Are Narcissists Aware that they’re Narcissists?

smbc comicsThis is also why people might want to learn to perhaps unlearn statistics…


This post is for the person who keeps asking me this question.

How aware is a Narcissist of being a Narcissist ?

Bottom line is – I don’t know…


“Everything was empty, dead, mute,
Fallen abandoned, and decayed:
Inconceivably alien, it all…

Belonged to someone else – to no one:
Till your beauty and your poverty
Filled the autumn plentiful with gifts.”

  – Pablo Neruda


I don’t know if…

They’re the Narcissist that you say they are…

I don’t know them.

I don’t know you either.

You don’t know me.

So, I don’t know…

… if you’re a Narcissist asking this question…

… I don’t know if you’re not a Narcissist asking this question…

… asking this question about someone else who you think is a Narcissist…

… are they really a Narcissist?

… what if they’re not a Narcissist, you just think they are?

… what if you’re the Narcissist?

Narcissists often think others are Narcissists…

Narcissists see Narcissists everywhere in everyone…

… and prove it more easily than others who are not Narcissists prove such things.

… especially nowadays, with NPD being a Hot Topic and “Narcissist” being a popular accusation when others aren’t who we want them to be for us…

It’s all about us… why aren’t others complying with that!?! Why are they making everything about them when it’s all about us!?!

We’re all a bit narcissistic… it’s not all bad, but we may be unaware of our own narcissism and too aware of someone else’s.

What if I’m a Narcissist? Have you considered that? Are you aware of that possibility in your awareness equation?

Everyone thinks everyone else is the Narcissist… but who is the actual Narcissist?


Truth_or_Lie by Bennett


What if neither of you is a Narcissist…?

What if NPD is a collective delusion?

Some people question the validity of such a diagnosis.

What if we’re all Narcissists?

Or what if no one is… we just don’t get along because we’re all egotistical?

Is it Narcissism or Egocentricism?

Is that in your awareness of your version of awareness?


“We can stick anything into the fog
and make it look like a ghost
but tonight
let us not become tragedies.”

― Buddy Wakefield


If you’re someone who thinks they’re not a Narcissist who thinks someone else is a Narcissist…

… is the person whom you think is a Narcissist aware that they’re who you think they are?

Are they aware of your awareness?

Are you aware of their awareness… of your awareness or otherwise?

Are you aware of yourself as you expect them to be of themselves… according to your version of who they are?

Are they really who you think they are… ?

Are you really who you think you are?

Are they just proving who they are to you based on your need to confirm your role for them in your life?


to kill a mocking bird



Have you accused them of such a thing?

If you did, did they deny it?

If they denied it… does that make them a Narcissist who is aware of being a Narcissist, yet in denial, gaslighting, manipulating, etc…

Or a Narcissist who isn’t aware of being a Narcissist, yet does those things which you call gaslighting, manipulation, denial, etc…?

or… are you the one doing that?

To them?

To you?


“It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.”
― Bill Watterson


Let’s try something out which is supposed to out a Narcissist or prove that someone is not a Narcissist.

Using that paragon of proof of virtue known as empathy, which Narcissists are in theory supposed to lack, but non-narcissists have a-plenty… to a fault, and often use to separate themselves from others – which empathy in practice does the opposite.

What if… you were in their shoes and they were in yours?

Are they being how you would be if someone accused you of being a Narcissist?

Wouldn’t you deny it…?

Fight the label?

So… if they fight the label…?

Try to prove you wrong about them… ?

How would the person who accused you of being a Narcissist perceive your denial?

See the problem?

Can you empathise… when empathy requires you to be empathic for someone whose side of the story you don’t want to see? Perhaps because it would mess your side of the story up, more than it already is…


perception 101


I think I know why you keep asking me this question – You’re trying to figure your particular situation and relationship with a Narcissist out.

My previous attempts at answering your question haven’t satisfied a deep pit of need within you to get the answer which would perhaps satisfy such a thing.

Reminds me of something… I won’t go there. I’ll stay here instead.

The only answer which will feed that need that satisfies is one… you have to find it for yourself.

I can’t do it for you. My answers to your question… don’t solve anything for you. They solved things for me, but… You’re you and I’m me.

Our awareness of ourselves and others differs.

It is complicated, confusing and a total mind, emotion, body and soul messer-upper… to be made aware of ourselves through the conduit of a relationship with a Narcissist.

Do they know how deeply they tap into our worst fears, our deepest wounds, our no-go areas… They have a way of exposing our bits which we try to hide from ourselves, and from which we decide to remain stubbornly unaware – yet expect others to do what what we don’t? That’s something we may be hiding or hiding from…

Reality as you once knew it is in a distressing limbo. What distresses you the most is your own lack of willingness to see what hides inside of you. What you don’t want exposed and has been exposed by a lumbering, clumsy, Narcissist.

To be aware of your bits of which you’d rather be unaware… are they aware of the awareness they’ve forced upon you!?!

You were you… and that was your reality. What was that reality and identity based upon? Are you aware of that?


“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky


Then along came a ‘Narcissist’… and suddenly you’ve been made aware of yourself in a way which has shattered everything you thought was real about you.

They made you painfully aware of what you never wanted to be aware of about yourself…

You hate them for doing that to you (you hate yourself for a million reasons… one of those is because of them, and perhaps all of those have now become about them) and you need them to be a certain way for you to… what?

Are you aware of what that ‘what’ is?

