Do you remember being a child and playing the game with a daisy, picking the petals, “He loves me, he loves me not?”
When you got to the last petal you had your answer – one way or the other.
When you are in a relationship with a narcissist, before you get very clear about what is really going on, that answer could change in a heartbeat.
… And you are left reeling, wondering what the real answer is.
What makes matters worse is that some narcissists are very skilled at appearing to be exceptionally loving, giving, caring and attentive in the times when he or she “loves” you.
In today’s article I am going to explain the warning signs of this insidious type of narcissist who is capable of appearing genuine and loving for long periods of time until you are hooked and it’s too late. This same narcissist is also capable of being intensely “loving” in between narcissistic episodes.
I have had many clients and subscribers express their utter dismay and confusion, asking how this person could be a narcissist when they have the ability to be so incredibly supportive, giving and adoring and even enjoy seeing his or her partner happy?
How can this same person then act out, devalue, discard and use malicious emotional abuse at other times – in amongst being so wonderful?
I used to be tormented in my narcissistic relationship with this enormous dichotomy. I certainly can relate to how mind-bending it was.
To add to the confusion, some narcissistic information sources state that narcissists cannot bear being loving, or being told by someone they are loved, don’t say loving words, and certainly do not engage in loving behaviour past the initial honeymoon period.
Do not take this as gospel.
There are also reports of suspected narcissists who have been able to retain relationships with exes that don’t act as if they have been narcissistically abused. Understandably new partners may perceive that this person surely isn’t a narcissist if that is the case.
For those of you who are seriously confused about whether or not your partner is in fact narcissistic, because he or she can be so wonderful, I sincerely hope this article will help you clear up your confusion.
The Altruistic Narcissist
Many of you know that Sam Vaknin is a very good source of deeply understanding the workings of a narcissist’s mind, and has written copious amounts of information regarding narcissism.
According to Dr. Vaknin, “Some narcissists are ostentatiously generous – they donate to charity, lavish gifts on their closest, abundantly provide for their nearest and dearest, and, in general, are open-handed and unstintingly benevolent. How can this be reconciled with the pronounced lack of empathy and with the pernicious self-preoccupation that is so typical of narcissists?
The act of giving enhances the narcissist’s sense of omnipotence, his fantastic grandiosity, and the contempt he holds for others. It is easy to feel superior to the supplicating recipients of one’s largesse. Narcissistic altruism is about exerting control and maintaining it by fostering dependence in the beneficiaries.
But narcissists give for other reasons as well.
The narcissist flaunts his charitable nature as a bait. He impresses others with his selflessness and kindness and thus lures them into his lair, entraps them, and manipulates and brainwashes them into subservient compliance and obsequious collaboration. People are attracted to the narcissist’s larger than life posture – only to discover his true personality traits when it is far too late. ‘Give a little to take a lot’ – is the narcissist’s creed.”
Sam also discusses how altruistic narcissists also use their giving of time, affection, possessions, money and energy as weapons. To declare the imbalance of their relationships, how unfairly they have been treated and the grandstanding of “Look at what I put in, and you don’t.”
These are the narcissists who scream out “I want to be treated like an equal!”
In the case of ex partners being assisted, able to call up favours and be supported in some way emotionally or financially by the narcissist, this ensures on-going and readily accessible narcissistic supply. The narcissist is also very adept at convincing ex-partners how much he or she has changed now since their relationship ended, and attracting potential relationship attention from these people again.
As a result these ex-partners provide a source of approval and adoration and sex when required, or when the narcissist’s “committed” relationship is not sufficiently feeding his or her False Self. The narcissist will also use these sources to smear his current partner to in order to receive sympathy as a form of additional narcissistic supply.
Narcissists Require Mirroring
When we examine the narcissistic model there are several things we can benefit from understanding. Firstly the narcissist is a no-self. What that means is that a narcissist needs mirroring. He or she needs energy from the outside, from someone else, to confirm that he or she exists.
This means the narcissist is very capable of putting him or herself last and putting everyone else first in order to receive attention, praise, approval and worthiness.
For the altruistic narcissist it’s exhausting to have to be the “great person” and seek out others constantly in order to gain such approval, and try to suppress the damaged True Self that exists under the mask of the False Self. However, the altruistic narcissist will relentlessly persist.
It’s also important to understand that the narcissist will perform such acts knowing that he or she feels false, and is constructing these acts of generosity with agendas connected to them. The narcissist is very capable of feigning concern, empathy, compassion, love, support and tenderness. These agendas are all centred around receiving the supply that the False Self requires to maintain the image of being “lovable, worthy and special.”
To try to gain the inner “fullness” that the narcissist is incapable of creating or maintaining for him or herself. Naturally these hits of supply wear off, and need to be pursued again, again and again.
It’s important to know that you cannot believe in anyone who displays severe narcissistic behaviour (which I will describe later in this article) as you would a non-narcissistic person – when this person looks you in the eyes and declares (as if from the bottom of their soul) how much he or she loves you.
