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

DEAR ABBY:
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.

Continue reading “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”

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

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

I was watching a video today by psychologist Dr. Ramani, who I like very much, and I agree with her most of the time.

I even agree with most of her comments in this particular recent video she made that I will be discussing in this post, but it brought to mind one over-looked aspect pertaining to volatile or abusive relationships.

In the video (link to that video here, and I will embed it below, the title is, “Is there virtue in forgiving a narcissist who doesn’t apologize?”), Dr. Ramani expressed that she pretty much disagrees with the concept that people should have to forgive others, or that forgiving others makes a person stronger, etc.

Dr. Ramani rightly points out in that video that continually forgiving pathologically narcissistic persons is a waste of your time, for various reasons I shall not explain here (you can watch her video for explanations). I do agree with her on that.

If someone in your life keeps hurting, abusing, or mistreating you, no matter how many times you’ve forgiven them and given them a second, third, etc, chance,
you need to accept the fact this person is more than likely NEVER going to change and that they merely view your willingness to always forgive him or her as a weakness to repeatedly exploit.
So cut that person from your life, or limit time around them.

It’s not that I disagree with Dr. Ramani’s comments in the video on the face of things, but, I am concerned for Codependents.

On a similar note, in years past, I’ve also read books or seen videos about how people can help their abused friends.

I’ve seen videos by women who divorced their abusive husbands who reel off a list of tips on how you, the friend, can be supportive towards the friend in the abusive marriage.

These videos, books, and online articles, contain lists of things to say or to avoid saying when trying to help someone who is currently in an abusive relationship or someone who was abused in childhood.

Many of these books, videos, and web pages (most by therapists, psychologists or recovered abusive victims) often stress that you, the friend, should just sit and listen to the friend – just validate the friend, do not give advice, judge, or criticize.

I am a recovered Codependent (I wrote a very, very long post about that here).

I am also an Introvert. Introverts naturally make better attentive listeners than Extroverts.

So, as someone who is an Introvert and a one-time Codependent, I was very adept at giving the sort of emotional support a lot of troubled people seek out and find comforting.

For over 35 years, due to the parenting of my mother and the guilt tripping-, sexist-, Codependent- pushing- teachings under “gender complementarianism” of the Southern Baptist church I was brought up in, I had no boundaries, I was not assertive, and it was implied it is my job or responsibility in life to rescue or help other people, whatever format that came in.

All of that was taught to me as I grew up under the false, gender complementarian assumption (and my mother and father bought into some of this thinking too) that God created women to be more caring than men, it would be un-feminine or selfish for a woman to have boundaries, and I was taught that it was women’s “duty” to be care-takers for the hurting.

For me, most often, the support and care-taking my Mom and church taught me to engage in came in the form of “Emotional Labor,” and it made my already bad mental health in years past even worse.

(I was diagnosed at a very young age with clinical depression, I also had anxiety disorders and had low self esteem for many years. I no longer have depression or low self esteem.)

If you are an abuse victim, or if you’ve been bullied at a job, or you were abused in a marriage, or you were sexually or physically abused as a child by a family member (or by a neighbor, or by whomever),
I know it can be helpful, now, as an adult, to sit and talk to an empathetic listener about it, it can feel so good for that listener to sit quietly while you do most of the talking, and for that person to validate you and your experiences.

It can be very healing and feel like a tremendous relief for that listener to refrain from victim blaming you, offering advice or platitudes.

It can help in the healing process for another adult to believe you and just offer non-judgmental emotional support as you relate your trauma and pain to them.

I realize all that.

But have you ever considered that the caring, non-judgmental, empathetic person you keep turning to, whether it’s a friend or a family member, might be highly codependent and your repeated use of that person as your emotional support system may be damaging to THAT PERSON?

Because I was that person, for over 35 years.

I was the sweet, caring, understanding, supportive listener that many people – co-workers on jobs, family, neighbors, friends –
would call, e-mail, snail mail, or text with their problems, because they KNEW I would always listen to them rant (for hours on end, if need be, over months and years), I would NEVER put time limits on their rants, and I would ALWAYS respond in a timely fashion to ranting or sad e-mails or texts.

I spent over 35 years giving a lot of non-qualified, no-strings-attached emotional support to a lot of emotionally wounded or abused people over my life.

