Margi Bowden: Are You Dating a Narcissist?

The Narcissist Unveiled with Margi Bowden

In this, the sixth episode of the Love is Not a List Podcast with Gillian McCallum, she meets Margi Bowden, the well known narcissism expert, who runs the @Narcissism_nab Instagram account, which gained over 50,000 followers in its first month alone.  

Together, Gillian and Margi discuss how to identify a narcissist, what drives a narcissist, how the narcissist selects and controls their victim, and ultimately, how to leave your narcissist in your dust and not only survive, but thrive. 

Control is at the heart of the narcissist when they pick a victim. And who do they pick? They pick the kind person, the empath, the person most open to others and their journey through life. The narcissist seems at first to be similar, presenting themselves as having huge amounts in common with their victim. The “lovebombing” has begun.

Read the full transcript below of this fascinating interview with Margi  – to find out exactly what happens when the leading global matchmaker meets the leading global narcissism expert.


[Gillian McCallum]: Hello and welcome to the Love Is Not A List podcast. This is the episode that you’ve been waiting for. It is with Margi Boden, who is popularly known as Narcissist Underscore Nab. We are nabbing those narcissists with Margi. She is what I would call Instagram famous, but at this point, I think she’s definitely spilling over into the mainstream. Everyone knows that if you want to find an expert on narcissism, it is Margi.

She is a seasoned teacher, she is a professional life coach, she’s a counsellor, and a staunch advocate of individuals who are grappling with narcissistic abuse. For nearly four decades, she navigated the fog of declining mental health, unaware that narcissism was the root cause of all of those things going wrong and damaging her life. 

It wasn’t until she met a leader in the realm of narcissism that she discovered… that the core of the abuse that she’d been on the receiving end of was down to narcissism. Started a personal journey, which means that the healing that she went through has now something that she wants to share with as many people as she possibly can. She is deluged on a daily basis. When she started her Instagram, she got 50,000 new followers in only one month, which is staggering growth for anyone. 

But it shows you just how much of a topic narcissism is, how damaging narcissism is, and how clueless most of us are about what narcissism is, how it affects you, and most importantly, how to get over it, how to heal from it, and how to move on from that abuser. 

Now this is a tricky topic for us. It’s a tough topic. It’s one that’s going to cause a little bit of controversy, a little bit of upset. This is a serious topic, but we want to also show that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that people who are going through this don’t need to suffer.

Endlessly. Now, you might not even know if your partner is a narcissist or not. So tell me, first question in, how can you tell if the person in your life is a narcissist? We’ve heard about sociopaths, psychopaths, where do narcissists fit into this whole picture?

[Margi Bowden]: Thank you Gillian that was a lovely introduction, but it is so difficult because the narcissist is hot and cold so they’re very charming and nice but on the other end of the spectrum they’re also very cruel. So what probably the biggest telltale sign is their lack of empathy.

That they’re cruel over and over again, they don’t have to hit you, but their words and their behaviour is extremely cruel. And when you try and resolve this and talk to them and say, you know, that what happened, that really, really hurt me. You’re speaking to a brick wall. There is no regard. There is absolutely zero empathy. So that’s probably the biggest.

Not the only, but…

Narcissistic Control

[Gillian McCallum]: Not the only and if you and If you are thinking, you know, I’m in a really unhappy relationship, whether you’re married or dating or even a friendship, and you’re thinking, something doesn’t feel right, I’ve got a gut instinct that something’s wrong. Maybe they’re putting you down or maybe they’re making you feel embarrassed in front of other people.. 

What are the signs that people should look for that might indicate that the person they’re with is a narcissist, as opposed to someone who’s just a bit grumpy or a bit cantankerous or a little bit difficult? How can you tell? Are there some classic things they say? Or classic things they do that will help people who might be listening to this?

[Margi Bowden]: Yeah, look, it’s really incredible when I put up a post about just something simple like the control that they have in your life. So survivors typically talk about an unease, which then moves into a hypervigilance. So you actually live in a state of unease and hypervigilance because the narcissist in your life needs control over everything and they can be really minor stupid things like I put up a post about how you stack the dishwasher now regardless of whether or not the narcissist ever stacks the dishwasher themselves or unstacks they have a way of how it should be stacked 

So there’s this there’s this narcissist rule book that so many people seem to go, oh my God, that happened to me. I mean, when you’re in a car with a narcissist, you know, you have to, things have to be a certain way. There’s this, it’s a control. 

You feel that this, you know, every single thing, and you may not be aware of it, but if you sit down and you think about this person in your life, they need to control everything. Which restaurant, when do you go out? How do you look? What clothes do you wear? Which colour lipstick? How’s your hair? Everything. It’s controlled.

The Negging Narcissist

[Gillian McCallum]: It’s everything about the other person, right? So they are saying, that lipstick doesn’t look good on you, why are you wearing those clothes? And it’s not even, oh darling, I think you look so much nicer in the red dress. Isn’t it more like you look frumpy in the brown one that you’ve picked? You look frumpy in the green one. Is there a sense of a negging that we would call that kind of cutting it down?

[Margi Bowden]: Yes, but it can also it can also be done in another way. So if you like wearing red bright red lipstick It may not be as direct. This is where it’s so foggy and confusing. It might not be as direct as you look awful in that red lipstick. 

