Podcast: What to Do About Toxic Relationships

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Toxic relationships come in many forms. They can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, and more. Most of us, at one point or another, will find ourselves in one… perhaps with a romantic partner, possibly a friend, or even with a family member. Even good relationships can sour and turn toxic. So what do we do when we realize that we’re in such a relationship? Listen for some excellent advice and information.

Something is wrong. The fact that something is wrong has many manifestations in the narcissistic dynamic. You may experience a sudden eruption of temper, the instigation of a silent treatment as you follow us around the house trying to draw from us what on earth is the matter. It might be that you plead with…

via Why Won’t He Say What’s Wrong? — Knowing the Narcissist

What Goes On Inside The Mind Of A Narcissist?

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Narcissists can be found in every walk of life. Every family, every workplace, and every community has their share of selfish individuals who use others for their own gain.

They can be charming, yet behind the façade lies a damaged, dangerous personality.

A narcissist’s behavior leaves others baffled; how could another human being act so badly? How could someone treat those around them with such contempt?

Understanding how a narcissist’s mind works can help you understand their actions. At first, they seem inscrutable. However, beneath the surface, they are quite predictable.

In fact, a typical narcissist is rather boring. They resort to the same behaviors again and again. Their lives and relationships follow a pattern.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. They are cunning, manipulative, and well-practiced in the art of earning people’s trust
A narcissist knows exactly how to appear extroverted, attractive, and caring. They are masterful actors who make you feel important and desirable.

At first, they are playful, exciting, and encouraging. It’s easy to fall in love with a narcissist. They are extremely seductive, and they will shower you with gifts and romantic gestures.

Unfortunately, once they have you under their spell, they will turn on you. The abuse and objectification starts, and never stops until you leave or they abandon you.

They know that you’d run far and fast if they revealed their true colors up front, which is why they put so much effort into impressing you.

However, because they have convinced you to trust them, you’re reluctant to leave. Instead, you stay, assuming that you must be the crazy one.

You come to believe that you, not them, are in the wrong.

2. They are happy to deceive and insult you
Narcissists have a strange relationship with the truth. They frequently lie, distorting their version of events to suit their emotional needs. At the same time, it’s important to note that, to them, their lies are true.

For instance, if they claim you have mistreated them, they sincerely believe you are the guilty party. They will tell everyone that you are the “bad” or “mad” one in the relationship.

They have no qualms with putting you down. Their insults are designed to erode your self-esteem. In time, you start to believe that the unkind things they say about you are true.

You become dependent on their approval, and leaving is an unthinkable prospect. They hide their true selves from others, and it’s hard to convince anyone that, in private, they are a monster.

3. If you question them, they get mad or just ignore the truth
When it becomes apparent you’re dealing with someone who isn’t in contact with reality, your first response might be to challenge them.

This won’t get you anywhere, because a narcissist will tell you that you can’t trust your own perceptions. In their minds, they always know best.

Don’t waste your time trying to reason with them, particularly if they become abusive when under stress.

4. Behind the confident veneer lies a sense of insecurity
Narcissists gain a fleeting sense of satisfaction from manipulating people, but they are not truly happy. Think about it; happy people don’t need to tear others down to bolster their egos.

They are jealous, weak individuals who know all too well that their capacity for healthy human interaction is limited.

They aren’t able to put it into words, but they know, deep down, that something is seriously wrong with their behavior.

Secretly, a narcissist knows that they are cut off from the everyday joys of relationships. This is a lonely place to be. When they see happy couples and families, they feel empty.

The tragedy is that they lack the self-awareness necessary for personal growth.

They fall into terrible habits – feeding off the energy of others instead of looking inward – and this becomes a lifelong pattern.

You have more freedom than you think
The good news is that you have the power to leave a narcissist. Once you understand their tactics, you can step back and make the right choice.

You can see how they’ve worked their black magic, leaving you vulnerable to their abuse. You realize that it doesn’t matter how or why they became so toxic.

It’s not your problem to fix. Your priority is your health.

There’s no sugarcoating it – recovering from narcissistic abuse takes time. But you can learn to trust yourself again.

Even better, once you’ve dealt with a narcissist, you’ll be adept at dodging them in the future. The moment you suspect someone is trying to manipulate you, you’ll run away – and never look back.

