Twenty Signs Your Abuser is a Narcissist

Do you suspect that you are suffering emotional abuse from someone who has narcissistic personality disorder? Here are twenty of the most common behaviors you may be experiencing:

  1. Does he rage when his opinion, point of view, or idea is challenged, even slightly?
  2. Is she emotionally abusive most of the time, but occasionally demonstrates acts of kindness?
  3. Does he criticize your opinions, choices, appearance, and just about everything that defines you as an individual?
  4. Does she treat you more like an object than a person?
  5. Have you caught him in obvious lies or half-truths and confronted him about them, only to have him explain them away every single time?
  6. Is she abusive to you behind closed doors and perfectly charming when with others?
  7. Does he make you feel insecure, unattractive, stupid, and/or worthless?
  8. Does she tell you she loves you, but her actions and behavior show otherwise?
  9. Do you feel manipulated, coerced, and/or controlled by him?
  10. Does your abuser suck you back in every time you threaten to or try to leave the relationship?
  11. Does she make promises to you that she never keeps?
  12. Does he exhibit strange behaviors that cannot be explained?
  13. Is she nicer to you when you pull back your emotions from her?
  14. Does he accuse you of living in the past and/or being unable to let things go?
  15. Do you feel as if you give 100% of yourself to the relationship and she gives none?
  16. Does he provoke you or goad you into arguments that cause you to react strongly, and then accuse you of being the crazy, dramatic, unreasonable one?
  17. Does she exploit your vulnerabilities, sensitivities, inadequacies, disabilities, and/or weaknesses?
  18. Does he try to convince you that what you heard you didn’t hear, what you saw you didn’t see, what you witnessed happening didn’t happen?
  19. Does she blame you for all the problems in the relationship?
  20. Does he never offer a true apology for anything he has done to hurt or upset you?

Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Expert, Counselor Worldwide, Author

Randi Fine is a dedicated pioneer in the narcissistic abuse movement and a narcissistic personality disorder abuse expert. She is a radio show host, author, and Life Issues Counselor living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  Through her wealth of experience, insight, and wisdom, she offers hope, compassion, and healing to others. Randi is the author of the groundbreaking new book, Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivors Guide to Healing and Recovery.As a Life Issues Counselor, Randi specializes in (but is not limited to) helping others work through issues relating to relationship codependency, narcissistic personality disorder abuse, emotional boundaries, letting go of the past, and letting go of unhealthy guilt. Love Your Life is an online journal she writes to spread light, love, and healing to the world. Her blog is read in 180 countries around the globe. She hosts the blog talk-radio show, A Fine Time for Healing: A Sanctuary for Your Emotional Wellbeing. On her popular show she interviews the top people in their fields, discussing self-help and spiritual life-skill topics that heal and enhance the life experiences of others.

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Learn more about the signs of emotional abuse and how it affects relationships

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Twenty Questions Identify Codependency Issues

Is Codependency a Problem in Your Life and Relationships

Written by Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Counselor

Take The Quiz

To find out if you are suffering from relationship codependency, please answer yes or no to the following twenty questions:

  1. Do you put others’ feelings, desires and needs before your own?
  2. Are you drawn to relationships with people who lack stability and/or are irresponsible in a particular area of their lives?
  3. Do you have a compulsive need to help, nurture, fix or control others?
  4. Are you always looking for the potential in others, rather than accepting others as they are?
  5. Do you cling to hope that your partner will change, beyond all evidence of rationale?
  6. Are you attracted to people with addictions?
  7. Do you believe your relationship will be perfect when your partner changes?
  8. Do you feel responsible when your partner doesn’t change?
  9. As a child were you subjected to family dynamics such as repeated anger, extreme rigidity, violence, manipulation or abuse?
  10. Were you raised in an environment of addiction?
  11. Do you feel as if you cannot survive without a love relationship?
  12. Do you strive to please everyone in your life because you believe others only like you when you do?
  13. Do you make excuses for the bad behavior of others?
  14. Are your relationships emotionally or physically abusive?
  15. Do you believe you need to earn love to get it?
  16. Do you believe that you can love someone enough to change or fix her or him?
  17. Have most of your love relationships been painful?
  18. Do you withdraw from people because you don’t want them to know the life you are leading?
  19. Is it hard for you to accept healthy love?
  20. Do you do things for others that they are capable of doing for themselves?

