Narcissists & The Game of Life

In The Game of Life, players who have a narcissistic personality will always play by a different set of rules than everyone else on the game board. To all normal players, the point of The Game – as reflected in the rules – is not so much about winning as it is about collecting as many Happiness points as possible without bumping other players off the board. The narcissist, on the other hand, obviously sees the finish line very differently. To him (or her), the point of the Game is indeed all about bumping players while still moving forward…. and fuck the happiness points.

zari-ballard-image-quoteTo ensure a fair start in Life, each player begins The Game with ten Conscience Cards. As players move along the board, they will have the option of exchanging Conscience Cards for Happiness points depending upon different scenarios presented. For example, if, by the roll of the dice, a normal player does happen to bump another player, it is usually done with regret and this player may choose, at that moment, to either forfeit the move or continue on ahead. If the choice made is dictated by Conscience (i.e. forfeiting the move), one card is exchanged for ten Happiness points. If the player has no regret about the bump, then he/she keeps his cards and continues on. This is how Happiness is collected and, ideally, the winner of The Game finishes with the most points but the least number of cards, having chosen, in large part, to journey through Life doing the right thing. And while players can also choose to begin The Game as a single player or in relationship mode with another normal player, the aforementioned point of the game, for the most part, never changes.

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A narcissistic player, on the other hand, will always play The Game in relationship mode all the while secretly moving along the board determined to win completely on his own. To hide this nefarious intention, the narcissist often begins the game disguised as “normal”, whereby reducing – and possibly eliminating – the chance of his normal player partner catching on, dropping out, or having him booted from the game. The narcissist may even switch player partners mid-game without either partner knowing – a game strategy obviously intended to cause emotional distress and confusion and increase his overall chances of winning. For his normal player partner, these game behaviors definitely create a series of unique Life challenges. Finally, at games end, even with no Happiness points collected and all of his Conscience Cards in hand, a narcissist will, without intention, declare himself a winner.

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The narcissist has but one true motivation in life and that is to always be getting away with something. Every day, that’s all it’s about! This is the secret to a narcissist’s success. And in the narcissist’s Game of Life, “getting away with something” isn’t necessarily based upon a partner finding out or not finding because this is just an option in the game. In fact, the narcissist fully expects us to find out or, at the very least, to be suspicious because then he gets to practice his ability to deceive after the original deception. This is the next level up – the lie after the lie. First he cheats, then he’ll lie about it, then we find out and confront him, and then he lies about it again. He now practices the art of never admitting to anything. If the narcissist is exceptional, he may even compel his partner to apologize for HIS bullshit behaviors and that’s a BONUS! And his reward for all this narcissistic achievement? A nice long silent treatment for as long as he likes or as long as he thinks you can take it – whichever comes first. Whew!! It’s fucking exhausting, isn’t it???

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Look, friends, when we’re involved with people who play by a different set of game rules than those that we hold sacred, we have to make decisions based on our conscience…on what we know to be true. We do NOT have to accept these unacceptable and disrespectful behaviors from anyone. We have to be true to ourselves in order to get the most out of this Game of Life and, with only one chance to play The Game right, narcissists simply have no right imposing on our journey.

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  • jesus

    July 6, 2017 at 7:29 am Reply

    Hello Zari, I am so glad that I run into this website.

    I just started a relationship with a woman who I think has a narcissistic behavior but I am still on the doubt.

    We have been dating since late April and at the beginning I thought she was just trying to play “hard to get” and needed time to sort out if she wants to be in a relationship or not. She is independent, which is good, but also disappearing at times and not too much caring about my feelings. A bit capricious and wanting things her way. We always have a good time together but, specially at the beginning, she played this kind of thing when we can only meet when she is available and I have to be running after her. Including not replied messages and so on. Maybe I am a bit intense, but come on, it was too unbalance. So finally she told me I was being a bit pushy and that she wasn’t sure about being in a relationship. I decided to be a little bit patience (thinking maybe she just needed time, gain her trust, get relaxed with me, etc) and things got a bit better (still she was never too much about expressing emotions). We started spending much more time together.

