Big Little Lies : Nathan Carlson


Narcissistic but not a narcissist? Super Empath? Upper Mid Range Narcissist?

What do you think?

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Celeste Wright

Bonnie Carlson

Ed Mackenzie

What is Nathan Carlson?

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39 thoughts on “Big Little Lies : Nathan Carlson

  1. E. B. says:

    Nathan left Madeline for Bonnie.
    He did not go to college.
    His wife Bonnie works but I have only seen him complaining about all the things he has to do to be ‘a good husband’ and how much he has spent for them (Poor me, the MRN Victim).
    Examples S1E4:
    Nathan says to Madeline: about ‘his willingness to go along with his wife’s f*** up ideas.’
    He tells her when he spent $ 9,000 to ground the house against electromagnetic fields so that they did not get brain cancer.
    The time they went camping, he was bitten by mosquitos but she said it was fine as long as their skin does not get in touch with DEET.
    He said he did a lot of those things to go along with her and now he is doing more of those things to go along with Bonnie.
    He would rather do something else than sit with her (Madeline) and psycho Ed.

    Although he does not seem to be overtly violent, there are some signs that he can become physically aggressive any time:
    Madeline told Jane that Nathan was obsessed with guns and they used to fight about it often.
    He also said he wants to hit Ed.

    This combination of playing the Poor Husband role who does everything to please his partners (although it is Bonnie who seem to work and do everything at their home) and his tendency to aggression makes me think he could be a MRN who can become violent.

    I voted LMRN.

  2. WokeAF says:

    Ok I voted him MMR.

    He sort of reminds me of my babydaddy who I suspect is a ML.

    If I went by the FEEL of him (as I e just done with Ed by changing my vote from just empathic , to LMR
    ID SAY either ML or MMR
    His traits? Hmmm. No flipout when Bonnie dumps him. Odd , period , for a narc.

    I don’t know. I’m gonna say either MMR or ML bc he reminds me of the FEEL I get from my two narcs I know.

    1. WokeAF says:

      I’m really leaning toward ML now.

  3. WokeAF says:

    After HG’s empathy cake article I’ve gone back to my original gut feeling of narcissistic but not a narc on Nathan

  4. WokeAF says:

    Starting to wish I’d gone with my first instinct of Narcissistic but not a narcissist , more and more.
    He has so many narc traits but – I dunno.
    I did vote MMR narc , bc at this point I still have trouble telling cognitive empathy in narcissistic men and I wanted to err on the side of caution .
    But I dunno man. I’m not seeing the underlying fury all the time

  5. nunya biz says:

    I think he is a narcissistic normal, but I haven’t voted yet.

  6. Chihuahuamum says:

    Nathan…i chose upper midrange narc bc hes not imo a strongly midrange narc in that hes not always pity playing but he does have his moments of poor me and what is clearly evident if he is oblivious to his npd. He operates automatically with npd and isnt actively scheming and aware of using his npd. His is more a passive aggressive via triangulation and back handed compliments as well as covert insults. The hallmark of npd is his competitiveness even down to his wife vs his ex madeline. He always wants to be top dog and outshine ed and madeline. What is hilarious is watching him try to play el cool dadio while having his daughter live with him which hes finding out isnt as easy as when she lived with her mother. No that means actually being a parent and not a friend all the time. Even the fact his daughter gets on well with bonnie is another win for him not bc his daughter has someone supporting her but bc its his new wife and not his ex.
    He definitely is a narc but i do not actively see him aware he is a narc which is a quality of greaters or using it to scheme and manipulate. His npd is more an automatic response and he thinks hes dad of the year good guy. Ed really should kick his ass!!🤣😂😁

  7. Cristina says:

    Hg are you posting about characters in alphabetical order or just randomly? I noticed you were on N and I wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed Mary Louise (Meryl).

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Have you searched for Mary Louise

      1. WokeAF says:

        Or J for Jane

  8. K says:


    Maddie and Nathan meet to discuss cancelling the SAT Tutor.

    The discussion is quickly derailed by Nathan, who moves the conversation from Abby to himself. He deflects with Pity Plays, blame shifting, a little verbal abuse aimed at Ed and triangulation.

    Nathan: Like, by way of example, when I was with you. You remember I paid $9000.00 to ground the house against electromagnetic fields. So we all didn’t get cancer.

