narcissism and alcoholism: When 2 Evils Meet

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You’ve joined your colleagues for a drink after work, and as the night progresses, your narcissistic boss’s behavior becomes increasingly intolerable.

He keeps boasting about his accomplishments, interrupting people, and making tactless remarks that are both hurtful and inappropriate.

If you frequent a lot of bars, you’ve probably noticed that alcohol brings out the narcissist in everyone and tends to amplify a true narcissist’s most unpleasant characteristics.

Can alcoholism cause narcissism? Sort of. When we drink, our inhibitions fall away, and we start to believe we are the most attractive, funniest, and cleverest person in the room.

We talk loudly, interrupt people, and generally behave as if no one else’s feelings matter. In other words, we think and act just like narcissists.

When a narcissist gets drunk, the situation can quickly deteriorate as their grandiose behavior becomes increasingly exaggerated.

They may become overbearing or even threatening. On the other hand, their mask could start to slip, giving you a glimpse of the vulnerable inner self hiding behind the narcissist’s disguise.

alcoholic selfishness

In this article, I want to explore the relationship between narcissists and alcohol, examining why they drink and how alcohol affects their behavior.

Do Narcissists Have Problems with Alcohol?

Not all narcissists have problems with alcohol, but it isn’t uncommon for people with personality disorders to develop alcohol-related problems. 

The National Institute of Mental Health asserts that 22.6% of people suffering from a personality disorder may also have substance misuse problems.

Another study published in 2018 found that both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism were positive predictors of alcohol-related problems, although the way these two groups used alcohol differed, as did their ability to assess their alcohol consumption and the problems it caused. 

For instance, a grandiose narcissist is likely to see the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption, such as getting into fights or suffering blinding hangovers, as positive because they secure social status and admiration from their peers. 

Vulnerable narcissists, on the other hand, tend to be more realistic about alcohol-related problems, such as passing out or feeling sick, and more willing to discuss them.

Why do Narcissists Drink Alcohol?

When discussing the relationship between narcissism and alcoholism, it’s helpful to divide narcissists into two distinct groups.

Grandiose narcissists have an inflated sense of self, an unshakeable belief in their own superiority, and a lack of empathy for those around them. 

Vulnerable narcissists, on the other hand, suffer an underlying sense of insecurity, hypersensitivity to criticism, and fragile self-esteem.

They tend to display more passive-aggressive behaviors, self-pity, and a victim mentality.

However, beneath their outward appearance of humility, they still prioritize their own needs and desires above others and struggle with empathy and genuine emotional connection.

These distinctions influence why narcissists drink.

A grandiose narcissist may drink to show off and gain admiration from their peers, while a vulnerable narcissist may use alcohol as a coping mechanism to overcome their insecurities. 

Vulnerable narcissists are more likely to drink alcohol to:

Cope with Insecurities 

Alcohol can temporarily alleviate the vulnerable narcissist’s feelings of inadequacy, giving them a false sense of confidence that negates their niggling self-doubt.

Regulate their Emotions

Vulnerable narcissists are highly sensitive to criticism and may turn to alcohol to numb the emotional pain and create a temporary buffer against negative feelings.

Combat Social Anxiety 

Alcohol acts as a lubricant, making the vulnerable narcissist feel more at ease in social situations that may otherwise seem overwhelming. 

Self Medicate 

Vulnerable narcissists often experience depression and anxiety, which alcohol can alleviate, at least in the short term.

They may therefore use alcohol as a form of medication to cope with those negative feelings.

Gain Validation and Attention

Like grandiose narcissists, vulnerable narcissists crave validation and attention.

Alcohol can provide a temporary sense of being cared for or admired, which is particularly appealing to individuals with an underlying sense of emotional deprivation.

Grandiose narcissists might drink for similar reasons but are more likely to turn to alcohol to:

Win Respect 

Narcissists are highly concerned with their image and how others perceive them.

Drinking alcohol may be a way for them to project a carefree and fun-loving image, further bolstering their grandiose self-image.

They may also garner respect for being able to consume more than others or for their willingness to engage in risky behaviors while drunk.

Gain Control and Dominance

A need for power and control often drives narcissists. When intoxicated, they may use alcohol to dominate others, manipulate situations, or maintain a sense of superiority.

Recommended reading: What happens when a narcissist loses control?

Reduce Inhibitions

Alcohol lowers inhibitions, making it easier for narcissists to act on their desires and impulses without feeling restrained by social norms or consequences. This can lead to even more grandiose and attention-seeking behaviors.

Enhance Their Image

Grandiose narcissists are highly concerned with their self-image and how others perceive them.

They may use alcohol to feel more confident, charming, and socially adept, aligning with their belief in superiority.

Dry Drunk and Narcissism

A dry drunk has stopped drinking but hasn’t yet dealt with the issues that caused their alcohol dependence. They have yet to confront the shame, guilt, or past trauma that drew them to alcohol in the first place, so are at risk of relapsing. 

Some of the behaviors exhibited by dry drunks are very similar to those seen in people suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.

For instance, they tend to demonstrate a lack of empathy and are prone to anger, irritability, and impulsivity outbursts. 

Dry-drunk individuals may also exhibit narcissistic behaviors as they struggle to cope with unresolved emotional issues and challenges.

They also tend to avoid genuine self-reflection and deflect blame onto others, refusing to take responsibility for their actions. 