A narcissist is capable of the malicious pathology of declaring undying love and commitment to his love partner, and simultaneously being able to declare identical scripts to other individuals in order to secure sex, attention or significance. The words themselves are meaningless; it’s the results which are important to the narcissist.
The next important point to understand is regarding the narcissist’s sense of entitlement. His or her sense of entitlement is generated from the False Self. The False Self demands obedience without question. It needs to be unique, adored and agreed with. When an intimate other does not follow the constructed script of what the False Self requires to be maintained, then the narcissist can change from “the adoring soul mate” into the “ruthless persecutor” on a dime.
Now comes the inevitable bout of “I love you NOT.”
The defence mechanisms of the narcissist’s personality, as well as his or her neurological brain-wiring, are firmly set to defend the image of the False Self fiercely and jealously. Any threat to the constructed False Self is dealt with harshly, vengefully and vindictively.
The incredibly heart-breaking and frustrating part of it for intimate partners is that the narcissist has not expressed what his or her internal pain is about before the eruption occurs. The love partner is completely blind-sided.
The truth of the matter is the narcissist has neither the emotional resources nor the desire for intimacy (the narcissist inherently believes “If you really see in to me you will see how defective, unlovable and unworthy I really am”), trust or connection to supply his or her partner with honest or vulnerable (real) emotional information.
Nor does the narcissist have the emotional intelligence to take any responsibility for his or her atrocious reactions. Narcissists are never accountable.
It’s actually not personal – the narcissist simply cannot fathom beyond “You must pay for not agreeing with my False Self.” In fact the narcissist is fixated on punishing you for “How dare you do this!”
Until aware, the abused love partner perceives the following: one minute there is a person “loving” me like no other – and then at a moment’s notice this same person has turned on me, looks at me and speaks to me with pure contempt and is using whatever tool he or she has to maim me the most.
This attack may occur as a result of the slightest critique, comment or glance (often unintended) – or not enough “approval” being granted in a particular moment, whereby the narcissist flies into the vengeful rage of defending his or her False Self.
Maybe the “trigger” was “harbouring.” The narcissist experiences inner pain bubbling about something you did in the past (that you believed was previously resolved – otherwise how could this person be so happy and in love with you?) which the narcissist assigns (again) as the reasons for his or her original inner unresolved and unhealed wounds (rather than dealing with them).
This is especially likely after a period of time when things have been going well.
If your greatest fear is abandonment, the narcissist may threaten to break off or will end the relationship. If the withholding of affection hurts you the most, the narcissist will ice you out for days. He or she intimately knows and uses the weapon which will punish you the most for not obeying the narcissist’s one true master – his or her False Self.
If you ask for accountability, try to set boundaries, or state your rights, you will be accused of everything the narcissist is doing (and more), gas lighted and punished with lies and third party allies, and then smeared to anyone who will listen to the narcissist.
The narcissist will hit back harder ….
The walking on broken glass has begun as you tip-toe around these horrendous episodes, and you are supposed to cower into the submission of serving the bottomless, unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of the narcissist’s False Self – which above all else means never to question, critique or threaten his or her self-constructed mirage of “perfection” or “specialness” in any way.
The Warning Signs
Of course there are genuinely kind, giving, caring and wonderful people in the world.
These people do NOT act out narcissistic rage, malicious vengeful acts, shifting from “adore” to “abhor” on a dime, pathologically lie, smear or punish.
Be VERY clear, if your wonderful, giving narcissist – the partner who declares (and even acts as if) you are “the love of his / her life,” he or she would “take a bullet for you,” “drop everything for you,” and always “be there for you” – acts in these severely narcissistic ways … the “giving” was never about YOU – it has always been about supplying and preserving the narcissist’s False Self.
Also be very aware, the other connections this person has to people he or she “cares about” (especially ex-partners or acquaintances this person “helps”) are not only feeding the narcissist’s False Self, but could very well be compromising the emotional and sexual fidelity of your relationship.
Naturally it could be very easy to fall for a potential partner who portrays how generous, altruistic and caring they are. Not only to the people they care about, but possibly also the “world” in general.
Therefore: Beware of these warning signs to avoid getting involved with an altruistic narcissist:
1) Anyone who professes how important romance is, how they have an incredible amount to give in love, and how they want a partner who can love them as much as they can love. Especially if this person worships the concept of “unique and idealised love.”
2) An ex-partner appearing on the scene, especially if this ex-partner freaks out about the narcissist having you as a new partner and starts declaring that a relationship still exists, he or she is still having sexual contact etc. Do NOT just accept your new partner’s excuses to discredit this information. Usually where there is smoke there is fire. Altruistic narcissists need attention, adoration and usually sex. They cannot bear being alone. Another emotional / sexual hookup in the wings is very likely.
3) The self-promotion of being generous, giving and caring. Generous, giving and caring people just are. They certainly do not have to grandstand it and sell it as: “This is the wonderful partner that I am and could be for you.”
4) An abusive and/or unavailable relationship with his or her parents. Especially if the abuse was present between the age of 0 – 6.
