Do Male Narcissists Have Friends of the Same Sex? Or Too Much Competition?

narcissist-friendsDo Narcissists Have Friends Of The Same Sex?

Q: Thanks to this blog, my faith, and help from family, friends, and a few visits to a therapist, I have been free of my narcissist ex for 7 months. A friend of mine is going through a break-up with a narcissist now and is having a difficult time (I’ve shared this site with her). As she talks to me about her ex, we realized something both exes have in common: neither men had any friendships with other men. At best, they had remote acquaintances with other male figures (and in his case, because my ex is a locally-known celebrity with a self-inflated opinion of himself, these few males about whom he bragged were of ‘high standing’ in our community…athletes, political figures, wealthy businessmen with whom he spoke rarely!), but even then that was only once or twice-a-year communication. My ex regularly referred to these acquaintances as “his friends” but had not a single male friends. Her ex shared this trait. Is this common for male narcissists, and if so, why? Too much competition?

A: Congratulations on successfully breaking free of a narcissist; that is not an easy accomplishment and it sounds like you had a wonderful support system to help you. Your friend is very lucky to have you in her support system! Narcissists do not have friends as we know them, neither same sex or opposite sex. They will label someone their friend if they are acquainted with them and have high standing in the community, thereby providing them with narcissistic supply by association. It is not because of competition per se (in some specific cases that may be true), it is because he has no empathy and does not need friends- he has himself and his need for supply and that is all that matters in his world. He or she may have ‘followers’ for a while until even they can no longer tolerate the chaos or abuse that is the narcissist’s life. As Sam Vaknin says, “The narcissist is a human roller coaster- fun for a limited time, nauseating in the long run.”

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The History of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

history-of-narcissismA Short History Of Narcissism

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is “a pervasive disorder characterized by symptoms that include grandiosity, an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a lack of empathy for others” according to the revised fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). Similar to other personality disorders (bipolar, histrionic, antisocial), NPD involves a pattern of behaviors and thoughts over a lengthier amount of time that negatively impacts multiple facets of a person’s life including work, family and friendships. While the concept dates back thousands of years ago, NPD only became a recognized illness in the past 50 years.

Early Roots

The story of Narcissus comes from Greek mythology. Narcissus was a beautiful, proud young man. When he chanced to see his reflection in a pool of water for the first time, and did not recognize it as his own image, he became so enamored that he was unable to stop gazing at his own image. He was unable to leave the image at the water’s edge and eventually wasted away, changing into a flower that bears his name (the Narcissus flower).

This idea of excessive self-admiration has also been explored by a variety of philosophers throughout history. In Ancient Greece, the idea was known as “hubris”, which is a state of extreme arrogance and overwhelming pride that can go so far as to become out of touch with reality. It wasn’t until the 1900’s that the notion of narcissism as an illness became a subject of scientific interest in the field of psychology.

In the early 1900s, the topic of narcissism started to attract interest in the flourishing school of thought known as psychoanalysis. In 1911, Austrian psychoanalyst Otto Rank published one of the earliest descriptions of narcissism in which he linked it to self-admiration and vanity.

Shortly thereafter, Sigmund Freud published a paper in 1914 titled On Narcissism: An Introduction. Freud suggested that narcissism is actually a normal part of the human psyche. He referred to this as “primary narcissism”, or the energy that lies behind each person’s survival instincts. According to Freud’s theory, people are born without a basic sense of self. It is only through infancy and early childhood experiences that people develop what Freud called “ego”, or a sense of self. As children interact with others and the outside world, they begin to learn social norms and cultural expectations which leads to the development of an “ego idea”, that is, a perfect image of oneself that the ego strives to attain.
Freud’s theory of personality goes on to say that this love of one’s self could be transferred onto another person or object. By giving away that self-love, Freud believed that people then experienced diminished primary narcissism, leaving them less capable of nurturing and protecting themselves. He believed that receiving love and affection from others in return was essential to replenish the reduced supply of primary narcissism.

