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ego kibblesOne word I coined here years ago is “narkles” — or narcissist sparkles. It’s that phenomenon with cheaters — the instant chemistry, the chump having their initial doubts about this person, but being wowed by the intensity of the narcissist.

Narkles are like that spotlight that swivels in a studio audience and lands on the Lucky Winner. You! They’ve set their sites on YOU!

How do narkles happen? I think first narcissists cultivate this air of exclusivity, of great self importance — which is pretty ironic with cheaters because really, they’re not exclusive at all. They’d sell their soul for a kibble. But they come across as terribly self confident and never, ever wrong. (And because they’re never wrong, hey, there’s no need to apologize. Infallible people never say sorry.)

Ordinary people tend to fall for people who act extraordinary. Who don’t display the normal neuroses and awkwardness most of us suffer with. These people are very sure of their point of view, whatever it is. That they’re the smartest person in the room, the most attractive — or an interesting variant on narkles — the most misunderstood, or in need of help.

Contrary to the life of the party type of narkles, I think there is an aloof kind of narkle — the I Am Very Sad and Misunderstood And Only With Your Loving Patience Can You Save Me. Oh yes, you’re the only one who really gets them. Who is allowed into the walled garden of their soul. These freaks display self importance by holding themselves apart from others, withholding, maybe if you try really, really hard you can get them to smile. They did? They smiled at you? There’s the narkle spotlight — you’re the special one! Now could you do their homework for them and maybe lend them some money? Because well, you’re special. You’re the only one they trust to help them.

Other narcissists, my ex was like this, have a charm onslaught — a jaunty Hey Let’s Throw a Party setting. You can’t stay mad at the man who wants to swing you around the dance floor, can you?

When I was dating him I felt like he was a bit more alive than other people. I can’t really describe it any other way. I’ve read sociopaths described this way — this frisson of attraction, the intensity, the narkles. It was intoxicating.

Now, to write that now, many years later is almost unbelievable to me, because I know the Real Him. And I lived with the slob, and his chaos, and his mindfuckery. But when all I knew of him was narkles — he was a very different person. Charming. Never tongue tied. Direct. Like I was the most important person in the world. Maybe that’s what they’re doing — they’re projecting. All the self importance and superiority they feel about themselves, they’re projecting on to you. You are FABULOUS! The perfect ONE! You are NEVER WRONG. Everything you do is exactly what they’ve always wanted in a person!

Until it isn’t.

That’s the problem. Disordered wing nuts “idolize and devalue.” It’s what they do. The dial doesn’t stay set at “narkles” all the time — just when they’re wooing. Just when they want something. And later, when they’ve lost you to their abuse, and they need you back — for cake, for money, to not lose face — they try the narkles on you again.

And chumps, we LOVE narkles. It’s like crack. When is that charming, sexy person coming back? Where is that person I fell in love with and married? Who is this raging, entitled asshole? Surely THAT person is the anomaly?

Narkles. Abuse. Narkles. Abuse. Narkles.

It takes a long time to realize the asshole is who they really are, and narkles is a pocket of magic fairy dust.

Here’s the good news about narkles — if you’ve ever been taken in by narkles, you can spot it again and you won’t have a taste for it. Like food poisoning. You’ll notice the person who shines a bit too brightly, a bit too desperately. You’ll be repelled by the person with the iron clad self regard. You can’t be bothered with the Complicated Artist in the corner who demands that you decode him.

You’ll crave people who are authentic and awkward and kind. Who are just alive and not more alive.

So tell me about your experiences with narkles, CN!

This one ran before. Today is Mr. CL’s birthday! A terrific mensch who just loves and doesn’t love bomb. Well, unless you’re a dog, in which case, it’s all the treats all the time. Anyway, got a late start breakfast celebrating. 

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  • Why, I had a heaping helping of Narkles a week or so for my Birthday! My 40th Birthday to be exact…you know, the one where I was supposed to celebrate the beginning of a new year and a new life WITHOUT bullshit, Narkles, and x-games worthy mindfuckery? Wrong….. Mine is a delightful combo of the poor, handsome, witty, charming guy who no one understands but me, I’m the ONE woman in the whole wide world he loves more than anything in the universe…you know the drill….none of the throng of escorts, hookers and regular folk he screws or has screwed over the decade long joke that was our “marriage” ever mattered, because he Loves ME….riiiiiiiigghhhhtt….. And if course my dumbass stayed after D-Day, way too long. He has a problem see, and only my love and support can fix it. As long as I sit here and pine for him, let him do what he wants and needs to feel better and just love him to pieces whenever he deigns to come home and pretend to be a husband and father, then eeeeeeeeverything will be just fine. I, of course, am hoping that the tone of sarcasm is unmistakeable here. I’m not going to lie, I have a bad habit of giving him second, third, fifteenth and hundredth chances, because what’s worse than a mind warping socio? A mind warping socio who found “love” with a rabid co-dependent. I’m ashamed to admit it, really really ashamed, but wow what a match made in hell. So I moved away to a new town (he works out of town well, always, it is perfect for his habits) so our once beautiful family home sits in disarray while he punches me in the gut by deciding to finally finish aaallllll those things he was supposed to do for me, the kids, and the home. Yep, he’s finally finishing my dream kitchen, only the dream is gone now. I find this to be a real dick move designed to hurt me, and well, it does. I have to say that moving into this tiny apartment with my daughter, with barely any furniture, working 2 jobs nearly 7 days a week to earn what he does in less than half a day, well, it hurts. So he swings between Narkles and, ” if you moved away with me you could have whatever you want” type bullshit, tempered with a little assertion that, you know, I would need to “show him I’m willing to work for it” jeeeeeeeeezus, really? This mindfuck is ridiculous…. As with most of us Chumps, the situation is more drawn out and complicated than I can even begin to convey. Where are we at the moment? Wellll, he likes to sort of draw me in under some bullshit pretense, then ignore me by not answering calls or texts, then, when it get pissed, he disappears, only to surface by quietly asserting, “I don’t want to fight with you” REALLY??? Then stop being an asshole!? Which of course pisses me off worse and gets me super annoyed, so he can ignore me again and be the stoic hero he is….pooooor him, his wife is a crazy bitch, I can just hear his pitiful story to the next idiot about how he works so hard to take care of his family and his wife is a distrustful, paranoid psycho….wanna know how I know that’s what he’s saying? Same thing he told me about his first wife……so enough out of me, but Chump Lady, and fellow chumps, I could sure use some words of wisdom and a little support here, because sometimes I actually feel like I AM the crazy one here…..I need some help to break free, because right now, I don’t feel so strong. Someone please remind me that this is all bullshit….please….

    • So any Fellow Chumps out there who want to help or Cheerlead an idiot like me, let me know, I’m always open for all the help I can get to get past and out of this….thanks Chump Lady and you too Chump Nation. Love y’all!

      • Jedi Hugs Super. You got away from him, a good start. Where’s your lawyer in all this? Maybe you could go on the forums and start a thread there to discuss.

        • Super Chump,
          My cheater returned for a bit and changed some light bulbs (I wish he would do the kitchen) and expected a big applause. Of course he LOVED me and not “her” or “her”or…

          The only thing I can offer as a recovering sucker is to listen to your body. Even though I think I know and understand his manipulations and most of the time I catch it very often I don’t. The only thing working is to listen to any signs of discomfort. And then withdraw, don’t engage. If you have to communicate be very short, unemotional. Don’t give him any satisfaction by being friendly or upset. It’s like a game for him and he has to win. You are a player in his mind who is either on “his” team – doing whatever serves him, or an enemy to be defeated.
          It takes practice.

          • ‘You are a player in his mind who is either on “his” team – doing whatever serves him, or an enemy to be defeated.’

            Yep, that’s how it is with my ex. Because I am no longer his cheerleader and have called him out on his shit I am now the enemy. It’s pathetic and if it weren’t so detrimental to the kids I would laugh a full bully laugh. As it is they see their father act like a total fucktard towards me simply because I refuse to play his game any longer. He’s such a wonderful role model.

      • (((HUGS))) Super, these guys truly sparkle/narkle and truly and majorly suck. Listen to CL below. The only way to stop the mind fuck is to back away from the sociopath.

    • Big Big Hugs! Difficult situation……having children that are still young enough to be involved in the tanglement has got to be the most difficult. It’s tough enough having Adult children and have a “normal” relationship with them. This obviously is the reason why you have to still have some communication with the Narkle. and Yes…him completing the kitchen and whatnot is a direct attempt to draw you back in. Resist! Resist the force! My house fell apart int he last two years before Dooms day! It has fallen deeper into disrepair. I have learned to live with it. Damn if I am going to fix the place in case he finds a way to shove me out and take over. I will burn this place to the ground before that happens.
      Stay pissed off within reason. Everytime I find the “good” about him which is really just a false memory now that I know what I know. I need to find a way to remind myself what fuckface/voldemort he really is. I hate being angry, but it helps me keep perspective. Someday I will be able to move forward and hopefully not give a rats fucking ass about the Narc/Psycho. Best of luck SuperChump….remember to resist the force! Stay strong…..light saber up and swinging!

    • Do you have support orders? Are you divorced? You need a lawyer. The family home can be sold. Let the dream die.

      He ignores you? GOOD. Excellent! Who cares about his baiting — go NC. That’s the only way to empowerment. He can talk with you through a lawyer. Emails only about kid and finances. No personal ANYTHING.

      You’re high on hopium, thinking you can convince of things, to come home, that you’re hurt, to explain himself. STOP PUTTING THE FOCUS ON HIM. Turn it to YOU. Your life. Your apartment. Your daughter. Your new city. It’s your lawyer’s job to deal with him and make him go away, and the support checks appear. Give that job to a professional. That’s why we pay them so much — because it’s worth it.

      Stop thinking you can manage him. You cannot.

    • You’re not the crazy one.

      Get your lawyer involved. If that home is as much a dream home as you think, it’s got equity in it. In most states, you’re entitled to 50% of that equity, and while it may not be enough for your “dream,” it may be enough for a down payment on a more modest home, perhaps a longer commute. Get a recommendation for an appraiser from a local bank and see what that house can bring you.

      Oh, and file for divorce and wait for alternations between extreme narkles and abusive tirades.

      But remember that the narkles are a form of abuse, too.

    • I wonder if a lot of chumps grew up in families where there was not a lot of expression of affection. My parents loved me, as best they could, but people rarely said I love you or anything similar to that. So when I hear “I love you” it means a ton and I think it means that they are head over heels in love with me, would walk through burning coals for me, etc. I think that for some people, the love bombing is just a way of life and we don’t know how to take it with a grain of salt. Maybe it’s just how they’re feeling at that moment. I know that I have very recently (in a post-divorce relationship) been susceptible to thinking things are way more than they are and I wonder if that is why.

