How to Spot a Narcissistic Abuser from a Mile Away

Through talking about the demise of my last relationship to friends, my therapist, and family members I have learned a whole lot more than I ever wanted to learn about narcissists. I had never actually dated one, so I feel like the whole concept of these messed up, mystical people was foreign to me before now. So much so that I didn’t actually understand what happened to me until it was over. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I have insight that may help you get through it. God speed.

They hook you immediately.

This is the “love bombing” phase. They like what you like. Feign similar interests, because they don’t really have an identity of their own. They move so fast your head spins because they don’t want you to have time to think rationally about what a healthy relationship is. They latch on to your identity because this makes you like them more. You’ll find that narcissists are “loners”, usually not by choice. He said his ex’s were to blame for losses of friendships. Finding out that he did this to other people was confirmation that I am not the crazy one. Chances are they have alienated everyone who has ever cared about them in any way. The day I met my narcissistic mistake, he actually said to me “Careful, keep doing that and I’ll marry you”. Narcissists shower you with attention and affection that is manufactured to further manipulate you. He never had any intention of building a life with me, but his words and actions said otherwise. He actually made a “list” of things we were going to have together in the future. He placed a picture of us at the top of that list and filled it with houses, cars, and at the end of the list- a big engagement ring. Whenever I would have doubts or start to feel not ok about the relationship he would send me the list and insist I focus on “2020 being our year”. 2020 has so far been anything but that.

Narcissists suck the life out of you.

You will find yourself emotionally drained almost from the very beginning. But it’s intoxicating, and that’s how they like you to perceive them. Normal relationships don’t leave you feeling emotionally drained, but a relationship with a narcissist does. You will walk on eggshells for months as they continue to isolate you from everything and everyone you love. They want all of the focus to be on them, all the time.

You are constantly on edge around this person, but still want them to like you.

Remember, this is a game to them. The end goal for them is “winning” your attention and affection, then ultimately destroying you. My narcissist has done this to every single person he has dated to my knowledge. Love shouldn’t make you feel like throwing up.

They withhold attention as a power move.

Once the love bombing phase is over, they have you. They will text you 100 times one day, then you won’t hear from them for 2-3 days, then they resurface like everything is perfect. This is intentional. You have become their supply, and they only use you for validation when they need you. Your needs do not matter to the narcissist. Never have, never will. You are nothing more than supply to them, a way to feed their inflated ego. A narcissist doesn’t care where they get their supply from, just that they have it. They oftentimes have multiple supply streams lined up so they are never without attention, which was the case in my relationship.

They don’t want to define the relationship with you in any way, yet keep pulling you in deeper and deeper with empty promises of a future.

A normal person in a new relationship is happy. They are also happy to share that they are with someone who makes them feel good. Narcissists are miserable humans who use people for their own personal gain so you may find that you’re the dirty secret. This happened to me. He would introduce me to bar friends as his girlfriend, then make ridiculous rules for the community that we live in, citing his “privacy” as a main concern. I was told to tell people that we were “just friends”. I was so desperate to make him happy that I did that. He made future plans with me to keep me reeled in, while never acknowledging that I was anything more to him than a friend to everyone around him. In one breath he would have me test driving cars for his soon to be 16 year old child, a child I was not allowed to meet because he told me I would “hurt” his family, and in another he would tell me to maintain the “secret relationship” so he could continue to live and act as a single person. My child and her emotions were used by him to further play this game with my life. His parents had no clue who I was. To the world around him he was a single Mr Nice Guy, but to me he was the guy who told me he loved me and spent the night at my house all the time and took weekend trips with and planned trips for our birthdays together. I should be packing for Vegas with him right now, an idea he had while we were on a weekend trip to Atlanta together. He sat beside me and booked the hotel rooms. I was over the moon excited, he was likely just doing this as another way to keep me hooked and looking past all of his indiscretions and towards a future with him that was never going to happen. Smoke and mirrors.