The History of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Narcissism as a Disorder

During the 1960s, psychoanalysts Otto Kernberg and Heinz Kohut helped develop more interest and debate about narcissism with their publications. Kernberg introduced the term “narcissistic personality structure” in 1967. His theory of narcissism included three major types: normal adult narcissism, normal infantile narcissism and pathological narcissism. Pathological narcissism was the basis for NPD.

In 1968, Kohut expanded on some of Freud’s earlier ideas about narcissism and first coined the term “narcissistic personality disorder”. Narcissism played an important role in Kohut’s theory of ‘self-psychology’. He suggested that narcissism allows people to suppress feelings of low self-esteem and develop their sense of self.

In 1980, narcissistic personality disorder was officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Associations’ third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). Specific criteria were established for its diagnosis which is still debated today. There is a proposal for the upcoming 5th edition of the DSM, due for publication in 2013 that suggests removal of five of the ten personality disorders that are in the current edition of the manual (DSM IV-TR). One of those suggested for removal is narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). The proposal to exclude the disorder has caused some heated controversy, particularly among psychiatrists and psychologists currently working with clients who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder.



Questions about Narcissism Part 3

Question 1: How do I prepare to leave the narcissist?

I have just started the attempts to get my life on track again after a year and a half of living with my seemingly narcissistic boyfriend and his definitely narcissistic mother. I feel like his mother brings out the worst in him, which further aggravated things in our relationship. And I’ve been trying not to break up with him because most days I truly believe is not him that’s the problem. The real root problem is his mother. Well I just got a job and I’m looking to move out in 4 months at least and I’m wondering what I should expect. Really I’ll only be moving around the corner, but it’ll be my space again. I tried to make this an &;quot;us&;quot; decision but my boyfriend is seemingly non committal about moving in with me later or us moving together because he’s got his room and his office at the house with his mom. I fear that he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. Have the option of living with me, but the supposed comfort of his own room/office/space at home. But it’s that space at home with his mother that brings out the worst in him. So I guess my question is, how do I emotionally prepare myself to leave him (but not break up yet) in order to get away from his mother? I always say that if we broke up because of the tensions in place by his mother and I leave, he’ll still have his mother at the end of the day. And that’s not awesome. Is there a possibility that the spell of his dependent narcissistic mother will be broken if I’m gone? And he’ll go back to normal if we’re living together away from his mother? Because she’s really bringing out the worst in us and it is not attractive.

A: There is no way to know for sure how he will react to you moving out, but based on his noncommittal responses, I would say nothing is going to change. He will most likely stay at his mother’s house. And he will blame you for everything that went wrong and for “abandoning” him. Your intense dislike of his mother is putting him in the middle- not a good place to be. It is no wonder he is full of conflict and noncommittal responses- it is a no-win situation for him. His mother may be despicable and “bring out the worst in him”– but where is HIS responsibility for HIS actions? He sounds like an immature “mama’s boy” and that is not likely to change anytime soon. To help you stay yet prepare to leave read,” Living with a Narcissist if You Can’t Leave“, “How to Leave a Narcissist” and “How to end a Narcissistic Relationship“.

Question 2: The Healing process

My relationship ended two times in the last 42 years. I finally moved out of state to live with my son. To this day he still calls after a time of silence and has yet to apologize and has never admitted to anything. I have been told recently what else can you make up with your vivid imagination . The bed was never moved in the room. I’m crazy, it moved when he changed the sheets. Even though it’s an old Mediterranean style that weighs a ton Channing sheets when we were together the bed never moved. I have witness’s that saw him in the bar with her. He admitted he gave her a ride home but doesn’t give a s**t about her. He is so out of it with his gas lighting that he thinks I can’t figure it out. I just want to know if I will get it through my head he is a Narcissist and I am sane. It’s been 42 years and I finally searched for books on surviving. However, I have to get them out and read them over and over, so am I ok? Or does he have me trapped. I have to continually go back and validate to myself I’m not cray, is this normal in the healing process.