      • Roslyn,

        This was my thought exactly after I read a book about toxic mothers with narcissistic tendencies; that I would gravitate to someone that would give me the things that my parents did not. And what I found was that my ex was really just another narcissist, like my mother. So, even though my mother wasn’t overly affectionate and my ex was pretty affectionate, it was the underlying stuff that was exactly the same. I gravitated to what I’d always known. My mother isn’t full-blown narcissist – she’s got a lot of of the histrionic personality disorder/borderline personality/antisocial personality disorders too while my ex is pretty much full blown Narcissist.

        And now they’re roommates. He moved out of my house and in with her. Supposedly he was going to help out around the house but sadly, he is the least handy person on the planet plus also the laziest.

    • “A mind warping socio who found “love” with a rabid co-dependent.”

      Brilliant! It is NOT a life sentence…..btw

    • SuperChump, OMG my cake eating cheater would always say the same thing “I’ll come back but I don’t want to fight with you.” He was cheating, no question, and I’d find evidence he was not with his friends or where he said he was. But (initially) with no smoking gun proof, I was just a psycho bitch who never let him have fun with his friends. Said I would even rather him drink and drive because I did not trust him to stay with his friends and be good. So in staying out all night he would also ruin our plans the next day. I was supposed to beg him to come back, and he would say that line. The beauty of it was not only did he not have to receive any unwanted emotional outpouring from me, he didn’t even have to answer as to his whereabouts or what he did.

  • CL,
    It doesn’t get better than Narkles!

    My experience with Narkles involved an empty shirt and completely burying my true feelings!!!

    Yes, my narkle unicorn was a custom shirt maker and admitted Sex Addict (to me at least) idolized by many for talents he didn’t have. He measured men for custom shirts and his employees and factories did the rest. He created himself on a fashion blog where other men worshiped him and his stuffed shirt knowledge.

    Since, I am respected in my field which is connected to his, fantasy’s of the power couple did enter my mind and was fed by customers of mine. What a team we would make, etc…

    In reality he was an empty shirt with zero talent and a sloppy lazy person with no narkle. He had people fighting for him on this blog and his many talents. When we went out he was like the mayor always seeing a customer that he ran up to as no one ever seemed to approach him oddly enough. At a party early on (again one of his customer’s) a young kid in his twenties met the empty shirt and was sop excited to meet him as a rock star because of course his great reputation was all over the place.

    Met him and wasn’t attracted to him at all, thought he was kind of repulsive initially and a bit of a loser. Then the narkles began and he was smooth in taking control of setting up our second date and sucking me into the love bombing vortex which I clearly didn’t realize I needed so badly. I went blind, deaf and dumb!!!

    Had a little voice in my head questioning things about this empty shirt all along and then hushed the voice to see what would happen next. The happenings kept growing in size over time until I realized my initial reaction was correct and he is repulsive and an empty shirt.

    Then D Day occurred 10 1/2 months later, saw an open tab for and ad which was probably a hooker on Craig’s list. OVA and OUT!

    My story is a pretty good example of a bad picker and how far a Chump will go to ignore the obvious and knowing fairly early on that he was a Sex Addict.

    Thankfully, I learned and am very aware of my own problem so that this will not happen again. Sometimes you have to hit bottom in order to come back up on top. This was definitely my bottom.

    I am now enjoying getting back on top for myself!!!

    • Good for you! It’s good to hear success stories of those who have survived Narkle Spreaders and lived to tell the tale! I keep mistakenly thinking this is over and keep getting sucked back in…. The image that always comes to my head is a part in the movie, “The Perfect Storm” when the storm that is swallowing the fishing boat clears for a blissful moment and all think they have a chance, they’re going to get out! Hooray!….only a moment later, the skies darken once more and the weary ship and crew are sucked back under and there is in fact no escape….that’s what I feel like all the time. After this weekend where he refused to call me, only to text and only when he had the inclination(you know, because he just didn’t want to fight…) and mostly to bristle me and then turn his back, when in reality he was bar hopping and most likely bed hopping all weekend, I am left angry and frustrated still. He calls this morning to give me and daughter a “friendly wake up call” , then follows up with a crappy, I don’t want to fight text chiding me for my angry texts last night….so of course I want to respond, I’m pissed!! Sooooooo it has taken great self control this morning to NOT give in to this manipulative crap! So again, it’s good to know that life without this shit is better AND it’s out there! Kudos Deborah!

      • I know this is hard, I was with my narc for over 11 years. You have to stop communicating with him. I t hurts like hell, but distract yourself. Read, go for a walk or run, go to a craft store and take up a new hobby to distract yourself when you want to talk or text him. The truth is when they don’t talk to you it’s because they really don’t care how we are. They aren’t up all night worrying how you’re doing. I don’t text mine unless it’s about the kids or the divorce, no how are you?, how’s it going, where are you, or thinking of you, none. Funny enough, he doesn’t like it, but he is still doing what he’s doing and won’t stop. He tries to facebook me or text, and I only respond with “the kids are fine”. Do this even if you don’t feel like it at first, in time this will help you begin to mentally detach from him so you can start YOUR life. As CL says , be mighty!

      • SuperChump,
        It’s never over until you stop engaging it.

        It takes time but if you take a step back and stop looking at him and what he did and does and figure out how you got involved and allowed it, that’s the big turning point in the right direction for you. The key is examining yourself without beating yourself up. Take a step away from yourself as well and honestly ask and answer questions for yourself.

        This an no contact where key in my recovery from this crap.

        Good Luck you have all the power, you really do!!!

      • My STBXW was the “poor me, I am misunderstood” narcissist…here is the funny thing…Our first date was “The Perfect Storm”…Talk about a red flag that should not have been ignored!

      • SuperChump,

        I am so angry on your behalf because your pain and confusion remind me of me. I totally understand you. Been there done that. You know how to stop it? YOU have to stop it. He gets off on what he’s doing. My STBX did exactly that – pretended he was missing me, texting me, calling me – but it was all to manipulate me and to get information he could use against me. I got stronger by going completely NC – didn’t get on Facebook, didn’t respond to any texts, nothing, nada. I went cold turkey for about two months, until he was able to play on our common past with our children. I fell for it, responded to a text. First chance he got, he fucked me over. So I learned. I refuse to talk to him on the phone right now because it’s all manipulation. He tries to negotiate with me over anything via text or email and I get a hint that he’s singing his, “I’m gonna fuck you over cause it’s all about me, all about me,” top ten hit? I forward everything to my attorney and let her deal with him. It’s called creating boundaries.

        Your husband, your real husband, is the asshole who doesn’t text you back, who cheats on you, who lies to you. That’s who he REALLY is. That person who called to wake you up? He’s an abusive, controlling freak of nature. It’s like the kidnapper who laughingly tortures you before he kills you. You’re still trying to control him, hoping he will magically change into who you want him to be instead of who he really is. You keep trying to fix it. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. You didn’t break it and you don’t even know the location of all of the pieces.

        As CL has repeated over and over again, you only control YOU. If you’re not and you can, get into counseling. Pray, meditate, take long walks – anything that takes your attention off of him and puts it onto you. It is not easy – it is a process. I moved out almost a year ago, and I still struggle, but I’m stronger and more determined than I used to be. Stop giving this jackanape control over you.

        BIG, BIG (((HUGS))) to you. You really can do this.

  • Excellent post Chump Lady – so thought provoking.

    I am a bit of a narkle addict. I don’t just choose narkles for partners/ husbands, I choose them as my friends too. I love the mega-watt dazzle, the feeling that I have unique qualities which will make me the best & most special friend / lover / wife. I hoover up those kibbles and baste myself in the ooze of their charm. I start to unravel their skeins of fuckedupness, for I know that I alone can unravel them, mend them & make them better. I apply vast amounts of polyfilla (spackle) to the gaping craters in their damaged personalities and make excuses for their deficiencies. I give them 2nd, 3rd, 4th chances because I know that a better person lurks within.

    I am a thrill seeker and I’m just not quite brave enough to do it all by myself, so I hang my hooks onto the functioning dysfunctional, so that they can suck me into their vortex of thrill only to be spat out, emotionally spent, slightly disgusted with myself but all ready to get on the roller coaster of doom again.

    It has taken me 25 years to realise that this is what I do. But I really do see myself clearly now. I’ve stopped blaming myself for being that way too but I stand resolutely single for now. I have been for nearly two years. I don’t trust my judgement.

    I wonder if I’m too addicted to ever hold down a normal, healthy, reciprocal relationship. At the moment I love being single. I have my children, I have a good social life, I have a great job – maybe that is enough.

    • That’s wonderful English Lady! I applaud you! How did you learn to stop blaming yourself? My battle with co-dependent crap is killing me. It feels as much of an addiction as anything else…..well what do you know? He’s texting me again as we speak. It’s going to be a long day……best to you and keep up the good work!

      • It’s been a long, slow process SuperChump. My biggest narkle, is my ex-H – mostly because I had children with him, so I’m stuck with him to some degree or another until my children are adults. However, I have definitely reached “meh” with him. I am occasionally roused out of meh, because I feel indignant about the way he treats the children or his ongoing buttock clenching tightness with maintenance.

        We separated 11 years ago & have been divorced for 9 years, so if I haven’t reached “meh” by now with him, then I’d really be in a pickle.

        I then went on to have two more ghastly relationships with equally fucked up men. One was on/off over a period of 7 years and he was the narkle that finally made me see the light. I’m not going to embarrass myself by owning up to the degrading behaviour I tolerated but I finally managed to reach relationship rock bottom. From there on, it can only be up.

        I’ve been lurking on Chump Lady for best part of a year now too & that has really helped me. I found it too abrasive at first, because I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading and how CL seemed to see inside the darkest corners – but I kept coming back & now I’m brave enough to speak up too!

        Stay strong SuperChump – you’ll get there in the end.

    • Very well said, English Lady.

      Like you, I am starting to realize that I pick NPD friends too. Only now that I am divorced from NPDXH do I have the energy to replay some moments from the history of my closest sparkly female friendship. My friend has always surrounded herself with a posse of admirers and hangers on that I could never believe she actually cared about. Then, just before she moved across the country she made the casual comment to me that, to her, one friend was just as good as another. The comment was made in 2011, but I am only now actually hearing it. Oh my.

