Oh, for the love of Christ. Fooled by another f*cking covert narcissist?

Crocodile Tears

This time it’s a damned covert narc.  At least I think that’s what I’m dealing with.  Do I sound mad and upset?  You bet I am.   I hope I’m wrong but I know the red flags when I seee them.  I’ve had enough experience with them.

Hell, about two years ago (as some of you probably remember) I spent many weeks and maybe even months reading and studying everything I could find about all the symptoms and signs of covert NPD because I was so certain I must be one myself.   I probably qualify for an advanced degree in this disorder.  (Happily, I finally realized I am not one, but CPTSD, an earlier diagnosis of BPD, and my narcissistic “fleas” had me fooled.)

You may be aware I live with my daughter, who is 25.   She’s a good girl, hardworking, sweet, empathetic, intelligent, and beautiful (and I don’t just say that because I’m her mom).   Sure, she has her bad, even bitchy, moments, but don’t we all.   She’s overcome a lot due to her father’s abuse, my complicity and enabling, and sexual abuse she suffered at school.  There was a time back during her teens both her therapists and I were afraid she was developing a personality disorder, probably ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) because she had a diagnosis of ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) as a teen.  She could not function in a regular school setting because she was in trouble constantly and suspended several times for things like stealing and fighting.

Finally, she went into residential treatment and was helped immensely (she was very cooperative with the very strict program) and today is a much different young woman. She has a ton of empathy I never knew was there.    I am beyond grateful for that, and today I can say we are the best of friends.   She is also clean and doesn’t do drugs anymore so I am incredibly grateful for that too.

But there’s a downside too.  Over the past several years, she’s been engaging in a dead end lifestyle I can only call serial monogamy.   She gets serious about one guy, they seem serious about her (for a time), and they even start talking about marriage, but things never progress any further.   There’s always something wrong with the guy: he’s too controlling, becomes abusive, or starts to see other people on the side, or she gets tired of them herself.   At least one who seemed too good to be true turned out to be a dangerous psychopath.

All of these relationships end, and then she quickly moves onto the next man (she’s attractive and personable so it’s easy for her to find new lovers).   I’ve talked to her about furthering her education, deciding on a career (she works in a series of dead end service jobs none of which last very long),  and focusing on just herself, but she’s just like I was at that age: she seems to lack the motivation gene or any idea what she wants to do in life (besides find a man she can marry and will support her).  She seems incapable of tolerating being single.   That’s how I was at her age and I will always regret never developing myself to my full potential and not being more serious about finishing a higher education and finding something I’m passionate enough to turn into a career.  She is certainly intelligent enough, but she’s emotionally damaged.  Getting her to go to therapy is futile.  She simply won’t do it.  But that’s a whole other issue I won’t get into here.

It’s painful watching her take the same non-path I took –a road to an adulthood of constant near poverty, frustration, lack of intellectual and creative fulfillment, relentless financial insecurity, and now, for me — a terrible dread of old age without any real safety net.  I may be living on the streets if Medicare and Social Security are abolished, and that is terrifying.  I don’t have a life partner to provide emotional support, since I never knew how to pick one who didn’t turn out to be an abuser.  I  feel like I’m way too old (and still too afraid) to enter the dating scene again (I hate dating with a passion).  I’d rather just stay single and see how things play out.

Getting back to my daughter, her latest paramour is a man 14 years her senior (he is almost 40).  He gives the impression of a very sweet, kind, and sensitive person.  In fact, he appears to be a very emotional person who shed tears easily and is constantly apologizing.   That should have been a red flag.

At first I thought, “oh, how sweet, a sensitive man not afraid of his emotions,” but I actually think he uses tears and emotion to manipulate others to get his way or to get attention.   Using pity is a red flag of a covert narcissist, especially one of the “fragile” or “vulnerable” type.   They’re common (especially in women but can be found among men too).  They’re dangerous because they’re so hard to spot.  We expect narcs to be mean, arrogant, verbally abusive, and never apologize for anything.  But not all of them are like that, even though on th inside, they are all pretty much the same and just as self obsessed and entitled.   No matter whether their style is grandiose or self pitying, there’s always a yawning black hole where their heart ought to be.


The reason I came to the conclusion he’s probably a covert narcissist and not just a big softie with a huge heart is the way he appears to string both of us along, causing immense anger and frustration.

