I admit it: I am a recovering narcissist.
Much of my life energy was spent in pursuit of what I wanted, what I needed, and what I thought was best. “Narcissism” is a term from psychopathology, but it’s essentially a fancy term for extreme selfishness.
I had good relationships with great women – strong, smart sexy females who thought I was a great guy… until I suddenly withdrew, or made plans without checking with them, or took off to chase success, or an intense experience, or another woman. As long as my needs were getting met in the relationship, I was pretty happy. But when I wasn’t, I began looking around for the next opportunity to fulfill my desires.
My partners were not weak or timid – they often confronted me about my choices and behavior. But my answer was typical of an intelligent narcissist: “If you want to be in relationship with me, you have to accept me as I am.” And they did – until they couldn’t take it anymore. I felt completely justified in my world-view. If they couldn’t love me as I was, there were plenty of women who would.
Each time I made a mess of a personal (or business) relationship, I felt bad. I recognized the damage I was causing, and began to look inward for answers in therapy, and in my men’s group. I read books and articles about narcissism, and worked on changing my beliefs, my early programming, and my social conditioning. I knew I had to change. I wanted to learn to really love. To do this, I needed to learn how to be unselfish.
Selfishness appears in a wide spectrum, stretching from healthy self-care to moderate, socially acceptable personal goal achievement, to the extreme form of destructive narcissism – individuals who don’t care about the impact of their selfish behavior on others.
We are all selfish at times. When you focus on taking care of yourself, or making yourself comfortable, this is a healthy form of selfishness, as long as it’s not taken to an extreme. Healthy people learn how to set good boundaries, and pursue their own interests realistically. They develop personal esteem, mature principles, and can accomplish their goals. From a solid sense of self, they can form deep relationships with others.
Children are naturally selfish and self-focused, but they are expected to grow out of it. They learn that other people exist independently, and have their own feelings and needs that must be taken into account. This early awakening enables a child to “play well with others.” A healthy self-focused child can grow into a healthy adult, capable of being a loving parent, a compassionate community member, and a trustworthy citizen. If an individual can’t make that leap into the world of “others,” they become a narcissist.
To be successful in a relationship, you have to create a balance between self-oriented pursuits (such as self-care and self-development) with its opposite: care and respect for the interests and needs of the other.
We all want to be cared for. The trick is to learn to love as an activity you actively engage in, not a state you expect to be swept up into. In a mature relationship, each person takes full responsibility for the entire triumvirate: oneself, the other person, and the third entity: the relationship itself.
Relationships fail when partners focus too much on getting their own needs met, and not enough on the needs of the other. This results in arguments over whose needs are most important – which is almost always damaging.
Psychologically, it’s hard to focus on the other person’s needs when your own needs are screaming out to be cared for, but if you can, your relationship deepens, as does your capacity to love.
Because safety is a key to a making a relationship work, narcissism is destabilizing and damaging. Someone who acts selfishly without regard for the other is unpredictable. At any time, they may suddenly focus on getting their own needs met, and withdraw from the two-ness of the relationship.
Ultimately, in my journey from narcissism to healthy loving partnership, the woman I now love has been a teacher. She has shown that honoring the needs of a beloved other can bring with it a potent sense of satisfaction and well being, more so than any of the short-term fixes of following selfish impulses.
In her own words: “Men: Do you want your woman to really open to you? With her heart, mind and passionate body? The key to this reality is your honest, continuous care about her, and about your impact on her. You can tell when you have hurt her, or harmed the relationship with your selfish behavior. She will react quickly, look unhappy, and express disappointment. She withdraws when you try to relate to her, closing down, disconnecting – the opposite of how you want her to be with you. You don’t need to be perfect or relate perfectly, you just need to own that you caused damage when it happens, get curious, and repair it as quickly as possible. If you make your woman’s happiness your priority, she will fill up with her own Feminine Spirit and want to give you her best all the time. You’ll get your deepest needs fulfilled as a result.”
Ultimately, narcissism is a win-lose game. But I have learned when I consider self and other equally, when I put my partner’s needs alongside my own, we both win. And that is a sweet place to land.
