist

If you have been thinking about leaving a relationship with a narcissist or you’ve already left, it can help to know what is likely to come next.

  • Narcissists may try and drive their partners into denying the truth that the relationship is over, and many do whatever they can to thwart and hurt their former partners, including things like stalking, intentionally shaming you threatening your safety and actively gaslighting you.
  • They may engage in hoovering through love bombing to try to suck you back in.
  • Hoovering can be any behavior that draws you back into the narcissist’s web –  positive or negative.
  • They may also retaliate by hurting you emotionally or physically attacking you, and worse. 
  • Failing this, they’ll start a smear campaign and gather their respective flying monkeys to help facilitate the rumors they’re spinning about you. All to play the victim and get more narcissistic supply.
  • Remember that once they’ve passed the love bombing stage, narcissists tend to be limited in their ability to be emotionally responsive due to their limited capacity to feel anything other than cognitive empathy.
  • In the case of some ‘lower level’ narcissists, they don’t even mean to hurt you as much as they do. They cannot feel in ways other than how they want others to feel, so they will cling and try anything else to get what they need.
  • Malignant narcissists, on the other hand, are more likely to attempt to destroy you intentionally.
  • Either way, you must stay safe, and the best way to do that is to ensure that you don’t miss a single detail.

How to ensure you can safely leave the narcissist if you live with them

Start by thinking ahead – spend a little time watching the PLAN (Planning to Leave A Narcissist  videos. Download our free guide to a safe escape from a shared home with a narcissist and other free resources there.

  • The PLAN ensures a safe departure and leaves you no room for failure.  
  • Each video is designed to both support and validate you as you’re preparing to leave, each video covers a different aspect of what you need to consider before, during, and after you’ve left the narcissist. 
  • Plus, you’ll get a printable plan to leave, including a planning guide workbook and a planning timeline.
  • Also included are a to-do list, and checklists of must-have items and important paperwork you need to gather up and make copies of before you go, if possible.

Learn more about narcissists and their insecurity in this post.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

 

Are you ready to get safe support and validation from your QueenBeeing team and your fellow survivors?

Then there’s only one thing left: get the app now!

Get the app now!

 

The Insecure Narcissist: Example

The Insecure Narcissist: Example


(Watch video on YouTube)

When Insecurity Looks Like Extreme Confidence: A Narcissistic Example

When I was just starting my business, I decided I needed to do local networking. I’d heard it would be good for the business, so I did some digging and started looking at small business groups on meetup.com.

The Idealization

I felt so lucky when I quickly found a local small business meetup that was happening just a short distance from my house.

At the first meeting, we were each invited to briefly introduce ourselves and explain our business. When it was my turn, one woman looked up sharply like she’d been stung by a bee as I started to talk about my business.

She caught my eye as I spoke, and I smiled at her. At first, she just stared, but then I saw a small smile form on her face. I felt relieved and went on.

After the introductions, we had lunch. I went over to say hello to the woman, and she seemed really friendly.

The Facade is Cast

She was a gorgeous, charming, and seemingly very successful woman. She seemed to be someone I could really learn a lot from.

She said she’d been in business for years (though in hindsight, I realize that she didn’t really explain her business when given the chance and was pretty vague about it). Still, she seemed quite successful.

She talked the big talk. And as far as I could tell, she was walking the big walk.

She drove an expensive car, had an expensive bag, and had those expensive shoes with red soles. You know the ones I mean. And her jewelry! I could tell it was all real – a stark contrast to my costume knockoffs.

I was on the hunt for a mentor, and she seemed like a perfect fit! She was confident, attractive and seemed quite intelligent.

The Private Meeting On the Pedestal

She asked me a lot of questions about my business and offered little snippets of advice that seemed legit. At the end of the meeting, she invited me to meet her for lunch the following week.

The day we met for lunch, she asked for more details about my business, which I happily shared. Then, much to my delight, she was telling me all about her upcoming executive board meeting.

She said they were considering investing in other local small businesses and that if I played my cards right, they might invest in mine.

Of course, I was over the moon! I practically worshipped her – I wanted to BE her!

It was a lot like when I almost interviewed Sam Vaknin, but she was more covert than he was in her narcissism. She came to me as a would-be mentor, and I ate it up like so much cake.

And since the lady promised to bring me up at this meeting, I started pulling together all sorts of documentation and information about my business.

