It was strange looking at your website describing the various forms of narcissism commonly associated with white-Chinese couples. I was amazed at how you nailed quite a few of the problems that occurred in my last long-term relationship with a Chinese girl (I am as white as they come). Strangely enough, though, she showed both closet and exhibitionist narcissism tendencies. When she was in public she was the exhibitionist type, always requiring full make-up, stylish clothing, and an astute demeanor even when going to the gym to work out (I laughed when she put on face powder before a jog). In private she was the closet narcissistic type feeling like she wasn't pretty enough, and craving an undying attention to her needs.
Our relationship lasted for about three years of college, with her one year behind. We both went abroad during the relationship: first me to China, then her to France. The first year and some was great; it was the stereotypical honeymoon period. I was learning Chinese, and she helped me learn how to speak it more as a useful device as opposed to just a subject at school. We relished in our cultural differences, and we were often showing each other the other's culture. My family is mostly from Britain, so while I showed her sticky toffee pudding, she showed me moon-festival cake. After a year of a wonderful relationship I went abroad while she remained in the U.S. The relationship maintained itself for a little while without too much of a problem, but come new years it took a dark tone.
Basically she realized that I was her first boyfriend, and that there are plenty of other potential mates out there. She decided that I was holding her back from so many possibilities. Of course she was right, but I thought that she had known that all along. I was under the impression that she understood the exclusive relationship we had. She went off to parties, grinded with other guys, and even kissed a few people. I was heartbroken, and being across the world there was nothing that I could do about it. I was gradually getting over it, because she at least wasn't cheating on me. However, our conversations on the telephone were often somber, and she often told me how I was not material for being her husband. Valentine's day, for example, I spent a good chunk of money shipping out a package to her, and getting phone cards. I called her from a payphone in Shanghai, and our 10-minute conversation was basically her telling me I wasn't good enough for her.
I got back from the States and she was extremely cold to me. She didn't want to touch me, and she pushed me away when I hugged her. After a few weeks I told her that I think the relationship is dying, and that I have no hope for it in the future. She broke down, tried her best to make up, and then a few weeks later would continue treating me poorly. The cycle happened a couple times. Each time she treated me worse, and each time she did more to bring me back. What mystifies me is that I kept up with it all for so long. Each time she tried to get me back she would be in tears saying that she just needed a little more time to figure herself out. This "little more time" usually included not talking to me for a week, insulting me in front of my friends, and putting me down for almost everything I did. After a couple of months being in the U.S., she was treating me like someone she both despised and had sex with. When I was given the chance for a summer internship I looked only out-of-state.
Summer rolled by with me in New York trying to enjoy myself and get over all the relationship trouble I had been experiencing. She called me almost every night trying to patch some of the damage she had caused. It was rocky, but I decided to visit her when I was passing though our college town at the end of the internship. We had a horrible fight that lasted for hours, and part of it had to do with birthdays. She completely forgot mine (even though I reminded hers) and told me that in her culture birthdays were not important. A few weeks later during her birthday, I did nothing for her, and she went insane. I couldn't understand why she expected something wonderful from me when I both had little money to spend, and she didn't even bother saying "happy birthday" for mine. She got drunk to the point of throwing up, and she was a mess for a good eight hours. We had sex that night, and it was the first time I regretted both that and my spending effort to see her. She thought things were made up, but in a few weeks when she took off to France, I was actually happy that she was in another country.
I pulled enough funds to go traveling, and I decided to go to Europe to visit some old friends I hadn't seen in years. I told my girlfriend about my coming to Europe for Christmas. For the first couple of weeks she was slightly happy about it, and then she stopped all communication with me. I got the message that we were probably broken up. I was going to use the trip to Europe partially to visit her one day to break up with her in person, and then I was going to have fun with my friends. In the U.S. I had lots of fun hanging out with friends. I was amazed at how much my life improved without the girlfriend. She often got jealous and possessive when I talked to anyone but her, and I found myself relishing in the time spent making friends, learning how to salsa dance, and generally having a good time.