    Still she had some suspicious behaviors. One day in the morning she left my place to go to work and told me she will be back as soon as she finish her job. That was supposed to be after lunch or so, but she came back around 8. She texted me at 5 “i am coming back now”, and then after almost 3 hours she is back. Then she tells me she run into some friends and that’s why she is late…. without having me said anything before. I found it quite not respectful to have me waiting all day, so she could have told me on time she was going to be late. This is the kind of thing upsets me the most.

    About holidays it got worst. I asked around may if she has days off she could take and she said maybe she wants to go traveling with some friends, and that it is too soon for that kind of thing, and I say, ok. After one month, when we were getting closer, I asked if she has any more free days to take and she said no. But she just arranged another trip with colleagues… which she never told me about. She said that if I am pushy I will get exhausted and walk out, while she will be waiting more and more, and that will be a pity. But it sounded like a bait to keep me going. You will want more, when? when I bluff I am going away? When I am actually going away? Before this trip and me getting a bit angry and disappointed, suspiciously she got a bit closer and spent even more time with me.

    She always have some other plans coming out of the blue, comes and goes all the time, without having me in consideration. When I got pissed off about this last things, she just play the “you are right” card, “one month ago was too soon”, and stuff like that. She even said “I could cancel that trip and go with you”, which sounded absolutely like inverse trick. Then she told me in may she wasn’t sure about being into a relationship, but that now it would be lovely to be in a relationship with me. She only said this after I told her I wanted to talk. I said, ok, lets try. And she said: but actually we are already trying. But I don’t really think she is. I even told her that I was being so nice to her and that her behavior was a bit bitchy. She got the message, but her actions didn’t change so much. And it seems she is being a bit more caring but still… she has been coming and going all the time since I met her. Ok, she has her own life, friends, colleagues, demanding work, whatever, but…. my instinct says to me something is not in place. Why she didn’t tell me about that other trip before? What if she is actually going with somebody she doesn’t want to tell me about? Why I am not feeling secure with all this? how can I trust her? Am I getting crazy? should I give her credit? is she or not narcissistic? I always liked things simple and straight, and I don’t want to lose my nerves or my time with somebody I can’t rely on. What’s the point of that? What’s the gain? One thing is to be independent, another thing is drive somebody else crazy. What should I do?

    • Zari Ballard

      July 10, 2017 at 3:28 pm Reply

      Hi Jesus,

      First of all, you need to read my book about the female narc. It’s a cheap and easy read and it will confirm your suspicions about what she is up to. What you describe is all crazy-making behavior and the female narc is far worse than any male narc can ever hope to be. I wouldn’t trade places with you at all. You have to ask yourself what is important. Would this woman ever have your back in times of need? No, she wouldn’t. Can you count on her like she can count on you? This is what relationships are all about and you don’t have to stand for any of it. If she is what you think she is (and she certainly has all of the signs) then she will never change and time will continue to pass. Life is way too short for this nonsense. Download my book and you’ll know exactly what you are dealing with.

      Zari xo

  • Eristotle

    June 15, 2017 at 6:40 am Reply

    Zari! I LOVED this article – masterful use of the metaphor. In reading and listening to everything i can get my hands on as a post-narcissistic abuse survivor, it’s amazing to see all the absolute beauty coming from the pens and mouths of people who have gone through this horrific experience.

    I married a narc who mirrored some very rare spiritual qualities that i was looking for that had kept me single until I was 47. within two weeks, he was sick of the charade and was struggling to keep the mask in place. I thought that it was just relationship growing pains. I didn’t know what narc injury was then, but I know now that I had him torn and bleeding with my constant requests for him to step up and be the man he promised to be.

    The last straw, though, was when he told me that he had been going through my phone from the very beginning, and that he felt I was talking to someone else. His ‘evidence’ was my clearing my phone records on two occasions. I felt like an anvil had been dropped on my head – it was over for me then. I already had divorce papers from months ago when he disappeared on us while I was at work, so I just pressed ‘play’ on those and 3 months later, I left. It was married for 18 months.

    I just wish I had known about these types earlier. My dad is a narc, and my son’s estranged father is a narc, but i didn’t know that they had true disordered personalities until after I married one.

