When a Narcissist Cries…

Has the narcissist in your life performed a complete 180?  Have they switched from calling you every name under the sun, accusing you of evil intentions… to crying when they realize you are serious about leaving the relationship?

There’s a reason for that, and it has nothing to do with their caring for you.

Another way that the narcissist gets special attention is through the role of being an extreme victim.  As kind and compassion-driven human beings, we are easily fooled by this form of extreme behavior (crying, faked regret).   What we often do not see is that we are many times shamed by feelings we are not doing enough for them. All along it is easy to be manipulated as we respond from our hearts. The deception is that the narcissist can hide behind misfortune and victimization in order to shame you into feeling and believing that they suffer more than you do. They will say that you don’t care enough for them. They will make you feel that you have not done enough to help them. They want attention, control, gain, and power over others by positioning themselves as a “poor and helpless” victim. They do this; all the while soaking up the attention and control over others. In the eyes of an extreme narcissist, their situation is always right and totally justified. Instead of taking responsibility for self and consequences, the extreme narcissist tries to make others feel responsible for their plight. Because extreme narcissists are incredibly adept at the game of manipulation, they will always find a way to turn the tables on you. They will try to make you responsible and feel guilty for not helping them or taking their side.

Extreme narcissists often shift gears from acting that they are better than others, to the ultimate victim because they would have you believe they suffer more than you. Extreme narcissists hog the limelight, by milking an injury or a seeming misfortune that has occurred to them. Victimized extreme narcissists are on the constant prowl looking for any gullible soul that will believe their version of misfortune whether it is real, exaggerated, or fictitious. What they claim that makes their tragedy different is that it is worse for them than for you. Beware of this kind of extreme narcissism. It is just as selfish and manipulating as that of the self-important persona they’ve switched from. The moment they see that you don’t “fully” cooperate and act with extreme concern for them, serving and pampering them, they will eliminate you from their list of “loving” folks. They may even badmouth you and gossip or slander you as being selfish and uncaring. Imagine that! My recommendation is to avoid believing that this person’s misfortune is the ultimate suffering of all humans. Be polite. Recognize their pain and no more. Don’t be pulled into their web of emotional manipulation. Stay away from extreme narcissists.

Adapted in part from Narcissists Who Cry:  The Other Side of the Ego

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  1. Mel

    I have been through the whole lot of ploys to take back the ex narcissist. The crying,the I am ill, and finally if I cannot have you backthreatening then to commit suicide. Go ahead you are too much of a coward to do that. He put me through so much pain emotionally I hate him for what he done to me.I cannot lay all the blame at his feet because I was the one who kept on going back.Not anymore 2 months out and feel a whole lot healthier. No contact only way to be with these vampires they suck the life from you.

  2. Lee

    They really do cry! They want you back so they can kick you around and fill you with the same poison that fills them.

    There’s just no end to the machinations and manipulations of these people. They’re CONSUMED with finding prey. Absolutely CONSUMED, 24/7.

    Then they’ll ring your phone for a full year after the break up of what amounted to an absolute waste of time. Of course, they’re
    thinking “Why don’t you call me? I’m lonely and bored. I don’t have any friends. I have a meaningless and empty existence. I need to shit on someone. You’ve already proven that you’re a first class chump, and it’s time to get your ass back here and allow me to beat you some more. COME BAAAACK!!!!!!

    BTW, not all narcissists are snappy dressers. This one was a slob.

  3. Oh yes, I think I have been there. My ex was controlling and emotionally abusive and he also cried a lot. Lot of things I said or did seemed to have made him cry and he would say I am self centered or that I lack empathy and blamed it on my Asperger’s. I had no idea then he was possibility manipulating me. I felt anything I did was never good enough and I also felt he was too needy but yet he always said how he didn’t want to be a control freak and he didn’t want me doing things he wanted just because he wanted me too, he wanted me to do them because I want to, not because I am obligated. But if I didn’t do what he wanted, then he would make me feel bad or say how self centered I am and he wouldn’t be happy so I tried to meet his needs. It’s funny that I wanted a relationship with him and then I decided I didn’t anymore and I was too concerned about his feelings to break up with him and then it was impossible because he was never around, he went silent on me. I think that is worse than them telling you it’s over because at least you would know you’re single and move on. He was a very sensitive guy and cried easily and what is funny is he does no contact with me and I am fine with it. He easily let me go so it was like I was thrown out. It might have gotten worse if I stayed and I think things were getting worse because after we moved out of his apartment and lived separate ways which was meant to be temporary until we found a place to live again, he was barely around and didn’t talk to me much and ignored me and said he had been busy. Then it was sudden silence. Yes worse I would say it had gotten and it may have gotten more worse. So one day I realized I was single and moved on and I felt light with my body because all that anxiety had been removed. I felt free and no longer trapped. Lesson I learned is when anyone goes silent on me, move on and assume I am single. He was also a victim of everything too and has so many bad stories to tell. I had no idea this was a red flag but my parents thought he was lying and she doubted he had PTSD and didn’t seem to care if he was always worried about what others thought of him and what she and my dad would think of him so he didn’t like me talking on the phone to them. She still labeled that behavior as abuse. I do wonder if he hid behind the labels, PTSD, Asperger’s, anxiety so i wouldn’t guess he was abusive. I am realizing now his aspie traits may have been narc traits. I am still learning about narcissism and the more I read it, the more I see my ex and wonder.

