Feeling Like Spilling Your Guts to the Narcissist?

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(Reposted with permission from The Narcissist Continuum: http://n-continuum.blogspot.com/ Originally posted 12/09/11)

Are you reading self-help books telling you to spill your guts and Save Your Relationship?
Keep your self-examination PRIVATE. Do not tell your spouse. Do not send him or her a letter of apology, listing your many flaws and faults. Many of us make that mistake before learning about pathological narcissism. There is a huge distinction between normal narcissism and pathological and one of the differences is introspection. When people who naturally introspect realize they have contributed to problems in the relationship, they take responsibility for themselves and alter their behavior.
In a normal relationship, both people recognize their ‘shadow side’: the things we do unconsciously that disturb us and confuse a partner. We see it and we change it and we grow as a result. We assume our relationship with a narcissist works the same way–that once we admit we were selfish or self-centered, they will do likewise.
Have you noticed how healing an argument can be when both people take a hard look at themselves, admit their flaws, and apologize? When people apologize, I’ve noticed that other people are quick to forgive because they also realize that despite their best efforts to love someone, they ALSO make mistakes. With the narcissist however, admitting your flaws LETS THEM OFF THE HOOK. What happens afterwards is that during another altercation, the narcissist USES every intimacy you revealed about yourself to justify WHY they did what they did. You feel like a failure and the narcissist is off the hook….AGAIN. As long as we admit to having contributed to ‘the problem’, the narcissist will AVOID (deny) his or her responsibility!
This is counter-intuitive for people who are NOT narcissists. So we apologize again, hoping the narcissist will mirror our behavior by doing likewise and they DO NOT. In fact, they will build on your humble admission of fault as a character traitFor example: everyone does things that are ‘selfish’ (insert whatever ‘trait’ you want here). You say, “I am so sorry for only thinking of myself!” and you expect this admission to trigger a similar response from your partner. Instead, each time you are taking responsibility for your behavior, the narcissist accuses you of being selfish. He or she doesn’t say, “I feel neglected when you do such-and-such”. No. Why not? Because “I feel neglected” is self-revelatory. Instead, the narcissist says, “You are a Selfish person. Even YOU admit it.”
Most people who have written about their break-up with a narcissist, have learned to introspect and take responsibility for their part in the fiasco. Most people also learn over time, that the narcissist will use any excuse, ANY EXCUSE AT ALL, to avoid taking responsibility. Your short list of defects, mistakes, flaws, and weaknesses become the reason WHY the narcissist acted the way they did.It may appear to others that we’re pointing accusatory fingers at narcissists without examining ourselves. This is simply NOT true. We have learned, even if we aren’t conscious of it, that our admission of personal weakness will be used against us.In a normal relationship, people are LOATH to bring up any intimacy someone has revealed about themselves. They respect the person’s willingness to be honest about their problems. They empathize with how it feels when your weaknesses are used like weapons of humiliation. There’s an invisible line that we do not cross, even if we are angry and defensive. We do not use someone’s painful revelations against them.Most people have been taking responsibility throughout the relationship, catching themselves in the act and apologizing. They didn’t realize the narcissist was gathering ammunition instead of examining him or herself. The narcissist may cry or weep or appear to be suffering when you apologize but sad to say, it’s not real. You’ll know that the next time you’ve done something really swell and the narcissist says, “You may have excelled at that project, sweetie, but that’s because you are so incredibly SELFISH. Even YOU said so!”

During my divorce, I read a recommended book titled “Spiritual Divorce” and dutifully listed my mistakes, flaws, ignroance, blah-blah-blah and tried to have a ‘closure’ conversation with my spouse. I did not know about narcissism at the time. Do Not Do This if you believe your partner is narcissistic. It releases them from whatever introspection they are capable of and increases your VULNERABILITY. It’s humiliating when your tender admissions, offered in ‘good faith‘, used against you. Or shared with the narcissist’s new rescuer.
You must be cautious when sorting through self-help books that are NOT recommended for pathological relationships. YOU, the non-N, may end up being humiliated, degraded, and your most spiritual aspects of yourself brutalized. If you want (or feel a need) to self-deprecate, please post to a support group that allows you to express your feelings whatever they may be. For some reason, most people WANT to admit the things they did ‘wrong’. We need to purge and confess to being flawed. That’s the good and the bad about having a conscience.
Remember: Pointing fingers at narcissists is difficult for Non-Ns. We want to be fair. We want to be honest. For every finger pointed at the N, we have three pointed back towards ourselves. So in order to feel good about ourselves, we can admit to having flaws, shadows and defects, too. But we CANNOT, SHOULD NOT, DO NOT need to admit this to the narcissist. It’s not good for YOU and it’s definitely NOT good for the narcissist.
When narcissists feel threatened, they cannot stop themselves from using whatever ammunition they have to defend themselves. Some narcissists regret their behavior afterwards but not nearly as much as we regret having trusted them.Hugs,

