Negative Experiences Of Partners And Relatives Living With A Narcissist

A study carried out by Day et al. (2021) examined how participants (made up of partners, former partners, and family members of narcissists reported their observations of the behaviors of the narcissist in relation to:
  • Abusiveness

  • Management of financial affairs

  • Sexual attitudes and behaviors

  • Idealization and devaluation

It was found that:

  • Approximately 43 percent had found the narcissist to be abusive (physically, emotionally, verbally, and/or sexually).
  • Approximately 32 percent reported difficulties with the narcissist’s behaviors/attitudes including debt, financial dependence, financial irresponsibility, money-related controlling behaviors, and stealing.
  • Approximately 35 percent reported that the narcissist had problematic sexual behaviors/attitudes. The main six were: sexual selfishness, being too sexually demanding, sexual infidelity, withholding sex (e.g. using sex as a tool to gain power), sexual addiction (e.g. to pornography), and sexual inappropriateness (e.g. inappropriate innuendo, sexual jokes that make others uncomfortable).
  • About 32% of participants reported being frequently involved in a pattern of fluctuating mutual idealization and devaluation attitudes toward the narcissist.

    It was also found that participants, as a result of such narcissistic behavior, reported high levels of anxiety, depression, sickness, somatic issues, and self-directed aggression.

    Furthermore, relatives of narcissists showed high levels of overt hostility toward the narcissist but also high levels of dependency and frustrated dependency needs. They were also frequently locked into relationships with the narcissist that involved high levels of conflict.
    The participants in the study provided many examples of their narcissistic partner’s, ex-partner’s, or relative’s behaviors in relation to abuse, financial behavior, sexual behavior, and idealization/devaluation-related behavior (see above) and I include a few examples below:

Examples of the narcissists’ abusive, financial, sexual, and devaluation/idealization-related behavior as reported by the participants (partners, ex-partners, and family members) in the study:



  • EMOTIONAL ABUSE: One participant described the narcissist as being able to withhold emotions and affection for months at a time and vacillating between making good conversation and being affectionate and a reversion to being cold, mean, spiteful, and unloving.
  • PHYSICAL ABUSE: One participant reported that the narcissist was violent and abusive and that attacks would come out of the blue and that twice these attacks have involved very forceful strangulation.
  • VERBAL ABUSE: One participant reported that the narcissist would shout, name-call, swear and focus on her most private vulnerabilities to hurt and mock her.
  • SEXUAL ABUSE: One participant described the narcissist as forcing sex on her and displaying no intimacy during sex. She finally left him after he had raped her twice.


  • DEBT: One participant reported that the narcissist was bankrupt, in massive debt, and in child support arrears.
  • STEALING: One participant reported that the narcissist had transferred $66,500 from her account to his.
  • CONTROLLING FINANCIAL BEHAVIOR: One participant reported the narcissist made her account for every penny she spent but spent money on himself as he pleased.
  • FINANCIAL IRRESPONSIBILITY: One participant reported the narcissist had no self-control in relation to spending money and refused to live on a budget.
  • FINANCIAL DEPENDENCE: One participant reported the narcissist did not have a job but expected her to pay for everything.


  • INFIDELITY: One participant described the narcissist as a serial cheater with at least a dozen local sex and website accounts. When she discovered evidence of this he threatened her with physical violence.
  • ADDICTION: One participant described the narcissist as being addicted to pornography.
  • SELFISHNESS: One participant described the narcissist as being like a robot in bed who only considered his own sexual needs.
  • DEMANDINGNESS: One participant said that if the narcissist did not get sex for a couple of days he would give her the silent treatment for days and be verbally abusive towards her.
  • WITHHOLDING BEHAVIOR: One participant said the narcissist withheld sex and intimacy from her because he knew it mattered to her.
  • INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR BEHAVIOR: One participant said that there always needed to be an element of perversion in the narcissist’s sexual relations with her in order for him to become aroused.


  • IDEALIZATION: One participant described her relationship with the narcissist as like a fairy tale at first and that she had never experienced such idealization.
  • DEVALUATION: Participants also described how such idealization would inevitably be followed by devaluation in the form of, for example, constant criticism, extreme, explosive anger, name-calling, and blaming.

EXTERNAL LINK: For advice on how to recover from narcissistic abuse visit




Nicholas J. S. Day et al.(2021) Pathological narcissism: An analysis of interpersonal
dysfunction within intimate relationships. Personality and mental health.