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I discovered my husband was having an affair....

Discussion in 'Family, Home & Health' started by Crystal_Dreams, Feb 2, 2018.

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  1. ILikeShiny
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    by ILikeShiny » Aug 19, 2018
    Your pain is palpable CD. I can’t imagine - and hope I never know - the pain and swing of emotions you must go through. I continue to wish you all the best in this tough journey you’re on.
     
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  2. MollyMalone
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    by MollyMalone » Aug 19, 2018
    My heart aches for you, @Crystal_Dreams. The husband of one of my dearest friends had an affair quite a few years ago; wasn't casual sex & had been going on for about 18 months when it came to light. So I have some idea of the pain and anguish you're experiencing.

    I also remember how rocked she was (and resentful) by the response she got from her older sister, especially since the two of them had always been quite close. Although she didn't doubt that her sister thought she was being helpful and championing her, she heard her sister's "Of course, you'll leave him; no self-respecting woman would stay" as dismissive, belittling, and overly simplistic.

    I can say that she and her husband now have -- and have had-- one of the most vibrant marriages of any of my family and close friends. The process of finding their way to being true partners to each other was far from easy; it didn't happen quickly; it obviously wouldn't be everyone's choice -- and may not end up being yours. But I did want to let you know there are at least several people who don't consider you "mindbogglingly stupid" for giving him (and your marriage) a chance.

    Warmest hugs ~ Molly
     
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  3. sunseeker101
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    by sunseeker101 » Aug 19, 2018
    Hi again CD! Just to clarify, I don't think and am not implying that you're lacking in the brains department. Sorting this kind of situation out is largely a matter of being able to see yourself with the kind of compassion the person who loves you most in the world has for you, the person who would never put you wrong. After so much turmoil your ability to feel deeply for yourself can be skewed.

    The other part of my apparent insistence is that a guy who is close to getting married or just has and who embarks on a years-long affair is running away from reality without a concern or responsibility for the truth, or the well-being of the woman he professes to love. The incidences are so close, how can they not be related? Anyway, more power to you advancing cautiously, and the best of luck.
     
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  4. LetLoveRule
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    by LetLoveRule » Aug 20, 2018
    @Crystal_Dreams

    Just wanted to pop in and say that I think you're very brave for staying with your husband to try and make it work. That takes a lot of effort, patience and time. Leaving him seems to be "the easier option" and it's easy for others to judge. They are not you, they don't know the whole story and at the end of the day: you're the one living your life, not them.

    Just know that you don't have to do anything you don't feel comfortable with, that there are many options and that above all, YOU are most important in your life.

    I hope time will give you the strength and wisdom to move on from this situation, however it unfolds.
     
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  5. Crystal_Dreams
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    by Crystal_Dreams » Aug 20, 2018
    Oh man... I didn’t mean to imply that anyone had said I was stupid! That isn’t the case at all!
    It’s the truth that I have honestly wondered why/if I’M being stupid with this whole thing. I would have wondered the same if I had been on the other side and reading my story too. Heck, often I FEEL incredibly stupid for giving him a chance.

    Sunseeker, you are absolutely correct. He was running away from reality. He didn’t THINK about the future or the implications of his choices it seems. From asking me to marry him (as much as that hurts) to making the choice to cheat. It’s insane that anyone can live that way. It’s cruel and childish. It is.. for lack of a better word, stupid behind all measure. He chose the ‘easy’ path at all times. The one that made him feel good in that instant I suppose. I deserve better than this. 100x over.

    I am not staying to be with that same person. Being around me is anything but pleasant, especially for the person who caused it all. I am very vocal about my thoughts and feelings. I will rage, scream, cry... not with intent to punish or hurt, but when you have lost everything you ever believed in, I think these kinds of responses are fairly normal. And they don’t go away quickly or easily. I have not made things easy for him. I have demanded change, that the person he used to be would’ve shrugged off or refused. Maybe that person would’ve done what I asked once, then returned to old habits. I am proceeding with extreme caution. However... he appears to be showing some signs (I hesitate to use stronger language, I think it IS because I am cautious and do not want to be optimistic in case I am let down again) of change. He is remorseful. He actually seems to be trying. He is going with all my requests without complaint. I suspect his life isn’t easy. I think/hope that someone who didn’t really want to try to make this work wouldn’t bother sticking around for this kind of effort. Wouldn’t want to be faced with someone who is enraged, constantly reminds you of what terrible things you have done, cries all the time because of you, screams things at you, limits your activity/going out etc because they don’t trust you...

