Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder > 13 Signs Your Wife or Girlfriend is a Borderline or a Narcissist

13 Signs Your Wife or Girlfriend is a Borderline or a Narcissist

BPD-1My girlfriend / wife doesn’t have a personality disorder. She’s just emotional. Maybe, maybe not. Borderline Personality Disorder isn’t as mainstream in public awareness as other psychiatric diagnoses, but it’s a very real problem that affects many individuals and the people who are in ongoing relationships with them or trying to end relationships with them.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a kissing cousin of BPD. There is usually some overlap between the two. Most people think being a narcissist means that you’re conceited or vain–there’s a lot more to it.

Men are typically accused of being insensitive and out of touch with their feelings. We rarely talk about women who emotionally abuse the men they claim to love. There are different reasons why this is a silent epidemic:

a) Society and psychology hold a reverse sexist attitude regarding the perpetrators and recipients of emotional abuse.

b) Men have been brainwashed into believing that “she’s just expressing her feelings” when she’s being abusive and that “he’s insensitive and doesn’t understand.” Unfortunately, many mental health professionals perpetuate this phenomenon through their own gender biases. Should these men enter into couples treatment, they often get tag teamed by their girlfriend/wife and the therapist into believing they’re the problem. Should this couple actually find a shrink worth his/her salt that tries to hold the Borderline/Narcissist accountable, said shrink is duly fired and vilified by the BPD/NPD.

c) Men are too embarrassed to talk about the hurt, pain and confusion they experience as a result of the way these women mistreat them.

Warning: Being involved with an abusive Borderline or Narcissist May Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

Here are some common side effects of being in an abusive relationship, whether the abusive individual has a personality disorder or not:

1) Censoring your thoughts and feelings. You edit it yourself because you’re afraid of her reactions. Swallowing the lump in your throat and your hurt and anger is easier than dealing with another fight or hurt feelings. In fact, you may have stuffed your own emotions for so long that you no longer know what you think or feel.

2) Everything is your fault. You’re blamed for everything that goes wrong in the relationship and in general, even if it has no basis in reality.

3) Constant criticism. She criticizes nearly everything you do and nothing is ever good enough. No matter how hard you try, there’s no pleasing her or, if you do, it’s few and far between.

4) Control freak. She engages in manipulative behaviors, even lying, in an effort to control you.

3186177287_1423ed4f22_o5) Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde. One moment she’s kind and loving; the next she’s flipping out on you. She becomes so vicious, you wonder if she’s the same person. The first time it happens, you write it off. Now, it’s a regular pattern of behavior that induces feelings of depression, anxiety, helplessness and/or despair within you.

6) Your feelings don’t count. Your needs and feelings, if you’re brave enough to express them, are ignored, ridiculed, minimized and/or dismissed. You’re told that you’re too demanding, that there’s something wrong with you and that you need to be in therapy. You’re denied the right to your feelings.

7) Questioning your own sanity. You’ve begun to wonder if you’re crazy because she puts down your point of view and/or denies things she says or does. If you actually confide these things to a friend or family member, they don’t believe you because she usually behaves herself around other people.

8) Say what? “But I didn’t say that. I didn’t do that.” Sure you did. Well, you did in her highly distorted version of reality. Her accusations run the gamut from infidelity to cruelty to being un-supportive (even when you’re the one paying all the bills) to repressing her and holding her back. It’s usually baseless, which leaves you feeling defensive and misunderstood.

9) Isolating yourself from friends and family. You distance yourself from your loved ones and colleagues because of her erratic behavior, moodiness and instability. You make excuses for her inexcusable behaviors to others in an effort to convince yourself that it’s normal.

10) Walking on landmines. One misstep and you could set her off. Some people refer to this as “walking on eggshells,” but eggs emit only a dull crunch when you step on them. Setting off a landmine is a far more descriptive simile.

11) What goes up, must come down. She places you on a pedestal only to knock it out from under your feet. You’re the greatest thing since sliced bread one minute and the next minute, you’re the devil incarnate.

12) Un-level playing field. Borderlines and Narcissists make the rules; they break the rules and they change the rules at will. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to give her what she wants, she changes her expectations and demands without warning. This sets you up for failure in no-win situations, leaving you feeling helpless and trapped.

13) You’re a loser, but don’t leave me. “You’re a jerk. You’re a creep. You’re a bastard. I love you. Don’t leave me.” When you finally reach the point where you just can’t take it anymore, the tears, bargaining and threats begin. She insists she really does love you. She can’t live without you. She promises to change. She promises it will get better, but things never change and they never get better.

When that doesn’t work, she blames you and anything and anyone else she can think of, never once taking responsibility for her own behaviors. She may even resort to threats. She threatens that you’ll never see the kids again. Or she threatens to bad mouth you to your friends and family.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a follow-up blog in which I explain why this emotional abuse and what you can do about it.


