Narcissistic Parent

I If we grew up with a parent who suffered from narcissistic personality disorder ( click here to read my article on this) it is likely to have taken a heavy toll on our emotional development. One of the most confusing and frustrating aspects of dealing with a narcissistic parent is that they seem to haveā€¦

The Self-Contradictory Behaviour of The Narcissistic Parent

Ann Bradley


  1. It has helped me immensely during this extremely troubling time for me as I recover from a year and a half long relationship with a somatic narcissist. It’s been 6 months since he broke up with me and over 3 months since no contact and I am still struggling. I’m 36 and my ex is 29. We met at work and he was talking/flirting with me for a month before asking me out on a date. As far as I knew he was single. On our second date, we went to a party and he pulled me aside and said there was a girl there who liked him but he didn’t like her and he had made it clear he didn’t like her but she wasn’t taking it well so she might say something to me. If she did, I should ignore her and he made it clear how much he liked me. She was very mad at him and there was talking among his friends about it and drama but I was told by his friends not to worry about it and that it was between the girl and my ex. I later learned that she had been his girlfriend whom he abruptly dumped after our first date but he had always said they were just friends with “benefits” and that he wanted a “real” relationship with me. There was little to no honeymoon period that I could tell, although there was always plenty of flattery, charm and seduction. He flaked on dates, did nothing for me for my birthday(he said he had a surprise and told everyone, but it never came to fruition), flirted with women in front of me, broke promises all the time and was completely unreliable and didn’t care that he let me down or hurt me by braking promises and didn’t try to make amends or make me happy by fulfilling the promises. When confronted, he was immediately defensive and angry. He was mad at me that I was upset with him and always blamed me for what he did somehow, even though there was no evidence to blame me. If I was crying because of his attitude or behavior, he didn’t comfort me or reassure me. He would look confused. He gaslighted me a lot. He would deny blatant evidence of his wrongdoing. He would disappear at the bar or a party we were at for chunks of time and then make an excuse for where he’d been when confronted. He projected all the time. I learned he was cheating on me with two people after two months of dating and it lasted for several months until they found out about me and then at the end of the relationship he was having numerous one night stands, including transgender, and seeing two other people regularly on top of that and dating me! I knew that him telling me he was working on the weekends wasn’t truthful at the time. I was very suspicious but by that time, he was verbally abusing me and had been emotionally abusive for enough time where I was beaten down and felt like I couldn’t live without him despite his blatant horrible behavior. There were good times in between though and he would have good behavior for weeks at a time and then bad for awhile, then back to good. He told me he loved me all the time. We spent time with his family and friends. I had a key to his house. After about 9 months of dating he was talking about marriage, kids and living together. He told everyone we were going to get a place together. At the end though, he was cruel to me consistently and dumped me. He told our mutual friend that he never loved me and that he said it because that’s what I wanted to hear. I learned that he had been talking badly about me to his female coworker and acting like he was a victim of a bad relationship. He started dating her 1 month after he dumped me. I heard that she has a strong personality and is strong willed and assertive and will not let him get away with his behavior even though he’s tried, so he is being good right now. How can this happen? I didn’t think that a narcissist would tolerate being dominated by his target/supply and allow her to have the power in the relationship. Is he being genuine with her and has he changed? Or is he just waiting and planning his next moves? How does a narcissist act/proceed in this situation? Will it last? I had called him out on his behavior many, many times to no avail. He would just rage right back at me with anger and blame. Sometimes he would act remorseful ( a little bit) and change his behavior for awhile but then revert back. So why is it that he’s able to be put in his place by her or seemingly listen to her and behave? Side note: An affair he was attempting on the side didn’t work out because the other women found out he had a girlfriend.

    It’s killing me thinking that he is being different with her and making me think I was the reason for his behavior after all. Also my family and friends are not being supportive right now. They think I am choosing to be emotional at times and tell me to control myself. They think I am choosing this misery. I am struggling with emotions vacillating from immense anger to sadness and crying. I feel numb sometimes. Sometimes I’m ok. He has no remorse, guilt or shame about his actions and doesn’t care how I feel. He has his new girlfriend who validates him and thinks the world of him. He’s happy as a clam it seems like. He is getting away with his horrible behavior towards me and it kills me. Thanks so much for your help and I appreciate your time and consideration of my questions.

