Not sure if he’s a narc or something else

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  • #273849

      I’ve read a lot over the last year on narcissism and covert vs. overt. I’ve read about Cassandra Phenomenon and got stuck down the trail of thinking my husband was dealing with autism. I’ve looked up all the terms that go with that like Ongoing Traumatic Stress Disorder or Avoidant Dismissive. At this point I don’t know what the hell his problem is. We’ve been in counseling for over two years. He dropped out when the quarantine hit and I was meeting the therapist by myself. He encouraged me to move out of our bedroom and try to emotionally disconnect.

      While I’m not sure it’s narcissism or something else, I do notice the patterns of idealize, devalue, but not discard. Maybe the discard phase never comes because I pretty much always cave and take him back. He hasn’t cheated on me in the 22 years we’ve been together. I’ve never caught him doing anything malicious. But — I’ve caught him looking at porn on several occasions. He always feels bad after being caught and vows to never do it again. I honestly have no idea if he still looks at it. I don’t care. I think it’s a violation of my trust, but I don’t care because I’m sick of caring.

      Here’s the most recent example — On mother’s day he completely didn’t care about the day at all. Didn’t take the kids to get me a gift. Slept in and made me take care of the dogs. I left the house because I was super pissed off and he called me to complain he had to take my daughter to work. Didn’t even mention anything about mother’s day. So then when I came home, I told him it was BS that he just slept in on mother’s day and had me care for the dogs. It would’ve been nice to just get some extra rest at least. He went into a tatrum about how he does all these things and all I remember is the bad stuff. He basically throws a fit and punishes me for feeling upset. So I just got quiet and left the room. There’s no point in trying to prove myself.

      I then texted him the following day and requested one of us move out of the bedroom. I told him I was tired of sharing a room with someone who had no real regard for me. And if he wanted to be roommates, he can get his wish. I’m over it. Well then starts up the love bombing and the “I care about you” and all of that. I told him I needed space, but he continued the love bombing stuff. Then I ordered a bed. He then told me he couldn’t handle the emotional toll it would take on him if I moved out of the bedroom. Really? You can’t handle the emotional toll? Ugh. Every other day of the year, he sleeps on the couch until 3am. He stays up watching movies and doing God knows what. But when I choose to move out of the room then suddenly I’m causing him emotional issues. Give me a break. His solution was that he wanted to move out. I told him it’s his choice. He ended up back tracking and the love bombing crap increased.

      Anyway, he kept pushing boundaries and I finally caved. Once again I fell for his pleas and his sexual advances. I mean, yeah–it’s stupid. But I’m deprived on so many levels. I just pretend that I’m loved for 20 minutes and it’s better than having him give me the silent treatment and ignore me. So now today he’s continuing on. We are getting along. I’m waiting for the shoe to fall though. It won’t last and I know it. The main reason I cave is because I know for a few weeks, he’ll be pleasant. Then he’s back to being a dick until I threaten to leave again. So I guess in some ways I play the game too.

      The biggest issue for me is losing everything. I’ve been a SAHM for years. I am in school right now. I can’t afford to leave unless I take him to court and get half of everything or more. But that all takes money. I won’t make more money. I’ll just lose more money. I’m looking for a job, but right now the economy sucks. I feel stuck. And everytime I even think of moving out of the room or leaving, I get such bad anxiety. It feels like I might die. I know this might be trauma bonding. I don’t know what it is — but it feels like I am literally going to die. I will just sit and sob and think about all the things I’ll lose: my dogs, my house, my life. I can’t breath. It’s like a PTSD response. But staying with him seems futile.

      In a nutshell, my husband ignores me, neglects me, avoids me, and the only time he doesn’t is when I threaten to leave. Then he is suddenly father and husband of the year for a few weeks. Then it’s back to being a douche bag. My kids are adults and teens so I think they could handle the divorce if I got one. I just don’t think I’d be financially stable to support them. And if my husband sees that I’m basically done and I stop caving, I know he’s going to move out. I know he’ll be a bigger jerk than normal too. He’ll probably make it hard for me.

      He doesn’t fit the bill of what I read online about narcs. Most of it is really hidden and subtle. Maybe he is autistic or maybe he’s a narc. I don’t know. It’s all so confusing. I just want to start over and be done with this wasted relationship.

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    • #273853
      Alex Delon

        Hey ellebuck,

        I want to say that I am so sorry for what you are going through. Some of your story is SO similar to mine and brings back so many memories. Many of the aspects of narcissism lined up with my ex, but some of them did not. I also never hit the discard phase. He never would have discarded me. I truly believe that the reason for this is because it would have made him look like a failure to lose the marriage. He was completely in love with the idea of being a perfect husband and father. So for him to be the one to discard was not an option for him.

