One Key Way Narcissistic People Sabotage Your Happiness

28 Aug 2019

My beautiful friend Charlotte* received some stunning jewellery from her husband in the course of her long marriage.  The guy had great taste.  Every piece was exquisite and immensely covetable. She wore that jewellery from time to time, with pride but never joy. That worked for Mr Beautiful Jewellery Picker (BJP). This week we need to look at a key way that Narcissistic People (including  Mr BJP) sabotage your happiness.

The façade of happiness

I am sorry to have to admit that Charlotte’s husband had me fooled for a while.   I knew that generosity wasn’t exactly his middle name. (Back then, I was far younger and less informed than I am now. I decided that if Charlotte was happy then I could be happy for her.) So, the fact that he sometimes bought his wife beautiful jewellery led me to think that he must have mellowed across the board.  Especially since most of what I knew about him came via his wife – for many years his biggest fan.

Over the years that I knew him, he developed a rock star  public persona. For as long as his wife covered up for him, it all worked wonderfully well.  For him. The jewellery was a part of the facade. He bought it to polish his own halo while denying her the money she needed for necessary expenses – like housekeeping. But they hid that well. Between the two of them they had  created a very credible façade of happiness.

Behind the façade

So, there Charlotte was, the woman with the beautiful jewellery that she didn’t actually want, trapped into a silence that served her abuser.  Anything that she could have said, apart from “Thank you.  I’m so grateful.” would have led Mr BJP to reproach her rank ingratitude and then launch into one of those “Nothing I do for you is ever good enough.” tirades that I am guessing we have all heard a thousand times.

In reality, the “good” things Mr BJP ever did for his wife were done purely to burnish his public image.

Why would he have done more? 

It wasn’t as if his goal was to make her happy.

Narcissists and abusers, generally, are heavily invested in your unhappiness. That is why they find a way to turn every possible opportunity into a source of unhappiness for the partner who loves them.

That is already toxic enough.  However, we need dig deeper into the mind-set underpinning this behavior.

Narcissists and abusers do what they do.  Sadly, we respond by doing what we do.  In the main, what we do is buy into their mind-set.

Becoming responsible for someone else’s happiness

Narcissists and abusers teach you, right from the start, that you are responsible for their happiness.

If you have been brought up in an environment where you could do little right, then that can look like a big step forward.  At least, someone finally loves you enough to be uplifted by having you in their world.

Sadly, it doesn’t work out like that.  Rather, it is simply another iteration of the pattern you already know so well from your family of origin.

In both cases, the message comes from the people involved, that your job is Purveyor of Happiness to the Difficult to Please.

Sure, that makes your early “wins”, when they are wooing (aka lovebombing) feel like personal triumphs and the ultimate vindication that someone, finally, really sees you.

Unfortunately the truth is very different.  In reality, they are just setting you up for an endless series of future falls.

When you don’t want the same things

Once they have made you responsible for their “happiness”, you become the target for their displeasure .  Every time they are unhappy.

Abusers and narcissists spend the vast majority of their time deeply unhappy. If they were plants, they would be poisonous plants that thrive in very, very acid soil.  (There endeth my gardening knowledge.) Toxic people “thrive” – in their own toxic way – on negativity. They don’t want what you want.  Nor do they want you to have what you want.

The question is, how dare they? How dare they assume that they are entitled not to grow an adult personality?

How dare they foist their twisted world view on you?

Sadly, they dare.  Besides, that kind of toxicity likely feels normal to you, because you have been used to it from childhood on.

And you need to change this.

You cannot take responsibility for another adult’s happiness

You  cannot afford ever to take responsibility for another adult’s happiness.  It is not your job to make another person happy. Your job is take care of your own happiness.  But I’m guessing that, however many decades you have been on this earth, you have been falling short of your responsibility – to yourself.

Narcissists and abusers tell you that it’s “selfish” of you to factor your own happiness into the equation.  Naturally, it’s not selfish of them to focus exclusively on what gives them their nasty little satisfactions .  But when it comes to you, it is criminally selfish for you to want to be happy.  Allegedly.

Obviously, this does not – cannot – work well for you.  So something needs to change..  You  need to get a whole lot smarter as regards the issue of happiness.

Happiness is a contract between you and yourself

Happiness is a contract between you and yourself. Your job is to find the ways of being (never the ways of doing or buying) happiness that work for you.  You have a right to step into the blitheness of spirit that is your natural state.

And since you are the kind of person who feels a need to take responsibility for others, you might as well take on board that it is also your responsiblity to help others to do the same thing.  That is a very different thing to doing it for them. It’s a bit like tying your child’s shoelaces every day until they finally leave home (if they ever do when they have a mother who babies them like that).  Enabling that child not to do their own growing up gets in the way of them ever growing up.

Narcissists and abusers are toxic toddlers (albeit with the intellect and cunning of adults) who need to grow up.  Chances are, they never will.  But nobody wins – least of all you – when you commit to changing their emotional diapers forever after.

You have been fed a lot of garbage about happiness by people who had an interest in bamboozling and exploiting you.  Admittedly, that garbage about “making”  another (unhappy) person happy sounds a lot more romantic than what i am saying here. But romantic notions got you into a toxic relationship in the first place.

Rethink your approach to happiness

So, some rethinking of the happiness issue is in order  and especially of your own approach to happiness.  Start by focusing on your own happiness.  Then, set about associating people who prize their happiness as much as you do yours. The role of these people is not to make you happy/happier any more than your role is to do that for them.  But if you find someone whose joie de vivre complements and enhances your own, then  – if other things are right – you can proceed to a relationship built on a solid basis that includes enduring romance.

As for my friend Charlotte, she ditched the man, will sell the jewellery once the divorce is over and is still struggling financially, right now.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  However, she is blissfully happy finally living her own life without that emotional vampire by her side sucking the joy out of each and every moment. Despite herculean efforts she could never make MR BJP happy. But she can be radiantly happy without him.

*not her real name


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

4 thoughts on “One Key Way Narcissistic People Sabotage Your Happiness”

  1. Hi there! Thank you for the work you do! I search for the words to describe what I have been through to reassure myself that I’m not imagining these scenarios, because they are so unreal to me, yet painfully real. Self care for people recovering from abuse is the only way out. Recovery is possible for the victims, very rarely for the narcissist, their unwillingness to participate lovingly with others, the contempt they show for their children’s and/or partner’s individuality and authenticity, and violent reactions to their perception of even the tiniest slight keep them from taking responsibility. Yes, they are mean kid bullies in an adult body with the capability of growing more and more sinister. I am very grateful to have been allowed a beautiful life, even with its ups and downs!

    • Hi Theresa,

      All true.

      Without a Narcissist, you can have a beautiful life, even with it’s ups and downs. But with a Narcissist, your whole life gets ugly.

      Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,


  2. I live with a female narcissist and they most certainly can do your head in if you don’t watch out! Thank you for the above information and obviously from personal experience. I have been a people pleaser most of my life and they/we are the perfect bait for a narcissist. I have finally taken control of my life and happiness and reading what you have written strengthens my resolve to change my life habits cheers take care Helen.

    • Thank you for your kind words.

      You have to take control of your life and happiness – or else, with Narcissists around, you will have none.

      Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,



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