Dr Tara J Palmatier_Shrink4Men_02Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries.

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Related posts:

Photo credits:

BPD-1 byPushkia on flickr.

Spin-the-mood-wheel by MashGet on flickr.

  1. June 22, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I can’t help but notice that most commenting here are in the same boat as myself, i.e., long-term relationship with (likely) BPD/NPD.

    Reading the comments, it’s like all our “partners” are receiving the same play-book from BPD/NPD HQ and calling the same plays as their behaviour and words seem pretty much identical. Maybe they’re all “pod people” or something?

    Couple of things I’d, based only my personal experience and perhaps erroneously, add that may help someone in the early stages of a relationship with a BPD/NPD recognize that this is someone they’re better off without.

    14. Whenever possible the BPD/NPD will turn a conversation to something they’ve done (at least in their own minds) that casts them in a good light, e.g., if someone is talking about something good they did with their child, BPD/NPD will immediately start talking about something similar they “always” did with their own child and turn the conversation towards themselves.

    15. For BPD at least, will imply or directly state they had a difficult childhood, etc. at an early point in the relationship to elicit sympathy and set the ground work for later excuses for their bizarre behaviour.

  2. Roger Allen
    June 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I realized I should grab this while I can, given the chance to check my reality with others here. Thanks. So, I feel like my wife is different from others described, given that she really is quite sweet aside from conversations involving our feelings. But, I will check this. I am sure that I am about to put whatever biases and problems I have out there, but that will be helpful – to be called out on them. How does this ring or not ring with you all?

    1. When someone says something that is any way peculiar (in fairness, something that might be someone’s mild social crap), she will never want to be around them again. Or not want to be around them, but go to dinner with them/us anyway. It becomes eventually clear that she feels like this but doesn’t say anything until months down the line and only if I directly ask.

    2. She has high difficulty in social situations. At dinner with some people a few weeks ago, for example, she kept making anxious, awkward side jokes to the conversation and anxiously laughing a lot. When an exchange took place that suggested a slight view point she disagreed with, she shut down and the night became a little awkward.

    3. She will shout at the TV if a character does something ‘morally’ wrong. Literally shout like it’s happening even though the story has nothing to do with what he/she did.

    4. In conversations about our feelings or something over a dispute, she will make facial expressions like I’m an idiot and tell me how ‘it’ is all my fault. The stakes of the argument or conversation is always high, no matter what the issues is. A fight about my doing more gardening is linked to our reason for the buying the house in the first place and questions come up for her whether I even want to live in the house. To be clear, she doesn’t attack me with this. She sincerely experiences the argument like this. She is in a lot of pain under the anger.

    5. Sex life sucks. We had great sex years ago, but now it’s a rote, 1,2,3 process. Here comes some of my crap: we watched some porn together years ago and a had a great night. Then she found out I would look at porn and it has become the giant elephant in our marriage. She now can’t stand it and if I look at porn, she said she will leave me. She also told me that I can only think about her when I ‘have sex with myself’ – her words. I actually have a lot of empathy for women who are married to men who look at porn. I understand that it may seem like I’m saying ‘you’re not enough’ but her reactions are so off the chart.

    6. She talks about things like a little kid; frogs who live in our garden, her sense of humor. She is little kid like a lot. And overwhelmed on a dime.

    I can’t write anymore. I suddenly don’t know what I’m living in.

    • Jason
      June 7, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      Sounds like your wife is an introvert, which is something entirely different than being narcissistic though to an extrovert it can look that way.

      As for items 4 and 5, I sympathize. My wife does this subtle tutting sigh and eye rolling thing she does which makes me want to smack her (which I’ve never done.)

      Our sex life stinks. It’s been great a few times, but those times have always been few and far between. In the last six years, it’s gone down the drain. My wife now runs hot and downright frigid. She even told some of her friends that I was “addicted to porn”, leaving out that we have “rote” sex twice a month. (It is this kind of manipulation and lying that finally wore me down.)

      • Alnico
        June 7, 2010 at 7:57 pm

        Being an introvert and being currently married to one after a 10 year marriage to an extrovert who was not diagnosted, but I’m pretty sure was a BPD sociopath — I can say that the behaviors Roger described sound more like tactics to keep him off guard than they are to really meet the healthy needs of an introvert. Either way, its easy to tell an introvert. They are the ones that recharge in private. Extroverts recharge in public using craving events and outings to re-engergize.

        My ex was an extrovert and used the line about gardening and the like (because she knew I was trying to stay way from her since she NEVER let me have time to myself). Guilt trips over the home (which I actually did not want), etc. I stopped mowing the lawn, etc., because frankly I could never do it right and got less flak out of her for not doing it than I did for doing it wrong.

