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Narcissism and Trained ResponsesNarcissism and Trained Responses

I filed my taxes today. And Im freaking out because even though he informed me a couple weeks ago we would be filing separately, (didn’t ask or discuss, just told me thats what he was doing) I didn’t talk to him first and double check to make sure thats still the plan and that he really wanted to give up the extra tax credit we would get filing together. You know, like a normal married couple would.

Im Nervous…

And I’m realizing this is a trained response. He has conditioned me to worry about doing things without his permission SO WELL that even when Im going along with HIS PLAN Im nervous because I didn’t double check. And Im nervous even though I know I don’t care what his response is really, its not like Im worried about losing our relationship, or his “love” or “respect”. Its just a conditioned response.

Im also nervous because I finally, miraculously, got my own credit card he won’t ever know about. Its a concrete step, its a MAJOR step to rebuilding my credit, and I know he would be furious that I did it behind his back. I also know he would have it maxed out in two weeks if he knew it existed, so no matter what I can’t let him know. Its my safety net for now. And it actually the most money I have had at my disposal since I came back over a year ago. Sobering. 

But back to conditioned responses, this is a major part of why its so hard to leave these people. Its financial abuse, in my case with these two examples, and I know this, yet it is still almost a COMPULSION to tell him. Maybe because a healthy relationship you SHOULD share these things, but more likely its the subconscious fear of his Rage that keeps me frozen. 

I am so close to being able to get out of here and away from him and be fine. I found an apartment complex that will work great and accept lower than optimal credit, I have some money coming in and I have some really awesome things in the works for this site too (Cant WAIT!! 🙂 ) and Im still nervous, even though all I want is to never have to live with him again. Not nervous about my ability to survive, nervous about the actual act of leaving and of telling him its over. Its something Im going to need to face in order to get where I need to and want to be , but Im not looking forward to it at all… 

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46 thoughts on “Narcissism and Trained Responses

  1. trapped says:

    You are so dang brave. Thank you for sharing. I’m in the “yoy don’t have any options” you are a Christian women which means for better or worse and I’m trapped until Jesus comes back.

    1. Samantha Matthews says:

      No! No way, Jesus does not condone spousal abuse. I encourage you to read this article. Marriage is no reason to stay with a monster. And if you don’t believe in divorce, than just separate. You don’t have to accept being treated like property.

    2. I’m a Christian, too. Your husband is NOT a Christian. If he is, then God is a liar. That said, let me tell you, The Bible deplores covenant breaking & grants divorce for innocent parties. So, any conduct that utterly repudiates the marriage covenant permits the innocent believer to divorce. 1COR7:15 can apply to us- victims of domestic abuse. It isn’t just about an unbeliever walking out of a marriage. It also applies when the unbeliever’s sinful conduct so pushes away the believer that he or she must flee to protect body or soul. The separation is CAUSED by the unbelievers abusive, dishonest & manipulative conduct & the believer is free to remarry. Read 2nd Timothy 1-5 & understand, you MUST IGNORE those verses in order to remain in a highly abusive marriage. Why are you ignoring The Word of God? Because we’ve let misunderstanding pastors translate it for us unquestioningly. You already know, the church is the LAST place we can turn to ease our suffering. And those verses don’t stand alone. Read Eph5:11, Prov 22:10, Prov 22:24-25, Prov 14:7, Prov 23:6-7, Prov 24:1-2, Romans 16:17-18. There are TONS more such scriptures in the book I am quoting from: Not Under Bondage, Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultry & Desertion. You know your husband has deserted your marriage. You know he is committing spiritual adultery with Satan. You know you are being abused. If your husband is simply an unbeliever, then no, you may not divorce him. But your husband is much more than that. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Remember, it’s not about WHO walks out on the marriage. In physical adultery situations, the adulterer may not wish the marriage to dissolve but the victimized spouse dissolves it and The Bible holds that victim blameless & punishes the one who caused the separation. I strongly encourage you to press in and learn more about the truth behind staying in an abusive marriage. God bless you as you do so. Find me on Facebook if you want to talk.

