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Tony reads two emails from men in relationships with more emotionally immature and/or narcissistic women, and he talks about the challenges a man faces in these types of relationships. Tony references the articles: "Why Men Are More Narcissistic Than Women" by Jeffrey Kluger https://time.com/3734329/narcissism-men-women/ and the often referenced study out of the University of Buffalo, "Study: Men tend to be more narcissistic than women," https://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/03/009.html 

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel to see a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast "Murder on the Couch," where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony's latest podcast, "Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A - Premium Podcast," on the Apple Podcast App. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony's "Magnetize Your Marriage" virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you'll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony's pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

WUTN Episode 60 Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 60 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast, as well as the Waking Up to Narcissism Premium Question and Answer podcast. And the soon to be released, Murder on the Couch, cue the ominous music, podcast with my daughter, Sydney, which is true crime meets therapy. And if you go to the show notes, you will find a link to a trailer on my YouTube channel. And I would highly recommend that. And just to go to tonyoverbay.com and if you can sign up for the newsletter, that will fill you in on all of the things that I'm very excited about, that I could talk for minutes about at the beginning of an episode and also, this one's kind of fun. I've been doing the things that a narcissist will not say. And that series, I guess you would call it, is some reels on Instagram. So you can go find those at Tony Overbay underscore LMFT on Instagram or if you happen to be on Tik Tok, find at virtual couch. I feel like I am about a decade late to the party, but better late than never. That is a really easy forum to just start to record nice therapeutic thoughts or stories or things the narcissist will never say and any of those kinds of videos and I've been posting those pretty regularly on Tik Tok, so go find at virtual couch there. 

So let's get to today's topic. I honestly, at the time of this recording, I'm not sure what title I went to. There was a chance, and I don't think I went with this one, but where the title may be, this one goes out to all the fella’s and that is a, I believe a rap song. Bust a move by young MC where that is the way it starts. And I almost even looked up the words because I'm sure that I probably confabulated the artists, the story, the words, the lyrics. But I want to talk today, I'm going to reference a couple of letters that men have sent me. And I've wanted to do an episode that speaks to a lot of the guys' experiences that are in the relationships with the narcissistic or the more emotionally immature women for quite some time. And to the point where if you are a man who feels like you are in an emotionally abusive or narcissistic or emotionally immature relationship, And I know I've been saying this for a while, but please reach out to me because I am putting a group together. And I think we'll talk about this probably throughout the day, this episode. It's difficult. It's difficult for men to reach out because there is a pride factor. There's a believability factor. And as you'll hear in a couple of the letters I'm going to read today that a lot of the guys that are in these situations really do feel isolated and alone. 

And if you are a woman listening, maybe who has felt that way, am I the narcissist? Again, if you are asking yourself that, you have far too much self-awareness to be considered narcissistic, there might be some emotional immaturity. Like we all have. But I hope that this episode will resonate, that it will know no gender, that I'm going to speak about a man's experience, two men's experiences. Give a little bit of data, the research of why we typically talk about men as more narcissistic. But I feel like you'll see that the traits are the same. That's where I feel like that they truly know no gender and that might resonate with somebody who is a female that's in this relationship with a narcissistic man. 

So I think setting this up with a little, a short story might be funny. At least it will be for me. I can think of a person right now, a guy who emailed me and when Waking Up to Narcissism really started to take off. And I started to get a lot of emails that I got a guy that came back to me and said, hey, I've got plenty of data that says that you're wrong. That women are more narcissistic than men. And I was very familiar with the data that I'm about to share. And so I really responded nicely, I feel like, kindly to the person. I said, man, I appreciate that. Here's the data that I'm referencing that often gets quoted, but I would absolutely love to see the data that you have. And I have never heard back from him. So I just think that's one of those things where I look back on that and I almost feel like that's somebody that they don't know what they don't know. So they feel like if they say, hey, you're wrong, I've got this data. I don't know if in their world, they assume that then I would say, oh my gosh, well, this guy has data. I'm going to jump on my podcast and say, hey everybody, somebody emailed me and told me that he actually says that there are more women narcissists. So, my bad. Let me take back the last, however many episodes because I've been working off of this data from the University of Buffalo over three decades and hundreds of thousands of people, but I got a guy on the line that says that he's got some, something new. So I know I may sound facetious right now, but I just feel like that it also kind of encapsulates, I think, the way that sometimes the emotionally immature work where they will say, well, I disagree. 

