Wolf pretending to be a sheep

Sometimes I read stories from readers who are experiencing the drama that comes with trying to preserve a non-existent friendship with a stranger or who are feeling cut up over someone they didn’t actually know, or they are talking about a person with a level of familiarity that doesn’t reflect the true relationship, and I’m like one of those people shouting at the TV – “But they’re a stranger! That should be your first red flag!”

A stranger is someone you don’t know or who you’ve encountered but are not familiar with. The latter could also be deemed an acquaintance.

If you’ve forgotten about ‘stranger awareness’, it might be because:

  • They’re offering something that you want or they appear to have the potential to do so.
  • You have mutual friends or acquaintances hence you assume that they’re similar or trustworthy. This is determined to be ‘social proof’.
  • You’re attracted to them – you make a dangerous correlation between attraction and knowledge that basically assumes that if the former exists then other qualities and characteristics must also exist.
  • You’re worried about coming across as ‘rude’ if you act like you don’t know them. It’s that whole fear of having even basic boundaries and being too caught up in being ‘good’.
  • One or both of you are moving too fast - Fast Forwarding.
  • You’re under the influence of something at the time of meeting them.
  • You’re influenced by their status. If they’re famous, respected, in a certain position etc, you may assume more than they are.
  • They’re overfamiliar and instead of feeling wary, you feel flattered and match their behaviour so that it seems less odd.
  • They’re charming, which is normally a precursor to major problems because charming people are slippery, using their ‘talents’ to disarm but not actually being in the possession of substance to let that speak for itself.
  • You’re vulnerable. It’s the equivalent of being caught on the hop by the dodgy vacuum cleaner salesperson knocking on your door at a weak moment.
  • There’s a sense of familiarity based on someone else in your life, not the actual stranger.

The reason why I teach my girls (4 and 6) about stranger awareness isn’t because I want to scare the crap out of them but because it’s an early lesson in boundaries. Being streetwise enough to recognise stranger situations and to also have clear differentiations between strangers, acquaintances and friends means that they respect their own boundaries and those of others. It’s the same for us adults.

When we’re overfamiliar or allow others to be, our awareness is impacted including overriding feelings of discomfort or signs that something isn’t right. If we take our time and don’t force a familiarity that isn’t there, others cannot do it with us either.

In these modern times, we have in a relatively short period of time (less than a decade), diluted the true meaning of ‘friendship’ and ‘relationships’ with our online activity. For self-preservation, it’s critical to maintain your relationship smarts and to also differentiate between and value your close relationships.

To know someone is to have developed a relationship with them, which needs time and experience. You can’t fake or force a knowledge you don’t have.

Experience over time yields knowledge.

If you mostly have assumptions, you don’t have knowledge regardless of how much time or experience you have with a person. This is why a relationship can end and you may be left feeling as if you didn’t really know your ex.

It’s also important to note that feeling as if you know someone isn’t the same as knowing them. Feelings aren’t facts.

You can also correspond with or have sex with a person for instance, but in reality you might only ‘know’ them in a certain capacity.

If you want to know a person, aside from having to put in time and have experience of them in a variety of situations, shrinking the number of assumptions by converting them into or replacing with facts is imperative.

When you have ‘stranger awareness’ and ultimately recognise that regardless of what has been said, thought, felt or done, that you’re strangers or at best acquaintances, this stops you from green lighting code amber and red issues. You will find it odd that somebody who you’re not as familiar with as say, an actual friend or family member, is making out like you’re on that level. You’ll find it odd that a stranger is trying to speed you with faux familiarity or be discomforted by the presence of code amber and red issues. You’ll also find it odd if you’re being overfamiliar.

When you’re familiar with a person:

  • You’ve known them for a long time or you’ve encountered and dealt with them in a variety of situations over time.
  • You have a close association with them.
  • Your close association may be in a particular context, such as knowing them in a work capacity but not necessarily outside of that but what you know facilitates your relationship.
  • There may be an intimacy that springs organically from shared experiences and knowledge.

When I’m around someone who I don’t know, regardless of whether they know people around me, I don’t know them so I don’t bowl in there like a bull in a china shop.

You can enjoy yourself around a stranger or acquaintance while anchored with your boundaries, sense of self and the knowledge that you are not yet familiar with each other. The latter piece of information should in itself moderate your thinking and behaviour plus you will look for cues and clues in your interactions that inform how you’re going to proceed.

It should go without saying but you’d be surprised how many of us end up ‘collecting’ people with this underlying belief: you don’t have to turn every stranger and acquaintance that you interact with or who shows some interest in you into a friend or relationship partner… Really.

Some people are not supposed to make into your Circle of Trust! Have some quality control and be discerning!

Pretending that you know someone more than you do is a means of creating faux intimacy and justifying your actions around them. This will only end up bringing you pain.

There’s also no way in hell that you should be stressing yourself out over a stranger or acquaintance and jumping through hoops. That’s a danger alert that raises the question: if you’ll do all of this for a stranger, what the hell would you do for someone that you do know? Don’t put question marks over your head.

When you’re around someone who is a stranger or acquaintance, you have to temper your thoughts and actions with, ‘I don’t know this person yet’;I am getting to know this person’ and ‘It will take time to get to know him/her.’ This is no bad thing; it’s life.

Your thoughts?

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136 Responses to The importance of having ‘stranger awareness’ – don’t let people pretend that they know you better than they do!

  1. Sarah says:

    Wish I’d known this 10 even 20 years ago! This is something I would want my children to practice, so why not me?!

  2. Tabitha says:

    I was so incredibly guilty of this with the ex epiphany that brought me here. All of it! I allowed myself to be fast forwarded and future faked. I forgot about stranger awarness because “•They’re offering something that you want or they appear to have the potential to do so.” Yes, attention, ego boosting, sex, compliments. Lovely. As he unfolded though he was NOT the person I had assumed/projected him to be. Not at all. I kept overlooking it though as I had to justify my investment and of course he had got to work on my self esteem by then and was blowing hot and cold so I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
    I am being far more careful and letting people unfold now. No rush. Thanks Natalie.

  3. finallygettingit69 says:

    Without fail every time I allowed someone to put the cart before the horse, I’ve gotten screwed. Love the wolf “me love you long time.” LOL.

  4. NoMo Drama says:

    I run into this a LOT online; somebody I know nothing about pops up in my in-box asking me to spill my guts with the questions they ask sometimes. The thought of typing all that out with no idea of who I’m addressing is just exhausting and depressing. I have taken to blocking people who do that.

  5. yoghurt says:

    That illustration is the best yet – it made me laugh and laugh.

    This post brought to mind a recent interaction that I had on a (rare) visit to the pub. I was smoking outside – I know, fail – and probably looking a bit miserable, and this middle-aged man came up and started saying things about how my life was clearly hard and I wasn’t very happy.

    In the bad old days I’d’ve probably responded by getting tears in my eyes at the thought of some sympathy and pouring out my soul in the beer garden, but as it was I said “Oi! You don’t know anything about my life! Don’t make assumptions and stop prying into things that aren’t any of your business, mush”.

    He was a little offended (and, tbf, he was right about my life, it isn’t fun right now) but I Don’t Care.

    That’s cheerful – been a bit low about my lack of progress recently so nice to think that I’m getting something right. :)

    • EllyB says:

      Yoghurt: Don’t worry about the smoking (and I say that as a fierce non-smoker…)! I think your reaction to that creep was perfect, and this is way more important!

      Btw, the first strangers we had to love without really knowing them were our parents. Of course, we got to know them over time but we had no choice but to love them anyway. Luckily, most children of good parents learn over time that not all strangers are as healthy as their own parents are.

      Children of bad parents (like me) tend to act like children even in adulthood though. We act as if we had no choice but to love somebody (in certain circumstances). We have that choice now though.

      • yoghurt says:

        Hi ellyb – thanks :)

        You had a much worse time than I did as a child – I can’t imagine going through that and coming out the other side, so I have great admiration for you and your courage.

        My parents are lovely, but if they have a flaw it’s that they haven’t ever taken my pain/fear/upset very seriously – in fact, my mum apologised to me the other day because, as she said “We just haven’t really understood why you’ve been upset, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been painful for you”. Generally their attitude is “Oh well. Hard things are hard. Start being sensible and jolly now please”.

        There are benefits to this approach in some circumstances but the upshot was that I used to be an absolute sucker for sympathy and understanding. Because if you feel pain/shame/fear it doesn’t just go away because you’re told that it should and you’ll look to anybody to validate it.

        No more of that, though! I’m a lot better at handling my own pain/shame/fear without needing anybody’s help.

  6. Enny says:

    Plenty of stranger awareness here, even a bit to much. After being divorced from a narcissist two years ago and consequently being stalked by him, it has left it’s marks and I feel like one of those Yorkshire terriers: cute on the outside but come in too quick or too unexcpected and I yelp and snap your head off. Really not okay and very much the opposite of the happy go lucky etravert girl a was. Trust, intimacy and bonding abillities are at an all time low and I don’t know how to stop it. I feel so soulraped and flinch at friendly approaches and I have still so much anger in me. The thing about keeping people at a distance is that it leaves you sometimes lonely, although I am very comfortable with my own company. I now over analyze gestures, actions and words, even of my long term friends and are scared they have ulterior bad motives. I left the narc asswipe but how do I leave his impact????

    • Drop says:

      Give it time, Enny. You have been soulraped, for heavens sake! If you feel you have the need to be aware and question friendly behaviour, that is what you need at the moment. It is totally your right to feel this way and react to it.

      With time and positive experience (very slowly) you will begin to trust again. Trust does not come suddenly. It’s a longer process. There is really no hurry at all. Small steps are fine.

      • kayakgirl says:

        I agree. But what I still struggle with in my experience is how IN THE HELL does someone like that get away with it all? I’ve had many wonderful experiences since my own encounter/soulrape (love that term, btw) and am happy in my own skin, happy with my own company, and slowly getting my life, and my emotions, back to normal. My life is definitely better without the guy knocking on my door expecting to get laid. But there he is seemingly getting away with something horrible with barely a scratch on his soul, if any at all. I just don’t get it.

        I’ve seen interactions with his girlfriend – he yells at her and bosses her around, and she’s none to nice either – so perhaps that’s his karma? A friend of mine told me that what I am feeling is perfectly human and not to be so hard on myself, you know, the whole I-want-this-to-stop-hurting-NOW vicious circle. I guess a way to look at it is I have a chance to make my life amazing, and his life is what it is with no real hope of improvement.

        What do you all think about the karma thing?

        • Drop says:

          I don’t know about karma, but what I know is that someone who treats other people that way, someone who soulrapes others is definitely not happy and “getting away with it”. He is in the pitiable situation of not knowing what the hell is going on and feeling miserable and going around continuing to hurt people. Even if he does not show it, inside he surely feels empty and worse. Otherwise he would stop what he’s doing, and cry in shame for at least a decade.

          So don’t worry.
          You’re the lucky one really. You can start loving yourself and acting in accordance with it. You can start to really enjoy this beautiful life. Even if it takes a few years. You are on your way.

          He is not.

    • Tanzanite says:


      ” I left the narc asswipe but how do I leave his impact ”

      Sadly,it can take a very long time.

      No contact was easy for me but recovering the impact was the hardest thing I have ever had to do and although my life has improved greatly, that encounter sits right there in my heart. (no other failed relationship has ever done that )

  7. Lola says:

    Wish I would have read this a month ago

  8. Robin says:

    I’ve had this happen to me! I’ll be talking to someone who I consider an acquaintance, but they’ll suddenly start over-sharing or do something that is way beyond what an acquaintance might do. Like we’re best buddies or that we’re going to be in a relationship soon. It definitely seemed flattering at first, but now that I’m working on myself more, these actions just have me going, “Huh?”