If you answered yes to five or more questions, it is likely that codependent issues are responsible for the relationship problems you are having. This test is for screening purposes only. It is not a formal diagnosis. Please see a qualified therapist or counselor to further evaluate and diagnose you.

Learn more about the counseling services Randi Fine provides.

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If You Are Dreading Valentine’s Day You Are Not Alone

If You’re Not Happy During Valentine’s Day, You Are Not Alone

Written by Bruce Y. Lee Contributor Forbes Magazine

Happy Valentine’s Day? Maybe. Maybe not. If not, don’t despair.

Ah, if only life were like a romantic comedy or advertising. Valentine’s Day is certainly a happy occasion for many. An opportunity to spend a day with that special someone or, for some, someones. A time to generate more memories, show your love or feel loved. But for others, it’s anything but…even if you are in a relationship. For a number of people, the commercially designated day of love can actually cause stress, anxiety, unhappiness and even depression. Here are 20 reasons why not all are completely happy during Valentine’s Day:

  1. Being reminded that you’re not in a relationship: Here’s a common source for the single. Most other days, you may realize that you are much more than a relationship and being single is much better than being in a bad relationship. But on this day, the social pressure can be overwhelming. Valentine’s Day is like society collectively deciding to be politically incorrect toward single people.
  2. Being reminded that you are in a relationship: On the flip side, you may not really like your current relationship. Perhaps you can avoid the other person most of the year (e.g., “Honey, I’ll be stepping out for a few weeks,” or, “We have common interests in that we both hate each other.”), but it’s harder to do so on Valentine’s Day. Seeing other couples who seem happier in real life or on television can add to the stress…especially if one of those couples you see includes your significant other.
  3. Being reminded that you are trying to be in a relationship: You know that person that you keep spending time with, trying to be like mold and grow on him or her? Well, ignorance and hope can be bliss. Valentine’s Day can be the moment of clarity. If that person’s out with someone else during Valentine’s Day, things aren’t looking too good. The Friend Zone is like the Phantom Zone: It takes Supergirl or Superman to get out of it.
  4. Being reminded that your significant other is not around: Not all couples can be together during Valentine’s Day. Maybe your significant other is long-distance, traveling or a Capulet and you are a Montague, or a Jet and you are a Shark.
  5. Being reminded that your kids may be in relationships: Yes, your kids may be finally old enough to date, which depending on your attitudes can range from the age they are in junior high school to the age when they can rent a car. Worrying about this can cause anxiety about who they are with or why they grew up so quickly.
  6. Being reminded of past relationships: Valentine’s Day can be like syndication for your past romantic regrets, making you replay your mistakes over and over again. It can be especially tough if a former significant other passed away. Conversely, Valentine’s Day can prompt your favorite stalkers to reappear and step up their games, calling, texting or messaging you or sending lovely gifts that you then have to explain to your current significant other or your co-workers or your front desk person or the entire basketball stadium.
  7. Stressing your relationship: Valentine’s Day can bring scrutiny on and strain your relationship. Rather than a happy occasion, it can feel like a Law and Order interrogation. Where is relationship going? Do you love me? Why do we argue so much? Why do my parents call you a bum? When are you going to get a better job? When are we going to get married? When will we live in the same city? Is a yak really a good pet? Who is that other person that’s sleeping in the bed with us?
  8. Taking your relationship to another level: Depending on where you are, Valentine’s Day may be a cue to take your relationship to another level, but you and your partner may not be on the same page or even the same book, which could be stressful. This could mean trying to have children, redecorating the kitchen, a marriage proposal, sex for the first time, kissing for the first time or getting to know the name of your significant other.