    Or the time we went camping. I said, “Fucking mosquitos bite the shit out of me.” Doesn’t matter as long as our skin doesn’t come in touch with DEET.

    Maddie: What is your point, Nathan?

    Nathan: My point is, I did a lot of fucked things in our marriage. A lot of hoops I jumped through for you and now I’m doing those same things for Bonnie. Personally, I’d rather shove an electric eel up my ass and have it gnaw through my intestines than sit down with you and fucking psycho Ed.

    (Nathan is such a good guy and a martyr)

    Aggressive statements made by Nathan:

    “Cause I’d love to have a reason to pop him (Ed) one.”
    “They said he’s (Ed) pretty good so…I’m gonna kick his ass.” (re: Elvis song)
    “I’m gonna kick his (Ed’s) cultural ass.”
    “You are gonna get your ass kicked tonight, you know that? (trivia night)

    I am voting LMRN.

  9. Presque Vu says:

    I think he’s a normal.
    I’m attracted to narcs, intuitively, and I sense nothing going on with this guy or the other one.

  10. K says:

    I haven’t voted yet but I am leaning towards LMRN for now.

    Nathan prefers to avoid direct conflict and this is evident when Bonnie tries to arrange a playdate between Skye and Chloe with Madeline. Nathan knows about the animosity between Maddie and Bonnie so why does he just stand there and let Bonnie take the heat for the arrangements. Triangulation and multiple fuel streams.

    Nathan’s Midrange avoidant tendencies show up again during the meeting with Ed re: Planned Parenthood. Nathan doesn’t want to talk directly to Maddie about Bonnie taking Abby to PP for birth control so he tries to avoid conflict indirectly by going through Ed. Nathan is cowardly.

    After the failed meeting with Ed in E2, Nathan meets up with Maddie and Ed at the school and asks to speak with Maddie alone. Both Ed and Bonnie move off to the side.

    Nathan: About um, it’s about this whole Abby thing. That was not my doing. I’m as surprised as you are.

    Maddie: Okay

    Nathan: So are you–are you all right with this?

    Maddie: I suppose at this point, I have to be.

    (Nathan is not accountable and it is very clear that he doesn’t want to take any responsibility or ownership for the birth control debacle)

    1. Alexissmith2016 says:

      This one is tough and I don’t believe we’ve really seen enough of him to know for sure. I’m the first few episodes I would have said some form of narc and likely a lesser or lower greater. Now I’m not so sure. There are certainly some N traits present but Bonnie (whom I’m now seeing very strong empathic traits for) did manage to convince him to calm
      Down when his daughter was planning on selling her virginity (that was pretty fucked up tbh which led me thinking all kinds of things about bonnie), but I don’t beleive an N could have been calmed like that. Particularly as he and bonnie have been together for several years.

      So I think narcissistic but not a narcissist. But I’d really like to see some more of him.

  11. Twisted Heart says:

    I voted narcissistic but not a narc. He tries to learn from his mistakes which I don’t think narcs do and he’s always surrounded by these very strong women, his wives and his daughter. He just seems to be doing the best he can within his limited emotional realm.
    Madeline did talk about their relationship being an illusion but I don’t know enough about their dynamic when they were younger. He has a temper when provoked and I love how he can see through Ed. I loved his Elvis song. He seemed more genuine than Ed’s creepy passive aggressive performance.

  12. PrincessSuperEmpath says:

    Dearest HG: I voted, normal. Guys like him are a dime a dozen. Not great and not horrific. And, quite irritating. I really can not imagine what his profession is, and how he supports himself and Bonnie and their daughter in expensive quaint-ish Monterey, California. If his profession is stated on the Series, I missed it.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I don’t think his occupation/profession is mentioned.
      I suppose yoga class attendance is expensive in the area and Bonnie’s sales of New Age Potions are high and profitable!

      1. MB says:

        This portrayal does nothing to remedy the flawed thinking of our millennials that one will live in a nice home, have a luxury car, and all the money one wants without having to work for it. Of course I take most of the blame for spoiling them rotten!

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Fair observation.

        2. FYC says:

          Speaking of millennials, we do not see many on the blog. Perhaps this is due to the effect of a greater trend of narcissism? Some studies estimate 30-40% of millennials are narcissists. If accurate, it will suck getting old. Millennials will say, “Fuck the old people draining our resources! Build the soylent green factory!” Maybe that’s part of the ‘Green’ New Deal?🤢

          1. MB says:

            FYC, I don’t have a feel for the age demographic on the blog. Maybe HG will do an anonymous poll.