    • shehneel
      July 11, 2013 at 5:43 am

      Yeah. I remember my friends called her immature at the way she was acting
      I dont mind her being immature. But y throw temper tantrums over next to nothing?

    • March 22, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      am no expert but it sounds like shes grow up with a npd or bpd who is constantly working on her she could be 1 but heres my opinion
      ur 1. point there manipulating her to waste her time and emotional effort so shes weaker so an easyer victim
      2. she was trying her best to fit in (she wants to fit in as shes a good person) but again manipulated to exert her self so she vulnerable she realized she carnt fit in so she stayed quite
      .3 am not sure ;) doing alright so far tho
      .4 someone is emotionally manipulating and than abusing her so she has alot of emotional trauma if she suppresses this it will become a mental illness if she trys to exert her self physically she’ll be exhausted she trusts you to be having an argument with (its her trying to get rid of the trauma off her chest) she must trust you alot but it will ware thin if she keeps putting on you find her good therapy place
      .5 idk the npd/bpd musta broken a few boudrys in her so shes got super high stuck up ones braking them will only cause her more hurt its best to ignore her with those
      .6 her emotional age has being stunted or damaged ….overwhelmed on a dime…….. ………… she might be holding a massive amount of emotional baggage that she alone would have dealt with since a very young age if her parents are npd/bpd ….
      the straw that broke the camels back ….
      i hope you read all of this and it is hopefully helpful

  3. Cousin Dave
    June 7, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Inability to apologize or accept fault for even the most minor things is probably something that should be added to the list. From personal experience, I can add a few more:

    A. Her circle of friends consists largely of people who are either very immature or maladjusted. The first thing I ever noticed that I thought was “off” about my ex was when she invited me to a party with her friends. Over the course of the evening, I realized that nearly every one of them was still mentally in high school. These were adults in their mid-20s.

    B. She is unable to hold a job or stick with any kind of project or committment for more than a few days. My ex always told me that before we’d met, she had worked as an executive assistant for a high-powered financial firm in New York. I think now she probably lied about that, because in the whole five years that I knew her, she never held onto a job for more than three months. She spent a lot of that five years sponging off of either me or friends.

    C. She is frequently jealous or envious over what other people have, or what she imagines that they have. My ex admitted at the time of our divorce that what she really wanted in a husband was an independently wealthy playboy who would indulge her every whim and give her all the things she thought she deserved, and she somehow thought she could “change” me into that. How I was supposed to magically transform myself into an independently wealthy playboy is a mystery to me…

  4. Roger Allen
    June 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Thank you so much for these detailed responses. I think that’s all I have in me to write right now, but I wanted to express my gratitude for the time you took to connect with what I wrote. Deeply appreciated.

  5. Alnico
    June 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    My ex also refused to ever admit any fault, admit a mistake, etc. in the context of dispute resolution between us. She would regularly admit fault to her Church friends, pray, and then claim she was healed of her wounds which caused her to treat me poorly. In fact, IMO, and mine is the one that matters, she never treated me any diffently after these so called revelations, healing, and changes. They were just a sham to get her favor with her friends so they would not call her out on the behavior. She did a great job at one thing: making it look like she had changed and that I was unforgiving when in fact, I had forgiven but was unwilling to place myself in the position where I could be further abused by her.

    One of the best things she did for me, each time we’d argue, she’d tell me I was getting the facts of what we agreed upon previously wrong: she said she wanted to by a recorder so she could prove it was me to was always mistaken. So, before we divorced, since she said she should, I did (after making sure it was legal to do). Those recordings offer great sanity for me and help me whenever she tries to gasslight post divorce.

  6. jp
    June 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm


    Yes, it rings true.

    My ex and I, when arguing about typical marriage stuff, would inevitably end up in a more serious argument about our different versions of something related that had been said or had happened on a previous occassion.

    My ex actually told me she believed that in these disputes she could NEVER be wrong. She believed her memory infallible apparently.

    I was always stunned in these arguments to find out how different our recollections were and to be attacked for something I had no recollection of doing or saying whatsoever that was supposedly related to the incident in question.

    Naturally I questioned my memory, my own reality and at times my sanity.

    And to be fair, I don’t have the best memory when it comes to her, although it seems to work fine in other relationships and at work where I manage a lot of ongoing projects and issues. I’m also known among my friends for my ability to discuss and quote at length all kinds of obscure articles, books, lyrics, historical facts, trivia, etc.