And I say, man, I'm, I will take that disagreement. And that is absolutely fine because I'm coming from what I would consider a bit of a healthy ego or here's the information that I know, but I will put it out there that I know that I don't know what I don't know. So let's have a nice healthy conversation and send me that data and then I will have an amazing opportunity to share with my listeners that, hey, there's some new data out there and let's talk about it. But I didn't hear back. I'll first talk about a Time magazine article that says why men are more narcissistic than women. I like this one just because the author Jeffrey Kluger just started it pretty clever where he said, “If there's one thing you can say for craziness,” so already, or in my world of therapy, we try to stay away from that word, but he says, if there's one thing you can say for craziness, “it's that it is not sexist. Across entire populations, males and females face a pretty equal lifetime risk of coming unhinged within conditions. However, there may be differences. Women are twice as likely as men, for example, to develop depression, anxiety disorders, such as OCD and phobias also tend to hit women harder. Narcissism albeit goes the other way. Research has long suggested that if you're looking for someone who's preening, strutting, self-absorbed, arrogant, exhibitionist, conceited, and sensitive and entitled, you'll find more of them in the boys' camp than you will in the girls.” So it comes as well, he says, almost no news at all than a new study. 

He said, hold your applause till the end, found exactly that the research and fairness, he said, was sweeping a meta analysis of 355 journal articles and other studies going back 31 years. He said in the behavioral sciences, which lack the tidy one plus one equal to certainty of fields like chemistry and physics and math, meta analysis are often the best way to lock down a hypothesis. He said the paper did that, but it did more to not just establishing the gender disparity. But explaining why it exists. And so if you go over and look at that study, which I'll link to these in the show notes, the study men tend to be more narcissistic than women. With three decades of data and more than 475,000 participants. A new study on narcissism from the University at Buffalo school of management reveals that men on average are more narcissistic than women. It says forthcoming in the journal. Psychological bulletin, the study compiled 31 years of narcissism research and found that men consistently scored higher in narcissism across multiple generations, regardless of age. Narcissism is associated with various interpersonal dysfunctions, including an inability to maintain healthy, long-term relationships, unethical behavior and aggression says lead author, Emily. I'm not familiar with how to pronounce her last name. Um, Girllava, PhD assistant professor of organization and human resources at the UBI school of management. She said at the same time, narcissism is shown to boost self-esteem, emotional stability, and the tendency to emerge as a leader, she says, so by examining gender differences in narcissism, we may be able to explain gender disparities in these important outcomes as well. 

And I'll just read there's one more comment that I think is interesting. That it says, research has shown that personality differences, like narcissism, can arise from gender stereotypes and expectations that have been ingrained over time. The authors speculate that the persistent lack of women in senior leadership roles may partially stem from the disparity between stereotypes of femininity and leadership and there's a lot more that I'll include in the link to that article. But I think if you look back at narcissism more than again, as this series of, of coping strategies that began as Eleanor Greenberg calls it an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable, self-esteem the inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation and low empathy, then I feel like there's more underneath even than just the, hey, it's more about this gender stereotype, but we could go into a little bit more depth about maybe the way that the male is treated as a kid, but you also have to take in mind there's where that nurture kicks in. Where if kids did not see somebody taking ownership or accountability, or if they basically were just, you know, that gaslighting is a childhood defense mechanism where if they felt like they were going to get in an incredible amount of trouble, if they did something wrong, then you can start to see that, I do feel like there's more underneath the surface there, but the data shows that 31 years and a half a million people studied that males are far more narcissistic. I would then hypothesize emotionally mature than females, but we're all emotionally immature in essence until we're not. 

So let's talk about the male today. I'm going to read two letters and I'm gonna go on some, I'm sure, some tangents I've made a couple of notes throughout the letters, but these are both from men and some things have been changed just to protect the identity, but you will see that the story that is underlying, it will resonate I think with a lot of both men and women. And these emotionally abusive or emotionally immature narcissistic relationships. So the first person says, “Hi, Tony, thank you for continuing to invest in this type of education about narcissism and how to navigate relationships with these traits,” and he goes on to point out that he'd emailed me a while ago and that led to one of the episodes that I did, and one of his questions was the question that was featured on a particular episode. And I'm holding that one back because I don't know if that would be too easy to put pieces together, but he said, “since then I listened back on that email about when I thought it was the best time to leave my relationship, when would I know, how would I know,” and he said, “I'll tell you how now, looking back and having met a great therapist, tried marriage counseling, reading a lot, podcasting journaling, writing music and doing all kinds of self care.” He said, “I now see what was, I also see what can be, and to me, understanding of how my body kept the score,” he said, “that was such a revelation for me, that I would get signs from the universe around me.” He said, “After ruling out confirmation bias and accepting synchronicity,” he said, “I then learned, I would then be on an upward spiral and could safely invest in my own wellbeing.” Wow. “And once I realized I could participate from a place of observation, that I was not my body or my thoughts, I could also start to see the truth.” And what I love again about this paragraph is where he talks about how it takes a while, and you're doing some of the self care routines, almost just because I don't know what else to do. That's why I say that number one rule is raising your emotional baseline because you have to be in a better position in order to start to navigate this relationship that you're in with whomever it is that you feel is the narcissist or the emotionally immature. 

