Are they AWARE?

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Sep 23 - 9PM (Reply to #30)
dulcinea441's picture

I find psychforums pretty

I find psychforums pretty interesting to read. There are a number of narcs on the NPD board who are willing to discuss their thought process. Of course, a lot of it is probably manipulation and attention-seeking by those who've been diagnosed and are now obsessed with their new label. So take it all in with a giant dose of caution...
Sep 23 - 12PM
megamillion's picture

A fraction aware

I'm not sure if they are fully aware, but exN seemed to have several moments of clarity - but might also have been part of the "I want to be better" hoover maneuver. At first proper D&D (Aug 10), she said she didn't want to do to me (what she'd done to other exes) because she cared about me way too much. Her history was to fight, withdraw, and cheat her way out of a relationship... so I still am not sure if that meant she was preparing to or was already seeing OW. BUT I point this out because it shows some awareness of the effects of her behavior AND THAT SHE WASN'T PREPARED TO TRY TO STOP THAT BEHAVIOR. She also told me the problem was I wanted to plan for the future and she can only live in the moment (doesn't want to think about the future) - which suggests an inability or lack of desire to conceive and absorb potential consequences. When I broke NC in Oct 10, exN was ecstatic to speak with me, went right back to almost full idealization: told me in the first hour that she loved me and how good it was to be able to say that to me again... LOVEBOMBING much?? In this time of separation, she said she'd done a lot of self-reflection, said repeatedly she felt it might be too late for us because she'd "already fucked things up too much", etc - she also pointed out using/manipulative behaviors in others and in TV characters that she didn't want to do anymore. Seems somewhat self-aware. I also recently discovered that the TV character with whom she most identified is meant to be BPD, which is interesting... She further told me several times over the next 6 mo that she "never wants to hurt me like that again" and repeatedly that I was amazing, that I would finish my PhD and realize I deserved so much more/better. It's hard to tell if this was her true feeling or a pity play. I always responded in a way to prove/reinforce my love & commitment to her. Lucky her. She also told me about a week before the final D&D (Apr 11) that she'd "done a lot of really bad things to people" but that her best friend would never abandon her and he couldn't do anything to destroy their friendship. I think she was trying to imply that I was responsible for the way our r/s was going down in flames (triangulation - "he's great and always there, you criticize/hold me accountable"). Again, awareness of the fact that she does "bad" things but no remorse at all with this statement; nothing like "and I never want to do those things again" with *sadface* - just stated matter-of-factly. Finally, I mentioned this elsewhere but around Nov 10, she tweeted part of a convo with her mum re: being a PSYCHO - I asked her what it was about. It referenced her using up a trainer for his knowledge and then dumping him when he didn't have anything else to offer (her words)... and that THAT action was a trait of a PSYCHOPATH. Her mum said "I'll still love you anyway", etc if she was indeed a psychopath. So, again, she at least had an inkling that her behaviors were not quite right; you might even say she told me indirectly that she IS a PSYCHOPATH. SO, this is a LONG post to say I'm still not sure myself. It would appear that exN had some awareness of the following: A) she knew she was going to act out, seek supply/the next hit NO MATTER WHAT; I think this is some sort of primal knowledge for her - she knew she did not or could not respond as normal and proceed in a healthy relationship (even as a friend) B) she seems to see that her behaviors are manipulative, negative, have devastating effect on others... BUT... C) she seemed to not be truly able to "care" or have remorse, simply because she wasn't willing to stop or address/resolve the behaviors D) when I later brought up these moments of clarity/self-awareness, she dismissed or denied them - and literally stared at me blankly (sizing me up?). and E) she always said "I don't WANT to" - not I'm not going to, I will do everything to stop it... just finding loopholes to climb out of responsibility for her action; she could say she warned me and could say it wasn't her intent Sorry for thread-hogging - but at least writing this out takes me one step closer to seeing it can't have been as much my fault as she said in the end. xxx Mega
Sep 23 - 11AM
Silverandgold's picture

This question has tormeted me too.

