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What Are the Signs of a Narcissistic Husband?

By Craig Bonnot
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Living with a narcissistic husband, much like living with a narcissistic wife, can be difficult. Broadly defined, narcissism is a personality disorder in which a person believes that he or she is better than other people or is obsessed with himself or herself. A husband with narcissism might be overly controlling, or he might be selfish and need constant praise and admiration.

Narcissists have a high opinion of themselves. A narcissistic husband will believe that he is special and will expect everyone to recognize this. He will set unrealistic goals for himself and then become hurt and feel rejected when he is unable to achieve those goals. A husband with narcissism might fantasize about success and will expect constant praise for his achievements.

It is also possible to recognize a narcissistic husband by the way he associates with the people around him. A narcissist is unable to show empathy and cannot recognize emotions and feelings in other people. He will dislike people that he believes are inferior to him and will often try to take advantage of those people. Furthermore, he will be jealous of people who are more successful than him.

Narcissists might seem pretentious and conceited. They might try to monopolize conversations by boasting about their accomplishments and might make fun of people whom they considers to be inferior to them. Narcissists believe they should always receive special treatment, and when they do not receive it, they become angry. These traits will cause are narcissist to act in a moody and erratic way.

A narcissistic husband cannot deal with criticism, and when he is criticized, he will feel embarrassed and ashamed. Narcissists have a high opinion of themselves, but they also typically have very fragile self-esteems. Criticizing a husband with narcissism might cause him to react with both anger and contempt, which can make it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship, because it does not take much to make him feel hurt or rejected. The spouse of a narcissist must be careful to always act like an adult even though the narcissist might be acting like a child.

Being narcissistic is not the same as having high self-esteem. A person who has high self-esteem has a healthy self-image and is proud of his or her talents and accomplishments. A narcissistic husband, on the other hand, thinks so highly of himself that he believes that he is actually better than other people. A person who merely has high self-esteem does not actually believe that he or she is better than others.

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Discussion Comments
By anon998331 — On May 16, 2017

I can relate to all of these posts. My spouse of over 30 years is both a narcissist and an alcoholic. He is a high functioning alcoholic. He maintains a job because image is everything to him. He doesn't want a divorce, I believe, mostly for image and secondly because I do everything and if I am gone he has no one to blame. He also has many people at work who do everything so his duties are minimal. Again, built in blame for anything that goes wrong. The worst part is my kids believe him.

The worst pain is that they no longer have anything to do with me. I read somewhere that was because they desperately want a relationship with the one who was always absent. I should have left years ago. If you even suspect this is happening in your life, run. Beware of phrases like "who could blame me?" Or one of my personal favorites is that my perception is off. Somehow he manages to remember any taxing event with him being the hero and any time anything goes wrong it is my fault. If any of this sounds familiar, get out.

By anon996687 — On Oct 04, 2016

Reading everyone's posts is like reading my own life since 2012. Things were good for the first little while, but over the last year or so, they've started falling apart.

My second husband is from Kenya. He obtained his conditional green card 18 months after we married. Can you see where this is going?

After almost four years of marriage, I am divorcing my husband. I realized about 18 months ago that he is narcissistic, and had to make the decision as to whether I would try to stick it out. There were many red flags that I didn't catch at first, but you know what they say about hindsight. He was too perfect at first, whirlwind courtship, grand promises to take care of me and my children, especially when their father died 8 months after I married the narcissist. Declarations that he loved me so much, I couldn't possibly understand it. He convinced me to leave a job I had been at for almost 20 years, because, "my wife won't be paid menial wages. We'll start our own business, and you can work there." Like a fool, I agreed.

He never took a job that let him be at home, and he had these huge ideas for trying to make money. He was convinced he deserved have massive amounts of it. In the meantime, I've gone through all the money I received from my ex's life insurance trying to keep our head afloat. His income wasn't doing the job. He insisted on having credit cards he couldn't pay, so like a good wife, I covered them for a while. I reached a point where I told him I would no longer make payments on his cards, or the truck he insisted on buying. My money was supposed to be for my kids, and not his personal debts. He left for work (hauling campers for RV manufacturers), and was gone for three weeks.