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As a fellow narcissist, I understand your struggles. It is hard sometimes to understand how what your doing is wrong. We see what we are doing as right, because it is how function and usually emotional damage causes this. For my scenario, it was being alone at childhood and unloyal friends, which lead to me being toxic in relationships/dating, intentionally sabotaging friendships because I expected them to leave me. But I have been recovering
I’m looking for information on how to help a friend with this. Can you tell me what things I should do to help him? Should I confront his negative behaviors? If so, should it be done in private face to face? Or calls? Or texts? He is in a halfway house, just recently out of jail & quite a distance from me. I’m afraid he is going to relapse trying to fill that void that only Jesus can fill. If he doesn’t find Peace soon. Should I try to reaffirm & encourage him daily? Or give him lots of space?… Read more »
Great article! If you felt bad about your behavior, it seems like your narcissism wasn’t super high. You had awareness which allowed you to change, but i think a lot of narcissists have no awareness and no desire to change.
in those cases, however, where the sin acts injuriously upon others, or when it is connected with the omission of the duties of our calling, or when it attains great dimensions, then an immediate strictness is necessary for restraining or putting a stop to it, or for removing the injurious person from the midst of well-intentioned people. ” Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
You are not a narcissist! Selfishness is not the same as narcissism. According to the DM V a narcissist does not feel bad for anything they do to anyone else. They have no empathy. A narcissist does not feel the things normal people feel, therefore, he does not understand how he makes someone else feel. He does not care of anyone else’s pain because he cannot see outside of his own empty soul. Being a selfish asshole just because you could get away with it is not the same. Trust me as I married a narc. You were either misdiagnosed,… Read more »
Cherish: I state very clearly that narcissistic traits come on a wide spectrum, from healthy self-care on one end to toxic narcissism on the other. The problem, in my opinion, comes because this wide spectrum gets condensed down to a black-or-white issue, and a lot of people somewhere on the spectrum get called a “narcissist” as an epithet, rather than being more articulate and subtle in exploring the trait. You’re free to make your own distinctions, of course, but I don’t think it’s helpful to label anyone. You may have codependent traits somewhere on the spectrum, that doesn’t mean you’re… Read more »
Cherish doesn’t seem to understand narcissism very well. Like he said narcissism exists on a spectrum, and selfishness is one of the primary symptoms of narcissism. I would reread the DSM V on NPD you seem to have a few misconceptions, and also remember that females can absolutely be narcissists so use ‘they’ pronouns instead of ‘he’.
Why is everyone against narcs?
We should help them instead of turning against them. Everyone can be narc even our future kids.
There’s no possible way that you could have been or are a narcissist, you have empathy.
I scrolled down to comment the exact same thing Mary. I guess people who have dealt with a narcissist can couch that they have NO empathy.
Exactly! You should see what I just posted. Only a victim would understand. He’s either lying about recovery for a Hoover or was misdiagnosed
I was so heartbroken and don’t know what to do with myself but after 3 days of contacting [email protected] com , my Ex lover came back on his kneel begging me to take him back.
I want to take this opportunity to recomend Dr. Zunga to anyone who wish to get back with their ex-lovers. Dr Zunga magic spells are really working extremely very fast and accurate. Visit his website: http://tinyurl.com/ybddvv8k
Good for you! I’m not a narcissist – but I’ve been deeply hurt by one. I’m thankful you have found a deeper love and more fulfillment – most people in your shoes only get worse with time. Congrats!
You may have been high on the selfish of narcissism spectrum but “I began to look inward in therapy…” people with NPD are not blue to look inward, admit wrong, not got to therapy unless forced. You’re not a narcissist, not we’re you. Great you were able to change but writing an article like this gives the victims of full NPD abusers hope that their mate can change and that they the victims just have to hold out and be better (trauma bonding). People with NPD abuse in the most common insidious way and they cause PTSD in the people… Read more »
Thank you for this reply. I agree that it sounded like narcs actually can & do change….. as much as I can wish that was a real possibility, in my own case, I know I finally need to get out.
