Dear Abby – She Wants A Divorce From the Husband Who Hid His Vulnerable Narcissism (Emotional Abuse, Extreme Pessimism, Victim Mentality, etc) While They Were Dating

Dear Abby – She Wants A Divorce From the Husband Who Hid His Vulnerable Narcissism (Emotional Abuse, Extreme Pessimism, Victim Mentality, etc) While They Were Dating

What an interesting and informative letter to Dear Abby (I’ll get to the actual link and letter below, but I had some comments to make about it first).

It appears to me that the woman (who calls herself “Worn Out Wife”) married a classical Vulnerable Narcissist (sometimes also called a “Covert Narcissist” or a “shy” or “closeted” narcissist). The guy has all the usual traits for one.

From what I’ve read on the topic, when Narcissists of all varieties date someone, or are trying to win someone over (could also include a friend or co-worker, not just a romantic prospect for marriage), they start out trying to win you over – they will use what is called “love bombing,” mirroring, etc., and in the love bombing stage, they turn up the charm and fake compassion and fake kindness to a very high degree.

Narcissists of all types lack empathy, are highly entitled, rude, and abusive in private with those closest to them. (Well, that’s generally how it goes; not all narcissists exhibit or practice the same usual narcissistic patterns or behaviors as other narcissists.)

“Love Bombing” can appear different depending on the type of Narcissist we’re talking about, and sometimes a Narcissist with one predominant style – a Grandiose one, for example – may dabble in a few of the Covert Narcissistic type behaviors, or vice versa.

The Grandiose ones are known for being really charming upfront, while the love bombing of the Covert (Vulnerable) Narcissist usually involves them playing on and exploiting your empathy and heart strings by presenting themselves as a great big victim in life, whom everybody has hurt or let down at one time or another.

Early in a relationship (whether dating, friendship, or workplace) Vulnerable Narcissists will go on and on about all the heartaches and set backs they’ve experienced from their childhood into adulthood – they therefore get you to pity them and want to help, rescue, and save them – and at least initially in a relationship, the Vulnerable Narcissist will pretend to care deeply about your heartbreaks and pain in life.

(But Vulnerable Narcissists don’t really, truly care about your feelings or your problems – they only pretend to care in order to draw you into a relationship, and some do this to get you to share YOUR personal problems with them, so they can weaponize your shame, regrets, and vulnerabilities against you later.
They may occasionally pretend to care as a relationship drags on, if they are interested in holding on to you, so they may toss you the occasional “crumb” of empathy. But they don’t have any empathy for you and don’t genuinely care about your pain or problems).

(Getting you to pity and feel sorry for them also causes you to lower any normal boundaries you may usually have, and you let this toxic person into your life. Sociopaths and psychopaths also play at this same game.)

It sounds to me like this woman’s husband is predominantly a Vulnerable type of Narcissist but that he used more of the usual Love Bombing techniques of a Grandiose one while he was dating this lady.

Once they got married, though, he didn’t feel the need, or have the energy, to keep maintaining the false mask of “Mr. Charming,” “Mr. Sensitive, Mr. Kindness,” chucked all that aside, and only THEN (once he had her) allowed his true Vulnerable Narcissistic nature to appear,
which consists of a super sour, pessimistic, bitter, “negative nancy” attitude, with a huge side order of victim mentality, along with common Vulnerable Narcissistic behaviors of constantly complaining, joy killing, and constant fault finding (of a spouse, or whomever is closest to them privately).

And yes, as this woman says of her husband – he’s miserable – Vulnerable Narcissists are usually miserable people.

Vulnerable Narcissists truly, honestly think they have life harder than other people, they believe that God “picks on them” specifically, they believe that others haven’t had as many obstacles in life as they have had, they further believe that if only God, or people, had given them more chances and breaks in life, they could’ve been more successful.

Vulnerable Narcissists also tend to be jealous of other people – other people’s success, homes, marriages, beauty, achievements, etc.

Another thing I learned about Vulnerable Narcissists from reading works by psychologists who specialize in Narcissism is that they will only show interest in, or want to talk about, topics that are of interest to them personally.

If you try to bring up a topic that you’re “into,” but that the Vulnerable Narcissist is not, they find that boring and will usually ignore you and not have anything to say. They will either fade away, leave the room, or try to pivot the conversation on to a topic that they are interested in.

Vulnerable Narcissists only get interested and animated regarding topics that they’re already interested in themselves.

I certainly experienced that dynamic with (Link): an online ex-friend who seemed to be on the Vulnerable Narcissist spectrum (she also exhibited some of their other well known traits). I’ve also known a few other people in my life who’ve had the same, or similar, behaviors.