      • Excellent post and very thought provoking.
        I realized recently, much to my horror, that not only did I pick bad partners, I also pick NDP friends. I see the good in people, and seem to think that if I am a good, steadfast, loyal friend, (or wife or partner) they will return those qualities back to me too.
        Bloody hell! Apparently not. In my 31 years with my xh, I thought we would be there for each other. NOT. My next relationship a couple of years later was with a passive-aggressive, manipulating, controlling, love-bombing, loved-me-more-than-anybody else disordered person. Red flags, red flags! Dumped him after 2 years of an on-again-off-again rollercoaster ride.
        Now, the realization has hit home that the person I regarded as my best friend, who no longer needs my spare room or someone to hang out with, just used me. She didn’t work for years (couldn’t hold down a job due to depression and a difficulty to work with others – she was always so angry!), so she needed my spare room quite often. Now she has inherited some money, has her own place in the same apartment building and I never see her. She apologised once recently quite nonchalantly, saying she just hasn’t made much time for me seeing she has SO many new friends! Life is great! Not having to work, she has so much time to do things with new friends. To rub my nose in it a bit more, she also said that she feels a “bit bad” because I have to work so hard (in health care) and she sleeps in till lunch-time, then goes about her day. Makes her feel “bad” for me she says.
        So this has hit me quite hard, the enormity of it. I had lots and lots of polyfilla it seems.
        Only I could be such a good friend to her while she was so depressed and angry because I could see she was hurting and needed understanding.
        Only I could calm Mr. Wing-nut BF by not being outgoing and friendly – his jealousy was my fault.
        Mr. Cheaterpants was furious and insensed! that I insisted on knowing what he was up to all our years together. It was all my fault because I insisted on finding out his deepest, darkest secrets!
        I really have to digest this some more. I have the sense of self to get them out of my life, but this is quite disconcerting actually.

        • Lyn,

          You are a good, loyal person. I think “chumps” attract these kinds of losers because we do believe in the goodness of folks. That’s never a bad thing. You are good. I’d say that you deserve a good buddy and that it’s ENOUGH.

          I hope you do something for yourself, whatever that might be. You’ve been through enough and I hope you find the good people who deserve you.

  • As usual, CL comes up with a brilliant, plain-language way to say something profound.

    Narc families are often closed little systems with narkle-makers all their own. Very few overnights. Very few visitors. Lest the intrusions bring a different yardstick to measure behavior! Narc families are like little, exclusive clubs, as are narc circles of friends. And, yes, we Chumps can get taken in by “the benefits of membership.” The problem is that the club dues get to be pretty high!

    Another CL breakthrough!

    • Right on David! When all blew up in our town and Captain Fabulous realized there were folks around town who “knew” about him (how could I spread such poison he asks, that’s right, it’s not his fault for being a lying, cheating stealing asshole, it’s mine for not protecting him) his first order was to suggest we all move away to the town he is currently working in, only he won’t stay there when the jobs over, ohhhh no, he has to go on to the next one, but me and the kids? We can stay there. Stay there in a town across the state from all friends and family, nice and neat, in a box, on a shelf where no one can mess with his “family” of course he is livid that we have not moved there and is pulling out all the Narkle stops, and playing the victim all at the same time…it’s exhausting!

      • Superchump you are right not to let yourself be isolated by him. Much better to stay close to family and friends. My heart goes out to you! Do you have a good counselor?

      • Don’t let yourself be isolated. I went along with a lot of moving aroudn that I sometimes did not want to do and it left me with a pretty shaky support network when dday hit. Never again.

    • So true David, we never had sleepovers for our son – my ex couldn’t tolerate that, in fact the only company we were allowed to have were his friends….slowly my friends disappeared and all I was left with were his friends (most of which are like him).

      Now – we are free – almost every weekend my teenage son has a sleepover or goes out to a friends place, we have friends over for tea or coffee all the time and we have potlucks ever few months where we do game night or movie night.

      You just don’t realize how isolated they make sure you are, while you are in the thick of it.

      • We never had visitors full stop. My ex didn’t like anybody.
        I can’t wait to have a great big house warming party now it’s all over!!

      • Same situation here
        Ex hated all my friends and family and wasn’t particularly friendly when they were around. He only liked the people who drank his Kool Aid and would make plans for us with only people he liked to do the things he wanted to do. Little by little, I wound up isolated and was only surrounded by his friends and their spouses. Then he would always make fun of me for not having any friends. By the time D-day rolled around I had very few friends to rely on which made the whole situation even worse.

        • STBX resisted all efforts to socialize with others. He first moved here while I was still in grad school, and he’d like to have my grad school friends over for dinner. They finished and moved away. I got a job in the community. My office got on well, and they’d want to do things occasionally after work. STBX would say no. However, STBX started becoming interested in taking his temp workers and staffers out to dinner.

          I now see that he invariably chose females, and females who were in “inferior” positions. They lacked either the power or the money he did, so he could feel very much Mr. Largesse. He was turning on the narkles for them. OW is one of his former femal staffers. I wonder how many he had before…

    • Very true, David. My ex’s family is narc central. They are a closed unit, even to the hald siblings from the cheating father’s first marriage. They seriously only agree with one another and rarely is there any disagreement. It’s all about presented a united front, keeping to the same story and making sure that the image of the family remains untarnished. Unfortunately for them I had enough of that bullshit after dday, when they did some things that to this day I cannot believe actually occurred and they’ve all been exposed, to one degree or another, as the narc assholes they are. Which of course has made them pull the unit together even tighter. Freaky stuff and so stifling. I may be scared and stressed about finances but I no longer feel oppressed.

        • Ex has very few friends. Just a couple of guys he’s known since Uni and even they are not close, just people to have a beer with or whatever now and again.

          Yet when we split he complained about our circle of friends, basicallly saying he was bored with them and they weren’t what he wanted anymore. Well, they’re still in my life (except the assholes who judged me after DDAY) and he tries to call them and get together with them. They’re not too interested and he is essentially now hanging with people nearly a generation younger…because final OW is nearly a generation younger.

      • The narc/NPD types are easily bothered, easily threatened (What if someone else is funny? Charismatic? Interesting? More successful than they are?), and they don’t want others witnessing their in-house behavior. They can build very successful walls around a family. An absence of kids/friends who can stay overnight is an indicator.

      • My ex’s family. Exactly.

        They thought they were an “exclusive” bunch.

        Warning sign: If the inlaws make you feel like you are soooo lucky to be included in their precious family – RUN!

  • My NPDXH was of the secret garden variety. Such a sad and beautiful young man who needed my love to make him better. The biggest narkle treat I remember eating up was being told that I was his RELIGION. But not too long after that, I was told that I had “fallen from grace.” That remark worked exactly as designed; it eviscerated me and made me work even harder to prove myself. Until the next time. And the roller coaster ride went on pretty much like that for the next 21 years. Wheeeeee!

    • Ha! When my ex was going through outpatient alcohol treatment for the first time he actually told me, and everyone else, that I was his “higher power”. That comment never sat right with me. Not because I’m religious, just because it was not sincere. He was using me as his way of avoiding the real work. Shocking that his treatment attempt failed, no?

  • My ex was confident and lively, an athletic person with charisma that I lacked. I enjoyed hiding behind him and basking in the laughter he caused at family parties with his story telling and sense of humor. The strange thing is he wasn’t like that when we were alone. He was cold and withdrawn much of the time, always seemingly obsessed with work or hobbies or whatever.

    He always wanted to live on a farm so I we moved to one. I tried it. But he basically deposited me there with the kids and went about his life. He didn’t stay home very much to work the farm and I was isolated. I wanted to know the kids’ friends and be part of a social network. He would ignore me whenever I suggested moving closer to town, or possibly compromising and living on a smaller piece of property. I will never understand his need to buy such large pieces of property to maintain when he worked 60+ hours a week. The little he was home he wasn’t really home, he was out mowing or doing some other farm chores. The work was never done.

    Once he left me to handle a stallion while he was out of town. It was then I realized he just didn’t care about me. A stallion can really hurt a person, especially a stallion that’s not well trained. Combine that with a person who has little experience working with stallions and you have a recipe for disaster. I argued that it was dangerous but he kept saying I’d be fine. I remember calling a neighbor to tell her if she saw a loose horse in the pasture she’d come looking for me. I had a feeling that he’d be happy if I was killed by the stallion so he could find another woman who was better at handling farm stuff than me.

    Devaluing is definitely what they do. I was worth nothing more than the rug under his feet by the time he left. Sorry thing is my self esteem was so low I stayed in that relationship much too long. I should have left. But I wanted to keep our family together, I had hopes that he’d wake up and realize what was really important in life. I used to tell him all the time “you need to enjoy our life” because he worked so much. Now I know when I said that he was thinking “I would enjoy my life if I could get rid of you.”

    I think he’s still the life of the party but he’s not admired by the people that really matter. I’m living outside his shadow and I’ve gone stronger in the light.

  • I don’t know what to think of it, whether it’s Narc behavoir or something else. I know now I was “Love Bombed” by the X, I could do no wrong, etc… then the switch flipped after 24 years. I’ve been NC as much as it’s possible to do for almost three years, but by accounts I’ve heard she’s Love Bombed the OM the same way she did me, morphing to whatever is an ideal women in his eyes. These people must be hollow inside…

    • I was totally love bombed and he kept it up for years, although it dwindled, slowly, over time as his covert abuse amped up. That certainly kept me off balance! And yes, he love bombed his various OW and when the final one, who is much younger, fell for the narkles he seems to have wanted to trade me in…but not really…because he didnt’ know what he wanted! Now she’s getting the see saw and he very much has morphed into what she wants…but he’s slowly resenting it. Oddly, he was probably the most ‘him’ while with me because I actually did accept him and all his interests and actually supported them. The new gal doesn’t and is bored by his interests and continually gets him involved in her thing…and he’s not liking it much. 🙂

    • Mike, I’m in the same boat. Mine was a total love bomber– he was so incredibly romantic, and I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. However, I don’t know if I could really label him NPD, and he doesn’t really seem to come from an NPD family as they were always decent and welcoming to me and still continue to behave that way (his mom even offered to pay for our MC if we went for some, said I could take any of the family heirlooms, etc.).

      However, once we had kids, all bets were off. He didn’t like the attention that was taken away from him. I think he figured I’d snap out of it, but then I made the additional mistake of returning to work, so as far as he was concerned, that was it. Now I was caring for kids and working– he certainly wasn’t in the spotlight, and he had to find someone else who would put him back there. So, after 17 years and three children, he did just that– like you said, flipped the switch.

      It disturbs me to think that I never really knew him– never really knew that he was capable of such incredible selfishness and disrespect. I’m done untangling the skein, but it is jarring to think about when something like this thread brings it up, and I admit, it makes me worry about any future relationship I might have. I don’t think I’d fall for the lovebombing again; I’m much older and wiser, but maybe the next guy will seem normal and loving and then… he too will just flip the switch? 🙁

      • Yes, the kids seem to have been some sort of breaking point, although it took 13 years for it all to come to light…and I do believe he cheated prior to the kids and probably even while I was pregnant with at least one of them. Yep, he’s a rutting pig.