A narcissistic person attempting to recover from alcoholism or alcohol use disorder may struggle due to their inability to empathize and take accountability for past behaviors, making them more likely to end up as dry drunks rather than complete the recovery process successfully. 

Are all Narcissists Alcoholics?

Not all narcissists are alcoholics, nor are all alcoholics narcissists, although alcoholism often causes people to develop narcissistic traits, such as arrogance, self-absorption, and a lack of empathy. 

Similarly, people displaying narcissistic tendencies are more vulnerable to alcoholism because of the reasons explored earlier. 

Are most Narcissists Alcoholics?

While there are no statistics on the percentage of narcissists who are alcoholics, experts believe there is a link between the two conditions.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise when considering why people are driven to drink.

A survey conducted by the Recovery Village in 2020 found that those who were at risk of developing an alcohol dependency and sought to stop drinking first used alcohol to cope with stress, alleviate mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety, fit in socially, or simply out of boredom.

All these factors increase the likelihood of a narcissist developing a problem with alcohol.

Why Narcissists Are at Risk of Alcohol Addiction

Research suggests that narcissists suffer more stress than non-narcissists, possibly because they’re actually more insecure. 

Studies suggest that “narcissists have higher cortisol and cardiovascular reactivity in socially threatening situations” and experience more stress. 

They depend on others for validation; if that’s not forthcoming, their whole world collapses – an experience that drives them to find solace in the bottom of a bottle. 

Furthermore, narcissists may be more prone to feelings of depression and anxiety, with studies indicating that “around 29% of those with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) also had a mood disorder.”

Narcissists base their self-worth on the praise and attention of others, and when they fail to secure it experience depressive symptoms like shame and isolation, which they seek to drown in alcohol.

Another reason narcissists are likely to become alcoholics is their desire to fit in or stand out in social situations.

Alcohol helps the narcissist overcome their deep-seated insecurities and gain confidence, increasing the likelihood of them experiencing problems with alcohol later on. 

Narcissists are well known for their inability to cope with boredom. The experience of having nothing to do, and no one to impress, fills them with dread because it brings with it a risk of self-reflection.

They will do anything to avoid scrutinizing their inner selves, even if it means drinking so much that it hurts their lives. 

Another reason narcissists are at risk of becoming addicted to alcohol is that they believe they’re impervious to its negative effects.

Narcissists think they’re better than everyone else and even that they’re unaffected by the effects of alcohol abuse due to their inherent superiority. 

How do Narcissists Act When They Drink?

How narcissists behave when they drink depends on the individual and who they’re with.

If they’ve just started dating a new partner and are still in the love-bombing phase, they’re likely to become even more vociferous about their love and admiration for that idealized person.

However, if they’ve already moved into the devaluation phase, they may become aggressive or even violent.

Some of the most common behaviors you’ll see in a narcissist who’s been drinking include:

Boastfulness

Under the influence of alcohol, the narcissist’s inflated sense of self-importance becomes even more pronounced.

The more they drink, the more they boast about their achievements, talents, and conquests, interrupting conversations to direct the attention back to themselves and exaggerating their stories to make them sound even more impressive.

Attention-Seeking

While on a drinking binge, a narcissist may start fabricating stories to secure the attention and sympathy of those around them.

They will fabricate stories of victimization or exaggerate minor issues to gain validation and emotional support while using their drunken state to excuse their behavior.

Flirtatiousness

When drunk, a narcissist may use their charm to seduce individuals, pushing boundaries and engaging in risky behaviors to feed their need for attention and excitement.

They may also engage in casual sexual encounters, not caring about the impact that may have on others, least of all their most recent conquest. 

Aggressiveness

As alcohol impairs judgment, a narcissist’s underlying need for control and power can escalate into full-scale aggression.

They may become irritable, confrontational, and domineering, verbally attacking anyone who challenges their views or refuses to comply with their demands. 

Does Alcohol Make Narcissistic Behavior Worse?

Alcohol tends to bring out the narcissist in everyone, even if they show very few narcissistic traits when sober.

If someone already scores highly on the narcissistic front, adding alcohol will only exacerbate those narcissistic traits, making their behavior even more grandiose, controlling, and attention-seeking than normal. 

Furthermore, as alcohol reduces inhibitions, it may exacerbate other narcissistic behaviors, such as heightened self-absorption, denial, delusions of grandeur, and destructive tendencies.

Do Narcissists Tell the Truth When They’re Drunk?

As far as the narcissist is concerned, they tell the truth 99% of the time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that truth aligns with yours. 

Narcissists don’t see the world the same way as the rest of us and often mistake their feelings for facts. If they think something’s wrong, it is, and nothing can sway them from that truth. 

Because of this skewed worldview, narcissists hardly ever acknowledge anyone else’s truth, and nor will getting them drunk bring them any closer to achieving that. 

According to some of my clients who’ve had experience with alcoholic narcissists, they might tell a few select half-truths when drunk and even reveal something of their underlying insecurities.

But it’s unlikely they’ll reveal the whole, unadulterated truth, regardless of how much they drink. 

Recommended reading: How do you make a narcissist tell the truth?

Dealing with the Alcoholic Narcissist

Dealing with an alcoholic is demanding, and coping with a narcissist is far from easy, so when you combine the two, you have a real challenge. 

8 Ways to Deal with an Alcoholic Narcissist

#1 Set Boundaries

Establish clear boundaries to protect your emotional well-being, being clear about what behaviors you’re willing to tolerate and what your reaction will be if those boundaries are crossed.