Some of these people called or e-mailed me over job stress, health problems, troubled marriages, financial issues, or, they were single and were lonely – they couldn’t get a boyfriend (or girlfriend).

None of these people who called or texted me to complain or sob to me ever once considered how their regular, negative phone calls (or letters or face to face chats) were impacting me. For the ones who considered it, I suppose they didn’t care.

If you choose not to forgive your abuser, that is your choice to make, but…

Be aware that if you choose to not forgive but to also hold on to your hurt and anger, and to choose to ruminate on the abuse,
and should you choose to deal with and vent that anger and hurt by regularly calling your Codependent friend to listen to your rants or sobbing – you are abusing your Codependent friend or family member, which is not acceptable.

In all the years I granted emotional support to hurting people (including but not limited to co-workers who’d stop by my cubicle during work hours to bend my ear for an hour or more about their divorce or health problems), I was never once thanked.

The non-stop support I gave was never acknowledged. And giving that non-stop support was exhausting and taxing for me, as I know it can be for other Codependent persons.

A “thank you” once in awhile from these people who came to me to dump their problems on me would’ve been appreciated. I never got one.

Reciprocation would’ve been appreciated and helpful too, but the people who were abuse survivors, or assorted chronic complainers who used me to vent to, very rarely to never asked about ME and MY struggles in life.

Continue reading “To Forgive Or Not To Forgive Your Abuser – The Unintended Fallout: Possible Emotional Abuse or Exploitation Of Your Codependent Friend or Family Member”

There Are Five Types of Toxic Partners – Are You Dating One? by Ellen Scott

There Are Five Types of Toxic Partners – Are You Dating One? by Ellen Scott

Word of wisdom: although the following web page discusses dating, you need to be aware that these same exact dynamics can and do turn up in platonic friendships, co-workers at your job, or among your family members.

Take what you read below about dating and apply it to non-dating relationships as well.

(Link): There Are Five Types of Toxic Partners – Are You Dating One? by Ellen Scott

Excerpts:

April 9, 2022

…But we all know that crushing hard can make you not notice glaring red flags, let alone the more subtle signs that something isn’t quite right.

The early warning signs that a relationship could become unhealthy can be even harder to spot.

Cathy Press has been working as working as a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor for over 25 years, specialising in domestic and sexual violence and abuse related issues, so she knows her stuff when it comes to love turning sour.

 Her new book, When Love Bites: A Young Person’s Guide To Escaping Harmful, Toxic and Hurtful Relationships, aims to equip people with the knowledge they need to avoid abusive partners, and the tools they need to escape the pattern.

A key part of this is understanding the five toxic types of partner – and then avoiding those at all costs.

Continue reading “There Are Five Types of Toxic Partners – Are You Dating One? by Ellen Scott”

Five Behaviors That Seem ‘Normal’ But Could Be Signs Of Emotional Abuse by Kelsey Borresen

Five Behaviors That Seem ‘Normal’ But Could Be Signs of Emotional Abuse by K. Borresen

(Link): Five Behaviors That Seem ‘Normal’ But Could Be Signs Of Emotional Abuse by Kelsey Borresen

Excerpts:

Emotional abusers “groom” victims using kindness and affection. They win you over, then they turn on you.

Unlike physical abuse, (Link): emotional abuse can be subtle and can often go undetected by victims, as well as their friends and family.

In the early stages of dating, an emotional abuser often acts in ways that (Link): appear caring, loving and attentive — at least on the surface. This is part of the perpetrator’s “grooming process” — or a time where they use charm and flattery to make you believe they’re kind and trustworthy.

“That ‘kindness’ is designed to win over the trust and confidence of an unsuspecting victim, making them vulnerable to subsequent abuse,” saidLisa Ferentz, a licensed clinical social worker and educator specializing in trauma.

(Link): Emotional abuse may include (Link): behaviors such as threatening, insulting, shaming, belittling, name-calling, (Link): gaslighting and (Link): stonewalling, which are done in an attempt to chip away at the victim’s independence and self-esteem so the abuser can gain control in the relationship.

