The Need for Filters
Many rue the day that they got involved romantically with a person who has a personality disorder. Though most NPD's go professionally undiagnosed because they can never admit that they have a problem, most victims eventually begin to do research that lead them to the conclusion that they have indeed been victimized by someone with this disorder. One prevalent version of personality disorder is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and this one is dominantly represented by men, though there are female NPD’s as well.
Many women who have been a victim of an NPD state that they have been victimized by more than one NPD in their life. Some have had an NPD parent (usually a father). The repetition of being victimized by multiple NPD’s lead some women to feel like they ‘have sign over their head’ inviting NPD’s to seek them out. And, in a way, this is likely true. Once victimized by an NPD, many victims are ‘primed’ for yet another round from yet another predator.
The dynamic that gets set up in a victim-predator relationship can get ‘set’ into the victim’s consciousness, leading them to indeed signal to other potential predators that they are an inviting ‘mark’. The best way to ‘turn out the lights’ and tear down the sign that attracts NPD predators is to seek qualified clinical counseling to learn how to permanently end victimhood. Secondarily, it is important to begin practicing good habits of ‘filtering’ when meeting new, potential romantic partners, so that you do not repeat past errors.
Below are ten filters, listed in a lose priority, that might help the reader from becoming a victim of a predatory NPD. I’m sure there are others, and the good reader is invited to add to the list in the ‘comments’ section.
10: Be observant if your new interest has a habit of being self-aggrandizing. NPD’s have a difficult time not doing this, even if they are trying hard to project a particular tailor-made image to you that they think will impress you. Since they think that they are the best thing since sliced bread, they will often present themselves in a far better light than is real. There will be something ‘off’ about how he speaks about his accomplishments, who he knows or ‘rubs elbows’ with, his experience level, or his character. It will seem that he is trying a bit too hard to impress, and there will be a decided lack of genuine humility. Example: the NPD who told his new victim that he had been a Navy Seal.
9. Very low or shallow expressions of empathy are a great filter to check with a prospective love interest. NPD’s really do not have the capacity for empathy. This is hard to wrap your head around, because empathy is such a basic human emotion and behavior that we assume everyone has it. NPD’s don’t. What you are listening for is consistent criticism of others for ‘being stupid’ or ‘causing their own problems’. There may be subtle or not so subtle expressions of derision, bigotry, and outright racism or contempt for women, sexual orientations, or the disabled. There may even be obvious pleasure or glee expressed when someone else experiences pain. These expressions may take a bit of time to be presented, but often they will kind of ‘slip out’ fairly early in the relationship. Example: the new pastor who casually mentions, out of context in a sermon, how we should support a ‘ministry’ that changes homosexuals into heterosexuals.
8. Indeed, it is just a matter of time before the ‘crazy leaks out’ for NPD’s. Sooner or later, they begin to make ‘slips of the tongue’ that reveal what they are really thinking and what their positions are under the carefully constructed mask they have created to ‘con’ you into a relationship with them. The weight of the tales and lies they tell (and believe themselves) make for a constant struggle for them to keep it all straight. Like a plate-spinning act, they work very hard at keeping up pretenses, but every once in a while, a plate crashes to the ground. Example: ‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’, as the Wizard of OZ pleaded.
7. One of the bits of crazy that leaks out readily is their strong sense of entitlement. They believe that they are so important and are due such adulation and respect that they are entitled to special treatment, or if not special treatment, at least the most perfect, best treatment possible (and it is never good enough). You may feel a subtle (or not so subtle) shift in the ‘vibe’ between you and the NPD, as if you have in some way insulted or hurt them and you cannot imagine how. There may be sudden understandings by yourself that there are a great many things expected of you that had not really been agreed upon, but continued relationship relies on your honoring the things that the NPD wants. Example: He flies into a rage when you fix a salad for him and it contains tomatoes (which he is sure he told you he did not like).
