How the Married Narcissist Plays His Victims

marriednarcThe narcissist who is married is probably the most prolific of all the other narcissists because of the game he has ultimately chosen to play. Indeed, the married narcissist can live in suburbia with the wife and kids and, at the same time, carry on one or more relationships outside of the marriage without appearing the least bit stressed about it. His abilities to lie on-the-fly, to convince all partners (including the spouse) that his intentions are always on the up-and-up, and to be, seemingly, in two places at once are unsurpassed and put him at a pathological level above the typical narcissist.

narcissist-abuse-consultationsThrough my phone consultations and correspondence with both women and men, I have been able to make the following observations:

  1. A married narcissist will typically – but not always – be an online predator so that he can keep the extramarital affairs long-distance. He will have profiles on numerous dating sites that give his relationship status as either divorced or separated (when he, obviously, is neither).
  2. A married narcissist typically – but not always – will be a high-level narcissist, meaning that he is a narcissist with a good job and usually a good deal of money. At the very least, he is self-sufficient. I call this the 5-Star Deception. Having money makes it much easier for the narcissist to carry on multiple affairs or one that’s long-term without tipping off the wife. He may have a job that requires that he often travel out of town (and even out of the country) on a regular basis. Having money also means he can quickly book vacations or send flowers and/or extravagant gifts to appease the lover should she become disenchanted with the narcissist’s mind-boggling and hurtful behaviors. He may even play the most devious version of The Cell Phone Game and have two phones – one for each of his deceitful lives.
  3. A married narcissist always love-bombs his target more intensely than the typical narcissist simply because he’s under more of a time constraint. The sooner he hooks her, the less chance that finding out he’s still married will cause her to leave the relationship. Like any other narcissist, the end game is always to get away with the ruse – any ruse – for as long as he possibly can. Some women have been involved with married narcissists as the mistress for as long or nearly as long as the narcissist has been married.
  4. The target of a married narcissist may not initially suspect that this new guy is married because of his ability to spend so much time with her. After all, how can a guy be married and still be able to hop on the next plane out at the drop of a hat? OR how can he be married if he’s able to take off for a week to the Caribbean without appearing the least bit stressed about it? OR how can he be married if we’re always on the phone together? Because the narcissist compartmentalizes every aspect of his pathetic life, he can be completely stress-free with whomever he’s with!
  5. A narcissist marries for many reasons but the biggest reasons are that being married to a wonderful woman is good for appearances and it makes him feel (for a second) as if he’s actually a normal guy. The novelty wears off, however, and quick. That being said, the narcissist is rarely willing to give the marriage up because he feels justified in having both! After all, if all it takes to keep the ruse afloat on either side is to tell a few lies…well, shit! That’s easy! Don’t ever forget…a narcissist’s entire life is all about what he can get away with day to day.
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When the long-term, already-hooked mistress/target finds out about the marriage (and she always does), the N will likely explain that he was just in the process of filing for divorce when they met but the affair simply distracted him. Now that she knows, he’ll get right on that! He’ll spew his narcissistic word garbage, insisting that the marriage is one of convenience only (“We haven’t slept together in years!”) and that his wife is a psycho who cheats on him and he’s been working with a lawyer to make sure she doesn’t take him for a ride. The truth is that the wife is living the same life as the mistress…a life full of suspicions, silent treatments, and some incredible (but obviously believable) future-faking. If the narcissist is especially pathological, he may even, just for fun, deliberately triangulate one woman with the other.

What I find particularly distressing are the stories where the married N actually convinces a long-distance lover to move to the city where he’s lives under the premise that a divorce is imminent (which it never is) or that he’s already divorced or that he’s now separated. The truth is that the wife has probably caught on or, at the very least, suspects there’s a lover and the move, for him, is for convenience only because he can no longer just hop on a plane. I’ve heard from countless women who’ve moved clear across country – and even across continents – at the narcissist’s request only to be given the silent treatment immediately upon arrival. A married narcissist will even deliberately target a married woman, convincing her to leave her husband for the new relationship and then disappearing himself soon after.

