I was in a relationship, and all seemed to be going well. He was extremely charming, he told me he loved me after a couple weeks and everything was great. Our sex life was fabulous, and we even finished each other's sentences. After about four months of dating, things started to change dramatically. Suddenly he became cold, and had this terrible temper. He began belittling me, and it was his way or the highway.
He was accusing me of cheating, our sex life became all about him, and I even caught him trying to hide porn. He also tried to isolate me from friends and family, among other things. When I first broke up with him, he begged and pleaded for me to stay, he tried to make me feel guilty for "abandoning" him, and he constantly called and e-mailed telling me he would change and how much he still loved me, and that no one would ever love me like he did.
I stood my ground, though I was completely devastated. What do you think happened?
G.R. - Lackawanna
I'm certainly not a doctor, but it sounds to me like your ex suffers from what is known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Clinical statistics indicate that about 1 percent of the population is diagnosed with NPD, and 50 percent to 75 percent of them are male.
A person classified as having NPD has usually suffered an emotional detachment from one or more parents early on in life, or childhood abuse inflicted by parents or other authority figures. There are several, even dozens, of symptoms of NPD that are used for clinical diagnosis, but we will discuss some of the most common.
Narcissists often have a grandiose personality, and believe that money, love and power conquer all. Their idea of love is obsessive, and everlasting, and they put a great deal of emphasis on passion. This is why the fact that your ex proclaimed love after such a short time strikes me as a huge red flag.
They are "one-uppers" and very flashy about their talents and achievements, and will often exaggerate and embellish about these talents to the point of lying. They need to have the best car, the best home, the best everything.
They have issues with entitlement, and feel as though their feelings and demands should take top priority over all others, and they require excessive affection, admiration, and affirmation of how great they are.
As a rule, narcissists are completely devoid of empathy -- they are unable to understand the emotions of others. They are arrogant people, and become intensely frustrated and angry when they are contradicted in any way. Deep down, narcissists are easily hurt and rejected, have low self-esteem, and often harbor secret shame from their past.
There are some obvious red flags of NPD to look for when dating. They are so charming that they overuse pet names, wink after every clever statement, and try to outdo anyone who gets in the way. They have intense and volatile mood swings, often lashing out inappropriately, i.e.: a slow cashier or a bartender who forgot his extra olive. The conversation and getting to know you phase is one-sided.
Often, the narcissist will talk endlessly about himself. He will try to monopolize all of your time, and completely disregards any boundaries. He is a taker, and a blamer. He bores easily, unless all eyes are on him, and enjoys being the center of attention.
He's often voyeuristic, enjoying pornography in excess. During an argument, he will either try to blame you or divert your attention by seducing you. The words "I love you" to him mean "I want you."
The narcissist should be avoided at all costs.
Patti Novak owns Buffalo Niagara Introductions. Please e-mail questions to email@example.com and include your initials and hometown.