    I guess the summation of all of that, is that Although I don’t want to acknowledge it and certainly things are worse for ME, him deciding to stay and putting in effort to make it work counts for something. It would be easy for him to walk away. The whore certainly wouldn’t turn him down. He could just run. He could do whatever he liked then. He could refuse to do all the restrictive things I ask. He doesn’t.
     
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  6. Austina
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    by Austina » Aug 20, 2018
    I hestitate to post this, because it’s your life and your decision what you choose to do. But I just wanted to tell you about a friend of mine. Early in their marriage, she discovered he was cheating, she decided to stay in the marriage to work things out. He did and said the right things to convince her that the marriage was worth sticking it out for.

    She wanted children, he found excuses not to, until her window of opportunity had passed.

    After 20+ years, she discovered that he had carried on having affairs, (he was a pilot so had plenty of opportunity) by which time she was in her 60’s and felt that she’d wasted her whole life on someone who didn’t deserve her.

    She then spent 5 years dithering over their divorce, it eventually happened, but she still couldn’t let go.

    I hope you can find peace and a way forward, please take care of yourself, you deserve the best life can offer.
     
  7. sunseeker101
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    by sunseeker101 » Aug 20, 2018
    Hi CD, back again to continue my spiel :) Hopefully this round can illustrate some of the reasons I'm coming from the angle I am. Austina, that is an excellent example of the type of things that can happen in a marriage when one partner is significantly disordered character-wise.

    You would read that story and think, why would any man do that, get married to one woman and proceed to tie her up on a false basis while doing everything he can to invalidate the union behind the scenes? How is it possible for one man to be so confused that he makes contrary statements in such damaging fashion, the equivalent to crossing your fingers behind your back when promising something as a child, except really and many thousands of times more damaging?

    The big issue here is that pictures like these make no sense when you're psycho-normal, when your field of vision is limited by being normal, and thankfully, that's most people. To understand the type of man Austina is referencing, you have to take a trip to the disordered side of the equation: narcissism, Machiavellian-ism, psychopathy. A man doesn't have to be 100% any of these things to operate in a way that will leave most of us scratching our heads.

    So, I'd like to detail how I would understand the guy in Austina's post. Why would he marry the woman he promised a future to and loves, and at the same time, mess around with someone else? In normal psychology land, a guy getting married is at the peak of his dedication to his woman, to the exclusion of much else, and likewise for the woman. This indicates normal intention, a desire to meld together and build something new and serviceable: love and commitment are required for this stuff, and we set off with our best and most intense foot forward.

    Compare and contrast with the guy under consideration. If the woman he was marrying displeased him or gave him room to doubt, why would he go ahead with the marriage, and why would messing with a third party resolve any of this?

    From this behavior alone, this man is perfectly happy to have a wife and a third party, it's actually the way he wants it. The statement is there: there is something about me which means I move towards commitment and talk about shared dreams, but, I really need to feel like I have a 'out'.

    Is the woman just wrong for him, or is he just confused, these are good questions for a normal guy, but the kind of character capable of dishing out the above is working on a completely different basis of value, roughly speaking this is:

    I want to be loved and be the center of other peoples' lives, and the more the merrier, because I thrive on anything that makes me feel great, e.g. marrying a beautiful, young, intelligent woman...The issue with that though, is that I have to face responsibilities that are not all about me: having children. So, while I really want the status of being married to a beautiful, young, intelligent woman, I don't want the serious stuff that comes with it: like following through on life-changing commitments. You can get divorced, but you can't send back the responsibility of children, or do away with the cost of them.

    So, I'm inexorably drawn to marry someone who makes me look and feel good, but nothing after that makes sense. CD, the detail of your husband's porn obsession fits into the point, in that when you started to think about children he directed the attentions that should have been going to you to a third party and the internet. This is what bothers me about the details you gave: he's telling you the truth in the language of cowardice, I think.

    Anyway, the problem with narcissism then, is that there'll never be a moment where I'll stand up and admit to my dysfunction (these people know they're not normal, they're not ashamed of it though). I'm so egotistical that admitting fault and owning my own reasons and feelings *honestly* is never going to happen, because it will reveal the sheer abnormal bias of my thinking and value system.

