will therapy with a narcissist help

Will Therapy with a Narcissist Help? Why it’s a Bad Idea

Will therapy with a narcissist help?

After all, you’ve apparently committed some serious grievances against them. According to him or her, it’s a wonder you’re not on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. With their persuasion, you think back to the times you had nuclear meltdowns as you pick up the phone and dial your insurance company to find marriage counselors in your area.

You have been feeling high-strung and confused lately.  Maybe seeing a therapist will help you slip past your toxic partner’s defenses, leading to an improved relationship.

Before you start going down the list of marriage and relationship counselors, it’s important to consider that going to therapy with a Narcissist will accomplish three things: 1) waste time and money, 2) keep you in a relationship that is doomed to fail anyway and 3) likely result in your feeling like more of the “crazy lunatic” your partner keeps claiming you are.

The hard truth is that in my experience working with clients who have been pathologically abused–as well as the hours of research I’ve done–I’ve not come across one success story as it relates to couple’s therapy with a narcissist.

Not one.  (It sure did nothing to help me!)

Sure, your toxic partner might agree to go to counseling with you, but it’s not to make any improvements or lasting change. Narcissists don’t go to therapy because they finally realize they’re selfish and have been mistreating you.  They do it to keep you feeling hopeful (in order to keep you trapped longer) by enhancing their facade of trying to “make it work”.

Narcissists don’t go to therapy with goals in mind (such as improving their relationship with you).  They go to therapy with agendas in mind.

There are many reasons for the lack of counseling/therapy success with a narcissist, including:

  • Narcissists are masters at creating great impressions. Because of this, some naïve therapists side with the narcissist regarding the extreme and despicable claims made against the true victim – the one being emotionally and/or physically abused!
  • Narcissists are creatures of economy.  By the time they agree to go to counseling, they’ve committed numerous relationship crimes, and the easiest way to get you to forgive them is to feign remorse and agree to go to therapy.
  • Because there’s such a lack of applicable experience dealing with narcissists, most therapists have been trained to address subjective perceptions. Due to this, narcissists get away with playing the victim, which puts them in a one-up position in regards to the abuse dynamic that will inevitably get worse at home.
  • On the topic of subjective perceptions, the victim often goes along with what the therapist says, thus working double-time to improve the relationship…all in vain. (This is also due to the victim being co-dependent, which causes him or her to put in more than their fair share, anyway). The narcissist will not appreciate any efforts extended by their victim, and in fact may mock them, causing further emotional damage.
  • It’s not unusual for the narcissist to insist on seeing the therapist first. This gives him or her the opportunity to lay down false accusations and give the therapist a wrong impression of what’s actually going on in the relationship.
  • Many narcissists come into their relationships already “seeing a therapist”. This is a strategic move in order for them to pave the way for forgiveness when they commit relationship crimes, allowing them the perfect opportunity to justify their actions with the comments, “I’m seeing someone for that. Are you going to give up on me? How can you just leave me when I’m down?”…and all variations of guilting to keep their target enmeshed.
  • The victim, feeling safe and encouraged by the therapist, usually expresses their pain, disappointments, and may possibly confess to serious emotional or physical assault. This often makes things much worse for them at home, and strengthens the trauma bond, thus making it harder to leave.
  • Typically, the narcissist goes into the therapist’s office and morphs into a fictional, decent character. Once back at home, they return to their normal, abusive selves.

Please understand that this article is not meant to discourage anyone from seeking individual therapy. This post was written to highlight some of the reasons why therapy with the narcissist is a recipe for disaster.  

There are some very competent therapists who can detect a cluster-B disordered person within minutes of meeting one. Those who are skilled in this area will usually inform the abuse victim of their observations regarding the emotional abuse and exploitation dealt out by the narcissist, usually due to the narcissist’s sense of entitlement and tendency to be self-focused.  

Copyright © 2018 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved

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  1. Cass

    Before i suspected my husband was narcissistic, I suggested we both go to individual counseling and couples counseling. That did not work out. He manipulated his therapist and my therapist. I quickly realized that he used his sessions to bash me and always came home with “the counselor said you do __________ wrong and you shouldn’t do that”. It was something I was doing wrong each and every time. When I tried to implement things I learned in my session he would criticize and refuse to try any helpful tactics (if I tried to take a break to calm down, he would say “you just don’t want to admit you are wrong, you know I am right so now you just walk away”). Then later he say I wasn’t doing anything to change or help our situation. He says I am too sensitive and if I would just get over things, all would be fine. When we were in couple’s therapy, he constantly brought up everything I have ever done wrong and the therapist wasn’t much help in keeping things calm. When she would confront him on anything, he would often start raising his voice, interrupt the counselor, and refuse to listen. I quit going altogether. He continued individual but I don’t think it is to help him get better. It is to be able to say “I am going to counseling and getting help” or use whatever his counselor says against me. Half the time I am not even sure the counselor says the things my husband claims he said. I finally separated from him and was hoping he could change but I am not so sure anymore.

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  3. Tom

    See Kalista’s story below, mine was similar. The narc will have any therapist eating out of their hand. If you’re lucky (I was) you can meet with the therapist later (nex would only go one time, where I just ended up being attacked by both of them). In the 1:1 the therapist won’t tell you they’re a narc but they will point out things that happened in the session that tell you you have to get out. I did. I suspect some type of professional ethics or perhaps legal ramifications, but the shrink definitely does not want the narc coming after them! But they will keep doing sessions with you both and take your money. Again though, I’d be very surprised if the narc goes to more than one session.

  4. Karlyn

    They are liars who communicate in lies. Cognitive distortions and logical fallacies. They work on these issues in twelve step programs and yes they can improve. Doctors of integrative medicine are also helpful. They need anti oxidants and to heal the gut. Essential oils. Herbal anti virals. They bully with cognitive distortions it’s their whole game. They teach these families confrontation and leveling. And to recognize power imbalances and triangulation. Lies cause stress and disease.

  5. Kalista

    My narcissist ex-husband actually insisted I go to therapy so I could get all *my* issues fixed. The first therapist said I was co-dependent and wanted to do a couples session. My ex came to one session with me and the second the therapist pointed out that he played a part in my depression, anxiety, and insecurities he stormed out. When I got home he was in a rage. He berated and lectured me for hours because I was doing therapy wrong, I was only talking crap about him and not having my real issues addressed. He insisted I stop going. I went to one last session where I informed the therapist I had just discovered I was pregnant. She looked me dead in the eye and said “run. Take your baby and run.” Looking back now I think she knew… I wish I had listened to her and took her advice.

  6. Lv

    Why do some therapist not pick up on these narcissistic behaviors?!

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Lv, it’s truly a problem. I went to seven different therapists and finally had to take charge of healing myself. There are some great therapists out there who are educated in the dynamics of narcissistic abuse, but they are hard to find.