  2. Liann62 says:

    I hope you’re using a fake name.

    1. Samantha Matthews says:

      For sure, from day 1.

      Oddly, I feel like if someone called out Samantha in a crowded room, at this point, I would probably respond before I even thought about it. Its a part of me now. <3

  3. Kathy says:

    In the beginning, we tell them everything. Over time, we realize the error of our ways, and stop telling them everything. As time goes on, we become more, and more afraid of their rage-attacks. We tell them less, and less, trying to keep the peace. But they aren’t having any of that! Any time they can attack us, is a good time, for them. Not only did I get a credit card, (or two), I also got a job, and I am handicapped. I’m tired of hearing, “Wait! We can’t afford that!” Ah, after forty-some years, I believe I have waited, long enough. This guy thinks because it is “him,” he gets to call all the shots. NO, he doesn’t. Aside from him being embarrassed, that he can’t/won’t take care of his disabled wife, he should be thrilled. But that’s money in my pocket, not his, and he doesn’t like it. As soon as I have enough, I am going to buy myself a car. Then, I can go for a drive when I don’t want to listen to him. It’s not the women who have created the chasm which currently exists between the sexes. It’s the men. As time has marched forward, we have all become more savvy about their disordered/distorted mental landscapes. We all have computers, so we can reach out, and connect with others. What an eye-opener! We visit NPD blogs, where we soon realize that all of us could be married to the same narcissist. They believe they are special and unique, but could not be more mistaken. They are the ones who can’t/won’t manage money. They are the ones who are miserable and boring. And they are the ones who destroy the love we once felt for them. Most men have failed miserably at doing their job, as husbands, fathers, providers, and companions, so criticize us to try to regain self-esteem. But the reason they are so defensive is BECAUSE they know they are lying. That should be our clue, too. The harder/louder/longer they fight, to defend themselves/their skewed behavior, the more they are trying to hide. Your husband sounds a lot like this one. Petty, cheap, and stingy; I believe he would gladly welcome a smaller tax return, in order to keep you from getting all of yours. It never ceases to amaze me, that they will hurt themselves, in order to stop/control/manipulate us, as they see fit. Sad.

    1. Samantha Matthews says:

      Good for you! And spot on, love this line:failed miserably at doing their job, as husbands, fathers, providers, and companions, so criticize us to try to regain self-esteem. Thats a Narcissistic Husband in a nutshell. And yeah, Im sure he would take less money to keep me from getting any. Insanity.

  4. Cynthia Bennett says:

    I am completely in the same boat (situation) you are in and have been experiencing the same feelings of apprehension/anxiety for years. How old are your kids? Can we talk? This is stuff that is so hard to talk about with others, i.e. parents, siblings, friends, coworkers, as they all say: “Why don’t you just leave him?” Really!? Right!!!! I have been married 28 years, by the comments of others in OUR SAME SITUATION, it just is not easy leaving the “Mentally Ill”!

    The thing is: YOU CANNOT JUST LEAVE, YOU NEED TO ESCAPE, have a plan and ESCAPE!!! That is what most people don’t get! I have left him several times, the last one being a week ago, well, he went to visit my parents (you know to shmooze it over) and don’t even get me started with his parents, as they are the ones that created this monster! They never know what is going on with our marriage, grandkids, etc. nor would they ever really want to get their heads out of the sand to really know the situation!

    1. Samantha Matthews says:

      You are totally right, most people can not possibly understand.

      At the same time, we don’t really understand either. We are still under this cloud of doubt and confusion and again, or trained responses and it imparts our ability to see things clearly. Escaping a Narcissist is not impossible, its really hard, no lie, but you can do it.

      It takes a lot of inner work and growth and determination. It takes a lot of support from outside of you, be it from books, people, or life circumstances. Its a long road. And honestly, Im not sure it ever ends. I don’t see how this experience could not shape the rest of my life. Its probably not a bad thing either, I like who Im becoming.

