Inflating Your Emotional Airbag for the Narcissist

During the entire time I was interacting with the narcissist he was feeding me with a seemingly endless supply of his sob stories, lies and excuses. Every single time he presented me with one of his countless tales of woe, I inflated my emotional airbag for him. I felt deeply for him, and his sorrows became my own sorrows. Even after he had already disappointed me hundreds of times, I still felt sorry for him and his supposedly tragic life. This compassion made it nearly impossible for me to be angry with him, to show resistance against his inconsiderate and uncommitted way of treating me, and his fondness for creating drama and a feeling of insecurity. I was always too busy trying to ease his pain, showing compassion and feeling miserable for the “complicated situation” he was in that I never really paid attention to the pain he inflicted upon me through his inconsistency, triangulation and ambiguity.

Narcissists are particularly talented at presenting us with sob stories. After having listened to some of them, we are convinced that their life is indeed very tragic, that they have become victims of unlucky circumstances and that they have been dealt some really harsh blows. We also start to believe in their conviction that none of the drama they find themselves in is a result of their faults or flaws. Everything bad that happens to them always seems to be beyond their responsibility. As we are usually very compassionate beings that are deeply affected by the pain of others, we genuinely feel for them. Their pain becomes our pain and we begin to suffer from having to listen to their endless supplies of sob stories. The narcissists can’t seem to lead happy and unburdened lives – and we feel deeply for the bad luck they supposedly have to deal with. As we are so busy trying to absorb their pain, we often forget to be compassionate towards ourselves. We feel so sorry for their pain, that we neglect looking after ourselves, and therefore allow them to emotionally abuse us without showing resistance. More often than not, their sob stories are exaggerated fabrications – something they present us with to create drama, to make themselves seem interesting, to makes us feel compassion towards them and to get us hooked. They know that our hearts go out to those in pain, and they coldly make use of that knowledge. Some of their tales of woe might indeed be true, and they never get tired of wallowing in their pain, pointing out over and over again how miserable their lives are – and they are drawing us down with them.

While I was interacting with the narcissist, I was constantly faced with his pain and unhappiness. It was affecting me to such an enormous extent that I was getting more and more exhausted and completely lost touch with myself. I was so busy racking my brain over his “miserable life situation” that there was no more energy left to think about my own wishes, desires and ambitions. I kept feeling sorry for him, and forgot to look after myself in the process. Whenever we spent time together, he fed me with his never-ending sob stories, and I never stopped feeling compassionate. My heart went out to him when he told me he had always been a loner, spending most of the time alone playing guitar in college. He told me he didn’t have a girlfriend until he reached the age of 23 because he was not attractive back then and because of his strict religious upbringing. He repeatedly told me how messed up his childhood was and that his parents were absolutely unavailable – which had the effect that he was the one who had to bring up his little sister. He complained about the fact that he had always been too worried about other people’s feelings, that he was tired of being the good guy because it often led him to having to do damage control on women hurt from previous relationships with assholes. Listening to his tragic tales I immediately inflated my emotional airbag. I felt deeply for him, I was sorry for his tragic fate, and I was convinced he was a blameless victim. It never would have occured to me that he was one of the assholes he tried to distance himself from.

On a daily basis I was informed how unhappy he was in Germany, how unstimulating his job was, how powerless he felt because he didn’t know any German, how he couldn’t take it any longer. His unhappiness deeply affected me and I tried to show up possibilities for him. I gave him advice on how to get ahead, on how to improve his situation. He never really took my advice seriously. He enjoyed being the miserable victim too much to try to improve his situation. However, even though he never took action to improve his “miserable living situation”, I still felt sorry for him. It never crossed my mind that it was his responsibility to bring about change, and that there were indeed plenty of opportunities to do so. I still thought of him as a blameless victim of very unlucky circumstances and my emotional airbag stayed inflated.

My willingness to show compassion took on such self-sacrificing proportions that I still felt sorry for him after I had become a victim of his manipulation and triangulation. He repeatedly pushed me aside and cancelled on me to keep his exgirlfriend satisfied. He kept telling me about her – he basically shoved her presence in my face. His changing attitude towards her was driving me insane and the fact that she always seemed to have priority over me was breaking my heart. However, even though I was deeply hurt and confused, I still felt sorry for him whenever he complained about how she was turning his life into a mess, and how living with her had become unbearable due to the fact that she was mentally imbalanced. When he finally told her about me, she threatened to throw him out of her apartment. By then I had been turned into a secret for weeks and it was about time that he put an end to all the secrecy. However, I still felt so bad about myself for supposedly putting him in such a difficult situation that I apologized a hundred times for it.

When his exgirlfriend tried to call me for the very first time, I answered the phone because I didn’t know it was her. I talked to her for about an hour and was made very much aware of the fact that the narcissist was feeding both of us with an endless supply of lies. However, instead of being angry because of all the lies and deceit, I was far more worried that I had said things to her on the phone that would get him into trouble. It sounds absolutely insane, but at that time my emotional airbag was so fully inflated that instead of standing up for myself, I was too busy worrying about him. My compassion for him was so endless, that I failed to realize that he was disrespecting me, using me, and manipulating me with his lies, drama and triangulation. I had been repeatedly humiliated and played like a puppet on a string – and still my only concern was for his well-being.

Once he sent me a long email, telling me how he much he suffered due to his exgilfriend. He pointed out that she was harrassing him with tons of hateful text messages and that he couldn’t take it much longer. Only a few days earlier he had again blown me off because of her, and now he was complaining about her hatefulness and malignity. Instead of standing up for myself and telling him that it was his own responsibilty to solve the problem and that he could have moved out of her apartment ages ago, I felt sorry for him. I even offered that he could stay at my place if he liked to. A short time later I again had to realize that he was making a fool of me. Only one day after presenting me with his complaints and after calling her “mentally imbalanced”, he posted very intimate looking pictures of the two of them on Google Plus. When I confronted him about it, he told me he was just trying to make a nice gesture. But why did he have to make nice gestures towards a person who was supposedly turning his life into a mess through her hatefulness and totalitarian wishes? I had answered his complaints with nothing but compassion, and in the end I felt like a fool. Just as it had been the case numerous times before, his sob stories about his exgirlfriend were only meant to secure him of my compassion and to play the role of the blameless victim. I inflated my emotional airbag for him and got slapped in the face for it once more. He played both of us like puppets on a string, and I refused to see it because I was too busy feeling sorry for his “unbearable living situation” and for the fact that his exgirlfriend treated him with nothing but contempt.

It took me a very long time to realize that through my absolute focus on his supposed misery and unhappiness, I was neglecting myself and allowed him to turn me into a fool. I had been let down and disappointed countless times, and I still felt more sorry for him than for me. My unconditional compassion for him led me to take every single one of his sob stories to heart and to believe that he was indeed a blameless victim of unlucky circumstances. I was deeply affected by his somber mood and constant depression and genuinely wanted to make him feel better. However, he was obviously never interested in improving his living situation or his mood. He enjoyed dishing up his tragic sob stories and being the victim too much to take positive action. I can’t find another explanation for the fact that he never even tried to get ahead in Germany, or to move out of his exgirlfriend’s apartment. For each and every single one of their problems there is often a relatively easy solution available and it drives you crazy that they don’t seem to be interested in taking the opportunity. We measure them by our own standards, and therefore we can’t really grasp the idea that they are not interested in solving their problems. They want to continue rubbing them in our faces. In the end I nearly lost my mind because of it.

