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Narcissistic Personality Disorder .... what do i do?

Community Member

Im new here so please be nice 🙂

I think my partner has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. We have been together for 3 years and got engaged last Christmas. I thought i could finally feel secure in our relationship. But he goes through these bouts of "freaking out". All of a sudden hes not happy, nothing will ever truly make him happy, and he starts to question everything. He shuts down, refuses to talk to me, pushes me away and makes me feel worthless. Usually during these episodes he breaks up with me and a few days later we get back together as if nothing has happened. But this time its different, we're engaged, things have changed.... we are meant to be moving in together in a few months (with my son, not his father) and i don't know if i can keep putting myself and my son through this.
I don't know what to do. Has anyone else been in a relationship with someone who might have NPD? can it work? is there any hope of getting through all this with the man i love?
My self esteem is at an all time low, I've lost my sense of self in this relationship. I try to explain to him how I'm feeling and how what he does affects me and my son and he just gets defensive and nasty.
I love this man, I have fought so hard for this relationship, we have planned a future, we've made so much progress.... but was it all a lie? is it all fake? was it doomed from the very start?

I don't know what to do.
Have you loved someone with NPD and its worked out?
Any help would be very much appreciated.

-Thank you.

14 Replies 14

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Sarah,

Welcome to the forums - I hope you can feel safe discussing your worries here without judgement.

I like to think of personality disorders as simply a collection of behaviours and ways of thinking which are just extreme versions of what we all do. Hence, as long as these behaviours and ways of thinking can be controlled, a "normal life" (whatever that means) is definitely possible.

I don't have NPD, but I have basically all the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, which you may have heard of while researching NPD.

The key thing to remember about personality disorders is they flare up in our interpersonal relationships. So it can certainly feel like everything was a lie/fake/doomed. But that's just because the intimacy is what triggers the symptoms most, not because the person you got to like is no longer there.

What will help most now is to make sure he understands that he needs to change his behaviour, and that's something that might require a bit of input from you to guide him towards an understanding of its effect on you.

But first, has he ever sought help or expressed any concern about his own behaviour? You said he gets defensive and nasty which is the wrong response from him, but I wonder if he's ever also expressed remorse about his own actions. That can help greatly in this process.

Also, you mentioned that your own self-esteem has been really hit by this. I realise you really want this to work out, but don't forget to check in with yourself how you are going. You can always give the BeyondBlue support line a call (1300 22 4636) if you are feeling low. As someone with a personality disorder, I know I can be difficult to be around.

Thanks for reaching out Sarah. You seem like a really kind person and it's nice to see people give personality disorder a second chance. It's wonderful to have you here, and I hope we can help you out.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hello Sarah, I'm not a fan of diagnosing someone with a personality disorder without a mental health professional being involved, as I don't think it helps anyone concerned, so I will try to focus on what you've described about your relationship instead as I think the key lies there.

A couple of red flags pop out for me... firstly, although you say you love him and have "fought hard" for the relationship, it's not clear what you have fought for. What is it you love about him? Why are you with him? What are the positives? That leads me to the second red flag, where you mention that after getting engaged you could "finally feel secure" in a relationship. Relying on an engagement, marriage, children or anything other than mutual trust and respect to feel secure in a relationship is a recipe for trouble, in my experience. I wonder if you have pursued, and perhaps even pushed for engagement as a way of securing this relationship when the foundation of it was not strong.

I'm sorry this sounds so negative, but I am going off what you have written, and I can only see someone (your fiance) who doesn't sound like he wants to be in this relationship. You talk of "progress" when you describe your relationship - that sounds more to me like a relationship that needed fixing from the beginning rather than one where you grow together.

Losing your sense of self does not sound good. I'll conclude with a question that might help you think a little... putting him out of the picture for a second, what is it that YOU want? What are YOUR needs? That should give you a better idea of whether he is the right person to meet those, or whether you are just settling for what is in front of you.

Community Member

As a daughter of a father with NPD amongst other things, I would like to weigh in and stick up for the innocent defenceless child that is in the middle of this that was only mentioned fleetingly like a kind of side concern. This is about 3 people not 2.

Sure people have personality disorders, you can get those just like you can get anxiety, depression, psychosis etc etc. But what strikes me is that you have obviously been online or otherwise, "researching" behaviour that you know in your heart is not acceptable. You already know that he has crossed a line and you are seeking justification.

"My self esteem is at an all time low, I've lost my sense of self in this relationship"

He clearly has been chipping and chipping away at you like a wood pecker at a log and guess what - it's worked. That doesn't make you weak, that makes you human.You can take a person from the most wholesome childhood and place them in an environment of verbal abuse for long enough and they will question their worthiness.

So what part is mental health disorder and what part is just him. Because "him" still exists. What I find gobsmacking and astounding is that abuse can now be medicalised. What message does this give to a voiceless child?

It's almost when someone has a personality disorder their entire personality is now that disorder! And so is %100 of their behaviour. They get a free pass to hurt.

Sorry guys. This is a "mental health" forum and not one person considered the mental health of the child.

What about the kids mental health.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Sarahboo,

Welcome to the forum! Sharing your story is the first step towards finding a solution.

Humans are complex. Everyone is unique (I know I am, haha - seriously everyone is unique), and that's what keeps life interesting. More importantly, we are all dynamic, i.e. we think, feel and act differently at different times, days, depending on a multitude of factors.