    Therefore, when my wife inevitably finds out, I won't act like I have a conscience and take stock of what I'm really saying. Admitting that I had an affair because I'm a selfish compassionless git is distasteful for my ego and sense of perfect self, so, taking responsibility or bringing truth or clarity to the picture is not going to happen.

    In fact, my wife thinks I'm a terrible person -- and if there's one thing that destroys my false sense of self, it's facing opprobrium of any sort. The great thing about infidelity though, is that it turns my wife into an angry person. That's great for my ego, because she rages and I'm calm and act compassionate -- I'm winning!!!!! Yeah, I slept with someone else, but I can claim I was a confused puppy and get my wife to doubt herself, feel responsible, and die an emotional death through anger -- all good for my: need to avoid all responsibility and need to feel superior to the person complaining.

    I know this sounds like madness, and it is. Someone like this gains ego points by sitting around pretending to care and to have a conscience. After all, a faithful marriage is not what he can tolerate, but yet, you have him on the hot coals of being responsible, so: giving you what you want and being really nice about it is the only way to avoid ego destruction...

    Just as in Austina's example, this leads to the psycho-normal woman feeling hope that somewhere within this guy, there is a normal heart and conscience, that was just obscured for loads of different reasons. The real reason he's still there is: his wife has held up his dysfunction in a such a way that he might have to admit it to himself. He'll do anything to avoid that, including remaining uncommitted in a serious relationship while saying exactly what you want to hear, until one day, the sheer illogical basis for this lost time becomes apparent.

    And this is where I'll shut it :) CD, If you look into anything in relation to his, have a look at narcissism and affairs, that kind of topic. Ok, peace out \/ :)
     
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  8. Crystal_Dreams
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    by Crystal_Dreams » Aug 20, 2018
    That’s certainly a perspective worth considering. I have looked into narcissistic character traits before because of what has happened. I think it takes a certain degree of narcissism to have an affair as a baseline. The very fact of cheating involves thought patterns which are narcissistic.

    Having just read up a bit more on it, although I don’t think I AM, I can identify with certain traits which are described. I suppose it’s all on a spectrum- perhaps we all have some traits. Some more than others...

    Tbh we never even got around to discussing having kids. It was all ‘sometime in the future but not now.’ Nowadays, HE is the one who is more pro-kids... the porn addiction has been in play since his early teens... well before he met me =\ wasn’t really something that started recently.

    Although words are fairly meaningless, he certainly owns up to being a selfish blind greedy immature worthless person (using those same words), just about every day. Just words though. Only actions will tell... and that requires time.

    @MollyMalone , thank you for sharing your friends story with me. I am aware it could go any way really, but it is helpful to know that not every case ends in more pain and betrayal. Of course I realise it could- afterall, it already happened once! But it’s not absolute.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
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  9. Crystal_Dreams
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    by Crystal_Dreams » Aug 21, 2018
    ETA, this is interesting. I just linked my husband to some information on narcissism. (He’s at work). He replied during his lunch break, to agree with me and say that although he never thought of himself as a narcissist, yes after reading it, he agrees that he did have some narcissistic traits. The term narcissist is a label to what he already recognises he was like, which is says he is working to change and correct because he is not proud of his past and what he has done. (His words).

    He thinks his changes are working, and that he is seeing himself more clearly. He says this puts a name to what he was, but does not change what he is doing now and will continue to do. The label ‘narcissist’ surprises him, but the definition of it is something he has apparently already realised he was- and dislikes, hence is working to change.

    Again, words. Actions and consistency will be the key here. I will be the cautious and wary judge of change and progress.

    Guess we will talk more about this later!

    In all honesty, I think we all have some degree of narcissism in us. Some clearly more than others. I am certainly not perfect and it made me cringe a little to apply parts of the definition to myself...
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  10. Jimmianne
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    by Jimmianne » Aug 21, 2018
    There is a big difference between a narcissist and someone who can be self centered at times. From what I’ve read [my Mom was a narcissist] there is no therapy that can “cure” it.
     
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  11. sunseeker101
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    by sunseeker101 » Aug 21, 2018
    Hi CD, thanks for the info, and it’s very interesting. Narcissists typically can’t face whats wrong with them without giving it a purposeful rage attack, but on the other hand, you’re at a point in the process where you might break the alliance and cut off narcissist supply (if that is the issue).