A: Yes, it is normal, especially as you have been gaslighted and manipulated for 42 years. You will have good days and bad days but you WILL get your “self” back and become more confident about your sanity and emotionally strong as time goes on. Don’t wait for an apology- it will not be forthcoming. If he is still engaging in “crazy-making” with you, why are you still talking to him? The sane thing to do now is to go No Contact. Please read the article on going No Contact. At first you will think of a dozen reasons why you HAVE to call him- they are all excuses. You won’t be able to fully heal until you get him OUT of your life.

Question 3: Is Narcissism culture dependent?

I think I know the answer to this-are men from other cultures like Asia and/ or India more narcissistic than some American males?

A: A classic narcissist- as in full blown NPD- knows no geographical boundaries. It is true that in some cultures mild narcissistic behaviors or narcissistic tendencies are encouraged but that does not mean those men are all narcissists–they will just have a few specific behaviors at a milder degree than a true narcissist. Those men still have empathy and don’t engage in gaslighting. Cultures that place an emphasis on the individualare more likely to see manifestations of narcissism than cultures that emphasize the ‘greater good’.

Questions about Narcissism Part 2

Question 1: How can she be healthy again?

In early May I began to date a wonderful girl. We spent a lot of time together and began to fall in love. She had been at least 3 months out of an 3 year abusive relationship with narcissist. She told her friends it is so great to finally be appreciated and treated well by a man. Then the old boyfriend began contacting her and she slowly put her feelings aside for me and gradually moved back to him. I have been demoted to friend who she has feelings for and does not want to loose. I want to help her break out of this vicious cycle with him. She is being victimized by him and is showing symptoms of NVS. I am not sure if we will be together again but what is more important to me is to help her so she can be healthy again. Where do I start?

A: You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. When SHE is ready to leave him she will need your support. You can’t help her or force her to break out of the cycle. She has to do that herself. It might very well not be until her life has been totally devastated by the narcissist. Having someone who cares about her needs (narcissists don’t) and her health will be a constant reminder of what she is not getting from him. Hopefully, she will realize that she is a victim and will choose to leave him. Be there to support her when that happens–don’t try to re-establish your romance right away- she will need time to recover and distance herself from him. Right now all you can do is wait and keep reminding her she is a good, worthy person.

Question 2: Should I “throw away” the Narc?

I’m not sure whether my ex was a narc or not. All the red flags were there in the beginning. He called me a goddess never felt so connected when making love etc, very loving and giving throughout our four year relationship, talked marriage after four months. But I wouldn’t sell my house and move my kids to live with his – they didnt meet till we were 16 months into relationship and at first they disliked me and didn’t get on with my kids. I didn’t want to risk my independence – throughout I held back as I felt he wanted everything in his terms though he said I wouldn’t compromise. He’d take me shopping but didn’t like giving me money for groceries and wanted to pick what we should buy – got very jealous when I spoke to other men, but showed this in subtle ways. If I raised issues they were rarely discussed and if I pushed he’d go silent treatment – I blew up three times in four years and we split and got back. In the end it got less and less and then he met an old friend and now he’s telling her all the things he told me in the beginning. Not much empathy when I lost my job. He hugged me and patted me like you would a child, but never really felt supported or he got it – I’m Blaming myself for pushing him away – make friends say I shouldn’t. He finished it in a phone call after four years saying I don’t want a long conversation I just wanted a quick call. Strung me along when I contacted him and took me out whilst his new woman was playing hard to get/not interested. He finally hooked her in but still lied to me last time I saw him saying she’s just a friend. I’ve cut contact now but it’s doo hard to come to terms. I feel I’ve thrown away a loving man who’d have cared for me but a part of me feels that man wasn’t real – am I right ? Is he a narc – I sometimes think I’m the narc.