  4. Pingback: Do narcissists cry? | a safe place

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  7. beth

    I can’t imagine staying married to an N long enough to decipher his actions at 10+yrs. I just can’t wrap my brain around it. I’ve been with the N going on 5yrs and its only been this past year that I learned what I was dealing with. The changes in my thinking that i had no control over are at an all time high and they are scary!
    now that I know what I am dealing with, I don’t even want to take the time to pack. My feet hit the ground running with secret plans for my escape and even though I am in terrible emotional pain, no way can I stay around. I gotta go! To save myself, to save my freedom. Like I say, my thinking has changed towards him when he is in that ‘rage’ mode (and it is quite often) and i am no longer in the ‘shut up be quiet you are worthless ugly old ho no man wants you greedy stupid drama bitch ‘, i am in the ‘say that again and you will loose your tongue i don’t care how big you are you have dragged this bitch through a thousand miles of squalor down to the gate of hell then tried to push me through to my death Oh no you don’t! I am coming back up for air and you wanna talk about the only thing that will separate us is 6 feet well have it your way cause I have had enough ‘ thinking. Whew! I have turned into something even I myself do NOT like. Arrrrgh!

  8. I have realized so much tonight, going through your blog, links and more blogs. Funny, because I had already decided to leave him before all this reading. I guess we go looking for “reasons”. I have discovered that my husband is actually a PAN. That’s passive aggressive narcissist. Yes, I had to make up my own title because he doesn’t fit the “typical” narcissistic description. Either way, it makes no difference…I need to get out. Now. 14 years of my life wasted with him.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Kim, I have just received your comments. First, I am sorry you are experiencing this with your partner. You are correct in realizing there are different types of Narcissists. If you look around the web, different sites will quote different types…some are very accurate and to the point, some will leave you more confused. Even the DSM is lacking in its description of NPD. However, the most important thing is that you realize you are being exploited and that you need to change your situation.

      The silent treatment is a very common tactic used by Narcissists of all types. Sometimes the worst abuse happens without them ever uttering a word. I lost count of the number of times my Ex would packs his bags and leave while we were still married. He’d be gone from a few days to a few weeks.

      Since you are searching and getting information about what you’re going through, it means you recognize the relationship is not healthy and there is a need for change, and for that I am glad for you. I know how you feel about wasted years. I wasted 8 years with mine. I lost time and unborn memories with people who meant the most to me…some of whom are no longer here. I will never forget that.

      In your case, your contributions to the marriage were equal to, if not more than, his. It takes a lot of time and effort to do what you have been doing. Just because you weren’t on someone’s payroll doesn’t mean you weren’t contributing to the relationship. It’s hard work taking care of an adult baby, along with being a surrogate mother and care-taker.

      Do you have a friend or family member you can stay with until you can make it on your own? Or, do you know someone you can roommate with so you can share expenses? Also, you may want to contact your local Employment Commission and your local department of social services. They might be able to give you some helpful information and connect you with resources to get you started on your way.

      Best of luck to you. If you need encouragement, feel free to reach out at any time 🙂

      1. Thanks so much for your encouragement and kind words. I am job searching and will consider a room mate if it comes down to that. My landlord has already assured me that I will be staying here when it all comes down. Yes, I am so tired of being the “mommy” here…exhausted really. I’ve left him a couple of time already…hate that I came back. It will be different now that I know it’s something that can’t change…funny how long we can hold on to hope isn’t it?

        1. Kim Saeed

          Don’t beat yourself up. I once returned to my Narc after almost a year of separation. It was worse the second time around.