So I don't know if I can stress that enough, but when I put the number one rule is raise your emotional baseline, self-care is not selfish, it doesn't mean you have to start training for a marathon. Although that is absolutely something that people do, it can even be to start to just think and believe, and dream and read and listen and journal and draw. And these are things that are going to start to lift your spirits, raise your baseline, and start to put you in a place where you're going to be able to access almost these higher level tools that seem completely out of reach when you are just starting to wake up to the emotional immaturity or narcissism and in your relationships. So he lays out that in essence, it's a process. It's a series of things that led him to finally be able to then safely invest in his own wellbeing. And that takes time. And then again, he says, once he realized he could participate from a place of observation, and that is where, when you start to realize I am a good person, but when these situations happen, I notice that I shut down. I notice that I get angry. I notice that I am lashing out and yelling at people, then you can start to look at, okay, what is it about those situations? What are the triggers that lead me to start to feel or do the things that I do? Because you can also have some amazing experiences because you are a good person, but you are also trying to navigate a difficult situation and you're trying to survive. 

He said, “Here was my moment.” He said, “After so much reflection and therapy and seeing what I couldn't unsee, choosing to live through the learning process.” And again, right there, that line, I bolded it in my notes “choosing to live through the learning process” because you are just going to start being and doing, and that sounds cliched, but it is just, it. Another cliche. It is what it is because you are going to go through this process as quickly as you're going to go through this process. Where you should be at any given moment is where you are, and then the more that you just start to focus on self and self care, maybe the faster that process is going to come unraveled and be right in front of you. And that's going to be scary. So there are going to be times where you're going to think, you know, I don't want to do this anymore. I want to go back to the way things were because it may not be good, but I know it is, and this new place that I'm going feels really scary, but he says that “seeing what he couldn't unsee choosing to live through the learning process and stay until I felt the time was right, I also had time to practice new skills and techniques so I could learn to trust my body again. And my intuition that something was just not right.” And maybe he said, right, is not the best word to use because no marriage is perfect, but my body and my nervous system was on fire. And I kept sinking to the bottom. I was suffocating. And I just, I typed in these big, bold letters in my notes, no relationship should zap you of your sense of self and so it's a process. And when he even talks about practicing new skills and techniques, this is where I talk about getting your PhD in gaslighting, getting out of unproductive conversations setting boundaries, and that is going to cause the more emotionally immature partner to push new buttons and scarier buttons and more harmful buttons because they want to get you back into that in measurement. 

So that's part of this process are testing these new skills because you can, you can practice them. You can run drills, and try to bring yourself into the present moment. But then when it's game day and you're out there on the field, and then now you're emotionally immature and narcissistic person pulls out a new button about you know, I'm gonna call the police and tell him you're a horrible mom or in this scenario, the wife's gonna say, if she's the more emotionally immature, I'm gonna hurt myself and I'm gonna tell everybody that you did it cause they'll believe me not, you. I mean, those are new buttons that are designed to put you back into this enmeshment. So you have to learn how to practice the techniques like the gray rocking, the just being present, the popcorn moments, the watching, and not responding and watching them go through all the buttons, all the triggers to see if they can get you to respond. Because if you don't respond, they are left, just sitting out there, emotionally naked and vulnerable. And that is not, you know, the narcissist or emotionally immature cannot stand discomfort. That is why they have to take control some way or the other, whether it's to go one up and put you down or to go completely victim and have you come rescue them. So he said, “It came down to a lack of empathy. This person, whom I was living with, just could not see or feel me in any situation. When I was sick, it was an inconvenience to her when I wanted to go to the gym or spend more time at work, that meant that she had to do more around the house. And I would be told I could go, I guess, that she would take care of everything. Don't worry about her, but man, she's just so tired and exhausted, but no, you go. I'm glad that at least one of us can be happy or can go to the gym. But when I wanted to talk and discuss us, it regularly and routinely blew up over and over again. Contempt criticism and conflict here came all the gaslighting.” He said, “Yikes. But I see it now. My nervous system is much better regulated and her dark energy doesn't affect me anymore.” 

