Understanding The Narcissist


posted by on Christian Encouragement, Divorce Encouragement, Relationship Encouragement


We want to talk about narcissists because it’s a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. But many people who’ve been in a relationship with a true narcissist don’t necessarily know what exactly has happened to them, and they are often left simply searching for answers.

So we want to briefly define what a narcissist actually is, we want to give you some concrete steps that will assist you in moving towards recovery from your controlling relationship, and we also want to help you insulate your life from ever entertaining a narcissist in the future.

What A Narcissist Is.

First of all, we have to establish that a true narcissist is not just incredibly selfish; they are not simply a brand of highly dominant and controlling individual – those might be borderline narcissists – but a true narcissist is actually a mentally ill psychopath, and they are totally incapable of having a mutually sustainable relationship.

We are going to describe the personality and relationship traits that are common to a true narcissist, and it might make you uncomfortable to think about, but whether or not you’ve been in a relationship with a true narcissist, you must be able to recognize them, and you must take steps to move into healthy relationships. These steps are vital because the pool of available men and women gets more shallow as we age, and a narcissist can hide in the church fairly easily. This is real stuff folks; these people are bad news. They are deceitful and without conscience, and they will mess with your life big time.

We’ve established that a true narcissist is not just selfish, they are actually mentally ill. And it’s not that they have little conscience, they actually have no conscience at all. And the reason they can hide so well in the church is because Christians tend to not judge; and we assume the best in everyone we meet; and a narcissist will make a very good first impression. But it’s not until we get close to them that we discover their true nature, and by then it’s often too late because they’ve captured our hearts.

The best way to describe a true narcissist is to envision a person who lives in a straw house. And we’re not talking about straw bales here; we’re talking about individual straws piled one on top of the other, and each of these straws represents an individual lie or piece of deception.
Because we are talking here, about a person who has built his or her entire life upon one lie after another; and nothing about this person is actually true.

Now, you will never see the inside of this straw house until you are captured in the relationship, but the outside will invariably have a nice coat of paint. Your narcissist will never tell you their house is made of straw, but early on in the relationship you might notice a telltale piece, and your narcissist will simply say that it must have stuck when they were mowing the lawn. And you will naturally believe them, because that’s what Christians do.

Now, all this deception is still fairly innocuous, because you still haven’t gotten inside the house. But once your narcissist sees you as a willing candidate to be controlled and manipulated, he or she will invite you into the straw house, and that’s where the wild ride really starts.

Because, once a narcissist gains control of your heart, they will wrap you in their web of lies and deceit. And the first thing you must realize about your relationship with a narcissist is that everything you’ve ever had with them; and everything you ever will have with them is a lie.
And it isn’t that it might be a partial truth. Everything this person does and says is a complete fabrication.

So, every “I love you”; every “I hate you”; every “You’re worthless”; every “You belong in a mental institution”; every “The whole world hates you”; and every “No-one will ever love you but me”… is to a narcissist, a carefully designed fabrication to keep you defensive, off-balance and under his or her control; because this is a person who literally has no form of conscience whatsoever.

And a true narcissist will offer many other lies as well, because the sense of self-entitlement this person carries is simply beyond measure. A true narcissist genuinely believes they are supreme in nature, and they truly have a divine right to anything they want.  So it’s normal for a narcissist to lie about affairs; about money issues; about accountability issues, etc and etc. And you can expect a narcissist to lie about stupid things as well, like whether or not they bought peanut butter or put gas in the car. And all of this is because a narcissist simply builds his or her life upon nothing but lies and deceit.

Now we’re not saying that all liars and cheaters are narcissists, we’re trying to make a clear distinction here. If you’ve ever had a narcissist in your life, you will see the traits immediately, and we want to help you. If you’ve never had one in your life, you truly don’t want one.

Projecting Our Feelings

If you are a caring person, you probably have a fairly normal conscience. And your normal intuition when you interact with another person is to apply your sense of conscience and morality into that person. In terms of psychology, this is called “Projection” and it’s a very normal trait. In other words, you will usually believe the best in others. And you would find it very hard to believe that a person, who could be so very charming at the start of a courtship, might wind up being a literal monster, that  truly has no sense of conscience or morality at all.

So, if you had a relationship with a true narcissist, you would come away from that relationship feeling simply incredulous that all of the life and love you invested in that person was fictitious, and you would play each and every scene over and over in your mind, until you begin to believe that something must truly be wrong with you.

But we are here to tell you in no uncertain terms, that there is nothing wrong with you, other than the fact that you fell for a narcissist, and this person used and extorted your life for the entire time you were together. And we also know this is not an easy truth for you to accept.

We want to make it very clear, that a true narcissist is psychologically sick, and you can never have a true relationship with them, nor will you ever be able to help them. And if you were in a relationship with a narcissist, this discussion might be uncomfortable, but it will be helpful in your healing to know the truth about your experience, however bad or ugly it might have been.

A narcissist cannot have a conversation with someone under their control without turning it into a verbal competition.

Once you are involved with a narcissist and you fall under their control, you will notice very quickly that he or she is a completely different person in public than in private. This is part of the deception. But daring to say anything to a narcissist that is contrary to their view, will invariably set you up for a verbal beat- down that will commence the minute you are out of public sight.

A narcissist might be gracious and kind in public, but he or she will be brutal in private to someone under his or her control.