        • Oh, I did. Five days after DDay, when he told me more of the truth, I said I wanted a divorce, and I never turned back.

          It bothers me that he totally took me for granted. He was not on a short leash in our relationship. I supported all of his hobbies, his part-time “dream” job, listened to his music, traveled where he wanted, etc. I was a good wife. Not a perfect one, but a good one, and I wasted 17 years of my life on a man who, ultimately, showed me that all of my support and caring for him didn’t matter.

          But, the good news is– now I focus on MY hobbies, my dreams, my music, and I’m going on a mini-vacation with the kids this summer to one of MY favorite places. It’s nice to find myself again. 🙂

          • Moving On – your situation sounds very similar to mine. I wasted 10 years with this person. He started the last affair (the one I caught) when my daughter was 4 months old. He couldn’t stand not having ALL the attention. I know he cheated many many times before, including while I was pregnant. I was a good wife – supportive and loving. I never knew him. He actually admitted that to me once after the fact – I couldn’t believe it, that he had actually said something truthful. And I also too fear that I will find someone else that pretendes to love me until I’m not useful anymore and then bails in the moment I need him most. It sucks that these things happened
            to us but I like hearing other people’s stories. I know I’m a good person and I’m not alone.

      • Moving On, that actually sounds classic Narc. Marriages go south when kids enter the picture and or anything else that takes the attention away from them. When asked my ex said he became super unhappy in his first marriage after the kids were born. Of course stupid me I didn’t see that as a red flag because he LOVED being a parent and his ex admitted she regretted becoming a mom. Lesson learned now. I will also say that once I got promoted at work and had a lot more stress and crappy hours my ex’s extra curricular activities became more active. Before I took the job I told him I was worried about how it would effect our relationship but he said we’d work it out. Um, yeah, complete lack of support, understanding etc on that one. Looking back now I see that almost everything my ex promised or said was a load of poop.

      • This: “It disturbs me to think that I never really knew him– never really knew that he was capable of such incredible selfishness and disrespect. I’m done untangling the skein, but it is jarring to think about when something like this thread brings it up, and I admit, it makes me worry about any future relationship I might have. I don’t think I’d fall for the lovebombing again; I’m much older and wiser, but maybe the next guy will seem normal and loving and then… he too will just flip the switch?”

        I feel exactly the same way…. What if I miss something I should have seen? What about all the red flags I don’t know about to look out for?

  • Sorry that you had that experience. I was raised by one. He was loved by others and a monster at home. The father. The mother is still with him for over 4o years now and brainwashed. The sister has become a narkles. (Love that word.) As a result none of them are any longer allowed in my life. I let the sister in one tiny little bit recently and she worked fast. She attacked fast. You’re right, you get narkle radar, and I was on to her immediately. They’re good at knowing what will hurt you the most and break you. In this case she used my nephews. I changed my cell number and now she has no way to contact me. It’s sad but the only way to stop them is silence and not allowing them in even a tiny bit.

  • I love this website – it has helped me heal and grow – thanks CL for keeping at it every day – you are making a difference.

    My experience with narkles, you ask?

    I was treated like a queen – fresh flowers in my car once a week, glass of wine in the bath tub at night, meals prepared, text messages (or personal visits) a dozen times a day. Jewelry. Vacations. We did everything together – showering, lunch, dinner, shopping, exercising, socializing. He had admired me for a decade until I was single again, I was perfect. I was never alone for a minute.

    Until I discovered that controlling my every moment was a way to keep me from discovering his affair(s).

    And all the lies.

    It all fell apart when I told him that I would not emancipate my son at age 18. You see, he wanted to use my salary for more sparkly stuff – instead of helping my son through college.

    He re-married his next victim within a week of our divorce. My co-worker of 30 years. If she makes two pennies, he will spend three.

    My son graduates this year – with a 4.0 GPA (Dean’s List). Yahoo, we did it without that selfish cheating ass-wipe.

    Glad to be independent and regaining my financial freedom (a few cents at a time).

  • A fabulous post, CL. I know I sound like a broken record on this point, since it’s what I post about most, but the key to healing is for chumps get to know themselves. It may not happen early in the process, since the shellshock is fresh, the crazy behavior so stupifying, and there are still unicorn dreams about getting back to the Utopic idealization phase. But at some point, self-reflection is necessary to mend and move on. As Deborah alluded to in your prior post, chumps have to ask themselves the hard questions about why they didn’t see or ignored the red flags and sucked up the love bombing. They have to be honest with themselves about their tendency to (pick one or more) love being put on a pedestal, seek validation from others, become enmeshed, ignore boundaries, tend toward co-dependency, have a savior-complex, and why.

    • Isn’t it human nature Telo to want to be loved and to love? It kind of starts sounding like ‘let’s blame the victim’ all over again. This is what I told myself and I might do so again. “No one is perfect, least of all me. Everyone is going have SOME thing that drives you crazy. Decide if you can live with it.” Of course cheating is not a thing you can live with. But he wasn’t cheating at that time. That came later. I just took his idiosyncrasies in stride and knew I had my own little goofy things that probably bugged him. I got mad and yelled when I thought he crossed boundaries and stood my ground. I’m not a door mat. I don’t have a savior complex. I just happened to fall in love with a narkles in an honest and loving way. I’m not ashamed of that. Let’s put the shame where it belongs. On the cheater. Us chumps have suffered enough.

      • I agree with you, as far as red flags go I made my X jump through all the hoops for over two years before we were married. The love bombing seemed pretty normal to me at the time, I thought it was simply a case for once in my life somebody had the hots more for me than me for them ;).

        There was no real unusual behavoir for 23 years, just quirks that we all have. No issues after the kids were born, no postpartum depression. There were also no family issues, the x-inlaws are still married (over 50 years) and still hold hands when they go shopping. In retrospect it wasn’t until during the last year of our marriage anything seemed unusal, but she was going into peri-menopause at the time, so I put the behavoir down to that. If your X has been unfaithful or mistreating for years and you’ve put up with it, it’s one thing, but if they haven’t , then lose it 20+ years on I really don’t think there is any way to protect one’s self from this happening,

      • Dear Chumpchange,

        I am talking about guarding ourselves from the harmful effects of unaddressed co-dependency on narcissists. Those of us who are intensely attuned to others’ needs, are givers, have enormous empathy, and who put others needs ahead of our own are very susceptible to Ns. We have to honestly look at these qualities in ourselves and modify our behaviors. (At least until we know that we are in a red-flag-free situation that is fully reciprocal so that what we have to give can be properly appreciated.) This may be an off-the-cuff analogy, but think of yourself as a rose garden that needs a protective fence to keep from being eaten by vermin. The non-disordered, say those who know how to properly open the gate to the garden, enjoy the look and fragrance of the roses and as part of the process, water and nurture the garden, get the privilege of enjoying all the love, beauty, generosity and compassion that the roses have to give. Arming ourselves with knowledge against predators — to minimize if not eliminate their opportunity to destroy is a very different concept than blaming the victim.

        Love to all chumps,

  • Chump Lady, you are utterly brilliant. Every time I read one of your insightful posts I feel understood, sane, and strong. You are like a guiding light out of the horrifying dark morass of a relationship with a narcissist. And your fantastic writing is an absolute pleasure to read. I can’t wait for your coined words to be in the OED; they perfectly describe behaviors and situations that were before hard to put into clear language. Please write a book! Your advice is pure gold. Thank you a million times for what you do!

    • Thank you Sidney. I’m working on a book. Hope to have something in the next 6 months or so. (Had a bit of a set back when my computer crashed… and my back up wasn’t backing up. But I’m on it again.) Thanks for the vote of confidence. 🙂

      • Great news. I can’t wait to read your book. Good luck with the technical…er…(what’s the opposite of kibbles?) 😉

  • “But they come across as terribly self confident and never, ever wrong. (And because they’re never wrong, hey, there’s no need to apologize. Infallible people never say sorry.)”

    Holy hell, THIS is my STBX. He’s more introverted than me, he didn’t really sparkle in the obvious ways NPDs typically are, but he sparkled by being “confident” and not caring what other people thought of him, and I found that attractive. I thought he knew what he wanted, and he spoke up of any injustice, regardless of the situation. The annoying flipside was that he was never ever wrong.

    Little did I know that he was just like all the rest of the cheating jerks out there. Chumpy me.

    • Mine never came across as confident, if anything she tended to be quite reserved and never needed to be the center of attention…that’s why I think sometimes there is more to it than being a Narc. Mine just hit 45 and lost it….

      • Mine hit “huge promotion” and lost it, so in my case it was all about ego. I think whether they are introverted or extroverted, you never see it coming.

        Hindsight is always 20/20, as they say.

      • Verity297 – oh my goodness, the entitlement! Although he was a reserved engineer/nerd-type, in reality he was an immature spoiled child. If he wanted something he felt entitled to get it right then, right now. And he was ALWAYS right. Drove me insane! Glad that nonsense is gone!

        • Mine was an introverted nerdy type. I thought he seemed humble and thoughtful. But in hindsight, although I thought he and I were the same, he was spoiled and arrogant. He thought that he was better than most everyone (which I saw over the years but spackled), and he came from a very upper-class background where he went without um, probably nothing. Combine the both of those, and it certainly made for an entitled, superior douchebag.

    • This was mine as well……smart smart smart and never wrong. I believed everything until I didn’t after 30 years. I started questioning and stood up to his shenanigans. And that’s when he got distant and grumbly and then…….He Set Me Up And blasted me. It’s been bad since then. And it’s also been good. I actually have friends and I also retained our couple friends. Once they knew what he did. I then learned that none of them really got him anyway. He was odd. That he was. But in his words 2 week’s after, he proclaimed, “you know what makes me tick” It sends shivers down and up my spine every time I think about that statement. He’s one sick perv as we have learned. Glad he is out of my life.

  • “These people are very sure of their point of view…”

    In fact I’d say that they are SO sure point of view that it overwhelms yours.

    It’s as if while you’re interacting with them you’re inside a holographic narkly world of their imagination.

    • Yeah, I think that’s part of the crazy making — they’re SO certain. A normal person has self doubt… well maybe I’m overlooking something here? Maybe it’s me?

      You have to wake up at some point and think — this person can’t be batting perfectly every time. They’re not right about everything. I also think chumps learn early on there is a price to pay if you challenge their holographic narkle worldview.

  • “When I was dating him I felt like he was a bit more alive than other people. I can’t really describe it any other way. I’ve read sociopaths described this way — this frisson of attraction, the intensity, the narkles. It was intoxicating.”

