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Is a Borderline or Narcissist Woman’s Emotionally Abusive Behavior Premeditated?

homemaker2Dr. T,

I would like to compliment you on the quality of your blog! Your articles are very concise and well written. In fact, I have forwarded several of your articles regarding Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder to family members (aka, my support group).

I have been married to my wife for about 5 years and have endured a great deal of emotional and verbal abuse, bullying and drama (all my fault of course!) I could certainly write a book. I stay in the relationship because of my 5-year old daughter who I feel needs balance in her life on a daily basis.

There is definitely an evolution of how one deals with the abuse. There are overlapping stages of confusion, excuses, anger, silence, appeasement, etc. As you know, none of that works. It is so tiring because it requires you to be on constant mental red alert. I find your articles very reassuring in the sense that they provide a positive reinforcement that her problems are not my fault!

Initially, I found the concept of projection and mind games difficult to relate to. If you don’t think that way yourself, it is hard to identify and believe the behaviors. I guess we see the world in the context of who we are.

Couple of questions:

1) How premeditated are these individuals? My wife could go on for hours and hours about how inadequate I am. Is that all she thinks about? I used to sit and listen to it all and then try to justify everything that was supposedly wrong with me. Now, I just walk away from her when she goes on an abusive rant. Now she says I have changed and threatens divorce quite regularly.

2) How should one respond to illogical questions and comments like “What have you done for this family other than go to work and take care of our daughter when you get home?” or “You’re so insecure you can’t talk about anything,” “I’m not yelling at you, I’m just talking loud!” etc. It seems like every conversation comes around to how inadequate I am in that topic. (not a good enough father, husband, Christian, etc.)

Your blog efforts are very appreciated,

Hi Rick,

1) A borderline or narcissistic woman’s behavior isn’t what I’d call “premeditated” in the traditional sense. These women basically run on a mixture of primitive, unconscious instincts, conflicts and operant conditioning.

evil_homemakerWhat does this mean? Basically, she doesn’t have a James Bond evil villain-esque plan for world domination; everyday is a battle to protect herself from being assaulted by the truth of what a damaged, flawed being she is. These women create a distorted bubble of un-reality in which they are wonderful, misunderstood creatures who have to put up with lesser beings like you, me and everyone else on the planet.

Verbally abusing you and making you believe you’re a jerk is how she keeps her version of reality undisputed and household tyrrany alive. She may know that her behavior is hurtful, but doesn’t care. She feels justified because you “deserve” it for some imagined or minor affront to her ego. However, I wouldn’t say this is “premeditated” or even conscious. It’s instictual survival behavior.

She has learned how to manipulate you, others, and her environment through trial and error, like a child who has discovered cause and effect. “If I poke him here, he does what I want him to do” or “If I make fun of him for wanting sex, he leaves me alone” or “If I needle him long enough, he’ll yell at me, then he’ll feel bad and I’ll get to go on the vacation I want” versus “If I don’t give him sex for more than 6 months, he threatens to leave, so I better have sex every 5 months” or “If I don’t go with him to visit his family on holidays, he won’t buy me what I want, so I’d better go for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

These women see the world in terms of rewards and punishments—much like a 5-year old. Calling a NPD/BPD’s behavior “premeditated” gives her credit for a level of self-awareness I just don’t think she possesses. Also like a 5-year old, these women are totally egocentric. They believe the world revolves around them, that everyone else is like them, and motivated by the same desires and fears.

As for her threatening divorce; you should be so lucky! Here’s the most crazy thing about these women; they do everything in their power to drive even the most patient, tolerant, and forgiving soul away, yet their greatest fear is abandonment. Because of her egocentrism, if her greatest fear is abandonment, then you must also be deathly afraid of abandonment.

Ending the relationship is usually an empty threat because:

a) These women don’t have a core sense of self. They’re not “whole” people.” They’re fragmented. If they’re not in relationship with someone, they don’t know who they are. They have to have a source of attention and admiration; it doesn’t matter if it’s negative attention. To some degree, it’s a matter of ego preservation vs. annihilation. (If you want to know more about this, read Daniel N. Stern’s The Interpersonal World of the Infant, Melanie Klein‘s writings on the good breast/bad breast, Margaret Mahler and John Bowlby—this material is really dense, but you may find it interesting).

Just for a change of pace, why don’t you tell her you’re considering divorce. See how she reacts. My hunch is there will be a lot of tears, drama, “How could you be so cruel?!” and/or insults and threats such as, “You don’t have the guts. I want a lien on all your future earnings. You’ll never see your daughter again. I’ll tell everyone what a bastard you are.” These women are such charming creatures.

b) On some level, these women know that most people aren’t willing to put up with their crap. That’s why many of these women either don’t work or flit from job to job. Everyone she works with is an idiot, an incompetent jerk, and/or her talents aren’t appreciated and she should be in charge. These women can’t handle the least bit of criticism or being challenged on their distorted view of themselves and reality.

Dealing with new people or “outsiders” (i.e., people who are outside of her sphere of control) is way too much work and way too threatening to her shaky ego. Therefore, even if she wants to leave, she’s unlikely to do so—unless, she’s already found a replacement. These women rarely go anywhere until they have a “better deal” waiting in the wings. And hey, if she’s managed to sucker some other poor bastard, “Good luck and good riddance!

2) How should you respond to illogical questions and comments like “What have you done for this family other than go to work and take care of our daughter when you get home?” Personally, my gut reaction would be to blink in amazement and then laugh in her face. However, responses like this will probably antagonize her. Presenting the facts or pointing out just how absurd her statements are  will also set her off.

Remember, she controls the facts and, as Fox News pointed out during our last election, “The facts are not irrefutable.” Walking away is a good technique if you just want to get away from her, but she’ll probably become more incensed and pick up where she left off when you return.

You can also try holding her accountable and setting a boundary by stating simply and calmly, “I don’t see things that way. You’re being hurtful and abusive. I won’t talk to you when you act this way. She won’t take kindly to this tactic either, but it sets up some ground rules—namely, “If you want me to engage with you, you need to treat me with the same respect you demand. Until then, this conversation is over.” Here’s a link to Do’s and Don’ts for getting along with a NPD/BPD if you want to stay in the relationship. I don’t think these tips are very healthy for you in the long run, however.

Her constant criticism is how she wears you down, keeps you passive, submissive, dependent, makes you feel worthless, helpless and grateful for those rare times when she’s actually kind. Abuse is about control. She controls you by making you feel bad. When you reject her criticism or walk away from it, she experiences it as a loss of control, which freaks her out. Hence, her accusation, “You’ve changed!” Damned straight.

These women view any positive, self-care actions you take to protect yourself as a grave act of disloyalty. When you refuse let her get away with her bad and hurtful behaviors, you become the mean, unforgiving, crazy, unempathic bad guy. So when she accuses you of changing, take it as a sign of your improved mental health. It’s like defecting from the old Soviet Union; you become a traitor in her eyes. In order to be a good “comrade,” you have to buy into her BS. In my opinion, the price you pay for that is too high.

Many of these women use religion or a warped, superficial version of Psychology to control their victims. Saying, “You’re not a good Christian” or “You have no empathy” is really the same thing. They’re both forms of name-calling and pathologizing. These statements are just more projections and propaganda.

You can take every negative hurtful thing an NPD/BPD woman says about you and apply it to her. She’s a bad christian. She doesn’t do anything. She’s insecure. She’s not a good enough parent. Really, she’s not. What kind of role model is she for your daughter? She’s teaching her it’s ok to abuse others to get what you want.

If you’re going to stay with her, my advice is find a way to tune her out or ignore her when she goes on one of her rants. This will be difficult because NPD/BPD women are masters at pushing people’s buttons. Or set clear boundaries for acceptable behavior—like you would with your 5-year old daughter. Like a 5-year old, she’ll persist in pushing the boundaries until she wears you or herself out—whichever comes first. Unlike your 5-year old, she won’t outgrow this phase. Do you want to spend the rest of your life as a referee/border patrol?