You might be told that you know a friend of yours who you know, you know Julie who’s a frump. She was disgusting wearing red lipstick, who would wear red lipstick and you’re thinking, oh my God, I’m wearing red lipstick. So the message is, if you wanna be a frump and you wanna be like Julie, keep wearing red lipstick.

Narcissistic Psychological Warfare

[Gillian McCallum]: So there’s this kind of subtle putting you down, subtle making you feel weak, and psychological warfare.

[Margi Bowden]: Psychological manipulation. And so you’re getting these messages all the time about how you, you know, this negative reinforcement that, oh my God, like, you know, the narcissist may want you to have long hair. So rather than say, you know, I really love long hair.

You’ll hear a story about how disgusting women are who have short hair. Who has short hair? It’s brainwashing over and over and over again.

Narcissists – Born or Made?

[Gillian McCallum]: And this will be how disgusting women are with short hair while you’re sitting there with short hair. Okay, I hear you. So are narcissists born? Are narcissists made? What’s the manufacturing process to get a narcissist? To become a narcissist?

[Margi Bowden]: Mm. Yeah.

Look, that’s the million dollar question and the hard part is that the research on narcissism, as you can imagine, narcissists don’t find themselves going in for a diagnosis and research so the numbers of narcissists are grossly under-reported. But the current thinking is that narcissists are not born. Narcissists are a result of parenting.

[Gillian McCallum]: And this is neglectful rather than any other type of parenting, I believe.

[Margi Bowden]: Correct, correct. So neglectful, like the grandiose narcissist, it tends to be neglectful, but indulged. Whereas the covert narcissist tends to be neglected as in undernourished and ignored and their needs at a very young age, their needs aren’t met both. And so they create a response, a trauma response that they are, you know, they’re full of shame underneath. 

But their trauma response their way of coping with this is to manifest this belief about themselves that they are perfect and they are entitled and they are you know they are the most amazing people in the world and that story has to be protected at all cost. Which is why narcissists are never going to take accountability or say yeah that was that was really cruel of me. Because that threat of them being found out or revealed is just too much of a deep wound, that they’re not prepared to ever reveal. So narcissists never change, I mean, it’s a personality disorder so..

The Empty Narcissist

[Gillian McCallum]: And the revealing, when you’re talking about the revealing, what you’re talking about is people discovering who they really are. Discovering that actually they are hollow, they are deeply unhappy, deeply insecure, that they are not the alleged expert. 

I know a lot of them are deemed to be experts in every field you’ve ever heard of, and if they’re talking to an expert in that field, they’ll still feel that they know better than the expert does. Have I got that right?

[Margi Bowden]: Yeah, yeah. So that, you know, in the workplace, which a lot of people, I’ve certainly experienced in the workplace, they will claim to be in a role that they’re under qualified for. And they will tell everybody else how to do their job. They’ll make mistakes, they’ll stuff things up, but you will never get them to say, you know what, I made a really bad judgement on that day. Or I, that was really, that was poor behaviour. 

So, you know, it adds insult to injury in the workplace when you’ve got this complete idiot who’s not capable of doing the job barging through in their big lead boots that’s impenetrable. They’re perfect.

Is Your Partner a Narcissist?

[Gillian McCallum]: You spend all of your time educating people on narcissism. And I think one of the key things that people seem to get wrong, in my experience of this field, is this sense of just focusing on the original name, narcissist, and saying, yeah, but he doesn’t always say how good looking he is. He isn’t always talking about how attractive he is. So he can’t, or she can’t be a narcissist. 

They can’t be a narcissist because they’re not always going on about their looks. And I think my feeling is that this is a big misunderstanding.

Do you agree with that?

[Margi Bowden]: Huge, huge, huge. In fact, one of the things that if you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist, one of the things that keeps you there, this is just one of them, apart from the psychological manipulation and the chemical changes, one of the things is that you hope for change. 

And you keep looking for change because you see the narcissist through your eyes and you know that if I put enough effort in and we do the work, then you’ll see that things are wrong.

 If you just one day that narcissist is going to wake up and realise that was bad behaviour, I’m not acting like a good person. But of course, they don’t. They never suddenly wake up and change. So you’ve got lots of people out there living with this psychological abuse and manipulation, hoping for change and they’ll see bad behavior. 

You know, the husband will be off having an affair or they’ll discover massive, massive wads of porn or that they’ll discard the wife completely. And so he doesn’t even really realise that I exist. There’ll be absolutely no intimacy. That’s a huge, huge red flag. But people will go, but he’s never done that. He’s never done that.

So I don’t typically, I’m not qualified to diagnose a narcissist, but I do look at the personality traits and the different ways that they manifest. And they are very different. People think, sorry.

The Covert or Vulnerable Narcissist

[Gillian McCallum]: And one of course, sorry, Margi. And of course, one of the things that, one of the types of narcissism is a vulnerable narcissist. And this is again, a very kind of underreported type, which is someone who’s continually talking about how other people are damaging their life and how they’ve failed at this and they’ve failed at that. 

And I was at the top of my career, but I was felled because the colleagues were jealous of me. You know, this kind of sense of, have I got that definition right, would that be a vulnerable narcissist?

