Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, divorce, Marriage, Psychology, relationships > Why Couples Counseling Rarely Works with Narcissistic and Borderline Women

Why Couples Counseling Rarely Works with Narcissistic and Borderline Women

queen of heartsI receive a lot of emails and comments from men who are involved with emotionally abusive narcissistic and/or borderline women who want to know if couples counseling will help. Many readers have shared stories in which they recount how therapy was a waste of time, money and energy because it only emboldened and validated their wives’/girlfriends’ crazy and hurtful behaviors. Why is this so?

The Perversion of Psychology

If used properly, Psychology’s ultimate benefit is personal responsibility and freedom. At its best, it can help a person:

  • Become more aware of how he or she is affected by and affects others.
  • Make clear, conscious choices.
  • Strengthen their ability to say “no” to unhealthy and/or abusive situations, people and relationships and open up the possibility of new, healthy opportunities.
  • Set an example for others to become fully developed, conscious individuals.

Ideally, therapy is used to help an individual explore his or her past in order to understand their pain in the present. It is then the individual’s responsibility to use that awareness to make different choices, change self-limiting behaviors and free themselves from the past and unconscious forces that control them.

Unfortunately, many practitioners have allowed Psychology to become a big cop out and blame game. As a result, we now have a few generations of professional victims who take little to no responsibility for their own happiness and who blame everyone but themselves for their difficulties and misfortunes. “It’s not my fault because my parents did x, y, and z to me, so you have to excuse and put up with my bad behavior. I can’t help it.” “If you weren’t so angry, selfish, etc., I wouldn’t have to yell at you right before bed and refuse to have sex with you.

NPD/BPD women usually fall into three categories when it comes to therapy:

1) Professional shoppers. This woman is usually the one who suggests therapy because she wants to portray you as the one with the problem. She wants a “professional” to say, “Yes, Mrs. Crazypants. You’re right. Your husband is an obnoxious jerk. You’re right about everything. If you don’t criticize him and tell him what to do and how to do it every minute of the day, it will bring on the apocalypse. So, by all means keep hammering away at him. You’re absolutely right to do so and he’s a defensive, overly sensitive crybaby for being upset about it. How ever do you tolerate him?

A BPD/NPD woman rarely attends therapy for her own issues, because it would mean admitting she has issues. Therefore, she has a different agenda for counseling than you do. Alternately, she may admit she has some issues, but stipulate that you need to work on your issues first because you’re the “cause” of her issues. By the time you fulfill her laundry list of grievances and it’s her turn to do some work; she ends treatment. (Please note: A good therapist doesn’t let one spouse/partner hijack couples therapy like this).

The professional shopper will often spend years dragging her husband/boyfriend from one couples therapist to the next. If she does individual “work” it usually amounts to weekly hand holding with a lame therapist who acts as cheerleader, confidante and expresses empathic statements about how much she “puts up with” and what an “angry, insensitive, unfeeling, selfish jerk” you are without ever really challenging her or making her the focus of her own therapy. Basically, she’s buying herself a best friend. Do you really want to pay for this?

2) Hell no, I won’t go! This woman refuses to go to therapy and believes it has no value. While it may be frustrating for her partner who’s desperate for relief, she’s actually demonstrating a rare moment of personal insight. She’s right. Therapy probably won’t help her. Alternately, she may have had therapy in the past and received a diagnosis she doesn’t want you to discover. She may fear her controlling, abusive behaviors will be exposed for what they are—abnormal pathology. She knows a good therapist will see through her and expose the truth.

3) Go to therapy or the relationship is over. A husband/boyfriend issues this ultimatum out of desperation. Here’s the problem: First, if you have to issue an ultimatum in order to get your wife/girlfriend to work on the relationship and treat you with basic kindness, it doesn’t bode well. Second, like everything else with a BPD/NPD woman, it’s about control and she certainly isn’t going to let you usurp her control even under the threat of divorce/break-up.

She may agree to go and then play games and stall in regards to choosing a therapist and scheduling a date and time. Or, she’ll lead you on a merry chase, going from one shrink to the next until she can find one she “likes” (i.e., one she can control). Or, she will go to therapy and spend the entire session criticizing you. If the therapist challenges her in any way, she’ll refuse to see them again and accuse them of “siding with you,” of having an affair with you or something equally preposterous. She will also twist your ultimatum into accusations that you are the abusive controlling one. There are many ways for this to blow up in your face, even though, ironically, you’re trying to save the relationship.