“But I can change.” A phrase so often said by some of our kind. You will, more likely than not, have heard this sentence at some point during your entanglement with us. 2,595 more words

via Does The Narcissist Really Want To Change? — Knowing the Narcissist

11 Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse in Relationships

Psych Central Article
By Jessica Cline

You never really know someone until you’ve tried to leave them.

Many women who witnessed various forms of physical abuse and domestic violence in their parents’ marriages swear they will never settle for the same kind of treatment in their own relationships.

However, many are so focused on physical forms of abuse that they too often miss the warning signs of emotional abuse, at least, until they find themselves caught in the trap of an emotionally abusive relationship or marriage themselves.

Having set the bar at physical abuse, which is where our society still keeps that bar to a large extent as well, women in these situations often feel that if they aren’t being hit, they aren’t being abused, and they therefore have no right to complain, let along initiate a divorce or breakup.

If you were raised in an environment of abuse, you may feel more comfortable living within a cycle of violence, which includes emotional forms of violence such as threats to your privacy and control of resources, than you realize.

And even if you do realize this and feel certain that you want to get divorced or leave the toxic relationship, abusers have plenty of tricks up their sleeves for making you believe that doing so impossible.

Signs You’re Being Quietly Abused (and Don’t Even Know It)

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You can leave, and you should and you will, but before you do, you should know what to look out for so you can be as prepared to deal with it all as well as possible.

Here are 11 signs of emotional abuse in relationships and marriages, and how each may affect you in a divorce or breakup.

1. Withholding Affection.

Withholding affection from a partner is a way to punish the partner and to exercise power and control. This is done intentionally and is sometimes stated to the partner by saying something like, “No kisses until you can be nice again.”

Some partners withhold affection after a disagreement because they don’t feel connected or they don’t feel like offering loving gestures in the moment, but in such cases, the behavior happens only occasionally, rather than on a frequent basis.

2. Threats.

An abuser might threaten to expose you in a way you find embarrassing, or they may threaten to take something important away from you, such as money, your home, or even your own kids.

Some might threaten to leave you if they don’t get their way, or they may say they will tell your friends and/or family something personal about you, which is doubly damaging, as not only are they threatening you, but they are implicitly stating that there is something so wrong with you that you should feel ashamed.

3. Ultimatums.

Ultimatums are really a covert threat, with the abuser placing the blame for “having” to make you decide about something back on you.

The way they see it, the fact that they are giving you a choice through which you can rectify the situation (by doing what they want you to do) is a way in which they are actually being “generous” to you, and that, therefore, all blame for the situation and any possible consequences are entirely your fault.

4. Lack of Respect for Your Privacy.

This is often a subtle sign of emotional abuse. Your partner may check your private messages or voicemails, either by hacking into them or directly insisting you give them the passwords for all of email and social media accounts.

They might even go so far as to insist your share email and social media accounts, so they can analyze everything you do and say.

5. Property Damage.

This skirts the line between physical and emotional abuse. An abusive partner may break or “lose” something they know is meaningful to you as a way to punish you and remind me you of the power they hold over you.

8 Critical Things Loving an Emotional Abuser Teaches You

6. “Magic Tricks.”

Many emotionally abusive behaviors are “magic tricks”, meant to distract you from the reality of the ways in which you are being mistreated, i.e., “Look at this here (so you don’t notice what my other hand is doing there)!”

This might take the form of redirecting blame for their bad acts back to you, starting fights, and firing accusations at you immediately before or after being especially nice and loving, but the sole purpose of all these things is to distract from the abuse that they are subjecting you to repeatedly.

7. Playing the Blame Game.

Partners using power and control in a relationship often aren’t insightful enough to notice the profound effects of their own behavior, nor are likely to ever be willing to taking responsibility for any of it.

Instead, they prefer to blame you, saying things like, “If you just hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had to act that way in response.”

8. Alienation.

Abusive partners often want to control who you are allowed to have meaningful connections with, and how deep those connections should be allow to run. This means that, over time, you may feel as though you have lost some of your most supportive relationships with friends and family, because your partner didn’t approve.

9. Excessive Gift-Giving.

Some abusers give gifts following a fight as an indication of how much they care about you — or, as a threat reminding you of all their generosity you might lose as a consequence should you choose to leave.