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  8. My Narcissist is the utmost extreme case of all characteristics. Only not the ones of the typical, more-obvious narcissist/manipulator. He manifests his in a mulit-layered, very sneaky, underlying fashion and it only worsens with age. There aren’t any real resources in my county, no legal aid if you have children, no judge that will grant a divorce without an attorney, no therapists who are taking new clients or even qualified for this matter, and none of which even take my insurance (I’m currently the most broke I’ve ever been) and probably nobody to believe me when the self-proclaimed “master of all games” drags me and my name (business) through the mud in court like he promised he’d do. It’s a small town and he comes from money where his family business feeds a lot of families. I have no light at the end of my tunnel. No zest for life anymore. And only lately has God been revealing things to me (by way of an occasional epiphany if you will) as I become more ready to recieve the knowledge. For some reason (could be the 19 yrs of constant failure and unreal expectations of my fairytale relationship) I seem to need a full understanding of my last 19 years. The whole, untwisted, real truth, where we went wrong and what was actually happening all those times I knew something wasn’t right but couldn’t place my finger on it, what in the heck would make me stay for so long and tolerate things that I never would have before, pre-Jekyll and Hyde? I need all the puzzle pieces to fit my life back together. Probably so I can avoid future reoccurrence and avoid any future damage being done to my 2 girls. To also make me a better parent. God is slowly leading me to things like this article, to shocking posts on FB from schoolmates about their own Narc abuse situations and survival. Which has been my first glimmer of hope. I can see that he is slowly yet suredly leading me out of my darkness. But I’ve been on my knees, humbly begging for answers. Ready to accept and understand HIS way because my way has failed me time and again. I’ve been lost for so long, constantly pining for and trusting and defending the one who was secretly destroying me. All because he thought I was capable of the same things he was capable of. And now literally shuts out anything I say as he can only see me as evil, vindictuve, selfish, vengeful and insincere. I am in utter shock and disbelief at how much of the man I married and our relationship has been a lie. Now I’m a mere codependent shell of who I used to be and lack the confidence to make any decisions on my own. So depressed that I’m not sure if recovery is even a possibility as it seems that ruining me and robbing me of any peace or happiness has become his top priority. Somebody please slap me in the face with the next step I should take and lead me by the hand to where I’m supposed to be in my life because I’m too scared that I’m not ready for the wrath that is sure to follow so here I stay. Waiting. Somebody please show me that I’m worth loving again, how to love myself again and that there are still decent people in the world as I seemed to have lost all faith in humanity. ?

    1. Diana

      Don’t doubt yourself. Keep moving forward. God will show you the way. You are definitely worth loving. God created you to be loved. I totally understand the Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde scenario. It’s hell on Earth living with an N — don’t give up. There is a strong woman inside who can overcome the adversity for you and your kids. Keep seeking guidance. ?✝️?

  9. DK-Tired

    This is all true. Be dealing with my situation for 30 years now. Many sessions with counselor’s just to experience the same result over and over. It’s madness.

    I’m tired and have placed myself in a trap where exiting will be equally painful. I’m amazed at how counselor’s cannot see through the guise of the Narc. Not fun at all and the cycling keeps one from establishing a sense of balance. Holidays, vacations and special days end up being painful.

    Hope is just simply hopeless when dealing with a Narc on any level.

  10. Seattle

    I dated someone who could not make me a priority but said all the right things and also had a sweet side. He was affectionate, devoted to his child, responsible towards his child and ex and friends. Is it possible to be a narcissist but also a variety of good things? The things I could not handle that he did were not terrible individually it was the repetitiousness of it with an inability to admit that he knew the behavior would be hurtful to me but that he was choosing what felt good in the moment vs my feelings that got me. I still feel insane.

  11. CM

    I was pretty lucky. The therapist sided with me while he whined about us ganging up on him. We stopped going after a few visits because of that. The relationship only lasted a few more months.

    It’s been so long that I don’t remember the therapist’s name to thank them since they were so instrumental in opening my eyes and reaffirming I wasn’t delusional.

  12. Anonymous

    100% correct! Time and time again he would say all the right things there, but once we left he instantly was the same. I would say over and over, this is not how he is at home, and somehow he always managed to turn what I said around, and the next thing I knew, I was in the hot seat again!

    1. DK-Tired

      I’ve experienced the same with my wife. She puts on a great show in front of others and constantly manages to paint me as the villain on a routine basis.

      I got myself in a mess and can’t seem to find a way out that will be simple.

      The constant silent treatments, gas lighting, intentional distortion of reality, arguments, deception, counseling tours, and so on. Makes no sense at all.

      We can’t event talk about putting to rest simple issues, like putting shoes away due to safety issues. Everything is my fault.

      If I say anything, then I’m labeled as being the one bad mouthing my wife while she plays innocent in counseling. She is totally a different person in the home. Think Jekyll/Hyde.

      So far no answer.

    2. Anonymous

      I am in the same situation, everyone is convinced that he is an innocent person and I am the culprit, when in reality, it is the other way around. My counsellors, friends, and church is condemning me now. I am put in a very sad position now. I don’t know what to do. Any advice? Each time I speak up or try to convince them of this behavior, they go against me.

      1. Anonymous

        I am so so sorry that you are going through this with no support. I am recovering from a very short term relationship with a Narc and it has been extremely painful. May I suggest crying out to God for help? That is what it took for me, and He delivered me. Sometimes, Jesus is all that can help us, and fortunately, He will.

  13. Kathleen Reddy

    My narcissists broke up with me in an e mail. ( So Classy ) we loved each other. Her emotions were odd. She lied a lot. I found out she was going to work on her relationship. She ended our relationship in an e mail. ( Classy ) she wants to work on her marriage of 35 years. One I didn’t know she was married. Or that she has 4 grown children. Not knowing she was bisexual. Then I broke a date with her, I needed to go in the hospital. She got angry, and broke up with me in a e mail.
    I have been hospitalized 5 times in 2015
    Nervous breakdown.
    One minute she loved me, and i had to do somthing for my health had to break a weekend date to Boston MA She doesn’t like It when I say no, it has to be her idea. She even changed the hotel to a different one.

  14. Ret

    Another great article! I’ve seen my Ex manipulate this process not just with me but with our daughter.

    She left her therapy session with him worse than when she went in. What’s worse is the naive therapist made the session about forgiving him. It was horrible.

    Now he’s not getting what he wants,and he wants to get back to therapy with our daughters. My daughter’s response was…he just wants to go for himself. He wants to go so he can pretend that everything is ok. Smart girl! The kids are figuring out the manipulations. They see the behavior. im proud that they speak up for themselves!

  15. me myself and I

    FANTASTIC article. I, too, did the marital therapy route last year. Thankfully, my therapist was not the naive type, called my husband’s narcissism for what it was, took me aside and told me I could do my absolute damnedest and it would not fix my marriage.

    My husband had me in these marital therapy sessions there accusing me of all sorts of things for not wanting to have sex with me (I smelled bad, I gained weight/let myself go, all I cared about was having children, he was tired all the time- surprise, surprise, he was a porn addict) and that I didn’t text him compulsively throughout the work day to help him feel like I cared about him. I didn’t love him enough to learn his native language, yet didn’t practice with me (nor he did he learn mine, or even try.) All those sessions did was provide him with a sounding board to feel like the victim- a lonely, compassionate man with a horrible wife who neglected his needs tremendously and like he needed to have an affair to feel loved. The gas lighting was all in my mind and I “had a bad memory of things”.

    I kept our marital therapist as my own therapist to “deprogram” how he had conditioned me to think and rebuild my self-esteem, which was completely decimated by my cerebral narcissistic husband. He is out of the picture, and no contact is great. I hear he is still with his (equally narcissistic) new girlfriend. My life has seriously improved for the better- once I got the angriest out, and sat still and thought about what happened, only then did I realize I was actually being abused. Once in a while, and the holidays especially, I will find myself angry at him and at myself for falling for all this and turn to this site to bring me back to my centered happy place. Thank you, Kim. Invaluable website. 🙂

    1. Michelle

      I am going through the same thing but my husband lies about everything.

    2. Viki

      I’m at therapy right now with my narc he went there 5 times before me to “prepare ” the therapist and to show him how awful I am, I was wondering how were you able to make the therapist believe you??

