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Have you ever asked yourself why your partner abuses you when all you try to do is show him how much you love him? Or, have you shared some of your private agony with a close friend and then followed your remarks with  essentially this same question? Well, your partner's behavior can be codusing if you don't understand the likely truth of what's going on--what you're really facing. I hope, though, that your confusion will lift by the time you finish this article.

All Abusive Men are not the Same

First of all, do you realize that not all abusive men are the same? I write at this website about the man who displays narcissism, whether it’s full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or where the man exhibits fewer, and perhaps less extreme narcissistic traits, but his level of narcissism is still pathological as opposed to falling into a normal range. However, the abusive narcissistic man is different from the abusive man with Antisocial Personality Disorder (or, like the pathological narcissist, he may not be diagnosable with full-fledged Antisocial Personality Disorder, but he nonetheless displays a pathological level of antisocial behaviors).

By the way, years back the term sociopath was used by mental health professionals to describe the person who now would be diagnosed as having Antisocial Personality Disorder. Prior to that, the term psychopath was used. I thought this deserved clarification since materials are out there on the internet in which people, who seemingly have no credentials in behavioral health, attempt to delineate the differences between the three of these. Can you see why this shouldn’t be happening, though? True, some of the diagnostic criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder may be somewhat different than they were when such people were called sociopaths or again, before that, psychopaths. But throughout the decades, those who were given one of these three diagnostic labels would have shown similar traits and hence, behaved similarly, too. All of them would have, at an early age, likely shown a lack of impulse control, exhibited a propensity toward violence, exhibited no empathy for others, and shown a lack of remorse for their harm of others because they lacked consciences, too.

It will probably not surprise you to learn that more of our prisoners suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder than any other personality disorder. However, in the 1960's, we would have described our prisons as having more psychopaths in them than people with other mental health issues.

But now, let me reiterate again that some abusive men suffer from pathological levels of narcissism whereas others would be deemed antisocial. It is those who are antisocial who are the most callous and inclined to physically abuse their partners as well as socially isolate them. In other words, while abusive narcissists engage in verbal abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse, and sexual abuse, they typically do not physically abuse their partners or socially isolate them. Furthermore, the narcissist's implementation of abusive tactics is done with greater subtlety than is the case with those with Antisocial Personality Disorder. And that's why the partner of the narcissist might be confused and not  able to recognize that she has indeed been suffering abuse at the hands of her partner. The woman involved with the antisocial man, however, should not be confused with regard to what is happening. While the woman with the abusive narcissist might be immersed in emotional pain because of the abuse she experiences, the partner of the abusive antisocial man would likely be most aware of her extreme anxiety and fear.

So, what type of difference might we see in how these two types of men operate and use abusive tactics to exercise power and control over their partner and to get their way?

Sexual Abuse

Let's look at sexual abuse first. The narcissistic man might do something similar to what pedophiles do with children, or engage in something akin to their grooming process. In other words, the abusive narcissist would likely not force his partner to engage in sexual behaviors he suspected she'd see as perverse or repugnant. Instead, he'd introduce her to these things gradually. As a result, she might become desensitized to what she first found uncomfortable. She is groomed, in other words, so that in the end, she's doing what he wants, but she has come to believe that she favors these sexual practice and hence, everything is indeed consensual. But in truth, if she is helped to realize what came to pass, she might state she'd never have chosen such practices. Furthermore, perhaps she was able to endure them because he encouraged her to take drugs so that she numbed out and the unacceptable became acceptable instead. 

The woman with the antisocial man probably will not be groomed to engage in certain sexual practices. Instead, she may well be physically forced into doing such things. As a result, these are the type of men that may be convicted of marital rape. That all said, she has likely remained with her antisocial partner and continued to do his bidding because of fear for her well-being ( and perhaps that of her children). And, in fact, she may be so beaten down physically and mentally that she sees no way out of her predicament.

Economic Abuse

The wife of the financially successful  narcissist might be beautifully groomed and wear very expensive clothing and jewelry. She likely drives a luxury car. However, she also might not have a penny to her name.

See, her narcissistic spouse wants her to look great and to be surrounded by expensive things. But then, all of this reflects on him, his financial success, and speaks of his superiority to others. Meanwhile, she may have to ask for money to go out to lunch with her friends or to visit her family. She is well aware of the golden rule by which the narcissist lives--that he who has the gold makes the rules. (Oh, and he may select all her clothes and jewelry so that she projects the image he desires. She may not be allowed to wear clothing that expresses who she is or what makes her feel comfortable and good about herself.)

The partner of the antisocial man will likely have little or no money (unless he is involved in crime) because the antisocial man is probably incapable of holding down a job. But even if she works, he'll probably expect her to turn over her entire paycheck to him. Nonetheless, there still may not be money to pay the bills, never mind to purchase clothing or pay for activities she wishes to enjoy, because he has used the money to purchase what he wants instead. Then again, she may be unable to hold down a job because of the fact he's always calling her at work--or even shows up at her place of employment and creates scenes.  

More Abuse Tactics and How They Differ Between the Narcissist & Antisocial Man

How about the use of verbal abuse or emotional abuse or psychological abuse? Do we see differences in how narcissistic and antisocial men deploy these tactics? Well yes, because again, the narcissist will often be more subtle in his use of these. For example, he probably will not call his partner a fat slob or use other terms the antisocial would that I'm not about to write here. However, the narcissist might  say something like, "Since I work damn hard for my money, don't expect me to keep paying for new clothes because you don't have the self-discipline to make sure your clothing size remains the same from year to year."