Because they made you painfully aware… they are now not allowed to be unaware. They have to feel your pain. Their pain. Which is your pain.

Welcome to narcissistic hell where everyone, including non-narcissists, behave like Narcissists.

Yet you expect them to be more aware of the ‘what’ which drives them than you are of the ‘what’ which drives you?

Even though you suspect they’re less able than you are of being aware… which is partly why you asked the question about their awareness… or did something else prompt that… do you know why this question is one you keep asking? Are you aware of that?

Yet you still want them to know about themselves what you don’t know about yourself?

Why? Are you aware of the why?


confirmation bias syndrome


If they are aware of being a Narcissist… then what? What happens to your awareness based on their awareness?

If they’re evil… does that make you good? Or are you the one who makes them evil so that you can be good?

Does them being aware make your being unaware of them… okay?

Why were you unaware of them?

Usually us being unaware of them, of Narcissists, is due to us being typically human. We hope for the best and ignore the rest, or wish for the worst to bet well after a temporary illness.

And we cut others slack… because we need that kind of thing too.

We may paint ourselves as saints… but we’re aware that the picture is Photoshopped. Or maybe we believe what we see even after we’ve Photoshopped it. Live your dream, sacrifice reality – kill anyone who forces you to face it as anything other than how you want it to be. For the dream to become real… get rid of the witnesses who knew you before you became ‘dream’ you.

Did I mention narcissistic hell which allows anyone to enter, like Hotel California.



Does them being messed up, excuse your mess… because you were unconscious of it. And your think they were conscious of it?

You do realise Narcissists are humans like you are… we all want to run away from being human, whatever we are.

They may be messed up… but are you as tidy as you think you are, or as you think you could have been if it hadn’t been for them, or as you could be if… they would admit that all your problems with you are due to them, not you?

They’re evil according to your good…

Who is aware and who is not aware?


good versus bad


You relive the same thing over and over again.

You try to escape, but each escape attempt lands you right back at square one – stuck in a Narcissist’s nightmare.

Is it your nightmare or theirs?

A bit of both, maybe?

You try to turn back time using the power of hindsight… why?

To make things perfect? Ideal? To make things perfect and ideal for you according to you?

That’s quite narcissistic, isn’t it?

You don’t know where you are anymore, or who you are, or what to do, or… anything really.

They screwed that up for you… it’s all their fault!

Isn’t that what Narcissists do, blame others for everything that’s wrong in their life?

Is it different when you do it, from them when they do it?

Perhaps it is different because you were unaware and now are aware… and your awareness hurts like hell!

Is that why you need them to be aware even if they are not? So they can hurt as you hurt, feel the hell which awareness brings? Don’t you think they’d avoid that kind of pain and therefore prefer to remain unaware? Isn’t that what Narcissists do? Escape reality by blocking it out with being unaware of it?


we see what we want


Your Narcissist took your reality and made scrambled eggs out of it. Those scrambled eggs don’t taste the way such a thing is supposed to taste, and you’re worried you’re going to get Salmonella. Maybe you’ve already had a case of it and barely survived.

You’re hungry, starving… but you’re not going to eat that. But what else is there to eat for you to survive?

You’ve been replaying your relationship out over and over again. Trying to make sense out of it – a sense which helps you deal with the mess inside and outside.

Each time you learn a bit more about NPD, about Narcissists, you review your relationship with them, the interactions you’ve had with them, and… you’re trying to make sense of something which refuses to make any logical sense at all.

Plus… you want to exonerate yourself from something far more sinister, self-blaming and shaming – why you refused to be aware no matter how much awareness knocked at your door.

Memories are made of this…




… and can be faulty. A mess. Cognitive dissonance. Refusing to know what we know because it makes us feel… things we don’t want to feel. Too vulnerable, stupid, etc. Suppressed. Abject terror. Repressed. Don’t go there. Terror. Preferring our version of events or not. Illusions. Delusions. About us, about others. What is real and what is false. What is truth or lies.

Maybe everything is both real and unreal. What do we accept. What do we reject. Perhaps based on want rather than on need. We want this but we get that, we don’t want that. A wish rather than wish granted… granted in a not how we imagined it way due to us not being specific. We wished without being careful and hoped to get away with it rather than dealing with consequences. We need and want someone to blame who is not us. Life is full of traps and escape routes. Which one do we favour?

Do Narcissists know what they’re like or are they completely oblivious?

Do we know what we are like or are we oblivious?

Are they deliberately doing what they have done to you, and are still doing to you, or do they do what they do without being aware of how painful it is to you?

Who is the hero and who is the villain? According to whom? The victors write the story of history, but are they telling the truth? Do we care? Do we care to be aware?

Do you know what you do to others, and are still doing to them, or do you do what you do without being aware of how it impacts others?

Are they aware or are they not aware?

Are you aware or are you not aware?

Why did you get involved with a Narcissist?

How can you be sure that they’re the Narcissist?

Maybe you’re the Narcissist.

Narcissists often think they’re the victim of Narcissists and are surrounded by Narcissists – and rarely question that perspective. If they do, and wonder if perhaps they’re the problem and not others… that question will soon fade away, be lost under a pile of supportive bias.


the storm - Elizabeth Edwards


I don’t know.

I could be a Narcissist.

If I am… am I aware of it?

Are you aware of it?

Think about it.

