So you thought you’d finally met the woman or man of your dreams. Sure, they came on a little strong at first. The compliments seemed a bit excessive and even premature. Ignoring that nagging voice in your head, the relationship developed at a fast pace, faster than most of your other relationships and friendships.
At some point, perhaps you questioned their sincerity and insta-adoration? Maybe you even had doubts about them such as, “Is this person psycho or is it love at first sight?” After all, how can someone really know you well enough after just a few weeks (or a few days) to see all of your admirable qualities in such technicolor magnificence? How can someone who barely knows you seriously love you in such a short amount of time and be willing to commit to you so quickly?
The answers are they don’t and they can’t. You were being drugged with flattery, or love bombed.
A client once asked, “Well come on, what guy wouldn’t fall for a beautiful woman who says you’re the most amazing man she’s ever known and best sex she’s ever had?” Actually, quite a lot of men and women don’t fall for it. In fact, they become skeptical and concerned especially if the compliments are way over the top and they’re being pressured to make a fast commitment (e.g., going engagement ring shopping after only a week or wanting to move in together right away).
Relationships with narcissists, borderlines, histrionics, sociopaths — whatever the DSM classification may be — begin in reverse. Meaning the relationship starts with a really intense, decadent dessert, and by the relationship’s end you’re dumpster diving for the measliest scraps of sustenance. A relationship between two emotionally mature individuals with boundaries and healthy senses of self develops steadily over time and builds up to dessert after pesky little things like friendship, intimacy and trust have been established.
Not so with narcissists and other emotional predators and con artists. They’re like the stereotypical used car salesmen or saleswomen of relationships. For example:
Well hello there, Carl/Connie Codependent, do I have a deal for you today! Only someone as smart, savvy, sophisticated, cultured, traveled, intuitive, honest, loving, handsome, beautiful, sexy, talented, blah, blah, blah as you can see what a GREAT opportunity this is. And because you’re soooooo special to me, I’m going to offer this deal to you and only you (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Your life will never be the same if you hitch your wagon to my star. Together we’ll create crazy works of genius! What do you mean it sounds too good to be true? I thought you were more intelligent than that? It’s okay, I forgive you for doubting my motives. Now, I’ll just need you to sign here, here and here. Don’t worry about that, it’s just the fine print. Yes, and the devil is in the details.
Now, if an unscrupulous salesperson slithered up to you at the local used car lot and laid it on nice and thick like that, wouldn’t you reflexively raise an eyebrow to their patter? You’d wonder, and rightly so, if the salesperson was trying to unload shoddy goods for their own personal gain at significant cost to you. No matter how shiny and attractively presented a narcissist might appear to be at first glance, under the hood they’re all lemons. And not the plump, juicy ripe lemons from which you can make lemonade. They’re the hard kind that only yield a few drops of juice even when using an industrial grade juicer.
It’s a painful thing to accept once your narcissist reveals who they truly are. Seeing behind the mask may cause you to go into extreme denial. How else could you stay after that, right? If you don’t understand the dynamics at play, it’s difficult to comprehend how things deteriorated from the initial intense love fest you shared with your narcissist to being vilified and tossed away onto the scrap heap. It’s actually pretty easy to grasp once you know how relationships with narcissists and borderlines begin, develop and devolve. Abusive personalities repeat these patterns over and over again with each new target and relationship.
The Stages of a Relationship with a Narcissist
There are three predictable relationship stages with most narcissists, borderlines, histrionics or sociopaths: Idealize, Devalue and Discard. Eleanor Payson describes this extremely well in The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists. First, there is the idealization stage in which you can do no wrong. You’re unlike any other man or woman they’ve ever known. You’re better, kinder, smarter, more talented and more loving. Only you can truly understand the narcissist’s pain and see into their misunderstood
little black heart. You’re her hero or his angel — not like all those past lovers who were so nasty and abusive to the perennial victim, Ms. or Mr. Narczilla.
The idealization stage is when the love bombing occurs. Love bombing is a term borrowed from recruiting techniques used by cults. Love bombing typically only works on individuals who are vulnerable to it. Predators like easy targets. If you’re not easily charmed or manipulated, most predators will leave you alone. What makes someone an easy target?
- Family of origin issues that caused you to develop codependent traits such as an intense desire for approval, acceptance, a sense of belonging and a fear of being alone. If you didn’t get the love and validation you needed as a child from your parents, you probably still crave it as an adult, but seek it through intimate relationships. If you don’t learn how to provide these things for yourself, you’re more likely susceptible to the superficial charm of narcissists and other abusers. Instead of thinking, “Whoa, this is too much too soon” when the love bombing begins, it feels like basking in the sunshine after a long cold winter. You want to believe you’ve finally met someone who sees you and all that you have to offer. The narcissist or borderline does see what you have to offer — a need to be needed and a high threshold for abuse — and then sets about exploiting it and you.
- You experienced a recent loss such as the death of a loved one, job termination or some other significant life stressor. If you’re in the throes of grief or a sudden transition, it may cause you to ignore red flags that otherwise might have registered if you were in a stronger emotional state.