And no, no matter how hard you try to make the Vulnerable Narcissist happy, it’s never good enough.

Whether it’s with a Covert or a Grandiose, no matter how hard you try to win them over, make them happy, or appease or please them, they will always find something to nit pick about and criticize. They will sometimes move the goal posts, so you can never, ever win.

In her letter, the lady says this:

He has taken the things away from me that I love — flowers, gardening, pets, books, friends, etc.

I wish the letter writer had elaborated on that portion a little more, because I’m not totally sure what she means.

I have a few Narcissists in my own life, and I do know that once they find out what your hobbies are, or a goal or dream you have, they will mock it and make fun of it to the point (and the Vulnerable Narcissists may complain about it to the point) that you get rid of those hobbies, dreams, or goals.

You may find it easier to cave in to their wish that you stop doing X (whatever X is) then to listen to your Vulnerable Narcissist husband, boyfriend, sibling, or whomever it is, bitch, moan and gripe about the same thing repeatedly (whether it’s doing X or having a pet in the house or whatever it is),
until their non-stop complaining about it drives you nuts, and so you will do anything to get them to shut the hell up, to stop the complaining about it (I also went through that with the ex fiance of mine).

I’m not sure if that is what the letter writer was getting at or not.

Lastly, people should stop blaming women for marrying abusive or controlling men.

I’ve seen so many Christian preachers victim-blame women who write in for advice on Christian television shows (or podcasts, magazines, or blogs) on what to do about their abusive marriage, and many preachers will shame the woman and say,
“Didn’t you see what kind of man he was before you married? You should have. Now you’re stuck with him.”

The problem is that a lot of abusive people (including women, not just men) HIDE their true abusive natures while they’re dating.

This is also true in other areas. That is to say, if someone is a pathological Narcissist, they’re usually not going to advertise their Narcissistic attitudes and behaviors openly at church, friendships, or in jobs – they will only reveal their nasty behavior in private around a few select targets,
or, if they’re the leader in a church or boss at a job, where they know they are immune from consequences, they may openly emotionally and verbally abuse their staff, for instance.

But concerning marriage, most abusers conceal their controlling, constant fault finding, verbally abusive behavior (and other terrible tendencies) during the dating stage, and only allow it to show after they marry the person and/or know that the person they’re in a relationship is committed to them, is financially and/or socially dependent on them (many abusers isolate their targets from friends and family).

Most people are not going to walk freely, knowingly, willingly, and openly into a marriage to someone they can see and know is controlling, constantly critical, a user, or abusive.

If the abuser quite openly abused and behaved obnoxiously during the dating stage, no woman would ever marry these guys – that’s why abusers pour on the charm and hide the violence or psychological abuse until AFTER they marry.

This is very much a “bait and switch” phenomenon, where the Narcissist lies about who they are; the Narcissist presents upfront one way, while in the dating stage, but then differently, after the person is in their clutches.

As such, the Christians who still advocate for the “permanence of marriage” view, or ones similar (that don’t allow emotional abuse, for example, as a grounds for “biblical” divorce) are in error.

I don’t think most Christians have bothered to study Cluster B personality disorders or Narcissistic Abuse at all. Perhaps if more did, they’d be more open to re-interpreting the Bible and realizing God doesn’t expect anyone to stay married to an abuser until death.

And this is not a problem just in marriage – I don’t want to get into it too much here and now, but where abuse and mistreatment arises in the workplace or in friendships, Christians are also ignorant clowns who end up doing a lot of damage to targets.

For example, if you’re being bullied in your place of employment by a jerk, depending on the particular circumstances, it may be very counter-productive to take the usual, naive, un-workable Christian advice of “turn the cheek and pray for the enemy” towards your workplace bully.

The reality is, most bullies have to be stood up to. You cannot sit back, be passive, be loving to your workplace enemy, just pray that God removes the bully, and hope things just work out.

If you’re dealing with a “Cluster B” bully, the best way may be to go “grey rock” on that individual and then try to change jobs as fast as you can.

Here is the letter from the lady who seems to be married to what sounds an awful lot like a Vulnerable Narcissist:


(Link): Dear Abby: I want to divorce my husband but he has cancer

by Dear Abby
January 24, 2023

My husband and I have been married for nine years. While we were dating, he was kind, considerate and loving.

After we married, he turned into a chronic complainer, something he later confessed he had been hiding while we dated.

He talks to me like I’m trash and then gets nice when he wants something.

He complains about my grown children, my best friend and even if I leave for work a couple of minutes early.