    • Robin says:

      Also, I definitely agree with this: “you don’t have to turn every stranger and acquaintance that you interact with or who shows some interest in you into a friend or relationship partner… Really.” My time is valuable. It doesn’t need to be spent on people who just aren’t compatible with me in any way.

      • Nikki says:

        I had this epiphany too. I used to spend a lot of time and energy worrying about what other people were feeling but now I spend time bonding with them only if there’s compatibility. They can be offended, that’s their choice. It still doesn’t mean I want to befriend any and everybody like I’m still in 2nd grade and afraid to leave anyone out.

  9. Max says:

    This post is right on Point. PEOPLE UNFOLD. Not everyone is a fruitcake or nut bag. Take time to get to know people. It is their actions not words that really matter. And Character is there consistently not just when they are trying to get something from you. I am very wary of FREAKS…but you can’t put everyone in the same bucket. Slow your Roll..and you will be fine.

  10. Revolution says:

    The wolf is back! But this time he looks perplexed. ;)

  11. Wiser says:

    Add to your list the faux familiarity that can arise with a coworker, that just because you work in the same place you probably have the same values. That was where I went off the cliff, thinking that since we worked for the same organization (happens to be one that attracts good, honorable and trustworthy people with high ideals) that we immediately had something important in common. It led to a false sense of intimacy and the illusion that I really “knew” him. He seemed outwardly like so many other men I knew in this organization for the past 30 years, all wonderfully solid, caring, just good people that I thought he must be the same. Big mistake! Bottom line: don’t assume what a person is like from the organization he or she works for, their title, their status, their outward professional persona. Means nothing. They are still strangers and not to be intimately trusted until they prove who they really are by consistent actions both inside and outside the workplace.

  12. Sarah says:

    Enny, I feel the same. I escaped a narcissist and the subsequent community he turned against me. Now I stupidly got involved with someone who is really immature and who talked on the phone confirming dinner plans with another girl right while in my office at work. What the hell. I don’t even know this new guy to care so much but my heart literally aches. Ugh. I miss myself before the narcissist relationship.

  13. Melissa says:

    Gah, so so true. Especially with the online dating. It’s sad, really, how hungry we all are – men and women – these days to feel anything, any type of connection at all, that it all gets put out there so quickly, in emails and phone calls and text chats, that you feel like you ‘know’ each other, when in fact, you know nothing at all.

    I have found that I know more about a man through a google search than I know through anything he’s told me. I know his true age, his actual marital status, his arrest records, his number of DUIs, his political leanings…

    Are we all so actually bad that we cannot show our true selves anymore? Why has everyone become so okay with lying?

    • kayakgirl says:

      Yep, online searching reveals SO much more. I recently went on a date with a guy I met on a dating site. Charming, handsome, smart, same interests, bought my meal, etc. Had fun. Looked him up on Facebook….married. LOL The dude is Persian so perhaps it’s a cultural thing and is accepted. Fine. However, AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! lol

      • Mymble says:

        No kayak
        It is not acceptable in Persian culture, and indeed adultery is a criminal offence in Iran (modern Persia).

        • kayakgirl says:

          Good to know, Mymble. Makes me even more grateful for technology. I totally dodged a bullet there! Many thanks. (((HUGS)))

          • NoMo Drama says:

            He might be ‘allowed’ more than one wife in his religion/culture, and not all Iranians are Muslim so we don’t know that. But it doesn’t sound as if he gave you the information to decide whether you’d want to be part of that. flush

    • paolo says:

      @Melissa. I agree..This online faux bonding has become rife..I do think it is possible to break the ice online and then meet someone in real life and have it work but once real life has happened it should stay that way…Everyone unfolds eventualy and i think it’s really important that we remember it can take many months for that to happen..I know im guilty of falling for woman way sooner than that if i’m really attracted to them…From now on a friendship first kind of thing means everything to me.

  14. GT says:

    I’m sitting here gobsmacked after reading this post. I was knocked off the pedestal I did not ask to be put upon and tossed aside after nearly two years by a fast forwarder/future faker, though he started pulling away after about a year. I can recall feeling like things were moving way too fast in the beginning but unable to slow them down. Now, several months after the breakup, I feel like I really knew nothing about this person who I lived with for nearly the whole time. He practically moved in with me right from the start although he had his own place. And he “fell out of love” and fled the scene of the crime as quickly as he “fell in love” with me (less than a month). Lesson learned! I’m sure he’s smitten with the emotional airbag for whom he left me. LOL. Good riddance!

  15. Tinkerbell says:

    My problem was and may be still is (I hope not), taking business relationships and turning into bff’s. I’ve done it repeatedly. Even doing it with the MM who was my general contractor and moving man with whom I had the affair. Now, that I’ve worked so hard on improving my self esteem, judgements and interactions, I don’t know what need I was fulfilling, but I suppose it is from something missing in my childhood. Perhaps my overachieving, ever-popular, politically involved Mom whom I felt never had enough time for me. Whatever. I don’t feel the need to do that anymore, but then the need has not arisen because I have a host of more secure friendships and don’t need anything from a person I barely know. This post has brought this to my mind and it would be interesting to know if I would still continue to go overboard like that. Would my increased self-esteem preclude the need to do that? I don’t know. But right now, I have other issues (well, decisions would be more accurate) that are more important. But, does anyone else have that tendency to change business relationships into personal friends?

    • Tinkerbell says:

      To explain a little further. I did this with two female real estate agents, at different times, and with a woman who was retained as my new psychologist. The irony is that these individuals had the same interest in changing the relationship from professional to personal. The psychologist even made overly familiar requests and overtures which I did not realize at the time were pushing her own boundaries and overstepping my own as if we were old friends. All of those relationships came to an abrupt end I presume because they were demanding and I felt taken advantage of. Undoubtedly, that was the case with the MM. People may initiate this with us, busting our boundaries, but we must also be careful of not doing so with them, consciously, or reacting positively without establishing clarification of what is happening.

  16. Magnolia says:

    Here’s how it went with me. Folks at home (NOT strangers) weren’t great at reflecting back to me that I was good, capable, attractive, worth listening to, that needs were okay. So I was looking for those messages, and every strange body was someone who might give them to me.

    For me: the familiar = people who wished I were different. Strangers = people who saw my potential, the “real” me, my “real” issues.

    I was the queen of the early overshare and of immediately trusting anyone who gave me a reflection of myself that seemed more considered than my family’s. Even if it was some twenty-something drunk dude telling me within twenty minutes of meeting me he could see I had anger issues! I mean, he actually paid attention to me, right? He saw me (or so I felt).

    I just got off Skype with my sister who is now pregs and married to a guy who is the centre of her world and who isn’t interested in getting to know me at all. He was around for the Skype call, and it seemed to make her more self-conscious of me and more smug. I’ve been doing Headspace (thanks NML for that recommendation) and I am happy to feel the trigger of “sister who knows me so well shows me again what a nerdy embarrassing bore I am” and step back from it a bit. It still smarts to think my sis may be moving even further from being a support, but I would rather see clearly and accept than try to make her change.

    I feel like it’s really only after coming to terms with my familiarity = embarrassment/judgment/apathy relationship history that I can do the work to build a lot of trust in me to be okay on my own. Because how else, besides having first trust in me, can I begin to do the due diligence work on the new people with whom I seek to build better relationships than I ever had with family?

    Sussing out a new person takes time, and observation, and patience. I’m gradually getting clear about what I would want to see in a partner in the long term and feeling comfortable that I have enough self-possession to take the time to look for shared values and even risk trusting for a while to see if I can rely on those being there.

    I’m pretty proud of myself for accurately judging this work situation, taking a risk but hoping I hadn’t accurately judged this person (BAD old habit!), and at least finding I am grounded enough to ride out the consequences. (This dude is now totally trying to control and ‘manage’ the poem – it’s not a fecking jingle, buddy – that he has hired me to write.)

    The old Magnolia would have absorbed his reflection of me as “not getting it, being too critical, not professionally savvy enough” and would have bent over backwards to have his reflection of me match what I want to be. I really have invested a lot of ego in my professional/artistic identity.

    Now I think, we barely know each other, he doesn’t know what I can do, I had a sense he’d be a control freak, so I will just keep trusting me to do a good job (and stick to my values around what I write) and if he freaks, fine.

    My Circle of Trust might only have me in its innermost circle right now, but that’s okay. Better than having the wrong people still hanging around in there.

  17. Lilia says:

    This is so timely! I had this weird online encounter a few days ago that left me feeling uneasy though I didn´t really know why at the moment. The thing is, in september last year I had two chats through gmail with a guy from a dating site and never heard from him again. Which was okay because I soon became fed up with the whole online dating thing and signed myself out of the site.
    Now, a few days ago, I received some new IMs from him. He was all “where have you been? Please stay in touch! I was afraid you didn´t like me” and blahblah.
    Then he added me on Facebook and we chatted a bit about our hobbies (we´re both into making music).
    It was all innocent enough, but I felt very uncomfortable afterwards. I had this feeling of “Oh no I´m not supposed to start a relationship/have sex/go out with this guy, am I?” Because I don´t even know him! And during our brief online conversations I got the impression that he has a bit of a bad temper – but of course, I can be wrong because I´ve never met him (the fact that he shaves his head King of Siam-like makes him in particular look a bit aggressive – not saying that baldness makes all men intimidating).
    Also, am I the fallback option after all his other dating/sex possibilities didn´t work out?
    Anyway, it´s so nice to be able to pinpoint what´s wrong with the whole setup. I feel like there´s some expectation for me to act as if it´s perfectly natural to relate in this manner, and I just don´t want to!

  18. noquay says:

    A couple of times here, I was approached by a dude who was grossly overfamiliar. He was clearly recruiting for a mommy for his kid and would invite himself to your table and pour out his life story. Turns out our boy has been up on domestic violence charges twice in the past 5 years. Creepy. Sometimes folks in the right circumstances can hide who they are for a very long time. Sometimes folks whom you thought were friends will use info about your life against you. I am exceedingly careful about divulging anything about my upbringing. I think Crackbook has really aided folks in losing their social filters; that’s why I am no longer on it. While I like to give folks a fair chance, I strongly agree with Robin; don’t waste time and energy on those who you are not compatible with. Life is too short.

  19. noquay says:

    Narcs are exceedingly hard to completely get over because of the way they operate. When they discard us, we still remember the adulation stage and blame ourselves for somehow being to blame. My AC (diagnosed as a narc by two qualified professionals) and I have been struggling for two years to heal. Stick to BR and read everything you can on this disorder. It will help.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Noquay, please find the poignant comment to you on the last post, as you didn’t respond. Maybe you read it?

    • Tanzanite says:


      You have partly answered a question I needed to ask.

      A lot of people come on here with the opening line- ” the ex narc ” and you can truly say that because your ex had two qualified professionals diagnosing him.

      I certainly suffered because of a man who displayed some traits but i’m not a qualified professional so I will never know for sure if he really was a narc but I can honestly say with me he was an AC for sure.

      I am over the worst and so I can now accept that perhaps it was just me he didn’t want and maybe he isn’t an AC with his latest partner.