            I had not heard these statistics on NPD in millennials. I would speculate that since LOCE and GPD determine the development of NPD, those things would remain fairly constant through the generations. I would agree that this generation has grown up with a greater sense of entitlement which makes them more narcissistic, but not necessarily to the point of actual NPD. Just my opinion as I have no data to base this on. It’s an interesting discussion and something to consider as my children are millennials and I’m not getting any younger!

          2. FYC says:

            MB, I am so sorry if my attempt at a bit of humor was offensive. I do not have children, but I should have been far more sensitive and I apologize. I know many millennials and do note differences in their outlook. I do not believe there are any accurate statistics or any reasonable way to reliably obtain them. I have read quite a bit on N estimates. Many say the once standard 1% of the population estimate of NPD is now 6%. Some have estimated up to 30-40% for millennials. As to how this could occur, it would likely be due to greater LOCE with fewer available positive influencing caretakers due to many factors. One could also agree natural selection.

          3. MB says:

            FYC, Good Lord no! I went back and reviewed my comment because I was like, “please don’t let me have appeared to be butt-hurt!” That certainly wasn’t my intention.

            I don’t usually get offended, but can have my feelings hurt fairly easily but nobody would ever know because I keep it to myself. It jabs at my shame and validates my worthlessness. Therefore it isn’t something I would call attention to. (Other than the moronic comment.) and even then it wasn’t full on butt-hurt. It’s an opinion that I chose to take personally, which is the norm for me. Everything is my fault too. (just so you know! ha ha) You’d be surprised at the things I’ll apologize for! Don’t you go being all empathic and apologetic with me young lady, FYC! Were good.

            Natural selection probably has a lot to do with the development of NPD now that you bring that up. It’s certainly something to consider. I have seen it discussed.

          4. FYC says:

            Lol MB. To use a Twilight phrase, no more speaking lies unto your soul.

            Your core shame is such a painful lie. REJECT THAT CRAP RIGHT NOW! Was that a bit too emphatic? Seriously, FTSSH!

            Dear MB, do you consider your children in the same light? Are they flawed and worthless? I bet you do not. I bet you adore them and see their precious and unique value.

            Well guess what? You are that child. The only difference is your parent was not attuned and did not reflect your amazing qualities back to you. Instead the silver backing on their mirror was missing and you saw straight through to the person who also felt shame and mistakingly thought the lie was the truth. You were too young to know differently. No doubt the lie of shame goes back many generations. See it for what it is. You know how to treasure your children, learn to treasure the innocent child you are.

            MB, I do not know you IRL, but I can assure you, if I did I would see your beautiful value and appreciate your intrinsic worth. You are wonderfully unique and you are loved and adored by many. You are full of worth and value that has been there since birth. You may have heard me say this before, but there is only one of you in all of human history–a rare treasure simply because you are you. And I for one am so glad you are you and you are here.

          5. MB says:

            Thank you FYC. It is helpful to imagine myself as one of my own children strange as it is. My shame has improved drastically in the past year. There is still a ways to go, but I have made real progress and I’m hopeful. Your support is invaluable. You are a treasure and I’m happy you found your way here to be with us.

          6. FYC says:

            Thank you so much, MB. I am most grateful to have found HG and this amazing group of people. I think it is helpful to see ourselves at the beginning–innocent and a miracle. We get so much imposed upon us when we are too young to reject false information or to know it is not the truth, and worse, we carry those false beliefs into adulthood without questioning them. As babies or very young children, we simply trust reflexively seek love and care.

            Our self concept and self esteem is affected by our parents, but we can grow beyond that. We may not have been seen and heard as kids and we may not have received the healthy love we so needed from our parents, but we can heal that inner child and give her the loving kindness and support she always deserved.

            MB,I see a beautiful person with tremendous strength in you. I see you. I do not see any need for shame or fear. I see a gift. I do not want you to spend another carrying around painful lies. Set that weight down. It is not yours. It belonged to another and you need not carry it any further. You are free. You get to choose. It might feel strange at first, but it is like any habit, it becomes natural over time.