Being aware is painful…


pain:suffering - murakami


Beware… be aware…

Take care of yourself…

… stop trying to take care of others or getting them to take care of you…

The healing you’re seeking… that is in the wound.

That wound is yours.

Whether it was caused by a Narcissist or anyone else… it’s your now.

Are you aware of it?


“And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”
And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast”

– Hotel California lyrics.




  1. I Love it! It’s always so refreshing to read your posts… And yes, it is so tempting to point a finger outwards forgetting that our 3 other fingers are pointing right back at us. We want to blame the narcissist for doing a number on us, for being so cold and calculating and heartless… And we forget that we played a part in it (in the case of romantic relationships) by letting the narcissist in! The Vampire analogy comes to mind… You have to invite them in.

    But we want to bury our heads in the sand because we don’t want to examine too closely the reasons why WE let them in in the first place… We want to lay all the blame firmly at the narcissist door step. What does that make us? We want the narcissist to examine and acknowledge his/her darkness yet we adamantly refuse to examine the possibility that we may possess darkness (wounding) of our own… I just love the way you’ve highlighted this. 🙂

    My immediate ex-narc, I think he knows what he is… He lead me to research narcissism because he accused me of “attributing all manner of narcissistic traits” on him. Also, early in the relationship, he had talked about being accused of “fighting dirty and being self righteous.” He also talked about his moody withdrawals. I thought nothing of it at the time. I was too busy thinking about ‘me’ and how wonderful it was that ‘I’ had found “the one”. What does that say about me? 🙂

    I played a role in it. Whether I was aware of it or not. I opened the door and invited in the vampire. And yes, the ensuing events have actually forced me to examine buried parts of myself that I had avoided to examine. I think accepting this was my first step to healing… I still have a million steps to walk but that one step made all the difference.

    Thanks for posting this. 🙂


    • Thank you 🙂

      The Vampire analogy is appropriate. We certainly tend to experience narcissists as vampires, so it suits our side of the narcissist equation. But do they see themselves as vampires?

      IMO, based on the few that I’ve known, they seem to experience themselves more as a Van Helsing, a slightly tortured yet very special being who sees monsters in all of us, and sets out to either kill us, cure us, or save us by killing us with their cure. If they fix us, then that fixes what’s wrong with them, because we’re the problem, not them, even when they say they have a problem – they mean everyone else is the problem.

      My father was more aware of himself than my mother. He knew that he was manipulative, and it was deliberate. He even gave me lessons in it. He often warned people about himself, and waited for them not to heed the warning, usually because they wanted to believe he was who they needed him to be for them. He liked to point out how easy people were to manipulate because they did most of the work for you. Kind of like what salesmen say about sales – let people sell themselves on what you’re selling. If you make it special, people will convince themselves to buy it. My mother thought she was a saint, and claimed not to have a manipulative bone in her body. He was an Overt narcissist, she was a Covert narcissist. Whether my father would have accepted the label of narcissist, I don’t know, it wouldn’t have bothered him much if someone had called him a narcissist as for him it would have been perceived as a compliment and a sign that they were scared and in awe of him, so they’d have shown him their cards. I think he would have preferred something less ordinary, like Machiavellian (he loved The Prince).

      I’ve had a narcissistic friend ask if I thought they were a narcissist, because a therapist suggested they might be – which made me suddenly realise they were. But their moment of awareness was a brief spark in a sea of delusion which was soon put out. The therapist was dismissed as being useless, and so was the moment of awareness.

      I’ve been watching Being Human (the US version of the UK TV series) recently. A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost live together, they all want to be human, and it’s a very human mess no matter how supernatural it is. Some of the humans they meet want to be supernatural rather than human. The one thing which they all have in common is a hunger for something which they think they’re missing and sort of keep expecting someone else to give to them because they don’t know that they already have it.

      We have what we need, the answers we seek, within us. Sometimes we have to go far from ourselves to find that out. The old philosophers knew what they were talking about, it just takes us a while to find that out for ourselves by experiencing life up close and personal in all its forms.

      There’s nothing like having a relationship with a narcissist to shatter our illusions, bring us home, make us face some truths, to become more aware of ourselves. It can be painful to be that aware of yourself. It’s like giving birth to yourself without anesthesia.

      To be aware of ourselves hurts. It can also be healing. But you have to accept the pain to get the good stuff. Most narcissists want the good stuff without the pain.

      Whether a narcissist is aware of themselves as being a narcissist is less relevant than our own awareness is, especially our awareness of ourselves, of all the strings we’re pulling, all the stories we’re telling, all the complexities within.

      We expect them to know what they’re doing, yet do we know what we’re doing? Or do we really only want them to be aware of what we believe they’ve done to us? But how aware are we willing to be about what we’ve done to ourselves?

      You sound like you’re deeply self aware, and digging deeper. It’s a brave journey to take, but also a very liberating one. Being that self aware is a very fulfilling experience. It changes your relationship with yourself, which changes your relationships with others. It’s very empowering and also offers the kind of gentleness which ripples through everything. Being human becomes an enriching experience. And you help others to accept themselves because you accept yourself, and you accept them. That’s how we find the ‘one’. Being being us as we are 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • “If you make it special, people will convince themselves to buy it.” I like that… I think it sums up the narcissist experience for me. He made it special and I convinced myself to buy… Hmmm, and he also loved The Prince.