      I also have another theory.What if two people meet who are both lonely and want to be loved.One is capable of being in a long term relationship and the other has never had a long term relationship(that’s what he says ).One person never changes from what they originally wanted and the other person unfolds and changes completely from the person you first met.Then,because it’s so hard trying to be the person they pretended to be they turn into an AC and hope you will dump them so they can move on with a clear conscience.When you do dump them ,it’s not what they want either.They yo yo in and out of your life with promises of change that never occurs.( sound familiar ? )

      My problem was I genuinely loved the person I thought he was.I was too soft and what kind of a woman would dump a man who keeps telling her that he loves her? If I wasn’t blinded by love I would have realised there were no actions to back it up.

      The part I played was I was too soft/naive and didn’t want to hurt his feelings even though I was losing every bit of self esteem I ever had.I had also given up everything to be with him.I needed to justify that and save face if possible.

      His part-Perhaps he did love me but loves his freedom too.Perhaps he realised he couldn’t back up his original words with actions.His EU then turned into assclownery in the hope I will dump him. Perhaps he did feel bad about everything I had lost and kept coming back to give it another go.Perhaps he felt he owed me. Perhaps he too, was too soft.

      As Nat says-” These men/women bite off more than they can chew.”

      Then you are left with two people who know they can’t be together and yet don’t want to be apart and too scared to face the consequences.I went no contact before I went crazy.I did, what he couldn’t do.

      Is he a narc or just a wet lettuce ?

      Either way the consequences are just the same.

      I have been single for 3 years by choice.The fear of repeating that ever again keeps me single and the memory remains.

      He is in a relationship and has a child which at best was conceived as soon as I went no contact and at worst conceived whilst we were together.

      One of us has reflected.

      The reason I sometimes think it was more than him just being a wet lettuce is the effect it has had on me.I have never felt like this before.

      I was watching a documentary once and it interviewed a man who had had his heart broken and he said something that I think is possibly true-

      ” You only really recover when you replace them with a partner that is better than your ex in every way ”

      Being grounded in love is a nice feeling.I sometimes wonder whether women/men in great relationships are more together than we are or is it the wind beneath their wings that comes from great relationships that makes it look that way.

      • grace says:

        He doesn’t have to be diagnosed by a mental health professional to have had a detrimental effect on you.
        My sis in law has been seeing mental health professionals for three years. They’re diagnosing and rediagnosing her and she is still ill. She’s actually getting worse. It’s not like diagnosing a broken leg. These are patterns of behaviour which we label. My sis in law has been diagnosed paranoid, depressed, schizophrenic, paranoid schizophrenic, schizophrenic with paranoid tendencies, (apparently they are different) and psychotic. You can call him an EUM, AC, narc, sociopath, psychopath, whatever. These terms are not cast in stone. We all know what we mean and we’re not writing medical textbooks here.
        DISCLAIMER: I am not a mental health professional.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          I disagree and made my point.

        • Tanzanite says:


          I can speak from personal experience that even without a professional opinion the person I was involved with had a detrimental effect on my health.

          You can be EU and be no harm to anyone.You can be an ass clown with one woman/man and might never be an ass clown again if you reflect.

          A narcissist can be mild or severe and if it’s severe it can take years of therapy to change, even if it’s not set in stone.They lack empathy and so reflection is almost impossible.

          If the same pattern has been going on for years,it cuts you to the bone and you really struggle to recover I think that is an indication he/she has narcissistic traits -the selfish trait.There is more criteria to meet before a diagnosis of narcissism can be made for sure.

          Occasionally,it is possible to make a mistake an not know how to end something respectfully.It’s not nasty it’s a lack of courage. Occasionally,two people are just not right for each other and they bring out the worst in each other.

          When you are in intense emotional pain you are more likely to label someone mentally ill.It’s like saying you must have something wrong with you if you don’t want me.

          I have no doubt some of the men/women we have been involved with did have narcissistic traits.I also know that sometimes it’s not them and it’s not you either.You are just incompatible.

          We wouldn’t diagnose a medical condition because we are not doctors so why would we diagnose mental illness when the professionals find it difficult enough.( Grace-your sister in law springs to mind).

          To everyone-

          How would you feel if you over heard your narc ex describing you as a psycho?

          We have changed and there is a possibility that they can too but it’s no longer our problem.

          • Chrysalis says:

            Great comment Tanzanite.
            ” When you are in intense emotional pain you are more likely to label someone mentally ill.It’s like saying you must have something wrong with you if you don’t want me.”
            That sentence really struck a chord with me. It took me a long time to start to focus on ME and getting to know ME instead of trying to make it all about HIM and his “wrongness”. At the end of the day it really it is irrelevant what the other person is because as you so correctly state “Its no longer our problem”.

            • Tanzanite says:


              Thank you.

              It took me a long time too but it was worth it.

              Love your name too.

      • Lilia says:

        I don´t agree at all with the man who had his heart broken – “You only really recover when you replace them with a partner that is better than your ex in every way”.
        Those opinions are just that: opinions. It seems harmful to believe them because then you never take your own power back.

        • jewells says:

          Yeah, my take on what that guy said is ‘rebound’ and ‘devalue and discard’ the problem. Nothing about self reflection and personal growth, learning and finding someone more compatible.
          He’s probably EU, looking for a playboy playmate doormat to replace the woman who left him because he couldn’t/wouldn’t progress the relationship, bond and connect at a deep level…
          …just a thought…

        • paolo says:

          I don’t know who that man was lily but it does seem like a truism…Something i currently believe…I don’t say it’s a healthy one but it is what it is.

        • Tanzanite says:


          I think it’s good to hear it from the man’s side sometimes and it’s also interesting that Paulo who is a man agreed with the statement.

          Us women do think differently but having said that when we look for a new partner we try to avoid making the same mistakes we did with the last partner,so whether consciously or unconsciously we do look to improve.On the plus side,if you have been treated appallingly it doesn’t take much to improve.

      • paolo says:

        I completely agree with that statement and is why i think im screwed..I only met the woman i fell for a couple of times..She was perfect in my eyes so every woman i meet now is competing with some distorted vision of female perfection because i never got to see any bad traits. That’s my love life screwed forever.

        • paolo says:

          @jewells..Iv’e done the rebound bit,,it’s the discarding and devaluing part i’m having trouble with. I do recognise the one i fell for was EU and didn’t want to progress things..I told her i didn’t want that either but we’re both students..I didn’t know not progressing things would hurt me though.

          • paolo says:

            I will add jewells also that i do want to reflect and grow..I have reflected and reflected so much i think my head will explode some days..It’s like a trauma and being stuck in a loop sometimes..I agree with the statement. I havn’t seen the documentary but i can certainly relate to the statement. I don’t see how it correlates to NOT wanting to reflect, grow and be with someone more compatible..I certainly want that.

            • jewells says:

              Paolo, at least you are on the right track, you are here for one, and two, you seem to know what you want. I don’t know if I’ve read where else you search for clues and answers, but I know that they are not all in this site no matter how fantastic and insightful everyone here is. I’ve been reading tons, esp on the narc disorder, seen a therapist who has also pointed me in the direction of some good books, joined a personal development school. In the past I’ve also done spiritual work, now that I have benefits at work I can take better care of my physical with chiropractic and acupuncture work. Also my building put in a little gym, so that makes it easier to work out regularly too. It all helps, it’s all an accumulative effect, treating health on all levels from many directions. I know I’ve not been healthy consistently in my life, so how could I possibly make healthy decisions about my love life? So now I’m working really hard on several aspects to get a grip. And it’s working, things are coming clearer, I have moments of clarity which can fade, but I strive to remember them and find them again. It’s a journey, that’s all, and has to be worked at everyday in some form or another. I feel that when I am ready, I will find what I am looking for, until then, I don’t trust my judgement as it has failed me miserably in the past. So, I have my head down, working my ass off so that one day in the near future it will bear fruit. :)

        • Tanzanite says:


          Your love life isn’t screwed forever.I am not familiar with your back story but I have picked up on some of the things you have written.

          You fell in love with someone online.It’s the anticipation that gets you hooked, and that it’s only a matter of time before you get this fantastic future together that they faked.The fantasy
          builds because they haven’t done anything to disprove what they are saying.The reality is they haven’t done anything to prove they are up to the task either.They are basically talking a good game.

          You are aware what the problem is- “some distorted vision of female perfection ” those are your words.

          You weren’t together for long enough to see if she unfolded and anyone can act perfect for 2 dates.

          You have mentioned before that you need to meet real people offline and that will be a big help.It was for me.

          I have never been so at ease with myself as I am now and I have no man in my life.Finding your balance again is a win win situation.

          Would I like to be in a relationship with Love ,trust care and respect? Yes I would.

          This leads me back to the the quotation I left.I feel good but I would feel better in a loving respectful relationship.Learning to love again is the final bit of healing for me.I also think that when you find someone who is all the things the ex wasn’t it takes away the last bit of pain and the ex soon becomes a distant memory which also backs up the quotation I left.

          The documentary was a few years ago now but I never forgot that line.

          Good luck

    • Furry White Dogs says:

      I agree with Grace that “He doesn’t have to be diagnosed by a mental health professional to have had a detrimental effect on you”

      I would also add that someone can be diagnosed with a mental illness by a mental health professional and have a beneficial effect on you.

      In the months since the end of our marriage by the arseface and subsequent discovering of all the lies and manipulation and cheating my biggest support has come from my fabulous daughter who is diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder.

      I firmly believe the arseface has a mental illness and the labels that fit best are narcissist and sociopath. The difference is not in the mental illness but in how the person responds to it.

      My daughter faced her mental illness and got ongoing help from very good mental health professionals. She did, and still is doing, the hard work in understanding and managing her illnesses. She is self reflective, honest and open, all the things the arseface is not. Her attitude is that ‘I am not responsible for the causes of my mental illness but I am responsible for how I deal with it now’. She is also managing very challenging chronic physical illness, one of which is fibromyalgia. She is inspirational and a wonderful support and I am so very grateful to have her in my life.

      The arseface never had the courage to face up to his issues (whatever label you stuck on them) and seek help. He was too lazy to put in the hard work to change yet often accused my daughter of being lazy. He moaned in one of his last emails to me that ‘Trust me I have tried to change and always failed”. I call total bullshit on that lamearse pathetic ‘poor me’ statement because he wouldn’t see a professional or even genuinely admit he had issues. He screws up a relationship and then moves onto the next person, still carrying the same time bomb flaws and dysfunctionality, rather than looking within and working on himself.

      Basically it comes back to character and values.

      I am having a very hard time getting over this relationship, not because he was wonderful, that was after all a facade, but because there was so much promise of long term security and happiness beyond what I thought I could achieve alone. Promise that held up for the first couple of years. Eventually the lies caught up to him and his true character unfolded gradually until after seven years he was completely revealed to be the lazy, cowardly, deceptive, manipulative, cheating, selfish arseface that he is.

      I guess the moral is don’t depend on another person for your security and happiness. And a label doesn’t define a person, judge on their actions and take your time.

      • Furry White Dogs says:

        I just read this to my daughter and made her teary :)

        She adds that the word label is unhelpful because it implies that you are your diagnosis.

        A diagnosis is nothing more than a road map to treatment. To put it simply, your diagnosis isn’t you, it’s how you can be helped to help yourself.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Tanzanite. I agree with you about randomly using psychiatric terms. You gave a very good example also.

