Did i cause my spouse to become toxic? (Divorce & Narcissistic Relationship Recovery)


Can you blame yourself for someone else’s toxic behavior?.
Is it your fault they’re a narcissist?. Did you do something to deserve this?. It’s time for another ask me anything video and today we’re gonna talk about something that is not something I’ve ever heard from another survivor, but it’s something that I think we all kind of secretly think.
So, let’s get started. (Closed captioning provided by Athena Moberg and CPTSDfoundation.org). My name is Angie Atkinson and on this channel, I offer free, daily video coaching to help you discover, understand and overcome narcissistic abuse and toxic relationships. I like to call it toxic relationship rehab. So if that sounds good to you, hit that subscribe button and let’s get going.
When I received this question I was a little bit surprised, but after I read through it, I realized that there is something to what this person said and I realized that it could be more than just this person who feels this way. So let me just read you the question. I’m pretty sure my ex is a narcissist. The biggest problem I have is that I feel like I caused it. I always described our relationship as a push and pull in the beginning. This person would be good for a little bit and then go back to their bad self-centered ways, but when they loved you it was like being engulfed in the Sun. I met a person and we started having an affair. I tried to divorce my spouse. They were so devastated that they couldn’t go to work and said they’d get on medication which I knew they needed for their depression. I felt horrible and I stayed. Fast forward, 13 years later, we’re divorced. This person had many affairs, nine that I know of to date.
The kids and I lived like we were walking on eggshells. I kept putting up with everything, because I felt I did this to them,that my behavior turned them into this monster. So that was a back story, now, here’s the question.
Can that happen? Can someone turn into this from being hurt like that? So what this person is asking me is, is it my fault, because I had an affair when I tried to divorce this person thirteen years ago when they coerced me and guilted me into staying in marriage, is it my fault that they turn into a narcissist?. Maybe a better way to say that would be is it my fault that I was abused? And I think the first thing we have to do is determine exactly what it is that causes narcissism or a narcissistic personality disorder in the first place.Take a look. Narcissistic personality disorder is one of just 10 personality disorders that are recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Most of us are aware of what narcissistic personality disorder looks like but if you’re not I’ll leave a link for you in the description below.
To start here, in 2013 there was a report in the Journal of psychiatric research that discussed a German study where they have looked further into the causes of narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve talked about this before, but in that study, they figured out that the part of the brain that is associated with empathy and compassion, the cerebral cortex was actually thinner in people who were known to have narcissistic personality disorder. So with the thinner area being what it was, it would make sense that the narcissists would score higher on the scale because of course they have the lack of empathy which is one of the most notable characteristics and then of course the grandiosity and self-centeredness, that are all part of that whole NPD issue.
Now, there was another study done in 2010 at the University of Southern California that found that the part of the brain that regulates things like self-directed and obsessed thinking with these individuals was shown to have a much higher activity level in that part of the cerebral cortex. Of course, the environmental factor is also a big part of it, the nurture part. So those children who were brought up in situations where they were either excessively praised or excessively criticized or who had a big childhood tragedy growing up would kind of lend to becoming more narcissistic or higher on the NPD scale. Bottom line, what causes NPD is a combination of those specific conditions in the brain as well as how a child was brought up and how they were raised.
Children who had happier, more stable childhoods, who were not dealing with childhood tragedies and or excessive praise or criticism were less likely to become narcissistic even if their brains looked like the brains of people who were diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. There is something called Narcissistic Fleas and that is something that could affect a person in a way that you might not expect. So take a look at this. Sometimes when you are a non personality disordered person who has been involved with a narcissist or another type of personality disordered person, you kind of start to image or emulate some of their behaviors. This is normal and natural, because we all pick up habits from people we live with or spend a lot of time with. This is what we call getting fleas. Sometimes it’s because we’ve been exposed to a situation for a long time and we just kind of are looking for ways to escape from it and sometimes we don’t know how else to live, how to exist, how to demonstrate our anger or frustration or whatever. Let me explain exactly how this kind of comes up in our lives. How do we kind of find ourselves in that place? Let’s say you were raised by deaf parents, right?, so as a child of a deaf parent, you never really have to be quiet, you could drop stuff on the floor, you could practice your instrument late at night, you could sing out loud at 3 o’clock in the morning if you wanted to, you could turn your stereo all the way up, your parents didn’t care, they didn’t hear a thing, right?. Well, now let’s say that you went after college, your roommate wasn’t deaf, so you are slamming your drawers shut at midnight or you’re playing your instrument. it’s kinda 2:00 in the morning you’re blasting your stereo while they’re trying to study. They’re probably gonna get pretty offended by that and not like you very much as a roommate, but you’re not gonna even think about how loud you’re being, because up until this point in your life, the people you live with didn’t really have a problem with you being loud. They couldn’t hear you. So somebody paid really close attention to what you were doing and they understood what it looked like when someone was hard-of-hearing or even partially deaf, they might think you were deaf or had hearing loss, because of the fact that you didn’t seem to be aware of how much noise