        Lol at your dad giving you lessons in manipulation. That must have been interesting 🙂


    • Thank you 🙂

      Yep, I’m still on that road forever too in my psychedelic brokedown bus. It’s about the journey, not the destination… besides there are min destinations along the way. The less we worry about others, the more we can enjoy their company or not, and not worry about that. It’s good to know yourself, be aware, even if sometimes you just want to leave yourself on the side of the road 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant post again Ursula. Thank you… I think.. in many ways and maze. This one pretty much sums up every question I’ve posed to you. Confuzzeling.. yet makes sense, just like my experience with a narc, and my reality right now. You sound like the Oracle, in the Matrix. I hate that shite! But it makes more sense than the other shite. This experience has definitely brought up all the muck and quagmire in my life.. a hell I just don’t want to walk through.. I’m hoping acceptance will be the exit.

    Hotel California is supposedly (rumored, not confirmed) a song about prison. I don’t know if you knew this, but extremely fitting. “The prison always locks from the inside.” -unknown I’ve wanted to share this poem with you. I wish I could take credit for it, but the author is unknown. I think this would be a fitting time and place to share.

    You said we were soul mates
    And I wanted to believe
    In the story being weaved.
    But while gazing
    Into the pools of my eyes
    You needed the reflection of love
    To fill the abyss within
    The insatiable darkness
    Consuming the light given
    Offering only faint shadows
    In return.

    Yet your twisted vines
    Took root in my heart
    And I had been groomed
    To be a gardener
    Of hollow and wounded landscapes.

    So I clung
    To every glimmer of sun
    That seemed to struggle through clouds
    That never wept
    And never fully thawed
    The frost from the soil
    Yet still tantalized
    When I stood on the edge of defeat
    With the allusion
    Of what the seeds could become.

    And I kept tilling the earth
    Exuding warmth with my efforts
    Securing fragile tendrils
    With caring limbs
    Giving nourishment
    From my internal spring.

    But the promise of buds
    Did not flower
    From your stunted boughs
    For the parched ground
    Could not be slaked
    And the thirsty spasms of your vines
    Pierced me with their thorns
    But you did not notice I was bleeding
    My life slowly seeping
    Until I was a shadow of my self.

    They say love heals all wounds
    And this is a lesson hard won.
    I am no longer tending your landscape.
    I am tending my garden instead.

    Codependency is the reasoning for all my struggles, matched and mirrored by a narcs need for codependency. Thank you for the awareness Ursula.


    • Thank you for sharing 🙂

      So, if codependency is the reason for all your struggles, what’s the answer? There’s a flip side to everything, and sometimes it’s the answer. Not always, but often enough.

      Find your story, tell, read it, understand it… see what happens when you do!


      • Good question. As the poem says, “I am tending my garden instead.” ..and trying to figure out what and how to write the rest of my story.

        I thought about this post for a good part of the day yesterday. My ex used to accuse me of everything she was doing.. Cheating lying, and even being a sociopath. It made me reflection upon myself. The difference is, I never cheated, not a pathological liar or sociopath, but her view still made me reflect upon myself through her eyes. The difference is, I feel a very strong sense of remorse and sorrow for the pain she’s in, the pain I’ve caused her, and for the pain I’ve caused to others, This experience has definitely made me question everything. My reality, self, and relationships. I honestly just want to go back to sleep, and wake up to the way everything was, or I thought it was. Narcish, but true.

        Maybe she is sorry and loved me, in her own way, but I still gave her far too many chances. I should have loved myself more, but this has always been a tough task for me. I guess this made us quite the pair. I guess I would pose the question, “Are they aware,” because it would give me some hope. A hope she is capable of knowing and giving love. A hope that all of this just isn’t a mind fuck everything thing. A hope that I don’t want to accept letting go of unfortunately. I can now only hope, to be able thank her for the awareness, someday. ..I think.. I hope.


  3. Omg. Yes, relating to a clinical narcissist is the ultimate route to being way, way more painfully self aware than you ever wanted to. Peels away every layer of pretence you’ve ever accumulated. You realise that you cannot possibly “win” this. At the same time, the day and moment you realise they are the clinical ones, not you, it’s an absolvement of personal responsibility that makes you feel like you got to heaven.
    Keep the skin off. And oh, don’t see your narcissist again. Life’s too short to go through purgatory twice.
    And I got to your blog because I just realised that Hotel California is a textbook description of a narcissist’s hell hole. I’ve been to one often enough to know it.


    • Thank you very much for sharing 🙂

      It’s insightful to find stories of narcissists in popular culture. It can sometimes be more illuminating than reading about narcissists as it can capture the subtleties and the sensory part of the experience.

      There are a surprising amount of songs which when listened to in a certain way do seem to capture the experience of being in a relationship with a narcissist. Some definitely seem inspired by a relationship with a narcissist. Sara Bareilles’ King of Anything is definitely about a narcissist. And I’d hazard a guess that The Snake by Al Wilson is too.

      There are also many films and a few TV shows which reflect it very poignantly and succinctly. The narcissist as a character and muse is quite common in fiction. There’s an excellent TV show which can be found online – Web Therapy – with Lisa Kudrow playing the part of a very narcissistic person. If you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist it can be difficult to watch at times, but the humor brought to it is actually rather helpful.

      As hellish as it is to be in a relationship with a narcissist, it can also give us access to a new way of experiencing ourselves, others, and life. The pain is excruciating but also liberating. It requires a lot of self-reflection, self-honesty and understanding – most of all of ourselves. We do come out of it stronger and hopefully wiser.

