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Dr. Steve
Dr. Steve, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  19 years conducting therapy; book author; newspaper columnist; former co-host of radio show
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My husband (diagnosed with NPD) abandoned me 4 mo ago, & has

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My husband (diagnosed with NPD) abandoned me 4 mo ago, & has little/no contact for almost 3 weeks, began texting me last week for non-urgent business matters, to let me know his son had a new baby (son does not speak to me) & to wish me a Happy Mother's day. He also stopped to ask if I had a specific piece of mail for him (he could have called the co.). He has contacted another member of my family, & has been spending virtually everyday helping my college age son with a project-all of this is very out of the ordinary from the past few weeks/months. Is he possibly trying to "work" his way back home, or realize his mistakes? Unfortunately (or fortunately), 2 days ago I hired my attorney for a divorce & he was notified yesterday. Today he planned to spend the day with my son working on their project. He notified my son that he is unable to make it. I think he is hurting & want to let him I'm sorry, that I still want to work things out but it is up to him. Is this a bad idea? Thanks



The short answer to your question is yes... for now, it is a bad idea. And look, I am all for second chances - heck, if I did not believe that people can change, I would not be doing this for a living. BUT, I am assuming that there have been some extremely bad times in the past - culminating with his abandoning you not too very long ago. You are still reeling from that blow; and when you combine your emotional vulnerability right now with his capacity to manipulate (if he truly is NPD, he is a master manipulator) you have a scenario whereby you are too close to the matter to get an accurate "read."


I like that you are using this forum, but I urge you to get (AND USE) the feedback from those close to you (friends, family). They will be more inclined to see reality for what it is because they have not been married to the master manipulator. My advice for the short term will be to go ahead with everything as planned. If you decide to back off with the divorce, at the very least maintain the boundary with a legal separation. Only when he is placed under stress by you OR is frustrated will you know if he has changed. An NPD does not have a tremendous ability to tolerate frustration or boundaries... so he should show his spots when that happens.


But protect yourself for now. Take a breath and reconsider once the dust has had more time to settle. If you are satisfied with the response, please hit "Accept." That is the only way I can receive credit for my answer. Thanks-

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I hope this goes thru - Thanks for the information & advice. I will take it & not contact him. I have been setting the boundary that he left-his return was up to him. He has to convince me that I want him back, rather than me beg him to come back as he has indicated that he expects. His behavior, before he left was bad, but I am only finding out alot of the stuff (actually stealing) after he left. Since he left his behavior seems to have escalated or become more out of control or volatile. Does this indicate he might be facing some sort of personal crisis or getting close to wanting help? My family/ friends/virtually everyone I know says to get away from him. I am trying to take their advice & have made every effort to avoid as much contact with him as possible-even to the point if he is working with my son on weekends, I will leave the house to avoid either feeding his ego/or letting myself get hurt. He does NOT know the tears I cry, because when we do have interraction I am always upbeat/strong & confident, but I have also told him I would still be willing to work (or consider) things out if he wanted to. Are these the right steps? What sort of "spots" might occur? Thanks!

Hello again:


I like your plan, and your rationale. You seem remarkably intact emotionally for having been with an NPD for so long! With your continued boundaries, he will grow frustrated that he is not able to manipulate/control you... this will force his hand at which point he will either (a) spin further out of control possibly become violent, or at the very least begin a barrage of demeaning, disparaging tirades toward you (or whatever his proclivity was while you were together and he wanted to dramatically make his point) OR (b) begin the change process and attempt to reconcile your differences WHILE not getting his immediate desires met.


If in the face of frustrating circumstances, he appears contrite and willing to allow you your space and independence, then I would give you the green light to move ahead. But I think your instincts are really pretty good for now!



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