Parental Narcissist: Here, Try This

Okay, suppose you are in a relationship with someone and it’s a good relationship. When you experience something enjoyable, your first thought is “I want to share this with them.”

That scenario works out poorly for Randy when it comes to him offering me a taste of something he enjoys.

We’ve been together for over 22 years and both really believe we “get” the other person. Then, we find out we’re still making new discoveries.

I don’t react well when people offer me a taste of their food or drink.

They don’t know I’m not reacting well because I internalize that shit. When people offer me a taste of whatever, my initial reaction is always anger.

Not a little anger. I’m talking white hot lava up through the chest, tingly scalp anger.

It’s goddamn hard to not harbor resentment. My husband wants to share an experience with me and I get furious with him for even trying. How can I not resent that? How can I not be angry?

Well, one thing that works super great is to just talk it through with Randy. I mean, we’re both broken in similar ways so sometimes it is hard to get there, but we can and we do all the time. I don’t know why I waited over two decades to tell Randy why I get so bitchy when he wants me to taste something.

What he didn’t know? Is that for years, when he asked me to taste something, I did. I just did. Because that is what I was conditioned to do. I didn’t want to, but I did. And I can’t tell you if I said I liked it or didn’t. I can’t tell you if I was honest or lying. I just know I resented the fuck out of it.

Then, probably five or so years ago, I stopped. If Randy asked me to taste something, I would refuse. If he asked a second time, I lashed out.

Today, just today, I explained to him why.

My dad fancied himself a chef. Not just a chef, had his life been just a little different, he would have been a master chef because he had a natural gift.

For instance, the time he decided to doctor up a pecan pie recipe by adding a cup of brandy to the mix.

A cup of brandy.

My dad doesn’t eat sweets at all, so he wasn’t going to be eating the pie pickled in hot brandy.

My mom and I? We had to eat the pie.

We had to eat the pie and rave about how good it was. That pie was so fucking bad. The pie tasted like marshmallows which had gone over, then soaked in lighter fluid, and topped with rubbery, bloated, tasteless pecans. Then, we had to brag to other people about how good the pie tasted, because if we didn’t, he would pout. If by pout we mean “heap criticism, condemnation and cruelly mock the rest of the family”.

My mother has zero tolerance for spicy food. The marina sauce that comes with fried mozzarella sticks is too spicy for her. So, she is not a fan of any type of sausage.

I remember one morning my dad fried sausage patties. I don’t think they were anything special, Bob Evans or Jimmy Dean or something. Apparently, we got a really good batch because he made a face like he was eating cake made by baby angels riding on unicorns.

He looked at my mother. “You have to try this. It’s incredible.”

My mother responded that she really didn’t like sausage. He insisted, though, because this sausage was going to change her mind. She would love sausage after eating the sausage he just cooked.

She didn’t though. Breakfast sausage is way too hot for my mother. She can barely tolerate black pepper.

He spent the rest of the morning slamming pots and pans around because she didn’t like the sausage. Because that is what malignant narcissists do. If you don’t like (or hate) the same as them,  they take it as the worst kind of insult and someone always pays.

Those are just two examples. There were many other modified recipes we choked down or times we had food pushed on us that we didn’t like.

There were days when we couldn’t choke the food down and those days were worse.

Randy knew these stories, but superficially. He didn’t understand that just asking me to try something made my head swim.

We have come to an agreement that works for both of us.

I will try, very hard, to understand when he asks me to try something, he just wants to share an experience with me because I am the person he wants to share his good times with. Conversely, he agrees to not ask a second time.

I can live with that.





Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. Jorah says:

    Your dad…
    1) omg
    2) Now I’m wondering in what ways I express any similarities to him. I’m going to be thinking paranoid thoughts all day, trying to figure out what brand of narcissist I am. And if I find that I am a narcissist, how do I mitigate the damage?

    • Michelle says:

      Okay, first of all…a malignant narcissist would never question if they were a narcissist or not because they believe themselves perfect. If you feel empathy toward other humans, then you do no have narcissistic personality disorder. That doesn’t mean you don’t show narcissistic tendencies, we all do..we are human. If you are curious, there is tons of info out there. It’s not a pretty journey though.