      1. Kim Saeed

        Hi Viki. This is precisely why you shouldn’t go to the same therapist as him. Couple’s therapy with a narcissist is a pointless mission, but you should absolutely find your own therapist. I would encourage it. Try to find someone who specializes in emotional abuse/emotional trauma recovery. If you continue with this so-called couple’s therapy, you may be further traumatized and invalidated.

  16. Martina

    I am so relieved to finally read this. But it doesnt make things easier, on the contrary. Because how does one get out if it with three children? I might be free at one point, how about the children? He not only had our former couple therapist failed to see the real personality and actually played in his hands now even the children’s counsellor sides with him. All that while we are stuck abroad with no chance of leaving, no money, no job opportunities and the prospect of being in this for the next 16 years. It is a nightmare.

  17. Rapunzel

    Ok, I’m new to discovering the phenomenon that is NPD, and have a question or two. I’m a fairly astute reader of character, or so I believed in my past. I just need to understand for myself about the codependency issue. Ok, let’s say for arguments’ sake that a man and woman become a couple, with equal amounts of contribution to the relationship, monetary and otherwise. They both are seemingly of the same outlook and demeanor that when one or the other promises to do something, that it is a reasonable expectation for that something to be done. Indeed, over years they both exhibit this trait of trust and fulfillment of tacit expectations with each other, and others in their lives. Then one day one of the pair catches one having lied about something, or maybe even just exaggerated about something. Let’s say it was an issue that was not necessarily of monumental consequence. (ie, not paying the mortgage when you said that you had = real big deal; telling a mutual friend that they could not attend a party because they were sick with violent nausea, and that the nausea medication then gave you a headache, and how awful it was, and how sorry they let their friend down=several fat lies, of no real perceived benefit, and very elaborate in unnecessary detail=no big deal, as life matters go, but a lie nonetheless. A whopper, in fact). Then, as would be a healthy response (in my view), the other partner, maybe in private (to get the liars’ reasoning for lying, and let’s face it, everybody lies; to not attend an event you know you will be bored stiff at, or eat someone’s cooking that in your previous experience has been just awful, but you don’t want to hurt their feelings, etc). Ok, let’s say that the person doing the “calling out” says hey. I get that you didn’t want to go to the party because their house smells like onions, or whatever, but did you have to be so ornate about it? Now, I’ve been dragged into your lie, because if someone asks me why we didn’t attend, I will more than likely be expected to tell the same version of lie that you told, again, so as not to hurt feelings. Aaaand, the calling out person tells the liar, hey, how about next time this is an issue for you, you not get all thespian about it, and just give them a vague answer like, oh, I just wasn’t feeling well, or I was tired and needed to veg on my day off. The liar agrees, says that they got all nervous and put in the spot, so they overreached. Ok, understandable, very human, forgivable. Then, as time progresses further, it becomes apparent that the ornate lying thing is an actual pattern, not a one-off. Then, bigger lies and more important lies, and disrespectful lies, and disastrous lies. Now, I get that after seeing the lying liar repeat their behavior, and then escalate, and worse-be unrepentant about it, the calling-out person at that time has a choice to make whether their partner could possibly get help and change for the better, -or- that there is too much boundary being crossed and that lying for lying’s sake is intolerable, and they should part ways. I would like to know, as i am the calling-out person in this story, my spouse, the lying liar, at what point should I have decided (or have it decided for me by a professional), that his behavior was pathological, and that I was co-dependent and had, in some part attracted him to me? After the first harmless lie, correct and forgive him, and move on? After a couple or few incidents per year? I totally get and understand the concept of codependency. But, if the very nature of the N is not only skillful lying, but covering up their lies, and convincing you they meant no harm, and up to the point of their lying being discovered, seemed to be doing what they were entrusted to do, at what point do I cross over from having been manipulated and lied to, because I believed there should be at least a modicum of forgiveness for some human frailty. We’ve all said or done stupid things, and then been grateful for forgiveness for having screwed up. To err is human. I’m not in the least forgiving him now, by the way, and I am in the process of seeking solo counseling, financial aid, disability benefits, all kinds of issues going on. We just passed 20 years as a couple, 17 married. I believe most every other aspect of your approach, but the codependency thing can be icky sticky, and yeah, I should have gotten out when I was much stronger, healthier, and younger. But when you are busy with the daily aspects of life, these things can sneak the hell up on you. I was a strong, independent, happy person before this. Now I am an exhausted, physically busted, financially spent, emotionally drained shelI. I literally worked until my spine and hands were busted. I’ve lost careers, friends, family, money, and a lot of regretted time. Oh, and his profession? Salesman. Fitting, right? Certainly a perfect niche for his skill set. A little kind advice is most welcome, and thank you for getting the word out on these fiends!!!

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Rapunzel. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I agree codependency is a tough thing to navigate. I think the biggest question to ask yourself is – are you willing to stay in a relationship where you no longer trust the person you are with? Lying isn’t something to be taken lightly…maybe we all lie, but it depends on the frequency and the depth of the lie. I may say someone’s food is good when it’s not. That’s about the extent of what I’d be willing to lie about. No need to be elaborate, as you mentioned. But, I digress. You may want to take an honest inventory of what the relationship gives you in the form of security, respect, and stability. If those things aren’t present, it’s probably time to at least consider alternatives. Hope that helps! ~ Kim

      1. Rapunzel

        Of course, I agree about the assessment process of evaluating the relationship, and determining if it is meeting one’s needs, being respectful, establishing healthy boundaries, et al. My question was more of the weighing in of onus for another person’s personality flaws/shortcomings. I absolutely concede that as some point, codependency became an issue, if for no other reason than he annihilated my/our finances, (I am completely without a support circle of family/friends, save my elderly disabled parents). I literally have no where to go, and no way to get there. Everything I have regarding assets, etc are enmeshed with my abuser. Of course, I am winding my way out thru outreach and charity programs. So, yes, I am dependent on our final, last, bottom of the barrel savings to keep the roof I share with him. What I need clarification on is your opinion as to why, in the beginning of our relationship, as I stated, all the normal, healthy, caring, mutually contributing elements were in place. So, how is it that any codependency issues I may have resulted in him initially appearing to be have all the hallmarks of a well-adjusted individual? We both confided in each other, as I’m sure most couples do, about our past hard times in life, including dysfunctional parents, failed previous marriages. Again, on the outset, we are going into relationship with same goals and values, and he then turned on me. I’m just not making the same equations you are. In full disclosure, he has certainly cured me of ever wanting another life partner relationship. His deceptive ability obliterated my entire life, and I will never, ever concede to being causatory for his mentally distorted perceptions in life. He did enough of that behavior on my behalf, blaming me for his declaring war on me. Please, give consideration that there are people who are twisted enough to target those who do not need being “completed”, but merely believe you should be able to trust your loved one, and believe when the person closest to you exhibits who and what they say the are. And then they don’t.

        1. MHMC

          Ibwent through the exact same thing. Lying, blaming, seemed nirmal and healthy at the beginning and gradually got worse over the years. He told me i needed xounsellung and medicatiin for “my mental depressiin”, and when i did, he blamed our marriage failure on my going to counseling. (in other words, when i started to get healthy and recognize the abuse, he couldnt manipulate me and have it “easy” anymore). They will not work at relationships. They place the burden of work on us. In healthy relationships both work at it, both are individuals coming together in mutual partnership. It is not about one doing all the pleasing and begging and being oppressed in order for the other have a satisfying existence. To a narcissist, a truly happy, content person is a threat. Be happy, be content, meet your own needs, get a job, expect mutual responsibility- and your narcissist will find the closest exit.