        Furry Dogs. I disagree with you. I am an RN, but I am not a mental health professional. To label people narcs, sociopaths, paranoids schizophrenic. etc. just because they mistreated you and you are angry is just wrong. You can describe the behavior but using those terms when you don’t know what you’re talking about and have no knowledge if that person has been diagnosed as such is unacceptable. The word “narc” has been thrown around so frequently that it seems several posters per article use this term. It’s unfair. We may “know what we are all talking about” and “we are not writing medical books here”, but I have to repeat what Tanzanite said: “How would you feel if you overheard your narc ex describing you as a psycho?” I think using “AC” and “EUM” are fine. They have been thoroughly explained by Natalie. But, by the same token, not once has she referred to Paranold shizophrenic Sociopath, etc. because she doesn’t have that specific knowledge to to qualify her using the term arbitrarily. Neither do any of us even if we are educated in the field, we don’t know the AC that is being discussed. So it’s really going too far, imo.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          I absolutely agree that the person, whatever you THINK he is has had a detrimental effect on you, and it’s been damaging and extremely painful. BUT, that does not make him a “psycho”.

        • Revolution says:


          I have to disagree with you to a point.

          “To label people narcs, sociopaths, paranoids schizophrenic. etc. just because they mistreated you and you are angry is just wrong.”

          While this is true, I think some of us will label a person a narcissist, not because they “mistreated us and we’re angry,” but because we have observed their PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR both in our interactions with them and in their interactions with others. (This is considered their “history,” and is something that mental health professionals also use as a measuring stick to diagnose someone).

          While the ex-AC is NOT a narc, my ex-best friend is. Full boar. She has all the “symptoms” and the history. Not only with me, but with many many other people she’s burned bridges with, as well as her employment record that reflects this, etc. Is that all she is? Of course not. But she IS a narcissist. And she’s the only one I can honestly say that I’ve known. So no, I don’t go around throwing that label onto all sorts of people. Some people are just assholes.

          Also, none of my exes could realistically call me “psycho” because (here’s the difference) I never ACTED psycho. I don’t have a PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR that signified “psycho.”

          To add here, too: even mental health professionals are often hoodwinked by narcissists, so they are definitely not the end-all be-all in diagnosing that particular disorder. Having said all of this, yes I do agree that the term “narc” is thrown around WAY too much these days.

          • Revolution says:

            By the way, I’m not yelling at you when I’m using CAPs. I just can’t figure out a way to use italics to emphasize those words, lol. :)

            • Kit-Kat says:

              Rev. I agree w/you 100%. If I look up the definition of narcissist my EX exhibits many of the characteristics of one. Does he exhibit all of them “NO” but that does not mean he is or isn’t one. I wouldn’t take out a billboard declaring him one but in my own mind he is. Does that make it easier to process the hurt, yes, for me it seems to. It gives me some answers as to why he was OK with it all. Just my 2 cents on it for what its worth :)

              • beth d says:

                My ex fits alot of the Narc characteristics ie lack of empathy, thinks he is special, selfish so I do call him a Narc. He doesn’t do the rage thing, is very generous but some Narcs are as a result of gaining control. He does the devalue and discard routine. It really doesn’t matter what label you give it for sure. If he isn’t a full blown Narc he has plenty of Narc tendencies and that is pretty bad. Either way he is one or all of the following. Narcissist, AC, EUM and last but not least Asshole.

              • FX says:

                I’m in your camp Kit-Kat. Some of the key characteristics that led me to the conclusion that the AC is also an N:

                1)Inability to feel empathy or remorse
                2) No sense of personal accountability
                3) Pattern of Idealize, Devalue, Discard
                4) Projection
                5) Triangulation
                6) Duper’s Delight
                7) Extreme sensitivity to any perceived criticism
                8) Mirroring

                There are many others but among them are many that are not exclusive to NPD.

                During the idealization phase, you think you’re in heaven and then the devaluing starts. By the time their mask slips and you are discarded or decide to go NC to save yourself, you are in a world of hurt because they are also consummate liars and master manipulators. They are not your garden variety assclown.

                I remember a time I actually felt like my brain chemistry was changing. I was so sucked in and dependent when I was discarded as his gf, I allowed myself to be demoted to fallback girl. When I asked him “How do you think it makes me feel to know you’re romancing another woman, he replied guilelessly (for once!) “I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it.”

                Now, I just found out when he was pursuing me hot and heavy after I went NC before, he was also already courting the woman he married last month. My wise child thinks that by me going NC, I accelerated him having to lock supply down. I also know he hasn’t changed because I now discovered he hoovered me days before his wedding.

                People are supply to them and they always have to have it. They are emotional vampires to put it nontechnically.

                They also frequently like to have both Secondary Supply: the primary r/s, i.e., nice respectable wife or gf and Primary Supply: the mistress or whomever else they can get to meet their needs. (I didn’t reverse the titles – Primary Supply is more important to their egos.)

                I myself went from Primary to Secondary and back to Primary before I knew any of this!

                I have learned a lot I wish I didn’t have to know but it brought me to BR and has enabled me to do some much-needed work on myself so I will not be available to any of these freaks, whether EU, AC or N again!

                • FX says:

                  I just want to add that I foolishly looked at his online wedding album and could swear in the photo at the alter you could see the duper’s delight on his face. I am 100% sure he will cheat on this seemingly lovely woman after the wedding, too, if he hasn’t already. Heck he’d probably jump in bed with me in a heartbeat if I called him but that surely ain’t gonna happen!

                  • BethD says:

                    Definitely fits the pattern of a Narc. Malignant Narcissist matter of fact. The lying with ease and crazymaking give them away. I believe you FX. My ex is the same. Told me he was happy with his new woman and loyal. But then he added…..when it comes to us all bets are off. Ughhhhhh. That’s exactly why I refuse to be friends with him ever.

            • Tinkerbell says:


              Here is another controversial topic. This is what makes BR so interesting. Different points of view. I may be sensitive about labeling people, but I do, inherently believe it is wrong. As I pointed out earlier, describing the behavior is one thing, that’s fine. But, calling the person such I feeling is presumptuous and rude, among other things. I know not every one of us id going to have out p’s and q’s polished every time they write something but I think taking time to think about what you’re saying is important, so as not to offend. The term may be the most commonly used here but does everyone fully understand what a narcissist is. A selfish, inconsiderate person may not necessarily be a narcissist. He may be appear to be that way in a certain person’s view who has ample reason to think the worst of him. What I’m trying to say that I think using ANY of these terms is extreme, whereas DESCRIBING THE BEHAVIOR is much more socially acceptable. I’ve been known to have exceeding strong opinions, knowing full well that i may have opened up a keg of worms. But, I gotta say it when I think I happen to be correct. I’m sure if “Narc” did not appear to be used so frequently (I’m sensitive its usage, remember) I would not be even bring it up. Whoever wants to have a go at this, please be my guest, but I will say no more.

              Rev, thank you for your input. I DO understand your point, and respect same. BTW, I also use capitals indicating emphasis only. My Dell desktop must have a way to use italics but I don’t know how. LOL!

              • Revolution says:


                I feel ya. And I think we’re actually mostly agreeing, now that I read your comment. I, too, think it cheapens the severity of a serious diagnosis (and/or is inappropriate at best, damaging at worst) to haphazardly label someone a “narc” without having a full understanding of what that implies. That’s why you’ll notice that I can the ex-AC multiple things, but never a narcissist. I, unfortunately, have had much experience (“hands-on” and in study) of narcissists and so I know that they are a different breed altogether, and definitely a class apart from the garden-variety asshole.

                Thanks for explaining your thoughts, Tink. Always a pleasure “talking” with you, and no worries: I’m not exactly a wallflower when it comes to talking with people who have strong opinions. Good on ya for that!

                Nat, ’nuff said re: semi-off topic meanderings. No need to bring the ruler out. ;)

  20. noquay says:

    Crap, another typo. WhatI MEANT say was I have been struggling to get over the narc AC for two years.

  21. Revolution says:

    Ugh! One of my pet peeves is people who think they know me better than I know myself!!!!! Takes the cake.

    I remember once, I was about 25 and my friends and I were in this really cool club in NYC. As I was navigating the stairwell (basically trying not to careen down the stairs or skewer anything with my 4-inch stilettos), I must’ve had my “concentration” face on, because some dude (a stranger!) walked by me and said to me, “You should smile more.” I was like “WTF??” I think I actually might’ve said that out loud. What are we, old war buddies? HOW can you comment on the frequency of my smiles, let alone grant yourself as the “Smile Judge” over all and sundry? It boggles the effin’ mind. Anyway, that’s what this post made me think of. Cheers. :)

    • Susannah says:

      I absolutely hate that…passing comments from men telling me to “smile,” or commenting on how I look or anything, for that matter.
      I took a class once in urban design and we talked about why women get harassed on the street by strangers. My professor’s theory was that it was a way for the men to remind us we’re “out of place” if we’re alone in public. I’ve thought about that for years, and I think she’s partly right. The overfamiliarity thing (I’m starting to believe) is a way for men to establish some power. They’re saying “I notice you and I can judge you because I’m a man.” Compliments are just another way of judging and diminishing us.

      • Revolution says:

        That’s an interesting thought (re: men on the street) and possibly true in a lot of cases, Susannah. Personally, though, I like being complimented by men. The caveat, of course, is if there is no “residue” left on me afterwards (such as feeling like I owe them something because of it, or that they expect that I am accepting their definition of myself over my own). Sometimes a compliment is just a compliment, and I wouldn’t want to be in a world where men weren’t complimenting me! But sometimes it hides more sinister motives, as you mentioned.

        When I sense that a man is getting too big for his britches and is effectively giving his compliment to me like he is Sultan over all and that I should be *grateful* that he’s deemed lil’ ol’ me worthy of being called “beautiful,” I just respond, “I know.” It usually takes the wind out of their sails. At the very least, it establishes that *I* hold the reins of how I define myself, thank you very much, motherfucker. But if the compliment is delivered as a GIFT, and not a “proclamation over all” (like a King: “I now deem thee worthy of my praise. You may live, you peasant you”) well, then, I’m down with that.

        I once read a book called “Controlling People” (the word “controlling” is used as an adjective and not a verb–it’s not a book on how to control people! Lol. ;)) and the author said that when control freaks try to “define” others (like the “You should smile” example), they are actually trying to connect with you, but in a backwards way. Pretty twisted.

        • DiggingDeeper says:

          “*I* hold the reins of how I define myself, thank you very much, motherfucker. ”

          “If you don’t define yourself for yourself, you’ll be crushed into other people’s fantasies of you and be eaten alive,” er, …uh,—Audre Lorde

          • DiggingDeeper says:

            If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.

            Audre Lorde

        • Selkie says:

          I gave a quick smile back to a man at the grocery store yesterday. When he got past me in the aisle I heard him say “Mmmmmm….” (Loud enough for me to hear it) It made me feel creeped out. So, it sucks to get told to smile by strangers but it also sucks that if we do smile it can be mistaken as an invitation to a rude sexual comment or innuendo. A catch 22. I’ve tried to explain this to my son that women get unwanted sexual comments and advances so if a women is minding her own business and not smiling at him, it isn’t that she is being uppity, but maybe that she’s learned to not put out the ‘mistaken’ welcome mat for unwanted attention, and that she doesn’t owe him any attention just because he notices her.

          • A says:

            I find it rude when a stranger instructs me to smile. It’s always a man, and I guarantee you they never say it to other men who are passing by.

            • Revolution says:


              You’re right–it is always a man. At least in my case. Not to male bash at all–it’s just that this experience does come up with men too much to ignore. And then they have the balls to be insulted when we don’t want to deal with them. I think it’s because they don’t have to go through the world worrying about being raped or beaten up in the frequency that we as women have to deal with these very real dangers constantly. I’m sure there are few times where they really are trying to be kind and sincere, but usually I smell a weird power struggle and I just get the hell out of Dodge ASAP.