Personally, I think life is too short to spend one more miserable day with an emotionally abusive NPD/BPD woman. Think about why you’re staying. You said you haven’t divorced her because of your daughter. However, there is no way that living with an emotionally abusive mother is balanced—no matter how present and loving you are with your daughter, she’s still being exposed to abuse.

Counseling, 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 or send an email to shrink4men@gmail.com.

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  1. Rick R.
    June 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you, Sam & Ron. As the looming divorce court date draws near, her subtleties have morphed into physical beatings, open tyrades with kids and, surprisingly–for the first time–to others outside our home, whereby a request for a restraining order has been filed against her by a close friend of mine.
    Delemma for me, as described by one of many cops I talked to yesterday, is the the choice is mine to report next offense (which was this morning when she punched me in the face), at which point she’s immediately removed. Must decide thats what I want at this juncture.

  2. Ron
    June 14, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    MY only advice is not to look to her family for any help. Rarely, do they support the abused, as , in many cases, the whole family is screwed up and is invested in protecting their sick reality.
    I think you can petition for psych evals re custody. However, from what I have read, the personality disorders are very hard to diagnose and the disordered person can often maintain a very normal demeanor in front of others. Most of the abuse seems to go on behind closed doors and is often subtle, ambient abuse, like sarcasm, derision, condescencion. Stuff that is readily identifiable as abusive as it is cumulative and constant, but not flagrant enough.
    It’s tougher divorcing with kids, as you run the risk of having them placed with the abuser. On the other hand, even if you do not get custody, your new home can be their safe haven during visitation. Once they are about 12, the court will listen to their desires re where they want to live.
    It’s quite a releif to finally make the move,getting out, that you probably knew, on some level, was the only way you could survive, longterm. Good luck and congratulations.

  3. Rick R.
    June 14, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Hi everyone, feel like a new member to a scary club here.
    I only diiscoverd the term BPD yr & half ago. Make a long story short, I’m in the first throws of divorcing her–and her father’s a psychiatrist (yikes!). Talk about denial, both he and the mom-in-law refuse to eccept the borderline diagnosis–and trust me, she’s a slam-dunk bulls eye. I’ve read through some of the stories on here, and I’ve yet to see described the severity of the highlights that I’ve been dealing with over the past 13 yrs–mine’s a real duesy.

    On the one hand, I’m so freakin happy to be ridding myself of this nightmare, but on the other I’m freightened of the custody battle and backwards “help” she’s gonna get from her well-heeled parents who’ll fight in her defense.
    Kids are in a terrible position.

    Any advice out there in how to deal with her family members who are in denial, making things worse by giving her bad advice, exacerbating the situation?
    And what about the family therapist? Can she be called to testify? Is it worth it?

    • sam
      June 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm

      I was told that in my state, the judges in custody hearings frequently request that both parties waive their confidentiality with therapists. My case didn’t come to that, but it might be something to look into.

  4. Just Julie
    February 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Dr. T is awesome..I have visited this site often over the past year. My husband is divorced from a woman with BPD – even though she left him for a man 20 years her junior…she has been stalking us for almost 3 years. We were granted a stalking protective order in the state of Oregon – that slowed the crazy lady down a little…now her new strategy is using the courts to hurt him. Good news is, as we approach frivilous lawsuit #4 or 5 (I’ve lost count), we have witness testimony to support her attempts to control/cause financial harm AND an arbitrator (woman) who see’s through her facade of “I’m the compenent, normal one” – so we are hoping this might be the last crazy court circus we have to attend. If nothing else, we feel this case might get dismissed on grounds of…you guessed it…INSANITY and CRAZY MAKING NONSENSE!

    My husband is receiving therapy – but I can’t articulate to everyone reading this – just how much damage her pain and crazyness have effected so many other people – besides my husband. Healing is possible for him – and I have to agree with the good doctor – I too, can not muster up any more sympathy for this deranged shell of a human being. I write fiction and nonfiction, and it has been truly healing and fun for my husband to read, aboout all the clever ways I have killed her off, put her jail or a psych ward. It was uncomfortable for him to read at first “gee, that is so mean”..he is still healing…then his therapist said – hey, follow her lead and write your missive – then burn it. You have to release this anger in a healthy way – and it might feel uncomfortable at first – then you will feel elation. Do you think I would risk spending my life in a jail cell over this crazy B(*(#? No way, Jose! “Give someone enough rope and they will eventually hang themselves”…is precisely what is going to happen.

    We focus on our future and adhere to the motto “the best revenge is your own success”..actually, “your own happiness” – however, when a new lawsuit comes forth – it triggers something in my husband and he wants to cope in unhealthy ways…so I come up with creative ways to release this energy. Today I’m making “The Crazy Ex Wife Vodoo Doll”…complete with all her stupid sayings “you ruined me”, “it’s your fault I had an affair” and my favorite “I hope you wash your d&&&& before that fat cow sucks it like you made me!” and “Your VIPER of a gfriend (now wife) is controlling you, don’t you see that?”…Yikes. Fat Cow Viper, that would be me.

    Question for Dr. T: Do these ppl ever get committed to a psych hospital, and by whom? She is court ordered to attend therapy and take meds – and she just keeps getting kicked out of groups and/or abuses the therapist and storms out. Also, hope that your work can one day get circulated to the courts so they can educate themselves on these crazies that suck up my tax dollars wasting the court’s time and ours!

    Thanks for letting me vent!! I’m considering starting a support group for men – as society seems to think only men do the abusing…sad.

  5. Nan
    January 22, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    I just wanted to comment on what it is like working for the husband of a narcissistic wife. The last couple of years that I worked for him grew increasingly difficult as he would take his frustrations out on me. I always knew something was wrong with his wife, but didn’t know what it was. She was the “administrator” from home, but she would bully her staff via telephone. It occurred to me that whenever she came in the office to confront someone, my boss was always there to back her up. I came to realize that she was a downright coward and couldn’t stand on her own, even though my boss referred to her as a “strong” woman. I have no doubt she hit him. Once in utter frustration, I turned on my heel to contront him and this great, big giant of a man took a step back an put his arms up as if to ward off a blow. I was really stunned. I watched her demasculate him, berate him and beat him down (never in front of anybody because she wanted to put forth the perfect marriage). When she was happy, he was great, but as time wore on that became less and less often. I used to think her moods were a result of her menstrual cycle, but I think that just escalated her. Everything was HIS fault. He is a good looking man who adores her and yet he would spend an enormous amount of time on the phone with her telling her how great she was, how pretty she was (attractive, but not pretty), what a great wife and mother she was, but when things didn’t go exactly as she planned, man, she would let him have it. When I had had enough of HIS abuse and realized I was being abused, I hightailed it. I could go on forever, but the last six weeks when they were planning a trip to Europe, and he wasn’t scheduling exactly what she wanted, I got nailed to the wall on a daily basis. I feel like the healthiest thing I have ever done for myself was to get the hell out of there. I did and haven’t looked back.

  6. Recovering Alpha
    December 6, 2009 at 9:25 pm


    1. Boundaries. Why you allow someone to move in with you that you hardly knew?
    2. Addiction. You sound addicted. Go back and RE-READ your blog entry as if another person wrote it. Say your best friend. What would you think? What would you advise?
    3. Introspect. Why do you still love someone who treats you the way you have reported?

    You hold all the cards. We readers only see a small tip of the iceberg in what you write. You must “pick yourself up by your bootstraps.” I might suggest you confirm to yourself that you are cool with being single and a confirmed bachelor the remainder of your life. Once you say and believe that you can approach relationships in a “want” attitude rather than a “need”, which might be why you’re tolerating such described awful behavior

    Good luck.

    Last advice: even if it takes you WEEKS read all the articles in this site and the blog entries. Then re-read them. All the while keep a journal. I found that best in electronic form where I could secure it with a password (i.e., MS Word allows you to save the file with a read privilege password).