- You possess the 3 N’s: Nice, naive and non-confrontational. Individually, these qualities increase your vulnerability to narcissistic abuse. Having all three multiplies the degree of risk and puts a bulls eye on your forehead. It’s nice to be nice, but don’t confuse being nice with being a doormat. A certain childlike innocence is a good quality, but not if it blinds you to the fact that there are bad people in the world who will purposefully and maliciously deceive and hurt you. Not everyone has a good heart or a better nature deep down inside. Some people are fundamentally rotten to the core. There are rattlesnakes walking around in human suits. Finally, prepare to be bulldozed if you’re conflict avoidant. Peacekeeping and appeasing aren’t the same thing. Furthermore, it’s often healthy and right that a tenuous “peace” not be maintained. Especially if it means tolerating abuse and treachery.
At the zenith of the idealization stage, you enjoy your time in LA-LA-Land, except every now and again, a dark cloud blocks the sunshine. An inexplicable rage episode occurs out of nowhere. Inexplicable as it may be, the narcissist (or you) will explain it away — or just pretend like it never happened. Typically you won’t be the target of blame for your narcissist’s first tantrums, rage outs and pout outs. She or he will tell you they were “triggered” by something you said or did that reminded them of their horrid, old ex. You really must be more careful next time not to do or say anything to upset your fragile, delicate narcissist! Tsk, tsk! Or, the episode will be blamed on a mean boss, a mean co-worker or the mean next door neighbor who is suing your narcissist because he went onto the neighbor’s property and cut down trees without permission. Mean, mean old neighbor!
What’s really happening with these initial infrequent incidences? The narcissist is testing your limits — in other words, how much of their shit are you willing to tolerate? What and where are your boundaries? Will you defend and enforce your boundaries? Or will you capitulate to keep the peace and the narcissist’s “love” no matter the price, including your dignity? Eventually, the narcissist will stop blaming outsiders for their bad behavior and start blaming you. Cue the devaluation stage.
What goes up (you being hoisted atop the narcissist’s pedestal) will eventually be torn down (by your narcissist, of course). Why? Because you disappointed your narcissist, silly!
You didn’t provide an endless supply of love, adoration and nurturing. You didn’t make them an overnight success — you held them back all those years by providing a stable home life! You took askance with being raged at and called names. You began to see your narcissist more clearly and realistically. You wanted the love and support to be bidirectional in the relationship.
Asking or expecting reciprocity from your narcissist is the kiss of death. She or he will occasionally give, but only if it makes them feel or look good to do so, and it always comes with a price. Narcissists don’t give without the expectation of getting, and they expect to get more than they give. It’s narcissist math.
The narcissist may also begin to devalue you simply because she or he is bored. Stability is boring. Coziness? Contentedness? Comfort? Boring, boring, boring. If the narcissist isn’t distracting themselves with some drama, conflict, lawsuit, affair, self-aggrandizement or swindle they might actually have to look at and deal with themselves. Then they might just realize that they and they alone are the architects of their misery and they can’t have that. Therefore, if they’re feeling bored or disappointed with life or themselves someone needs to be blamed.
Once the devaluation stage begins, the discard is inevitable. It may take a few months, years or, in some cases, decades, but it will happen. There’s no going back to the idealization stage once you’ve seen behind their mask and their all too human feet of clay — no matter what empty promises and lies your narcissist tells you. You might get some love bombing in the form of a Hoover if she or he isn’t quite ready to discard you. This is usually because the next source of narcissistic supply hasn’t been secured yet.
Your narcissist may promise things will be better if only you do more, sacrifice more, give more, don’t hold them accountable or expect anything from them. If you’re determined to make it work with your narcissist, despite all indications that it’s time to jump out of the plane and pull the ripcord, you have a couple of options at your disposal to delay the inevitable. First, you must accept the narcissist for the severely emotionally handicapped and integrity challenged person that they are. She or he isn’t going to have an epiphany and suddenly become an insightful, soulful, decent human being that possesses empathy and a conscience. They’ve spent their entire adult lives avoiding just that. Not going to happen.
Second, you must also unflinchingly accept their abuse. And don’t ever tell them that their behavior is abusive. Doing so makes the narcissist feel bad about her- or himself. Remember what happens when the narcissist or borderline feels bad about themselves? They blame someone else (i.e., you). Plus, labeling their behavior abusive means you’re not accepting them for who they are. Got it?
You may not get discarded right away if you tolerate the abuse and look the other way when your narcissist seeks fresh supply elsewhere, but there is no equal, mutual, healthy adult relationship to be had with this person. If you accept these conditions please understand that your narcissist won’t appreciate you or think, “Wow, husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend must really love me to give me such free reign and to accept me as I am.” Quite the opposite, in fact. Your narcissist will have even less respect for you as you further degrade and humiliate yourself in order to maintain the relationship at any cost (e.g., staying in the relationship while she or he openly has affairs or becomes physically violent).