    That didn’t help though. In fact, early in the marriage we were in counseling and the therapist pointed out one day that I was mis-remebering something I’d said the week before. Once my ex had that ‘validation’ I was never taken seriously again in any of the ‘what happened’ disputes that took place in the many years afterward. And she would occasionally treat me like trauma patient, asking me in this patronizing and impatient way if I remembered things that were super obvious that I of course remembered vividly.

    But some funny things happened after I got divorced. The time and distance apart, and the reduction in frequency of our disputes about ‘what happened’, allowed me to see the following:

    1. my mind fogs up when I’m being yelled at, falsely accused, or bullied with shaming tactics by her. Naturally, in this context, I would forget some details of what was said…I was usually stunned at the time.

    2. I have a very difficult time being in a state of conflict with her. In other words, if we’d had a fight or were otherwise in some kind of state of disharmony, I would experience very high levels of physical stress symptoms until such time as we could resolve back to emotional congruence. When married, if I had to concede to her point of view to get that congruence and end my stress state, I would usually do so. Even now, four yrs after splitting, I find it very taxing to be in conflict, even when it takes place only in email.

    3. We began to limit most conversations of a serious nature to email (we have kids so I’m not talking about chats about day-to-day logistics) and becasue of the ‘papetr trail’ I can now see incontrovertible proof that she gaslights the hell out of me, typically in response to emails where I (reluctantly) confront her about something about herself that makes her uncomfortable. Her response is basically, deny and then attack with absurd accusations based on distortions or fabrications of past events/conversations in which I’m potrayed as insensitive, abusive or crazy, none of which, I can assure you with total certainty, is true.

    If you’re doubting your reality you should start journalling daily when your recollections of weird interactions with her are fresh. Over time you’ll be able to see how she characterizes these herself and how it stacks up against your own view.

    If your views are wildly our of sync then the best case scenario is that you both see the world very differently and are thus incompatible. Worst case is that she’s gaslighting you in order to control you. And keep in mind that she may believe her own distortions.


  7. Roger Allen
    June 7, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    To be clear, she said that there wasn’t anything that she had done. That it was all me.

    • Mr. E
      June 7, 2010 at 3:20 pm

      Yep, rings loud and clear. She’s “sweet,” but:

      Your feelings don’t count (and you’re just trying to “win” – not resolve a problem)

      You’re expected to figure out what the heck she wants

      According to her, she hasn’t ever done ANYTHING wrong.

      The fact that you can even consider the idea that you might be causing the problem means that you’re probably not causing the problem.

      My wife is also very sweet, when she isn’t being a complete witch. The sweet side is the fake side. It’s the sheepskin covering the wolf.

      You’re not alone.

    • Lighthouse
      June 7, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      My ‘sweet’ ex-wife claimed to have ever done anything wrong. The shock came when I realized that from HER perspective she was right !

      Her emotions were so strong she could not only divine my intent, but also re-write the facts with the absolute conviction of the rigidly disordered personality.

      Once I realized I was dealing with psychosis and she refused to attend counseling we were done. After all isn’t insanity trying the same thing and hoping for a different outcome ?

      I never looked back and I’ve never been happier.

      You may want to consider doing the same.


      • shehneel
        July 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

        I hear u bro. We did the same thing I kept changing now that I have all this knowledge she wont talk to me shed rather star a new withsomine else n do the same thing all over again n hope for different results


  8. Roger Allen
    June 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I don’t know what I am in. I really appreciate the kind posts here. My wife is very, very sweet. Child like sweet, but she harbors deep distrust for me and mis-memories of mild bumps in our relationship (which paint me as worthy of distrust, etc.). Conversations about feelings are all about how I am trying to win and how she was wronged and how EVERY fight is about our marriage. I feel like she expects me to be a father – if she gets upset, my job is to see through her incoherent articulation of her feelings and comfort her. Last night, our basement flooded slightly and some of her stuff was ruined and she came in yelling about how pissed she was. Told me to look at her after one sentence in (she was yelling at my back and I was in surprise about what was even happening. I turned). She ended with “I’m just pissed” and walked away. I didn’t help – which I should of – but I was confused if there was even anything to do or if I was being asked something. She ended up outside, sitting on the floor, furious and hurt that I didn’t console her or help.

    I have so much trouble telling what’s me and what is her. I can read what I wrote and see how I made myself sound like a victim. But, I can also know that she would NEVER look at writing something like that and wonder if she made herself out to be a victim. She IS a victim of nay exchange. I asked her last week if she could name anything she had ever done ‘wrong’. She didn’t say anything. The context was my expression of feeling like I just wound her. I asked her because I know there is a giant list collected over the years that hangs on my back and bleeds from her gut.

    I know I have issues, but I believe that I work hard on myself. It’s hard to tell if I am a/the problem. Does any of this ring for others?

