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My Narcissistic Ex-Husband

Reflections on loving and living with a Narcissist.  Let our experts guide you toward the healing power of moving on and allowing yourself some time in the spotlight.  Get advice on healing from his behavior and finding yourself again.

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Are there common red flags when it comes to identifying a narcissist? The question was recently presented within our private network, and our community responded with a wealth of observations and signs to look for when dating again after years of narcissistic abuse. While each and every one of our situations are different and people vary from one to another, you'll find a plethora of similarities, signs and tips below to help us all avoid falling into the "gas-lighting", love-bombing miasma of a narcissist again.

The top warning signs to identify a narcissist

- The one sure sign I found was to really listen to the stories/conversations he has with you. You could be talking about anything under the sun, and he will find a way to turn the conversation back on/about him, all the time.

- We could only listen to his MUSIC, watch his TV shows, eats at restaurants he liked. It was always about him. There was no flexibility or compromise.

- When he talks, it is all about him and how great he is. He was very competitive and always has to win. Nothing is ever his fault. He needs his ego stroked. He can't argue because he is incapable of reasoning, so arguments just escalate. He never says he's sorry and can't give a compliment without a negative. He's very materialistic and all about the car he drives. I really think they have no heart.

A narc will use the phrase "soul mate" especially very early on.

- Anyone who gives himself compliments, brags about his accomplishments and hardly ever gives you or others a real compliment, unless he wraps a criticism sandwich around it first. Someone who never shows genuine empathy. They mimic other's social graces. Watch for it. He really doesn't get you. He really doesn't know what makes you tick. Someone who criticizes or teases or tickles you believe it or not. Tickling is a form of control. When you beg them to stop ticking they don't. And they tickle so hard it hurts. This type of guy turns into a batterer. The ultimate control tool.

- Someone who is never wrong, never apologizes and deflects the same remark right back at you, every time. A bad lover. They are only there for themselves and guess what, it never gets better. Also, someone who has a bad relationship with his mom. The way he treats her is the way he will treat you someday. Someone with few longtime friends. A guy who is too much into material things; a hot car, a boastful job, home, etc. Enough is never enough and when you marry him, he will still come first. You are last on the list.

Someone with a thin skin. Anyone whose emotional level seems a bit stuntedSomeone incapable of buying you a personal gift. Odds are he doesn't really know what is special to you even if he has known you a while. Someone who will listen to you intently because he is really gathering information about you to use against you later. Note how little he tells about himself. He will tell you he doesn't have any stories from his childhood. So get references! Meet his high school or college buddies. Meet his family and his sisters; and if they live far away go visit them sooner than later. That is a must! 

Someone who lies like a pro. Smooth con. A manipulator. 

- Remember they are all generally very charming, pick up on what matters most to you, then pretend to espouse all of those behaviors in order to "lovebomb" you. Only way to see the real, unmasked person is over time. Second piece of advice from a trained NPD counselor/specialist is this: Ponder about what attracted you to the NPD to begin with. Then recognize that is your weak spot. Be aware of it so you don't fall prey to it again. Make a list of character qualities that are non-negotiable for you, and observe OVER TIME whether that person embodies it in their actions, not only in words. My narc was a great storyteller, articulate, well spoken, and comfortable in any environment with any group. So I recognize now that when I am attracted to a man with the same qualities, to be on the lookout for getting enraptured falsely. Tough to do, but important to protect our souls and hearts!

- Here's my list of signs to look for in a narcissist: 1. If he blames others for things going wrong in his life or claims all of his exes are psycho (my ex-narc did that). 2. Moving too fast and laying on the love too think (I just walked away from a guy who started asking some questions about my financial situation and then claimed it was because he wanted to know everything about me because he liked me so much...after meeting for coffee once). 3. Testing boundaries - My ex did that right away and I did not stand up for myself so he knew he had me hook, line and sinker after that. I still have to work at not feeling guilty about standing up for myself as I just don't want to make others unhappy but I have had a few situations in the past year or so with potential men where I have had to say something because things didn't feel right or I saw a red flag and I know it was the right thing to do. 4. Bragging and exaggeration. If it sounds too good to be true or too far-fetched, with a narcissist, it is!! 5. Negative comments about your friends. my ex was subtle about it, making little comments here and there about things he didn't like about my friends and I eventually felt uncomfortable bring them around after a while because I felt it would make him uncomfortable. Luckily I have awesome friends who have accepted me back after I pushed them from my life and one in particular who refused to go away (in the end my ex went after her relentlessly with outright outrageous lies). There are definitely more but I think these were the ones that, looking back, happened right away.

Narcissists have no sense of humor and literally no self-deprecating skills.