      Take good care of yourself!


  4. This post is amazing. After a year of consulting clinicians, reading a dozen books, and exhaustively searching the internet to try and find some kind of “understanding” of my situation, you have eloquently summarized what I already suspected. My innate inquisitive nature and the knowledge and experience of being a registered nurse has lead me down a torturous path without a destination. The more I try to understand, the more questions I have that cannot be answered. The more I learn, the more I wish I didn’t know. My narc and I were together for 9 years, engaged for the last 5 of them. He moved 700 miles to be with me, his children were grown but mine were still in school. We were blessed with good health, wonderful families, and six figure incomes, what more could anyone ever ask for? Then I lost my job 3 years ago and he convinced me to turn down a $75,000 severance package. We argued fiercely because I wanted to accept it and move on, but he insisted that I should litigate and that I had a million dollar case. He finally persuaded me, he dealt with those matters in his job everyday, so I trusted him. I was actually grateful since my grandmother became terminally ill and it gave me the opportunity to take care of her so that she could stay in her home for another year before having to move to a facility. I was spending more time with my children, and was glad he persuaded me. About a year ago, we had an argument about finances after I asked him the password for a bank account. I brushed it off to him having a bad day and tried again a week later. He offered every excuse possible so that I couldn’t access the accounts ( I must have forgotten the password, it’s the heightened security necessary these days, etc). He asked what I was looking for, and would be more than happy to go to the bank if necessary to straighten things out. “You have enough to worry about” he said, “let me handle it”. That was the beginning of my nightmare. I started investigating all of the finances and found out that everything, and I mean everything, was now in his name only. When I questioned him at first I did so as to not come across as accusatory. He gave me all kinds of explanations and I didn’t argue with him, even when I knew he was lying. Like an idiot, I thought I would approach him with more facts hoping that he would eventually come up with some logical reason to explain his actions, and I would not have to face the fact that he had stolen every dollar I had ever saved. Fast forward. The more I asked, the more defensive he became. The next thing I knew, I was an ungrateful bitch, a thief, a liar, and on and on…..

    Fortunately we have other property ( or he does I should say), and I kicked him out. It’s been 4 months and I have to beg for my own money, which I am certain gives him great pleasure. The words and questions you wrote are the same that are going around in my head every hour of every day. “If I do X, am I no better than him?”, “Can he possibly be aware of what he’s doing?”, ” He is sick, isn’t is my responsibility to help him?”, “How could I have been so stupid?”. I avoid contact except for when I have to get money. He ties to bait me with texts and emails, but I usually don’t even read them because I know they will be hurtful. Where I am really struggling is, how can he get away with taking all of my money? There is more than $120,000 that I can easily prove. It’s not just me, I still have a 17 and 18 year old at home. We never married and there is no common law protection in my state. It’s apparently not illegal to for him to close “our” accounts and open others in his name only.

    Thanks again, and any insight would be sincerely appreciated.


    • Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Going by what you have shared of your narc it sounds as though his actions regarding the money are more about being in control than about fleecing you of your savings. The fact that he’s giving you money when you ask for it is a ‘good’ sign where narcs are concerned – that’s no consolation for having to ‘beg’ for your own hard earned savings which he should not have taken out of your account in the first place but when dealing with a narcissist you have to learn to think differently about what’s going on and what they’re doing (and have done) because their way of thinking is twisted and complicated.

      Narcissists can be very weird about money. Money isn’t just money to them. Money is power, prestige, social status, and so much more. It is ego. A source of control – having control is something which narcissists are obsessed about. If you have all of the money then others are dependent upon you, they can’t leave or abandon you – a big fear for narcissists – you have control over them and if you have control over them then you can control your environment, your status, how others perceive you, thus you can control yourself and your reality.

      It sounds as though he has an old-fashioned approach to relationships and what it means to be the man in the relationship. He believes that it is his place to take care of the finances (and thus take care of you). Since he’s a narcissist, he took care of the finances in typical narc style which means he did it without discussing it with you and kept what he did hidden from you (probably because he knew you would object and he didn’t want to deal with your objections). He squirreled all the money away into accounts where only he could touch it, and then he felt safe… Until the day you questioned him and his house of cards began to fall apart.

      When dealing with a narcissist, especially where finances are concerned, it’s important to understand what they think they’re doing – what they think they’re doing and what you think they’re doing may be at significant odds. Your view of what they’re doing may be the more logical one but logic isn’t particularly useful when trying to deal with a narcissist.

      Him calling you ‘an ungrateful bitch’ – that’s revealing about his perception of his actions. He sees what he did as being ‘for your sake’. It’s not but he sees it that way and once a narcissist sees something a certain way they tend to stick with that view regardless of proof or evidence to the contrary. He’s going to make you beg for money until you ‘realise’ that everything he did, he did it ‘for you’. He is desperate for your ‘gratitude’. He won’t care that his view and his actions are illogical and bordering on criminal (in certain places under certain circumstances they would be criminal). The more you ‘fight’ him on this the more entrenched he’ll become, the more you argue with a narc the more defensive they become, and the more difficult he’ll be about giving you your own money – in his eyes that money is not yours, it’s his, and he’s being ‘generous’ giving it to you especially now that you’re being so ‘unreasonable’ (in the eyes of a narc everyone else is the problem, everyone else is being unreasonable, illogical, difficult, stupid, mean, etc. They’re the ‘hero’ and everyone else is the ‘villain’.