He constantly tried to twist my words into meaning something I didn't say, and always talked to me like I was incapable of understanding what he was saying. He never tired to understand me as a person, and I was supposed to just blindly trust what he was doing. I asked about an oil change on a vehicle he used for hauling, and got lectured on how dare I question his care of it. Didn't I think he'd take care of the very truck (different truck) he was using to make money for the family? He didn't like when I asked questions, unless they were of a topic that allowed him to expound on himself and his grand plans.

Back in May, he told my best friend (at my son's wedding reception!) that if I didn't start treating him better, I'd find myself without a husband again.

The last straw for him was when the application for his 10-year green card was returned for additional supporting documentation. While pretending to cooperate with me in getting the information gathered, he was actually texting my best friend and telling her he was leaving me, because I didn't take immigration seriously enough. That love had nothing to do with his being with me. He implied that I was purposely trying to get him deported. I had failed to get him the thing he wanted, and was no longer of use to him, so he was leaving. Of course, he denies that he's been playing me.

I think he expected tears and pleading. What he got was his belongings in 33 gallon trash bags, and taken to a local shelter the next morning. I made an appointment with a divorce attorney the next week, and two weeks after he left, the petition to divorce was filed. He's trying to play the victim card. I am the one being abusive, by taking him to a place full of homeless, thieves and drug addicts. I've been told this by one of the debt collectors that called my cell phone number looking for him. I set that story straight.

I want nothing from this man. He's left me penniless, in a severe amount of debt, and having to return a the truck (the same he lectured me over) because there is still a lien on it I can't pay. I am job hunting for the first time in 21 years. He's been out of my house for four weeks, and I have no idea how I'm going to pay the bills at this point. But, we have no joint property (house is rented) and no children together, so there's that.

I've written to Immigration, and told them I was revoking my sponsorship of him, why he left me, and that I've filed for divorce.

I'm stronger than he wants me to be. I'll survive.

By anon991777 — On Jul 17, 2015

I've heard the word several times but didn't take the time to actually do any research on it. When I read the article and the comments, I felt a huge sadness, a light bulb and a sense of clarity. I knew there was some explanation and I took the blame for all for the past 20 years.

I too was strong, able and very confident. A happy, carefree, loving and caring person. I no longer even have hope that same woman will ever exist again. I am alone, sad, bitter and untrusting.

I just blamed immaturity for the number of times he's cheated, lied and deceived me. I had hoped one day he would grow out of it and we could finally have a "normal" life. I thought if I hung on just a little longer maybe one day all my sacrifices and hard work would pay off. I am just now realizing none of that will ever happen. I doubt I am even a real person to him, just an object to be used and discarded once I am not helpful to him.

His picture should be in the dictionary under "narcissistic rage". He won't even admit to the abuse, and he downplays any mistakes and affairs to the point where I felt like I was going crazy. Ugh I could go on and on but I can see that I am not alone.

By anon985295 — On Jan 14, 2015

This devastates me. I just realized that my husband of eight years now has this Narcissism disorder. He was so beautiful for the first 3 1/2 years of our relationship, then little by little his true self started revealing itself, and now he is a wretched monster. Reading all these other posts crushes me, because now I know that the beautiful man I fell completely and unconditionally in love with will never return and I need to let go.

By anon973675 — On Oct 13, 2014

I've been with my husband 10 years now. I just recently had a light bulb go off and realize he has NPD and I have to get out. I saw signs when I was dating him of his unstable and bizarre behavior, and caught him in lies like he was still married and he, in fact, filed for divorce while he was dating me and was not divorced like he told me. But I should have walked away then.

I met him through my ex-boyfriend when he found out we we broke up and that was his chance to make his move. I was very vulnerable and my self-esteem was crushed so I was an easy target. I was not ready to get involved again and tried to avoid falling for him. He was very persistent and did everything to lure me with his charm. He was too good to be true.