During the entire time I was in a relationship with him I blindly believed that his life was indeed miserable and felt genuinely sorry for him. This absolute compassion makes it nearly impossible to see behind the facade and to realize that he is not the blameless victim, but an emotional abuser – using his sob stories and tragic tales of woe to keep you hooked. The people he claims are turning his life into a mess are more often than not victims of his emotional abuse, ambiguity and inconsistency. They are “hysteric” and “mentally imbalanced” because he made them this way through his shameful behavior. I wish I could have seen all of this while I was still being with him. It is heartbreaking to offer so much genuine compassion to someone who is just playing with your feelings and manipulating you. He never had any use for my affection and consideration and, as a result, all of the energy, dedication and affection invested in him was just wasted. I believed I could have a positive influence on his life and help him get out of his misery. I was gravely mistaken: His sob stories were just one of the tools of his narcissistic manipulation and her never was interested in finding salvation. Being a loving and compassionate person I was an easy prey for him, and had to pay dearly for my naivety and blind self-sacrifice.

Narcissistic Behavior 13: Monopolizes Conversations

Narcissists not only tend to make all the decisions in their relationships to others, but they also monopolize every conversation and turn you into a silent listener. They never seem to get tired to talk about their achievements, their problems, their life story, their jobs, and they don’t really seem to be that interested in anything we might have to contribute to the conversation. While we might, at the beginning, still try to participate actively in our conversations with the narcissists, we soon begin to abandon the attempts and accept our roles as silent listeners, nodding along smiling to whatever they have to say. The narcissists’ tendency to be the dominant part in every conversation might seem like a harmless little quirk – especially when compared to such harmful modes of behavior as their deceitfulness, inconsistency, triangulation and manipulation. However, after a certain amount of time, being degraded to silent listener can also take its toll on us. We get used to swallow our own contributions and begin to feel that we have nothing important to say. We might even end up feeling neglected and losing touch with ourselves as a consequence of not being taken seriously.

Some might argue that we are partly to blame if we allow others to be so dominant, because we apparently just don’t try hard enough to bring ourselves into the conversations. This might partly be true for some of us. Especially codependent people and people pleasers accept their role as passive listeners without much resistance. We usually have low self-esteem and as a consequence tend to believe that what we have to say is not as important, interesting or relevant. Furthermore, out of a deep wish of being polite and of pleasing the narcissists, we don’t dare to interrupt their never-ending flow to bring in our own thoughts. We are convinced that whatever they have to say is much more interesting than anything we could contribute to the conversation. We also soon come to the conclusion that it makes the narcissists really happy to talk about themselves and to have found such patient listeners in us. Because we want the narcissists to be satisfied, we stoically accept the role given to us and maybe cling to the faint hope that one day they will run out of topics and then our turn will come. As is the case with so many hopes we nourish with regard to the narcissists, we at one point have to let go of them. I have come to realize that narcissists never run out of topics and never get tired of talking about themselves. Our turn will likely never come.

The narcissist I dated monopolized almost every conversation we ever had (apart maybe from the ones on our first date). It would be unfair to suggest that all he ever talked about was himself, as he could indeed also talk very enthusiastically about a bunch of other topics. However, he clearly enjoyed presenting his life story over and over again. During the few months the two of us dated, I learned a lot about his unhappy childhood, his job, his college years, his existence as a lone wolf, his achievements, his talents, his relations to his exgirlfriend, sister, parents etc.

At the beginning I was thrilled by it. I was an ardent listener, convinced that everything he had to say was interesting, important and special. I could listen to him for hours and never get bored. I was used to being the dominant part in my conversations and interactions with others and it somehow felt nice to be the listener for once. Listening to his extraordinary stories, I got the feeling that whatever I would have to contribute to the conversation would seem boring, trivial and uninteresting in comparison. As a result, I often kept my mouth shut and contented myself with being the passive listener. However, after a few months I began feeling frustrated as a result of my conviction that I had nothing interesting to say and that I was passive and boring. I also was frustrated because I sensed that the narcissist was not really interested in anything I had to say, and that I would likely never become an active participant in our conversations. Because I got so used to swallow my own thoughts and views, I began to lose touch with myself. I was so obsessed with keeping the narcissist satisfied that I completely pushed aside my own wishes. At times, I felt as if I had completely lost my voice. Being degraded to the role of passive listener can after some time have you doubt your own value.

There was one instance where I seriously began to doubt my role within my relationship to the narcissists. We met at a café in the afternoon for a few hours and I didn’t get to speak more than a few isolated words during all that time. He talked for hours without pausing for more than a few seconds, and I don’t think he even asked me one single question. It was an eye-opening experience. On earlier occasions I had always accepted my role as passive listener without questioning it or feeling neglected. Now, for the first time, I began to realize that I was allowing him to silence me and that almost all I ever did was nodding along smiling to whatever he had to say. Of course, this realization also made me question the genuineness of his interest and affections for me. It’s not that I never tried to bring myself into the conversation. However, I soon began to be convinced that whatever I had to say was not nearly as interesting as the stories he told me. I therefore lost the courage to open my mouth and began to feel frustrated about being silent and uninteresting. He didn’t really seem to mind.

At times he would encourage me to talk more and assure me that he felt really bad about monopolizing our conversations. He said that I had lots of interesting and intelligent things to say and he would therefore want me to contribute more to our conversations. However, I began to realize that this interest in anything I might have to say was rather short-lived and superficial and that he would take over the dominant part again after only a short time. He was not only dominant when it came to our conversations, but also in every single part of our interaction. When he was at my place, he took my computer to show me youtube videos – often a seemingly endless stream of them. He seldomly asked whether I was even interested in seeing them or whether I had something I would want to show to him. After a certain amount of time, I often got tired of watching those videos. However, out of my desire of keeping him satisfied, I never protested and instead watched whatever he had to show to me.

The same behavioral pattern could also be discerned in our email correspondence. He almost never answered any of the questions I had asked him, but instead rambled on about completely different topics. Whenever I dared to complain about feeling low, he never addressed the issue but instead diverted the topic back to himself, complaining about how low he felt. He then often went on for pages about the reasons for his sadness, and about the many problems and crises he had to deal with at the moment. He would give me detailed written accounts of his daily routines, even telling me the most trivial things – such as for example that he went to the dentist (of course with a detailed description of what the dentist thought about his teeth). Of course he would sometimes ask how I was doing and assure me that he wanted to know what I was up to. However, when I told him he never would show any real interest in it and often even completely ignore it. When I, for example, told him that I had finally found a topic for my Master’s Thesis, it took days for him to even ask me what my topic was. I began to feel really frustrated about his apparent lack of interest in anything I did or had to say.

Whenever he talked about himself, he tended to do so in very favorable terms. He said, for example, that he could sing pretty well, that he knew he was a good teacher, that his students adored him, that certain women had crushes on him, that lots of people depend on him (his sister, his exgirlfriend) and that he was very good at motivating others to make the best out of their lives. In the beginning, I was impressed. However, it didn’t take long for me to become tired and skeptical about this kind of talk. He also seemed to be in constant need of positive affirmation. He wanted me to comment on his clothes or his art. He liked to make collages and would show many of them to me, almost forcing me to comment on them. I loved to look at his art. However, I soon also began to understand that he, first and foremost, showed it to me out of a deep need for positive affirmation – and that was also what he expected to get from me.