          • Lilia says:

            Yeah I was standing in line to buy a metro ticket the other day and there was this older man staring at me. I thought it was quite rude but I just stared coldly back at him until he became uncomfortable and stammered “I really liked your hair, That´s why I was looking”.
            I just said “Oh, right” and didn´t thank him for the compliment.
            He must´ve thought that I was a bit bitchy but then, who cares? I hate it when men think they can openly analyze our looks or behaviour.

          • Am I just Naive? says:

            Ok so I completely ewwwed out by this guy.

            It would have taken me so much effort to stop myself from speaking my mind…

            I’ve only recently become “decent” looking in the eyes of men (women have always said I had a pretty face) by losing a stack of weight. Initially the stares are overwhelming but welcoming but the sexual comments are disgusting and unwelcomed. I understand my fellow sisters so much more now. I used to be so envious of having a male even find me remotely attractive and could never understand why women “acted” bitchy. I was then hurt by an assclown and if a man gives me the slightest ewww feeling that he sees my like a sexual object, I have to flee before I attack him with my big mouth.

        • runnergirl says:

          I’m glad this thread came up. I’ve worked out at the same gym for years and it does feel like you “know” somebody even though you have only said “hi” and nodded. Yesterday, a late 60′s-70′s gent added on to the hi by saying how much he admired me. Of course, my only response: Why? Because, he said, you keep yourself in such great shape. I said thank you and then wondered all day what he meant. Did he mean I’m in great shape ‘for someone my age’? Or was he just giving me a compliment? He wasn’t hitting…at least I hope not! It’s probably the former and a good case for stranger awareness.

          • EllyB says:

            To me, total strangers in the street who comment on our looks, our facial expression or the like are overstepping our boundaries big deal!

            Runnergirl, did the guy you mention see you frequently at the gym? In that case, he might just be envious/self-conscious because he doesn’t exercise as much as you do. Anyway, being “stranger aware” when interacting with him sounds like a great idea.

          • Revolution says:


            You see, this is why I’m glad that I go to an all-woman gym, lol. Even though the ex-AC “friend’s” girlfriend that he dumped me for (but has since broken up with) works there. Yeah, you read it right. She works in my motherfuckin’ sanctuary. Don’t worry: I promise I won’t throw down in the locker room. :)

            I think this dude was probably checkin’ you out, runner. Who wouldn’t? You sound like a stone cold fox. ;)

      • Am I just Naive? says:

        No way. She’s paranoid or probably had recently experienced a nutjob (assclown) in her personal life.

        It’s all in his delivery. He’s not judging or diminishing you, he’s likely wanting to connect.

        I think I’m just going for the shy guy from now on….yeah maybe I wont have that dominant sex maniac I like but there seems to be so much less shite from them. They dont bed hop as much, they love and appreciate…where’s my local nerd, here I come.

    • Am I just Naive? says:

      I think we have all been hurt so badly we have become so distrustful where we are fobbing off all male contact.

      Revolution, Maybe this guy was simply trying to pick you up. He was trying to meet a beautiful woman in 4 inch stilettos…how else do we want them to approach us?

      I know there are awful Assclowns out there (I know I was sucked in by one and it still hurts) but despite what he has done to me, I dont want to be bitter. For that one assclown I met there is atleast one nice guy out there (my ratio with male friends is something like nice guy 20:1 assclown but then again I’m only friends with them.

      If he had approached you like the woman above who was having a cigarette with intruding on your personal life, getting to personal etc then by all means, knock him down/walk away but he was just using a bad pick up line.

      Maybe I’m still gullible. I would have responded kindly and kept my guards up for any fast forwarding for the rest of that conversation. That’s all.

    • Enny says:

      First and foremost: thank you ladies for responding to my question with understanding and good advice. A special Thank You to Rev for getting and explaining the use of the Narc word! As I was the first one to drop the N-word when responding to the article, which later apparantly resulted in some indignified finger waving tut-tuts on using the word Narc to label my ex: Why do I have to justify and clarify my areas of jurisdiction or qualifications of labeling a narc a narc to some stranger here who is self proclaimed “fussy with words” ? Do I really need to back up and excuse my choice of how I percieve my experience by throwing with Experts, do I really have to fortify my posting by adding “a qualified professional confirmed the abuse was, in fact, really done by a narc”? Do I really need to add that before my story of what happened to me is considered Politically Correct enough and worth taking serious? Especially here??? I was under the impression that the women here are intelligent en honest enough to be able to do some serious soulsearching after being involved in a wrong relationship (by their own behaviour and/or my their partners behavior), that they are lucid and brave enough to honestly question their beliefs and test them to find a better way for themselves. It is clear when reading the comments that many many women here, although not qualified health professionals can smell an AC/Narc/Emotionally Unavailable Twat(EUT)/ Character Deprived Pisstain (CDP) or any other harmfull casanova (HC) a mile away and can diagnose their dynamics. Why? Because textbook knowledge is all fine and good but experiencing and living in a situation makes you an Experience Expert. As they say The best docters are those whom have been patients themselves. So yes, I do take the liberty to use the N word to describe my Ex, and I feel entitled to, eventhough I do not have a PsyD.
      But if it puts minds at ease and knickers back in shape: The Ex Narc has been diagnosed by a shrink and I have spent a year in therapy for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery (a totally different ballgame than a “regulair” bad break up) I was directed there by two professionals. So here we are, I have justified myself to you. Happy? Will you justify and clearify yoru every word from now on too? Or can we just have a basic level of understanding eachother?
      And just to be clear, you justify your questioning of labelling authority by saying you are fussy with words: well, like I wrote earlier I am these days a grumpy Yorksire Terrier that will snapp and bite when someone unjustifingly critics me, goes PC-hoighty toighty on me, micro manages me, or forces me to justify myself: I am the expert of me, and when I write “My ex is a Narc” and ask for help, just trust me that I have enough wits about me to actually know what I am saying.

      *sorry for any typo’s: I am Dutch

  22. Peanut says:

    Okay, so I’m really not trying to be the std queen here as I know I’ve brought it up my last few posts, but it is really relevant for the region I live in. Ignorance abounds.

    I remember sitting in my therapist’s office after having met my ex only two weeks prior and pretty much telling her this is it, I’ve met my man.

    She urged me to wait on the sex and if it got to that to have a discussion about sexual history etc. I remember thinking and perhaps saying to her, “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what diseases someone may or may not have or who they are or aren’t. Love conquers all. That’s what you do for love; you overlook the bad. Right?” Wha wa WHAT?!

    HELL NO!

    Fortunately I didn’t go through with sex with the ex. I guess I reasoned if I don’t feel close and trusting enough with a man to ask if he’s been screened for stds, then I certainly don’t feel comfortable enough having sex with him. And for me without trust, care and shared values, sex is meaningless, just a moment to get your jollies, nothing special. In that case it’s not worth the risk.

    It’s really important to know people before we sleep with them and I’d say even before getting in a car with them. They’re men, not creatures worthy of a free pass because the might (they don’t) hold some imaginary key to our happiness.

    I am single and doing better than ever. Dear Lord, there is room for improvement. But I am in a place where no sucker with a pouty face and tight jeans is ever going to pull one over on me again. End of (that’s one of my favorite sayings I repeat of Natalie’s. End of. End of. End of….)

    • Tee says:

      Wow, whenever i have brought this up with someone whom i was dating or in early relationship with, in some cases they obliged. In others, it was met with an annoyance as if ‘do you think i’m a slut’ as if only alleged ‘sluts’ get stis. I have been dumped for that reason to my knowledge before. The last person that i had that talk with was the houdini. Who though it never got to the sex happening stage (we were dating and getting along or so i though for 3months – then he poofed! disappeared) he was open to it. This year i’ve only experience a handful of dates via online. Another tale for a diff day. Why is that? I mean i would want to know i am clear etc *__**

    • Rosie says:

      Peanut_ I’m replying to your post late so don’t know if you’ll read it but I’m glad you bring up STDs. As I’ve mentioned here many, many times ad nauseum, the guy who brought me here tried to use me for sex. Even though I did make out with him after barely meeting him, one of the reasons I said no to sex was because he was so quick to go (I don’t mean leave.)! He was so promiscuous, so “easy” that I wondered about him, the whole STD thing. I don’t know where he’d been. We weren’t excusive so where was he trying to go when he wasn’t with me? Where had all these other women been?

      Anybody can catch an STD, not just promiscuous people; it only takes one infected partner one time. But it was like such carelessness on his part. If he didn’t even care enough about himself to wait for somebody’s STD report (condoms can break even when put on correctly), then how can I trust him to look out for my best interests?

  23. Peanut says:

    I have been paying attention to media and information on narcissists, sex addicts, and the like. It is fascinating how they reel in women. And I have to question their discernment.

    I felt so treasured and desired during his hot pursuit with my ex. Truth is, he’d have done the same to any moderately attractive woman within his age range who possessed some superficial traits he identified with.

    Actually, the first time we met, I pursued him. A drunk acquaintance introduced us after I had previously pointed him out, though she didn’t know him either. He was drinking alone at the bar and had caught my attention.

    These men that need constant ego stroking or narcissistic supply or to be “taken care of” by a woman are not confident secure men who can satisfy. Even the sex is a ruse.

    It’s all an act to a bitter end: their ego and fractured sense of self. They are confused and think another hit from the lady pond will cure their ailments. It’s akin to the long term single woman that thinks the right man will suddenly make her life sunshine. We all have to find our own sunshine. No one is here to spoon feed it to us.

    • Learner says:

      “It’s all an act to a bitter end: their ego and fractured sense of self. They are confused and think another hit from the lady pond will cure their ailments.”

      Yup! Describes the exMM all too well! I am not interested in taking care of that broken man!

  24. newmoi says:

    Under normal circumstances, I am pretty keen on the difference between friend and acquaintance. If I find that I’m the only making an effort to really get to know someone and they don’t reciprocate, I’m usually quick to say we’re not friends. Even in situations where I may know someone a long time like this one young lady at church that me and another friend went to visit…her reaction to me in general in her home left me uncomfortable and I made it a point to say to my other friend (who’s friends with everybody!) That the young lady was more her friend than mine. Mind you I have made efforts to show my friendshiip to her only to feel estranged in that setting which lead me to the conclusion that yeah she’s not “my” friend and that’s ok. Only time when this has become a problem obviously is with this young man who I slept with. I felt like I knew him. My personal trainer. We were together 5 months before the actual flirting started and then the sex. (Mind you I had been celibate for 7 years prior to this) In my mind I was willing to take that step because I thought we were friends and that we’d have friend sex where allthough we knew we weren’t a couple, there would be a certain respect level there during and afterwards. Deceit is a bitch, haha. Needless to say, the disrespect intensified and the loss of self with the wind. After finally cancelling my PT and realizing that even in that he didn’t have my best interest and goals in mind, I’ve finally been able to wakeup to it fully. Took a while. Each layer started to fall off slowly. My attempts at keeping personal/business seperate futile. Giving him another chance after a 3 month break worse than before. Took him 3 sessions into the New Year to bring sex back into the convo. My stupid behind still hadn’t the nerve to tell him to stop bc hello I did like the attention. But with the foolish behavior of thinking that he could bring some hottie onto my session for free and look at me crazy when I question him about and to this day he has not been able to give a straight answer…nah I really started to see him for who he was. His. Bull about creating his new bootcamp for me and another client/friend only to realize that had to be a lie too or an extremely ill informed decision on his part. I know now that that type of woorkout was hindering my weight loss not helping. His need to put on a show for all to see in the gym, placing me in “competitive” situations with others….not for my best but for his ego! Needless to say I’m picky as hell now because I didn’t have the opportunity to observe him. The gym had simply replaced my original PT with. Him w/o explanation. My so called “let me watch him during the 1st few sessions” did in fact yield some red flags character wise but obviously I was not armed with what I know now.
    Now I am taking care of me. Seeking and watching people even closer because yes I’m super friendly. I’ve taken time to visit other gyms to make myself realize that he is NOT the best as I kept deceiving myself to believe. Thank God for lessons learned!!!! This blog helped me to see the light!