Interestingly enough, 99.9999% of the women that write to me who are involved with a married narcissist adamantly insist that they never – not in a million years – would have ever thought they’d be involved with a married man or cheat on their own husbands. It simply wasn’t part of their nature. Moreover, in as much as it causes them heartache to know she exists, not a single one has ever really bashed the wife. Why? Because deep down anyone involved with a narcissist knows that this guy is a fucking liar wherever he goes and to whomever he’s with at the moment. Typically, whether you experience the relationship as a wife or as a mistress, you eventually come to understand that the “other woman” is just like you.

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So, for those who wonder why a mistress or wife continues to stay with the narcissist knowing what she knows, the answer is that the narcissist is the same person to each! He lies with the same believability and makes the same promises and will insist to one that the other is a psycho that he just can’t seem to get rid of… goes on and on. Both the wife and the lover are victims and in both cases, the victim wants to believe that this person that they love is telling the truth. It’s a codependency to hope that will get us in trouble almost every time.

Now, to be clear, this article isn’t about the married partner who has been monogamous for ten years and then fucks up and is sorry for it. While I certainly don’t condone that behavior, I have to make clear that there’s a difference. As we all know, narcissism isn’t about just one single behavior…it’s about many, many behaviors. We come to recognize these behaviors as narcissistic tactics and this is why those who suspect that their lover or husband is a narcissist are always right. If he is with you, you can guarantee that there is some woman somewhere getting the silent treatment. The married narcissist is very good at what he does or he wouldn’t be a married narcissist!


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  • leeann

    January 24, 2018 at 5:42 am Reply

    What I cannot understand is that there is medication for ADHD and nothing for narcissists. They destroy more lives than ADHD.

    • Zari Ballard

      February 8, 2018 at 11:30 pm Reply

      Hi Leeann,

      First of all, narcissism is not a mental illness. It is a personality DISORDER and there is a difference. Secondly, how has ADHD destroyed lives? Destroyed is a very strong word and I do not understand how you can compare it to narcissism. Narcissists know right from wrong, they just don’t give a shit. They do not have a conscience or a “heart” and do not feel empathy, sympathy or remorse. They basically have no soul and there is no – and never will be – a pill for that.


  • Kim

    January 8, 2018 at 4:44 pm Reply

    How do I cut off all communication with married narcissist when he owes me $. He keeps saying he will meet me then no shows with bs excuse.

    • Zari Ballard

      January 10, 2018 at 6:16 pm Reply

      Hi Kim,

      Most of us escape the relationship with the narc owing us money and that can be tricky. I guess it would depend how much money we’re talking. I am counseling one woman who was discarded by a narc who owes her $18K. She kept hoping he’d do the right thing but I was finally able to convince her that he had no intention on paying her back and that she needed to sue his ass off. She hired a lawyer and that’s exactly what they’re doing. Others that I speak with have much less amounts out there and for most, I say to cut the loss. This ex of yours is married AND a narcissist AND he owes YOU money? Do you know that he has the money to pay you if he cared to (which he doesn’t)? You could always threaten to expose his ass but is it worth it? Sometimes we hang on to the fact that the narc owes us money as a reason for re-connecting so we have to be honest with ourselves over the intention. It’s a tricky situation but you have to do what will make you feel best.


  • Lisa Renee Morgan

    January 2, 2018 at 5:31 pm Reply

    Hi Samantha,
    My fiance and I were together for about 10 years, and off for 10 years.. Then recently got back together 2013 – The first time we were together It was magic, he was energetic, lovable, gift giver, diamond rings, diamond bracelets, flowers and etc.. you name it.. I received.. He is highly intelligent with a good paying job divorced with three kids that were pre-teen to teenagers, and including my son: During the years from 1997-2019 – I really never realized that his behavior was a sign of a narcissism.. until recently, I assumed that this was just his ways, of being self-centered , everything he said was right, and I was continually wrong.. Nothing I said or did was correct.. I was so naive.. and vulnerable.. he had me so wrapped.. Then one year.. during this period of 10 years.. I was so fed up with the belittling, undermining , and verbal abuse, emotional abuse.. HE wanting to control my life that I began to wonder if it was me and began to drink heavily.. because I felt it had to be my fault, that he was acting this way. I finally broke up with fiance, he really never gave me a reason of why, but just told me that it had to be done, not only did this break up affected the kids life, but it really effected my son, who was very fond of my fiance, and looked up to him like a father figure… I was very devastated.. and my world was turned upside down… I stayed with my mother for about 2 years to try and pick up the pieces of my life and vowed never to go back to him. For 10 years my former ex- kept in touch with my mother vowed to get me back..