DARVO – Deny, Attack, Reverse, Victim, Offender

[Margi Bowden]: Well, that’s the same as a covert narcissist and every narcissist, I think you might be talking about their victim mentality. So one of the ways that a narcissist manages to keep their, they actually do believe that they are the victims. 

So one of the things that a narcissist does is DARVO. So whenever you say to a narcissist, when you did that the other day, and that was really, really cruel, and the way you spoke to me they straight away flip the script. 

So they deny it, then they blame you, so attack you. So first of all, I did not do that. No, that never happened. I know, I think you’ve got that wrong. They all do it. So deny, then they attack you. But what about you? Well, I couldn’t remember last week when you did that. And then they reverse the victim order. They become victims. And this is something that if you are dating a narcissist rather than saying you know well they haven’t got that personality trait they will all use Davo. They will all use it.

[Gillian McCallum]: And can you summarise Darvo just one little time there? So Darvo is deny, attack.

[Margi Bowden]: They deny, attack and they reverse the victim and the offender role. So once you understand that and you have dealings with someone who’s narcissistic, think about do they do DARVO? 

Do they, every single thing they do, doesn’t matter how small, how big, you bring it to their attention, they deny it. That never happened. They attack you. What about when you did that? and then they reverse the order and suddenly they’re the victim and you’re the bad guy. Every narcissist does it.

Narcissistic Love Bombing

[Gillian McCallum]: And of course, one of the really tricky things, when you discover…That you are first of all in an unhealthy relationship, but also if you do some more digging and you realise actually it’s narcissism. 

The thing that keeps you there is that you, in your mind, you’re saying, yes, because of course if you’re staying there must be something good that keeps you there. And I think for a lot of people it might be the sense of, but they were so wonderful at the beginning, they were so kind at the beginning, I was treated so well, and maybe if I stay longer, or I have let myself go a little bit, if I do grow my hair, if I do wear the outfit,

And don’t forget, men and women can be the narcissist in the relationship. But if we do make those changes, maybe then they will love me the way that they did at the beginning. 

But there’s a term for that, love bombing. Can you talk a little bit more about love bombing and how the narcissist rules people in?

Narcissists and The Trauma Bond

[Margi Bowden}: Absolutely.

So you’ve actually touched on the coming back in that trauma bond is actually what narcissists use to, it does change our brains. It is called intermittent reinforcement. 

And behavioural scientists did experiments with rats. And they said that they had a little lever in a cage and they fed the rats pellets. And so every time the rats wanted to be fed, they pressed the lever and food came out but they said you know this is this is easy for them then they changed it so that the food came out intermittently so sometimes the rats pressed the lever and food came out but sometimes it didn’t the rats went crazy so it’s called intermittent reinforcement. 

It’s what you get when you play the pokies and you say to someone who plays the pokies “I don’t know why you go and play the poker, the pokie machines because you know you just lost five grand” and they’ll say “but last year I won”. And you go, and that’s exactly the same as what we do with the narcissist. 

The love bombing comes first. So the love bombing is that stage of euphoric, that they mirror you, they go, you go, I love peanut butter chocolate, and they go, so do I. I love puppies, so do I. I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland, so do I. So you’ve got this trust, and an affinity. And you think this person, because they’re very good at cognitive empathy. They study and they know how to read a person. And so you’ve got, this is amazing. 

How have I met a person that’s so perfectly aligned to me? And then you get told, you know, you’re my soulmate. I’ve never met anyone like you. You know, you’re different. All my exes were crazy, but not you. You’re special.

Narcissistic Devaluing

Every person says they get that. So then we feel comfortable and we feel like we’ve got this special connection with this person. So that’s the first part of the abuse cycle. Then, then doesn’t take them long, maybe six weeks, maybe less. Then they’ll do something that starts to devalue you. So that classic one is they’ll be late.

Narcissists have no regard for anybody else except themselves, so they’ll be late. Yeah, lots of people are late. Narcissists are late. And you’ll go, oh, we had this special date. And they’ll go, are you sure it was that day? No, I think you’re wrong. They just won’t turn up. So that’s, you can, you know, if you’re someone’s goddess and soulmate, you forgive that, that’s all right. They didn’t mean it. Plenty of people are late.

But this is the start of the devaluation. And this is the stage where they have, you’ve got the intermittent reinforcement, which really is the addiction part, where you’ll get lots of bad behaviour, you’ll get lots of little devaluing, lots and lots of things, but then you’ll get something really nice, you’ll win the jackpot. 

And we start to go into this cycle where we normalise it. This is our life. We’re craving the jackpot. We crave the next bit of the good. And we start to try and please the narcissist. We fawn to them. They’ll give you the silent treatment. They’ll walk out of the room and slam the door. They’ll disappear for a week. And rather than us saying, that’s it, that’s a deal breaker, I don’t ever want to see you again.

Remember, with a soulmate, we’re special to them. They reappear, and we’re so happy we’ve won the jackpot. So it’s intermittent reinforcement. They do it again and again and again. And that happens.

