TU111: Navigating Narcissistic Relationships – Gaslighting Manipulation and Grandiosity Called Out

by | Dec 24, 2019 | Attachment, Brain Science, Episodes, Narcissism, Neuroscience, Relationships, Trauma | 0 comments

Show Notes

You deserve better!! Are you lost in a narcissistic relationship?
The term narcissism is easily tossed around, especially in this world of selfies. However, if you are deeply connected to someone with the personality disorder narcissism it is a very real, painful and a disruptive experience. It is also surprisingly difficult to identify when you are in the middle of it. And, it is really tough to get out of it once ensnared!   We break it down here!

This episode is a follow up to Episode 105, on what causes narcissim.

In this episode on narcissism,

Co-hosts Ann Kelley PhD and Sue Marriott LCSW, CGP continue the dialogue on narcissistic relationships from a patron-requested perspective. This episode is about being in a relationship with someone with the personality disorder, narcissism.

To hear episode 105 on what causes narcissism, click here.

Narcissism Overview

  • Early emotional wound which develops into an inflated sense of self-importance,
  • Self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.
  • Selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, a personality type.
  • Grandiose narcissism – protect our sense of self by looking better and being better, demands mirroring from others to stay in connection.
  • Depressed narcissism – we collapse on ourselves and feel like we are the worst person in the world. Hey gang, we just aren’t that special – thank heavens.
  • Both stem desire to be loved and cared for & empty sense of self

Signs of Being in a Relationship With a Narcissist

  • It’s always conditional
  • You know they are sensitive or vulnerable but they can’t see it or deny it – externalize
  • Can’t take feedback, turn it around on you
  • One-directional relationship – you orbit them not the other way around
  • Inability to accept any type of critique or criticism/accept that they have faults
  • Scripted gestures that aren’t an apology
  • Charming but superficial
  • You feel lucky to be in this “special” relationship
  • You begin to subjigate yourself, lose your self into them in order to keep the connection
  • Gaslighting – manipulative cynical
  • Can you say egg-shells? You are walking on them…

Who is attracted to narcissistic relationships?

  • ANYONE can get pulled in – the problem is the controlling manipulative behavior
  • But if you find yourself attracting these kinds of people, or can’t get out of a relationship that involves serious narcissism, it’s better to compassionately find and accept yourself so you can begin to resist their requirement to mirror them
  • Were you raised by someone with narcissism so you know innately how to put self aside and tend to the other
  • A feeling one might be fulfilled if the person (narcissist) “saves” them
  • Internal emptiness and relief around being told who you are, what you should do…
  • Prone to being vulnerable especially around actualizing of self

What Does Being In A Relationship With A Narcissist Look Like?

  • Allure of narcissist helping you be your best self
  • Seduction, jealousy, decisiveness – which gives way to controlling, possessiveness, and isolation
  • Giving up freedoms and limiting exposure to avoid upsetting narcissist
  • World orbits around narcissist instead of mutual orbit of a natural relationship
  • Narcissist makes you feel like you are doing something to them, always your fault
  • Ignore your own mind and perceptions to keep connected (dangerous)
  • Always in the shadow of the narcissist
  • Everything is about the narcissist
  • Unable to apologize sincerely and feel remorse


  • Comes from a movie where husband intentionally manipulates wife’s mind – something is happening, wife sees it, husband and others deny that it is happening
  • Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation.  It occurs in when a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group.  This behavior involves denial, misdirection, contradiction and outright lying.  It makes makes others question their own memory, perception, and sanity, all in an effort to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs.
  • You know something as your reality. However, when you attempt to address it, your partner or somebody you love turns it around as your issue and makes you feel like you don’t understand reality.

What To Do About It

  • Begin to get yourself back
  • Don’t let anyone annihilate your feelings
  • Own your reality, stay in it, and hold tight
  • Feel your own pain and disconnection from yourself
  • Stop trying to change the narcissist’s reality
  • Treat yourself with self-protectiveness and compassion
  • Set boundaries
  • Boundary off belittling feedback
  • Get out of an abusive relationship
  • Get into therapy
  • Recognize the emotional exhaustion & take care of self
  • Listen to those who say they don’t like how you’re being treated. If you defend that treatment, really evaluate the relationship

Measuring Narcissism

  • Measured on the Likert Scale from a 1-7, some as short as one question
  • Narcissists are likely to self-identify on this written scale (asked directly) even though they don’t want others to perceive they are narcissists. They admit to it because they see everyone as less intelligent than them, but resist a “diagnosis” because there is nothing wrong with them.
  • Associated to some degree to dismissing / avoidant blue attachment.  This makes sense, remember blue is about “self” and need to attend to interpersonal relationships whereas red preoccupied anxious attachment leaning tend to be “other” oriented and need to ground in themself to move toward the balance of green – security.




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