  2. I totally get this. And no it isn’t a pretty journey, especially when you didn’t figure out until you were in your 60s by which time you are caring for parents. Info on YouTube from some trusted people really helps me with the pain. I too worried for some time that I had NPD but realised it was learned behaviour. My internal life is like a big house with many rooms that are all in a huge mess but the front of the house looks fine. You are not alone, this made me cry because I really feel for anyone in this position. And if others don’t know our triggers, (and why would they?) life can be very painful.

    • Michelle says:

      It really can be painful..but we are who we are and I think we’re amazing. We went through hell and WE ARE STILL HERE! Go us!

    • Kensey says:

      Thank you for this:
      My internal life is like a big house with many rooms that are all in a huge mess but the front of the house looks fine.

      ” Things you can’t tell by looking at her”
      a made for TV movie…I think Cher was in it.
      That title, I always think it is me.
      My life on eggshells with the Narc hubby

  3. Amy says:

    Omg…i feel your pain…my X husband would do the same except it was with his mother’s cooking….we had to like it and not say a thing…and if the kids would leave anything on there plate she would rant and rave about how unappreciative the kids and I were and how dare I let the kids get away with it…so many painful memories. Then after we got home, how dare I say anything about her cooking and how dare I not appreciate her cooking and how many days ahead she would cook and make pies. I am tho so happy to get away from that family.

  4. All that baggage we bring with us from crappy parents! And all the compromise that goes into making a better family unit than the one we came from…..but it’s worth it in the end and I’m still getting there too. My husband only realized a year or so ago that I don’t like Peanut Butter – after 30+ years of me never EVER eating it!

  5. Cecilia Leon says:

    Kudos on becoming aware of that piece of conditioning. Thanks for sharing that, it helps. I have lots of old programming to slosh through. Awareness is the first step.

  6. Renee says:

    I get it…dont’ like people asking me to try something…I particularly hate when they say…”OMG this tastes terrible….here try it”….

  7. Lisa K says:

    Your father-figure did THAT SHIT, TOO????
    Doug’s big trick was everybody eat together while it’s hot cuz it’s better that way. So, while we were blowing and our eyes were streaming he could berate our manners and drill into us how good it was.
    I like to eat my cold food alone.
    I DON’T like to try new things that are going to burn my face, as well as taste like shit.
    I HATE eating in a group because my hyper-vigilant nerves are sure I have defied the single most important rule while at a table… who KNOWS what the single most important rule at the table really was?
    Nobody. Not ever. There were always more 🙁
    And I have ALL the digestive disorders to prove it.
    (Did you also have to eat your favorite stuff first so ‘he’ wouldn’t take it off your plate and eat it first cuz he knew you were saving your favorite/good stuff/palate cleanser for last?)

    • Michelle says:

      Oh man..NO, no I can’t recall him ever taking my food because he knew I would enjoy it. I just got REAALLY mad at your dad on your behalf. What a putz.

      • Lisa K says:

        I get mad at your dad a LOT, too… Seems like they were in their own private ‘one up ya, man’ and were keeping tabs on who made their kid cry the most when nobody was looking… :/
        He did it with EVERYTHING! We’d be at the beach and have ‘special’ fun food or drinks, and if we left it ‘unattended’ it would be gone 🙁
        And heaven forbid we get angry… he was ‘only joking.’
        Where WAS our sense of humor?
        Love ya, Babe.

        • Michelle says:

          That is something else that pisses me right off..when someone questions my sense of humor because they’re trying to play off being an asshole. I have a goddamn sense of humor, motherfucker.

          • Lisa K says:

            And I’m POSITIVE I can find the funny. When it’s funny.
            Ellen DeGeneres had a bit where she said, “You must not know how to kid, if you knew how to kid, we would both be laughing.”
            I love her so…

          • Heather C says:

            “I have a sense of humor, you’re just not funny”

            Stuff I can say now, but wish I could have as a kid.

            Stupid asshole parents.

          • Lisa K says:

            So. Right.

          • Sarah says:

            Really deliberately mean people? It is always them just kidding or just joking, to try to diminish you even more than the original painful comment-a real two-fer for them. I still know and sadly work with people like this, my ex was a pro. But thank god my parents were not. I think it is exceptionally cruel. Even if you just walk away, it hurts. Complete asswipes…

          • Michelle says:

            They are so so much. I have worked with them as well. I have such a low threshold for dealing with narcissists.

  8. Monique says:

    Thank you for putting a smile on my face once again.
    However, this time it’s a smile of disagreament.
    I LOVE to taste food and especially drinks if people ask me. Once a weardo, always a happy taster.