    CL, this is a perfect description of my ex as well. He is so animated, so sparkly, so ALIVE all the time. As you wrote, it’s very compelling and hard to resist. Being with him in the beginning was like a never-ending party. But of course, eventually the party ended when I started to realize how immature, how self-absorbed, how irresponsible and fake he was. And that was even before I knew about the staggering level of cheating, and before the emotional affairs and then the affairs with women started. It was also long before he went off the deep end and turned into the delusional dancing sasquatch of these days.

    I definitely recognize and stay away from narkly people now. I never want to be with the life of the party again. Those people might be fun as an acquaintance, but God help you if you get involved in a romantic relationship with a narkler.

  • Would you call this a narkle?: My ex would lean back in his chair (particularly if we were out at the pub etc) and then mumble, forcing me to have to lean in towards him to hear what he was actually saying! I caught on to this very early in our relationship (though never for a moment thought this was a conscious ploy on his part – idiot that I was) that he was doing this. When saying pardon a million times had no impact, when asking him to speak up had no impact, I took to employing the same tactic on him – result – mexican stand-off! He’d NEVER lean in towards me to hear what I was mumbling – took me f**king ages to finally work out he knew exactly what he was doing and it was very conscious on his part – or else, why would he studiously refuse to ‘lean in’ towards me when he couldn’t hear what I was saying? Total control play – but (and here’s the rub) how to you explain to people unused to NPDers that it’s these little things that drive you crazy because you KNOW you are being mindfucked/manipulated (in amongst a myriad of other similar ‘tiny’ manoeuvrings on their part) but it sounds so damned petty??? LOL – betcha we’ve all got these examples to share! 🙂

    • I ask if you’d consider this a narkle because, obviously, the great pay-off for him, in leaning back in his chair and having me lean in towards him to hear what he was saying, was a sparkly impression for the rest of the people in the pub (or wherever): went like: ‘look at me, I must be fantastic, I’ve got this beautiful woman hanging on my every word!.

    • Interesting. Similar sitch with mine – low talker, speaks to me in a conversational voice from his comfortable seat on the couch, while I am in the other room working on something. After years of dropping what I’m doing to run into the living room to ask him to repeat himself, I have taken to announcing “I can’t hear you” without interrupting what I’m doing. He acts as if I’M the rude one!

      • It took me a ridiculously long time to figure out it was a power-play. It just didn’t occur to me because I’d never do it myself (well, certainly, not knowingly! and I guess, because we are aware that we all have ‘blind spots’ we assume it’s just a ‘blind spot’ for them too – him not leaning towards me to hear what I had to say really showed me it wasn’t a ‘blind spot’ for him at all!) All these ‘little’ power plays undermine us and are meant to! Barstards 😀

    • My cheater did the same thing. Leaning as far away from the table, presenting a very disinterested and detached air. When I would try to hold a conversation with him in a restaurant, he would complain he couldn’t hear me but would refuse to lean forward as I would to hear him. Later, it struck me as a very telling body language: master- submissive.
      He also had no idea how to caress, be tender, use endearments, or hold a person or a pet. No wonder he liked prostitutes who didn’t expect something other than $$ in return, and other sad sack types whom he felt would be happy to service him. Typical woman as object/misogynist. When he finally got the attention of a more “with it” OW, he moved on before she found out everything he told her was a fantasy-lie. I must have been a starved for narckles chump, as I accepted his lies, hook, line and sinker. I think having a Narc father may have conditioned me for that treatment.

      • Something that I noticed about my XH is that he never caressed or touched me or held me in any meaningful way. Never a loving touch. He did lots of things for me like wash my car and check the oil and I figured those were loving gestures but I really missed the touch. After we made love he would leap from the bed like there was a fire in the next room and we had to get out fast. I never saw any of it as a huge red flag, just kind of odd behavior. It didn’t make me think he would end up cheating on me and leaving me. Are all these people cut from the same cloth??

        • Wow! That’s something I hadn’t even considered, the not being held or caressed. Looking back we had very little “loving” contact, he didn’t want to hold hands, in fact he would walk a good 10 paces ahead of me! For several years before he left, he rarely kissed me and the lovemaking had become just mechanical sex. He accused me of having to drink a bottle of wine just to sleep with him…. I can see now why I needed it!

    • Oh, I’d forgotten the mexican standoffs. The last and major one was that if he wasn’t going to show any interest in sex, neither was I. Little did I know he would be faithful to his AP!!!!!

  • I was love-bombed. Yes, I thought it was a bit much, even at the time, but I chalked it up to him being young. He was charming, outgoing, and athletic. Seemed to let things roll off his back easily. Traits I’d like to have more of, in myself. But it backfired. It’s not much fun to be married to Peter Pan….he wanted me (Wendy) to be his mom and take care of all the heavy-lifting of life (child care, bills, cleaning, etc.) while he ran around courting everyone else…..Tiger Lilly….Tinkerbell…..who knows who else.

    I think any future dating (not any time soon, though) would be with someone like myself. Not sparkly. Not the life of the party. Not larger than life. Just real.

  • So if I am trying to spackle, to keep the sparkles on the narcissist, then you could say I am putting nackle on the narkle? I love my new CL language and attitude lessons!
    My XH would call and talk for hours if he was not home and out of town on business. He did this while we were dating long-distance, and he did this during the marriage, and even talked for hours a day to his OW. It never mattered who was on the end of the phone because he was spreading narkles rather than calling to find out how your day went. Just like when he was sharing his “pride and joy” it didn’t matter who was on the other end. He was shooting narkles! And now I am narkle-proofed!

  • Got Kibbles . . . Will Chump for Narkles!!!!!!

    (Story of my life to date). Although I have been susceptible to all but the super-shiny, high-warmth/low intention variety, I have to say that the ‘aloof’ variety got me the hardest. Super-stealth covert dynamics. DID.NOT.SEE.THROUGH.THAT.AT.ALL. 20 years.

    Working hard on myself – Stay tuned for the upcoming plot twist . . . It’s Mighty!

  • I was completely Love Bombed like never before with Narkles and swept off my feet. Two years into our marriage he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and almost died several times. He called me his ‘Nurse Angel’ and always commented on that he ‘knew where his bread was buttered.’ However he threw fits when I talked on the phone to my girlfriends and threw even bigger ones when someone came to visit. He would ignore them and go putter around in the yard or garage to avoid them. Three days after I caught him sneaking off to a motel with skank woman I was crying hysterically at the kitchen table while he calmly and cavalierly told me to ‘go get some friends and do some things with them’ Yeah, right, after he had ran them all off. Ha! He also told me to ‘Move on, because he was and he also told me To GO get a boyfriend!!’

    • Oh I got this, my STBXW ran off all my friends because they were not good enough or shiny enough for her (all academic folks) and then when D-Day hit one of her reasons beyond, “you were to child centered”, “being a mother wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought it would be”, was “you don’t have any friends and never go out an do anything”…Well no shit you were such a bitch to all of them and made them feel uncomfortable by going to bed early every time they were around they quite coming around…Ironic thing is that once she left I now have a social life I can barely keep up with…And everyone says the same thing to me … “Cletus we love you as you are such a nice, funny, genuine person, but man was your wife bitchy and snobby, we were not surprised that it did not work out”, but I was simply too blinded by chumpdom to see the reality of what was right in front of me! LIBERTY!!!

      • My academic exH did not like any of my friends or colleagues, so over the years it dwindled to his colleagues…. And then over time it was me arranging all the get togethers, as he was so passive. Now I can see the isolation of it; then I only saw how lonely I was with a long commute, no good friends locally, and exH who never wanted to do anything with me and/or the kids.

        But I know most academics are cool and quirky 😉

        I guess my exH was not a “real” academic because one of the many things I was told post DDay (wants to end marriage) and pre admitting the affairs was… I never wanted to be a professor, you discouraged me from my real interest,, blah, blah, blah.

      • Yeah I was ” too into being a mom” and family centered. The divorce took care of that, I’ve been demoted to part time mom. He’s winning!

    • ChumpChange: I’m not kidding – your ex makes me feel physically sick. I’ve had mine coming up with a whole load of duplicitous shite – but your ex is pure evil – through and through – I really hope his dreams are hellish! hugs x

    • So hard to believe how quickly they detach. The morning after dday, my ex suggested someone he thought might be interested in dating me… He had lined up his girlfriend…maybe the idea of me dating someone else made him feel less crappy about leaving me?

      • Mine told me that I should start wearing my hair clipped up because I looked prettier and sexier that way. Better to attract a man. I could not believe my freakin’ ears!

        • How very sweet and caring of them (note the heavy sarcasm!)

          My ex was pretty scathing about my chances of finding someone else. His last words as he walked out… “Why would anyone want to be with you!” Nice.

      • Oh Northern Light this is a true story. A couple of weeks before he left I had noticed he was so detached that I tried to get his attention and I told him I was having an affair, just to get a reaction. He was so excited, his eyes all lit up. I thought at the time he was just being funny. But what you have said really makes sense, he was just trying to make himself feel better. What an arsehole!

        • My ex told me that he would have understood if I would have had an affair. (The thought never crossed my mind.) He was always looking to see if I was having one. He even half-joking stated that it looked like our children weren’t his. He was actually saying that to see my reaction. Really messed up. It would have made him feel so much better, if I had.

        • Wow, I can’t believe he got excited about that. They really see the world in a whole different way, it seems. I can’t believe these stories… I just can’t imagine thinking that way! Giving dating advice, feedback, and/or tips to the spouse they cheated on and are leaving….it’s unbelievably audacious and arrogant.

  • Ah Jayne, I recognise the pettiness of it all: mine did these things and acted like I was petty if I got annoyed. The best part is nobody sees him obviously doing anything – but they will see me fuming.

    Mine played a variation of this: he’d go into the kitchen, turn on the faucet and start talking. This is how he could able to say he “told me” when someone left him a message for me. His mother taught him that one… Another time when I was waiting for his call the phone rang once and nobody was there. When I complained about him not calling, he told me did!

    Communication with my ex might as well have been in two different languages for all I was able to get through to him.

    Another one: he was speeding well over the limit and I asked him to go slower. He started crawling so the traffic was whizzing scarily past us so I asked him to speed up and he answered petulantly, “You told me to slow down!”

    And there were the “walking wars” where he would walk faster or slower but would not walk with me. Mostly he was a few paces ahead because I was “too slow”. (If true, he’d have disappeared into the distance within 5 minutes). I feel hugely disrespected when a man does this. He would regard it as petty if I brought it up.

    There were 1,001 ways that guy messed with me. The household mail alone gave him priceless opportunities. Each home in our town had a post office box. After I caught on to his tricks, I got my own mail box and that part of my life began running smoothly again.

    There are so many little ways to torment somebody close, and my ex was an expert. Of course if I reacted, I was “crazy”.