He is a miserable person. I cannot do anything to make him happy. I can’t take this anymore.

He has taken the things away from me that I love — flowers, gardening, pets, books, friends, etc.

I’m ready to leave, but he has cancer and I’d feel guilty. He is clear right now, but it will come back.

I don’t want to stay. Life is too short to live this way.

He has a great support system with his family. They would take care of him.

My health has been affected by him and his terrible attitude. What do I do?

(signed)— WORN-OUT WIFE

What you do now is consult a lawyer, pack your bags and leave before he worsens.
Do not expect your husband to be grateful for any of the efforts you have made on his behalf during the course of your marriage.
During the time you were dating, he hid from you the fact that he was a verbal abuser. Now you know he was a fraud.
Don’t feel guilty for protecting yourself and reclaiming your life.
—- end letter —

Abby is correct that the wife who wrote this letter should not feel any guilt about leaving this guy and moving on.

Abby is also correct that the letter writer’s husband will never express gratitude for all that this woman did for him during the marriage.

Many of the following points I’m making – ones on how to react and what to do if you’re married to, related to, or working for, a narcissist – are summaries from the many pages and some books of what I’ve read over the last two to three years, by credentialed therapists or psychologists who specialize in treating trauma bonded, abused patients who are married, related to, or who work for narcissists:

If this guy described in the Dear Abby letter is a Vulnerable Narcissist (and I strongly suspect he is one), Vulnerable Narcissists lack empathy, are ingrates, never apologize for their selfish, hypocritical, manipulative, and/or verbally abusive, disgusting behavior (unless they believe giving an apology can be used to manipulate their target further).

Narcissists will never be grateful for anything you’ve done for them, because from their view, you never do enough for them, and you will never, ever do enough (you’re waging a losing war on that).

Pathological Narcissists never really change and are incapable of doing so – putting aside the itty bitty, tiny percentage of what therapists refer to as the “self aware” Narcissists.

Most Narcissists will not and cannot see that they have a problem, and you cannot convince them that they do have one; and if you cannot admit that you have a problem, you cannot work on it and heal from it.

Narcissism is largely immune from therapy, as well, and taking your narcissistic spouse along to marriage counseling sessions will not work (narcissists will weaponize therapy and marriage counseling to use against you, and narcissists often “fool” the therapist into thinking that they, the narcissist, are the victim, and that you, the actual victim, are the abuser).

If you’re married to any type of Narcissist, you have to be aware of, and accept, that he or she is never, ever going to change -or not change to a degree where you will have a fulfilling, normal, loving, happy relationship.

If you have to stay married to one, you need to make adjustments, like accept that your narcissistic spouse will never give you the empathy, attention, and love that you want.

You also have to stop being vulnerable and open around your narcissistic spouse – stop sharing your goals, dreams, regrets, and fears with them (this also applies to any narcissistic family members, co-workers, or friends you have).

If you’re married to a Narcissist, if you can divorce, you need to divorce – and I don’t care WHAT the idiot anti-divorce Christians online think, in their stupid Twitter spats about it, where they try to shame people into staying in toxic relationships, nor do I care what your anti-divorce preacher or denomination says or thinks about the topic.

You need to tune out what these anti-divorce Christians will say, because their goal is not to HELP you, but to keep all marriages in place, no matter how harmful the marriage is to you.

You don’t matter to the anti-divorce Christians: they value your marriage certificate and their ideology, doctrines, their interpretations, and dogma above you, and they always will. You cannot reason or argue them out of it.

I really advise doing research on Cluster B personality disorders and on Narcissistic Abuse. Not all Narcissists have NPD (Narcissist Personality Disorder), as narcissism is on a spectrum – but even the most low level of narcissists can be harmful to you.

Your love, sacrifice, prayer, and devotion cannot change, rescue, or save a pathological narcissist (or sociopath, psychopath, or any other type of abuser).

Attending church, accepting Jesus as savior, etc, will not change, save, or fix a narcissist either (as a matter of fact, a lot of Vulnerable and Communal Narcissists love to attend a place or worship regularly, because it upholds their fake “nice, pious, godly, loving guy” mask, then they come home in private after a church service and abuse you).

That Dear Abby letter also goes to show that marriage does not always make people happy, or more loving, ethical, godly or responsible.

I’ve been around super negative people before, including a few suspected Vulnerable Narcissists, and their unremitting pessimistic, cynical attitudes can and have negatively impacted my mental health.

I’m not opposed to some amount of complaining. If you never, ever complain and bottle up all negative emotions and thoughts, that can also lead to mental and physical health problems.