you were making, right?. The thing is that you could hear, but because you’re raised by deaf parents who couldn’t hear you you were never made to be aware of that noise. Fleas are just like that when it comes to dealing with a narcissist. Those are sort of like deaf fleas that you picked up, right?. So what’s the connection exactly?. When you live with a narcissist, you must do things the way they do things, everything has to be a their way, you have to follow the rules, there are no questioning the rules, there are no changing the rules unless the narcissist does the changing, you’re not allowed to say what you think or feel, you’re not allowed to have an opinion on really anything, unless it suits the narcissist. If you do have an opinion you better make sure it matches up with the narcissists opinion. You’re not allowed to express what you want or need, you’re not allowed to criticize anyone, you must accept the blame for every single thing that goes wrong in the world. Basically, you don’t matter, you’re a nobody, you’re just their source of supply, you come last if at all. What happens when you have narcissistic fleas?. Well, one of two things; either you were raised like this and you carried this into your new relationship and you continued in the role of victim or you were raised like this and you think this is how life is.
So for me, for example, one of the things that happened to me was that when I first got into a relationship after I left home, I thought I was supposed to run the show. I thought that’s how it went, I thought the woman runs the show, the man does what the woman says and everybody’s happy. I didn’t work that way, especially because I ended up with a narcissist, but that’s another story. …But the bottom line is this is not what has happened here So let’s get back to the original question, is the fact that this person had the affair and then was coerced back into the marriage for 13 years the cause of this person’s abuse?. Is the pain the person suffered as a result of the affair the cause of the abuse?.
The answer is no, it is not your fault. The fact is that person was already a narcissist, in fact by coercing you and guilting you into staying in the marriage, they showed the one thing that unites all narcissists of the toxic nature and that is a marked lack of empathy. They didn’t care how you felt and they were only concerning themselves with their own feelings. By trying to convince you and obviously not following through with what they said they would do by having cheated on you nine times since then, it’s their fault. Probably they had a difficult childhood, they may experience trauma or they may have even just been over indulged, but almost always narcissism starts in childhood and a healthier person wouldn’t have wanted you to stay if you didn’t want to stay, keep that in mind. I don’t believe it’s your fault. I believe that it’s the fault of the person who coerced you into staying in the relationship in the first place. What do you think and remember too that it’s very common for us as people who have been codependent and as empaths to want to take responsibility, to want to understand our own faults in the situation, so that we can create positive change. As you have now figured out, I’m sure creating positive change with a narcissist is not a real possibility. The one thing you did wrong in this situation was to have the affair, but you can’t blame yourself for that situation now as it was 13 years ago. It’s important to remember though that under the circumstances, having the affair was not so much a bad act on your part, but it was more of a symptom of the bigger problem in your life and in your at that time. My guess is you were looking for a soft place to land or someone who would actually listen to you talk and be affectionate and kind to you and your spouse at that time was not giving you those things, it doesn’t excuse the affair, but it gives a context and that’s important here. The only other thing that you could have done better was to leave 13 years ago, instead of letting the narcissist guilt you back into staying, but hindsight’s always 20/20 and in any case you cannot beat yourself up today for something you did 13 years ago and you can’t allow yourself to take the blame for your own abuse for all those years. My suggestion to you at this point would be to forgive yourself and move forward with a new sense of understanding. It’s important that you accept yourself and your past unconditionally, if you can do that, then you can create a future that is beautiful and personally chosen. I know you can do it, stay strong. Alright, now this brings me to the question of the day and the question of the day is; Do you think that it’s possible for a bad relationship to turn someone into a narcissist and have you experienced something like that? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below and let’s talk about it. If you want to learn more make sure you take a look at the video I’m leaving for you right there and it will give you so much more information about this. Before I go, I want to offer a quick shout-out and a big thank you to all of my channel members, those people who support me through the youtube membership program. You are awesome and amazing and I am so grateful for you. I’m going to show you their names right here and I just want to say again, a big thank you to each and every one of you.
With your help, I’m able to continue to provide free, daily video coaching, free resources at QueenBeeing.com, free videos like this one to help people get through the hard times, discover, understand and overcome narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships and to evolve to the next level of their life. Thank you so much, sincerely, it means the world to me and it is my mission in life. Thank you. Again, I just want to say to my inner circle, thank you so much for hitting that join button, it really does mean a lot to me to know that you’re supporting me. Thanks again, from the bottom of my heart and to you who’s watching my video right now, thank you, thank you for being here, thank you for liking, commenting, sharing my video. It helps me, every action helps me to do just a little more for this community and it means everything to me. Again, thanks so much. As always, thank you so much for being a part of my day and a part of my life and hey, thanks for letting me be a part of yours, it really does mean a lot to me. Make sure you take a look at the videos I’m leaving for you right there and right there and while you’re here, hit that Subscribe button right over there so we can stay connected and continue on this healing journey together. I’ll see you soon.

