Narcissists can be harmful to your pet. In my book, Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People — and Break Free, I have an entire section on the abuse gaslighters perpetrate on people and pets. Watch for the following signs, in order to protect you and your pet.
- Narcissists will use the pet as a manipulation tactic. If you talk about leaving, they will tell you that you will never see your pet again. Or if you are leaving the narcissist and moving into a smaller place, the narcissist will tell you that it is not fair you are subjecting your pet to a smaller space, and tell you that your pet will probably die earlier from loneliness. The narcissist will say anything to get you to stay so the narcissist doesn’t have to experience that deep fear of abandonment.
- People are seen by the narcissist as not as deserving of love, attention, and affection as animals. The narcissist has very absolute views of people and animals. They alternately idolize a person or animal and then demote it to being the lowest form of life possible. There is no middle ground.
- The narcissist has unrealistic expectations of animal behavior. People and animals are both expected to act perfectly—and anything else is seen as a personal affront to the narcissist. They expect people and animals to fill their deep-seated insecurities—and the narcissist is never able to have that deep hole in their psyche filled.
- They physically abuse pets. If a narcissist's dog has urinated on the carpet while the narcissist was out, the narcissist sees it as a personal affront—even though the narcissist left the dog alone for 12 hours. The narcissist then hits the dog and calls it names. The dog learns to fear the narcissist. When people or animals fear the narcissist, he or she gets a psychological payoff of control.
- While you are away, your pet is put down or neglected by the narcissist. You get home from a business trip, and the narcissist says they are sorry to tell you that your dog was aggressive to them, and the narcissist had your dog put down. By eliminating your pet, the narcissist has removed one more barrier in order to control you.
- The narcissist "sets up" your pet for unwanted behavior. The narcissist knows that your pet is prone to getting in the garbage. So while you are out, the narcissist purposely leaves the lid off the kitchen trash or in extreme cases, may even put trash around the house. When you get home, the narcissist loudly (and sometimes proudly) proclaims that they were right, you have a bad dog. The narcissist figures this is a good way to get you to align with the narcissist and against your dog.
- The narcissist “accidentally” lets your pet out of the house. Letting the dog escape once in a while can happen to anyone. But with narcissists, it’s a pattern. The narcissist thinks that getting rid of your pet means your attention will now solely be on them. Since it was an "accident" the narcissist will argue you are blaming them for your dog's bad behavior.
- The narcissist does not adhere to your rules regarding your pet. The narcissist feels that they know best. They will tell you (and show you) that they know more about your pet than you do. You may have a rule that your dog doesn’t get fed table scraps. However, you see the narcissist openly flaunting this rule and feeding your dog right at the table. When you tell the narcissist to knock it off, they say, “What’s wrong with giving him a little snack? You just want to waste food.” Your rules are described to you as being unrealistic or petty.
- They will contact you after a breakup, telling you that they are lost without the dog, or if you divided pets after a breakup, the pet they have is missing your pet terribly. This is a way to punish you for leaving, by guilting you into giving up your pet. It is also a way to get contact started again. The narcissist knows once that door to contact is opened, they can continue to pry it open. Get ready for more manipulation. If the narcissist says their pet is lonely without the pet you have, tell them that you will happily take their pet so it doesn’t have to be alone. See how quickly the narcissist backpedals.
- If your narcissist ex has "custody" of your pet, expect them to flaunt that. Your narcissist ex may send you photos of themselves and their new partner with your dog or cat in the photo. They may even send you photos of just their new partner with your pet. Your ex is "punishing" you for having the audacity to leave them. Even if your narcissist partner left you, they will still try to torment you with photos of your pet. Keep in mind this is quite different from just updating a partner about a previously shared pet.
- They tease your pet. You go to the dog beach, and the narcissist is kicking sand into your dog’s face. Your dog doesn't react, because he thinks the narcissist cares for him, the same way that you do. So the narcissist laughs and continues. The narcissist offers your pet a treat and then takes it back. The narcissist gets a payoff from seeing people and pets suffer under their control. By teasing your pet, the narcissist is also pushing your pet into snapping at them as a way to tell the narcissist to stop. The narcissist will use this as a reason to tell you that you have a violent dog and it needs to be put down. Without your dog, the narcissist feels that you can now focus all your attention on them.
- Pet emergencies are created to get you to come home. Going somewhere out on your own is a threat to the narcissist. The narcissist wants your attention on them at all times. You get frantic calls and texts about your cat being sick—but when you come home, it doesn’t appear to be much of an emergency.
The solution? Get you and your pet away from the narcissist. Don't have a narcissist watch your pet—ever. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist and you don’t feel you have the strength to leave, at least leave for the sake of your pet. In my article, How to Leave a Narcissist For Good, you'll read that going "no contact" is the best way to leave a narcissist for good. As always, if you feel that leaving may put you in danger, contact your local domestic violence shelter.
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