Many of us have been there. Toxic friendships, partners or work colleagues. They seemed to be attractive and interesting at first; then the relationship slowly progressed into something toxic, dark, webbed with lies and non-transparency.
The masks toxic personalities wear do not slip for some time until you ‘buy-in’ into the new relationship, and they can claim you as their possession. There is, however, an upside of this unfortunate situation; after you learn who you are dealing with, you can escape the toxicity and free yourself from the burden of that person. Moving on can be a long process and is an essential part of every healthy recovery.
The realization that there has been no real connection, to begin with, is always painful. In my case, understanding that I dealt with a sick person, unable to form any healthy relationship, was critical to withdraw completely and move forward without looking back.
Pretty significant part of toxic people falls into cluster B personality disorders such as NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), APD (Antisocial Personality Disorder) or BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Take my advice below: first, educate yourself. Knowledge is a powerful tool. Properly equipped with data you can make informed decisions about your next steps and risks of staying vs. leaving the relationship (friend or partner) and managing toxic colleagues at work.
I had an unfortunate experience with a male overt narcissist who claimed to be my friend. The friendship was believable initially. Narcissists and sociopaths are certainly great actors. They will pretend to be best friends, partners, and supporters, to gain something out of it, but none of the positive emotions they project are real. They are a disloyal, manipulative offenders, working hard behind your back to destroy you. Weeks, months into the relationship and be sure the narcissist sociopath will start abusing and emotionally manipulate you, without caring at all about your feelings and without showing any remorse. It can start off with a brutal ‘it was just a joke’ sarcasm. My ex-friend started with saying: “You are very smart for a woman.” I did not know that time that male narcs are misogynists by nature. I witnessed the lash out too. The same person yelled at me in public “go to hell,” since I did not like his selection of a restaurant for a business meal; he was throwing notebooks at the walls in a workplace, and verbally attacking people in case of a slight disagreement. I have not even witnessed personally all of it, I learned those examples from colleagues after our friendship was finally over. All of those behaviors were just a tip of the iceberg with a lot more of buried, dark secrets from his past. Doing the research and talking with people who knew him from previous companies he worked for, was very helpful in understanding what I was dealing with. He turned to be a wolf wearing a ship skin that whole time. Some employees, like me, trusted him (at least partially), but the majority was careful and maintained a distance. He was not able to maintain the facade for long. The intrinsic ugliness prevailed. People quickly learned what he was by just observing. No wonder that he and many narcissists are on the run, changing frequently geographies and employers (and partners) to avoid the consequences of their own reputation.
Narcissists always have a lot to hide. Thus, they lie and manipulate to a great extent maintaining their false ‘public’ persona (facade). Male narcs use pity plays and usually surround themselves with women who show them compassion and empathy. Beware of male friends who have too many female friends, it is one of the red flags. Sociopaths and narcs are wolves in a ship skin, using manipulations to achieve their win (any goal they have in mind accomplished by exploiting others).
Narcissists were often abused and neglected in childhood. Then, they carry same neglect and abuse with them throughout their adult life. They manipulate, lie and attack anyone who directs any criticism toward them (even implied). Their ego is extremely fragile due to childhood trauma, but none of this justifies their compensation mechanisms which are damaging to all getting close to them. Ordinary people are not prepared to deal with their twisted nature. It ‘s hard to believe someone can be ‘wired’ that way. It is evil in a pure form.
The problem with the modern society is that a term “narcissist” is still associated with somebody who is extremely self-centered and usually physically attractive. It is far away from what NPD is about. NPD is a severe personality disorder, and the consequences of dealing with individuals suffering from NPD are devastating to all who are closest to them.
According to the largest study ever conducted on personality disorders (PD) by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), 5.9% of the U.S. population has BPD (Grant et al. 2008), and 6.2% has NPD (Stinson et al. 2008). As some people fit both diagnoses, about 10 percent of the U.S. population has BPD and/or NPD.
There are two main types of narcissists: overt and covert. Some of the narcissists may change behaviors from overt to covert form and vice versa. The first form is very apparent with extreme delusions of grandeur. The second is tricky to recognize as they often play a victim role and modesty card. Same time, they can be very dangerous, manipulative and deviant (e.g. domestic violence, serial cheating, pedophilia). Narcissists of both kinds hurt (emotional or/and physical abuse) life partners, spouses, friends, and family in devaluation-discard phases, and after the idealization (‘love bombing’) phase. This is done intentionally, to gain the ‘fuel/supply,’ punish you and exert control over you, the inferior. When they are done with you, they will discard you or put you ‘on a shelf,’ to get back later, sometimes after months or years of absence, and try to pull you back into their games. They usually have a ‘harem’ of individuals that they use when they discard the current supply source. They ‘recycle’ their former intimate partners (often co-dependent individuals). They are also on the search for a new ‘better’ supply in a lifetime mission.
