Does he deserve another chance?
February 14, 2007 11:31 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend has recently been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Alone this is something to come to terms with but on top of this i have just found out he has been lying to me, which has made me question my whole relationship and the very foundations it has been built on. I have no idea what i should do...

I apologize if this goes on for a bit, there is alot to be said though for situation to be completely clear.

I posted on here summer of last year with the question "Is it possible to love two people at the same time?". Within that post i explained about how i had fallen in love with a married man who claimed to love both myself and his wife. After many answers to my question the general outcome seemed to be that i was silly for deluding myself about this mans intentions and how he would never leave his wife. Shortly after this i left the city where we were both living and returned home to my parents believing that this would be the last time i saw this man.

It came as a very big surprise then when he told me he was leaving his wife and he wanted to make a real go of things with me. He told me he no longer loved his wife and that sexually there was nothing going on between them. His wife left and i moved back into the city to start my future with him.

It soon became apparent my boyfriend was suffering from depression, something he said he been suffering from for almost ten years. As i have suffered depression myself and have been witness to it in friends and family, i urged him to go to the doctors where he was diagnosed with a form of bipolar and was told to await an appointment to see a mental health specialist.

I will be the first to admit that whilst this was happening our relationship was not great and we were under alot of strain. This aside though it hurt me alot to find out he had been emailing his wife, who was thousands of miles away in another country, telling her how he had made a mistake and still loved her etc. There was even an incident involving sexual acts over a webcam. I confronted him about this and he told me he was saying this to his wife to make her feel better as this is what she wanted to hear.

He promised me this would not happen again and found it in myself to believe him and move on. We were trying for a child and four weeks ago i found out i was pregnant, (i am now around 13 weeks). Two weeks ago i vistied my family and before i left i begged him not to speak to her as i knew this would be an ideal time for him to do so without my presence in the house. He swore blind he wouldn't do so.

A week ago today we had a huge row about moving to our new house we have just bought. His wifes belongings are still here and i asked him to email her to sort out getting the items back to her. I emailed her myself, something he was happy for me to do, and explained the situation including my pregnancy. On this night i also found out they had once again been emailing eachother, my partner telling her he loved her and was missing her, the same gist as last time. Much arguing persued but he promised me he had not been in touch with since learning of my pregnancy and would not do so in the future. I again took him back.

On Saturday night she phoned me and i found out the true extent on my boyfriends deception. The weekend i had gone home they were on the phone and using instant messenger to communicate. He had not told her i was pregnant and went on to say the only reason he was still with me was that i was 'mentally unstable' and that leaving me would 'kill' me. What is ironic is that this is exactly what he use to tell me about his wife.

Myself and his wife had a long conversation, and even though it was surreal, we came to an understanding.
My boyfriend insists he is going to keep to his promise of not getting in touch with her as he wants to concerntrate on our future with the baby. I have taken him back.... again. This time though i feel different. I no longer trust him, i hate him for what he has done and i feel so guilty about all the hurt i have played part in towards his wife. Worse, i feel guilty for his actions too and i don't know why. I am staying, but i do not know how to move on or if i am doing the right thing at all.

As far as the NPD is concerned, i know that lying, being able to show no empathy and in somecases being a general wanker all comes with the diagnosis, but i don't know if i should stay with this man because of this. If this is someting he can't help how the hell am i suppose to take anything he says or does seriously?

I am not sure what i want in response to this, just some general feedback. I would apprieciate no-one saying i have brought this on myself though by getting involved with a married man. Trust me i feel bad enough about that as it is and i wish i never had.
posted by rainbow_2006 to Human Relations (79 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Have you asked yourself "what would he have to do for me NOT to take him back?" If your list of answers includes felonies, or possibly even misdemeanors, it might be time to reevaluate your situation.
posted by subajestad at 11:40 AM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

From your question, it sounds like you've given him several second chances. Why does he deserve another one?
posted by drezdn at 11:42 AM on February 14, 2007

Just because there's a clinical name for this guy's wankery and it's listed in the DSM doesn't mean you are under the slightest obligation to put up with it.

Figure out how to write this guy completely out of your life, and what you want to do with this guy completely out of your life. Then do that.
posted by adamrice at 11:44 AM on February 14, 2007 [7 favorites]

What adamrice said. Run, don't walk.
posted by brain cloud at 11:47 AM on February 14, 2007

Um... yeah. With the understanding that your story could be one-sided, and with all the value of a Fristian internet diagnosis based on a few paragraphs of text: of course you should leave him. He sounds outright dangerous, a borderline sociopath- as in the only reason he's not been physically violent is because he hasn't had to yet. You already know what you think of him, you don't trust him, and he's proven to be completely unstable. Regardless of whether he's medically diagnosed and his behavior is beyond his control, he's flat out dangerous- at the very least emotionally, and you know you don't want a life with someone like that.

There's no decision to be made here- there's only you needing to vent your mind to other people, to help you deal with the difficulty of this situation and the sad realization that you've been duped by a potential psychopath and that the last couple of years of your life have been a deception. That's traumatic, it's not easy, and it's healthy for you to verbalize the thoughts you're having because it's not a normal situation to go through.

