An old friend of mine were talking today about similarities in our past relationships. She was involved with a man who absolutely tortured her mentally, while my ex was a lot more subtle in his verbal and psychological abuse. The result, however, was the same - we were both seriously messed up for years afterwards. What I'm wondering is this - are both these men narcissistic? My therapist and I are in agreement that my ex was a cerebral narcissist, but my friends ex was vastly different in a number of ways.
The man she was involved with isolated her completely from family and friends, controlled her every move, called her names, and basically transformed her from a confident woman with a strong sense of identity, to a "slave." He got her pregnant within three months of meeting her. You could even see, in her eyes, how she was seemingly absent. It was eerie. I remember him to be a strange man (as far as his appearance was concerned) and very intimidating. He always seemed to be angry with her and nothing would please him. I found him scary. His friends were mostly people who were less intelligent, people who could be easily controlled, and he didn't have a lot of friends. He was an underachiever, sold marijuana for a living, and was the son of an abusive police officer.
My ex broke down my self-esteem in ways that were much more subtle. He never called me names. He would "rage" or scream at me about how I had hurt his feelings, and i never was told what exactly I had done or said to hurt him. Apologizing made it worse. He didn't isolate me, but rather made sure that all of my friends were also his friends and part of the special "artist" club to which he belonged (and I was only a part of it because of my relationship with him). He was charming and likable (even came across as very sensitive and empathetic). He withheld affection from me and often sex, he ignored me most of the time, was selfish to an astonishing degree, seemed to agree with me whenever I brought up an insecurity (like perhaps I was right to be concerned that I had a character flaw). Something always made him angry, so I walked around on eggshells trying to keep him happy. He complained a lot, bragged a lot to the point of lying, and was a hypochondriac. His work was THE most important thing in his life, his image and hobnobbing with special people came afterwards, and I was somewhere on the list below his cat. His father was a narcissist, very controlling, and someone who also "raged" at his family.
Are both these men narcissists? Is my friend's ex just a more blatant version? How do we account for the differences between them? Just curious . . .
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep.
dx: HPD with borderline tendencies, depression
suicide attempt 10/2/10
rx: Wellbutrin, valium
EMDR guinea pig (I'll let you know if it works)