Being Ghosted

The next day, I emailed the information as she had asked, and I waited for her to get back to me after her meeting. But then she went silent. I was a little sad but figured maybe my business just wasn’t up to snuff for this executive board.

She had literally ghosted me.

I understood – after all, I had just started my business and wasn’t super successful yet.

And there was a stark contrast between my business and hers – she, at that time, was clearly well beyond me, it seemed.

I counted myself lucky for our time together and moved on.

I mean, she had an EXECUTIVE BOARD. All I had at the time was me. 

The Shocking Truth

Then, a couple of months later, I noticed that she’d created a brand new Facebook page. It seemed she had just launched a new business – and when I started looking into it, it turned out that her business was eerily familiar.

In fact, it was like she literally copied the business plan and structure that I had outlined for her months ago.

I was shocked and angry. I was confused.

The Direct Discard

I reached out to her and asked what she was doing. She told me that I was mistaken, that it had been her idea the whole time. 

She said that the business plan I had submitted to her was a joke, and THAT was why she’d gone silent. In hindsight, I realize that was straight-up gaslighting.

She subtly tore me down, implying that I was stupid to think that someone like HER could possibly take an idea from someone as small potatoes as ME.

Of course, when I pointed out that she had literally done everything I’d put in the business plan, she got offended and screamed at me, telling me she was tired of people always accusing her of stuff like this.

She called me jealous and immediately blocked me.  I had been officially discarded.

Then, from what I heard, she started talking to our few mutual connections about how I thought I owned my niche and how she practically invented me anyway. (Sounds a  lot like a smear campaign, no?)

It went on from there.

Lessons Learned

What I missed was that her apparent confidence was more like grandiosity.

I missed that she had used me to get an idea for a short-lived business.

I missed that this was a pattern with her.

I missed that she only liked me while I was actively worshipping her, and I didn’t expect her to attack me the way she did.

I missed all the red flags.

The Pattern of Abuse in Toxic Relationships

Later, I would learn that I wasn’t the only person she had done this to – apparently, several people who had been part of the group at different times had experienced the same thing.

I learned that her fancy bag, car, and shoes were thanks to her wealthy husband.

And she was a bored stay-at-home wife (no kids) with too much time on her hands. And as for her stealing all of my business? I admit I worried for a minute.

After all, she had a lot more money than I did and, as far as I could tell, would be far more successful than I could.

But I didn’t have to worry for long because after failing to become immediately successful, she moved on to someone else’s idea. (Plus, if we’re being honest, she was trying to be someone she just wasn’t.)

Was she a narcissist? I don’t know. But she certainly behaved like one in certain ways. Learn more about narcissists and their insecurity in this post.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

How the Narcissist Hits Rock Bottom (And What You Can Do to Deal)

How the Narcissist Hits Rock Bottom (And What You Can Do to Deal)

When it comes to people with narcissistic personality disorder, it seems like the only thing you can predict is unpredictability. What happens next when they hit rock bottom?

What can you expect? What can you do – and how can you deal with and overcome their treatment during this unpleasant narcissistic cycle?

If you’re currently involved with a narcissist or are about to get involved with one – you’ll want to hear this.

This video will give you all of the answers you need when it comes to recognizing, understanding, and overcoming the narcissist’s rock bottom moments.

What is narcissist rock bottom?

You might call a narcissist who has found rock bottom a collapsed narcissist. In general, narcissists hit rock bottom when they are able to no longer manipulate, exploit and abuse others. 

In other words, narcissist rock bottom is what happens when the narcissist finally realizes that their abusive behavior will not be tolerated any longer, that what they have done has gotten out of control, or that they’re about to lose everything.

Unfortunately, it is typically later rather than sooner. It can take many years of ongoing manipulation and abuse before they hit rock bottom. Often, it happens when their closest sources of narcissistic supply go away, whether by their own choice or otherwise.

Why do narcissists hit rock bottom? 

Narcissists crave power and control like an alcoholic craves their favorite drink. Narcissists NEED to have the people around them feeling weak and unempowered – this way, they’re malleable so that they’re easily controlled. 

But when these people walk away and stop doing what the narcissist wants before they’re ready for it, the narcissist’s biggest fears are realized. 

A narcissist’s lack of capacity for empathy and emotional depth, paired with a desperate need to feel validated and congratulated by others, will often result in their demise.

They will do just about anything to feel significant and special – so much so that they may lie, cheat and manipulate to get their own way.