    • Grrrrr – yes! The ‘you’re crazy’ defence! Apart from the mailbox thing – had the driving issues rubbish and the ‘walking wars’ crap too. I know exactly what you mean about speaking a different language too – this actually really got me down really badly – I really started to think I’d lost the ability to speak in English – honestly – it affected my communication with everyone – even now I have to work on not over-explaining! (as you can probably see! :-D).

    • OOOH you are making me thing–my ex was truly passive-aggressive. He would always walk behind me. If I tried to slow down to walk with him at times, to see what he would do, he would literally stop. He would REFUSE to tell me where he wanted to go out for dinner if we were going out as a family, or what food he might prefer, or what he might like to do, I always had to decide. He constantly told me that he told me things when he did not, so as to suggest I was crazy and distracted. He would say things to suggest I was drunk when I was not. He even went so far as to suggest to others that I had cancer when I was going in for a routine hysterectomy. He would treat me like a queen to my face and the face of our friends and community, but behind my back was betraying me in the most incredible ways with a cabal of sociopaths just like him who (I found out later form one of their ex-husbands) hated me and wanted to “destroy” me. I had thought these women he was having affairs and group sex with were family friends, and I never understood what he was doing before D-Day, but I should have. How absolutely frightening.

    • Wow, it’s such a relief to read these crazy making accounts. the walking, the mumbling, the inability to not understand me. Gas lighting, hateful stuff.

    • Wow! Yes, the passive-aggressive stuff in the car, the slow-walking, and the low-talking from the other room. O M G. Gaslighting/crazymaking!!!

    • Walking wars 🙁 I remember them too. We went to Sydney for a weekend with his parents about 6 months into our marriage. I remember them walking ahead holding hands whilst he walked behind me. I don’t remember him ever holding my hand.

      • Before we had kids, we would walk our two dogs together every day. He would have to walk ahead of me EVERY TIME. Not behind me, not next to me. This went of for years, then one day I started to mess with him, tired of looking like the chatal, so I would start out ahead of him instead of waiting for him to pass me. As he would catch up, I would slowly increase my pace. A few times I had him at almost a full gallop! This is years before I knew about crazy making or narcissism. I only did this a few times to kind of prove to myself that yeah, it was happening, there really was an unspoken rule about him walking ahead of me. Nope, I wasn’t being a “paranoid psycho.”

        • Wow, I had the “walking wars”, too!!! He always would walk ahead of me. I would ask him to wait for me, to slow down please….but he ignored me every time. Even when we were supposedly on a date together, just the two of us: when we would arrive at the restaurant, he would walk fast ahead of me and get to the door first and go in. So weird. It really bothered me. A lot. Felt so uncaring and disrespectful. I wanted to cry, but it was hard to explain why…he was just walking ahead, right? Just being immature, right? No, it was really passive aggressive. And just plain awkward and weird.

        • Trying hard not to over analyze here…..but, about the walking in front bit. Indulge me fro a moment. Mine always walked behind me especially when we were out shopping. I stopped taking him most of the time. It was really embarrassing and I thought I was making his life miserable by even wanting him to go with me. I would ask him if anything was wrong. He would always say no. I found myself apologizing for having him along. I would ask what he wanted for food. He would always say, I’m not hungry so I don’t know. I would get frustrated and he would get flustered at my annoyance. I started looking at some photos again and realized that he had this thing for taking photos of my butt, and as you guessed it, I was always walking ahead of him. WTF is that all about? Crazy question, but seriously….please please someone shed some light here! This is just one example of that perverts weird behavior.

          • Well, if he was taking photos of your butt, then it might have been just a pervy thing. But still weird and dysfunctional. But him not participating in lunch decisions and acting like he’s not hungry? That sounds passive-aggressive.

            In my case, my ex would also walk behind me, sometimes….in behind or in front. But never with me.

            As I look at this now, it seems like a pattern. He just never wanted to commit to being a “team”. When we went on vacations, he left me to care for the kids in the cabin by myself while he went out drinking, then came home late wanting sex. It wasn’t a family vacation at all. It was him, then us. He didn’t want to be part of the team. When we went out with other couples (on rare occasions), he would do small things to exclude me. It was weird. He would make new friends and then go on vacation with them, saying “you wouldn’t want to go anyhow”. I think the “walking wars” was part of that, too.

  • I might have been love bombed, our relationship started out long-distance. Many loving letters, presents, cards… when I packed up his stuff I found them. And they were earily similar to what he wrote to the married & long distance OW (now mainly texts and mails of course, but not exclusively, nothing says I wuvvv you like a cute “bear with a big heart”-card…). Suddenly seeing his old letters to me again made me sick to my stomach, but unfortunately he would not exchange them for my letters to him. So I threw them away.

    The thing is, I wrote him the same kind of letters. So were we love bombing each other? I think not. I reserved those for him, would never copy-paste those sentiments (for one, I’ve grown up in the last 20 years…). I know he is convinced she’s the one twu wuff now, equal to what he felt for me once. And thus she’s worthy of his love bombs. But I saw right through those superficial narkles, unfortunately 20 years too late… the echo the OW is getting right now is sparkly enough for her, but I know it lacks substance.

    Substance is not a bear with a big heart-card, but someone that cares for you when you’re sick. Substance is sharing the load, not using ‘work’ as an excuse to flee. Substance doesn’t fade away, it is tested, but grows deeper. As my love had done over the years.

    • My birthday after D Day – he gave me a card and flowers. The message in the card was that the card and flowers meant nothing but he would have felt bad not giving me something for my birthday! hahahahahaha – oh dear lord! 😀

    • Same thing. I found cards he’d written to OW, and ex-wives in the past. The same canned sentiments every time.

      I think because sociopaths just mimic emotion, they have a weakness for the treacly, juvenile or overly sentimental.

  • Oh another thing. My Narkles sent me tons of LOVE letters by email and always addressed me as ‘Special Person.’ He had forgotten that he had given me his password to his work email when he was sick and out of it. When he started his affair with Skank Woman I was floored when I read his love bomb letters to her and they were word for word the same exact one’s he wrote to me. He even called her ‘Special Person!’

    • Exactly, it’s a horrible echo that instantly devalues all previous “heartfelt” narkles. How difficult is it to think of a new pet name? (though Special Person almost sounds like a generic address for a spam message… sorry).

      • yeah, my ex always called me “hon” in person and in email, I saw some of his correspondence with his OW where he used that term and said a lot of the same things to her. Including sending her the same daily emails that just said “hi hon, you OK?”

        I realized two things; he had NOT called me by my name in YEARS

        and all those emails asking if I was OK were just to make sure he knew where I was. Sort of like the daily phone calls where he would just say “hi” and then sit in silence until I would say I had to get back to work.

        • I’ve had a thing against ‘pet names’ throughout several relationships – I guess it’s probably been one of their ‘crazy’ red flags against me – but I don’t like to be called -consistently – ‘sconehead’, ‘buggerlugs’ or ‘hon’ if they don’t address me by my given name on a more regular basis 😀 I know all 3 men who gave me these sobriquets complained bitterly when I said ‘my name isn’t ‘sconehead’/buggerlugs/hon – it’s Jayne’ – I know it sounds petty, but I felt dehumanised – or something anyway, red flagged for me anyway! 😀

          • Mine called every woman, including the female wait staff at restaurants, nurses, office staff, total strangers on the street, “Dear” or “Love”. And it was always with a condescending , arrogant air, as if he just made them a “special” woman worthy of his time and attention. Sometimes he became very loud and would wave his arm up in the air to get their attention. His voice would go up 1-2 octaves, depending how much attention he wanted to bring to himself. Most the time, he embarrassed the living daylights out of me. I thought I was alone in this till my eldest son told me he thought his dad missed the culture train and was embarrassing him too. This made me feel better in a strange, but pleasing way.

    • My X sent an mp3 of our song, his and mine from our wedding, to his girl friend of 4 weeks. One of the lines in the song is “will you love me through the winter, will you love me ’til I’m dead?” Of course it was like a bullet through my heart when I found out, but now I find the irony of it hilarious. Spoiler alert: He did NOT love OW through the winter!

      • Oh my! That would have made me so upset/angry/vomit-y. Wow. I am a little stunned by the audacity. I am glad you are able to embrace the humor in it now.

        My ex did take the suit he got married in to wear with the OW shortly after leaving me. Not nearly the same, because it’s a suit and he’s a practical type, but it definitely pointed out to me how my ex just doesn’t attach any emotional meaning to anything…

  • What does a broke graduate student studying foreign politics and grubbing by on an aging muscle car do when Prince Charming picks her up in a shiny new Porsche, wines and dines her around the world, and takes her to Tiffany’s to look at rings, pledging to support her hopes and dreams of tenure and to honor and cherish until death do them part? She say yes, even though he baits and switches with a flawed diamond from Kay’s, pawns off the Porsche, and constantly reminds her that her career is “bullshit.”

    I’m not really that shallow, but it was even better than the movies until Prince Charming starting pumping Princess Pelvis. I guess it really was “’til death do us part” because clearly, I was dead to him.

    For the record, I don’t think he put on the airs of debonair when he targeted her. At that point, he was a washed out, almost unemployed, unshaven married man who was just having an extra-marital affair. But he must have glitter-bombed her with something.

  • Narkles a bit akin to fool’s gold. My ex completely lost it when he turned 46. He’d probably started his exit affair about two years before that. His behavior towards me changed and he became someone I didn’t know or like. While it took me a few years to discover the web of lies he had begun spinning he was doing all those things a cheater does. Before then he was pretty much a typical married man we were admired in our community but he seemed unhappy with his career and spent time with friends from the fitness club and work who seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about their lives and families. He spent a great deal of time working and working out and looking back he was emotionally absent most of our marriage. I of course made up for that. Chumps are extremely capable. Another concern in our long term marriage was his inability to handle life’s inevitable challenges. I do think these people are incapable of genuinely loving another. Best decision I ever made was to divorce him.

    • Same. Exact. Situation…except mine was a woman who had no career or career ambitions…She just simply knew that being married to a college professor was beneath what she felt life owed her…Her affair started 3 years prior to d-day and she just checked out…when I outed her AP to his wife and he promptly ended it…she did the reconciliation thing to string me me along until she could find an exit affair to leave me.

  • ‘Love Bombing’ was when my X came to visit me while I was going through chemotherapy and held my hand. He couldn’t have been MORE kind. I worked with him and there was a note put out in the weekly bulletin that I needed some help. I couldn’t be out in the sun because of the chemo so he came over to mow my lawn but my crappy lawn mower wouldn’t start so he ran home and got his and came back and mowed my lawn. He took my broken one into have fixed. I was mesmerized my his kindness. He cheered me up and brought me dinner. He fixed all the broken things around my house. He showered me with thoughtful cards and daily emails. I couldn’t believe my good fortune! He was living with a woman at the time who was a terrible drunk and I thought I was saving him!! Hahaha. My bad. I felt guilty that he left her for me but when he went to get his stuff out of her house she already had another guy moved in (two weeks later) so I assumed they didn’t think much of each other.