The Narcissist Lies, and Deceives

[Gillian McCallum]: And presumably what they’re also doing at the same time is because they are devaluing you, because you’re feeling you’re not enough as a man or a woman because that’s what they keep telling you; a part of you might be thinking, well, no one else would want me. 

If you’re devalued so much, it could be hard to actually have the strength to leave because you start to maybe believe the lies. Is that also something?

[Margi Bowden]: Not only, not only do you start to think it, you’ll be told that. You will be told. That’s another classic line that, you know, I’ve had, if I put something like that on Instagram, you know, have you been told that nobody else would ever want you? You’re crazy, you’re too sensitive. You know, you would never find anyone else like me. I’ve got like thousands of people saying, have you been in my house?

[Gillian McCallum]: So these are classic lines. The narcissists are coming out with classic lines that they keep using. They’re not even original. They’ve got these classic lines they just keep trotting out to devalue you, to make you feel lesser, to make you feel worthless, to say you’re just sensitive. 

And you’re thinking, I think I’m being quite reasonable. But you start to question yourself. As you said, when you put up these posts, people are hearing these lines and thinking, well, am I too sensitive? So you start asking your friends, am I too sensitive? This is what they’re doing to us, right? This is what the narcissists are doing when they attack us.

The Narcissist Uses Punishment

[Margi Bowden]: Yeah, because we’re becoming putty in their hands. They’re telling us exactly who we need to be and how we need to behave. So this intermittent, you know, they’re reinforcing us.

They’re saying, you know, if you wear red lipstick, you’re going to look like her, eww. If you question me, I’ll leave the room and I’ll punish you. We get punished again and again and again all the time. You know, if you ask me the wrong question on the wrong day,

I will walk off and I will leave you in a foreign country on your own at midnight. That’s like, there’s things that I hear, like, happen to me over and over again and people go that happened to me. So narcissists are, now I know, they’re very unpredictable but they’re very predictably unpredictable.

Narcissistic Personas

[Gillian McCallum]: Also the concept of personas. You’ve talked about that before in your Instagram posts and the sense of you know from having listened to you, been educated by you and by others, that the person you’re dealing with, whether it’s a friend or a partner or an ex, is a narcissist. 

But the people around them are not seeing it and the difficulty of trying to explain to people and they just don’t believe you so you again are questioning yourself. Can you talk a bit about personas?

[Margi Bowden]: So there’s a couple of things that you mentioned and one part of that is you talk about,, this is a phenomena that happens over and over again and that is if you are the person in the relationship with a narcissist, you will have people try and draw you away and say this person is not good for you. You need to leave this person. 

But the narcissist is onto them too. That’s how you lose friends. That’s how people will be, they’ll get in your ear if they’ve got someone, like it might be a family member, it might be a close girlfriend, it might be an aunt. And they say this person is, I don’t like the way they’re treating you.

 So the narcissist is on to you might say you know um she said that you know you shouldn’t have said that to me so the narcissist then isolates you from that person. So the way that they do that is you’ll be told you know Sheila lies.

Basically the sheila if the narcissist wants sheila removed, her name will be smeared so that’s how narcissists you know they smear your name you know like once you leave them, there’s a smear campaign and that’s to remember I said initially you know that they have to protect their persona, their story about who they are which is fabulous, they’re fabulous, they’re wonderful people.

Cutting Off the Narcissist

[Gillian McCallum]: So how do you leave a narcissist? What are there; whether you’re dating them, in a relationship with them, or whether they’re a friend of yours, what do you do to cut the narcissist off? 

Is it important to cut off the, now we’re looking at this now with no children here, but is it important to cut the supply off, to suffocate the oxygen? How would you describe what you need to do? 

You know they’re a narcissist, you know it’s unhealthy, you know they’re damaging you, you know that your relationships are being decimated, that your self esteem is being decimated, the courage to do something about it. What do people do? How do they tackle it? How do they approach it?

[Margi Bowden]: Great question. So I hear a lot from followers saying, you know, I want to leave, but he won’t agree to a divorce. You know, I want to leave. When is he going to leave me alone? So the answer is how do you leave a narcissist? You don’t ask for permission and you don’t tell them. This is something that you must do on your own. And you do need to be, you know, you can imagine if you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist.

Your self-esteem, your self-trust. Most survivors say, I don’t even know who I am anymore because you have all those, all your strengths are removed systematically by the narcissist. And so, if you are thinking, I really need to get out of this relationship, the first thing is to concentrate because you have concentrated as we do on the narcissist.

All of their needs, all of their wants, how do I make them happy? So you know if you are and it’s not easily, the answer is you don’t leave a narcissist easily, not easy. 

So you first of all get yourself strong and healthy behind the scenes, it’s a long game, it’s a long game. So if you want to do it properly and you want to do a good job, you first of all have to make sure

You’re making sure that mentally, physically you’re healthy. You make plans. You say well if I do leave where will I go? Do I have some money stashed somewhere that I can use? Do I have a supportive friend that can help me make arrangements? 