I could ramble on for pages, but I think you all got the gist: Being with a narcissist can be a frustrating and self-alienating experience. Everything always seems to be about them: They are the dominant agent in almost every aspect of our relationship with them, making all the decisions, dicating the terms, and monopolizing conversations. We begin to accept our part as silent and passive listeners and in the process we lose touch with ourselves. We want to keep them satisfied and as a result swallow our own thoughts, wishes and needs. We end up feeling frustrated due to our passivity and develop the belief that we simply have nothing interesting and intelligent to say, and that no one is really interested in whatever we would have to contribute. The narcissists might fake interest at times, but we soon begin to realize that it is short-lived and superficial, and that all they are looking for is someone who is willing to listen to whatever they have to say. We smile and nod along for months, and our self-esteem and emotional well-being shrinks. If someone just loves to talk a lot (and especially about himself) we should interpret this behavior as a clear red flag and be very alarmed. Having to fight for attention is not healthy and doesn’t do our self-esteem any good. In a healthy relationship, our partner is genuinely interested in what we might have to say and will offer us enough opportunities to bring ourselves into the conversation. We should never allow someone to silence us. We also have interesting things to say and no one should have the power to make us believe otherwise.

Narcissistic Behavior 11: Lack of Integrity/Inconsistency

As you might have already noticed, many of the characteristics of narcissistic behavior are interconnected or even overlapping to some degree. The next narcissistic mode of behavior I will focus on (lack of integrity) is closely connected to their hypocrisy and the fact that they love blowing hot and cold. Narcissists often seem to change their opinions, plans and wishes on a daily basis. Their actions almost never match their words: They say one thing, and then do something that totally contradicts their words. For those involved with them this inconsistency and lack of integrity is frustrating and confusing. It is completely impossible to find the rationale behind their behavior and to figure them out. However, we never stop trying to make sense of them, because we so desperately want things to work out. Since this endeavor is bound to fail, we waste a lot of energy and dedication and in the end have to face the depressing realization that everything was in vain.

The most painful aspect of their inconsistency and lack of integrity is that they often make grand promises and propose possible plans for the future and then don’t stick to them. We tend to believe in their promises (because we so desperately want them to be true) and consequently we are often left completely shattered and despaired once we have to accept that they never intended to act on them. Disappointment is a constant and fixed component of our relationship to the narcissist. After a while our hearts are nearly broken beyond repair from all the setbacks and broken promises we had to endure. We have to come to terms with the painful truth that we just cannot rely on the narcissists. Their behavior is so inconsistent and lacking in integrity that we can never believe in their words and we completely lose trust in them. The heartbreaking truth, however, is that we still do not have the intention to leave them. We often accept their shady behavior, we swallow the pain, we allow them to go on breaking our hearts, because we cannot stand the thought of losing them and being on our own again. In the end we have sacrificed our well-being for nothing, as our endurance and patience will not be rewarded.

The narcissist I dated completely lacked integrity and was absolutely inconsistent and unreliable. He broke thousands of promises, he almost never stuck to his words and he changed his views on a daily basis. Being with him was one of the most frustrating and exhausting experiences I ever made in my entire life. My heart got broken every single time he broke another one of his promises and in the end I was on the brink of a break-down because I just couldn’t handle any more disappointments. I know that I am partly to blame for what happened to me. I should have given him the benefit of the doubt at the beginning, but then I should have opted out after having realized that he would likely never act consistently and give me the commitment, honesty and affection that I was looking for. I allowed him to break my heart over and over again, but after a brief period of intense despair, I would swallow the pain and go on as if nothing had happened. I always clung to the hope that one day he would stick to his promises and things would turn out the way I wanted them to. Even though there was no basis for daring to have hope, I held on to him with patience and endurance, because I couldn’t stand the thought of losing him. The months I spent with him felt like a test of how much I could endure before finally breaking down. It was a time of intense self-sacrifice, pain and heartbreak.

His lack of integrity and his inconsisteny became apparent in every aspect of his behavior. The most painful aspect was – as I have already pointed out – that he just never kept his promises. He told me he would spend another weekend with me and my family and even cook dinner for all of us, he told me he would move out of his exgirlfriend’s apartment, he told me he would look for job opportunities in Germany so that he could stay there – and not once did he stick to his words. He said that spending time with me was very important for him and that he would always make every effort to be able to be with me. In reality, I often didn’t get to see him in weeks, because he was either “sick” or “too busy”. At the beginning of our relationship he told me he would always treat me with respect and that he always wanted me to feel save and protected. However, no one ever disrespected me the way he did: He took me for granted, pushed me aside repeatedly and turned me into an emotional wreck.

His actions almost never matched his words: He told me he wanted to spend time with me on the weekend, and then just ignored my messages when the time had come. He insisted that his exgirlfriend was driving him crazy and sucking the life out of him, because she was hysteric and mentally imbalanced. A short time later he would again call her his best friend and go to concerts or on city trips with her. He wasn’t even consistent when it came to the most basic aspects of his lifestyle. He told people that he was a vegan. However, whenever I spent time with him he consistently ate meat (sometimes even large amounts of it). Of course he always had an excuse (“I needed the protein”). On various occasions he complained about our work colleagues, insisting that they were all “stupid motherfuckers” and that he would one day say it to their faces. As you can probably imagine, ne never did. He just went on complaining about them to me and then acted in a very subdued and nice way when he was around them.

So to cut a long story short, he just completely lacked integrity. He probably wasn’t even aware of this flaw in his behavior. From what I could gather from our conversations and interactions, he thought of himself as being very honest, genuine and straight – a model human being. He was surrounded by an aura of integrity and sublimity that his actions just never matched. This was of course very confusing for me. I was so taken in by this aura, that his contrasting actions were like a slap in the face every single time. The narcissist I dated had already occupied such a large spot in my heart that I was repeatedly willing to forgive and forget. I so desperately wanted things to work out between us, that the only thing I ever focused on were his words and grand promises. I so wanted them to be true that I was keen to deny and blend out his inconsistent and disppointing actions. Whenever I was once more disappointed and let down, I tried to focus all my attention on his words and keep my hopes alive. I allowed things to go on for far too long because he was always very good at keeping me going through his sweet-talk and false promises.

The narcissists lack of integrity and inconsistency is harmful for those involved with them on many different leves. We suffer because we cannot make sense of their behavior. We try to find the rationale behind the fact that they almost never stick to their words, and more often than not, we seek the faults in our own behavior and think that there must be something wrong with us. Furthermore, the continuous disappointmens that come our way as a result of their lack of integrity are sucking the life out of us. As we keep believing in their false promises and sweet words, we allow them to disappoint us over and over again. We so desperately want things to work out that we forgive and forget and cling to a naive hope that one day the narcissist’s actions will match his words. This will likely never happen. We go on enduring the disappointments with endurance and patience until we reach the point where we can’t take any more of it and are on the brink of a break-down. Our relationships to them are therefore characterized by extreme self-sacrifice and pain. In the end, we often have to admit defeat and come to terms with the fact that all our efforts have been in vain. As I have mentioned so many times before, it would be better to notice the red flags early and find the strength to opt out. Things will likely not work out no matter how hard we try. We can save ourselves a lot of drama and heartbreak if we just let go. Every healthy and working relationship needs two partners who are willing to treat each other with honesty, integrity and commitment. If one of them is just unwilling to do so, the relationship is doomed.