    2. MHMC

      Start calling him out on his lies. Stop putting up with boundary crossing. Speak your mind, make your own decisions, and live life as a happy, fulfilled person. If they dont want to do couple things, go by yourself. Get healthy- Be healthy. What will happen when you do? They leave. You dont know at what point to get out? You get out by becoming an emotionally healthy and strong person who refuses to be manipulated and abused. They cant stand that and will find someone else to play house with. And quickly.

    3. julie

      Rapunzel! I can see that you and I are SO much alike that I’m amazed! I think our situations are very similar (only mine has a ton of mental AND physical abuse history and my kids and I moved out 3 yrs ago but have yet to escape his control due to my codependence) and the way you word your story sounds just like me talking. We share similarities in having once been so independent but now a mere shell. ? I’m so curious to hear how or where you are now in your situation. And if your husband lives in his own twisted version of reality like mine does with his lying.

  18. Terrie Smith Nielsen

    In other words, 50 Shades of Gray is a dangerous game…

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  21. the new kristine

    I for one can totally agree about being co-dependent. During our relationship I even read ‘co-dependent no more’, and attended meetings, but even with all that I ended up staying until it got truly ugly. As a co-dependent at the time I felt that I could change the crazy making behavior and get the relationship back to what it once was in the very early beginning. I was willing to try anything, I was even willing to believe the lies and deception and take the abuse, just to have another chance to make it work. This kind of thinking, like you can actually change someone that way, is very co-dependent. Even recognizing that at the time, I continued to stay and try. It was not until attending counselling with him, that my counsellor diagnosed him as a narcissist with sociopathic tendencies. She actually took his side initially and then one day he showed his true colors. Finally she got it. She called him on it, he flipped out and made a huge scene storming out of the office and creating a lot of noise. She said… run for the hills.

  22. Hi Mrs Kim me and my ex husband he us a narsc had a bad fight two days ago he was picking up my kids my daughters got to start telling me what him and that new girl be doing over there and I feel he is disrepectful around my kids its away to do things when u have kids cause all my daughters have seen is us together so when he picked up the kids I had a attuide and it just went from there we were arguring back and forth and it was bad but now I have completely have not called him and he has not called me either what do u think he will try to call me or what do u think thxs!!!!

    1. Kim Saeed

      There are several things that could happen, but the most common approach is for the Narcissist to give the silent treatment as a form of punishment, and then come back acting as if nothing is awry.

      1. So I wanna ask you something Mrs Kim cause you are very talented I love reading your blogs it helps me a lot cause I have been threw a lot with thus relationship my ex narcs seems really happy with this woman this woman was married as well they really did it in the wrong way they both did but yes they are in the honeymoon stage but how do u know that it will end how do they get bored please explain to me please cause I was discarded and I am getting better day by day but it seems like he is real happy my kids like it over there how do I show him I don’t care how do I do it I already know how to do no contact I do that very good but what else can I to show him I don’t care at all cause he does not care at all and he shows it well I just wished when my oldest son dad past away 15 yrs ago I should of been by myself this man has really mentally mess me up and blames me for everything frfr in the relationship and now he is always on FB all the time happy taking pictures of himself with his shirt off and taking more pictures than a woman he is on FB more than a woman what do I need to do thxs Kim!!!!

  23. Jane

    I usually agree with everything you write, but I have to disagree with you here.

    Going to couple’s therapy was the best thing that happened to me in terms of my narcissist.

    After just three sessions, my therapist (a PhD in clinical psychology) pulled me aside and explained that my ex-husband was a NPD and possibly an antisocial as well. He told me to read everything I could about cluster B personality disorders and to come back to him privately.

    At my fourth, private session, this same therapist explained that my husband would never get better and that he was worried about my safety. By the time I went to that session, I was already armed with information and knew what I was dealing with.

    I am beyond thankful that we went to this guy. Maybe the key is going to trained professionals (PhDs and MDs), not whichever counselor comes your way….

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you very much for sharing that, Jane. It seems you are one of the lucky ones. I work with people all the time that went to therapy with their disordered partner and came away feeling more invalidated, ganged up on, and more confused about themselves than when they went in. It’s especially sad when the therapists favors the “it takes two” approach.

      As I mentioned, there are good therapists out there, but they are very hard to find. The sad fact is that lack of properly-trained clinical personnel is by far the biggest impediment to survivors’ recovery. When I first left my Ex, I visited seven different therapists. In hindsight, none of them came close to discovering I’d been a victim of Narcissistic abuse.

      I’m glad you found one of the rare few who seems to know about this type of abuse. I honestly cannot say why some know better than others at this point because I often interact with people in the psychological community, and even they say there is a large gap when it comes to awareness of Narcissistic abuse and “Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome” (even those I’ve talked to who are in a PhD program).

  24. During the “discard” phase, I begged my ex-husband to go to counseling, together or apart. He refused. I’m so glad now. I ended up in counseling alone, which was very helpful to me. I would advise that any parents divorcing a narcissist to flat out refuse co-parenting classes. There’s no real cooperation from a narcissist, and the therapists do their job operating under the assumption that both parents have empathy and have a common goal and are capable of change or compromise. Just say no, come up with a plan with minimal contact between the parents, and stick to it. There will be no extended, blended family and that’s okay. The children can see the narcissistic parent separate and apart from you. Narcissists don’t blend. Tell your lawyer. Thank goodness co-parenting counseling wasn’t an issue for us.

  25. Reblogged this on Finding Hope's Sunshine and commented:
    Thank you Kim Saeed for this insightful article. I tried counseling with my husband. It only gave me a false sense of security, and then I’d come home to his retribution for anything that I said against him. It wasn’t a good idea for us. A better idea would have been going separately. But he wouldn’t go for that. Meghan

  26. Reblogged this on Blog Of A Mad Black Woman and commented:
    I tried this with my (ex) husband, but he decided he no longer wanted to go, which meant I was not allowed to go either.

    “The sad truth is that in my experience working with clients who have been narcissistically abused, as well as the hours upon hours of research I’ve done, I’ve not come across one success story as it relates to couple’s therapy with a narcissist.” ~ Let Me Reach With Kim Saeed

  27. Pingback: Trolls, Narcissists, and Codependency…an Open Debate | Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

  28. Kayb

    My ex was not willing to go to counselling, ” Basically I find her really tedious and boring and I don’t see how Relate can make her more interesting” was a comment he made to his new ‘friend’ on facebook. I can see now that it’s a good thing as anything I say can and will be turned against me. I am already accused of ‘spreading lies and vilifying him to friends and family, and apparently I have mind control powers as everyone I speak to is ‘taken in’ by only my side of the story and doesn’t know the full picture. the full picture being I wasn’t perfect enough, he had told me so many times not to hang the washing like that, or to hoover more often or to not shout at the kids, as he had told me and i still didn’t do things correctly I was either stupid or deliberately not conforming because I knew it would annoy him. This is his total justification for his lying, cheating and affairs. He only reacts to how I treat him. I am trying to get him out of the house and out of my life as much as possible, but as its all MY fault why should he be the one to leave. (his words NOT mine!) I did see a therapist for a short time (on the NHS) and may well request another 6 months just to keep my sanity and sense of self intact for me and my boys.

  29. claremenzies20

    I learned this first hand last year my last “attempt” at showing CAS etc. some kind of responsibility for my need to leave a very complicated situation. In the end, as you state so well, I caught it he didn’t and yes the trauma bond is now cemented.

