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.
43 thoughts on “Survey Outcome”
Survey Findings, by the Onion
“Out of 212 respondents:
97% were female and 3% were male. No transgenders participated.
52% were under 34 years of age when they began dating narcissists, and 48% apparently only dated sociopaths up until then.
67% of respondents reported their relationships lasted over 3 years, and 33% don’t realize that that they’re still in one.
72% reported infidelity. In a totally unrelated statistic, 28% reported not being able to figure out the password to their N’s phone.”
Not surprisingly, in-depth analysis of the data concluded that all of the 212 respondents were in fact dating the same narcissist.
HG, would K consider conducting another survey? I am very curious to know how people find your site. I realize probably not enough to build a survey around, but I’m very curious to know the search terms that lead people here, and also at what point people start doing research. Even more fascinating would be to know how many people found this site at suggestion of a friend- or better yet, a discarded fuel source!
You will have to ask her Cody,or perhaps through your message you already have. I do see some of the search terms that cause people to come here and there are some rather unusual ones at times!
Well, “narcissists and donuts” was one which puzzled me. There was also “his stories are always the same and it bores me” and “narcissists who love to cross dress” was another one.
Hey, narcissists can enjoy donuts too! Lol I bet it had something to do with just being “nuts” as in crazy and someone’s auto correct took over. I go “nuts” sometimes when I text my answers too fast and don’t double check for syntax or spelling errors and I look like I must not be past 5th gr English!
You may be correct in that analysis Clarece.
Hi Cody, yes I’d be happy to run another survey. And if anyone has any other suggestions for things they’d like to know about then suggest away. I myself, have a few other questions I’d like to ask to clarify a couple of the findings from the first one.
I encountered my first romantic Narcissist at 20, stayed with him 21 years, he was elite, I discovered the amplitude of the destruction after 17 years and it then took me 4 years to leave. I then got into shorter relationships with a few more, of the cerebral, elite (again) and somatic variety. The first one had ruined us. Many times, reading your articles I want to thank you. This time even more. The night I discovered the disaster, I called my cousins (abroad) and they pretty much shoved my nose into it, this happened again as I was uncovering lies after lies, seeking information an ressources, people looking at me with incredulity, mocking my naivete and blindness. My father having been a very hardcore violent Narcissist, my ex-husband in comparison had seemed so civilized. It took me a long time to get rid of the guilt and shame, still owning my responsibility in that long dance with the devil(s). With books and blog like yours, the weight comes off and understanding is gained. I get validation and power to let go. In my case the results of your survey are exact and real and it is such a relief to see that I did not fall because I am weird or stupid, that it happens to many in a similar fashion and we can’t all be weird or stupid, it is the process of crossing path with malevolence and destruction. Thank you so much HG! 🙂
Interesting. I missed the survey. I was with my first at 21 yo. He was way more years older than I was. He meant to transform me. Our whatever it was lasted less than 6 months. I was 26 upon the second N. It lasted 13 years.
It is bizarre at the red flags. I felt them all within weeks of the start and ignored them. Seriously…was thinking, this isn’t right, run. Do you think people do the same and then recognise it when it is shoved in their faces? People need to listen to their intuition and empathy towards themselves.
There are many reasons why the red flags are missed. Often they are not seen, other times they are but everything else is so wonderful you choose not to heed them, or you allow us to assuage any concerns you have through our charm or persuasion, you often talk yourself out of the concerns for fear of losing this opportunity to be with someone so marvellous as us. Have a look at Red Flag which expands on this in more detail.
Yes, how many times people have been involved in relationships with Ns would have been a good question to ask, especially as a proportion of total number of romantic relationships. As this was an unofficial survey, I had to use the free version which only allows 10 questions. I may do some follow ups that are more targetted at specific aspects of the dynamics if HG and time will allow.
By all means.
Thank you so much for doing this research! Also showing that a couple areas that I thought meant I was safe from hoovers (ha to the ha to the *sob*) really weren’t protective. I’d be super interested in some of the Psychology aspects in terms of experience and memory both during the relationship and after and the differences between.
Though understandable if two years later, you’ve gone on to be a Professor of something somewhere and don’t have time.
Pretty fascinating stuff here, HG. Thanks for sharing it. My only question–are “victim” Ns the same thing as covert Ns? Also, I never heard the term “elite narcissist.” That sounds like it could be my parents–obsessed with social status and “keeping up with the Joneses” (well, actually, looking better than the Joneses!)
