Background

Victim of Narcissist: Move On!

Uploaded 8/4/2011, approx. 10 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

It is important to understand the world of the narcissist, his inner landscape, his mind.

The narcissist lives in a fantasized world of ideal beauty, incomparable albeit imaginary achievements, wealth, brilliance, and unmitigated success.

The narcissist denies his reality constantly. This is what I call the grandiosity gap, the abyss between the narcissist's sense of entitlement grounded in his inflated grandiose fantasies on the one hand and his incommensurate reality and meager accomplishments in the real world on the other hand.

So this is the gap. The narcissist's partner is perceived by the narcissist to be merely a source of narcissistic supply, an instrument, an extension of himself, a way, a path to gratification.

It is inconceivable in the mind of the narcissist that blessed by the constant presence of himself, such a tool, such an object would malfunction.

The needs and grievances of the partner are perceived by the narcissist as threats and slights.

The narcissist considers his very presence in the relationship as nourishing, sustaining, as a gift. He feels entitled to the best others can offer without investing in maintaining his relationships or in catering to the wellbeing needs, wishes, priorities, and preferences of his suppliers.

To read himself of deep set feelings of rather justified guilt and shame, the narcissist pathologizes the partner, devalues her.

The narcissist projects his own mental illness onto the partner.

Through the intricate mechanisms of projection and projective identification, the narcissist forces his intimate partner to play an emergent role of a sick person, a weak person in need of protection, a naive person in need of enlightenment, or even a dumb or no good person.

What the narcissist denies in himself, his own weakness, his own gullibility, his own fallibility and his own sometimes stupidity, that which he denies in himself, that which he is loathed to face in his own personality, character traits, and behaviors.

These very things the narcissist attributes to others and molds these other people, especially his intimate partner, his spouse, his maid, molds them to conform to his prejudices against actually himself.

The narcissist believes that he must have only the best, the most glamorous, stunning, beautiful, talented, head-turning, mind-boggling spouse in the entire universe. Nothing short of this fantasy will do.

To compensate for the shortcomings of his real-life spouse, he invents an idealized figure and relates to this figure instead of the real spouse.

Then when reality inevitably conflicts too often and too evidently with his imagination, with this idealization, the narcissist reverts to devaluation. His behavior turns on a dime and becomes threatening, demeaning, contemptuous, berating, reprimanding, destructively critical, and sadistic, cold, loving, detached, and clinical.

The narcissist punishes his real-life spouse for not living up to his fantasy, for refusing to be his galathea, his Pygmalion, his ideal creation.

The narcissist plays a wrathful and demeaning God and demanding God. He's a divinity. How can you cope with such an utterly, utterly confounded person, such a twisted personality?

Well, the best you can do is move on. To preserve your mental health, you must abandon the narcissist. You must move on. You must let go. Moving on is a process. It's not a decision or an event, or not merely a decision or an event.


First, one has to acknowledge and accept painful reality. Such acceptance is a volcanic, shattering, agonizing series of nibbling thoughts and strong resistances.

Once you have won the battle against yourself or with yourself, and once harsh and agonizing realities are assimilated, once you have insight into the fact that your partner is mentally ill and is dragging you down with him, only then you can move on to what I call the learning phase.

The learning phase, you educate yourself. You compare experiences with others. You digest what you've learned. You have insights, multiple.

Then you decide. Then you act.

And this is the crux of moving on.

Having gathered sufficient emotional sustenance, having garnered knowledge, support and confidence, you face the battlefields of your relationship, fortified and nurtured, not depleted.

This stage characterizes those who do not mourn, do not grieve, but fight, do not dream about how it used to be, but replenish the surfacing. Do not hide, but seek, do not freeze, but move on.

Mind you, grieving and mourning is an inevitable and integral part of this process. I'm not saying that you should not grieve and mourn. At the very least, the dream you had of having a relationship with a narcissist, but it should be contained and constrained and put in perspective and in its place.

