Narcissists: Always the Victim, Never the Bride

If you watch your time with a narcissist, you see how much care-taking a narcissist requires. We have all heard the saying, “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride”. For narcissists, the saying might just be “Always the Victim, Never the Bride”.

No matter what the situation, narcissists always feel left out and victimized. I have witnessed entire family events set up around a specific theme or person, such as someone’s wedding, be completely derailed by a narcissist who did not feel “enough” special attention was being paid to him or her.

It does not matter to the narcissist who the day is “supposed” to be about. The narcissist may, technically, be a superficial figure in the event. It does not matter to the narcissist that technically he or she is not the bride or groom at the wedding. In a narcissist’s mind, the event should still, somehow, significantly include him or her. If it does not, hell will be paid.

Narcissists are excellent at manipulating not just individuals, but entire groups! I have seen entire groups of adults worry and stress throughout an entire event, knowing that at some time, some moment, the narcissist in their midst was going to lose it. Some groups and families even assign someone to monitor the narcissist in the hopes that this person, with complete focus on the narcissist, will be able to anticipate and circumvent an narcissistic melt-down. You have to admire the pluck and “go get-em” attitude this displays.

Usually, though, it is irrelevant what safety precautions are already been in place to prevent the narcissistic melt-down. If you have been around narcissists enough, you know the narcissist will eventually rear his or her ugly head, creating a mess of everything and placing all the attention on him or her.

Does this satisfy a narcissist, though? Oh, hell no. I have seen narcissists in such a rage-ful, vindictive mood that they have literally ruined week-long “vacations” by their behavior. As all eyes are turn on them, are these narcissists now happy and fulfilled? Again, oh, hell no.

They are still angry, hurt, vengeful, playing the sympathy card, wanting everyone to see them as the “victim” of circumstances while they do everything possible to be the “bride” of everything- getting front and center attention.

But, that is the paradox of the narcissist for you- always the victim, never the bride- while they demand a level of time and attention that would put most brides to shame.
I think there is some TV show called “Bridezillas” or something like that. Let me tell you, no matter how bad these brides may get, they have nothing on a narcissist suffering from a perceived lack on attention.


36 thoughts on “Narcissists: Always the Victim, Never the Bride

  1. Oh, and God forbid the narcissists actually IS the bride. Last summer, I attended the wedding of my husband’s best friend. My husband was the best man but I was JUST a guest. A few weeks prior to the wedding, several of us, including the narcissistic bride, got together to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I asked the bride about what would be appropriate, a formal or informal dress. She proceeded to tell me that informal would be best. She was adamant about it, too. Then she started showing me pictures of a dress her cousin bought to wear. It was VERY formal and VERY tasteful. The narc bride informed me that her cousin was too fat to wear such a dress and that she would feel really out of place wearing such a formal dress and would end up looking like a clown. Well, I did not listen to the bride. I was familiar enough with her narcissistic manipulations to dress exactly the opposite of what she recommeded. After all, my husband was in the wedding and was wearing a tux, which is pretty formal in anyone’s book. For the ceremony and reception, I wore a very nice semi-frmal floor length black lace dress. Not surprising, I was approached by one of the bridesmaids later in the evening after I had changed into a more casual outfit for the bar hopping festivities and was asked, “Aren’t you the one who was wearing THE black dress earlier?” It seems I had become a topic of conversation. By this time everyone was drunk (except me) and it became evident that the bride had been talking about my choice in attire with just about EVERYONE and ANYONE who would listen and gossip with her. She was not happy that I hadn’t bought her suggestion to wear an informal dress. Who looked like the clown in the end? Not me!! Hehe!

  2. My Narcissistic co-worker’s father died recently. I felt bad for her as it’s never ever easy to lose your dad. I said, “Oh, I am SO SORRY to hear that!” Not one tear was shed. Not one statement about fond memories (or bad ones) of her dad…only about what she had to do “now”, and such. When she came back, did she talk about the beautiful service? Did she talk about how difficult it was? No…all she cared about was that no-one paid attention to her. She actually came back irritated…not grieving in the least! I was so shocked, but not surprised really. I already pegged her as a narcissist, but still gave her the benefit of the doubt when it came to empathy (at least of some degree) and feeling loss. Nope, nothing. I stay away from her as much as possible. Not likely to change…EVER.

  3. Having lived with a narcissist for many years I have experienced many of those family events where every one has tippy-toed around. And no matter who was there or what was said the narc. would always make it about them. Yet they still weren’t happy.
    Eventually only a total confrontation stopped them completely ruining their own life.

