The Narcissist’s Pathological Relationship Agenda (Book Excerpt)

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An excerpt from Zari Ballard’s book  When Love Is a Lie:

A narcissist’s pathological relationship agenda is a phrase that I coined relevant to the undeniable fact that every narcissist we will ever meet or read about treats their partners the exact same way. And if I do say so myself, I haven’t read or heard a phrase that explains it any better.

Now, certainly I could refer to the narcissistic behaviors I speak of as symptomatic of the borderline personality disorder because I know this to be true as well. However, since I don’t appreciate having to give a narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath any way out or excuse to hide behind, I prefer to call it by exactly what it is – a pathological agenda meant to destroy the identity and soul of the recipient.

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What the N does is deliberately manipulate every possible situation so that he fully dominates our thought process. This, in and of itself, is the most frustrating part of narcissistic relationship agenda. It’s incredibly hard to live our lives when half of our brain is focused on this one individual. We can never quite relax in our own mind because the N is always plotting and then implementing ways to keep us unbalanced and insecure. This is his plan for us – the most essential part of his relationship agenda – and he, too, is very good at what he does.

The narcissist’s relationship agenda is his modus operandi for living. He has no other choice but to fulfill the requirements of the agenda to the best of his ability or life, as he knows it, will be far from worth living. Keep in mind that since the narcissist is completely void of human emotion, he must create emotion (i.e. suffering) in others to get his fix. Now, as I stated earlier, this agenda being part of the narcissist’s borderline personality disorder does not make it okay, it just makes it what it is. We don’t have to accept it or adhere to it or allow the narcissist’s determination to fulfill it get in the way of our lives – but we do. The more we do this, the better he feels about himself and his miserable, empty life.

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You see, any relationship where one partner is a narcissist will never get better because the N likes it just the way it is. His plan…his relationship agenda from day one, is always clear in his mind and that is to keep his long-time lover, girlfriend, or wife – as his main source of supply – in a heightened state of anxiety. In fact, the person who is his main source is actually secondary in his life to his multiple primary sources – that is, the other women, men, and extracurricular dalliances he plays with on the side. Yup, that’s right – his main squeeze in not even the most important one but rather the most convenient because the effort to keep this person in the game is so minimal. The narcissist knows that invoking a good, hearty silent treatment every so often will keep his partner in line, condition her passive-aggressively according to the agenda, and buy himself time to tend to his other relationships. Sad, but true. With that system in place, the N happily gets what he wants from life – a big piece of sugary cake and all the time in the world to eat it.

Don’t ever forget that when the narcissist’s partner suffers, he wins. Why? Because, according to the narcissist’s relationship agenda, our suffering is the narcissist’s reward for a job well done.

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42 Comments

  • Knight

    April 28, 2017 at 5:04 pm Reply


    I found out my nmother is a narc in Nov 2016 when she called the police on me for defending myself against her constant tyranny. It was the last straw for me and I ended up reading and learning all I could about narcs. I have a very obsessive personality so I often times skip eating or even moving my body because I am so focused on whatever it is I’m doing. I have read and learnt so much and yet it still terrifies me to the core. Reading this article just hurts. To know the truth and reality of my situation. To know my nmother will never love me. That she never did. That she doesn’t even see me. That I don’t matter to her at all. It makes me feel like crying even though I’ve cried about this too many times already. The tears don’t fall anymore. But inside I am still broken. Healing, and stronger every day, but not even close to who I used to be. I just wish it wasn’t true…

    I wish I hadn’t been “smart enough” to see behind the mask. Wish I had just played along. Though I don’t really wish that. I just wish none of this was happening. Oh well. Just another thing to add to the list of the mess that is my life. I wonder if things will ever get better. I wonder if “better” will ever be good enough. It makes me sad to think of what a wonderful person I know I could have turned out to be had she not been my sad excuse for an almost parent. It makes me sad to know my “family” will never believe a word I say, and even if they did, would not care at all. The smear campaign is in full effect and I have lost everyone in my life who ever meant anything to me. I even lost myself for a time. I wonder, is there such a fate worse than this? The unseen pain of death by a thousand paper cuts. The whittling down of the soul. The meticulous eroding of self-esteem. All for some sick person’s pleasure. Just a game.

    I don’t even know what else to say. I think the saddest part is no one (apart from other survivors/victims) will ever know my pain. I read a quote once: “history is written by the victor”. That’s what this feels like. Like I have just been deleted from existence. Blotted out. Never to make the history books. She has told the only story anyone is interested in hearing. No one will ever know my story. Well, maybe one day. I guess I wanted to be a writer since a few years now. I guess I got a story to tell now. But it’s not complete. I still have to find a way out of this madness. Living here is not living at all. “A graveyard where nothing can ever grow.” That’s how I described “home” when I was 14. My instincts were always on point. But I doubted myself. I’m so sorry. I hope I can forgive myself one day. I never deserved any of this. I truly let myself down.