Narcissistic Behavior 9: Loves Being Surrounded By Drama

Narcissists thrive on drama and there is always a sense of impending doom surrounding them. For them everything is an emergency, a matter of life and death, or a painful and insoluble dilemma. They can make a drama out of nearly every situation and their lives therefore resemble bad soap operas. For most of these situations there would often be an easy solution available, but they are not interested in dissolving the drama and behaving rationally. They enjoy surrounding themselves with melodrama too much to be interested in finding solutions. For those involved with narcissists, their tendency to conjure up dramatic situations is very exhausting and confusing. We usually try to avoid drama and try to find rational solutions for any problem and conflict that comes our way. We therefore find it hard to deal with someone who turns every little triviality into a matter of life and death and rejects every single one of our solutions to their problems. In the end, we are drawn into their mess, and the never-ending sense of impending doom is slowly sucking the life out of us.

The frustrating and harmful thing about their fondness for drama is that they are not only giving themselves a hard time, but that they also turn others into protagonists in their mess. Because we are constantly drawn into their craziness, we nearly go insane and feel as if we are completely losing touch with ourselves. The narcissists don’t care that they are hurting us and turning us into emotional wrecks. They are too busy looking after themselves to take notice of our emotions. And even if they realize that we are falling apart, they often lack the empathy to care about it.

The narcissist I dated was particularly talented at making mountains out of molehills. For him nearly everything was a source of frustration and he never got tired of cursing his bad luck. I’m more than willing to admit that his living situation was not exactly comfortable, and that he found himself in a time of insecurity and uncertainty when he met me. However, almost none of his problems were insoluble and it was always within his power to make his situation more comfortable and less dramatic. Instead of spending all his energy on complaining how unsatisfying his job was and how much he hated his life in Germany, he could have spend it on finding a different job. He never even made a slight effort to do so, but kept complaining nevertheless.

As I have mentioned lots of times before, his exgirlfriend was also a constant source of drama – the worst and most exhausting kind of drama imaginable. Because she was unable to let him go, she turned my relationship with him into a mess. He constantly complained about her behavior, but never did anything to change the situation. He could have moved out of her apartment, he could have set up clear boundaries, he could have stopped treating both of us ambiguously – he never did any of these things. He seemed to enjoy the drama that this triangle produced, and the attention bestowed on him by both of us, too much to dissolve all the craziness.

There was one particular instance when his penchant for drama became particularly evident: We were having lunch together, when his exgirlfriend pestered him with tons of text messages and calls. She wanted to know where we were so that she could find us and join us. Of course, none of us was interested in meeting with her. Instead of accepting it, she wrote tons of messages in which she harrassed him and threatened that she would find us anyway. I was feeling more than uncomfortable. He could have just turned his phone off or at least told her to shut up and leave us alone. He enjoyed the drama too much to do anything about it. He pretended to be frustrated and saddened as hell by her behavior. However, if that had really been the case, he would have set up some boundaries.

Another constant source of drama was his insecurity about his future. During the time we were dating, he tried to figure out whether he would stay in Germany or go back to the U.S. He changed his mind on the issue on a daily basis and kept informing me about his changing plans. One day, he would tell me he wanted to make things work in Germany. A short time later, he suddenly was determined to go back to the U.S. – only to change his mind again a few days later. I was greatly affected by his fickleness and I felt as if I was riding an endless emotional rollercoaster. Instead of making up his mind once and for all, and saving everyone a lot of drama and heartbreak, he seemed to enjoy the drama that came with all the insecurity. When he finally booked his flight back to the U.S. I was devastated, but also strangely relieved – at least the uncertainty finally had an end and I could stop wasting energy on figuring out whether he intended to stay or not.

Every little aspect of his life was full of drama: When he got sick, he made a big deal out of it and described every little symptom in great detail. After he had met or talked to his sister, he complained about how mean she was and how strained their relationship had become. If he didn’t complain about his relationship to either his exgirlfriend or his sister, he would give me accounts of his dramatic, unhappy childhood, and how it had irreversibly affected him. Everything was always difficult, unbearable, unsatisfying, depressing and hopeless. However, he never attempted to make his life more comfortable and to find solutions for his dilemmas.

He even managed to be dramatic in every single one of his emails. He often sounded very vague, ambiguous or mysterious. Sometimes he sent emails consisting of a single sentence (or even a single word!), and those single sentences were so vague and ambiguous that I often had to ask what he had meant by it. He had a tendency to use grand words and to sound like some depressed poet, tying together strings of sentences that created a sense of melodrama. More often than not, I felt extremely confused and frustrated after reading one of his text messages or emails. He used every single channel of communication as a stage for his drama, and I got very tired of it after some time.

The most frustrating aspect of being with a narcissist with a penchant for drama is that more often than not, there are easy solutions available for most of the dilemmas they are facing and keep complaining about. However, they enjoy drama so much that they not only wallow in existing problems, but also make up dramatic situations whenever possible. They are incredibly talented at making mountains out of molehills and acting as if everything was a matter of life and death. After being with them over a longer period of time, you nearly go insane: You desperately want to present them with solutions to their problems. You are convinced that finding solutions is what they want, because they keep complaining about how dramatic their life is. However, as they constantly ignore our advice and don’t do anything at all to make their lives more comfortable, we get confused. We can’t make sense of their behavior, because we don’t get the appeal that drama has for them. In the end, we are completely frustrated because our rational desire to avoid drama doesn’t resonate with them.

We often don’t get that drama is exactly what they are seeking, and consequently are racking our brains trying to find the rationale behind their behavior. It would never occur to us that they are fond of drama, as we usually try to avoid it as good as we can. We are not only confused by their behavior, but also often end up becoming part of their dramas as well. Whether we like it or not, we are deeply affected by their behavior and are turned into protagonists of their melodramas. I often felt as if I was a character in a bad soap opera while dealing with the annoying triangle made up of the narcissist, his exgirlfriend and me. He could have spared me a lot of pain and agony, had he put an end to all the drama and ambiguity. He was, however, never really interested in my emotional well-being and never cared enough to be considerate. As long as he could stage his little dramas, nothing else really mattered. I’m glad I no longer have to deal with any of it. I’m sure I couldn’t have taken it much longer, as I was on the brink of breaking down as a result of his selfish games. I have finally learned my lesson: If you are in a healthy and loving relationship, you are not deliberately exposed to drama and pain, but shielded from it.

Narcissistic Behavior 6: Accuses You of Emotions He Is Provoking

Another narcissistic mode of behavior that has the tendency to drive those interacting with them insane, is accusing others for exactly those emotions that they are provoking in the first place. Consequently, they can treat us like shit and we will be the ones feeling guilty in the end. This strategy is particularly harmful for the victims of narcissistic abuse, because they constantly feel that their feelings are unreasonable and not valid, when they are in fact more than justified. Instead of trusting our feelings and acting accordingly, we interpret them as sings of weakness, try to push them aside and, as a result, allow the narcissists to go on treating us with disrespect. Our low self-esteem makes us readily absorb all the guilt and the blame that the narcissist is trying to install in us. We don’t believe in our own feelings and instincts and consequently we readily believe the narcissist is right when he accuses of of being “too needy”, “too clingy”, “too jealous” etc. – feelings that are provoked by his ambiguous, dishonest and manipulative behavior.

