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The Narcissist in Intimate Relationships - A Case Study, Part 2

The Billy Joel song says it well: “She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes; she can ruin your faith with her casual lies, and she only reveals what she wants you to see.”

The true narcissist is the ultimate chameleon and manipulator, and Crystal was a true narcissist. She methodically and alternately pulled Brysen in close and then abruptly shoved him away. This was of course confusing to Brysen, but Crystal knew exactly what she was doing. She was seeing how he reacted in each situation, then filed the reactions way into the file cabinet of her mind for future use. She was learning his fears and weaknesses and neatly cataloguing them. She was also testing the limits of how far she could go before he resisted. And when he did resist, her rage was like a flame thrower directed at him.

All of this was designed to gain greater and greater control over Brysen until he was in reality her slave, living in fear of her wrath and craving her praise and acceptance. And it was working. More and more he based his self-worth on her acceptance, not seeing that he was losing his own identity little by little. The longer they were together the more of himself he lost – and the more he rationalized her behavior.

Crystal’s greatest fear was that Brysen would go back to his ex-wife, Barbara, leaving her alone, and being alone was something she could not tolerate. She was convinced that Barbara wanted him back and would do anything to make that happen, so she more or less commanded Brysen to hate Barbara and treat her with contempt every time they talked. Fearing her unleashed rage, he did it. Crystal insisted that he have no contact with Barbara, but that was impossible because they had two sons and joint decision-making regarding them. So Crystal insisted he could only text Barbara about the boys – and then did the texting herself.

The texts were full of obscenities and accusations. Crystal went along when Brysen picked up the boys for the weekend and glared at Barbara during the exchange. The boys were afraid of her, but Brysen had turned into a “Disneyland Dad” with Crystal paying the tab. They would spend the weekends doing all kinds of fun things, but Crystal had other motives. She began a subtle campaign of distancing the boys from their mother. She bought them clothes and sporting goods they could not afford otherwise, and made progressively bold attempts at slandering their mother. The boys were becoming more and more confused.

Barbara showed them nothing but love and refused to say anything bad to them about Crystal or their Dad. In private, she was devastated and increasingly angry.

It was about to get worse.

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