So ironically it is their desperation for significance and validation which ultimately serves as the catalyst for their narcissist rock bottom. 

What scares a narcissist?

As often as a narcissist threatens, directly or indirectly, to abandon you, you’d think they were perfectly secure in their ability to remain surrounded by sources of narcissistic supply – as in, people who love, admire, and serve them as needed.

But the truth is that while abandonment is probably the most human fear one can have, narcissists aren’t immune.

In fact, if we’re being honest, they’re probably pretty normal this way.

With that being said, the difference between a narcissist’s fear of abandonment and that of the average person is that a narcissist will actively abuse and manipulate the people around them in order to control them and keep them in their place.

How do the narcissist’s fears coming true lead them to hit rock bottom? 

Fear of abandonment comes to fruition when you walk away from the narcissist. Now, don’t expect them to recognize this right away – but it’ll relieve some of the tension for them initially – even just the idea that they’ll be able to openly meet new people can be a huge thrill. 

At first, they will feel free and some version of happy – but then one day (maybe even the same day the relationship ends), they’ll remember something that you used to do for them, and they’ll want that back. 

If your resist (and I hope you do – read this about how to avoid the hoover maneuver), the narcissist attempts to navigate their remaining relationships – often not even personal ones, they grow frustrated and angry.

What does the narcissist experience at rock bottom?

You might think that when a narcissist hits rock bottom, they will finally see the light and realize how awful they truly have been – and you’d hope they’d be SO SORRY for this abusive behavior they’ve been serving up all these years.

As amazing as that would be, it’s rarely the case. Instead:

  • They will probably feel like their world has been turned upside down and they have no idea how to fix it.
  • They may become depressed and experience symptoms of anxiety-like panic attacks or insomnia.
  • They may also lash out at others for no reason at all.

Whatever happens, you can expect them to be acting extremely erratic and unpredictable as they expertly play the victim.

The Narcissist’s Backup Plan

Before the narcissist knows it, you’re off living in a totally cute place that’s a little too far to just drop in. And, you’ll have the nerve to want your privacy, which won’t be tolerated if they are still part of your life. 

Eventually, they begin to guilt and shame the few people who remain close to them, seemingly doing their very best to push your emotions aside. This, combined with a lack of narcissistic supply, culminates in the narcissist’s idea of actual hell. 

So, the moment any source of narcissistic supply refuses to comply with their wishes or orders, the narcissist has lost control of that person and therefore has no influence over them anymore.

And that’s one of the narcissist’s OTHER biggest fears: that they’re so insignificant that no one cares what they say, do, think, or feel. 

This right here is exactly what causes them to tend to need a backup ‘source of supply’ (since they can’t be alone), so they very often attempt preemptively replace a source of supply.

Unfortunately, it can be one of the most dangerous times for you. Because a narcissist who has hit rock bottom may feel as though they have nothing left to lose. They don’t even have the narcissistic supply they need to function – so their desperation can lead them to lash out.

The narcissist eventually hits rock bottom and they feel unbearable sadness, grief, or remorse because they can’t continue the way they are going anymore. In order to keep this grief or pain at bay, they will stoop to any level. 

The Narcissist’s Rock Bottom Patterns

When the narcissist finally hits rock bottom, there is a predictable pattern that emerges. This pattern is so predictable that it can be used as a roadmap for how to deal with the situation.

  • The narcissist’s life will begin to crumble under the weight of their own lies and deceit.
  • This collapse may occur because of something external like losing their job or a major financial setback or some other traumatic event in their life.
  • It could also happen because they have become so absorbed in their own self-image that they cannot see reality any longer – they live in a world of illusion created by their own ego which is beyond their control.
  • As they begin to realize that they are no longer able to maintain this illusion, they become increasingly agitated, depressed, and angry until they reach a point where there is nothing left but rage at themselves for being so stupid as to believe such obvious lies about themselves as well as rage at those who duped them into believing these lies were true.

Should you support a narcissist who is at or near rock bottom? 

Believe me, I get it – as an empath, you naturally want to support someone in pain, especially when it’s someone you love or loved so deeply.

But listen to me, don’t do it. Not this time. Hear me out.

As much as helping them would serve some codependent part of yourself, the narcissist is likely to cruelly reject your offers for help. This will make you feel rejected – again- and that’s going to do a real number on not only your self-esteem but also your psyche – triggering would be putting it mildly. 