    It’s well recognized today that modern society is more narcissistic than ever before, and younger people show more of it. It’s also normal to be occasionally selfish or even manipulative.

    The difference is degree, and the issue with narcissism is that it makes it possible to lie convincingly about the inner state of your affairs, and hide how consistent it is.

    For example, your husband admits to being all the things you’re thinking: selfish, manipulative, etc. but, anybody can have moments of weakness or madness where it can look like their character is bent — when overall, it isn’t.

    Like a guy having an affair after X years of marriage, he may drift into it in a state of emotional disconnection with his wife, these things take time to accumulate. Even still, a guy with a conscience will have a natural limitation on how much lying and manipulating he can do. This delimiter is ultimately set by compassion.

    And that is the rub for me: marrying the woman you want (when she’s 30 and not sworn off having children), taking up with someone else at the same time, indulging in a porn addiction, and willfully forcing this situation to remain open in the face of 2 sentient women, one his wife...

    This guy is selfish beyond normal boundaries, and is lacking in compassion. And back to my emerging point :)

    Your husband can admit to being things we can all occasionally fail over — but it’s 2 solid years of deceiving, manipulating, and forcing you to live in a lie.

    Can he talk about what was going on in his head as he lied to you week in week out for 2 years, how he felt while he was meeting this *blank*? Can he get down to the brass tax of what he really wanted from the third party, and why it was okay for him to take that while also taking the best of you (your time, your feelings, your investment)?

    Anyway, hopefully food for thought. And you’re absolutely right. With a guy who manipulates without conpunction, the actions speak and words never do. The issue then is, if he can manipulate you into false security, you may not realize that you’re living in false hope, or getting a false representation of the way he really is.

    The kind of relentless selfishness that has caused the grief you’re in is a dimension of character and not a normal failing. So, no prizes for guessing my vote :)

    You’re well on the way to resolving it if you look at the results: how you end up feeling, what is unsaid as much as what is said, whether you feel on a gut level that things are clear. I hope you set up a timeline for yourself, along the lines of: if I’m not feeling 100% happy and content about this alliance by seeing and feeling a man in love and committed by X time, I’m out, and hold to that like glue.

    Okay, \/ :)

    And Jimmianne, my deepest condolences on growing up with a narcissistic mother. There is just nobody deserves that, and especially not a child.
     
  12. partgypsy
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    by partgypsy » Aug 21, 2018
    If someone is a narcissist, that is a personality type, and it is very difficult to change your personality. It's just part of who you are.
    With my ex, but many people both people who heard about his behavior who didn't know him personally, and long term friends, brought up that question, whether he could be a narcissist.
     
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  13. MollyMalone
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    by MollyMalone » Aug 21, 2018
    Taking a deep breath here...
    I am taken aback by the amateur psychiatric diagnoses and prognostications from afar & the protracted lobbyings for how one would "vote" seen in this thread. It's unquestionably well-intentioned, but I don't think @Crystal_Dreams -- an obviously intelligent woman who has demonstrated that she has, and is further developing, impressive levels of awareness and clarity (more than it seems she's giving herself credit for) -- needs or is well served by it as she makes her path.
     
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  14. Sunstorm
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    by Sunstorm » Aug 21, 2018
    No one but those can understand you who have gone through it before. Everyone thinks that they will leave the moment they find out, yet reality is far from that and it has nothing to do with being stupid, weak, etc. Think of it like abuse. Abused women stay, cheated on women stay. I think the primary reason is the shock, it simply takes time for everything to really register. We will see how the journey will end. Perhaps in time CD you will find that you really do not love him anymore.

    I have studied narcissism for a long time. I was cursed with at least two narcissistic cheating partners, hence no kids. Totally get why you want to secure yourself by freezing your eggs. Then at the end life dealt me a nice card, a partner I truly love and with whom I feel things are a thousand times better than with anyone else but who cannot have children. Life is interesting at times.

    I do feel that you would be better off leaving and you are prolonging your suffering but I completely understand you. I do think he is a Narc. He is playing games now, acting like the good boy and admitting things and I am scared for you that he will show his true face at the worst moment just when say you are pregnant. The reason I am saying that I believe he is a Narc is because of the behavioral patterns you are describing in him. Narcs do not change, yes you can live with one, yes you can work on them, very very rarely and if you have been trained to do so.

