Breaking the Pattern of Marrying Covert Narcissists

I have communicated with many clients and readers and people whom I meet who tell me that they keep marrying, divorcing and then marrying another covert narcissist. How could they have known that they would repeat this hurtful psychological pattern. They should not blame themselves. It is extremely difficult to recognize a covert narcissist, especially if he is at the top of his game. (This post refers to male and female narcissists). By this I mean that the Covert has been practicing his superb part since he was very young. Whether he was the golden child, the forgotten one or even the scapegoat–this individual has identified as a false self most of his life. The covert narcissist learned early to camouflage his true feelings and thoughts. Even more so, as a golden child he was from birth, regal. Everything is handed to the child of pure gold. He or she can never do wrong. These kids are perfect even when they bully their siblings, treat playmates cruelly and make unseemly demands on everyone in their lives.

You as the current or former spouse of a covert narcissist feel confused and dismayed that you continue to be attracted to and then marry covert narcissists. This is a current familiar theme that runs through many of my conversations with those who have repeated this pattern in their relationships. First, give yourself credit for recognizing this pattern of behavior. Know that you will be able to spot the Covert next time and not become involved with him as a partner of any kind, even a friend. Narcissists are incapable of any kind of emotional and psychological empathy. I find that many of those who are attracted to and then marry covert narcissists are highly empathic individuals. What a mismatch! For the narcissist this makes great sense; he can have anything he wants from you and give nothing in return. The covert narcissist makes incessant demands, demeans you, tears you down when you are at your lowest ebb.

After going through painful ordeals throughout a number of years, many of those chronically victimized in their marriages recognize that they must separate and divorce the covert narcissist.  After the divorce is final and you have moved forward with your life, you will be grateful that you made this decision. As you renew yourself you will never look back.  Finally, you have learned to value your unique individuality and your many gifts.

Continue to grow as an individual and learn to appreciate your authenticity and uniqueness. Spend as much time as you can in the recovery, healing, transformative part of the nervous system. Here you will feel deep inner peace, security and optimism. Embrace the flowering of your unbounded creative gifts and energies.



6 thoughts on “Breaking the Pattern of Marrying Covert Narcissists”

  1. This is kind of deceptive. There is nothing here about not marrying yet another narcissist except a few platitudes.

    There is huge body of informal evidence that behavior patterns of ACONs are amazingly similar throughout the world.

    You must use a strategy or protocol for treating an ACON. What is that protocol?

    I’m the context of this post what would be your strategy or protocol to treat an ACON who understands the dynamics of narcissism, has gone “no contact” yet again, and does not want to repeat this unhappy pattern indefinitely?

  2. I agree with the other comment. Narc’s are very attracted to me. It’s only after I’m in the relationship for several months that I begin to notice the patterns. Then it’s almost too late to get out without being hurt. How do we spot them before they lock onto us? How can we improve our senses to be aware of them before we get involved? Even a simple checklist would help me notice one, so I can be aware of who they are before starting a friendship or relationship of any kind.

  3. What I cannot believe, is that with all psychology, law enforcement and victims know about how dangerous these people are to young, developing minds that more has not been done to stop them from creating yet another generation of the wounded and lost. Its almost as if we have a class of predators who do not need to seek victims out, they only have to give birth to or marry them. As one of those children whose head is still reeling decades later, why can’t we protect our children better than to leave them subjected to such atrosity and loss of a loving family (as in get the parents help before they destroy the foundation of their family), only to end up revictimized in a society that has chosen not to do better by them.

  4. Ty, thanks for what I consider to be a good post, simply because you are smart enough to want to prevent what took me years to “get the message”.

    One of the most difficult realities I had to face in my life was that being attracted to certain characters was revealing that my concern about future relationships rested on my shoulders, not those I was blaming.

    What I have to admit isn’t pretty, but became obvious as I learned more about narcissism. Just as we humans seem to be “wired” to accept certain political ideologies, it is still my belief that falling prey to narcissism, regardless of which side were on, has a whole lot to do with our upbringing.