You may, for example, ban your partner from drinking around you or refuse to give them money knowing they’ll only spend it on alcohol. 

#2 Avoid Enabling

Avoid enabling the alcoholic narcissist’s destructive behaviors by refusing to make excuses for their actions.

Let them face the consequences of their behavior and the impact their alcohol abuse is having on their lives.

#3 Avoid Arguing

Engaging in arguments with an alcoholic narcissist can be futile and emotionally draining.

Narcissists often manipulate discussions to suit their narrative, so it’s best to disengage when conversations become heated.

#4 Seek Support

Contact friends, family, or support groups to share your experiences and feelings.

Having a support network can provide emotional validation and guidance during challenging times.

#5 Practice Self-Care

Prioritize your physical and emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and peace.

Self-care is crucial for maintaining your resilience and emotional strength.

#6 Encourage Professional Help

Suggest that the alcoholic narcissist seek professional help to address both their addiction and narcissistic traits. However, be prepared for potential resistance or denial.

#7 Set Realistic Expectations

Understand that you cannot change the alcoholic narcissist’s behavior and focus instead on managing your reactions and responses.

#8 Safety First

If the situation becomes physically or emotionally unsafe, prioritize your safety. Remove yourself from harmful situations, and seek assistance if needed.

How to Live Together with an Alcoholic Narcissist?

Living with an alcoholic narcissist can be an emotional rollercoaster, and maintaining your equilibrium can be challenging in the face of their ever-changing emotions and demands. 

You can survive the experience by applying the techniques listed above, but at some point, you will have to bring up the subject of treatment.

Both narcissistic personality disorder and alcoholism are treatable conditions, but getting an alcoholic narcissist to accept help is notoriously difficult.

They will often be convinced that they’re entitled to do whatever they want and that their drinking isn’t a problem but a social benefit. 

Without treatment, it’s unlikely your relationship will last. The combination of a self-obsessed narcissist who never considers your feeling and an alcoholic who blames their need to drink on you can quickly destroy the strongest bond. 

How to Leave an Alcoholic Narcissist?

Leaving an alcoholic narcissist requires careful planning and support. Narcissists hate rejection and are liable to respond aggressively or use manipulation to make you change your mind.

If you can no longer live in an abusive relationship with an alcoholic narcissist, you’ll need to take the following steps to bring it to an end: 

  • Seek professional guidance from a therapist or counselor who, like myself, specializes in narcissistic personality disorder and addiction.
  • Build a support network of friends, family members, and support groups who can offer understanding, encouragement, and a safe space to share your experiences.
  • Prioritize your safety and involve law enforcement or seek a restraining order if you feel you’re in danger.
  • Plan your departure carefully, and have a specific date and safe place to stay once you’ve left.
  • Limit or cut off contact with the narcissist, especially during the initial stages of separation, to reduce their ability to influence your decision-making.
  • Focus on self-care so you can recover from the emotionally draining experience of being in a relationship with an alcoholic narcissist.
  • Prepare for emotional manipulation such as guilt-tripping or gaslighting, and keep reminding yourself why leaving is necessary for your well-being.
  • Stay firm in your decision; remember you deserve a healthy and supportive relationship.
  • Stay resilient, focus on personal growth, and surround yourself with positive influences to help you build a new and fulfilling life.

43 thoughts on “narcissism and alcoholism: When 2 Evils Meet”

  1. Hello. I believe my husband is a narcissist. I see that he gaslights, I see his needs only being met, I feel the crazymaking, I feel my selfesteem falling. I self soothe with alcohol, so I’m wondering if my drinking is fueling my husbands narcissistic ways, by me becoming more driven to drink. I do feel my drinking is an issue due to the fact that he is a narcissist and I’m losing my mind.

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    • I am going through what you’ve described. What has helped me is know that God loves you and provides peace to me. Take care of YOU! It is hard, I know. Prayers for you.

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      • I wish people would stop using some fairy-tale deity to solve or blame problems on. it has nothing to do with it… a unicorn farting rainbows is just as effective, which is “not” at all. Just stop. If this religious crap worked, I wouldn’t have a job as medic. We could all just fall to our fn knees and call it a day.

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        • Just to clarify my previous comment, I am living with a narcissistic alcoholic who is sucking the life right out of me and the cats. I would wish for a more substantive and useful answer, is all I’m sayin’…

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          • If you’re a medic then you should know that the one place you will find answers is Alanon. After a few months of that, you might not be so cock-sure about ‘religious crap’. The Higher Power in a 12-step program can be nature, can be the power of the group, or it can be God in some form, or it can be numberless other things. Finding that source of power also causes us to be less snarky about other peoples’ solutions.

          • Victoria — The answers you seek are based in reality. So is breathing eating, drinking and “praying”. What you should do is figure out the strength of VICTORIA and see if you are at least capable of facing the selfishness presented to you. In other words are you getting what you’re giving? — such as kindness, understanding, reassurance when needed et al. If you are kind and the person your relying on is unkind— why would a kind person wait for unkindness? Why would a lily flower “wait” for hot water when they should get refreshing water? If someone is cruel and “dark” — let them be alone (or at least, away from you) — Victoria — figure out what you (The Lilly) needs and go get it. You do not “need” the poisoness persons approval — you need VICTORIA’S approval. Take Care V

        • Victoria is a little Harsh. There is power in prayer but don’t expect the sky to open and thegood Lord to step down to solve your problems. Faith has help many people through tough times but help yourself too.