  7. Ronnieg
    November 29, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Wow this site is awesome,
    I am in situation with a 41 year old female who I met on line a little more than 2 years ago. She was in Texas and I in South Carolina. She contacted me though one of the dating websites in Feburary. We spoke for a couple of weeks, and the she introduced phone sex into our conversation, a month later she asked me to meet her in Georgia for the weekend, and a month later I visited her in Texas for a few days. Within in 2 month of our so call relationship we were talking about her moving to South Carolina. In July she sent her 14 year old daughter to South Carolina to live with me, I know I was crazy for such a decision in fact my entire family told me I was making a mistake because what woman would seen her child to live with someone she only know six month and seen at least 3 times. I guest I really was in love with this woman. Well, I moved her from Texas in September that same year. with the largest Uhaul you could rent. She did not want to leave anything, she appeared to be a hoarder by the stuff she had in her home. Everyroom was fulled with stuff she had for more than 15 years, including boxes she never unpacked when she first moved to Texas, and she had every space on the wall covered with pictures of her pictures from the past when she was teen and current. We did leave things in storage, and had to go back a year later and get it. She moved into by home, and refused to put anything in storage. She filled every space in my home, and she didn’t care if you had to walk sideways to get to the other rooms. She had so much stuff that every closet is filled, and there boxes still unpacked. She has at least 15 pictures of herself in different poses in the bedroom. There are mirrors everywhere. Now I need to know if she has NPD When she first moved in everything was great she was perfect partner with maintaining the home, and the sex was great for few month, and then by November everything went to hell.
    Name calling for no reason
    I paid all the bills even though she had promised to pay her share plus the vacation.
    She kept telling me I did nothing right, and I contributed nothing to the household. She kept saying the only thing I could do was be a provider but I did not know how to be naturing, and then she started stating I wasn’t her type.
    She attacked my family friends immediately. She was extremely angry at my immediate family because they did not call and welcome her to South Carolina. When I stated we should go over and meet my family she stated she wanted nothing to do with them, and every time they came over she would go in the room. She wanted nothing to do with my friends, and the only time she wanted them around is when she wanted to have a party. She hated one of my friends because of the way she sounded on the phone, and then she refuse to meet her. She stated in the beginning of our relationship she didn’t have any friends because she didn’t trust anyone she worked with.
    Now fastforward to the last two month of this year( October and November) Well we had several explosive argument where she has become physicall, She gets extremely mad when I confront her about her some of things she has been doing that I consider continued disrespect to me. She turns every thing around, and tells me everything she says is right, and she does nothing wrong. She states the things she says to me, or anybody even her supervisor is right and is the truth, no matter how it sounds and if hurts it doesn’t matter because it is the truth.
    She tells me I am crazy and fool when I ask questions about her behavior, and the thing I know something is wrong, but I feel myself questioning my sanity.
    She is states she is leaving and is gone as far as starting to pack all of her stuff, I asked her to stop to leave some room for my family to vist for the Thanksgiving Holiday she refused and continued packing. She states she has no way to go, and is still looking for a place. She continues to ask me for large sums of money, 1000s of dollars, and even asked me to take out a large loan for her to go Christmas shopping and she would pay me back. She is complaining about hours being cut at work, which makes it impossible for her to pay her bills but she has left town and taken several days off, and has taken her daughter out of school to accompany her these sporatic trips. I don’t know if she has met someone and setting them up for the next big move. Here is the sad part. I still want to be with her, and still in some sick way care about her. I just refuse to give her any money. Please tell me have I been narc,or am I looking for an execuse on why the relationship is over?

  8. AnonymousT
    October 5, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Kev –

    The key word is “tried”, it didn’t make sense to me, either. I couldn’t believe that someone would think she was entitled to such a thing by legal force.

    But in keeping with Dr. Tara’s answer about misplaced compassion, what I learned was that reality and the whole world can be contradicting the NPD/BPD’s actions/reasons/excuses, and she still will not relent or admit a mistake. And with no repentance, forgiveness is wasted, and compassion is dangerous. Offer either, and it seems to reinforce her opinion that YOU are entirely to blame, and that your overture is a sign of guilt or weakness that she can use to punish you for the offense of suggesting that she is not perfect or did something wrong. It seems completely backwards, I still have a hard time grasping it.

    Here’s another example: I once saw her doing something that she had promised not to do anymore, (something minor, but which she knew bothered me), and she denied it even though I had just seen her do it. It was a small thing, but the denial really got me, and when I told her how frustrating and upsetting it was to catch someone red-handed like that and then have them deny it to my face, she looked at me in all seriousness and said “What are you talking about? My hand isn’t red.” And she held it up for me to look. And then she said I was verbally abusive, and I got a couple of weeks of the cold shoulder.

    At the time I was baffled and confused. All I had wanted was an explanation why she kept doing it, even though it hurt me, and then forgive her and put it behind us. But in hindsight, like Dr. Tara said, I think her reaction was willful denial and low-level cruelty, operating like some kind of programmed instinct on autopilot.

    You are only asking for it if you continue to play along, excuse, forgive, or feel sorry.

    • jham123
      October 5, 2009 at 1:42 pm

      Awesome AnonymousT,

      Yeah, I’ve been round and round with those little things……The ones where you have lay out exactly where everyone was standing at what time and what happened. Only to have her dodge and weave around the obvious. Then She told me I should be a Lawyer the way I “make a case”.

      This is serious stuff to me…..why can’t she just admit her mistake and ask for forgiveness? Only Dr. T has been able to answer these absolute “crazy making” episodes in my life. I’ve spent nearly two decades trying to comprehend it…..NOW I understand.

  9. Jon
    October 4, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Hey Dr. T:

    I am a regular subscriber to your site. I look each week for your new articles and find that they are just what I need to read each week to keep my head on straight when it comes to thinking constructively about the torment that I endured from my ex and the path towards healing that I’ ve been on for nearly a year now.

    The odd thing is, I still find myself with sympathy for my ex – despite all of the pain that she caused me. I think the reason that I feel this sympathy for her is because, I like to think that, deep down, she is just a frightened little child doing the only thing that she knows to do to protect herself in her own dysfunction. Regardless of how much it hurts and pushes away the very people who care for her the most. I wish I didn’t. I mean, I wish I could just think of her with disdain and view her as this evil creature that so many people seem to think of BPD/NPD people to be. But I can’t. I have to admit: I still love the girl. Well, at least I love the perfect projected fantasy that she was for me for the first 6 months or so.

    So, I’m curious, as a therapist who clearly tends to naturally side with the men who have endured such agonizing pain at the hands of these women – are you able to see them with compassion? Or do you feel that their actions are consciously chosen ones – which therefore kind of make them…well….evil.

    I really struggle with this. Because somehow, I feel like if I don’t think of her with compassion (despite what she did to me) I have to look at her as someone who willfully and consciously destroyed me – someone who truly loved her with all of my heart. And to do that to someone consciously kind of makes you heartless it would seem.

    Do you think you could possibly write an article that might give a glimpse into the minds of these women? Are they tortured children trapped in adult bodies and running on impulse? Or are they truly as heartless and evil as their actions would imply?

    Quite the conundrum.

    As always – thank you for your site. It’s a mind and life saver.

    ;-) -J

    • Mike91163
      October 4, 2009 at 4:32 pm


      Speaking here strictly from a “layman’s” viewpoint…

      I can completely understand the emotional roller coaster you’re on…we’ve all been there at one point or another. I think you make a good point about sympathy-a person does not have to experience what another goes through to sympathize with their plight…whereas empathy implies a “been there, done that” expression, which us “nons” cannot even begin to imagine…here’s a fairly good example I found elsewhere:

      I can feel sympathy for someone who lost their father, because my father is still alive.
      I can feel empathy for someone who lost their dog, because I have also lost a pet dog.
      I can feel compassion for someone by letting them have the day off work because their situation. (trying to alleviate or help however I can with their pain/problem)

      Compassion is a part of both sympathy and empathy. The problem with us who have dealt with BPD/NPD wives is that the constant, chronic, 24/7 “beatdowns” have all but exhausted our supply of compassion.

