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TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5839
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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MaryAnn, you were very helpful when we spoke back in March

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Hi MaryAnn, you were very helpful when we spoke back in March of this year. I would like to speak with you again... I understand you will have to go through our notes as I just did. It makes me sad to see how I suppressed the truth about my relationship another five months. I am in a different place now. I have ended the relationship. I require help in moving on from it. It has been a week and it is very painful. I need your help to discover how to cope and heal. All of the reading and discussions for the last two years do still indicate to me that he is a narcissist, was a victim of a narcissistic father, or co-dependent, or his daughter is the narcissist, or she is the victim and co-dependent of him being the narcissist. I'm so confused. What I really only know for certain, is that I am far from perfect or an ideal woman, and have many faults. But that I believe I am NOT the narcissist, that I put up with his behaviour far to long and need to stay as far away as possible and help myself get over this.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
There are a couple of things that are troubling me immediately... is he just manipulating or is he a narcissist? I'm sure I have narcissistic traits as well... I do not believe I am a narcissist but I want to know? How do I heal? I understand there has to be pain. We run in some of the same hiking circles and are both event organizers. I cannot completely avoid him. How do I handle that? I want to learn why I put up with so much? I have a loving family. I have had addictive spending habits since I was a teen. My parents are not that way. I have harmed my own ex-husband and daughters because of that. I am always trying to improve and work on that. I just feel lost in general right now...

Hello, it's good to hear from you.

It's understandable that you feel lost. Ending a relationship is always hard, no matter the reasons why it ends. Being able to tell if he is a narcissist or not is difficult without being able to meet him face to face. But there are sites and articles to help you sort out a reason for his behavior. Here are some to help you:

This may help you discover if you have narcissistic traits:

Seeing a therapist for an evaluation can help you know for sure if you suffer from narcissism. However, it is unlikely that you do since you are questioning your own behavior and your role in the relationship. Most narcissists are not insightful and do not question their own behavior or worry about being narcissistic.

Healing from a relationship can be a long process depending on many circumstances including your own coping mechanisms. There are ways to help you heal. One is to get support. That could be through therapy, online support groups or even reading all you can about relationships and narcissism. You can choose what you feel helps you most. Two is taking action such as writing a diary, exercising and taking care of yourself. Most of all, remember that healing takes time. Do not put pressure on yourself to conform to anyone's expectations, even your own.

Seeing him over and over at work is hard. It can keep the wounds open and may make healing more difficult. One thing you can do is to take the "gray rock" approach. Here is a guide to what that means:

This technique is used by those who cannot go "no contact" with their former partner. It helps keep you from getting hurt and helps you continue healing.

The question of why you put up with so much is often asked by many survivors of abusive relationships. Often, survivors feel they should have seen the abuse. They blame themselves for not acting sooner. But there was no reason for you to be looking for narcissistic behavior from your partner. And narcissistic partners are often masters at balancing just enough caring with selfish behavior. Try support groups with others who are in recovery from narcissistic relationships to help you work out your feelings around this question. There are many that share their experiences and will help you see you are not alone. Here are some groups to get you started:

I hope this has helped,

Mary Ann

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Thank you. I did take that quiz and got a 10... so apparently I am not. Though I do believe we all act somewhat narcissistic in some fashion. I just still cannot believe he lied to me for over a year and a half and then I went back... a couple of other things came up over the last while also... he finally did kick his daughter and kids out. They moved states but now he's driving back and forth doing things for her. He didn't tell me he was doing that either. He also allowed her to come back and stay a couple of nights and didn't tell me. It was just that he couldn't be open bothered me. I think I finally realized he just will keep secrets and that's the way he is. Though he did tell me himself it took digging to find out from him. I also found a picture of his phone a few weeks ago of him in a thong... men's thong. I asked what was going on and he said he wanted to try wearing one and seeing what it looked like. He was embarrassed I saw the picture and deleted it... I am very sexually open and try lots of things... he is more conservative so I was upset he wasn't open about something like that. He likes me to try different things. I drove to a sex shop with him and made him buy some stuff for us to "play". However, I told him I couldn't help thinking the pic was for someone else? Or what the heck was going on? He said he was embarrassed that he just liked to wear them. I really didn't believe that... at least my gut didn't but I let it go and had him wear it for me. There is nothing to suggest that he was ever cheating on me... he was always jealous of me speaking to other guys and super insecure... that led me to believe he was. Because normally someone wouldn't accuse the other unless they are guilty of something. I have looked through all his stuff and I'm more computer saavy than him and didn't find anything... who knows. I guess it doesn't matter now.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Can someone still be a narcissist if they don't show all of the signs? Is a manipulator considered the same thing? If anything I was definitely manipulated. He was always so jealous and insecure and I had to be careful how I acted around men on our hiking trips... I am not a flirt and I am friendly with men and women... I'm just so confused. I want to have some understanding so I can keep the bad stuff front and center...

The criteria for narcissism requires that the person have five out of 9 of the symptoms. Manipulation is a symptom of narcissism. The only way to tell for sure if he has narcissistic personality disorder is an actual diagnosis from a mental health professional. However, if you feel you have been manipulated and there are other signs of narcissism, the relationship is not healthy and staying away is better for you.

Mary Ann

TherapistMaryAnn and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
many signs are there. And he is definitely manipulating! I just couldn't stand it anymore... its so crazy... my own fault. I saw signs that were my WTH moments after 8 months. But I have never dealt with a narcissist. So I guess I thought all the regular stuff like I could make it better etc... his family background and his daughter all point to it. His sons stay away most of the time and are so different. It makes me so sad. But I understand there is NOTHING I can do to change who he is and the over and over again bantering and him just not getting it and the many things I read about now will never change that. It is heart wrenching! I want to heal myself. I workout constantly and have lots of support with hiking friends and family. My daughters are so thankful I have finally ended it... again. They were not happy when I went back. Even my parents finally said a few months ago they thought it was best I leave the relationship. They have NEVER made comments like that. They always support me. I know this is right! I do not have to see him at "work"... its my hobby. We are hikers and mountaineers and organize group events. I can avoid him for the most part... we share facebook friends but I unfriended him.

You are right, there is nothing you can do to change him. You have tried all you can to help him see what is wrong with his behavior but if he is not willing to change, there is nothing anyone can do. And if your daughters and your parents are relieved you ended the relationship, that tells you a lot right there. From what we've discussed, you definitely made the right move ending the relationship. Just give yourself time to heal. You will get there.

My best to you,

Mary Ann