They will compare you to everyone who came before you, usually when they are mad at you.

I remember the first time I questioned him about something. I was told “jealousy doesn’t look good on you”. The supply is not allowed to question the narcissist. You are supposed to just sit back and let them lie, cheat, and steal their way through the relationship. Any time I pushed back I heard “You’re just like *fill in the blank with an ex’s name*”. They know that you do not want to lose them, nor do you want them to think you’re as terrible as their ex was, so you back off to keep the peace and excuse more bad behavior than you ever have in your life.

They accuse you of emotions they are intentionally provoking.

One of the biggest fights we ever had was on one of the most perfect nights we had together. He spent all night charming me, telling people at our favorite watering hole I was his girlfriend, showering me with affection and emotions, laughing with me, and continuing to pull me in. The minute I reciprocated he got so angry and told me that I was messing it all up, that he didn’t want to talk about feelings with me. It was a very Jekyll and Hyde moment. He punished me that night by leaving in anger instead of going to my house for the night like we had planned. It happened so fast I wasn’t actually sure what had happened or why, everything he was saying and doing just 20 minutes before that was completely different than what led to the fall out of the evening. I cried all the way home and didn’t sleep at all, only for him to pretend nothing happened the next day. Supply is expected to be as emotionally void as the narcissist, unless the narcissist needs an ego boost. Then they’ll allow it, further confusing you, because normal human emotion does not turn on and off with a switch.

They do not respect boundaries.

I would tell him I was in for the night, he would call and insist I meet him out somewhere. I would say no more drinks, he would order me another one. Every bartender in town knew to pour half my drink out when he wasn’t looking. He would not take no for an answer about anything. It was either his way or the highway. I was scared to tell him no.

You find yourself explaining basic human emotions to a grown man.

I wasn’t allowed to have my feelings hurt by him. He would stand me up after me arranging a sitter for my daughter, break plans with me all the time, snap at me for showing my feelings for him when it wasn’t on his schedule, and then he would get mad at me for having my feelings hurt. He would tell me he loved me one night, only to tell me the next day that he didn’t want to talk about feelings and that I was pissing him off. I would try to explain how this made me feel and he would look at me like I had three heads. He would say I was “too sensitive” and just never really understood the disappointment I had when he stood me up. All of my friends hated him for it. I would call them from wherever the meeting point was and they knew the minute they picked up the phone that he didn’t show up. I remember my friend Alex watching my daughter for me one night and the last thing she said to me before I left was “He better show up this time”. He actually got mad at me when I told him that. He didn’t understand why it was a big deal. My time with my daughter is valuable, but he didn’t value my time. The supply’s feelings never matter. My tears were met with laughter from him. He seemed to almost delight in any display of hurt feelings by me. It was another opportunity for him to break me down.

There is always a reason you’re their supply.

I was his supply for money. I believe that he preyed on me because of my brand spanking new widow status. He saw dollar signs. He took full advantage of me, siphoning money from me any chance he got starting less than a month after the first day we met and not stopping for the entirety of the relationship. He used me to facilitate an extravagant lifestyle that he couldn’t provide himself or his children on his own. In fact, he is still costing me money. He sold me a car in February that he did not have the title for. I paid him in full for the car on Valentine’s Day, a day that people in a normal relationship would be celebrating together, right? Well my Valentine’s Day consisted of me meeting him at the bank across from his office to pay him for a car that I still do not have a title to. I have a bill of sale. I have the car. I have no title. He title pawned it. It’s my primary means of transportation, it’s also the first place he told me he loved me. Narcissists like to have full control over your finances and your life. He had both. He still has control over my car, because he refuses to produce the title for me. So the narcissist who claims were were never in a relationship continues to control my life, even after the relationship is dead. This is what these people do. It’s a way to keep you connected to them, even when you don’t want to be.