But you know well that the decision to make is not remotely difficult, and you've already made it. It will soon be time to act on it as well.
posted by hincandenza at 11:48 AM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Trust is an essential component of any relationship, and since this man has betrayed your trust multiple times, I don't think it's possible for you to be in a healthy relationship with him. You've given him enough chances; it's time to move on. Even if a mental disorder is at the root of his behavior, ask yourself whether you could stand to be in a relationship with someone whose illness causes him to inflict emotional damage on you time and time again. However vulnerable you may be feeling at this point, you need to leave this relationship behind to preserve your well-being and that of your unborn child.
posted by zembla3 at 11:53 AM on February 14, 2007

You should seek counseling and the help of family immediately. They will inject a much needed dose of perspective.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:56 AM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

He might change, but you don't need to put up with him while he maybe possibly might be going through the process of changing. And anyway, what could he do to make you believe he's changed?

It turns out he's not who you thought he was. He's probably not who his wife thought he was. It makes you more of a human being that you to empathize with his wife (as he clearly doesn't). You both deserve better, though.

He probably has rights regarding your child, though, so you probably can't get him out of your life completely (unless you choose not to have the child, which I'm not suggesting or not not suggesting), unless UK laws are different from in the U.S.
posted by Airhen at 11:57 AM on February 14, 2007

I actually think you two deserve each other. You're obviously living off the drama and/or have no real sense of how damaging, crazy, and illogical it is to remain with this man. I'd wash my hands of your whole mess, except, YOU'RE HAVING A BABY! If there was ever a time for the hysterical, "Think of the children!" reaction, I think this is it. But you'll probably say that it's important for the child to know its father, and remain with the man. Until he abandons the two of you and you post to AskMe about how to live as a single mother when your ex has flown the coop.
posted by lychee at 11:58 AM on February 14, 2007 [10 favorites]

Ask yourself: will a lying two-faced jerk (albeit a clinically diagnosed two-faced jerk) be a good father to have around your baby all the time?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 12:01 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Be a good example to your future child and dump the boyfriend. He's a liar and absolutely off-the-wall crazy. Get into therapy and focus on yourself in the baby.

Also, who wants to bet he'll come back in 6 months and try to convince you he's really changed? It sounds like you really want to believe all of his lies. What is it going to take for you to believe that you can't trust this man? I'm not blaming you for getting involved with a married man, but think about it this way - he lied to his wife, repeatedly. He lied to you, repeatedly. What good can come of this?

It's not your job to stay with him while he sorts out how to become un-psychotic. He will probably never grow out of being a lying schmuck. He seems really good at manipulating you. Your only job is to take care of yourself and your baby. Get out of there and surround yourself by people you want to be an influence on your baby.
posted by tastybrains at 12:09 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

i wish i never had.

So get out and don't do it again. Not just because you used these five words, but because of myriad reasons others are pointing out. Have the kid or have an abortion. I won't give my opinion on that because it's your choice.
posted by Listener at 12:11 PM on February 14, 2007

If this is something he can't help how the hell am i suppose to take anything he says or does seriously?

A better question would be: why have you continued to take him seriously?

Until you can answer that, it seems to me that you're doomed to keep repeating the pattern you're in. I don't mean that to sound accusatory.

My point is: beware of escaping this situation only to find yourself in the same scene all over again, with someone else, or maybe him again. You've already broken out a couple of times, and you've ended up in the same place.

Sure, get him out of your life and move on -- but make sure you actually move on this time. Therapy, as mentioned above, may be useful in this regard.
posted by aramaic at 12:12 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

As far as the NPD is concerned, i know that lying, being able to show no empathy and in somecases being a general wanker all comes with the diagnosis, but i don't know if i should stay with this man because of this.

Be kind to yourself. And be kind to your child. If he has NPD, he won't be changing any time soon. Or ever. He'll continue to be self-centered and cruel to you and your child from today until, well, forever. Get out now.
posted by eleyna at 12:13 PM on February 14, 2007

Narcisistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is just a fancy way to call someone an asshole. Get out of this trainwreck, and get yourself some help.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:14 PM on February 14, 2007 [8 favorites]

The Last Psychiatrist on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderlines.

Yes he (The Last Psychiatrist) is a reductionist jerk. Fine. But only you can say whether he has anything to say about your relationship.
posted by kika at 12:16 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Leave him. If not for yourself, than for your child. (Like Airhen above, I'm not suggesting or not suggesting that you have or not have this child, but I hope you're thinking about that and have arrived at a solid conclusion either way.)

Do you have parents you can move back in with until you figure out what you're going to do? Do that. Find a therapist who can help you as you get your life disentangled from his. Once you feel more stable, you can work out if and to what extent you're willing to let him be in your child's life.

Be careful. His actions make him sound unworthy of your trust, but also good at telling convincing lies-- I'm not sure that's someone I'd want to be around without, like, a conversation with his treating psychiatrist.

Er, also: how do you KNOW he's not lying to you about this new diagnosis? He certainly sounds like someone with a personality disorder, but do you know for an absolute, verifiable fact that he has been diagnosed or has even seen doctors?

If it's possible for you, you might also want to talk to a lawyer. If he's still legally married to his wife and also owns property with you AND you're pregnant with his baby, that sounds like something you could use clear professional eyes on.