And he said, “Don't get me wrong. I was half of the marriage and it took me a long time not to feel like it was more me.” He said, “I enabled much of what I experienced, but somehow deep down, something just fell off and uneasy all the time.” He said, I think I walked on more eggshells than all the eggs I ever ate throughout the decades of our relationship. One day, one of my kids asked me if we could go to lunch and he doesn't normally ask. So I jumped on that opportunity. But here's the setup,” he said, “that week, I had been particularly leaning into my instincts more when I was away from my wife. When I was around her, I felt like I could almost, I would just almost go flat and I felt like I was continually trying to read the room. Is she happy? Is she good? Oh, she's good. Oh, wait, wait. I think she's mad. Here comes one of the little kids walking into the room. Let me go distract my daughter. I don't want mom to see her. Or else, if my wife's feeling sad or mad or angry, now she's going to pick apart something that my daughter is doing or wearing. Did you clean your room? You're not going out wearing that. Are you, did you do your homework? Why is it that your kids never seem to want to do their homework? One of our favorite lines, they were my kids when they didn't clean their room or do their homework. And they were her kids when they got straight A's or performed well in dance or soccer, even though she couldn't be bothered to take them to dance or soccer. I had to work my schedule around all of their activities because as in, and this was in quotes because as you know, my anxiety might flare up. Yeah. Shockingly said if it did flare up, it would lift later when one of her friends texted and said that they needed to talk,” he says, “oh, Tony, those times were even funnier in hindsight. I would be in the middle of managing my kids, trying to help with homework, get dinner ready, and she would be on the couch with her eyes closed, hoping that another one of her migraines wouldn't kick in, but I almost feel like she would sit on the couch because she wanted us to be too loud or do something rude to her and sensitive so that then she could snap and then eventually storm off and leave.” And he said, “I even feel bad when I'm typing this. Although I now know that those migraines came and went oddly enough, when there were responsibilities for her, when they were sensibilities for her, they came, but when somebody wanted to go do something fun, then all of a sudden the migraines lifted or the anxiety lessened.” And then I will get the, you know, me, he said that you've always talked about, because I love mentioning where I'm the narcissist or the emotionally immature will say things like, you know me, I don't really care about how you clean this bathroom, but then if you start cleaning the bathroom, they say, is, is that how you're going to do it though? 

You know what I do, I do this, I do this. Yeah, that one really doesn't look very clean, but you know me, whatever you're going to do, you do. So he talked about her having the, you know me, he said, “Where if we were around friends and we would start talking about health, for example, then she'd say, well, you know me, I never get sick and she would point at me. You know, basically saying, well, he seems to constantly be complaining about this or that. I swear, he's going to talk himself into a casket.” He said, “I learned a few years later that when I was supposedly complaining about what I was supposedly complaining about was adrenal fatigue that my body was literally shutting down. Since I've been out of my marriage. I have had so much more energy. But as you say, I digress, where were we?” He said, “So my son had asked me to go to lunch. We go and we take it to a park. We sat down at one of the picnic tables and wham, I look up there on a post, somebody had written in chalk and nice, neat writing, ‘trust your gut, but realize that others will do the same’. This message was right in front of me.” He said I could have sat anywhere. I couldn't get a clear message. Was this message there for me? Who wrote it? Why? What was their experience in life and where did it come from? I needed to start trusting my gut.” And let me just tell you, I thought about where this post was going. I thought about where this letter was going at that moment. When it says, and I thought that second line was going to really come into play where it says, trust your gut, but realize others will do the same. It's interesting because I already had my own confirmation bias going, and I don't know how old the son is, who went to lunch, but we've talked about this on some older episodes. There's still not a lot of good information. I don't feel like it is out there for, how do you talk to your kids about in this scenario they're emotionally immature mom, because we don't want to quote, “throw mom under the bus”, but I really feel that if a kid though is having their experience, that if we're just saying, hey, don't worry about it, mom's just having a bad day, mom's just off, she doesn't really mean it, then we are telling that kid, stuff your emotions. Don't worry about it, it's not a big deal. She doesn't mean it. You know, you're wrong. And this is when I talk about my four pillars and my, you know, assuming good intentions or there's a reason why somebody is doing or saying what they're doing, it's easy to assume the good intentions of your son, if let's say in this scenario, then he was then saying, hey dad, I wanted to go to lunch because I'm really struggling. I feel like mom will promise me things and then she's not there for me. And then I'm the one that ends up getting in trouble. And if I tried to bring it up with her, then she makes me feel bad because that is a real one that I dealt with with a teenager recently. 