Your narcissist won’t see you as loving and committed to him or her. This is when your narcissist will become more sadistic than you could ever imagine. Why? Because you have shown your narcissist there is no limit she or he can violate that will cause you to withdraw your love. Please don’t do this to yourself. Take whatever shred of self-esteem you have left and get out. If you have no shared children or assets, go ghost. Complete radio silence. Don’t take the bait and respond to angry messages or feigned remorse. Narcissists and borderlines don’t feel genuine remorse. They feel sorry for themselves once they finally reap the consequences of their bad behavior, but that’s not the same as feeling remorse for having hurt others. As Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, “You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”
But, but your narcissist seems really sincere when they say how much they miss you? Okay, there may a grain of truth to that. However, it would be more accurate to say that your narcissist misses the ease you brought to their life and the supply you provided. That’s not love and you deserve better. Continuing to engage with your former narcissist in any fashion allows her or him to continue to feed off of you. It’s time for you to take back your power and resources for yourself. Let the narcissist siphon resources elsewhere, or, heaven forbid, finally do for themselves.
In the end, once a new source of supply (e.g., ass kissing, financial support, novelty sex, someone who believes the narcissist’s false self is the real self) has been secured, you will be discarded. New supply is tastier, juicier and more robust than old depleted supply who has seen behind the narcissist’s mask. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably never been à deux in your relationship. Narcissists and borderlines triangulate. It’s important to understand this because a narcissist typically won’t discard until she or he has a new source of supply, a third party with which to replace the old supply. As the devaluation stage progresses, the narcissist seeks out and grooms fresh supply. Once they’ve found their new hero-angel, that’s it.
Given that narcissists are insatiable, needy vortexes of suck, there’s never enough attention, love, comfort, emotional breast milk or any resource that he or she desires. Like an alcoholic who hides vodka bottles around the house, narcissists require back-up emotional supply.
In Karpman’s drama triangle there are three roles: the Victim, the Persecutor and the Rescuer. Two versions of the triangle exist; the narcissist’s version and the objective reality version. The narcissist sees her- or himself as the Victim, the person they’re abusing and exploiting (the old supply) as their Persecutor and their new supply (e.g., the mistress/manstress) as their Rescuer. In reality, the narcissist is the Persecutor, the new supply is their enabler/accomplice (unwittingly or wittingly) and the old supply is the Victim. At the beginning of your relationship with your narcissist, when you were the new supply/Rescuer, you probably aided and abetted your narcissist in hurting your predecessor. You were once the hero or angel, and now you’re the big old meanie who doesn’t appreciate your Narcissist anymore. The new supply is the answer to the narcissist’s problems just as you once were. Rinse, wash, repeat.
You may be cast again in the role of the Rescuer if you’re foolish and self-destructive enough to hang around and wait for your narcissist to become disappointed or bored with the current new supply. But remember, even if that happens, the narcissist will only become disappointed or bored with you again and around and around you go. Just step out of it.
What about the new supply/Rescuer? She or he is most likely another hapless codependent who sees your narcissist as a poor, downtrodden, unappreciated victim. Don’t envy the new supply. The narcissist will do to them what the narcissist did to you. Alternately, the new supply/Rescuer may also be another narcissist, borderline, histrionic or sociopath who saw your narcissist coming from light years away and then mutual love bombing commenced. If the new supply is another disordered predator or conniver, the two of them will eventually cannibalize one another, in which case maintain a safe distance and pop some popcorn. Or, you can heal, move on with your life and not look back. Okay, okay, enjoy a little schadenfreude then move on and don’t look back.
Want to Say Goodbye to Crazy? Buy it HERE.
Guess it all boils down to there being bad people out there… and not get fooled by people pretending to be victims because they want you to feel sorry for them so you lower your guard and become a victim yourself.
After I had a bad breakup with my ex wife, I got involved with someone at work who said she was constantly being raped. She then started telling me about other men she was friends with in a way to make me jealous (which I wasn’t).
In the end I couldn’t see it going anywhere so I ended it.
She got mad when I didn’t return her calls anymore. During one conversation after I hadn’t seen her in a month she actually asked me, “Aren’t you going to save me?”
Dr Tara Palmatier says
You saw where it was heading and saved yourself instead. Well done.
Ok – so who has been reading my life story here?
Great summation of the whole process. So true about Borderlines only discarding you once they have an alternate supply. Mine groomed her new supply for eight months before springing it on me in a single weekend (but only after she had locked him down by sleeping with him the previous weekend). Once she was sure of her new supply, she cut me loose.
I recall those few minutes when she made her announcement as being in the presence of pure evil. She actually had a smile on her face. No show of regret, no show of remorse, no tears and no empathy for having just stuck the knife in and turning the blade for good effect.
The only point I would make is that as a co-dependent your life will be turned upside down into one of confusion, wishful thinking, yearning etc. The process of recovering from one of these monsters is a long and difficult process.
But wait – after almost a year of no contact I just received an SMS today wishing me a happy Xmas. Could this be the “hoover”? Could it be that the new supply has had all of its juice squeezed out of it. Heavens – but these people are so damn predictable!
Luckily for me I found the playbook for these emotional vampires on this site and from the videos by Paul & Dr T. Your hug is on its way thru the ether…..
