Narcissistic Domestic Abuse and the Deficient Hello Gesture

Dr. Jeanne King, PhD. 06/20/2022

Have you ever noticed how some people think they are asking you for love, affection or help; yet, their communication to you says, you are deficient in your making affection, love or help available to them? Do you understand the difference?

These people have real needs that are unfilled in their intimate relationship and they want you to know their lack is due to a deficiency in you. When you hear their plea for love or affection under these conditions, you experience yourself through the eyes of their disenchantment.

In so doing, you feel your own lack which leaves you less willing to accommodate their wishes. Herein, the cycle begins.

Deficient Defective Love

Take a look at Louis and Darlene, for example. (As usual Louis could be Darlene and Darlene could be Louis.) Louis wants to feel Darlene’s affection when he comes home from a long day at work. However, when he walks through the door what he communicates to her sounds more like this: Why aren’t you loving all over me for crying out loud.

He lets her know in no uncertain terms that she has failed him in her “hello greeting.”  She has failed to deliver a much-needed gesture of appreciation, affection and love.

She is defective in her ability to take care of his needs. Moreover, she is deficient in her ability to appreciate and love at all. I trust you see where this is going.

Darlene, on the other hand, is overwhelmed with a—once again—display of his disappointment in who and what she is. She realizes her unworthiness as she experiences herself in relation to him.

 Round Two of Partner Dispute

She could pull in and withdraw completely. Or, she may put forth some kind of defensive gesture in her effort to hold her own admits the demeaning gesture she continues to process. Either one of these could result in taking the bad feelings to the next level.

If she withdraws, that only affirms his original assertion of failed love and appreciation. If she becomes defensive and strikes in some related fashion, he will likely become inflamed and return the gesture in kind. Before you know it, the horses are out of the gate and this couple is off to another nasty meaningless fight.

Classic Domestic Abuse Fighting

While this may sound like an innocent and trivial onramp into an intimate partner dispute riddled with classic domestic abuse, it is as routine in some couples experience as having a meal together…maybe even more.

If you recognize yourself in this vignette, be mindful of the underlying needs improperly expressed in the initial exchange of this fight. And recognize your own inner personal experience in the context of this gesture…whether you are standing in the shoes of Darlene or Louis.

For more information on healing intimate partner abuse, visit and discover insights to help you heal narcissistic domestic abuse. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps couples nationwide end and heal from domestic abuse.

©Jeanne King, Ph.D. – Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

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