A: He certainly has a lot of the red flags for narcissism; and if he is indeed a narcissist then your instincts led you in the right direction such as keeping your independence. Consider yourself lucky- you didn’t lose a loving man, you got away from a life of hell. If he is a narcissist then he was never a loving man, just an actor putting on a show to win you over. Getting over a narcissist can be a long, difficult process. They put their hooks in deep with their charm and pseudo-love; it would be hard to give it up, perhaps even foolish, if it were real. Based on what you describe, you are much better off without him whether or not he is or is not a narcissist. Give yourself time and distance and you will get over the loss. Please stop doubting yourself- you made a healthy choice for yourself and your children.

Question 3: Is the Narc out there to get me?

A sibling who’s a Covert Narcissist, has under the guise of “sibling rivalry” had a track record of sabotaging my life from childhood right through to me forming a family. Always when they had cause to be jealous. Often when I was at a low ebb, always with significant damage to my life. Telling lies about me to my place of work or where I live. This has lead to me losing two jobs also losing out on accommodation. In one instance I took my employer to court, just to force disclosure on who had told the lies. I have gone No Contact with that sibling and even live in a different country. But clearly the worry is still there. Although I’ve not identified any such behavior for some years now, as it is always covert behavior there is always the worry they are behind unexplained bad luck. What do I do ?

A: If you are still in No Contact, have lived in a different country for years with your sibling not knowing your whereabouts, and you are STILL worried that the narcissist is out to get you, I would say it is time to see a therapist. It certainly is understandable that you have long term symptoms after being victimized so severely. In fact, I do wonder if you have NVS (Narcissistic Victim Syndrome). Read up on it and ask any therapist you are going to see if they are familiar with it. You aren’t able to live peacefully and don’t seem to have let go of the past. Please seek professional help; it sounds as if you may have symptoms of NVS (also known as Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome).

Question 4: Not sure if he is a Narcissist

I’m not sure if he’s a narcissist. I have known this person for over 20 years but about six months ago he contacted me to come visit him. I had not seen him in over 20 years but had been friends on fb for years with little to no contact. This person was one that I idolized as a kid (he’s 10 years older than I). I agreed to come meet him for a drink. It escalated quickly through daily messaging and soon I had booked a hotel room in the town he lives in (he was married at the time but separated prior to our meeting). prior to my meeting up with him the messages were constant. I met up with him, we had sex and that was the only time I have physically seen him but the messaging and texting continued. I engaged in very sexually charged texting with him, even sent pictures which I have never done. He would threaten to pull away if I didn’t. Then it started to go bad, he blatantly would tell me about other girls, call me crazy if I questioned his motives. I fully admit I went a little nutty for a while because I was so confused by his behavior. I have attempted no contact but I either feel weak and message him it he will text me and the cycle continues, nice one day then calling me something horrible the next. I have recently found out that his marriage seemed to be wonderful and lasted for years. I’m just wondering if narcissists are able to have seemingly loving relationships with some while being overtly controlling and cruel to others (me being the other)?

A: The key word in your question is “seemingly”…yes, they can have seemingly loving relationships (its all about public appearance) if their significant other caters to them, gives them unending Supply, and doesn’t require real emotion in return or expect her priorities to be considered. Some spouses/partners put up with it for years before they figure it out. I can’t say if your “friend” is a narcissist or not, but your relationship with him is unhealthy and sounds toxic. Find your inner strength (you CAN do it!) and go No Contact. You deserve better than that- don’t waste your time and self esteem on him.

Questions About Narcissism Part 1

Question 1: How to react on my Narcissistic Mother?