  9. Failing to meet expectations: A neurology resident once told me in medical school that happiness is reality minus expectations (which is why denying reality can keep you really, really happy). Sometimes expectations for Valentine’s Day can be so high that you just can’t reach them. Spending weeks thinking that your significant other is going to hold a Pepsi Super Bowl halftime show for you could set you up for big disappointment.
  10. Forcing roles: “Roles” as in duties and expectations, not baked goods. Some may chafe under the standard roles of Valentine’s Day and feel that the holiday is old-fashioned.
  11. Being reminded that you have no money or are spending money: Valentine’s Day can be expensive for all the reasons below. Yes, money can’t buy you love, but apparently it can rent it. Such spending can add to financial stress for some.
  12. Finding a babysitter who is free on Valentine’s Day but is old enough to be a babysitter: Rule number one, the babysitter has to be older than the children being babysat. When there is a shortage, watch babysitters become Wall Street tycoons and push their rates up and up.
  13. Trying to secure a reservation in any restaurant that doesn’t serve Happy Meals and Big Macs: Valentine’s Day is a boon for restaurants. Popular restaurants get completely booked weeks in advance, leaving the non-planners with the choice of the 3 p.m. or midnight dinner slots or taking their dates to Subway. Also, expect every dish to be more expensive than usual and renamed after love or passion.
  14. Getting flowers that are not weeds: So dandelions don’t count as flowers? If Valentine’s Day is a boon for restaurants, it means absolutely everything to florists. Therefore, buying flowers can involve more planning than a military operation. And there are so many decisions. What types of flowers? Pretty ones. What arrangement? One in which flowers are not upside down. What type of vase? A solid one that doesn’t leak. What type of wrapping? A tortilla. Then you have to schedule the flower delivery so that it arrives at exactly the right time: when everyone else is around and can see that the flowers are arriving. Not too early and not too late.
  15. Buying a gift that is not just a thought: Yes, it’s the thought that counts. Try thinking about something and see if that passes as a gift. If that were the case, people would be all over philosophy majors. Unless you really know your significant other and have a mutual understanding, trying to buy the right gift can be stressful.
  16. Trying to write something dramatic but not corny on a card: “You are excellent,” “Good job on being a girlfriend (or boyfriend),” “Best of luck in the coming year” or “Congratulations on being my significant other” probably don’t pass. Face it, this is a losing proposition. If you end up breaking up, you are probably writing something that you didn’t mean, such as: “I will always be your Valentine (until something better comes along or until you develop this really bad farting problem).” If you do stay together, words on a card cannot really convey the meaning of your relationship.
  17. Eating too much and too badly: Valentine’s Day fare can be unhealthy. You don’t tend to buy or receive Valentine’s Day rutubaga, kale or cucumbers. (Honey, you are just so fibrous.) Many things are sweet, goopy and full of fat, sugar and salt. Unhealthy food, even for a day, can make you feel sick. But if you are buying or getting candy, that stuff can last for days or even weeks. Candy is not like turkey. You can’t make candy sandwiches, salads or soups. So be prepared to eat unhealthily for a while or throw out food.
  18. Suffering from performance anxiety: For sex, this may seem like the Super Bowl, only without the helmets, shoulder pads and Lady Gaga…unless you are into those sorts of things. You may feel like for some reason this has to be extra special, and you know what pressure can do…
  19. Suffering accidents: When you are distracted or under pressure, you make mistakes. When you make mistakes, you can hurt yourself. When you hurt yourself, you can even end up in the hospital. Don’t end up in the hospital. Get Direct TV and be careful during Valentine’s.
  20. Dealing with the drama and the aftermath: Holidays can be emotional times. People do all kinds of things when they are emotional. Arguments, fights, abuse, failed proposals, sex mishaps. All of these can leave scars, emotionally, mentally and physically, leading to more drama. And break-ups can.