    What’s sad is that ‘true’ information about this plague isn’t widely available, and that it’s difficult to find a live, in-person group of people talking about this.

    • Zari Ballard

      July 2, 2017 at 4:17 pm Reply

      Hi Eristotle,
      Yes, you are so right that the “true” information is not available. The other sad truth is that these types of people run this planet and have infiltrated so many aspects of our life, we can’t even recognize them off the bat. They are very good at what they do! Creating boundaries and being aware of the behaviors of others and our reactions to these behaviors will always be our only protection. You have done the absolute right thing in leaving that monster. Don’t lament about what you “should have” known about…the important thing is that you know NOW and have taken the appropriate steps to begin your life again. Take care and thank you for sharing!

      Zari xo

  • Juliana

    June 8, 2017 at 7:20 pm Reply

    Hello, Zari.

    I’m a south american woman who has been involved with a narcissist foreign man. We met during a holiday and had some kind of open (only on his side, of course) relationship, long distance most of the time, for over a year. I visited him for 2 weeks when he was living in Europe for a couple of months, he visited me in my country for over a month and after 7 months of long distance relationship i went to his country to stay with him for 3 months. And that is when things got really really bad. He asked me to live there with him permanently and wanted me to apply for a parter visa. A week later, we found out that it wasnt so simply to get the visa, we would have to wait a year living together to apply and he would actually have to help me with money for me to be able to stay in his country. After that, he simply gave up the relationship idea and didnt even mind letting me know of his decision, he just remained silent about what we should do next. When i confronted him, he said he was making his mind by talking to co-workers and to his mom (triangulation, also the mother didnt think i was appropried for him), because “he didnt know if i was a hard worker or if i just wanted him to support me abroad” ( accusation made out of nowhere!). He also suggested that i should go back to my country, save ridiculous amount of money, then quit my job, pay for new flights/visa and go visit him again when i had money to share his rent and bills, then maybe we could apply the partner visa and have a “real” relationship, acording to him. The next day, after this discussion, he created a fight over something irrelevant i said and then said we would not see each other after i got back to my country and that he didnt have to get along with me anymore, implying that he didnt want the relationship anymore because of what i had said, when i know he alredy didnt want it as soon as we found out we would have to wait and spend money (btw he was making lots of money and i had just graduated). He guilty triped me, was extremely condescending and said i was to pushy over the realtionship thing, when the “living with him” thing was all his idea in the first place! And i even questioned if i should really accept it at first, but i was in love and decided to give it a try… That big mess happened in the middle of my visit and i still had to wait for my flight to come back to my country, so over the next 40 days that i had to wait, he continued to tourture me with devalutions/idealizations, tried to normalize what was happening, exposed me to his family and friends telling them that “she was gonna stay but is too difficult because she is southamerican (racist!)” as if i we had come to an agreement over that. He also treatened not to go to the holidays i depended on him to go with me, because we had booked things together and he had bought some local flights for us. I had to remain quiet, because i needed to stay in his house and was traveling with him for the holidays. When i got back to my country he gave me the silent treatment and when i called him to try to get at least some kind of clousure, he blamed me for evething that went wrong and denied that he ever wanted me to stay in his country (using plausible deniabily), but said he wanted to keep in touch (for what after all?). After that, i started no contact, he tried to messege me 3 times in a few months, then i decided to exclude him from all my social media and we never spoke again. I lost a year being depressed, trying to understand what had happended and i’m still trying to fully recover. I love your website! Thank you for the work you are doing.

    • Zari Ballard

      June 11, 2017 at 7:29 pm Reply

      Hi Juliana,

      Wow…that was a nightmare year, wasn’t it! I am so glad you could see through what he was doing and you ended up the winner. What a crock of shit and manipulation! You WILL get through this, I promise. Stick to no contact, stay strong and proactive, and keep reading and learning. You are not alone in this and I am here to support you:)

      You did good and pretty soon you will be farther out of the fog than you ever imagined! If you can, read my book When Love Is a Lie…you’ll see yourself in my story. If you can get it where you live, contact me via the Contact Me page and I’ll email it to you…

      Zari xo

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