Not long ago, when I started studying narcissism in depth for this blog, I came to a shocking and disturbing realization: Every single one of the men I had relationships with or fell in love with were narcissists. It’s because I was trained by my family to be Narcissistic Supply, and as a Borderline, these relationships tended to be stormy.
Having BPD means I’m not the ideal codependent doormat, and when I felt violated–even though I’d allow the abuse to continue because after all, I was trained that way–I’d still try to fight back, at least for awhile. This led to lots of drama and some truly terrible fights with narcissistic men who I could never fix, no matter how hard I tried. I sure wish I knew then what I know now.
I have always been attracted to narcissistic men and they have always been attracted to me. I’m easily taken in by their elaborate displays of romance and promises in the beginning–there’s no one more romantic than a narcissist trying to procure you as supply. It’s fun while it lasts, but as soon as they know they have conquered you, the abuse begins. One red flag to watch out for: a man who moves in too fast, or starts talking about a permanent commitment or marriage only weeks after you met them.
Here’s a list of the narcissists I was seriously involved with (or married to). Only one wasn’t a narcissist, but he was severely bi-polar. The names are made up.
Steve P: my first serious boyfriend in high school. Steve called constantly (like 8-10 times a day at first), wanted to be with me all the time, regularly sent flowers, was very passionate and loving at first. He actually would cry because he “loved me so much.” After a while he became physically and mentally abusive, insulting me, questioning me about other boys, what I was doing when he wasn’t around, calling me names, and finally becoming physically abusive. One day, with absolutely no warning, he called me and told me he was dumping me because he met someone else. I was enraged at the nerve of this but actually relieved to be rid of him finally.
Mark S: my second serious lover during my college years. Mark was very cool–knew everything there was to know about art, music, theater, and he had offbeat, interesting friends. He used to take me to the East Village in New York City where we’d attend all the punk and new wave clubs and shop in funky vintage clothing and record stores. We had a lot of fun. But he was also an intellectual snob and looked down on my “pedestrian” tastes in music, movies, etc. He looked down on my friends, whose intellectual abilities he felt were beneath him. Mark saw himself as a rogue and a cultural rebel, and after awhile his constant put downs became annoying and we’d fight. He also never wanted to have sex (he was a cerebral narcissist), thinking it was a huge waste of time that could be better spent feeding his mind with new cultural experiences. After about a year, he told me I was too boring and my tastes too commercial and pedestrian, and he dumped me for a woman who looked exactly like me but was apparently much more hip and “in the know” about what was cool and cutting edge than I was. He wound up marrying her.
David B: David was not a narcissist; he was bipolar and suffered from severe depressions and substance abuse. He drank heavily to self-medicate and was always in and out of the psychiatric ward. He regarded me as a sort of mother figure and I liked the idea of being needed so much. But his neediness and clinginess became cloying and suffocating, he was constantly drunk, so eventually I left him, not without a little guilt in doing so. But he was really driving me crazy.
Michael B: The malignant narcissist I married. He is actually a psychopath. Michael acted very much like Steven in the beginning–showering constant attention and gifts on me, moving in very fast, talking about marriage just three months after we met. Being that I was in my mid-20s, I was open to marriage and he seemed perfect. I should have seen one HUGE red flag: the expensive engagement ring he insisted I have was purchased with my own credit card, because he had already maxed all his out. He always lived way above his means. He’d take me to expensive restaurants and insist I pay (and of course, he would pay me back later, but he never did). The rest of our story can be found in the articles under “My Story” in the header. Let’s just say the man is a psychopathic monster with serious substance abuse issues and a parasitic monster at that.
Daniel S: The only lover I’ve had since the divorce. Well, okay, we were actually still married. (I’m not proud of this). But my marriage was already long over and I was desperate and miserable and not thinking straight (not that it’s an excuse to cheat). Daniel was actually a worse malignant narcissist than my ex, if that can be believed. He had that intense predatory stare, which I took to mean sexual and romantic interest, but was really his way of sizing up me as his prey. Of course I found him irresistably attractive. Unfortunately Daniel was another cerebral who had very little interest in sex. After a huge show of ardent romance and all that goes with it, he started the abuse, which included insulting me and comparing me (unfavorably) with his past lovers and what he saw as an “ideal woman.” He said he wanted babies with me but constantly criticized my parenting skills (as if he could know, since he never met my kids). He raged a lot although he never actually became physically abusive. He sulked and gave me the silent treatment when I didn’t do things his way or wanted to spend time with my family. He was stingy and although he had a lot more money than I did, he always made me pay my own way on dates. He obsessed about money. He would buy me things and constantly remind me how much those things cost him. He also would give me gifts and then ask for them back later, telling me he was only letting me “borrow” them. I am serious about this. After I ended our relationship (due to guilt at least as much as his abusive treatment), he still continued to call me constantly “as a friend.” After several of these phone calls, I finally worked up the guts to tell him to bug off and blocked his number.
I have not had one lover or husband who was a just a nice regular guy. There have been a few of these men who seemed interested in me, but I always found them boring and rejected their attentions because I didn’t feel any “chemistry” with them.
I think it’s time to change all this. I want to start dating again soon. I know what red flags to look out for now so I think I can avoid the narcs, but can I fall in love with a normal man who will treat me well?