    • I don’t think you would wish someone like this on anyone. So don’t wish it for yourself and be happy, very, very happy that you dodged a bullet. Nothing is killing you but your thinking it so… you are now free to thrive and be happy. Begin! You can do it….and you will…Best, Ann

    • oh my…makes me want to ask if this is in Vegas, cause it dounds soooo much like my ex and exact same age….he is 29 and i am 40.

    • The most likely answer to your question about his seemingly subservient behavior with his new girlfriend, is that she also suffers from a serious personality disorder, such as Borderline Personality Disorder. Do not be fooled, because these two will have the most unstable and intense relationship you can ever imagine. They will feed off of each other’s egos, despise each other, but desperately cling to one another. It is a match made in hell. Let them “have at it”. They will destroy each other. You are lucky to be free of him and you will heal. It’s just going to take a while.

  2. I think that they’re not as happy as you may think. Remember, they’re masters at making everyone see them as someone they’re not so they’re going to be good at making you think they’re happy as well.

    If she’s a strong-willed person and it looks like she has whipped him into shape, that’s only because he’s ALLOWING her to think so. There’s something in it for him or he wouldn’t subject himself to this sort of control. Mark my words: she has something he desperately wants or there is some benefit for him. It sometimes takes a while to discover.

    My ex wanted my house or that which belonged to my grandmother and we were going to fix up and move in to. I only learned it after we broke up and he revealed to one of his friends (who then reported it to me because I’d told her just how he’d treated me) how “used” he felt and how he “didn’t even get a house out of it” . She was shocked regarding his behavior and felt compelled to reveal his words to me. If she and a few others hadn’t I’d have never known although I had my suspicions.

    So don’t spend abother minute fretting over them. My ex hooked up with someone and was deeply “in love” and posting it on Facebook roughly a month after I kicked him out of the house and he spread lies about me. I loved him deeply and was committed to him, never understanding his behaviors and always confused and on eggshells, but now I see that he is a classic narcissist and will never change. She will see it too. And so will the new “flavor of the month” in your situation. Just realize that it was never YOU and that YOU are a wonderful, special, lovely person . All the best. …

  3. Ann,

    Every insight into narcissism is a relief. Thank you.

    I have been in therapy for about fifteen years for the damage my mother did. It feels like the horror will never go away. I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink. And sometimes I feel like a hero for walking through the trauma she caused.

    But most of the time I just feel broken because for all practical purposes I have no family. Her manipulations made sure of that.

    I was a bright and attractive child. My doctor gave me the test and my IQ was about 150. He put me into a preschool for gifted children. I kept making bright observations, but she was not that into me or what I said. She taught my family to take me with a grain of salt. She floated the belief I wasn’t worth listening to. I had my head in the clouds. I can guarantee you that was not true.

    She treated me like I was an obligation. She made sure I would never win respect lest they begin to like me.

    She allowed a certain person to bully me and did nothing to stop him. If I begged her for help she screamed at me to shut up. She hated me for years because I didn’t take it in silence. The bullying from both of them went on for most of my childhood. Together they broke me. But I never shut up. I kept speaking out. As you know, speaking out is betrayal at the deepest level.

    I failed to fluff the pink pillows. That is what I call narcissistic demand.

    I only got away from it when I left home. I was a wreck. All my potential went into getting my bearings straight. I was so lost. There were years of trial and error. Bad marriages. Struggling financially. Single parenting.

    She didn’t call me for about ten years. Totally uninterested in my life. She didn’t even tell me when my father died. Finally someone let me know and I barely made it for his funeral. None of them think I am very important.

    People like this are not worth worrying about. But she took something from me. And I can’t find it.

    The bully is dead now. I walk this earth not sharing the same atmosphere. That is freedom.

    I call her sometimes. But feel nothing for her. Still, she is my mother and I can’t cut her off. I don’t want to abandon her when she is old. I don’t want to go out being that kind of person.

