Jacqueline Kraft Bruno: No Path to the Heart: The Futility of Relationships with Narcissists

Jaqueline Kraft BrunoBy Jacqueline Kraft Bruno

In a healthy, heart-centered, relationship, we experience connection. The love between two people is given and received openly. There is a natural flow that exists. Of course it isn’t perfect and as human beings we fall into fear, experience disconnection and we work to re-connect. These are the natural struggles of relationship, the rough patches. These struggles are not meant to be the norm.

In a relationship with a personality-disordered person, we give love that is never authentically received. Our love is deflected by the ego, twisted and manipulated. The person we have shared love with is lacking a path to the heart, by which to receive it. In a loving relationship, our love would be acknowledged, accepted and returned or responded to. This is not the case when our partner is disordered. Our trial begins when we respond   to our disordered partner by giving more, giving differently and expecting less in return. We do this hoping for a better outcome.

We have now embarked on an exhausting and futile journey. Our energy will be drained; our perceptions of self and others will be challenged and distorted. Ultimately, our hearts will be broken.

Words as bait

Our disordered travel companion leads us down a dark road using bait. The bait we take comes in the form of words like:

  • “I can’t live without you,”
  • “No one understands me like you,” and
  • “I wouldn’t know myself, if I had never met you.”

Then these same words turn on us and our bait consists of harsh words we try to negate like:

  • “We have never been good together,”
  • “It’s not like we’re some storybook romance,” and
  • “I can’t deal with your nagging and trust issues.”

Words that are meant to contradict confuse and hurt.

The appearance of listening

They focus on us with a hard stare, which indicates hanging on our every word in the beginning. A stare that is evidence we are being studied and facts about us are being stored to use later as weapons. We mistake the interest for being seen, heard, like we never have before.

As we continue down the road with them, the stare turns to cold disinterest. Every time we speak their eyes gloss over. But we lie to ourselves and look away from what is right in front of us, pretending all is as it has always been.

The illusion of affection

They give affection with a manipulative motive behind it. The goal is to trick us, to trade their illusion for what we wish we could give to their heart. Our kisses, our touches are lapped up by a greedy Monster, not received gratefully by a warm heart. We know this when they use withholding affection to punish and manipulate. Often, they manipulate us into excusing what we never thought we would excuse or to cross a boundary we never thought we would cross.


As we continue down this road of conflicting, intense emotion, we comfort ourselves with self-delusion. Our delusions fuel our ability to continue. We tell ourselves lies like:

  • If I ignore this it will stop
  • If I can learn to understand him/her better, he won’t act out like this
  • If I was a better partner, he/she would value me and treat me better
  • If I could love them enough to make them love themselves, then they will love me.

And on and on…

What is the result of this brainwashing and humiliation we have participated in? We become just like them. We lose the path to our own heart. We exist in the same darkness, experience the same rage, distrust of others and loathing of self. We become as focused, even obsessed, with exhausting ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically as they are with feeding off the light that was once our dominant feature. The gift we sacrificed to them so easily.

When we have become shadows of our former selves, our disordered partner can no longer find satisfaction in our humiliation. A human being with a path to their heart would feel empathy at stumbling across a person in our condition. Our partner feels only disgust and likely has already begun planning how to suck one last charge for his/her ego by discarding us in the most humiliating way they can imagine. When they do, they will likely kick us from our place in the gutter where they believe they have left us to rot.

Strength of the human spirit

But the man or woman with no path to their heart is limited, at best, in their understanding of the strength of the human spirit. They never connected with us from the heart, and as such, they know nothing of our strength, or the strength of a heart that chooses to heal. It is the saddest facet of their being, this inability to understand the power and resilience of the human heart. Like Snow White said to her own disordered mother, “You cannot have my heart.”

It is from this place, in the ashes of our former selves, that we are raised again, reborn.