6. Because of their lack of empathy and extreme self-centeredness, NPD’s tend to be constantly engaged in ‘splitting’. This is essentially ‘black and white thinking’. Their thoughts, positions, and impeccable knowledge is always the ‘white’ and everyone else’s (even yours) are ‘black’, and therefore wrong. In addition, they will press their opinions and positions (and ‘knowledge’) on anyone and everyone, and in a relentless fashion, at that. Example: Political rants and condemnations of particular classes of people.
5. NPD’s may be either very hesitant or very enthused about discussing their previous relationships. The more experienced ones will be enthused, because they know doing this can take advantage of your empathy and encourage your confidence in them (or tap into your tendency to help stray puppies), and it can help shape the image that they are carefully crafting to present to you. Either way, there will be a weird kind of exaggeration to their approach to the subject of their ex’s. Example: “I just can’t talk about my ex, it hurts too much!” (while looking morosely to the ground with a tear in the eye) Or: “We decided together to leave each other on really, really great terms, we are still good friends, though we do not talk much at all to each other now…” (trailing off with a sad look that is contrary to the statement).
4. Financial stress is another great filter to be observant of to weed out NPD’s. Most NPD’s are natural ‘con-men’ and think nothing of taking advantage of others in any way possible, as long as it benefits them. They will often have a plethora of financial issues, with the less than bright NPD’s always in debt to someone for borrowing money or items (parents, ‘friends’, drug dealers, bookies, loan sharks, you). The brighter ones may in fact appear to be highly financially successful, or may even be financially solvent, but dig a bit deeper and things may not be what they appear. Many NPD’s are very good at looking like they are wealthy, when they are either living off of other people’s money, or are really good actors at looking rich. Those that are in fact well off can be recognized by how they use their money, who they step on to get it, and who they withhold it from (charities, their child support payments, etc.) They may actually use a good bit of their money to hire teams of people like attorneys and experts to beat up their ex in court. Example: “My ex has wiped me out financially lately, are you able to float me a loan so we can get that RV for our summer camping?”
3. Do the following essential background checks: credit check, State Police criminal check, child abuse check, and local prothonotary office check (at your courthouse, public records of crimes and court actions involving the individual). Really, it’s worth the money spent, and any guy who wants to be with you who is ‘clean’ should be more than willing for you to do these checks. Example: State Police report of an arrest on him for a bar fight involving a woman, something that he ‘forgot’ to tell you about because it was ‘so long ago’.
2. Pay close attention to the speed or ‘press’ of relationship development. Many NPD’s are very impatient for you to start adoring them and swallow their hook. They will push quite a bit, in a variety of ways, to get the relationship ‘moving along in the right direction’. This means that they are eager for the two of you to move in together, or they are eager to meet your kids (“I just LOVE kids!”). It may also be that they seem a bit pushy to dive into sexual expression, and may have some pretty clear demands about how sex is supposed to go. They may even bring up, quite early in the relationship, their desire to make a baby with you. Example: After two dates: “Hey, I want you to come and meet my grandma this weekend, you are going to love her; I can’t wait to show you off to her!”
1.Trust Your Gut! Most people do not realize that they possess an untapped but powerful resource in their relational lives: intuition. This is not something that is extraordinary or ‘spooky’; intuition is paying attention to all of the very tiny scraps of information readily available and putting them together like a collage and considering the resulting image. If anything about the person seems just a bit ‘off’, pay attention and get on the move investigating!
Final Filtering Advice
If you have been victimized by an NPD predator, you need not have that happen again, but know that you are already primed to be victimized again. It is not enough to simply not want to be a victim again, there are things you must do to change yourself so that it does not happened repeatedly. Indeed, you must not only turn out the light on the sign you have that draws the NPD’s to you like a moth to flame, but you need to dismantle the sign completely. To do that, you need to learn as much about NPD as possible, and then develop as many filters as possible, as a matter of habit, to keep them from getting close enough to cast their bait and hook you.
William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on October 18, 2016:
I'd like to thank those who have read and benefited from this article. I appreciate the support!
