A little while ago one of our contributors, K, undertook a short survey which many of you kindly responded to. K then spent some time collating the responses and has provided the same along with some interpretation of the results which make for interesting reading. Here detailed report on the survey is below.
Apologies for the delay everybody but finally I have the results of the survey. I’ve presented the facts with little interpretation as hopefully there should be some lively discussion. Feel free to ask about any relationships in the data that I haven’t reported and I’ll be happy to have a dig. However, what follows is probably more than enough for now!
As is generally the case where narcissism fora are concerned, out of 212 respondents to the survey the vast majority (97%) were female and only 3% were male. The most common age at which relationships with narcissists began was 35-44 years (34%), closely followed by 25-34 year olds (31%). Only 13% of respondents began relationships with narcs later in life at 44-54 years and 11% became involved at a fairly young age (19-24 years). Sadly, 10% of respondents began such relationships at a very early age (14-18 years old) while only a few (2%) became involved at 55+ years old.
In terms of relationship duration, most relationships were medium term, i.e., between 3.1-7 years (27%) although this still represents quite a substantial relationship. Shorter term relationships (1.1 – 3 years) were also quite common (19%) as were longer term relationships (7.1 – 15 years: 18%). A fair proportion of respondents (15%) had very long term relationships (15.1 – 25 years). Perhaps surprisingly, only 14% had relatively brief relationships (up to 1 year) and a very unfortunate few (7%) had a narcissist as what can only be described as a life partner (25+ years).
Using some fancy statistics that I won’t explain as I doubt you’d be all that interested (Univariate ANCOVA if you are), the strongest determinants of how long relationships lasted were age and how early red flags were spotted. Those that began relationships with narcissists at a younger age were more likely to have long relationship, perhaps because of a lack of relationship experience or because the narcissist valued younger victims. The average length of relationships for those that began them at 35-44 yr olds was just over 5 years. Those that began N relationships at 45 or older had shorter relationships (less than 3.5 yrs on average), while those that began relationships at 25-34 yrs were with the N for an average of just over 9 years. For those that became entangled at the youngest ages, relationships tended to last for a very long time. For 19-24 yr olds, almost 18 yrs on average and for 14-18 yr olds, just over 19 yrs. The oldest victims (55+) noticed red flags within around 5 months; 45-54 yr olds noticed with a year; 35-44 yr olds noticed within 1yr 7 months; 25-34 yr olds noticed within 2.5 yrs. It took almost 4 yrs before 19-24 yr olds noticed red flags and just over 3 yrs for 14-18 yr olds which indicates that relationships were already well established in these youngest age groups before it became evident that things were not as they should be. However, once those flags had been spotted, relationships generally continued for quite some time. On average, flags were noticed around a quarter of the way through relationships in the 45+ age categories and around a third of the way through relationships for those younger than 44 and the later red flags were identified, the longer relationships lasted.
The duration of relationships, however, was not significantly influenced by whether or not victims suffered either physical or financial abuse. Nonetheless, and surprisingly on first look, relationships that included either type of abuse lasted longer than those that didn’t. It may be that the longer the relationship lasted, the more likely that abuse occurred but, alternatively, heightened trauma bonding through physical abuse might have resulted in victims staying in N relationships for longer. Information on when the abuse began would have clarified this question but that question was not included in the survey unfortunately. Overall, 59% of us experienced physical abuse: 39%, mild (spitting, pushing); 26%, moderate (hitting, kicking); 10%, extreme (requiring medical attention/hospitalisation – and some of the descriptions shared were positively nightmarish). Financial abuse was even more common and was experienced by 74% of us: mild, 43%; financial control, 41%; serious exploitation, 18%. Almost half (47%) experienced both physical and financial abuse. Younger victims were slightly more likely to experience both kinds of abuse.
As far as the end of the relationship is concerned, 46% were discarded while 54% left of their own accord and there was no relationship between how the relationship ended and how long it lasted. Victims that entered into these relationships when young (14-24 yrs) were more likely to leave of their own accord (around 70%, and after longer relationships). Among the other age categories, whether they were discarded or not was roughly 50:50 although for those that began relationships with Ns when 45-54 yrs old the relationship ended with discard more often (70%). Those that were physically abused were more likely to leave of their own accord (64%) as were those who were financially abused (63%). Conversely, those that were not abused were more likely to be discarded than to leave.
Infidelity was common with 48% reporting infidelity while in the relationship, 24% only during the Ns transition to a new relationship and 28% reporting not having detected infidelity at all although it was suspected in some of those cases. Those in longer relationships were not more likely to report infidelity than those in shorter relationships although relationships in which the N detectibly transitioned from one supply to another were shorter, on average, than those in which there did not appear to be a transition. Those that reported infidelity during the relationship were more likely to leave (72%) than to be discarded. Age did not affect the likelihood of infidelity.
The end of the relationship is, of course, rarely the end in fact and 69% of Ns attempted at least one hoover. Contrary to expectations, perhaps, an attempted hoover was just as likely after a discard as when victims left of their own accord. Victims were just as likely to experience a hoover after a long relationship as a short one and age at the beginning of the relationship did not affect the chances of an attempted hoover either. An attempted hoover occurred within only 2 or 3 months on average for those aged 25 or older when they started the relationship but younger victims (who also tended to be in longer relationships) tended to receive a hoover attempt after a year or two.
Finally, the taxonomy. 36% of us identified our N as somatic, 36% as elite, 18% as victim and 10% as cerebral. 14% were unsure. Cerebrals were the most likely to discard (53%), followed by elites (49%), then somatics (41%) and finally, and unsurprisingly, victims (35%). Also unsurprisingly, somatics were the most likely to be found to be sexually unfaithful during the relationship (64%), followed by elites (47%), then victims (42%) with cerebrals trailing far behind (6%). However, cerebrals were much more likely to be discovered to be unfaithful during a transition to a new partner (44%) than the other categories of N (around 20-25%). Victim Ns were the most likely to hoover (72%), followed by elites (69%), somatic (67%) and then cerebrals (50%). There was no difference between N types in the age of their targets or the length of their relationships. Victim Ns were the most likely to become physically abusive (61%) followed by somatics and elites (58% and 57% respectively) and then cerebrals (44%). Cerebrals were very rarely more than mildly physically abusive (mild, 31%; moderate, 6%; extreme, 6%) while victim Ns, elites and somatics were more often moderately physically abusive (29%, 22% and 33% respectively) and mild abuse in these N types was also used by around 30% of each. Somatics were twice as likely to use more extreme violence (12%) compared with the other N types (elite, 7%; cerebral, 6%; victim, 3%). Victims were also slightly more likely to exploit their victims financially (85%) with cerebrals, somatics and elites following behind a little (just over 70%).
So there are the results. I am interested to learn of your reactions to it.