Why Couples Therapy Rarely Works

A BPD/NPD woman typically can’t tolerate effective therapy because it puts boundaries in place and holds her accountable. In this case, therapy often degenerates into yet another vehicle to complain about and blame others, namely you. It becomes a device to a) get you to do whatever it is she wants you to do (e.g., stay in the marriage or quit asking her to get a job); b) get you to shut up and do as you’re told; and/or c) co-opt the therapist into validating her distortions, forcing you to “prove” yourself and placing the entire onus of the relationship on you. Meanwhile, she continues to play the “Queen of Hearts,” declaring, “Off with his head!” when you inevitably displease her. The following are some key reasons why therapy rarely works with narcissists and/or borderlines:

1) Ego syntonic vs. ego dystonic. Personality disorders, particularly the Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic, Borderline, Histrionic, Antisocial) cause the most pain and suffering to those who come in contact or have relationships with the personality disordered individual rather than the person with the disorder. NPD/BPD individuals often experience negative consequences for their bad behaviors, however, they don’t see themselves as the ones with the problem. They believe they’re okay (syntonic) and blame everyone else for their problems and unhappiness. They will not connect the dots back to themselves, until their behavior becomes dystonic, i.e., they see their own behavior as the source of discomfort, pain, etc.

2) You can’t help someone who won’t admit there’s a problem. A NPD/BPD woman will readily admit that you have problems, but that doesn’t count. Therapy not only doesn’t work with an individual who takes no responsibility for their actions, it also becomes another mechanism by which this woman controls and emotionally bludgeons you.

Just like your wife/girlfriend twists the things you say and do, she’ll also twist what a therapist says—especially if the therapist holds her accountable. This woman “shops” for therapists she can use to blame and shame her husband/boyfriend into submission. The moment a therapist tries to hold her accountable, they’re denounced as a quack and she moves onto the next “expert” for hire or denounces therapy altogether and refuses to see another therapist.

Everything is about control. Controlling your reality, controlling the therapist’s perception of her and you—i.e., she’s great; you’re a boorish ogre. If she senses she’s losing control of the therapist and the session and the focus shifts to her behaviors, she’ll probably flee the scene and begin a smear campaign to devalue the therapist and/or the entire field of Psychology. She behaves this way in order to avoid being “outed” and held accountable.

3) Predators don’t get “better,” but they do become “better at being predators.” Predators don’t get better and they often become better predators with the help of an unwitting therapist. Bad therapy helps a NPD/BPD woman to manipulate her partner. It helps her maintain the pattern of blame and  zero accountability.  It strengthens her role of the professional victim, which hides the true aggressor lying just beneath the surface.

An ineffectual colluding therapist can also be used as an “ally.” In other words, she uses the therapist as an authority figure to beat you down. For example, “Dr Ann Abler said that you need to forgive me.” Translation: Let her get away with and forgive her abusive behavior. “Dr Ann Abler says I should do what my heart tells me to do.” Translation: I can act as badly as I want and you can’t say anything about it. “Dr Ann Abler said you need to be more sensitive to my feelings.” Translation: Tolerate her criticisms, put-downs, rages, and emotional/sexual frigidity. You get the idea. Sometimes, the therapist doesn’t actually tell her any of these things. A BPD/NPD woman is masterful at twisting everything to support her distorted beliefs and demands.

BPD/NPD predators use Psychology to engage in name-calling. They learn just enough psycho-jargon about their own pathology, but instead of recognizing the abusive behaviors, distortions, and emotional issues in themselves, they project it onto everyone else. Everyone else is crazy. Everyone else is a bully. Everyone else is a narcissist or a borderline. Some of them even buy books on these topics and begin diagnosing their partners, friends, co-workers, and family.

A BPD/NPD woman also uses therapy (usually with a shrink she’s manipulated into believing her tales of adversity in the face of lesser beings such as yourself who can’t appreciate how wonderful she is and who stifles her creativity, talent, intellect, blah, blah, blah) to cloak herself in a false shield of individuation. “I’ve done my work, you haven’t. I know, you don’t. I solved my issues, Dr Ann Abler says you’re an angry person and says it’s normal not to want have sex with such an angry person.” Meanwhile, the opposite of everything she claims is true.

4) FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE AND ADMINISTER APPROPRIATE TREATMENT. Many therapists fail to detect the real problem when a BPD/NPD woman enters couples or individual therapy. Or, worse yet, willfully don’t diagnose their condition and encourage the husband/boyfriend to “hang in there” and be more patient. NPD and/or BPD don’t improve on their own nor do they improve when you instruct the target of the abuse to jump through hoops and walk on eggshells. These conditions only improve if they’re accurately diagnosed and the individual with the disorder undergoes a highly structured form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Working on “communication skills,” “exercising patience” and scheduling a “weekly date night” simply doesn’t cut it. It’s like putting a band-aid on an open chest wound.

5) Couples therapy doesn’t work if there’s ongoing abuse in the relationship. Couples therapy typically isn’t viable you’re in an ongoing abusive relationship. Since the BPD/NPD uses therapy to continue to blame and attack, all it does is set you up to be re-victimized. If you insist on couples treatment, it’s probably better to start off with individual therapists who consult one another—that’s if the abusive spouse will attend treatment and consent to sharing information. Since most abusive types fear a loss of control and being exposed, this is highly unlikely

How Therapy Can Help You

If you’re involved with an emotionally abusive BPD/NPD, you can benefit from treatment that:

  • Helps you decide if you want to end the relationship and, if so, how to best extricate yourself and mourn the loss.
  • Helps you work through your fears and worst-case scenarios about ending the relationship.
  • Helps you decide if you want to continue the relationship and, if so, learn how to manage and cope with her abusive behaviors.
  • Helps you understand what secondary gain you’re deriving from this relationship.
  • Helps you understand why you’re attracted to this woman and determine if you have a pattern of being attracted to abusive women.
  • Helps you work through these issues in order to make healthy relationship choices in the future.