We rise stronger not because the myth of the Phoenix promises we will, but because of the truth that a heart and spirit broken has shed it’s weakest parts. We realize the only path to healing wounds as deep as these is through self-love. We may have lost our way to the path leading to our hearts, but it hasn’t disappeared. It’s simply under reconstruction. It’s been torn apart, but we embark on rebuilding by recognizing connection to others begins with connection to self. Without it, we have nothing to offer another as we are not whole.

The big picture

We start to forgive ourselves and we learn to forgive them. As we live in this place of practicing forgiveness, the big picture is revealed. This experience is not only about the wounds and behaviors of the disordered or even our wounds and behaviors. This is about the gift of perception we received by seeing the world through our abuser’s eyes. The disordered person is an extreme example of what we are all experiencing in varying degrees. We are losing connection to ourselves, each other and spirit. The path to our collective heart is damaged and dimming.

A disordered person deserves to be seen as they truly are. We are not angry at the blind person who cannot see. Our heart does not break when a person who cannot walk refuses to dance with us. Similarly, we don’t have to carry resentment for the man or woman without empathy because they are cruel.

If we are come across others who are missing a path to their heart, we can make the only choice that serves them and us with dignity. We can choose not to conspire with the disorder against the person and against ourselves. We have learned to see and to choose the path of integrity. It is by letting go that we are able to heal and to allow space for others to heal. It is in this allowing and accepting that love is transformed from a feeling, a state of being, to an action producing a result. We do this by seeing the person as they are, accepting the person as they, and most importantly, by releasing the person as they are, with love.



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70 Comments on "Jacqueline Kraft Bruno: No Path to the Heart: The Futility of Relationships with Narcissists"

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You do not sound outlandish to me at all. I feel much the same about my SP son.

The more I have tried to have a relationship with him, and cope with him, the more of me he seems to try to take FROM me. It is like they are trying to define themselves, in yours’ or in others’ identities.

Thank you Bev I’m glad there others who feel the same way. The longer you stay with them the more they take until you are a shell of human being. What is the saying in physics, “two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time.” There’s only room for one person and yet two are vying for the position.

Oh My Gosh becomingstrong,

I TOTALLY think they come into our lives to ‘steal’ it from us. They want what we have, they are insanely jealous of others. I don’t care how ‘confident’ they try to appear. They covet everything they don’t have. And if they cannot have it, they set out to destroy the person who does. Obviously they cannot really have our ‘lives’, cannot occupy our authentic beingness. This is where, I believe, much of their rage lies. In their inability to occupy genuine beingness. I think that is part of what drives their cycle of lovebombing, devaluing, and discarding.

They always come up against the reality that they cannot actually have what is not theirs: Someone else’s beingness. They can take our money, sex, homes, and kids. But they cannot become us. So then they set out to destroy us, even if only in their own minds. They villianize us. That way they can unconsciously convince themselves that they haven’t lost anything meaningful, and that their completely outlandish goals are still attainable (if only they can find someone they can completely consume). It’s all a weird delusional fantasy they live in.

I have looked at stuff the psychopath has posted in the years since we crossed paths. I can see myself in his choice of pictures, subjects, books he likes (he doesn’t read), and on and on. If I told anyone else this they would think I was an absolute ego maniac, but it’s true.

I could even see that years later he was posting little things that only I would know were directed at me, and designed to try and hurt me more. Didn’t hurt me a bit. At this point his image and words are of no importance to me. I have learned more about personality disorders by peeking behind his little curtain of deceit.

However for many years I stayed no contact and did not ‘peek’ at anything. I needed to because I couldn’t see through the fakery, and I felt hurt all over again.

His whole ‘personality’ is disordered, so he borrows from other people’s lives to create a person. I am sure that all of the stuff on his personal website and his FB site is all borrowed. None of it authentic. Likely any woman (or business connection, etc) who looks at his sites would find snippets of themselves there, that he attributes to himself. Little barbs and arrows directed at people (and a world) that has done NOTHING but let HIM down.