I was in a situation from my prior relationship having had a restraining order on my ex as he stalked me and was threatening me for a year after we broke up. With that said, he convinced me I needed to move in with him for my own safety and he was going to take care of me and my teenage daughter. I didn't want anyone to take care of us; I did that. I just wanted a partner to share the adventures in life with and be happy. He was that person back then. He's nothing like that at all now. He's a good actor. He played his manipulative role for about three years.

It was a whirlwind love affair. I couldn't be without him, but eventually things fell apart and the real person he was came out more and more and he couldn't hide who he was any longer.

I have had a lifetime of bad relationships. My first husband of 13 years with whom I had two beautiful daughters, had abandoned any kind of a relationship with them after we were divorced because of his alcoholism and abuse. I lost everything including my house. I got no alimony or child support because he never worked and left the state but I had my self-esteem and my dignity and girls and that was enough.

I ended up in another relationship and he was great with my girls and eventually my granddaughter. We were together for 10 years and then he got into drugs and cheated and eventually I left him. I seem to have a pattern of getting involved with the wrong guy. Each of the three men I have been with were very different in so many ways but were all were verbally abusive and I never looked up any info on narcissism until now and realize they were all narcissists. I just thought a narcissist was just conceited but its so much more.

My husband has led me to investigate online descriptions of his personality characteristics and I realized he has NPD. It's as if his name should be in the definition because he has all the characteristics to a T.

I'm a good person, strong in heart and soul, and very optimistic. I will get through this as I have the others but I am very careful because he is very unstable and has a very large gun collection. I don't sleep anymore because my mind is occupied with all the scenarios of his reaction when I ask for a divorce. I know he will fight me tooth and nail for everything he can get from me, but I don't want anything – just out and away from him.

I need to be free from his grip to breathe easier and feel alive again. It's been a living death being under his manipulation. I know people find it hard to understand how an educated, reasonable, loving, positive, upbeat, happy person could ever fall victim to such cruel and unusual behavior and I get that. You will never know or understand until it happens to you. These individuals are demons in disguise. I believe they are hopeless for any kind of help, because after all, they are superior and nothing is wrong them -- it's everyone else.

They live in a delusional state and can fool the wisest and most intelligent people and until you live with it, you don't know, but the truth will eventually come out and they will drain you dry.

By anon954366 — On May 31, 2014

I am currently in a situation where a man I was in a relationship with for 12 years is trying to get custody of our son. He is all about convincing others how perfect he is. He had an identity crisis of thinking he was his ex-boss who happened to be an iconic NBA player. He did not have any real friends the whole time I had known him.

He has no empathy, no compassion and wasn’t remorseful for his actions. He continues to con others to believe that he is this perfect man and dad, but in fact, my child has been neglected by him the whole time since birth. His older daughter from a previous relationship had basically disowned him. His ex-wife ended up committing herself and was suicidal. He ended up abandoning her as he has done to every person who questioned his wrongdoing, then makes them sound like an awful person, like he is doing to me.

He was very convincing and when he wasn't, he wouldn't let up until he felt you believed every word he said. He needed to be praised just for taking out the trash while I did everything else, including raising my son on my own while he traveled for work. He convinced his family that I was depressed and needed to be on meds until I finally was able to clear the air. So many lies and manipulations. He tried to take my child from me twice and never apologized, saying it was my fault.

He is incredibly selfish and doesn’t seem to care who he hurts as long as he gets his way. All the judgments that he has made have been a reflection of himself. There is absolutely no accountability on his part. If called out his behavior, the distractions came or you became a target for him to criticize you. He is so unwilling to communicate or give any sort of answers.

If you are with a person like this, leave before they ruin your life and don't have a child with them. He is incapable of loving. I feel that I've been with a psychopath! I feel sorry for my little boy. I can remove myself from this sick person’s life, but he can't. He has and is still trying to ruin my life. I lost so much of my life my family and my friendships while under his psychological control.

He is a useless man, father and human being. I will forgive and live my life the way I planned before meeting him. He held me down for much too long, but I will get back up. I refuse to let him win in that sense. He has no idea how much stronger he made me by having to go through this nightmare. I feel sorry for the next girl because he was never a good example of a man.

