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


Photo by Leighann Renee on Unsplash

Written by Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Dear Codependent Partner,

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

And that’s the whole point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forever love-limiting,

Your narcissist

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

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

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

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Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year 2019!

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

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Feeling Isolated in the Aftermath of Narcissistic Abuse


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Is Your Abuser a Narcissist

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

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

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How to Spot a Narcissist on the Prowl

Recognizing the Red Flags

Article Written by Randi G. Fine

Author of Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery

Narcissists are everywhere. These predators covertly walk among us in droves. Adept at changing their personalities in pursuit of their life-blood, narcissistic supply, and presenting with a human appearance, they are virtually unrecognizable. This reality is terrifying to anyone who has ever been unwittingly targeted and trapped in their webs of deceit.

The good new is that, though you must be extremely cautious, there are clear warning signs to watch for and dating protocols to diligently follow that will help to protect you.

Charismatic or Pitiful Individuals

Narcissists are notorious for their charismatic personalities. This ability is crucial in capturing narcissistic supply and when recognized should be avoided. But they can also present as people who are down on their luck: their ex left them, parents were abusive, they’re financially struggling, no place to live, etc. If they size you up as compassionate, forgiving, generous, and/or someone with undefined boundaries they may use this tactic to make you feel sorry for them. Warning: Both could be traps.

Life Story or Situation Closely Matches Yours

Narcissists want to bring your guard down. One way to accomplish that is to point out the commonalities that exist between you. They may relate similar stories to yours, share similar backgrounds, enjoy the same things you do (sports, music, hobbies, food, etc.), or express similar life goals. If you say you are considering relocating to a specific area they may say they’ve always thought about moving there. Warning: If things seem too perfect right out of the gate they probably are not.

The Interview

Narcissists interview potential victims in the dating and honeymoon stage of the “relationship” so they will eventually know exactly how to hurt them. They pretend to be totally interested in what you have to say and encourage you to share your goals, hopes, dreams for the future.. They also encourage you to reveal the details of people, events, or traumas that have caused you pain. This tactic makes you feel as if you have finally found a best friend; one who is is interested in what you have to say, is easy to talk to, and “gets” you. Warning: Everything you say can and will be used against you. The purpose of the interview is to get you to reveal all your emotional buttons. You can be certain they will eventually push every one of them. Don’t share any personal information until you know exactly who you are sharing it with.

Too Much Chemistry

Narcissists get the endorphins firing in your brain to create an addiction to them and blind you to the truth of who they really are. Many women tell me that they would not have normally been attracted to the narcissistic men but there was “just something about them” they couldn’t resist. Men usually tell me that the narcissistic women are irresistibly beautiful. These statements are general. Sometimes the men are good looking and the women physically unattractive. What’s important to know is that if physical intimacy enters the picture too soon you can easily be trapped. When allowed to be expressed, chemistry with a narcissist is usually intense. To avoid the temptation, only date in neutral places; never at either of your homes. Warning: Beware of fiery beginnings. Take it slow.

Leave the Caretaker in You Home

Narcissists will test you to see how generous, understanding, and flexible you are. If you show that side to them they will know you are an easy mark. Let them pamper you for awhile. Resist the temptation to offer up any of your money. Do not feel as if you have to reciprocate any of their gestures or expenditures. Once they’ve been carefully vetted you can loosen that up a bit. Warning: Don’t be a rescuer or look to be rescued. Healthy relationships take two whole, mentally healthy people who have resolved their own issues and are invested in each other one hundred percent. If you have the tendency to give too much, work on your boundary system before you begin dating.

Verify, Verify, Verify

Narcissists lie about everything so take nothing they say at face value, no matter how sincerely it seems to be said. Assume, until proven otherwise, that nothing said to you is true. Verify everything you’ve been told; who they are, where they live, where they work, who their family is, how much money they have or make, etc. If the information cannot be verified it is likely to be false. Warning: You may be dating an imposter.

Name Smearing

Narcissists notoriously smear peoples’ names for revenge purposes. Beware of anyone who talks trash about her/his exes. Their exes are probably very nice people, just as you are, who were victimized and then either thrown away or wised up. Warning: You could be next.