In such cases, you may hear them say things like:

  • “Of course I love you. I bought you this ______.”
  • “I buy you so many nice things, even though you don’t appreciate anything I do.”
  • “Everyone else sees what you have and wishes their spouse was as giving as I am.”
  • “If you leave me, you will never have this ______.”

10. Controls of Resources.

Partners may control financial or other resources as a form of punishment or as a way of maintaining control in the relationship, causing you to believe you won’t be able to care for yourself (and your children, if you have them) if you try to leave.

The resources in question aren’t necessarily limited to money. An abuser might limit your access to your car, your cell phone, health insurance, and more.

11. “Micro-Cheating.”

Micro-cheating is considered by some to be ways in which your partner connects with others and hides it from you.

This can take the form of secret messages, code names in their phone’s contact list, going out and refusing to tell you where he’s headed, or giving attention to someone else while withholding attention from you.

You never really know someone until you have divorced them.

Often, we see an even worse side of our partner when we try to leave the relationship. Sometimes divorces and breakups are amicable, however, if you’ve experienced emotional abuse during your marriage or relationship, you can expect these tactics to continue long after you leave.

Leaving partners who are emotionally abusive requires more planning and more support than typical, and it often requires the advice of professionals as well.

If you detect these signs in your relationship, reach out for help from friends, family, a therapist, or a counseling network.

This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 11 Signs Of Emotional Abuse In Relationships — And How Abusers Try Using Them Against You If You Leave.

What is the response of the narcissist to the threat of the victim’s friends and families urging the victim to leave the narcissist? Those ‘advisers’ are unlikely to recognise a narcissist, however they have seen that certain behaviours are not right and indeed are unpleasant and abusive and they are urging the victim…

via Just Leave The Narcissist — Knowing the Narcissist

What is Narcissistic Supply?

See Psych Central Article Here
By Sharie Stines, Psy.D

(Note: I am using pronouns he, his, him, for simplicity. Narcissism applies to both genders.)

Secure attachment in infancy creates a solid foundation for a person’s entire life.  It creates a feeling of “confidence and trust in the goodness of me, you, us” (Divecha, 2017). This secure attachment is created by the comingling of reflection, attunement, empathy, and love between mother (or other primary caregiver) and infant. It is created when the mother is present, consistent, kind, reassuring, and soothing. With secure attachment, a person learns to trust others and love others for the rest of his life.

Narcissists do not know how to “trust the goodness of me, you, and us.” Narcissists are all about protecting the self – at the expense of the other. Because of the narcissist’s inability to connect in a healthy way with another person, he uses a system of relating that is created in order for the narcissist to take care of himself. Instead of healthy connection, a narcissist seeks for “narcissistic supply.”

People with narcissism usually suffer with a form of early childhood attachment trauma (interpersonal abuse.) At some point in early childhood the narcissist was not properly attached to, or was insufficiently loved. Because of this, he learned how to survive in relationships using a sort of barter system, rather than relying on “normal” human connection skills (because these were not properly internalized in his psyche.)

Narcissistic supply is a form of payment given by others in order to be in a relationship with a narcissist. In essence, when a young child is not sufficiently attuned to or attached with, emotionally soothed and protected, he develops self-protective survival skills. These survival skills come in the form of emotional manipulation and alternate-personality development.

Realize that in essence, people with early attachment trauma, are developmentally delayed – particularly with respect to interpersonal relationships.

Have you ever noticed how your loved one demonstrates behaviors akin to a three year old having a temper tantrum?  This is probably because he was triggered by not getting his way somehow and then he emotionally regressed to an earlier stage of development (one which he has not completed the development phase of maturing through.)

In essence, a narcissist has not properly matured through each stage of early childhood development resulting in stunted emotional growth.

Narcissists are never satisfied.  Once they receive the narcissistic supply for the moment, they soon become empty again; it isn’t lasting. A narcissist’s emotional or “narcissistic supply” tank is always running low or on empty. It’s as if there are holes in the bottom of the narcissistic supply tank. No matter how much you try to love your narcissist well, it is never going to be enough.

What are some common forms of narcissistic supply?

  • Attention
  • Compliments/Praise
  • Accomplishments, such as winning
  • Feeling powerful (having power over you)
  • Feeling in control (being able to control you, and thus, his environment)
  • An addictive substance or activity
  • Sex
  • Emotional energy (can be positive or negative)

The list is not exhaustive and narcissistic supply can be as unique as the individuals involved.