Best of luck to you. This sounds messy and hard.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:17 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am sure that many people are going to tell you to get out and I will have to agree with them, but be sure to do it smart. First, you are entangled with him financially since you mention that you BOTH bought a house together. You already know that you can't trust him on ANY level so protect yourself and your child's financial welfare. Second, get away from him and do not let him get near you or only have an attorney speak to him because he is HIGHLY unstable and will make your life more miserable with lies, accusations and pleadings which you must get away from. Third, shield your child away from him -- he is going to be an awful, heartbreaking experience as a parent. Fourth, don't feel bad about feeling bad but don't curl up and become ineffectual even with the pregnancy hormones.

I am not going to be as harsh as lychee but you know what needs to be done. Do it.
posted by jadepearl at 12:20 PM on February 14, 2007

He will lie to you forever. He will never change. He will never take care of anyone but himself. He will never believe that anyone else's needs are more important than his. Never. If you stay with him, your life will always be like this. He will always lie, he will always cheat, he will always put himself first, above you and above your baby's welfare. You might love him, but he will never love anyone but himself. You want to live with that?
posted by puddinghead at 12:22 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

You might want to read through this site and this one for some additional perspective on what you're letting yourself--and, importantly, your future child--in for by staying with this guy. Sadly, narcissists very seldom ever show much improvement in their behavior (they have no motivation to do so, figuring *they* are fine and everyone *else* is screwed up).

Even if you decide you're up for the lifetime of hurt this man will put you through, again, it's a grossly unfair thing to do to a kid, in my judgment. Narcissistic parents are all kinds of crazymaking (think Livia in The Sopranos).
posted by Kat Allison at 12:23 PM on February 14, 2007

I have two close friends who have recently divorced their NPD husbands (with whom they also had kids). If you believe you can be happy and your child's best interests will be served with someone who is fundamentally incapable in the truest sense of the word of even conceiving (much less caring about) of you or your child as separate and complete individuals with legitimate feelings, rights, needs, and priorities, by all means, give the guy another chance. If you look forward to a life together defined by lying, manipulation, unpredictability, and hostility, keep at it. If you have the slightest bit of self-esteem and are looking for some help in destroying it, while at the same time undermining your child's sense of security and self-respect, you've found your man.

Otherwise, run. You have free will and other options. If you won't exercise them for your own sake, then do it for your kid.
posted by scody at 12:24 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Of course you should get him out of your life. You already knew that. If you're asking for permission to do that, you'll probably get it from everyone here.

I'm really sorry you decided to get pregnant. That was crazy. I'm guessing you're very young (and he's not) and you do not understand that this is not how relationships are supposed to work. That you are bringing a child into it purposely shows how out of touch with reality you are. The reality is that you will be raising this child alone, whether you dump the liar now or he dumps you later (of course he'll string you along and manipulate you, like he is doing to his wife). Too bad you'll have ongoing entanglement with the guy because of your kid.

Sorry. If you have a good relationship with your parents, please go ask them for help. You're going to need it.
posted by putril at 12:26 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

One thought -- if he is really suffering from NPD (full-blown cases are quite rare) you should know that it is the psychiatrist's nightmare patient, very difficult to treat. IANAD but was involved with someone once who was a true, off-the-wall NPD. It was terrible and many years later, this person is exactly the same ... and alone.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:30 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

How can you possibly be surprised, (dismayed, hurt, betrayed, angry, whatever) that he's been deceptive with you? You started your relationship with him on those terms, only he was betraying his wife then. You didn't mind him sneaking around then, lying to her. Now it's your turn. This is who he is. Ask yourself why you took up with a guy who's demonstrated that he's a lying snake. Where's your self esteem? Is this all you think you're worth? Are you so scared of being alone that being with him is better somehow? You know one thing for sure about him and that's that he lies. So what if his pathetic ways have a psychological name? Is that his excuse? "It wasn't my faaaaaauuuuuult, it's my disease". You can be sure that life with him will be full of misery and pain. In any case be sure you take care of your child. I wouldn't count on him for anything. Stop pretending to yourself that he'll turn into someone else. To paraphrase Popeye, he am who he am and he sure sounds like a loser to me.

Take a step back and read your post. Pretend that your sister or your best friend wrote it and think how you'd advise her to proceed. Then extricate yourself from this mess with this train wreck of a guy. Do it today and don't look back. Good luck.
posted by Kangaroo at 12:31 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Get out. Get out immediately. Call on family, friends, whoever for support. But get out.
posted by sneakin at 12:31 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't walk from this guy. Run.

And never never look back.
posted by ZackTM at 12:32 PM on February 14, 2007

wow, i think me and sneakin are basically on the exact same page on this one.
posted by ZackTM at 12:33 PM on February 14, 2007

A close friend of mine has figured out that her mother has NPD. No, she hasn't been officially diagnosed, but reading a description of NPD is like reading a description of this woman. It's uncanny.

So, having watched this woman emotionally and psychologically torture my friend for the past 15 years, I have to say that I think you would be a fool to willingly put yourself in that position. And you would be irresponsible to do it to your child. Even after all these years, I am always shocked by the new and horrible crap my friend's mother pulls. Other people do not exist except as an extension of her. Reason is not possible.

I feel terrible for you, but you have to get out.
posted by Mavri at 12:40 PM on February 14, 2007

You're obviously willing to put up with his bullshit. Are you willing to make your child go through it, too?
posted by Anonymous at 12:41 PM on February 14, 2007

Sorry for the long comment, but it seems warranted.