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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Photo credit:

Queen of Hearts on flickr.

  1. Willy Wilson
    September 21, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Pretty much nailed it right on the head.

    First foray into marriage counseling because I don’t “communicate well” (which is bullshit – I just don’t communicate the way she wants me too) – the therapist was like “I don’t see the problem with him” and that was the end of seeing that one.

    Years later – she found someone who pretty much just validated her feelings and made me into the bad guy and discounted my concerns about her / our marriage. I stopped going because I felt he was too one sided after he stated she was his patient and I was just there to support her.

    Last year after a declaration of “I want a divorce” because I bought something she didn’t approve of (rifle) – she backpedalled and said let’s try therapy instead. So she got a recommendation from her boss and we found a wonderful therapist who correctly identified my own personal issues (none of which was surprising to me – but very insightful), she also called out my wife for her contributions to the downfall of our marriage and pointed out other things such as the need to be on anti-depressants, individual therapy, her emotional abuse, and other issues. But, and not too surprisingly, after being held accountable, my wife much stormed out of the session – never to return again. The look on the therapists face after my wife left was priceless as she finally got to see my wife in a state that is very rarely seen outside of the confines of our home. I finally had validation.

    I continue to see the same therapist about once a month myself – mainly to because I need therapy to deal with someone who needs to be in therapy and to navigate other issues that come up from time to time. The woman is top-notch, I get the validation I need that I don’t get from home – and we have wonderful conversations. Well worth the money.

  2. BG
    April 26, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    This explains my situation clearly. I’ve gotten my wife to (tepidly) consent to couples counseling . I am fully aware that this is not the answer, but she simply won’t take ownership of her problems. All of our grief is occurring in front of our 3 y/o whom I feel compelled to defend. Your either saying that there is NO hope or I missed the next step in solving this problem. Great article, sincerely, but what am I supposed to do now????

  3. alejandra ramirez
    October 24, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    I ended my marriage to a narcissist 5 months after our wedding (we had lived together for over 9 months previously, and dated before that for another 9-10 months). I am a woman, and in my case, my husband (divorce isn’t finalized yet) is the one with the narcissistic personality disorder. Everything changed after our wedding, the character he had been pretending to be ended at the wedding, and afterwards he portrayed his true self. I was very confused and shocked, but tried everything I could to make our marriage work. Whenever I wanted to confront him and talk about his cheating and lying, he would threatened me about not talking to me unless it was in front of a psychiatrist because “I had mental issues”. I kept telling him that we were spouses and we should be able to be honest with each other without the condition of doing it in front of someone else. He kept saying I was afraid of therapy because I knew I was crazy. Before calling it quits, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist and told him that I was going, and he could come if he wanted. He interrupted me when I was explaining why I asked for help, he lied to the counselor, he was fake and acting out a character, he lied with his words and actions. The professional didn’t realize this and didn’t let me explain the truth. It was really frustrating.

    Thank you for sharing this kind of information on the web, so people don’t give up if the specialist they see isn’t the right one, or just isn’t able to spot the personality disorder in front of them (same as we -their partner- weren’t either).

  4. November 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Why just women (although I realise this is a site for men!) Everything you said goes for narcissistic / high functioning borderline men too! I might reblog this on my blog which focuses on men with PD’s and particularly if you have to coparent with them when you split. Great post by the way. Thanks for the clear explanation. FT

    • shrink4men
      November 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Yes, the same characteristics apply to NPD/BPD men. However, male victims of female abusers have very few resources. It’s important for them to have a source of support that doesn’t use masculine pronouns to refer to abusers and where the victim is always a woman.

      I hope you leave comments on other sites that almost exclusively refer to women as victims and men as perps to point out the women can be abusive, too.

      Glad you find the article helpful.

      • November 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm

        You are right – I understand that men probably find it harder to find support – there seem to be countless women out there dealing with these problems but not so many men admit to it. Even harder to admit to being abused. I will definitely leave comments on other sites about women, and often do.

  5. Casey
    April 17, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    The more I read this site the better I feel. It is as if my life for the last 7 years is being described by total strangers. My wife hand picked our 1st counselor and it was very strange to me the way this man talked about my wife who was emotionally abusing me as if she were more than a saint. He went as far as to tell me that she had an incredible power of intuition and I should listen to what she was telling me about my behavior because she could see things about me that I could not see about myself. She accused me of looking at other women in a very overt lustful manner and if I denied it this counselor would state that my denial proved that I had done it. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. When I finally caved agreed to all the she and the counselor said I had to do we walked out with the marriage saved and me feeling like I had been railroaded. This man would also validate my feelings in private and then when my wife was brought in tell me I had no right to feel that way.

