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Where the Love Safety Net Began

smiling woman
Kim Cooper

After ten years of married life fighting, I was eventually directed to information that led me to suspect my husband Steve was suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder—sometimes known as Narcissism or NPD.


 The professionals I turned to at that time told me outright there was no hope. They treated me like an idiot for believing our marriage could improve and Steve could get better. Their only advice was to change the locks and file for divorce.

Steve’s behaviour definitely was hurting me, but I refused to abandon him. In my heart I knew that leaving was the wrong thing for me to do. I still loved him and knew in my heart there had to be answers. I sought all the help I could find.

When none of this helped, I started looking beyond traditional marriage counselling advice at two areas of people management skills where the experts couldn’t say to just to cut people out of your life. I began studying corporate leadership training & parenting skills, where at last I found the steps which finally brought peace to our home.

People were still saying I was stupid not to leave. But I became even more determined that just maybe there was a way I could bring peace to our home.”

You must understand I am not saying the fighting was all Steve’s fault. Back then I was focused on Steve being the problem but was about to come face to face with my role in our sad ‘dance’. 

Eventually, I learned my role was called codependency, which explains why some people are repeatedly attracted to people with a narcissistic view of life. Narcissism and codependency are sometimes called ‘a dance’ (of destruction and despair).

  • Have you had difficulty forming healthy relationships?
  • Has attracting lasting love been painful?
  • Do you  feel emotionally neglected and in despair?
  • Have you had more than one troubled relationship?

I want to share how I eventually healed my codependency and how this changed everything for me and also helped Steve.

If you are ready to take the lead in creating a more peaceful home life, please sign up for my free introductory lesson. This lesson includes a free short movie where I discuss three things you must stop doing immediately. Things you probably do every day!

Learn the 3 bad habits—most codependents do every day—that will eventually destroy your marriage:

For fifteen years, the Coopers have offered themselves as humble guides and mentors, helping families avoid cynicism and chaos. Leading the way as peer support specialists whose own family has traversed love's dangerous terrain.
Taking you to that place inside yourself that you can't go by yourself. Helping you get back in touch with the power of love within you to restore the sanity in your marriage whether you stay or leave.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Brand new marriage with my husband. Have been with him 5 1/2 years. Ready to leave! Help!!!

  2. Married 45 years and felt unable to leave till sorted out my side of narcisstic scenario. Still very hard to be still in there as sorting out me has switched me off him……

  3. How did you get Steve to admit he was a narcissist? I’m married to one 20yrs. He says terrible things to me and our 3 children. He takes criticism to a whole new level. My oldest and youngest both have OCD anxiety depression . My oldest started College and is back in therapy due to her hate towards my husband. I feel so quilty I never divorced him to protect my kids. How can I convince him he IS A NARCISSIST? I tell him but he refuses to accept. It’s my fault. HELP

    1. Getting your husband to acknowledge his narcissism is not the solution. You really need to work through the steps in our books Back from the Looking Glass and 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence, then later The Love Safety Net Workbook. My Master Class membership will support you through these changes and allow you to ask questions and get support from other people in similar situations to yourself. All of this will cost you less than signing up for a monthly gym membership. You cannot leave the responsibility of protecting yourself and your children up to your husband acknowledging his role in this. First you need to take steps to learn to stand up for yourself effectively. Start by signing up for our free tutorial on the front page of this website; this will get your started on the road to a better future.