Gaslighting

He outright denied manipulative behavior and became very angry when I tried to confront him with facts and screenshots of things he had said and done to me in the past and proof of a relationship he had with someone else when he was seeing me. He denied ever telling me he loved me, and actually told me that we were just friends. The very thing he told everyone else about me was what he tried to convince me we were in the end, but he already had more supply lined up that he wanted to move forward with. A normal person would have the “hey, this isn’t working out” talk. Narcissists aren’t normal. Their whole motive is to make you feel and seem crazy. They want to add you to the pile of people who came before you, so you’re the same as the people they called “crazy” and “obsessed” with them. They want to destroy everything about you they pretended to love- your honesty, empathy, integrity.. because all of the things they pretended to love about you are traits they don’t have themselves. They use you as a way to convince their next supply that they are highly sought after and obsessed over by the ex’s in their lives. It makes them feel good to have so many people “obsessed” with them and they use it as a tool.

The next one is the most painful one.

The Discard

I tried to break up with him twice. He would not allow it to happen. Once he even told me he couldn’t handle what I was saying to him and 2 days later he showed up and curled up in the recliner with my daughter to watch disney movies. He knew the way to my heart was her, and he used her at every opportunity to get closer to me. Every time I wanted to step back he would pull me in closer. Narcissists cannot allow you to make the break. They want to destroy you so they methodically plan out your demise to give them more control and more power.

The discard almost killed me. I’m far enough removed from those feelings now that I can talk about them candidly, but during the discard which seemed to drag on and on, I wanted to die. One night after I had been on hold for hours with the airlines trying to rearrange his flights for spring break for him and his children, I felt lower than low. I knew he was distant because he was with someone else, he just refused to admit it. I had no proof, but I had a gut feeling that wouldn’t leave me. I begged him just to tell me. Instead, he called in his sleeping pills to the pharmacy by my house and told me to pick them up. He wanted me to be knocked out while he was with the new one and her family. While they were out having drinks and dinner (presumably with my money) I had been on hold for hours to try and fix something that was not my responsibility to fix that he guilted me into fixing for him. While he was love bombing my replacement, I was taking a handful of his sleeping pills not wanting to wake up the next day.

As the discard phase got worse, he became more and more condescending. The therapist I suggested he see for his many issues and abuse of me he used against me, trying to make me believe that I was the problem. I gave him every opportunity to tell me the truth. I gave him every opportunity to do right by me when it came to the thousands of dollars he swindled out of me. He continued to tell me I was crazy and delusional. The narcissistic discard I experienced felt like death. It was someone telling me they loved me one day, and pretending they had never said that the next day. It was having a constant in my life, someone who claimed that he had “never met anyone like me that understood him” and then having it disappear.

If it feels like the worst break up you’ve ever had, it’s because it is. You’ve likely been abused for the entirety of the relationship and feel more betrayed than you ever have in your life because you come to the realization that everything he said was a lie just to further his own position in the game he played with your life.

The Push Back

There is only one way to handle these people, and that’s to push back. It’s very easy to just run away from the aftermath because you’re so embarrassed and ashamed that you allowed yourself to be manipulated and abused in this way. In my case, no one has ever held this person responsible for anything he has ever done. He has left a trail of destruction in his path and has just moved from discard to new supply with relative ease. Narcissists are very charming and convincing, and they always have new supply waiting for them so they never have to go without the attention they crave. When I began to push back, when I began to demand an apology, the title for the car, and the money he sucked away from me, and the apology I most certainly deserve for all of the above- the real monster came out. There were threats. He became a totally different person. Robotic with no emotion at all one second, raging and threatening the next.

He told me after the first time I wrote about him that it was going to hard for me to date again if everyone saw that I was “obsessed with him”. He demanded I take the post down, claiming I was hurting his children. He threatened to sue me. This was a futile attempt to silence me. I won’t be silent. I know my rights. Every time I speak out, someone else messages me to share their story of their own encounter with a narcissist. They are all eerily similar. Besides, I hope me writing about him serves as a warning to whoever tries to date me from here forward. If it scares away men for the rest of my life, oh well. I’m good alone.