In the end, Valentine’s Day is just a day. It can be a happy one, but if you are not happy about it, keep things in perspective. You are not alone. If you aren’t in a relationship, don’t despair. Remember that most relationships fail. (It’s always good to comfort yourself with other people’s miseries.) Seriously, though, it is much better to be single than in a bad relationship, and you shouldn’t base your worth on a relationship. If your kids are in relationship, realize that you can’t control them. If you raised them well in general, they will know what to do. If you are in a relationship, don’t put too much pressure on yourself for Valentine’s Day. The measure of your relationship should be what you do the other 364 days of the year. One day shouldn’t determine a relationship. If it does, then your relationship is probably not worth more than a Subway sandwich.

Bruce Y. Lee Forbes Contributor

I’ve been in the worlds of business, medicine, and global and public health. And these worlds are a lot more similar and different than you think. Currently, I am an Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC: www.globalobesity.org), Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. My previous positions include serving as Senior Manager at Quintiles Transnational and Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, working in biotechnology equity research at Montgomery Securities, co-founding a biotechnology/bioinformatics company. My work involves developing computational models and tools to help health and healthcare decision makers in all continents (except for Antarctica) and has been supported by a wide variety of sponsors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NIH, AHRQ, CDC, UNICEF, USAID and the Global Fund. I have authored over 190 scientific publications and three books. Follow me on Twitter (@bruce_y_lee) but don’t ask me if I know martial arts.
Follow me on Twitter @bruce_y_lee and visit our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read my other Forbes pieces here.

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Poll: Who Is or Was Your Narcissistic Abuser(s)

Narcissistic Abuse Poll

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Who Is or Was Your Primary Narcissistic Abuser(s)?

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Why Is It So Hard To Leave Your Narcissistic Abuser

Narcissistic Abuse Expert Randi Fine discusses the many reasons why it is so hard to leave your abuser (romantic and family). She empowers you to move past your confusion, doubts, and fears, and offers you the tools you need to reclaim your life.

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What It Means When a Narcissist Says “I Love You”


Photo by Leighann Renee on Unsplash

Written by Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Dear Codependent Partner,

What I’m about to say is not something I’d ever say or admit (to you), because to do so would end the winner-takes-all-game that is my main source of pleasure in life — one that effectively keeps you carrying my load in our relationship.

And that’s the whole point.

When I say “I love you” I mean that I love how hard you work to make me feel like your everything, that I am the focus of your life, that you want me to be happy, and that I’ll never be expected to do the same.

I love the power I have to take advantage of your kindness and intentions to be nice, and the pleasure I derive when I make myself feel huge in comparison to you, taking every opportunity to make you feel small and insignificant. (I feel huge in comparison because, to me, these “desires” are evidence you’re weak, feeble in mind and inferior, and deserve to be treated accordingly!)

I love the feeling it gives me thinking of you as weak, vulnerable, emotionally crazy, and my biggest source of pleasure is having you to look down on with scorn … because, in my view, your childlike desires, innocence and gullibility is what proves your weakness and inferiority.

I love the way I feel knowing that, through the use of gaslighting, and other mind-game tactics, what you want to discuss or address will never happen, and I love this “power” to train you to feel “crazy” for even asking or bringing up issues that don’t interest me, effectively, ever lowering your expectations of me and what I’m capable of giving you, while I up mine of you.

I love how easy it is to keep your sole focus on alleviating my pain (never yours!), and that, regardless what you do, you’ll never make me feel good enough, loved enough, respected enough, appreciated enough, and so on. (Misery loves company.)

(It’s not about the closeness, empathy, emotional connection you want, or what I did that hurt or embarrassed you, or how little time I spend engaged with you or the children, and so on. It’s about my status and doing my job to keep you in your place, in pain, focused on feeling my pain, blocking you from feeling valued in relation to me. I’m superior and entitled to all the pleasure, admiration, and comforting between us, remember?)

“I love you” means I love the way I feel when you are with me, more specifically, regarding you as a piece of property I own, my possession. Like driving a hot car, I love the extent to which you enhance my status in the eyes of others, letting them know that I’m top dog, and so on. I love thinking others are jealous of my possessions.