    • So glad I am not the only one who has experienced this! It is so ridiculous how much such self-centered people can dominate entire situations. It sounds like your situation had some resolution. There is hope yet 🙂

  4. My aunt is the definition of a narcissist. My whole family lets her bitch and moan and she is always the victim. She wore a white dress to her sons wedding when she was told not too.It’s always all about her. We all avoid her. I have finally learned to call her out on stuff, I don’t ignore her like everyone else. Guess what? She doesn’t complain or start stuff with me anymore because she knows I won’t listen to her lies and bs. I think letting these people get by with this bad behavior is the problem. If she only knew she’s making an ass out of herself and everyone was talking bad about her, maybe she would change.

  5. Kimberly : )

    This is indeed an interesting and informative article. To me it is especially informative because I haven’t seen a narcissist in the role of a victim, I have always seen them in the role of the bride, while they abused me and laughed at me, at their victim.

    So I do hope that you don’t mind if I add my perspective to the topic: the perspective of a victim who feels further victimised by the notion that narcissists are always the victims and the ones left out. My experience has been the exact opposite.

    My experience has been that they are always the brides, the “winners”, they are always in the centre of attention. In my experience their methods: manipulative games, triangulations, gaslighting, projections, etc. ALWAYS work, and they are the ones who create “losers” – their victims – to be left out, and it is true both in families and societies. (Note: not only NPDs but also the antisocial PDs)

    It seems to me that due to the widespread misconception of what the essence of narcissism is, the entire society tends to further victimise the victims of narcissistic abuse by calling those “narcissists” who seek support with reference to their having been victimised by their family.
    The essence of narcissism is NOT that they perceive themselves as victims, but the exact opposite – what the narcissists typically do is their relentless creation of “winner-loser” situation in order to flatter themselves as the “winners” -again both in families and societies.

    To make my point somewhat clearer, I add my own “story” here in a very short form. I have grown up in a toxic/narcissistic family ruled by an N mother and my antisocial brother, and with a BPD father and an enabling sister. For every single problem they create for themselves they have blamed, scapegoated and victimised me, until they eventually disowned me, leaving me out of the family inheritance, meanwhile trying to undermine my life in every possible way, including spreading vicious slander against me. What is especially striking: whenever I pointed out my victim status and their abusive behaviour to them, they also called me “narcissistic”.

    And they started labelling me an N much earlier. My antisocial school-skipper, liar and shop-lifter brother called me “narcissistic” because of my good grades at school, then later because of my intellectual interests and my college background.
    My parents labelled me “narcissistic” too, when I wanted to live my own life and when I chose a boyfriend I loved and with whom I could share my interests, rather than favouring the guys my N mother picked for me and with whom she could flirt with in my presence.

    In addition: my N mother was secretly cheating on my dad for many years (while I was a teen), but she managed to keep this fact in secret throughout our whole life. She lied to everyone about everything, she manipulated my father, siblings and godmother against me, then later on, when she realised I still remembered her shameful secret, she started to spread false accusations against me, and when I refused her accusations she called me “schizophrenic” and cut me off the family too, with the purpose of discrediting and keeping her only witness far from them.

    Therefore I think I do have all the reasons to feel to be the victim and to be the one who has been left out, although I am certain that I am not a narcissist. I do suffer from the many long-term effects of childhood trauma by being brought up an N mother and by being invalidated by my family. Yet when I read above article, somehow I felt to be further invalidated by its connecting the claim to be the victim with narcissism: in my view such claim is too ambiguous and makes the article possibly hurtful to be read by the real victims of narcissistic abuse.

    Again, thank you for this post. I am very interested in your thoughts on my perspective.

    An article that may be in support of my stance:
    Is it wrong to be a victim?

    • Hi ! Thanks for your great comment. To put it mildly, it seems as if you have worked out so many things for yourself already. You seem to have a great handle on your family dynamic and what is has represented to you. As for my post, I do think narcissists forever feel victimized, as in, life circumstances are never their fault, no one could possibly suffer as they do, their inability to have even an inkling of awareness that others are involved in situations, etc. Whether someone who interacts with a narcissists ends up feeling victimized or not is completely up to that person. I will say that narcissists tend to play the “victim” card themselves in order to garner our sympathy and understanding. Whether someone is a narcissist or not, it is not healthy to go through life being defined as a victim. there’s more to life than that.

      • Kimberly,

        Thank you so much for your reply – I need some more time to reflect upon your thoughts. Your insights have been very helpful to me and made me realise that there is a big difference to be a victim of a narcissist or a narcissist’s playing the victim card to grab the others’ attention. Now if I look further, my narcissistic mother does play the drama of being my victim – it is part of the narcissistic projection and it always works for her. She achieved to be in the centre of everyone’s attention and the one who receives all the compassion and sympathy as the “perfect wife” and “perfect mother”, after all she did against my father and me.

