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.
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.
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.
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.
When I first met my ex-husband, I actually tried to hook him up with a friend of mine. He wasn’t my type, but he was charming and seemed like a nice guy. I kept talking to him, pointing him at my friend and trying to get the two of them talking. But by the end of our lunch (where he was our server), he’d asked me for my number. I didn’t give it to him, but I agreed to take his.
Then I didn’t call him. In fact, I threw his number in the trash.
But a week or two later, my friend called me from a local bar. She told me she’d run into him and he’d begged her to call me. Reluctantly, I went up to meet them. Over the next couple of weeks, I got the love-bombing of my life. And while things were moving fast, I kind of wondered if this guy could be the soulmate he claimed to be.
Fast-forward several months, and my company decided to move me to a different town several hours away. Though he had been charming and sweet, I intended to move and leave him behind. But when my mother accidentally met him, thanks to the same friend I had tried to hook him up with (long story), she instantly claimed to like him.
It’s almost funny to me now, since they seemed so different but were in fact two sides of the same coin. Anyway, she ended up suggesting that he move to the new city with me, and while we’d only been dating a few months, I invited him to do exactly that. In hindsight, I realize that I did this because I just wanted to please my mother, who was never happy with me anyway. That’s a story for another day.
Anyhoo, once we lived together, everything changed and his true toxic face came out.
Still, I thought I loved him and we snuck around and got married two months after the move. Long story short, I regretted it. His charm was lost for me very quickly, but one thing kept bugging me: he was so kind to people who weren’t me – so nice and charming and awesome. Everyone loved him when they met him – at least until they got to know him.
But for me, he was cruel and plain-old mean. I actually remember asking him questions like: Why do you treat strangers better than you treat me? Why can’t you just be nice to me?
In fact, it got so bad that when it would come to the holidays or my birthday, I’d always tell him I didn’t want a physical gift (not that he’d get me one anyway!), but I’d ask for him to just be nice to me for the day. It rarely worked out in my favor.
I couldn’t quite understand what was going on – but when I later realized that he seemed to be a toxic narcissist, I finally figured out why he was so cruel to me and so kind to others.
Why Narcissists Are So Cruel to You But So Kind to Others
Why does the narcissist show their charming side to strangers, while you are stuck with having to put up with their cruel true colors? Let’s talk about it.
1. Familiarity Breeds Contempt for Narcissists.
It is plain and simple, really. People who don’t know the narcissist well will see their nice and charming side because the narcissist can’t trust that they’ll feed their ego otherwise. But you’ve proven yourself to be a reliable source of narcissistic supply. And let’s not forget that fact you have, on occasion, had the nerve to attempt to get your own wants and needs met. Obviously, this would anger the narcissist and create resentment since they see you as an extension of themselves rather than a whole person. So, if your needs and wants aren’t in line with what they believe they should be, the resentment soars. And if there is so much resentment, then they no longer have a reason to share their charming side to you. In fact, they are abusive and cruel as a way to punish you for no longer feeding their ego by expressing that you have wants and needs as well. Remember that the narcissist is extremely egotistical, entitled, and will do what they can to get what they want at the expense of you. This leads to their devaluing you (and in many cases, it can also lead to permanent or temporary discard – but we’ll get to that in a minute). In any case, it isn’t quite that simple. There are so many other factors to consider – which brings me to number two,
2. They Have No Empathy.
The most obvious reason narcissists are cruel to you is their lack of empathy. But why are they then able to be kind to other people? It shouldn’t make sense, but for narcissists, it’s all about the attention and supply they can get from others. You may have become “old news” or too available to them. They see you regularly and they know that you’ve seen behind the mask, so they can’t fool you anymore. Others are still enamored with their false selves, so it makes it far more exciting to the narcissist to get supply from these people. We will dig into this a bit deeper in a minute, but for now, let’s talk about the psychological component that everyone forgets.
3. They Won’t Take Responsibility.
In addition to the marked lack of empathy that narcissists display, they have a really hard time accepting emotional responsibility in a relationship. Therefore, they don’t see any reason to be nice to you, unless they can see a way that doing so benefits them directly. And while they don’t take responsibility for their hurtful behavior, they also lack the ability to become truly attached to you in a healthy way, which further distances them emotionally from you. So, when they are mean and cruel to you, rather than acknowledging and admitting it and doing what they can to make up for it, narcissists will ignore you – or worse, get even crueler and start to say things like, “Why can’t you ever be happy?” and “Oh, look, here comes the dark cloud.” And speaking of the inability to create healthy attachments…
4. They Lack Object Constancy.
Have you heard about the Freudian theory of Object Constancy? Freud’s theory basically means that most people have the ability to still have a positive emotional bond with someone when you are also feeling angry, hurt, or disappointed with them. In other words, your average person is capable of loving someone and still being angry with them at the same time. Narcissists don’t have this ability. So they literally aren’t able to love you and be angry in the same moment. So when they’re angry with you…they literally cannot love you.
5. The Pre-Conditioning Factor (Brainwashing).
You know the narcissist too well. The narcissist has spent months or years manipulating, controlling and conditioning you to accept their abuse. As a result, you know them better than most people and you’re sadly pretty used to dealing with their behavior. This, in healthier relationships, will Since you’re already in the position of being a narcissistic supply, the narcissist feels comfortable with you. Lucky you – that means you are among the privileged few who get to see the true face of the narcissist. Wearing their “mask” – or being their false self in public – is exhausting. So when they are behind closed doors with a pre-conditioned supply, their true selves can come out and play. That also means that you become their emotional dumpster – they take out all of their feelings of frustration and anger on you, even though, for the most part, it’s bottled up stuff from outside of you.
6. The Idealization Phase.
Narcissists have a typical relationship cycle: they first idealize you, where they love bomb and treat you like you are worth your weight in gold. But inevitably, something happens and they recognize that you are in fact a flawed human like everyone else. And this is about the time they begin to actively devalue you. At first, it’ll be little subtle insults and jabs, but before long, they will be directly mean, disrespectful and outright rude. This will lead to the discard phase, in which they abandon you – either emotionally or actually, or both. This can take the form of the silent treatment, ghosting or even actually ending the relationship. Worse, it can happen over and over for literally decades in the same relationship. So, this explains another reason that narcissists are so cruel to you and so kind to everyone else: because they are or could be in the idealization phase with anyone they don’t know very well. And in many cases, people who have the ability to set firm boundaries with the narcissist from the beginning are automatically going to walk away if the narcissist gets too rude or disrespectful, and the narcissist knows it.
So how do you deal with a narcissist who is cruel to you and kind to others?
You start by taking care of yourself and setting strong boundaries. See, when you are with a narcissist, they get upset with you for doing anything for yourself. So you just stop doing stuff for yourself. I did the same thing – it felt easier to NOT do what I needed to do, because it made the narcissist less angry with me if I could just do for him instead. Or at least to ignore my own needs. This, unfortunately, led to my becoming a shadow of myself. I didn’t even know who I was.
But the first step toward healing is to start recognizing that you matter, that your needs and even wants matter just as much as anyone else’s. And to remember that if you can’t take care of yourself, no one else is likely to do it for you – and I mean emotionally, physically and otherwise.
Narcissists don’t change, but you can. And if you allow yourself to begin by doing something nice for yourself every day, even something small, it’s a good jumping-off point. After that, start figuring out what your boundaries are, and little by little, you’ll be able to reclaim yourself and your life on a whole new level. Remember that you matter. Remember that you are as important as everyone else and remember to take care of your own needs. So what do you think?