During the time I was dating Mr. Unavailable I was constantly on edge, struggling with uncertainty, feeling gloomy, worthless, unappreciated and neglected. As if this wasn’t enough, I was also feeling guilty for every single one of these feelings. I was convinced that I only felt that strongly, because I was too needy, got too attached too fast, and allowed myself to have too many hopes right from the beginning. I blamed my codependency for everything and readily absorbed all the blame for not feeling well. It is certainly true that I tend to feel too strongly right from the start and that I get attached very easily. I am therefore also to blame for the intensity of my feelings. However, looking at the way I was treated, the uncertainty and ambiguity I was exposed to for months, it does not really come as a surprise that I felt so extremely low. Everyone receiving such a treatment would have eventually given in to depression and a feeling of worthlessness. Therefore, it isn’t enough to just blame your codependency and dismiss your feelings as wrong. We also have to see that we have gone through an emotional rollercoaster, that our feelings have been played with, and that we endured a lot of dishonesty and ambiguity. Our frustration, sadness and desperation are therefore valid feelings, that are not only caused by our codependency, but by the treatment we receive from the narcissists.

Narcissists, however, deny their responsibility for the fact that we are slowly disintegrating. Our dependency, feeling of islation and jealousy are for them only a product of our own weakness and we are to blame for feeling so low. Because we don’t believe in our own instincts and rationality, we readily believe their assessment of the situation. So in the end, we not only feel low, but we blame ourselves for everything. We end up feeling guilty and completely disempowered. As we don’t trust in our feelings of being treated unfairly, we don’t act on them and stay in the miserable and unhealthy relationship we are in.

There were times in my relationship with Mr. Unavailable in which I felt as if I was completely losing my mind. On some deeper level I always knew that I was not treated fairly and respectfully, and I knew that I had every reason to doubt his supposed feelings of care and affection. However, I never trusted my feelings, but pushed them aside as being a product of my codependency and therefore not valid. I rarely dared to give voice to how much I suffered, because I thought that my feelings were a sign of weakness and dependency. The narcissist I dated contributed to my tendency to shift all the blame to myself. Whenever I couldn’t take it any longer and told him how unhappy I was, he would dismiss my concerns and tell me I was just overreacting, clingy or being unreasonable. I immediately felt guilty for having said anything at all. I believed in his assessment without a doubt and was angry for allowing myself a moment of weakness.

Once, after I hadn’t heard from him for several days and he had ignored all of my calls and messages, I was so worried and feeling so low that I nearly got insane. I lay in bed all day with agonizing thoughts in my head, shaking all over and unable to do even the simplest tasks. I was convinced something had happened to him, or that he had decided to just stop communicating with me. I was racking my brain, feeling completely paralysed. He didn’t even know I was feeling so strongly. The only thing I wrote him was that I was really worried. When I finally heard back from him, he told me I was overreacting. As so many times before, I readily accepted the blame and hated myself for feeling so strongly. In the course of dating Mr. Unavailable, I was often on the brink of losing my mind due to his ambiguity, fickleness and dishonesty. Nagging feelings of uncertainty, doubt and unhappiness were constant companions during my interactions with him. Whenever I dared to complain, I was dismissed as being clingy, overreacting and as allowing myself to have too high hopes too fast. It was depressing as hell: I did not only feel like shit, but accepted all the blame for it. Shifting the blame to myself prevented me from questioning his shady behavior and it never really occurred to me that it would be better to leave him.

Being with a narcissist consequently really makes you lose touch with yourself. You are constantly treated with neglect, distance, ambiguity and dishonesty. They toy with our emotions and manipulate us in very shameful ways. It really drives you insane and turns you into a mess. Because we are not even getting the bare minumum of what we need and hope for, we feel low and depressed. We never feel fulfilled and happy, we always want more than what we get, because the narcissist is unable to give us what we need. He is unwilling to accept blame for not treating us fairly, but instead makes us feel guilty for wanting more. In the end, we not only feel depressed, lonely and neglected, but we also accept the full blame for feeling this way. We think of ourselves as being “too clingy”, “too needy”, “too dependent” and as “wanting too much too fast”, instead of accepting our feelings as valid and as a product of the shady behavior we receive. We end up settling for less than we deserve, because we believe that our (normal!) expectations are too high.

It is therefore always healthier to believe in your own instincts and feelings. Whenever you feel as if you don’t get what you deserve and that your partner is not dedicated and affectionate, you should act on those feelings instead of feeling guilty for them. It is not needy or a sign of weakness if you expect to be treated with affection, care and respect. It is what we deserve and we shouldn’t allow a narcissist to convince us that we are wrong. We should never feel guilty for feeling strongly as a result of not getting the bare minimum of what we wish for and of what we deserve. If we nearly lose our minds because of all the ambiguities and dishonesties we find ourselves surrounded with in our relationship, we are not to blame, but the narcissists who expose us to all this madness. Accepting this fact will hopefully enable us to free us from unhealthy relationships and to have more trust in ourselves and the validity of our own feelings.

Narcissistic Behavior 5: Lies and Excuses

Another thing that narcissists apparently just love to do is feed you with lies and excuses. They always seem to have an excuse up their sleeves with which they try to explain their shady behavior, and they never get tired of using lies and subterfuges to keep us at a distance. I lost track of how many times I have been blown off, let down and disappointed by Mr. Unavailable, but for every single time he had an excuse or some dubious explanation to offer. The fact that things just never seemed to be his fault, prevented me from getting angry at him. To shield me from pain, I made an effort to believe in his excuses. I never wanted to admit to myself that he might be trying to keep me at bay, that he was not interested in letting me come too close.

Once the relationship is over and we are trying to process what has happened, we become more and more aware of the many instances in which the narcissists were dishonest with us. We finally begin to accept that we have allowed them to get away with far too many lies, and that we let them disrespect us for too long. We are partly to blame for it: In our unwillingness to reflect on their shady behavior and look deeper at the causes behind it, we allow them to repeatedly trample all over us. We readily accept their excuses, because we don’t want to see that they might be lying to us. Even if we suspect that they might be dishonest, it does not take us long to leave our qualms behind us and go on as if nothing happened. We have a penchant for dismissing their dishonesty and deceit far too quickly. The narcissists learn from our behavior that they can easily get away with their lies and excuses and they shamelessly exploit this insight.

For a long time I was also very reluctant to believe that the narcissist I dated might be lying to me and using excuses to keep me at a distance. I was too naive and gullible, too intent on shielding myself from pain, that I allowed myself to throroughly question his behavior. I had occasional doubts, and often felt pushed aside and neglected, but I always managed to keep those troubling thoughts from taking up too much space in my head. Looking at the relationship in retrospect, I am no longer able to determine when I was lied to and when I was told the truth, and it is shocking to face this realization. It puts a deep shadow on my entire interaction with him, and it leads me to question every single one of his words and actions.