    • Michelle says:

      I don’t mind tasting it if it’s something I want to try…but if I didn’t initiate the exchange or if it’s something I don’t think I will like, I get so angry. It’s irrational and way too strong of a reaction given the situation. But I am working on it.

  9. Haralee says:

    I get it. It has taken my husband years and it still bugs him when anyone asks to taste his food. Coming from a big family where there wasn’t enough he still is very protective of his food.

  10. Kudos to you and Randy for being able to understand, accept, and compromise. Clearly the foundation of something great.

  11. Connie says:

    I can identify with those types of triggers. How utterly shitty of your dad to put his family through that.
    I have made several attempts at a response to your experience but am having a hard time, thinking about my own triggers triggers me.
    Part of me wishing my dad was still alive so I could tell him what a fuckwad he was.
    Ugh it’s never ending.

    • Michelle says:

      It really doesn’t end, does it? I am sorry for the triggers! It’s fucking minefield, isn’t it? And even if he were alive and you told him he was a fuckwad? He wouldn’t believe it anyway which would just be frustrating.

      • kensey says:

        Narc Mother in law reaches over grabs my steak bone off my plate & eats the tiny smear of meat left on it. She once,no shit, drank my tartar sauce before we left the restaurant. Like a quick shot. Topper was about 6 of us were out for dinner, she requests to-go countainers & insists we all divide our meal in-half PRIOR to starting in on it.
        I mean. WTF with food.? They love to take things away or one up you. I asked our host what I could bring to a BBQ & she said fruit. So I made a nice bowl. We picked my MIL up and she brought an entire huge branch with lemons still
        ON IT from her fucking tree!
        Sometimes I take the bait & protest. I end up being ugly & Im not a mean person. Dislike drama. They love it though.
        MIL: “Have you always been this sensitive?”
        Yeah, my spouse learned @ the knee of this friggin’ cra cray.

        • Michelle says:

          I hope your husband is doing well. Having a narc parent is a nightmare. She sounds like a real treat.

          • Kensey says:

            My husband is a narc also. He had a horrific childhood but he is one of the few that actually became a narc. The mask came off about 1 yr into our marriage. I’ve stayed, it’s almost 2 yrs.
            By reading..I’ve put the pieces together.
            They need a constant supply of ego booster. When she is mean ( like he is) he says I’m ungrateful & she is just being helpful.

            “Come here nice doggie” with a rock behind their back.

          • Michelle says:

            Oh sweetheart. I am so sorry. I want you to be safe and happy. That situation is not likely to get better.

  12. Holy shit.
    I gather you’re also familiar with the feeling of being afraid to share something because you might share it with the sort of person who’ll not only hate it but thinks if they hate something everyone else should too, and they’ll make you feel stupid for liking something they hate and will belittle you even in unrelated situations.
    So, yeah, I can understand why it took you so long to share your feelings with Randy.

    • Michelle says:

      Yes! I couldn’t even share an opinion until I was well into my 20s and it actually still makes me anxious to offer up an opinion. Writing has helped, but it’s a lot easier to write an opinion than it is to voice one.

  13. Doug in Oakland says:

    Having been a cook for my living for a decade or so, I’ve sort of learned to pay attention to the little things people say or do when eating something I made so I can try to do better next time. If you talk to them about it a little, something you obviously can’t do at a restaurant, you can usually find a way to make stuff they actually like.
    I don’t try to make anyone eat my mistakes. That would be rude, and sort of miss the whole point of cooking for someone.
    So it seems like the proximity to narcissism makes it more toxic: the more the narc is involved with the workings of your daily life, the more damage they will end up doing.
    That’s difficult enough for adults, who can have other options sometimes, to deal with. But children? They don’t have another option, so subjecting them to that kind of behavior is fucking evil.
    Still, though, getting people to try things they don’t already know about but are resistant to can be funny sometimes, if you have the right attitude about it (read that you actually care about whether they like it or not). Briana’s ex (Andrew) is Japanese, and he is an excellent cook, and he used to try to get her to at least try some of the things he ate himself. She was resistant, mostly, but he paid attention to what she did like, and offered her tastes of things that he genuinely believed she would enjoy.
    I can’t remember what it was that he got her to try the time when she went “Oh god, that’s good!” and tried to take the rest of it from him. He told her “Damn, I was hoping it would suck…”

    • Michelle says:

      You hit the nail on the head. Close and constant proximity is so damaging. And kids are perfect for the narcissist. They get adulation when the kids are small and then the kids become something to emotionally beat up when they’re older. It doesn’t work out great for the kids, though.