He has been promising to get her an engagement ring and propose.  He was supposed to do it on our vacation last week.  We had agreed ahead of time that he would give me  half the money for the hotel, plus half of all expenses (meals, etc.).    The tab came to over $400.   Originally he was supposed to have the cash for me when we got to the hotel and I would pay the whole tab on my credit card.   Well, it turned out his employer made a mistake on his check and he didn’t get paid.  How convenient.

His employer promised they would rectify this on Friday, the day we returned from our trip.    I believed him, sort of.  At least I wanted to believe him.   But there had been one or two other red flags previous to this, that I didn’t think much of at the time, but I suddenly remembered them and began to wonder if he was trying to find a way to get out of paying me, or if he was getting cold feet about the engagement, since without the money, he couldn’t put the final payment down on my daughter’s ring.

I wanted to have a good time, and forget about all this unpleasant business, and so we did.   It seemed worth it, since we all had a great time and he was nothing less than wonderful to both my daughter and me.  Not another sign of narcissism or abusiveness, covert or otherwise.

But after we got home, he called his employer and found out they “forgot” again.  He was promised they would write up a check from petty cash the next day, which was Saturday.  Something felt wrong.

On Saturday he had a sudden “episode” of fainting and an ambulance had to be called.   My daughter went with him to the hospital, which said he would be okay.  It had something to do with heat stroke from too much sun, plus another chronic medical issue he’s been struggling with.   It wasn’t that I wasn’t empathetic or thought he was faking, but the timing of this “emergency” was just really weird.  Of course he could not go get his check, so now it would have to wait until Sunday.    Even my daughter mentioned to me that she was afraid he might be faking so he could put off getting the money.   I have to admit I thought this was a possibility.

I was growing very angry over his failure to pay me back the $400 he had promised me almost a week earlier.    We had never agreed that the vacation would be a gift.  I also considered that this might be his way of getting “cold feet” since his inability to get the money meant he could not finish paying off her ring and therefore there would be no proposal right now, if ever.  What a cowardly way to call off or delay an engagement, if that was what he was actually doing.

Of course, when he got back from the hospital, he was all apologies and tears.   He was hugging both of us and saying “sorry” over and over again.  I felt a little nauseated by this over the top display of emotion because I felt it wasn’t really sincere and was just a way to keep stringing us both along and buying more time.

So last night, he was all happy and excited and told both of us his company had finally issued a check (it was handwritten).  He waved it proudly at both of us.   He wanted me to take today off from work to film him proposing to her (this was supposed to have happened at the beach, but oh well).  I agreed to do this because it seemed important and I didn’t want to miss it.  I had also promised them I’d film the moment.    He said he would cash it first thing in the morning and then he would go get her ring and then we’d all go out somewhere special where he would propose.

Well, guess what.    This morning when I woke up he was gone.  My daughter was in her room mad as hell (not crying, just furious).   I asked her what happened, and she said the check was postdated for next week!   I asked her if he had failed to look at the date and she said, no, he definitely had seen it but chose not to mention it because he was afraid she’d be mad at him and he “couldn’t bear to hurt her again.”    She said she was sick of his lying and game playing so she made him leave until he could get everything fixed and get the money for both her ring and the $400 he owed me.   She said if he failed to do that, she was done with him.   That’s a good decision on her part.   Meanwhile I’ll still be out $400 which he bilked from me to get a free beach vacation, but I guess things could be worse.   He promised her he had a way to get the money today.  We shall see.   I’m skeptical.

Anyway, I’m glad my daughter is beginning to catch on to when she’s being manipulated and abused, because this is abuse, even though this man hasn’t uttered one nasty word, called her any names, or physically abused her.

Abuse comes in many forms.  Covert narcissists (and many borderlines) often use tears, guilt tripping, begging, financial abuse, “stringing you along,” and other underhanded, insidious techniques to get what they want.  Because they are less obviously abusive and can seem so “nice” and even emotionally fragile and needy, they can instill guilt and pity to get their way.  Their marks are empaths who fall for that sort of shit.    If they never deliver on their promises, you can be pretty sure you’re dealing with a person who is never going to be honest with you and will make your life an endless carousel  of frustration and anger that’s difficult to target on that person because they “never mean it.”

So, at this moment, I’m (maybe foolishly?) waiting for him to come back with the money he owes and make good on the promises he’s so far broken.    But I’m not getting my hopes up, that’s for sure.

14 thoughts on “Oh, for the love of Christ. Fooled by another f*cking covert narcissist?