But in that scenario if that had happened, then I would have hoped that the dad would have, instead of saying, “Hey, mom's going through a lot. And I'm sure she doesn't mean it.” Because now I just violated my pillar to where I said my pillar two is don't ever tell someone that they're wrong or I don't believe them, but here's the key, even if I think they're wrong or I don't believe them. My pillar three, questions before comments. My pillar four, stay present. Don't go into a victim mentality, but the reason I bring up that pillar two is because there's a way that we violate my pillar two and it sounds great and it's the one where if he, if this kid would have said, “hey, mom is promising me things and has not been showing up for delivery.” And then I'm the one that gets in trouble. Then, if I'm saying it's not a big deal or I'm sure she doesn't mean it, I'm saying your wrong, you know, I violated my own pillar two there, so that's where I want him to say, had this fictional situation occurred with, let's say a teenage son for him to say, man, tell me more. What's that like? That's my pillar three, questions before comments. That sounds hard. And then once he feels heard and understood, then I feel like in that scenario, it's not unfair for you to say, I hear you. And there are times where I experienced that too. And it is really frustrating. And so maybe we can, when that happens, if that happens again in the future, I would love for you to come and let me know. And, if there's anything I can do, then I'm going to, I'm going to do that for you. And even if there, if it doesn't feel like there's anything that we can do about it, then I see you. And that's the part where I feel like we can really start to help our kids understand that they're not crazy and you aren't either. And that we're all experiencing something in the relationship that is unhealthy. And that is okay to validate your kids in that way. And that's not throwing the partner under the bus because you're both having a shared experience about the reality of what you are experiencing. So back to this scenario then when he's saying I could have sat anywhere. I couldn't have gotten a clearer message. Was this message there for me? Who wrote it? Why? What was their experience in life that it's more about I believe that I'm reading this trust your gut. When this had been on his mind and his son asked him to lunch, which he normally doesn't do. So he said fast forward one week later. Last spring while driving by a cemetery, I decided to stop by the side of the road and walk through the graves. “I looked at all the names on the tombstones. And that's when I asked myself this question. Is this how you want to live your life? Is this how you want to spend the rest of your life in a relationship? Giving? Choosing chores to avoid conflict and questioning and a transactional relationship? Do you see yourself lying down beside this person in the grave for eternity?” 

He said this struck me because if I was feeling uneasy, most of the time down beside her, in my bed. How could I integrate despite being dead? And I love the fact that that rhymed. “It is my soul, which is alive, which would always know where and who I was with.” So he said the answer for him was a clear no, if I didn't feel comfortable or feel I could trust my relationship with who I truly was and be seen for me and how I wanted to live my life from my heart. After being told that I had to live only with logic and not from emotion. He said that, no, I couldn't go on like that any longer. I could go on and on about all the phrases and techniques used to keep me in an inferior position to satisfy the optics of our marriage, to our friends, our family, or church or Facebook. But what was more important was the revelation that it was time for this chapter to end. 

Fast forward two months later, he said, “I no longer bleed from these cuts, my ex-wife and I don't speak to each other. There is no contact other than what's involved for our kids, our marriage crumbled and nothing in a matter of a few weeks, once I,” and he put in quotes, “I called the ‘time of death’ in a marriage that I now realize was already broken and dying. Strangely sometimes I feel like she was happy that I made the call for something that she was also secretly unhappy with,” but he said, “I guess I'll never really know that.” And I just wanted to take a quick note there. And I think a lot of times in relationships, and this is what I see. I mean, again, 13, 14, 1500 couples later, people come into therapy and even when they realize even in a healthy situation where they realize we don't communicate well and hey, let's do what's best for the kids. And I want you to have a better life. And I'm talking about when the couple comes to an emotionally mature resolution, there's this vibe in the air where no one, it feels like wants to be the one that is saying, “I want a divorce” because I feel like there's almost this subconscious understanding that then the other person now gets to have that narrative. It's almost like you get to call the divorce, which I want the person to feel that whatever they need to do to really feel like they are in control of their life or the situation, because they probably haven't felt like they've had much control in their life at all up to that point. Because even the fact that they're in this emotionally unavailable or immature relationship most likely comes from not necessarily growing up, seeing those healthy boundaries modeled or being able to tell somebody, hey, I'm not going to put up with that. But so it's almost as if the person that has to then say, “I am choosing the divorce” is handing the other person a weaponized narrative where they get to say, hey, I didn't want it. It was all up to them. I told them that we could've made it work, and that can be really difficult, especially for the pathologically kind person if they're the one, like in the scenario with this guy who has to, who has to call it. 