I love the power I have to keep you working hard to prove your love and devotion, wondering what else you need to do to “prove” your loyalty.

“I love you” means I love the way I feel when I’m with you. Due to how often I hate and look down on others in general, the mirror neurons in my brain keep me constantly experiencing feelings of self-loathing; thus, I love that I can love myself through you, and also love hating you for my “neediness” of having to rely on you or anyone for anything.

I love that you are there to blame whenever I feel this “neediness”; feeling scorn for you seems to protect me from something I hate to admit, that I feel totally dependent on you to “feed” my sense of superiority and entitlement, and to keep my illusion of power alive in my mind.

(Nothing makes me feel more fragile and vulnerable than not having control over something that would tarnish my image and superior status, such as when you question “how” I treat you, as if you still don’t understand that getting you to accept yourself as an object for my pleasure, happy regardless of how I treat you, or the children  — is key proof of my superiority, to the world. You’re my possession, remember? It’s my job to teach you to hate and act calloused toward those “crazy” things that only “weak” people need, such as “closeness” and “emotional stuff;” and by the way, I know this “works” because my childhood taught me to do this to myself inside.)

It makes me light up with pleasure (more proof of my superiority) that I can easily get you flustered, make you act “crazy” over not getting what you want from me, make you repeat yourself, and say and do things that you’ll later hate yourself for (because of your “niceness”!). Everything you say, any hurts or complaints you share, you can be sure, I’ll taunt you with later, to keep you ever-spinning your wheels, ever trying to explain yourself, ever doubting yourself and confused, trying to figure out why I don’t “get” it.

(There’s nothing to get! To break the code, you’d have to look through my lens, not yours! It’s my job to show complete disinterest in your emotional needs, hurts, wants, and to train, dismiss and punish accordingly, until you learn your “lesson,” that is: To take your place as a voiceless object, a possession has no desire except to serve my pleasure and comfort, and never an opinion on how it’s treated!)

(That you can’t figure this out, after all the ways I’ve mistreated you, to me, is proof of my genetic superiority. In my playbook, those with superior genes are never kind, except to lure and snare their victims!)

I love that I can make you feel insecure at the drop of a hat, especially by giving attention to other women (perhaps also others in general, friends, family members, children, etc., the list is endless). What power this gives me to put on public displays of what you don’t get from me, to taunt and make you beg for what I easily give to others, wondering why it’s so easy to give what you want to others, to express feelings or affection, to give compliments, that is, when it serves my pleasure (in this case, to watch you squirm).

I love the power I have to get you back whenever you threaten to leave, by throwing a few crumbs your way, and watching how quickly I can talk you into trusting me when I turn on the charm, deceiving you into thinking, this time, I’ll change.

“I love you” means I need you because, due to the self-loathing I carry inside, I need someone who won’t abandon me that I can use as a punching bag, to make myself feel good by making them feel bad about themselves. (This is how I pleasure myself, and the way I numb, deny the scary feelings I carry inside that I hope to never admit, ever. I hate any signs of weakness in me, which is why I hate you, and all the “nice” weaklings I view as inferior, stupid, feeble, and so on.)

“I love you” means that I love fixing and shaping your thoughts and beliefs, being in control of your mind, so that you think of me as your miracle and savior, a source of life and sustenance you depend on, and bouncing back to, like gravity, no matter how high you try to fly away or jump.

I love that this makes me feel like a god, to keep you so focused (obsessed…) with making me feel worshiped and adored, sacrificing everything for me to prove yourself so that I don’t condemn or disapprove of you, seeking to please none other, and inherently, with sole rights to administer rewards and punishments as I please.

I love how I can use my power to keep you down, doubting and second-guessing yourself, questioning your sanity, obsessed with explaining yourself to me (and others), professing your loyalty, wondering what’s wrong with you (instead of realizing that … you cannot make someone “happy” who derives their sense of power and pleasure from feeling scorn for the weaklings who let me take advantage of them … like you!).

