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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  • Rose

    September 5, 2017 at 9:06 am Reply

    I thought he was single for 3 years. I found out about his illegal marriage. I left with love, sad & quiet He revenged by putting the wife under the impression that I am an evil psycho who is trying to ruin their marriage by trying to seduce him. I was shocked when she called while he is next to her calling him a worthless cheater, & me a home wrecker! The horrible lies & accusations & twisting facts were shocking. I collapsed & got admitted to hospital. I realized later they have been together for 12 years. She has been always verbally & emotionally abusive. He has been always an impulsive cheater.
    I don’t understand why he didn’t discard her being a narcissist with her aggressive nature or why she stays with him despite repeated cheating? & why he hates me & ruins my reputation despite how much I loved him & respected him & despite how much he knows about my integrity as a woman & as a person.

    • Zari Ballard

      September 15, 2017 at 5:51 pm Reply

      Hi Rose,

      I’m sorry that you had such a shock after not knowing for three years:( I’m sure that was awful. Considering the circumstances, I am sure you have to have some sympathy for the wife since she, too, obviously had quite a shock. Wives are, as a rule, not under obligation to be courteous to their husband’s mistresses and the cheating husband – especially the narcissistic kind – will ALWAYS throw the mistress under the bus. You didn’t really expect him to blame himself, did you? No way! Also, in the same way that he makes you out to be a psycho to HER, don’t be so sure that what you hear about her “aggressive” nature is true. It’s the same thing. Lies all around. Now, why they stay together is neither here nor there. The alternative is that he becomes YOUR impulsive cheater and you certainly don’t want that, right? You actually dodged a bullet. This is a bad man and it’s much better in this life that he be HER problem and not yours.

      Stay strong,


  • Tina

    August 27, 2017 at 1:52 pm Reply

    Hi , thanks for these posts, I’ve been reading these. I can relate to many , I am in love with a married narcissist. At least all the qualities apply, I’ve had a couple run ins with the wife. Every time I think this has ended then I hear from the narcissist, declaring he misses me, loves me. Then for days I don’t hear from him. Is this typical?

    • Zari Ballard

      September 2, 2017 at 2:29 pm Reply

      Hi Tina,

      Of course it’s typical. This is what a narcissist does day in and day out with every relationship, married or not. You have to ask yourself how long you want to put up with it and what exactly you “love” about him. A narcissist feels no love for anyone and he RARELY – if EVER – leaves the wife for the mistress. If he does, he will always return to the fold either for appearance purposes or because she is not going to ever leave him and he knows it. She, too, is a victim of emotional abuse just like you and for her it’s worse because that’s her husband. When he’s not giving you the silent treatment, he’s giving it to her. Now, if you want to stay in it, he’ll waste your time until the END of time because the game of back and forth just never gets old for him….but is that what you really want? Think about it.


  • Bobbi

    August 22, 2017 at 7:06 am Reply

    I don’t know how to get out. He wants to be married and keeps pressuring me. He strangled me three times and every time I try to leave he threatens me that he will call my job and tell them I do drugs. The last time I tried to leave he pull his shirt off grab my neck and put me in a choke hold, my nails dug into his arms as I was trying to get out because I couldn’t breathe. Then he release me, calmly walked over to the pile of containers in the corner of the room and threw them all over, pull out his phone while blocking me from leaving (he hid MY car keys and MY phone) and dialed 911 saying loudly that I attached him and he was hurt and needed the police. When he ended the call he calmly ask what was I going to do, was I going to stay or leave, did I have someone else. During this particular episode he pulled the registration sticker off my car saying now I was going to get a ticket, go to jail and loose my job because I will have a criminal record. He pushed and pushed about how I will be arrested and he will send me to jail…then calmly ask what I am going to do…am I going to stay. When I couldn’t take anymore I said yes I will then he said oh he never called the police. This so horrible, I fear one day he will kill me.

    • Zari Ballard

      September 2, 2017 at 3:35 pm Reply

      Hi Bobbi,

      I don’t know what to say to that except to JUST GET OUT. Get thee to a courthouse and get a restraining order. Tell the judge that he tried to strangle you three times and that you are in fear for your life. Do not hesitate…do it as soon as the holiday is over (Labor Day). You don’t have a single reason to stay there or with this person AT ALL. Move if you have to or go stay with a friend…but get that ORDER!!!! My ex, by the way, pulled my registration sticker too (without me knowing) during a time where I had been having some court issues with tickets and I DID go to jail. Just get the hell out of that relationship.