  30. This really triggered me. The few times we did go to counseling I would go home so depressed because he was so charming and something was wrong with me. I was the one that was medicated. It’s been 4 years since I’ve taken anything, including sleeping pills…now that we are divorced, he is the one that’s medicated. <3

  31. Reblogged this on MyDivorcePain and commented:
    He never showed up to our court ordered Anger Management

  32. Mary Jo Sawyer

    So true. My EX and I attended one session. We were asked if the word divorce was ever mentioned by either of us during marriage. My EX answers “no”. Now I have heard this word since first year of marriage, and I believe we were married around 12 years at the time. I totally zoned out the rest of session and luckily never went back. Took me 7 more years to get divorce and he still creates problems/issues with me.

    1. JCS

      They always will try and create problems and issues. My ex is fantastic at doing this. Stay Strong and remember when we respond or react they win and have control.

  33. dave

    Thanks for the response, Kim. I’d love to know what questionnaires you are using. Also how you differentiate between “codependency” and ” narcissism, given many of the characteristics are the same ?
    I understand that the majority of narcs (that are obvious) are overt “classic” narcissists, and they seek “victims” who already have a repertoire of co-dependent behaviour. It’s a a natural fit.
    Even the introverted narcissists seek out a narc to replace the parent narc – I would guess that some (a few) of your clients might fit that profile. However, we need to be aware of the fact that there are also a lot of reasonable, well-developed, nice, easygoing, people out there who, through no fault of their own, may be targeted by a narcissist. More likely an introverted one who hasn’t yet separated from the narcissistic parent. We need to take care not to be victim blaming. The fundamental statement that “it takes two to tango” does not apply when looking at relationship dysfunction. It only takes one to lead the other up the garden path, in many cases.
    Perhaps the blink below might explain it better.

    1. Kim Saeed

      The Narcissist and Codependent are indeed similar in that they both look outside of themselves for validation.

      I’m not trying to persuade your beliefs one way or the other. I simply stated the fact that up to this point, all the evidence I’ve been presented with shows that victims of Narcissistic abuse have varying levels of codependent traits. I’ve not come across one compelling instance that points otherwise. Further, I suggested that those who have been the target of a Narcissist should take a quiz to see if they are, indeed, codependent or not. That’s only logical. Refusing to consider it an option points to possible denial.

      With that being said, I am willing to keep an open mind in regards to your theory, it’s just that I haven’t read or been presented with evidence that points to it in regards to a person who’s been narcissistically abused not being codependent. Granted, some of the information you’re sharing is accurate, but there is an obvious bias on your side when it comes to your conclusion.

      As far as it taking two to tango…each individual in a relationship influences its dynamic. If there is a pattern of any negative sort that is tolerated over a period of time, it’s because the person being exploited hasn’t established healthy boundaries.

      1. Ge

        I have been a victim of a very abusive narcissist years ago. Before I met her I was rather selfconfidend, joyfull, felt strong etc. Through the relationship I gradualy lost most of this. In losing my sence of self and reality through the behavior of this narcissist I became more and more confused and dependant on her for my realitychecks. Which made things only worse offcourse. Losing your grip on your own reality is what makes you dependent. I didn’t know narcissists.
        Before this encounter I wasn’t dependent in a abnormal way.
        So I believe it can happen to anyone. For anyone wants connection and love and is dependent for this on others. Just natural. We are social beings and in this way we are all co-dependent. In this age of narcissism it seems dependency is made a flaw. While it is not. And it’s not the real problem in relation to narcissists in my view.Therefore the term co-dependency is misleading in this regard.
        Co-dependency in a relationship suggest two people depending on eachother to a certain level for eachothers happyness. As said; in my view this is only natural and human.
        In a relationship with a narcissist there is no real co-dependency for the narcissists is not dependent on his/her partner in this way. He/she is totaly selfabsorbed so there can be no dependency on behalve of the narcissist.
        I think the key-problem is the losing of self/reality by the victim through the actions of the narcissist. The victim becomes more and more dependent on validation of his/her reality by the narcissist.
        In the meaning used often today co-dependency is misleading and partly blaming the victim. In an extreem way its saying you are partly to blame being raped by waering a miniskirt on highheels.
        Narcissists are wolfs looking for prey that fits them one way or an other. This can be the weakest sheep in the herde but also the strongest. What all these sheeps have in common though is that they are emphatic and social. Both which a true narcissist lacks totaly.
        Dependency isn’t a flaw, its human. Being emphatic and social is human. Being co-dependent to certain levels isn’t a flaw either. Its only human too. Being a narcissist/abuser is not.
        Becoming dependent/confused on your sence of self and reality by the gaslighting and abuse of a narcissist is what makes you sick and vunerable.
        If you don’t know them it can happen to anyone is my believe.
        But I agree the most emphatic and social people and those of them who are in need or pain looking for comfort are the most vunerable to these predators.

        1. Kim Saeed

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Ge. You make some good points…though I don’t believe using the term “codependent” is victim blaming. Codependency is simply a defense mechanism. I agree with you that we are designed to bond with other humans. It’s a part of our DNA…but, when we don’t have boundaries in relationships – such as when a partner doesn’t have any consequences for abusing us, it teaches them to keep doing the same. We then must ask ourselves why we are willing to stay with someone who continues to mistreat us – all in the name of “love”. When we examine the situation, we see that we are the one pulling all the weight of the relationship.

          Regarding narcissists, they do depend on their victims to a large degree, that’s why their victims are referred to as a source of narcissistic supply. They need us to reflect back to them what they want to believe about themselves, and then when we begin to point out their cruel ways, that’s when the abuse gets worse.

          Dependency isn’t a flaw, but not having any boundaries and then consequently suffering both mentally and physically is not healthy. We shouldn’t be willing to stay with someone who does that to us. That’s all that recovering from “codependency” really means.

  34. Anonymous

    I agree. When I considered going to counseling with my exN, he told(warned) me not to try to “outsmart the therapist”. Another projection onto me of what HE was actually doing. I declined to go & play any further into his BS/enmeshment. Went NC instead. Best thing I ever did!

  35. Deb

    Yes indeed! My narc is such a skilled liar and so adept at playing the victim that the church counselor ended up making things worse for me instead of better. I wasted another 5 or 6 years buying into the “God hates divorce” mantra they both tried suffocating me with while he made my living situation worse than ever. I finally gathered the courage to divorce the lunatic, literally walking away with nothing just to get free from him. God has provided for me and my children in ways I could not have imagined. Guess there are certain divorces that He does not hate as much! Best decision I ever made! I am happier and more at peace than I have been in years. That marriage was an emotional prison. Fire your clueless counselor, trust your gut, free yourself from the fool and never look back. Your peaceful, happy, FUN (remember that thing called fun?) future is waiting!

  36. shantekay

    So how do we get more therapists to recognize narcissistic abuse? I went to a counselor and told her my story and she recommended counseling individually for us, then together, but it was all a waste of time giving me false hope because the discard stage had already happened, he was just drawing it out to make it look like he was being reasonable and not disclosing his new relationship behind the scenes.

