“They are aware of what they are doing to others – but they do not care.”
-Sam Vaknin, Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited

For many victims of abuse, by the time they realize their partner has a serious problem they have begun to feel as if they are going crazy. They doubt themselves and their own sense of reality which is exactly what emotional abuse is designed to do. The victim becomes caught up in a vicious circle of endlessly questioning themselves. A major red flag that you are being subjected to narcissistic manipulation is the feeling of being trapped in some kind of fog or ‘twilight zone’; everything seems obscured or confusing as your partner insists on changing the rules of the relationship.

Often partners have been conditioned to remind the narcissist of their past ‘accomplishments’ or ‘achievements’ whether they are real or imagined. This assists the narcissist in boosting his/her fragile ego and maintaining their weak sense of self-worth. Hyper sensitive to any type of criticism they cannot accept the idea they might be wrong or seen as being imperfect. When a narcissist thinks their partner doesn’t believe they are perfect or will not comply with their demands, the usual response will be sulking, seething with disdain or becoming angry. During these episodes there may be insults and attacks all designed to reduce the partner’s self-esteem while at the same time trying to make themselves feel superior to rebuild his fragile sense of self-worth. This type of behaviour can also occur when he believes his grandiose sense of self is being threatened or attacked and when this happens the abuse can be extreme.

This personality type simply cannot tolerate being wrong and will usually become extremely frustrated or angry if they cannot have whatever has been demanded. To avoid these episodes, partners often find themselves constantly ‘walking on eggshells’ concerned or worried they might say or do something that may ‘hurt’ the narcissist’s delicate feelings. Being the partner of a narcissist doesn’t always mean having to always boost their shaky sense of self-worth but it’s important to remember hard-core narcissist feed on attention and many do not really care if the attention is positive or negative.

Healthy relationships thrive on feelings of love, trust and security while unhealthy and abusive relationships for victims often involve feelings of helplessness, fear, uncertainty and infidelity. Sex, lies, and passive-aggressive manipulation are the three most powerful strategies in the narcissist’s arsenal of weapons and these tactics will be used with ruthless efficiency. Since they are incapable of feeling remorse, guilt, or any form of empathy, their partners will be repeatedly dismissed, destroyed and then resurrected. The more suffering the narcissist witnesses the more alive he feels as the relationship descends into an abusive dance of misery. The narcissist eventually turns their partner from being the beloved, elevated soul mate and ‘person of their dreams’ into an object that is debased and never ever ‘good enough’. This has absolutely nothing to do with the narcissist’s partner but how they feel about themselves deep down inside; there is a great emotional void within which cannot be filled no matter how much their partner may do.

Narcissists are like addicts and the more they get the more they want in ever increasing amounts until their victim is sucked dry mentally and emotionally. Partners and spouses of toxic narcissists are merely considered to be an extension of the narcissist’s existence; they are not respected as human beings with thoughts and emotions worthy of any consideration.

Nigel Beckles -Author