Having been betrayed and abused, you grieve. You grieve for the image you have had of the traitor and the abuser, the image that was so fleeting and so wrong, and so attractive and so fetching, the image that made you enter the relationship.

You mourn the damage that the narcissist has done to you. You experience the fear of never being able to love or to trust again, and you grieve this loss as well.

In one stroke, you have lost someone you have trusted or even loved, you have lost your trusting and loving self, and you have lost the trust and love that you have felt, and perhaps the ability to trust and love.

Can anything be worse? I doubt it.

The emotional process of grieving has many phases though.

At first, you are dumbfounded shocked, inert, immobile. You play dead to avoid your inner monsters. You are ossified in your pain, you are cast in the mold of your reticence and fear.

And then, out of the blue, you feel enraged, indignant, rebellious, and hateful. Having passed this stage of futile aggression, you accept. You accept reality for what it is, and then you cry, and then some of you learn to forgive and to pity.

And this is what I call healing.

All the stages of mourning and grieving are absolutely necessary and good for you. It is bad not to rage back, not to shame those who shamed you, to deny, to pretend, to evade. These are counterproductive strategies, but it is equally bad to get fixated on your rage, to remain stuck in this phase.


Emotional grieving is the perpetuation of your abuse by other means, and by yourselves.

By endlessly recreating your harrowing experiences, you unwillingly collaborate with your abuser in perpetuating his or her evil conduct.

It is by moving on that you defeat your abuser, minimize him and his importance in your life. It is by loving it, by trusting anew, that you are null, that which was done to you.

To forgive is never to forget, but to remember is not necessarily to obsessively re-experience.

So what about forgiving and forgetting?

Forgiving is an important capability. It does more for the forgiver than for the forgiven, but it should not be a universal indiscriminate behavior. It is legitimate not to forgive sometimes.

It depends, of course, on the severity or duration of what was done to you. In general, it is analyzed and counterproductive to apply to life universal and immutable principles.

Life is too chaotic to succumb to rigid edicts. Sentences which start with words like I never or you should always are not very credible, and often lead to self-defeating, self-restricting and self-destructive behaviors.

Conflicts are an important and integral part of life. One should never seek them out, but when confronted with a conflict one should never avoid it.

It is through conflicts and adversity, as much as through care and love, that we grow.

Human relationships are dynamic. We must assess our friendships, partnerships and our marriages periodically.

In and by itself a common past is insufficient to sustain a healthy, nurturing, nourishing, supportive, caring and compassionate relationship. It is not enough, memory is not enough to sustain such a thing.

Common memories are unnecessary, but not a sufficient condition. We must gain and regain our friendships, our trust on a daily basis.

Human relationships are a constant test of allegiance and empathy.

So, finally, can't you remain friends with the narcissist? Divorce him if you must, but why not have him as a friend? Can't you act civilized? Can't you remain on friendly terms with your ex?

The answer is no, let's try to explain why.

Never forget that the narcissist, at least full-fledged one, is nice and friendly. When and only when he wants something from you. Narcissistic supply, help, support, votes, money. Narcissists prepare the ground, manipulate you and then come out with a small favor they need to ask you. And if they fail in being subtle, they blatantly or surreptitiously demand narcissistic supply.

So, they would go like, what did you think about my performance? Or do you think that I really deserved an overpriced horse? Something like that. Whatever it is, when the narcissist re-enters your life or enters your life, he is in it for the profit motive. He needs something.

Number two, don't forget that narcissists feel threatened and they want to neuter the threat by smothering it with oozing pleasantries. And what is the threat? Intimacy. True friendship, compassion and empathy.

Narcissists sometimes try to get close to you or to remain friends with you because they have just been infused with an overdose of narcissistic supply and they feel magnanimous and magnificent and ideally perfect. I want to share it with you. To show magnanimity is a way of flaunting one's impeccable divine credentials. To be an altruist, to be charitable, to be helpful, is also to be omnipotent and godlike. You are an irrelevant prop in this spectacle, a mere receptacle of the narcissist overflowing self-contented infatuation with his false self, with himself.