And depending on whether they’re a dangerous malignant narcissist there’s a whole realm of things to do with your personal safety that you have to consider. If you’ve got the garden variety narcissist who is not essentially dangerous, you don’t tell them a word. If they find out that you’re thinking about leaving them, they will sabotage it. And they’re very good at-

Leaving a Narcissist

[Gillian McCallum]: What will they do? So if you are, if you are right now listening to this, you’ve listened to, and there’s going to be more on who they are and how to identify them throughout the course of our conversation. But if you’re listening to this and thinking, the person I’m with is a narcissist. I am in a position where I could leave because I don’t have children, but I maybe can’t because they’ve had a hold on my finances, which of course, narcissists can also start to control your finances. It becomes a financial as well as emotional abuse.

You’re saying in the background, work on yourself, work on your self-esteem, try to build up some money, a financial barrier, and you’ve said make sure they don’t know that you’re about to leave them. So what do you do? You’ve got the therapist, you’re trying to build up some cash, are you making a plan around where to go, who to stay with, your phone number, your social media, what are you doing?

[Margi Bowden]: Yes, absolutely. Must have an exit strategy. Must have, I’ve got an online course that goes through and tells you every single thing you’ve got to do. And if they’re dangerous, you do this. But you don’t tell them. Because once they know, they’re master manipulators, remember, they’re going to manipulate you back.

Future Faking

So there’s a number of different ways that they’re going to do that. And one of their favourite tricks is, I’m going to turn nice. I’m going to suddenly be nice. I’m going to do all the things that I know you want, that I’ve never given you. I know that hurt you, I’m going to stop. 

I’m going to, remember that holiday you wanted to go on? We’re going to go. Remember how you said I needed to go to therapy? I’m going to go. They will future fake. And future faking is they make fake promises about all the things that they’re going to do.

[Gillian McCallum]: Future faking this is the first time I’ve heard that term that’s incredible and it sounds exactly as you say The nurses tries to drag you back in again So you maybe feel that same sense you did at the beginning that sense of being oh, oh the old John the old Samantha is back again. They’re back again.. !

[Margi Bowden]: Correct! And we, they tend to attract a type and they love someone who’s deeply empathic and compassionate and in this process of them future faking and madly you know, working their little butts off to be so nice we start to feel empathy for them.

Who Attracts Narcissists

[Gillian McCallum]: So by the sounds of things, there is a type of person that would attract a narcissist. Now this is very different to victim blaming. This is for me about educating people on the ways in which your, I think, empathetic, caring, kind, considerate personality…

[Margi Bowden]: Tolerant, conscientious – they pick really good people. Like astoundingly, amazing talented people. Like oh my god like you’ve got no idea how Incredible like some of my clients are and you think yeah it’s amazing.

But the narcissist – it’s that the process of their abuse cycle is really clever and if you’re empathic and kind and tolerant and conscientious, now, you know, some people say, oh yeah, but you’re codependent too. 

Look, I’m not black and white on exactly, you know, you must’ve had a narcissistic parent. You must’ve had, you know, you must’ve, yeah, to a degree. You know, you can sort of look and think, you know, why could I tolerate that? Some people wouldn’t have ever tolerated that.

There’s parts to that, but that’s very individual. I’m not, you know, you gotta be codependent. The narcissist is very clever, very, very clever. And they pick people who have got a vulnerability in some way, that’s another thing that they do. They love to use your vulnerabilities. They wanna know everything about you, but you don’t get to know anything about them.

Narcissists Don’t Disclose Information

[Gillian McCallum]: That is the fascinating part because you can ask a narcissist a direct question and you will never get the answer. How was your evening last night? Where did you end up going? And you’ll get back, oh yes, you know, in town. Oh, where’d you go and then it shuts down. 

How are they able to do that, that we don’t say, no, hold on, why aren’t you telling me where you went? How are they able to do it that you don’t push further, that you feel it’s somehow wrong to push further? So you’ve got no idea where they went or what they did.

[Margi Bowden]: I think you learn fairly quickly, because remember you go from love bombing straight into devaluation. And with their coercive and their gaslighting, you learn very quickly that you don’t want to go there. 

Like don’t push the narcissist because you’re going to get punished. And that’s that when you walk away from a relationship, it doesn’t matter for how long you’ve been in the relationship, you walk away. 

Lacking self-trust and very hyper-vigilant about, oh, can I, like that’s part of the PTSD. Oh, should I do, oh, last time I was, you know, like because this abuse happens every day, it’s subtle and you don’t even know it’s happening. It’s not like every day you get smacked over the head and you can say, yeah, well, let me tell you every day I was smacked over the head, but every day. 

There might be this comment that disempowers you and devalues you. And this is what’s happening to you. Like if you’re told every single day, you know, I’ve had clients say, I’m a really great cook, but apparently I don’t know how to cook mince meat. Apparently I don’t know how to cook a piece of fish because that’s what I’ve been told. Every time I…

What Drives Narcissists

[Gillian McCallum]: So what does the narcissist get from this? What does the narcissist achieve? How are they feeling when they’ve gone from the love bomb to pull you in and they’re now gone straight onto the devalue? Is it about feeding their ego? What do they get from making you feel as small as they possibly can on a daily basis while you stay with them, while you remain friends, while you remain dating, while you remain married? What do they get?

[Margi Bowden]: Well, they get, they get a, number one, you know, control is their biggest turn on. So, you know, being in control is what they love. But they get, narcissists are all different and they get a, what we call a supply. They get something from it that, that feeds their lacking inside them. So, you know, one narcissist might, you know, what they really need is, is sex.