      What makes BPD/NPD very difficult to deal with is that there’s very little treatment that can help the person. While bi-polars and clinically depressed folks can be treated with drugs, and sociopaths can be treated with prison time, BPDs can only be helped via DBT (Dialectical Behaviorial Therapy), and the problem with DBT is that it’s arduous, time-consuming, and worse yet, the person afflicted has to first ADMIT they have a problem…and since the narcissistic aspect of BPD/NPD exists, that is a very hard nut to crack! The alcoholic will admit to drinking, but may not admit to it being a problem (denial), but to get the BPD/NPD to admit that their behavior is wrong is very difficult…

      I don’t think that my wife’s behavior is conscious (to a point), therefore I don’t view her as evil. I DO think that she is tortured in her mind by the demons of her childhood (BPD mother, alky father), but what’s key in the discussion of “being sympathetic and compassionate” to our BPD/NPD partners, ex- or otherwise, is this: We HAVE been sympathetic and compassionate towards them for years, and in some cases, decades…we are just burnt out and emotionally hollow and shot. I view it this way: The odds are VERY high that she will continue to be this way the rest of her life, and why should I continue to be miserable, unhappy, and beaten down? I hate to sound selfish, but if there is no or very little hope for the BPD, why should I continue to be dragged down? Don’t I deserve to have a fulfilling life, and be able to give MY love and compassion to someone who will genuinely appreciate that AND reciprocate?

    • shrink4men
      October 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm

      Hi Jon,

      Do I have compassion for these women? No. I learned through clinical interactions that compassion is a wasted sentiment and only enables this kind of woman’s behavior. I feel sorry for them, but if you show empathy and compassion for these individuals they twist it around and use these qualities as weapons against you. Never forget that individuals with the Cluster B disorders are predators. They perceive empathy and compassion as weaknesses by which they can exploit and manipulate you.

      The pity I feel for these individuals is co-mingled with disgust. Even feeling pity for them is a manipulation. “I can’t help being the way I am. You need to feel sorry for me. I can’t help it. You have to forgive me and accept me!” No, I don’t and neither do you. They play upon your sympathies to keep you tethered to them and to control you. This is an example of the willful ignorance and psychological laziness of these individuals that I’ve mentioned elsewhere. If they have been made aware of their behavior and can acknowledge it, they should put in the hard work to modify, or at the very least, control their abusive behaviors. It’s a cop out to say “I can’t help it so you have to suck it up and put up with my BS.” Women with these issues make their partners turn themselves inside out to change for them; once they acknowledge they have a problem it’s time for them to do the work and start changing. If they choose not to do so; then there’s no reason to feel sympathy for them. They are consciously choosing to remain as they are.

      Premeditated and conscious or damaged inner child and unconscious? This is a tough question. I think some of these women are quite aware of what they do and don’t care about the damage they cause as long as they remain in control and maintain their distorted reality. While other women cling to a willful ignorance about their behaviors and issues to avoid taking accountability and doing the incredibly hard work of healing and changing.

      I think it speaks well of you that you have compassion for your ex. However, I advise you to feel compassion or sympathy from a safe NO CONTACT distance. Openly showing compassion toward a woman like your ex only leaves you vulnerable for more abuse. They view any kindness you show as a weakness to be exploited. Perhaps you’re struggling with what it means about you if you wash your hands of your ex and view her as an unsympathetic lost cause. Do you believe in the inherent goodness of all people no matter how badly they behave or do you believe that some people are simply not capable or deliberately choose not to abide by the same rules of interpersonal relations as the rest of us?

      Every now and again, women who clearly have BPD/NPD issues leave angry or pitiful, emotionally charged comments on my site. Here are three posts left by a woman that are a good example of the disgusted pity I sometimes feel:

      1st post:

      “I have BPD and your website just made want to kill myself.
      Couldn’t you refer to us a little nicer by changing some lingo? “these women”??

      I donno want to say other than I really love my partner and now I am this way and I hope I can change before he leaves me.”

      2nd post (36 minutes later after she didn’t get an immediate response):

      I wrote emotionally and not rationally.

      My main message is that it’s be nice if you could stop using the phrase “thee women”.

      Just a thought.

      My boyfriend will be happy I found this site for him.

      Where do I go if I will never make man happy?
      Any suggestions for BPD woman as you seem to state that recovery is impossible?
      (which is counter to what I was told).

      We really are bitches aren’t we. I also wish I knew if it was upbring or biology more so?

      For me, I don’t want anyone. I do though. And I stay on earth because I think I can change and I think I have a lot to offer. My main goal in life has always been to help others less fortunate. But if I can’t recover, I should obviously just kill myself now.

      3rd post (2 minutes later):

      I didn’t write well

      And they’re not anything anyone on this site cares about.

      Her comments are sad, pathetic and clearly illustrate her pathology in action, but they’re also extremely emotionally manipulative. She basically makes me responsible for her feelings of self-loathing and rage. States that information (that I haven’t written personally about her) makes her want to kill herself, yet she acknowledges she has BPD although doesn’t seem to be in treatment. If she is in treatment, it doesn’t look like it’s helping very much, does it? I felt bad for a second and then shook it off as a blatant manipulation for pity, which then pulls you to try to make “everything better” for this kind of individual. The reality is you can’t make it better for them. By keeping you enthralled in a state of compassion, pity and empathy for them, you keep a chain around your ankle they can continue to tug.

      What are my suggestions for BPD women re: recovery? Get yourself into a strict DBT program, be honest with your loved ones about what’s going on and give them the option of distancing themselves from you while you learn some self-control and coping skills. But most of these women don’t want to hear that. They demand everything and give nothing in return.

      As I’ve stated elsewhere, I don’t think it matters why these women are the way they are. You can get lost in the reasons why and it still doesn’t change anything. It’s helpful to understand the biological bases and emotional neglect/abuse histories of BPD sufferers when they were children, but it doesn’t stop the hurt that they cause others now that they’re adults. So while I have compassion and understand there are reasons why people with BPD and/or NPD behave the way they do, the “why” does not negate the painful consequences, intentional or unintentional, that their behaviors have upon those who are in relationships with them. Many people have horrific childhoods, but they don’t grow up to be adult abusers. If you had an abusive parent or parents, I think there’s a pivotal moment when as a child or teenager, a person recognizes the problem and decides, “I don’t want to be like mom or dad.”

      Alternatively, I believe women like your ex choose the path of willful ignorance. Let’s say she’s a “product of her childhood environment.” She’s not in that environment anymore. You probably told her while you were together how hurtful her behavior was. Did she take a step back and examine her actions and try to change or did she deny the issues and lash out?

      I believe these women are capable of doing so, but they childishly maintain a pseudo unaware-ness to avoid personal responsibility and hard personal work (and sometimes work “work”—i.e., wives who are capable of getting a job/career, but refuse to do so). At heart, it’s a kind of psychological laziness combined with a fear of seeing themselves as they are because it will mean that:

      1) They have to acknowledge the reality of who they are—that they’re not this perfect person who’s unhappy because she’s put upon by lesser beings such as yourself. As I’ve stated elsewhere, a reasonably healthy individual can honestly look at themselves and acknowledge their strengths, flaws and areas for personal growth without experiencing it as a crushing, humiliating blow to their egos. To women with NPD and/or BPD, admitting they’re wrong, damaged or guilty of abuse means ego annihilation.

      2) Playing the perpetual victim/hostile dependent child is a powerful role, but a sick one. They maintain their control over you by pretending to be the helpless, injured person. This is laziness. Their power is illegitimate. Never taking responsibility for your words and deeds while expecting other people to clean up your messes and take care of all your emotional and/or financial needs is the height of laziness and psychological immaturity.

      Women with these issues are often malicious and purposefully so. To play devil’s advocate, let’s say they don’t know what they’re doing. Okay. What happens when you tell your wife/gf that she’s hurting you, making you feel bad or placing to much of an emotional/financial burden on you? Does she change her behavior when you make her aware or does she amp it up and either become more needy/demanding/abusive/sullen/withdrawn. You can’t say it’s a lack of awareness when more than one person has told you that your behaviors are hurting them. That’s willful denial and cruelty and, I think, very predator-like.

      I believe these personality disorders are most akin to alcoholism/drug addiction re: illness. You may have a predisposition to it because of your “wiring” or you’ve learned bad behaviors to cope with your pain. You can either recognize how you’re harming yourself and others, stop making excuses and blaming everyone else for your problems, get help and feel your own pain instead of putting it on others.