        The emotional abuse and psychological abuse though was completely unbearable and did horrible damage to all of us. It was extremely hidden and subtle, but very real. Whether he actually is or is not a narcissist just didn’t matter. What mattered was how he treated us. We just couldn’t take it anymore.

        You are NOT stupid for giving in. It is part of your need for survival. It is impossible to live in the state of tension and stress that these relationship cause. You give in simply to have some peace for a while. I get it. I did it too, for years. I’m glad that you realize that things will get bad again. That is much better than holding on to the hope that now he has changed.

        Have you talked with an attorney? I also thought I could never afford to leave. I expected huge resistance from my husband. However, his desire to always look like the perfect husband and father actually helped. We split everything 50/50, and he gives me alimony. We both cooperated through the divorce process, which went much more peacefully than I ever expected. He cared more about his image than the pocketbook. I also didn’t push too hard and learned when to back down, which made him feel more in charge. I didn’t care how he felt. I just wanted out and to be able to make it financially.

        Most attorneys will meet with you once for a free consultation. You can use this time to get a lot of answers and guidance without spending money, as well as choosing an attorney if you end up needing one. I think it is a great way to get some direction.

        I wish you much peace on this journey of healing!


          Funny you sent this today. I’ve moved to a new room, talked to two attorneys, and also a legal representative who talked about budgets. I feel better about the financial piece. I have a job lined up—not the best in the universe but it’s a job with future benefits. My husband has written me a reconciliation letter but I wrote back that I no longer feel our marriage can be reconciled. I’m hoping he amicably faces our end. We have one child that’s 14 and 2 adults but one is on the autism spectrum. I’m really sad today but I also know it’s just too broken. And it’s too late to try to fix it. So I’m grieving all the energy I expended and the life I wanted.

          Alex Delon

            Good for you for taking the next steps! I hope that this process is as peaceful as it can be for you.

            Let yourself grieve! There is a lot of sadness to absorb in these situations. I am a year and a half out of a 21 year marriage and still feel that. Healing takes a lot of time, especially when children are involved.

            I hope you have a good support team around you and that your kids do too. You will need it!


              Reading this post made me feel like I was reading about my own husband exactly. Covert narcissism is a horrible curse on a marriage. My therapist said in order to stay married to someone like my husband you almost have to become so small, so identity-less. That terrifies me.
              Good luck to you. These posts give me strength!


                Identity theft, of a sort.
                Losing your identity to them.
                Feeling like you are not even yourself when you are with them.
                Feeling like you are whoever and whatever they labeled you to be.
                That is indeed exactly what it’s like.
                And that’s why it makes you feel crazy.
                And the person doesn’t even have to be an actual narcissist. It’s their stupid *behavior* that’s the problem.
                That, and the way it makes you feel.
                (Thank you to Renee for noticing that and for recognizing that. ☺️)
                Grieving for the past few days for someone I once knew.
                She was my childhood best friend, or I thought she was.
                She was a good girl back then, most of the time.
                At some point in her life or at several points in her life, something happened to change her or possibly several things, and she now does a weird kind of “looking out for number one” that is not what I think any *good* therapist would really recommend.
                I think she has possibly maybe been abused and hurt too much and destroyed too much, but the way she takes it out on other people is not okay.
                Anong other things, she pushes people away from her when she is not ready to deal with them, and then tries to *make* them come back into her life, whether they like it or not, later on.
                She will then push them away again when she finds out that (because of her behavior) they do not believe that she is a normal healthy person whose only problem is somebody else and *that* person’s problem.
                She *does not want* other people to *genuinely* know, understand, trust and believe in her.
                She wants them to believe in *her version* of her and nothing else will do.
                Her version of herself seems to be somehow getting all mixed up with things like victim mentality and complaining about everything wrong with her and trying to make herself seem healthy, all at the same time.
                I can tell that *in some ways* she is probably trying to improve.
                But in other ways, she really is not.
                Have grieved for her as if she were dead, and worried about her because she is living and not necessarily in a good situation, at the same time, multiple times now.
                Tired of it.
                Wanting to move on somehow from this but as you say, these things do take time.
                Feels different on different days too.
                Not always sure what’s really going on with her but just sure that I really don’t want to be a part of it any more.
                Only contact with her is long distance and that only very occasionally.
                Total no contact forever does not really feel right either.
                (At least, not to me anyway. Don’t really know for sure about her.)
                It’s just a strange situation.
                And hard for most people to ever really understand.
                That’s why I try to find a few people who will know what I’m talking about.

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