      1. Hi. I wanted to thank you for saying that you don’t have to end a marriage with a narcissist. I love my narcissist husband very much and I am DETERMINED to help him change whether our marriage survives or not. We have a 1 year old together and she will always have her father in her life so I want him to be the healthiest self he can be. My narcissist is a cheater and then dishes out the personal cuts at me and blames me. He is a very involved and loving father to his 2 children from his first marriage, ( I am his 3rd and he is my 2nd) and our daughter. Other than cheating and gaslighting or emotional abuse when confronted, he is honestly a perfect husband and father. He cooks, cleans, very financially secure of his own doing, is loving and generous. I unfortunately am an empath, daughter of a psychiatrist and was a semester away from being a psychologist before I realized it would likely kill me to take in all of the atrocities and emotions from traumatic events that would come from being a psychologist. So, I am not blind to what has been going on in his head and I know where the actions stem from. It doesn’t make it hurt any less when I catch him trying to cheat or when he blames my weight for it. My husband is physically impeccable. I am not unattractive but not in perfect shape. Having my last child a month before I turned 42 didn’t help either! I have not read everything on your blog. I am currently is crisis mode after him telling me a week ago he was no longer in love with me when I was pressing him about a change in mood with me. 2 days later I found out that he was “talking” to a young married woman at his work which he confessed to having “emotions” for. I always gps his location several times daily because that’s just unfortunately how I have been since 4 years prior he was trying to sleep with his 18 year old receptionist. I am fairly sure he did and has slept with numerous prostitutes and other women in his two previous marriages. He said maybe he should just leave because he doesn’t want to keep hurting me. He can sometimes be pressured enough that a bit of his true self shows and there is guilt and shame even though he tries to hide it. It reminds me very much of my oldest son when he was 4 or 5 and trying to lie. Would I be able to help him better as an ex-wife and co-parent as I will be less emotionally involved and hopefully less emotionally damaged at that point? Sorry for the novel btw.

        1. Hi Stephanie, Sorry for taking so long to answer, my mother died recently and we have taken some time off. If you work through our material the best path for you should start becoming clearer. A serial cheater is not an easy thing to deal with.

  4. Kim, you state that you love your husband. However, do you respect him? I was in an abusive relationship for quite some years. I loved hom too. However, I had absolutely no respect for him. I desperately wanted children, so did he, but I knew (thank god) that I couldn’t subject children to what I was living so I left. It was undoubtedly the hardest thing I did. He went into therapy and I so nearly went back because he changed for a long time. It was so hard to see him meet a lovely woman and remarry (one of the lowest points in my life). That was almost 24 years ago and I’ve been married to the most wonderful man now for 20 years this coming April. I love him with all my heart but most importantly I respect him for the beautiful man he is. We have three beautiful children. My Ex-husband has had several marriages and a string of broken relationships and currently single. When I look back I guess one of the biggest things I learnt was that it’s possible to love someone that you don’t like, but impossible to respect them.

    1. I respect Steve now more than anyone I know. He still has his selfish moments at times – but hey don’t we all? The work I have done growing up has helped me see my own narcissism too — which is not as easy as it may seem.

      I am glad that things worked out for you Donna. I left and abusive boyfriend that I lived with for 2 years before I met Steve. I also have an ex husband who Steve and I are both still friends with who I was married to for 6 years. My ex left me (and we never had children) but really we were not suited to be marriage partners, we had come together at a time we both needed each other in our late teens. In my case I know for certain that even if I left Steve (and remember we had three children together that would have been subjected to a massive family law battle that I had little chance of winning due to his fathers dislike for me and experience in family law and me with little family to defend me).

      Every situation is different. This is why we teach the foundational emotional intelligence skills to strengthen people’s self respect and personal boundaries regardless of the situation. These skills are not taught in school and usually only available to corporate management. Corporation know they can’t just sack people they are having problems with and need practical means of teaching people to get along with each other.

      Steve is the most solid reliable person I have ever met now. He is not perfect – but neither am I and sure I respect him.

      We did a lot of things we both regret in the past (and still make mistakes from time to time) but we have moved on from that and forgive ourselves and each other.

