How a Narcissist Treats You When You're Sick

8 TACTICS! How a Narcissist Treats You When You’re Sick

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A common complaint among difficult personality relationships is how a narcissist treats you when you’re sick.

Let’s be honest, when you’re in a tight relationship with someone, whether it be an intimate partner, parent or child, you kind of assume it’s “in sickness and in health,” right?

Nope, not when it comes to a narcissist.

How a narcissist treats you when you’re sick is through the only lens they’ve got, one of pure selfishness. In short, you can count on the fact that they won’t give a damn. Narcissists are extremely self-centred and ultimately, your sickness is your problem, not theirs.

How they treat you can range from ignoring you and bailing, to devaluing your sickness and any symptoms you might be experiencing. In some cases, they may even put on a public show of being the ‘perfect support person,’ just to gain supply from your sickness, without actually being there for you at all.

Let’s explore how a narcissist treats you when you’re sick, covering a variety of common tactics they will employ.

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How a Narcissist Treats You When You’re Sick

Narcissism, no support when you're sick

Narcissists won’t give you empathy when you’re sick

It was a hot summer’s day and my partner and I had planned to get stuck into the yard work. At some point throughout the morning though, I started to get some cramping in my lower abdomen. My period was due, but it was very late, which was unusual for me. So, I figured that’s what was causing the cramping.

Then the pain hit me hard and fast. I was lying on the bed with excruciating period pain, which was coming in waves, much like contractions. I’d had this pain in the past on some occasions, but never to this severity.

All I could do was lie there and breathe my way through it. I was thinking, “I wish I’d had time to get a hot water bottle first.”

To be honest, I just didn’t feel right. I was wondering if it was possible for me to be having a very early miscarriage.

Then my partner came in to see where I was because he’d already started in the yard. He saw me lying on the bed and I explained what was happening.

He reacted with such a complete lack of empathy and compassion, that I was gobsmacked. “Fucking hell. You’ll do anything to get out of the yard work. No, you’re right, I’ll do all of the work,” then went back outside and left me lying there feeling ashamed and guilty as hell.

I can still remember being curled up on the bed, sobbing quietly. Between the waves of physical pain, I was feeling all of the emotional pain of a partner who literally could not care less about me. I was completely discarded in a time of need.

He’d made it abundantly clear that I would get nothing from him, so I didn’t dare ask him to heat me a hot water bottle. Not to mention that I certainly couldn’t talk to him later about my concerns over possibly having a pregnancy.

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is an extremely lonely experience.

To this day I still don’t know if it was a pregnancy loss or just a very intense period. Either way, I’m so damn grateful to have not brought another child into the world with a narcissistic father.

READ: When a Narc Sees You Crying

Narcissists will invalidate you when you’re sick

Narcissist Invalidation

An extremely common trait of how a narcissist treats you when you’re sick is to completely invalidate you.

Using the example above, not only did the narcissist show zero empathy, he completely invalidated my experience. The invalidation was executed by belittling me and twisting the situation around to throw me in the light of being ‘selfish’ for being in pain and not being outside helping him with the yard work.

Remember, everything must be about the narcissist, not you.

Common Narcissist Invalidation Terms:

  • “You’re such a sook.”
  • “Toughen up.”
  • “What’s your problem?”
  • “Get over it already.”
  • “If you weren’t so overweight/ unfit/ weak you wouldn’t be sick.”
  • “There’s always something wrong with you, isn’t there?”
READ: 99 More Gaslighting Terms

Narcissists will disappear when you’re sick

How a narcissist treats you when you're sick

To a narcissist, you are merely a source of energy. Whether that comes in the form of validation (praise, laughing at their jokes and going along with their antics) or doing things for them (being a personal slave).

If you’re sick, you serve no purpose to the narcissist. You’re merely a broken toy that gets thrown to the corner so that they can go find another exciting toy to play with.

Not to mention, how dare you take the focus off them! In other words, how dare you take your energetic supply away from them.

The narcissist will treat you with utter contempt if they do have to stick around and care for you. Honestly, you’re better off if they do disappear, as hurtful as that is.

Whenever I was sick, my partner would just disappear and leave me to my devices. He never offered help and he’d never come to check on me.

If the kids asked him for a drink, he’d get it for them, but offers of help with the household chores were never forthcoming. The place would be a mess until I was well enough again to pick up where I’d left off.