He told me that, if I took him to court for the money or the car title, he would tell the judge the money was a “generous gift” from me to a friend. He actually accused me of wanting to keep a connection with him, when really I just wanted my money and my car title and to be able to move on. He agreed to pay me $1000 a month until I have all of the money he took from me back. He did that one month. $400 the next month. The minute I cut off all contact with him at all and he was no longer allowed to control and manipulate me and when I refused to be his “friend”, the payments stopped. I have no way of knowing whether he’s paying the title company or not. He will not give me the other set of keys to the car. I can’t renew the tag for the car. It’s really the only form of control he has over me anymore. I don’t even drive the car. It makes me sick to my stomach to sit in the drivers seat.

He asked repeatedly if we could be friends. This is what narcissists want. They want to “befriend” you so that you don’t say anything bad about them and so they can keep you as a source of supply. A narcissist always wants to stay connected. If you cut them off completely and go “no contact”, they will often resurface with a fake question of concern to try to reel you back in again, or some new, fake, manufactured drama for them to pull you into. They will message you on multiple platforms even after you block them on one. Don’t fall for this. No contact means no contact.

But no contact does not mean no speaking of the narcissist. Talking about your experience is therapeutic. People reached out to tell me their very similar stories with this same person. People reached out to tell me how similar their experiences were with their encounters with other narcissists. It’s important to understand fully that this is abuse. I didn’t want to label it that, even after I had been discarded. Through therapy I now understand the severity of what I endured and how traumatic it really was and how long it will take me to fully heal from my experience with him.

Every single time I speak the truth about what he did to me, every single time I have a “me too” moment with someone else he’s done this to, every single time I write about my relationship and the impact it had on my life-

I’m taking my power back from him.

To all the people he’s done this to before, thank you. Thank you for trying so hard to tell me, even though I was too far in to listen to your warnings. To all the ones he will do this to after me, I’m sorry. I’m sorry he will use me as a way to get to you. I’m sorry he will use the same old “I’ve never met anyone like you” line on you. My heart hurts to know that he will not stop, but my therapist says these people never change. To change, you have to acknowledge that what you did was wrong, and he is incapable of doing that. I will always be the crazy, clingy, ex to him, and he will never do right by me for the money or the car.

It’s important that you all know that the money he took from me was my inheritance from my husband’s death. It’s money my daughter and I should be living comfortably with. While I’m in possession of a car I bought and paid for that he refuses to provide me the title for, a car that I can’t even drive because the tag will expire soon and I cannot get it renewed without contacting him, he’s driving a luxury car he attempted to purchase with my credit and used my money to make the down payment on. He continues to get ahead, we continue to suffer from his actions.

I am working hard on forgiving him for what he did to us. Forgiveness usually comes easily to me, but I’m at this time unable to do so. Forgiveness won’t change the outcome. Forgiveness won’t make him do the right thing, even though he promised me he would “make it right”.

So on the 10th of every month, I walk to the mailbox. I open it up and hope for some sign that he intends to pay me back. Every month brings nothing at all pointing to good intentions from him. Every month is further validation that his intention from the beginning was to steal from me, abuse me, and leave me with nothing.

I gained a lot through this tumultuous process, but the biggest thing I gained is self respect. I’ll never let anyone hurt us like this ever again. I am enlightened in ways I never thought I would be. I know people like this exist now, and I’ll never let myself be taken advantage of by a narcissistic abuser ever again.

One of the last things he ever said to me was that maybe the next person he met would be the love of his life and he would give her all of the things I wanted from him. For her sake, I hope this is not true. Because he will not magically change his ways for the next person. He will just seek out someone much weaker than me that he can manipulate and control much longer. The end result will always be the same, and she will find herself drained of every single thing she loved about herself. But maybe she will see this, and maybe it will help her through the darkness before it’s too late.