I spent one night with my narcissist. It was the only time, in the five years I knew him, that he dropped his fake persona entirely and was his real self, just for a few hours. For that reason, I am still not sorry I did it; even after all the pain he caused me, I feel oddly honored that I got past his walls, just that once. I told him I loved him that night. He shook his head and said to me, with great sorrow, "I am not a good man." This really startled me. It was the only time I ever heard him admit to being anything less than perfect and wonderful, and it was such a heartbreaking admission that I was filled with compassion for him. I still am, when I think about that moment. Then he blew me off completely. He was extremely hostile when I tried to approach him in any way after this, even to get a "goodbye" or some explanation for his behavior. I have no doubt, knowing him as I do, that if he has ever talked about me to others at all, it has been to blame me for our falling out. I know he went right back to his fake persona, and I imagine he has convinced himself that I did something wrong. He was always crazy-making that way and I'm sure he still is. So in my own single experience, I think these guys do -- in their very rare honest moments -- admit they have a problem. I also have no doubt that he never intended to hurt me. This is his nature, and he's done it over and over and then just moved on. As have I.
Sep 23 - 3PM (Reply to #24)
Pride and Shame
Pride and Shame's picture

The glimpses of something real ...

It's fascinating, those glimpses. Mine said he was disappointed in his "failings". And asked me if I hated him as much as loved him (we'd never had any kind of discussion about loving and hating). If it's real, I think their defenses then kick back in and the walls go back up extra strong. Like another poster said, the more they like you, the more they need to take you down. It's such a contradiction. Just like them!
Sep 23 - 10AM
aceonelady's picture

Almost forgot...

Mine said about 4 weeks ago,after 2 years not contacting me,that he doesn't do well in relationships...and that he is going to stay alone because he knows that any other relationship would end the way we did...And he is not interestaed in hook ups or one night stands...Well i wouldn't either if i had ED like he has...and lack of physical his brain he is sexual but his actions...I think that he had some bad experiences after me..but he is not telling me...clearly


Sep 23 - 9AM
aceonelady's picture




Sep 23 - 11AM (Reply to #21)
TNR1's picture

Honestly....I think sometimes

Honestly....I think sometimes they say that to get supply because they know we will be there to try to help them. If they really felt bad, they would try to change...but the only change they often make is to move on the next victim.
Sep 23 - 9AM
TNR1's picture

I think they know they are

I think they know they are different and that things don't turn out the way they want them to...but beyond that....I honestly don't think they get that deep into it. Remember they lack empathy. To say, do they know they are missing it is like asking you if you miss your third arm. If they never had empathy to begin with...they don't know what to miss. I often find it's better not to try to get inside the head of a Narc but instead just accept that they are disordered and their disorder cannot be fixed or helped.
Sep 23 - 8PM (Reply to #19)
empath's picture


Great analogies in the end of the day, its better to cut your losses and run than to try to figure out why an N is the way they are. Better to focus our resources on ourselves and figure out what we are and what we deserve. :-)
Sep 23 - 4PM (Reply to #18)
dulcinea441's picture

Yes, I agree with you

Yes, I agree with you regarding your third arm analogy. Or perhaps it is like asking someone blind from birth to describe the color blue. Perhaps I am struggling to believe that they totally lack empathy -- that there isn't the tiniest fragment of it in them that exists on some level of the unconscious. But even if that were so, it is so miniscule and buried that it may as well not exist.
Sep 23 - 9AM
onwithmylife's picture

in answer to your question

my ex narc did not intentionally do abusive things, he lacks self awareness and empathy, which is why when I told him i asked him to leave my place, where he was living, because of all the emotional,verbal, psychological abuse, he could not look at me, he stared ahead ,when I said all this, and my therapist said, onwithmylife, he has no empathy, he does not get, understand , what I was saying.An analogy would be talking Chinese to a person who has not a clue to the language. They lack the normal emotional intelligence others have, it is like they are men in phyiscal developement and intelligence, but they lack the emotional development, they are immature in that department, hope this helps, it is horrible 'cause they appear normal.
Sep 23 - 8AM
MandyM's picture

I don't believe my ex did

I don't believe my ex did what he did intentionally. In his mind, he was entitled to whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it, everything he said and did was justified, and if the situation changed, well, he just didn't want it anymore, so that was okay. I do believe he was incredibly insecure, for all his "I'm a badass!" posturing (Hint: when you have to actually SAY that you're a badass, more than once . . . honey, you're really not) and desperately needed for everyone to like him, so when it came down to having to own up to anything he did that pissed off the other person, he'd either lie or avoid it entirely. He couldn't bear it when he thought someone didn't think he was a great guy. I don't know. It's been a year and I still puzzle over his psychological makeup.
Sep 24 - 5AM (Reply to #13)
TNR1's picture

Portrayed confidence....