    Whether we blame our parents, grandparents, or other family members, we one day wake up to realize we are responsible for our own choices, as you have achieved, and I praise you for wanting to meet the challenge in advance, rather than recycle.

    I’m going to “cut to the chase” and simply say that knowing what we know, after all of [my] reading and research, I don’t believe we can ever remove all of the risk in any relationship, simply because, we all, as humans, are in a constant state of change. Throughout our lives, we change addresses, pursuits, religions, friends, interests, jobs, cars, food choices, clothing types… the list is ongoing, and then some.

    When choosing a partner, it seems like we’re pulling the handle on a slot machine to see how many matches appear to consider us, or them, a winner. In the end, when we’re at our most vulnerable stages of life, can we be assured our partner and family will be with us, support us, and continue to love us? (Of course, the definition of “love” is another “can of sardines” for discussion.)

    There are those people who make a choice, through determination, tolerance, patience, and self-reflection, to sacrifice and adapt no matter what the circumstances. Others of us have certain intolerances, impatiences, and egos that limit our sacrifices and adaptations. The question becomes, “How do we go about choosing the right person? Am I willing to be an example of the qualities and attitude that will keep the ship afloat?”

    To all this I say, this is why I believe that lasting relationships are found, not made. In other words, they occur in time as we get to know others. Knowing how someone will react, whether they will honor commitment, how they make their decisions, can we trust and depend on them with our lives — all are behaviors we need to observe and assess before we make the decision about a long-term partner.

    The elements I know that must be obvious at all times, are “trust”, “communication”, “a sacrificial, teachable, and forgiving attitude”. I think a person’s ways of viewing life is extremely important, but that view can change based on experience — to the good or bad. The rest is up to time and circumstance, and how positive we can continue to work things out so partners grow together.

    When investing in real estate, the rule is “location, location, location”. I think with love, it’s “time, time, and time”. Love is said to “blind” in that the imperfections are oblivious to passion at first, but in the long run, will the partners compromise on whether the TP rests inward or outward? “Time will tell.”

  5. After giving more thought to your post, Ty, perhaps this addendum will help you. I hope I’m answering your post correctly, interpreting your post to mean that you’re looking for a strategy to avoid ACON entrapments and wondering how to treat (as in “approach”?) any existing or potential ACON.

    Let’s assume I’ve interpreted your concern correctly, but if not, simply repost with a correction, if you believe I, or someone else, can be of further help.

    Let’s also assume I had written your post and I was concerned about dealing with any ACON. If there is no ongoing relationship and I’m free and clear to start making casual relationships, I would refresh my mind with
    Dr. Lewi-Martinez’s traits of narcissism and narcissistic behaviors.

    As I meet people of interest, over time, certain characteristics will reveal themselves, in natural ways. Here’s a list of what I would look for:
    — Does this person seem to monopolize conversations?
    — Is the use of “I” used excessively, rather than “we”?
    — When ordering food at a restaurant, do you order what you want, or does it seem that your partner always tries to influence your decisions without you asking?
    — Are you frequently blamed for being too early or too late, or do you always seem to feel rushed or pushed to try to satisfy your partner? Do you wish this person would make you feel more at ease, showing more understanding and respect?
    — Is your partner often critical about what you wear or how you look? Do you often receive suggestions on how much better you would look if you appeared the way your partner hints or recommends?
    — Does your partner want to change her mind frequently or stay loyal to the decision(s) you both agreed to pursue? (Occasional spontaneity can be fun, but too frequent mind-changes can create an air of uncertainty and eventually cause a mistrust of shared decision-making. Key: Are you comfortable with the balance?
    — Does your partner show signs of having a quick temper or sudden rage?
    — Does your partner use language that you don’t like or want to hear, but you try to tolerate it to get along?
    — Does your partner try to put you down or embarrass you in front of others?
    — Do you usually feel as though you can’t keep up with your partner or meet her expectations, so you try harder and harder to please her?
    — If at a social event, does your partner uplift you to others, showing pride and respect to have you as her partner?
    — Do you feel the relationship is like a contest? Are you always feeling challenged to compete with your partner, either mentally or physically?
    — Does your partner seem to insist or envy a lavish lifestyle more than either of you can afford?
    — Does your partner frequently apply unreasonable pressure or punishment to your decision-making? For example, “If you have to work this Saturday night, I won’t see you, anymore!”
    — Do you catch your partner in lies or does your partner use or encourage “white lies” as social excuses?
    — Do you feel used, as having to pay for everything, or do you feel there is a comfortable balance of giving and taking?
    — Do you see extreme narcissistic behavior patterns in your partner’s parents and family? Does their behavior make you feel uncomfortable?
    — Does your partner’s family treat you with respect and understanding or do you feel your presence creates tension? Do they show an interest in you or do they seem to shun you or discourage you?
    — Is your partner a “daddy’s girl”, always getting attention and what she wants? (This is not meaning to sound sexist, as men can be raised with the connotation of being “a mommy’s boy”, meaning he has been taught he must tend to his mother’s needs before anyone else’s.)

