Only If You Dare

Invite the narcissist in your life to go to the movie you’ve been waiting all summer to see, but only if you dare. If it isn’t his idea, he won’t like the movie, and he won’t spare your feelings by pretending to like the movie. He’ll exit the theater, after sleeping through most of the film, and say something like, “Yeah, this was one of those movies.”  Those movies aren’t on his list – his master list of all things approved by him.


Tell the narcissist in your life that you’ve grown two inches this summer and that you are running out of jeans, but only if you dare.  He may agree to take you shopping, but not to the places you like.  He won’t mince words when telling you which jeans he likes, and which jeans he hates.  He never likes the jeans you like.  He will look at your little sister and say,”Where’d you get that top?”  When your sister tells him the name of the shop, he’ll shrug his shoulders as if to say, “No wonder.”

You will come home with new jeans that you don’t want.


If the narcissist invites you to spend the day with him doing those activities that he enjoys, you can tell him that you aren’t interested in the same kinds of activities that he’s interested in, but only if you dare.  If you tell him you want to stay home and practice cartwheels, he’ll say he’d rather go rafting, because cartwheels are for little kids.  If you tell him you’d like to go fishing, he’ll tell you where to fish and how to fish, but that’s not what he wants to do today.


If by some rare alignment of the stars, the narcissist agrees to do what you want to do, be prepared for him to pick apart the things you love about your favorite activities.  You’ll be told that your pursuits aren’t athletic enough, or important enough, or relevant to him.  You’ll be told that others are more creative.  You’ll hear him talk of real talent and real athletes.


If the narcissist asks you what you are reading, he’ll cut you off before you finish telling him the title, so that he can tell you – at great length – about what he’s currently reading.  When you attempt to comment on the book he’s reading, he’ll change the subject.


It is wiser to keep the things you love a secret from the narcissist – that way you can protect your precious passions.  If you show the narcissist the sword and dagger you made of wood, he’ll tell you how he could have made a more artistic sword or more authentic dagger.  If you tell him how far you drive the ball he’ll say, “I never cared much for golf.”


Narcissists make fun of you for loving what you love.


Narcissists diminish your passions, in an effort to diminish you.


Tell the narcissist of the things you love, but only if you dare.

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  1. It never really gets any easier, does it? At least when kids are involved.

  2. Meg,

    It has gotten easier for us. My kids are older. We are seven years out. We know what to expect. We know the pattern.

    However, the narcissist NEVER changes.

  3. It’s so bizaar. How can they ignore their stupidity? How can they go on being like that? I know they don’t get it. I know they can’t see past themselves and it makes me sad for the kids… And the moms and dads who have to ‘fix’ it all when they get home. Someday I will make millions on the magic pill to cure narcissism. :)

  4. Z,

    That pill would cure many social ills as well as narcissism.

    The narcissist firmly believes in his/her perspective. When we don’t see things their way, then there is something wrong with us.

    Hey! Maybe that’s easier – outfitting all the survivors with glasses that make them see the world the way the narcissist sees the world.

    (Sorry if I sound deflated. It’s been that kind of week.)

  5. Jesse, it seems like your blog provides that pill, or the glasses, in the stories you tell. You remind others of the N’s viewpoint – that it’s so contrary to the way the rest of us see things. I can’t imagine understanding their viewpoint makes it easier to live with them, but training ourselves and our children to understand their selfish view of the world helps us take their abuse less personally. After the past seven years of your wise advice and loving comfort, I wonder if Will and Jen would agree with me. I believe what you continue to teach them allows them to process the odd relationship they have with their father and come to grips with it with a healthy, intact self-image. Adult children of Ns who have not had that experience often struggle with their attitude toward the relationship their whole lives. What a gift you’re giving them.

  6. Pat,

    Thanks for this.

    My goal is to help Will and Jen navigate this minefield and hopefully maintain a strong/healthy sense of self. I didn’t realize that by helping them, I’d be doing my own healing as well.

    My mission is to share our experiences in the hope that others are helped, too.

    A good friend recently told me, “I see your mission. You’ve got the training and the experience. YOU CAN BE DONE WITH THE TRAINING NOW!!”

    She’s right!

    *quietly passing pills and glasses (with Z’s help, and the help of all the good souls on this blog) to friends and strangers!*

  7. I am so grateful to have found this site and you, Jesse. You gave me the validation, encouragement, and space I needed to get through the hardest times. And I cannot be more appreciative for the insight to the bright future that lies ahead. Letting go of the hurt, especially when there is frequent re-injury, is sometimes the most difficult thing to do, but when you get there… Sweet self-acceptance awaits.

  8. Z,

    Dear friend, I am SO glad you found this site, too. You have helped many (including myself) with your contributions here.

    I don’t know how folks navigate this narcissism stuff without friends/family or a support system.

    Thanks for always checking in and offering your wise words.

  9. My mom was an N. At least that’s what my therapist said after ONE conversation with her.

    But nothing has described my life as perfectly as this post.

    After all of the put downs, especially of things that were important and precious to me, I made a ‘F%$# You’ decision at the age of 16…except I used the full word.

    And I never shared another personal thing with her again.

  10. Donna,

    You are strong.

    Just yesterday, driving down a gravelly mountain road in the rain, Jenny said, “When do I really decide that there’s NO CHANCE of him ever seeing me or caring about what I care about?”

    I’ll tell her that 16 was the magic age for you. Maybe 11 will be the age for her?

  11. She is a lot smarter, stronger and wiser than I was. Plus she has you and her brother in her corner .

    There are still parts in me that need repair, so my wish for your love-bug is she be really DONE and really HEALED when she decides that.

    Love to you all.

  12. Donna,

    Thanks for this.

    I keep the door open to visits with their father because I don’t want to be the one to close it. I will not make that choice for her, even tho she’s asked me to.

    You put it into words for me – SHE needs to decide when SHE is done, and I hope that happens when she is healed.

    Thank you, again.

  13. I have been devouring your blog, starting with the first post. I am printing out this post and putting it up in the kitchen. I’ve learned the hard way to keep my passions to myself so they don’t get ruined for me.

  14. Hi Dorothy!

    Welcome, and thanks for reading on the blog!

    In my experience, narcissists belittle everything we love, unless we love what they love. After awhile, in order to keep the peace, I found I’d forgotten what it was that I loved. Not any more!!

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