    • Jason
      June 7, 2010 at 7:09 pm

      I know where you’re coming from. My wife isn’t as extreme as described in the articles and postings here and doesn’t fit many of the “signs.” As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the most telling thing is that my mother-in-law really is completely narcissistic and my wife isn’t like that, though shares some traits, especially the insistence on being “right”. (I’m still annoyed that AFTER we got married, her father told me “be careful, she always has to be right.”)

      In most aspects of our relationship, there are so few signs of problems that I sometimes wonder if I’m just making things up in my mind. Then something will happen to bring me down to earth.

      We’ve actually passed the argument stage in the sense that my wife simply won’t discuss emotionally and sexually intimate things with me any more. Her claim is that I always turn the discussion on her, when what actually happens is that she criticizes me for several minutes and I say only a few things in my defense.

      There is no question that my wife wants to be in control and her behavior can be quite annoying and emotionally abusive, but I’m not sure she could actually be classified as having a disorder. Everyone has some narcissistic traits–it’s how we survive–but isn’t there a continuum between that and a full personality disorder.

      As for me, in the last two weeks I seriously considered divorce and rejected it for the sake of our kids, the youngest of whom is 14. I figure if I could last 25 years, I can last another four barring something really nutty happening (at which point I will walk.) What’s weird is even though she won’t talk about our relationship, I think my wife has picked up on this since in the past six weeks, she’s become much less bitchy. I’m actually now curious how long this mood will last, which will roughly be how long our marriage lasts.

      • shehneel
        July 11, 2013 at 5:16 am

        I think after you wrote this you answered ur own question

  9. N. Jean
    May 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I really had to comment that the “fault” is never that of the narcissistic wife. I worked for several years for an attorney whose stay at home wife was the office administrator. I realized very quickly that something was very wrong with her. She felt an entitlement to bash and abuse at will…and then turn around and be so charming it made one feel as if she wasn’t the problem..but you were…..The particular incident that I’m thinking of is when she went to the store with her 7 year old son…left him in the car, parked in the fire-lane, and dashed in to have the store manager order the power drink she consumed. She couldn’t remember the name of the drink and called the office to have her husband (my boss) tell her. He was involved in a very heated telephonic discussion with another attorney and could not take the call (the very first call he didn’t take in the 8 years I worked there)….she demanded that I go back and tell him….can you imagine how miserable I was to have to tell her on 3 different occasions that he could not come to the phone..He finally wrote a name down and the minute he hung up, he called her, but she wouldn’t answer the phone. In the meantime, the police were by her car in the fire lane, the 7 year old was sobbing, she was reprimanded by the police and given a ticket…Take a guess whose fault that was!!! My boss..she made him suffer for that one, but, alas so did I. My boss told her that I didn’t tell him she was on the phone….it turned into a very ugly situation when she confronted me about it and the other staff members had to come to my defense as this was one time when her attack was so ugly and demeaning that I couldn’t let my boss pin it on me..We, all of us, were all lying of course…I got the heck out of there after that incident. I also realized that my poor beleagured boss took all his frustrations out on me until I figured out what he was doing because he did not dare take them home where they belonged. I personally think living with her all these years has made him as sick as she is.

  10. Tracy
    May 12, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Very well said, Lighthouse. Projection was something I’d never even heard of until the breakdown of my last relationship with an N/BPD trait woman. Had I not managed to get her to attend joint counseling (a feat in itself & she only initially attended because she was sure the Dr. would find me to be the one “out there”), I never would have been made aware of the reasons behind her perplexing & damaging behaviours. It was this Dr. who asked me about her at the last meeting I attended (alone, as she refused to continue once the Dr. had the nerve to question some of her actions/behaviours he’d personally witnessed)- and said I may want to look at PD information. Since then, I have tightened my own personal boundaries & had to face the fact that it was me who had allowed a lot of what transpired- set a precedence, so to speak, in the beginning.

    What I came to see is that my way, my “people pleasing” was really me not placing proper boundaries and then blaming the other & being resentful that I couldn’t say no, if that makes sense? I recently did say no to a request by an acquaintance to sleep over at my house- though we both know I do not feel for her the way she does for me & have been clear on that. The old me would have said yes, this time, I did what was right for me- and it was hard. I guess I’m saying to take charge you have to stand up & own your part- and change your own behaviour to make the adjustment necessary to support your own self-esteem.