Dear Slim,

Yes, they do destroy us, or attempt to and came dangerously close. Interesting, they ultimately become frustrated at their inability to become us. But I wonder if part of our inability to let go of them stems from some realization that they have taken part of us. Don’t find ourselves protecting our identities from them? Don’t we hide our secrets, our desires, our likes and dislikes from them? Don’t we try to deceive them to throw them off as to not know what we think, feel…., in the end? Do we do this entirely to evade their gas lighting or do we also do this to protect our core self?

Yes they do communicate with us in their indirect but very direct way. They do communicate loud and clear and yet did they ever say a word to us? Yes they do feel let down don’t they. I am certainly glad that others feel the same way. To tell people this stuff will certainly raise more than an eyebrow. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Hi becomingstrong,

I didn’t hide anything. I was an open book, gave him my entire ‘profile’. I guess, maybe, because I wasn’t with any one of these sorts for very long (a year at best, but there have been a few of them). So, my experience was pretty fast, and it always deteriorated in the ‘honeymoon’ phase, when you are sharing yourself so completely.

I think for folks that have been embroiled with one person, over a long period of time, you do begin to protect your inner world as best you can.

My difficulty in letting go (which I say, because I kept repeating these sorts of relationships) was:

1. I thought love conquered all
2. I thought everyone wanted love as much as I did
3. I thought everyone was capable of love
4. I thought if someone wasn’t loving me, when I was loving them, it was because I wasn’t doing something right

Each of our stories and our family backgrounds create reasons why we cope and interact with other’s the way we do.

I had close relatives (mother and grandfather) who were/are disordered. This set me up to believe when anything wasn’t going right it was TOTALLY my fault. This is not a healthy thing to bring into the adult world with you….

I never did protect my core self much. I never had much sense of who I was, what I wanted, what I believed in, and what I REALLY needed to be happy. That didn’t come to me until I was in my late 40’s, after the last spathattack.


Dear Slim,

Yes, you do describe “us” so well. The them getting to know you and all your faults, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and fears as well as your strengths, dreams for your future and your family and friends. Yes, the stage you opted of is the stage in which you realize that all that info that you imparted, is nothing but cannon fodder. When reach that stage you start guarding your thoughts, dreams and the like (the above list) and even resorting to camouflaging what you really think, dream etc…, to throw them off the scent that leads right to your jugular. While in the “damage control stage” as I like to call it, I still believed, as you did that love will conquer all, everyone is capable of love etc… This disparity between protecting my thoughts, dreams and the like and my continual hanging on to love conquers all creating a lot of anxiety. I couldn’t rectify what I was doing versus what I wanted to believe and the downward spiral began. I would tell myself that once we “resolve” our issues I would be the open person I was and wanted to be. Well needless to say that resolution never happened and he had to dig deep and far into the past to come up when he wanted to hurt me so he resorted to being physical violence.

Like you I never gave much thought to who I was, or so I thought. Because there was a point where I thought if I stayed any longer I would never find myself again. There must an internal mechanism that finally makes us leave. Obviously some sooner and others much later.

I like you supplied all the information that inevitably caused my demise. I loved him more than breathing. I lost my soul. I gave it away unknowing that it meant nothing to this horrible man.
I’m 6 weeks out now. I gave really good days and then yesterday I couldn’t get out of bed from fear. I don’t even know what I’m so fearful of. Just too many loose ends to try to tie together alone I guess.

Dear emtuoba

PTSD fear can escalate to anxiety disorders, panic attacks and agoraphobia. Please do see someone to nip it in the bud.

I wish I was more knowledgeable about that fear in lieu of trying to overcome it on my own. I am sorry to have missed out on the beauty of life for so long. Warmest wishes and best of luck. Angele

Hi Jan,

I think you hit on a point when you say that, “I just don’t want to dig into this aspect…” I completely understand what you are saying. Before I filed for divorce I told a close friend that I believed the hounds hell were going to be unleashed on me. There are things that are just too dark to delve into. I do have dreams, some vivid, some I can barely remember. Recently, I had a dream that my husband and I and our children were swimming from one Island to another. In the dream, my daughter, who lives with me, and I made it to the second island. In my dream we were swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean warm and shallow. In my dream, I never looked back to see what happened to the rest of my family. I remember thinking, in my dream, my daughter was a strong swimmer (a better swimmer than in real life) and I was worried she wouldn’t make it to the 2nd Island. We both made it to shore. I was relieved.