  37. Anonymous

    I was fortunate because the woman we went to see recognized that he was playing a game but she gave him some trust and said we were on a sinking ship but she would work with us if we wanted to save our marriage. I said I didn’t want to keep seeing her as long as he was living with the other woman. She turned to him, shocked, and said ” how can you say you want to work on this if you are living with the other woman? “. He started to make excuses and she told him sleep in your car, rent a room somewhere, go to the Salvation Army. She is already halfway out the door and she said she would make another appointment for us but he had better have resolved that. Of course he told me at the last minute he didn’t want to go back to her so when I showed up myself she offered to work with me and was essential to my breaking away. Six months later he wanted to go back to see her and she told me she would do what I wanted. I said I wanted to make it clear that it was over. She told him, “I can’t help you as a couple because she is my focus now. I gave you the choice six monts ago and you chose not to take it, so now I can refer you to other counselors for your own problems but our relationship is over by your choice.” He didn’t manage to charm her!

  38. betternotbroken

    INDIVIDUAL THERAPY FIRST! I learned that lesson, put on your oxygen mask first. This is such vital advice. Thank you again Kim for what is now “simply” validation.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you for reading my blog and for sharing! Best wishes for your continued recovery <3

  39. Hi Kim,

    Thanks for a great post on a needed subject.

    I would add that going to couples counseling with a narc can be dangerous.

    Counseling sessions are supposed to be a safe place. This often lulls the victim into revealing personal matters that s/he would not talk about to the narc at home, or anywhere else. The narc listens intently at the counseling sessions . . . and afterwards uses all of that information against the victim.

    When I briefly interned (twenty years ago) at a counseling center for men who abuse their wives and girlfriends, avoiding couples counseling was gospel. The standard story for us interns was of a woman who went to couples counseling with her abusive husband. During the session, as you say, he was all reasonableness and concern as his wife detailed the situation at home to the counselor. As soon as they got in the car, though, as he was driving them home from the counselor’s office, he grabbed her by the neck and started banging her head against the dashboard while verbally attacking her for all of the “lies” she had told about him in the session.

    It’s very simple: If you have a narcissistic and abusive partner, do not go to couples counseling!

    1. anonymous

      Lee, absolutely. This should be a golden rule. Mine was amazingly crafty, whilst not physically violent (except in secret to my son), psychologically devastating. I believe in hindsight that the individual sessions were used to “set up” paradigms with naive therapist(s) so that the joint sessions “confirmed” what she was saying. I had no idea what was going on, and had some very confusing sessions talking about stuff that had never been an issue….. which diverted sessions from confronting any of the stuff that was really of concern.

    2. Kim Saeed

      Thank you for sharing that, Lee. I imagine this happens more often than we are aware of.

  40. dave

    Yes. Except mine was a covert narcissist, so even better at playing the victim. 3 couples counsellors, and several sessions of bewilderment on my behalf, not realising she was using the individual sessions to totally misreperesent, and lie about what was happening. Last session with the second therapist was pretty much her screaming at me and the therapist not knowing what to do. He later advised that we should separate, as he could see no evidence that she was willing to change or make any movement.
    I do get sick of reading that the victims of narcs are co-dependent. Sometimes, possibly, but this denies the art and artifice of the narcissist. They work hard to lie, deceive and fool you, and get your sympathy (which in itself them becomes a narcissistic injury to them!) The covert (introverted) ones are superb at it. If you are a loving, committed, empathic person, you are the perfect “mark”! That doesn’t make you co-dependent – to say that without evidence is just victim blaming.
    The covert narc is brilliant at bewildering the victim. I had no idea the amount of work that was being put into creating false situations, generating false impressions, and generally lying to others, to make me look like I had the problems and attitudes that were actually hers. Yeah, the PTSD is still pretty strong too. Hope I can use my knowledge to help others. The “counselling” actually became.part of the abusive process!

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you for commenting, Dave.

      In regards to victims of narcissists being codependent – everyone I work with in my coaching practice is given a set of personality quizzes and every single person up to this point has been determined to be codependent. So, it’s not victim-blaming, but a matter of helping victims of this kind of abuse to overcome the wounds and defense mechanisms that cause them to engage in codependent behaviors.

      I agree that joint counselling with the narcissist generally becomes a part of the abuse process. The best approach is to seek individual therapy.

    2. Anonymous

      In my experience most covert female narcissists don’t go for co-dependent men at all, they go for strong, independent men who believe in love and want to take care of the woman in their life.. also, on average, women are naturally more narcissistic than men so it’s so much easier for female pathologicals to blend in.
      There is also the factor that male.. umm.. “targets” quite often strike back once the lies are exposed.
      Quite a different and perhaps an even more complicated dynamic than the male narcissist – normal female one.

      1. Kim Saeed

        Anon, thank you for visiting my blog and for commenting.

        A man can be strong and independent and still have codependent tendencies. Determining if one does indeed have codependent traits isn’t a form of blaming, but an acknowledgement that something may be going on in their subconscious mind that may be causing them to stay in an unhealthy relationship. A man can believe in love and want to take care of the woman in his life, but if the relationship is toxic and he still stays, he’d want to explore the reasons for that.

        I do agree that it’s often easier for women to get away with narcissistic behavior because of society’s expectations for the man to “rescue” her, and since a common belief is that women are “naturally moody and difficult”, toxic behaviors could be chalked up to that. However, if someone is abusive and can never be pleased, it’s a sign to contemplate the future of the relationship.

      2. dave

        Anonymous, that’s pretty much spot on, I reckon. I suspect that this type of person appears to the covert narcissist very much like the narcissist parent. Remember, they don’t have experience of this type of person, nor the empathic ability to understand where they are coming from!
        A big “victim-blaming” mistake to label this as “co-dependent”.

        1. Kim Saeed

          Actually, David…using the term “codependent” isn’t labelling or blaming. Again, every person I’ve worked with so far has been determined to have varying levels of codependency….most often of the significant kind. And not only my clients, but those of various colleagues I work with, including therapists.

          Further, it’s not my goal to blame victims. It’s to help them. As a former victim myself, I know what it’s like to be at the receiving end of Narcissistic abuse. And it was only by coming to the understanding that I was codependent that I was finally able to make sense of my experience. In contrast to the article you keep referring to, it became clear to me that I was codependent after just the one relationship. However, after learning about codependency, I was able to see how my “empathetic” tendencies of caring and wanting to do the right thing had manifested in other areas of my life up to that point.

          Codependency is a defense mechanism that typically develops in childhood and with it comes a set of beliefs about oneself, as well as engaging in specific behaviors. It’s only by understanding how one’s codependency keeps them enmeshed with a Narcissist can one begin to make the necessary changes in order to begin breaking free from their disordered partner and begin to rebuild themselves. I say rebuild because the Narcissist knows what buttons to push to cause his or her target to completely lose their self-esteem, and worse, their zest for life.

          It’s my goal to help, not to blame.

    3. Michelle Mallon

      The following comment was left on my Facebook Page in regards to this post:

      I just want to say that I am really very interested in this conversation between Dave and Kim and I really appreciate the time each is taking to explain where they are coming from in terms of where they might disagree. While I really connected with this article, (and Kim, thank you so much for writing it) I too had difficulty with the use of the term “codependent”. Actually I have had difficulty with it for some time now. The problem is that I have never really been able to put my finger on what it is that bothers me about it. It might be the term itself “codependent” which does seem to imply a sharing of responsibility for the abusive relationship. While I have found that for so many survivors of Narcissistic abuse, the ones who are beginning to understanding that what they have been through has a name, they almost always begin to realize that there were other Narcissists in their lives whose abuse primed them to try harder in the next relationship (which would often at some point end being with another Narcissist since Narcissists are very talented at finding people who are primed to try harder to make doomed relationships work).