      To deal with a narcissist, especially one who is holding you ‘hostage’, you need to learn to change your attitude towards what you’re doing. In other words don’t see asking him for your money as ‘begging’ because this makes you resentful, makes you feel bad about yourself and your position – and you’re actually in a stronger position than you know. Yes, you were in a stronger position before he took all of your savings, but that’s the past and you need to not blame yourself for letting him take your savings. You didn’t know he was going to do that (be careful of listening to the blame game which hindsight plays with you).

      In answer to – How could I have been so stupid? – you weren’t stupid, you were human. What you did only became stupid because of what has happened. If things had worked out you wouldn’t be asking yourself that question nor would you see yourself as stupid, in fact you might even be congratulating yourself on trusting someone who takes good care of your finances, and pooling your resources would have seemed like a good idea.

      In answer to – He is sick, isn’t is my responsibility to help him? – This is a difficult question to ask and answer because it’s about perception and also about ego. Your perceive him as being sick, and being a nurse your natural reaction and training is to cure the sick. However if the ‘sick’ you’re referring to is NPD – those with the disorder don’t think they’re the ones with the ‘sickness’ and aren’t the ones who need ‘help’ unless it is ‘help’ in dealing with all those people around them who don’t understand them and who are ‘sick’. Chances are he does not see himself as being ‘sick’ which means he doesn’t need your help, and if he’s a typical narc he’ll probably think you’re the one who is ‘sick and needs help’. He may even see himself as trying to help you because you’re sick which is why he took control of your finances and is still controlling them. If helping him helps you, then maybe this responsibility to help him is worth exploring and investing in, however what you think would be helping him may actually makes things worse for you and hinder you getting what you want.

      In answer to – Can he possibly be aware of what he’s doing? – the ‘awareness’ of a narcissist is an issue which many people debate and sometimes those debating it get into hot and heavy arguments about it. It depends on the type of narcissist as to how ‘aware’ they are about what they are doing – Overt narcissists tend to be more aware of their actions, Covert narcissists tend to be oblivious. A narcissist’s ‘awareness’ differs from what non-narcissists consider ‘awareness’ to be.

      The average narcissist has the awareness of a precocious child – there’s a lot about them which is child-like. When dealing with them it is often useful to treat them as though they were a child (but an adult-child rather than a child-child).

      One of the best articles I’ve read on Narcissism is this one – – it goes in depth into the many facets of the issue.

      Be careful about assuming that he’s aware of what he’s doing according to your awareness of it. He may be aware but not the way that you’re aware. Don’t apply your own perception to the perception of a narcissist – to understand a narcissist you have to think with your own narcissistic tendencies (and exaggerate them).

      In answer to – If I do X, am I no better than him? – this kind of thinking will cause all sorts of extra problems for you because it relies on assumption. Assumption is often based in ego and ego tends to lead us astray into realms of superiority and inferiority, comparison between ‘us’ versus ‘them’, and takes us into narc territory. If considering doing ‘X’ don’t ask if it makes you ‘better’ or ‘worse’ or whatever than him, ask yourself if this action is productive and beneficial for you. Will it get you the results which you’re seeking or not?

      Sometimes doing to a narc what a narc does to you is a useful tactic, but it does depend on why you’re doing it. The intention, motivation and goal of it.

      It’s also worth asking yourself if doing ‘X’ will be beneficial to the narc – sometimes doing something which benefits them will benefit you, and doing something which doesn’t benefit them will hurt you because if the narc is hurting they invariably lash out – they’re always passing on their pain to others. However if you benefit them they might pass on some benefits especially if they get an ego boost by doing it.

      If he thinks he’s the Mother Teresa of generosity when he gives you money he’ll have more incentive for giving you money than if every time he gives you money he feels like you hate him for it. Narcissists are influenced by feedback – they need others to inform them about themselves because they can’t self-reflect. So be aware of what reflection he gets about himself from you. Positive feedback makes a narcissists more prone to being ‘generous’ towards you because they want more of your positive feedback as this makes them feel good about themselves.

      This is worth a read – – as it offers some good pointers for dealing with a narcissist.

      You have more power in this situation than you feel that you do – it just requires a rethink on your part about your position and power status. You’re very intelligent (so stop thinking you’ve been stupid), use your intelligence wisely.

      Take good care of yourself!


      • Thank you so much for your in depth and heartfelt reply, I apologize for the delayed response. So much of what you said makes so much sense to me it’s crazy! I was modifying my approach, and it seemed to be pretty effective. It’s unbelievable how the narcissist lives off of feedback and perceived praise from others. Then a couple of weeks ago he went out of town for about 10 days (business and an add on trip to see his family), which I was not aware of beforehand. Of course, the timing coincided with “back to school” expenses, some routine bills, etc. I tried to reach him, but was trying not to be a royal pain since he doesn’t get to visit his family often, and after a few days I decided to go ahead and pay for what I needed to. He knew I received a statement with the new acct info, so I went ahead and paid the bills from that account. Nothing exorbitant, all accounted for receipts and all. Holy shit! I am still dealing with the repercussions (or wrath) of that decision today! What has happened since is incomprehensible to me, so here are the actions or responses, or whatever you might call them since I told him what I did:

        -He filed a police report against me for theft
        -He filed something similar at the bank and then left the bank because they disagreed with him
        -He changed all of the locks to everything except my house, which he attempted to do but I filed a civil protection order first
        -He reversed or disputed previously agreed upon charges, debits, you name it
        -He turned off any utilities in his name, even those paid in full
        -He took my son’s vehicle (in narc’s name of course), and I wait every day for him to do the same with mine
        -My credit score went from approximately 750 at the beginning of August to 495 today due to returned payments on about 10 accounts

        There’s probably more, but I’m sure that’s enough. Last week I got a great offer for an interim nursing assignment, and should have started today. The day after the offer, the recruiter called to let me know that I lost the opportunity because of something negative on my background check. Of course I know what that is now, although there are no formal charges.