    The next counselor was better, I chose this one. She would not take my wife’s side and was fair. So my wife played the role of the victim and stated that her difficulties were so great that unless we could correct my behavior she was done. She stated that she had no energy left to put anything else into the marriage personally, but knew that she had things to improve. So we set about correcting all of my shortcomings. As soon as those things were addressed we suddenly no longer had the time or the money to go to counseling. This happened not once but twice in full. Of course each time she turned it around and claims that it was me and not her that ended counseling.

    Someone mentioned their wife identifying with the red queen. One of the big eye openers for me was my wife telling me that when she was a child and even now she always loved Miss Piggy. I laugh about it now but watch the way Miss Piggy treats Kermit. It’s exactly as a Narcissist treats their mate.

    • Jake
      April 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      I came to this site in 2009 just after I split up with my recently pregnant girlfriend. I decided it was impossible to maintain my mental health and support my daughter, while being at the mercy of her mothers emotional instability and blaming behaviour. Better a man apart, than a door mat at home.

      I have always been passionate and vocal about my desire for children and I had a fair and reasonable expectation that mum would respond positively to my desire to support and care for our daughter. I did not see her or know where she lived for 9 months after she was born and I learnt her name on facebook.

      3 years later and my daughter is a beautiful happy child who gets to stay with her dad two days and a night every week. I have been tested and prodded and poked and examined by the legal and medical profession and hey guess what, it turns out that I am fit to be a parent after all.

      Yet despite mediation, despite stepping over every hurdle that’s been placed in my way mum will still not settle to an agreement that will last into the future. Frightened of losing control, she digs her heels in leaving us with no option but to go to a final hearing. Now ,I know the stress will get to her. Fearful of exposing the lie she’ll flip from impervious queen to fragile waif.

      But of course, we can’t mention BPD, we can’t go there. That would be undermining mum. That would be bully man trying telling victim woman she’s crazy. No choice then but to stay silent, calm. To follow the path honourably and trust to the greater wisdom of the system, imperfect though it is. So I watch as slowly she buries herself and hope, perversely, she will survive this, she will grow from this, for our daughters sake.

  6. April 16, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Split personailty would come out with drinks.
    I would be aware of the change, with the desire to drink more.
    The split became more to one sided… the bad side!

    Gave this split of two personailties, to names.
    “Marguerite”, the staright, wonderful, loving, caring… woman.
    “Peggy”, the intoxicated, mean, nasty, foul… woman.

    There would be times I’d knock on her/their door and wonder if Marguerite, or Peggy would answer the door.

    If it was Peggy, I’d have to walk on egg shells and hope I didn’t say or do to set her off.
    And, sometmes I’d try to recover or bring Marguerite back with distractors or ignoring comments and badgering.

    But, sometimes my distractors or ignoring comments would be like pouring gas on the fire.
    In those cases, I’d have to make the choice to leave before I was kicked out.

    I’d sometimes leave telling Peggy to give Marguerite a message when she gets back…

    I sometimes wondered if Peggy was sabatoging Marguerites relationship with me.

    I miss Marguerite, not Peggy!! :(

  7. April 16, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    She’s like holding onto the tail of a RATTLE SNAKE!!
    Exciting as it may be, your eventually goning to get bit

    The question is…
    How many times will you get bitten, before you let go?

  8. November 2, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Unbelievable. I wish i had read this 3 counselors ago. This is exactly what happened. This NPD/BPD has caused a lot of damage. The breakup I went through was beyond destructive and hurtful. I was the one who initiated the separation and I made the decision if you can call it mine after long time. I asked for respect and the anger stop. I asked for basic human considerations after giving all of myself in every way. In my case my life history and experiences let me know this was the only choice. I really loved and cared for this person and wanted a future. It was like banging my head off a brick wall for along time. It just never made sense and I stopped trusting my instincts over a long period of time. When I made this move to end this I enlisted the help of our counselor. Word of advice for anyone initiating a break up etc.. with this personality type. Protect yourself because there is no rules for these people. These persons know you and your boundaries do not matter. There are no rules of fair play for these people. I was naive in thinking that empathy compassion and kindness for this person would elicit a similar response. Separate physically as quickly as possible and go No Contact. This was very hard for me but saved me and allowed me to get the emotion detachment I needed to protect myself. Do not underestimate this type of person.

  9. Sylvie Sysca
    October 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Thanks for the article! My brother recently got divorced from his abusive wife. It’s amazing that everyone saw it except for him. He too sought counseling and luckily all the abuse was brought to light. It will take him years to get over everything he was put through. Our mother was abusive to our father and so this is what we saw growing up. Fortunately for my dad, he was able to leave and the two of us went to live with him. That did not stop the abuse though, she used us to get to him any chance she got.