It's what drew me to Mr. N in the first place. He seemed so self assured, so absolutely convinced that he was going places and just like your guy had to be a bad ass, Mr. N had to be "special" in his own right. He felt extremely entitled to whatever he wanted and he wanted the world to see and admire him at the same time he resented practically everyone. It was almost like he expected everyone to be elated that he even honored them with his presense. He did not want to be weighed down by their expectations of him. He once commented that he wanted to live a life of leisure so that he would answer to no one. His insecurity only revealed itself over time. I would catch him on occation speaking in the other direction as in "I'm not that special" and knew that was when he wanted me to come in a say "oh yes you are". If I did not respond to a text quick enough...he would send another demanding my attention. I realize that in order to fuel such a larger than life ego, it requires that you have minions of individuals who will stand you up at all times...whether they be Facebook friends, coworkers, roommates, buddies, gfs, OW etc. Narcs must be loving the 21st century. Never before has there been so many avenues to get admirers.
Sep 24 - 6AM (Reply to #14)
freaked's picture

same-ditto-exactly what

same-ditto-exactly what happened to me..and made me fascinated with Mr N all those years ago. he knew exactly how to charm a prude like me...and since he had a fair idea of my family background..i guess he knew exactly what manipulation would secure me as his wife .. he knew i was a suppressed/repressed person and set about to show me such a Liberated Life those first few days before the marriage... aaargh.. i guess if not him, then some other narc would have got me as their personal toy for kicking around..
Sep 24 - 3PM (Reply to #15)
dulcinea441's picture

They get you to do things

They get you to do things that you would otherwise consider vulgar or obscene because you should be "liberated" from oppression. Mine wanted me to do kinky stuff that made me uncomfortable and when I refused he became enraged.
Sep 23 - 12AM
foreverfun1's picture

well they do believe they are

well they do believe they are perfect and wonderful so i dont think they believe anything bad about themselves. mine could never see any wrong-doing on his part when i pointed out his hurtful ways. i think they know they are lying but they feel they are justified by whatever the purpose the lie continue that they are given NS i dont think their cruelty is intentional in the way we see it. meaning we see it as unjustified, but when they D&D, and rage, and say cruel things it is because they see us as not living up to their expectations of us or not fulfilling their needs. this makes them feel betrayed by US! so they then feel justified in how they treated us. they have insanely unrealistic expectations of us. i would ask him why he lead me on for so long when he knew he never loved me, but he wouldnt answer ever. now i realize that he thought he loved me in his own empty horrible way...he has no idea what love is. basically he "loved" me when i was doing everything he wanted, waiting on him hand and foot, but otherwise i didnt exist for him. like an appliance, ur glad u have ur tv and you enjoy watching it while its on but when its off you only vaguely miss it at times. you expect it to work and never get sick and if it breaks u dont feel sorry for it you just get angry at it and call it a piece of junk and get a new one
Sep 23 - 5AM (Reply to #6)
freaked's picture

foreverfun, this is the exact

foreverfun, this is the exact description of my situation too. so much so, that today I am statrting to wonder if there was something horribly wrong with me (had i had/do i have AvPD???).. because he appears so calm and perfect and in complete control of his life while I am falling apart into a hadzillion pieces.. he has a new woman. but i cannot even want to want a new man. he is quite pleased with his new toy. but i never thought of my husband as a toy. he was my LIFE.
Sep 25 - 3AM (Reply to #7)
deckard's picture

My feelings too - ER was my

My feelings too - ER was my LIFE. He is I am certain already moved on to the next online texting slut hook-up thing and that's why he is only communicating with me thru email. My heart is so broken and I am tormented by all of this. I ache and cry and sob and just today sent him an email telling him I would be however he wanted, do whatever he wanted, just please come back to me. The most pathetic thing ever - that is me. ER was my world, my universe. You know that old Sinead O'Conner song, Nothing Compares 2 U? That is how I feel - thru all the pain, cheating, betrayal and heartache - still nothing compares to him.
Sep 26 - 12PM (Reply to #11)
TNR1's picture

Oh wow....