And so they might be with a partner who is for whatever reason will give them a lot of sex, usually by coercion and threats and whatever. But that’s what that narcissist wants. Now another narcissist might want someone who lets them be a womaniser because that turns them on, you know, they can go out and whatever. 

And they need a partner who will tolerate that and you know, Remember everything is to the external world you know what do I look like to the external world and so they love to be seen as really normal and you know in families while there’s horrendous things going on you’ve got the narcissist going to work and saying look at me everyone I’m a great bloke so that’s feeding their identity that I’m great. How do I manage with such neglect? I know. I’ll tell myself a story that I’m fantastic. They’re delusional. But that’s the story that they tell themselves.

Narcissists are Empty Inside

[Gillian McCallum]: What do they feel inside? Do they, we know already you said zero empathy, do they feel any joy, do they feel love, do they feel camaraderie, do they feel, you know, in the quiet moments, an enjoyment of someone else’s company, or they simply, a little bit like a psychopath or a sociopath, they simply don’t feel these emotions that we normally feel.

[Margi Bowden]: I don’t think you could say that narcissists never experience joy or happiness, but the overriding need for them is to have control. And so, you know, their life, in fact narcissists suffer a lot of depression and mental health issues themselves. 

Because you know that inside they are broken. They don’t have, you know, part of the disorder is never having interpersonal, long lasting interpersonal relationships. Now that human beings, we’re social creatures, you know, most of us really, really find deep connections with people hugely satisfying. But the narcissist doesn’t have that. 

So what feeds them is, well look at me I can say that you know I’ve got five people who are over at my house, or look at all the guys at work. I’m the you know I’m you know the head of the committee at school and all these people follow me, so it’s more feeding their own little story that I’m all right because look at these people who think I’m all right. 

It’s and it’s if you think about it it’s it must be having to have what the external world thinks about you as being okay. Because you’re not driven by the same thing that anybody else is driven by, which is that deep empathy and connection for another human being. You don’t have it.

Bleeding Their Partner Dry

[Gillian McCallum]: And so you could be in a long-term marriage, in a long-term relationship with a narcissist who doesn’t feel that connection with you. So it’s not that they can’t be in a long marriage, they could be, but it’s a deeply unhappy marriage where they don’t feel the connection. 

They don’t feel the bond, but they do it for the outside world, or they do it because they’re getting something, as you said, whether they’re getting sex, money. Another one could be a long-term relationship if their partner is very wealthy. They could be getting the money and the supply of the cash, but not feeling anything inside.

[Margi Bowden]: Yes. Absolutely.

Survivors feel incredibly broken by the fact that, you know, they have been in a marriage for 20 years, 15 years, 30 years, 40 years. And when that marriage ends, the narcissist will walk away and re-partner in two months, in one week. 

You know, relationships are transactional. It’s not that once again I have that deep connection with another soul. It’s the fact that, well you were there for 30 years and I had the house and I looked good and everything. Like it’s not, I have heard narcissists when, this is why you ask the question, how do you leave a narcissist, that is your decision. 

Because if you’ve been in a long term relationship with the narcissist, you have been discarded emotionally.

No Intimacy With Narcissists

There’s no intimacy, no connection, there’s no relationship. But for the narcissist, that’s not what they need. They need a bed to sleep in, they need to outside world, look at me, I’ve got a family. They need things just chugging along. They don’t need interpersonal deep connection and intimacy with anybody. So I’ve heard time and time again, when someone says, I want the marriage to end, I wanna be out, the narcissist will be horrified. I got bit, bit unhappy. Unhappy.

Having Children with a Narcissist

[Gillian McCallum]: Because that’s what their happiness is. They don’t need to feel the connection because they’re getting the supply of whatever it is that they need. And we didn’t talk about children yet, and I do want to get that in before we finish. 

What happens if you have been degraded over this period of time, whether you had a one night stand at the beginning and ended up with a child with a narcissist.

Or whether or not you were in a relationship, love bombed, got pregnant, or even worse, love bombed, degraded, and then had children with them because you were so worn down and you thought this was all that you deserved, or you thought you could fix things, whatever the reason was. 

What do people who have children with a narcissist do? How do you co-parent with a narcissist?

[Margi Bowden]: Look, I think if you’ve got children with a narcissist, you a stay in the relationship because it’s very… the narcissist, when you’ve got children, that’s one thing that the narcissist can then use against you because their children are just, they just become pawns, you know, like this is something I know that and it tends to be the case the non-narcissistic parent tends to be the nurturer, the carer, they do all the heavy lifting as far as their children are concerned. 

Because the narcissist, the most important person in the narcissist’s life is the narcissist. 

So they’re not going to be doing all those deeply important things for children where you connect on a soul level and you validate them and you hear and you communicate and you make sure that they’ve been fed and you make sure that they’re picked up on time. That tends to be the role of the non narcissistic parents.

If you’ve got children and you say, well, I think we need to get a divorce, the first thing the narcissist is going to do is say, oh, okay, well, I’m going to have control over this situation and that means, I’m going to do things that make sure that you don’t take control, I’m going to try and control the kids. 