      Zari xo

  • Mike

    July 25, 2017 at 7:55 pm Reply

    Hi, I just want to say thanks for writing this article – it is so accurate. I met a man on an online site who’d been married to his partner for 20 years – they hadn’t had sex for 15 years so were trying an open relationship – lots of “boohoo” self pity communicated about his sexless marriage etc. He was rich and given up his job as a super successful lawyer. He even persuaded his partner to start up an online dating profile too so he could strategically be allowed to do so himself. We started an INTENSE sexual / emotional relationship. So many things didn’t add up but he was SO charming, So interested in me, SO helpful, SO giving that i thought it was the real deal. But he literally manipulated me and managed me to suit his dreadful insecurity and neediness. If i didn’t call him whilst I was at work he would flip OUT that i was prioritising work colleagues before him. If i didn’t reply to his daily good morning texts at 8am within an hour he would start panicking. I was always amazed how much patience he had to listen to me talk about my life – he just knew it was making me feel closer to him, and also giving him more intel to manipulate me. He once invited me to his house and i bumped into his partner – i now believe to subtlely piss off his partner who he had told all about me! He told me he knew he shouldn’t have married the partner (whilst in tears of course) but still did. Everything that went wrong in their relationship the partner was ALWAYS accountable for. Sometimes he would have sex with a stranger and literally call me just as it had ended with the person still in bed, to upset me and revel in his perceived machismo. If we had a romantic date and i was too tired/drunk to have sex that night he would storm off and have sex with someone from an online app within hours and tell me straightaway. I have never met someone so scary in their ability to portray charm and etiquette. He would never apologise, in fact often screech at me to apologise for making him feel “bad” if i criticised him for doing something very hurtful to me! He used to meltdown if he didn’t get his way, looking like a weird massive blubbering baby. He would take credit for anything. He thought waiters and barmen and hotel concierges were his actual friends and would always remark how much they loved him! He would take me to expensive restaurants and hotels because he actually had no one else to go with. I can’t believe it took me so long to leave. His poor life partner whom he’ll never end it with because he is such a coward and needy. That made me feel so good to write that. THANKYOU

    • Zari Ballard

      August 2, 2017 at 10:47 pm Reply

      Hi Mike,

      I’m sorry it took me so long to moderate and I’m glad it made you feel better to write it!! Sometimes you just have to let it all out, my friend:) He sounds so awful…made me sick to my stomach to read that. I am so grateful you have escaped his horrible clutches. Never give in and never give up. Life can only go up after all that! I wish you the best and thank you for sharing. All of us are here to support you…..

      Zari xoxo

  • Thomas Massimini

    June 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm Reply

    Yes, it is the Narcs business of life to destroy the very soul of those he or she targets. I have experienced the pain of being the husband of an NPD woman. I was so deceived by her lies from the day I met her that I never saw she was pure EVIL, until; it was too late. I married her and shortly thereafter, she began a game to attach herself to all my asset. After 13 plus years of marriage, she had succeeded in totally destroying my sense of self-worth. She used the silent treatment to the degree that I wrote letters to her and asked for her comments on what I would like discuss. Never did she accommodate me. In fact she conspired with many people she duped into believing her lies about me into becoming witnesses to a concocted story of false abuse at my hands. She used my collection of antique and modern firearms as part of her abuse claims in her criminal case against me. She had me arrested and removed from our 3 children and my home I owned before I even knew her. I fought a criminal case for six hearings and was forced to accept a plea bargain, as her girlfriend actually falsely testified in court against me. I lost everything I worked hard for. This happened 24 years ago and I can’t explain how the system failed me.

    • Zari Ballard

      July 10, 2017 at 2:13 am Reply

      Hi Thomas,

      I am so very sorry about what happened to you because I, for one, think that the female narc is so much worse than a male narc can ever hope to be. Society – and, yes, the “system” – has enabled the female narc, in many ways, to be what she is because she is a female. However, I know from the stories I am told and the people that I speak with that the courts are better about this now because now they have seen everything. There is more awareness to this topic and they can’t always fool everybody. If the husband plays his cards right and keeps his emotions out of it, even the female narc can get a beat down in the family court. I’m not saying it’s easy but it’s definitely not impossible.

      So I believe that a big reason for the system failing you 24 years ago is because it was 24 years ago. That’s almost a quarter of a century ago in a very different time. I hope you can see that. I think lawyers are more “up” on this shit now and so are the police. Again, I’m not saying the system is perfect but I guarantee it’s better. The same thing probably wouldn’t have happened to you today because she wouldn’t have been so comfortable in doing it. And if it did, you would have had a better defense and a better chance of winning.

      I hope that you have moved along and found your way in this life, brother. I hope after all these years, your soul has healed and you have restored all that she had taken.

