Tag Archives: trust

Narcissism Part 5: How to Deal with a Narcissist.

“Roar of the Raptor” by Mimi Stuart©

Don’t Trust a Narcissist

Avoid seeking a trusting intimate relationship with a narcissist. If you decide to enjoy the narcissist’s charm and charisma, do not get carried away into trusting him or her with inner secrets. Do not set yourself up for betrayal and hurt by having confidence in his or her loyalty. Do not let your feelings of self-worth depend on a narcissist’s love, actions or behavior.

Speak to the Narcissist’s Self-interest

It is generally helpful in a relationship to express your feelings or needs. But if you are dealing with a true narcissist, do not expect empathy and understanding. You will be more effective in communicating with a narcissist when you show how certain actions or behavior might benefit him or her.

Don’t Disagree

Beware of disagreeing with or contradicting narcissists. They behave as though they are strong and confident but they are easily offended. They do not want to be viewed as inadequate. If you confront their weaknesses, they may become vengeful and punishing. Keep your discussion focused on practical goals rather than personal accountability.

Be on your Guard

Narcissists hide their own flaws and project problems on to other people. Beware of allowing them to blame you for too much. If you are doing business with a narcissist, keep a paper trail. In marriage or divorce, hire a good attorney.

Separating from Narcissistic Parents

It is sad to be raised by narcissistic parents, because they view their children as extensions of their own false self-image they present to the world. If the child disagrees with a narcissistic parent, that parent becomes hostile and volatile. If the child does not embrace the family image or the image the parent projects onto the child, the narcissistic parent rejects or loses interest in the child. It is helpful not to take this personally, but rather to see that the parent’s callousness and preoccupation with family image are caused by his or her own low self-esteem.

Don’t hope for Change

It takes a lot of motivation for anyone to change. Unfortunately, narcissists rarely have the desire to change because they don’t think they need to, as they are not self-reflective. Their underlying problem is a weak sense of self. Thus, they focus on developing a strong outer shell consisting of their image. They rarely seek counseling, but if they do go, they tend to manipulate the situation in order to look good rather than become self-aware to improve their lives.

If you are in relationship with a narcissist, it is helpful to recognize their traits in order to protect yourself. You can then choose when to encourage the narcissist’s self-image, when to fortify your sense of humor, and when to avoid dealing with him or her all together.

Avoid being Narcissistic

Note that it is natural and healthy for a child to go through a narcissistic stage. Even as adults, most of us still have some mild narcissistic tendencies. So while it feels good to be praised and complimented, we should beware of becoming dependent on others for their validation, admiration, and approval to boost our feelings of self-worth. Psychological dependence on others comes at a cost. Thus, it is important to be reflective to make sure we are considering and balancing our own self-interest with the wellbeing of others.

There is a big difference, however, between being simply insecure or self-centered and having the condition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If you are self-reflective enough to even wonder whether you are a narcissist, let alone read a psychology blog, it is highly unlikely that you are!

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read Narcissism Part 1: Symptoms

Read “Dealing with the narcissist.”

References: “Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders.”

“I want to save my relationship with a pathological liar.”

"Perception" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Perception” by Mimi Stuart ©

“I’m in a very desperate situation. I have been with my man for 5 years.
He is a pathological liar. I control the accounts because he accumulated a lot of debts, but I gave him his credit card back and he went away and got very drunk and spent money we needed! He acts as though he hates me and has no more desire for me, while ignoring me for three weeks. He says he doesn’t know what he wants. Meanwhile, I am depressed and feel desperate, but I love him and want to save our relationship.”


I wish I could tell you how to save your relationship, but it really can’t be done and shouldn’t be hoped for. This is the reason for your depression and desperation. Desperation occurs when a person feels hopeless. Part of you wants something that is impossible — a loving, trusting relationship with a pathological liar who spends recklessly and treats you with contempt.

I do not recommend that you try to save your relationship. It can’t be done. The only way you will truly feel better is if you regain your sense of self and get your life back by becoming independent and free of this man.

There are several reasons why you should not depend on this man in any way. Any one of these give you enough reason to terminate the relationship.

He is a pathological liar

First and foremost, you cannot have a real relationship with a pathological liar. Trust and clear, honest communication are the bases for an intimate relationship. You can never trust a deceitful person. Nor can you depend on someone who lacks a sense of values and ethics. You cannot even get to know who he is because he is always putting on a façade in order to manipulate you and those around him.