      I wonder if you worry that you’ll be “heartless” if you choose not to feel compassion for your ex? We learn a lot of “always or never” rules as children that often don’t serve us well in our adult lives. Rules such as:
      – Always forgive others.
      – Always be nice.
      – Always put others first.
      – Never be angry.
      – Never be selfish.
      When it comes to emotional abuse, it’s okay to break these old rules. In fact, you have to if you’re going to survive and heal. You have to “be selfish” and put yourself first. You have to protect and take care of yourself. You forgive someone if they’re truly sorry and make an effort not to hurt you again. Be nice, but don’t be a doormat.

      I encourage you to consider what old rules/beliefs you may be abiding by re: feeling compassion and sympathy for your ex.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • jham123
        October 4, 2009 at 7:11 pm

        Whenever you reply….it is like receiving a shot of emotional strength right in the blood stream. It goes straight to my head and heart.

        Thank you

      • AnonymousT
        October 5, 2009 at 2:55 am

        Dr. Tara, you said:

        “I think there’s a pivotal moment when as a child or teenager, a person recognizes the problem and decides, ‘I don’t want to be like mom or dad.'”

        The implication seems to be that the NPD/BPD woman chooses the opposite, i.e. to willfully recreate the dysfunctional family pattern she experienced, out of what you call psychological laziness. And she expects the man to give it to her unquestioningly … or else.

        As for compassion and forgiveness for such women, I second your recommendation – only in the abstract, at a distance. For example, I was told for years how absolutely perfect her family life was growing up – the very model of “unconditional” love. Yet despite this self-proclaimed model, she threatened me with frigidity if I criticized her, with abandonment when I didn’t provide her the life she felt she deserved, sued me to try to force me to earn her more money (really), and finally left me, with a list of “conditions” to fulfill if she were ever to love me again. AND THEN SHE FORGAVE ME FOR DIVORCING HER AND HAVING SINNED AGAINST HER.

        Compassion and forgiveness are seriously misplaced for women who are this deep into their own myths, and utterly incapable of admitting wrong.
        This was very hard for me to realize.

      • Kev
        October 5, 2009 at 3:00 am


        She SUED you to force you to make more money?!

        Wow. I hesitate to ask, but how does that work, exactly?

        Glad to hear you’re out…

      • Patrick
        March 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm

        Dr. T,

        First, THANK YOU FOR THIS!

        Second, is it possible for secondary NPD/BPD/Histrionic due to substance addiction to become entrenched and, consequently, become primary?


        • shrink4men
          March 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm

          No. Drugs and alcohol can create PD like symptoms, but usually it’s the other way around — drugs and alcohol exacerbate PD symptoms.

          • Patrick
            March 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

            In fact, your answer triggered the thought that I’m still searching for an answer as to why (perhaps even and almost certainly, the answer as to why I put up with it for so long – sex is an acceptable answer but I think I’d rather be celibate than compromise my entire being for this maladaptive woman). And think I need to stop. I noticed little difference, if any, behaviorally, whether she was using or not. I’m not 3 days removed from a relationship with a disturbed woman who from the start vowed to seek help. I believed her. Idiot. 3 years later, and allowing myself to get so far wrapped up in her web that I did, indeed, start to question whether or not the problem lied solely with me. My saving grace is that I don’t have any physical ties with her and I THINK she may have found someone else. It certainly hurts but I’m sure I’m better off. LET SOMEONE ELSE DEAL WITH HER! That said, I’m looking fro the strength to resist her if and when she does come back, crying (it’s been an irrefutable pattern) and asking me to take her back (because I’m almost certain that whomever she does date, if he’s normal, will not put up with her). AND THANK YOU, AGAIN, for this wonderful forum! <3

  10. Paul
    July 2, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    One of the funny comments about them was the James Bond Villainesque piece. I OFTEN find my ex-wife monologuing. I foil one of her plots and then she spends 10 minutes telling me what her plan was. My oldest son was having dental work done, and I got there to find she had ordered the dentist to start early, and he was screaming when I got there. She was outside. I got in, calmed him down and made it better. After, she told me “I wanted to be the one to help him calm down. You spoiled that. I wanted him to associated you with the pain and me with the relief. Why did you ruin that?”

    My biggest concern is that my oldest son is starting to show a lot of the same behaviors as she does. How do I prevent and interrupt that training when she has him for 12 days to my 2? I’m trying to get it fixed as fast as possible, but there’s only so much I can do in the limited window.

    • shrink4men
      July 5, 2009 at 1:37 pm

      Wow. I’ve read the story about the trip to the dentist a few times now. Wow. I don’t know why it surprises me. Nothing these women say or do should surprise me anymore, but wow.

      I’m afraid I don’t have an easy answer to your question re: undoing the damage your ex is doing to your son. Try to stay as involved as possible—no matter how difficult your ex tries to make it. Keep requesting more visitation days. Encourage him to get involved in sports, boy scout camping trips, debate club, etc.

      The more structured time he spends independent of his mother with caring, reasonably sane adults (even if they’re not you) the better. You want to minimize the impact of his exposure to his mother by providing him with other healthy adult role models. I would even consider finding him a therapist—especially since he’s beginning to exhibit some of his mother’s behaviors.

      If anyone has more or better advice, please chime in.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • Paul
        September 25, 2009 at 1:14 pm

        I have visitation right now with my sons only 2 days out of every 14. After last year’s tooth fiasco (the 8 year old with 5 extrations, a pulpomoty, 3 fillings and a crown, the 6 year old with a filling and a crown), I had been pretty insistent on my boys brushing, I went from insistent to what one of my friends described as one of the most stringent brushing regimen’s she’s seen. They pre-rinse, brush, floss, post rinse with colored dye and then if they have staining showing up, they brush again.

        My ex called me the other day to let me know that they have in the younger, 2 fillings needed and the older, a filling and a crown needed. And that it was my fault because I don’t insist that they floss right.

        This past weekend, I was told by my youngest “Mom says that we can only have two glasses of milk a day because it’s bad for our teeth.”

        On what planet?

        I’m relatively certain the dentist told her to get the boys to drink more water because he wanted more flouride, but unfortunately, she uses a bottled service, and now my children are scared to drink more milk.

        Only one thing I can do and that’s to get my boys out of that situation. I’m working on it.

  11. Karl Petzold
    June 3, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks for this. There are many things that add up about my ex-wife, many things that make me feel that it wasn’t just me who was in the wrong. I recognise many patterns.

    One thing that doesn’t fit into the patterns, unless I haven’t read carefully enough, is that my ex-wife eventually made the final decision to break up, after I issued an ultimatum. The other thing is that since we broke up, there has been no apparent vindictive behaviour. She seems to have been relieved to have got rid of me as well. I do know that although I tried to avoid conflict and please her, I wasn’t as submissive as she would have liked me to be.

    What also occurs to me, is that some fault must lie with us as men. There are always two sides to a story. For years, until I ran into this site, I have been saying it can’t be true that only we men are at fault. Now, reading this site, I find myself out of fairness, thinking that it can’t all be only the woman’s fault.

    The other thing that interests me is how we as men can avoid all of this in future, and is there any point in trying.

    No happily separated and much more relaxed, apart from the problem of not having regular sex, I can find no reason why I should want to get into a relationship with a woman again.

    • shrink4men
      June 3, 2009 at 11:44 pm

      Hi Karl,

      Sometimes these women are the ones to make the break. Be thankful that your ex isn’t being vindictive. That’s quite rare.

      Perhaps when you issued the ultimatum she became afraid of being exposed for not being able to be a caring, responsible person. Rather than admit her flaws; she left. This may not be the case; it’s just a theory. Also, it may be that your ex lies more on the NPD end of the continuum. Many of them often prefer to be alone for periods of time without anyone intruding upon whatever it is they do.

      Everyone is responsible for his or her own behavior. Emotionally abusive women are responsible for their behaviors. Men are responsible for their choice to be with these women and stay in the relationships once they become abusive. Sometimes the men who are subjected to continuous abuse say and do things in reaction to the woman’s abuse, but the men are responsible for their own behavior.

