I recently came across a box of “love letters”, some over 20 pages long, that I received during my college years in Berkeley.   They were written by a guy I had worked with but never actually dated.   If read in the order I received them,  his state of mind would best be described as evolving from a “first love” crush to an OBSESSION.  I was in over my head by the third letter, and they just kept coming, sometimes one every other day.  And they got longer and longer and became more and more delusional with every page.  What first struck me as compliments by a lonely, socially awkward guy (who just wanted to be my friend) soon transformed into a long litany of self-pity, paranoia, jealousy, depression and threats of suicide.  He and his vivid imagination became the center of everything, and his demands for my attention became insatiable.  The more I tried to talk to him about his feelings, the more he insisted I LISTEN to him.  Being polite and showing compassion didn’t work, but neither did ignoring him.  One minute he hated me, the next minute he loved me.   At one point, he even began comparing me to his mother. 

This “relationship” went on for almost 2 years with no chance of escape until I moved to San Francisco and gave no forwarding address.   Although I never heard from him again, I often wondered what happened to him and whether he ever turned his life around.  Despite all his demands of my attention, I always saw him as a tortured (but talented) individual who I felt sorry for.  But after re-reading some of these letters, I now see him in a very different light.  What I once viewed as merely deep anguish over an unrequited love, I now see as paranoid narcissism.  And although I always knew his attachment to me wasn’t healthy, I now see his behavior for what it really was:  he was STALKING me.

Although we often hear of a celebrity that has been stalked by an obsessed fan, how many of us consider that we also have “stalkers” in our own lives?   In addition to the “letter writer”, I had two other stalking experiences, all of them unique from each other…. but ALL of them disturbing.   Each one was time consuming, emotionally draining, frustrating and often times very frightening.   I remember calling the police on another guy and being told that there was nothing they could do unless they caught him in the act.

I have since learned from reading articles on the subject that there are several common denominators with every stalker.  Not only are they persistent angry bullies that love to harass and intimidate their victims, they are ALL narcissists.   Some are mild cases, while others are extreme, but they are all self-centered, controlling individuals who think they are superior to others, feel little compassion, have almost no remorse for their actions, are slow to forgive and often blame others  for everything that goes wrong in their lives.  In addition, many lead a secret life and are pathological liars that put on a good front for others and often use sex to control.  For a full list of characteristics, see:

I wish I could say from experience that there is one perfect technique to get rid of a stalker, but each one of my situations was handled differently.  All I know for certain, however, is that IGNORING them never worked for me. If anything, that enraged and provoked MY stalkers even more.   Some experts believe that narcissists are actually cowards who are easily intimidated if you fight back, and they recommend scare tactics.  Many are paranoid neurotics that frighten easily so strong language or actions may be enough for the mild cases.  Or you could try threatening them with a fact you know about them.  For instance, if you know they have fraudulently filed a tax return, threaten to turn them into the IRS.  Other experts, however, say to mirror their EXACT behavior.  If they follow you around, start following them.  If they send you letters or gifts, do the same to them.  Or use the exact same language with them that they use with you.  The theory behind this is that some stalkers do not want their victims to become emotionally attached to them as many have abandonment issues.  For the more serious and dangerous cases, however, you will probably have no other choice but to seek legal recourse.

While I believe every stalker is a narcissist, the question remains as to whether every narcissist is a stalker.  Based on my experience, I would argue that they all are, to some degree.  At a very minimum, they will try and hold you hostage and demand that you pay attention to them… and listen to their story.  They all feel entitled to your time, and any type of rejection, no matter how minor, will make many respond with anger and vindictiveness.   So take a moment and look through YOUR own list of family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. and see whether you have any narcissists nearby.  I am willing to bet you do.



Copyright © 2013 (Michelle Parsons, Getting Back on Your Path). All Rights Reserved.

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