      2. FYC says:

        HG & PSE,
        RE Nathans profession: When Nathan greets Ed he asks how are things in computing. Ed asks Nathan how things are in landscaping.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Indeed he does, well remembered FYC. It would have been good banter if Ed had asked ‘how things are in manscaping.’

          1. FYC says:

            “It would have been good banter if Ed had asked ‘how things are in manscaping.”

            Lol, HG. They might actually have thrown more than threats and accusations.

          2. HG Tudor says:

            Yes, the trimmers would surely have entered the fray.

        2. PrincessSuperEmpath says:

          FYC. Excellent info. Thank you. I would not be surprised if Bonnie`s Dad slips her an extra dollar or 2, when needed. And tells her to take the money, because he needs to give to take the pressure off, or something like that. Or, that it is what family is for. I sure would like to know how and where she lived before she married this guy. I want to see their tax statements!

        3. K says:


          Context: Pickup after orientation.

          I was going over my Renata notes when I noticed a patch on Nathan’s jacket and the patch reads: Carlson Landscaping and there’s a picture of a tree on the patch, as well.

          And Renata’s daughter’s name is Amabella not Annabella!!! I missed that.

          1. FYC says:

            Thank you, K. Maybe his patch should be of the trimmer 😉

  13. jessrnny says:

    “Nathan wrote my world …at it’s core is family.”

    I think Madeline is a Super Empath and that helped me figure Nathan out. Apologies for voting ahead. I watched the new episode today and almost died laughing at Nathan’s first scene. Yes, the entire world is crazy. Poor Nathan.

    Definitely a MR family being his main source of fuel and his pity ploys are constant. He has no friends so he can’t be UMR. He loses control and gets angry often so he can’t be a MMRN. They are dull and will be polite even when angered. I’d say he’s a LMR.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Quite alright, the characters all interact so it is inevitable that comment will be passed on characters ahead of the time for voting, it is all part of the debate.

  14. Elke says:

    I voted normal for that he has some narc and emphatic traits. he can be jerk to Ed but he also tries to make peace with him, and says sorry, he loves Bonnie and tries to get to her in her depression and I think that he reallyy wants to make that marriage work.

    1. WokeAF says:

      I think him making peace with Ed was false contrition
      And him getting Bonnie’s mom in to help “fix” her is because she isn’t “here” as I believe he put it- and if she’s not present,** she can’t give all her adoration and attention to HIM.**
      He shows no real empathy for her traumatic experience as her mom points out. No concept of what’s going on within her , hasn’t a clue . I think that’s why Bonnie said he has no idea who she is- how could he?

  15. WokeAF says:

    Nathan –
    I voted;
    Middle mid range narcissist- elite cadre.

    – mirrors Bonnie’s traits (yoga) and expressed disgust at having to do so (and having done so with Madeline)
    -broke M’s heart in such a fashion she feels he didn’t “pay” for what he put her thru
    -kept Bonnie away from Madeline for years , fosters discord between them.
    -shit talks Madeleine-makes her out to be the problem .
    -dropped oldest kid, disappeared.
    -Projection. Threatening. Intimidates . Anger.
    -Anger is mostly Controlled – hidden behind manipulation, some charm , and cowardice
    -can’t keep anger under control for LONG when injured or being confronted
    -Poor me , mr sacrifice
    -fake contrition with his apology to Ed., when Ed rejected it, fury rose up
    -Has moments of COGNITIVE EMPATHY (which I myself still have trouble differentiating from genuine empathy with an emotionally immature person )

    The problem is we aren’t seeing Bonnie in devaluation. However he bought her a treadmill when she loves to run outdoors – which could be an attempt to keep her in the home, to eliminate a hobby that takes her attention away from him. She wouldn’t recognize the gift for its hidden agenda at the start of devaluation

    He did SEEM to display empathy for his children and even Madeline- but honestly he has so many narc traits I gotta think if it walks like a narc and talks like a narc…’s a narc

    I am current at s2 e5 – and I wouldn’t be terrifically surprised if HG says he’s just a narcissist-y normal and not a narc in itself bc he’s a lot like my kid’s dad…who I don’t think is a narc but is highly narcissistic….BUT at this point On my journey if I see enough markers —it’s enough to call it and not get to know the person further. So I’m going with middle mid range narcissist as if I met him IRL I’d pass big time and call him “likely a narc”

    1. WokeAF says:

      It would also help to know if he’s employed and as what — did I miss that?

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