Reply To: Am I paranoid or is he a narcissist?



sadcat, since you haven’t posted anything else, I hope you’re still around to read this. But if not, it’s worth commenting on anyway because others may be able to take advantage of what’s been said here.

I completely agree with everything Donna and Dr. McDermott said about this. My only comment is that it’s clear to me from a careful reading of your context that you are using the term “NC” to mean “NarCissism” and not “No Contact.” No problem; all that matters is that we understand one another!

I do understand your confusion in this situation. Unfortunately it is true that previous victims of abuse can on the one hand find themselves responding to new abusers in the same old uncritical way they’ve been “programmed” do do (usually in childhood)–or alternatively, can become hypervigilant and be “triggered” into a rejecting or hostile response by what are in fact normal overtures from a well-meaning person. So I do understand that you may be having trouble sorting out what might be “your” problem and what could be this guy’s problem that you’ve been talking with. Is the problem you’re sensing with him “real” or is it in your head? “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” as the old slogan went. And I heartily approve in principle of the way you tried to communicate and be honest with the guy about your difficulties, in an attempt to seek understanding from him.

From this account alone, it’s hard to judge what might actually be going on between the two of you. As you said, it’s just too bad we can’t hear the actual conversations you’ve had with this guy. But here I have to fall back on what Dr. McDermott said. One source of confusion is precisely what you mentioned: that the guy seems genuinely interested in knowing you. That can be read two opposite ways. He may, like any normal person, just enjoy getting to know you because he’s attracted to you. Alternatively, he could be an abuser of some kind collecting information he can use to exploit you. Which of the two is it?

Well, it’s slender evidence, but I was struck by the inconsistency of the strange response he gave you when you opened up to him about the way your unfortunate past may have affected you. I mean, seriously, he asks “Why are you telling me this?” And gets defensive about “I don’t do selfish.” Huh?

Surely if he was interested in you for your own sake, he’d never have questioned “why” you were telling him what you did! He would have expressed sympathy and understanding, and tried to respond to you in a way relevant to what you’d just told him. Instead, as you said, his response, “didn’t seem to have anything to do with you what you’d just shared.” That seems massively inconsistent with the notion that his interest in you is simply a natural human one.

And I’m inclined to say that inconsistency (of many kinds) is the hallmark of an abuser.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that he’s “wounded” as well, as you suggested. But surely if that were the case, what you shared with him about yourself should have resonated with his own experience and prompted him to share something with you in return. That’s not what he did either.

In short, I’d be very wary of him just as Dr. McDermott advised.

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