  25. newmoi says:

    Magnolia, what is Headspace?

    • Magnolia says:

      Natalie has it listed in the right sidebar under “Great Resources.” It’s a meditation app; the guy leads you through meditations. I tried the 10-day free bit and liked it. I’ve meditated (or tried) for years on my own but I discovered I enjoy it much more with this app’s recordings. Also, their program is progressive and teaches techniques.


      • Tinkerbell says:

        Hm. Thanks, Mags. I’ve never been able to get into meditating, thinking something must be wrong with me since it’s so popular. I’ll check it out.

  26. Sandra81 says:

    Something that I often encounter amongst my friends and acquaintances (damn modern tecnhology :P ) is the following phenomenon. They meet someone from a different city or country while travelling, they continue constant contact, especially Skype, and they mistake these online interractions for proper dating and “getting to know each other”. Also with the excuse that they talk several times a day or they talk about everything. More often than not, when they meet again in person, which might vary from a few months to a year or 2, one or both of them end up very disappointed. Maybe the other person is not as cool as they seemed before, maybe the attempt for a relationship failed, etc.
    Unfortunately, nowadays, with people having the chance to travel a lot, many such situations arise. Therefore, it’s imperative to keep feet on the ground, distinguishing between online and offline interaction, or not taking for granted the image that you’ve projected of the other person.

    • paolo says:

      @Sandra81..I see it a slightly different way..I think its all too easy to meet anyone in the entire world online but the cost of traveling is waaaaaaaay too expensive for most people, even within their own country to see someone regularly.. This just causes alot of difficulty and pining for someone they can’t reach..Something that’s extremely painful but keeps people hooked into something unrealistic to sustain. When one eventualy cracks and has cyber sex or sees someone else more local in real life then it’s normaly all over.

      • Sandra81 says:

        Ciao Paolo! (I assume you’re from Italy, that makes 2 of us, but I’m still gonna reply in English for everyone to understand :D ). It’s not about *meeting someone online*, but about frequent travellers, like myself and many of my friends, who meet the other person “live” during one of their travels, spend maybe a few days together, and then continue contact after each of them has returned home. It’s about building very, very strong feelings for people you hardly know, based ONLY on online contact and assumptions, so that you make many “movies in your head” on this person and what they’re like, but once you get to see them again in person, you realize you were in love with a projection you developped, possibly even over 1-2 years without meeting in person. But you are, however, right about the difficulty of travelling – time and money, one or the other could always be a problem. And if one person gets to meet someone else locally, it would be over indeed. Unfortunately, it’s what I experienced recently in my last relationship, which was long-distance. However, the time interval between meeting in person never went beyond 3 months. Which was still a lot of time, it was difficult and painful, but I’m ok now.

  27. DiggingDeeper says:

    Ha! still luvin’ the wolf Natalie….

  28. DiggingDeeper says:

    “If we take our time and don’t force a familiarity that isn’t there, others cannot do it with us either.”


  29. karen l says:

    Thank you for this article.I wish that i had been taught this by my mum,but sadly i wasn’t.But through lessons learned the hard way i can now pass this information onto my daughter,thank you

  30. theseamstress says:

    This has reminded me of when I did online dating and a guy was attempting to show me his twirly sparkly best side. The emails were questioning and getting to know you stuff, all a bit personal but I went with it out of some gratefulness at getting the attention. Then it all stepped up a gear, life stories were swopped and it was galloping away with itself and I was giddily out of control. Yeah, I used to be a fool til I got to the sanctum that is BR. I need to share this stuff to help others. I cringe at my old self these days.
    Then he apparently took offence at something innocuous I said and we had a full blown arguement by email. Unbelievable. I even did the “ohmygodIdidsomethingterriblywrong” dance to retrieve the apparent compatibility I thought we were having.

    I hadn’t even met him yet.

    AS it turned out, we went on a date and he was nothing like I thought, I never saw him again. I wasted hours on some stranger and thank goodness I saw some light because I could have wasted years. He assumed so much about knowing me and I him. It was all smoke and mirrors and I swerved a true narc. When I reread those emails I was mortified. They were so over the top. All deleted now.

    I can’t blame online dating but I can blame myself for jumping through shiny happy hoops of gold when the were none there at all.

  31. Tinkerbell says:

    I feel the need to make a point. Even though we all write of the antics of AC’s that does not make each one of them a narc. The two are not one and the same. A narc is diagnosed by a professional as such, so we should be selective in labeling.

    • theseamstress says:

      Point taken, I was pretending I knew him again! Thanks Tinkerbell.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Consider the above a repeat which I’d written initially but later expounded on above as per other poster’s comments.

  32. imagine says:

    What a great article. I often tell people I was raised by wolves. I believe my Mother was a narcissist with a bi-polar disorder. No surprise that I would be attracted to a Narc. I have been no contact from the MM for 6 weeks and I am finally feeling better about myself. This journey has made me see things that I have been running from for years. I thought that just because someone paid attention to me that I had to allow them into my hula hoop. After all the pain of the last 2 years I am becoming more aware of who and what I want in my life. I feel like I misrepresented myself to myself. The person I thought I was is not who I am at all. On the one hand I am angry at all the time I have wasted but on the other thank goodness for the opportunity to change. Baggage Reclaim and the support here has opened my eyes.

    I was in a faux relationship with a MM who was a carbon copy of my Mother. I sometimes can’t believe how he fit the profile of so many on this site. I met him online. I was naive. He was good looking, charming and had money. He fast forwarded the relationship. Communication by text/sext. I believed the sex/attraction meant we were in a relationship then wondered why it never progressed. Me going back over and over wanting a return on investment – where is the man who promised a future, said he loved me and bought me a ring? It was insane. Looking back and doing lots of soul searching I see we were in different relationships.

    It dawned on me that as a child with a mentally ill Mother I lived with my needs not being met. I was basically ignored. The “relationship” with the MM mirrored that to a T. My needs didn’t exist. I was only there to meet his needs. If I brought up the future he turned it around saying I was needy/crazy. Once on the phone he even said something that reminded me of my Mother. “You’re never gonna move.” (I am leaving the area since my divorce was final last year). I thought you have given this person power who does not have your best interests at heart. I see that abandoned myself.

    As an adult I have looked outside of myself for validation. Am I ok? I now realize that it’s not out there but inside that I have to listen in order to get my needs met. This is terrifying and freeing.

    I have to learn to parent myself. I am angry (I know it will pass) because I feel like I got ripped off as a child and now I have to do all this work to recover. I hang onto the statement, “it’s never too late to have a happy childhood!”

    I just hope this is the last AC relationship for me!

    And to all who are struggling – getting away from the situation will give you perspective – it takes time.

    Thanks NLM for the insight and support!

  33. brightlygirl says:

    Great to see this post. So relevant and essential. NML your posts and your book have helped me so much. Just a thought – you should teach these skills and awareness to teenage girls in secondary schools – it might cut down the number of girls being groomed by the sex gangs out there.

  34. I'm single not terminal says:

    Had this happen with a MARRIED guy at the gym. We are both there all the time so started chatting. As soon as I found out he was married, I backed off. He did not. Started telling me he couldn’t stop thinking about me and that we were meant for each other. Even went so far as to tell me that he’s in love with me (his wife is sick and probably won’t live another 5 years). Um…you don’t even know my last name…you are NOT in love with me. Started to creep me out, so I cut all contact with him. Anyone who claims to be in love after only having brief innocent gym conversations is a bit nutso for my taste. Glad I never gave him my full name!!

  35. amy says:

    This is soo true, I share too much with people I hardly know. I seem to have poor boundaries. What is the pay off? I get to talk more about me I guess, haha. In some instances I have actually recived good advice unexpectedly or made a new friend, or it has revealed who I can’t trust, that I perhaps thought I could. But a good artical, as it reminds me I need to tighten it up. Its a fine balance cause I dont want to seem cold and closed off to people but I do need to be more cautious, so thanks again.

    • Betty says:

      I’ve been thinking the same thing about myself, on an off, for years, and yet I’ve not changed. I think I’m just so needy of reassurance and acceptance and attention that I just open the flood gates of my inner life to anyone and everyone. I have D&Ms with work colleagues, friends of friends… anyone who asks. I’m ashamed of myself for it. And I often end up beating myself up wishing that I could maintain a bit more mystery, and in a way honour my really close friendships by not spreading myself so thin. But the wellspring of my self-absorbtion never runs dry. I’m bubbling over with talk talk talk about myself.
      I want to be different.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Amy. Please take time to get to know someone at least a little before spouting off about yourself. Particularly personal info when you don’t know who you are talking to. There are many underhanded wolves in sheep’s clothing who will befriend you for their own ulterior motives, especially if they size you up as naive and unsuspecting. It’s just not safe. Better to be a listener, first.

  36. Trikywu says:

    Interesting topic! I have this weird knack with men (especially those who are potential love interests). Now, this has happened to me more than once with a guy. When we’re in the “getting to know you” stage – I’ll end up in various phone conversations where he will open up to me about all kinds of aspects of his life. Sometimes it’s heavy stuff that’s interesting. Sometimes it’s too much info. I really don’t mind listening and taking it in. It allows me to understand where they’re coming from, and if I can relate to some of their issues and offer some empathy. These conversations range from his own personal addictions, past girlfriends, or talk about his mom, dad, family tree, background, etc. Sometimes I’ll provide my own background, but I don’t go too deep. These revealing TMI conversations can go on for hours, and the dude will usually say “Wow, we’ve been on the phone for over 2 hours! I’ve never told anyone so much information before!” Geez…cue in the violins. As mentioned, I guess I have a knack, or a laid back attitude that screams, “Hey! Tell me everything!” It never turns into anything. It’s not like I become the love of their life…or I’m that special someone. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I digress.

    Here’s a particular situation: After knowing this one guy only a few weeks, he suddenly develops health issues. Let’s say it’s kidney stones that are murderously painful. And let’s say, the guy who opened up to you for the past two-three weeks has no health insurance. One day at work, you find a voicemail from this guy who is in the midst of a terrible kidney stone attack. He says that he thought of you. (oww..gasp..ugh) What can he do? (ugh..gasp..ugh) Should he call an ambulance? Are you around? (Um…no, I’m at work, not near my cell phone because, I’m working, and not waiting for your call). Then you call him back, and he’s in that said ambulance ($1500 for the ride, thank you) and he’ll call when he’s out. Cut to the chase, they released him with drugs that make him sick. He needs to go to ER the next weekend, and suddenly you feel like you should take him – because you think you’re starting to care a bit for him. You drop him off at scary hospital in a seedy area downtown where people with no health insurance go, and there are metal detectors at the door. (I’m not trying to be snobby – it’s just startling to volunteer to help out a friend and find yourself in a scary situation on a Sunday afternoon). After dropping him off, you turn around and try to find your way back home through questionable neighborhoods. Then, when safe at home and enjoying a lovely Americano coffee you bought at Coffee Bean, you get a call where this guy I’ve only known a month or less – says the doctors can’t take him until about 4am the next morning – “Can you come and pick me up?” Umm… you mean get back in my car and go through all that again? “Take a cab.” I tell him.