5) Any expression such as “I want to own you heart” (or your soul). This is not a declaration of healthy love; it is one of narcissistic possession, entitlement and control.
Male altruistic narcissists act as if they are supporters and carers of the women. They appear to revere, protect and promote women. Like all male narcissists they are actually misogynists, demanding the mirroring of love, approval and worthiness from women that they didn’t receive from their mothers, and will seek revenge on these women (their mother) when the False Self’s expectations are inevitably unmet.
At the very least, women will be dismissed as “not good enough” to meet the insatiable needs of the False Self.
Therefore also beware of meeting any man who states all the reasons why his previous partners “were not good enough for him.” No matter how wonderful and “different” he professes you are now, you will be next in line to fall short of the grandiose demands of his False Self. Be prepared sooner or later to be significantly discredited by him.
Altruistic narcissists are very capable of creating multiple sexual partners, and telling women whatever they need to hear to believe they are exclusive partners and that the narcissist is practicing fidelity.
As Sam Vaknin states: “Narcissist know they are amoral. They recognise this. The truth is they don’t care.”
The information I have given you in this article is to help you get VERY clear if you are dealing with the horrific confusion of “Maybe this person is not a narcissist, because of his or her wonderful attributes.”
Now you can understand –if this person is acting out narcissistically, you can logically close the gap on this discrepancy and realise why the narcissist is also capable of acting “so wonderfully.”
Be very clear this is NOT love. Love does not behave like this. Love is not pathological lying, taking umbrage at a “slight” at a moment’s notice, having the capacity to maliciously maim in order to punish you, exhibiting zero ability to take responsibility for atrocious acts, and it certainly is not the ability to create horrific smear campaigns based on fabricated evidence and projections regarding what the narcissist does him or herself.
Only severely personality disordered individuals have the capacity to behave like this. Cluster B defunctions epitomise this behaviour and the nasty vengeful “pay-back” tactics are decidedly narcissistic.
You were not a worshipped and adored love partner. You were merely being groomed (often brutally) to serve the narcissist’s False Self (which is what the narcissist’s entire life existence is about).
Love doesn’t even come in to it. You will not lose out on love by breaking free from this person. You will instead align with the ability to heal and create love for real.
And you certainly can establish real self-love, and know that you would never tolerate behaviour like this again.
Of course recovery is simply not as easy as just knowing this.
I know from personal experience, as well as assisting thousands of people heal from narcissistic abuse, that knowledge and understanding from a logical standpoint is not enough.
If you have experienced the heart and soul-bending agony of “You love me, you love me not” … you may be feeling shattered, reeling and wondering how you will ever recover.
This is where the deeper healing strategies come into place.
Those of you who are members of the Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program, know how to locate, release and transform, with the use of Quanta Freedom Healing, the parts of yourself that were not just maimed by the narcissist, but were also original unhealed parts that attracted, and led you into creating and maintaining a relationship with a narcissist.
To release ourselves from profound heartbreak, deep inner narcissistic poisoning (which permeates every part of your being), C-PTSD and the many twisted and convoluted agonies of narcissistic abuse, it is vital to work on our deep Inner Identity to heal these parts.
You have to see the truth of the outer narcissistic personality, get very clear on what it is, how it does not serve you, and firmly know that what this person represents and brings to the table is NOT healthy or real love.
And realise that when such high-level pathological behaviour is playing out – this person does not have the resources, and certainly does not have the desire, to change.
Then you need to get very clear about getting your focus on to yourself, not only to be released from the pain, but so that you can clean up the patterns of abuse and high levels of tolerance to abuse behaviour within yourself that co-created this dynamic.
Because of the ongoing work I am doing with victims of narcissistic abuse, and my own deep inner growth work, I am becoming more and more intimately aware how the parts within us ‘mirror’ the attraction / connection to the narcissist and what they are and how to target them.
When I saying “mirroring,” in no way am I saying that you are a bad person. What I am saying is that there are unhealed parts and fearful belief systems that made you not only susceptible to narcissistic abuse, but made it excruciatingly difficult to leave, maintain No Contact, heal, recover and move on – and this is the case with most victims of narcissistic abuse until they release and heal these parts.
The ultimate goal is to do this inner work to such a depth that the narcissist no longer feels like your reality, and you know that you would never tolerate or endure such behaviour again.
When this happens – the pain and symptoms disappear, as does the heartbreak, attraction, obsession and feelings of loss.
The reason this happens is: on a belief system, and energetic (emotional) level, when you do the direct inner work, you are no longer a match for a narcissist.
There is a very powerful truth in life: Whatever we will tolerate we will receive.
If we have been narcissistically abused, our greatest healing liberation is to change this.
If you would like further information on how to identify if a person in your life is narcissistic, you can read Is He or She Really A Narcissist? Laying Boundaries and Accountability.
I would love to hear your comments about altruistic narcissism. Have you heard of it before? Have you experienced narcissists who can be so loving and caring one minute and are cruel, controlling and manipulative the next?