Dr Tara Palmatier says
That smile on her face was her inner reptile shining through. They enjoy seeing their targets wince in pain at their hands, begging them for more.
As for the Christmas text, it could be a Hoover or a test balloon just to see if she can still yank your chain. Whatever the intention, it isn’t good for you.
Newbie here and I’m glad to have found this site, because I need to know that I’m not alone in dealing with a BPD/NPD. Long story short – my soon to be ex-wife (STBX) who definitely has the traits of BPD/NPD, has just got engaged to her boyfriend (who has traits of BPD/NPD himself) not even a week after we got back from celebrating our anniversary…sounds so crazy after I read this. She had been bouncing “back-and-forth” between him and me for about a year – when I finally told her that I was DONE. The main reason that I hung in there is that we have an 11 year-old son together.
Anyhow, it’s weird how everyone who knows my STBX says that her boyfriend is like a “carbon copy” of her. I can’t see this relationship working out for them…seems like a powder key waiting to blow up. Does anyone have an idea of the longevity of this type of relationship? I have read where in the relationship one partner has BPD/NPD, but what about if both partners has BPD/NPD?
You may find Shari Schreiber’s site helpful — particularly this article: http://www.sharischreiber.com/dance.html .
DoneFishing – I like your moniker. Might be tempting to predict the failure of your STBX’s next thing (I did the same) but you are better off just getting as far away as possible (considering you share a child). Any time you spend thinking about the STBX’s nonsense distracts you from creating a better life for yourself. After a while, she will (hopefully) just be background noise in your life.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Just focus on providing a safe harbor for your son when your ex and her new supply begin to cannibalize one another.
It could last a year. It could last a lifetime. It doesn’t matter. She’s still the same awful person she’s always been. Be grateful the Eye of Sauron is gazing elsewhere, and don’t allow yourself to be triangulated again.
Good description, especially in regard to times when we are vulnerable or our boundaries become compromised. In addiction counseling, there is an acronym: H.A.L.T. (Hungry (horny). Angry. Lonely. Tired.). Whenever one is hungry, angry, lonely or tired it makes one more susceptible to exploitation by those in the old Cluster B spectrum or to addictive behavior patterns.
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety: it is healthy human connection. Isolation is the ultimate poison.
I think I just read my life story as well. I have been divorced from my ex-wife since the summer, but she discarded me about a year prior. I painfully lived each relationship stage with her. As a father, I fear my children will enter similar relationships but will do my best to educate them. It is so strange how textbook these people behave and prey on decent human beings.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Keep providing your children through example the healthier contrast. Some may well follow in your ex’s footsteps and there may not be anything you can do about it. Teach them to respect themselves and others and hope for the best.
Michael Garabaldi says
I had an interesting experience with a woman. While I am not qualified to diagnose a personality disorder, one of the things that she mentioned was that her ex boyfriend and she went to couple’s counseling and that the therapist made reference to narcissism. I did some research and found that this woman seemed to have the characteristics of someone with Narcissist Personality Disorder. Initially, she was very attentive, complementing me — made me feel great.
Things began to change after a few months. She would tell me things about her past but interrupted me if I tried to do the same saying that she “didn’t want to hear it.” I noticed that she was becoming very critical, had angry outbursts and talked about her past boyfriends and others with disdain. She wouldn’t even speak to them. She also hated her father. I remember thinking that this is what I’m in store for and; in fact, it’s exactly what happened.
One day, after she had been out of town for days, I ran into her at a place we both frequent. She was rude, insulting and dismissive. The next day, I accidently dialed her phone number when trying to call someone else. When I tried to explain and apologize, she hung up on me. I tried to call her back but she wouldn’t answer. I drove over to her place but she wouldn’t come to the door. I waited on the steps for a while and left. The next day she emailed me and chided me on my behavior when we met and the misdialed call. She said that we might get together on Tuesday of that week. It wasn’t easy to do, I had come to have strong feelings for her, but I wrote her back politely saying that we probably shouldn’t date.
Since then, when she sees me, she behaves as if I didn’t exist and will not speak to me or look at me. I walked up to her recently to wish her a happy New Year and she insulted me and told me that I was “harassing” her.
On my birthday, just days before she turned on me, Crazy was laying on the compliments so thick that I felt the need to flat out tell her that she was too nice and that she was overstating things. She insisted that she was absolutely not overstating anything, that she was pragmatic and not prone to hyperbole. Two days later she was having full on rage fit temper tantrums at me because I politely apologized for saying something mildly critical of her that made her angry, complete with lots of F-bombs, “You seem to think!’s” warnings that “this wasn’t even angry her” I would get several more rage fits over the next few months, always of the “where the hell did that come from” variety.
In the months prior to all of this she had seemed unhappy and had been complaining about pretty much everyone else in her life…..except me. I was just the last domino to fall once I quit being a “yes man” and injured her ego by telling her something she didn’t want to hear.
It’s amazing how much of this post could have been written about my situation with her, or for that matter, with how my father behaves.