  11. Bobby
    May 12, 2010 at 4:54 am

    I found this website by accident. I could not believe that all 13 traits can pinpoint straight to a BPD.
    If only I could turn back the clock and find these traits in a person. My wife did used and performed all 13 acts to me that I don’t know who am I anymore. I tried to blame God many times, blamed myself many times, thought of ending it all many times, thinking that leaving my wife is bad to her and to my children. I always get this its all your fault punchline. I also got this everything yours is mine. I couldn’t even withdraw money from an ATM for food without telling and yet she does everything without telling me. I couldn’t go anywhere, I’m not allowed to see my friends, it’s like prison where the guards must see what you are doing all the time. If I say I will arrive in 10 minutes to meet her and that 10 min had expired, it would mean war. World War 3 to me is like nothing as I think I have got to used with it.
    One day my family sided with me and I tried to leave her, wow, she threatened me that she would do nasty to the kids. She did attempted suicide but failed. I somehow learned a talk back attitude these days to my wife if she verbally accuses me. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t and I end up in the cold war and I would immediately raise the white flag as I am a peaceful person. I always question if there is another person like my wife who is living a double standard life. I love peace, happiness and being content of what you have. I didn’t know a BPD person lacks these traits.
    I can relate and sympathize with the stories I read in this website. I thought I was alone in this world! I changed many jobs now due to much pressure from my wife especially if my job asks me to be overseas for quite some time. If I’m overseas, i try to get back to my family twice or once every month. Sometimes that traveling takes 8 hours by land. Those travels do weaken my body severely. Unfortunately, as expected, all my suffering and pain do not count. I still get all the blame for everything, every mood swings. I always hear the the dreaded word ALWAYS, like you always do this, you always do that!
    I love the stories where the wife will tell others she is the abused and the victim. My wife loves to tell these stories to others. She loves telling lies that I said this and that. I once found a joke about this, a drunk man have encountered Satan the devil. The devil said, You should be afraid of me as I am going to kill you now! The drunk man then said, I am not afraid of you devil, I have married your sister! Boy, I was laughing when I read this.
    I will keep on reading from these stories and will try to learn from the mistakes and regain my humanity back. Walking on landmine everyday is really a tough task.

  12. Tracy
    May 10, 2010 at 3:52 am

    shrink4men :
    Hi Andrew,
    The only advice I have regarding relationships with NPDs/BPDs is to get out and stay out. End all contact. Figure out what attracts you to abusive women and then break the pattern.
    Dr T

    There’s the key. Yes, this sort of relationship becomes your twisted world for a while (sometimes years)- but once you’re made aware, it’s time to put up or shut up- male or female. I also prefer the term “target” to “victim”- target denotes something being done to you without your consent~ where victim, to me, denotes acceptance of the victimization. If you don’t leave (or make plans to) after you are made aware, you become a victim of your own accord.

    Hope that doesn’t sound too harsh, but I really want to stress how anyone involved with a PD individual will never make it right, & will be driven to the edge trying. Invest in you, instead, & finding what brought you there in the first place- and how to avoid it from now on. It’s time to think of what’s best for you.


    • Lighthouse
      May 10, 2010 at 1:55 pm

      I agree with Tracy’s comments that we are targeted for having weak boundaries, i.e. we fail to respectfully and assertively fail to defend against others. However, I would argue that a conscious victim is no victim at all, but a martyr to their naive belief that their words ‘shoulda’, ‘woulda’ or ‘coulda’ influence someone else who is not prepared to help themselves.

      I offer the following suggestion for a roadmap for recovery…

      1. If you recognize the abuse and say something about it but fail to leave, then you are a martyr (compensatory narcissist).

      2. If you leave the abusive situation but use your resulting fears to justify mistreating your partner in your next relationship, then you have effectively become a professional victim (narcissist) yourself.

      3. If you leave the abusive situation and choose to use criticism to defend your boundaries, then you are a survivor (antisocial).

      4. If you leave the abusive situation and choose to use respectfully and assertively words to pathologically defend your boundaries, then you are an enlightened survivor (avoidant).

      5. If you leave the abusive situation and choose to use respectfully and assertively words to appropriately defend your boundaries, then you are a thriver (mentally healthy). In this scenario you effectively communicate with words and actions your healthy boundaries to prevent people gaining access to levels of intimacy their behavior does not support – healthy people closer (‘more good’) and less healthy further away (‘less bad’).

      Note: In each of the above stages you only become disordered yourself once you pathologize any single step and refuse to recognize your pursuit of healthier relationships. The growth process naturally requires consolidation (practice, rest and marshalling support) at all stages. The time also allows others the opportunity to adapt their expectations to the new reality that you will be more fully claiming your rights (equality) by administering your responsibilities (good boundaries). If others pathologically fail to adapt their expectations to your new found self-esteem, then be prepared to upgrade your friends but do not allow their limitations to be projected on you (an example of bad boundaries).

      Once you have learned the lesson, spend not one minute regretting yesterday’s mistakes because the time is better invested in learning today’s lessons.

      Good luck on your journey.


