On Feeling Sorry for the Narcissist

geranium blossomsShe couldn’t help herself, she felt sorry for him.  She knew the details of his childhood.  She knew he’d been all but abandoned when he most needed caregivers.  Each and every time she looked at him, she could see that hurt little boy who longed to be acknowledged, loved and cared for.

What kind of monster would she be if she didn’t feel sorry for him?  She could be the one to show him love … finally.  She could be the one to show him his worth.  Someone had to do that for him.  Why not her?  Once he felt safe and secure in her love for him, all would be right.  Then he would be whole, and he could give her what she needed.


He was drawn to her kind heart, the way dirt is drawn to that rubber floor mat you walk over as you enter from the garage.  He probably wasn’t even aware of the magnetic attraction he felt for her.  He didn’t realize that she was motivated by feeling sorry for him.  Here was a woman who was willing to put herself aside for him.  She would do anything to prove how much she loved him and that gave him power.  Every time she felt sorry for him, he would glow in the focus of her attentions.


The Dance

After a time, things would settle into a “normal” groove.  He appeared to feel secure – he functioned at his job, he had the confidence to let himself get closer to her.  At this point, she’d focus some of her attention on her own life – work, extended family, friends and hobbies.  He would feel her pull away.  He would start to think that he was no longer the center of her universe.  He’d become clingy and cry out, “You’re just like all the others.  You’re going to leave me, too.  I knew you were too good to be true.  What about me and my needs?”  She would immediately feel sorry for him again.  How could she be so thoughtless?  How could she dare to make anything but him a priority?  She – above all others – was the one who could teach him how to love.

And so she would pare down her outside obligations even more.  She’d stop returning calls.  When asked why she no longer connected with friends or extended family she’d say, “He’s my priority.  He’s going through a rough spell.  I feel sorry for him.  He needs me right now.  It’ll get better.”

As her focus narrowed on him, he would ease up and shine as the center of her universe.  She could feel him gaining confidence.  She was encouraged at the return of their “normal” groove.  She would give it a couple weeks and then broach the subject of getting together with her girlfriends – friends she had been neglecting since making him her priority.

One night, after an easy conversation over a dinner they’d prepared together, she said, “We’ve had such a good long stretch recently.  I feel as though we are the closest we’ve been.”  He said, “Yes, me too.  We are meant for each.  We bring out the best in each other.  We’ve gotten stronger together because you’ve made me your priority.  You’ve made it clear to everyone in your world that I am the most important thing to you.”

And so the dance continued.

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  1. This was my marriage, he was happy when my total focus was on him, I was a wonderful person. His family commented on how much better he seemed and I basked in the glow of “being the hero”. I knew what to do to make him happy but then it took more time and more effort and the rules changed without me knowing it, I didn’t know what they were anymore and I seriously thought that if I just quit my job and concentrated on the life he wanted all would be well… thank goodness that thought woke me up to what was going on. I was so focused on making everything ok for him that I was losing myself, my joy, my confidence, my identity, nothing about me, outside of my role as his wife was of interest to him. My family said “Oh he is just old school” but it went far beyond that. His rage, his constant discounting of my feelings, needs, dreams. Disrespect for anything I cared about that didn’t fit the mold. The paranoia , the blaming and occasionally the name calling… “you don’t make me feel like a man.” telling me I was just like his boss whom he told me he hated, was an idiot and a narcissist and who he wished would die. The silent treatments, all could be remedied, by me giving up anything that was not related to his needs. Talking doesn’t work, trying to work it out doesn’t work only total sacrifice of your self and that eventually probably won’t be enough. Leaving has been painful, I feel sorry for him but he has no compassion for me, he will do whatever it takes to make it look like he is the victim. He tells my family that he is concerned about my mental health because I cried the few times I met with him after I left. When he was served the divorce papers he sobbed, but I am pretty sure there weren’t any tears and then raged because I hired an attorney…now my Dad who served him (big mistake, didn’t want to “kick him when he was down” by having a stranger serve him) wonders why I needed to do things that way… why can’t I just meet and discuss the divorce like a civil adult….OMG!!! Now waiting for the other shoe to fall…will he sign and be done or try to make my life hell? I fear it will be the latter. And I still feel sorry for him…

  2. Kelli,

    I’d swear you are describing my ex! I also heard those words, “Oh, he’s conservative and old school.” I also heard from him, “You don’t make me feel like a man.” Same script, different narcissist.

    And I will tell you, too, that after 9 years, I still feel sorry for him.

    Oh I do hope it all goes well for you. Hang in there …

  3. Jesse:

    Ewww! its frightening how many similarities we see when we hear other stories. Is there some sort of school out there we don’t know about? NPDU?

    All will be well when in the end he goes away…

  4. Sounds just like my old life…unique little snowflakes, yeah right.

  5. Kelli,

    Thanks for that laugh… NPDU. I imagine enrollment is huge. ;)

  6. Kristin,

    I know …

  7. Hauntingly familiar…. Now after 5 years of torture in the courts, he is getting his. Karma, it is. I hope the same is not true for you, Kelli, but I fear….they have the same book to follow. :(

  8. The silent treatments
    will do whatever it takes to make it look like he is the victim. He tells my family that he is concerned about my mental health
    the name calling

    Wow-are they all the same? I copied and posted what I went through to a T with ex narc. Very eye-opening. They are so quick to whisk you off, marry you and trap you. Normal healthy men are not like this. I know it feels amazing to feel that FAKE love. It’s not real, never was. To anyone out there reading this…take your time with a man, no need to rush. you WILL see his dark side if you wait. Don’t get trapped into marriage like many women have. They are miserable people and want you to be miserable too. I hope education on narcs keeps coming out, to help stop lives from being ruined.

  9. Hi April,

    Thanks for writing.

    My narcissist wasn’t quick to whisk me off. I think he was playing his options? But I’m not sure. I think he liked stringing me along, and I was fool enough to go after the bait. But, I would wholeheartedly agree with you about seeing the dark side. And I agree that they can’t stand to see someone else happy.

    Thanks for being part of that narc education.

    Take good care.

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