    I do not condemn you or think anything bad about you for not leaving. It can take time. I get it, I completely do. It is your life and it is your way of healing you have chosen. I am confident that the smart person you really are, you will know what the right decision is for you at the moment. It is ok to try to work on it, at least you know you have done your best. It is hard to let go because you feel like a failure but you are not one. At the end of the day you are the one that has to feel right about your choices in life.

    Please keep us posted and know that we are here for you through it all and sending you lots of positive vibes. Please do as much as you can for yourself, love yourself, treat yourself, use your support group of people, whatever aids you in the healing process.
     
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  15. sunseeker101
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    by sunseeker101 » Aug 21, 2018
    Hi Molly! I believe it’s possible to breathe easy about this issue :)

    The protracted lobbying you’re perceiving is a deliberate effort on my part to try to alleviate the kind of confusion that arises when trying to make sense of your experience versus definitions of narcissism. That is, there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip possible there, added on top of all the other bewildering details.

    And my vote is definitely to leave, based on my ability to perceive unresolvable levels of narcissism from reality ‘chords’ created by character-impaired people, or these types anyway. The truth is, once you really see and understand one narcissist, you’ve seen and understand them all. It’s the only handy thing about them :)

    And that’s precisely it from me, a stranger on the internet whose opinion may or may not be pertinent or wise. That’s why it’s in CD’s best interest to intuit and divine her own answers, which she is bound to do anyway, as the sole determiner of her future. I’m still bound to warn her as best as I can about what I perceive as a strong potential, as this is the best that I can do.

    \/ out! :)
     
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  16. sunseeker101
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    by sunseeker101 » Aug 24, 2018
    Anyway, I'd like to thank Sunstorm, PartGypsy, Austina, Jimmianne, and everyone else who's been kind enough to write up a general report of their hard-won and invaluable wisdom. I hope CD and anyone reading this dealing with an inscrutable dispiriting and terminally confusing relationship that involves someone on the narcissistic scale can gain something from this discussion, like a clear arrow pointing towards this general topic for consideration.

    I'm not sure why someone not participating in the thread came in to shout down the statements here, but as the statements came from a third party and not CD herself, I can only conclude that the discussion of the probability of narcissism is offensive because it's co-incidentally stepping on an alternate theory. It's logical to assume a long-term porn addiction can intensify narcissism levels, and I'd guess this is the narrative a narcissist would put forward, as it fits the "I'm really a victim who things happen to" line so beloved by their ilk. :)

    Anyway, here are a few links to reference anything we've been saying, and that have been referenced as clear as bells by the above posters. All easily found and hopefully some food for thought:

    https://www.researchgate.net/public...l_Narcissism_and_Infidelity_in_Early_Marriage

    https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2014/07/narcissism-porn-use-and-addiction/

    https://letmereach.com/2015/06/23/5...-decoding-the-top-narcissistic-manipulations/
     
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  17. partgypsy
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    by partgypsy » Aug 24, 2018
    Only a therapist/clinician can diagnosis narcissism, with someone they are seeing personally. Unless he is willing to go and talk with a therapist and allow that therapist to share his/her findings with you, you don't know. And you don't NEED to know whether he is a narcissist. You just need to ask, is this relationship a healthy relationship for us? Does it have a strong likelihood of being a good relationship in the future? The questions I asked myself was, was I going to be able to forgive him for what he did to me? I still don't know the answer to that. I am trying, because at the very least it will be healing to me, but I'm not there yet. I think you should be able to have at least a strong maybe to make this relationship work. Second I asked, do I trust him? I trust my ex with my kids. I trust him on some limited things. Sadly, I don't think I can trust him in a romantic relationship, being a partner. He lost my trust. Those are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself. I honestly I do NOT see this internet stuff as helpful. Some people can have selfish traits, doesn't mean they are a narcissist. Narcissists are .5 to 1% of population.
    If you have burning questions, is this normal or not, see a professional.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  18. Octo2005
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    by Octo2005 » Aug 24, 2018
    I am so very sorry for everything that you are going through right now.

    Sending hugs
     
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  19. sunseeker101
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    by sunseeker101 » Aug 24, 2018
    Hi PartGypsy — that’s absolutely true. To get a diagnosis of clinical narcissism you have to present the suspected party to a clinical psychologist for significant analysis.