Personally, I don’t think you owe them any of your time or support, but if you must give it to them, try giving them space and let them know when you’re available if they want to talk about anything (without pressure!).

Just because they’ve hit rock bottom doesn’t mean that things are going to change – not for long. 

In the end, you can only change yourself and your reactions to narcissistic abuse. You will never be able to control their actions.

However, the more you understand what makes the narcissist tick and how their behavior affects you, the better equipped you will be to deal with their antics when they come knocking at your door.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

When You Can’t Go No Contact; Other ways to Stay Sane

When You Can’t Go No Contact; Other ways to Stay Sane

What’s the best way to deal with a narcissist in a toxic relationship? To go no contact, of course.

But what if you can’t go no contact?

It’s hard to imagine, for some people, but the truth is that not everyone has the ability to leave or go no contact with the narcissist. At least not right away.

Maybe they’re in your family, or maybe they’re your boss. You may be financially dependent on them, and leaving them would mean financial ruin for you or your family.

It’s possible that you’re dealing with financial abuse – or any number of things that might stop or slow you down when you try to leave the narcissist. 

Heck, it’s also possible that you’ve tried going no contact with them in the past and it didn’t work out—maybe they stalked you, harassed you, threatened to hurt themselves if you left them, or worse.

So how do you deal with a narcissist when you can’t go no contact?

If this is the case for you, it can be incredibly difficult to find a way forward when someone is holding power over you in one way or another. But there are things you can do to help. Watch this video for additional information on dealing with a narcissist when you can’t go no contact. 

Try these simple tips for getting through the day without letting the narcissist’s tactics get under your skin:

Journal or Keep Notes So You Don’t Forget What Really Happened

Keep a journal of everything that happens with this person. Write down every interaction, every word spoken between the two of you (and any witnesses), and anything else that comes up as relevant information about how this person operates in their relationships with others.

This will help build up a body of evidence that backs up your claims against them if necessary (for example: if they threaten to sue).

Create a Support System

Get support from friends who understand what’s going on and have been through similar situations before—they’ll know what resources might be available to help. Alternatively, consider joining a narcissistic abuse recovery support group or getting coaching. 

Build Strong Boundaries

Give yourself permission to set boundaries. If you don’t want to talk about something or spend time with someone, that’s okay!

You don’t have to do what other people want or expect from you just because they think it’s “normal.” You are allowed to have your own preferences and values.

Recognize and Label Gaslighting and Other Manipulative Tactics

Learn how to recognize gaslighting tactics when they happen so that you know when the narcissist is trying to manipulate or control you. Learn how to call them out on their behavior so that they don’t get away with being abusive.

Ignore the Guilt Trips

Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by guilt-tripping (e.g., “You’re always leaving me alone!”) and pity-baiting (“No one cares about me!”). Focus on your own needs rather than those of others—and remember that your needs are just as important as anyone else’s.

You can’t pour from an empty cup, as they say.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Narcissistic Husband?

Narcissistic Husband?

Are you married to a narcissist husband?

If you’re married to a narcissistic husband, chances are that you’re well aware that he is different than other husbands in a lot of very clear ways.

To allow us to break through the barriers that arise when we are unable to understand our partner, here are a few truths about narcissistic husbands.

What is a narcissistic husband?

If your husband is a narcissist, you might not feel very good about yourself and your relationship. Because of this, you’re probably wondering if you’re identifying with this article or if you’re just as crazy as you’ve been told. If that resonates with you, stick with me and take a look at a few traits of a narcissistic husband.

  • A narcissistic husband might have narcissistic personality disorder if he’d actually allow himself to be diagnosed; or at least has narcissistic traits.
  • If your husband is a narcissist, chances are that he’s self-centered, lacks empathy, and has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
  • In general, narcissists tend to think they are superior or special and are extremely jealous of others.
  • A narcissistic husband desires admiration and is preoccupied with thoughts of unlimited success, power, brilliance, and beauty.
  • Narcissistic husbands are highly defensive with low self-esteem, though you might see them as strong and powerful. Underneath it all, he’s still just a scared little boy doing whatever he needs to do to get his narcissistic supply needs met. 

If you are still with me, the next thing you need to do is to educate yourself a little more on what kinds of behaviors and traits you can see in a narcissistic husband.