      You can definitely avoid becoming involved with women who are like your ex in the future. First, take time to heal from this relationship. Identify your relationship patterns. REALIZE THAT ALL WOMEN ARE NOT LIKE YOUR EX. If you have a pattern of being attracted to abusive women then it makes sense that you would think all women are like this, but trust me, we’re not. It’s possible to have a reciprocal, happy, mutually satisfying relationship with a woman without conflict, drama and abuse.

      Don’t give up hope and don’t discount your ability to heal and be happy in a relationship. Doing so only gives your ex the power to control you, even in her absence.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

      • AnonymousT
        September 25, 2009 at 12:50 pm

        Dr. T –

        What Karl relates is similar to what happened to me. While I have to assume that she had someone ‘waiting in the wings’ as you put it, I don’t know and don’t have enough interest or contact at this point to find out. What I do know is that she was and seems to still be fixated on her childhood family (she is middle aged), spending a LOT of time traveling to/with them. She even hinted at trying to get a court order to try to force me to move closer to where they live during the divorce (this of course went nowhere).

        Do NPD women tend to remain overly attached to their childhood families? I mean abnormally so, to the point of breaking up a marriage over not spending as much time with them as she would like, or emulating their lifestyle, or not providing her the same type of life she had growing up?

        If this is the case, it’s something I want to watch for in any future relationship. But I don’t want to be overly paranoid about normal family attachments, either, which maybe run stronger in women than in men.

        • B2
          March 30, 2013 at 4:17 am

          Anonymous, I have noticed this behavior with my wife. She sees her dad everyday. She will not hug or kiss me, but she will kiss him on the mouth every time she sees him. It seems odd to me. She spends her money recklessly and always asks him for money. I think the family exercises some kind of control over them.

  12. May 23, 2009 at 4:22 am

    I am really impressed by your blog and would ike to interview you for my show. Also I would like to link to your blog from my site. Please contact me if you’re interested. I am trying to have a balanced show, and need more from men like you.


    Stephanie Watson

    • shrink4men
      May 23, 2009 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you for the kind feedback and invitation. You can write to me directly at shrink4men@gmail.com. I’ll try you as well at the email address you submitted with your post.

      By the way, I’m a woman, not a man.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  13. thom
    May 19, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Thanks for your timely advice Dr T

    I really appreciate hearing what you have to say regarding everyones specific situations. It really has been a blessing to get all of this sorted out in my head.

    Why do people make excuses for BPD/NPD individuals? I’m not just talking family members as you addressed that in the question above. I am talking about supposed professionals, custody evaluators, judges, and the like. Even with 200 emails, numerous voice mails, a histrionic diagnosis from a psychologist that stated that my ex “was incapable of sustaining interpersonal relationships” and three 45 minute phone calls from our marriage counselor saying that she thought I should have primary custody and that she was BPD/NPD the custody evaluator ruled that she was the more fit parent.

    All I was guilty of was being a man that wanted 50/50 custody of our child.

    The evaluation pretty much excused all of her behaviors and she even references how the “evaluator thought she was the better parent” whenever we have a disagreement. My lawyer said it would be hard to fight the ruling “because she is pretty and she presents well in court”.

    If someone drinks 12 beers and goes speeding down the highway at 100 miles an hour and crashes into an innocent bystander, they get a penalized and their actions go on record.

    If some kills or physically hurts another individual they face charges and get penalized and their actions go on record.

    Why is it with overwhelming evidence (emails, voice mails, MMCI/MMPI tests, testimonies of witnesses, and clinical diagnosis) others just turn a blind eye to these people?

    Sex offenders register with a data base, why don’t people with these illnesses ever be made accountable for their actions?

    I don’t buy the “they were victims” or “they were abused” excuses. They are adults, they lie, they cheat, and they manipulate for a reason – a selfish reason…and they get to do it again to other unsuspecting victims…and they get to pass on their despicable behaviors onto their children who are left to spend years of therapy picking up the pieces of a shattered life trying to make sense of a disordered individual.

    Since meeting my PDI my thyroid quit working, I am now $40,000 in debt, I am in therapy, I am reading forums like yours trying to piece my life together…and she isn’t affected in the least bit.

    Sorry to ramble – she is disregarding the stipulations of our court order regarding the medical care of our daughter. Since she is in contempt I need to file the appropriate documents. Since I currently owe my lawyer $6700 for the last time we went to court, he won’t help with these motions…so I am having to do it all on my own…needless to say she has found yet another way for me to focus my energies on her.

    I wish everyone here that reads these forums the best of luck. I applaud your efforts and hope that you are able to find peace and harmony one day.


    • Just Julie
      February 19, 2010 at 6:52 pm

      Dear T…sending you a virtual hug. You can get through this, get out of debt and get your life back, eventually if you desire another love relationship, you will find it with a healthy woman. I am considering starting a support group for men and maybe something larger than that…so that one day the scales of justice won’t always tilt in favor of the mother.

      We ran out of money too – and we have been filing our own motions ourselves as well – and I feel I’ve given myself a mini law degree as a result! This is our fourth of fifth lawsuit (she has lost each one) and when we have to do the paperwork we try and joke about it and tell ourselves this is a little price to pay because he could still be living with the crazy! After doing whatever it is we need to, we do not utter her name until we have to.

      Hang in there T.

    • Ted
      June 13, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      This is some of the greatest reading ever! I lived with N for only 7 months, in that time I lost 20lbs, she owned me Emotionally and had control over me. Every friend I had told me to get her out of my home. That was not good enough though, until I started studying about N and realized that they just are getting there NS from me, and nothing I do or say will have much of an impact on them. I found that I was easily replaceable, and that I was actually getting a “High” from being with N. Now that she has been gone for two weeks, I have been going to the gym, eating healthy, and still thinking about how much I love her on a daily basis, Jealous of her social activities etc. I Realize that “High” I am chasing is gone, it will never come back, it will be nothing but waking up nights in panic fear and anxiety, so thank god she is out of my life, and thank God I was not her type, she thought she could do much better, otherwise I would be dead.

  14. thom
    May 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    I have stopped trying to figure out why she is the way she is. I am over the threats, manipulations, lies, and ultimatums. My counselor asked me to share the 3 happiest moments of our relationship and I really couldn’t remember one truly happy moment.

    Unfortunately I am teathered to this woman for the forseeable future as we have a 2 year old daughter. So I have a few questions.

    1. Since I cannot go no contact how do I limit our interactions? She constantly tries to pry into my business and uses our daughter for segues into discussions. She continually mentions how she went out with this guy or a different guy took them to the zoo and on and on. I don’t really care who she is dating/sleeping with, but I do care that my daughter is seeing her mother date/be intimate with numerous partners (I am not surprised as this was her MO before dating me). When we make exchanges I just give her the facts about our daughter (when she ate, napped, etc). I show no emotion and ignore her queries. That is usually followed up with her texting me later that “I am an asshole” or that “It was soooooooo nice to see your evil twin again tonight” and yesterday when I didn’t give her any details about my family she said , “I can’t believe you are treating me so bad – I have done nothing wrong.”

    2. After we were married many of her family members said that they were “happy that she found someone like me”. They also said that they were worried about her and her behaviors and that she was not capable of loving anyone other than herself. I had many long discussions with her family. When her threats of leaving and taking our child away escalated towards the end of our relationship, I reached out to these people who I confided in for help and direction and they all defended her and her actions claiming that I was abusing her and needed to just leave her alone. Why do they constantly defend her? They know the truth. I have many friends, I am a well respected teacher, I treat everyone I encounter with respect. Her family knew me prior to our relationship and they saw me for who I am…yet they all moved away from her. She fights with them constantly. She has no real friends except for her myspace/facebook buddies.

    It’s appalling.

    It just pisses me off that these people get a free pass even when the evidence suggests that they are the ones causing all the damage.

    • shrink4men
      May 19, 2009 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Thom,

      You have my sympathy. Women like your ex often use their children as a tool/weapon to manipulate and hurt you even after the relationship has officially ended. You can’t control what your ex does, however, you can set limits, which you’ll have to keep setting over and over again.