    The issue with narcissistic abuse in a marriage is that the normal partner is blindsided and terminally confused on many different levels on a continuous and ‘invisible’ basis. They are usually suffering with complex-PTSD, self-blame, and aspects of clinical depression as they are submerged bit by bit into the narcissist’s egoscape.

    Anyway, this tends to predispose the normal spouse to suffering paralysis by analysis: cognitive dissonance, self-blame, fear, shame, and all the good stuff a narcissist specializes in dispensing to control his intimate partners, and avoid detection.

    This means normal spouses are lost in self-recrimination. They might feel that the issue is with the other party, and reality might indicate that, but, they just can’t settle on the truth, and mostly because they are being manipulated from the inside to blame themselves. It’s a strange brew, and as Sunstorm says, only people who’ve been there can verify it.

    And in any case, it’s not my, or I think, anyone’s desire to diagnose CD’s husband. It is impossible by definition, and likely impossible to secure in real life, and as you say, irrelevant to the topic of deciding whether you’re in or out.

    And that’s the angle that can be addressed, to give a little bit of crawl space for the person stuck with a moderlode of crazy-making situations and a newly-broken and disjointed sense of the relationship they staked their life on, and their feelings of responsibility about it.

    Knowing that there are people in the world who actually get off on confounding your most basic expectations and setting you up for terminal loss of peace, security, and in the end, self, can help to stop that all-too-normal insistence that a) you are in some way to blame, b) that it can be fixed and you’re now responsible for the behavior and morality of two people, c) that something of value can be extracted based on the disordered party’s promises. Promises are the hook that keep their supplies clinging on despite everything, which is why narcissists ‘future fake’.

    Anyway, that’s my lot. Wishing the best of luck to CD and anyone in situations with people who consistently confound basic expectations of mutual consideration, truthfulness, compassion in the worst possible ways. Over and peace out :)
     
  20. partgypsy
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    by partgypsy » Aug 26, 2018
    Thanks sunstorm, that makes sense. For me, personal warning signs were things like the lies, only admitting things I had proof of, and that spec thing while still denying other stuff. That he didn't want it known what he did (trying to control the narrative). He tried to come back, one time saying would I take him back if he gave up all his vices, and I said would you go to counseling, and show me your phone when I asked, got angry and defensive. There was no come to Jesus moment, just for him, damage control. That's why I say if he's not willing to be open and honest w others what is going on in marriage, I see that as a warning sign.
     
  21. TreeScientist
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    by TreeScientist » Nov 16, 2018
    Hi @Crystal_Dreams,
    I saw this thread back when I first joined PS and was browsing in Feb, and just returned to it when I saw you posting the the other thread. I’ll say that the other’s comments about narcissism seem pretty relevant in this situation. So I’ll give my take on identifying a narcissist after being raised by one. But if you want to skip that rant, skip to the TLDR at the bottom.

    So confession: My mom is a narcissist. Fully blown, textbook narcissist. It took me a long time to come to that realization, and it hurt when I finally accepted it, but I will say that it hurt MUCH worse when I didn’t understand what was going on, because, as a psycho-normal person (to use @suseeker101’s term) you cant’ really wrap you heard around a narcissist’s actions until you’ve studied how a narcissist processes emotions and life events. This article does a pretty good job outlining how narcissists handle emotional situations:
    https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychology-self/2018/07/narcissist-delusion/

    Reading articles like this is still hard, because I think “Wow, that is my mom to a T.” But, just like @sunseeker101 said, “The truth is, once you really see and understand one narcissist, you’ve seen and understand them all.” Most of a narcissist’s life is tied up in being the center of attention. As long as they are getting attention and building their ego, they are happy. The weird (to psycho-normal people) part is that the type of attention, be it positive or negative, doesn’t really matter. Attention is attention to them, and they can spin any type of attention into an ego-building narrative.

    For example, my mom was always the victim. My dad was her second marriage, and certainly in her marriage to my dad (don’t know many details about her first) she was always the victim: And she was damn good at playing it too. If she wasn’t getting constant attention or was not satisfied with any aspect of her life, she would push and push my dad to the breaking point, and then when he would blow (never touched my mom physically, but verbal fighting) she would turn into the sobbing damsel in distress. If the pushing my dad didn’t work, she would piss off someone at work, either by doing something that she wasn’t supposed to do or not doing something properly, and then would complain about how XXX person was out to get her. Again, always lying and framing the story to come out the victim. And if that didn’t work, and she got caught in a lie or a story, then she would switch to the “Oh, I am such a terrible person! Such a sick, terrible person. Please pity me and feel sorry me.” narrative.