      In fact, as I am writing this, I believe I am starting to realize what it is that bothers me about the term “codependent”. I am not certain at all that what we are discussing is truly what “codependent” is. In fact, Dave if you look back at the list of characteristics of people who are “codependent” from the link you provided, look very closely at the last half of the list- “An extreme need for approval and recognition, a compelling need to control others, lack of trust in self and/or others, fear of being abandoned or alone”. These characteristics seem to define more of the characteristics of pathological Narcissism than anything else. How did those end up on this list? There seems to be some blurring and I think I know why that is. I believe that a better term for what we are all discussing might simply be “Narcissistic Victim Syndrome”. For anyone who has ever endured this type of abuse, we know first hand just how cruel and destructive the abuse is- it literally shakes us to the core. The “blurring” of symptoms I believe may be due, in part, to the projections the Narcissist has thrown onto the victim being partly or completely internalized by the victim. Anyone who has ever worked with a victim of Narcissistic abuse who hasn’t yet discovered the truth of what they have been through knows how confused, hyper vigilant, paranoid, fearful, depressed, guilt ridden, etc these victims look. They don’t really know which end is up. They can’t make sense out of anything. In fact, they are pretty sure the problem must be something with them because they have been slowly led to believe this.

      I could say a lot more about this but I want to let my thoughts come together for a bit. This really has just hit me. I think what we are all describing is a pattern of “priming” which is more consistent with the after effects of the abuse itself (and the further insistence by a mental health profession that doesn’t “get it” and tells victims they just need to try harder to make things work). I believe what we are describing is consistent with Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. A great place, in my opinion, to read more about this is on Christine Louis de Canonville’s sight “The Roadshow For Therapists” at http://narcissisticbehavior.net/category/narcissistic-victim-syndrome-what-the-heck-is-that/

      Thank you for allowing me to join in to this really important conversation.

      1. Dave

        I strongly agree with pretty much everything your “poster” says, (and she seems to be partly repeating my point – although I may be misunderstanding the “co-dependent” discussion?) Essentially I don’t agree that “everyone” who ends up in a relationship with a Narcissist is co-dependent, or has co-dependent tendencies. By the same token, if you do the reading on NPD as parents, they very often produce children with NPD, (and particularly covert/introverted types that are VERY hard to recognise), but we shouldn’t label everyone that way either!. I guess, the list of “co-dependent” characteristics in the link I provided (posting below) matches some of the NPD characteristics – more so for the covert ones. A lot of the literature also says a narcissist has to pair with a “co-narcissist”. In some cases, yes, of course, in others no. The idea of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome covers a lot of this as well (thanks for that – yes, NPD’s are MANIPULATIVE and for the overt classical NPD’s, aggressively abusive. That’s a lot of toxic work to unpick and re-integrate yourself healthily.)

        Does it look the same? I reckon it would to the external observer, but there are subtle differences and degrees of things, and you need someone who will evaluate, question and challenge the statements made to them as a therapist. This is where an understanding of the behaviours and their motivations is helpful – and yes, sometimes informed by labels such as those above. The dangers are twofold – one is not “getting” the label and trying to interpret the behaviours from a reasonable, empathic, logical framework – the second is is always applying the label, and perhaps missing the subtleties. Also remember the NPD tendency to represent their partner as having the exact same behaviours as they themselves are doing, and painting themselves as the victim.

        I think the “co-dependent” label that disturbed your poster is for the same reason I disagree with it. It implies that the victim is somehow facilitating and enabling the abuse through their own sense of “need” (which is why is sounds so self-centred, or even say, Narcissistic?). This is not in anyway to denigrate anyone who has suffered the the point that they are lost in that horrible reciprocal pattern – the NPD often moves the goalposts quite slowly until you have shifted what behaviour you will accept (and the belief that you are doing something wrong, or are at fault) . They also manouevre you to a point where you are not in a position to leave without severe consequences. Particularly if you are empathic, and for example, love your kids.

        In summary, I just think it is good to be aware that the classical NPD isn’t a “one size fits all” and AS WELL we have the covert NPD – very different presentation, and probably different victim population characteristics too. That list on the link I gave ? I could only apply one tendency to most of the victims of a covert NPD – “a tendency to do more than their share” – it’s called empathy, for someone they love. They just don’t know their partner (parent, sibling) is often subtly playing the victim.


        1. Kim Saeed


          You do make some good overall points about Narcissism, though I still disagree that someone who’s been the target of a Cluster-B disordered person isn’t codependent, even with your analogy of the Narcissist “subtlety moving the goal posts”.

          As I stated in my other reply, I found out I was codependent after just one toxic relationship, which is in direct contrast to the main idea in the article you’re referring to. This does happen rather frequently, especially with survivors who have been married to one person for years of their adult life. Further, if someone is unwilling to consider that they might be codependent, they run the risk of attracting another Narcissist, which is highly unfortunate considering the strength and courage it takes to get away from the first one.

          I would suggest that all targets of Narcissistic abuse do the self-discovery that’s necessary to determine why they stayed in a toxic relationship, including taking a quiz to determine if they are codependent. Not doing so would simply be detrimental to their recovery process, and also point to possible denial.

      2. Anonymous

        Please stop this, Kim, you are incredibly wrong and damaging. You really seem to be unaware of those covert narcissist dynamics where really no co-dependency is involved. If so, then your whole understanding of narcissim is deeply flawed, and so is the understanding of your fellow colleagues and therapists.

        1. Kim Saeed

          I’m fully aware of covert narcissistic dynamics, as I attracted one after leaving my first overt Narcissistic husband. That happened because I wasn’t aware of how my own beliefs and behaviors were playing out in my reality.

          If you could present some kind of proof that my reasoning is flawed (and that of my colleagues, some of who are therapists), I would be open to reading it. However, as it stands right now, this is your personal opinion. Whereas, my reasoning is based on scientific, documented research, as well as concrete evidence from my own experiences and those of my clients.

          We do have an influence on our reality. Suggesting that those who find themselves the target of Narcissistic abuse explore the possibility of their being codependent is only logical, instead of insisting that we are at the mercy of outside forces, including manipulators. That’s what is wrong and damaging and keeps people in a state of victimhood.

          1. Anonymous

            Kim, I am very interested in finding out why I am codependent. I didn’t take your quiz, but I have read co-dependent no more, 20 years ago in an early relationship and now that I’m divorced I fell right into the Narc trap. Why? I do identify with the codependent traits, like wanting to hold on to relationships, but my motivation, in my self-observed, experience is not because I am afraid to be abandoned, I don’t believe. It seems to have more to do with irrational thinking, that I don’t want to believe the person is that manipulative. To me, it’s knowing I’m being naiive, and wanting to stay that way in my thinking. It’s more a holding onto my view of reality which is fantasy and not reality. I want to attribute human frailty to the person and not see the behavior as being done to me on purpose. I never caught my Narc in a lie, so maybe that’s easier to do. I feel like holding onto the relationship is an extension of me wanting to hold onto a distorted view of reality, but I don’t know why. I don’t want to believe that the person is ‘bad’ or purposefully trying to hurt me, although the effects are obviously harmful to me, and others seem to intuitively sense these are people I should run from, but I seem to lack that discernment and want to staunchly deny what others sense about these individuals. Is it really me not wanting to feel abandoned? I know that I do lack a good sense of self and I think it is because I was raised as a Christian and therefore believe I am to be self-less. But my rationale mind can easily see that this is harmful to me and actually to society because I am kept ‘down’ and drained by needy people around me. I understand co-dependency is a learned behavior. I am from a large family and feel I was just pretty much overlooked as a child, I just wanted to be ‘good’ and I never ‘fussed’ about anything. Though I had my basic needs met, I’d have to say I was emotionally neglected. I do not think I learned to be affirmed in my own identity so I’m looking always to care for someone else, and that has become my identity. I have been described as the type of person who would give the shirt off her back, even if she didn’t have one! I am always giving too much and I know I am avoiding developing myself, but I can’t figure out why or how to change. I feel like I am wasting my potential and I don’t want to stay in this state being depleted, exhausted, and self-neglect, bordering on self-hatred. It’s as if I don’t love me, and what there is of me, I don’t esteem very highly.