Continue reading “Five Behaviors That Seem ‘Normal’ But Could Be Signs Of Emotional Abuse by Kelsey Borresen”

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

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

February 2023 update: the behavior this man describes sounds a lot like narcissism. His girlfriend is probably a Narcissist – whether she’s a Grandiose, Communal, Vulnerable, or what other type I cannot tell for sure.

But it’s very common for Narcissists to intentionally pick fights with their target, or to keep badgering them until they explode in a rage.

Narcissists pick fights and try to enrage their victim to regulate their emotions (it brings them relief to cause their target to lash out in anger), and they also enjoy being able to turn to the just-exploded target and patronizingly sneer at them, “Look at how crazy  you are.”

Yes, the Narcissist provokes you into reacting – by getting you to snap and to scream, yell, etc – then they have the nerve to victim-blame you for the very reaction that they provoked in you in the first place.

If you want more detailed explanations as to why they engage in this behavior, please start researching the topic of Narcissism.

This letter comes from the same series of letters I quoted from in a post the other day.

This guy wrote to Dear Abby saying:

Dear Abby

• I am currently in a relationship that’s great except for one thing. She knows what “buttons” to push to make me angry, and she’ll continue to push them.

No matter what I do, she’s in my face. It just seems she wants to argue until I reach the point of exploding.

Continue reading “Guy is Dating Button Pusher (Dear Abby) – Provoking Fights: One Common Aspect of Narcissistic Abuse”

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

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

I have written of my family member, who I dubbed “Shirley” in an older post. That (Link): older post was about an ex friend of mine. My sister Shirley is a lot like the ex friend, only 100 times worse.

I could probably write a billion blog pages about my problems with Shirley – what you see here in this letter to Hax from a married man is just one of the many problems I have with my sister.

My sister is emotionally abusive. Anything you tell her in confidence, no matter how emotionally painful or sensitive it is for you, my sister Shirley (not her real name) will use against you in the future.

She is one of those people who will get angry at you about “X,” but then proceed to not only bring up the thing you did – “Z” –  23 years ago and scream at you about that (she will also bring up Y, Q, and T too, things which happened 10 or 15 years ago), but she will also dredge up some painful tid bit you shared with her at a time you were depressed or scared and throw that in your face too and mock you about it or criticize you over it.

I have since learned to stop sharing any inner thoughts or pain with her. I stopped sharing meaningful stuff with her and kept conversations shallow. In recent months, though, I had to go even further and pretty much cut off most contact with her. Prior to cutting off contact, though, I had learned to stop confiding in her.

She will take anything personal, private, and painful you share with her and use it against you as a weapon, much like this man’s wife does to him.

Sometimes, when my sister Shirley is in one of her rage fits, you can sometimes tell by her facial expression that she is searching through the files in her memory, seeing what she can dredge up from 5, 10, or more years ago to throw in your face.

My sister and I currently live apart, so she screams at me in e-mails, social media, and the phone, but if we meet in person and she snaps, you can just see the cogs and wheels in her mind turning, searching for anything you have revealed to her in the past to use against you in her fit.

Shirley almost always attacks me in private, just me and her in the room. She never attacks me in front of other people, unless it’s another target of hers, like her ex boyfriend, Dan (not his real name).

This dude’s wife sounds exactly like my sister Shirley. Exactly.

February 2023 update: I now think that this man’s wife is a Vulnerable Narcissist (also known as “Covert Narcissist”). To learn more about that, read (Link): this post on this blog.

Letter to Hax, October 2015:

Dear Carolyn:

My wife has been telling me as long as we’ve known each other (around 10 years now) that she wants nothing but openness and honesty from me. So when she asks me personal questions, especially questions that bring up things from my past or that I have deep personal connections to, such as sexual attractiveness and other very intimate subjects, I answer as honestly as I know how.

My problem is that she reacts in a way that undermines the trust and confidence I put in her, and she uses what I tell her against me when we fight.

Such as: “You can’t criticize me for that because you [insert incident from when I was 15 that I told her about],” or my favorite, the snide comment about some personal anecdote about my sexual history, which she likes to drag out when we haven’t had sex in a while.

I find myself confiding less and less in her, and sharing less and less, and in general just not offering information with her from the heart because I fear everything I say will be used against me at some point in the future.

Continue reading “When Your Secrets Are Used Against You (Hax Advice Column) – sounds like one of my family members”