A person with good intentions should pass this test with flying colors. When in doubt, trust your instincts. They never lie. If something feels “off” then it is. Yes, you are over-cautious because you’ve been badly burned, but anyone truly interested in you will allow you to set the rules and the pace. Do not be pressured.


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Strategies Tips and Tactics for Dealing with NPD Abuse


How to Manipulate Your Manipulator

Plus Helpful Tips For Getting Through the Holidays

You can also listen to this by going to the recorded version of the December 14, 2018 show on A Fine Time for Healing.

Randi G. Fine

The highlights discussed in this video are:

  • How to use narcissistic abuse tactics on your abuser
  • How to calm down a chronically hostile home
  • How to manipulate your abuser to get what you want
  • How to deal with your narcissistic abuser in court
  • Generic phrases that respond to the narcissist but don’t really say anything
  • Making decisions on how you want to spend the holiday season
  • Boundary setting
  • Achieving healing and happiness

…the dog really did do it!
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Is Your Inner Dialogue Keeping You Stuck In Pain

Changing the Way You Talk to Yourself

Randi G. Fine, Author

From the book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery © 2017

Each of us has a subconscious inner voice, called an “inner dialogue,” that strongly influences our life. Since it has always been such a consistent part of our waking lives, most of us do not even realize it is there.

Our inner dialogue controls everything we do. It shapes our perception, makes decisions for us, cautions us, forms our values and opinions, tells us who we are and what we like, monitors our behavior, evaluates situations, and makes judgments.

When our inner dialogue is positive, it empowers us. When our inner dialogue is negative it discourages us. Negative dialogue forms limiting beliefs.

Limiting beliefs can come from powerful outside influences such as parents, religions, families, educators, culture, media, and society. They can also develop on their own after repeated exposure to stimuli, or as a result of trauma or abuse.

Limiting beliefs sabotage our lives. They tell us untruths and lies, make us feel bad about ourselves, impede our success, and cause us to repeat unhealthy patterns. They even govern our moods and reactions.

Years of degradation, manipulation, and brainwashing by your narcissistic abuser has infused your mind with many limiting beliefs. You will be surprised at how many of the following you can claim as your own:

  • I do not deserve: happiness, success, love, recognition, success, money, relationships, friendships with quality people
  • I do not: trust myself, know what I want, feel worthy, have self-control, like or love myself, matter
  • I am not: good enough, smart enough, worthy enough, thoughtful enough, motivated enough, competent enough, rich enough, outgoing enough, thin enough, pretty enough, skilled enough, important enough
  • I cannot: do it as well as others can, reach goals, make money, survive on my own, start a business, get a degree, change who I am, change how I think
  • I should not: think of myself first, love or like myself, feel good about myself, feel angry, ask for what I want, expect others to come through for me, trust anyone, let my guard down
  • I should be: more successful than I am, farther along in life than I am, more educated, more social, a better person
  • Nobody: listens to me, cares about me, wants me, believes in me, likes me, accepts me
  • No one will like or love me if: I am not perfect, I am not successful, I am not a pleaser, they get to know me, I speak honestly, I am not beautiful, I don’t earn their approval
  • Everyone else: judges me, is better than me, rejects me, hates me, thinks I am stupid
  • I always: make mistakes, procrastinate, say stupid things, anger people, quit things, frustrate people, feel guilty, look foolish
  • I am: a quitter, a weirdo, lazy, an unlovable person, an unlikable person, a failure, responsible for others’ happiness
  • It is my job to: smooth things over, make others happy, make others feel better, apologize, keep the peace
  • There’s no point in: getting my hopes up, trying at all, trying again, being honest, having goals, asking for what I want, showing people who I really am
  • Happiness is: a myth, unattainable, for others
  • I must suffer to: show how much I care, get attention, make up for bad things I’ve done, prove my point
  • I must be fearful of: other people, life, relationships, men, women

Reread the above list and highlight all the limiting beliefs that currently apply to you. Explore each one by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Why do I have the limiting belief?
  2. Is the belief true or false?
  3. Is the belief relevant to my life now?
  4. Am I willing to let the belief go?