 

Identifying Narcissistic Behaviors

If you’re living with a narcissist and aren’t sure what to do about it, you’ll want to learn how to identify them. After all, identifying narcissistic behaviors can help you realize and fully accept that you are being abused by a narcissist.

Plus, it offers validation of your experience, which can help you to leave the “FOG” (fear, obligation, and guilt) in the past and clarify your future. And when you know better, you do better.

What Are Some Signs of a Narcissist Husband?

If you think your spouse is a narcissist, there are several behaviors you should watch for to help solidify your suspicion.

  • He may have an excessive interest in himself.
  • He is unconcerned with your feelings and you can tell because he says the most profoundly painful things you can imagine and often leaves you hanging when you really need him (at least emotionally).
  • He puts his own needs and even wants above you and everyone else, regardless of the level of severity in need.
  • He feels very entitled and expects special privileges. 
  • He might even think he’s above the law.
  • He cheats on you, or you suspect he would if given the opportunity.
  • He makes you feel more like an employee or servant than a wife. 
  • You walk on eggshells and base most of your decisions on whether or not he will be upset by your choice.
  • He wants to be seen as the best at everything, and even if he doesn’t really believe it, he expects you to believe and will demonstrate serious narcissistic injury and/or narcissistic rage if you do not support this delusion. 
  • Speaking of delusions, he probably has delusions of grandeur. 
  • If you have kids, he may act jealous of the attention you give them, or he may use them against you in other ways.

These are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, but they’re enough to feel concerned that you might be married to a narcissist.

Are narcissists capable of loving?

This is a hard pill to swallow because while narcissists can seem to love you in some ways, especially early in the relationship, they’re also very emotionally stunted; as in they have the emotional capacity of a toddler – or at best, a teenager.

The fact is that when a narcissist declares his love for you, he might really mean it in the moment. But he doesn’t fully “get” love. He sees you more as an object – sort of like how you see your smartphone

When you get a new smartphone, it’s powerful and amazing, packed with new features. It’s pretty and doesn’t have any scratches – and you love it for exactly what it is.

But after a while, you drop it a few times. It gets a little beat up, and before you know it, you hear about the latest and greatest NEW smartphone. 

Right around then, your current phone becomes a little less functional – it slows down and doesn’t quite run as smoothly as it once did.

And that’s right around the time you break down and get a new one. You don’t miss the old one, and you pretty much don’t think of it again. Because it’s a smartphone, not a person. 

But the narcissist sees you like a smartphone – disposable and dispensable. They love what you DO for them, but they’re not really capable of loving YOU as a person, at least not in the same way as you may have once loved THEM.

How long can a narcissist stay married?

Narcissists, both male, and female, sometimes stay married for decades. Many male narcissists won’t leave ever, at least not physically. Others will jump from relationship to relationship.

Those who cheat will often want to keep their wives around as their “mother figure,” if possible. Then they go out and do what they want with other women (and/or men), and they seem to really lean into the whole “Madonna/Whore” complex

Long story short, a narcissist can stay married for the rest of their lives, and many will unless their wives finally have enough and initiate the divorce themselves. Often, the narcissistic husband will repeat the whole cycle of abuse over and over in their marriages.

So you may never be permanently discarded, but you’ll be temporarily discarded repeatedly through painful manipulations like the silent treatment, for example.

Will a narcissist ever change?

The way I see it, it’s possible for a narcissist to change, but I’ve never seen or heard of it happening on a meaningful level.

In fact, if a narcissist husband were to successfully change, it would require him to engage in long-term therapy and to really do the work required – and it’d be no picnic.

  • He’d have to first discover and acknowledge his core wounds, those traumas that caused his personality to develop this way. ( He’d have to recognize that his core wounds probably began as early as birth, if you believe in attachment theory, which I do.)
  • Then, he’d need to accept and meaningful work through what happened to him and the fact that it caused his personality flaws (which, of course, must also be seen, acknowledged, and resolved).
  • Finally, he’d need to go to the next level and learn emotional and compassionate empathy. This would require the work of a skilled specialty psychologist/therapist and may even involve certain prescriptions and additional therapies, depending on his comorbid mental health issues. 

Bottom line, maybe it’s possible, but it doesn’t happen by the very nature of narcissistic personality disorder.

How do you deal with a narcissist in a relationship?

Once you identify the problem, it’s time to take action. You’ve got choices here – you can stay, or you can go.