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          • Very simple… Prayer without works is dead….We have departed Santa Claus and the tooth fairy folks…
            Praying for a cheese sandwich….a willingness to just believe that a perhaps there is a power that can solve our problem is sufficient to begin.
            That power which I access multiple times an hour, will not do things for me which I can do myself. Like make a cheese sandwich. Effort on our part is always required helps to keep finger pointing to a minimum

    • You should know that alcoholics often view others as narcissists, especially when they stop buying into their denial. It’s funny the alcoholic isolates someone they love then blames them for actually thinking of themselves.

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      • Lol… can an alcoholic love anyone or anything in their life other than alcohol? I get blamed for not having sex. It’s all my fault… I am not a drinker, and the last “thing” I want is some sloppy, smelly limp-dick groping me (and worse). Yet, it’s my fault… lol. I tell him to go f*ck his beer can. “My fault”. Right…
        He also seems unable to grasp the fact that, night after night, he turns to his beer and leaves the world. A relationship is based on communication, and it’s really hard to do that with someone who is not “here”. But, hey, blame me for that also.
        Really sick of it and it is taking a huge toll on my health.

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        • Oh Victoria, we have so much in common. I am so sorry you are living with this. I too have been living with it for 16 years. CONSTANT DRUNKENESS. You got me with the sex thing! He ended up cheating on me and it was my fault because I didn’t want to have sex. Of course no mention of the fact that i absolutely despise the smell of whiskey and he always reeked of it and when the little fella didn’t work from all the booze he would fly into a complete rage. They are disgusting! I finally divorced him and kicked him out of the house. He’s still drinking, stalking and trying to get me back but I’m not going.

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          • Wow lol. I quit drinking and my wife complains I don’t have sex enough. She wants to every day. Where was she when I was twenty….Sigh….I had a bad wreck a couple of years back and I am in constant pain. If I don’t want to because I’m hurting so.bad she gets pissed off and says I’m just not attracted to her. No I’m not attracted to cussing me out. If a man was doing that he would.be…Well I think he was described here. She’s beautiful and I love her but she is the narcissist here.

        • Oh Victoria I so can relate to this madness ???? And then when the whole one day he stays sober and nothing happens (sex) he goes and ruins the day by drinking and then saying it’s my fault because if I would of paid enough attention to him then he would still be sober. Nevermind in this sober moment I was up to my ass in work, stress, family, kids, life in general! Also recalling all the uglynes that spewed from his drunk self the night before. I sometimes ask myself why I remain in this insane.

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      • I have lived with alcoholics my whole life. My brother would hide the booze from himself and he lived alone. I use to go to alateen in my teen years. I see two types of alcoholics, those who drink socially and don’t stop until they are too far gone and those that you can dig a whole 6 feet down IN the ground, put the bottle in it, cover it up and plant a tree. He or she will dig that bottle up. How they know it is there, IDK. They find it, no mater what. My brother was the later one, he has been sober for 20 years. If he can conquer alcoholism anybody can. There is always hope.

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    • Just know that you’re not alone I struggle with the same issues I guess it’s time to put our self first God bless and happy New Year

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    • They treat other mens children as a source of supply – a major major source of supply. …. grew up with npd ‘dad’ and was not allowed to have my own interests and had to earn every morsel of food that went into my mouth and also got lectures and lectures about bitches because I guess my mom was one for leaving the sob and was brainwashed to look at him as a saviour even though he treated me like crap and did not recognize any accomplishments. Only lectures about shortcomings and his sex life. Supported him through high school and got told on grad how stupid I looked as I crossed the stage. And he only wants me to come over to smoke up with me so I can be wifey again.

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  2. Excellent post! I believe that many with NPD abuse substances, because it allows them to blame their toxic behavior on the substances. There is a certain degree of tolerance in society for substance abusers. There is little tolerance for nasty, abusive behavior alone.

    You have hit the nail on the head. If someone manages to stop abusing substances and still behaves like a nasty, abusive jerk, then they’re a nasty, abusive jerk, period. They probably have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is not curable. There is no such thing as a “dry drunk”: there is NPD.

    Reply
    • There is such a condition as “Dry Drunk” Talk to any seasoned Recovering Alcholic who has gone past learning the “self help” cliches. They’ve worked the program with a sponsor and are usually people who are humble and grateful. They understand the desease is progressive and without AA and without drinking, they can still be “crazy makers” Those in early sobriety will admit they are Alcholics, they will not admit they are Dry Drunk’s. At this stage they are angry they cannot drink, the behaviour is similar to when they were drinking and can continue for years. The drinking is a symptom of the desease. Remove the bottle and you will see why they drink. They are broken, angry people and that is where their work begins.

      Reply
      • I agree. I lived with an abusive drunk for years. When he got sober about 7 years into our marriage he was almost more unbearable than when he was drinking. Pompous know it all. His sobriety lasted almost 3 years then he started drinking again. This cycle continued for the next 14 years when his father had had enough of his behavior and fired him from the family business. We divorced 2 years later when his drinking and abuse caused us to loose our children to protective services. I got sole custody with the stipulation that he was not allowed in their lives as long as he was active. After a while we began trying to make things work again this went on for nearly 8 years. On and off again. After 2 years of no contact at all we ran into each other again. Started dating and eventually moved in together. Biggest mistake of my life. During those two years alone I had obtained my nursing license and secured a really good job. Things started out good but ended catastrophically. I ended up in jail because of his lies to the police. Lost my job put my nursing license in jeopardy and ended up spending almost 5000 on lawyers to try and fix my life again. I’m still out of work and still trying to get some semblance of normality back in my life. This all occurred in 8 months together. Not one day went by that he did not blame me for his past present and future. He has not worked in almost 10 years and it’s all my fault. He truely is a npd alcoholic and they never get better ever

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        • OMG Alcohol is a really “fun” stuff.. sorry to hear all that! Hope you are out of all that and making your way upwards.