I didn’t say I had NPD, because I don’t. I have narcissistic tendencies. I’ll keep making it clear: there is a wide spectrum of narcissistic traits, from healthy self-care to NPD. Want to know whether a person with narcissistic traits can change? If he (or she) cares that they hurt you, and want to stop hurting you, there’s potential for change. If they don’t care, it’s highly unlikely that they can change, and you should leave them. People with narcissistic tendencies can be very charming, however, so you have to follow the old rule, “Fool me once, that’s on you.… Read more »
Recovering?given the narcissistic experience we went through,I seriously doubt anyone could believe you ever.I wish there was a death play penalty for N.cause it s a parasite in a already toxic world.
I wish I could meet this man.so I can shout at him.it s like saying a murderer can be helped cause they are recovering.NO!fuck them.u enjoy selfishness. Enjoy a tiny slices of the pain you inflict.!this man or any narcosist canball die in pain for me.they r the lowest of the low of society.scum.Mamy s boy who need to put up a tantrum and Mamy run for him.insecures desgusting and manipulative piece of crap.my ex was slalso addicted to his porno actor job.which I didn’t know of till it went back to it 2 months later.just before becoming an escort… Read more »
I’m skeptical of your story. Dr. Vaknin an N in recovery, has said when a conscience is gone is gone forever! A lack of a conscience means1. Incapable of Love; intimacy; compassion; guilt remorse and empathy; altruism and grief. Dr. Vaknin says that he is the best case scenario. At best; he can tell the truth, treat people well, and teach. I was married to a Covert N. learned just about everything about NPD, and your story does not line up with Dr. Vaknin nor my ex-wife. Greg Bernstein
Agreed. Not a true narc here just a selfish man writing a story.
I am so glad to hear this story and the world seems to be against narcissists every changing which would mean we are doomed. All the best and thanks for your honesty
Oh we re all against.poor baba.no narcissist deserve forgiveness cause they no ability to even apologies after the pain inflicted.no simply not.u get what u put in life.dayly torture is the only answer.or hurt their ego as it s the only way we have to get revenge. My ex does t understand my anger.he s unfased by the pain he caused!scum
He’s not a true narc.
There is a lot written about Narcissism and NDP these days and science has coined it as a psychological personality disorder. Words such as hoover, supply, and gas lighting have become colloquialisms. This is a shame because there is another side to the story and there is not much literature written about it unfortunately. The ‘disease’ of narcissism is mainly spiritual. Persons suffering with this disorder, and yes they do suffer, have a burdened soul and are constantly in battle. There is hope for them. I have seen it with my own eyes. If you have encountered such a person… Read more »
I’m further saddened to read this.
I was subject to the cruelty of this disease. My reward for nursing, caring, earning and ensuring he had everything he needed to live the selfish lifestyle he convinced me he needed. All of which I did because he reassured me he loved me and would one day give back. He put an end to that which nearly killed me.
The narc leave the damage on me.that made me hard to recover.like a leech he suck my blood till dry..it will be hard for me to believe that narc will be able to change..it will coused them losing their pleasure..consider that they need the pleasure as a daipy food for them
I was going through breakup. My boyfriend of 18 months left me for no reason. I was completely alone, emotionally drained, and so terribly sad, and heartbroken. When he broke up with me, i never knew he was dating someone else, he said many hurtful things to me, blunt words, even hurtful languages – he said i was “mentally ill,” “insane,”or even “psychotic.” and he drinks alcohol to excess every day. I do not drink or do drugs, and I do not have an emotional disorder. I am sensitive and will talk back to him like his girlfriend, I guess… Read more »
you know this causes more and more pain and future illness. I witnessed this happening to a narcissist who is now sick be careful and it is really a win-lose situation and eventually impacts your health
That is sad. If you know you are a narcissist why not seek help? Taking pleasure from hurting others is just plain wrong when you know you are doing it.
I am not a professional therapist so can not diagnose anyone,no one can with the little bit of info given here. But I did spend 10 years with someone I consider to be a psychopath and have had a blog for over 6 years providing information and support for victims of narcissistic abuse. I have done extensive research on narcissists, psychopaths, and their victims. When I split from my ex I had no idea what had happened to me, I thought a narcissist was some basically harmless egocentric and I would never be attracted to someone like that anyway. I… Read more »
Wow..So accurate..Thank-you..Would love to read your blogs.. Can you post the link to your website / blogs pls…
Thank I. I’ve actually read you our article (i recognized your photo!) on the signs and order of abuse and tic was all the same for me. Nine years of hell on earth. I’m 30 in three days and feel like i wasted my life .