Boy do I know that feeling. This was my song for Mr. N for the longest time: Come Around-Rosi Golan So high, tonight, And I don't feel like coming down, I could lie to you all my days, You're the one, you're the one, And I'm a fool, For waiting so long to let you know. Come around, come around, come around, come around to me, There's something in between you and I, Come around, come around to me, You feel like breathing, Come around, come around, come around, come around to me. Like sunlight won't you come, Lay your ray down, you're the one, I could run, I could run for the life of me, But where would that get me, Where would that lead? I'm a fool, For waiting so long, Can't you see, You're my life, Liiiifffffeeee Come around, come around, come around, come around to me Come around, come around, come around, come around to me Come around, come around, come around, come around to me Come around, come around, come around, come around to me Come around, come around, come around, come around to me Come around, To me.
Sep 25 - 12PM (Reply to #8)
Pride and Shame
Pride and Shame's picture


This is tragically sad to hear. You are giving him all of your power - you are losing yourself here. You found this Forum because it struck a chord in you. Please keep reading all the posts in various stages of recovery from addictive relationships. You can get out of this addiction if you want to - but you need to be willing to do the hard work. It's painful and there is suffering. This is not child's work. However, it will be the only thing that sets you free.
Sep 26 - 3AM (Reply to #9)
deckard's picture

thank you

I know this in my heart and that is why I keep coming back here and keep reading reading reading. I know this will not be easy but I must find the way out.
Sep 26 - 2PM (Reply to #10)
Pride and Shame
Pride and Shame's picture

Me Too

I read my post to you and realized that it sounded good and strong, didn't it? I have my up days and down days. The up days are way outnumbering the down days, but I'm almost a year NC. Go me. I've seen several women drop off the board because they aren't ready to end it and move into recovery. It's sad and I hope they come back. I hope they don't lose themselves for another XX years or forever. I'm farther along, but I understand and still feel your pain and confusion. I also hear your Self, your Voice. It takes time, distance, education, perspective. Be good to yourself, you are worth it. Hugs to you!!
Sep 23 - 4AM (Reply to #5)
Jelickuk's picture

Forever described my

Forever described my husband He believes he has been terribly wronged and misunderstood
Sep 23 - 1AM (Reply to #2)
dulcinea441's picture

That all sounds like

That all sounds like everything I've been thinking. I also think that perhaps they cannot admit to themselves that they do anything wrong or cruel because this would make them less than the most wonderful, god-like beings on earth. On the other hand, maybe some Narcs derive pleasure and power from the pain they cause. To what degree that's a conscious act on their part I don't know and, obviously, there's more than one type of Narc, so there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this. All I know is that I'd desperately like to believe that my Narc did not intentionally try to destroy me. That might make this pain a tiny bit more bearable.
Sep 23 - 3AM (Reply to #3)
stones's picture

Are They Aware

My name is Ian from England and my ex girlfrind or should i say my ex liar,user abuser was a full on narcissist i'm sure they know they say horrible things mine used to always critise my appearance i wasn't allowed to wear my glasses when i met her friends cos she told me i looked like a geek i remember when her best friend saw me wearing my glasses she said to me "shes right you do look like a geek with them glasses" WHY DID WE PUT UP WITH IT
Sep 23 - 12PM (Reply to #4)
lilliandiane's picture

Dimly aware

They are broken from a childhood experience and they are like alcoholics who swear they don't have a problem with alcohol. THEY think (and must think) they are in control; and they have lived this long with things working for them, so it's obviously everyone else who is screwy, not them. It's sad, really. Mine was absolutely addicted to "routine". He had a set way of doing things to keep himself in control and suffered anxiety at the idea things were out of control a little. Remember they cannot let themselves feel, so they do anything they can to not be aware--except at rare moments. If they need to hurt someone they will because they are at war and anything is fair in.....