  5. Helen says:

    Sending you love and strength. You are a strong woman, and you can heal.

    1. Samantha Matthews says:

      Thank you!

  6. Lovey says:

    I know exactly how you feel: conditioned response…
    I am struggling every day with my decisions. My spouse goes out of town for work and I want to leave, but am bound to stay. We fight all the time while he is away. I don’t trust him after all he has done, but I am afraid of leaving. Afraid of what he will do, how I will survive, what will become of me. I monitor his every move afraid he will cheat, yet again. He complains that he is having issues with sex and must see a doctor, but yet when he goes out of town, he watches porn. What is the purpose of you have low testosterone? He can’t have sex with his wife, but he can with other women and he can jack off to porn…Really?!
    His brother is a psychologist and I talked to him about everything once. He went bollistic! Offered me a place to stay and even told me to leave. Come to find out, he was drinking and didn’t recall any of it. When I tried to talk to him again, he told me I wasn’t seeing things incorrectly. Someone must be framing him and doing things to him. He would never do anything like I had described.
    I found a sex addict therapist that said he could help me, but I am not who needs the help. Or do I? I need help to understand this is not my fault, this is his problem. I will never be able to make him happy.
    He has these mood swings that are never ending. One minute yelling, cursing and screaming at me and then the next acting like nothing is wrong. He is making me think I am crazy, but I know what I see, but yet question if he could be correct.
    Conditioned responses, he must be right and I am going crazy!

    1. Samantha Matthews says:

      Look for a therapist who specializes in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, or at least knows what it is. Not every therapist is skilled in Narcissism and its tricky if you don’t know what you’re dealing with.

      Also, keep a journal or a notebook, and just do bullet points of each thing as it happens. Don’t put in your feelings or opinions, just matter of fact, this is what happened and the date. It will help keep you in solid ground as he’s trying to gaslight you. <3

    2. Tracy says:

      My husband prefers porn and mastrubation over sex with me too. I read something about this is common in covert narcissists, it makes sense with their selfishness. They prefer pleasing themselves rather than engage in intimacy.

  7. Teri says:

    6Are you afraid he’did hurt you when he finds out you’really leaving? Please go to a woman’s shelter. They will make sure you are safe. I know how you feel.

    1. Samantha Matthews says:

      I don’t think he will hurt me physically, then there would be proof he really is a monster. But my plan is to get my stuff out while he’s gone and then leave the separation paperwork on the kitchen counter. When I see him face to face after that ill have someone with me.

      And thank you<3

      1. Planning says:

        Thank you for sharing your plan. This is exactly the stage I am trying to figure out now. I would love to have others give their ideas on how to break the news or maybe have people share what has or has not worked for people they know.

      2. Support says:

        Please seek legal guidance before just leaving, especially since kid(s) are involved. I have heard leaving can backfire when it comes to custody.. something about the other spose being able to claim desertion/abandonment or even kidnapping.

        1. Samantha Matthews says:

          Yes, last time I left him I took the kids with me and wouldn’t let him see them until he signed a custody agreement. I’m planning on doing the same thing again. I know he talked to a lawyer the first time as did I and no one ever mentioned kidnapping so I am 99% sure I’m ok with that in my state. But if I did leave the kids behind then yes, he could come at me with desertion, and most likely would since he told me before that “I walked out on him and the kids”. (Insert eye roll) Apparently he’s blocked the fact that I took them with me. No reasoning with a narcissist. ugh.

          1. Kathy says:

            Our logic escapes them.

      3. Briana says:

        I too, thank you for sharing your plan. I am trying to create a similar escape plan, but I am so scared. So scared.

        1. Kathy says:

          Let’s be blunt: too much stress can have a negative impact on your psychological health and, over the long term, it impacts you physically as well. You’ll notice if you come down with the flu, but do you pay attention to when your feelings of stress and anxiety are distorting your reactions and interactions with others? Mind, the UK mental health charity, estimates that one in four people experiences a mental health problem every year. Your mind is your motor, and it’s in your best interest to keep it in good condition.