4 thoughts on “How to Spot a Narcissistic Abuser from a Mile Away

  1. Melissa Kenealy says:

    My first love is a narcissist. We broke up but he keep telling me he loved me and that all the other girls meant nothing to him. He would talk about me to his family and friends and they said he always said nice things but he treated me like dirt. Problem was I was so in love with him I let him. Eventually I said something that made him cut ties with me and I didn’t speak to him again. Until he found me on Facebook more than 13 years later. We went to the same school so he found me through mutual school friends. He was married but he wanted to hook up with me. I told him now we were both married. Then his marriage ended. My marriage hit the rocks. I was going through a bad time in my marriage and this man played me. He told me all the things I needed to hear. During this time I ended my marriage. Not because of him, but he was a part of it because he was saying the things I needed my husband to say. Except if my husband had of said them he would have meant them. It never got physical between us. It would have felt wrong to me if it did because although I was separated, in my heart I was still married. This ‘rejection’ did not go down well. He accused me of trying to stop a relationship happening with a mutual friend of ours, because in his mind his was irresistible so of course our mutual friend would want him. Except she didn’t. He accused me of being toxic and ended our friendship because he saw a photos I posted of my friend and her partner. There is a back story to this but it isn’t all the relevent anyway. I got the blame for it all, even though he himself was in a new relationship. He deleted me off his Facebook friends list, told me I was toxic and that I was an awful person. Then three months later I get a text message from him inviting me to his 40th birthday. I had reconciled with my husband well and truly by that time, so we went, along with the friend and her partner that he basically accused me of ‘c*ck blocking him from. To this day I am not sure why I even went. He basically ignored me the whole night apart from accepting the hug and present we all gave him when we arrived. I have no idea why he invited me either. We have not spoken since, but he has made some nasty comments on some of the things I have posted on our mutual friends status, usually around her relationship issues. It’s like he is having a go at me because I stopped them from being together. She was never interested but he will never believe that. For a long time seeing his name made me anxious and my fight or flight response would kick in, always the flight part. So I blocked him for a couple of years. He is no longer blocked though, because now I am stronger and wiser and he cannot hurt me. Sometimes though I wonder what my life would have been like if this man was not my first love. A lot of my self esteem issues are because of him. Who knows what I would be like if I had never met him.

    Just wanted to share my own story with you Cindy after I saw yours on ‘Love What Matters’. May we both continue to rise above these horrible people.

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    1. Melissa that makes my heart hurt. These people are all the same. They destroy and then blame you for everything. It’s important to remember they have no conscious so they will never see what they did wrong. It’s a pathetic way to live life. I hope that one day I can unblock but for now he’s blocked on everything and I have a court order for him to stay away from me and my daughter. It’s the only way I’ll feel safe.

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  2. Stacy Chambers says:

    When I read your How to Spot a Narcissistic Abuser, I kept saying OMG that sounds like this jerk I dated Kevin. All the red flags where there but I chose to ignore them because I was lonely and he made me not feel lonely. He showered me with love and attention yet when I would try to do the same. I am so glad I got out before he did any more damage only because he ghosted me for 3 weeks, and then when I wasn’t home overnight one weekend he send me a barage of horrible texts accusing me of being a slut and leading him on. I pushed back and said look jerk I am helping a friend recover from hip surgery because her husband has to work. That was when the light bulb went off, I changed my phone number,, I moved,, sold my trailer for dirt cheap and ran as fast as I could away from him.. i still get nervous when I am back in his neck of the woods (Springville, AL). But I tell myself what is the worst he can do to me, absolutely nothing. Thank you for posting this.

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    1. Omg! Seriously this is exactly how it happens. I felt lonely and dealing with his crap seemed better than being alone. The running is scary but also is freeing. I want everything he touched to be so far out of my life I cannot see it anymore.

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