What you said about the 3 N’s is so true. I kept trying to appeal to her better nature, kept giving her the benefit of the doubt hoping she’d “come around” Of course, she didn’t. I didn’t even realize that I was avoidant / codependent / conflict averse until after the fallout from this, and if I did, I thought of those things as positives.
I now have a greater appreciation for how my NPD father behaves, near zero tolerance for his BS, and I now find that the way he treats my mother bothers me more now than when I was younger.
WM 123 says
This could be me, at least the “Nice” part which I already suspected was wrong but I’m not sure if this is applicable to what’s been going on exactly. Mostly though I want to know if this is what the problem is so I can fix myself.
I’ve known her for years, we’ve always got along fine. Flirting, friendly the whole bit. We went out on Halloween and things progressed further than I had anticipated from there (lets just say a more than friendly hug). A few weeks later after talking in her apartment (which she shares with her sister and brother in law) about what had happened the last time we’d went out she ended up half naked (she was wearing only a robe and underwear when I arrived) on my lap; I brought things to a halt after awhile because I didn’t think we should be having sex just yet which I knew was probably a mistake as she clearly wanted to. A week after that she seemed fine, a week after that was finals week et al but still she seemed fine but since then she’s been actively avoiding me and jerking me around. I presumed it was just an issue with being “nice” but then she sends me this random text about “being over at Derrek’s a lot and haven’t been home much” it really had nothing to do with anything said and was just out of the blue. She then starts up another conversation like she hadn’t mentioned this. I told her I would be by on Thursday and I wanted to talk. She then responds “I’m dating someone we gotta keep this as friends.”
Seems pretty cut and dried, with the problem being that between work, school, church et al she barely has time to use the bathroom let alone be hip deep in some relationship. So I’m confused was her initial statement intended as some passive way to tell me to screw off, if that was the case then why spout off that friends garbage. What was the point of escalating things (her doing) in the first place less than a month and a half ago if she wasn’t interested, or if she was only interested in being “friends?” Is being casually rebuffed really that big of a blow to her ego or was she just jerking me around in the first place?
“or if she was only interested in being “friends?” Is being casually rebuffed really that big of a blow to her ego or was she just jerking me around in the first place?”
Could be one, could be both. Or she could be a Histrionic type who wants the sexual attention, but wants to jerk you around so she can feel powerful and of course, get more attention. The Crazy I dealt with was definitely a Narcissist. I had more than one person who told me that Crazy turned on me and went all rage monster in large part because I rebuked her advances, or at least, didn’t jump her bones when I had the very obvious opportunity to do so. As my roommate put it, she seems like a very angry, bitter person who’s angry and bitter with you because you didn’t hit that.”
The “why” doesn’t really matter though. Her abusive and hurtful behavior does.
WM 123 says
That’s the thing of it though that I don’t really understand. She got virtually no attention as a result of this. The “power” aspect I can understand to an extent but the attention part seems like it would have backfired doing this, I wasn’t bombarding her with phone calls or anything, no pile of texts so she got very little attention from me as a result of this and she isn’t getting attention somewhere else vis avis she isn’t “over at Derrek’s” she’s so full of shit on that regard her eyes are turning brown. Understandably mental disorders aren’t necessarily cut and dried but I just can’t see what “benefit” was derived from this. Frankly, I would almost understand if it was a matter of getting attention; as she really doesn’t get it anywhere else.
Wonderfully written! Thankfully I only “dipped my toe” into the BPD dating pool (about a year but seemed waaaay longer) and got off easy. But your description was textbook accurate. Me – single full time dad raising a teenage son, good job, notoriously “nice guy”. Grew up with a dad that left for many years replaced by an alcoholic step dad, molding me into the perfect target – trusting, protector, seeking affection, hates conflict. Her at the start: Divorced once, two kids – every guy and her parents had wronged her and treated her poorly. Her at the end: Found out she was divorced four times with four kids, two of which had blocked her from their lives and her grandchildren. She had only been married four months when she first asked me out. I didn’t know about BPD until someone close to her and her children clued me in at the very end. Scary looking back at the things I overlooked. The work trips out of town were cheating and sleeping with another man (not the only cheating – just part of it), extreme jealousy over any woman that talked to me, chasing my son and I in her car in a jealous rage, lies and secrecy, blaming others (then of course me) for everything, mirroring her relationship / parenting issues onto me, scars she blamed on surgery but were jagged and obviously self inflicted, a history of eating disorders, talking me into a cruise then cancelling it and trying to keep my deposit, EXTREME narcississm, and on and on and on. When I finally rejected getting back together with her she said the vilest, cruelest things I’ve ever heard (she always preached about being careful what you say) and went to Defcon 1. I found out later what she had done to her own kids and former relationships and became worried about my son (and myself – this is a person with no limits), but things finally blew over (other than some social media stalking which hopefully she will tire of over time). And I’m happy to say I’ve since found someone wonderful (although it seemed odd at first being in a healthy relationship after the craziness – you begin to expect crazy after a while).