    2. best story. yes. if there s only way you can change your narc husband to a wonderful giy of your dream this is really the best wishes. undortunately this far impossible. you only keep stabbing your heart with pain for keeping together. if ther s only an easy way out i also want to experience to be love by an “amazing guy” that i never had for having my current :((

  5. Kim, I just posted a happy birthday to you – and a short description of the difference between narcissists and psycho/sociopaths and the way their motivations for manipulation -, but I wanted to pick up on another them. Your heading of Narcissistic / Co-dependent society is great! and thought provoking. It applies so well to modern day society’s relationship to it’s governments. Governments really have no permanent intrinsic soul. They may have a flavor of the current regime or party, but they are generally in flux. Do they -and I’ll pose this as a question to you- have an overall narcissistic disorder (often a disorder of many politicians)? Do they basically work way too hard at presenting an ideal image rather than substance? They attract therefore a co-dependent society. The attraction is mainly – “you have a problem? – we can fix it!” Now, as I write that – this sounds more like the government is co-dependent doesn’t it? It is because it is! Government is also co-dependent on its society that put it into power. Now let’s fast forward this governmental-societal disorder… This kind of relationship takes on another dynamic… addiction! … not surprisingly… The nature of this addicting relationship is that it doesn’t have boundaries. Government increasingly requires society’s money (via taxing) to “fix stuff” – and with more money, gets more powerful and greedy. The Socialism that develops then turns into Totalitarianism. Now lets jump back to a marriage. Is this not where the narcissistic-co-dependent relationship ends up… abusive totalitarianism.

    Next: I’ll save for another time perhaps… the “self-limiting” or “self-correcting” concept and how this applies to the narcissistic/ co-dependent relationships of marriage and government. Oh and God bless you Kim on your new writing endeavor!

    1. Thanks Dave, Yes it’s quite a round Robin isn’t it? Lately I have begun noticing a distinct madness I might call ‘episodic delusional NPD’ in a few people I know with failed political careers.

      This madness mimics symptoms in the main character (Bill Heslop) in an Australian movie Muriel’s Wedding. At a moments notice Bill will suddenly stare off into space and recite a monolog/lament along the lines of “I could have been mayor”. On breaking out of this revery the person suffering this malady then begins abusing someone.

      The symptoms are so similar in those I have noticed this in that I have half an idea of writing a story called “Dr. Quigly’s Home for Failed Politicians”. In short, yes I wholeheartedly agree that our political system creates extremes in unhealthy learned dependence on either side.

  6. Kim, I’ve recently had some things in my life show me the error of most of my life. I am a narcissist and have just recently stumbled onto your videos on youtube. I was excited to see that you had written a book called Your Blind Spot. To my dismay I am unable to find it anywhere and The other books I am seeing are Kindle books. Do you have any paper or hard cover books?

    1. Hi Scott – The best place to start is with my free tutorial. While it is mostly directed at codependent partners of people with narcissistic tendencies – the special offers at the end may interest you. If you are married you should look at special offer 1 and 2. You can sign up for it here:

      At the top of that page you will also find a link to our book shop where you can purchase your blind spot on it’s own. Steve is posting a new movie today and if you join our list you will get a link to that and other updates. Please also check out our free podcasts that you will also find on the site above.

  7. This is exactly what we are going through right now. I have just found out my husband whom I have been with for 15 years has been lying to me about going to school and work for 7 of those years. He’s been doing neither. Now that the charade has been lifted, he is very cold and hurtful. Your website describes to the tee what our relationship feels like now. I tried to sign up for the newsletter yesterday but have not received an email yet.

  8. I married my high school sweetheart after we were had both been married to other people (him twice, me once-I have two grown, married daughters from my marriage). We have now been married for 21 years and in retrospect, the emergence of his behavior started after the untimely death of his adopted daughter in 2004 (she was 16). He has been seeing a psychologist for the past 2 years and things seem to be getting worse with the two of them on a three way call to reprimand me for “embarrassing him” or “not being a traditional wife”. Of course she can’t tell me if his diagnosis is NPD, but has been diagnosed with PTSD after watching a coworker get injured and later dying. He also lost a sister-in-law in March, then her husband, his brother in July. His sister is in stage 4 pancreatic cancer and in hospice. I have been researching the PTSD and googling the fact that he is never wrong, always controlling and blames me for missing his own doctors appointments. I now see how manipulative he is and is reconnecting with old girlfriends which makes me think he’s cheating on me. I even think it could be his therapist. He is now, on her recommendation, seeing a psychiatrist. I can’t wait to read your articles to Eli me navigate this “nightmare” of a marriage I find myself in