You love someone who has a psychological problem. You've decided on creating a home with that person. In the past, this person has done a few things that hurt or angered you, and you accused him of being immoral and hurtful and mistreating you. However, you've always come to feel as though, deep down, this person wants to make a functional relationship with you work, and to create that home with you. Psychological evaluation has helped you come to this conclusion by telling you that this is a problem that he can't help. So, you say to yourself, how can I be hurtful toward somebody who isn't doing this out of spite or hate, but because they have a genuine problem?

What you need to know, rainbow, is this: psychological missteps aren't harmless. They run deep in our very nature. While he sometimes couldn't help some of the things he did, he really does need help, and his problems are such that you can't help him. You're getting plenty of here people telling you to run away as fast as you can-- I imagine you expected that-- and I think they're right. But you're going to feel remorse for leaving him; he's going to try to contact you, and he might do everything in his power to get you not to leave him. What you need to keep in your heart, and think on until it doesn't hurt anymore, is this equation: first your own happiness, second your coming child's happiness, and third everyone else's. Everyone will be happier if he works through his problems; but you can't help him do it now. He has to do it alone.

Psychology is a comfort to us because it helps us dispel the myths that lead to shame. He's very happy to say he has a disorder, and therefore 'couldn't help' what he did; what you need to remember is that he does have a disorder, and that, after all that's happened, there is simply no way for him to fix that except on his own.

Now, you said something interesting here:

"Myself and his wife had a long conversation, and even though it was surreal, we came to an understanding... I no longer trust him, i hate him for what he has done and i feel so guilty about all the hurt i have played part in towards his wife. Worse, i feel guilty for his actions too and i don't know why. I am staying, but i do not know how to move on or if i am doing the right thing at all."

You need to understand that you haven't 'played part in' any hurtfulness toward his wife. If the story you're telling is correct, you left town in order to avoid having an affair with her husband; you thought that he had no contact with her; and he lied to you and to her as well. This is no place for feelings of guilt. You must let go of the feeling that you've done terrible things; there have been some mistakes here, but remember that all humans have their own problems to work through, and you're working through yours.

Good luck. Remember that it's okay to be angry at him for a while; he's hurt you a good deal. Find some good friends-- perhaps go back home, if that's a place that feels safe for you-- and, above all, take care of yourself and the child that is coming.
posted by koeselitz at 12:52 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Everyone has great advice.

FWIW, I was raised by a narcissistic father and it's only now, four decades after my birth, that I'm just beginning to to recover from his sick abuse, endless betrayals and breathtaking destructiveness.

You know what to do.
posted by frosty_hut at 12:59 PM on February 14, 2007

I would normally say that you have to think about the child, and for the child's sake, give this guy a millionth chance, provided he attend therapy with you twice a week - forever, that he sign the house over to you, and the computer is off limits to him in the house (change the password). I wouldn't trust this guy period. If he has a problem with any of that - goodbye.

However, there are so many strikes here I'm not sure you should give him that millionth chance. If he cheated on his wife with you, and then cheated on you with his wife, and then also is narcissistic on top of it, it sounds pretty hopeless to me.

Before you tell him, see a lawyer.
posted by xammerboy at 12:59 PM on February 14, 2007

Please leave him.

I had a relationship with a guy like this years ago. It was pure hell. Pure manipulation. Pure pain.

I cannot imagine how much worse it would have been with a child involved.

Please listen to everyone here. It's about the baby, now.

For instance, what if he decided that he wanted to get back with the wife plus get primary custody of your child? Even if no court in the land would do it, he could make your life a living hell.
posted by konolia at 1:02 PM on February 14, 2007

I have a friend who was raised by a Narcissistic Personality Disorder parent who wasn't nearly as bad as this guy sounds and her life is full of demons, depression and anxiety. I can not think of a strong enough word for how abhorrent such an upbringing will be.

Everyone is dancing around the idea that you are not in a position to raise this child well. They are being polite. I will say it outright. You will ruin this child's life if you continue on this path. Either get yourself to a women's shelter and get the help you need to care for your child right this minute or prepare right now for an adoption or abortion.

If your partner truly is a narcissist, they certainly don't care about having a child the way you think they do. They probably wanted a child because they knew it would be one more string they could pull on to keep you as their puppet, or maybe just because they needed a new fashion accessory.

In any event, I would seek out help at the YWCA or another women's organization. Women's shelters exist exactly for this situation. They will help give you the distance and guidance you need to make the decisions you're facing.
posted by Skwirl at 1:04 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

One last bit:

There are a lot of people here who seem to be disgusted at you. I can guarantee you, rainbow_2006, that not one of them has ever known someone with even a milder case of NPD. They need to hear, from those of us who know, just exactly how terrifying and manipulating this disorder can be. Your feelings of guilt and shame are common; NPD can make people very good at manipulating and passing their own negative feelings onto others.

In short, don't let the things he's said make you feel as though you've done horrible things. Let go of the past; you're a human being, just like any other, and everything you say here reads like the words of a very loving and kind person.

You should also try to read up on Narcissism. Understanding what he did to you will make it easier to move on. I haven't read it, but Alexander Lowen's Narcissism: Denial of the True Self is supposed to be a classic.
posted by koeselitz at 1:06 PM on February 14, 2007 [5 favorites]

I dated someone for a few years who was a compulsive liar. There were definitely elements of NPD to his personality.