So I got off easy and my son and I can laugh about it now. I used to tell potential dates one of the most important things in a relationship is empathy; leave it to me to find someone that had no idea what empathy even was. So a little older and a LOT wiser from the experience. I actually find the whole BPD thing fascinating after seeing it up close. And I don’t say that to sound callous – I know it’s a mental illness – but I look at it this way: She sought me out, I believe she knows there is something “not right” about her, she repeated the same pattern she did that lost her contact with her kids and every ex, and she played victim again and finally blamed me (until the next Prince Charming falls). I can’t have sympathy for people that are too weak to seek help or admit that they need help. Now it’s odd that I’ll hopefully never see her again but in one year I understand more about her – what drove her past, why she does what she does, and her future – than she understands about herself. Another benefit of her narcissism.
A final side note: I’m a runner which will come in handy if I ever encounter another BPD. I’d give the same advice to anyone else that encounters these people. I always said the best revenge is to live a good life. It drives people that despise you crazy. Much happier moving from a damsel in distress to a beautiful, smart, confident woman that wants me to be her partner instead of her rescuer.
Ha ha ha! GREAT POST,Dr. T. Once again,you are spot on. I say ha ha because u really made me laugh Doc…first of all,by informing me that not only am I codependent,but a hapless codependent. Also,thanks Dr T for allowing me the pleasure of a little schadenfreude. I got that by hearing who she hooked up with-a real loser. What u refer to as “the down grade boyfriend”. Also by turning her into the IRS for tax fraud after she discarded me. I just couldn’t resist. After over a year of no contact,she stunned me. She called me at my job. I was out of the office when she called,but got the message when I returned. To call her,complete with her new phone #. Of course,I didn’t call her. I know too much about NPD now. And this post strongly reinforces in my mind that not calling her was the right thing to do. Whatever she was wanting,it ain’t in my best interest. After our break up,I moved and changed my phone #. So this tells me that she does not know that information,or she would have called me directly instead of calling my work location. So that’s good news. I have learned so much about narcissism these last 2 years.Now I have to learn to watch out for those with narcissistic tendencies,even tho they might not be full blown NPD. I talked about that earlier today on your post about the dangers of dating sex workers. Hey Dr. T,all your posts are sharp and insightful. But this one was especially poignant to me,for a lot of reasons. Don’t have time to elaborate but-you get the picture. Thanks again for your sharp insight.
First off. Great Site! I have been reading and it has truly been my salvation!!!! I was in a relationship with a borderline for 18 months. I knew she was a borderline but chose to believe other sites where they said with enough understanding and compassion and hard work, relationships with borderlines could work. NO WAY!!!! I am not going to go into the details of my relationship but suffice it to say, they are eerily similar to everyone else here. I finally asked my borderline to move out on Dec. 17th because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was lost, confused, depressed and felt crazy. She came home on the 18th, 19th and 20th begging me to stay together and begged me for sex. I almost caved but stayed strong. (Sex was always outstanding but was only for control. I started not wanting to because I had lost so much.) She cried uncontrollable and accused me of horrible things. She did move out on Dec. 22nd and I have had no contact since Dec. 23rd and it has been very hard. I just recently found out about a new boyfriend she has and guess what, her first date with was Dec. 18 and second was Dec. 20. Before she even moved out and when she was still begging for sex and to stay. Who does this? It is very painful to find out but I keep telling myself to quit trying to find rational behavior in an irrational person but it just drives me crazy. I am exercising and taking care of myself and it is getting better. Time is a great healer and thanks to sites like this I realize I am not alone and that I am not wrong about all the things that happened in our relationship. THANKS SO MUCH!!!
Me too, stay strong you won’t regret it.
Been 17 months now. Her and the replacement are still together. I think so anyway. It’s taken me awhile to realize that I was just used. I wasn’t from her lifestyle. I was a nice guy who was there, until her life improved and someone better came along more suitable to her past lifestyle. It hurts. But it does kind of put things in perspective. In 16 months together, she hardly ever called me her boyfriend, hardly went out on couples dates, did things with other couples, and left to fend on my own around her ritzy friends when we did go to super large events. No change in FB status, no nothing. I get it now. Took awhile, a long while for the FOG to lift, not totally all gone, but I get it
That’s my story too. I found an email she sent to her uncle in the states. She put me, my family and friends down, when I confronted her about it she would only apologise after I told her I was leaving. The next day (because I stayed) she took back her apology plus she told me about my replacement…. I then ran for the door and never looked back. In honesty, it bloody hurt at 1st, but looking back it was the best thing I did for myself, I also realised I was codependent at the time but it showed I had the strength not to tolerate her abuse anymore plus I’ve packed up smoking and drinking, 5 times a week in the gym and had a couple of quality dates… My life is back on track 🙂
Hello Doc, just wanted to say that I come to your site whenever I feel low esteemed or depressed and after reading your articles for 20 minutes, I feel so energized. I always leave with tears of hope and aching tummy because of the humour you put in your posts. I feel like what an Emperor penguin feels seeing the sun after living in darkness for months in Antarctica. I wish majority of women were like you. I just love the humour in your posts and the funny names and words like Unidentified Flying Crazies (UFC’s) ,Bridezilla, funeralselfie, lovebombing etc. haha! You are doing such a great work. Do you know what Tara means in Hindi? India’s national language, it means a star and you are surely a star showing the way to the lost men. Thank you for being there when I needed the help. You are a Living Archangel in human form. You don’t know how many lives you save just with your words. Once again Thank you very much Dr. Tara and God Bless You. 🙂
Thi site has been so helpful, and was recommended to me by my phycologist. I ignored the warning signs which included my health and I was eventually triangulated. I have been married for six years and altogether 10 years with my ex wife. We had just returned from a family vacation in the United States in January 16(I live in Australia). Two days after we returned on her Birthday she dropped the bombshell. She was out, offered no explanation other to say that she wanted a “stress free life”, and I was asked to move on.