This sudden beneficence, this sudden magnanimity is transient. Perpetual victims often tend to thank the narcissist for little graces. This is the Stockholm syndrome. Hostages tend to emotionally identify with their captors rather than with the police.

We are grateful to our abusers and tormentors for seizing their hideous activities and allowing us to catch our breath.

Some people say that they prefer to live with narcissists, to cater to their needs and to succumb to their wins because this is the way they have been conditioned to in early childhood.

It is only with narcissists that they feel alive, stimulated and excited. The world glows in technicolor in the presence of a narcissist and decays into sepia colors in the absence of a narcissist.

I see nothing inherently wrong with such an approach.

The test is this. If someone were to constantly humiliate and abuse you verbally using archaic Chinese, would you have felt humiliated and abused? Probably not.

You don't understand archaic Chinese.

Well, it's the same with inverted narcissists or co-dependence. They have been conditioned by narcissistic primary objects like parents, caregivers. They've been conditioned to treat narcissistic abuse as we treat archaic Chinese.

In other words, to turn a deaf ear. They don't hear the abuse. They don't understand it.

This technique is effective in that it allows the inverted narcissist, the narcissist's willing mate, to experience only the good aspects of living with a narcissist.

The narcissist's sparkling intelligence, his constant drama and excitement, the lack of intimacy and emotional attachment, which many people prefer.

Every now and then the narcissist does break into abusive behaviors, but this to the inverted narcissist is archaic Chinese.

So what? Who understands archaic Chinese anyhow?

Stays the inverted narcissist to research.

Still, even with all this rational hyperstructure of why the inverted narcissist should and can and would love to stay with the narcissist, I have one nagging doubt.

If their relationship with the narcissist is so rewarding, why are inverted narcissists, those that I have come across, so unhappy? Why are they so egodystonic? Why are they in such a deep need for help, professional or otherwise? Why do they flood internet support for us? Aren't inverted narcissists simply victims who experience the Stockholm syndrome, who identify with their kidnapper rather than with the police? Aren't they merely hostages who deny their own torment?

I tend to believe so. No one should stay with a narcissist and no story you tell yourself about why you are staying with a narcissist can stand any litmus test.

Be honest with yourselves and love yourselves by denying the narcissist what he seeks and what he seeks is the pleasure of your destruction.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissistic Abuse: From Victim to Survivor in 6 Steps

To move on from being a victim of narcissistic abuse, one must abandon the narcissist and move on. Moving on is a process that involves acknowledging and accepting painful reality, learning from the experience, and deciding to act. It is important to grieve and mourn the loss of trust and love, but perpetual grieving is counterproductive. Forgiveness is important, but it should not be a universal behavior. Human relationships are dynamic and require constant assessment. It is not advisable to remain friends with narcissists, as they are only nice and friendly when they want something. Inverted narcissists who remain in relationships with narcissists are victims who deny their own torment and fail to make the transition to survivors.


Love Your Narcissist? Make Him Stay, Depend on You (Tips, Resolutions)

In a relationship with a narcissist, it is important to know what not to do and what to do to maintain the relationship. Avoid disagreeing, contradicting, or criticizing the narcissist, and never offer intimacy or challenge their self-image. To make the narcissist dependent on you, listen attentively, agree with everything they say, offer something unique, be patient, and be emotionally and financially independent. It is also crucial to know yourself and set personal boundaries, treating yourself with dignity and demanding respect from others. If the relationship becomes abusive, consider going no-contact and ending the relationship for your own well-being.


Narcissist's Insignificant Other: Typical Spouse or Intimate Partner

Living with a narcissist can be exhilarating, but it is always onerous and often harrowing. Surviving a relationship with a narcissist, maintaining a relationship, preserving it, insisting on remaining with a narcissist, indicates therefore the parameters of the personality of the victim, of the partner, of the spouse. The partner, the spouse, and the mate of a narcissist who insists on remaining in the relationship and preserving it is molded by it into the typical narcissistic mate, spouse, or partner. The two, the narcissist and his spouse, collaborate in this dance macabre.