“I love you” means I love the way I feel when I see myself through your admiring eyes, that you’re my feel-good drug, my dedicated audience, my biggest fan and admirer, and so on. Training you to look up to me, never question me, and bow down with pleasure to serve me as your never-erring, omniscient, omnipotent source of knowledge is my end-goal — my drug of choice.

(You may have noticed how touchy I am at any sign that you would question me; I hate how fragile I feel in such moments,  worried that failing to train you in silent submission could tarnish my image in the world, something I care about more than anything else, even life itself!)

And I love that, no matter how hard you beg and plead for my love and admiration, to feel valued in return, it won’t happen, as long as I’m in control. Why would I let it, when I’m hooked on deriving pleasure from depriving you of anything that would make you feel worthwhile, be wind beneath your wings, risking you’d fly away from me? Besides, it gives me great pleasure to not give you what you yearn for, the tenderness you need and want, and to burst your every dream and bubble, then telling myself, “I’m no fool.”

I love that I can control your attempts to get “through” to me, by controlling your mind, in particular, by shifting the focus of any “discussion” onto what is wrong with you, your failure to appreciate and make me feel loved, good enough, etc. — and of course, reminding you of all I’ve done for you, and how ungrateful you are.

I love how skillfully I manipulate others’ opinions of you as well, getting them to side with me as the “good” guy, and side against you as the “bad” guy, portraying you as incapable of making me happy or manly — or as needy, never satisfied, always complaining, selfish and controlling, and the like.

I love how easy it is for me to say “No!” to what may give you credit, or increase your sense of value and significance in relation to me, with endless excuses; and that instead, I return your focus to my unfulfilled needs and wants, my discomforts or pain.

I love feeling that I own your thoughts, your ambitions, and ensuring the only wants and needs you focus on are ones that serve my pleasure and comfort.

I love being a drug of choice you “have to” have, regardless of how I mistreat you, despite all the signs that your addiction to me is draining the energy from your life, and that you are at risk of losing more and more of what you most value and hold dear, to include those you move love and love and support you in return.

I love that I can isolate you from others who may nourish you, and break the spell of thinking they ever loved you; I love making you mistrust them, so that you conclude no one else really wants to put up with you, but me.

I love that I can make you feel I’m doing you a favor by being with you and throwing a few crumbs your way. Like a vacuum, the emptiness inside me is in constant need of sucking the life and breath and vitality you, and your determination to be kind, brings to my life, which I crave like a drug that can never satisfy, that I fight to hoard, and hate the thought of sharing.

While I hate you and my addiction to your caring attention, my neediness keeps me craving to see myself through your caring eyes, ever ready to admire, adore, forgive, make excuses for me, and fall for my lies and traps. (I could never appreciate or value you for this, how could I? I hate myself for needing these caring, yet unmanly gestures, which disgust me.)

I love that you keep telling me how much I hurt you, not knowing that, to me, this is like a free marketing report. It lets me know how effective my tactics have been to keep you in pain, focused on alleviating my pain — so that I am ever the winner in this competition — ensuring that you never weaken (control) me with your love- and emotional-closeness stuff.

In short, when I say “I love you,” I love the power I have to remain a mystery that you’ll never solve because of what you do not know (and refuse to believe), that: the only one who can win this zero-sum-winner-takes-all game is the one who knows “the rules.” My sense of power rests on ensuring you never succeed at persuading me to join you in creating a mutually-kind relationship because, in my worldview, being vulnerable, emotionally expressive, kind, caring, empathetic, innocent are signs of weakness, proof of inferiority.

Thanks, but no thanks, I’m resolved to stay on my winner-takes-all ground, ever in competition for the prize, seeing you as my fiercest competitor, gloating in my narcissistic ability to be heartless, callous, cold, calculating … and proud, to ensure my neediness for a sense of superiority isn’t hampered.