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  3. IMP the alcoholic is worse than the NPD. True
    My first marriage sadly lasted abt 2-weeks, all bcos I was naïve and didn’t even know the young man I’d got engaged had been drinking since a early age 14-yrs old. He was 24 when we got married, but in that very short marriage, he was a workaholic, which meant he commuted to work and then came home couldn’t be bothered to be with me and then told me to go to bed on my own, then drank on his own whilst reading newspapers. What a sad young man he was. The next morning, he’d left for work early and there was the evidence – empty wine bottles left behind the sofa – EVERY NIGHT. We had terrible rows in that 2-weeks, so he just packed his bag and left me. Met anthr woman at work and moved in with her, whilst still married to me! I was left with a tiny baby, a mortgage and a broken heart. I struggled for 10-years on my own whilst he talked to me like I was dogs muck. No CBT or anything could prepare or even help me get over that one. I’m still alive bcos I had my child for company.
    I had a fleeting ‘friendship’ with a man I met on-line, lasted abt 1-year. Turned out he was a Narcissist due to being put in boarding school at 2-yrs old. But actually the NPD treat me better than the alcoholic Husband!
    The NPD never called me nasty names, he felt for me if I cried, he even lent me some money when I times for tough.
    However, the alcoholic had not a compassionate bone in his body.
    Now I’m remaining single probably for life.

    Reply
    • Thats so sad :’-(
      I‘ve had a lot of bad experiences too – an abusive, sadistic father, a manipulative sleazy teacher in school, and a selfish, secretly abusive alcoholic boyfriend… But I just want you to know that there are good men too 🙂
      I’ve met them, known them and had relationships with them. The trick is spotting selfish and controlling behaviour before you get involved with someone 🙂
      I’m glad you escaped those horrible people though 🙂

      Reply
  4. **If you post this on your site, please change my name and keep my e-mail from public view.

    This article on alcoholics/narcissism was interesting to me. I was married for 27 years to an active alcoholic. 5 years later I am now married to a man who I suspect could be a narcissist. He pursued me so heavily I was smitten. He displayed the selfish tendencies and lack of empathy while we were dating but I thought it was because his ex-wife had treated him so poorly and he had a pending business lawsuit. I thought (while dating) that I should leave the relationship but he was adamant that I not leave. He told me I was a coward and running away without trying to work it out. Our fights always happened at night and I was held against a wall, held in bed and basically strong armed to wait until morning. When morning came the apology came but now in retrospect, he would say he was sorry, BUT if I hadn’t done or said such and such, he would not have acted that way. Well, (le’ sigh) I married him. When he’s charming he thanks me for every meal I cook and wants to be with me all the time (we are both retired). BUT, if I want to get out of bed in the morning before him (say before 8:00 am) I am told I’m being selfish as he can’t sleep without me in bed. If I don’t want to shower with him, I’m being selfish. And when my child comes to see me (he likes her) he behaves very obsessive towards me. Doesn’t want me to stay up late with her or get up early to talk to her. He also has a lot of control issues over sex.
    I never thought about narcissism being an issue. I have fallen more times than I care to say (in just 2 short years) into the game of ‘responding’ when he is suddenly yelling and angry with me. I get defensive and ‘game-on’!!! He must win (and he does) and I feel stupid and humiliated (usually having shouted back and feeling out of control). He does say I don’t listen to him, I don’t remember things correctly and often times my opinion is just plain wrong.
    Your web-site is helping me and I thank you for all the great information.

    K

    Reply
  5. I’m in the process of summoning up the strength to walk away from a partner who I know to be an alcoholic and I suspect has Bpd or narcissistic personality. I’m not a psychiatrist and so can’t make a diagnosis for sure (although Amazon did send me an advertisement email the other day for a psychology course. That’s what my kindle reading list and internet cookies say about me!!!) but I have a pretty good idea that the pain I feel isn’t right. I’ve been with this man for four years after a stint of being pretty much single for 6 years. My previous relationship with a man who I had a child with had ended but we had maintained a stable relationship and remain friends to this day. During those six years I had moved 150 miles away with my son to start a new life. I completed a degree with the highest honours and as my son was only four when the degree began, there really was little time for dating. I then started my own business which is still going today. Life was pretty good. Then I met my alcoholic partner.

    In the beginning it was wonderful,exciting,loving,passionate and a bit of a party but there were many red flags that I missed or put down to other factors. I had known this guy for several years, not well, but friend of friends. I also knew his ex partner, again not well, who left him two years previously. She had mentioned once to me that he just never considered her feelings. A comment that many wives could say of their partners but now I know that this was just a tip of the iceberg.