Before you can change your subconscious inner dialogue you must bring it to your conscious mind and then challenge it. That involves monitoring your thoughts, emotions, actions, and reactions to see what triggers you and what non-productive patterns you are stuck in.

Limiting beliefs change when they are replaced by positive dialogue. You can reprogram your mind through the use of positive affirmations such as:

  • I deserve to love and be loved
  • I love and accept myself totally and completely
  • I choose happiness and peace in my life
  • I am whole, healthy and complete
  • I am worthy of success
  • I deserve to live a life of abundance
  • I am the only one in charge of my life
  • I am a beautiful person inside and out
  • I am a survivor
  • I am worthy of all the good things in life
  • I can face any challenge

These are just suggestions. You can create your own affirmations or find other ones that resonate with you.

Repeat your affirmations often. Say them to yourself in the mirror. Post them in places where you spend a lot of time. Especially use them whenever you catch yourself having limiting beliefs. The more often and regularly you repeat your affirmations, the faster your inner dialogue will change and the better you will feel about yourself.

This is copyrighted material. May only be shared with permission and proper attribution.

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Broken Sons of Narcissistic Mothers

Sons of a Narcissistic Mothers

Randi G. Fine, Author

From the book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery © 2017

The experience I have with sons of narcissistic mothers was gained through my counseling work with them. I can assure you that the extent to which they can be broken and confused are equal to that of women—sometimes even worse.

Overcoming pain is not an easy thing for men to do. They have more difficulty than women do when it comes to expressing their feelings, and they are much harder on themselves, more self-censoring. Men tend to be less tolerant of their weaknesses and less patient of the healing process as well.

Maternal narcissist abuse runs very deeply in men. Without help, they suffer a lifetime of devastating emotional pain.

Sons of narcissistic mothers have a void inside that their mother’s love, encouragement, recognition, and validation should have filled. They lack the triumphant feeling and confidence in the success that Freud spoke of when he said, “If a man has been his mother’s undisputed darling he retains throughout life the triumphant feeling, the confidence in success, which not seldom brings actual success along with it.”

As adults, these men strive for success and stability, but without the foundation of their mother’s love, nothing they achieve ever feels satisfying.

Narcissistic mothers assign childhood roles to their sons just as they do their daughters. All three roles are equally abusive but in different ways.

There is always a golden child, scapegoat child, and sometimes an invisible child. If there is only one child he may play a variety of roles. Roles can be switched, but there can be only one golden child at a time.

The Golden Son

A son chosen for the golden child role is revered like a god. He is the mother’s ideal in every way. As a reflection of her perfect self, she values his superficial qualities such as appearance, academic or athletic performance, and talent. The person he is inside is never nurtured.

To retain the favor of the golden child status the son must submit to total enmeshment with his mother. Constant praise and adulation is his reward. It is constantly reinforced to him how perfect, handsome and charming he is. No one will ever make the golden child feel as entitled and superior as his mother does. Still, he is not immune to her head games.
Always worried about her supply getting cut off, the narcissistic mother must prevent him from getting too full of himself. By alternating between ego boosting and figurative emasculation she keeps him off balance and therefore dependent on her.

Narcissistic mothers employ the usual dependency tactics with their sons; gaslighting, infantilization, and triangulation. But there is an additional abuse tactic sometimes used with golden sons known as “Emotional Incest.”

Emotional incest is not incest of a sexual nature. It is a pathological form of emotional seduction initiated by parents with their children. Mothers turn their golden sons into psychological surrogate partners and expect them to meet all their adult emotional needs.
Using emotional incest, the golden son becomes her little man. If she has a male partner he will take a back seat to this child. Nearly every boundary that should exist between mother and son is crossed in her seduction. She flirts with him, hugs him, kisses him and touches him far more often than what is normal.

That is particularly violating during adolescence—a stage when boys typically reject mostly all physical contact with their mothers. But having not been permitted to go through the natural stages of maturity, golden sons may not see anything wrong with their mother’s over-affectionate behavior. Catering to their mother’s every need becomes their way of life. The message subliminally reinforced in them is that they’ll only be liked or loved if subordinate.

Instead of developing a rich inner self, golden sons are likely to develop the “doormat syndrome.” People will use and abuse them. As adults, their worth will hinge entirely on others’ opinions of them. They will forever struggle with self-respect.

