Self-Loathing – The High Price of Giving In to the Narcissist

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Narcissists are skillful manipulators.  They swaddle us in an encouraging (yet false) intimacy to get what they want.  When we don’t submit to their demands, we are met with threats, guilt-trips, and punishment.  In order to avoid such uncomfortable interactions, we give in to them so we can relax into a temporary illusion of comfort and safety.

Later, we feel annoyed and insulted because we’ve given up our own desires to make them happy.   As a result, we accumulate negative inner dialogue that’s always brewing just below the surface.

I never stand up for myself”, “I always give them what they want, but they never compromise”, “I always let them have their way”, “When am I ever going to grow a spine and say what I mean?”, “I’m such a loser.

You’ve Been Blackmailed

Narcissists use emotional blackmail to keep us under their control.  They know we want the relationship to work and use our vulnerabilities against us.  In order to gain their love and approval, we give them our compliance.  For example, if you once disclosed that you felt unloved by your family, they will say they can see why.  If you pride yourself on being generous, they will call you selfish and uncaring.  Over time, this becomes the foundation of the relationship.  They do this to create pressure so we will acquiesce.

Emotional blackmail can be hard to detect because often the Narcissist will come across as sweet and giving.  Other times, they are openly aggressive.  Resultantly, you always carry a vague feeling of confusion and resentment.  If you’ve experienced any of the following examples of emotional blackmail,  you’ve become a target of this covert power struggle:

  • You are “rewarded” for giving in to their demands.  This may seem like compromise in the beginning.  For example, if you agree to take care of their sick parent on their behalf, they might reward you with an engagement ring.  If you tell them you aren’t able to do it, they will say you aren’t “family” material.
  • They make it clear in no uncertain terms that they will make your life difficult if their demands are not met.  Let’s say your partner is extremely jealous and wants you to dress like a schoolmarm.  If you don’t follow their criteria, you will be called a prostitute every day before leaving the house.
  • They give you the impression that their demands are reasonable and constantly threaten to end the relationship if you don’t submit.  For instance, if you aren’t able to keep up with being their 24/7 caretaker, they will say you haven’t done anything commendable and that there is a line of women just waiting to take your place.
  • If you apply for credit for their use, they will finally take you to meet the family.

Personal experience:  When my Ex and I were newlyweds, he wanted me to accompany him to his job and sit in the car for eight hours, waiting for his shift to end.  When this first started, his excuse was that because of the early hours, he wasn’t able to make the one-hour drive without falling asleep.  So, when I had the day off, I agreed to drive him to work and would keep myself busy for eight hours by reading and writing in his vehicle.  When his schedule changed to the night shift, he would sneak me in and I’d sleep in one of the empty patient rooms.  At this point, his line was that he couldn’t bear to be away from me.

I later realized he was extremely jealous and didn’t want me to be around anyone else, including my own friends and family.  He was afraid they would sway me in a way that would have a negative impact on our relationship.  When I stopped accompanying him to his job, I was suddenly a selfish, cheating whore who didn’t care about him or the relationship.  For a while, his bullying worked.  I resumed putting all of my other priorities on the back-burner for the purpose of letting him have his way so I could get the “good” side of him.

Make the Distinction

But what about making compromises?  I don’t want to come across as being selfish.

There’s a difference between being selfish versus not establishing healthy boundaries.  If your partner insists on getting their way with all the important things and always wants more no matter what, you are being emotionally blackmailed. Compromise implies that both parties will come away feeling satisfied, not just one.  If you don’t make this clear, they will regularly assume you will give in to them.

Don’t be fooled by your blackmailer masking the truth in a way that makes you question your perception about what’s happening.

Acknowledge Your Part in It

Blackmail takes two.  One person does the blackmailing, while the other person receives it.  If it weren’t for our giving in to the Narcissist’s demands, they wouldn’t be able to repeatedly pull it off.  There comes a time when you must stop allowing them to use your insecurities and passions against you in order to get their way.  This will take a great amount of courage, especially if it’s become a normal part of the relationship dynamic.

When you cease caving in to their demands, you stop rewarding them for their actions, and effectively stop giving them permission to keep doing it.