      Save her abusive and hostile texts, emails, voicemails, etc., as evidence should you need to go back to court for custody issues as evidence. Ignore the namecalling. Don’t respond. Only respond to messages that are specifically about custody issues. She’ll probably try to get you on the phone over a visitation issue and then try to rub your nose in her lovelife. That’s when you set the limit and tell her that you’re happy to speak with her about child rearing matters (pick-up/drop-off, schooling, etc.), but you will not have conversations regarding each of your personal lives. Tell her that when she does so in the future, you’re going to tell her that you’re ending the call. She won’t like this, but if you hold to it, she’ll eventually give up.

      These women are like 5-year olds. They’re desperate for attention and validation—it doesn’t matter if it’s negative or positive. If she fails to get a reaction out of you, she’ll eventually go elsewhere. Just keep sticking to the facts and try your best to remain emotionally detached from the content of her attacks/accusations. As soon as you bite on it, she’ll reel you back in. It’s nothing more than emotionally charged bait to get you to engage with her. Don’t do it—I know it’s difficult.

      It doesn’t matter what her family said to you earlier in your relationship. When BPDs/NPDs begin their distortion campaigns, their family members, the same people who probably enable her behavior over the years, often circle the wagons and join the BS battle cry that you’re the abusive jerk and they’re daughter/sister/niece is the much maligned, innocent angel. It’s unfair and it sucks, but that’s how it is. I just recommended these two books to someone else. You may want to read them, too. Both are by William Eddy: Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist and High Conflict People in Legal Disputes. You can purchase the first title at bookch.com for $25 and the second through amazon.com for $19.95. Be sure to check back here, too, as I’ll be writing on this topic in the near future.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  15. ted
    May 3, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    “Why do I care about her being with other men?”

    Many similarities to Thom’s saga with my ex. I was happy to leave her almost two years ago, but now find myself tormented over her new relationship. She met someone online and within two-three weeks was talking marriage, and telling me he has already made her happier than I ever did during our ten years together. We have a daughter together and she is also alienating me from her, but I cannot afford a custody fight and the thought of stepping foot in family court again makes me want to throw up. She used the system to out maneuver me every step of the way just like she controlled everything while we were married. But as despicable as this woman is I still get jealous when she drops my daughter off and she’s off to meet her boyfriend (I know because he lives over an hour away and she always takes the dog with her to spend the night). She’s 45 yrs old but looks much younger and has lately been dressing like someone in their 20’s or early 30’s. I guess it all goes back to the self esteem beat down I took for so long with comments like “you’re not the type of guy I’m normally attracted to,” and many others relating to appearance and other perceived inadequacies. And there’s always this fear that others have expressed here, that she’ll somehow become great and normal for this guy and it was me all along just like she has said so often.

    • shrink4men
      May 3, 2009 at 11:43 pm

      Hi Ted,

      You probably still care about her being with other men because you’re not quite over her yet. Trust me, she’s not going to be great and normal with this guy. If he doesn’t snap to his senses soon, he’s in for the same nightmare ride she took you on. These women lie and distort everything. Remember how she would twist the truth and reality when she was with you? Then why would you believe this new man makes her happier than she’s ever been.

      Women like your ex aren’t capable of true happiness. She’s only happy when she’s controlling and hurting you. Therefore, the reason she is happy with this new man is because by being with him, she gets to hurt you.

      She sounds like a classic NPD to me—especially the inappropriate attire for her age. Pray to god that this new poor bastard she has on the line takes her off your hands. No more spousal support and then she’ll begin telling him how he will never be able to measure up to you. Oh, the crazy irony.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

      • Joe
        September 26, 2011 at 12:15 am

        My ex-NPD is 47 years old and admires the music the 20 year olds listen to and communicates with the DJs for one of the 20 something radio stations here on Facebook…she deleted me from her Facebook account even when we were still living together and is on Facebook everyday yet cannot afford to even feed herself…she is quite the piece of work…

  16. thom
    April 29, 2009 at 9:58 pm


    I am sorry to hear you have gone through what I have.

    Friends, counseling, online forums such as this one, and getting back to the gym has done wonders for my self esteem and overall well being.

    I would be free of my ex if I didn’t need to interact with her 3x a week due to our daughter.

    I am getting better – it’s my innocent daughter that I fear for every day.

    Have a great day!


  17. OhGoodness
    April 29, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Wow. Mr. T, this sounds like my situation to the T.

    This site is amazing.

    I’m not alone.

  18. thom
    April 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Dr T

    Thank you so much for the straightforward no BS advice and information you provide on this site. I have read countless books and have been to numerous counseling sessions (both as a couple and by myself) but I found your advice and info the most useful and applicable.

    I have been in stable relationships before. Prior to this experience I was with a wonderful woman for over 4 years. I would have married her except for the fact that she was adamant about not having children.

    And on to now…

    I always knew something wasn’t quite right with my ex. I had a visceral reaction to her comments and interactions almost daily (Men are scum, I don’t believe in monogamy, I can take care of myself). She exhibited most, if not all of the borderline traits from early on. She played the victim role to a “T”. I am a people pleaser/hero/rescuer type so I felt a need to help, protect, and love her since she was misunderstood and treated so unkindly by all the men before me…I continually made excuses for her and purposefully didn’t tell my friends and family what she was saying/doing. I felt trapped since we had a child on the way. A few of my friends (who are counselors) mentioned they thought she exhibited many borderline characteristics. I talked her into going to couples counseling but she lied and tried to recruit the counselor at every session.

    -Systematically removed me from my friends/family
    -Took control of our finances, set a budget for us, and then didn’t follow it putting us $10,000 in debt
    -Called me all kinds of names
    -Accused me of wanting to sleep with her sister if we hung out without her
    -Accused me of getting text messages to cheat on her
    -Slapped me. After I told her not to do that she said that “I couldn’t blame her for what others had done to me in the past, and since I asked her to stop it made her want to do it even more”
    -Threatened to leave and take our child away from me after every disagreement
    (no matter how small the disagreement was)
    -Our m marriage counselor asked her not to threaten divorce for 6 months…once we left the session she yelled at me and stated that “she didn’t want to be married to me any more”
    -Moved my belongings into the guest room numerous times after a disagreement – saying we should just be friends
    -Called me evil, said she hated me, said I made her pregnancy unbearable, that I was a terrible husband and father and that she would never have a second child with me
    -Said that “I was not the man she fell in love with” almost daily
    -Secretly maintained contact with her exes yet cried and made threats and ultimatums if I hung out with a completely platonic female friend
    -She grew up poor so I went into debt buying her a Tiffany’s engagement ring
    -We had her wedding (small ceremony – none of my family and friends were present – she promised me my big wedding later)
    -We had her birth (Home birth with all her family in the room – I wanted an intimate/private symbolic birth of our new beginning free of her family’s constant intrusions.
    -I traded my car in (she couldn’t drive a stick shift)
    -Yet she claimed “there was nothing left for her to stay in the relationship because I “did nothing for her”

    She had sexual hang ups from day one , cried when I touched her, said it hurt when I stimulated her, said her nipples were to sensitive to touch, etc. Through all the weirdness, somehow we got pregnant. We had no sex for 9 months, and she used the pregnancy as an excuse not be intimate and to explain away her drastic and violent mood swings. If I tried to be physical she says I was insensitive. If I didn’t touch her then “I didn’t find her attractive” or thought she was “gross” or “ugly”.

    After an argument, she ran off with no discussion with my child to live with her sisters.

    I finally had enough and filed for divorce. I went to court to get custody of our child. We had a comprehensive psych evaluation done – we took the MMPI and the MCMI. She was found to be clinically histrionic (98th percentile). Our marriage counselor also suggested she was Borderline and feels as if she was sexually abused. All of this information was presented to a custody evaluator along with 200+ emails and 43 recorded voicemails that included all of the above abuse.

    The custody evaluator dismissed all information and claimed that there was “absolutely no sign of emotional abuse in our relationship”.