    Another reason many flags were missed was that his youngest daughter had tragically died 2 years previously. The most awful thing in the world became his main get out of jail card. I listened to all the pain he had ever felt. I held him when he cried. I gave him money when he hadn’t done enough work to pay his bills(due to excessive drinking). I did things for his daughters, at the time 16 and 14. Lovely girls. I cleaned his house as well as mine. I sorted computer issues. Work invoices. Cooked food. Ran my business which was expanding and looked after my son. No time for me. My life was on a slippery slope. And it was becoming all about him.

    Then came the insidious abuse. Little comments that could easily be missed or if questioned about they could be eye rolled into “you’re so sensitive”. Turning up chronically late with no apology. Once I had cooked a special dinner, I called him at 8.30pm which was when he was supposed to be round and he said “I’m in my pyjamas, I’m really tired so I’m just going to stay here”. Dinner was on the table! Another time we arranged to go camping. After I finished work I got all the things together and waited…and waited…and waited. He was meant to be around at 3pm. No answer to texts or phone calls. I should have known better but I was actually quite worried that he was ok. Turns out he had decided to go to his ex partners birthday party. He called me at 9pm to see if I wanted to join him!!! Er…I didn’t! Friends of his who I met in the early days were being kept separate. It was like he was drawing up recruits in an army to fight a war that I didn’t know I was going to be in.His behaviour would go from adoration style loving, to cold disdain very quickly. The first time it happened ( about 4 months in) I said to him “look, I can accept that you are feeling low or anxious or depressed or just need some space but I need to know that it’s not to do with us. Are we ok?” To that he looked at me with a total lack of emotion behind his eyes and said. “I don’t know how I feel about you anymore”. He then got up. Got dressed. And left. Not a word of explanation. Nothing. I didn’t hear from him for 5 days. Leaving me to wonder what the #### just happened? He came back then, says he didn’t know what he was thinking and of course he loves me “why wouldn’t i love you?” Is his favourite question. Lather, rinse, repeat. The cycle started with a rage/abuse/dropout every few months but soon that changed to every month, then to weeks, now it can be days. I’m sure anyone who has gone through this knows the sheer exhaustion I feel. I tried everything I could think of to make it work but there was nothing I could do. If I didn’t react to one of his episodes in the early stage it would escalate. Sometimes just a tirade of abuse that went on and on until I would break. Literally just broke down and cried. That still didn’t stop him. Sometimes he would throw in something like “so why did #### (previous partner) leave you?”
    He gaslights. Invalidates my feelings. Walks out on discussions. Doesn’t care how his actions affect me or my son. He’s Jekyll and Hyde. Denial to so many things. Tells lies. Omits events. Intentionally vague. Re writes past events.

    He texts other women late at night when he’s been drinking at home alone.
    We broke up last year and I went on a blind dinner date with a friend of a friend. It was just dinner but he found out and the same evening I was having dinner(which ended in a peck on the cheek and a “it was lovely to meet you”) he went round to one of these women’s houses and had drunk, unprotected sex with her. The next day he was calling me saying that he needed to talk. He was going to change he wanted me to move in. We had a six good months and did a trial move in(I kept my house) Two days after me and my son moved in with him and his girls things changed. He got out of bed early one morning. When I came downstairs all of my personal things, a picture, a photo, a message on the fridge,cushions, anything had been stripped from his house and were in a heap by the back door. He was drinking heavily was on prescription painkillers and had that familiar cold disconnected look in his eyes. He walked out and his parting words were that he wanted me gone by Monday. I sat alone in his house. This was Friday and Sunday was a huge art fair event that I was doing and had been promised his help…I didn’t get the help. I needed a happy public face and to this day I do not know where that energy came from. Later that day I discovered that he had had sex with the woman six months previously. I then moved out on Monday. Partway through moving a chair we were carrying he looked at me with fear and said “I’ve really done it this time. This doesn’t feel right”.

    Push,pull,push,pull,push,pull.

    I find myself questioning everything now. He told me in the last rage that “I haven’t even seen what he’s capable of yet”. I figure that I can live without seeing that!

    I do feel like an idiot for going back as many times as I did but there are good parts and periods where he seems to connect and really feel bad about how he behaves. His childhood was severely neglectful and his mother is a narcissist to boot. It’s so complicated that my head gets in a mess trying to work out which problem is causing which. He has also been in therapy for well over a year now. He has tried to stop drinking but with no success. I will be 40 this year and I am hoping that this time I can break free. I know that I will take time to heal so maybe my life can just begin at 41!

    To anyone out there who is going through a similar situation my heart goes out to you. Romantic attachment can be a dangerous thing if it’s with someone with a condition like this. I’m a total glass half full person (even though when I mention his abusive behaviour he says, “do you think you like to play the victim??”)

    Anyway big breath. Stiff upper lip. I’m taking my life back!!