  13. Charles
    May 9, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I wanna say my ex/children’s mother fits ALL 13 signs

  14. Alnico
    May 8, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    I’m not the Dr., but I was diagnosed with adjustment disorder due to the stress of my relationship with my ex. I’m guessing PTSD is also common.

  15. Fred Wuliger
    May 8, 2010 at 7:01 am

    I have a question: Are there any emotional disorders typically associated with the people who are victims of these behaviors?

  16. Paul
    May 1, 2010 at 2:27 am

    Holy moly – it is my wife!

  17. Bill
    April 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Wow…I found this article by accident, but it sheds so much light and perspective on my marriage. It gives me lots to think about and helps remind me of events/behaviors that I had forgotten or never clearly understood or identified.

    I was 20 years married with three kids (middle son is on the Autism Spectrum and I “home-brewed” his therapy to a very successful life path for him). I became increasingly isolated and questioned my sanity and judgment, working more and more desperately to “fix things” without success. She divorced me six years ago (then told the kids I divorced her, and it was all my fault) and she has spent much of it taking me to court to take my boys away from me stating that I was mentally ill and a danger to the children. Finally had a judge last summer who saw through all of this and shut her down. It has been a long and difficult road. I’ve kept contact to the minimum needed considering we still have one son who is a minor.

    Last year my son’s psych therapist pulled me aside and told me not to worry, that in reality she was doing all the things that she accused me of doing (projecting) and that I was doing the best job possible under the circumstances. That helped a lot.

    Thank you for this list! It brings clarity to more than 25 years of history with her by identifying specific examples of what happened and behaviors. It is much better than a foggy idea that “stuff” was wrong – which has always bothered me when asked “what happened”? It may also help me help my sons understand their mother better when they are older. For example, last year she told the youngest that I was a monster, and that he was turning out just like me. This was because he didn’t accept her stories about how bad she claimed I was to her and him.

    When (if) the time ever comes again for a relationship with someone, I need to keep this article handy to make sure I don’t attract/pick the same kind of person again.

    • Jim
      September 8, 2010 at 3:50 pm


      I have posted a couple times sharing things that are going on in my current marriage. It’ll be 20 years next April and I’ve been contemplating divorce for the last few years but I couldn’t do that to my 3 boys. I too have a son in the Autism spectrum – he’s slightly Aspergers and basically struggles socially (social cues etc.) but he’s very intelligent and currently a freshman in college and an academic sophomore. My middle son is a senior in HS and my third son is an eigth grader. All of them are excelling in school and their extra curriculars. They have good friends that I know and trust as well as I know their friends’ parents and are good people.

      It pains me so deeply to think of their pain in going through a divorce. I too want to let my boys know that their mother has some issues and that they need to be aware of them for their sanity (she can be moody and is always trying to control them) and so they don’t repeat my mistakes.

      Can you tell me about the best path to take to protect my boys? I know they see things about their mom that isn’t normal and I can only do so much to help them with her and keeping our home as close as I can without tension.

      Let me know please! Thank you!


  18. April 13, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    My wife has all 13 of the signs. I think she has the npd, because she definitely isn’t vulnerable. I have wanted to leave her for years but i know in a divorce she would be vicious. I grew up extremely poor in a 2 bedroom trailer, with 3 sisters and 1 brother in a dinky bedroom all 5 of us. I left home at 16 and struggled for years as a carpenter then contractor and then developer. At age 50 I am finally financially comfortable, no thanks to my wife of 18 years. And the fact that I achieved success in the business world and would have to put my tool belt on and struggle again financially makes me grit my teeth and try to put up with her BS. I have thought of selling all my assets and dissappearing without divorcing, because I definitely will not get married again. I’ve also thought of selling my assets quietly and moving to another country where she wouldnt find me. I would be happy to pay her a fair amount. I know she wouldn’t accept anything fair. When I worked on a large project out of town, I told her I could only have her visit and not be in the same town or live with me because I didn’t have the energy to deal with her and still be able to supervise the large construction project. Even though she knows nothing about construction she still tries to interject herself into my projects and somehow thinks she knows better than me, (the arrogance of the NPD), but in reality causes many problems and headaches that could easily be avoided if she is out of the way. So she hasn’t helped me in any way achieve success. I’ve achieved it despite her. I really can’t give her an unfair division of my hard earned assets. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • chester
      April 16, 2010 at 3:48 pm


      Worst case scenario she gets half,you get peace/freedom/health. Stay with her and you live the nightmare. I too thought of disappearing and even bought a book on the subject. Ultimately, i took her on and came out ok. would not trade it for the world….

      • chester
        April 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm


        Buying gold coins for cash leaves no paper trail…problem is, the price is too high and volatile…..