And they do this in a number of different ways. If they’re young children, suddenly they’ll insist that they have to have 50-50 custody or worse still, I’m going to fight you for custody. It will never be easy, never. All the kids, they’ll triangulate the kids. And if they’re wealthy, they’ll say, you know, you do know that, you know, I’ve got all the money, so. And it’s very difficult. 

Kids are put in this difficult situation of being used by the narcissist. So, I mean, the most important thing is I think from a parent’s point of view is for you to be educated, for you to understand because you do have to, well it’s not a slagging match of let me tell you about how bad the other parent is. 

You do have to educate your children about abuse because narcissists psychologically abuse you and if they’re growing up in a home where they’re witnessing and mum’s being abused, guess what? Pretty normal, isn’t it?

Narcissists Attempt to Isolate

[Gillian McCallum]: And part of that abuse is cutting you off or trying to cut you off from your friends, from your family. You talked before about even trying to get you to move countries, so you’re even further away. 

They try to break all the relationships that you have so that you are left alone, you are left isolated, so you are really more and more dependent on them. And there’s a couple…

[Margi Bowden]: Well that’s the idea, because their modus operandi is control. I must have control of you.

[Gillian McCallum]: And there’s a famous couple, I’m not going to name them, that a lot of people are saying that one of the two is a narcissist. And we’ve seen that played out with the family members of this individual not being in communicating terms, they’re not visiting, they’re not seeing one another, they have to travel to a different country. 

And we’re seeing this sense of having, because these are people who are well known and in the public eye, we’ve seen where they have been very close with their family or appearing to be close to their family and now totally and utterly isolated. 

And without naming names, I don’t know if that sounds familiar to you, but does that make you feel.. does sound a bit familiar. And that’s the thing. And you know, I, before I, you know, I knew a little bit about narcissism with some of the things that I do, we try to weed them out, but certainly the general public is suggesting in very strong terms. And of course, they’re not trained in this. They’ve not spent the decades that you have on narcissism, but there is a general belief that this could be a situation of one of the individuals being a narcissist.

Narcissists Divide and Conquer

[Margi Bowden]: Yeah, look, it’s, narcissists do have, you know, they do have that classic divide and conquer. That’s a strategy. And while, why, if you are that person who’s been enmeshed and, and there’s a certain amount of entrapment, nothing that anybody says from the outside world is going to convince you otherwise, because the narcissist is busy brainwashing you and remember, smearing everybody who’s close to you. 

So they do a very good job. You know every person that leaves a narcissistic relationship will be smeared. It’s like the narcissist, I’m going to get in before everybody else, anybody else can, and I’m going to tell them that you know, you’re the bad person when you actually leave. 

You know people, you’re all, every person has to put up with whether it’s you leaving the workplace, whether or not you’re leaving a relationship, your name will be smeared.

There will be, you will lose friends. People will.

When Does the Narcissist Let Go?

[Gillian McCallum]: And so we know that the narcissist… Sorry, Margi, go on. Yeah. So we know that the narcissist gets a supply from what you’ve said, a supply from you, the way you respond and having you on tap, like a vampire blood sucker, they’ve attached themselves to you. 

And as they’re draining the blood from your lifeless body, they’re getting all of the power and sustenance they need before they drop your husk on the ground. So let’s say that before you become this husk and you’re able to get out, we know that you have been the number one provider of supply. 

So how does the narcissist decide to move on? How does the narcissist decide they’re not going to carry on smearing your name, they’re not going to carry on doing whatever the shenanigans, taking you to court, whatever this stuff is. 

What does it take? Is it another victim? Is it someone else that they can suck dry? How will you, as a victim, of the narcissist become the survivor of the narcissist by knowing Phew! They’ve forgotten about me. They’ve moved on. What will it take to make that happen?

[Margi Bowden]: Look, that’s a really good question. And once again, you talked about people saying, oh yeah, but mine doesn’t do that and mine doesn’t do that. Once again, this situation is many and varied because the narcissists typically don’t ever like to let anybody go. I always joke that the narcissists have got little books of all their past partners.

So when you, you know, finally the game’s up with you, they’re not going to, you know, they will, they’ve already sussed out who the next person is. So it’s very, very quickly moving someone in, remember to validate themselves to the external world. This, the survivor will spend the next two years, five years, 10 years, 15 years, contemplating, reflecting, learning, growing, becoming stronger and you know doing all this work on themselves the narcissist just pops into bed with the next. Next.

Narcissistic Abuser – No Contact

[Gillian McCallum]: And so the best thing that you can do is say, they don’t matter, they’re unimportant, and not just for yourself, but also because that’s the last message. They want to think that you’re pining after them, thinking of them, talking about them, because again, all of this adds into the supply. And it is important to talk about it. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve gotta talk about what you’ve gone through and what you’ve experienced, otherwise I don’t think you can feel properly. Have I got that right?

Is this the right sentiment, is this the direction people should be going in?

[Margi Bowden]: Yeah, look, it’s super, super critical that you’re allowed to talk about it because you, anybody who’s a survivor of narcissistic abuse says, what just happened to me? What the hell? How could anybody, and it’s, there’s so much rumination that it’s traumatic.