Carrie, this is so dead on. What is your blog? I recently dealt with a narc psychopath. Very successful but what he told me about his past tipped me off. I stayed to see how it would go, same thing happened in ours. Utterly humiliated me with other females – he apologized bc he was dumb enough to put it on the internet blah blah, I dumped him and he blamed me (my reaction) to his bad behavior as a potential problem for our “future.” This person was raised by an N, at least he says. I ended his manipulation… Read more »
Would love to find your blog..i did 20yrs. And 5 kids with someone diagnosed with Anti social PD w/narc tendencies. I believe he was also sociopathic. No contact now for 25 years…me or the kids. Thank heavens. We’re still trying to sort out what the H happened and how and why we are still affected Suport groups have been great. Thanks.
What is your blog URL?
Click on Carries name and it will lead you to her blog… Lady with a truck I believe it’s called. Just tried this.
My ex left me 46 days ago. I don’t know if he is a narcissist or not. He is charming, we married quickly, he started to get moody and violent towards the end. We were together four years. He does not work, he gets disability from the VA and goes to school. We own an additional home, so that is where he moved to (5 miles down the road) The first two weeks of our break up he came over every day. Even spent the night a few times. When I asked him if he was trying to get back… Read more »
no, eventually he will try to get back to you through the child. all you can do, is what you’re doing already, don’t forget your boundaries – try to insist to them in a diplomatic way. but you’re f*cked a little bit, because you took his son. when he’s bored, he will do anything to bring some drama into your lives. good luck though, hope you the best
I found an absolutely fantastic book that I believe can help narcissism tremendously. Its called “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” by R Scott Gornto. I will be having my significant other read it when I am done, because their MMPI-2 did come out that they are a narcissist, and they SAY they want to change, tho its hard to believe after this many years of saying it & not doing it. I can see their stuff going on, as I read this book, and hopefully it will become clear to them, as well.
even if it’s clear to them, their memory is so shit, that they will forget anything they read in the book. after 2 months they will try to sell it to you like it was their idea, then just get back to their usual ways. it takes years, even 10 if they try really hard to change their ways. first of all, their neurons are not connected in the same way as others and even they read the book, in a familiar situation they will recognise that – now i should do it differently – but if they feel uncomfortable,… Read more »
thank you for the suggestion! will check it out and pass it on to my narcissist ex
Hi Lion, i think its a huge deal that you are able to see for who you are and are striving to recover!!! However couple of doubts – what made you realise you are a narcissist? How do i make my narcissist realise that he is one, considering they are blind to see their own narcissism?
I’ve said above and will say again: If your partner cares that they’ve hurt you (if they “have a conscience” as others have said), and they’re willing to go into couples counseling to repair the relationship, there is some hope possible. If they don’t care that they’ve hurt you, leave them as soon as possible. And yes, most narcissists don’t believe anything is wrong with them because the results of their behavior work in their favor. If you reject them, and they can’t win you back, they’ll just find the next victim to prey on. They either care about you,… Read more »
I am a narcissist and need help. My ex and I are done, she has recognized her codependency and says I cannot be cured and leave her be..She has blocked me.
I am a mess and need to change.
If u love her u will let her go … sort yourself out for you , you have to do it for you .
Try reading the book “The stories We Tell Ourselves” by R. Scott Gornto if you are serious about changing. I believe it may help immensely. Happy becoming!
go to therapy. you won’t find any solution here, nor on the internet. it will be hard, but worth it, you won’t feel so vulnerable to others.
check out this site and keep reading and learning because there is plenty of information and if you really want to change you can. All the best – btw one of the comments recommended a book it may be an idea to check it out
If you genuinely have remorse, want to change, and feel that you are a mess without your ex, doesn’t that mean you cannot be a narcissist?
Again, only a trained Psychologist or Psychiatrist can diagnose someone as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The word “narcissist” covers a wide spectrum of behavior. If the person has remorse and wants to change, that person is worth staying with if there’s progress. They have narcissistic traits and tendencies, not NPD. We have to be really careful with our terms.