Monday, March 20, 2006


Being mentally little children, who feel small and insignificant in a world of giants, narcississts likewise are always on the lookout for an opportunity to make themselves feel important. Like little children they play "Pretend."

For example, I know of a man whose first family moved out on him, and, when another woman and her children moved in, they were overjoyed at the sight of the swingset and the basketball hoop. You could tell those poor kids had nothing and suddenly felt rich.

But letting their delight in these things show was a big mistake. The jerk suddenly stopped mowing back by the swingset, so that the weeds grew so tall around it they couldn't play on it. And he started parking old junker cars underneath the basketball hoop.

It was so obvious -- because that was the only part of the lawn not mowed, and there was no need to park those vehicles right under the basket. Those boys often looked wistfully at it, but I never heard them ask if they could play.

I'm sure I know why they didn't.

Been there. Everyone who's ever lived with a narcissist has.

My mother told me about about a man many years ago, whose sons worked hard all week on the farm (back in the days when they chopped wood, milked cows by hand, and plowed with horses). They had to come and ask him every Friday evening for a little money to spend at the local dance. And he always took off on a long walk out in the fields to make them chase him all the way out there for their pay.

I used to call it playing "Keep Away." Psychologists call it "witholding."

By witholding whatever they know you want, narcissists make themselves feel important. If you are observant of little children, you'll notice they do the same thing. For example, a child can be bored with a toy and about to leave it lay -- till she notices that some other child wants it: then she plays Keep Away.

Never forget that: the narcissist you are dealing with is full grown but every bit the three-year-old, and not a sweet one, either. He or she is case of arrested development, a person still living in that childish world of make-believe where everything is "Pretend." Pretend you're grown up by putting on Mom or Dad's clothes and play-acting "grownup." Pretend you're important by play-acting like you are.

It's a power play too, of course.

I know a woman in whom it's a knee jerk reaction: whenever someone says "Will you...?" or "Can I...?" the first thing out of her mouth is, "You'll have to wait." However long you can wait, she will make you wait longer.

They often have to make you beg or grovel too.

When they see your eyes light on something you want, they look at it and see nothing but a stick to use as leverage on you. It's the Teeter-Totter Game, to make you pray to them for it.

Just think how awful it must be to have to constantly do crazy stuff like that to kill the pain of that deep, down wretched self-concept you must constantly flee into denial of. If they didn't cruelly hurt others, I would feel sorry for them.

Moreover, most of them had brothers and sisters who went through the same thing in childhood but didn't turn out that way.

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At 12:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for this blog!

will be checking in often!!!!

At 1:31 AM, Blogger Kathy K said...

You're welcome :)

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Fighter said...

kathy - again - a MASTERFULLY written, easy to understand post about Ns.

My hat's off to you!

At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy - I stumbled on your site yesterday, it was a snow day here and I read the whole thing. My soon to be exhusband is NPD. I was in denial for a while and then the counselor confirmed it. She was recommended by the women's shelter. He has decided I'm totally unworthy and has filed for divorce, almost perfect timing with the counselor's confirmation. I go back and forth between, I miss him to Thank God for rescuing me. Your site is awesome, thank you so much for putting so much work into it.

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Betmon said...

My father used to do this. He once offered me his old washing machine, when I moved into a new flat. I was over the moon, as I was really broke at the time. I was arranging to hire a man-with-a-van to help me move a couple of other items of furniture that friends had given me, so I asked my father when it would be OK to pick up the washing machine, as I wanted to collect all the goods to be moved in one go. He said he didn't know, as he wanted to ask my sister first and give her first refusal. My sister owned her own brand-new washing machine.

Another type of behaviour that may be related to this withholding thing is the, "I was going to get you this really big/beautiful/expensive present for your birthday/Christmas/whatever but the shop was closed/I forgot/couldn't afford it/didn't win the raffle it was the first prize in' gambit. This makes them look really magnanimous as they would clearly give you the world if only they had it, while you (especially as a child) are left feeling disappointed and short-changed because they have given you something that they make quite clear they think is second-best - or sometimes you get nothing at all.

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband would give me gifts that he could use too. He gave me cookbooks every Christmas, I don't cook. He gave me a digital camera and then used it all the time. A corkscrew that I didn't have the muscle to ever use but he used it constantly...every single item was like a present to himself!!

I once said to him, how come you've never given me anything that was just for me.

Full on RAGE attack back at me!!

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am CELEBRATING one year away from my 6 1/2 years with a narcissist. Your blog is great. I wish I had found it a year ago.
It still seems amazing to me that I a part of the whole thing --- I have come to realize that I was ripe for the picking for a number of reasons our age difference, my success in life, my independence, and my happiness about my life. It was as if he was determined to break me down. And what I have come to learn is that -- that has always been his method of operation. He seems to seek out women just like me that he woos and gets into what he had witten in a note to himself as his "web" and then he plays them like a "hand of cards" until he gets bored or disinterested or inconvenienced.
I just hope that the next unsuspecting woman finds your site when things don't make sense -- when the first red flags come up and that she is able to understand what I couldn't for so long.

At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your clear description of withholding. I had a relationship with an N for 2 years--who appeared to be the "perfect" guy. Until we came to the last few months of the relationship. I remember my scheduling a romantic evening together without our kids--and he came over and told me that he would prefer that I beg for sex. I was stunned--and told him I had never had to do that and that we should forget about it. I ended the romance shortly thereafter. What a loser!!

At 8:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are very astute. I have an ex who is a narcissist in every sense. Your website has helped me reassess my interactions with concerning. I now call it reparenting her.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

How about an N who, after finally catching up with you after 26 years... finds out you live 45 minutes away but WON'T EVEN HAVE LUNCH OR COFFEE WITH YOU FOR 2 YEARS UNTIL YOU THREATEN TO STOP SPEAKING TO HIM!


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