          Think Ahead

          You may not be planning a change right this minute, but it’s good to bear in mind that you may well want to at some point — so the best plan is to keep learning. Keep educating yourself.

          Researchers found that, in regard to ways of thinking, it pays to stay informed. Concrete knowledge needs regular updating. In terms of curiosity, experience with a diverse range of people, a wider personal network, or greater confidence in our ability to master new skills, helps.

          Good Pressure

          Is pressure always a bad thing? It can actually be turned to our advantage. For example, we can use our wish for harmony for the greater good, or form a “team” to support each others’ aims. There’s nothing like a commitment to motivate us — even a small one can make a difference.

          Of course we want to feel proud of ourselves, but don’t be shy of looking to friends and allies for feedback and support. For these things, you need the right kind of peer: the path to healing can sometimes be a team effort.

  8. simone says:

    good luck wish I had that strength

    1. Samantha Matthews says:

      Keep hoping and working and reading and you will. It takes time.

  9. Cher says:

    It is so nice to have someone understand how nervous it makes me that I have a plan that is so close to coming to fruition. I worry that he will find out before the final steps are in place and it will all blow up in my face. I know I can do this though and you can too. Hang in there and you will be free

    1. Trapped says:

      My husband figured out I was leaving and made an appt. With my therapist. She is completely charmed by him and now thinks I’m the crazy one. I opened up to some people in his life that he respects only for it to blow up in my face. He’s so smug feeling like he has proven again that I am crazy. Everyone lives him and thinks that I’m so lucky. I want to die. He keeps sending me scripture about sex and my body not belonging to me and that I have to do what he says. I have no rights according to him. I literally would rather die than stay in this marriage.

      1. Samantha Matthews says:

        Do you have kids? Is it possible for you to go FULL no contact?

        He sounds really really bad, and if its even sort of possible you have to do it. Don’t let him convince YOU that you’re crazy. WE know you are NOT. These kind of guys are monsters and they hide it so well.

        Also, if your shrink was deceived that easily, than she’s probably not helping you that much anyway. Find a new one who knows about narcissism and how they tick and ask them straight up about it. Its not as commonly known and understood as you might think.

        Also, Im so sorry. You are in an amazingly difficult situation. Sending you so much love and hugs and prayers for your escape and safety. <3

        1. Trapped says:

          We have 2 children together but I have 7 of my own. I have never seen anything like him. He is so convinced of his awesomeness and so proud of how he fools people.

          1. Samantha Matthews says:

            Do you have contacts who could help you? Can you go to a local women shelter for advice? They would be able to direct you to some legal counsel and help you establish some next steps. At least give you a plan you can start to put into action?

            There is a lot you can do to prepare to leave without actually leaving. There is a lot of behind the scenes stuff you can start taking care of. The very first step is to distance yourself from his friends and contacts who have been poisoned by him already. Including your therapist. And also, stop telling him anything he doesn’t NEED to know.

            The journey to leaving is a thousand small steps, and its ok if some weeks you only make one or two, just don’t give up. You have 9 lives who need you and love you, thats pretty amazing. And you have us here. And WE WILL ALWAYS BELIEVE YOU. Don’t give up.

          2. DIANE says:

            i’m new here, but I’m wondering, how does he act around the children you have together. Our son is 6 and he has no idea how to interact with a child, not even his own.

      2. Kathy says:

        Yes. It’s hard enough to tell anyone what goes on in our private lives. But to be thought we are the crazy ones, is just more narcissistic abuse, from someone else. If your therapist is already smitten with yours, you will never be able to make your case. I read about a psychiatrist who was taken in by an NPD. When he got through, she did not have her license to practice anymore. If someone who has been trained in how to resist these cretins can be taken in, imagine how your therapist felt, at first blush. She thought he was charming! So, move on, and find a new therapist. One question might be, how would your death help matters? You don’t need to die — you need to leave. We all do, but you, in particular, need to get away, and stay away. If you cannot find help locally, call a family member, or friend, then gather your children and some clothing, and get on the first bus out of town. The life you save may be your own.

