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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Have you ever been in a close relationship with a malignant narcissist or a sociopath?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (26784points) January 28th, 2017

Most everyone knows someone who is more narcissistic than average, especially in this day and age when narcissism is not only accepted as normal but practically encouraged.
Have you ever had a close relationship with someone who is so narcissistic that it has taken over their core being? Someone without the capacity for empathy? What were they like and do you think that your experience with that person has made it easier for you to spot others like them?

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36 Answers

Pachy's avatar

I never met Donald Trump.

canidmajor's avatar

Yes, I have. A close family member with whom I now have no contact. This person is very intelligent, knows well how to present as a lovely person to those outside the family. There is no compassion or empathy for others, as they just are not important enough to warrant that.
Logic and reason are constantly twisted to conform to the personal agenda.

The things happening now in the country are familiar to me, and frighten me. I know how this kind of thing plays out in a family, and on such a large scale the results can be catastrophic.
(Cue the predictable users who will now support the actions of such a person /administration.)

SecondHandStoke's avatar

I was the malignant sociopath/narcissist.

Most sociopaths/narcissists never recover. The go to their deaths convinced other people are there for their use and or believe they are the center of the universe.

A few do snap out of it, typically their very late 30’s. I was fortunate to be one of those few. Sure enough, it was just before turning 40.

Spending the first half of my life with these mental illnesses has made me very attuned to the unspoken language of others.

I no longer use this skill to exploit. I use it only for good.


Sneki95's avatar

I don’t think so.
I do lack empathy myself, though. Not completely, but significantly.

dxs's avatar


^^That was not a serious response. The serious response is yes, but I don’t think as close of a relationship as you mean. It took me a while to realize this person was narcissistic, and felt bad after realizing I was feeding it the whole time. Complimenting them, praising them…once I figured it out I started acting differently towards the person. I felt as though they needed a different perspective, as if they didn’t deserve praise. I hope that’s not terrible of me. Yes, I’m better at figuring out when people are narcissistic now. It’s all experience.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Close as in a patient at the Psychiatric hospital; he was malignant sociopath constantly manipulating. He was brought by family to detox from drugs. He had been in Europe for two years before popping up at his parent’s house buzzed on heroin. He had been in the hospital for 9 weeks when the authorities showed up and the Admin Hall. Seems he left his girl friend with a slit throat and best friend with a head bashed-in at the flat where they all lived. The two bodies had mummified in the three months since he killed them. It didn’t phase him that they were dead.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Stunning. I got a chill. ^^^

Zaku's avatar

I’ve been in long-term relationship with someone who’s ex and ex’s new partner were borderline cases. They weren’t full-on cold/calculating monsters, but were heavily dissociated and narcissistic and did all kinds of fake, nasty, power/control/domination-oriented crazy-making abusive shaming crap that drove their family nuts while maintaining high-status jobs and “what a great person” images for others, and dumping their own shame on others righteously. They had very little genuine empathy available (at least not for their family dump targets/scapegoats), but they weren’t Hannibal Lector. In fact they were keen students and participants in psychological courses. I would say they were self-deluded by their own dissociations, believing much of their own crap and freaking out and/or getting drunk and/or deflecting/projecting when confronted by it. They had clear major shit they were not able to be with, that was having them dump onto certain family members in ways that had huge impacts all around them, but they managed to get other family members to buy that it was about the kids having their own problems, not that they were driving them crazy.

Drama city. Piles of suffering and frustration, especially for the related women and children.

However, yes, I learned a whole lot about that sort of behavior, and about related behavior patterns, and how common it is and how inadequate and broken much of our society is at dealing with those types of problems. Child rehab centers are full of kids driven to drugs and crazy behavior by screwed-up parents who can’t face that they are the ones who need healing and instead project their toxic shame onto their kids, and the psychologists running the centers tend to know it. Lawyers with no solutions but jaded resignation. Etc.

Not only do I know about it, but I developed different ways of paying attention to how people are and different ways of understanding it and of communicating with people, which are also generally useful. Partly from the direct experience and partly from the various classes and books and people we talked to, etc.

Berserker's avatar

l became dependant on a person who was wise, intelligent, charming and fun. Soon enough though, all they did was play the victim about everything and used me as a shoulder to cry on. It was always them, them, them and I seemed to only exist to this person as someone to be amazed by their exploits. (when said person was not bitching about everyone being against them)

It worked too, and although I was tired of it and could see what they were doing, I came back for more and felt so validated when they actually listened to me. Which was rare.