Three days after the bomb was dropped, my gut told me that there was more involved in the situation. I had never had a reason not to trust my ex wife. I did review the phone bills for the last 12 months and my heart sank. Over 6000 texts to two numbers that never existed before. She had two guys on the go and eventually settled with the one. No remorse, she has just been cold and methodical about the whole situation.
On discovery her only concern was who was going to now find out, and her reputation might be destroyed ( TED presenter, School Principal etc). We have a 6 year old son and she has three children from a previous marriage who all live with us. As soon as she knew I knew, the alienation towards me through the kids commenced. They were told I was crazy, don’t listen to him etc.
I moved out immediately and have since been separated from my son except for weekend visits. I have him every weekend though. This then allows my ex wife to see her affair partner who is also a fellow teacher. The issue for my ex wife is that the teacher reports to her and she needs to the relationship to remain underground.
Two months have passed and I am starting to feel relieved that I no longer need to walk on egg shells around her, and I have built a strong support network around me and my son. In the two months though, she has moved her new partner into the family home and has introduced my son to him. Whilst I voiced my displeasure about this, her only comment was “he does not mind his new daddy”. It has been gut wrenching listening to my phycologist about our relationship, and the torment I was put through that I just put up with.
Once again great site and has been a great support to me.
I just found this site last night, searching for an explanation. Not even an explanation, I was looking for something to confirm what I felt and knew.
After two and a half years with this person. Clarity kicked in when her “rescuer” called me. I knew she was lying and manipulating me but chose to ignore it in hopes that she would change. And we would return to the beginning stage. As I was reading this article, I could project my situation perfectly with the stages written here. Its a relief to know I am not the only one. What hurts is being lied to so convincingly that I let her treat me this way for so so long. I ignored the red flags and became blinded by the lust, passion, and insane sex. But the narcissist, BPD person in this present, will become a chapter of my past. I feel like its best not to hate her. I feel sorry for this way of living, she will call her life. I’ll remember the times I thought was good and the times I truly did enjoy and use the negative experiences as a learning tool for the future. She sucked the life out of me and time to get it back, I’m seeking council on why I felt the need to put up with the abuse and why I saw codependency as love. Thank you for helping me with this incredibly confusing, painful, degrating experience in my life.
My partner of 7 1/2 years has an ex-wife and 2 adult children that I have suspected are all on the BPD/narcissist/histrionic spectrum. Never ending drama they all love to wallow in. Ex has managed to keep 30 yr old son and 34 yr old daughter emotionally stunted and dependent on her. Uses guilt from my partner’s drinking days to keep him tolerating their mistreatment of him and myself. Ex and daughter started out with the ‘welcome to the family’ routine to set me up for tolerating d’s abuse when she started her nasty anklebiter crap. She snarled at a bigger b!tch and went screaming to mama when I bared my fangs in warning. I had raised and trained protection dogs with my late husband and am not a purely positive trainer.
This site has been useful in finding ways to keep their crap at a distance. Their last drama had daughter wanting to talk to dad about her latest boyfriend’s drinking but could not be bothered to make the hour long drive or call to tell him she wasn’t going to make it. I told her and ex we have better things to do than wait about all day to find out if she is going to grace him with her presence and to be user friendly with his time as she is again showing him how little he means to her. 2 years ago on Father’s day she stood him up and sent him a text only after I prodded her and she replied vilely to me. For 2 years I didn’t tell him the reason I refused to be around her as I didn’t want him to know she only did so after being prodded. When she went tattling to him this time about how mean I was I finally showed him the screen shot, the date and time. A look of relief and recognition on his face when he realized that indeed the dramatic duo had struck again and that I was not truly the evil witch they were calling me. He settled it with them. Told them he saw the text, wasn’t surprised except that I had managed to keep as civil as possible. If they don’t apologize, they will not set foot in our house again. He will meet them outside and go elsewhere to talk.
He doesn’t want to cut off his daughter or son completely, has a personal sense of responsibility as their father but flat out does not like them, sees their crap and his ex’s. For now, they claim to be afraid of me. I expect they will forget that the next time they are bored and want entertainment, either an audience for their soap opera performance or be entertained by him. This might stick longer as their worst nightmare, having profanity, death wishes and such revealed for the childish tantrum it was.