When we repetitively make someone else more important, we begin to loathe ourselves and lose confidence.  We no longer have integrity because we’ve let them take advantage of us time and again, showing them that they are more important than we are.  In turn, we take out our frustrations on either ourselves or other people we care about.

It’s one of the many reasons we have a hard time leaving the Narcissist when 1) they discard us, or 2) we’ve made the decision to end the relationship.  We’ve lost our sense of identity and don’t know who we’d be without them because everything has always revolved around them for so long.  We’ve allowed them to alienate us from friends and family.  We feel ashamed and believe the Narcissist is the only person who will accept us.

Resolve to Change

Every time you give up your interests, your friends, and your desires in order to make the Narcissist (or anyone else) happy, you give up the core of yourself and diminish your wholeness.  This can lead to a decline in mental health, manifestation of physical symptoms, less efficiency at the workplace, and the betrayal of others to placate the Narcissist.

Is one person really worth all of that?  Especially when you’ve gotten nothing in return?

How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others” ~ Steve Maraboli

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sweetmarie9619 says February 1, 2014

My head knows what you say is true, and its pretty much what I say to others. But on the other hand, in my case I obviously don’t take it to heart. I think to some degree we are all like that, though, because it’s an integral part of the conditioning they plant in our heads.

Did I have him arrested and charged? No. The hard thing about being with someone who works with drug agencies as an informant and with another bureau doing weapons sales is that once they stack enough favors with said agencies, they are pretty much bosom buddies after this. Every time after he helped get over two dozen drug dealers busted, because of obvious promotions and good press, they got him out of trouble. Even in the case where he and my stepmother got into an argument and he tried to grab the car keys away from her and hit her hip instead… they got him out of an AUO and an assault charge. See my predicament with this? Just a little bit a treachery goes a long way. And I never imagined people could live like he does. I never thought it was possible, because it’s just too evil.

Nope, I instead opted to tuck my tail between my legs and sneak away like a scared puppy who had an accident on the kitchen floor. I owned everything in the apartment because he was also a freeloader, so when I left, all I had to my name were a purse and the clothes on my back. But I can’t complain, because I am grateful that I have my life. Everything else is replaceable and I don’t miss anything I lost.

I have my triggers, my fun “neurotic tendencies,” PTSD, etc… most of guilt and self blame are gone. It’s this one thing I am having trouble forgiving myself for. But really it’s because it involves someone else whom I can imagine being friends with if we met under different circumstances. She isn’t some foggy, obscured idea of person hovering out there without a name. I met her and her daughters the same weekend I found out she wasn’t his ex. That was the worst feeling ever.

    Kim Saeed says February 2, 2014

    You are a strong woman. You didn’t slump away; that took a lot of courage considering his job and connections. Wow.

    Karma has a good way of taking care of people like him. I’m glad you got away safely and are here to share your stories with us.

sweetmarie9619 says February 1, 2014

I thought for a few minutes before I decided to share this, because I still carry no small fear of judgment over it. I actually didn’t even address this on my blog until a few months ago. So I just ask if anyone replies to this that they be kind about it, and you will understand why I say this once you read it. Some decisions aren’t always as easy as you think, and I struggle daily, over thirteen months after getting away from him in terms of the impact my decisions had on another human being.

In the early days of Kevin and I, as with all abusers, there was kindness and affection. Something in me changed the first time he put his hands on me, and through no deliberate intent of my own, I started cutting him off because I could not feel affection or desire for someone who hit me. I was too afraid of him being anywhere near me, because he was a monster.

Several months after the first time he put his hands on me — in the form of throwing me against the bathroom wall and choking me until I started to lose consciousness so he stopped and opted to punch me in the chest instead — I found out he was still married. I knew about the children he basically abandoned, but she was his ex he said, and even a few in his family said so. But, he slipped up, right about the time his father passed. I cut him off. We became roommates of the strangest kind. I didn’t want him near me, touching me. I just wanted him to go away. He questioned me about it, and I was honest in my reply. “You’re married, I can’t do it.”