I knew for a really long time that I did not want to be with him, and I didn't have a child to think about, but I stayed. I knew when he was lying, but I stayed. There are many reasons why, including:

1. He was manipulative and manipulated me into staying with him by threatening suicide, etc. It was often a question of "If I leave now, it will destroy him." In retrospect, it wouldn't have.

2. Pride. I knew he was a shit and all my friends knew he was a shit but I was afraid that breaking up with him would be admitting how stupid I was to put up with him in the first place.

When I finally got out of it, the feeling of relief was incredible. You may not have felt this when you split up before because you felt hurt by his betrayal; but if you take control and cut the cord because it's better for you, not because you're punishing his betrayal, it will feel different.

You also might not realize the extent to which he is harming you with his lies and manipulations--no one should be subjected to that. But what I most wanted to get across, although I think I'm doing a bad job, is that fear of shame and failure are huge motivators in inaction. As long as you stay with him you can pretend to everyone else that you have a good father for your child and a good relationship. As long as you stay with him you can pretend to yourself that you are better off with him than as a single mother. And you can also use him and his dysfunctions as the source of all your problems, instead of dealing with your own issues (I'm not judging--we all have our own issues and we all avoid dealing with them in some way or another).

It will be hard and it will be painful but you cannot give him another chance and you know that. You know that you can't trust him and you know that he has a psychological disorder that causes him to be hurtful, deceitful and manipulative. You know that when you have a child you'll have even less energy to deal with his bullshit. Get out now! I know you can do it and I know it will have been worth it.
posted by chelseagirl at 1:10 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think a very important question is, "why do u stay with him?" Any person with a sane mind would tell you to leave but obviously it's never worked. Is he really worth it? There are better fish in the sea and you'll never know it if you stay here.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 1:10 PM on February 14, 2007

One other thing, and I consider this to be the most important piece of advice in this thread. No matter what you decide, right now, save the transcript of the IM you had with his wife. Save every IM and email related to this (including his if you can). IMs usually have records or some kind of shelf life. If you don't know how to do this call technical support immediately.
posted by xammerboy at 1:12 PM on February 14, 2007

If you want to have a sane and healthy child, you need to move on.

If you want to raise someone that will constantly be manipulated, disappointed, and lied to, well, keep doing what you're doing.
posted by mathowie at 1:14 PM on February 14, 2007

I once fixed up a good friend with a guy I went to high school with at her request. They later married, and had kids. What I didn't know at the time I fixed them up was that he has a severe case of NPD. Me fixing them up is one of the greatest regrets of my life.

He's cheated on her multiple times. He's reduced a brilliant woman to someone with absolutely no self esteem, no life outside their family. Their kids are messed up. She's not allowed to have friends if he doesn't approve of them. He's moved her across the country, away from her support network and into a small town where their only social contacts are the rest of his family. Multiple people have tried interventions, but they stay together for reasons we can't comprehend.

I implore you - please, for the sake of your unborn child and your own sanity, go back to your family and leave this man. I'd hate to think that there's another woman out there being hurt by a man with NPD.
posted by librarianamy at 1:23 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think that you oughta call Jerry Springer. That's how messed up this whole situation sounds.
posted by drstein at 1:24 PM on February 14, 2007

If you want to have a sane and healthy child, you need to move on.

Good point: You want your kid growing up with this nutbar for a father? Move on.
posted by delmoi at 1:25 PM on February 14, 2007

I'm slightly confused about why you're asking this if you've already decided to stay with him... but I guess my confusion is significantly less than yours right now.

Seriously, get your ducks in a row and get him out of your life as much as possible. If you're going to have the baby, I hope you can get sole custody, with supervised visitation for him if absolutely necessary.

He's not going to stop these behaviours anytime soon, personality disorders are hell to treat. When he gets bored with you (and the kid, if you have it), he'll teeter back to the old wife or a new girlfriend. Do you really want to cycle through that with him every N months for the rest of your life?

As for your guilt, you're playing into his disorder. He put his wife through hell, and still would have if you hadn't met him. It just would've been another girl instead of you.

I hope you seek out some stability for yourself, and the kid if you have it. You're not going to have stability with this guy, no one is.
posted by CKmtl at 1:35 PM on February 14, 2007

Rainbow_2006, if you've followed ask for a while, you know that the people who post here never agree on anything. When there are nearly 50 posts saying the same thing for different reasons, considering everyone's widely divergent backgrounds, you can be pretty sure it's reasonable advice.
posted by drezdn at 1:45 PM on February 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

Just noticed that you're in the UK... not sure if "get your ducks in a row" is a North-Americanism that won't translate well. Get your finances unmingled and sorted out.
posted by CKmtl at 1:46 PM on February 14, 2007

One more thing: in case you are harboring any unspoken hopes or expectations that having the child will make him treat you more lovingly, truthfully, etc. (and will be in any way a positive, kind parent to the baby) please abandon them right now. If this guy is truly NPD, he will actually resent your child's very existence, because that child will necessarily take attention away from him -- attention that he believes he alone deserves. The result is that he will either actively be cruel to your child, or he will ignore him/her.