I can’t give an inventory of the many excuses and dishonesties I was confronted with during my relationship with Mr. Unavailable. However, I will try to name a few examples: Mr. Unavailable had a tendency to cancel or postpone our dates. He was often either sick, too exhausted or overworked to meet with me. At some point of our relationship he announced he was no longer able to give me phone calls, because his exgirlfriend didn’t want him to call me (they shared some dubious phone plan and she got the shared phone bill). From that moment on, our chief channel of communication was via email. However, he often didn’t write for days and then offered the explanation that his computer battery was not working properly.

Once he cancelled on me in the very last minute and told me that to make up for it, he would spend time with me on the following weekend. However, when I tried to contact him on said weekend, he just didn’t answer my calls and ignored every single one of my messages. I heard back from him on Sunday evening and he denied my accusations that he ignored me on purpose so he didn’t have to follow through with his promise to spend time with me. He said he had been running errands all weekend and was just too busy. This excuse was so lame that not even I was willing to believe it, and from that moment on my trust in him was irreversibly damaged. The realization that he had ignored me to get out of meeting with me was shocking and painful and made me feel unwanted. From then on, whenever we had agreed on a time and place to meet, I was already suspecting that he would surely blow me off again. This was very often indeed the case. I realized that I just couldn’t trust him anymore, that I was constantly expecting to be disappointed, and this insight was saddening me.

One time he promised he would spend another weekend at my place, that we would go for long walks and watch movies together, and that he would even cook for my entire family. I was eagerly looking forward to it. As you can imagine, it never happened. He told me he had to stay at home with his exgirlfriend because she was hysteric. The are no words to describe the all-encompassing disappointment and sadness I felt.

Things got even worse, once his exgilfriend had gotten hold of my cell phone number (it appeared on their phone bill). She gave me a call and during our conversation I learned that he lied to her as well. He often denied that he was meeting me, telling her he had to go to work, to run errands etc. He told her that he had met me at a work party – another blatant lie. He told her he was no longer seeing me, when we were still regularly seeing each other. When I confronted him with the fact that he was denying our relationship towards his exgirlfriend, he offered the excuse that it was his only choice if he wanted to avoid trouble. I felt made a fool of and pushed aside, but that never was a problem for him. He always seemed to care a lot more about not hurting the feelings of his exgilfriend than about not hurting mine.

After our relationship had already ended, he presented me with the lamest excuse he ever had to offer. He flew back to the U.S. for good, without saying another word to me, without even leaving a message saying goodbye. He just took off without another word. I was hurt beyond belief. I knew our relationship had already been over, but after all the kindness, patience and endurance I had shown towards him, all the bullshit I had put up with for far too long, I expected at least a word of goodbye – especially given the fact that I would never see him again. It would have been the decent and respectful thing to do. His silence was the final proof of his utter indifference and selfishness. I knew he avoided saying goodbye, because he was too cowardly to face me again. When I voiced my disappointment about his ungraceful departure, he offered the lame excuse that he just wanted to save everyone a lot of trouble and drama. I knew that he only wanted to save himself the trouble of saying goodbye. It was the suitable end for a relationship that was right from the beginning marked with deceit and excuses.

So to sum it up, whenever you have the nagging and ever-present feeling that your partner is not being honest with you and is using excuses and subterfuges to keep you at a distance, you should seriously consider opting out. Trust is the basis of every healthy relationship, and once you can no longer trust your partner, your relationship is doomed. Had I paid closer attention to all the signs for his dishonesty, I would have tried to save myself earlier. In my desire to make things work, I was too earger to ignore the unpleasant aspects of our interactions and allowed him to trample all over me. Even when I already knew that he was not completely honest with me, and that I was unable to trust him, I pushed those thoughts away from me. I always wanted to give things another chance, I kept hoping that things would surely change. I would have saved myself so much pain and energy if I had let go of those naive hopes earlier. Constantly having the feeling that you are not treated fairly, that you are fed with lies and excuses to be held at a distance, is extremely painful. It makes you feel worthless and undeserving of affection. Instead of staying with someone who makes you forget your worth as a person, you should save your affection for someone who knows how to value it and will always treat you with honesty and respect. It’s the basis for every functioning relationship and we should never settle for less!

Narcissistic Behavior 4: Blowing Hot and Cold

Another common pattern of behavior among narcissists is their tendency to blow hot and cold. One day, they shower you with their attention and passionate affirmations of their affection and care, only to later on completely withdraw their attention for several days in a row. This strategy allows them to kill two birds with one stone: They make you hold on to them, while at the same time they manage to keep their distance. Being treated so inconsistently is extremely nerve-racking, frustrating and exhausting for those people involved with the narcissist. It creates a strong feeling of insecurity, as we never really know why we are treated that way and where the relationship is headed. When treated affectionately we dare to hope, only to have those hopes crushed later on when they start to withhold their attention again. It is a seemingly endless rollercoaster ride with no opportunity to get off.

Another reason why this strategy of blowing hot and cold is so damaging for those involved is that it makes us hold on to toxic relationships for far too long. Instead of realizing that we will never get what we want from the narcissist we are dating, we cling to their occasional signs of affection. Our need and wish to be loved and respected leads us to blind out all the clear signs for their cold indifference and we focus on the sparse signs of their supposed affection instead. Whenever we finally muster the determination to opt out, they manage to keep us hooked through their fake affirmations of how wonderful we are and of how much they care about us.

The narcissist I dated was a master at blowing hot and cold, and he turned me into an emotional wreck through his inconsistency and ambiguity. During our entire relationship, I was always in doubt, I never knew were the relatioship was headed, and I always questioned the sincerity of his feelings towards me (and rightly so, as it later turned out). On some days, I was convinced that he really cared about me, that he respected me an genuinely enjoyed being around me. On other days, his cold indifference led me to assume that he was probably not that interested in me, and that I was just a nice distraction, a way to pass some time.

His ambiguous way of treating me already started right at the beginning of our interaction. Just as so many other narcissists, he used a strategy called “love bombing”, which means that he made a huge effort to get my attention and affection. On our first date, he was funny, smart, entertaining, affectionate and I felt like I had just won the lottery. Things moved ahead quite fast and so we already kissed on our first date (he initiated it, of course…). On my way back home, I was convinced that he was genuinely interested in me, and that this was the beginning of something wonderful and exciting. However, my dreams were already shattered the next day: He completely ignored me at work, and didn’t even say goodbye before he left. It was a slap in the face and the first indicator of all the pain and disappointments that were still awaiting me.

His inconsistency would turn into a fixed part of our relationship: He would tell me to come with him to visit his sister, and then never mention the idea again. He would assure me he intended to move out of his exgirlfriend’s apartment, only to say a few days later that he had no intention to do so. He would express the wish to call me on skype, and then I just wouldn’t hear from him (he didn’t even take the time to tell me he changed his plans). Sometimes I didn’t hear from him in days, and then he sent several texts all at once. On some days, he sent me the loveliest emails, full of signs of affection. On other days I got cold and indifferent sounding emails consisting of no more than two sentences.