- Anything that is even the slightest criticism of them, or humorous remark triggers an exaggerate defense response. What they say and what they do does not match. "My business is doing great" but you see no evidence of it. You are the only one, and you know they cheated on all previous girlfriends. Stuff like that. They may ask you weird questions that encourage you to expose your vulnerabilities too soon like : what are your bigger insecurities , or what you don't like about yourself, or how did your previous man abused you. They may disclose their dark stuff too fast to encourage you to share yours too fast. Be opaque, as they are gathering intelligence to mess with you in the future.

The number one sign is he moves on too quickly in to the next courtship.

- What others try to get from you in weeks, they want to have in days. What others aim to get for you in months they want in weeks. Love bombing is their thing and they are very good at it. You are the most fantastic, amazing, beautiful woman they ever met, their best friends and the one that understands them the most - even if they hardly know you. They have no problems admitting treating people terribly in the past, BUT now they are so much better. Yes they were promiscuous BUT with you it will be different; yes they abused others BUT now they are in therapy. it is all B**ST : they are who they are. Remember: the best predictor of the future is past behavior. If their lips are moving they are lying: you will know because you can detect inconsistencies pretty much every time they talk to you. It must be tricky to keep track of all the lies they tell to everybody. They change mind all the time: where you will have lunch, when he will pick you up, where they will be living next month, if they will be able to drive you the airport o meet your firends. they are incapable of respecting your time and your previous commitments. You have to be available 24/7 to bend your schedule I actually read somewhere that if you ask point blank to a narcissist, are you a narcissist, most of them will admit right away.

- Looking back, I can now see numerous red flags. Number one, he was living with his parents well into his thirties. Number two, he was very persistent and persuasive. He knew I was in the midst of a divorce. He called me every night and went on and on about all the ways he was going to help me and stressed how patient he was about waiting for me. Blah blah. Number three, I recently read his first email to me and now know that nearly everything he said in it was either an outright lie or exaggeration. Number four, he often tried to cut me out of interactions with his family or marginalize my participation. Number five, he always second-guessed my decisions, until I was so insecure about my own judgment that I could not make a decision. He found fault with my cooking until I gave up and he took over cooking. He didn't like any of my friends and/or their spouses or friends. Number six, he convinced me that everyone else was just using me (when actually he was the user). Number seven, he never once in all the years we were married introduced me to an old friend of his. He apparently had none. I could go on, but it would take all day.

A narcissist can't take it when you tease them!

- I grew up in a big family and getting a friend teasing now and then was the standard. He would tease me (sometimes in appropriately) and I would lobby one back. He would get mad. It was a standard reaction for him. He had no other ways to cope with a jest in his direction. I took a while to catch on, when I did I put it to a test. Yep couldn't take, but sure could deliver. Another "test" I conducted was listening. I only allowed the words Hello, ugh, and bye. It took him 9 months before he realized I was not saying much. He loved to listen to himself that much. Pictures, selfies. I look at pictures a bit differently. Camera angles speak volumes.

- A safe rule of thumb is when you meet someone ask yourself, "is this persons confidence and charisma disproportionate to their actual appearance and status?" Are they "holding court", mesmerizing everyone around them but when you get right down to it, if you looked like them with their professional and social status, would you be so cocky and would people be drawn to you like moths to the flame?

- I'm going to go a different route here. What I've noticed are little things. Like they really listen and remember everything, very attentive, they're so good, they donate blood, give to charities, sound so good, but this is the key; if you are sick or physically something bothers you do they go out of their way to care or help. If not note that. They are always kind to people in a group, or kind on the outside at functions with friends. But if a friend has a problem do they have any response of empathy or do they just pretty much ignore their plight for the most part? Do you notice they are more attentive to you around others? Do you notice a condescending attitude which is subtle towards you? 

Narcissist will often say put-downs wrapped around jokes.

- Mine was really good at this, and would also mix it up with self-effacing comments so it didn't seem so personal towards me. I also remember early jealousies. He once overheard a man comment about my figure and was furious but couldn't confront the guy because we were at a public function. So he made me emotionally pay for that for days, I guess for looking nice. When I look back, I wonder why I tolerated it. Oh yeah, because my mom was a narc and this was my normal.

- Tells you how perfect you are. They are overly critical of their ex, without accepting any responsibility. They are always playing the victim, plays the martyr, hero, or savior  They like to be the center to of attention. They have difficulty admitting they are wrong (although this is typical man trait, it takes a while to figure this one out). Keeps telling you what a good guy he is or that others think he is a great guy. 

Do you have any signs to add to the list? Comment below, or join in the private community discussion here.

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Shari Monday, 13 March 2017 18:34 posted by Shari

    How can one break the "spell" he has over you???