      3. I used to think that I’d rather live in a homeless shelter or sleep on the street than be in this awful marriage, but when actually faced with homelessness I realized that a bad relationship is better than getting gang raped, beaten, robbed, etc. Plus, my kids DO care about me, even if they aren’t in a position to help me escape. I know how you feel about the therapist. My N forced me to get counseling so I would WANT an exorcism. I went there equipped with an 11-page report on actual recent events. He let me read about 9 pages & didn’t want to hear anymore. He said that he had a lot of experience & if my husband ever tried to lie to him, he’d know it. Then he proceeded to counsel me on how to convert my husband to true Christianity by submitting to his abuse! So, I took $100,000 out of our joint savings account & ran away from home. Hey, I left him $200,000 so he wasn’t broke. He began seeing the same counselor. Pretty soon, the counselor was posting on my Facebook page that I’m a thief & a liar & going to Hell. The church is no better. I was suspended from my volunteer position because my N said he was divorcing me. He took away my debit card, cut off my phone, discontinued internet service & taunted & threatened me day & night for weeks on end. They had to send the church bus to pick me up so I could go to church just one time. He followed me & the pastor & entire tiny congregation heard his comments about me every time the pastor would mention any sort of sin, and STILL I was punished (he had simply gone on to another nearby church where he was instantly promoted to sing on stage in the praise team, & of course that’s all he cares about so he was happy).
        Your first step is to find ways of making money. Any money is better than no money. Check CraigsList for “gigs” under Employment. Can you work online? Can you bake cakes for local restaurants? We’re all working to escape. Some of us are farther along than others. There’s a narcissist group on Facebook but my request to join it has not been approved. We all need a place to come together & help each other out with escape plans & other kinds of support. I’m healthy because I got some great quality counseling with that money but a judge made me give it back, he needed my help when his dad was dying & I wound up being sucked back in. But I have not given up! I won’t let him win. Winning is the LAST thing he deserves! You hang in there and plan your escape. Like everyone says, it may take years but you will get out. Otherwise you will wind up like our beloved sisters who have been with their N’s for 30+ years, living an entire life that nobody should ever be cursed to live. And to those sisters I say, it’s never too late. Start planning your escape today.

        1. Samantha Matthews says:

          You are so right. As much as we just want to run away or just crawl under a rock and disappear, we have to be careful, smart and plan as much as we can before we go. Its too hard to resist the narc’s lures to come back if your not well grounded and have a foundation to cling to. And there is no WAY you can stand up against attacks (court, financially, socially) if you have nothing.

          There are a ton of jobs you can do online, a lot are scams, yes, and most dont make a ton of money, but you can start to squirrel away a little at a time if your dedicated and careful. Dont give up. Its a marathon, not a sprint. <3

          1. Kathy says:

            Imagine being shunned at a nail shop, because they believe your husband is “a very nice man,” and that you must be some crazy bitch, for showing up for an appointment, in tears. I found another nail shop, since that was easier than trying to explain it to some woman who comes from a country where almost all the men are narcs. At some point, we think we are the ones who are crazy. So much so, it’s almost refreshing to realize that we are not alone, and that they indeed, are the ones who are mentally disordered.

  10. Lisa says:

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that is going through situations like this but it also makes me sad to know that there are others that are dealing with the same struggles I face every day. I also plan to leave in the next 3 years. I have made a promise to myself and to a friend that I would stick it out until my son graduates from high school. I feel like others…that nobody really understands what I’m going through but I am very fortunate to have a coworker and a friend outside of work whom I can talk to and pour my heart out to. Samantha, you have really helped me through your blogs and shining a light on what is really going on in my marriage. I used to think that it was me and that I was destined to live like this for the rest of my life but after reading the first blog about the 19 characteristics of a Narc., it has really opened my eyes and now I KNOW that it is NOT me. I am so blessed to not only have you to read from but also my dear friends to talk to on a daily basis.

