5 November 2013, 06:00



5854a28eac49614d921696e59ecb8b35The world sees narcissists as loud and seeking attention, at least the ones we call “overt.” For the most part that’s true, but those who know even the overt narcissists also know that there is much that the world does not see. In fact, there is much no one sees.

Some of the narcissists I have known have had significant amounts of unaccountable time. Where did they go and what did they do? Some, and I have seen this suggested in comments here, believe that this is to serve sexual appetites for porn or other relationships. Obviously that’s true in many cases, as spouses have learned the hard way. But that isn’t true in all cases. Some, I suspect, just like being alone or anonymous.

Narcissists hide their past. Many of them hide their money. Almost all of them hide their failures and fears. And if you try to ask about these things, you will encounter lies, evasion, or even attack.

In fact, many of those who thought their narcissist was so open, so transparent, in the beginning of the relationship suddenly have realized that they only know parts of the narcissist’s life (and they aren’t sure about the truth of what they think they know). Some things were shared, but other parts are glaringly missing….when you stop to think about it. Of course, the narcissist doesn’t want you to think about it.

Some conveniently leave out parts of their employment history or even relationship history. What must it be like to learn of another wife or husband after you have been in the relationship for a while? Or learn that an employee had successfully covered up harassment charges or accusations of theft in other jobs? Because narcissists are generally so good at talking, they are able to divert conversations away from sensitive areas.

Those in relationships with narcissists often get into trouble for sharing what the narcissist says are secrets. Certain things are not to be discussed. Sometimes you don’t know what topics are off limits. Sometimes the topics are off limits for you but not for the narcissist. That’s because he will spin things his own way.

Remember that hiding is part of the basic nature of the narcissist. The loudness and strong personal presentation are meant to distract people from the truth. Hiding things and facts gives the narcissist both protection and power. Again, picture the child who escapes into a fantasy. There may be a hidden place with some hidden things that contribute to the strength of the fantasy. Those hidden things represented a separation from the pain or rejection the child experienced in regular life.

And, I know, some of you will feel compassion for the narcissist at this point. So do I. But many of us had challenging childhoods. The narcissist has chosen to continue this hiding and all the other narcissistic characteristics in adult life. Instead of growing out of childish perspectives and solutions, the narcissist chooses to use them in current relationships.

The saddest thing is that the narcissist hides from him/herself and from God, the source of the love they have always wanted. By hiding behind the image he has created, the narcissist never lets anyone get close enough to help. Those who do get close, find that the cost is great.

Please don’t read this and think you have to “walk the extra mile” to help your narcissist. Love from a distance. Protect yourself. You are not the one who will provide the solution. You are the one who will be used and hurt. 


Dr. David Orrison has been a pastor for over 30 years and is now the Executive Director of "Grace for the Heart," a ministry dedicated to proclaiming the sufficiency of Jesus Christ for all aspects of the Christian life. Dave has served in the Evangelical Free Church and in the United Presbyterian Church, and he holds a Ph.D. in Theology from Trinity Seminary. Dave has unique insights into the struggles of what he calls “performance spirituality,” as he has worked extensively with people who are unsure of their relationship with Jesus because of the burden of legalism and the hopelessness of a “works-based Christian walk.” David has lived in Loveland, CO for 25 years and is happily married to Alice. They have eight sons. David blogs on a regular basis at http://graceformyheart.wordpress.com.


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