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Kind at the Beginning...Critical Later. Why?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
January 11, 2016

Have you been mystified when someone who has appeared to be very kind and caring suddenly becomes blaming, critical, or just disappears?

How often have you had the experience of feeling someone's kindness, only to feel deeply criticized as the relationship progressed?

This was Leslie's experience and she is struggling with whether or not it was her fault:

"My last relationship started with him being kind and attentive, but ended with him criticizing and blaming me. I am worried that I turned him into this. Did my frequency pull him down? My friends reassure me that 'it takes two to tango' but I'm afraid that despite my mindfulness, I may have inadvertently created an unhealthy system that ruined our relationship. Thank you for your guidance!"

One of the very hardest feelings to feel is that of helplessness over others. Many of us would rather believe that something is our fault rather than accept our helplessness over others, and this is the case for Leslie.

If I were working with Leslie, this is what I would say to her:

"Leslie, what you are describing is actually one of the signs of narcissism. Many narcissistic people can be very charming, kind, attentive and caring at the beginning of a relationship, but once you are committed to them, their fears of intimacy get triggered and they become critical and blaming.

"This has nothing to do with you. It's easy for most people to get pulled in by the charm and attentiveness of a narcissist – and then wonder what hit them. I know you want to think it's something you did to turn him into this, but truly, you are not that powerful! You can't turn a genuinely kind person into a blaming and critical person.

"The real challenge here for you is to explore if there were any red flags that you ignored. Often, minor things might happen that the narcissist explains away or dismisses, and because their attention and kindness feels so good, you might have ignored them."

Often, my clients ask me if there is something they are doing that is attracting narcissistic people. The answer to this is yes and no.

No, because there are many narcissistic people and all of us will likely have encounters with them.

Yes, because if you are abandoning yourself, you will be particularly vulnerable to the charms of a narcissist. The more you judge yourself, the more you are needy of the attention that the narcissist knows how to give. And, the more you judge yourself, the more you are likely to dismiss the red flags.

The more you learn to love yourself and tune into your feelings and your higher self, the easier it is perceive the difference between genuine kindness and the show of kindness that is one of the red flags of the narcissist.

Many of my clients, who have been practicing Inner Bonding for a long time, are able to tell within the first or second date that the person is coming from an inwardly needy place and is manipulating by saying the exact right thing.

Often, narcissists come on very strong at the beginning, only to disappear as soon as you appear to like them, so one way of knowing if someone is genuine is if they consistently follow through on what they say they are going to do. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be very common in the dating world – appearing open, saying all the right things, wanting another date – and then disappearing.

So I would say to Leslie, "Please get yourself off the hook of this being your fault and be very kind and compassionate with yourself regarding your helplessness over this man. In fact, if you practice being very kind with all of your feelings, then you likely will be able to tell next time if someone is genuinely kind or not.


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Most of our judgments of others are projections of our own inner upsets and self-judgments. Notice your judgments toward others. How are they projections of your own inner insecurities and fears?


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Most of our judgments of others are projections of our own inner upsets and self-judgments. Notice your judgments toward others. How are they projections of your own inner insecurities and fears?



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