He is financially reckless

No matter how much you love someone, when that person is financially reckless, there is no basis for security. Romance with someone so reckless is very fleeting. If he is a grown man and cannot control his spending, that is enough reason to become completely independent of him — financially and emotionally. Do not live with him and do not share any expenses with him.

When you try to monitor his spending to stop his recklessness, you become a surrogate parent. This will destroy his desire for you, and make you feel resentful. He would also lose respect for you for being so desperate as to tolerate his recklessness.

He treats you with contempt

It’s very difficult to have a relationship with someone who is sullen and withdrawn. Some people withdraw for an hour or perhaps a day, but if this happens frequently or lasts much longer, the relationship will deteriorate into misery. It sounds as though you are already there. Hating you and ignoring you for weeks shows a serious contempt for you and a lack of maturity and compassion for your suffering.

At this point in your relationship the key question to ask yourself is what steps you need to take to achieve what is in your best interest and the best interest of your children.

In order to regain your self-respect and well-being, you need to resist the short-term gratification of hoping for happiness with this man. Your desperation will diminish if you find your inner strength and take control of your life without a man who is a pathological liar, reckless spender, and full of contempt toward you.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Read “Contempt: ‘Don’t look at me that way!’”

Read “’How could he leave me? I did everything for him.’ Being needed versus being wanted.”

Read “My life feels out of control.”

“My boyfriend broke up with me last week.”

"Prism" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Prism” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

“Hi Alison,

My boyfriend broke up with me last week. He was always a little suspicious because I started seeing him before I broke up with my previous boyfriend. He said he loves me but he’s unhappy and doesn’t desire me anymore. He also said that there might be an opportunity for us in the future. I don’t know what to think.



It sounds to me as though he has mixed feelings about you, as most people do when they are honest and are able to handle ambivalence in a new relationship. At least he’s not like many people who, in order to justify breaking up, vilify the other person and forget all the good experiences they shared.

My guess is that the reason he says he doesn’t rule out getting back together in the future is that he either wants to soften the blow of breaking up with you or he wants to keep his options open.

Possible Reasons For the Breakup

1. The fact that he doesn’t desire you any more may be because he thinks you are untrustworthy given that you started seeing him before you broke up with your previous boyfriend. He may love you and be attracted to you, but he doesn’t want to risk experiencing the pain of potential betrayal.

2. Or perhaps he’s just responding to the normal waning of fascination that inevitably occurs in any romantic relationship. He may be the type who is always seeking that initial excitement when two people initially fall in love. You can probably look at his past history to see if he has had a continuous stream of short-term relationships. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t want to try to have a long-term relationship with him anyway.

3. Another possibility is that he has met someone else and doesn’t want to admit it.

4. Or there may be something bothering him that he is not telling you in order to spare your feelings. If you are curious for the purpose of understanding and your personal growth, you might ask him to tell you what he thinks is missing in your relationship.

5. Finally, there may be something else going on in his life that he hasn’t talked to you about. He says he’s unhappy. You never know if he is facing some other challenges in his life.

Whatever the reason is, if I were you, I would view him as a friend if that is possible, and move on with your life. There is nothing more gratifying than being with someone who really wants to be with you. Also, try keeping your next own relationships clean in terms of trustworthiness. Break up before you date a new person, and everyone involved will respect you more.

Good luck,


Read “I think I am a pursuer. My girlfriend initiated a breakup. I want to salvage this relationship. What can I do?”

Read “He left me after six months of being together. I keep hoping he’ll come back. Should I call him?”

“Can I trust you?”

"Burning Love" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Burning Love” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Trust is developed over time by observing a person’s behavior. A good indicator of trustworthiness is a person’s ability to resist immediate impulses. Take note of the following:

• Does she have impulse control?

• Is he able to resist short-term gratification in order to pursue long-term fulfillment?

• Does she flake out on promises because something more fun, lucrative, or interesting popped up?

• Did he fail to follow through because he just didn’t feel like it?

Generally, people who can control their immediate impulses in one area can control them in most other areas, an exception being for vastly different spheres of enticement. For example, some people care much more about their own physical sensations than the feelings of other people, or vice versa. So someone who might never succumb to an extramarital affair might give in to her weakness for indulging in chocolate, and vice versa.

Being trustworthy in a relationship means that we keep the trust of others sacred, knowing they are vulnerable if we betray them.