  10. mus
    April 15, 2012 at 7:57 am

    It is amazing. Over the last 2 weeks my wife has calmed down, rarely shouts or gets sarcastic as i imidiately call her on it if she does. She has however read enough to be convinced i am a mental case. She is now convinced i am a nasisist, and she is my codependent. In an aazing way she has actually been trying to turn everything around.

    She is very smug about it andcold like ice. She still hangs around the house and there are dishes and clothes everywhere, she is very disorganized. Inspite of hard fact, she insists that it is my fault she has no job, and that she has been supporting me for 12 years.

    I am stunned, nothing makes sense. She has slowly been rewriting history and in hr vrsion, i am the narsisist living off her. It is baffling cause it is so insane it defies reason. She has not held a steady job since we met 12 years ago

    I have made up my mind and we are seperating, she is indifferent. That is actually something i wanted to ask.My wife is intermittently abusive, but mostly passive agressive, invalidation, sneers sacasm and indifference is her main tools, she is a total jellyfish and a primadonna, yet comes across as “the high corrector of our city” stting at the window commenting on people who dont clean up after their dogs, how the busdrivers are rude etc she even had the nerve to go tell a captain docking a 120ft boat in a blow, what he was doing wrong. Need i tell you my wife cannot sail a 60 ft boat, and is scared in a boat half the size.

    She knows everything,…..how….she just does


  11. Mus
    April 3, 2012 at 5:47 am

    I came to the same conclusion as soon as she started that bleeding thing. She also said that i need to know that if one of us FEEL hurt the other is responsible for the hurt. Even if there was no intent to hurt. For me that makes sense, in a way, I would like to learn how to be a better husband, but we have allready been over emotional reasoning, (we are reading stuf we send to each other, and she is also reading this column) this is actually a major setback as she was starting to understand emotional easoning, and knew she was doing tha, but the schrinck said emotional easoning was something else. So from now on all we have to do is saying ouch when we get hurt :-)

    In the first hour after work I said ouch 14 times within a couple of hours and explained why I was hurt, and just dropped the conversation , like a hot potatoe. Maybe it will work, unless she starts saying ouch…….:-)

    I have adopted a policy of openness. And see plenty of narsisist traits in myself, and admit to them, and it seems tha she is actually aware that her emotional life is barren.

    I have told her I cannot go on much further, and i am determined to leave her if the invalidation, sarcasm, projection, deflection and blame and all the other “tricks”, do not stop . Inspite of th fact that she would be without a job in a forign land. She lived here 12 yrs and did not learn th language, got no job, nothing but a part time gig that earns pennies.

    I am held hostage by her not working and having no life except computer games and internet poker while I work 80 plus hours a week nightshifts. She uses my money for 250$ leatherboots, with 80$ Brass tips , cowboy boots in a very civil european country, and she cannot understand why I have a problem with that. ‘They are the best boots produced and she got them at a discount”. That it is a faux pas and the fact that i have never bought shoes for more than 40$ seems …..well so what. :-) sh loves those pointed leatherboots with thir brass tip, her kick ass boots.

    This is so insideous, and so twisted that it defies decency. At one point the sweet Christian lady got so on her side that she was using her arms flailing and agitated kept telling me off, and i stopped her cold and said that i felt she was out of line. Firstly this problem is much deeper than she knows, we have a very unusual history, and passing a object like a ball between us to ensure fair conversation, and writing all our hurts inside a Cross and then burn it, is ludecrus as long as the numerous incidents between us and between her and her kids are not owned….made right….by her. Thats where I stand , it is too late for passing a “talking ball” and saying I love you everytime I get home from work.

    She objected. Then I said” ok so I go to work at 5 am, all my wife has to do is make the bed and clean after her breakfast, and when I come home from work she is playing poker on the net and EVERYTHING is chaos, dishes dogs, clothes everywhere, i mean a disaster, and none of th things she had committed to are even started.”

    At this point my wife started to cry and the therapist turned to me and said ” you are doing it again look at her…..LOOK at her, I was looking down, VISUALISE th blood”

    I just sat there in disbelief

    I have decided I do not want to go to marriage counselling, everything is deflected to me, as always and i am way too emotionql and get angry when it happens in front of me and i can do nothing. So i am looking for a therapist for myself, and her if she wants to..no more christian ladies. It was actually odd it felt like i was Nemo from tha movie about the clown fish. Remember tha fisheaters anonomous meeting whe the shark pretends to be on a 12 step program, I almost burst out laughing.

    Yea so I am ok but are out of money, so tha sucks, allready after only 3 visits i have paid 500$ for ….nothing….:-)

    Well life goes on, at least I understand but i am somewhat upset that I learned more from the internet than a professional. That sucks

    Ps by the way she also called me a faresee because i wanted to talk about placing blame, and i explained how i keep the rules we agree on but she does not. Hmm….seems very unprofessional to me.