Narcs feed off emotions, negative or positive. Nothing can fill their internal void, no matter how much supply they get, they go through an idealization-devaluation-discard cycle with each significant other in their life. Everyone is replaceable to them, and they discard people without blinking. They are also vengeful. During devaluation and after discard phase, they will damage your professional reputation, smear you to your friends, connections, their new primary source of supply (e.g. girlfriend or boyfriend) and usually present you as mentally unstable and abusive. Narcs love to portray their former partners and spouses that way, thus preventing the new partner in believing anything they say, e.g. if they try to warn them. Narcs project a lot, assigning their characteristics to others; e.g. if they say that the spouse cheated on them, they were the one cheating. They are delusional and often believe their lies. They are also addicted to drama – this gives them negative and positive fuel interchangeably, preventing the boredom.
If you had a chance to get closer to a narc for a prolonged period, you would see the mask slipping, inevitably. They are permanently angry, alien-like creatures with poor impulse control. They are full of hidden envy towards other people, their skills, jobs, financials, friends, families; you name it. Narcissists have no empathy, no conscience, they deliberately hurt others. Positive or negative attention, suffering they cause; all are fuel. They try hard to hide their ugly ‘true-self’ from themselves and the external world. Some of them are aware of their condition, but the majority is not, and they act purely instinctively. They will never admit there is something wrong with them and thus very few decide to go into therapy to manage their personality disorder. Usually forced by family or courts. Therapy is the only way to treat NPD/APD, but there is no research to back up its effectiveness. Narcs simply do not want to change – they will manipulate the therapists, and use the sessions to further improve their harmful skills. It is all about power and control to them, not about recovery.
Interestingly, sometimes in the initial stage of a relationship, the narcs warn you. My narcissistic ex-friend said very early: “I am a very dark person, I ruin everything.” I did not believe him, I trivialized it, my mistake. Listen carefully, be suspicious, play a detective especially if you are in a dating arena. Watch for behavioral red flags. The red flags are easy to spot when you know what to look for. Narcissists use the same bucket of tricks over and over again on all victims – they are very unoriginal (say and do exactly same things to all the victims). I give you the link to my favorite blog, an excellent source of information on NPD, created by a sociopathic narcissist HG Tudor: https://narcsite.com/.
Please do not try to help the narcs, attempt to ‘heal’ them; they will suck you dry and discard afterward. They sabotage every relationship out of abandonment fear that was injected in their souls when they were children. Narcissists do not search for the curative treatment because, in their minds, they do not need it. In my last communication with my ex-friend, when I confronted him about his lies, manipulations, backstabbing, and abusiveness, he responded with: “I am not a monster”…and then turned into silence (aka ‘silent treatment’), the narc’s preferred way method of avoiding difficult topics. Narcs do not feel they own you any explanations. We, empaths, are inferior, our needs are unimportant.
Warning: Individuals affected by NPD/APD sometimes come back after the prolonged absence and beg for forgiveness with a false remorse. This is because they want something from you (attention, admiration, money, physical intimacy etc.=supply). Letting them back in is always a mistake. They will never change. The remorse is FAKE. The only emotions they are capable of are anger, envy, and self-pity. They have never cared about you, it is just a game for them. Those facts are backed-up by research.
If you let them re-start the relationship, the next idealization-discard cycle will come eventually and will be more painful for you. They will make sure of it. They pull a rug from under you when you least expect it. Besides, people are interchangeable to them, like batteries- they drain one and substitute it with another. It is better for them to keep several ‘batteries’ in a drawer, just in case. Neurotypicals, empaths are just a supply sources, appliances, objects.
The only way of dealing with a pathological narcissist (NPD) is to leave him/her behind with permanent ‘no contact ‘(NC) rule in place. NC is the only and proven way to protect yourself from the further abuse and cruelty. Never come back to somebody who has hurt you deliberately and had no decency to show immediate regret, remorse and did not repair the damage caused by his/her actions and behaviors. There are plenty good people out there who deserve your care, love, friendship, and loyalty instead.
Stay happy and healthy!
- 20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths And Psychopaths Use To Silence You
- What to Do If Your Boss Is a Narcissistic Bully.
- Power and Control Phases of Narcissistic Relationships.
- 10 Toxic People, You Should Avoid At All Costs.
- Do You Work With This Personality Type? Here’s How They Manipulate Employees, According to Research.