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    • I am going through the identical same thing. He is an alcoholic and was a funny compassionate man. I knew him for 7 years. He was friends with me and my husband. I do horse rescue and he went to sales every weekend with my husband and I. He was so passionate for the horses and always wanted me to purchase the worst ones…which I did. He helped care for them and his daughter did also. For 7 years and I never saw him with one beer! Then my husband died. He didn’t come around for several weeks. Then he shows up and tells me he has been in love with me for 7 years…from the moment he saw me. I did not have a clue. There was no sign or if there was I totally missed it. I adored my husband and horses were my life. Anyway, after 6 months or so he said he was getting a divorce and that he had known from the first year it was a mistake. He had a baby girl at that time and coming from a catholic family, his dad an alcoholic, that if he divorced before the daughter was grown he would be disowned. he went on to say how mean and nasty his wife was. Well, my husband and I did not really care for her so I believed him. Now I know the reason she was the way she was is because she had been married to him for 18 years. To this day he rants about her to his daughter. Blames it all on her. From the time I moved in the signs were there but I was very naive. I got married at 19 and was married for 27 years. I had no idea men could be this way. I could write all night but it shadows your story. Moved in, out, in, out I have been doing it for 8 years!!!! I kept remembering the sweet guy he was for those 7 years and thought he would return. I am very optimistic and just knew he would come back. He started drinking a case of beer a night…..yes, a case! He goes to work every day but drinks every night. As his disease has progressed only 5 beers and his attitude changes drastically. He shakes, he can’t concentrate and everything is about him. He says he is always being attacked no matter what you say. He has said for hers that if I would have only said this it would have placated him. He says I am smart and I know how to not set him off, yet I do. I could go on and on but I’m sure you understand. I live in a separated house on the same property now. he use to come every morning and after work. Now it is once a week, maybe. Always wants me to go to his moms on sunday of breakfast I guess to put on a good front with her. She has told me many times I deserve better and I should leave. Her husband was the same but he is in bad health due to alcohol now. Now that he needs her she says he is so sweet and nice and she is glad to finally have her husband. she is 70 years old. Thanks for your post. I guess the bottom line is he will never get better…….I couldn’t understand how for 7 years I never saw him drink. How did he hide it? His family has told me he has drank heavily since in his twenties. They have came to the radiation they will bury him at a young age. So sad. They are all doctors and he is a Behavioral Specialist.

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    • Although I don’t know you, I myself have been through the turmoil of a Narc\Alcoholic, and it is not easy. I just want to say I am PROUD of you!!!! keep up the fight for yourself and your son! 🙂

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    • Hi Charlotte, Hope this gets to you sister. Your story really struck a chord with me. Please feel free to contact me at my email. I also feel as confused . I hope you are out of it now. I am so distraught b/ c of similar sadistic stuff I’m going to see a counselour at the local battered womens’ shelter. They will help w/ this kind of psychological abuse also. Yeah take yourlife back Thank you for sharing it does help!!

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    • Sounds like you just described my situation exactly. I finally realized he will never/can’t change so I’m stupid to continue being abused. Time to get out and heal. That pain is better than sticking around being his supply. Especially after all the cheating, I know I’m worth it big in being loyal, he should too.

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  6. Charlotte, your situation sounds so much like mine. I divorced mine years ago after being married only 4 years because of physical abuse. I went on with my life but seems he was always there making trouble or just being around so we eventually played house again for a couple of years, during that time I joined in his drinking so it really didnt bother me the way he was.When my first grandchild was born I said no more and left and although he still bothered me we had no physical contact for years…I guess about 3 yr later my son who had joined the army was expected a child with a girl he hardly knew..she had several kids she had lost already so my son had decided to raise the baby…I got him from the hospital when he was born because my son was deployed.. My ex then came and begged me to move back with him and raise the baby..my ex had never had kids..I thought because we were in our 40s by now certainly he was different; I knew I was…to make a long story shorter,lol the child turned out not to be my sons so I got custody and he is my son..he is now 5 and I have been with my ex(whom he calls daddy) since he was 4 months. Things were ok for a couple years(occasional drunk episodes) but this past year I just starting feeling lonely and insecure…I had never checked on him before but I did and boy what he had been up to this past year..I caught sex texting on his phone, messaging on facebook and just found out he had been sleeping with a neighbor the past year. Of coures he denies it but she told her husband the truth..Through all of this he has done the push and pull thing all these years, I just see it now because Im older and see things different. He has begged me not to leave and says he loves me but I dont believe that. I am so glad I read your article because it lets me know I’m not the only one who has seen this behavior…it is a roller coaster ride that I am so ready to get off but dont know where to begin…ANY SUGGESTION?????????

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    • Leave. That is my reply to all these posts about their narcissistic alcoholic marriages. After 12 years on my own I’m still penniless BUT I have a better life than spending it with men who ruined my life. I lost everything. Live on very little income, can’t afford a car and feel very lonely a lot of the time.all this is so much better than emotional and physical abuse. What I do have is joy, I feel safe. I haven’t given up that I will meet someone who treats people right. After years of therapy I’ve learned not only how to spot them, I have more self worth and respect for myself than to become their willing victim. It’s painful to read these posts. I was there I know how difficult it is to leave and rebuild and stay away from someone who sucks the joy out of your life. I have little in the way of material possessions but see myself wealthy in every other way. I don’t always have what I want yet I somehow seem to have everything I need. I don’t get beat up anymore. It’s a worthwhile trade off.

      Now I’m working to deflect the ugliness of my narcissistic alcoholic mother. It’s not so easy to walk away from her. I’ve tried many times. I know my truth now. I know my worth now. It takes a ton of energy to have her in my life. But she cannot own my soul.

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      • Oh Carol you worked so hard to become a nurse and it took one alcoholic to almost take it away. I so can relate to you. Stay strong.

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  7. @JeanC

    I’ve been separated for four months from my husband of 33 years who most probably has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He also drinks and his health suffers. It is difficult, of course, because like the other writers in this comment section I’m a magnet for NPD. I need to analyze carefully why I find that sort of person attractive.