Another reason that a narcissist may disappear when you’re ill is that image is everything to them. If having you being sick brings down how they look in their world or makes them look weak, they won’t want to have anything to do with you.

READ: 8 Reasons a Narc Ignores You

Narcissists will still expect you to serve them, even when you’re sick

Servant to the Narcissist

Don’t be under any false illusions that just because you’re sick, you get the day off from being at the beck and call of the narcissist.

You must still wait on the narcissist hand and foot, even when you’re sick. After all, being sick is your inconvenience, not theirs. Why should that stop you from being their ever-loyal servant?

I’ve witnessed many times, in a family relationship between a codependent husband and a narcissistic wife, where this exact scenario played out time and time again.

The covert narcissist forever had something ‘wrong’ with her, which consistently kept her in the victim role. The husband had completely been programmed to always ‘feel sorry for her’ and pander to her ailments. She had him running around after him like a servant. Heaven forbid he ever (even jokingly) questioned her, she would turn very vicious and just like that, he’d be pulled back into line.

So, you can only imagine that when he was sick, the dynamics were so set in stone that the husband would still be the one running around after the wife. The storyline had been painted so that her illness always superseded his, no matter what.

There was a very rare occasion when the husband was bed-bound and extremely unwell. During this time, the covert narcissistic wife was absolutely beside herself. Not because she genuinely cared for her husband’s health, but because she recognised how much she was set to lose if he wasn’t around anymore to be her slave.

Deep inside, she had extremely low self-worth and knew that without her husband, she’d be left with no supply. By that late stage in her life, it’d be much harder to find a replacement.



Narcissists will get angry when you’re sick

Being sick in front of a narcissist can trigger a narcissistic injury, resulting in rage.

If they view your illness or injury as a sign of weakness or vulnerability, they will be instantly reminded of their own weaknesses, which they cannot stand. After all, their ego’s False Self has decreed that they are perfect and flawless.

To offload the absolute shame within themselves around vulnerability, they must immediately disown it and project it back onto you.

In other words, when the narcissist is raging at you when you’re sick, imagine holding a mirror up to them and viewing the whole episode as them raging at themselves, because that’s what’s really going on.


Narcissists will use your illness to gain supply for themselves

Narcissism and sickness

On some occasions, how a narcissist treats you when you’re sick may appear to be caring… at least in the presence of other people. You see, if the narcissist can gain sympathy and energy from others due to your illness, they’ll soak it up like there’s no tomorrow!

The game here is that they need to appear to be the ‘loving support person’ of someone who’s suffering so that people will either feel sorry for them or peg them as a hero.

This tactic will often be used on social media, where the narcissist paints themselves as a champion for all that they do for you (even though you know that it’s false).

Example of a social media post where the narcissist can use your illness to their advantage:

“Sarah is back in hospital again.

I’m so exhausted between being there for her, as well as taking care of the kids, plus having to fit in work so that we can afford all of the medications.

But it’s all good, as long as Sarah gets better.”

Notice in the above example how the narc has made his sick partner’s hospital visit all about himself. There’s not even a mention of how the sick person is actually doing.

You can only imagine all of the comments of concern and validation they’ll get from their friends and family, “You’re doing such an amazing job, you’re such a superstar!”

Another way that narcissists use your sickness to their advantage is by using it to get days off work. They’ll pour out the sob story to their boss and claim that they need to be at home to care for you (or to take care of the kids). You find out soon enough that they don’t do much at all in the way of caring for you, it was merely an excuse to take a ‘sickie’ for themselves.


Narcissists will punish you when you’re sick

Narcissists are extremely competitive and vindictive.

If they feel that your sickness is causing any type of inconvenience to them or taking the spotlight off them in any way, get ready for punishment. This could come in the form of having something withheld, like communication, medication, support or assistance.

They may even decide to take something away that they had already promised for the future. Maybe they said they’d take you out to dinner or fix something wrong with your car. Next thing you know, you’re curled up sick in bed and they’re hurling at you, “Well don’t think I’m taking you out to dinner after this display!”

The narcissist may even decide to go and do something fun without you, knowing that you would have loved to have gone too. This type of passive-aggressive punishment sends a subconscious message that you are not allowed to have any needs. Narcissists believe that they are the only ones who should have needs and wants – your role is to give to them, not the other way around.