But people with severe attitude problems, whose majority of conversation revolves around bitching, moaning, and complaining can do terrible damage to the mental (and maybe physical) health of those around them.

Back during the 35 years I had depression – and even now, that I’m over depression – it can put me in a depressive funk to be around an incredibly toxic, bitter, complaining person.

(Honestly, I find it incredibly stupid and incredulous that in the years I’ve had this blog, I’ve had the occasional idiot pop into the comment box under some posts here to actually lecture me – me of all people – that I am “too negative” or that I “sound bitter.”

If these people knew my history or had bothered reading my other posts, they’d know that is not the case.

No. No I’m not bitter or too cynical or negative. Off this blog, in real life, I don’t complain that much and am not constantly negative.

My family raised me to never show anger, so I could never complain too much. I had to keep things bottled up for over 30 years. Writing in various places online, like this blog, is one of my few outlets to express anger.

I don’t spend every minute off-line complaining or being “bitter” or “cynical.” I’m not even bitter, cynical, or complain-y in every post I’ve written at this blog!

In reality, for many years, I was a sweet, passive, clinically depressed, Codependent who wasted 35+ of her life listening to OTHER people – who truly were bitter and cynical or depressed – complain TO ME about THEIR problems for hours over years.

I didn’t get to talk or complain about me or my problems often over the course of my life to anyone (other than maybe my Mom in my younger years). This blog is about one of my few venues for that.

So… you shouldn’t be basing your takes on my mental health, attitude, or psychology from my behavior or attitudes from this blog or its associated Twitter account (again, I’ve had a few people do precisely that a few times in the past!).
You’re not getting a full picture of who I am, and I’m never going to give one, not at this blog.)

I’ve actually told such a person or two in my life – these constantly complaining, bitter, negative people (including that (Link): now ex friend) – that I could not stomach their perpetual, intense negativity any more, and I informed them I would intentionally be breaking off contact with them for a few days or weeks – no calls, no texts, nothing.

I had to take those occasional breaks from toxic family or friends to save my own mental health.


If you are single, and you’re dating, do be aware that some people will mislead you during the dating phase – try to catch any red flags that you can (there are not always red flags, but sometimes there are, so it can help avoid some toxic people some of the time).

This is all true for making friends, too. If you’re getting to know someone online or in real life (through church or whatever), or you periodically meet them for a cup of coffee out, pay attention.

You don’t want to end up with a Vulnerable Narcissist (or some other troubled, toxic person) in your platonic social life.

And yes, even self-professing Christians who attend church weekly and who do things like volunteer at all sorts of charities – who at first seem like genuine, loving, good people – can actually also be Vulnerable or Communal Narcissists. And you do not want these people in your life.

And by the way… a lot of narcissists are attracted to professions such as the medical field, mental health field, law, CEOs of companies, police, etc, so just because someone wears scrubs and has a stethoscope around their neck doesn’t mean they are necessarily kind, loving, empathetic or kind – they may be a narcissist.

Narcissists can also be found working as therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists – and this is so even according to mental health professionals themselves who will warn you in their books or videos about “doctor shopping,” when you’re considering getting mental health help, to be aware that when you’re looking for a therapist or psychologist, that some of them are inept or lack empathy – some have personality disorders.

If you’re a single man who is dating with a goal of marriage to a woman in mind – not only do some men attract, or feel attracted to, narcissistic women – but a lot of you men seem to be attracted to women with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder).

If you’re a single guy, especially one who is prone to low self esteem, codependency, and/or being a people pleaser and you shy away from conflict and arguing, you should probably do a lot of research on BPD to know what signs to look for when dating a BPD, so you can break things off quickly.

Both single men AND single women need to research NPD, Narcissistic Abuse, Vulnerable Narcissism (looking into other types of narcissism too couldn’t hurt), ASPD (Anti Social Personality Disorder  – sociopathy, psychopathy) and possibly Bipolar Disorder – if you want to avoid a marriage or getting too involved in a serious relationship with a verbally / emotionally abusive or volatile partner who is prone to unpredictable mood swings, including scary levels of rage.


(Link): Not all Narcissists are Grandiose – the ‘Vulnerable’ Type can be Just as Dangerous 

(Link): To Forgive Or Not To Forgive Your Abuser – The Unintended Fallout: Possible Emotional Abuse or Exploitation Of Your Codependent Friend or Family Member

(Link): When Your Secrets Are Used Against You (Hax Advice Column) – sounds like one of my family members

(Link): Dear Prudence: Help! I’m Glad My Awful Husband Is Dead.