Let me give you a real example that happened to my friend over Xmas. "J" is her nearly-ex-husband; they have a 5-year-old together. They're separated, and "J" has to have his arm twisted to spend time with his child over the holidays (he'd rather go on lavish trips with the woman he left his wife for). This year, they agreed that my friend would have their son on Xmas Day; the ex would have him the day after. Several weeks before Xmas, she approached him to discuss a budget for presents for their child. He is positively stunned and appalled by her suggestion that he would contribute any money to Xmas presents (he makes twice as much as my friend does, by the way), saying "Why on earth would I buy him any presents if I won't be there to watch him open them? If you want me to give him anything, you have to give him to me for the day." True to his word, in the end, he bought his own child NOTHING for Xmas.

NPDs want to be the center of attention all the time. They despise anything and anyone who gets more attention -- and yes, that includes their own children. The only thing that the child will serve is his own ego -- does the baby keep you tethered to him? Does the baby have some sort of positive quality that will reflect on him ("of course he's big and smart -- he's mine")? That's it. That will be the sum of how much he cares about the child, and cares about you as the mother of his child. He is the star, you see; he's a 2-year-old in a grown man's body. He cannot be a decent, loving father any more than he can be a decent, loving partner. It goes against his very nature.
posted by scody at 1:54 PM on February 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

One does not have a relationship with a narcissist. Later, what you find out is that he was in love with himself, and you were the faithful worshipper.
posted by adipocere at 1:54 PM on February 14, 2007 [4 favorites]

oh, sorry, one more story about this guy and Xmas -- the Xmas before this most recent one, right after he'd moved out, "J" said he wanted to call his son on Xmas day to talk -- because "I know he [the 4-year-old] will be very worried about Daddy being sad on Xmas without him, but I just want to let him know Daddy is very happy with his friends, and that he shouldn't feel sad that I'm not there because I'm having lots of fun."
posted by scody at 2:00 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

You want your kid growing up with this nutbar for a father?

A cousin of mine made the mistake of marrying & having children with the female equivalent of this man.

...I'll spare you the ugly details, but know this: people like this will twist your child for their own amusement, in ways you didn't even think was possible.

You don't want, years from now, to hear a court-ordered child psychiatrist saying "the child's personality has been almost completely destroyed, and exists only as an extension of (your boyfriends) self-image"

(on preview, see scody above)
posted by aramaic at 2:01 PM on February 14, 2007

As a side note to this whole saga...
Depending on your state/country, if you leave his name off the birth certificate that may keep you from getting into some terrible child custody battle later.

A lot of people do things that they can't help. This does not mean you have any obligation to put yourself in the way of harm.
posted by yohko at 2:02 PM on February 14, 2007

I think you should seek couseling at a women's shelter and have them recommend a lawyer who has experience in this sort of thing. I'm not sure, but if you decide to give the child up for adoption, both parents may have to sign off on it.
He probably will try to get you back, it's what he does, and if he has to use the baby, well, you made him because you wouldn't take him back otherwise...etc....
You need more help than we can give you here, don't be ashamed to ask for it.
posted by BoscosMom at 2:07 PM on February 14, 2007

Take it from me, I was married to someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and he made my life hell. Of course, I realized this more with hindsight, so my first piece of advice is to get the hell out of there. When you're living with someone everyday who is that manipulative and sick, no matter how smart of a cookie you are, believe me, they have a way of twisting your words and your thinking into believing that something is wrong with you, not them. My Ex wanted an open marriage because well, we're all attracted to other people right, so we should continue to act on that? That is just scratching the surface with of demands. And I use the word demands, because with him, it was ethier his way or the highway. I take responsibility in being stupid enough at the time to have entertained his philosophies thinking that I was "open minded" and intelligent enough to listen to his drivel. The minute I decided this a-hole was full of crap and I deserved better, I packed my bags and left him crying on the bedroom floor. This man has not a single drop of empathy in him and always told me how wrong I was, nothing was ever his fault, it was always mine. I truly believe I would have spent my life living the way he wanted according to how he viewed the world in his sick little way. Today, I've found a wonderful man who loves me and I love more than I could have imagined, I've re-married and we're expecting a baby. I started my life over, I was lucky. My ex is almost 35 years old, single, going to college parties, hitting on foreign exchange students and returning to an empty house. He'll be there for the rest of his life; with several notches on his belt I’m sure, but alone and no doubt lonely, with only his arguments and delusional views on life to keep him company.
Get out now; otherwise consider your life over. Not to mention the fact that you have a baby to think of.
posted by Ailla at 2:17 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Every person I've seen become a mother -- whether through birth or through adoption -- seems to get a serious shift in priorities. (And quite a few fathers too)

The ones with the selfish, demanding husbands/boyfriends/partners, well, either they try to please two demanding entities in their life until they feel used up and empty. Or they stop putting up with that shit and put their focus on the child.

I'm hoping you'll be the second. In fact, you have the opportunity to get a jumpstart. Whether you keep the baby or not, whether you do it for your own good or for the child or for a general sense of fairness because a self-centered lair shouldn't get rewarded with one, let alone two women giving into his bullshit.

Because if you're the first, if you're willing to give up any and everything just to try to keep everyone else happy at your own expense, your baby isn't going to have even one parent who can give it his or her all.

I'd imagine when you think about what you want out of life, out of love and out of what's next, the answer isn't, "to live in distrust and fear of my partner and my future."