10 thoughts on “Feeling Like Spilling Your Guts to the Narcissist?

  1. OMG!!! You have just described my life – more specifically, my marriage and terrible divorce. I married a Narcissist, and announced he was leaving me for someone else, I apologized profusely for all my errs. He never did. He used them all against me – told me I was awful, ‘confirmed’ it was all my fault, that he had no choice but to find another as I ‘drove him to it’. All this while I was going through a severe depression (I was diagnosed 5 months before he ‘officially’ left). He tried to bring his ‘new love’ into our home, which forced me to go and live at a friend’s for 2 months, until we sold and took care of everything. He kicked me when I was at my lowest. It was the most difficult time in my entire life.

    I must admit this destructive (but ultimately positive) experience forced me to look at myself, figure things out and deal with things. That was 5 years ago. While I am still single, I have never been happier, and my self-esteem is no where where it was back then. I, like you, didn’t understand what a narcissist was; I discovered this ‘illness’ through my therapy and through LOTS of reading. My mother is a narcissist, so that’s where my patterns began.

    While I still find myself attracting narcissists, I am able to ‘see them for who they really are’ before getting involved…my intuition is now ‘awake’ – or at least I listen to it – which keeps these destructive people at arm’s length. I will struggle with this for the rest of my days but thank God I understand it.

    Thanks so much for sharing and for your advice. I agree 100%.

    • Thanks for your response. I’d like to take credit for the post, but I borrowed it from fellow blogger, CZ from her webiste: The Narcissistic Continuum: http://n-continuum.blogspot.com/.

      if you have not done so already, I strongly urge you to check out her blog. She was married for DECADES to a supreme narcissist.

      These narcissistic men ( I was involved for a span of over twenty years to a narcissistic sociopath who hid the fact that he was dealing drugs from me! Along with another girlfriend! The secrets! the lies! They went on and on) just really mess with our heads. It takes a long time to process all of the crap and become whole and healthy again.

      Thanks for reading,



  2. Pingback: Idealization, Devaluation & Discarding- Being Put on a Pedestal and then Dumped by a Narcissist « Phoenix Rising

  3. Sounds sadly familiar. Thanks for sharing this. Yes, the woman I was recently involved with did this turning around of my sensitivity to previous partners lying and having affairs, around on me and blamed me repeatedly for being too sensitive and that I never would have trusted her no matter what she did, ignoring that I was trusting her enough to remain in the relationship and honestly express concern and awareness of incongruence between her assurances of loving care, monogamous fidelity and clear boundaries with others supporting this while she flirted with others, exposed her breasts to her former husband who she was still technically married to but told me they took their rings off and agreed to separate over a year ago but still had him living on same property behind her apartment and he usually came in to her apartment without even knocking and waiting for an affirmative answer, etc..

    As it may also help others who have experienced such relationship dynamics, I created a blog to help myself process and hopefully others too.


    Feel free to explore. There are many articles and excerpts from others as well included.


  4. If you have a suspicion that someone has NPD, you need to limit all information that you provide to them. They will use it against you for certain. They are also highly evasive at answering even simple direct questions, such as what movie they are going to see? Or did they feed the dog? They are highly protective of any real information about themselves, but pump for information relating to anyone else. They will even bug a phone, go through, emails, mail, etc. My ex was a nurse and she went through the whole state government medical system to check my medical history and the history of every family member and friend of mine who has ever presented to a public hospital. Here in Australia the government is trying to get people to put their records on a national health database. I would never do that after this experience.

  5. Pingback: Feeling Like Spilling Your Guts to the Narcissist? | hippygurl61's Blog

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