If you stay, prepare yourself to continue to deal with emotional and psychological abuse for the rest of your life. It may never get better and if it does, it could be because you’ve resigned yourself to accepting the abuse. 

Of course, there are plenty of ways you can make the narcissist less difficult. You can even sort of train them to treat you with more respect.

But these tactics will only make your life more tolerable, and only if you’re willing to actively play the narcissist’s game. Trust me when I tell you that it’s only worth it if you’re also actively planning to get out of the relationship. 

That said, I know it isn’t always possible to leave right away, thanks to things like financial abuse and having kids.

In these cases, I’d recommend that you try my ethical method of making the narcissist be nice to you. It works, but it’s exhausting over a long period of time.

Otherwise, you’ll want to use the gray rock method when they try to gaslight and manipulate you, and you’ll want to get busy planning your exit. Even if it’s going to take a while, you’ll feel more empowered when you know you’re working toward your freedom.

You can get your free PLAN (Planning to Leave the Narcissist toolkit) right here.

Still not sure? Take our free Is my husband a narcissist? quiz to gain additional insight and to be given resources to help you recover from narcissistic abuse.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Narcissists as Good Parents – Impossible? Maybe not, say psychologists.

Narcissists as Good Parents – Impossible? Maybe not, say psychologists.

Recently, someone asked me what I considered to be a sort of confusing question, but one that I think a lot of us have asked ourselves at one point or another. 

“Can a narcissist be a good parent who doesn’t cause any damage to their children?”

Is this even possible? I have to be honest with you. I have met a LOT of narcissists and even more victims of narcissists doing what I do.

However, I cannot say that I’ve ever met a malignant narcissist who didn’t directly or indirectly cause significant psychological harm to their children.

Often, the harm was also physical and emotional. Sometimes, it was direct and intentional. It was also just a lack of interest or presence or pure neglect.

Considering all of that, how could it be possible for a malignant narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder to be a good parent to raise emotionally healthy, self-actualized, and well-rounded children who become adults without many trauma issues?

Can narcissists be good parents? 

While you might initially think it’s utterly impossible for a narcissist to be a good parent, there are a few particular circumstances under which it could theoretically happen.

Here, narcissistic abuse recovery experts Dr. Robin Bryman, Dr. Zamecia McCorvey, Dr. Judy Rosenberg, and yours honestly, Angie Atkinson, share our thoughts on what it would take for a narcissist to be a good parent.

My Theory: With a Little Friendly Competition, Maybe

Maybe we all have a little trauma in the cards. But I have not seen or heard about a narcissist who didn’t leave severe psychological scars on their children.

Minor traumas may be overblown, for sure. But just as often. the more significant, intense traumas – the kind that gives you that deep, dull ache in your heart when you recall them – are brushed under the rug like they’re nothing. 

From that perspective, it can be easy to miss the subtle, pervasive behaviors of a narcissistic abuser. But does the lack of blatant abuse mean that some malignant narcissists can raise healthy children who become healthy adults with firm boundaries and a strong sense of self

In general, my opinion has always been that it was, at best, highly unlikely that a narcissistic parent could do enough good in a child’s life to combat the bad.

And that, despite our best efforts, even some well-meaning parents cause some unintentional traumas along the way – or at least miss the opportunity to prevent them. 

Most narcissistic parents have a shining moment here and there – or at least a few not-terrible memories are made along the way. There may even be certain parts of parenting in which they shine naturally.

For example, a client recently shared with me that her narcissistic ex had one good point in this area: he was the “fun” parent, and while this also meant he dragged the kids into activities they would end up hating (due to his gung ho, never slow down attitude), it was something that can be healthy and positive in a child’s life. 

But, inevitably, such a parent will fail in other areas: genuine connection, structure, discipline, and proper attention, for example. So as sweet as the fun parent is, this is tempered with extreme emotions that can alienate the children and make them feel afraid, resentful, and unseen.

And that’s on the very mild end of the spectrum – it gets far worse.

So in the end, the best I believe it could get with a narcissist is not terrible, or tolerable. Their intermittent style of loving and validating alternating with ignoring, abusing, neglecting, and controlling their children simply doesn’t give their children a “normal” launch into life.

This is especially when that parent is controlling the other parent. You know, the one who should be the child’s advocate when the narcissist goes overboard.

The one who is most easily and often alienated by the narcissist? Yep.  

After I thought about it for a while, I concluded that there might be one way a narcissist could be the perfect parent.