          Yes, it’s funny, and sad, how we hold onto hope…You can do this. A year from now, you will be in a much better place 😀

          1. I have a vision of that “year from now” and it is wonderful. You can find my vision of it titled, “She vanishes into her dreams” on my blog. Thank you..I am so glad I found you here. 🙂

  9. Lizsbiz

    My N husband cries during movies. What a hypocrite. His own children could be drowning and he wouldn’t believe it, they have needed surgery, he would refuse to pay for it, but he cries during emotional times in the story during a movie. 🙁

    1. Kim Saeed

      Mine did the same, yet he didn’t pay one cent towards any of his son’s medical expenses, as you said. When he wanted to punish me, he’d pack his bags and be gone for sometimes weeks, thereby leaving our son, too. Yet he cried at movies. I think the emotional attention paid to the main characters in the movies may have made him feel inferior or something…

  10. shocked and confused

    I just realised I have a narcissistic mother. After 25 years of going thru what I have.. I am not to sure how to react to this. Its like I want to slip into a state of denial, I love my mother but she is pure evil. When things were going smoothly she put me thru my dad after 20 yrs (they are divorced). Now when i started talking him I am made to feel like I am the worse person on this planet for being in tpuch with him. She cries everytime I talk to him. There is no winning with her.. she cries and exaggerates situations in her head and she leaves it to me to figure why she is crying. Oh god, I have felt guilty all those million times she has done that crying and I am the victim act. If there is a situation she will make it so huge, not talk to me about it, make me feel guilty and leave me racking my brians by not talking about it and then get into a self sympathy/pity mode and make me feel more guilty and then her last line will be ‘after all that I habe done for u’ boom.. more guilt. I have noticed one thing the more guilty I am the better she feels. Do these people feel comforted seeing other people suffer by making themselves victims? Is it how they feel they won or something? Or does it sooth their ego? I am really not sure? Can u tell them they suffer from this? Sorry I have too many questions.. its been an hour since I figured that I was the actual victim and not her and she made me feel guilty for 25 years of my life every single day.. 😐

    1. Kim Saeed

      Good morning, Shocked and Confused,

      Yes, crying is one of many tools they keep in their belt. I wrote a blog post about this not too long ago: http://letmereach.com/2013/10/29/when-a-narcissist-cries-2/.

      As far as whether you can tell them they suffer from Narcissism, their usual response is an outburst of Narcissistic rage, followed by them accusing YOU of being a Narcissist. To answer your other questions…yes, it does soothe their ego and make them feel better when they make others feel badly. Part of the reason they do this is because they are dead inside and they need something to fill in the emptiness. It’s just another form of Narcissistic Supply. At this point, you may want to start Googling “Narcissistic Mothers” so you can learn more about it. If you are able, you may want to also seek professional help. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    2. FireAndIce

      OMG! This sounds so much like my own mother! Mom accused Dad of having an affair with every single female contact on his phone (she always fights after drinking). She eventually took my intellectually disabled brother and ran off to my Narcissistic sister in New Zealand.. In an email, Dad mentioned that my mother and my brother might come and stay with us for 6 months after New Zealand. That pushed my panic buttons and it felt as though I was having a heart attack and was taken to hospital by an ambulance. I was discharged from the ED later that night because it wasn’t cardiac related. If I was reacting that way to just the possibility of her coming over, I didn’t want to contemplate what would happen if she was here. That was when I told dad about the PTSD from the trauma I’ve endured from my mother and sister. I also told him that my brother is welcome here, but not my mother. Coming from my cultural background (ethnic South Indian), that would have been a hard pill for dad to swallow and it took me 2 weeks (and a LOT of panic attacks) to compose that email.

    1. Kim Raya

      Yours and mine both…got a center-stage performance yesterday.

  11. My ex-N is a prolific crier. We broke up 3 mos ago the night I discovered him cheating. Over the years, whenever he had his narcissistic rages [usually triggered by my asking him was he okay when he was silent for hours or days], and he raged on for hours accusing me of not caring enough, not remembering things I promised him, etc. — often I couldn’t take it and I would start crying. INSTANTLY, as if clicking a switch, the Narcissist would burst into his own tears and become the victim.

    After 3 months of his gaslighting me with mixed messages about someday getting back together and wishing he could split himself “in 2 so one could be with her and one with you” I finally took the brave step to go total No Contact, when two weeks ago on the phone after screaming at the top of his lungs that my best friend is a c-word for saying she won’t associate with him after he cheated on me, to AGAIN bursting into tears in a 180 crying “Oh my God! I can’t believe I just yelled at you like that again!” — How I wish I could tape him saying that and play it for his OW/NS. But in that moment, hearing that psycho 180 from rage to tears, I made my decision that I will never listen to his voice again, and have gone No Contact for two weeks now.