I was reading your article posted about sons and daughters of narcissistic parents. My mother is narcissistic and I chose choice 3, four years ago. In December, I am attending my sisters wedding, that of which she is still in contact with our mother and will be at the wedding. I am not sure how she is going to act and cant find any information on how to re-approach/be around a narcissistic person that you haven’t had contact with in so long. As I have continued to live my life to the fullest, and have gotten married unbeknownst to my mother — thus, she will also meet my husband, at my sisters wedding. Any suggestions or articles related to this issue would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

A: The articles, “Is My Mother a Narcissist?” and “Confronting a Narcissist” might be of some help. How you respond will depend on whether you were the scapegoat, the golden child or something in between. Start by not thinking of it as re-approaching. That will only lead to more abuse- she has not changed. Think of it as surviving one day and then going back to No Contact. How to respond? You can revert back to Choice One- cater/flatter her and pretend the estrangement never happened. The healthiest thing to do is avoid her as much as possible and avoid any personal conversations when you absolutely must talk to her– “small talk” only (the weather, current world news, her health, etc) and turn the conversation to make it all about her. Ask your sister to seat you away from her, at a different table if that is at all possible. I would not surprise her with the news of your marriage- that could easily end up with a rage response directed at you and I am sure you do not want to spoil your sister’s wedding. Have your sister or another close relative tell her ahead and be prepared for snide comments about her not being informed/last to know/ you must be ashamed because you kept it a secret etc etc. Turn the other cheek- do not respond. A blank stare will get you through the worst of times. It is only one day- you can do it!

Question 2: How to quit the “bad habit”?

Hi, I am similar to your recent post from JW with the anger & rage however I am the one who left my narc, I got sucked in a third time – a ring & moved in with him, I left because he was intimidating my kids behind my back and saying nasty things to them which he always denied (however I should have valued myself better & left with his sleaziness) he then complained of their behaviour which I tried explaining was a result of his actions & his sons behaviour which to my narc his sons behaviour was ok. (I also had trouble leaving with my belongings as he kept saying I couldn’t take my stuff) My problem now is I have stopped all contact to my best ability unfortunately both our sons play in the same football team but different age groups, same training nights so I have to possibly still see him 3 times a week I avoid his by staying in my car close to the club rooms or “sneaking” around to avoid him but so people are always around although it doesn’t seem to matter he seems to have no fear of approaching me alone or with people. I can’t afford to change teams again. I am in therapy myself and also on antidepressants, I suffer anxiety & take sleeping pills, he is blocked in every way on the mobile, Facebook, the home phone is flat so it can’t ring. He kept coming up to me at football, he wanted to be friends pfft, he was on the ph to his ex the day I moved out, I said no way & I don’t want you to come near me even at footy, he leaves me alone for a week & there seems to be another reason to come & speak to me followed by are you ok? Asking me if I’m ok really aggravates me, as if he cares. When he does have the nerve to come near me I get so angry I feel like smashing him, I shake, my heart beats like hell, I just want him to leave me alone so I can fix myself up. I no longer even have a home because of him, my eldest took over my home & got borders so my bedroom is in the lounge room, I have no $ because I worked my butt off for him & his work (which in his eyes I was lucky he provided a home for me, again pfft I had one before he made me believe he loved me) he gave me a $100 3 days after I left only because he asked what my parents thought of him & I said an arsehole, I couldn’t even buy bread my parents have had to help me out financially coz I fell for your s**t again, that’s the only reason I got any $ off of him. 4 years dealing with this man, & I’m here starting all over again and fearful of his stalking, because one other time I stopped talking to him for 5 mths, he drove past consistently, hung around my house at all hours of the night, driving past my kids school to see me pick them up, follow me around the shops, his ex ringing me at all hours because he was playing up with someone else & she thought me, I changed my number to at least stop that. I’m afraid of all this again, the thought of all this again scares me, the police would never do anything last time. I feel frustrated. I feel so angry every time he thinks he can talk to me at footy, I really don’t know how to cope.