    Fast Forward to 2013 my mom had been getting visits from my former ex talking to see how I was doing and asked was is okay, If she could give my former ex my telephone number.. and I agreed we talked and talked for hours, and decided to date .. It was all great and wonderful, It seemed, His life was great the kids are grown and no baggage, in church and everything… then the flowers came, we going out to different restaurants.. having a great time.. all was wonderful.. I said wow, he really changed, He’s older and wiser, and knows exactly what he wants.. The relationship got heavier..and we got engaged. again.. 2016- Now my fiance, has been depressed, and has anxiety and or panic attacks , and the behavior of narcissist has arisen 10 times – We argue almost every weekend.. He’s on this website its about aliens, and conspiracies of some sort, In which has consumed his relationship with me and others- He does not want to do anything but lay in the room and listen to this crazy website from the time he gets off work until its time to go to bed..Im just so done with this relationship.. I don’t know what made me think that spots on leopard would change.. What a emotional roller coaster ride!!

  • Bridget

    December 26, 2017 at 10:17 am Reply

    Zari, Thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom and knowledge with so many! I do wish I could go back in time to the day I met my now ex husband and slap myself hard. I would tell myself everything I know now and run as far and as fast as I could away from him. But that’s not what happened so now, after 34 years of marriage and four children, I have to pick up the pieces of my broken life and mend my broken heart. While we were married he pulled every control tactic in the book and also convinced me I was mentally ill and needed psychotropic medicine. He was, if course, using the medication side effects to control me and keep me unaware and down. I am off of all the meds now and am more clear-headed than ever. My counselor thinks I never had any mental illnesses to begin with. Only abusive relationships, first with my father, then with my ex. He targeted me and used me up. I have learned so much since leaving a year ago and continue to learn more. He has a “new” girlfriend already, who is nearly 20 years his junior and has four children of her own. The youngest two look like him. He is a leader in his church. I have struggled with whether or not to warn her and the pastor about him but decided not to pursue that avenue for now. He has embarked on a severe character assassination of me and I would not be believed because he is a very talented liar. He has turned three of my children against me and my focus right now has to be on recovery and hopefully eventual reconciliation with my kids. But you can bet that if I am asked what happened in my marriage I will be telling ALL of the truth. I could tell you so much more but I just want to thank you for getting the word out. A year ago I had never heard of NPD but now I know, and thanks to people like you who are willing to speak up, I am so much stronger and am finally free!

    • Zari Ballard

      January 20, 2018 at 7:12 pm Reply

      Hi Bridget,

      Wow…thank you so much for writing and sharing your story. You know, it seems like exposing him would help but it rarely does. They can fall in a pile of shit and STILL come up smelling like a rose. You…YOU have NEVER been mentally ill. I can say that without even knowing you, girl. You can pick up these pieces and you will:) I speak personally with women who have been in marriages well over 25 years that are now free of the monster. I am not saying it’s easy but I’m telling you it can be done. I pray that your therapist is a good one, understands the dynamics of narcissism and that you feel comfortable. If you feel that it’s not enough, consider talking to me so that I can share my perspective. Together, we can work out a strategy for recovery that won’t feel so overwhelming. This is the beginning of your life, sister…congrats and I wish you nothing but the best.

      Zari xo

  • Izzy

    November 15, 2017 at 12:18 pm Reply

    I found this so interesting, I could relate so much.

    I’ve just cut off a “friend” – a married man who was always seeking me out, sending me emails, wanting to spend hours and hours talking, had to be told to back off a few times but he would just start again a few days later. Love-bombing, I see.