My heart goes out to you. You deserve love and hope and something good. Don't settle for less than that.
posted by Gucky at 2:41 PM on February 14, 2007

This man WILL NOT CHANGE. Your love for him didn't make a difference, his love for you didn't make a difference and his love for his child will not make a difference. I do not know if he's capable of loving one or two women or anyone at all or just himself. But at this point in his life and yours, he's not capable of giving you a better life than you could give to yourself.

He will NOT change. Please do yourself a favor and don't give him another chance. Do this for yourself and for your baby.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:27 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Skwirl, thanks for saying what I was too polite to say.
posted by putril at 3:44 PM on February 14, 2007

Google "children of narcissistic parents" to learn what it would be like from a child's perspective..
posted by cda at 3:49 PM on February 14, 2007

Is there ANY reason to stay?
posted by b33j at 3:51 PM on February 14, 2007

There's the standard Dear Abby question: "Are you better off with him or without him?"

I think you know the answer to that. Run, don't walk away. Don't look back. Don't take him back.
posted by SisterHavana at 3:52 PM on February 14, 2007

Talking about a NPD co-worker/friend with a psychiatrist I heard something I never thought a doctor would say so frankly: if you're not immediate family, get away. He said there's a sort of understanding among psychiatrists that certain personality disorders are so heavy that it's perfectly acceptable to just give up on the person and leave. He said "even siblings and children should get away, physically and emotionally, if they can. We're just sorry for the parents, who are always torn."

You can guess what my opinion is about the decisions that lie ahead for you.

What I can tell you is that my own experience with this NPD guy thought me that physical separation is just the first step, though.
Be prepared - and make sure you have professional help - to work for a long time afterwards.

He's not gonna leave you alone at first, so get a move on.
If he is anything like the guy I knew, he'll spend weeks after you, alternating between the horrible judgemental person that makes you feel like a monster for everything you ever did, and the sweet romantic amazing man that loves you and just wants you back.
When you do (and you will) manage to gain some more distance you may notice a very weird thing: he'll still be judging you inside your mind.
These people are like octopusses. They get inside your mind in ways you'll only realise as you move further away.

I don't want to freak you out, I just mean to share my own experience that it might take more than geographical distance, and you will need help. Get it as soon as possible.

But let me tell you, it is a process, as difficult and draining as it is, of amazing growth. It's ultimately extremely empowering and uplifting. You'll be forever proud of your strenght and the amazing feat you acomplished. Some people throw away their lives and selves on guys like this, and it looks like you're not going to be one of them.
posted by AnyGuelmann at 5:14 PM on February 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

One other thing. I just wanna say I second all the comments about his not being able to love a child. Or anyone for that matter.
Never going to happen.
posted by AnyGuelmann at 5:17 PM on February 14, 2007

You've been in this long enough to know exactly what you've got.

You've also described it to us, and you've not said one kind word about your future husband-to-be. You've described him as at best a sad sack, and at worst a mentally deranged, worthless cad - the kind of man any honest gentleman would be pleased to kick. I wouldn't want to be in a relationship where my wife felt that way about me, and certainly not one where she was telling the entire Internet about it!

I can't tell you what you should do, but I'll tell you what not to do: Don't expect much to change. You know exactly what this man is - he's proven it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I tell you it's safe to assume he'll be like this forever. Now, given that, is this the relationship you want to be in for the rest of your life?
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:17 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you can't trust him, it's difficult to have a good relationship with him. I would get out of that situation with him immediately. If you do keep the baby and he wants in your life because of it, be extremely careful. You now have baby to think about. Set a good example about how a person should be treated. Run away as fast as your legs can carry you.
posted by Attackpanda at 6:08 PM on February 14, 2007

Since you asked:

Codependent people have a greater tendency to enter into relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable or needy. The codependent tries to control a relationship without directly identifying and addressing his or her own needs and desires. This invariably means that codependents set themselves up for continued unfulfillment. Codependents always feel that they are acting in another person's best interest, making it difficult for them to see the controlling nature of their own behavior.

You need help.
posted by docpops at 6:37 PM on February 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

I think you should leave him, but the tone of your post made it clear that you won't. Your only question should be whether or not a child should be forced to live with someone who fundamentally cannot see other human beings as having value other than their use to him.

Also, you don't know that he was actually diagnosed. Lots of people claim to be diagnosed with things to make excuses for what is fundamentally assholish behavior. I'd almost be willing to bet that he's feeding you a line on his diagnosis in order to control your emotions and reactions.

He's played you. He's playing you. Do you want him to play your child, too?
posted by winna at 7:01 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

How old are you, rainbow? (Yes, that matters.)
posted by davy at 7:14 PM on February 14, 2007

I have a good friend who is divorcing someone with NPD. In short, the divorce is very messy. This is not a person that you want to be at odds with. By the nature of the disorder, they try to control everything, without contemplating the effects on the child. My friend is doing everything she can to fight parts of the settlement that would harm their offspring, but the law does not account for NPD. Please let your actions be contemplated with this is mind.
posted by kamikazegopher at 7:22 PM on February 14, 2007

whatever you decide, think about it now...because if under any circumstances you would consider not having the child, that is a decision that you would need to make as soon as possible, and it would be unfortunate to have the decision made for you by putting off thinking about it.
posted by lgyre at 7:52 PM on February 14, 2007

Ask yourself not "Why does he come back?", but "Why do you take him back?".