Second Part:

Hi Alex, i don’t mind however theres more to it since i wrote that so i don’t know if you want to know more or not? Am happy to add to it, basically after i wrote that i got weak felt like i had no ones support etc i felt i missed him & was just pure weak so i said hello first time ever i made the move – more mistakes more grief & a whole lot more anger & pain so much so i spat on him I’ve always thought spitting on people was repulsive no matter what – i turned into someone i didn’t myself like because of him, & things he said & done to get me that way. My health issues always discarded thinking it was just stress and ended up quite sick & now having to make some serious life changes in a lot of ways including getting ridding of this toxic person i still looked for for support & never got when a partner should, i still feel like i love him ( the heart says love the brain says toxic) but have to remind myself numerous times a day this isn’t love with him & i, its just toxic. I work for him now & yes get paid now, he is like god with the you need the money so you need the job, yeah i do, I’m sick of struggling i do need the money i struggle more coz of him in the first place coz i gave up my life my dreams for him in the first place in pursuit of “us” our “team” i don’t wanna rely on an income from him but feel stuck, i have told him i am looking for another job, i am tired of crying & i know i gotta go altogether & stay away to feel better, he is like a cigarette a really bad habit to kick.

A: The crying, anger/rage, and hurt are NOT going to stop until you quit–REALLY quit- this “bad habit”. Every time you go back to the narcissist is like smoking a carton of cigarettes- your bad habit is killing you. He is as toxic, if not more so, to your mental, emotional and physical health. You need to get away- for good. Don’t just threaten him that you are going to get another job–Get Another Job. You will not feel better or stronger until you leave.

Question 3: Can a Narcissist Change?

I’m pretty sure I’ve successfully diagnosed my wife as a classic narcissist. It only took me 5 years. Wikipedia sounds like it was written about her. Your article about the inability to apologize could have been written by me (if I had your skill) because it was so dead-on accurate – and I’ve been saying many of the same things for years (deflecting, explaining instead of apologizing, &;quot;the best apology for me would be that you never do this&;quot;, etc). I’m feeling ashamed and embarrassed at having let this go on for so long, but the truth is that I’ve tried for years to get her to see this problem. I originally called it &;quot;pride issues&;quot; (which she, of course, deflected and said I was the one with pride issues). Anyway, my question really is more of a comment – thank you for being there. I really need some help because I don’t think I can continue on like this, but I love this woman so f*****g much it hurts every time a problem comes – which is every couple days or so. I would love to know that there’s some hope in her changing because I don’t think I can get any stronger in dealing with it (i.e. being her supply).

A: Narcissism is a personality disorder–it is a life time disorder. On rare occasions a narcissist will come to therapy and make some changes in their behavior (so says literature- I have never personally known one). They can only change when THEY understand the negative consequences to their behavior and accept responsibility for causing that consequence. If you have read anything on narcissism, you realize that the chances of that happening are rare indeed.

Why Did The Narc Contact Me When He Already Has a New Relationship?

Q: Hello,l was engaged to a Narc. I absolutely believe there is no future with him. We have been done for months now and he is with a new woman who worships him, why did he contact me when he clearly is getting enough attention from her?

A: A narcissist can never get enough Supply; he is always on the lookout for it. As long as you give him positive or negative attention, he will continue to contact you. He may try to reel you back in just to see if he can “hook” you again. If he does, he will simply discard you again. Do not respond back when he contacts you- initiate and then maintain No Contact.

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Am I On The Right Track With No Contact?

Q: I read an article of yours on another site. Thank you for information. It is helping me bring foreclosure. When I read your article on bipolar vs. Narcissism, I found myself saying yes. YES my ex is bipolar after we were divorced he was even hospitalized. And then I found myself saying YES he is a narcissist. His manic episodes leered years apart. But when he was level he behaved like a narcissist. He discarded me like a narcissist. He divorced like a narcissist. I handle him with no contact like a narcissist and it works. Would no contact work on someone who is bipolar? Or am I just lucky enough to have married a man who falls into the 5% of those who are have both. I have joint custody. He has rights just like any other divorced father. I lacked the resources to prove his mental health and also learned that it would not have much of an effect on visitation in my state. He does follow court orders out of a sense of proving he is a good father.

Am I on the right track in treating my bipolar ex who may also be a Narc with no contact?