Forever love-limiting,

Your narcissist

PS: I really, really need help — but you CANNOT do this work for me (not without making things worse for both of us!).  Remember, we’re co-addicted to each other, so we’d never go to an addict to get help, right?

Only a therapist, with experience in this, stands a chance, and even then, only if I choose to really, really, really let him/her! (That’s because I’d have to face my greatest fear that, not only am I not superior to those I regard as inferior, and thus not entitled to make and break rules as I please, but I’d also have to own — that my own actions, thoughts and beliefs about myself and others — are THE main cause of the suffering in my life … and changing them, THE solution. I could not would not ever want to do this for the sole reason that, from my worldview, only the feeble-minded and weak do such things! Death is better, than losing.)

Athena Staik, Ph.D. – Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik shows clients how to break free of anxiety, addictions, and other emotional blocks, to awaken radiantly healthy lives and relationships. Dr. Staik is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says ‘I Love You'”: Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit www.drstaik.com, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year 2019!

Wishing you all healing, and abundance in every way you desire. ~Randi

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Feeling Isolated in the Aftermath of Narcissistic Abuse


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Isolation, Loneliness, and Disconnection in the Aftermath of Narcissistic Abuse

Written by Randi Fine, Author of Close Encounters of the Worst Kind

Every survivor of narcissistic abuse experiences feelings of isolation, loneliness, and disconnection in the beginning stages of the healing process. This is perfectly “normal” and to be expected. If you are feeling this way and concerned about it, it may help to know that you have a lot of company. Nearly everyone recovering from narcissistic abuse feels exactly as you do.

After coming out of a war zone, shell shocked, disoriented, and confused, it is only natural to seek comfort, support, and validation from friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. It is painfully disappointing to discover that those you counted on for support have turned their backs to you when you need them the most. One or two people may stick by your side. Most will minimize the severity of the experiences you claim and impatiently tell you to “just get over it.”

You wonder how people who claimed to care about you can act this way; if the situation were reversed you would never turn away from them. And so, after reaching out to people for support and being rejected, shamed, and blamed every time you do, you are driven into solitude and silence.

The people who have let you down may seem heartless, but often their reaction is based on ignorance. They have no reference point in regard to the traumatic effects of narcissistic abuse. Having never witnessed your abuse or seen your abuser’s true nature, it is nearly impossible for them to believe the outrageous stories you are telling them. Should the situation have been reversed, and without having personally experienced this bizarre behavior, your reaction may have been the same. Nothing about narcissistic abuse makes sense to the logical mind.

It is generally believed that it takes two to make or break a relationship; a legitimate belief in regard to legitimate relationships. This is the standard you are unfortunately being held to. But there is nothing legitimate about a relationship with a narcissist. Though it may appear to be a typical relationship, it is not. It is a predator/victim situation.

The victim enters into what he or she thinks is an honest relationship with a sincere person. Had the victim known that the person was an imposter/actor/con, he or she would never have not gotten involved or allowed themselves to be brainwashed and manipulated. Once sucked in, the campaign of abuse begun, they are trapped.

Once victims muster up enough courage to leave their abusers (or they are thrown away) they are further punished through the narcissist’s smear campaign. Flying monkeys are rounded up, lies are spread. They are falsely blamed for the distress their abusers allege to be suffering from by people both familiar and unfamiliar. This assault campaign makes it nearly impossible for them to go about their normal daily routine without someone sneering at them and making comments to or about them. Furthermore they feel triggered by everything and everyone. Isolation seems to be the only option.

Other factors contribute to the isolation of a survivor. Those with empathic sensitivity find the energy overload of the outside world impossible to bear, especially while trying to heal from their trauma. It is much easier to be alone.

Empath or not, the emotional safety survivors feel when they are alone and unchallenged is a welcomed relief. While the rest of the world seems frightening and dangerous, home/solitude feels safe and secure.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling safe in solitude. The first stage of healing from narcissistic abuse can only occur in a bubble of protection; no threats, no triggers. In this way solitude serves an important purpose.