(Link): Avoid Getting Entangled with Covert Narcissists – You Can Waste Your Time, Effort, Money or Giving that Exhausting Emotional Support and It Won’t Make A Difference to the Recipient

(Link): Single, People Pleasing Guy Murdered by Neighbor (Incident Triggered by His People Pleasing) – Another Precaution for Codependents (and for Complementarian Women)

(Link): Don’t Be Pat Robertson: Learn That, Yes, Abusive Jerks Masquerade As Nice Guys Until They Marry the Woman Then They Abuse Her – Pat Blames A Woman Again For Marrying A Jerk

(Link): No Red Flags: Woman Discusses Discovering Her Seemingly Normal, Loving Husband was a Sexual Manipulator who Committed Adultery Many Times (podcast)

(Link): Guy is Dating Button Pusher (Dear Abby) – Provoking Fights: One Common Aspect of Narcissistic Abuse

(Link): She Married a Christian Psychopath She Met Via a Dating Site

(Link): Alpha Females Part 4 – From Psychiatrists and Counselors: How and Why Being a Beta Female is Harmful and Damaging to Women

(Link): Consider The Source: Christians Who Give Singles Dating Advice Also Regularly Coach Wives to Stay in Abusive Marriages

(Link): Supposedly Woman-Honoring and Pro-Marriage Focus On the Family Group Wants Wives to Blame Themselves If or When Their Husbands Commit Adultery – Re: Book: ‘How God Used the Other Woman,’ by Tina Konkin

(Link): When Narcissists Fake Being Sick to Manipulate You – Re: Boundaries, etc

(Link):  People Using Fake Sickness or Hardship To Con People Out Of Their Money, Attention, or Empathy

(Link):  Overcoming a Narcissistic Husband and a Church that Enabled Him – Podcast

(Link): How To Deal With Chronic Complainers, by Guy Winch, Ph.D.

(Link): Sick of the Chronic Complainer? Here’s How to Fix Their Behavior By Sophie Deutsch

(Link): Offering Unconditional, Indefinite Emotional Support to Anyone and Everyone, or to the Same Person for Years, in Whatever Situations – It’s a Trap!

(Link): Victim Syndrome (‘Are You A Victim of the Victim Syndrome’) – by Insead

(Link):  Lundy Bancroft on Narcissists vs Abusers for The Audacious Life podcast

(Link):  Interview with the Authors of The Great Sex Rescue (book discusses erroneous, sexist Christian views about women and how this hinders sex – among other issues)

(Link): They Put Their Faith in a God-Fearing Man Selling Them Tiny Homes. Now They’re Suing Him For Fraud – Christians: Please Learn the Red Flags, Research Cluster B Personality Disorders

(Link): An Assessment of the Article “Why the Religion of Self-Care is Really Sanctified Selfishness” – Christian Author is Indirectly Promoting Codependency, Which is Harmful

(Link): When Your Secrets Are Used Against You (Hax Advice Column) – sounds like one of my family members

(Link): Guy is Dating Button Pusher (Dear Abby) – Provoking Fights: One Common Aspect of Narcissistic Abuse 

(Link):  When You’re in Imbalanced, Unfair Relationships – You’re the Free Therapist, The Supportive, Sounding Board Who Listens to Other People’s Non-Stop Complaining, But They Don’t Listen to You – re: The Toilet Function of Friendship

(Link): An Alarming Trend in Psychotherapy by Christine Sefein – (Woke Therapists Want You To Stay In a Victim Mindset and Miserable)

(Link):  People Using Fake Sickness or Hardship To Con People Out Of Their Money, Attention, or Empathy

(Link): Pathologies of Victimhood by R. Gunderman – The Dangers of Victimhood Mentality

(Link): How to Recognize and Respond to Energy Vampires at Home, Work, and More

(Link): Why Women Are Tired: The Price of Unpaid Emotional Labor by C. Hutchison 

(Link): More Thoughts About ‘The Toilet Function of Friendship’ – Avoid or Minimize Contact with the Rachels and Fletchers of the World 

(Link): Chronic Pain and the Self Pity, Depression Trap

(Link): Clinical Depression Doesn’t Make People Incapable of Making Choices or Changes

(Link): Mental Illness Doesn’t Make You Special by F. Deboer

(Link): The Bizarre, Misguided Shaming of Single and Childless or Childfree Women by Pro-Lifer Abby Johnson – (Not All Single, Childless Women are Liberal, Pro-Choice Feminists)

(Link): The Chelsea Handler Childless Woman Upset: Other Conservatives and Pro Life Advocates Wrongly Conflating Married Motherhood with Womanhood or with Happiness

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