Michael Martin

22 Responses

  1. Thanks for this topic. A few years into my devaluation, I had a brief affair, and felt guilty about it, especially considering how devastated my narc wife was when she found out. I stayed for the kids, and broke things off with the other woman. A couple years later, during an argument, my wife let me know that she had been cheating on me, but that it had ended. I let it slide, because I felt that I owed her a freebie, since I cheated first. 2 years later, I found out that she was still secretly cheating, with more than one person, and I filed for divorce. But I've always felt guilty, and wondered if things would have been different if I hadn't cheated.

  2. I've never cheated nor had an affair . But , I was a narc magnet ( no longer ) and was cheated on many times. I feel
    being unfaithful doesn't cause narcissism , they already were .
    Angel hugs n Blessings to you and yours 💜💜💜

  3. I'm so glad you are talking about the fleas. I found myself thinking more and more like my ex. I had to stop and think about my life and different choices I was making, and realized that he was rubbing off on me. Thank you for this! I have wanted to ask about it but felt like a bad person because of the implications. 😊

  4. I have to say, in my opinion an affair can definitely bring out the narcissistic traits or behaviors because it’s another form of abuse in and of itself. I agree that the real cause of narcissism comes from childhood.. but abuse (an affair is a form of abuse) can make a person react in narcissistic ways. Including having affairs themselves. It’s all crazy lol! I feel like I’ve been a narcissist and an empath given the situation. Abuse situation = narcissistic response, loving environment = full blown empathetic enlightenment. Whoever you are, just stay away from toxic. If you’re toxic, stay away from others until you find your true self ❤️

  5. And for the question of the day, I'm not sure if someone can be turned into a narcissist… In my situation I definitely felt it rubbing off on me but I can honestly say that I had this crazy ah ha moment of "this is not me, wtf is going on" and re-evaluated myself probably to an unhealthy extent lol

  6. Humans are good at suppressing true nature, when something triggers them, they let the beast loose. The beast was already there.
    Narcissistic behaviour can be learned from past experience, you can use it in some situations, but it doesn’t make you a narcissist.

  7. Funny, my ex wife told me I was the reason why she’s was so abusive, deceitful, and manipulative towards me. I told her that she is like that from whatever issues she had long before me. Not me. I left and am happy.

  8. ABSOLUTELY a bad relationship can turn someone into a narcissist. NPD is a coping mechanism…and depending on how deep the person’s hurt is from the bad bad relationship…NPD can definitely be a tool used to cope. Men do it all the time…get hurt and then go into ‘love don’t live here anymore’ mode. We just think it’s a man being a man vs the manifestation of NPD.

  9. I had never heard of 'the fleas' but it makes complete sense now and I can totally resonate.
    Thank you so much for all you clips and emails they have and continue to be so useful now that I have finally reached the point of positive reflection and rebuilding myself. 💜

  10. I have no pitty for anyone who cheets . If your a cheet then you reaped what you sew, end of ! A pair of wrong en's deserve each other, period.

  11. Another factor to this is thei dea that having an affair is the worst thing you can do. It isn't. We need to get past the idea that adultery is the ultimate sin, worse than all others. You're right that a narc was a narc b4 the affair. Think of how you respond when someone breaks up with you. Do you do what the abuser does? Didn't think so.

  12. I personally think an affair can definitely cause distrust, hurt feelings and anger from the other partner, maybe even revenge or a ' why should I bother in this relationship attitude' depending on the person.Honestly that's just cause and effect. I don't think that's narcissism, narcissism is deep-rooted in the individual allready, before any relationship happened. But if someone has the need to have an affair, then the relationship is allready over in my opinion.

  13. This is how I see it:

    Healthy person finds out their spouse cheated. They might consider talking it out, therapy, figuring out what needs to improve in the relationship, or if they are too hurt they leave.

    Narcissist finds out their spouse cheated. This causes narcissistic injury. They might leave if they have a different source of supply lined up especially if this new supply source has something they know their spouse is insecure about. Of course the other option is to stay and then use the past incident of infidelity as a way to cause guilt and shame and throw it back in the spouce's face when they get called out after bringing him/her a case of VD from their own infidelity or get called out on whatever other thing (child abuse, irresponsibility, etc).

    Cheating wasn't the right thing to do but just be mindful that when having a relationship with a toxic person they will always find some reason to start acting like a monster.

    We really have no control over how others treat us or of many of the external circumstances that come our way. We can only control how we respond to it.

  14. They are abusive, you cheating is suicidal behavior, because you are going to suffer more, don't do it. If I want to be with someone else, I break up with the person I'm with and then I get with the other one. Cheating is wrong and dangerous, and if you do cheat then there is something wrong with you.

  15. How does one get rid of the fleas if they've been raised by 2 narcs? Will they ever really go away? I'm struggling between self isolation to save others and trying to have more balanced friendships and no romantic relationship but it's so hard.

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