    There are some excellent youtube videos on the subject. Sam Valknin (a unusually perceptive narcissist) has some excellent videos on how to spot narcissists and get out of their spheres of influence. There are some other good presenters that will become obvious once you listen a minute or so.

    Here is a sample on setting firm personal boundaries. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCwFcPWslDQ&list=UULadFapyecCYAeuTqc12avA

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  8. My partner for 9 years was a psychologist, alchoholic & had combined borderline and narcissistic personality disorder. He was very smart when it came to manipulation. He always admited his visits to prostitutes, affairs, money scheeming, abuse etc. but only half way, to create trust and to pretend to be sorry “Ive now hit my bottom”. He even admitet to not actually feeling emapthy and guilt only shame. Half admitting to stuff was a way to get “good will” and make me believe & hope he finally would take responsibility and change and get help. He never changed and had no intension of changing, just needed he as “mother”, nurse, pay-check, fixer, etc. I finally kicked him out despite threats of suicide etc. He did die but it was an accident (epileptic fit due to alcohol withdrawl/ vit B1 def.). As his doctor said, he was to narcissistic to kill himself on purpose despite all the threats.

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  9. In my experience it seems that all addicts and alcoholics are narcissists! My father is an alcoholic and junkie js all around addict but for the past 20 or so yrs his main drug of choice was and is alcohol! I had a situation w/ a former friend that I watched spiral out of control w/ drugs but prior to that she was already diagnosed as bipolar antisocial personality and borderline personality disorder as well as npd and obviously the drugs made her wayyy worse which ultimately caused me to end our friendship almost 6 yrs ago! And now I’m dealing w/ my bestie of 15 yrs and she has become a raging alcoholic to the point where she drinks from the time she wakes up til she passes out sloppily wherever she falls. But I know I Js have to step away bc I’ve already dealt w/ this in my past more than once and u can’t save them or change them they have to want it and she doesn’t right now esp since she lives out in Dallas and I’m in FL but we always have alternated visiting each other but this last time was awful and she stayed for 3 mos, kept trying to pick fight w/ me outta nowhere, making me feel like I should question myself and I was too paranoid so I Js had to let so much shit slide bc I knew that arguing wasn’t going to solve anything and she really is so fkd up and in her disease that there’s no getting thru to her so I’m gonna let her enablers out there do for her til she screws them over and burns those bridges and I know she will need me before I need her so it’s sad but I’m not getting involved in that once again in my life! I’ve been thru it enough!

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  10. Reading these posts breaks my heart. I have been with my husband for 16 years and it has been hell. He was so nice ,charming, funny and kind when I first met him. Got married 5 months later( way too soon). I was only young but I thought I knew best. Although a dry alcoholic he started again and never really stopped. Sober or dry he is always miserable and everything is always someone else’s fault. I can never do anything right and when I do esp in front of other people, im made to feel bad in one way or another.
    I was desperate to have children but doctors said it will be
    difficult.and months after being to this someone gets pregnant and I feel upset and im told cant you just be happyfor them.
    I would be told we’ll try next month but it never came. He lies about what he is doing and talking to. Spends all the money on himself.
    he can be nice ad pie one minute and fly into a rage the next leaving me feeling confused and at times scared. I was planning to leave this year and he’s had an accident and now I can’t escape. He was blaming everyone and flew into a rage with someone else. The police were called. I was so scared. I then had to endure an hour of him calling me everything under the sun, I have betrayed him,he wants to bet me up, the marriage will never be the same again. I said nothing, so it wouldnt enrage him more. He even asked me why aren’t you talking to me? WTF?
    Now I am just waiting to leave. Im really scare of what the future holds for me and what he might do when I leave but I cant live with this narc alcoholic any more.

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  11. I do not know what to say really. Yes it very true that no one can tolerate the moments. But the young people who just have started drinking, can be stopped. In the very primary level we have to take steps to save our beloved and ourselves aswell

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  12. My 77 year old alcoholic husband shows big time signs of NPD. If a friend is diagnosed cancer, his reaction is to focus on how hard it will be for him. No thought about the person and their family, just the impact on his life. No hope that he’ll ever stop drinking he’s in total denial. He was a dry drunk for twenty years and now has gone back to drinking. Blacks out and passes out every night. What fun.

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    • I’m trying to focus on my life. I’m only 59 and am not going to succumb to depression and anger. I’m working out, getting massages and doing daily meditations. I can’t change him but I can change how I respond to his ridiculous behavior. If he wants to ruin his own life he can. I’m staying strong.

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  13. Why even waste your time and your lives living with alcoholics and/or arseholes and have realtionships woth people that are neither? or is that “boring”?

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  14. Very simple… Prayer without works is dead….We have departed Santa Claus and the tooth fairy folks…
    Praying for a cheese sandwich….a willingness to just believe that a perhaps there is a power that can solve our problem is sufficient to begin.
    That power which I access multiple times an hour, will not do things for me which I can do myself. Like make a cheese sandwich. Effort on our part is always required helps to keep finger pointing to a minimum

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  15. I’m under the phase of understanding my self. I have drinking issues sometimes. But I’m home drinker and drinking while I working with my hobbies. I feel so emotional lonely with my girlfriend don’t feel any connection to her. It’s only works when she is interested in that. She accuses me that it’s my fault that relationship not working as all it my fault and my drinking is a biggest issue. I drink along and not even touch any body, sitting and doing my staffs. And with out any reasons she puts her anger on me and of course it’s my fault again.

    Don’t know what to do, feel lost.

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