How Narcissists Emphathize

The other day, I had a wonderful opportunity to pick up my kids from their dad’s store and take them to my son’s friend’s indoor swimming party.  Afterwards, I returned them to him.  This was on “his weekend”, and really was a win-win situation as the kids weren’t at the store to bug him while he worked.  However, I will say that he still asked to keep them later on Monday to ‘compensate’ for the time lost.  (‘What?? You’re working during that time anyway, and keeping them hostage at your store!’).  Nonetheless, I’m grateful to have seen them and be able to make the long weekend with him seem a little less long.

Back to the title of the post… when I went to drop them back off, my five year old son asked for about 5 hugs before I left, and on the fifth hug, broke into tears. “I want to go with you, Mommy”.  He’s not a child that cries much or easily.  He has a high pain threshold and can deal with disappointments pretty easily.  He has his head buried in my neck, crying.  His dad comes over and says “you don’t want to leave your mom. It’s okay to feel that way.”  Nice, right?  Yes… but it’s a learned statement that he’s picked up from somewhere else, and words/actions don’t match.

Thankfully, he has another employee in the store, so he stays relatively calm (he has called the police in the past when the kids don’t want to transition).  However, the real narcissist cannot stay cloaked.  His next comment was when I asked what they were doing next – trying to come up with something, anything, that could give my little guy something to focus on rather than focusing on missing me.  I tell my ex that this is what I’m doing.  His comment?  “What he needs is a good swift kick in the rear”.   Now this is the guy were used to!

Intermingled in this is a comment about how they’re going home to watch football together, and how the ex will play beyblades with our five year old.  “I’ll battle with you”, the ex says.  Ok… now he’s trying to be nice again.

Shortly later, as our son continues to cry, the next comment comes up “We’re not playing this game. You need to come with me.  Come on… we’re leaving.”  Now we’re back to the real narcissist who thinks that this is just bullshit that his son is crying over his mom, and he needs to grow up and deal with it.  (oh… that was another comment he said “deal with it”.)

It’s like the ex is on a swing… and one side spits out a decent comment, learned from watching someone parent nicely and mimicking it (albiet without being geniune) – and the other side of the swing is the impatient Mr. Hyde, who’s had enough of the crap and can’t understand why his kids just don’t do what they are told to do.

I remember the time before I knew why my ex might behave this way. It was confusing to me, as an adult, that I never knew what side of the proverbial coin that I would get.  I can only imagine how confusing that it is to my children, who always hope that the ‘good dad” shows up.


13 Responses to “How Narcissists Emphathize”

  1. Miss Marie says:

    I don’t agree with how either of you handled the crying situation with your five year old… I went through the same thing with my five year old and found that the best way to end the meltdown. Is simply explain to your son he will have a good time at Daddys house and that you will be back to pick him up and then give him a time and day you will pick him up then simply give a quick hug and leave. It sounded like you only prolonged the situation and made your son even more nervous about you leaving.

  2. Valerie says:

    I first want to say thank you so much for this. I have been dealing with my NPD for 5 years now. I thought for the longest time I was the one with all the issues and finally I was told that he was a narcissist from a professional.
    It’s so difficult to find information regarding this very sad disorder. I have 2 children 15 and 12; who hate going to see their NPD dad. The 15 year old started refusing to go. I am so worried about their mental well being and how this will impact them long term.

    • Hello Valerie! I’m sorry to hear that you are dealing with the situation, but happy to connect. I read somewhere that the person who thinks that may have issues and are worried about it are the healthy ones, because the person who thinks they are perfect can’t see their own issues. It seems to be pretty true so far 🙂 It is, as you say, a very sad disorder. I am very thankful to be healthy and disorder-free. I can’t imagine dealing with the emptiness that they feel every day. In terms of information about it and what we can do – I am on a quest and will continue to post what I can find as well as what I find works personally. In the meantime – you deserve huge kuddos for recognizing the issues and trying to help your kids!

  3. StrongerMe says:

    First, I thought that the title was a joke. I mean, an emphathetic narcissist is an oxymoron or something like that, right?
    Second, that entire conversation described my past YEAR. And pretty much the entire weekend. It is so exhausting. I can’t keep up.

  4. Julie says:

    Npds are heartless. I feel so bad for your son. I read somewhere they NPD males really push sons to be what they see as ideal. Which is what seems to be happening. I have been having my son talk to a nice caring man I know so he realizes that there are men that are different and don’t yell or push. One heartening fact is that NPDs tend to chill out and be more caring (anything is more) the older they get, my guess is hormone changes and fear of dying alone

    • I hope you’re right… I could swear I had seen that they get worse with age. Our son is definitely the “favored” child, and our daughter is the one that carries the burden. I agree with your assessment that my ex seems to be pushing our son to be what he sees as necessary to “be a man” and have even been told that he told my daughter’s counselor that he regrets he’s not around to teach him to be a man. My ex calls the men in my family “pansy-ass” and says that he doesn’t want to be a “step and fetch” like they are! AAAGG. However, I don’t have a male friend for my son to make that regular connection with like you have. I’m hoping to find a good male therapist for him, but they seem to be few and far between.

  5. JenelleMarie says:

    🙁 Your poor son. Sigh. My girls’ have started voicing that they do not feel safe with their father because they dont know what he’s going to do or how he’s going to react. I know being on pins and needles almost ruined my adrenals and thyroid due to my high cortisol levels during our 11 years together, I cant imagine what damage this is doing to our children who are forced to live in a constant ‘flight or fight’ state when they are with their N parent.

    • Yes! I can’t even imagine what it is doing to their developing brains. I think that this is why personality disorders are developed in the first place – because traumatic events happen during childhood which impact children’s development. My son’s way of coping by dissociating is an example – it can later turn into dissociative disorder. I have the same issues still of adrenals and thyroid stress as you mention from your marriage. I am hoping to build awareness that this is what children are living through – and that there is an impact on their emotional wellbeing.

  6. Jenni says:

    I’m soaking in your posts. I feel far less alone knowing someone else has these issues (and I know there are a lot of us!) and has the freedom to write about them. I have a question, though. Does your ex know you write this? And if not, how have you kept it a secret from him? Mine finds everything I write (although hopefully not comments on other people’s blogs) and uses it against me. I use a pen name, I use a second pen name, I use no pen name at all and he still finds me. I’m just curious if you worry that he’ll read what you write…

    But please keep doing it!!! Thank you!!!

    • I wonder how your ex is doing all that? That’s freakishly scary in itself. Could he have put a spyware on your computer? My ex does not know that I write this – it is under a pen name, for our safety. I can only imagine that for him, with his strong need to keep a particular image with the world, how mortified he would be if he knew. My ex isn’t all that socially savvy, or technology savvy. He doesn’t do facebook or twitter, and barely linkedin. He has strong antisocial personality disorder traits – which I’m guessing plays into this behavior. His time online seems to be spent more on finding casual sex encounters which are based on false representations of himself (lol… except he always just uses his real name, just lies about his age, weight).
      Besides being careful not to use names (my kids or his), I try to also be careful about the timing of what’s written, so that it doesn’t entirely match up with what’s going on for us (close but not quite). Anyway… see if you can figure out how he’s finding you. I can’t imagine myself being able to track someone down like that without the use of some illegal software or hacking.


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