  1. Lucky! How could you fall for that classic Narc game? But you, yourself, knew he was suspicious. Why were you so eager to help them tie the knot? I would think you would have been more fearful of her ending up in a bad marriage like the one you went through. So what’s the latest? Is he still hanging on?
    As for your daughter, I was like her at that age. Like her, I got out of an institution in my late teens and lived with no goals and lots of short-term relationships too. My big squeeze was a psychopath who was into really rough stuff. He was 38 to my 17. But I was smart enough to know he was someone to enjoy but not to depend on. And I was broke so he couldn’t exploit me financially. I can just see my parents if he tried to get money from them. Anyway, the reason I mentioned this was to point out that I have had a partner now for over 20 years. Your daughter is probably better waiting for the right one. So I suggest you not worry too much. And thanks for sharing. I hadn’t known about this.

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    • Thank you very much for your understanding reply. I had no idea you had gone through something similar at her age. I guess it’s fairly common and we want to all believe the best of people. We all want to believe that what you see is what you get, and that everyone is honest and on the level, not out to deceive and take advantage of our good will and willingness to trust.

      And, this may be off topic and I know you don’t like to hear this, but it’s understanding and sincere replies like the one you just wrote that make me believe you can’t possibly be a psychopath — or that you might have been misdiagnosed. Maybe I am wrong or maybe you have adopted “psychopath” as part of your identity (I wasn’t ready to shed “BPD” for a long time either), but I just don’t see it in you. Not after four years of talking to you online and I still don’t see it. But never mind that, I appreciate your advice and your understanding. Plus you have an awesome blog unlike any I ever saw before.

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      • WOW! Such nice things about my blog. About what you said about my psychopathy, this latest post goes right to that point. Identity. I compared my identity as a psychopath with a transgender person, Jazz’s, identity as a woman. Not that I think mine is imaginary as her’s is. (I don’t believe people can really change their sex.) But I found it interesting to watch her videos in which she explained the history of her life in terms of validating her present-day identity. I, too, explain my past in a way that validates my own identity. I guess everyone does.

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        • I think there’s definitely a good analogy to look into here. The way we identify ourselves (whether transgender, psychopath, borderline, bisexual, CIS gender, whatever) shapes our entire lives. No wonder people hang onto these identities for dear life, even when they no longer really fit. I know from experience they’re hard to let go of. Thanks for bringing that up, it sheds some light on things.

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  2. Yes, thanks for sharing. These types of narcissists are much harder spot and they can be so likeable (i.e. The Talented Mr. Ripley) we find ourselves rooting for them, hoping they will be the person we want them to be. I pray for this to work out for your daughter, meaning that he will not show his face again if he is indeed the Ripley we fear he could be, or, if he is not (though I must admit it seems doubtful at this point) he will make your daughter happy and support her unconditionally.

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    • Good analogy (even though I never saw The Talented Mr. Ripley). I need to see it now. I’m (and she is) willing to give him another chance (people do make mistake and shit happens, after all). Maybe that’s foolish, but at least this time we can be prepared for the worst should it happen again. Expect the worst, hope for the best is sage advice.

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  3. Let me see, there’s this check that’s already a week (or, is it two?) late and it is post dated for another week? If he’s not pulling a scam, then his employer is a serious flake (or, has a bad cash flow problem). I think you’ve made the right assessment.

    Thinking about identity and people framing their whole life history in terms of current identity, I was just reminded of the process described in “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism” by Robert Jay Lifton, about so-called “brainwashing” in 1950s China. A key piece was having the subjects write and rewrite an autobiography to explain their (counter revolutionary) past in correct terms of the official ideology, thus cementing a new (properly revolutionary) identity.

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  4. I am glad you have caught him before it’s too late.I read as long as we have low self esteem we keep attracting bad guys.I hope your daughter finds a wonderful guy who will love her.

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  5. Sounds familiar! The ex-friend knew how to play on emotion and pity. I never had a clue he was a narcissist until a year or two later, when I read an article by Sam Vaknin and the lightbulbs went off. And yeah, we lost some money over the years.

    Heck, it’s not just him. My ex–He did the same kind of thing, playing on my emotions one day, apologizing and tears, after confessing to the games he’d been playing, then the next he’s abusive. Sounds like he’s been doing the same to his fiancee. Well, not his fiancee anymore, thanks to some issues with bipolar, but he still has her convinced that the abuse is “not him.” Yet a friend with a psych degree tells me that it is indeed “him.” It’s a bit sickening to read comments from her and friends on how sweet and gentle and loving he is.

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