    1. Samantha Matthews says:

      Thank you! It means a lot to hear that. Its been kinda rough mentally for me lately and sometimes I feel like I have no CLUE what im doing so how could this possibly help anyone? Narc brainwashing, I know, but im so glad and thankful for you all too. I dont know where I would be without all of you right now. You have kept me sane. MUCH LOVE! <3

      1. Kathy says:

        I have a friend/confidant who has talked me off more than one ledge … and helped salvage my sanity. I think we all need that. Since she was married to an NPD, too, she does not always respond. Especially when my own sarcasm and vitriol, come spewing out. It’s hard to keep that in check, when you realize you have been duped. I believe all of us were, since none would have knowingly signed on for life, with any of them. We all wanted the same things; to care, and be cared for. How many of us were disillusioned? When we read our stories, they all have a familiar sound to them. Are we all talking about the same narcissist? How can that be? It’s because the syndrome/mental illness that is NPD, shows itself only by virtue of its symptoms. If we observe them, we can see what sets them off, or keeps them relatively calm. They all behave the same. They all remain stuck at whatever age they chose to completely shut down. Although I firmly believe that NPD has its foundation in genetics, I also believe that the COMBINATION of Nature and nurture, are what seals their fate.

  11. Tiffany says:

    I’m in the exact same position. Mine too wanted to file taxes separately, so I did and like you I was nervous about his reaction. I am also getting an apartment and moving out in 2 weeks. I will have to move while he is at work.

    1. Samantha Matthews says:

      Yup me too. Thankful my parents live close by, im moving some things he wont notice over to their house a little at a time. It will make it easier when the day comes.

    2. Kathy says:

      We are all afraid of them, and that’s telling — in itself. We should not be afraid of our husbands/partners. That is not a “normal” response. Our fear is built in, for the survival of the species. But it is also a flashing red light, indicating DANGER.

  12. Karyn says:

    I was recently in the same situation, started therapy for my own sanity and realized how manipultive he was, then when he spent everything I had he kicked me out. It was the best, and scariest, thing to happen to my children and me. We are all much happier and our situation is improving.

    1. Kathy says:

      This loser is money-grubbing, too. Ever wonder “why” they have no problem taking money from women? I believe it’s because they are also misogynists. How any NPD can act as if they aren’t, is amazing in the extreme. I believe genetics play some part in the Cluster B Personality Disorders. But it also appears that many of these men had either cold and withdrawn, or hyper-critical parents/mothers. Not wanting to observe their father from a reality perspective; as youngsters, I believe it’s easier for them to blame their mothers for the family issues, because it seems less scary, somehow. I am a senior citizen, and have known folk from many walks of life. The thing I have noticed is that most women want a home and family, and most men, today, could not care less about anything other than themselves. I applaud any and every effort made by women to get away, and stay away, from these pariahs.

  13. Lucy says:

    Amazing to hear someone else’s experience. I never realised I was with a narcissist until only a few weeks back when I finally broke down and confided in a friend. Everything you have written is exactly how I have had it. Asking for permission, paying for everything separately even though I am currently out of work, everything always my fault. I have finally made the step to leave him, but I am getting bombarded with apologies, flowers, handwritten cards…
    I want to thank you and please continue writing!

  14. Avinlea says:

    I am in a similar spot. Planning, but not openly sharing that I am looking at places. Terrified to have the conversation.
    But I can’t live like this anymore.

    1. Briana says:

      I am currently in the same situation. And I thought I was the only one. It is oddly comforting knowing that others have had to endure this and have survived and thrived.

  15. Kathy says:

    We are either ALL suffering from mass hysteria, or something is very wrong with our lives. How else could so many of us experience the same things in our personal lives? It’s not as if we are all in the same social economic group, either. Some have money, some don’t. But the words we use to tell our stories sound eerily similar. NPD looks a certain way; once you’ve observed it, you know something is off. Staying with them does not help. If it did, my life would look better than it does. They get worse, and in some ways, so do we. They do their narcissistic routine, and we react to their disorder — for better, or for worse.

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