You know, post-traumatic stress, you keep on these things keep coming up and you remember, oh, they did that and oh, they did that. It’s really important to talk about it until you don’t want to talk about it again. There’s no rules. Talk about it like talk about it and talk about it. But the other part to that is you asked me a question about, oh, the best way to heal.

And no contact is there for a reason. The minute that the narcissist is allowed back into your sphere, you will go down because their modus operandi is to come in and have I got any control still? So people will get hoovered. Narcissists don’t leave you alone.

And the reason they don’t is they’re just checking in, they’ll send you that message, oh, I just heard our favourite song today, do you remember that? And you go, oh, that’s so cute. He was a dirty, nasty, awful prick, but oh, he remembered my song. And you text back, yes, I do. And the narcissist goes, huh, still got control. That’s all.

Cut The Narcissist Off

[Gillian McCallum]: So what we’re saying is, when you’ve got the strength to leave them, you are not going to reply to that text after two years, that email after three years, you’re not going to respond when they write you a letter and say, irrespective of this, you are cutting off the supply, you are never speaking to them again, you are never dealing with them again, and you are healing. And on the most positive note, people who leave narcissists, they become whole, right? This is the message, the important part.

[Margi Bowden]: Never. Never.

Absolutely. So, you know, I tell people, treat the narcissist, because people go, what happens if I see him? What happens if I bump into him? And I go, well, treat the narcissist like a stranger to you. Now, if I bump into a stranger, I don’t go, hello, I remember you, like they’re a stranger. The narcissist must become a stranger, because a stranger can’t hurt me.

A stranger can’t get into my head. A stranger is, oh look, there’s a man on the street. That’s it.

[Gillian McCallum]: So if you bump into the narcissist that was in your life in a supermarket, in a car park, in the street, maybe you live in a small town or a small village or you happen to live nearby in a similar street, cut them off, blank them, they don’t exist because presumably the worst thing that can happen to a narcissist is the sense or feeling that people think they just don’t count.

[Margi Bowden]: Well, the narcissist always wants to, you know, what they do is get into your head. And I’ve seen it a million times, you know, that somehow the narcissist gets to send a message or an email and you see survivors really going downhill, really, really suffering, you know, in foetal position. And you go, but you haven’t, you know, there’s been no contact for months, but they get back into your head. So stranger.

Retake Your Power

[Gillian McCallum]: But what we’re hoping for is stranger. And when you make them a stranger, when you don’t respond, you start to get that sense of wellbeing, that sense of dignity back, that sense of I really don’t need this person until, and of course for some people it could be weeks it takes to get over, months, years, really depends on your unique situation, but you’ve got to…

[Margi Bowden]: It’s not linear, it’s… yeah.

[Gillian McCallum]: But you can get that back, you can get that sense of self and strength and power to the point that this person has no control and has no influence and is nothing to you. Which is the worst thing that I think a narcissist can experience to have that supply entirely shut off.

[Margi Bowden]: Well they stole your past, don’t let them steal your future too.

Brenda’s Quick Fire Round – True or False

[Gillian McCallum]: And that’s the perfect way to go into Brenda’s quick fire round. True or false? You know, I debated whether or not I wanted to let Brenda know about this interview because of course, it’s not in some ways the lightest of topics, but it is educational. We talked about this before we came on. It is so important that as many people as possible know what narcissism is, understand what art narcissism is, and avoid narcissists at all costs. And if they don’t, they’ve got to make sure that they get the education that you are providing. 

[Margi Bowden]: Yeah. Absolutely.

[Gillian McCallum]: You provide high quality information and knowledge. I know that you’ve got courses that people can go on. All of those details are on narcissist underscore nab which is Instagram but also have some links below. 

But let’s get into Brenda just before then. 

So true or false? Narcissists believe that their GPS always takes them on the most scenic route because the world revolves around their journey.

[Margi Bowden]: Truth.

[Gillian McCallum]: True, no expansion, perfect. 

True or false, Narcissists believe that the real reason the Earth orbits the Sun is to provide them with better lighting for their selfies. 

[Margi Bowden]: True!

Gillian McCallum: Ha ha ha! 

Narcissists think that the best way to solve global warming is to harness the power of their own hotness.

[Margi Bowden]: True !

[Gillian McCallum]: Fantastic! 

Margi Bowden’s Best Piece of Life Advice 

And finally, your best piece of life advice. What have you got for me?

[Margi Bowden]: Look, you know, I guess after going through what I’ve gone through and I think life is short. I didn’t want to wake up when I was 90 and think, you know, I haven’t had intimacy or a beautiful relationship ever. And I say to my daughters, it’s a long time looking at the lid. Like meaning, I don’t want to, I’m going to be dead. So I don’t want to regret anything. So if you’re thinking about leaving a narcissist, do it.

[Gillian McCallum]: You’ve got this incredible advice. You’re a long time dead. If you’re going to leave a narcissist, do it, prepare, get ready. 

Follow Margi’s advice on Instagram, but listen to what she said today. Get your preparation done. Get yourself healing in the background. And long time dead, get out of that relationship and move on with your life. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for joining.

[Margi Bowden]: Yup. My pleasure, Gillian. Thank you. Bye.

[Gillian McCallum]: Bye bye.

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