Thank you Canuck. Got my first appointment on 1/6. Cannot wait. I’m so ready for someone in the flesh to listen. I’m going at this from all angles. God bless you. God bless us all.

These are really important beliefs to be aware of Slimone. I think we all were led down the pathway because of assumptions.

Some I would add are:

Everybody has an internal “stop” button when they are harming me, so I can trust this person will use those abilities in our relationship. Psychopaths have no stop button. So then we have to create a coping system that manages their lack of conscience.

Everything I need in life comes to me and it comes easily. (In fact, most things require fighting for or hard work).

If someone shows me hatred, I must deserve it.

I thought I would also add some common phrases among all sociopaths I have known when you are trying to voice the truth. When you point out inconsistencies or things that make you feel ill at ease, these might be some things you hear back from a sociopath.

– So you’re a psychologist now?

– All relationships are hard. All couples have misunderstandings and differences, but it’s the love between them that brings them back together. Love is the most powerful force.

– You’re just anxious. You need to relax.

– You just don’t trust me yet. I’ll wait for you until we can overcome this together.

– I was only joking (When he said to me during a fight that he would lock me in a room and leave me there for a few hours. At the time he was indifferent and then laughed at me when I was crying.)

– You think too much. You’re paranoid.

– She’s just a friend. Like a little sister. I could never see her that way.

– Let’s put the past behind us (when you have had a huge session of listing all your worries only to find he erases them and nothing is dealt with. How can someone with values let such things slide without wanting to go through them? You end up feeling like you’ve spoken to a brick wall. Which you have).

– We come from different upbringings. Everyone has their own views on the world and sees it differently. We just have to understand each other better.

– What’s mine is yours.

If anyone has any others, I think it’s helpful to know the script. They are seriously all the same.

Regarding identity theft and psychic connections… I think they are on that hamster wheel chasing your patterns to keep control and you end up having some sort of internal dialogue together. But in hindsight I wouldnt be too scared. I think it’s an illusion.

What they try to do is emmulate you and your love, so when you see them, you will fall in love with what is most dear to you. For me it was a sense of childish fun, an open heart and non-judgment. THen, they act as if they are BETTER than YOU at being YOU. How? By setting an unrealistic standard of being without the normal, human, negative emotions we feel. “It’s so easy, why are you so negative, why can’ you be like me?” Playing on our self doubt. When really, they’re a machine copying our values.

They are so damn focused when on a hunt, they forget everything except what they chase – you. They are so good at observation and shaming or anxiety-inducing that you wonder how they are doing it.

A favourite of my ex was sitting down to dinner and saying nothing because he knew I hated awkward silences and would feel guilty that I’m boring him.

Dear Star.
Yes they try to be beat you and being you. They even have to win that one. Unbelievable. The problem with it as far as I am concerned is that there is the strange realization that they bring nothing to the table. They have no opinions of their own. Mine you would ask what do you think of xyz and he would first want to know what I thought and then hammer me over my opinion. So I then said you disagree with me so why did you tell so and so exactly what I told you if you didn’t agree with me. He would then say I was playing the devils advocate (he should have just dropped advocate). He to this day is trying to replicate my recipes, that chaps my hide. When he goes on vacation where does he go if he goes anywhere, the place I showed him that my family used take me to when I was a kid. A place I showed him and my children and btw he used to complain. Yep hows that for emulating. In fact he was just there at my childhood vacation spot over the holidays and I nearly went myself not knowing he was there but changed my plan at the last minute, otherwise I would have run into him. What a jackass. Now how do I know he was there? Well I’ll tell you he made sure my son sent a social media pic to my best friend’s daughter (a person he has never met).