    • Hi

      I am reading Understanding the Borderline Mother by Christine Ann Lawson right now. You might like the insights it gives into the pathology of a mother like yours. I don’t think anyone is broken forever from the damages of someone else – changed, yes, but remaining their victim forever is something we don’t have to be. You ARE a hero for pushing through the trauma. And maybe you should designate a special time each and every day to celebrate your strength, kindness, and so much more – all the positive character strengths that make up you. We always focus on what is broken. Time to celebrate what is good and make that your center of attention. Here’s to thriving – in spite of, or because of, the trauma. Best, Ann

    • I am in tears after reading your post. Your story is almost IDENTICAL to mine!! My father was the one who has been systematically trying to destroy me since birth…and he is still at it!! He is 84 now. I was also born a very bright and attractive little girl…IQ of 140. But he took something from me too…and I can’t seem to find it either. The hardest part for me is this: The fact that my own father (NPD way past anything I’ve read to date) not only raised me to believe that I was hopelessly stupid, ugly, and worthless…born for the sole purpose of serving him (and insists that i should be grateful for that) BUT THAT HE HAS SPENT HIS WHOLE LIFE TRYING TO CONVINCE EVERYONE ELSE I KNOW of this too…and just for kicks…alot of people I’ve never met. I am in the process of moving back to my hometown to take care of him again bc he was recently diagnosed w terminal cancer. He demanded that i move back of course…It is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. Try to imagine the worst case of UNCHECKED NPD…with alot of DEMENTIA on top!! Now I have to move back to a town full of people who believe all of the lies he has told about me!! So, no, I cannot get any help or support from anyone there. And, of course, he drove the rest of the family away a very long time ago. If he had not convinced me to drop out of college (I had a 4.0 GPA for 3 years)…I would have a means of supporting myself. But I don’t. I have no choice but to move back…hoping that I can take over his business when he’s dead and make a living. But, as u can imagine, he is systematically destroying any hope of that by either giving away all of his money and property…or aggravating people to the point that they are all suing him for everything! I have never been so suicidal. Thank you for your post!!

  4. I’m a 43 yr old disabled man who lives with his mother because financially, I can’t make ends meet on 800.00 a month. I also suffer from PTSD as I was a first responder to fatal motorcycle crash. My mother refuses to acknowledge that in order for me to honestly deal with my issues, that she needs to allow that to happen. She refuses to seek counseling and only wants to cause more stress with verbal attacks. I know exactly why people commit murder/ suicides! If it makes me a weak bitch to turn the other cheek, so be it. My friend Joe did it. Shot his mom 5 times with a .357 and saved the last one for his head. I don’t want to be like Joe.

  5. I have made an appointment with a trusted psychotherapist for a family session. If this is another failed attempt at finding peace with my mother as well as myself, I will leave. Don’t know where I will go, but I won’t come back, and I will never contact her again. That’s where I’m at. The crossroads of “had way enough ” and “you better stop “.

  6. All anyone professionally is able to do is talk about it. The real BS is that I have to at least threaten to harm myself or someone else before “action can be taken “. F’n really? Absolutely nothing can be done by anyone?

    • Richard,

      I know exactly how it feels to have a mother criticize you and dismantle your own positive view of yourself. It is horrible. It is painful. Each mother / child situation is completely unique to those individuals. What the children feel (and age doesn’t matter in this case) is a deep abandonment by their mothers who seem to want their children to hate themselves.

      My mother abandon me emotionally and then did everything in her power to make me doubt my own self worth and hate myself. She never validated my injuries. She allowed other people to abuse me.

      I have come to realize my mother wants to punish herself by proxy, so she punishes me. This is because those she needed at an early age failed to give her the proper emotional care. I am the empty (convenient) vessel in which she pours her self loathing. Her self loathing would not be there if she had been better taken care of. But she hates herself for being so needy.

      You are right to desire validation. You have high interpersonal standards and want to be treated with respect. You want to feel balanced, cared for, understood. If you were a monster you wouldn’t care about those things. So don’t allow yourself to think about death. Though I know I have thought of it myself in my darkest moments.

      At least you did not become one of her flying monkeys who are a mini me of her. Several of my siblings did that. They have each other to be of the same mindset as hers. It’s a group for them and bonding. And that’s okay. I came to a point where I had to let go of them and find my own new family because I can’t be like them. I can’t be around them or they push me into that role where they can abuse me and I have to stand and take it. No thank you.

      In fact, the comment above your initial comment is my story. Ann replied to it.

      Please remember this. Birds with broken wings often help each other fly.

      I am trying to help you fly. Pls get therapy so you can be happier. And so you can get past the tragic things you have endured. You have a lot to offer others when your wings start to heal.

  7. My mother has denigrated me intrafamily and now, married for first time, she and my siblings have attempted, somewhat successfully, to teach my husband how to disrespect me as well. I’m corporate trustee and attorney for my family’s sizable corporation. They tried to ouster me in a breach of confidence game. It didn’t work. My husband started talking divorce. I trust no one.

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