So rather than asking someone “Can I trust you?”, take note of their behavior. If you see that someone is impulsive, has cheated before, or tends to be dishonest in order to gratify their immediate desires, then it’s very likely that that person won’t be able to resist a similar set of temptations in the future.

Distrust should prevent you from counting on someone to behave differently from their past. Distrust should not lead you to live in a state of suspicious and fearful wishful thinking. So if someone’s behavior doesn’t lead you to trust them, avoid getting into a relationship with them where you need to trust them. Otherwise, you’ll live in a constant state of naïveté and disappointment, or fear and anger.

Unfortunately, sometimes people who are trustworthy can deviate from their norm. There are no guarantees in life. We have to be ready to handle whatever comes our way as best we can.

Yet, if someone’s past conduct indicates trustworthiness, don’t waste time living in a state of suspicion and fear. Give them your trust, while remaining aware. If someone has been trustworthy, enjoy the fact that you can trust him or her.

I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Creating Trust: ‘Don’t you trust me? Despite my faults, you know I love you.’”

Read “After multiple affairs, he promised he’d never cheat on me again. Can I trust him this time?”

Guest Author Sam Vaknin, PhD
Romantic Jealousy:

“I can’t think of him/her with another man/woman.”

“K’ayab'” Mayan Collection by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Pathological envy is not the same as romantic jealousy. These two emotions have little to do with each other.

Romantic jealousy is the product of a violation of trust; a breach of romantic exclusivity of intimacy; and a denial of possession. It also involves damage to the self-esteem and self-perception of the cuckolded spouse, as he compares himself unfavourably to the “competition”: the affair is perceived to be an overall rejection of the cheated partner.

But there’s much more to it when it comes to narcissists.

Romantic jealousy is a narcissistic defence. It reflects the narcissistic traits and behaviors of possessiveness; objectification (treating the spouse and regarding her as an object); and extension (treating the spouse and regarding her as an extension of oneself: devoid of autonomy, personality, needs, wishes, and emotions). Thus, the spouse’s cheating (as in infidelity) is perceived by the narcissist to be tantamount to a violation of and an encroachment on his self, or, more simply put: it amounts to a major narcissistic injury.

Exactly like non-narcissists, narcissists are humiliated by having been lied to; suffer abandonment anxiety; compare themselves with the spouse’s new paramour; and feel deprived when the “services” of the unfaithful spouse are no longer available to them (a denial of service which may encompass sex, emotional intimacy, house chores, companionship, or any other function.)

But, in the narcissist, the violation of trust provokes full-scale and raging paranoia (where else lurks deceit?); the breach of exclusivity threatens the aforementioned narcissistic enmeshment; and the denial of possession translates to an overwhelming fear of loss and to crippling abandonment anxiety. Some narcissists even begin to display codependent behaviors, such as clinging, in a desperate attempt to regain their control over the doomed relationship.

Additionally, the narcissist’s self-perception as unique, perfect, omnipotent, and omniscient – in short: his False Self – is threatened and challenged by his spouse’s affair. If he is, indeed, unique and perfect – why did his spouse stray? If he is omnipotent – how did he fail to prevent the transgression? And if he is omniscient – how come he was the last to know about his wife’s fling, or, worse, her long-term illicit liaison?

Narcissists are, consequently, even romantically jealous of intimate partners their spouse has had before the marriage and after the divorce. Some narcissists, realizing that they cannot control their spouses forever, become swingers or engage in group sex, where they feel that, by bringing adultery home, they have “tamed” and “controlled” it. If you can’t beat it – join it, as the saying goes.

Romantic jealousy is a warning sign to be heeded and a worrisome red flag. Use the “Volatility Threshold” and “Threat Monitoring” instruments (see my previous articles) to shield yourself from its inevitable outcomes.

The “Volatility Threshold” tool is a compilation of 1-3 types of behaviours that you consider “deal-breakers” in your partner. Observe him and add up the number of times he had misbehaved. Decide in advance how many “strikes” would constitute a “deal-breaker” and when he reaches this number – simply leave. Do not share with him either the existence or the content of this “test” lest it might affect his performance and cause him to playact and prevaricate.

The “Threat Monitoring” tool is comprised of an inventory of warning signs and red flags that, in your view and from your experience, herald and portend an extreme and danerous attack of romantic jealousy. In general, try to act as though you were a scientist: construct alternative hypotheses (interpretations of behaviours and events) to account for what you regard as transgressions and bad omens. Test these hypotheses before you decide to end it all with a grand gesture, a dramatic exit, or a decisive finale. This “scientific” approach to your intimate relationship has the added benefit of mitigating your anxiety.