    I was freaked out by how much he drew me into his personal life like this – and so soon. I want to be kind and a good friend, even early in a friendship/relationship, but suddenly, he was asking a little too much when he called to have me take another 30 minute schlep downtown in my car. This immediate familiarity freaked me out and made me pull away from him for a few weeks. However, we eventually reconciled, and tried the friendship again. But the extra time I had to get to know him better made me realize he wasn’t someone I wanted a friendship with, much less a physical and emotional one. But it did start off with too much info – way too soon. It’s a touchy situation when you’re trying to get to know a potential partner (basically a stranger at this point) without him getting too personal for comfort.

    • Tee says:

      Ermm where are his people,you know the closest meant to be there when things like this happens and rides to clinics are needed. Sorry i’d say flush personally, you are not nanny nor mummy. Also, has he no shame to be asking a stranger to do these things for you? Damn! Maybe i’m being harsh, either way, take care of YOU first please. And good on you for asking him to take a cab!

  37. Little Star says:

    Natalie thank you for “inventing” wolf, he makes me smile and feel positive:) I love him!

  38. dancingqueen says:

    Oh I had to comment. @Yoghurt I totally get your irrtation. I HATE people telling me who they think I am in order to start a convedsation in a more powerful role than you and that is exactly what people like that are trying to do. I JUST recently figured out this negative nellie that works witb me. She has this wdird habit of alwayz trying to get me to give her personal info. After paying attention to her a lot this year I d ealized that she has cycled through multiple bff relationships at work…to end up spreading these women’s dirty laundry through the gossip cycle. I am sorry but three times? Not an accident…really toxic. She alwahz seemed to come on too strong and I used to feel bad shutting her seemingly curious questions down but now it is so clear: SUCH a wolf lol!

  39. dancingqueen says:

    Yes I definately think that people who comment for no reason on your looks or make intrusive assumptions about your life have power issues. The problem is how to say something to call them on it so it does not irritate if you are stuck being around them all the time. I admit it: for me people like that hit my soft spots. I had a stepmother who used to always tell me how I should feel or gaslight me into getting confused about the boundary bust. If I don’t say something I get really irritated…stuff to work on…

    • yoghurt says:

      Heya dancingqueen.

      I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people use the sympathy as a hook – in fact I’ve a horrible feeling that I used to do it myself. Really, it’s trying to manipulate yourself into a position for which you aren’t qualified but in my naivety I didn’t see it – I used to think that I was using my mega-instinct to unburden people of their pain.

      But nah, it’s manipulation and the creation of false intimacy.

      When someone used to say “Oh, you’re not happy” I’d immediately think “Oh, what a perceptive person to understand the PAIN and DIFFICULTY that my sensitive soul suffers!” and immediately trust them. But really, it’s bait. You try that line on ten people and at least one of them’ll be having a hard time and wonder how you knew. The other nine will give you a variation of ‘Bog off, nosey’.

      Regarding the ‘compliments’ – someone, I think ixnay, did a brilliant and scathing expose of this a few months ago, along the line that compliments and insults are basically two sides of the same coin IF it boils down to someone assuming a position of judgement and superiority to you and letting you know about it.

      On the other hand, I was in my staffroom recently, looking at all the bright-eyed, shiny-haired glossy young women and feeling like a troll. I was sitting next to two colleagues, both nice older men with a strong sense of themselves, and I said something like “look at all these beautiful women, I don’t know HOW some of us are expected to compete” (again, fail, it’s been a murky few months). One of them looked at me kindly and said “Don’t worry, Yog, I wouldn’t kick you out of bed for eating crisps”. And the other said “I would, but only because it’d upset me wife”. I laughed and laughed and felt much better, and yet if anyone else had said it I would’ve been mortally offended and probably clocked them one.

      The difference is in the intention, I think. When someone compliments/comments on you for the purposes of bigging themselves up, you can tell and you resent it. If, on the other hand, it’s genuinely meant and done to make you feel better about yourself then you don’t.

  40. espresso says:

    I think sometimes women are flattered when men overdisclose all sorts of personal stuff, often in the first conversation but in most cases I think these men are just USING women as emotional air bags. Often these men never stop to take a breath to even ask about the other person. My ex would do this constantly with people and did it with a woman he met on the plane which he the fastforwarded into an intimate relationship in less than 12 hours. HE told me later he talked a lot about ME to her, telling her that I was just so okay about anything in our relationship and downplaying his role in the relationship (to make himself look good)and to give himself permission to pursue her. When he broke off this emotionally engaged relationship three months later after realizing (to some degree) that it went against everything he had said to me about handling our relationship, he used ME as the reason – saying it was ME that wasn’t happy about hi writing her. I had nothing to do with this and just am trying to live my own life. What a gutless man. Of course he did it to “save face” with her. It still makes my blood boil.

    One of the things my ex and I fought about most in our marriage was his lack of boundaries in terms of what he shared with others especially in terms of me. He seemed to have no awareness of what was and wasn’t appropriate information to share. And because his life wasn’t all that interesting he often shared aspects of my life, even with perfect strangers (and when I was standing there).

    He is the kind of man who chats up everybody he meets in impersonal situations like on planes. He is over friendly but to many he must appear charming. On the other hand he has no close friends at all and seems to be unable to sustain a deeply engaged personal relationship. He is a people pleaser so thinks this is a good way of getting people to like him. I am just so different – not unfriendly but rather cautious and although I have good talks with people on planes from time to time (I travel a lot) I never “look” for relationships there and am just as happy to settle in with a book or my work after a brief nod and hello to my seatmates.

    The other thing is that when women gossip to me about others I am very cautious because I know they are going to gossip about me to them…and so this is another red flag. I think that gossiping is another way women often establish false intimacy with others.

  41. Swissmiss says:


    There’s INTENT, then there’s EFFECT. We can’t suss out the first without being mind readers. Who knows what someone intends? Isnt that way a lot of us are on this site? Because we completely misread the AC, EUM, MM’s intent?

    Someone posted here about compliments being power plays. One way I like to defuse the possibility is to collaborate with the admirer: “I know! Isn’t it the most amazing hair? I can’t believe it myself!”
    This seems to equalize the power. It feels good, too!

    • yoghurt says:

      I’d not sure that I agree with that. I think that often we DO pick up on intention and, certainly if there’s a power-play involved, the other person wants us to. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a power-play, would be no fun for them and they wouldn’t bother.

      The difference, for me, is having the ability and the insight to say “hey, you AREN’T better than me, you DON’T have the right to make a judgement and I’m NOT going to define my self-worth on your approval, so stop trying to make me”.

      A lot of it is predicated by the context and relationship, as well. The example that I gave above is with colleagues that I know well and with whom I have established, non-sexual relationships. And because I value approval of my outward appearance and sexual attractiveness much less these days (it’s more of a compliment when people actually get to know me!) I’m more critical and discerning in general about anything in the way of personal comments.

      I should admit that all of the above applies to me personally and I’ve very little experience of being consistently pursued. And I don’t pick up much in the way of compliments these days at all. So I’m happy to concede the point in the wider context.

  42. Marie says:

    When I was a lot younger, men would always make comments about my not smiling and try to get me to respond. Rarely, if ever, was it a man or even boy my age and never a woman, of course. They’d try to come across as the “older, sophisticated” man who could “educate” me. At the time, I really, really felt I was ugly, so I didn’t regard it as flirtation. Looking back, I realize it was. It doesn’t happen so much anymore, though I’m reasonably attractive still. I’ve never found it flattering, but annoying. Sort of “who the f are you?” I was intimidated by it when I was younger and felt like I was behaving wrong or inappropriately.

    I can’t imagine going up to a man or a woman, unless I knew that person really well and saying that. Actually, I can’t imagine doing that with someone I know. Why? Because when I know someone, I know and respect him or her enough it’s a bad idea to tell them to smile if they’re unhappy or play “guess the feeling” with them. If it looks like a friend’s having a bad day, I either give him/her space or if I’m close I’ll say if you need anything or need an ear, I’m there. I don’t say to a friend or even an acquaintance, “you need to smile more.”


  43. noquay says:

    Tanzanite et al.
    Yep, the AC does probably call me a psycho as I had the unmitigated gall to call him on his behavior rather than completely falling apart like the majority of his victims. I agree with Kit kat, if the person who caused you hurt, be it parents or partner, knowing that they have a diagnosed mental illness does make the whole situation much easier to understand, process, and heal from. I don’t stick labels on others willy-nilly, it took me over a year of self blame, thinking I must be horribly ugly and undesirable in order to be treated by the AC as I was. This was a person who seemingly went from was all over me first thing in the morning to humiliating me, in front of colleagues, with another woman, by early evening. Had found out in the following year that he had been a serial cheater, all with colleagues, ever since beginning his employment decades ago. The most empowering aspect of this whole fiasco was hearing that he was diagnosed as a narc twice. Unless one of us quits/dies/is fired, he will be a problem until I can retire. Reading up on narcissism has really helped me to understand, to not blame myself for something that has been a part of him most of his life, and, most importantly, to anticipate and understand what he may pull come fall semester. A good parallel would be addiction; once you understand a person close to you is addicted, you can understand what addiction is, how not to enable it, and not blame yourself. I went through this with more than one family member in the past. Obviously, the best course of action is to get far away from hurtful folk but if they’re spouses, partners, family, co workers, folk you will run into time and time again when you live in a small town, physically eliminating the person from your life forever is not always easy. BTW, when I use caps in a word, I am not yelling either; it is for emphasis. This phone and whatever word program this blog uses has no option for italics. Happy Solstice everyone; this is Noquays High Holy Day!

    • runnergirl says:

      Hi Noquay, it’s my High Holy Day as well. Happy, happy Solstice to you. I just love this day. I actually rang in the Soltice last night with my summer school night class. Ugggh. They had no idea but they do now. I know it’s not a possiblity to eliminate the AC from your daily encounters. You can eliminate the effect though. You can! The AC is an AC.

    • Tanzanite says:


      Thank you

      You sound really strong.I fell apart and blamed myself.I’m just glad it’s over.

  44. teachable says:

    I beg to differ Drop. Often (though not always) those who deliberately lie, cheat & deceive others in intimate r.ships (ie ‘soulrape’) know EXACTLY what they are doing. The fact is they lack EMPATHY & simply do not care about the harm they are WELL AWARE they are inflicting on others. This lack of empathy & wanton ‘using of others’ for self gratification with regard their wellbeing are traits associated with Narrcissistic Personality Disorder, Pyschopathy & Sociopathy. Tink I agree we are not qualified to make these diagnoses, however, some of us by neccessity, have become quite skilled at recognising the traits which charactarise these disorders & I think it’s ok to suggest a spade might be a spade even if yr not a gardener, particularly in light of the fact that in the overwhelming majority of cases those with these disorders, are in fact never diagnosed, due to their deliberate avoidance of interventions which may lead to this.

  45. Rosie says:

    I’d like to comment about labeling someone “narc” or whatever. What happens with me is that my labeling somebody gives me a false sense of control and understanding over someone/situation that I can’t control/don’t understand. It’s just trying to make sense of nonsense. Instead of healing, however, I get more entrenched in this futile attempt to control/understand, which keeps me more psychologically tied to the person/situation, which is sometimes what I want if I’m not ready to let go. I noticed that I heal quicker, though, once I stop trying to make sense of nonsense and just accept mystery.