Men who are psychologically possessed by narcissistic mothers have great difficulty with emotional intimacies. Their relationships are likely to be shallow and perfunctory. On a subconscious level, they always belong to their mothers.

Narcissistic mothers resent and reject every woman their golden sons date. Believing their property is being stolen from them, all out wars will be waged. Women who stick around are subject to a cruel and endless battle.

Golden sons experience tremendous emotional conflict. Repressed anger lies just below the surface of these men. While they are completely devoted to their mothers, they harbor terrible resentments against them for destroying their lives and relationships.
Since they cannot lash out at their mothers, other women become targets of their aggression. Many golden sons grow up to be womanizers.

The scenario is very different for golden sons who seek autonomy. Their mothers are greatly offended by their efforts toward independence. They take it as the ultimate betrayal.

These sons face a difficult battle with mothers who are dead set on punishing them. Their mother’s campaign of revenge will be spiteful, relentless and cruel. For boys who cannot yet leave home, this can be particularly trying.

There are no limits to the antics revengeful narcissistic mothers will pull. They will repeatedly woo their sons back in, only to retaliate again and again. Sons continue to take the bait because they want to believe their mother has changed.

Narcissistic mothers on the warpath are known to “accidentally” destroy things their sons love. When their sons make plans, they make every effort to sabotage them. Any opportunity to minimize or ridicule their sons’ achievements and successes is capitalized. To humiliate their sons they deliberately embarrass them in front of their friends.

It is impossible for a son to redeem himself. If he offers to help his mother out she agrees and then gives him slavish or arduous chores. Any act of kindness the son shows her is blatantly disregarded. Former golden sons do not understand why their mother’s treatment so drastically changed. They used to be adored. Now it seems their mother despises them. It does not make sense. They are just acting the way other males their age act, but everything they do or say is met with hostility.

Trying to get back in their mother’s good graces (while also trying to forge their own identities) they continue doing nice things for her, but everything they do is criticized.
If narcissistic mothers cannot have full compliance from their golden sons, they want no part of them at all. There is no middle ground. So resentful of their sons taking away their supply, there will be no end to their cruel crusade of vengeance.

The former golden son must continue pandering to his mother if he wants any relationship with her at all. This becomes his modus operandi in every other adult relationship.
As the giver, pleaser, and fixer in all his relationships, he will find being on the receiving end of others’ favor uncomfortable. He is not familiar with playing that role. Codependency issues born from childhood emotional abuse leave him vulnerable to people who only want to use him. All his relationships will be unbalanced and frustrating until he recognizes the part he plays in all the dysfunction.

Unlike the golden son who was held in high esteem for at least a decade or more, the scapegoat son will never be valued.

The Scapegoat Son

The scapegoat son sees how well his golden child sibling is treated and cannot understand why he is deprived of the same. It seems the golden child can do no wrong and he can do no right.

The scapegoat son cannot seem to please his mother. He tries everything he can think of to get her attention. It does not matter if the attention is positive or negative; he is willing to accept either.

His mother criticizes everything he does. She pummels him with insults, tells him he is stupid and worthless and calls him derogatory names. She insults his masculinity and makes snide remarks about his appearance.

Nothing she does dissuades him from trying to get her recognition. The worse she treats him, the harder he tries. Knowing how desperately he wants her favor, she will throw him an occasional bone. She does this to string him along, to give him glimmers of hope that she will treat him better, but things never change.

The scapegoat son does not like his mother but he does want her love. Those driblets keep him coming back for more. Whether or not he recognizes the manipulation does not matter. He will take anything she is willing to give.

He only wants to make his mother proud, but she never applauds him. Instead, she tells him that he is incapable of success; that he will never amount to anything and has only himself to blame.

Some boys respond to their mother’s degradation by acting out at school or in the community. Some run away from home. They are likely to get involved with other troubled kids. Many become substance abusers. The message that they are failures becomes a truth they live down to.

As an adult, the scapegoat son may chase success to prove his mother wrong, but he is unlikely to ever achieve it. Every defeat further reinforces what his mother told him about himself—that he is a loser, always was and will always be.