I highly recommend a book that helped me recognize the manipulative behavior I was living with every day for 8 years.

Why does he do that by Lundy Bancroft. I was convinced the author followed around my husband (now ex) and wrote the book about him!

Good Luck to you, I've been there, thank God I am out.
posted by JujuB at 9:10 PM on February 14, 2007

Ask yourself: will a lying two-faced jerk (albeit a clinically diagnosed two-faced jerk) be a good father to have around your baby all the time?


My father is an uncertified nutcase, suffering from various delusions, possibly to the extent of schizophrenia. The only reason we don't know exactly the name of what to call his wanker-y is that he has, his whole life, refused to see a shrink. Putting a name on it wouldn't have changed the fact that even as an absentee-father, he was horrible.

To give some perspective from your embryo's point of view, it is NOT always better to stay together for the kids. Every therapist I have ever seen has told me that the ONLY REASON that I am a reasonably sane and functioning adult (so long as I take my meds...) is that my father had the BARE MINIMUM of contact with me during my childhood. And even THAT fucked me up. A lot. I can't have my father call me on the phone without going into a cold sweat.

Your boyfriend is clearly as crazy as my father. It's manifesting differently, sure, but the fact is that he's NUTS. Just because there's a name for what's going on with him doesn't mean that he's on the road to fixing it. And the guy is NEVER going to fix it as long as it's working for him - and hey! It's working for him! He's got you where he wants you, pregnant and dependent on him! GOOD SHOW!

Leave him. Now. Yesterday. If not sooner. If not for your sake, for your child's sake.

If not, start putting aside $1 per week to use for your kid's therapy. You're going to need it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:07 PM on February 14, 2007

Your title implies that you feel sorry for him.

I don't care if he was abused as a child, has a brain tumor, or was abducted by aliens. Feel sympathy for him if you must, but you still have to get out of the way of the speeding train.
posted by desjardins at 10:48 PM on February 14, 2007

Get out, get out, get out - for the sake of your child, for you, for your sanity. If you don't think you're living in hell now - just wait a couple of seconds. Get yourself educated on NPD - and did I mention - Get the hell out!!
posted by ranchgirl7 at 10:52 PM on February 14, 2007

Human relations AskMe threads are almost never unanimous. When 70 people in one agree that a course is self-destructive, they're probably right.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 8:21 AM on February 15, 2007

He's proven to you time and time and time again that YOUR feelings, wants, desires and needs Do Not Matter! He cheated on his wife and has/is cheating on you. This fact will never change. He's a lying, womanizing cheater who only cares about HIMSELF. Not you. Not his ex and he sure as hell won't care about the child you're carrying. He's just not capable of caring about anything but himself and whatever benefits HIM.
Before you do anything else, start by talking to a lawyer to see how best to untangle the financial and legas aspects of your relationship. You've GOT to protect yourself financially, first and foremost! Then, find a professional to speak to so you can gain perspective on how truly dangerous this man is. It is NOT in your best interest to stay with him, and it's definitely not in your child's best interest to be raised by such an unstable father figure.
For your own peace of mind, call a lawyer TODAY! Do not waste anymore time hoping, praying and trying to make this relationship better. It's just not going to happen!
Best of luck to you!
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 10:57 AM on February 15, 2007

Be strong. You're going to get through this and find your equilibrium again. Now, you know what you have to do. And try to decide fast, if you haven't already, about whether you want to have this baby.
posted by hazyjane at 1:22 PM on February 15, 2007

Here's a site about narcissism that does more than just repackage the DSM-IV diagnostic indicators. The author has substantial experience with narcissists and writes about their behavior and motivations in a way that I found insightful and compelling.

BTW, I nth the recommendation to get the hell out for the sake of your child. But I also agree with docpops that until you get some insight into your role in creating and sustaining this whole mess, you are unlikely to get free, or stay free for long from similarly effed up relationships.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:50 PM on February 15, 2007

Abort. Flee.
posted by flabdablet at 2:40 AM on February 16, 2007

I wonder if rainbow_2006 is following this thread.
If you are, we would love to hear from you. I would.
posted by AnyGuelmann at 9:10 AM on February 16, 2007

How to identify NPD, a blog written by a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) case:
posted by Ailla at 9:21 AM on February 16, 2007


You linked my site's posts on narcissism and borderline (thanks) but called me a jerk (hey!?!) so I'll just assume there was a backhanded compliment in there.

But some tentative thoughts on the situation here-- and I don't mean to imply blame at all-- you have to ask yourself a very tough question: why? What is it about you that let you stay in this relationship? How did you not know it was going to be bad (especially if your friends knew it was?)
What is it about you that attracts these guys to you (or you to them)?

Basically, you're trying to make a determination of whether or not this is all worth. But the only way to do this is if you know why you did it, what you "expected" to get from it.

You say you knew he was married-- why did you choose to be with a man who was married? I am not at all criticizing you, and I'm not even making a judgment about whether dating a married man is good or bad. You have to determine that. You chose to do it, and the only way you're going to know if it was worth it is to know why you did it.

If you can answer the why, as specifically as possible, then what you should do today, tomorrow, and in the future will be much clearer.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 1:59 PM on February 16, 2007

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