      Zari xo

  • angiep

    June 11, 2017 at 8:08 am Reply

    He is a famous author.We started texting after him reading one of my reviews back at Christmas. We don’t live in the same city so after our texting became non stop almost 24/7. we spent 2 weekends together too.We talked about everything, he told me everything about his life.He has two children.He told me there is distance between him and his wife after 20 years of marriage but no arguments or tension at home.But at that point he wasnt ready to leave home financially or socially, he is 50 too. but he wanted us to continue and made plans for Easter holidays and later.At Easter he spent more time with his family and then one day while talking on the phone when I asked him where we stand he told me it’s very difficult and he doesn’t know when we could meet again and now that he finished the new book he hasn’t got many opportunities to be in his study to be texting to me or that his daughted has picked up some signs etc.So I asked him if he made a decision or we re good and we re moving on and he said no decisions are made we re just talking about how things are.and then the line went dead and that was it.He disappeared for 2 weeks when he texted happy month I didn’t reply to it (he had disappeared again for a few days before Easter and he had promised not to do it again) and after 2 weeks have a nice week with joy etc.So I replied that these casual texts are meaningless and if he wanted to tell me something meaningful or explain what has happened all this time he has disappeared he should call and talk. He replied that he doesn’t understand what I find meaningless and that he texted because he cared and that he understands that there are obviously some boundaries I can’t cross. I didn’t understand so called him to clarify things.He never picked up my calls.It’s been two weeks. What happened?Why isn’t he explaining?Why disappearing and then texting casually or replying with texts I don’t understand?Which boundaries can’t I cross?What does he want?

    • Zari Ballard

      June 11, 2017 at 7:20 pm Reply

      Hi angiep,

      My website has over 85 articles in it, all covering every topic imaginable about narcissism in relationships. I even have articles explaining all about those meaningless texts…those ridiculous hoovers that we fall for. Narcissists manage down our expectations so that we expect less and less while they get away with more and more. We become accepting of and will respond to crumbs of attention and it’s bullshit. Married narcs, by the way, never leave their wives so this is truly a dead end situation and the truth is that this is a very good thing. Please read through the articles to get a better handle on what’s happening. He’s behaving like a textbook narcissist, stringing you along and wasting your life while he goes on about his. Don’t allow it….

      Zari xo

      • angiep

        June 12, 2017 at 1:44 am Reply

        Ive read most of your articles,great insight, thank you. I always thought he is selfish, he is famous after all, how couldn’t he be?I just don’t get what he wants now.Friendship?Why didn’t he just say it’s over as an affair since it’s too difficult for him and end it in a nice and respectful way?I wouldn’t have said anything.It’s been 3 weeks now since me calling him to clarify things after his text about me not crossing my boundaries (do you understand what he meant??I still haven’t).Do you think he ll reappear again?Should I do continue nothing?I’m so tempted to email him about how he s made me feel all this time. Any advice would be so valuable.I’m really struggling.

        • Zari Ballard

          June 12, 2017 at 11:56 am Reply

          Hi Angiep,

          It appears that narcissists who are famous are really rearing their ugly heads right now…the partners are contacting me left and right. Your guy is acting like the typical narcissist he is unfortunately. The vague blow-off is simply what they do. The articles on my website talk all about this – in the 85 pieces I’ve written, I’ve tried to touch upon every topic and behavior. He doesn’t want anything but to keep you in the queue until when and if he feels like reaching out sometime down the road when he feels like it. This is what narcissists do, girl. If he ended it in a nice, respectful way, he wouldn’t be a narcissist. That’s not the way narcissists work. They leave you hanging and then once in a while they will throw you a crumb hoover in an email or a text and then NOTHING until the next time. When and if that time comes, who knows but you can’t wait around. Here’s an article that explains the hoover. There are more on the site as well that go into detail about this.You can email him, of course, but it will only cause you more pain if he doesn’t respond. The best thing is to go no contact and be done with it. I speak with people every day during consultations and we work through it. Believe me, you can come out of the fog. The “boundaries” comment was just an excuse to justify his own behavior and it’s not meant to make any sense. Their reasons never do. It’s just bullshit. Don’t spend too much time trying to figure that out because HE probably didn’t know what it meant but I suspect he’d had that type of conversation before to have thrown out the word “boundaries”. Narcissists know right from wrong, they just don’t give a shit. The best thing to do is block his number so that he can’t just send you a text just to keep you lingering around. For a narc, the game just never gets old!

          Zari xo

          • angiep

            June 12, 2017 at 12:21 pm

            Zari, I totally get you.I was just hoping or thinking that might be a first time case and it’s the case you mentioned in your article the midlife crisis and first-time case of him cheating that started to become deeper and he wento into a panic mode and just vanished instead of coming clean.He kept mentioning how difficult things are financially and socially and the long distance between us but always said to give it time until my asking where we stand during Easter. Could that be the case?maybe too hard for me to accept he is a narcissist indeed.He is self-centered for sure and doesn’t accept criticism.and he is 55!how can he not behave like a man and clarify things?either yer or no.I want to tell him so much and then I decide not to because I’m very strict when it comes to vanishing acts and he had promised me he wouldn’t do it again.That’s why I keep not contacting him.Does he want us to be friends?Does he really want something?That’s my question. He just makes me think that I should have replied to the first text he sent almost 2 months ago.Maybe I would have understood something as for what he is up to or what he wants.Hate mind games.

          • angiep

            June 22, 2017 at 11:31 am

            you were probably right.After a month he reappeared yesterday.He sent me a sticker on fb messenger. Snoopy with a heart!I mean what is this?so childish from a 55 year old man!SO tempted to send a sticker back to see what he ll do next but I find it so ridiculous!

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