      • Doug in Oakland says:

        OK, off topic, and I hope it doesn’t qualify as a “here, try this”, but I saw this and thought of you. I was a little embarrassed by not knowing about it (I found it in the Twitter stream of a former blogger from DC) as the guy is based two blocks from my mailbox. It’s a video by a guy who calls himself Fantastic Negrito, and it made me think of you because he sings about a “prison of stress, anxiety, and fear”. The video is shot out on the streets of Oakland, and has cameo appearances by some East Bay Dragons, who are a black motorcycle club from here.
        The guy apparently performs on the sidewalk a lot, so I don’t know why I hadn’t at least heard of him before.
        The song is called “Push Back”.
        Anyway, here it is:

  14. Shani says:

    When I first started dating my sweetie and we would go to the movies (generally my idea) he would skip the premieres. Our movie dates usually left him kind of quiet (I thought moody) so eventually we stopped doing movie dates.
    I found out soon that he can’t stand something unexpectedly loud. He doesn’t like loud in general. But that surprising loud is what he really hates.
    Still early on, in a “I was just teasing way” because honestly I thought since he had never been a Vet (yes that was my mind’s thinking because I thought he wouldn’t react that badly since he’d never been in combat—I had/have so much to learn) anyway I bitchingly snuck up behind him and made a loud noise and he freaked out. I felt so horrible.
    I found out years later why he doesn’t handle loud noises well—they remind him of rages he never knew were coming from one of his parents growing up (I checked and he’s okay with me saying so).
    I say all of that because as your post so eloquently points out you never know why someone may have certain feelings about something. How we were raised can fuck someone up for years. You might not find out for years. You may never find out. And that’s just for yourself. But people have certain triggers—we all do. Sometimes they will get better (he still skips previews and he can still get quiet after a movie but when he decides he wants to go he goes and I see that as better) and sometimes they may not.
    My goal (at least since I learned because of him but for everyone) is to never doubt when someone explains they can’t stand something. Even if they don’t tell me why or I “can’t comprehend” why. It’s just for me to recognize and be careful.

  15. I completely get why you don’t like being asked to taste other people’s food. Your father sounds quite challenging. I’m sorry.

  16. I’m never quite sure what to say when you post about growing up with a narcissistic parent, but I always want to say SOMETHING just to let you know that people are here, they’re listening, and they love you.

    So, we’re here. We’re listening. We love you.

  17. Heather C says:

    My Ex never understood why I could NOT deal with surprises. They were never a good experience as a kid, even if it was “for” me it was mostly about how well I displayed my joy and appreciation and good manners. Which I inevitably failed to do up to NPD Mom’s standards.

    My fiancee is also similarly broken and the freedom that has given me to explain this shit to him, AND HAVE HIM UNDERSTAND IT, is amazing. I’ve known him over 10 years, dating for 3, and we still find triggers (for him and I both) from childhood hiding in common interactions.

  18. Eleanor says:

    Oh, boy, do I get this!

    Recently, I went out to visit my brother, and about 10pm (my time), we arrived at his favorite restaurant, which was the kind of place that has live seafood in tanks, to be murdered for your dining pleasure.

    He ordered all his family’s favorite dishes, but included some plainer ones, because there was a mixed group of children and adults. I was not very hungry, being very tired, and kept passing by the more unusual plates. After praising the “turnip cake” repeatedly, he put one on my plate, because he didn’t want me to miss out.

    I was furious. He apologized. I ate it anyway. It was nasty.

    Then, there was the time my mom insisted that we all finish our creamed spinach, before she had tried hers. Then, she said, “This has way too much horseradish!”

    At least, she recognized that there was a problem with it afterward. But, she thought we were just being willful and bratty about it beforehand.

    • Michelle says:

      Gaaaaah that kind of thing makes me nuts.

    • Jorah says:

      My wife’s dad made them clear their plates, so she started eating the worst thing first, so she’d end the meal with something not-bad. One day she choked down some hideous dish in a restaurant, then dad tastes it and declares (for the first time EVER) that it was so bad, the ‘clear your plate’ rule didn’t apply.