Several months he decided to start spending a lot of time around a woman I learned later (as in after I left) was at one time someone who shared needles to shoot drugs. Then he decided to reveal to me the addict in the closet and started running around with active female addicts who were Hep C and HIV positive. I think it goes without saying on top of being afraid of him, being disgusted that he was married, and then running around with people who illnesses and engaged in behavior that could at the very least make me sick, not to mention give me something that could be fatal, I became petrified of the thought of being with him. So then I really couldn’t do it.

But he had a way with…. gaining compliance. The arguments didn’t work, so he kept trying things until he found something that worked and devastated how I felt about myself in the process. As if the years of verbal battery — malicious and cruel — weren’t enough. He would let me fall asleep one night for about a half hour. Now if you knew me, you know that once I have been asleep for that long, if I get woken up, I am not coherent. Kind of in a daze. So he would wait about that long, and come up behind me and punch me full force in the back of the head and start an argument, which would turn into a physical attack… all over why I wouldn’t sleep with him. This would go on the entire night, and I would still have to be up during the day to do his bidding or work.

By the eighth night of this, I was pretty much worthless. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t function, and I’d be half asleep standing up. I’d be in so much pain physically from being repeatedly hit in the head that I would begin to consider giving in to him, to make it stop. And once I finally made that decision and he had his way, he would beat me up immediately afterward as punishment for my non-compliance.

For several days after, I was emotionally distraught. Talk about self-loathing… I endured this, and in some ways still do, because of the impossibly horrible choice he gave me: get tortured until you give in, or betray yourself and feel like a jerk but have temporary “safety” — even if you have to stick the figurative knife in an innocent woman’s back to do it. It’s obvious to me now thirteen months after leaving that I still am emotionally distraught over it, because I try to ignore it. Because I can’t reconcile the choices I made. I can’t come to peace with them, because to me they are unforgiveable. Self-loathing.

Obviously I would never tell someone else who was in my position that them having to make that choice made them a jerk, vile, unforgiveable. My objectivity toward others in this regard isn’t twisted into a heap of mangled, jagged junk. I know that they would have been making whatever choice they needed to at the time to the violence (at least for this one thing) to stop. Because was it really worth risking their life? I would tell them to forgive themselves, because they were sexually abused by a monster who felt he was so godlike that he deserved absolute obeisance. No matter what the cost. That they had no control over the situation.. and if they were like me ex, continuing to be non-compliant could have cost them their lives.

But this is me. In my head I have clear ideals of right versus wrong. In my head I don’t give in no matter what, because there was a woman out there with two daughters, raising them on her own, because she was saddled with a beast of human being who discarded her like trash. Most times I was able to endure and he would give up, but when he created the perfect storm, and I was too exhausted and in too much pain to continue to endure, I gave in. Gave him his way, basically spitting in her face.

There is no way that I can communicate the immense burden of guilt I carry for this. Even if I was trapped and brutalized by a monster. Even if he coerced me. Logically, I know this, but still… The self-loathing is there, gurgling chaotically just below the surface.

    Kim Saeed says February 1, 2014


    I don’t judge you at all, and I don’t think anyone else would, either. It took me a few moments to be able to respond because I was…am…seething with anger over what this monster did to you.

    You did not spit in her face, Marie. You did what you needed to do for your survival, and also to gain a few moments of peace. I’m sure she would have understood because she probably endured similar treatment from him. You’ve left him, and there really isn’t more you could have done, except turn him into the police (perhaps you did and I missed it). Men like him are cowards.

    Are you seeing a therapist? I hate that you are experiencing so much guilt over this. I realize you have clear ideals of right and wrong, but you underwent torture. TORTURE. Did you ever look at it from that perspective? I really hope you can work on forgiving yourself because until you do, this will haunt you endlessly. You are a beautiful person, inside and out. You did what you needed to do under extreme and traumatic circumstances.

Susan Lattwein says January 31, 2014

Hi Kim. Thanks for the post, great as usual. The self-loathing can also come from saying things they want you to say, like putting others down to keep them happy. I wonder why that is such a strong habit to break. I’ve self-loathed over that. Cheers, Susan

inceptionspark says January 31, 2014

Wow – great article – great site.