  12. Mus
    April 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I just came back to work after our second session with a marriage counseller. She is a licenced professional but within minutes she had me apologizing to my wife. I told her i was very upset about the abuse sarcasm and ….well you all know. I was so frustrated as my wife played the role so absolutely to an Oscar. If you were not there it is impossible to explain :-) ,
    I tried to keep cool and not react , but when I was told that instead of saying anything i should just say ouch everytime I felt hurt, I had to laugh. I also had to acknowledge that if my wife said ouch I had hurt her and needed to apologize. The whole thing was bizar, like arriving with a abusive individual to seek shelter from being abused, only to be told to take into account the criminals feelings. Needless to say my wife was totally in her best arrogant patronizing place after we left and I exploded. All she did was say she would gladly see anyone else of my choice. Very smug like, just bring them buddy :-)

    The clincher was when at one point my wife compleately told a fat turd of a poor me outright LIE and I tolt her,and the lady got upset and said I was being abusive, and asked me to look at her and imagine her crying and her whole face and body was a big pool of blood from the horrible wound I had inflicted.

    It was scary, I looked into th ground for a long time, when I finally looked, the triumph and glee all mixed up in tears and victimhood almost knocked me out. She LOVED it. The therapist said everytime I critizise her I cut her deep and need to imagine the blood……is that really a proper way to deal with something like this

    I am so discouraged


    • shrink4men
      April 2, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      Hi Mus,

      I wouldn’t go back to that therapist. Ever. Furthermore, I would file a complaint against her with her credentialing body.

      I don’t think it’s wise to go to couples counseling while your partner is actively abusing you. It isn’t safe. However, if you wish to persist, please screen potential therapists first by asking them if they have worked with male victims of abuse and if they believe it is possible for a man to be abused by a woman. If the therapist says something like “if women are abusive, they are reacting to the oppression of the patriarchy” keep looking for another therapist.

      Dr T

    • Autumn
      April 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      Sounds like the therapist was engaging in the old FOG -Fear, Obligation, and especially, Guilt! What a nincompoop :(

    • shrink4men
      April 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      P.S. The bit about visualizing your wife cut and bleeding every time you hold her accountable for her abusive behavior is just NUTS.

  13. cecelia ryan
    March 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    “you can go to therapy if you want, there’s nothing wrong with me”
    This is exactly what my friend’s wife said to him, when he wanted to go to marriage counseling.
    Fast forward a few years: after becoming suicidal, suffering health problems related to stress in his marriage, and making a plan to leave, he tells his wife he is in individual therapy. She is upset because he “didn’t consult her first”.
    When he finally tells her he is leaving her for another woman, she does a complete turn -around (I’m converted to a nice person now! See, I can be affectionate, reasonable, understanding, and compromise -even though I chose not to for all these years) and agrees to marriage counseling. I think it’s the last trick in her bag, I hope so for his sake. He already almost died in the ER once.
    Hopefully his epiphany occurs soon, while he still has some life left to live and possibly enjoy.

    • Sylvie Sysca
      October 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm

      I know this is an older post, but I just got around to reading this article.

      Are you saying he has already tried to commit suicide and almost died in the ER? That is horrible. I hope for his sake they are not still together. These people often feel there is nothing wrong with them and therapy does not usually help matters, but make them worse. I imagine his counselor advised him to leave before he has another trip to the ER.

      I also hope that the other woman is patient with him as it will take him some time to trust again.

  14. February 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    My ex, i believed bpd now i’m positive is both, bpd/npd. We were apart for 3 months and she came bcak apologizing, telling me she had started alanon, (i’m a sober alkie,23 years) and wanted to make amends. The ninth step, I told her she hadnt worked the first 8 and all she was doing was clearing her conscience not making amends. Anyway…like was said she got enough info to act cool calm and collected to be so peaceful, nice and sweet. 3 days later the explosion…lol. God, i wander if any of you know her? I have never met anyone like this in my life.

    • December 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      Wife tried to kill me by drinking again. No respect for the sobriety of myself or my stepson. She told me that I approved of her drinking because I said I couldn’t control another persons drinking. She wanted to drink a couple years before that. She couldn’t wait to get that alcohol and also wanted to get a scrip for a narcotic. Her mother was a pill popper and rager in the 1960’s. She had a “coming out” party to show off to all of us close family members that she was now drinking wine. We were all supposed to be thrilled at her decision. No=one was thrilled, in fact it caused a lot of fear and very out of “character.” She is and had been a very good dramatist and actor from age 13. Hoover number one came after I politely asked to her to leave. The hoover said, “I will give up drinking and all attempts to control you if I can come back.” Duh, do I have stupid on the forehead?! You can’t change such deep issues for anyone but yourself and not in 15 days. That’s why these sires are so important and working a strong recovery program. By God’s grace, I was able to stay sober and today I choose to stay that way.