      3. Anonymous

        Please delete this comment, overall you are still having a positive effect on humanity so I don’t want this to be shown.
        You have simply attracted many people to this site who have the same weak personality, victim mentality and overall high narcissism that you have too, deep down still always blaming something else and only pretending to understand your own shortcomings. In reality never truly facing that a lot of all this, at least 20-30%, was your fault. And you are working with these people who are all somewhat kinda like this.
        You are unable to admit to yourself that you are so damn attracted to pathological narcissists because you yourself have many highly narcissistic traits and delusions on the non-pathological side, co-dependency only being one of them. Being similar attracts, it’s the world you know.
        But this is only one (but yes, probably the most common one) form of narcissist dynamic. You have no comprehension of for example pathological narcissism in women, nor does society and psychology in general. It’s a huge taboo. There is for example really no co-dependency involved when there are zero humanly detectable signs of any abuse for months/years, most female covert narcissists can be that tricky and do everything perfectly. Some male narcissists too. They come across as someone completely normal.
        I think you lack an understanding of sociopaths and psychopaths in general, you believe they are some weird forms of, for the lack of a better word, “human”. Well they aren’t, but something completely else. Pretty much all psychopaths are also pathological narcissists.
        More like you are running a business here, trying to treat everyone of co-dependency. Those who never had it, nor did they let the narcissist create any co-dependancy in them once the lies got exposed, won’t turn to you because it is obvious to them that something is very off with your views, very damaging to them, almost like “victim-blaming”.
        I have no idea how those therapists you mentioned got their degree (I mean, I have an idea, because of the taboos and how their education works).
        Makes me wonder whether you really are an INFJ.. they see through such things easily..

        1. Kim Saeed

          I won’t delete your comment because it’s a wonderful example of a trolling, cerebral narcissistic reaction. I know your kind very well and I’m sure you’ve left similar comments on other blogs. Just please understand that whatever damage you were trying to inflict here is lost on me.

        2. Kim Saeed

          Once again, you’ve come here without proof… only more finger-pointing and name-calling. It’s obvious that you’re trolling and your leaving comments under different names only amplifies that fact.

          Your comments seemed harmless in the beginning, but once I asked for proof that my reasoning is flawed, your response was to go on the attack instead. A classic example of a narcissistic reaction.

    4. Annonomous

      I think WAT IV gone through is similar in many ways! I loved someone who is, in my opinion, a victim of narcisstic adult syndrome ovr duration of his 50 years of life but initially, he showed no ‘red flags’ to cause me to leave him alone which I know now I MUST! As u so eloquently wrote, we seemingly went into relationship with same values & goals …! But, eventually, he ‘mirrored’ his abusive psychopathic mom’s words in cycles according to wat was inflicted upon him (which I won’t go in detail about as too traumatizing!)
      As to an answer as to why, I think that is due to a need to be happy yet was damaged in early life themselves so as lack of ability to trust thereby, fear of success due to their own issues in early life. People need & want connections with others who show a caring similarity to their own basic desires. Yet, since their own basic needs wen young weren’t met, that quality is thwarted in some way thus stopping progression of growth listed in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs being met!
      It’s very disturbing as I (unfortunately) experienced!
      The person I was involved with had his evry financial, emotional, psychological needs stolen & looked to me to help save him. I must also suffer from co-dependency as I DESPARATELY tried to Unconditionally love him!
      He isn’t capable of communicating due to overwhelming influences (I discovered) are beyond my scope of expertise! Now, sadly, I’m being labeled as the ‘enemy?! It’s awfully exhausting to feel alone in my search to help him out of his nightmare so , for my own happiness, I will desert him & loose (what I once thought) was a wonderful partner to share my life wit on my upward growth towards my happy journey of life! Hope IV helped !
      He made me more grateful to be me & try & see the positive in every experience of life.
      KNOWIN the horrors inflicted upon him & rapid decline of the man I Saw & shared many happy time with yet I was feeling traumatized by the shell he was diminished into!
      So, now, I leave him even more grateful to be me than ever before!!!
      My message is that you are not diminished because the person lost you who sound like living soul who they lost!!!

  41. Lisa

    My ex husband and I were supposed to continue communications counseling after our divorce for the sake of our son. I didn’t bother because I knew it was a waste of time and money. The therapist called me up to find out why we haven’t come back in to see her. I told her that it was not in my best interest to be in the same room with him. I wanted no contact with him whatsoever. Not even for the sake of my son’s best interest. She encouraged me to come in alone and talk to her. She has helped me tremendously. I no longer have panic attacks, anxiety or depression. I no longer feel sick to my stomach when I see him. His lies and projections now make me laugh. It has taken me four years to get to this point. ?

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you for sharing that, Lisa 🙂 I agree that it’s better to see a therapist alone than to attempt any type of joint counseling with an abusive partner such as a narcissist. I hope your comment will encourage others to seek therapy, as well.

      1. Lisa

        Getting therapy after an abusive relationship IS A MUST!!!!!!! I cannot stress that enough. Also, Kim your site is truly amazing. You are truly blessing others with your great insight and understanding. You have given people a safe place to turn to.

    1. Jules

      That is exactly what happened to me as well! 6 months of thinking he was willing to make amends and all the time he was planning his escape which he did while I was at work! 14 years with that narc and all I got was a letter on the kitchen table! Should have listened to myself as well–but the good thing is we know now!

      1. At least you got a letter, I got a “your a effen B” and “get out of my house”, text. Lol. “Planning his escape”, how true is this! He always gets mad when I thank him for leaving me! Sigh…..it’s almost comical, because our break up, has changed stories according to him several times, one time I didn’t even know people were talking about OUR break up! It was THAT outlandish! I just laugh, I just say “Well you know JA,(Jack A**), he has a flare for creative storytelling”, and smile. Why bother. I know the truth, I don’t have to defend myself, I am a good person, I live a good life, and eventually they will find out the truth about myself and him, unfortunately. As I am sure you are too, I quit defending my character and actions, years ago. They speak way louder than words!


  42. lovedancer

    Thank you for writing this. I had exactly this experience with a “naive therapist” and a narcissist, and it caused me to stay in the relationship longer than I would have had the guise of therapy not made it seem that the relationship, despite emotional, verbal abuse and repeated betrayal of trust, was a valid one worth working on. My narcissistic ex used the therapist to further his agenda of keeping me in the relationship, and I was seduced by how great our connection seemed while in her office. The therapist in turn believed my ex’s sob stories and told us that my trust issues were partly causing my ex’s behavior. This was great news to my ex. Every time we had a major fight he would plead that we go see her. The therapist also enabled my denial and unwillingness to face my unhappiness in the relationship. It was all around a useless experience that I am still angry about.

  43. Robin

    Couples therapy was one of my many attempts to make things work over our nine years of being engaged. As soon as the counselor started expressing that perhaps my points were valid and that he was off track he quit going!

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you, Arm Chair P! Waikiki was rather populated. If I ever go back that way, I’m definitely going to check out Maui 🙂

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