Michelle on September 06, 2015:
Good stuff. Another filter I just read about and was a huge ah-hah moment for me given a past relationship with a multi-subtype NPD was Subtle Ignoring. It's part of having a lack of empathy but goes beyond it. He would not seem able to listen and absorb what I was saying at times, even during short conversations or discussions about important topics. Yet, at others times he could be totally focused and certainly would always be focused when he spoke. He sloughed it off (on our very first date) as his being "borderline" ADD. But it wasn't. There was a shiftiness in his eyes when he did it, and my son has ADHD so I knew the difference. It's a technique used to determine your codependence. The more you expect to be heard instead of calling them out and walking away, the more they know they've "gotcha".
Lou Lou. on May 12, 2015:
Another great article. Have just finished my 3rd relationship with another guy with NPD. OH SO Charming!! Everything you said is SO true. In the end I said my gut was off and he told me to IGNORE my gut!! Only since I have cut him off has the crazy stalker in him come out.. so weird , twisted and ultimately a sad, lonely and hollow existence for them ( which they deserve). They should all be shipped off to an island to listen to each others pity parties....how would they survive without their kind and loving victims.?
Karine Gordineer from Upstate New York on May 06, 2015:
Another interesting Hub but with NPD being such a nebulous area as far a specific definition and therefore it's ease of confusion with other disorders, I think it's easy to pigeonhole many people with NPD (particularly people we don't like or are having a hard time with) as being afflicted with NPD. I see so much of many of these behaviors in our culture one would think virtually every person you meet has NPD! I think the idea of "filtering" relationships is a good idea for all relationships and sadly most people have not been trained in that. I often see people making assumptions about people they just met and anyone can look good in the beginning of any type of relationship. I learned that lesson last year in my business a number of times but got smart quickly and thankfully avoided the next dysfunctional person to try to rope me in to their agenda. I know for myself when I used to date (many moons ago lol) #10 was always a huge red flag not to mention just a big put off anyway. #2 and #1 are SO important although I'm not sure about the credit check part of #3 only because getting someone's ss# to do a credit check would make any person look like a thief or con artist themselves and no one should be giving up their social to anyone they just met but I have to say for women to get a background check - that's a really good idea. I hope many will take your advice. All in all, a good hub, great writing and certainly a thought provoking topic. Thanks for writing - voted up and interesting!
William E Krill Jr (author) from Hollidaysburg, PA on March 15, 2015:
I disagree. As a clinical counselor, I know that it can change, but only if the individual stays very, very focused, accepts that the personality flaws are their own and their own responsibility, and makes dedicated cognitive and behavioral changes on a consistent basis. Not many do change, but some are very effective in altering their life and wounding of others.
Mark Johann from New Zealand on March 14, 2015:
You said it cannot be changed?So why reflect?
Danna on March 14, 2015:
Mark Johann - it's good you're self-reflecting about your NPD-like behavior.
Teenagers go through a brain development stage (the hormonal upheaval time) during which the prefrontal cortex is short circuited and processes go straight to amygdala and other more primitive brain areas.
If a teen has not damaged his or her brain with too much drugs, alcohol, or too-early and too-much sex, then the brain naturally returns to processing through the prefrontal cortex.
In other words, it's natural for young people to be selfish. And it's good to grow out of being selfish when one becomes an adult (while still maintaining that sweet spot of childlike wonder and awe - big difference between childlike and childish, which is selfish).
Even as adults, everyone blows it here and there and is selfish. It's what one does in the aftermath of being selfish that tells the real story of one's character and heart.
True NPDs cannot change for the better. They attempt temporarily...and they certainly crow about changing for the better....but they always boomerang back to their pathologically selfish and manipulative ways. To quote Lundy Bancroft (a male PhD who ran a program for abusers in MA for 15 years, and the author of Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men), when selfish people return to their abusive ways, "...it's as if they're reuniting with a long lost friend."
The pathologically selfish also love lying more than they love the fact that all healing is based on truth and transparency. They don't want to heal. They like the way they are. And, there's nothing wrong with them, of course. It's always someone else's fault.
Hope you can actually grow and change for the better.
Mark Johann from New Zealand on March 13, 2015:
This is an informative hub about being a selfish person. But I am also considering if I have this disorder because some of the insights here are hitting me in the face. Or am I just a normal person loving myself sometimes.
Thnaks for this hub. :)