What are some things the supplier of this narcissistic “food” can do to feed the narcissist?

  • Do whatever he wants
  • Lose your autonomy; yourself
  • Praise him/compliment him
  • Be a good “object”
  • Be compliant
  • Be controllable
  • Give up your power

How do narcissist’s obtain this supply from their “victims?” They use some primary tools; these are seduction, manipulation, anger and bullying behaviors.

Realize this truth:

“In a narcissistic encounter, there is, psychologically, only one person present. The co-narcissist disappears for both people, and only the narcissistic person’s experience is important” (Rappaport, 2005).

You can see how this quote applies to this concept of narcissistic supply. The entire purpose of the relationship is that everyone in it has one goal – to feed the narcissist. This form of psychological manipulation works, because when the narcissist is “fed” everyone involved is lulled in to a false, albeit brief, sense of security.

Narcissistic supply is any substitute form of temporary supplier of “satisfaction.”  Most likely, this “food” is in the real form of the neurotransmitter dopamine – the “feel good” brain chemical.

What the narcissist really needs and has needed all along is true human connection. But, since the want of that is a serious threat to the narcissist’s psyche, he has learned to accept narcissistic supply as his source of sustenance.

 

(If you would like to receive a free copy each month of my newsletter, the psychology of abuse, please send me your email address and I will add you to my subscription list:  therecoveryexpert@gmail.com)

References:

Childress, C. A. (2016.) The Narcissistic Parent: A Guidebook for Legal Professionals Working with Families in High-Conflict Divorce. Claremont, CA: Oaksong Press.

Divecha, D. (2017). How to Cultivate a Secure Attachment with Your Child. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_cultivate_a_secure_attachment_with_your_child

Rappoport, A. (2005). Co-narcissism: How we accommodate to narcissist parents. The Therapist. 16(2).36-38.

The Perfect Ten Sentences of Seduction What is really meant when we say these words. 1. I love you and I always have My need to seduce you is considerable and therefore I will use language which will appeal to you and be so outlandish that it will blow you away. I do not…

via Ten Seductive Sentences Used By The Narcissist — Knowing the Narcissist

That’s right. Stop wasting time arguing because they will drive you to the point of insanity. They can’t lose. They can’t be wrong and if you fuck with their facade they will try and destroy you. Trust your gut and walk the very first time you catch them in a lie or when you have […]

via Stop wasting time arguing with narcissistic people — Share our story to end the violence…

The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: How To Spot A Covert Narcissist And The One Thing That Always Gives Them Away

See ThoughtCatalog Article Here
By Shahida Arabi

The term “wolf in sheep’s clothing” has biblical origins and is used to describe someone who pretends to be outwardly innocent and harmless. However, within, they are predatory “wolves,” ready to devour their prey. Who they present themselves to be is far different from who they truly are. Many wolves in sheep’s clothing disguise themselves as upstanding citizens and pillars of their community, all while they commit heinous crimes behind closed doors.

I’ve come across many convincing predators in my lifetime, but perhaps none are more skilled and dangerous than the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. This term’s origins goes as far back as the bible: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). It is used to describe those who appear to be harmless but are actually sneaky, conniving saboteurs looking to fulfill their own selfish agenda at the expense of everyone else’s rights.

This term is quite fitting for the toxic manipulators, covert narcissists or sociopaths who dress themselves as innocent, charitable people while committing unspeakable acts of violence behind closed doors. These predators can come across as agreeable, kind, successful, giving, even shy, insecure and introverted; they can also have a deeply seductive charisma that draws people into their toxicity. Yet their glowing public image is no match for their nefarious private deeds. These wolves lurk anywhere and everywhere, waiting to ensnare their victims into their twisted web.

Another word for the wolf in sheep’s clothing is “the covert aggressor.” Dr. George Simon, the author of In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding And Dealing With Manipulative People, notes:

“If you’re dealing with a person who rarely gives you a straight answer to a straight question, is always making excuses for doing hurtful things, tries to make you feel guilty, or uses any of the other tactics to throw you on the defensive and get their way, you can assume you’re dealing with a person who — no matter what else he may be — is covertly aggressive.”

There is no limit to where these covert manipulators and aggressors can be found. They may be drawn to careers that distinguish them as givers rather than takers, but ultimately, their own self-interest takes precedent over the welfare of any of the people they purport to help.