Very shortly before I left for Europe, I got a call from my girlfriend that she was traveling alone with a guy and things went horribly. She asked for my comfort, and I almost laughed. She called me and begged me to travel with her in Europe. She then starting calling me again, and tried to patch the damage she made (another cycle). I trusted her enough that she wasn't sleeping around, and when I came to Europe I gave in and traveled with her for about half of my stay. She seemed to consider the trip our honeymoon, and evidence that we were together forever. I took the trip as evidence that I shouldn't travel with her internationally again. She was angry when I asked people in the youth hostels for advice for travel, saying that I was taking precious time away from her. She never once let me out of her sight.
I returned to the U.S. waiting for her to return from France. When she came back to finish the year she was sort of an explosion that destroyed my social life. The change was so stark, and all my friends told me just to ignore her and move on. It was a weekly occurrence to find her crying in her dorm saying that I wasn't doing enough for her. She was in crying fits trying to stop me from seeing any one of my friends. All this time spent apart, I was hoping she had grown the strength to talk to people around her, but she seemed to have made her contempt for the world more deeply-seated. She become more possessive and less understanding of the world since our being abroad. Meanwhile I was finally realizing the unhealthiness of the relationship, and I was giving her a couple of months to shape up before I was going to leave the States without her to look for jobs (the stock market killed all my potential jobs in the States).
Come summer we were living in the same apartment with some other students. I finally realized she had no real interest in me as the person I am. I realized the relationship was founded more on my changing my personality for her, than her appreciating me for who I am. I made the breakup as clean and intelligent as I could. Without animosity, I was planning to keep tabs on her, and maybe even communicate with her in the future. I told her about the breakup, and how I arranged to live with my uncle out-of-state soon. She then became suicidal, and I got scared. My tactics changed from breaking up with her as best as possible to keeping her alive through the experience. I told her I wanted a long-term relationship with her while I would be in another state. She confessed about the suicide, and how she was going to poison herself in a presidential suite of a Radisson hotel, clutching her violin and her favorite book. Basically the death scene of a trashy romance novel.
I moved out of state, I got her to see a psychiatrist, and be surrounded by friends. I couldn't figure out why exactly, but I knew her being suicidal had something to do with her respecting me. I sought to change that. I waited until the relationship became rocky (which happened in a few weeks entirely without my help). If I wasn't there to pick up the phone when she called, for example, she would go out late in the night alone, where she would get harassed and risk being hurt/mugged/raped. Then she would blame it all on me for not picking up the phone when she needed me. I lied to her how I kissed someone when she was in France (just like she did when I was in China), and she blew up. She told me not only is she suicidal, but she also cuts herself to ease the pain of life. After thrashing at me until our phone batteries died, I e-mailed her saying that I needed a couple of weeks to calm down after this. In those two weeks she sent me a card describing her self-mutilation, and then she returns a love note I had sent her earlier covered in her blood.
Naturally I snapped. I called all my friends and family, and I told them about what happened. I even called the school psychiatrists telling them everything. It was a mess. My girlfriend called me up and left a message on my phone after the two weeks asking me out to a play when I was supposed to visit her during Christmas. I e-mailed her back saying how we are broken up, and how I wouldn't be seeing her again. She responded by telling me how I had to return to make peace with her so she could kill herself with a clear mind. I blocked her e-mail addresses and phone numbers, and then I forwarded all those e-mails to her psychiatrist.
It's been a rough year, but I honestly feel happier since the breakup. I have become much more successful, and I feel sexier without her. Anyways, sorry for typing too much. It's a bit of a medicine for me when it comes to her. Take care, and feel free to use this story however you wish.
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As you experienced first-hand, it is not unusual for pathological narcissists to display characteristics of both exhibitionistic and closet narcissists.
Related, manipulation through threat of suicide and various suicidal gestures (including self-mutilation) are extremely common among people suffering from disorders of the self, i.e., borderline and narcissitic personality disorders.
The best way to deal with this is to assume no responsibility for it from the outset other than making it clear to the person involved that if, in fact, she is genuinely suicidal, she needs to be in a hospital.
Once you succumb to this type of manipulation, it only escalates and becomes increasingly more dramatic and aggressive over time (reading how she sent back your love note with her blood on it was a first for me).