    We were “just friends” though. One time he did blurt out that something he read in the paper about emotional affairs ‘is exactly what we’re doing’ but he soon back-tracked to ‘We’ve done nothing. We’re just friends.’ But he told his ‘friend’ that I was his soulmate, he thinks about me sexually, all that stuff. Classic head-messing, really.

    I wrote him the “never contact me again” letter but we work in the same building so do bump into each other. I’ve changed my schedule and managed to avoid him for a couple weeks. Recently he’s done some weird things – I think to create reasons for our paths to cross. He’s started emailing me again in the last few days.

    I haven’t had long enough to completely de-tox yet, it’s such a killer! I’m not letting him see weakness though, no way!

  • Samantha

    October 14, 2017 at 9:44 am Reply

    This is so unbelievably spot on. I feel like it’s a gift. Thank you.

    This is the first time I’m writing this down and am actually a bit trepidacious because this farce of a ‘relationship’ will be in front of my face.

    Picture this, December 2016, I met a 45 year old, ‘divorcée’ online. He insisted on calling me the day that we had our first online exchange. We spoke for two hours. He was headed back to his home in the Mediterranean that night and wanted to meet when he returned in a two weeks. We spoke almost everyday via text or phone until he returned. Our first date was magical – now looking back he laid it on thick. The compliments seemed real and I ate it up. A few days after this ‘magical’ date, I was leaving for vacation. As soon as I landed, he texted me saying he had an offer for me that I couldn’t refuse. So when I got back from vacation and he from a business trip, we took the day off and spent it walking through an idyllic, romantic town. We also spent the night in a historical inn. I really couldn’t believe this because normally I shy away from someone who is coming on too strong.

    He went away with his kids and ex-wife the next day for a vacation. He said him and his ex like to spend time together with the kids so they maintain a semblance of a nuclear family. He didn’t call me at all that week.

    Fast forward two months and he’s reading me poetry and telling me that he loves me.

    A month later, I join him on a business trip and we toured wine country. It was everything I’ve always wanted. He was funny, caring and incredibly intelligent and we had a wonderful time.

    Moving forward again, communication was fine up until late July. He kind of fell off and the morning texts waned. He was heading up a start-up so he was ‘busy.’ I started noticing that when he was home, he would call from the car or when he was walking the dog. His ex had a powerful position and would travel so he would go and watch the kids he says. That was their arrangement- she’s not there, he is, so he says.

    We spent more time together when he was back in town and the ‘love’ was there or at least I thought so. The compliments continued but not cheesy.

    More time passed and he would disappear for three days at a time. Obviously, I would get upset. He would apologize and blame work again and say if you need me to call send me a strongly worded message, ‘I can take whatever you throw at me.’ So I did and he would call. Side note: whenever he was home with the kids, he would never pick up the phone, only calling me.

    Then finally three weeks ago, I was feeling down for some reason and I let him know. Not much of an effort to contact me on his end so again, I was frustrated and sent another strongly worded text. He called the next day and dumped me, saying he ‘no longer wanted to torture’ me and that he wouldn’t be around like he was. This was a 4 minute phone call to end a relationship of 10 months while I’m at work. I cried and did not respond.

    This seemed so real but it wasn’t. I’m still upset and cry. Feeling lost and discarded. This is just awful. Your article outlined everything.

    Not sure if you have feedback or what possessed me to write all of this but thank you for your work and buyer beware, I suppose.

    • Zari Ballard

      October 16, 2017 at 5:40 pm Reply

      Hi Samantha,

      We need to know that a boyfriend who travels with his “ex” wife is not the boyfriend that we want – I don’t care who he is. Of course, the truth is that this guy was married and always had been and never had any intention of leaving his wife for anyone. Either way, he was a no-good lying piece of shit and I am very sorry that this happened to you. I hope you have the strength to block him because he will likely be back at some point just to see if you are still in the queue. They never really go away for good, at least not for awhile after the “break-up”. Do not despair and move on to the happiness that you deserve. If you ever want to talk about it, book some time with me and I will be glad to help. Sometimes talking to someone who has been there and knows what you’re feeling can make all the difference. Please take care…you are not alone and recovery can be a team effort…

      Zari xo

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