So I do. I feel like sometimes in relationships, both people are almost waiting for the other person to make the final call, even if they wanted it so that then they can say, oh, you know, then he, he did it. Or she said it. He said, and I am okay now with that, I am who I am because of my relationship. And I'm thankful for the experience now that I had to learn from and grow into the person who I am today. We'll talk about this in a future episode, but if you really start to look at all the situations in our life, especially as we become adults, become an opportunity for introspection and self-confrontation. Then it can be amazing when you truly are at this place of differentiation, then I can take in data and I can take in experiences from all around me. And then I can, I can just gobble those up and I can then sit with them and I can see, are these these experiences or are these stories I'm being told or is there truth in them? And again, it's not an all or nothing, black or white thing. 

But if you are being told that you are showing up consistently in a relationship, then I would love to know that. Tell me more about that. And I need to create a safe enough environment in my relationship that then I can take that information and I can look introspectively. I can self confront. So oftentimes I do believe that in life, there is a, all these things will be for your good vibe where it's not something that feels good in the moment. It's more of a hindsight principle, but then when you get through situations, get out of these situations. And realize, okay, this made me a better person because now I understand that self care is tied to self worth. That I am lovable, that I am enough that if I find myself in a position where I don't have to continue to explain myself or beg others to love me, that lo and behold, I'll find myself around people that we have this mutual, reciprocated love in a sense. And it's easy. The relationships are far more easy and not so much hard work. So he said, “Sometimes I hear the phrase, ‘a marriage is worth fighting for’.” He said, “So is your life, if there is abuse or a lack of empathy, and if the space between partners isn't safe and grounded or supported by the will to truly and openly listen from both people, no matter how the words are said, no matter how many counseling sessions you attend, there is no marriage. People are living separate lives.” He said, that's just the truth. He said, “We are healing from a million hearts together.” He said “Your listeners and the stories they share and your education serves us all for the better. Thank you.” 

Thank you, my online friend, because that story alone, I know will resonate. Let me get to the second one really quick, and then we'll wrap things up. But if you are a guy that is really feeling heard and understood, which I think could be the case, then I would like to hear from you. Please do send me an email. I think that would be wonderful because I would like to have a group of guys that are the ones that are the pathological kind, the ones that have been the nice guys, trying to figure this out. And where are my emotionally immature or recovering narcissistic men? Where are you? Because I've got a few people that have reached out and I've been very intentional. That's the reason why I called this, waking up to narcism. It wasn’t just waking up to the narcissism in your relationship, but it could be in your own and yourself. And that's where I like to be completely open and authentic and vulnerable about my own emotional immaturity and not knowing what I didn't know and what a journey that it has been. But what a place that you can get yourself to. But I digress. Let's get to the second letter.

This person said, “Dear Tony,” I left the first paragraph of this in because I love it. And I want you to know that I appreciate this so much. He said, “after going through all sorts of channels and giving all sorts of coaches a chance,” he said, “I ended up at your channel and I have to say, something about your approach/perspective/narrative really works for me.” And he said, “Although I have to admit, I do relate to the others who have commented.” He said, “In fact, that's the first thing I told my friend who was the first to try it, to try to wake me up and help me see the gravity of the abuse. I said, ‘this dude is all over the place, but he does really seem to get it.’” So did this guy. I say, oh, he gets me. Because this is the way that I work. I am all over the place. And I do feel like now that I have found this career in this field and these things that I just feel so passionate about. That I do feel like just continually trying to put these puzzle pieces together, but still knowing that I don't know what I don't know, which is an amazing feeling when he really embraced that. But I am absolutely all over the place. And boy, if you could just see in my head you would know that what actually makes its way out onto the podcast is quite organized. And the reason I love that he mentioned that is because here's that world of differentiation. Is that I know, I know a few years ago, if I would have heard a comment like that, I would've, I would've probably been hurt and I would've wanted to probably lash out, but I really appreciate the fact that, that he can, this person can, what he's doing is he's having an incredibly, emotionally mature relationship with me. And he doesn't even know that. Because this is where I love going back to the concepts of narcissism. And if you look at this again, article one of my favorites, “the truth about narcissistic personality disorder”. And I've been thinking about this so much, “whole object relations”. This is the capacity to see one self and others in a stable and integrated way and acknowledge both the person's good and bad qualities. 