  15. HELP!
    February 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Hi Folks

    am new to this, and what a shocker…
    My wife kicked me out of the house before xmas; for telling my step son off for telling her to fukc off etc….she said she wanted me out for 2 days…which turned into two weeks…then six months…then three months…

    the last 4 weeks we planned to see each other at weekends only (Her rule), and then I would stay over at weekends further down the line (her rule again)…this lasted just two weeks of staying over, and now, she refuses to see me at weekends…or even talk to me at all, will not reply to texts etc…

    her brother thinks she is about to have a ‘nervous breakdown’ but cant get anything out of her as she becomes aggressive and hyperventilates, by the way, he only knows she kicked me out because i told him…she forgot to mention it when he called!… but i came across this site through googleing what she does/did, and think she might have NPD-BPD.

    the main trigger for me was that she said she loved me just two weeks into our relationship… i gave up everything and we moved in together after about 6 months (her house)…

    then she started doing the weirdest thing…at night she would say i was the best thing that had ever happened to her, even more than her three children – and then in the morning would either be crying or aggressive, as i was the biggest piece of shite that had ever walked this planet…and when i questioned what i had done…she kept moving the goal posts…she is a lawyer…and very very good at arguments, I am yet to win one after 6 years! she has always been up and down like a yoyo!

    when she gets freaky with me, her default is to become overly friendly/spoil her children, as if its a punishment to me!?
    i love this woman very much, and she says she loves me more than ever before – but treats me like this (have missed a lot out!!)

    anyway, we have just started couple counselling last week…i want to fix this, but she says she just wants to find out where it went wrong for now, as she cant see a way forward…i have always treated her with love and kindness (i’m a big softy with a big heart..she says i think with my heart)

    our counsellor is male, and i got the feeling she was flirting slightly with him, to get him on side – i was in bits, and crying a lot…but she has said she wants to do more sessions and that she thought it went well…but still says its to see were it went wrong and nothing else…

    she is still yet to officially end our relationship to me…and all of my stuff is still in out home where i left it…just feels like one big rollercoaster ride, and she is playing a game!

    does/might she have NPD-BPD?, should i suggest she might have it in counselling? am i waisting my f00kin time?


    • Zibot
      February 18, 2012 at 5:59 am

      Hi Help …

      RE: “does/might she have NPD-BPD?, should i suggest she might have it in counselling? am i waisting my f00kin time?” …

      Does she have NPD-BPD? I don’t think it really matters. It might be entertaining to bring it into therapy if you like drama, but I would not expect it to change anything. It will only blow up in your face.

      After all you’ve read on this website, comments, experiences, postings – I hope you don’t think “miraculous conversions” would occur, like “oh, I see, it’s my fault I’ve been screwing up your life for the last year because I have a personality disorder … sorry you can move back now”.

      Don’t hold your breath for that one.

      From what you describe, she sounds like she’s just jerking you around, and ‘she’ has put ‘your’ life on hold for the last year (at least).

      I know from experience when we’re inside the fog of our emotional desire to relive the emotional highs we experienced at the beginning of the relationship, we can’t see the extent to which that is gone and over … and now we’re actually just pissing away our life (time we will never get back, and time better spent healing and finding someone actually worth being with).

      I don’t know, but what comes across in what you wrote is that you’re just waiting around to see what she is going to tell you to do next.

      And in the mean time, she’s boxed you up and sent you off without even having to interact with you, unless she – on a whim – decides to interact with you … and then you’re right there for her.

      That also leaves her an awful lot of space to do whatever she wants with whoever she feels like doing it with and you’re not the wiser being so out of the picture.

      There’s no mention of any intimacy (sex) but I can’t imagine you’ve maintained relations with your wife through all the blackout periods. But why would you assume she’s been dormant all those months she kicked you out of the house? The sort of women we’re talking about on this website are notorious self-entitled self-serving creatures who don’t deprive themselves if they want something or someone. And you make it incredibly easy for her, she says leave, and off you go.

      You sound like you’re just inside her box waiting for her to open it (or leave it packed in the attic).

      I can only react to what you’ve written and I realize it is only a capsule report – take this as a bit of tough love here but … if we were sitting having a beer I think I’d say … take back your life and start making decisions for yourself. Plan to move on.

      It’s ok for you to get pissed off now at being jerked around – it’s ok for you to say “you know what, F•#k This Bull Shit, enough is enough” … I don’t care if you’re all heart, if you’re some “summer of love, pot smoking hippy” … no one deserves to be disrespected the way you describe. And you’ve been way too complicit accepting being treated like shit. Why do you just fall in line and make that so easy for her? She’s not your boss, she’s not your parent, she’s your partner (or not) but that didn’t give her the deed to your life.

      You’re not compromising your principals of ‘loving someone’ by standing up for yourself.

      You’re just taking back some of the love you’re apparently pissing away on this woman who doesn’t deserve it and allowing yourself to love your self a bit. Stand up for yourself.

      Your final question – yes, it would appear you’ve just wasted the last year of your life. Do you want to watch another one go down the crapper as well?

      Just my 2 cents … I’ve been where you are. There’s no pot of gold at the end of that illusory rainbow. You don’t win points being at her beck and call, you lose points.

      She disrespects you, takes advantage of you, throws you away, and the second she calls you back in, you come running. I’d say it’s time for you to take a look at that. Imagine switching roles for a second, you treat someone like shit for a year and they don’t have the spine to stand up for themselves, flip you the finger and tell you to shove it.

      It’s hard to respect someone like that. Not that you want this woman’s respect anyway. I think she’s invalidated herself has an honorable person worth being with.

      But you owe it to yourself to decide no one is going to disrespect you like that in your life again. Be careful! z

  16. akn
    February 1, 2010 at 7:37 am

    I’ve been looking for the appropriate thread to lodge an account of this still painful business. After several years of cohabitation it became apparent to me that my beloved’s “just friends” friend was, of course, more than that. I felt totally suckered. I had, of course, lodged the normal objections and made the usual inquiries of my BPD/NPD partner and been given the usual reassurances about collegiate relationships which was then followed by “a girl’s gotta be allowed to have male friends” through to “you are being controlling and that is a turn off”.

    I wouldn’t have cared less had that previously sexualised relationship had been turned off at the commencement to ours or had it been socialised to a friendship. But then I knew nothing of the narcissist’s need for attention and the way that this need will allow to to rationalising any and all betrayal of any and all commitments to others. she was pretty discrete but the problem was that Mr On The Side had a bad case of the emotional hots for my beloved and wanted to contest my space. It was pretty awful really and while I graciously accepted her reassurances I also kept thinking “this isn’t right” and “this isn’t how I would do it” and “this isn’t what I bargained for”. His behaviour was appalling. It is called cuckolding and it was just a terrible experience for me.

    Eventually I decided to take the usual sorts of ruthless steps that one takes – checking emails, phone messages, double checking on movements, dates, times, places. All quite maddening and humiliating. The emails were a giveaway so I confronted her about it and was given both barrels of a narcissitic rage right in the face. never experienced anything like it in my life. This included taking a 12 inch kitchen knife to a beautiful straw hat she’d given me and shredding it. (I now know a lot more about DV and if I had known then what I know now would have walked at that immediately to never return; ah well – but really taking a knie to an intimates clothing is generally regarded as a real bad sign).

    In a state of emotional shock and awe I agreed to go to couples therapy. Yeah, I know, dumb but I was in PTSD shock. Now, here is where it gets interesting – we attended about a dozen sessions over about two years witha very up-market, funky medically registered psychotherapist who had in fact been her weekly therapist for several years. He reassured me, to my face, that my beloved did indeed love me, that I was mistaken, that the red hot evidence of the emails was being misinterpreted by me, that I was indeed delusional and suffering some deep issues of my own. And so on.

    I took it line and sinker because, by that point in the relationship, I was waaay rattled and had lost my bearings completely. In retropsect I was suffering PTSD and my own therapist, who I engaged separately, reassured me in the opposite direction that my reading of the emails, phone calls, lies, absences and the other man’s unbelievable and rude hostility towards me was evidence of a a totally out of bounds affair.

    Here’s the rub: I think her therapist quite coldly lied to my face in order to protect her. Astonishing. Profoundly unethical I would have thought. It is more than five years on and, having read deep and wide, I’ve concluded that her psychotherapist may very likely also be an NPD and that what they had going was a very bizarre ‘folie’ of their own (not sexualised) in which he acted as a kind of tutor to her narcissism so that she could operate efficiently. At the very least I do not believe that he did not know about her infidelity and that if he had previously been her therapist he ought to have declined to see us as a couple on ethical grounds.

    The one other thing that I’d add here is that I feel that the tension of living with someone who gaslighted me and lied to me had a great deal to do with my mental/emotional breakdown. You just cannot live with someone who misrepresents themselves without it having some effect on you. When they take intimate information that you’ve disclosed to them and use to to further confound you in order to throw you off the scent (as it were) it is an even greater betrayal. Keeping track of the gaps and elisions between what she said and what she did was absolutely exhausting emotionally. In the end it always shows up as body pain (lower back in my case) often followed by analgesic abuse to cope. I cannot believe how effectively, with the aid of her therapist, I was pathologised.

    I could go on but feel that is enough for now. Dr T: if it is possible I’d like to know your thoughts on this and on issues around therapists apparently not being able to deal with the disordered themselves. Also on the prospects of therapists actually being narcissistically oriented enablers themselves.

  17. Karen
    January 28, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I read the part where you stated that if your girlfriend/wife wasnt willing to go to therapy then its because she thinks it as a waste of time & if your girlfriend/wife suggested going to a counsellor to her boyfriend/husband then shes only doing it to prove her husband/boyfriend that they are the one with the problem!

    Where does that leave the girlfriends/wives that actually do want to go to counselling to get professional help not to blame the husband/boyfriend for whats going on but to get professional insight into the marriage/relationship, not play the blame game & actually want to do it to sort the marriage out? Ive asked my husband if he would consider going to a marriage counsellor but he says it’s too late & he now wants a divorce after 8yrs of being together and a year of being married & he isnt even willing to give it a try!

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