    It took me many years to see that was his pattern. ‘Love bombing’ woman after woman after woman. He makes us all feel real special until we aren’t. He’s the sparkliest guy you’ll ever meet. He had me and my family and friends fooled.

  • My ex and I dated in high school and he was the star quarterback, and an a**hole. The kind of guy who was oh-so-popular but everyone somehow hated, especially the women. Fast forward to my last years in law school, and we meet up again. He is a “changed” man, sincere, kind, attentive, not a jerk at all. Here are some of the narkles/red flags—>
    ***He asks me to marry him less than 5 weeks after we started dating.** We did not have sex until after we were engaged (I think this was a red flag that even then he was into things that were not “normal” and/or was just “not that into” me. He appeared, however to be a completely different guy than the one I knew years before.

    Here are the narkles he displayed all of our 25 years of married life–> uber-uber-uber polite, I mean stood when I left or came back to the table at the restaurant, opening and holding the car door for me, etc etc. He would look deeply in my eyes and tell me how much he adored me. He told me he loved me every day. He told everyone he ever met and in our community how much he loved me and our children. He was always the life of the party. Tall, pretty good looking, and completely confident. He was so very quick and had a great sense of humor, he could reduce me and anyone else to tears of laughter in no time. Very intelligent, very orderly and organized. He insisted on dressing impeccably. He spent more time looking in the mirror than I did in the morning and throughout the day….way more.

    He acted that way pretty much throughout our marriage……but…..there would be cracks in the mask where he would say and do such “out of character” things like—intense rage because the house wasn’t clean, or something went wrong and he claimed he just had a low threshold for frustration, but looking back I think he was NEVER happy. Comments to me that were just plain mean and no loving husband would say, and he could go to bed mad, my tears never affected him. There was a moment when he completely lost it when our oldest son was a newborn (he is now a 25 year-old law student), and screamed how much he hated me and wanted a divorce. I SPACKLED, I overlooked, I was “forgiving,” I said “no one is perfect.” I thought he changed after high school. HE DIDN’T. He was still a misogynist. He was still a liar. He was having affairs, group sex, doing all kinds of porn I didn’t know existed, and he pretended. And I “let” him because I couldn’t believe he could be so perverted and deceitful and sick and because I didn’t want it to be true.

    Fast forward to post D-Day. I realized what he was, a narcissist/sociopath. I realized because of this website that I had fallen for the sparkles/narkles, and spackled-spackled-spackled. Despite my incredible oblivion during our marriage, my antenna went up immediately when I met a man who looked at me too long, stared into my eyes too deeply, “sparkled” in some way personality-wise, I would back the hell away.

    Then I met my now-fiance. Sweet, pretty quiet, calm, interested in me in a way my ex never was (astonishing discovery, that). While he is not insecure, he does not act or feel superior to others. He tells jokes but they are corny. He tells me he loves me but does not go over the top. He has bought me flowers or a gift for special occasion, and they are always sweet and something I love but not sparkly or pretentious. He tells corny jokes. He’s a big guy (a bear of a guy as I think Nord once described), not perfectly built, but built perfectly for me. He dresses ok but not the snappiest I’ve ever seen. Tells long stories I love to hear. He has a job he will talk about sometimes but it’s not all about him. He cares if I cries, cares what I think, and cares what I feel. My fiance opens doors for me and lets me go first, but isn’t running ahead to throw his coat over a puddle. **Very important to me: he loves his sons and is extremely close to them and involved in their lives. He still speaks to his ex, they truly co parent, and while they annoy each other still sometimes, he did not cheat on her and no one in his family or social group has ever felt it necessary to go “no contact” on him. I watched when we first started dating and saw he had several very nice close friends, and was friends with their wives too, but did not have a group of assorted syncophants surrounding him.

    I could go on and one. But once you’ve seen the narkles, you know.

  • Here’s my narkle that I am now highly aware was what sucked me into the vortex of chumpville ” Is what you are going to tell me going to make me cry?”

    Arghhhhhhh! Back when we were dating, my spidey-sense TOLD me to lose the loser!!!!! Never again will I ignore my gut instinct. How freaking manipulative. And being inclined to chumphood, I thought I must be wrong in my assessment of him.

    • I’d be interested to onow how many of us started not being interested, “spidey senses” up, yet still we ended up with these people? What’s that about?

      • I am definitely a member of that subset.

        The thing is…, I was often put of the defensive when I demonstrated any resistance/suspicion. Projection stuff. Think about it, if you are wondering about somebody, and then they voice some off-the-wall suspicion, you can immediately shift to defending yourself instead of suspecting them.

        In retrospect, I don’t even think this sort of thing was conscious for my Ex. It was natural and unconscious, I think, like breathing. Looking back, she did it with everybody eventually. It’s sort of “the best defense is an offense” kind of thing.

        • I am a member too – I had forgotten about this actually, till reading the above.
          When we met, I remember thinking he was too smooth and charming, while his friend, who was quiet and shy, was more my type. But he pursued me and I have to admit that I was flattered and got taken in.
          I spackled when I noticed he was being charming to my friends – I couldn’t admit to myself he was flirting with them – when I did comment on it he would act flabbergasted that I would even think that – so I learnt to repress that ‘gut-feeling’ or inner voice shouting at me. Turns out he was flirting, asking them for sex. Talk about a lying, cheating arsehole! It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that deep down I “knew”. I just wasn’t listening, I spackled majorally, and I loved so deeply and trustingly.

  • I just ended my engagement and co-habitation with a man who cheated on me with 9 women (his estimation, seeing them around 3-4 times each) over the course of 16 months. We were only together 2 years.

    We met online. I was 38, he was 39, both of us divorced, no kids. At the time, I had essentially accepted the fact that I was not going to find “the one”, and that men would be a fun diversion for me–because I had been on so many shit dates, and had determined that I was happiest when I was alone and focusing on the things that moved my life forward.

    Our first date was magic. He was as tall as his profile said he was, he dressed perfectly and over the course of our cocktails, he revealed some very personal and touching things about his life. He presented himself so confidently, something that I was not used to, as I self-deprecate my contributions to my work, he billed himself as the “builder” of companies. Nice car, descended from musical royalty, loved his mother, midwestern, and was a great kisser. He fixed my toilet on the second date. He emailed me every day while I was on a trip to Asia after only knowing him for 2 weeks.

    We fell in love very quickly, he said “I love you” to me within the first 3 months, and because I am a chump, I was overwhelmed and honored that such a successful, intelligent, wealthy man would lay his cards out for little old me. We decided to move in together after 9 months, to buy a house together–he made references to marrying me. I was thrilled. I bought into the narkles, goddamnit! I felt special, he took me to meet important people, he told me how he talked about me to his well-connected crowd.

    Then, co-habitation. I don’t remember when it all started falling to pieces, but it was an eventual wear on my position within the relationship. Suddenly, he started making me feel like my clothes weren’t enough (he used a personal shopper, I couldn’t afford clothes like that, but I keep it together style wise), he was very guarded with passwords and would hide his phone and other devices. I found an Ashley Madison email–“that’s from before we were together” — he tells me he had sex with married women he met on Ashley Madison as a single guy. Then there was the yoga teacher he cheated with while in a 4 year relationship with his ex-girlfriend (…but his ex was sexually frigid, you see). Then there were the express desires to go to swingers clubs, and his anger at me when I was uncomfortable there, the trumpeting of the virtues of open relationships, then I found an OK Cupid profile up and active.

    Then he proposes to me. huge ring, huge emotional gesture and presentation, I am delighted, thinking, okay all of these nagging things that are now making me feel “one-down” have been righted. I feel special, I feel like I’m part of a power couple and that all of my interests and accomplishments are finally validated. NARKLES GODDAMNIT.

    Until it all fell apart. I looked at his iPad in December for a reason completely un-related to checking up on him, because I knew that he had a lot of female friends, but I NEVER SUSPECTED he was fucking all of them. He was not home that night, he was out with “co-workers”, alas, he was out with some woman named Deborah, and there were sext messages with 4 other women all within the last 2 days. I read all of them and he had been having sex with all of them, and me, concurrently. And I am no prude–TRUST THAT. I saw the dick pics, the photo of him holding a pair of panties in our kitchen (not mine), the selfies (for his profile on adult friend finder). It took that apocalyptic moment to find my strength, immediately threw him out, and he is moving out officially in a matter of days and I am keeping the house. I think he finally realized that the strong woman he was initially attracted to was back and please don’t fuck with her. I don’t see narkles anymore. I see an NPD mother fucking asshole who has now started blame shifting.

    I have learned so much from this blog about his unending narcissism, the vapid hole that he has in his heart. When busted, he said that these encounters gave him confidence, that it was easy, that he could “manage” multiple sexual relationships while giving me what I wanted, when in fact while in couples counseling, I kept telling him how I did not feel special and how I did not feel sexy.

    Now he’s angry with me because I “terrified” him, that he was too scared to reveal his “true self” to me because I would “destroy” him. What’s the worst? That I was dazzled by narkles, and I lost two precious years of my life to this cake-eating mother fucker.

    • Yeah, the moment he told you about his propensity for dating married women, you should of run for the hills! Glad you didn’t lose more of your life with that jerk. A painful 2-year lesson.

  • Another well timed post – just when I feel totally alone in all of this. I’ve been suspecting for a while that my STBX has NPD tendencies – tonight they came at me full force, quickly followed by the same NPD behaviour from his mother who started shouting at me down the phone. I’m still shaking and trying very hard not to let my mind run off untangling the skein. So thank you everyone for helping me put things back in perspective 🙁

    • I’m sorry Notsoscared, when the mask falls off it is an ugly and frightening moment, shakes you to your soul. Stay the course.


  • Interestingly, TCM is right now screening “Cause for Alarm,” a suspense thriller with Loretta Young, in which chumps will recognize the husband as an N-sociopath.

    One of the best lines is delivered from the man’s aunt, who said “a man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.”

  • My ex was like that. He was super intense when we met and I was smart enough to know that there was something wrong. We remained distant friends as I studied and travelled.
    Then I fell on hard times and he was ther my knight in shining armour.
    Big mistake.
    He was a classic narcissist and sociopath. That means lying is easy and he is convincing.
    At the end I got out and he told everyone I cheated. Of course they believed him, he is a beautiful liar. I’m just glad I was smart enough to not have kids with him.
    He cheated on me 3 times but that was fine. Then ne told everyone I cheated. Flipping classic!