  9. I’m 30 years old, and I recently broke up with a man who I believe is a Narcissist, and who I still love and respect. Our relationship moved very fast, and I was so caught up in the whirlwind of being “love bombed” that I couldn’t see the red flags until things hit rock bottom and I exploded in a fight we had. I was mortified by my behavior and devastated that I ended up in this cycle again, and didn’t “break free” from codependency and insecurity. We’ve split amicably, both of us still hoping for a resolution after some time has passed.

    I’ve been lacking hope, because it seems the only solution is years of therapy or leaving. It’s basically, stay if you’re crazy, leave if you aren’t, and if you stay, be prepared to spend the rest of your married life in therapy.
    I’ve studied psychology for six years, been in therapy for four years, and I’ve been, just like you, stared at by a therapist with the most perplexing look and asked, “Why are you staying with him?” Like, if I weren’t so screwed up, I would just abandon ship!

    I know therapy usually entails people pointing fingers, trying to win over the therapist, and with a narcissist, I highly doubt he would ever voluntarily come into therapy or that it would be beneficial at all for us. I also know leaving is not the solution, since running from problems never works, but I also have no idea what the solution is.

    Finding your site and resources has genuinely helped me to accept my reality about my boyfriend and given me hope that we can get out of our cycle. I came to conclude that if I am an in a relationship with him, then I am just as emotionally immature as he is, but in some other ways, and so there’s no point in pointing a finger, especially at someone who absolutely refuses to accept blame, when I have my own huge issues to face. The only person I can change is me, and that is very empowering.

    A lot of the devastation I have been feeling is because it’s hard to accept reality when there’s no known solution for this dynamic, but there is always a solution, and it sounds like you’ve managed to uncover it. Not only that, you, as a couple, are reality that things can change.

    It’s still too early to say for my situation. I am going to buy your books, but for now, I want to express that what you have done is truly novel and beautiful. I am just very comforted having found your site and videos. Thank you so much for doing the research you have. Truly, you are a blessing.

  10. Married 3 years next week. No kids. No plans to. Total broken mess. About once or twice a year I feel suicidal, but I know for sure if I leave the only option is a women’s refuge (been there, done that, and know 100% that if I returned to a refuge I would act on the suicidal tendencies). It’s a case of what you said earlier “when I act right he loves me, when I don’t he doesn’t”. I have said that I won’t leave but that he can if he wants. I have asked him why he hates me. He says he doesn’t. When he shows me love, its a love I never had before, but when it is bad I wish I was dead and don’t know why I am never good enough at/for anything/anyone.

    1. Hi Clare, Sorry I missed your message and only just approved it now. I hope you have found help. The steps in Back From the Looking Glass will help you if you haven’t.

  11. Hi! I am 3y married and I am ready to leave him because of his NPD.
    He do mental and physical abuse to me and I can’t take it anymore!
    And I have no “codependency” so how can i believe he has a chance to change?

    Many thanks

    1. If you want to leave and you are able to do so (without you having increased fears for yourself and your children) then I would do so. If you cannot see yourself as part of the problem it is unlikely you will able to be part of the solution 🙂

  12. Hello, Kim!

    Where did you find Sam Vaknin boasting about the people he has hurt with his bad advice? I am working on my own approaches to a different problem, but I see parallels between Vaknin and what I am doing. I would like to see where Vaknin talks about the numbers of people he has worked with.

    I found your comment on Quora:

  13. Hi Karen – Sorry that I am posting an answer here a couple of years late! Sam posted and deleted many comments on his private group back when I was following him many years ago. He would routinely abuse women who defended him from others who insulted him. It was quite distressing to watch. I am not sure what Sam is up to these days. He is not a person that I did not find trustworthy for advice.

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