No problem. I find the overt/covert distinction too simplistic. Overts are of course bombastic, extreme and in your face – this can appear across all four cadres (victim who heralds how ill he, cerebral who boasts repeatedly of intellectual brilliance, somatic who shows off that buff body and elites who combines cerebral and somatic tendencies so expect a highly articulate boast about that ripped body!). Coverts are more sheep in wolf’s clothing and again that can apply to all four cadres. Accordingly, I wouldn’t equate covert with victim. If you want to know more about these cadres and their tendencies/attributes I am writing a book on each one at present but Sitting Target contains more information which you will probably find helpful.
Thanks for explaining! I’ve know “victims” who are really Ns so you are right. I’ve also noticed that narcissists can shift back and forth between the overt/grandiose type (when they’re getting lots of fuel) and the less overt, victim type (ok, I won’t use the term covert here) when fuel is in low supply or there is a threat of them losing it. Do you find this to be true also?
Indeed. The more fuel available the more powerful we feel, the more able we are to purloin attributes for the construct and makes ourselves look all the more glittering and attractive. It also exacerbates our existing qualities.
A lot of fancy stats…impressive they may be…that can be summarized in one statement: a collision with and subsequent relationship with a Narcissist can happen at any age, although youth puts one at higher risk. Some leave, some are left…all are devastated 100% of the time.
Fascinating results! Love the age category and break down… as a sociology degree holder i am familiar with spss which is where the data was most likely fed and completely understand anova and univariate results. And… please note that your book and this fb post have given me the intellectual knowledge needed to stick with “no contact”. Thank you.
Now I will write a short summary.
Thanks for having processed the data. Would you have the RSD per groups ? and the CI of the data ? I suppose it was very disperse data because the below statement is very surprising.
“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.”
On the other side it seems the victim narcissist is the one who most exploits and most hoovers.
Very interesting results.
I could provide the residual standard deviations and the confidence intervals but It would be dull reading. Yes of course there was quite a bit of variation within the behaviour both of of Ns and their victims. Graphs showing means and SDs could illustrate that well but I don’t think I can post images unfortunately.
Hi K . Well just the numbers then of the RSD. A scatter plot of all the groups you made would have been excellent. Did you use age as constant X? A view of what variable you used for Xand Y would also be interesting…its a pity no graphs can be posted.
Im so angry wrote a very long comment on this post and when I wanted to send it deleted it.
What would happen if you let your anger rip Nikita?
I hope you will allow it. In full force.
I’m getting in touch with some of my own and it is eye opening.
Hi Bethany. I dont know.. Ive never felt that so much anger.. Once when I saw extreme animal cruelty.. Only time I can remember.. Anger is a biochemical reaction also.. And I think I lack the ingredients for the reaction.
Hmmm. Maybe it’s the conditioning you lack, not the biochemistry? Anger is not something our gender is encouraged to feel or act upon. We tend to turn it inward, yes? It’s heloful to own anger…and tune into it. It has a guiding force that allows us to recognize where change is needed. Just a messenger. A good friend recently shared that Feminine anger is a powerful force..and one this world needs more of. I think so too!
Hi Bethany. I do get angry sometimes, but I do not scream nor swear nor fight nor loose my energy on anger although anger its self is also energy draining but I do feel it any therefor if it needs to indicate change it will. And I also when angrey can get my point clear by speaking normally but somehow it shows 😂😂😂. I remember last year I got really angry at a person that ignored my urgent emails and calls. This person had never seen me neither I knew who he was. So when my boss told me go up and look for him. I was really angry I can tell you. I was full of work and had no time to go chasing people around the building. So I went up 😡😡 identified the guy and he was sitting there smiling as he saw me coming.. I dont know if he knew I was the one who had called him 7 times and sent him at least 5 mails. So i came to his desk and very calmly said ( he had stopped smiling by then) I am nikita. I think you saw how many times I have tried to reach you. I need you answer within an hour because its a million deal that the company risks loosing. Thank you very much.
I got the answer 20 minutes after.
So yes Bethany I sometimes get angry but its very rare it takes alot and my way of speaking is almost the same.. Obviously something changes in my expression. 😂😂😂
I’m glad you felt anger Nikita. I don’t think you’ll ever fundamentally change your view on Narcissists but at least you can see here that a lot of the readers of this blog have cause to have very negative attitudes towards them. And as HG has said, over and over and over again, they know what they are doing, they know the harm it causes but they DON’T CARE and THEY DON’T WANT TO BE SAVED – it works for them and so there’s no incentive to change. They don’t want or need anyone’s sympathy but if they appear to, be sure that manipulation is afoot.
My own situation fits perfectly into these statistics. And i thought i was so unique.
I’m interested in how many go on to have healthy relationships with non n partners.
Neat science-y post
Wow. What a lot of effort K. Thank you and thank you HG for facilitating and publishing.
I was a bit surprised by the % discard and % hoovers, overall, but appreciate the breakdown as it makes more sense.