Not overly dangerous or psychotic, but mentally exhausting. I learned a lot about myself from this person though, although that was never directly intentional. We parted ways, after I ended up betraying them. Petty, pathetic, yes, but emotionally my heart seemed to demand that I deal pain to them. Not proud of it, still sorry to this day, and I suppose that episode of my life served as victim fodder for whichever next sucker that fell in tow with them.

There was a lot of hurt in the year I spent with this individual, as much from what they were doing to me as I did to them.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Berserker in my experience, I feel that “exhausting” is exactly the word that I would use to describe what it’s like to interact with someone like this on a consistent basis.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, I was married to one for over 20 years before I finally found the resources I needed to figure out exactly what I had been dealing with for years. I have now been divorced for the last 14 years and have watched from afar as he has, systematically, alienated his entire remaining family, siblings and our daughter to a large degree. At least my daughter knows what she is dealing with, the proverbial wolf in sheeps clothing and knows his propensity to shape shift and lie without compunction as the situation merits. He is highly successful in corporate sales and makes a shit ton of money which is not uncommon for the high functioning sociopathic narcissist.

True to character though he is a miserly bastard unless he is spending on himself and the accoutrements to showcase his success. He actually, recently paid for plane tickets for our daughter to fly out to Houston and visit, but not because he really wanted to spend time with her, because he wanted to show off his new house because his sisters and nobody else in the family wants anything to do with him these days. She is wise to his motives and is able to just keep things light and shallow, best way to deal with him.
I’m just glad I finally woke up and figured out exactly what I had been coping with for years, man, divorcing that man was the best thing I ever did. I’m lucky I didn’t end up in the psych ward due to the bullshit, lies, gaslighting and other abuses I had coped with for so long.

canidmajor's avatar

@Berserker: Yes, along with @ANef_is_Enuf, I have also experienced the exhaustive effects. One is never able to completely relax. It’s been a year and a half since I estranged myself from that family ,ember, and it’s still hard for me to relax completely.

filmfann's avatar

I had a close friend who was a misogynistic, narcissistic sociopath. After years of abuse, I tossed him out of my life.
He was a terrible friend, but a lot of fun to be with.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Other than myself?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

In grade school a teenage bully would catch me and hold me down and strike my head with a small stone until I named ten chocolate bars. I’m almost sure he counts as a socialpath . How I dealt with him is that I had a huge growth spirt and fought him off. The last time we fought I broke his kneecap in a power box. He left me alone after that. Did break into my townhouse and steal a vcr. Pretty sure it was him seeing I hid under the covers when he went into my room.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I kinda sorta dated a guy when I was 15 or so. Didn’t last long. He was good looking, but a little off.
Out of curiosity a few years ago I googled him. OMG. He’s in prison for beheading his girlfriend.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Dutchess_III You doged a bullet there. Wow . Just wow

Blondesjon's avatar

Only when I’m jonesin’.

Dutchess_III's avatar

This is him. I’d like to think that if I’d been older I would have seen the warning signs. As it was, it just didn’t get that far.

Brian1946's avatar


It’s atrocious that he only got 10 years.

What warning signs do you think you would you have seen?

Mimishu1995's avatar

Most of my “friends” until recently were narcissists and sociopaths to some degree. It had something to do with the fact that I had no self-esteem at all and was completely dependent and had a strong fear of losing friends. It was tiring, but the thing that kept me in those toxic relationship was the fear of being left out. I was that desperate.

But none of them was as toxic as two particular people. One was a narcissist and the other was a sociopath.

The narcissist was a friend at high school. I had basically no friend at high school and one day she offered to sit next to me. She immediately tried to befriend me, asking very personal questions to “get closer to me”. She even claimed that she knew why I was rejected: it was because there was something wrong with me and she could help me become a popular girl. Though I tried my best to deny it, I felt as if there was something very wrong with her. One moment she was really sweet and the next she was a real fireball. I had a hard time keeping up with her mood swing and I dared not to play along with her joke lest she got triggered. She always knew how to talk back to everything I pointed out, there were always “good” reasons for her to do something and in the end I was always at fault. I was finally free of her when I went to college.