    The above plot lines are three sides to the same coin: Doing things for positive attention. Screwing up/pissing people off and then spinning the narrative to play the victim for attention. Screwing up and then taking abuse while saying “Oh! I’m so terrible! I can change!” for attention. It’s all the same. Just seeking attention and building ego.

    She never did it with me as a child, because I was dependent on her, and narcissists love dependency, because that is a form of attention. It wasn’t until I was about 14, when my parents had been separated for a few years and I started to become the adult in our relationship (because lord knows she was too much of a mess to play that role anymore) that she started to manipulate me with the above narratives. Pushing me to the brink and then playing the victim when I got angry. That’s how it started. Plenty of examples of this. Picking a fight with me and my grandparents on the night of my college graduation about something stupid like a hotel reservation and then sobbing and threatening to kill herself at 1am. Yeah, that’s a pretty good example. Then, after I finally moved far away and began to detach myself, the messing up on purpose, denying it at first, and then playing the “I’m such a sick, twisted person. I can change!” narrative started to appear.

    It wasn’t until a few years ago, after a few years of seeing this narrative repeat itself, that I finally put 2 and 2 together and realized that this was a character trait, and that she would never, truly, change. By accepting this, I’ve been able to deal with her without getting hurt while still continuing to love her (as only a son can love a mom) by essentially just hanging up the phone and cutting communication for a while from the moment she starts this crap until she realizes that she’s not going to get a rise out of me and returns to normal.

    Again, I feel compelled to do this, as I do want a relationship with my mom in whatever capacity is possible, and it’s easy enough to do while living away from her. But I would never, and I mean NEVER, want to be married, or stay married, to a narcissist. Much different to share your intimate life and every moment with the person you're supposed to be bonded to till death do you part, as opposed to a parent that you're life is no longer intertwined with, that you can just cut contact with when they start acting crazy. But with divorce a socially-acceptable option in this day in age? If I was married to a narcissist, especially if I didn't have kids with them, I would be out the door so fast my footprints would have scorch-marks. Sorry, but life is to short for emotionally-damaging relationships.

    ***TLDR skip the sob story
    Again, I’m not going to play Dr. Phil on the Internet and diagnose your husband. It’s pretty much impossible to know if he’s a narcissist after one instance like this (even though it does smell strongly of narcissism), and I don’t blame you at all for staying at this point. There are myriad things that could be going on here besides him being a narcissist, so perhaps it will work itself out. But here’s my advice as the quickest way to resolve this dilemma and not waste any more of your precious time in life.

    Ready for it?

    Go back to normal (or at least pretend to). Yeah, I know that’s hard, especially if you’re the type of person that wears your emotions on your sleeves. But you need to understand that this is the only way to determine if he is a narcissist. Why? Because all of this focus on him changing. All of this attention from the therapist(s). All of these bouts of rage that you're direct at him, with you calling him every name in the book and him saying “Yes, YES, I AM ALL OF THOSE THINGS YOU SAY. I AM TERRIBLE.” Well, if he truly is a narcissist, those are exactly what he wants. That’s like orgasm to him. Yes, you screaming at him and him seeing the pain that he has caused you is literally better than sex. He won’t go out and try to have another affair or seek attention in any other way while this is going on, because he’s getting buckets-full of attention right now from this mess and your emotional trauma.

    So stop going to counseling. Stop “working on it.” Stop lashing out at him. Go back to normal. Don’t give him any of this negative attention. Just return to as close to a normal relationship as you can muster. Then see what he does.

    If he is just a psycho-normal person that just made a terrible mistake, and he has truly changed, then this will be the last you hear of it. Without the negative attention now gone, he won’t seek out any more ways to try and hurt you again and get the attention back.

    But if he’s a narcissist? We’ll, if my mom is any indication of the typical “needs” of a narcissist, he won’t last a year. Nope, probably not even 6 months without intentionally doing something to damage your trust again and get that negative attention back on him.

    If the latter case is true, well, I’m sure you know what to do for your own sanity. But for your sake, I truly hope it isn’t. I hope it’s just a man who made a stupid mistake and is sorry for it.

