You must have heard of narcissists and might even have dealt with one at least once in your life. But have you ever come across ninja narcissists?
This is going to be a far more personal blog post than I normally write. I enjoy challenging myself to write in a strictly scholarly tone, but I have found that a more casual and conversational tone is needed for some situations. And in other conundrums, it is just best to lay oneself raw.
Like millions of divorced women, I find myself juggling many responsibilities: career, school, primary custody of my children, family obligations, care of the pets, management of the house, etc. There are a million little details and decisions to be made every day and the current COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t made life any easier.
I now add “homeschool teacher” to my resume as well as a short-order cook and counseling expert in sibling relations. Most of the time – pandemic aside – I can handle the juggling gracefully and smoothly, like a veteran entertainer. Other times, I am the most uncoordinated clown in the circus.
Although it can be said that the divorce rate in America has steadily declined over the years, so too has the marriage rate (Leins, 2020). It’s a basic and direct correlation: The higher a state’s marriage rate, the higher the divorce rate; likewise, the lower the state’s marriage rate, the lower the divorce rate. Divorce is not easy for anyone involved.
However, when children are involved, it is overwhelmingly more challenging for women. In 2016, the United States Census reported that only 19.6% of fathers were the custodial parent yet had a much higher remarriage rate than custodial mothers.
Single mothers with primary custody of their children generally have a much more stressful, busy, and challenging home life. Despite the failure of our first marriages, many of us still believe that we will find a man who doesn’t just love us but will also love our children and be willing to create a new family.
Related: 5 Good Reasons To Leave a Narcissist
Even without a quarantine and shelter-in-place orders, it can be tough to meet new people; hence the popularity of dating apps. Dating apps are really just a jazzed-up version of job interviews, albeit interviews that require much more makeup and vulnerability.
Love – good or bad, right or wrong, short term or long term – makes us vulnerable. Vulnerability makes us prime targets for sneak attacks from discreet narcissists that I call “ninja narcissists.” They not only have a smooth way of getting through our defenses, but they find our most raw and sensitive parts to attack.
Those with narcissistic tendencies or personality traits have an inflated ego and feel superior to others. When they feel threatened by another person’s success or confidence, the narcissist must bring the person down.
I recently matched with a seemingly nice, stable man on a dating app. Meeting in person is practically impossible with the current isolation orders, so more time is spent over text and video chats. We had given each other access to our social media accounts, including Instagram and Facebook. Things were going swimmingly well, and we were looking forward to meeting up when quarantine orders were lifted…until the ninja-narc attack.
For context, my grandmother is currently at the end of stages of dementia, and my family and I share the 24-hour care duties. I had just completed a “shift” of over 15 hours with one hour of sleep; I got home, showered, and fell into bed for a few blissful hours of shut-eye. Later that day I was cooking dinner and texting with the guy from the dating app when he asked me for a photo to see what I was doing.
Laughing, I said I didn’t have makeup on, my hair was knotted in a bun, and I had my glasses on. He said he wanted to see me anyway, so I snapped a funny pic and sent it to him. After a few minutes, he sent a screen shot of a photo of mine from Instagram where I was fully made-up for a professional event – light years away from my current status of an exhausted, overextended single mom in pandemic lockdown, cooking dinner in a kitchen with unflattering overhead lighting.
He then said that I without makeup was too different from me with makeup and he had trouble dealing with it and ended our brief connection. Before deleting his number, I told him that I hoped he eventually came to realize that there is more to a good woman than what she looks like.
My self-esteem, my confidence, my pride in myself plummeted. I will admit I broke down in tears and cried. I was shocked that a seemingly mature man would discard everything good about me – my hunger for knowledge, the passion I have for my job, my dedication to my children and family, my kindness and open heart, the childlike enjoyment I get from mucking around in the creek looking for snails and tadpoles, the joy I get from baking cakes or snuggling with my rescue kittens, the peace I find in sitting in the baseball stands on a hot summer day, all the things that make me who I am – because he realized mascara isn’t permanent and eyeliner can be washed away.
He took my vulnerability and used it to create a sneak attack to hurt me. I never saw it coming.
That’s the problem with ninja narcissists; we never see them coming. We – non-narcissists and good, genuine people – see a person who wants to get to know us as much as we want to get to know them. We may learn their weaknesses and soft spots, but we will not violate that trust.
Narcissists take that vulnerable information and store it away to use for later for no other reason than to take us down to their level. Their need to feel paramount and most important negates any need for equal partnership or – dare I say it – love.
As single mothers – nay, as women – we have much more to worry about than the state of our eyebrows. We have children, pets, family members, friends, students, colleagues, and neighbors who deserve our time and don’t care that we have our glasses on.
Love and the vulnerability that comes with it is what sets us apart from narcissists. We may not always be able to protect ourselves from the ninja narcs or keep our pride from being wounded, but we can walk away with our hair in a messy topknot and a smile on our face.
Grall, T. (2020). Custodial mothers and fathers and their child support: 2015. [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2020/demo/p60-262.pdf
Leins, C. (2020). Here are the states where your marriage won't last. U.S News. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/states-with-the-highest-divorce-rates
Written By Kristy Lee Hochenberger Originally Published In Psychology Today
Ninja narcissists know when to say and what to say to you to make you feel horrible about yourself. Because their specialty is sneak attacks, they know exactly what your weak spots are and how to hurt them. Ninja narcissists are probably one of the most dangerous kinds of narcissists out there, and the more you know how they work, the better you will be able to protect yourself from them.