        I cannot understand how this can be happening. I am paralyzed, I feel like I can’t breathe, I have spent the last several days in a fetal position on the couch. I know it’s the anxiety causing much of this, but I literally am struggling to believe that anyone can act this way towards anyone, let alone someone they were supposed to love. The detective he filed the report with came to me for my side before potentially arresting me, thank God! But when I asked him about my rights, he said “it sounds like you’re in the middle of an ugly divorce without being married, so you don’t have rights”. I’m pretty sure that is exactly what he said since I can hear the echo in my head loud and clear, 24/7.

        I am sorry for blabbering on. I needed to vent because I don’t know what else to do. Disbelief is not an option, so I need to stop denying that this can be happening, because it is. I don’t think he is aware that the link between his complaints equals job disqualification for me, but I cannot muster up the strategy I would need for that conversation just yet. With much appreciated help from my siblings I have transferred utilities, food, gas, etc. for at least a month I hope.

        Thank you for offering this forum, your experience, knowledge, and all of the resources I never knew I would need. I mean that sincerely. I don’t know what to do just yet, but I knew I could come here and not feel alone

        Many thanks,


        • Thank you 🙂

          Your ex reminds me a lot of my father – he too played endless twisted games where money was concerned and laid traps for you to fall in. He’d give with one hand but as soon as you took what was offered he’d take it all away with the other hand.

          Your ex is obsessed with money and for him money = power/control over others. Money is tied up in a complex manner with his ego and identity. It’s also the one sure means of control which he can exert over you.

          I know that feeling of paralysis well. It’s part of the PTSD which comes with being in a relationship with a narcissist. If you haven’t researched PTSD connected with narcissistic abuse, I’d advise that you do – it can help to explain what you’re experiencing even if it doesn’t fix anything.

          Sounds like the detective investigating the ‘theft’ is familiar with people using the police to exact ‘revenge’ and ‘control’ over their ex by making bogus claims. I’m surprised that he said that you have no rights without being married as this isn’t exactly correct. There is Common Law Marriage and you should check with a legal expert to see if this might apply to your situation – it varies according to where you live.

          Here’s some info about it –

          How can someone act this way towards someone they once claimed (and may still claim) to love – easily if they’re a narcissist as they’re completely focused on how they feel and what they think is going on. Chances are your ex thinks that what he’s doing to you is nothing compared to what you’ve done/are doing to him – and a narcissist invariably has an incredibly detailed and delusional list of all the crimes you’ve committed and are committing against them. The ‘worst crime’ which you committed against him was ending your relationship and kicking him out of HIS home with you. Narcissists tend to go nuclear when they’ve been ‘rejected and abandoned’. The only thing they think about is the pain you’ve caused them and how to make you feel as bad as they do. He’s also trying to prove a point to you – that he’s the one who is good with money and you’re the one who is not. He’ll keep doing what he’s doing until he gets what he’s after but what’s he’s after may devolve the angrier and more in pain he gets and feels.

          I wouldn’t put it past him knowing that he scuppered your chances of getting that job – if he knew you were interviewing for a job he sounds like he might be the sort of person who would call up your prospective employers and tell them terrible things about you.

          You left him and that’s a red flag to a bull when dealing with a narcissist. He can’t allow you to get away with that or from him. If you get a job that makes you independent financially and that would mean his last hold over you is gone. He is not ready to let you go.

          If you haven’t already then get legal advice. Get some legal financial advice too. Find out what power and control you have in this situation according to the law. If he’s using the law against you then you need to know more about it than he does.

          You may be able to fight him on these matters in a court of law, but if you do he will most likely fight back and cause you to use up your resources in your fight against him. This fight will be what keeps you attached to him and if that’s a goal for him then he’ll keep creating legal complications.

          If the property which you’re living in is in his name he will find ways of making it difficult for you to keep living there – it might be an idea to consider moving somewhere where he is not in control (you may have to rely on friends and family for awhile). If it is in your name then make sure nothing connected to it is in his name.

          You need to create some boundaries for yourself – narcissists have none for themselves and trespass all over the place because they think they own everything and everyone, and his trespassing all over you has made you retreat into foetal position. You need to feel safe and secure – as he’s trying to make everything feel unsafe and insecure for you so that you run back to him begging for his protection and forgiveness (narcs tend to see themselves as the hero of the story, their villainous behaviour in our eyes is heroic in theirs – it’s our fault they’re doing to us what they’re doing and it hurts them more than it hurts us).

          Once you have established some boundaries for yourself (and anything can work as a boundary – give yourself a routine which comforts you) and feel a bit more secure, you may be able to set some boundaries for him too – a good lawyer may also be able to help you do this with him. But you need a good lawyer, one who is used to dealing with people like your ex and who is also good at keeping things clear, concise and logical. You’ll need the level head for when things get too much for you.