Or, let's say she's proud because she went back to school to complete an advanced degree. Her narcissistic husband might say something like, "You might be all excited about that degree, but all I can see is a house in disrepair because you failed to stay on top of its maintenance while you had your nose in those books the last two years." Oh, and he'd probably refuse to attend her graduation ceremony for one reason or another.

 On the other hand, the antisocial man would made it impossible for his partner to return to school in the first place.

The partner of the narcissist, if she will really think about it, will likely realize  that her partner regularly attacks what s important to her or she most values about herself. However, because it might have been done through humor or stories delivered to entertain others, she may have failed to recognize it for what it was. Also, she may have learned to disregard remarks he'd invariably make in response to ideas she presented that might be along the lines of,"Why in the world would you ever want to do that?" After all, she probably quickly learned that if she tried to explain or defend her position, he'd soon be saying things to prove how ignorant or wrong she was to ever have had such an idea in the first place.

The person with Antisocial Personality Disorder won't hesitate to tell his partner flat out that's she stupid or proving herself to be the useless person he always knew her to be. (Yes, I have softened the language intentionally. You know what such a man would have said instead.)           

Are you getting the idea? The narcissist likely knows how to toss out zingers that might have the guests laughing because they don't believe this funny and charming man is being serious. His partner, meanwhile, will not be joining in the laughter because she's always emotionally wounded by things like this that he says. The thing is, does she try to brush them off as merely her partner's s attempt to be funny for his friends, for instance, or does she recognize that behind much humor, than is indeed a hostile message the sender wants the recipient to receive?

Some Additional Difference and Similarities Between Narcissist and the Antisocial

You should realize by now that the narcissist is usually smart enough and clever enough to manipulate and control others without relying upon violence--and perhaps while remaining a seemingly nice guy, too. The man with Antisocial Personality Disorder might also charm and manipulate initially without violence, but he'll usually quickly show his true colors. He'll quickly engage in violence when he becomes angry or his will is thwarted because he doesn’t have good impulse control. In this type of individual's brain, the fight response seems to be easily triggered. So, whereas the person with Antisocial Personality Disorder might be perceived or described as an out-of-control person, the man suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder is able to act quite deliberately to achieve the ends he desires. Oh, and it helps that he believes those ends (whatever it is he desires, of course) always justify the means.

Neither the narcissistic man nor the one with Antisocial Personality Disorder is capable of feeling empathy for others as normal people do. However, this deficit is most pronounced in the antisocial. As a result, it's easy for these people to use the tactics they do to get whatever it is they want (precisely because they don’t identify with others’ feelings). However, depending upon the degree of pathological narcissism a man suffers from, he might be able to realize, at least to some degree, how his behavior has impacted others. He also may try and make behavioral changes because he wants to maintain his family, for example. That said, though, while the woman may want to believe this suddenly cooperative response is all about love, in reality, love probably has nothing to do with it whatsoever. The narcissist is likely more concerned with preserving an image of the beautiful family because of some benefit he believes he'll gain from this. In other words,  he might consider it vital to have a wife and the family to achieve certain goals, but in reality, he finds then to be a nuisance.

A man with either of these two personality disorders will tend to treat others as objects, there for his personal benefit and use. However, again, the individual with Antisocial Personality Disorder is most inclined to resort to the most extreme measures to accomplish this. Still, there are cold-hearted narcissists who can engage in despicable behavior. I would say that we've seen mass killers and terrorists operating on the world stage in recent times that are likely suffering from pathological narcissism. We can hardly fathom why they do what they do because we do not share their psychology and world view. Yes indeed, they can confuse and manipulate us because we don't recognize what is truly going on. 

It is time that we all try to do so, however.

Ready to Face the Truth about his Abuse?

So, why does your partner abuse you in the ways that he does even though you love him? Well, because he wants to have the power and control in the relationship. Furthermore, he doesn’t care what tactics he uses to gain these. While the narcissist may not resort to behaviors that the man with Antisocial Personality Disorder regularly does, the narcissist would probably use tactics beyond those he does if he believed he wouldn’t get caught. But then, the narcissist is more concerned about the consequences of his actions than the antisocial person is. Indeed, the man with Antisocial Personality Disorder will just go ahead and act without thinking. That's why we say he lacks impulse control. 

That all said, neither the man displaying pathological levels of narcissism nor the one with Antisocial Personality Disorder is inclined to act in a way that's in your best interest. It is all about them—and it will continue to be that way. Furthermore, no matter how perfect and accommodating a partner you are, you'll undoubtedly continue to suffer emotional abuse and verbal abuse—if not worse. As my former husband used to say, and I had trouble for the longest time believing that he was stating something that he truly believed, “It is better to be feared than loved.”

Tell me, is this how you really want to live your life? Do you want to be with a man who wants you to fear him more than anything else? I suspect that when you hooked up with him, it was because he essentially seduced you into believing that he wanted what most normal human being want—to love and to be loved. But remember, he is not normal, but has a mental disorder instead. Indeed, he suffers from a personality disorder—or something pretty close to it. And the likelihood is that he has co-existing mental health issues—such as substance use disorder. As a result, he is not capable of being the type of loving partner you desire. And while his actions are hurting you, he certainly won't be losing any sleep over this fact. He undoubtedly has you exactly where he wants you—under his thumb.