  • My “narkalist” is very intelligent in a very specific field. He is bright, I’ll give him that. BUT! He is the very brightest (if you get me.) He would know better than anyone else on how to approach a problem or an idea. He was very quiet around others but with me, well gosh, he could open up! He would ignore his elderly parents, his energetic child, drink like a fish but with me, gosh he was “nice” and “kind” and an “aww shucks” kind of guy.

    When I found out about his affair?

    He got drunk. Told me to F*** off. Threatened to take my child. Told me to “be careful.” Threatened to call the police on me. Lied to just about everyone. Took up quickly with another “less” fortunate gal. Did not show any compassion or empathy for anyone.

    Narkles? They are dangerous warning signs. I didn’t know them. I do now. It’s about control. It’s about entitlement. It’s about them. It’s how wonderful and amazing THEY are. It’s never about you. YOU don’t mean anything, other than that they deem you “worthy” of their greatness. If you protest, fuss, have emotions, show vulnerability – look out! A narklist will dismiss you and/or rule you. If they can’t rule you and control you by their “brilliance” or shine, they will make your life difficult.

    A narkalist will lie with ease, make your doubt your truth and look like a nice guy or “gal.”

    Once you meet one, never forget the lessons.

  • My STBX presented himself as a self-effacing, shy, humanitarian who was not concerned with people’s opinions of him and who was committed to spiritual pursuits as opposed to material gain. In reality, he was a needy, greedy, emotionally abusive, materialistic, self-absorbed, self-centered, navel-gazing, entitled severely passive-aggressive (rising to the disorder level) covert narcissist.

    In the beginning, he treated me like I had been spun from gold and I was the woman he had always been looking for. I got the sad story of his childhood mistreatment/abandonment and the dysfunction present in his FOO which affected him so deeply and left him sensitive to the pain of others. I seemed to “get” him and I was just the person he had always been looking for. He cooked for me, opened car doors for me, stroked my hair and made me feel as though I was the most desirable woman he had ever met. And he was (and is) good looking. I thought I was the luckiest woman alive – I had been the one who had come along to heal him, the chosen one. Narkle, Narkle! That lasted for about six months, until we were living together and I was totally hooked by him. I’ve never been someone impressed by someone “flashy,” so the quiet, thoughtful, sincere narkles were like throwing diamonds at my feet.

    Then the “real” him began to slowly emerge. The flirt, the pornography hound, the frequent user of innuendo to let me know he found someone more enthralling than me, the hints that I didn’t quite measure up to a co-worker in looks or accomplishments or by using her opinion to counter mine even though what she might have said was completely wrong and/or ridiculous, his insistence that if we disagreed, his opinion would prevail.

    He initially appeared so sincere and his abusive behavior was gradual and built over time. Our relationship was definitely a good example of the frog in the pot of water, with me being the frog. There was then and now a level of casual cruelty always simmering just below the surface always waiting for some perceived slight or attack and then the cruelty would be on full display. To disagree with him or to assert myself always left me open to some punitive emotional assault.

    Hopefully he will be the last swine before whom I toss my pearls.

  • I already knew my ex from when I was a teenager. Ran into him when I was 19 and wasn’t really impressed by him at all. He flirted (worlds biggest flirt) persisted, chased me relentlessly for about 6 months and got me hooked. He narkled me big time. Spent every moment with me. Made me feel like the only person in the world. 4 years later we got married. I fell pregnant pretty much straight away. We moved to the country, I didn’t know a soul. I stayed home did the good wife stuff while he lived his single life, threw a few crumbs my way and the kids way every now and again. He was always off shooting, surfing, playing hockey, away with work. The times when he was home, he was always angry, it was my fault, constantly yelled at the kids, I tried harder, worked harder, gave more. Moved to a bigger town 4 years later, he still kept going being the single “married” man, going away for weeks at a time then the going out for coffee with girl “friends” started, telling me to get over it. The bites on his neck etc, the not bothering to come home from nights out because he was too drunk, so he would stay at a female friends house. I got told to get over it, to deal with it, they were just friends, that we don’t have a relationship like everybody else and that was good. I raised our kids, worked. If I ever asked to do anything I got told, why should I do that, I don’t like doing that or its a waste of money or why should he have to do things that he finds boring. Then 21 years had gone. I became a shell of a person, he finally left for one of his “friends”. That was nearly 3 years ago. It is amazing when you are out of their crap that you truly see them for what they are!! I think I was well and truly “narked”…

    • Yes, you’ve been “narked”. As have I. Your story is almost word for word the same as mine. Uncanny how similar these narcs are in their personalities.

      It’s amazing how dysfunction becomes “normal”.

      • Duck, it is so uncanny how similar all these stories are. We give they take. You are so right, how dysfunction becomes normal. I struggled with this for such a long time. That somebody would treat me well without me having to try harder.

  • I never got narkles.

    I fell for a “reformed” loner, a passive-aggressive, avoidant sourpuss who just wasn’t that into me. He was smart, well-educated, and wanted a family. Until he ran off with some twat just like him.

    What a spineless burnout.

    I appreciate all the warnings about narkles. Jeez.

  • Dearest CL,

    “Narkles” were a key part of my family. Writing here as Chump Son. The problem was not infidelity, but CL’s investigations into “Chumpology” have wide applications……

    Dad had issues, but we were encouraged to see him differently. In fact, we were encouraged to see the world in a very particular way. My mother, who was a Chump but also was a willing NPD/nark-enabler, was a key manufacturer of family narkles. In fact, she worked assiduously with my father to create them.


    We didn’t see our family as one with problems, despite air raid siren screaming (from my father), despite my father’s consistent conflicts with others, despite the fact that my brother refused to speak to my father for many years, etc.


    We created narkles.

    These had different components. We celebrated our past (Mayflower Society). We were encouraged to think about how successful my father’s father had been (President of a small town bank). We were told that it was terrible, tragic that a man as brilliant as my father could not get further in his career (the reason for his rages). We had a whole, family-internal, closed, narkle-creating system going. No kid-friends ever stayed overnight. We kept certain things to ourselves, and we “narkled.” Heck, if you can set the height for your next jump, you can probably clear the bar! The height was set by us, so we were always Olympians, in our closed, confined little family world-view.

    So, Chump Son recognizes narkles. NPD/nark-types want to keep their families isolated. They do not want competition or to have their behavior held to outside standards. In my case, this was a thoroughly narkle-supporting system that acted as a shock-absorber for a father who had some very problematic behaviors. And Chumps can become narkle-creators/narkle enablers. I would argue, however, that while that may buy some very temporary peace, it’s not good for the kids in the long run. It’s not even good for the “narkled” spouse, really (though he/she wants/insists on that). Eventually, the kids have to enter a de-narkled world where the narkled standards of their upbringing (Mayflower Society, Grandfather bank president, etc.) don’t count for anything. What’s more, the kids’ formative experiences as narklers/spackler can create serious problems going forward. Don’t let your family become a “closed corporate community.” It should be a home that’s stable, not subject to abrupt — dizzying — ups and downs. It should be a place where kids can have their friends stay over, where guests are welcome, where peace and calm reigns, and where expectations of people and life are realistic. Chumps, please! Don’t get caught up in creating a nark-supporting, narkle-supplying subculture where what’s really needed is a family. Maybe an imperfect family, but a family that’s open to the outside, that owns and deals with its problems, that doesn’t fear to seek counseling when needed, and that models calm, problem-solving behaviors for its youngest members…….

    Yours Always,

    Chump Son

    p.s. As always, kudos to CL for creating more terrific, muscle-vocabulary for the challenges we Chumps face. “Narkles.” Awesome!

    • Chump Son – “Maybe an imperfect family, but a family that’s open to the outside…”

      Yes, this is key. While married to my ex-narc, I was too scared to invite my friends over, for fear of what kind of mood he’d be in. Plus, if there was someone over, and he didn’t like it, he would berate me later, about it. Very isolating. And a sure sign of dysfunction. I know this now, in hindsight.

  • You’ve described my narcissist ex exactly. And sadly, after surviving the fallout from daring to leave him and being his favourite target for abuse, he’s now decided that five years later, that he’s “grown up” and swears his undying love for me once again. I’ve told him no several times but he’s not listening; just keeps pretending I haven’t been clear and that he can talk me into going back to him. Unfortunately we have a young child to co-parent so I can’t go no contact or tell him to go away in no uncertain terms as he tends to then get at me through our child. He’s been under psychiatric care before so its essential I don’t rile him for the safety of our child. I hate being under his “spotlight” again as I was pretty comfortable knowing he’d seemed to move on to other chumps!

    • Congratulate him on his new-found maturity, wish him well, and then calmly explain you would never be able to trust him due to your past with him, and the best thing he can do is move forward with his own life and not repeat the same mistakes with his next wife, and if he insists on hitting on you, you will begin to arrange child stuff though one of those software/websites so that you don’t have to be annoyed by that sort of inappropriate behavior anymore. 🙂

      Or just skip to the parenting software/website.

      Bold, firm, calm boundary.

      • TimeHeals,

        What a great suggestion! Do you have the URLs for some of those websites? I have a female friend, a nark-victim mother of three who is now subject to constant angry-ex e-mails. Is there a website/a filter where you can get “just the facts” (“Will be picking Abby up at 3PM at the school….”) without all the needless knifing that an unforgiving father-failure feels obliged to include in each and every message? Such a filtration service probably wouldn’t cost all that much and would be worth its weight in gold! It would also frustrate the sour nark who, having left the marriage, having left the person, now feels weirdly/perversely compelled to try and keep causing hurt.


  • CL states that “Contrary to the life of the party type of narkles, I think there is an aloof kind of narkle — the I Am Very Sad and Misunderstood And Only With Your Loving Patience Can You Save Me. Oh yes, you’re the only one who really gets them. Who is allowed into the walled garden of their soul. These freaks display self importance by holding themselves apart from others, withholding, maybe if you try really, really hard you can get them to smile. They did? They smiled at you? There’s the narkle spotlight — you’re the special one! Now could you do their homework for them and maybe lend them some money? Because well, you’re special. You’re the only one they trust to help them.”

    Wow-this blew my mind. I was there, day in day out, helping with editing those papers for the graduate degree, booking those psychologist and psychiatrist appointments, ensuring we had grand dinners, keeping up the garden and the exterior of the home because he was SO TIRED from his full time job (I had full time job too). But I WAS SAVING HIM and I WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO UNDERSTOOD HIM, who “GOT HIM.”

    Even though he’s moved in the OW after four months, and she has the honor of narkle-ation, I’m good walking away from that suck-the-life-out-of-me troll. And I will never miss watching his “Looking for Bigfoot” videos in the evening, but that’s another story.

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