    • jewells says:

      My two cents on the N label: I agree with everyone’s points. Yes, diagnosing our ex’s as N is not the ideal and sometimes comes as a result of our anger, but it also is a result of dissecting our interaction with them, taking in their histories and our subsequent research into the disorder. It does make it easier to understand what happened, as it is a disorder, not us, not even them per se. They know they are lying, cheating, doing wrong things, yes. But, due to the disorder, they don’t have any other way of getting their ‘needs’ met, don’t understand the impact of their actions. So, they know, but they don’t know. Doesn’t mean they are not responsible, but does make it understandable for us, so that we can heal from the effects of the disorder, and let them go. I don’t accept mystery easily, some things I want to know, so that I don’t succumb to it in future. It’s a combination of knowing myself, and knowing what’s out there. Knowledge is power and we have to look within as much as without, and if it quacks like a duck, well….
      In the end, labeling with the N, as long as we are NC with the AC, doesn’t affect them. They will go on their merry way, doing what they do, regardless of how we are thinking of them. Our labels here do not define them there. They are for us here, to help us understand ‘what the hell just happened’. And it is true, that we all have traits of N, it’s necessary to acheive in life. However, it’s when it is full blown, having negative consequences on self and others that it is as labelable like seeing caution tape wrapped around their head. Eventually in healing we’ll get to the point where we don’t need the labels, just know in interaction that the person is not worthy of our inner circle and leave it at that, not even have to think about it, it will come naturally. I know I have misplaced trust in the past, I have invited into my inner circle those who I should have kept out, and not let in those, who in hindsight, did nothing ‘off’ and yet I did not explore the relationship at all. So, I’m seeing all this as a recalibration, learning curve to understanding people, disorders, what is going on in me, my past, what I want in future and realigning appropriately. And if I have to use labels to define at the moment, I will. If I didn’t, I’d probably not be here, I’d be happily living my life not letting the AC’s disrupt my sense of self and well being and affecting me in any way and I’d be problem free. But I’m not, I’m still figuring shite out, I’m not Ghandi.

      • jewells says:

        Oh, and I like the drug addict analogy. Interventionists say, ‘you are not dealing with your loved one anymore, you’re dealing with the drug’. That’s what Narcissism is like, that’s why it’s crazy making. It’s not ‘them’ that you are trying to make sense of, it’s a ‘disorder’ and a disorder is just that – it doesn’t make sense…
        You can love the person, the personality, but be flumoxed and crazy made by the disorder. I think that’s why the N relationships are so hard to get over. I think realizing this, I have just found another piece towards having compassion for the ex. (having compassion for him does not mean I can have contact with him – he’s still disordered)

  46. teachable says:

    On the labeling issue I add this.
    At my urging & suspicion that my now deceased ex AC was mentally ill with something affecting him OTHER than his addiction issues (which were three fold, drugs & alcohol, sex & gambling) he attended a psychiatrist & like Noquay I too felt validated when he was immediatly diagnosed with bi polar disorder. This diagnosis was made with just the first visit & with supporting info provided by a counsellor I’d also urged my ex to engage with.

    Sadly, my ex did not take his medication for bi polar (even tho it stuck out a mile tht he was a text book case) & as a result, his high risk behaviours continued to esculate until his eventual death.

    I did not encourage him to seek either addiction counselling, in patient rehab (sadly he left after only 2 wks, a critical choice tht ultimately killed him) or psychiatric evaluation to appease my hunch that he was ill, but b.c I have professional knowledge & training in these areas & so I was able to recognise that he had serious life threatening issues & urgently needed expert help. It goes without saying that it was not appropriate for me personally to attempt to provide this & that he needed greater expertise than I could offer ie to be under the care of a psychiatrist, which I am not.

    As I tried to fathom my now deceased ex AC’s increasingly cruel & confusing behaviour toward me, in the final 4 yrs of his life, as I was working in research & policy at the time, I did what of course came naturally to me. I began researching the symptoms & behaviours I was observing. It was through this that I realised he met every single criteria for Narrcissistic Personality Disorder. THIS was a watersehed turning point in me finally being able to let him go. For a true diagnosis of this to be made, he would have needed to stay drug free, gambling free & sex addiction free (multiple concurrent affairs as well as uncontroolable use of prostitutes & strippers) long enough to see if the traits which suggested this persisted in the absence of his addiction issues. He also would have.needed to then be psychiatrically assessed for NPD. This never occurred.

    Does this mean I could not still identify what I by this time realused I might be dealing with? No. If it looks like a.duck, wa
    ks like a duck, notwithstanding my aforementioned observations, then… you know the saying.

    What is being argued here is a case of semantics of kittle value to our purpose which is healing frm these encounters. One can say my ex exhibited traits of NPD & there is nothing wrong with that. Obviously a conclusive diagnosis can only be made by a psychiatrist.

  47. teachable says:

    I would add to the aforementioned that my ability to sever ties with my ex now deceased AC & to commence the healing process was only able to begin, for me, once I recognised the link between his behaviour & NPD. At THAT critical point suddenly EVERYTHING which made no sense whatsoever, suddenly MADE SENSE. All of it. It was an incredible relief to finally realise identify, in laymans terms at least (given the absence of a clinical diagnosis) what the HELL (I use this word purposely) I had been dealing with.

    This man attempted to manipulate me into giving him a large sum of $ he knew he would never repay & tht would have jepardised my own financial security, had multiple affairs & sexual encounters behind my back, serrupticiously carried on a primary sexual relationship with someone else the ENTIRE time he was involved with me & thus, lied about the very foundation of our involvement, future faked me with talk of marriage & children which in hindsight is laughable, used fake threats of suicide to manipulate me, lied about me to cover his own complicated web of lies, used me for ego strokes, sex & accommodation, treated me with emotional cruelty of a depth which was breathaking whilst exhibiting a complete lack of empathy, tried to push me to kill myself knowing I was suffering depression (a criminal offence under the law), on one occassion refused to accept no for an answer re sex, & frequently completely discarded & ignored me when his need for narrcissistic supply was being adequately met elsewhere.

    Hell to the Y, ESS, I have no qualms whatsoever, about identifying this man as exhibiting the traits of NPD!!

    My only regret is not knowing about this disorder, his many deceptions, & addiction issues sooner.

    I eventually sensed something was very wrong (he lived interstate so it was very easy for him to hide most of the above from me) & guess what, it WAS! Never again! Now I know the signs of what to look for, I hope to never fall prey to one of these cretins again! Good riddance!!

    • Allison says:


      Shouldn’t it be enough that he treated you badly and that it was a highly toxic relationship. I mean does it really matter that he had a disorder, shouldn’t the shit treatment be enough?

      I think we become so consumed in their problems – myself included – we forgo looking inward,which is the most important thing we can do. The focus needs to be: why did I stick around!

  48. teachable says:

    I didn’t ‘stick around’ Allison. For the vast majority of the time I was in NC with my ex now deceased AC. I was commenting on the issue of labelling. It goes without saying that our job is to focus on our healing. My point is that for me, my healing really began (despite long periods of NC), once I knew what I’d been dealing with.

  49. teachable says:

    ie I had severed ties a number of times previously, each time for extended periods, however I was only able to be successful once & for all, when I learned the nature of the beast I was dealing with.

    • Allison says:


      My point is, is that you cut ties when you learned of the disorder. Why wasn’t the shit behavior enough, why did a label have to be attached?

      You’re not going to like what I’m going to say, but the focus is all on this guy and his actions. This troubled individual is long gone, there is nothing you can do for him, but you can make changes within you. Why I say this, is because, you repeatedly focus on his problems and past, but fail to add your own participation.

      Please remove this man from brain space, and solely focus on why you were/are still focused on him and his actions. This is about you!!!

      • Waltzing Matilda says:

        Allison, agree absolutely that it is about how we behave, and the choices, or non choices in play. I am in same position as Teachable in this respect though, I had to make sense of my behavior once and for all. That needed understanding of what the hell happened, it clearly was bizarrely unhealthy. Knowledge about narcissism, and I mean real comprehension of it, was the missing link for me. I was already in no contact, no problem that I knew that was the only thing to do. But my family is severely impacted by this disorder (mother and sibling), it’s not pretty. It’s as if I have been programmed to respond to narcissistic manipulation.(I believe that the toxic amoeba I was engaged in a non relationship with finally led me to answers that I have been puzzling over my whole life). It’s good to know what I needed to know. Horrible, but freeing in a way I can’t describe. So yes, the hideous behavior they exhibit should be enough, and it clearly is for emotionally healthy people. I just think when the ill effects of a narcissistic parent run very deep, (and persist in present day family dynamics) that an intellectual grasp of the situation is key to real and thorough change and progress. For some anyway, I am one who needed this final piece of the equation.

        • Allison says:


          I hear you!!

          I learned so much from my crap relationship! I’m grateful it happened, now Im ready for long-term and healthy!

        • Tabitha says:

          Waltzing, I could have written your post (except for the sister!)
          My experience with the ex narc who brought me here had me finding all about personality disorders. This led to me realizing that the only reason I engaged with this idiot was because I had been conditioned to accept NPD shit my whole life by my NPD mother.
          That is why my self esteem was so fragile and low and why I normalised his behaviour.
          It was incredibly valuable for me to label it and investigate it. If I hadn’t done that I would not have been able to go NC with both of them. I had to understand that I could not possibly change them and that their personality disorders meant the only thing to do was run and not look back.
          I know it is really hard for people who haven’t been enmeshed with a narcissist to understand what we are talking about and how we feel. All I can say is, be very very thankful. It is a huge mountain to climb.

          • Allison says:

            Waltzing and Tabitha,

            Do you think if you hadn’t been able to label it as NPD, you would still be there?

            My concern is that if you are not able to label shit treatment, you may return to another unhealthy relationship.

            Shit behavior, is shit behavior, disorder or not!

            • Waltzing Matilda says:

              Allison, thanks for responding. This is a strange and tricky issue, difficult to explain as Tabitha says. If you have not had sustained contact with this disorder (and for a child, there is no option to remove yourself from harm) there are no words to adequately describe the emotional limbo land that becomes one’s internal ‘relationship map’. Crazy and ghastly behavior is normal. I was long gone before I learned about the disorder.Yes you could say label but while that is not untrue, it is over simplified. I knew how to get out of these entanglements, as you can gather, like many here, there was more than one. I just went from same old to same old, with gaps in between where I recovered from the depletion.
              I’m keeping on typing because I would like to explain this, maybe it’s helping me to continue to understand more. Let’s see, if I say that the basic responses to danger/toxicity are fight, flight or freeze, then as a child one pretty much learns to freeze. That’s about being trained that resistance makes it way worse.
              I needed to learn that I was freezing when I came in contact with this stuff, beautifully described as shit behavior. So, the knowledge I gained about narcissism enables what I have seen described as healthy detachment. No fighting, no freezing, no fleeing. Just no engagement.
              And that’s the part that I think means it doesn’t happen again, because the knowledge brings this stuff up out of the subconscious into the glaring light of day.
              Simple. Who knew? (ha)
              Well, that’s all folks, before I go, it is because of Nat’s flipping GIFT of communication and brilliant stuff from you lovely peoples that I can literally break the cycle. Thanks.

              • Allison says:

                Hey Waltzing,

                The important part, is that we’re both out of the cycle. :)

                I don’t believe the ex to be a narcissist, but his behavior was certainly of the AC variety. I too, had a pattern of choosing wrong, due to my fear of letting someone appropriate in my life: safe.

                All we can continue to do is learn and grow.

                Wishing you the best on your journey!!!!

              • Mymble says:

                Your explanation about fight, flight and freeze really hit the spot for me. I too froze, so many times in my life. I understand what it’s like to feel “disengaged” and unafraid so that you can calmly choose the most appropriate action to take, but I have only rarely been able to get to that place.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!