Narcissists will use your sickness to reinforce that they are the important ones, not you

How Do Narcissists Treat You When You're Sick?

The dynamics in a narcissistic relationship dictate that the narcissist is the only important one, therefore making everyone else much less important, or not important at all.

This is reinforced by gaslighting the other party in the relationship to make sure that they know their place and will comply with the narcissist. By squashing their victim’s self-worth, they are much less likely to rise up and call out the narcissist on their behaviour.

As you can imagine, implementing these tactics of devaluing and messing with one’s reality can be much easier when someone is sick, as they are already in a position of vulnerability.

Let’s take a look at the words my partner used at the top of this article when I was lying on the bed in pain and he was angry and slighted that I wasn’t outside helping him in the backyard.

“You’ll do anything to get out of the yard work, won’t you. No, you’re right, I’ll do all of the work.”

Even in a moment of physical pain for me, my narcissistic ex was incapable of feeling a scrap of empathy. As far as he was concerned, the yard work needed to be done so that he could resume kicking back on the couch, but he didn’t actually want to have to do the work.

So, he used that moment of weakness to show that I was not worthy of his time, sympathy or attention. He was reinforcing that he was the most important person in the relationship and that I did not matter.

When the person who’s supposed to love you gives zero concern when you’re sick, that is not love.

However, when a narcissist is sick, that’s a completely different scenario. Have a read of the following article to see how a narcissist acts when they’re sick.

READ: The Narc When THEY Are Sick
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2 thoughts on “8 TACTICS! How a Narcissist Treats You When You’re Sick”

  1. This is such a good article and hits each point correctly! I was just in the hospital for an acute gastritis attack (14hours of projectile vomiting and severe pain) my husband got mad when I was feeding sick and then the vomiting turned to dry heaves n finally throwing up blood and he cussed n yelled at me cause I asked him to take me to the ER. Said I’m overreacting n the antacid I took made me sick. N he needed his sleep so I drove myself n he the followed n came in and acted in front of nurses to be the caring husband. Tried telling the Dr I took Omeprazole too much n Dr told him acid reflux is worse left untreated then after Dr left room he said Dr was a quack. Long story short he laughed it up n joked with nurses the whole time but when they left room he told me it was nothing I’m wasting hospital time. I was admitted for two days n he again fussed at me bout that. Came home n next am fussed cause my stomach still hurt n wouldn’t go get me mylanta and Gatoraide said I was overreacting n dragging it out mad because I went to store got it n got him a pizza to heat up for his supper cause I coulda cooked him supper. So long story I shortened cause so many hurtful things were done n said to me but he posted on fbk I needed prayers n he had me at hospital n told my friends how he’s having to not work n care for me but he’s been gone shooting ducks n hanging out with his friends not here at all. Which I’m glad cause he makes it worse on me fussing at me whole time. It’s awful to love a narcissist I fix his every meal run his bath lay out his clothes do all the house n yard work take garbage off n much more n when he’s sick or hurt I take care of him completely and nicely but next time I will not because I know he truly didn’t care if I lived or died n I spoil him too much but that’s over I’m done doing that no more massages n he can get his own bath water run n fix his own plate when I cook each meal from now on

  2. Hi Dona, thanks for sharing your heartbreaking experience. I hope you’re feeling a bit better now. You’re so right, we can relax and heal so much better when they’re not there because they don’t do anything at all to help. Just having them around, demanding all the attention and constantly invalidating only adds to the stress and anxiety. I’m sure so many here can unfortunately relate. They call in sick to work to ‘care’ for you but don’t really give a damn at all. Plus, the playing ‘nice guy’ on FB and to the hospital staff is so typical of what they do to keep up their False Self’s image, yet you get to see who they truly are at home when there is no audience. Good on you for deciding to pull some of your energy back from him. He doesn’t deserve it, as he’s shown you over and over again. That energy is much better spent on yourself. He won’t like it though, so get ready for gaslighting and word salads to manipulate you back into doing things for him. Unfortunately, the only true way to not be pulled into his delusion is to leave him completely. Either path isn’t easy, but you do have the inner strength to do whatever you need to do for yourself. Just know that you’re not alone, there are so many others here going through the same turmoil. You can do this.

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