When Narcissists Become Codependents

Living with a narcissist can be harrowing, and the partner of the narcissist is often molded into the typical narcissist mate, partner, or spouse. The partner must have a deficient or distorted grasp of herself and of reality, and the cognitive distortion of the partner of the narcissist is likely to consist of belittling and demeaning herself while aggrandizing and adoring the narcissist. The narcissist is perceived by the partner to be a person in the position to demand these sacrifices from her. The breakup of the relationship with the narcissist is emotionally charged and is the culmination of a long chain of humiliations and subjugation.


Loving My Narcissist HURTS so much!

Loving a narcissist is a painful experience due to their lack of empathy, idealization followed by devaluation, and inability to truly connect with their partner. The narcissist's inaccessibility and indifference can be devastating, as they often discard their partners without any emotional reaction. This experience can leave the partner feeling shattered, questioning their own judgment and ability to trust themselves and others. Ultimately, the pain of loving a narcissist comes from grieving the loss of who they used to be and the potential of what could have been in the relationship.


Your Role in Narcissist’s Shared Fantasy is Why He Hates You (hint: you make him feel himself – and human)

In summary, the narcissist's intimate partner plays a crucial role in the shared fantasy by fulfilling the roles of admirer, playmate, and mother. This allows the narcissist to experience maximal grandiosity and feel safe enough to separate and individuate. However, the intimate partner's presence also leads to the narcissist's self-hatred and inability to maintain meaningful communication with both the outside world and himself. The intimate partner ultimately becomes a threat to the narcissist, as they make the narcissist feel human, which is something the narcissist does not want to be.


Forgive the Narcissist?

To preserve one's mental health, one must abandon the narcissist and move on. Moving on is a process that involves acknowledging and accepting painful reality, learning, grieving, and forgiving. All stages of grieving are necessary, but it is equally bad to get fixated on rage. Forgiving is an important capability, but it should not be a universal indiscriminate believer. Human relationships are dynamic, and we must reassess and reassess our relationships on a daily basis.


Adulterous, Unfaithful Narcissists: Why Cheat and have Extramarital Affairs?

Narcissists cheat on their spouses for several reasons. Firstly, they require a constant supply of attention, admiration, and regulation to regulate their unstable sense of self-worth. Secondly, they are easily bored and require sexual conquests to alleviate this. Thirdly, they maintain an island of stability in their life surrounded by chaos and instability. Fourthly, they feel entitled to anything and everything and reject social conventions. Fifthly, they feel that being married reduces them to the lowest common denominator. Sixthly, they are control freaks and initiate other relationships to reassert control. Finally, they are terrified of intimacy and adultery is an excellent tool to suppress it.


Threesomes: Why Narcissist Encourages Partner’s Infidelity

Narcissists may encourage their partners to be unfaithful, but this is not due to masochism or sadism. Instead, it serves as a betrayal fantasy, loyalty test, dare, validation of the narcissist's negative view of the other sex, and a way for the narcissist to reassert control. The victim's behavior is not coerced, but rather a reaction to the toxic environment created by the narcissist. This leads to atypical behaviors and a sense of alienation for the victim.


Mourning the Narcissist

Victims of narcissistic abuse often struggle to let go of the idealized figure they fell in love with at the beginning of the relationship. When the relationship ends, they experience a cycle of bereavement and grief, including denial, rage, sadness, and acceptance. Denial can take many forms, including pretending the narcissist is still part of their lives or developing persecutory delusions. Rage can be directed at the narcissist, other facilitators of the loss, oneself, or be pervasive. Sadness is a paralyzing sensation that slows one down and enshrouds everything in the grave veil of randomness and chance. Gradual acceptance leads to renewed energy and the narcissist being transformed into a narrative, another life experience, or even a tedious cliché.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy