NARC’D! Encounter with a Female Narcissist
I received the following email from a reader who believes that his ex-girlfriend is a narcissist. He asks for my feedback about their relationship and wants to know if he really is “weak and insecure” as his ex claims.
Dear Dr. Palmatier,
I recently had an encounter with what I think to be Narcissistic woman and wanted to share some of my experience. I had met this young woman around 6 years ago. She was around 23 at the time and now 29 and had grown into a gorgeous, seemingly intelligent young woman. I decided to pursue a romantic relationship with her and in the end nearly ended up putting my head through a window because I had truly had begun to think I had gone insane.
There were many warning signs along the way. I chalked up some to regular woman stuff, like trying to get you to change your hairstyle etc., but then she started to exhibit many signs that I now see as narcissistic. Initially, I didn’t understand what she meant when she explained she she could be physically intimate, but was incapable of emotional intimacy.
She had wild mood swings. I never knew which girl to expect on our dates, but her default mood was very negative. For example, she was always putting others down and actually made fun of small children, whom she open claimed she hated. She also explained that she hated public displays of affection and even wouldn’t hold hands in public until she did a 180 one night.
She showed up for our date all prim and proper, decked out in her mother’s jewelry and played the darling sweet girlfriend, holding my hand and being openly affectionate in public. She said she wanted to go on holiday together (something she’d always avoided). I couldn’t figure out what was going on until her assistant from work suddenly showed up at the table. Little did I know that my ex had invited her. I figure this whole act was a display to show her assistant that she could actually be normal.
Things got weirder as our relationship advanced with so many twists and turns in logic that my head was spinning. About 3 months into a very hot sexual relationship she dropped the A-bomb. We’d been apart for a week due to our work and she began a very flirty text messaging campaign. It culminated with an invitation to her apartment after work one night. Since work would keep us apart for another week or so, I thought we were both anxious to get together. I arrived, we got to business and, as usual, I took care of her first. Once she “got hers” (sorry there’s no delicate way to put this), she rolled over while I was kneeling in front of her and declared she no was longer interested in me F*#king me and that we shouldn’t see each other for awhile.
I was dumbstruck, but tried to be compassionate and told myself it was work stress. When she said we shouldn’t see each other, I got up angrily and started to leave when she she stopped me. She was crying and acting all sad that she hurt me. She then sat me down on the couch “to talk” and proceeded to rip into me for not leaving and said I was being “too nice” to her. Huh??
Things got even better after that. She went away for work and started the whole flirty texting campaign again. I thought everything was healing and we were moving on until she invited me for dinner at a crowded restaurant and very loudly broke-up with me. . . again.
Ok, I should have walked then, but I thought I was in love with her, so decided to go back for more punishment. The next three weeks were filled with barbs and jabs and poking for weaknesses that you write about in your column. The sex was gone and she kept me around for when she needed to be cuddled and held on the couch. At the same time, she was quick to proclaim that I wasn’t her boyfriend anymore. When I asked her what we were doing or where our relationship was headed, she got very defensive and basically made me feel stupid for asking such questions.
This last weekend was the final straw. We canceled our plans for dinner because she said she was ill. Later that night, I learned she was out partying with other friends. I called her on it and she flew into a rage blaming it all on me for checking up on her. She shouted that I was weak and insecure and an idiot and hung up on me. I actually started to think that she was right and called to apologize. Then she said I was humiliating myself and never to talk, text, or email her again and to stay out of her life.
So know I’m left wondering if this is narcissistic behavior or if she’s right and I’m just weak and insecure? My head just spins. Any advice or feedback would be appreciated.
You just got Narc’d!
It’s sort of like getting “Punk’d” by Ashton Kutcher except that it’s not a prank and there’s nothing funny about it.
I can’t diagnose a person I’ve never met, however, your description seems to indicate that she meets many of the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If she’s not a full-fledged NPD and/or BPD, she’s at the very least incredibly unstable and emotionally abusive.
You are not weak and insecure. Come out of the fog this woman has you wandering in and re-read the email you sent me as if your younger brother or best friend had written it to you. Would you think he was insecure and weak or would you tell him that this woman is a head case?
Honor her request (i.e., command) to never contact her again. *By the way, only a narcissist or someone with narcissistic traits “punishes” people by denying them access to their special brand of sunshine. In their mind, cutting you out of their life is akin to a death sentence. Meanwhile, most people feel better after time away from their NPD. Being banished serves two purposes: It’s a form of punishment so you can “think about what you’ve done.” It also sets the stage for you to play the role of the humbled and contrite supplicant who comes back on bended knee to plea for her forgiveness. If I were you, I’d run and never look back.
Unfortunately, it’s rarely that easy. As soon as she realizes that you’re not crawling back for more, you’ll probably hear from her again. Either she’ll pretend like nothing ever happened to test the waters (i.e., are you open to being Narc’d again) or will express displeasure and offense that you didn’t chase after her to try to win her over (forgetting that you were actually respecting her wishes—remember, there’s no winning with these individuals). Then she’ll give you mixed signals and imply that she wants you in her life or something equally ambiguous—just like she did before. As soon as she feels confident she has your affection, she’ll emotionally sucker punch you. Bam! You just got Narc’d! Again.
Why would you even give this woman a second thought? According to your email:
- She flat out told you she can’t handle emotional intimacy. The whole point of being in a committed relationship is intimacy, emotional and physical. You need both to have a truly satisfying relationship.
- She doesn’t even reciprocate physical intimacy, but uses you as a stud service and/or “security blanket” when she wants a cuddle.
- She only shows you affection when she’s putting on a show to appear normal to others. You’re her relationship “prop.” This is yet another way this kind of woman uses people as objects.
- She has wild mood swings that cause you to walk on eggshells so that you can never really relax in her presence. Over time, this will create a trauma response within you if it hasn’t already.
- She has a negative attitude, which doesn’t make for very good company.
- She puts people down for her own amusement and to make herself feel superior. This includes you. After a while, this will erode your self-confidence and riddle you with self-doubt and other insecurities—i.e., more trauma.
- She makes fun of small children and explicitly states she hates kids. She doesn’t sound like future-mother-of-my-children material, to me. In fact, if she were a cat, I’d have her spayed.
- She got mad at you for being “too nice to her.” This seems to indicate that she has some script in her head that requires men to be jerks while she plays the long-suffering victim. This is not good. If you stay with her long enough, you may start reacting to her like a jerk once projective identification begins and the emotional abuse continues to escalate.
- She got mad at you for busting her in a lie when she should have apologized to you for lying. Instead, she attacked you and blamed you for her dishonest and abusive behavior.
- She broke up with you in a crowded, public restaurant. Even if she isn’t a narc, at the very least she seems like an insensitive jerk.
- She belittled you and tried to make you feel stupid for asking very legitimate questions about your relationship after the highly confusing mixed messages she gave you. “Hold me. Make me feel desirable, but, hey, don’t think I’m your girlfriend or that I want to be in a relationship with you. What are you? Stupid?“
You’re neither weak nor insecure. You got Narc’d!, which can leave you feeling weak and insecure. Consider yourself fortunate she cut you loose and don’t respond when she comes trawling back around to make you her human scratching post again. You deserve better and by better I mean someone who will treat you with basic decency, kindness and reciprocity, which should be your baseline requirement for all future relationships.
Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
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Narcissistic rage on open-secrets.