        However, I respectfully disagree with the notion that feeling victimised is a choice and it is up to each of us. Yes, it is not healthy to be victimised by N parents, but it doesn’t make the fact go away. There is much more to my story: the mental/emotional abuse goes back to my early childhood. If severe trauma could be overcome just like that, it would be fantastic and it would make a more just world if all the abused could choose to recover by their own will, but that’s not how the human psyche works.

        The way my mother abused me resulted in a life-long loss of self-confidence, which prevented me from fulfilling my potentials and planted fear into me. If I ever had a choice to get free from these obstacles I would have certainly done so long ago, but it is simply not possible.

        There is another point I wish to make: The claim that we should refuse to be victims and choose to overcome the effects of abuse is not only the denial of the truth but in a way a pass for the abusers and bullies. In my view we are here not to become “stronger” but to live a happy and accomplished life, but the abusers deprived so many of us of that chance.

        I hope you don’t mind if I expressed my differing views as well and again, thank you for your insightful and very kind reply.

      • To me, it seems as if you have put a lot of thought and understanding into your experiences. Were you the victim of the actions of others? Of course. But the simple fact that you can speak with such awareness shows that you, at least on some levels, no longer relate to this only from the role of victim. You are processing and learning things about yourself and the situations which brought you to this place. These acts only occur when one has integrated enough to move from SOLE identification as a victim. We are all victims, we have also all been the instigators of hurt and pain in our lives. My point though is that if one choooses to relate to everything SOLELY from the place of victim, one will continue to suffer, for the very defintiion of victim is to suffer. As you show, as you examine the experience, it does not change the abusive acts themselves, but your sense of yourself in relation to these acts, changes.

    • My initial reaction was the same as yours. Thank you for bringing up the issue and for describing it so well! As I read on, memories of my own experiences with narcissist “victims” came to mind and my indignation was then swiftly replaced by recognition, even tthough “narcissist victim” still sounds like an oxymoron. There’s the “friend” who sulked through my birthday dinner. Five years have past and I still don’t know why she did that. I presume she felt slighted by something I said or did and took the passive-aggressive route to punish me, or maybe it was retaliation from her point of view. Another memory surfaced of an overnight trip with a group of friends. The exfriend in this case not only sulked, but also had one-on-one complaint sessions with several group members, griping about how badly one the others supposedly had behaved and what misery that person had brought upon her. Having experienced something similar before (my honeymoon), I was determined to enjoy the excursion even if she didn’t, so I kept my distance. Unfortunately, most of the others tried to either be sympathetic and offer her consolation or appease her by explaining and defending themselves in response to her criticisms and expressions of disappointment, even though they had done no wrong. Narcissists don’t simply want narcissistic supply, they consider it an entitlement. They can feel let down or treated badly if we don’t give them what they are entitled to. They certainly can feel victimized.

      The egocentric narcissist who doesn’t get what she is “entitled” to is a different kind of victim than someone who suffers at the hand of an abuser. I think that is what makes the phrase “always the victim” ambiguous. The narcissist may genuinely FEEL like a victim and play the part to attract attention, while anyone who is abused actually IS a victim according to the common definition of the word.

      I don’t think that narcissists are always the victim. They have more ways of attracting attention and getting their narcissistic supply!

      • In no way do I see narcsissists as victims. They create their world and reality just like the rest of us. What I was trying to say is that they constantly play the victim card. It does not matter the situation- in one way or another they will alter and manipulate things until others express sympathy for them. It’s sad and wrong, and plays on the sympathies of those who are compassionate and empathetic. In the real world of things, the narcissist is never the victim, they are only the victim in their own minds.

    • I am the daughter of a narcissistic mother and have blogged about healing mother daughter relationships ( I would agree with this perspective too. Some N’s refuse to consider themselves to be victims and try to control and have power over everything! When they are good looking, and have acquired great survival skills of manipulation and shaming others who don’t tow their line, they can have quite the following of admirers too!

  6. Kimberly:

    I am very much gratified by this conversation. Both your and Human’s insightful replies helped me a lot to see this clearer, and again, I am just showing some other perspectives of the same point.

    I wish to emphasize: with none of my comments I intended to contradict your article – on the contrary. You are very right about the narcissistic practice of playing the victim card – in many cases they use it indeed.

    But in the meantime, as Human explained so eloquently, narcissists are NOT victims, they only pretend to be so. My point is: since one of the main N tactics is the practice of PROJECTION, Ns often do play the victim role, meanwhile blaming their own victims.

    Thank you also for your very empathic observation: indeed I have been trying to think this over for a long time, partly to understand my own family, myself and in attempt to make sense of my own existence, yet the very fact that I have reached a certain level of awareness of these doesn’t make much difference as to my stance and life-situation and it will not eliminate my PTSD symptoms of post-war trauma as a result of long term abuse both by family and society. When you happen to be born into a toxic family and into a country which was colonised and exploited by the West, and when your own family persecutes you and you don’t have anything to eat for days and you attempt suicide and face your own death without a prospect for a job with your master’s degree and without a place to live, thereafter you are not much more than dead. The fact that I was saved by sheer luck doesn’t make any difference. It would be the worst pretension if I would claim to be “strong” or anything else than a victim.