    1. Kim Raya

      Funny that he’d wished he could “split himself in two” to have you AND his new lover, as though you would agree and accept that sort of arrangement.

      It’s true, no one can be a bigger victim than them. What they fail to see is that we are not trying to “play victim”. We are truly hurt, feel betrayed, and grieve the end of the relationship. They, on the other hand, see that we are “hogging” the spotlight, and they cannot let that happen.

      I can relate to your situation from A to Z. To give an example, when my Ex and I showed up for the custody hearing for our son right before I filed for divorce, we were sitting in the waiting area. My Ex was putting his face into his hands, fidgeting, and making the act of looking sad an Olympic sport. He kept saying over and over, “I don’t know what I did to deserve this”. I knew it was for the benefit of any onlookers, including his attorney. I simply told him that he knew full well why it was happening and he could stop acting at any time.

      And the not talking for days…I lost count of the number of times my Ex packed his suitcases and left us, only to come back sometimes a week or two later as if nothing ever happened.

      I’m glad you made the decision to go No Contact. People don’t realize how important that is. It’s as though when we hear their voice, a little switched gets flipped and we get a little niggling in the back of our mind that they might really feel remorseful and somehow change. Staying No Contact lets reality sink in little by little until we see them for what they really are…Narc Humanoids. They look like Man, act like Man, and seem to have human emotions, but none of those things really apply…

      If you ever need support, I have my email posted under the “Surviving Narcissistic Abuse” tab…Stay strong, I wish you the best of luck.

  12. Siggy

    My ex was a crier. I have lost count the amount of times he sat and cried like a baby in front of me when he pulled one his “woe is me” acts and every time I fell for it. It wasnt until after we split and I delved into online reading about NPD that I woke up to what he really is. I was totally fooled. He loved to play the victim and blame me for everything that ever went wrong in his sad sorry life.

  13. gracielynne62013

    I am so excited to dig into your blog. I have recently realized that I was raised by a narcissistic mother and have a tendency to gravitate to other relationships which have the same dynamic. I am so glad that you are also following my blog. I am in a position now in life where I could claim the victim role but I am trying hard not to and instead fighting back for a win. Please read my blog and read it with an honest eye so that if I become what my mother was you can reach out your hand and pull me back. I love her but in no way do I want to copy her form of dealing with life.

  14. Mia Amoure

    Well you were one of the first ones I met on WordPress and one of the first to reach out to me. You have felt to me to be a kindred spirit and you inspire me every day to keep reaching, keep discovering how to love myself and keep searching for that inner warrior! I am happy to call you my friend!

    1. Kim Raya

      That is so sweet, Mia. I am glad I have had a positive influence in your life. I’m always here when you need a little booster and I know you can make it through this, friend 🙂

    1. Kim Raya

      Mia, thank you so much for your kind nomination 🙂 This will be my 2nd versatile blogger award 🙂 I’m so honored that you find solace in my blog and I hope I can continue to be of help.

  15. My Someday To Be X is a crier.

    Nothing can be more moving (manipulating!) than seeing this big old macho kind of guy crying. I know that is how he has convinced a lot of people in this town where I live.

    I am the evil witch who never appreciated him. I have experienced their sneers and avoidance.

    They were all people that used to be friendly and social. Now if I have any dealings with them, it is short and abrupt. Like our insurance agent, she was always wanted to talk and catch up. Now she refuses to talk to me. If she accidentally picks up the phone when I call for some information that I need, she now conveys an undeniable icy tone and she cannot get off the phone fast enough.

    He is very good at what he does. A perfect victim.

    1. Kim Raya

      Oh yes, I have been there, too. The Narc makes his circles around town, with his audience of people he’s collected over the years, and the smear campaign begins. Almost everyone you met through the Narc now looks at you like you’re a witch straight from the Salem Trials.

      This is why, in one of my older posts, I mention going No Contact with the Narc’s friends and family, as well. They all believe the Narc’s sob story and you become lower than the lowest chopped liver.

      1. This “no contact” is a bit difficult. I am still married to my someday to be x, so we still share people like the insurance agent and others, so I have to deal with them on occasion. I just try to make it short and sweet when I need to contact them.

        The contrast of their previous warm social demeanor to their current icy tone is beyond belief. You would have thought I had committed some horrific crime!

        I do try to stay clear of the other former people that knew us as a couple and when I do come across them, I usually give them a blank smile of recognition then turn away and just endure their sneers.

        I am really struggling with the “no contact” with my family. I haven’t talked to them now for a few weeks and it hurts. Especially now with the holidays coming up.