When scapegoat sons begin dating, their mother takes great pleasure in sabotaging their success. Narcissistic mothers have been known to make derogatory remarks about their sons to their prospective girlfriends such as, “Be very careful, he has anger issues,” or “If I were you I’d stay far away from him. He can be very violent.” Some mothers point out their sons’ defects, weaknesses or mistakes to make them appear less attractive.

Narcissistic mothers may pull out photos of their son with his previous girlfriends and show them to new prospects, or make a point of asking their son, in front of the girl he likes, how his previous girlfriends are doing or if they still keep in touch.

If these romantic relationships are ever to stand a chance, they must be conducted outside the narcissistic mother’s range of scrutiny. The odds that these relationships will succeed are slim anyway. Scapegoat sons are not equipped with the tools required for healthy relationships.

The scapegoat son is likely to choose a partner who manipulates and abuses him since that is the only kind of attention he knows. If he is lucky he will be taken under the wings of a nurturing partner who shows him the love, attention, validation, and recognition his mother deprived him of. In either case, these men will always feel unworthy of their partners or their love.

The impact maternal narcissism has on each son may vary based on the role they are assigned, but abuse is abuse. Scapegoat sons think that golden sons have it better than they do, but that is an illusion. They suffer just as much.

The Invisible Son

The invisible son is not given good attention by his mother nor is he given bad attention. He is given no attention at all. The narcissistic mother puts on no false pretenses, tosses no crumbs his way.

From her selfish viewpoint, his very existence interferes with her daily agenda. She has no tolerance for his childhood neediness. If she has to tend to his needs for any reason, he will somehow be made to suffer for the inconvenience.

From very young ages, mothers hold these boys responsible for feeding and dressing themselves. They are forced to grow up far too early.

Neglect is the hallmark of the invisible son, but there are extreme cases of total abandonment where these boys are deserted, given to someone else to take care of, or put in foster care.

Invisible sons who are lucky will end up in better homes with families who care about them, but there is no guarantee of that. They can just as easily end up in more abusive situations.

Whether neglected, rejected or discarded, the invisible son feels abandoned. Logic tells him that he must be an unlovable person or that he must have done some reprehensible, unforgivable act to make his mother despise him. The responsibility and guilt he feels for causing his mother’s rejection never goes away.

No form of surrogate nurturing will ever make up for the loss of his mother—the one person in the world who is supposed to love him. The pain of maternal neglect leaves an indelible mark on him. The emotional wounds fester for a lifetime. Many invisible sons self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to block the painful memories that haunt them.

Maternal narcissistic abuse is severely damaging no matter which role sons are assigned. The repercussions of it last a lifetime.

Narcissistic mothers never allow their sons to earn anything in their own right. They don’t like to be shown up by their children. If they can somehow take credit for their sons’ achievements, they will. If they cannot, they will devalue or ignore what they do. Should their sons fail at something, they will relish in it.

The only efforts narcissistic mothers support are the ones they initiate or those that make them look good.

Image is everything to the narcissistic mother. She uses her sons to replicate her perfect image—the self she wants the world to see.

Narcissistic mothers are very controlling, especially over their sons’ career choices. They do not care what their sons want to do with their lives. There is always a self-centered agenda.

If you are a son of a narcissistic mother it is important to know that what happened to you was not your fault. You have the right to feel hurt and the right to be angry about what your mother did to you. You may not have been physically abused but you were severely abused emotionally. That can be harder to overcome.

Please stop beating yourself up for things you had no control over. Do not give your mother one more second of your power. She has already taken enough from you. Allow yourself to heal.

Healing from maternal abuse requires that years of emotional pain be chipped away. That is something that takes time and patience. I urge you to seek counseling. You will not be able to do this alone.

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Taking Back Control From Your Narcissistic Abuser

How to Blow Your Abuser’s Mind

If you really want to blow your narcissistic abuser’s mind, use the same deceptive tactics he uses on you. Gaslight him. Insist that you didn’t see what he said you saw, hear what he said you heard, or experience what he said you experienced. Don’t argue or defend. Deny, deny, deny.

Learn your abuser’s methods and use them to throw him (her) off balance. Take your power back!

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