So in this writer, his whole object relation is acknowledging that he may not find my tangents as fun as I do. But then he also sees that the knowledge that I provide is something that he feels like resonates with him. And what goes with whole object relations is object constancy. This is the ability to maintain a positive, emotional connection to somebody that you like while you are even angry, hurt, frustrated, or disappointed by his or her behavior. And those are the two things that people with narcissism and emotional immaturity, they really lack cause without the whole object relations and object constancy, that's when people only see themselves and other people in one of two ways, either they are amazing, unique, special omnipotent and entitled, or they're defective and worthless and garbage. So this means a person's struggling with these narcissistic issues can't hold onto his or her good opinion and good feelings about somebody once he or she notices that the other person may have a flaw, like going off on tangents, the other person goes from being special and put on a pedestal to being devalued as nothing special. And I'll go one more paragraph from this article and we'll get back to this person's letter. But Eleanor Greenberg had said narcissists often Seesaw back and forth between these two. When they feel good about you or more accurately, you make them feel good about themselves, they see you as special, but then you do something they don't like such as say no to a request, and suddenly you are now all bad and worthless. Now later, you may do something that makes them feel good. Again, they're back to seeing you as special and that's when they want to go ride bikes. 

So then this guy says though, that this dude's all over the place, but he does really seem to get it. He said with regards to all the thousands of obscure cuts that have killed me over my 20 plus year marriage. And I appreciate, he shared that he has spent quite a bit of time looking up information to try and help men that are in these emotionally mature narcissistic relationships. And he said, “I've located many organizations and websites that acknowledge and address men who feel that they are in this situation.” But he said, “Now that I've actually been interacting and my experience in dealing with these organizations for over a year now,” he said, “I can honestly say they couldn't care less about me. The guy.” He said, “So here I am finally waking up to the face of full spectrum of the abuse.” I'll try to sort out co-parenting arrangements for, and they have several kids. And he said in the organizations that are trying to quote, “help” and get just as easily manipulated. He said, “My hopefully soon to be ex-wife, I always felt manipulated,” he said, “she has a better education, she has more of a secure career and makes more, is a higher income earner,” which can be really, it can play into this emotional piece for, I think the men as well. But he said that he has been helping out with the kids for a long time. He contributes more with, on a freelance basis, but he said the situation that he was really trying to sort out, but unfortunately he said there are some escalations that started to occur because he started waking up to this emotional immaturity or narcissism and the relationship. 

So he said that as he started to separate from this enmeshment or start to what I would say, become differentiated, and when you become differentiated, get ready for the invalidation and that's where the growth can occur in a healthy relationship. Again, we're so afraid that things will go to contention that we avoid tension altogether, but in mature relationships, tension is where growth occurs, because tension is where you start to realize, oh, we have different opinions. Isn't that amazing? Not, are you kidding me? And so that's where I think things get really interesting. That's why I really appreciate what he shared. He said her behavior then got more hostile than ever, and she started getting more violent and threatening. He said that we would wake up and I felt like we would go to sleep constantly arguing and screaming, which I feel like it just kept his amygdala on constant fight or flight, which over time, again, the neurons, the wiring that fires together, wires together. And so he said there was no escaping. He said, “I was terrified to leave her alone with the kids. She had successfully isolated me from my friends and family throughout the years.” And he said, “Where would I go anyway?” He would try to leave the home. He would try to find himself in situations for work projects. But then he also didn't want to leave the kids alone with her. And he said the organizations that he was reaching out to were telling him that, hey, you know, you are as much to blame for the abuse of the children. That the abuse that they have to go through because you're choosing to stay there and not leave. And he said, but I can't leave the kids alone with her. And he said, I just, I felt like I was just stuck. He said she would ambush me whenever she got the chance. And he said the organizations that started getting involved finally because he started reporting, he started calling the police after various incidents. One in particular where he felt like he was trapped. And then he said in just trying to get around her, then she threw herself onto the ground and sustained an injury. And then he was immediately blamed. And he said that just started to make him feel so desperate because he felt like I don't know what she could do at this point. So, he said that she would shout often as he was trying to learn the new techniques, like gray rocking and she would just push and push and it would go on for hours until finally he would lose his patience. And he said in those moments, then he would, he said, “Yes, I would yell at her. I would call her insane,” and he said, “and there we go, now I am the name caller, and therefore I am the abuser.” And he said, “It's clear to me that even the organizations regard me as the abuser and not her. Or maybe, at far, most the equal.” Even though he says that's really not what it was in the relationship. 