The sociopath was less obvious but more toxic. I met her in middle school. I had no friend, again, and we just became friends because we sat next to each other. We usually hung out together, and she was extremely friendly and cunning. She could react with anything very quickly and she always cracked some very brilliant joke. But there was something not feeling right about her: each time we hung out, she was rarely the one to pay for anything. She justified it with the fact that her family was always living on edge (which was somewhat true). I continued to feed on her demand because I was too dependent and sympathetic of her family. As time passed, her greed took on a new level: she started asking to borrow money for various need, most of which sounded reasonable (paying for her school, helping her family…). I believed in everything she said and gave her money. Of course she never paid me back, keeping on putting promises. Again I didn’t complain because I was a fool and because she was too convincing. I finally got some sense into me in college and started to see through her. I found out that her family was pretty poor, but not as poor as she claimed them to be. The money I lent her was probably used for anything but the reasons she told me. The last time I saw her, she was desperately as selfie addict. She insisted that we take selfie everywhere we went to. She was like a spoilt kid who couldn’t get past purbety. I just stopped seeing her and let our friendship fade. My best guess is that she was extremely insecure about her poor family and was using me to create a fake image of a glamorous life for other people, or just to live in her delusion that she was financially secure.

Both the narcissist and sociopath were draining and dangerous, but one thing that set them apart from each other was that the narcissist was less cunning than the sociopath. You could spot the narcissist immediately when you meet them, but the sociopath slowly draws you into them, constantly feeding you with lies and fake love, until you realize you have been rob of something and it was too late to do anything.

Rarebear's avatar

Yes. I had a girlfriend who was a sociopath. She once tried to throw herself out of a moving car when she was mad at me for something or other. Never met anybody more passive aggressive and vindictive.

She’s a psychiatrist now.

Coloma's avatar

@Rarebear Haha The Cobblers children have no shoes.

LornaLove's avatar

Sadly my son is a narcissistic personality with antisocial features. I realized after 32 long years that he doesn’t love me, he sees me as a commodity. Something or someone he can grab energy from, money, etc., Then hate me for it. It’s horrible. I would never choose to be in a relationship with one, but it was harder since he was my son. I still love him with all my heart but unfortunately, I cannot have contact with him. It makes me too ill.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Not really. I have a low tolerance for most people as it is. Much lower for self-absorbed people.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Lookest thou in thine mirror, and knowest thine own soul.

Berserker's avatar

Aye, look in the abyss and alla that.

Seek's avatar

You all know about my mother…

janbb's avatar

Two family members – one of whom is dead now and the other of whom I just had to set strong boundaries with again. It is wearing and almost wrecked me in childhood.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I was married to one. The danger is that once you love this type of person, it can make it difficult to recognise their gaslighting behaviour. You question your own perception. “Surely he wouldn’t have deliberately destroyed my artwork?”. “Surely he wouldn’t have just wrecked my new dress on purpose”. “Surely he wouldn’t have stolen that piece of jewellery”. It’s not until you are out of the situation and can look back from outside at how often those things happen that you realise it just cannot have been a coincidence. It must have been purposeful. And after being in such a relationship, you look back and realise you are no longer yourself. That you’ve modified your own behaviour to avoid triggering a negative response. Your confidence and joy has been eroded.

And yes, I think you do become more able to spot such behaviour. I wouldn’t like to become so complacent as to believe I couldn’t fall into the same trap again. I hope I’m more aware now.

Coloma's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit So true! I was on cloud nine for YEARS after leaving my ex and regaining myself. The high lasted. literally, about 5 years! What you say is so true, if I had a dollar for every time I said to myself ” he wouldn’t do that” I’d have about 50 million in the bank. haha

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Yep @Coloma. I watched a film last night about a man with this sort of personality. It took me back in time and I found myself thinking about all the things that happened that my rational mind dismissed as just an accident and the like. There were just too many incidents though. I won’t name the film as it’s fairly recent and it would ruin it for those who might watch it.

And I used to describe leaving that relationship as being like pulling the plug out of the bath and the dirty bathwater flowing away. Or like a fog clearing. It’s an amazing feeling.

canidmajor's avatar

When the movie Tangled comes on I literally feel ill, I can’t change the channel fast enough. Every trigger.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think that most people tend to err on looking for the good in other people, especially the people they love. It’s sort of a shock to the system when you find the one who doesn’t have that. You see it because you’re looking for it, but once you stop looking for it, you realize it was never there.

LornaLove's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf So profoundly true.

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