By anon926959 — On Jan 21, 2014

I can relate to all of you. I was married to a narcissistic alcoholic for 16 years; the alcoholic part was the last three years to present.

Believe me when I say he destroyed a big part of me and my son, but I made it out alive! Like you all, I now realize what he is. That's the first step: we have recognized it. We cannot change the past, and I still cry almost every day over something he's done or is doing. But again, we must, for our children's sake, close them out as much as possible. Because of our legal system, I have also lost it all and it fuels them more, but I still have my child and for me that's the most valuable thing: to keep him from turning out to be like his father.

I could go on for days about this but all I really want to say is, you still have your minds, your heart, soul and faith. They cannot take that away! I will always have broken bones from him and there will always be reminders, but don't allow them to eat at you, because you dwelling in pain is what they want. Do your best, keep your mind healthy, focus on your children and the future you still have.

By anon347373 — On Sep 06, 2013

@Anon: You sound just like me: After 20 years of marriage, I lost everything. He destroyed my life, and destroyed our children. We are all shells. I really don't think anyone could ever understand who has not themselves lived it.

My daughter and I are both disabled. Maybe we would have had our health problems without him tearing us apart for so long, but I seriously doubt they would be nearly as bad. My son has Antisocial Personality Disorder and he also now tortures my daughter and me. Nature or nurture or both? The cluster B gene is most likely present, but my son had no role model for how a good, honest, loving man should behave.

Hold on to your own mind and know that it is normal to be damaged by living with this kind of person. I have been divorced for seven years, and he has never stopped exploiting us, lying to and about us, promising support that we base our lives on, only for it to never materialize. He has destroyed us financially, emotionally and physically.

It is astounding what he got away with in the legal system. It has made me unable to trust anyone. I know that I will never have another relationship with a man again. But it is worse than that. I know what evil is and I know it wears a very good mask, so I don't really trust anyone except my daughter and one friend. Once you get torn down as far as they tear you without relenting for so many years, you need help that other people just can’t understand, because they cannot fathom what you have been through. Most people still think that others are like them. But those of us who know first hand that others are not all like us, and that their masks are really convincing, and what can happen if you don't see through them in time, are forever damaged.

Maybe I am being pessimistic, placing my own brokenness on others, but I think with what he has put my children and me through that there would truly be something terribly wrong with me if I were not broken and pessimistic. I have been sucked into the narcissist’s black hole and I do not know how to get out. I was a very strong woman once, much stronger than he was. But I am not that person any more. She is gone. I hope you fare better than I have. I feel your pain. You are not alone. I read these blogs quite a bit, but this is only the second time that I have ever written anything on one, myself. Your words touched me. You have to be on the inside of the relationship with these men to see them. They look perfect from the outside.

I am working on a book, and I am going to title it, "The Right Arm of the Starfish". He always told me I was like his right arm. He thought it was a compliment. But I was just an appendage that he could use at his will. A starfish has no right arm; it just depends on how it sits on the rock that day and broken arms can be regrown. I really know deep down that I cannot recover the person I once was or resurrect her strength and optimism, but I would still like to do some good in this world. Because of my disability and my emotional trauma, I think the best thing I can do is to write about my experiences as openly and honestly as possible and hope that it will help others to see behind the mask before it is too late and they are consumed.

I hope to persuade someone to listen to that aching little voice inside of them that is sounding warnings and to listen to that feeling of being suffocated. If I had listened to that little voice when it first started speaking, I would not be where I am today and neither would my children.

I feel overwhelming, crushing guilt for what he has done to them and that I even made him a father in the first place. It was a role he was never equipped to play. I stayed far longer than I would have if my daughter and I had been healthy. I felt trapped. But it only gets worse the longer you stay, and eventually you lose yourself. I never believed that I was the crazy one, although he has tried very hard in that endeavor. I am broken, but I am not crazy. I know what is real. I know what happened to me, every step of the way, and I know what happened to my children. Isolation is their weapon. They make you too emotionally drained to reach out to other people. You become physically ill and depressed and they have you right where they want you.