They would need to be competing in a Who’s the Best, Healthiest, Least Damaging, Most Selflessly Loving Parent contest. That contest would have to have some rock-solid guidelines and would need to offer regularly scheduled praise and adoration that came at the perfect time

Plus, it would need to have plenty of accountability and unscheduled home visits with secret kid interviews and assessments, to ensure a way to measure and track their progress. And, it would need to go for the whole life of the child or parent, whoever happens to live the longest.

Finally, it might help to give the narcissist something that helps keep their ego in check, depending on what their doctors (or budtenders) have to offer. But we also have to remember that narcissistic personality disorder is not a mental health disease; it is a personality disorder.

Technically, narcissistic personality disorder with malignant traits.

You cannot treat NPD with medicine, but some doctors choose to treat narcissists for co-morbid issues or even side effects of the drugs or treatments. In those cases, treating symptoms could in theory, be possible, but I still do not believe we could ever undo or even permanently stall their behaviors with medicine. 

What Psychologists Say It Would Take to Make a Narcissist a Good Parent

The more I thought about it, I decided it would be a good idea to get the opinions of our team’s medical and educational psychologists, just to be safe and offer a full-spectrum answer. Here’s what they had to say when I asked them if there’s any chance that narcissists can be good parents. 

Dr. Robin Bryman: Under Specific Circumstances, Maybe

“I believe a narcissist can absolutely be a good parent if the moon and stars are aligned,” Dr. Robin Bryman said, smiling. 

“What I mean is that if the narcissist is intelligent, doesn’t have an addiction that impacts their lives, and they set their lives up in a way that their kids succeed, it is possible,” she added, noting that as long as the parent feels successful in their life, it’s not completely impossible.

“They’d need to have a beautiful, handsome, and/or successful spouse or partner, and they would have to be at the top of what they consider a successful life.”

“In this type of situation, the addiction, especially if it’s about control and power, can inadvertently allow a narcissist to effectively parent,” she said.

And since a narcissist often views their children as extensions of themselves, they will want that extension to be as well-adjusted as possible. 

Dr. Zamecia McCorvey: Maybe, for Devoted Golden Child

When I asked Dr. Zamecia McCorvey if she believed a narcissist could be a decent parent, she was immediately taken aback. 

“I automatically thought Hell No!,”  Dr. McCorvey Said, “Considering my life experience being raised by parents who I believe were narcissistic.”

She said that being raised this way has seriously impacted aspects of her life, both growing up and even now, well into adulthood.

“However, as I think past my experience and rely on my understanding of narcissism, I’d say it really depends,” she said.

“They can be a great parent, depending on what role their child plays within the family dynamic,” she continued. “If the child is the golden child and does not deviate from the narcissistic parent’s control are reign, they will experience a better parent than a child who is not easily controlled by the narcissistic parent, or is the scapegoat.”

Dr. Judy Rosenberg: Maybe Good, Definitely Not Great

Maybe, says Dr. Judy Rosenberg, but there’s a catch. We know that there are plenty of malignant, toxic narcissistic parents who completely neglect their kids’ needs, ignore them, control them, physically or sexually abuse them, or otherwise make them miserable. 

But there are also many narcissists who appear to be great parents. They take care of their kids’ physical needs and ensure they’ve got the latest and greatest in fashion, gadgets, and everything else. They have beautiful, expensive homes that are perfectly decorated and always spotless.

But even those who do take care of the physical needs may barely even know their children, and the rest are sort of like live-in bullies until the kids move out – and even then, often continue to abuse and control their adult children.

“A narcissist can be a good parent if they are ethical and moral and fulfill their obligations to their children,” Dr. Judy said. “But they will never be a great parent because they just don’t have the wherewithal to show empathy.”

That trademark lack of empathy would effectively leave the child feeling unseen, at the very least. If we were talking about a malignant narcissist, the effects on the child would be more profound.

But, Dr. Judy said, “If they choose an empathic partner it can buffer the effects.”

So, if a narcissist chose a good partner with decent empathy skills, any potential damage to the child’s psyche could be mitigated.

While Dr. Judy’s thoughts are clearly sound, I’d add that, since we know that narcissists are notorious for emotionally and psychologically abusing anyone who gets close enough to see behind their false self (the mask they show the world), we can safely assume that this abuse would also, directly or indirectly, affect the child. 

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Pin It on Pinterest