    Kim Saeed says January 31, 2014

    Thanks! So glad you stopped by 🙂

idiotwriter says January 31, 2014

Really good Kim – (as always) – it is so easy for the lines to blur over really quickly where we start thinking we ARE being selfish if we do not meet their needs at the click of the fingers. It should not be so – but there is often a fine line between loving servitude and kindness and slavery. People who are in touch with the emotional aspect of others and themselves are so so vulnerable to these twits – all we want to do is give and make people happy – and it CAN be so subtle to begin with but gentle like a fisherman they real you in and it becomes more and more and more.

Joao Amaral says January 30, 2014

I loved this line Kim “They give you the impression that their demands are reasonable and constantly threaten to end the relationship if you don’t submit.”.

One day she threatened me to end the relationship because instead of taking a cab back home we took the subway… It was early and I didn’t want to cab for 30 minutes as I knew I would be the one who would have to pay for it.

    Kim Saeed says January 31, 2014

    And there you have it. What kind of person does it take to end a relationship over something as trivial as a cab ride?

    They are essentially 4 yr-olds in adult bodies. Always throwing a tantrum and whining about something.

StrongerSoulSurvivor says January 30, 2014

From early on, my narc regularly blew off work to accompany me to my job. This meant sitting in my car outside my workplace the whole day – I was so anxious my colleagues would notice and think it was weird. He used the excuse that he couldn’t bear to be away from me, but as the years went by and his extreme jealousy emerged he actually told me that he was coming along to keep an eye on me!

When he worked weekends, from time to time he would also insist that I came along too. His favourite daydream was that we’d work together and be together 24/7 (apart from when he wanted to disappear, of course!)

    Kim Saeed says January 31, 2014

    Looking back, I feel so embarrassed about many of the things I agreed to, as if they were normal. That’s a huge indicator of how deeply we were brainwashed.

    Sometimes I daydream that I could do it all over again. I think he might come out of it missing some teeth, but you didn’t hear that from me 🙂

Cindy Baker says January 30, 2014

Reblogged this on Poetry Inspector aka Simple Pleasures and commented:
More from Kim- Excellent and thought provoking

Anna says January 30, 2014

My soon to be ex-husband used to have me come up to his work and sit with him. He worked evenings in a small office where very few people were. I’d get so bored, but he said he wanted to just be with me and at that time I was so brainwashed by him, I believed it and really wanted to be with him that much, too. I think it was just so he could keep an eye on me and make sure I was remaining totally devoted to him.

Anna says January 30, 2014

I love “ROAR” – one of my inner healing songs.

bethbyrnes says January 30, 2014

Mine worked on me this way from the start. He would tell me to meet him somewhere and then keep me waiting for hours, blaming it on traffic. I now know he was hitting bars and strip joints while I waited for him. I wasn’t pretty enough, rich enough, smart enough, nice enough — so why was he with me? It never made sense. Happy to be rid of him. When he calls to ‘touch base’ (really hoping to find out I am sick or dead, no joke, he’s even hinted as much), I try to keep it short and say nothing to peak his interest. I wish I could change my phone number but it would just mean he would find it again. Yech!

    Kim Saeed says January 30, 2014

    He must have been really intimidated by you to say all of those things and make you wait as if you were nothing.

    I think the degree of their punishment is a direct reflection of how envious they are of their targets.

    I think you are beautiful, as anyone who meets you would surely think. Does he call you on your cell phone? You can block his number with an app called Mr Number. It will even hang up on him without going to voice mail. It’s great 🙂

    You know, there is a saying, “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know” and I often wonder if this is why these disordered people keep popping back up like an evil version of “whack a mole”. For example, I had to go to a meeting that included my Ex yesterday. Thought I was completely over the past. Came home, everything seemed normal, then I was very emotional for a good hour. Thank goodness I was alone.

    Perhaps it showed me I still have some growing to do.

    Fran Macilvey says January 31, 2014

    Dear Beth
    I’m glad you got away. Field your calls so you never have to speak to him again. He is just keeping a string on you that you don’t need. Just decide never to have anything to do with him. Can you do that? xxx :-))

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