    You wrote: “we are all victims” – I think it depends on what do we mean by “we”. In my view not all of us are victims. Some lucky ones are the normies, they are the neither abused nor abusers, and some others are abusers who see themselves as “winners” while make many others victims.

    Most of the victims of the narcissistic/anti-social societies and individuals can’t speak up because they are dead, some other victims don’t speak up because – following the internalised demand of narcissistic societies, according to which we should cover up our real feelings and our damage caused by the abusers – they hide the fact that they are victims and pretend to be something else.
    Some of the victims lie to themselves to the degree that they become narcissists too, and as such start abusing the others.

    As a result of the long “silence of the lambs” the entire society is shrinking into a new form of narcissistic dictatorship, which will eventually end up something like the world depicted in the “Hunger Games” series.

  7. Pingback: Silence of the lambs and the rise of narcissistic societies | Family Hurts – and other 'fun' stuff

  8. Reblogged this on galesmind and commented:
    Excellent article really gets to the heart or lack thereof with a narcissist. All about them if you pay attention it isn’t enough and if you don’t they are victims of haters and abusers. There isn’t enough attention in the world to satisfy these people that is why they will do anything to get the attention they think they deserve.

  9. Boy did you nail it with this post. Well done. I call that kind of narcissism “covert narcissism” with a heaping side dish of martyr complex. Sometimes these kind of people are really good at enlisting sympathy from others, kind of like taking hostages in some kind of battle you aren’t even aware of. Sometimes they enlist their own children.

    When you try to set boundaries with these kind of people, you’re suddenly the bad guy, the unsympathetic one, the bully.

  10. Wow. Your post is exactly, EXACTLY, what happened at our wedding. The father of the groom is a narcissist. He wanted to plan and be in control of the entire wedding. When I made special accommodations for (I.e. Getting married at his church) did he care? Heck no. Nothing was ever good enough. He pouted and cast a cloud over our whole wedding day. He refused to smile. Told everyone how he was a victim and how sad he was. He wouldn’t toast at the reception. Wouldn’t dance. He ruined our entire wedding. He had ZERO sympathy that my father had died in an accident the year before. This was a difficult and sensitive day for my side of the family. He couldn’t care less.
    He has never apologized and continues to act like a giant baby.
    A decade later, he’s still mad about the wedding. My wedding, which he ruined. Makes absolutely no sense. I was the one hurt, not him.

    • I am so thrilled your wrote this comment. I am not glad you had to experience this- but you capture exactly what it is like to have a narcissist in your life!!! I can just picture this man pouting and carrying on. Oh, I just love when narcissists refuse to smile – despite EVERYONE’S efforts to make things “better” for them. And, then the pain of not having your father be there. Oh, my goodness. I really like how you write “this was a difficult and sensitive day for my side of the family”. And, of course, this was completely ignored by this man. And I just love how a DECADE later he is still acting like a pouting baby. He personifies narcissism (I probably shouldn’t write that since I don’t know him. – it’s just the sense I am getting).

  11. Thank you for this. I didn’t know how limitless a narcissist’s boundaries were until my narcissist friend ruined my wedding last weekend. I can never get that day back. Even though I went to great pains to accommodate her dietary restrictions, it wasn’t enough attention. She dominated the entire wedding ceremony, and then the dinner. She wouldn’t stop despite my requesting that she back off. So many of the things you wrote above were right on the money. She controlled the whole group. Her behaviour may have been easier to hide at a large wedding, but we were a group of only 15. We were her hostages. My groom and I are heartbroken. I wish I had known what she was capable of before the wedding. When I called her on her behaviour afterward, she said she was just being herself, and that I had hurt her by insulting her behaviour. I don’t think I’ll ever “win” this one. I will not engage in a back-and-forth with her. I’ve ceased all communications, and have no plans to see her again. Again, thank you. Your article helped me immensely.

    • HI, I am so , so sorry to read of your situation. Truly, I am. It can be heartbreaking (and oh, so painful) to see you significant experiences be run over by a narcissist. It can also be a bit frightening, because you can not believe someone will go to that level.

      Sadly, as my blog points out, this is not that unusual. Narcissists can spin every, every situation (and every detail about a situation- including someone else’s wedding) and make it about themselves!! In some ways, even though you are witnessing it, it is still so astounding that the narcissist is actually acting in this manner.

      I am so, so glad you have ceased all contact. Take care of YOU and YOUR feelings and YOUR experiences. YOU have your awareness and awareness always triumphs craziness. Trust yourself.

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