    The judge initially ruled that I was to have “temporary legal custody” since “I was the more fit parent to make medical decisions”. My ex failed to bring our child to the doctor when she was throwing up for 2 days straight, refuses to get our child shots, refused to give eye drops for a severe case of bacterial conjunctivitis, etc.

    The evaluator overturned the judges ruling.

    Since the evaluator cleared her of any wrong doing she says that she is fine and that “I made everything up”. The evaluator suggested that my ex get into an intensive counseling program, but she refuses saying “I’m fine” and you are the one who is f***ed up.

    She now has full legal and physical custody.

    I am a teacher with a masters degree, and an administrator license, and she has been sporadically home schooled yet she gets to make any and all education decisions regarding our daughter.

    She is back to her old ways dating numerous guys simultaneously. She drops hints about her “friends” or tells a story about some guy. Last week she mentioned that “all she wants to do lately is have lots of sex”…

    Towards the end of our time together she would cry during intercourse or oral sex, so I stopped trying. My body shut down and for the first time I experienced impotence and premature ejaculation.

    During the past 2 months she has asked me for back rubs and has sent me sexually explicit texts/pictures.

    I guess I am just lost in all this. I am stuck here and will need to interact with this woman for the next 16 yrs (our daughter is 2). I don’t want anything to do with her and don’t know how to successfully deal with her when she tries to instigate a fight/sex.

    Why do I care about her being with other men?

    I know I don’t want my daughter learning how to interact from her and her family (they are all divorced, on welfare, bankrupt, have removed children from fathers, and are completely enmeshed)

    Sorry to ramble – just trying to close the door completely. Any and all advice is welcome and appreciated!


    Mr. T

    • George
      March 27, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      The commonality of your experience made me think that you were writing about my relationship.
      My wife fabricated stories about health issues, Krohn’s and other maladies that afforded her sympathy. After 7 years she finally admitted she never had Krohn’s, and then denied she ever said she did.
      I had the Xrays and reports from the Dr. that in fact she was never afflicted.
      She was married 4 times before she married me. Twice to the same guy.
      Before she re-married the 2nd guy, she got pregnant from a interim boyfriend and never told her husband when she re-married him that the baby was not his.
      Not until the divorce proceedings and when the husband had a DNA test done was it revealed that he was not the father.
      She hid the money his husband sent to the daughter from husband #4.
      She lived separately from husband 2, 3 and 4 numerous times.
      SHe told me that husband #1 committed suicide shortly after she left him.
      3 years into our relationship her sister called with news that she performed an autopsy on husband #1.
      When I confronted her about this, she denied she ever said it.
      She told me that the boyfriend that inpregnated her between marriages 3 and 4 to same husband, had abducted her son.
      She drove to his house and he dragged her downstairs and raped her.
      Later she said this wasn’t true, that she had ripped the crotch out of her panty hose while on a date with the boyfriend and had sex on the lake front.
      Getting the drift?
      She stole my checkbook when I went to see her and gave her a 2 carat engagement ring.
      When I couldn’t find it, she said she would look.
      I caused me a lo of turmoil taking care of the issues with the checkbook, which I shared with her.
      3 weeks later she came to my house and asked me to get her checkbook out of her car from the center console.
      When I picked up the check book, it was mine.
      I confronted her about it. She said it was there all along, she hadn’t noticed it.
      Funny thing, a week prior I had washed and cleaned her car inside and out, and my check book wasn’t there.
      I loaned her money when we were dating to pay bills, always with her crying about the trouble she was in. After I paid, the next time she would get pissed that I didn’t remember the address to send the check to.
      I loaned her over $20,000. When I asked her about repaying me, she flatly denied me ever loaning her money or that they were loans.
      I put together all the cancelled checks and she still denied it.
      Twice when I decided to end the relationship and she gave me back the 2 carat diamond engagement ring, she called the cops and fabricated stories of a physical exchange.
      Both times after investigation, the charges were dropped. The legal fees cost me $2,000.
      Was the first and only time I have ever been in the back of a cop car with my hands cuffed.
      Wonderful woman.
      After I left her when she was demanding more money, she had her 35 year old son and 85 year old father move in with her.
      They are paying the rent now.
      She once said about her 85 year old father when she was mad….I asked her what was wrong.
      She said he’s breathing!
      I could go on…..and on…and on….

  19. April 17, 2009 at 5:53 am

    As an Adult Child of a Narcissistic Mother (ACON) I can say that THEIR BEHAVIOR IS VERY VERY VERY PRE-MEDIATED for the full effect they are trying to achieve.

    BPD? Is a bit of a different animal but probably the same.

    Here’s a blog by the daughter of an N-mother that may provide more windows in the Narc Female’s behavior:

    • shrink4men
      April 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’ve visited Narcissists Suck and link to as a reference in some of my posts. I somewhat agree that their acts are premeditated, but not to the degree of full consciousness or intellectual sophistication.

      They’re premeditated for maximum effect in order to get what they want. However, I think their behavior is premeditated like a 5-year old child’s behavior is premeditated—to gain reward and avoid punishment. The reward doesn’t have to be a positive experience for the non-narcissist. The narcissist’s reward could be to make you mad enough so you forget whatever it was you wanted the narcissist to do or to leave them alone.

      I’m not excusing their behavior; they know what they’re doing. I just don’t believe most of them have elaborate plans that they construct too far in advance—don’t forget, they also have a weird sense of time that I think obviates the ability for long-term premeditation. They’re spontaneous, devil may care, in the moment abusers.

      If a narcissist does have the ability to plan that far in advance, has consciously and deliberately plotted out how and when to abuse, then they’re on the high end of the sociopathy continuum, in which case they’re incredibly dangerous.

      I think it depends on the individual case. No matter the degree and level of sophistication of premeditation, the bottom line is their behavior is abusive and unacceptable. The most maddening aspect for me is seeing how narcissistic women abuse everyone in their path and yet are protected and enabled by the system. I have a few friends who were married to female NPDs and it’s mind boggling what the system allows these women to get away with—it’s an outrage.

      Thanks again for commenting, Barbara.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  20. April 14, 2009 at 2:42 am

    Dr. T-
    What kind of treatment do you recommend for both the woman and the man, as I can see both of them requiring assistance. In your experience, are support groups generally enough for the partner of a person diagnosed with NPD/BPD?

    • shrink4men
      April 14, 2009 at 4:45 am

      Hi Victoria,

      Good questions! First, I don’t think Rick’s wife sees herself as having a problem—everything is his fault; she is blameless. This belief system does not make her a good candidate for therapy, be it group or individual. If she is more on the NPD end of the diagnostic continuum, she’s definitely not a good candidate for traditional psychotherapies. These women can’t tolerate criticism, have serious trust issues and generally use therapy to complain about others.

      In my experience, these kinds of women typically co-opt couples therapy and use it as an opportunity to further blame and victimize their husbands/boyfriends. If the therapist is sharp enough to see through her distortions and lies and calls on her on the BS, well, that’s the end of that therapist. Furthermore, I don’t think couples therapy is viable for anyone who is in an ongoing abusive relationship. It isn’t safe for the partner who is on the receiving end of the abuse. They need to start off in individual with therapists who consult one another—that’s if the abusive spouse will attend treatment and consent to sharing information. Since most abusive types fear being exposed, this is highly unlikely.

      If the woman in question is more on the BPD end of the continuum, I advise DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy). DBT helps these women tolerate boundaries and tries to ground and center them in the miasma of their internal and external chaos.

      A man who is involved with an emotionally abusive BPD/NPD can benefit from treatment that a) helps him decide if he wants to end the relationship and, if so, how to best extricate himself and mourn the loss, b) help him decide if he wants to continue the relationship and, if so, learn how to manage and cope with her behaviors, c) help him understand what secondary gain he derives from this relationship, d) help him understand why he’s attracted to this woman and determine if he has a pattern of being attracted to abusive women, and e) help him work through these issues in order to make healthy relationship choices in the future.

      I think this work is optimally done individually at first, then in conjunction with group therapy, and eventually perhaps just in group. It all depends on what makes sense for the individual. Some patients seem to benefit more from group, while others do better in individual. It all depends upon the person.

      Dr T

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