Both of them are high functioning enough to have a good employment record. Save their crap for those who put up with it. Made the mistake of confusing my kindness with weakness. And of course when I refused to eat their crap and gave it back, put all the blame on me. Well saved a little for him as he is crazy to prefer living with a pscyho b!tch like me to them. Only regret I have is I didn’t say their ongoing dramas were boring. Nothing a prima donna hates more than a bad review.
This post was a pretty close description of my last six months. After reading this, it seems like I should be counting my blessings, but I still feel heartbroken. I was pretty familiar with cluster B behavior before all of this, so I’m still trying to figure out how I was so easily blindsided.
I’ve realized something, now, when I glance back at this very helpful article. There is a stage of relationship missing.
The missing stage is called…. “The Happy Ending”. (yes, ironic…)
After all of the stress, upheaval, toxicity, and injury of dealing with an NPD/BPD partner, and the various stages of
a relationship with ’em….. the “Happy Ending” is a stage we can arrive at by reading, learning, developing objectivity,
re-examining our patterns of attachment, identifying and recognizing telltale signs of NPD/BPD and… easily choosing
to avoid them.
The day will come when…. (dealing with adults)…. PLM’s (poor little me’s) turn your stomach, jealousy (talking over your favorite song?)
just irritates you, snarky-ness causes you to scowl and turn away, temper tantrums don’t earn your attention at all,
scapegoating, triangulation & gaslighting are like bio-hazard warning signs, and immodesty or attention whoring on social
media or in conversation is recognizable & disgusting.
Then your day has come; you’re moving into the Happy Ending, free of the traction those people ever held.
Also called…. the beginning of the rest of your life.
I think is the more better article to make my comments and seek advice…
I’ve been in a relationship for only 5 months, my recent ex I believe is a pwBPD, I’ve been researching and she definitely shows all these signs and has ruined our relationship. First 3 months were perfect bliss, no issues, no Arguments both excepting each other’s life and personalities. then bam. She totally turned throwing tantrums and putting her pregnant sister and my dog at the center of her problems of jealousy and threatened by him. She would pick apart problems she has with dogs and go into rages and anger, running away, hiding under cars, screaming. Having bad thoughts about people and animals, something in her head telling her to do bad things. Now mind you 3 months she was fine with the dog and everything in my life, she’d pet him, walk him, lay with him but then all of a sudden her moods switched like a light switch. This occurred frequently for 2.5 months and when she was not in that state of mind, she wanted me to be normal and get pissed when I wasn’t because of this. She would put so many factors of my dog hat needed to be changed on me, and then the next day it would change. She’d say one thing and then the next day it’s like She never said that. Which left me in a whirlwind of emotions. She’s tried and threatened suicide and distanced herself from Me and then blames me for the distance. She admits faults of her actions but then her anger and episodes happened again. she is in therapy but on and off and since then doesn’t seem to help her, she doesn’t know when she’ll be able to go back either. I suggest seeing an MD and she lashes out at me. There’s been No compromise from her, her way or no way, she’s given me numerous ultimatums which on some I’ve agreed to. I’ve tried everything I know how to be able to stay in this but she butts me at every turn. I feel guilty, at fault and depressed and now I’m seeing a therapist! Only 5 months and it’s ruined me. We were ontop of the world and then out of nowhere she turned into someone I don’t even know anymore. This is all new to me I’ve never experienced this or this type of trauma and it is hard to handle. We’ve been in limbo for the last 2 months or so during her episodes and molds and as she seemed to calm down, She wants to move on and put this behind us, but she puts me at forefront of not being able to move on and forget her actions. I was willing to try but she can’t come to my house bc of a dog and the dog did nothing to her whatsoever he’s a part of my life and she wants me to be with her till she’s ready to come over and doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to handle me having a dog. I can’t set myself up for her to leave out of nowhere and have even more hurt and pain to get over and she just doesn’t understand me. If she was willing to face her issue whatever it may be to give me Hope I would try but she refuses to see me where my dog is.
Any insight and thoughts would be so appreciated, I’ve been struggling really hard with all of this.
Now she claims to have gone out over the weekend alone, and was drugged and raped and went out to meet someone to smile which tears me apart.
Thank you for this site. Helpful, insightful and staggeringly accurate.
I had an experience with a Borderline that derailed my life completely, and ended with the loss of my main work client and a key project travelling the world – a project that I initiated.
I discovered that two nights after the character assassination and discard, which included accusations of abuse and manipulation, that she hooked up with the owner of the company we both worked for two nights later. And I now realise she had been planning it for weeks before the discard. He is a textbook grandiose Narcissist. We’d even chuckled together over the purple prose seduction texts he had been sending her after hours. And I had helped her get an enormous raise from him, using my insights into his personality.
It’s been the darkest, most traumatic 5 months of my life – rebuilding my career and dealing with the collateral damage of this experience. All that remains is some resentment towards her for the experience, and a morbid fascination with her and the boss’s “relationship” (he has a long-term girlfriend in another country.) I still have the urge to confront her, but have managed to go no contact. The damage to my life, career and some of my friendships has been significant, but could have been even worse had I not walked away. Stepping back was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I love the insight, wit and levity that you’re bringing to this topic, it’s very helpful.
All the best and thanks again