  19. Santo
    April 4, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I have been married to my wife for 12 years and have had enough. I know that I am a giving husband and father, but you wouldn’t know it by the way she talks to others. I try to contribute as much as possible and I cook, clean, have a full-time career and help care for our three children as much as I can. The thing is that she has every BPD quality listed above, except for infidelity, as far as I know. I never know what mood state she will be in when she walks in the door. One minute she’s loving and the other she spitting venom and it does not take very much to provoke the change. She is sweet and quiet in front of strangers and so most think that she is a beautiful and wonderful wife (only on the outside). However, when she is comfortable with someone, say, a family member she shows some of her true colors. Problem is that her mother, grandmother, and sister all are downright mean to their spouses in the same way. Its almost like its accepted as “normal” in their family. Its pretty evident that she has learned this behavior from her family. Problem is that I am the only one to question this behavior and I am vilified by her entire family because I don’t sit and take it. I sometimes stand up to her. Just this week it was a difficult day b/c I cleaned the whole house while caring for the kids and she came home from work (she works Saturdays) and begun to yell and nag about how our youngest had a dirty diaper and that it was not changed. We both were sitting on the couch and she kept it up and I told her to stop. She did not stop and I nudged her with my leg. She acted like I punched her and took it to the extreme and threatened to call the police, a judge, the president etc. She called her sister and cried that I was abusive, when I am not. I am sick of the extremes in thinking and behavior, eg..black and white, hot & cold, loving & evil. I have health problems including RA and I think it is due to the stress. I have depression because of living with this stress and also have concern for my kids. My daughter has begun to pick up on her mother’s mannerisms and it scares me. Sue (my wife) does not have one ounce of empathy for me, the children or anyone else and makes comments like, “suck it up”, your such a baby, etc. And if she experiences a similar situation her world crashes. She has entire control of the fiances and I get an “allowance” which consists of gas money. I have isolated myself from my friends and family because she would act like I was abandoning her every time I left the house so I stopped associating with them. I have no support at all and no where to turn. When I met her I was young and naive and now I am older, educated and see things very differently. I want to separate but she has already told me that she and her family will make my life hell and I believe her (her family has money). Any suggestions?

    • shrink4men
      April 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

      Hi Santo,

      Start keeping a journal or log of her abusive behavior—for your sanity and as a record. Invest in a small digital tape recorder that you can easily conceal on your person. Record her abusive tirades—especially when she threatens to call the police. Do NOT let her know you’re doing this. Stash the recordings and journal somewhere safe. The recording are for your safety should she actually call the cops and proof of her abusive behavior for family court (that is if recordings are admissible in your state). Begin copying as many financial records as you can.

      Quietly find some good attorneys in your area and consult with them. They should have experience handling “high conflict” personality cases. Develop a strong strategy before you tell her you want out and then brace yourself.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

      • Alnico
        April 4, 2010 at 11:32 pm

        Write a bill of rights for youself and ask your most trust friends, people you knew for years before your wife – and complete strangers to read it and tell you if it is over the top or not. You can see mine in a post here or by searching the archives at taylorlife.com. Get some individual counseling, by phone on your lunch break if necessary: perahps Dr. T. is availble. Use that to help decide if you really want to stay in or get out. Develop a plan with an attorney – and read up on some of the how to prepare stuff out there such as on http://www.dadsdivorce.com. If you want out, plan your exit stategy to ensure you have a chance to get a fair deal if possible — avoid giving her the bank and everyting to get out but definately keep a recorder if she is making threats. Otherwise it’s her word against yours… you may want to ask a lawyer about the recording. In my state it is legal as long as the recording person is a party to the converstations. So I carried it on me and got some really nice clips that are good for my sanity when she gaslights.

  20. Garrett
    March 31, 2010 at 7:05 am

    “Tomorrow, I’ll post a follow-up blog in which I explain why this emotional abuse and what you can do about it.

    by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD”

    Dr. Palmatier, where can I find the follow-up article? I am a 41yr old male going through a divorce from a woman who you describe almost dead-on. I kept saying, “Holy Cow” throughout the article because of the accuracy of description. Since we have children, where can I find article(s) you’ve written on how to communicate with a BPD/NPD person. She will go to her grave calling me evil, while she’s the angel, with all her Facebook friends validating her feelings. If only they knew…

    • Lighthouse
      March 31, 2010 at 1:34 pm

      The problem is not that they validate her feelings, it is just that your (soon to be) ex- doesn’t know what to do with her feelings after that, i.e. attribute blame to herself for setting unfair expectations (perspective of entitlement) or you for failing to follow through with your words (be trustworthy).

      That said, you’ll never get her to admit it so instead focus on what you CAN control – establishing your own support network so your self-worth no longer ‘feels’ like it is dependent upon her or her friends perception of you.

      All the best,


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