Early on you should confer with your intimate partner and inform him of what, to you, constitutes unacceptable behavior: what types of conduct he should avoid and what modes of communication he should eschew. You should both agree on protocols of communication: rules of conduct, fears, needs, triggers, wishes, boundaries, requests, priorities, and preferences should all be shared on a regular basis and in a structured and predictable manner. Remember: structure, predictability, even formality are great antidotes to pernicious miscommunication.

But there is only that much that you can do. Your partner may require therapy. If push comes to shove (for instance: if he becomes violent, or paranoid) insist on it. If he adamantly refuses to help himself – don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can do it for him.

By Sam Vaknin, PhD, Author of “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited,” a comprehensive analysis of narcissism and abusive relationships.

Read “Jealous Partner: ‘How can you be so jealous! You’re being ridiculous.’”

Read Guest Author Sam Vaknin, PhD’s “I Can’t Live Without Him/Her.”

Creating Trust:
“Don’t you trust me? Despite my faults, you know I love you.”

"Fat Albert" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Trust is as important as love in sustaining a long-term loving relationship. It’s wonderful to be affectionate and passionate. However, these qualities alone are not a substitute for trust.

Why would your partner not trust you?

Trust is influenced by two things:

1) a person’s past experiences that may have nothing to do with you, and

2) that person’s observation of your pattern of behavior.

1. Past Experiences

When people feel they have been abandoned as a child, a divorce for example where infidelity is involved, they may more easily read abandonment into the behavior of others. They have learned to expect untrustworthy behavior and project it onto people in their lives.

Projection based on past experiences is unavoidable. However, as people become more self-aware, they come to realize exactly how much of their own judgment about others is informed by their past and how much is objective. Unless they are the controlling type blaming others for everything, people tend to let go of their projections the longer they are in a relationship with someone who is trustworthy.

However, if someone is unreasonably distrustful, it’s important to defend yourself. You can do so with kindness and compassion for the pain that lingers on from that person’s past.

2. Observations of Behavior

When someone observes inconsistency in your behavior, such as coming home late without calling, you give them a reason to wonder what changes are going on in the relationship.

The ability to imagine possible negative scenarios is critical to avoiding being taken advantage of. While some people get carried away with “catastrophizing,” people do need some ability to generalize from specific events to avoid being completely naïve in dealing with others. Yet they need to verify their suspicions with the reality of a specific situation to avoid unfair jumping to conclusions.

How to Develop Trust

Trust is essential to a loving relationship. There are certain behaviors that help create trust in a relationship. They may seem mundane and more suited for keeping a job than enhancing a relationship. Yet, while these qualities don’t seem hot or alluring in themselves, they do create an essential foundation for the long-term on which to add warmth, affection, and passion.

1. Be considerate and responsible.

This includes being on time and calling when you’re late coming home.

When people are flaky, it means that they tend to follow their impulses at the expense of long-term relationships and goals. When you do what you say you will do, your friends and partner can rely on you to follow through, because they know you have the ability to resist temptation.

2. Be honest.

If your partner knows that you tell lies or hide things from others to avoid their reactivity, then it’s safe to assume that you will do the same to avoid your partner’s negative reactions. While there is room for tact and diplomacy, unnecessary fibs show that your word cannot be trusted.

When others know that you don’t tell lies or hide things, especially when the circumstances make it difficult to be honest, then they will learn to believe what you say.

3. Be fair.

Trust fades for someone who is unfair in word or action. If you complain about others behind their backs or take advantage of others, you will be viewed as untrustworthy.

Instead, try to be fair-minded in judgment of others and in doing your fair share of work.

4. Be supportive.

If people know you are on their side, then you can disagree and stand your ground without being over-reactive. When they know that they can talk openly without getting a crazed reaction from you, they will be more willing to trust you with their private thoughts. Listen before you react. Then you can be trusted to be open-minded and compassionate.

While a trusting relationship is not enough to create long-term passion, it does create the space for people to risk being open, loving, and passionate for the long-term.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “After multiple affairs, he promised he’d never cheat on me again. Can I trust him this time?”

Read “Catastrophizing: ‘I failed my test. Now they’ll know how stupid I am. I’ll never get into college and get a decent job.’”

Read “Overgeneralization: ‘You never show appreciation.’”