    I hope you're in a better place now. :)
     
  22. Sunstorm
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    by Sunstorm » Nov 16, 2018
    Very true @TreeScientist. Narcissists cannot stand normal. It bores them to death. They love the drama but they will laugh at you and blame you for it. Laughing will not occur until later stages openly, close to discard. But they push your buttons to see what reaction they get out of you. Anything, it does not matter what it is, a reaction from you is what they want. Rage, well, that is the best. They feed off on you losing it, screaming, crying, etc. They will admit sometimes that they are terrible but they will not show any normal reaction of empathy. But later they will devalue for these reactions and blame you for that. But they will blame you for everything. If you are normal, they will blame you for being boring.

    Yet, the only healthy way to deal with a narc is not reacting. Ignoring them is the only way they cannot handle. Being normal scares them. They feel inferior and unwanted. If you do not react to their provocation, they will stop it. That said, most likely then they will go elsewhere and discard you for that too. Best reaction is not reacting, not taking it to heart, getting back your strength and leaving. But leaving a narc is extremely hard and takes a lot of strength, therapy, as well as many times time. Everyone has their own limits and no victim should ever be blamed for anything, not even for not leaving them sooner. It is one of the hardest things.

    Narcs can be identified by clinical pattern they follow, so a narrative of a person´s behavior is enough. Diagnosis is not that hard, narcs are extremely simple. Once you realize this and learn their way of thinking, you will understand and become aware of everything, feel empowered and never fall victim again.
     
  23. partgypsy
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    by partgypsy » Nov 17, 2018
    Tree scientist I am not a clinical psychologist, but your Mom sounds an awfully like my older brother, and he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. He NEEDED people, and it doesn't matter if it is a positive or negative relationship. He can also have very low self esteem and threatens suicide and has even done half-hearted suicide attempts for attention or to avoid consequences. So while I cannot diagnose people, it rang a bell. There are many personality disorders out there.

    My ex, I had both my counselor and mutual friends ask me whether he could be a "narcissist". It is true he admitted he hid the different emotional affairs (one which turned into a multi year physical affair) from me because they were good for his ego and didn't want to give them up, regardless of effect on our marriage. Personally, the label doesn't matter to me. His behavior does. He is now the kind of person who is apparently comfortable lying to and gas lighting people, even people very close to him, and is not willing (maybe unable) to put relationships and responsibilities above his "needs". He is the father of my kids, and in that way we will always be family. But as my friend said he was always on "team (ex)"; Before his kids, his pets, and of course his wife. What is telling, his biggest lament and regret from all this, is regret on the effect on his social life: some former friends dropped him when they found out about what he did to me. That how other people saw him (he sees himself as a "good guy") was so much more concerning than remorse for how he treated me and destruction of our relationship (that was initially healthy and good), as well as the financial, stability, and social fall out to our kids, is telling.

    anyways, hugs. I kind of agree with others in the sense of, love yourself, work on yourself and other healthy relationships. If possible, try to work out extreme emotions with a counselor rather than him. Time will tell.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
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  24. Sunstorm
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    by Sunstorm » Nov 17, 2018
    I agree @partgypsy that does sound like BPD not NPD. I agree that it is not the labels that are important, however, studying psychology does help understanding pathological behavior and thus facilitates healing by realizing that when you are questioning yourself, you are wrong. It helps one regain self esteem and strength even though it is a lengthy process.
     
  25. partgypsy
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    by partgypsy » Nov 17, 2018
    Yes, I still have a huge hit on my self esteem, what happened to me during our marriage. After isolating, belittling me and cutting me off from all our joint relationships (he would even tell me to wait in the car when he was stopping by to see an old mutual friend!) when I questioned this he said "you have no friends" and "no one likes you". And at that point my self esteem was so low I believed it. And perception has become reality because it was years I was no long part of the circles, combined with ugly divorce, me and my kids are no longer part of those people's lives.

    The best thing is to be patient and kind to yourself. Ironically I was talking to him recently and he said that his main issues with his current girlfriend is her "mood swings" and that "she has no friends" (lol) as well as other mean spirited things, so he may be doing a psychological number on her, too.
     
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  26. Perisko
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    by Perisko » Dec 11, 2018
    I hate when people do that! Don't want - just say. But no? they do those terrible things with our hearts
     
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