        I am currently working on a blog on that. Hopefully I will post that soon.

        1. Kim Raya

          It’s not a walk in the park, that’s for sure. I actually tried separating/leaving my Ex once before, back in 2010. All my friends and family who’d stopped coming around I thought would be there to support me. They’d stopped coming around because they disliked the way my Ex treated me, and also because he tried to go into a debate anytime someone came around, monopolizing the conversation for hours and smearing my name to anyone who would listen.

          So, my Ex did something really awful in May 2010. He called the police and told them I was drunk and couldn’t care for our infant son. Of course, when the authorities showed up, they knew right away he was lying, and informed him they knew he was trying to build a case against me, and that if he did it again, they would take our son and put him into CPS. My Ex, ever the smear-master, commented that “perhaps that would be better for our son”. This is after they’d already caught him in a lie…Narcs don’t see how ridiculous they can be.

          Anyway, I started a legal suit, he left the country and I thought my new life was on the way. Only the support I thought I’d get from “friends and family” never came. No one ever came to my home, rarely called…they were too busy with their own lives. I got involved with Church, and even their support was extremely limited. After a few months, the loneliness got to me and my poor, sick mind began to believe I missed my Ex. At least it was what I knew and better than being lonely, which I’m sure lots of victims experience. So, I brushed away all that he’d done to me and tricked myself into believing he cared.

          He was worse the second time, if that’s even possible. After another year of pure hell, he finally moved in with his brother 3 hours away and I secretly got my own apartment so that when he came back into town, I’d no longer be there as his door mat and emotional punching bag. The second time, I knew what to expect, that I’d be going it all alone. Back then, I didn’t know anything about Narcissists or that what I’d endured was happening to so many other people. Thank God I’ve met people like you, because through supporting one another, we can overcome the Walking Dead that are Narcissists…

          I’m here if you ever need to talk…if you make that decision, you can contact me via email letmereach at yahoo. Otherwise, I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  16. Man oh man, does this hit the nail on the head. I’ve been told from the beginning that she is especially sensitive to pain. Any nick, bump, or stubbing is the cause of untold suffering.

    My narcissist just turned forty. A lot of things ‘happened to (her)’ in her thirties, she announced on Facebook. She’s going to take control of her forties now, apparently.

    It’s enough to make you want to scream. Maybe I should, while the kids are still in school and I’m alone here in the house. Yep, I think I will.

    1. Kim Raya

      Ever the victim, they are…

      Do what you have to do in order to release the pent up frustration. Lord knows I’ve done my share of screaming when I was alone…

      but it’s also important to start taking care of yourself. What I mean is, love yourself and take care of yourself like you would one of your children. Do stuff you enjoy, take time out for a hobby, even if only a couple of times a month. Start small. It’s all about baby steps, at least it was for me 🙂

      1. This is good advice. I am slowly learning (hopefully) the art of baby steps. I naturally want to overdo everything.

        I was talking to a friend about how hard it is to learn to be kind to yourself. In our culture, self-kindness is often seen as selfishness or laziness. We have to learn to tune out of what others think of us.

        I have a hobby or two, but I take them rather seriously. Maybe I should find something to simply relax!

  17. bethbyrnes

    Yeah, my advice would be staying away. They do seem like gum on the bottom of a shoe. Whew!

  18. Not only is my husband an extreme narcissist but I think you just perfectly nailed my brother-in-law’s persona as well. He’s the one that will talk about you when you don’t fall for his cries of woe is me. In 25 years, my husband has not really used tears to his advantage so in the rare occasions I’ve seen tears (maybe 3), I’m pretty sure they’ve been genuine. However, not only is he a master at shifting the blame for everything onto everyone else but he is amazing at being a victim as well. After all, we’re all against him. Makes me crack up laughing. I think after all these years he is less bothered by being the oppressor (if he ever was upset about it) and more upset that I don’t buy into his load of crap. I see right through his game, always have, and I think that has been the thorn in his side since day one. Great read. Thanks.

    1. Kim Raya

      I can relate entirely. While there are different categories of Narcissists, I think my Ex had a little touch of each. He could be very sweet and innocent on rare occasions, but then I’d say something wrong (in his mind) and he’d plot ways to get “revenge”. I might make an innocent comment and six hours later, he was in full-attack mode on my character because he took a hidden meaning from something I’d said. On rare occasions, he would cry, but I never really felt it was genuine based on his obvious hatred of me.

      Seems like you’ve found a way to deal with his personality type? I couldn’t stay and maintain one iota of mental health. I’m still in recovery mode almost 2 years later…

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