      Only time she regretted her policy of “worst first.”

      (Her dad was physically violent with his kids & also made them bathe in extremely hot water, etc. …he’s lucky he was in his 80s when I finally met him, or I might have punched him out for how he treated her…)

      • Lisa K says:

        We had the ‘clean your plate’ rule, too… That’s why it was so horrible when he would take our ‘good’ last bite 🙁
        Fuck that extremely hot water bath 🙁 That’s abuse. Your poor wife.

  19. Don’t ask me to try your food or drink if I want a taste I will ask for a taste………….
    You may think it tastes great but I may not………

    • Michelle says:

      Exactly!!!! And there is a big difference between, “would you like to try this?” and “Here, try this”. I know it is subtle, but the second one drives me nuts.

  20. Margo Mitchell says:

    My mom was demanding, & I was her maidservant. Besides fetching whatever she required (dropping anything I was doing & being quick about it), she also had endless personal needs, like brushing her hair. Sometimes I would have to come from another room to bring her something that was a few feet from her throne. She held court at the kitchen table,

    So I get twitchy if someone is the least demanding, or they expect to be waited on. The odd, “honey, I just sat down. Since you’re in there, could you bring me _? That’s fine, but it’s a fine line!

    • Michelle says:

      I so get that. We had to fetch things too…we’re pretty laid back at my house about that, only because no one is every overly demanding, but we ASK for things, we don’t DEMAND things.

    • kensey says:

      My hubbys narc mom says she “needed no friends “.. she had her children.
      Im so sorry for the childhoods of narc parents .
      Warriors all of you.

  21. Charlene says:

    Thankfully my parents were not narcs, but I have run across a few of them in my life. My ex-husband knew that none of the kids liked peas, and would insist that we always have peas and the kids would finish their peas or they could not leave the table. There were other foods too that not all the kids liked. There were so many tears at so many meals. My step-son, age 6 ended up throwing up in his plate, he was so upset. It was a power struggle. I do not get upset when kids/adults do not eat certain things. Life is too short. Don’t make the dinner table a battleground.

    • Eleanor says:

      I have three kids, and I do not make them eat anything. Too much emotion around food growing up. I think that in the same way that our eyesight and hearing deteriorate as we age, our taste buds get less sensitive as we age. Besides which, not everybody has the same number of taste buds on their tongues… (25% of people have more, Supertasters, and 25% have less, Subtasters).

      None of this would convince my dad, though. If he thought something was delicious, no one else’s opinion counted.

    • Michelle says:

      Exactly! Don’t turn it in to a thing.

    • Mary K says:

      My ex and I are both overweight people. His family in particular was very “pushy” about food. I was bound and determined that food would not be an issue to fight over with our kid, and it wasn’t. When he was done eating, he was allowed to leave the table. I urged him to try things, but if he refused, he didn’t have to eat it. For many years, my son was called “picky” by many people, but he actually ate a pretty balanced diet – he was never told that cookies were “better” than carrots, and he liked both equally (maybe carrots even a little better!). He just didn’t have a huge variety of food he liked. But food was never a reward or a punishment, and I feel like today (he is 30) that he has a much healthier relationship with food than either his dad or I — or any of his grandparents, for that matter!

  22. emelle says:

    Your dad, dood. What a fucking fuck! I am so grateful that my childhood traumas did not include NPD. Also, you and your commenters have taught me something today, which I did not know before today. I am sometimes an asshole about tasting things or about startling people who are easily startled. Having not had those triggers growing up, I never realized they could be triggers. And not that I’m ever DEMANDING regarding the tasting things, or startle people on purpose, I will joke about it afterwards.

    I will cease joking about it afterwards. If it were truly a joke, we’d both be laughing. (Thank you, whoever made that comment)!

    OTOH, I’ve just reheated some fish and veggies from my catered meal yesterday. Wanna try it? It’s delish! 😉

  23. Cindy H says:

    Once again, you’ve made me see things in a different light.
    Our family tasted everything and anything together.
    When I first tried that on my husband (middle of 9 kids) – “Here, try THIS!” he was totally freaked about it and kinda mad at me that I pushed it. I just KNEW that he’d like it.
    Now he tastes things with only a slightly disgusted look on his face.
    Communication is so very, very important!
    I learn something new every day. ♥