They could be the head therapist of a counseling center; they may be the pastors at your church, the leaders of altruistic companies, passionate advocates of the local charity. They could be the seemingly benevolent social worker, the compassionate teacher, the seemingly selfless counselor.

According to Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, covert manipulators rely on our empathic nature to get us to fall for them. They prey on our sympathy and our compassion, our willingness to give toxic people the benefit of the doubt. That is why wolves in sheep’s clothing get away with their behavior, time and time again.

Yet there is one thing that can distinguish them early on.

Aside from their use of pity to make you feel sorry for them and their inability to correct their toxic behavior or own up to it, there is one thing I’ve noticed that consistently exposes wolves in sheep’s clothing and differentiates them from those who are genuine. This can help distinguish them even in the early onset of any sort of relationship or interaction with them.

Contempt. 

Initially when a wolf in sheep’s clothing tries to “groom” you into making you their victim, they may act humble, generous, soft-spoken. They are heavy-handed with their compliments, their praise and their laser-focused attention (also known as love-bombing). They are seemingly empathic. Yet their true self is always eventually revealed once you get closer to them and actually realize they lack the emotional equipment to follow through with their promises or perceived character.

If you observe a manipulator closely, they always display micro-signals of contempt when they are speaking. No matter how hard they try to disguise these beneath their façade, their disgust for the human race and the silly “morals” of lesser mortals seeps through every pore of their skin, every shift in their tone, every twitch in their gestures. It seeps through their proposed principles and exposes their real feelings. It finds its way into their rhetoric and the ways in which they talk about the world, the way they speak about others, and eventually, the ways in which they’ll come to speak about you.

Whenever you’re in the presence of a ravenous wolf, you will at some point notice a look of disdain, or a haughty tone of voice when they talk about people they consider “beneath” them. It’s the air of perceived superiority that distinguishes them – and they can’t keep the mask on for long, either.

They may suddenly speak rudely about a friend who they once praised (who you later find out they are envious of); they may abruptly devolve into a scathing manifesto about the waiter who ‘failed’ to give them the right order; they may suddenly start to attack an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend who left them with a shocking hostility that seems altogether out of place with their sweet nature.

You may witness them giving the cold shoulder or cruel, undeserving reprimands to the people who have been nothing but kind and loyal to them. And undoubtedly, you will be placed next in their queue of unsuspecting victims.

When the person who once soothed you with sweet nothings, grand gestures and loving support morphs into a person who is speaking with excessive hatred or disdain for people they don’t know, or people who they do know all too well, watch out. You’re probably in the presence of someone who will one day look down upon you, too.

Contempt is also prominent throughout the abuse cycle with a covert wolf. In the devaluation phase of any relationship with a narcissist, this type of perpetrator who once made you feel like you were the only one in the room – suddenly swoops you off the pedestal and makes you beg for their approval.

They do this by dishing out intense contempt and dislike targeted towards you periodically throughout the relationship.

Where once they couldn’t get enough of your personality, your talents, your attention, now they act as if everything you do makes you beneath them. They once celebrated your achievements; now they act as if you are a burden.

They pin the blame on you for things that were their fault. When you speak out or protest their unfair behavior, they make you out to be the “troublemaker” when you are actually just the truth-teller. They blindside you by making you the scapegoat, the black sheep they must persecute and devalue so no one realizes it is they who are the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Wolves are out for blood, for live prey, and malignant narcissists are no different. They will treat you appallingly once they’ve gotten you hooked on their praise and presence.

They will treat you are like you are nothing to them, even though they initially pretended you were everything.

To wean yourself off from any sense of self-blame you may be feeling, remember that the way a predatory individual idealized you and any other victim is temporary – it is used as bait.

Once wolves have trapped their prey, they have no mercy in devouring you. This is just their nature and it has nothing to do with what you might have done or who you are. It becomes clear that you were not the woman or man of their dreams as they claimed you were: you were just used as sustenance.

To detach from a wolf? You must develop a sense of “contempt” or disgust for their wrongdoings and the holes in their dubious character. Replace your once idealized fantasy of who they were with the truth, and you will find yourself less likely to fall prey to their schemes.

Once a wolf, always a wolf – but you don’t have to remain their sheep.