Allow the peace and calm of your solitude without concern of what everyone else is doing. For now you are exactly where you need to be. The time will come when you will feel ready to integrate yourself back in society. You don’t have to force interactions with others until it feels natural to do so. Ignore the pressure people put on you. You have spent enough time succumbing to the requirements of others. Now you get to decide what is right or wrong for you.

Healing from the trauma of narcissistic abuse is your primary concern now. Love yourself. Respect yourself. Trust your intuition. The world will just have to wait. You are in recovery.

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Is Your Abuser a Narcissist

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder by the following nine traits. To be diagnosed as having this disorder a person must have at least five of these traits.

  1. A grandiose sense of self-importance – they think of themselves as better than anyone else and expect to be seen as superior to everyone else. They are the star and hero of everything they do. They are obsessed with their selves—as far as they are concerned nothing else exists or matters except their own experiences. Their problems, emotions, and needs are the center of the world. They are the celebrity in every situation.
  2. Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, intelligence, brilliance, ideal love, unlimited success, or beauty – they live in their own little worlds and resent anyone intruding or trying to talk them out of their reality.  The narcissist is boastful and pretentious. He arrogantly exaggerates his successes and talents and believes others should recognize his greatness. He must do this because it is his fantasies of grandiosity that help him stabilize his precariously balanced personality.
  3. Believes that he or she is unique and special – they believe they should only engage with other special, rich, or accomplished people. They are snobby about who they will associate with and are not ashamed to admit it. They see average people, everyone who in their eyes is not superior and special, as worthless, lowly, and subservient. Narcissists value image, status, and beauty above all else. They are attracted to wealthy people, beautiful people, and successful people who they believe can benefit them in some way or enhance their self-image by association.
  4. Requires an excessive amount of admiration and attention- They want others to tell them that they do everything better than others do. They expect and demand that the world reflect back their idealized image of perfection. They see the world as a mirror of themselves. Since their self-esteem is very fragile they want to be praised, complimented, and envied by everyone, whether or not that admiration is sincerely given. All that’s important is the frequency and volume in which the compliments are given. Some narcissists are so needy that they may constantly fish for compliments.
  5. Feels entitled – they have unreasonable expectations of receiving especially favorable treatment and privileges. They expect everyone to indulge them, cater to them, and give them whatever they want or need. They may also feel entitled to take whatever they want. When the narcissist wants something done he expects nothing less than immediate compliance—anything less is perceived as an insult or disrespect. But the narcissist feels entitled to treat others any way he wants without a second thought and without feeling guilty.
  6. Is interpersonally exploitive – they selfishly take advantage of others to achieve or further their own needs, without reciprocation, whether that person be their child, parent, sibling, co worker, or partner. They tend to form their relationships based on what the other person can do for them.
  7. Lacks empathy – they have difficulty understanding, recognizing, and sympathizing with the emotions, feelings, and needs of others. They are impatient with anyone who talks about their own problems and concerns—they will tune the other person out or dismiss them entirely. In terms of their own wellbeing, they assume that others are completely concerned about them so they may drone on about their selves in lengthy, boring detail. Though they project an air of coldness, their lack of empathy and compassion isn’t easily noticed because they are good imitators of what they see others do.
  8. May be envious of others or believe that others are envious of them – they are envious of the successes or material things that others have and they do not. They are resentful because they believe that they are more deserving of these things. When others share their successes the narcissist will do everything in his or her power to dampen that person’s spirit or devalue their accomplishments. They like to believe that others are envious of them. They may blame things that others do, things that feel hurtful to them, on the fact that the other person is just jealous. Everyone who does not serve their needs, please them, or praise them is believed to be motivated by envy. They enjoy believing that others envy them because that reinforces their belief that they are far superior.
  9. Behaves arrogantly, haughtily, patronizingly or rude to those they feel are beneath them – they have an overall negative outlook on life and are generally contemptuous of others. They do not treat other people very well unless they want something from them.
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Happy Holidays 2018

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