Becoming strong.
My ex takes all the “others” to the same places. He cooks the same meals and deserts. He goes to all the places I showed him. I heard him repeating my little words of wisdom like they were his thoughts. Funny too I realize that he never called any of us by our names. Guess that’s so he wouldn’t trip up. He called everyone sweet, sweetheart or love or my love. I read his texts and emails to everyone before he left and it’s crazy he told us all the same things. 6 woman including me all within minutes of each other. Bla bla bla bla. Heartless monster.

Becoming strong.
So much the same for me. I gave him all the info he needed. Most of all I told him about my fear of abandonment. Everything he did to me I gave to him in our heart to hearts. Now I know he was just storing information to use, abide and abandon me.
I’m continue to be amazed at all the similarities we all share here.

Dear Emtuoba,
Yes, we do give them the instructions and even draw them a map as to where to put the dagger, no guessing games there. I was in my “relationship” long enough that I was developing decoys to keep him off track. “Oh yes I used to want to be loved that was the old me” kind of things, “Oh I used to love our house, now ehhh, sure we can sell it no problem.” I think in the end he was confused, someone replaced his empathic wife with someone like him. I knew I was going to leave him and if he thought something bothered me or mattered to me he’d be sure to go after it. Talking about greyrock.

As far as the stealing my ideas, likes etc… Yep, A few months ago he actually had the gaul to quote MY grandfather (who he’d never met) against me. Oh that was the icing on the cake for me.

I do have a question for anyone who can answer it. My sociopath husband is coming dangerously close to being thrown in jail/sanctioned by the court, he has been exposed for being a violent drunk. However, inspite of these very serious consequences he will NOT oxide by court orders, continues to order his booze in a very traceable manner and seems to willing to lose his career. The question is why is he willing to self destruct (this is all highly avoidable for him)? Don’t these types usually have survival mechanisms that kick in and say “this ***** isn’t worth the effort”? Any insight would be much appreciated.

Wow becoming strong. Good for you. I’m afraid I was the begging crying please don’t leave me type. So embarrassing now. But I have not seen or spoken to the ass for 6 weeks now. Think I’ll go through the girlfriend to try to get things settled. At this point I trust her more. Don’t want to see or speak to her either. Just text and email for business related things. God I hope that works to get the truck thing sorted out.

emtuoba, Don’t be embarrassed I was the crying type for years. In fact, I still am, I just don’t let him know it. When I realized he wasn’t “normal” -sadistic sociopath, in it for the pleasure of hurting me, I started “mimicking” him. It was nothing more than a race to the bottom. Sometimes it just best to cut your losses, not deal with them if you don’t have to.

Here are some things that helped me:

Take down the authority you give them. You are worth more and better in every single way.
Release the shame. There is nothing faulty with you. Life is hard and the quick fix didn’t work out. Shrink the significance and amplify the importance of all your fantastic traits. Yes. There are people who appreciate them. Us, for starters!
PTSD is a call for you to go and see the real story: you’ve been treated badly. And it’s nothing to accept responsibility for or be ashamed of. Put it back on who did it.
Fear, is just an illusion for their control. Whatever good there was, just a reflection of you. You’ve lost nothing.
Accept 200% who and what they are. Separate your identity from them and appreciate it. Identify what they’ve done and don’t try to understand, it’s a waste of time. They will never be us.
Despite what they said, you are not weak, pathetic, mean, judgmental or deserving in any way if what happened X
If you needed the relationship at the time, forgive yourself.
None of us has been shown compassion and that is exactly what is needed for healing. Again, take the authority and caretaker title from them. They’ll never be able to fulfil it.
We survived, and so we deserve the caretaker title.
We are the champions. Don’t buy into their hopelessness.
I still think it should be seen as any other illness. But we need to be fully educated of the dangers.

And yes, life our way is worth living! Your spirit won’t let you have it any other way!


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