His inconsistency became particularly evident on two different occasions: One time, I was already sitting on the train to meet him, when I got a message in which he told me that he was all of a sudden not feeling well and had to cancel our date. He didn’t even apologize for the fact that I just wasted hours on a train for nothing. He ended his message by telling me how smart and pretty he thought I was. It was a typical example of blowing hot and cold: He blew me off in the last minute, and at the same time used sweet-talk to keep me from getting frustrated and mad. It worked: Sure I was extremely frustrated because I had just wasted two hours on a train without getting to see him, and because he waited until the last minute to cancel on me. At the same time, I was soothed by his nice words. This is why their strategy of blowing hot and cold is so harmful: They trample all over us, disrespect us and play us like puppets on a string, and we allow them to do so due to their occasional assurances of how perfect we are, and of how much we mean to them.

The other prime example for his inconsistency occurred towards the end of our relationship. Before I went on a weekend trip to Hamburg with a friend, he sent me a long email, telling me he wanted to make things work in Germany and he wanted our relationship to finally be fun, easy-going and relaxed, instead of dramatic and inconsistent. Once I got home again, I didn’t hear from him in days. When I finally got an answer, he told me bluntly, that he would leave Germany in only a few weeks, that he had already booked his flight, and that he would until then be very busy preparing everything for his departure. I was completely paralysed: Only a few days ago he fueled my hopes by talking so positively about the future. All of a sudden he presented me with a fait accompli, telling me he would leave without giving any reasons for his sudden change of mind. It was the perfect example for his indifference towards my feelings. He just did whatever he wanted to do without a care for other people’s feelings or opinions, and he didn’t even show enough respect to be honest and straightforward, or to give an explanation for his sudden decisions. He completely changed his mind within only a few days, and I just had to deal with it: He sure as hell didn’t care about the fact that he had ripped my heart apart. The only thing he ever cared about was himself and that is also why he was able to toy with other people’s feelings without feeling remorse or shame.

The narcissist’s tendency to blow hot and cold is a very powerful tool of manipulation: It allows them to keep their distance, without having to fear that we might lose interest in them. We nearly go insane trying to make sense of their inconsistency and having to live with the insecurity of not knowing where the relationship is headed. Their fake signs of affection fuel our hopes and keep us from leaving them and saving ourselves. It only prolongs the inevitable and causes us to stay in toxic relationships for far longer than is healthy for us. In the end, the inevitable will happen nevertheless: They will suck the life out of us through their ambiguity and leave us heartbroken. They only care about themselves and are indifferent about our feelings. They will hold on to us for as long as it is convenient for them, and for as long as we are still a nice source of distraction. When they no longer have the need for us, they will just blow us off without feeling any regret or remorse. The fact that they just ripped our hearts apart and left us depressed, frustrated and emotionally exhausted is of no interest to them. Their cold indifference will add a lot to our pain and make our journey to recovery very difficult and long. More often than not narcissists will completely break our spirits and the longer we hold on to them, the more painful it will turn out to be in the end. The inevitable will happen despite all our efforts to make things work. The reasonable strategy is to always be skeptical about their sweet-talk and try to opt out as soon as possible!

Narcissistic Behavior 3: The Lone Wolf

When I started reading a lot about narcissism I was oftentimes surprised by the characteristics that were listed as being typical for narcissistic behavior. I was made aware of the fact that narcissists often exhibit modes of behavior that I wouldn’t have associated with narcissism beforehand. Reading more on the topic was therefore an eye-opening experience for me and helped me learn more about the unhealthy relationship I had clung to for several months. Before I started engaging myself with the topic of narcissism, the idea didn’t even cross my mind that the guy I had been dating might have been a textbook narcissist. I just wasn’t fully aware of the signs of narcissism. Had I known what I know now right from the beginning, I would have found the strength to let go a lot earlier. That is also why I find it so important to share my experiences: It is not only meant to ease my mind after months of emotional abuse, but also as an eye-opener for others who might find themselves in similar situations. It helped me tremendously to finally be able to put a label on and find an explanation for what happened to me. A few weeks ago, I was convinced that the blame for everything that had happened lay with me, as I was codependent and therefore allowed others to disrespect me. Now, I know that a large portion of the blame needs to be redirected to the narcissist who exploited my insecurities and emotionally abused and manipulated me in a very shameful way.

One of the characteristics of narcissistic behavior that I wasn’t aware of beforehand is their tendency to make themselves out as lone wolves. I was always convinced that narcissists were typically surrounded by lots of admirers and had a very busy social life. While this might indeed be true for some narcissists, there are also those who seemingly take pride in their existence as lone wolves and their penchant for solitude. The narcissist I dated definitely belonged to the category of lone wolves: He didn’t have any close friends, he wasn’t in touch with his parents and he had no social life to speak of. The only people left in his life were his exgirlfriend and his sister, and his relationship to both of them was strained. He was in constant conflict with them, but at the same time he continually affirmed how much he loved and respected both of them with all his heart.

One could certainly argue that the fact that he lived in a foreign country (Germany) and didn’t even speak the language could be a factor adding to his solitary existence. However, he worked with many fellow Americans and they often invited him to events. He just never showed any interest in joining them and instead declared that he thought they were all fakes and suck-ups and that he didn’t want to spend his free time with them. I also often wanted to interrupt his solitude by spending time with him. He often said that he had too much work to do, or preferred to be alone. During the five months we dated, he never once went out with friends. The only things he ever did was going to concerts or city trips with his exgirlfriend, and during those activities they usually had fierce arguments. He sometimes went to meet his sister, but those encounters were more often than not also accompanied by conflicts.

It wasn’t enough for him to wallow in his solitude. He also tended to badmouth others, labelling them as suck ups and “stupid motherfuckers”. He made it seem as if the world consisted of fake and evil people without integrity, and as if he was the only sensible person walking this planet. He often drew me right into his negativity: He pointed out countless times how much he hated our work colleagues, and I was almost induced to take his side and share his opinions. It never occurred to me that his assessment of others might be wrong – a product of his narcissism. Looking at it in retrospect, I feel ashamed for attaching so much importance to his negative opinions on others. As it turned out, he was the one without integrity.

He never seemed to have a problem with his solitary way of life but rather wore it like a badge. For him it was more a sign of distinction than an indicator that others might be avoiding him. He readily talked about his meager social life and declared that it had always been this way. Even when he still went to college he was – as he called it – a loner. He would prefer to stay in his room, playing guitar and studying, while others went on dates or to parties. I don’t want to convey the wrong impression here: There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend time on your own and with not wanting to go to parties etc. I’m also a rather introvert person who occasionally enjoys being alone. However, this penchant for solitude becomes problematic if it includes badmouthing others, and if it is trumpeted out into the world as a tool to make yourself seem more attractive or mysterious. It is also problematic for those people who are emotionally involved with them and who would love to spend more time with them: More often than not narcissists declare a desire for staying alone, and use their image as lone wolves to keep you at bay. It is exhausting and frustrating and you get the nagging (and valid!) feeling that you are being avoided.