And let me just take a break in the story right now, not for a commercial break, but to say that I really in the, I know what I know or, the things that he's sharing and there's some things I've left out that I really do, I do believe that this is exactly where this person's at. The reason why I'm mentioning that is I worry that there could be some of the pathologically kind women listening to this. Then saying, okay, wait, am I that woman to my husband? Am I putting him in that spot? And you're not, again, if you are listening to this, you are in a you're the one, if you were trying to put yourself in that position, AKA empathy, then that is not the case, but I would love to see, if you can feel what this, this guy is feeling because he's in a similar situation, he is the pathologically kind in this situation and the more that he is starting to become differentiated or get out of that enmeshment and that codependency, the more his wife is trying to push the buttons to get him back into that enmeshment or that relationship. 

I like the line he used. He said, the organizations, the people they were reaching out to, he said, they seem to shy away from the word “abuse” completely. He said they were just telling me no, it's just an unhealthy relationship. And since she's the emotional one, she gets the sympathy and he said, me, trying to remain calm and rational, emotionally balanced, verbally sophisticated person. He said, “I apparently gave the impression that I had the upper hand, that I was more manipulative in that perspective.” He said while at the same time, “I actually am the one who is deeply miserable and she is having the time of her life because she's been able to recruit the organizations now as her flying monkeys and now even use the very organizations that I turned to for help are now being used against me.” He said they were essentially forcing me to dance her dance and to do so at all costs to avoid any and all of her triggers. And if I do something that she doesn't like, like talking to our family members about the challenges that he has been going through, then she, all of a sudden will make more accusations or deny him from the finances. And when he addresses this to the people that are trying to help, “I am not allowed,” he says, “to call this an abuse of finance or power because this will trigger her, instead I just have to refer to it as influencing.” So, he goes on and talks about the situation that they are currently in. And that he is, he is really going through the really tough part of this and even to the point now where she's beginning to confabulate stories about various situations and he says, “I just feel trapped. I feel just so almost checkmated.” 

And he said, “Sorry, my insight didn't turn out as brief as I wanted.” He said, “I guess I started writing you because I was just longing to be heard and understood.” And to this guy, I do, I hear you. And I do understand you, and I know that on this episode in particular, if there are more men listening, that there are those men that are going to absolutely resonate. And that's why I appreciate you sharing this story. He said, “I just wanted to say that I would be really interested in a community of men suffering from the abuse, as you've mentioned a few times that you're getting together,” he said, “I would even sign up for a Facebook account if that's what it takes.” So I do. I see you and I appreciate your writing. I appreciate the men who have written in, and I do understand that while that data might show that whatever the percentage is that some believe it's 70% or 75% that more men that are narcissistic than women, I just look at the fact that even that study alone was for almost half a million people. And if that's the case and I will not be doing math, that is I feel like I have to do my classic math joke. So if 75% of these half a million people are men, then that means that there's well over a hundred women that are narcissists. I hope you can see my joke there. But, there's a large percentage, which means that there are those guys that are dealing with this and suffering with this as well. And I know for a fact that I even know that there will be a couple of people listening. Some guys that will check in with me regularly. And I see you as well, almost wanting to say your names, because I know that you identify with all of these same tools in your relationships with the emotionally abusive or emotionally immature or narcissistic traded women. 

And even in that personality disorder cluster where narcissism lies are two others, one called borderline personality disorder and one called histrionic personality disorder. They're all in this cluster B personality disorder group. And at some point I realize now that I need to cover those. I love being able to get the stories out because I feel like that's what resonates so much with people, but there, it would be nice to probably do a deep dive on the different personality disorders within that cluster, because while men may be primarily more narcissistic, part of that cluster borderline tends to typically be more female and borderline. There's an amazing book called “I hate you. Don't leave me.” That's a quick read, a little paperback. I used to keep it on my shelf and hand it out almost as if in a brown paper bag, when somebody was going to leave the office. And I've had a lot of guys that have really identified with that. And then that's one where I, one of my first ever personality disorder clients, was a guy who had borderline personality disorder. So again, the personality disorders, they know no gender. 

And if you did resonate with today's episode and you are a guy that's looking for some community or group, I think we're ready. I think we're ready, gentlemen. And if you are a woman who listened to this and you kept trying to put yourself in the shoes of this guy or his wife, bless your heart. You are not a narcissist. You're still trying desperately to figure out what you can do to help save a relationship. When I want you to first put your oxygen mask on first, save yourself. And then that is going to be where you need to operate from, in order to do all that you feel like you really can do in your relationship. So thank you so much for taking the time, continue to send me your emails and contact through my website, find me on Instagram, on Tik Tok, you name it, and we'll see you next week on Waking Up to Narcissism

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