    • Zari Ballard

      May 7, 2017 at 11:50 am Reply

      Dear Knight,

      That is the saddest letter I have ever read here. I am so sorry about your mom and how she treated and treats you – but you are a unique person with your own life and your own wonderful qualities. She doesn’t have to be your reflection! Please find a way to channel your sadness…WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. Tell your story and so many will resonate with it. It is so important that you do this, my friend.

      The truth is that you didn’t let yourself down at all…SHE let YOU down. This is her fault. I can’t imagine anything worse than having a mom who is a narcissist…or anything sadder…but do not give up. You are special and worth so much in this world. Please tell your story and you will soon find an entire online community that needs you. Your importance in this life is enormous and you can reach out to others. I did and it changed my whole life…spiritually, financially, and personally. You can do the same.

      I apologize for taking so long to write back. If you like, please contact me here and I will write to you. I don’t want you to feel alone in this life. We are all here to support you…

      Much Love,

      Zari xoxox

  • mjohn

    March 25, 2017 at 11:11 pm Reply

    Thanks for the article. It was particularly helpful because the use of phone contact for hoovering is what I’m dealing with now. My wife discarded me after years of her narcissistic abuse by obtaining a restraining order against me when I started to stand up to her. The forced no contact has actually been really beneficial to me and helped me get my head straight about the damage her narcissism has caused to me and my children.
    Anyway, 4 months into the restraining order now and the hoovering has begun in full force. Emotional messages are being sent through my mother. Possessions of sentimental value are being sent from my house (that I can’t enter). However, the phone use has been the real kicker. On my last six scheduled phone calls with my children, she started answering the phone. She hadn’t done it once in almost 4 months. Now every time she just dangles herself out there to tempt me to break no contact.I just ask to please speak to my children by their names, talking to her as if she were just a receptionist, who I don’t know.
    The interesting thing about this is that in 20 years of marriage it is the first time I feel like she is cracking and I’m winning a battle. She has always so thoroughly manipulated me by my fear of losing her that I have always done her bidding when push comes to shove. Because of the ending of our relationship and the no contact, I am now free of that burden. I now know that she is really emotionally desperate herself, but her impulse to manipulate and control me is still overwhelming. Not quite sure what her motivation is. Maybe she misses me, but maybe she just is trying to entrap me. (Maybe both at the same time?) Navigating the next couple years of my life will be difficult,

    • Zari Ballard

      April 14, 2017 at 12:43 pm Reply

      Hi Mjohn,

      I’m so running behind in my responses! So sorry! I hope that you are holding strong. Her motivation is the fact that she senses your strength and pulling away. At the moment we feel better, they will suddenly reappear to suck as back in. This is a very typical tactic. It has nothing to do with “missing” us except for the fact that they “miss” the convenience of our insecurity and willingness to give in. You have to stand strong train “her” to YOUR way, not the reverse. You’ve come too far to ever back down now, my friend. Stay engaged for the children but keep it to a minimum always. 20 years is a long time and I’m grateful that you are free. She doesn’t really want you to be happy because then she can’t control you. Stay on top of the game, be the best dad you can be, and enjoy the rest of your life.

      Zari xo

  • Annette Calandriello

    December 8, 2016 at 7:07 am Reply

    I haven’t heard back from you, I ‘ m sure you are extremely busy .Still very grateful for your helpful information, I will NEVER have contact with my N again.And at this point not able to FORGIVE him.I know I need to but I can’t let him off the hook that easily.He took years from me, that I can’t get back. Any suggestions? Annette Calandriello

    • Zari Ballard

      December 9, 2016 at 5:55 pm Reply

      Hi Annette,

      I did just respond to your last post. All I can say is read through all the articles here. There are over eighty and I have tried to cover every topic possible. Also, read through the comments under each article because the people that share their stories here are amazing and will give you a world of insight. We’ve all been in your shoes and YOU CAN DO THIS. Start the new year right, sister!

      Zari xo

    • Sierra Harrington

      January 23, 2017 at 4:14 am Reply

      Annette forgiveness is for you NOT him. When you are able to forgive you will finally be free, if you choose to hold on to the pain and hurt he caused you will stay under his control forever. You must not turn the pain back in on yourself by forgiving him you must also forgive yourself for the pain you allowed. In my opinion this is the hardest part not to turn the blame inward. Forgiveness can take time to process and is not instant. I would say 6 months to year to heal and fully forgive is completely normal. Don’t let him hold power over your emotions for one minute longer! He did those things because he himself is hurting, it says nothing about you and everything about what he himself is lacking. You are stronger and by forgiving you can take back your power. Hope this helps..

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