So to sum it up, the narcissist’s tendency to pride himself on his existence as a lone wolf can be difficult to deal with for those who are involved with them. Narcissists often use it as a strategy to get our affection and to make themselves seem more attractive and mysterious. We tend to fall into their traps as our hearts often go out to the mysterious, unappreciated outsiders. We think that all it takes for them to feel happier and less lonely, is our attention and affection. In our imagination, it is exactly what they need. Once they got us hooked, they use their supposed penchant for solitude to keep us at distance and to avoid having to spend too much time with us. In addition, their tendency to badmouth others often leads us to adopt their negative opinions and we turn against the people we have liked so far. Their supposed preference for solitude can therefore be seen as part of their narcissistic strategies to play us like puppets on a string: They use it to get our affection and later on to keep us at bay. So whenever a guy acts all mysterious and solitary, be skeptical! You can do yourself a big favor if you just take to your heels and run as fast as you can…

Narcissistic Behavior 2: Pretends to Be Mr. Nice Guy/Hypocrisy

I’m very aware of the fact that not every narcissist acts the same way, that some characteristics are very prominent in the behavior of some narcissists and not in that of others, and that there are both overt and covert types of narcissists. I can only talk about the experiences I made with the narcissist I dated, and illustrate those characteristics of narcissistic behavior that were mirrored in the way he interacted with me. One characteristic of narcissism that was highly developed in him was hypocrisy, which became particularly evident in his penchant for pretending to be a nice guy and a model human being, who would never harm anyone.

This narcissistic mode of behavior can – as almost everything he does – be extremely harmful for those people interacting with him on a deeper level. Whenever they assure us of their innate goodness and tell us about their inability to hurt anyone, we desperately want to believe them. We have often been hurt many times in the past, and hearing him say that he would take good care of us and would never ever hurt our feelings, is like heart-balm and makes us feel like we just won the lottery. When we realize much later that he turned out to be a heartless, manipulating narcissist, our entire belief system is shattered. We were so convinced that we had finally found a guy who would never toy with our feelings and leave us heartbroken. Now we have to come to terms with the fact that we have been fooled and that what he presented us with was nothing more than a facade. Accepting that Mr. Nice Guy never existed is extremely painful, and we often cling to the hope that maybe if we are just patient enough, we will eventually get him back. The cold hard truth is: We won’t…

The narcissist I dated was a textbook hypocrit and a master at pretending to be a wonderful, caring human-being. On one of our first dates he even lamented that life was not easy for a guy who was so caring and worried about other people’s feelings. He said that because he was so caring he often had to fix the damage done by others (especially in relationships) and that it would therefore be so much easier to be more of an asshole. He even seemed to be genuinely upset about his inability to be cold and indifferent towards other people’s feelings. Whenever I asked him why he still lived with his exgirlfriend, he assured me it was because he was so worried about her feelings and didn’t want her to feel abandoned and let down. He made it seem as if he was always neglecting his own ambitions, plans and wishes, in order to please others and be considerate of their feelings. Everything he did was seemingly a product of his big and noble heart, and I was naive enough to believe him. I never would have thought that this model of selflessness would later turn out to be a textbook narcissist, a selfish monster who treated other people’s feelings with cold indifference.

At the beginning of our relationship he told me that he had the feeling I had sold myself short in the past due to my low self-esteem. He assured me I had every right to be more confident, as I was – according to him – extremely smart, pretty and kind. He knew that I still had to stuggle with trust issues due to an earlier relationship in which I was also used and manipulated. I found it hard to put my trust in Mr. Unavailable, because I feared being let down again. He was really upset about me having those trust issues, because for him it was just another proof of the fact that he had to fix the emotional damage done by others, as he was such a nice guy and others were just plain assholes. He assured me in every possible way that I could let those trust issues go with him, that he was not like the indifferent asshole I had last dated, and that he would always care about my feelings and treat me with the respect I deserved. He even got angry whenever my trust issues would come to the surface again and urge me to finally let them go. According to him, he was not like the asshole I last dated and it was unfair to let him suffer and to not trust him because of him.

Of course he made me feel extremely guilty and I was convinced that I was not being fair by letting my trust issues affect our relationship. I worked really hard on letting those issues go and was eventually able to do so. I began to really believe that Mr. Unavailable was indeed interested in me and worried about my feelings and my well-being. I found it save to put my trust in him and to let go of my suspicions. Looking back at the relationship now, I deeply regret that I believed him and that I let my guard down and made myself vulnerable. He basically urged me into trusting him just to manipulate and emotionally abuse me. I let my guard down and got nothing but heartbreak, disappointments and despair as a reward. I never would have thought that the guy who so vehemently assured me that he would always treat me right, would turn out to be the guy who would break my heart in the most painful way possible. I was so convinced he would never let me down and would always treat me with respect: In the end, he was the guy who disappointed me most in my entire life and the guy who caused me so much pain like no one else has ever done before.

His supposed innate goodness seemed to extend to everyone around him: He prepared coffee for his students, he went out to buy tea for his colleagues, he motivated his exgirlfriend to give up the job she hated so much and to upgrate her education (at least that is what he told me). One time he even told me how he talked to a prostitute in Costa Rica, trying to convince her to make more out of her life. Back then, I was impressed by those stories and believed that he was a model of nobility and selflessness. Now I’m extremely angry and find most of his stories ridiculous.

He would constantly assure me of his deep regard and respect for me, continually complimenting me for my good-looks, my intelligence, my kindness (blabla). He would motivate me to have more self-esteem and to believe in myself. He uttered sentences like “I never want you to have to worry about anything, baby” or “I always want you to feel cared for and protected.” I desperately wanted to believe him. I was convinced I finally found the perfect guy who would never dare to break my heart and let me down.

Because he was so talented at pretending to be Mr. Nice Guy all the people around him seemed to adore him. He was a very popular teacher and his students just loved him. His colleagues valued him for his good-manners and his conversational skills. Everyone had something nice and appreciative to say about him and it seemed as if he could do no wrong. After he had finally shown his true colors to me, it was extremely difficult to let go of the illusion that he was the perfect gentleman. Everyone adored him and so I questioned my own judgment. After all, how can someone who is so popular, be the monster you think he is? I found it extremely hard to believe that his nobility and goodness was a facade. He even managed to fool my family and friends: They all loved him after meeting him and my best friend even jokingly told me that she gave me permission to marry him. Letting go of the illusion is difficult and painful and I was very reluctant to do so. I didn’t believe in my own judgement. It was also nearly impossible to talk to others about the way he emotionally abused and manipulated me. They all still believed that he was the nice guy he pretended to be, and I feared they maybe wouldn’t believe me. Fortunately, I have a loving family and a great best friend and they believed and supported me unconditionally.

So to sum it up, the tendency of many narcissists to put on a facade of nobility and goodness is very harmful for their victims. We let down our guard and put our trust in them, only to be emotionally abused and manipulated. In the end they have not only broken our hearts, but completely destroyed our trust and left us feeling confused, angry and empty. It is difficult not to question our own judgments and to accept the fact that everything they presented us with was nothing but a facade. In addition to that, we often find it hard to reveal our feelings to others, as they are still convinced he is the model of goodness and nobility he pretended to be. We fear they won’t believe us, we fear that our judgment might be wrong and that we might be at fault…It is extremely confusing and painful.

Whenever you find yourself in this trap, you need to believe in your own judgement and free yourself from the unhealthy relationship to your narcissist. We should never hold on to them out of a misguided belief that we might be at fault or that they might at some point go back to being the nice, caring and loving guys they were at the beginning of your relationship. Face the cold hard facts and save yourself some time and energy: It was nothing but a facade!