I met my mid-range victim N at 29 and we were together 8 years. (Looking back I fee like I was drugged!). He/is was hugely financially exploitative, a cheater, and is currently in the process of a very pathetic Hoover (I left 4 mo ago after discovering cheating). So my experience is inline with your stats. He must have read the playbook. ☺️
I’ll have to think about about the 2 short-term exN’s from my early 20’s.
Nicely done K! Very interesting to read especially since it was with the readers we hear from and others who visit the blog but choose not to participate in the conversations.
I think trauma bonding plays a huge factor for the supply to stay even if suffering physical along with mental abuse and that is why they are reeling even moreso in shock upon a discard.
The repetitive cycle of respite hoovers creates the burden on the supply if they play ‘nice’ maybe their Narc will be ‘nice’ The Narc has total control of administering good or bad treatment, and when good treatment comes, there is so much hope and relief that the pain is going to end that the supply focuses on the good times, and becomes numb to the bad times – even dismissing them. You increasingly become more and more desensitized to cruel treatment. The Narc thrives on keeping the supply in line like that.
Thanks clarece. I just ran an analysis on the factors that influence whether relationships end with discard or not and the result was a little suprising. I can only input the factors that were asked about in the survey of course so there may be others. I entererd age at the beginning of the relationship, length of the relationship, whether infidelity was detected during the relationship, whether the N got involved with someone else at the end of the relationship, whether physical abuse was involved, whether financial abuse was involved, whether red flags were spotted and the type of N involved. Of all of those factors, the only significant determinants were whether the N transitioned to someone else (so not suprising that where this happened there was a discard), and whether there was abuse. If there was physical abuse, victims were twice as likely to leave of their own accord but if there was financial abuse victims were four times as likely to leave of their own accord. That result was using a method that asks the stats to pick out the main determinants and drop the ones that don’t have much effect. If I force it to take all factors listed above into account, the importance of physical abuse is not quite significant. So, financial abuse is the main factor that causes victims to leave, physical abuse less so and factors, like e.g., whether there was infidelity during the relation, not at all. Hmm.
Just had another look, this time inputting the specific kinds of physical and financial abuse using the let the stats (Binary logistic regression for the few stats geeks out there) decide what factors are important method. Now physical abuse is as important as financial abuse although it’s moderate physical abuse (hitting, kicking etc.) rather than mild (pushing, spitting) or more extreme violence that drives leaving of one’s own accord rather than being discarded, and the N being controlling where finances are concerned (rather than more mild offences such as not repaying loans or more serious offences like fraud). If either of those things were experienced, victims were two and a half times more likely to leave compared with those that didn’t.
Very interesting. I don’t find the statistics about relationships with physical abuse lasting longer because often, physical abuse (or any other type of abuse for that matter) creates fear and may prevent the abused partner from leaving.
Also not surprised that it took the younger respondents longer to spot the warning signs.
Very interesting statistic pertaining to those who left the relationships vs. those who were discarded. I would have thought the number discarded would have been a lot higher, just judging from what many of you on here say about how difficult it was to move on/evade the narcissist in your life, etc.
So now the big question is – what’s the end result? What the big reveal? What now?
What kind of big reveal are you after blood and thunder? What now? If you have any thoughts then do pass them on.
I find the results interesting, though not surprising.
My “what now” is exactly that – a question of what happens now? Typically when results of a survey or study are published there is some kind of action plan put in place to address the findings.
Or was this done just for the sake of interest? If so, bravo, because as I stated above, the results were quite interesting.
It wasn’t a criticism of any kind, just more of a general “what does it all mean” and how can this be used to help your kind navigate the harsh (abeit intoxicating) realm of the narcissist.
I suggested the survey and ran it just because I thought it might be interesting. But the number of respondents was suprisingly high (216!) and make it a reasonably good representative sample, good enough to be publishable in fact. But I’d have to run it again with ethical approval from my university for that to happen (nothing can be done officially without that unfortunately) and with explicit consent for the results to be used in that way from the participants. And I’d have to reveal my identity as part of all that.
I guess it means what it says (not trying to be clever here) but at least it has shown people (e.g., Bity Roll below) that they are indeed not weird and I also think that it removes a little of the mystique of Ns. They are not superhuman, the get left as often as they leave and often they use pretty unsubtle abuse tactics (over and above the emotional stuff which is a given).
I have to say, I wouldn’t mind running some more (informally like this one) – one concerning a bit more detail on things relevant to trauma bonding, including physical abuse and various emotionally abusive techniques, and one on hoovering. Will give me a lot of work though!
Typo intentional or truth
I’m not sure what you mean.If you are referring to the use of ‘us’ in the content of the report it was written by K, so when reference is made to ‘us’ she means herself and you. Only the first paragraph and the final were written by me, everything in between was lifted from K’s message which embodied the report.