I hope your DA comes through for you. No lawyer or judge did for me and the legal system became the most destructive, abusive tool in his arsenal. He used it to rob me of everything I ever had and my children of their college educations and futures. He used it to deprive us of our freedom, our dignity and all financial resources. This abuse has spanned almost a decade. He has found a way out of every commitment and every legal obligation. He has committed perjury so many times that I will not even be able to recount them all in my book. There is blatant evidence of his lies and duplicity and he has gotten away with all of it. It is quite shocking to others when I tell them even the bare bones story of what he has gotten away with. It still shocks me.

I am trapped in a cycle of thinking about the victimization that he has brought to me and my children and I do not know any way to silence that voice. It is a voice that has never been heard. After all that has happened. the only way to even begin to tell it is in a book and I will have to do some serious editing to condense it into a volume that does not rival “War and Peace” in its length.

I just wanted to write to tell you that I know what it feels like to have wasted you life on such a man. I know the pain you feel watching him victimize your children. I hope you find some satisfaction in the legal system. If I had found any protection there, I would not be so broken and would not feel so hopeless. Be as careful and thorough as you possibly can in that arena, and find a good advocate. Don't settle for one minute for a lawyer or any kind of advocate that you do not have total confidence in. You stand to lose much more than money. You can lose your faith in humanity. And that is something that you cannot afford to lose, trust me.

By anon338713 — On Jun 16, 2013

These comments are so incredibly helpful. They let me know these men do feel entitled. And this signing the check thing happened to me too!

By anon338712 — On Jun 16, 2013

He stole money from my dad, had an affair on me (maybe more) and blamed me for it and then felt he deserved much more in the divorce for the time he put into the relationship, while I had to go right back to work having just survived a tough cancer battle. He couldn't work because they weren't good enough at work, but even exhausted, I could. All I keep thinking is poor or not, when will I be free and I don't think I can ever trust a man again.

By anon336943 — On Jun 01, 2013

I finally see the problem. I doubt therapy is an option since the narcissist deludes him/herself into believing they are above help. Mine thinks he's smarter than everyone else.

I've also noticed it's always someone else's fault when they do something wrong, including cheat. *sigh*

By anon335357 — On May 20, 2013

My husband stole my child support for years, telling me I was never receiving it from my estranged ex, but he was hiding it in a PO Box. He forged my signature on everything, because after all, what's his was his and what was mine was his.

When he left and I filed for divorce, I became the bully simply because I wasn't about to lie there and take the further abuse. I am pursuing legal action and hope the DA will see that even though I was married, he had no right to take from my children and steal my identity.

This man works for a police department and worse yet, he has convinced them that I am the one who is in the wrong, even though he was blatantly forging my signature on checks sent only to me for years and I only discovered them after he left.

By anon320315 — On Feb 16, 2013

After twenty years of being insidiously eaten alive by a man who fits every description and behavior, there is so little left of me. I fret about the effects on my children and my ability to ever be free of this man. I actually pray for his death and worry about his new wife and her child's safety, but the trouble is, he has convinced everyone I am the mad one. Even three years post divorce, which he suggested, the man just goes on and on torturing me.

By anon310859 — On Dec 27, 2012

They can say things then twist it so it means something that's not as bad as what they first said, like you misheard it and they believe it.

They can say something nasty and when you call them on it, they say you weren't supposed to hear it so it was OK to say it. They will call you names and make you believe you are what you say you are. They will keep nagging you if they don't get their own way until you give in.

If you are different, they don't want to understand or see or hear what you say or listen to you, and if you don't leave them, which is the only way to deal with them, they will break you. They will take all your choices away until they destroy your health by making you have medical treatment against your better judgment and you are then left housebound. Rather than help you, they force more drugs on you that destroyed your health.

By anon277638 — On Jul 01, 2012

He's trying to tell me I'm paranoid and I've gone crazy, that I am just forgetting I need meds. He tells me I'm unstable, that there is something wrong with me, calls me derogatory names and then says he never said that.

He has people use my identity to victimize my children and tell them mom's cuckoo. He makes himself look like an angel. He has stolen my identity and everything I have from me and says I must have forgotten it.

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