A: Absolutely! Although because you have joint custody you will have to have Some contact with him- minimize it. Example: meet him at the car with your child(ren), don’t let him in the house to begin any interactions. Repeatedly tell him you will discuss nothing but the child’s welfare. Stick with that boundary! Don’t let him get off topic because he will try to manipulate you in order to do so. Do NOT engage in other topics. You are lucky, indeed, that he is out to prove that he is a good father. Take advantage of that fact when you can, especially to help your child make the most out of any positive interactions with his father.

Can BPD Also Be NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)?

Q: Hello, Can a BPD also be a NPD? After reading the differences, my uBPDw shows both traits, exactly and shifts from one to the other depending on mood or triggers. She has said “sorry” on a handful of occasion, but not the norm. Thanks for any help.

A: Yes- 25 to 37 per cent of NPD are co-morbid (occur together) with BPD. Please read the article on “Differences between Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. You can use similar coping strategies with either one. It is probable that she learned to say she was sorry when she was in the most difficult predicaments that she couldn’t get out of; her apologies are most likely a learned response and not genuine.

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How To Break Free From The Narcissist When Forced Working Together?

Q: Hello, My ex-boyfriend has NPD. I broke up with him 6 months ago after years of emotional abuse. I am finally free of his control, manipulation and drama. The problem is that we work together and I have to see him 5 days a week. I work about 20 feet from him all day long and have to listen to him brag and put on a show about how wonderful he thinks he is and how wonderful his life is now. Many days I can handle things just fine but others are extremely difficult. I have to listen to whispers in his office with male coworkers, his flirting with the receptionist and his all day fake happiness. My job pays well and I am a single mother of 2 so simply finding another job is not so simple. I live in a rural area where good jobs are hard to find.

My question is this: how do I ever completely break free when I have to be near him 40 hours a week? How can I ever fully move on and heal from the pain he caused me? Just when I think I am 100% over him, I fall into a funk and get depressed about the whole situation. Not depressed that I am no longer with him, but that he caused so much damage emotionally to me and it is hard to move on with such a hurtful person sitting 20 feet from me 5 days a week. Thank you for any insights you have.

A: That is truly a difficult situation to be in. You are going to have to develop a tough skin and a hard heart to be able to continue to work that closely with him. Is there professional help available in your rural area? They could help you develop strategies and coping skills to manage this. I know finding the time is hard when you are working and a single parent but it can help you survive each day. The other alternative is to relocate if there are no good paying jobs in your area. As hard as that is, you owe it to yourself and children to be able to move on and regain happiness in your life.

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Narcissism, Bipolar, Or Both?

Q: I have been divorced for some time now. I have set my boundaries and have gone no contact the best that I can. It is limited contact because I have joint custody. I have been looking for closure. To figure out what happened to me. Everything I read screams that I was married to a narcissist. But I happen to know he has had manic episodes and bipolar runs in his family. So do I continue to treat him like a narcissist? No contact is working and seeing him in that light gives me closure and understanding. From what I have read manic episodes can look like narcissism. But, for example he wasn’t ignoring me because he was depressed, he was punishing me for being happy.

Narcissism is a better fit from love bombing to gas lighting to devalue to discard. These behaviors don’t fit bipolar. I need closure. Could he be both? And do I keep defending myself with no contact?

A: You report that No Contact is working well- so by all means continue doing so! Can he be both? Yes, it is rare but possible– but does it matter whether you call him bipolar or NPD? Treatment varies and for that reason it would be important to have a differential diagnosis. As an ex, you obviously are not seeking treatment options. Even experienced professionals sometimes have difficulty distinguishing between NPD and the manic phase of bi-polar. The key difference is whether he displays the narcissistic type behaviors all the time (NPD) or some of the time (only during manic phase of bipolar). Your ex was harmful and had narcissistic behaviors; he poisoned the marriage… if labeling him in your mind brings you closure and clarity that is all that matters.

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