If you remember the analogy we used earlier about the straw house, the outside is always well kept, but the inside is often quite unfinished. In other words, once a narcissist controls you to the point of letting you into their straw house, the exposed straws and awkward matrix of lies and deceit upon which his or her life is built will become more obvious. And you might feel entitled, because of your intimate relationship, to ask questions of your narcissist about the inconsistencies in their life. But you will learn very quickly that you must never do that, because you will be faced with a personal onslaught of verbal violence and brutal humiliation that will make you wish you’d never opened your mouth.

And, once your narcissist has thoroughly victimized you, he or she will magically turn the whole attack around to make you feel like you somehow victimized them by questioning his or her supreme authority. Your narcissist will then guilt you into offering them an apology, along with a promise that you will never question him or her again.

When you challenge your narcissist in their lies, when you reasonably counter their accusations and cruelty, when you suggest they are not perfect, or when you bring up their lack of giving in to the relationship, you will be subjected to an onslaught of twisted chaos and drama that is designed from the beginning to punish you for even suggesting that your narcissist is anything other than far superior to you and everyone else.

Narcissists don’t have conversations. They invariably compete to win at any cost. Compromise is never the goal, and every conversation is seen as a challenge to their ultimate and final authority – and an attack upon their straw house of lies and deception. Those challenges will always be met and conquered with extreme prejudice.

A narcissist will surround themselves with enablers.

A narcissist will only tolerate those around them who are either completely charmed by their presence to the point of believing in their every word and deed, or those who’ve been berated into remaining silent in the best interest of peace and quiet. The narcissist will certainly eliminate anyone from their lives that doesn’t fall into one of these two categories, and they will invariably make the dropped person believe the elimination was completely their fault.

So, a narcissist takes themselves very seriously indeed, and he or she is very good at controlling and manipulating the people and conversations that surround their lives.
And a narcissist tends to be a very private person, because so much of his or her life simply cannot stand the light of day.

A narcissist will soothe the guilt of his or her secret sin
by accusing the ones they control of those very sins.

This tactic is one of the narcissist’s favorite weapons.
A true narcissist would never survive in a relationship with an inherently strong person, or with someone who was possessed with an equally bad character. A narcissist invariably chooses someone who is soft- hearted and basically good. This is because a normal and good person lives out their lives in plain sight, but a narcissist lives the majority of his or her life in a secret place.

Again, a narcissist is a different person in public than he or she is in private. And the private life of a narcissist is quietly filled with secret sin and secret guilt. So, to soothe his or her guilt, a narcissist will invariably accuse those around them of living in the same secret sin, and of having the same debauched motives as they do.

A narcissist is always selfish, so he or she will privately impugn the motives of someone who is not. A narcissist is always unkind, so he or she will privately rage about someone who is generous. A narcissist feels no love for anyone but themselves, and they care only for their own wants and desires, so a narcissist will often have multiple sexual partners going at any one time. To cover the guilt of these affairs, the narcissist will invariably accuse their faithful partner of cheating and philandery.

And, by placing the guilt of their own secret sin upon those who are close to them, the narcissist feels a sense of confession. But the one whom the narcissist controls will be left further confused and demoralized. And, in the twisted mind of the narcissist, that’s a win-win.

A narcissist will operate secretly in the life of
someone they control, to confuse, to demoralize,
and to convince that person they are going insane.

This insidious process is called gaslighting because gas lights cast long shadows that enable a person to hide. Gaslighting is a truly despicable form of psychological abuse because it’s all done in secret to cause someone to lose their trust in what they actually see and hear.

Narcissists use this tactic in conversations by changing certain facts and by replacing other facts with lies. This tactic is designed to systematically dismantle the victim’s ability to trust their own judgment and undermine their confidence to the point where they begin to doubt their own memories and judgments, thus rendering them highly vulnerable to the opinion of the narcissist.

For example, a narcissist might capitalize on an incident where you forgot something, by reminding you of other instances that may not have happened. The narcissist might hide your keys or rearrange your things. They might even remove the gas from your car after you filled the tank. And all of these tricks are a behind-the-scenes ploy to cause you to doubt what you think, hear and see.

Then when a difference in opinion arises, or you expose a discrepancy in their facade, the narcissist can say with total conviction that you really didn’t correctly see or hear the evidence or the discrepancy, because your mind and memory are faulty, therefore causing you to ultimately accept the narcissist’s version of the truth.

So, what should we do now?

If you are reading this divorce recovery workbook, it is our best guess that you are divorced or separated, and that makes you single. If the preceding pages have not accurately described anyone in your past, you are indeed fortunate, and you can use this information to identify this behavior in any potential relationship partner.

If the preceding pages have described a past relationship partner, then you should seek out more information and support. There are many resources available to you.

Getting support is so important, because, while all break- ups are hard, breaking up with a narcissist is like coming out of hell. And you must have help in the early stages of your breakup to remind you of how bad it was, in order to avoid any temptation to return to the fire.

We recommend removing any and all access you might have to this person, and also removing from your life, any past reminders of your life together. You must bury this person quickly, or you might resurrect them.

We also recommend that you eliminate any form of contact your narcissist might use to get to you. This might include changing your number, your habits, etc.. You must protect yourself from getting “Hoovered,” or being “Sucked back in” to that relationship.

It’s normal for you to look back. It’s normal for you to believe that your narcissist can change and become a good person. But the sad fact is, they don’t recover, and they don’t repent. And you must let them go.

As always, we truly welcome your comments.


  1. Maya D
    • Jeff Brown
  2. ContentinChrist
    • Jeff Brown
      • ContentinChrist
        • Jeff Brown
          • ContentinChrist

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