Firstly, acting in a certain way does not mean that someone must have a disorder. The diagnosis of a disorder requires more rigorous analysis - factors include:

-length of period in which the behaviour has been observed;

-extent of the effect of this behaviour on the individual's life, etc.

Normally, all people may feel sad at times for a day or two every once in a while, but that doesn't mean we are all clinically depressed. That said, your partner may be totally mentally healthy (.. he may have a toe that he hurt in the last footy match) - he may have the disorder you talked about, or a disorder we're not aware of. So I wouldn't jump to conclusions.

Secondly, the interaction between two people is very complex as well! Think of each person carrying a large hidden bag of thoughts and feelings that depend on what they had experienced on that day (say, little sleep, or a really yummy coffee, or received a compliment from his/her manager at work, or their rightmost toe is hurting from the last footy match), or what they are about to do (say they're about to give a big presentation to a 100 people! or about to go sleep, or about to enter a new stage in life, that may be a new degree at uni, or whatever). Different people exhibit those thoughts and feelings differently - some through their body language more obviously than others, and some exhibit them differently depending on who's in the room. So maybe you can utilise those to understand why he behaves in a certain way from time-to-time. What pattern of events, etc. happen before such behaviour results? What conversations were taking place? What is happening in his/your life/work, etc.? If you find a pattern, when you see an early sign of it, do something super positive that makes him happy/comfortable/clear his doubts (and be creative about it - surprise him!). A hug or the like usually works well.

Also - maybe your partner needs a little bit more space to re-gather and recharge himself. Most partners come back with a lot more love after having their space.

With the little info given, this is my best advice. Hope you find a solution.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

My daughters father freaked out when he found out I was pregnant. we were not living together and on the verge of breaking up at the time so this just made it more complicated, we had big decisions to make. We agreed to have the child (neither one of us could face the other option) and he assured me we would work it out. He treated me very badly right throughout my pregnancy, verbally abused me, accused me of seeing others, left me on my own worked 24/7 and had not much to do with me. He told me I wasn't for him and not cut out for relationships.

After I had her he still didn't treat me very well,he stayed away for weeks on end and gave me no support or assistance. After a year or so he came to me apologised saying he wanted to be a family, it was a good thing and he wanted it. When i tried to point out how beautiful it is to be a family when i was pregnant he didn't want to know about it. He acknowledged that he treated me very badly, was ashamed of his behaviour and was trying to redeem himself. This was after he confided in a friend and possibly his mum as i felt his words were her words not his. As much as I would love a nice family unit and to be in a good relationship I had to say no. I had seen a side of him that I did not like, abusive (I had seen this also in the way he treated his mum), not willing to take or understand the responsibility, nasty (I was stressed my whole pregnancy with anxiety and depression caused by him).

This behaviour made me question whether the nice side of him was even real. Who was he really? This behaviour was a part of who he is, he treated his mum badly and now me. I always wondered if he would ever treat me the way he treated his mum and guess what, he did.

He is in our lives and we take our little one out together(often disagreeing on things) etc but I cannot be in a relationship with him no matter how lonely I am and at times I am very lonely. I know he wants the best for the little one100% but I still see glimpses of the horrible side and he lets me down quite often. It's a part of who he is, we all have positive and negative qualities but when they make you feel insecure or degraded or walking on egg shells waiting for the next blow up its not a good thing. No one should live like that. People don't change. if their character is that way inclined, it will not change.



Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

I want to add that it took some time for me to realise at they wY he treated me and his mum was not normal or right. It took time away from him, the time he abandoned us, for me to realise I didn't deserve to be treated like that. I saw that he couldn't take responsibility, that he blamed everyone else for things that were not right in his life, he would help people but on his terms, he wanted others to deal with his burdens ie he told his mum she could help raise the baby as she is retired and doesn't travel etc. why would he ask this if her? Why would he think he could just handball this responsibility as though he didn't want it. Like and old pair if shoes given away to someone else.

i went through a lot of heartache and depression and anxiety to realise i AM worthy of love and of someone o treat me right. I thank god we didn't marry or move in together because people are hat they are.

Community Member

Hi all. I am new to this forum.

My sister has undiagnosed NPD, but it's unmistakable as she ticks all, if not most, of the DSM criteria.

I don't directly engage with her too often now over these last few months of knowing about her disorder, as a means of preserving my own sanity, but I know this is extensively hurting my parents (not so much the sister with NPD). I like to understand if there are free or low cost support services in the Melbourne metro area that can issue guidance to carers and close family members of those with NPD (predominantly for the sake of my parents who this NPD sister of mine still lives with).

Your feedback would be greatly appreciated 🙂

Hi JLR25, we can't provide recommendations for services or health professionals here on the forums. However, if you can give more detail around the behavioural issues that are occurring then our community will have more of an insight into the situation, and perhaps be able to provide some perspective.  This is usually more helpful than speculating on mental health conditions. 

Community Member

Thanks for the advice Sophie.

I am just really struggling with finding help services for loved ones to NPD sufferers. I appreciate your comments about what it seems to be a speculation, however it's not a speculation that she has it - its an informed understanding that she has NPD but she is not at a place of getting diagnosis (as few NPD's are able to admit they're struggling, seek therapy and obtain the diagnosis).

My engagement with my sister is limited, but in an effort to aid my parents who perform the carer's roles for her (at age 24), I want to understand how to get in touch with organisations or community groups that issue support to NPD loved ones. The internet is not really helping me find local services available on this particular personality disorder.