    There are many other questions that can fit the profile of a probable narcissist. In time, “a duck will quack like a duck and walk like a duck”. As I mentioned, I would keep in mind the traits of narcissism and just be myself until I have repeatedly observed traits that I know have proven to be narcissist warning signs. If I see such warning signs that make me uncomfortable, I would not attempt to try to make any corrections, attempt to offer advice or make any accusations. I certainly would not try to express any concerns referencing narcissistic behavior, remembering that narcissists do not accept criticism well, plus, their behavior pattern is not likely to ever change. If your partner often shows signs of not taking your preferences seriously or accepting anyone’s suggestions well, I would “run, not walk, to the nearest exit”.

    Hope this additional commentary provides some of the protocol strategy you’re looking for, Ty.

  6. Pardon me for being long-winded, Ty, but perhaps these afterthoughts will also help.

    A major tipoff to suspect a narcissist is to be witness to their delusional perspectives, that is, being out of touch with reality as to not anticipate the consequences of their action(s). For example, they’ll turn the stove on high to start cooking with their pressure cooker, but they’ll try to then multitask with other projects, oblivious or willing to risk the hazards of what could take place in a few minutes. They will constantly put items on the edge of counters and shelves, not realizing the probability of them being struck by someone’s elbow or in passing. If something falls and breaks, the narcissist, typically, will put the blame on anyone, or anything, other than themselves.

    If you find yourself always seeming to have to eyes in back of your head to see what they’re up to, just to feel safe, a red flag should be going off in your mind. They really aren’t stupid, rather quite clever enough to want to cut corners on truth and reality to constantly try beating the odds. It’s more of a denial issue, where they just believe they’re impervious to reality — “It really isn’t going to happen to me” syndrome.

    If you find yourself habitually having to correct and compensate for their shortcuts, shortsightedness, or other behaviors, you’ll find that your love will eventually turn into resentment for their apparent lack of concern or caring, especially toward you. You will become frustrated enough to want to say something, but you’ll also realize that correcting them sends them into a tirade that you won’t want to experience, again.

    You want to find someone who acts with common sense, understanding, and patience, not someone who is constantly on a fast-track to solution wearing blinders.

    Life with a narcissist eventually results in a downward spiral. Their uplifting patter is all temporary. It will seem that you both take five steps forward, and then “whoosh”, one event will take you back to the first step and you’ll both have to start from scratch, and don’t expect them to say they’re sorry. Narcissists don’t often apologize for their actions, unless they’re trying to gain your favor for their agenda.

    I’ve seen two types of women portrayed in movie dramas or westerns. There’s the sweetheart who will watch her beau being beaten to pulp and do nothing when fighting the bad guy, or she’ll scream in the tense situation, thus, becoming part of the problem. Then there’s the type of woman who will keep her senses and drive the wagon over the whip to save her love from being lashed. Wouldn’t you want a partner who will help you rather than become another issue?

    If you find yourself always being a rescuer or “fixer”, beware my friend! Strive for a balance of “give and take”, of equal proportion and value. Both partners should be willing to give 100%.

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