          One thing to remember and keep reminding yourself about – his behaviour is not your responsibility. You did not make him do what he’s doing. This is not your fault. Be careful of the tendency to blame yourself because the narcissist blames you and they’re crafty when it comes to coming up with stories as their goal is to never be the one at fault, to blame.

          Your ex is terrified of being powerless – hence he’s making you feel so powerless. Narcissists always make others suffer their wound. He’s afraid of being without power, and of being without money. What he’s doing to you is a version of his worst nightmare.

          Take care of yourself and give yourself plenty of time and space to process things – you will get through this and come out of it. You’re strong and capable.


          • Thank you for your advice. My state dissolved common law in the 1990s but there are some civil domestic partnership laws that may be helpful. He has tied up every single dollar at this point, so I can’t get an attorney at the moment, but I am in the process of filing a small claims case myself now that I finally was able to get up off of the couch:/

            Your comment about blame and responsibility hits home. I keep ending up in this place where the only answer is it that it has to be my fault. I must have made him do this because it doesn’t make any sense that anyone would do this otherwise, he said it’s my fault and even gave me a spreadsheet filled with calculations to prove it, etc. The “sane” me knows it’s not my fault, but the “terrified 3am” me seems to believe otherwise. You posted a quote today that prompted me to remember to respond to this post, and it sums up exactly what is in my head:

            I wanted to talk about it.
            Damn it.
            I wanted to scream.
            I wanted to yell.
            I wanted to shout out about it.
            But all I could do was whisper “I’m fine.”

            How do you talk about it? “Hi Dad, I just want to let you know that Scott is a narcissist and the last 9 years of my life have been a lie. Oh-and BTW he stole everything I ever owned too.” I tried discussing with my brother once, and I got the sense that not only did he not understand what I was saying, but ended up thinking I was nuts too. Even though most of my children are of adult age, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to discuss with them. And then there’s my friends. That’s not an option, I alienated all of them 9 years ago when he came into my life. They are all wonderful and caring people, but if I call out of the blue and dump all of this shit on them I would be just like him. So when anyone asks I whisper that I’m “just fine” because I don’t know what else I can say.

            The world, once I became aware of the devastation in being involved with a narcissist, is an ugly and dark one. I realize things about people I never wanted to know and the pain is almost constant. The strange thing is it’s not like familiar heartaches most of us have experienced. I can understand that people fall out of love, but this I don’t get. I never learned how to respond when you realize that there was no love to begin with,so I am still trying to figure that one out. For now it’s “one day at a time” as they say.

            Thank you Ursula.


            • Talking about what you’ve been through starts with yourself – if you can explain it to yourself then you can explain it to others, if it confuses you then it will confuse others.

              The truth is often the hardest to speak and share because we have to accept it ourselves first, and accepting it ourselves can be a challenge. There’s pride, shame, regret, guilt, and many layers of pain which often become obstacles in our path to accepting. It’s important to remember how difficult it was and still is for you to come to terms with what this man has done to you and your life when telling others about it. On hearing your story they may feel helpless to help you, they may be angry at themselves for not seeing what was happening, and their attitude towards you and your story may reflect how it is making them feel, the difficulty they are having in processing the information.

              You brother probably didn’t think that you were nuts, but maybe what you told him made him feel like he was going nuts, he experienced cognitive dissonance, and so to protect himself, hang on to sanity, he did what we all tend to do under those circumstances and rejected the information as it was too much for him to deal with.

              If for most of those 9 years you’ve told a different story to others, to your family, about your relationship with this man – which many people in abusive relationships do, they put up a front and paint an ‘everything is fine’ picture – then people will have become used to your previous version of the story and will find it difficult to believe what you’re saying now particularly if it contradicts everything you’ve been saying for those 9 years. It will take them awhile to process the change of story and the reasons for it – just as it has taken you awhile to process the change of reality.

              Sometimes the best approach is the simplest – most people will understand that you’re saying you’re fine because you don’t know what else to say, that you’re not fine and because you’re not fine you can’t find the words to express what you long to share, that your whole picture of reality has turned upside down, the whole thing is overwhelming for you and you’re afraid of overwhelming them and being rejected by them for it, because this is an experience most people have and have had too in their own life. There are probably times when your dad and your brother have said that they’re fine because they didn’t know how to share their own stories with you, with others. They may not have experienced what it’s like to be in a relationship with a narcissist, but they’ll know the pain of having a dream turn into a nightmare, of thinking reality was one thing and then finding out that reality was very different.

              Connect with them where it’s easy for them to connect with you, then gradually work with them to help them understand your story. You know what it’s like to find your own story unbelievable, you’re still trying to understand and believe it yourself – use that personal experience to understand how others are affected by your story.

              Narcissists confuse everything and everyone, it’s part of the disorder.

              I just did a quick search online to find advice on how to talk to others about your experience of being in an abusive relationship and most of the results were about ‘How to tell if you’re in an abusive relationship’ rather than how to tell others about it. I did find this article, it’s for young adults, but much of the advice is good (didn’t like the one where they advised blaming others, your parents, for why you didn’t tell them as that is similar to what an abuser does to others).


              This I thought was an excellent point – What’s been happening will difficult, sometimes nearly impossible, for the people around you to wrap their head around.

              Be gentle with yourself, be gentle with others understanding narcissists is confusing for everyone, dealing with how abuse affects you and how it affects others is painful for everyone.

              Take care of yourself!


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