Do You Love a Gay Narcissist?

Many of my clients fall in love with narcissists. It’s pretty easy to do. Narcissists often are extremely charming, bright, and attractive. I call them “shiny”. Around them we can feel excited, more alive, entertained, and flattered that these shiny people chose us.

While narcissists can make a charming first impression, they can be challenging to love. They tend to have trouble empathizing with others and so loving them in the context of a long term relationship can feel lonely. If you want to feel “seen” by your partner then you might not want to date a narcissist.

My clients typically feel hurt by their narcissistic partners because their needs are not valued and respected. It’s quite painful to keep giving and receive little care in return.

If you love a narcissist you may be spending a lot of time wondering why he doesn’t return your calls promptly, remember your birthday, or demonstrate a consistent interest and curiosity about you.

Here’s why. While narcissists look very confident to the outside world, inside it is a different story. Internally they are experiencing painful low self-esteem. In order to avoid this feeling they spend of great deal of energy searching for new and greater sources of admiration from others. That search feels so important and consuming that it leaves little room for focusing on another person. It’s like a drug addiction.

Narcissism occurs in a range. We all have some narcissism within us. Healthy narcissism gives us the motivation to get out there and make a splash when we need to. Unhealthy narcissism isolates us from others when it blocks our capacity to empathize and authentically meet someone else’s needs.

If you consistently date men who are high on the narcissist scale then you may have a tendency to ignore your own needs in service to another. A common psychological term for this is “codependency.”

How can you figure out if the man you are dating is a narcissist? Here are some possible clues:

–You call and text him regularly but he rarely initiates contact.

–You remember his birthday and plan events to delight him but that isn’t reciprocated.

–You do most of the household drudgery and he doesn’t acknowledge you for that.

–You regularly ask him questions about his day but he doesn’t do the same.

–New acquaintances receive a great deal of inspired attention from him but you do not.

–When you mention some of these issues he becomes highly defensive and critical.

If you tend to be codependent then you might be asking right now, “What can I do that will help or change him?” The difficult to accept–but true answer– is “nothing.” Each of us must be motivated from within to change. Period.

So what can you do? The solution is to start giving your own needs the attention they deserve. That means figuring out what they are, respecting them, and bringing people into your life who enjoy meeting them.

For more information about how I help individuals and couples build better relationships, please visit my website at www.gaytherapist-sanfrancisco.com. I offer services in my San Francisco office or by Skype or phone worldwide.

 

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23 thoughts on “Do You Love a Gay Narcissist?

  1. Julie

    My ex husband is a narcissist and has been diagnosed with antisocial personality behavior. He says horrible things to our children about me and atempts to alientate them from when they are with him. He wants to control their relationships with everyone in the family, including his mother.

    My kids want to love and be loved by both their parents.

    I want that for them, too and have always bent over backwards to accomodate their dad’s schedule so he could have as much time with them as possible.

    It is a very tough challenge to react appropriatly to the things the kids say to me, without bashing him and without accepting their comments.

    Julie

    Reply
  2. Adam Blum, MFT Post author

    Thanks for your post. This must be very difficult. Dealing with tough challenges gets easier with support, so I do hope you are putting some time into building a network of supportive people–including a group of people who are in your same situation. They can be found online as well as in support groups in most communities.

    Reply
  3. Anon

    Thanks for the blog.

    I am definitely a narcissist and anybody who knows me, knows that.

    Interesting thing is that, perhaps in different ways, my partner is also a narcissist. Your checklist of clues confirms this. Though together a long time, I feel we each focus too much on ourselves — both out of habit, narcissist tendencies, fear of change, fear of having our own flaws exposed, and the great difficulty of communicating honestly when we each want to demand the world revolve around “me”.

    What a challenge it is to get two narcissists to change focus and invest effort on each other and, therefore, the relationship! It need not become mutual co-dependence, but this is the opposite problem, I think.

    Reply
    1. Adam Blum, MFT Post author

      Thanks for your thoughtful perspective. It’s great that you have this awareness. You’ve identified fear as a key issue, and fear is always a fruitful area to keep exploring.

      Reply
      1. Laurie

        So are you saying that a narcissist CAN be aware that they are, in fact, a narcissist? If they CAN be aware of this, wouldn’t it stand to reason that they could change the behavior? Are they able to change? Are they able to truly love us back in any way?

        Reply
        1. Adam D. Blum, MFT Post author

          Dear Laurie,

          Narcissism, like most traits, occurs in a range, from mild to severe. If someone is on the mild side of the scale, he or she can certainly be self-aware. Yes, our partners can change their behaviors but expecting our partners to change can often be a pathway to pain and frustration. In couples counseling I sometimes tell clients that we are looking for a 5% change from each partner–which can result in an overall 10% change for the couple. Ten percent change is a lot and usually enough to get a couple back on track. However, expecting our partners to change more than 5% is unrealistic. Ultimately the best indicator of future change is an individual’s own motivation to change–and this is something that you cannot control in another person. You can, however, definitely change your own behaviors and feelings. You can make your needs known, insist that they be met, enforce boundaries, and make choices everyday that support your personal growth.

          Reply
  4. Kika

    How can we avoid dating narcissists in the future? While it is important to be working on our own “stuff” and addressing the trauma(s) that got us there in the first place, it is unrealistic to think that we should be perfect before reentering the dating scene. Other than listening to one’s own inner voice and the flags that may come up whilst dating someone, what can we do? Any further insight would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Adam D. Blum, MFT Post author

      We all make mistakes. If you want to reduce suffering in your life it’s best to remain committed to tracking your feelings closely and then to act based on that deeper awareness. It’s what you call listening to your inner voice. You may be initially drawn to someone who is not a healthy partner for you but that does not mean you have to continue to date him. It does take courage to act upon an inner conviction. All difficult tasks get easier with support. Keep building supportive networks by putting time into growing trusting friendships and consider joining groups like Codependents Anonymous (CODA).

      Reply
  5. adamwebster14@yahoo.co.uk

    Dating a gay man who is a narcisist has put me on ADs in a month and a half! The phases are recognisable:

    1.Flattery/”infatuation” with me….
    2. The start of finding fault but with continued flattery adn incessant calling/text/skype
    3. Rejection when dating others was questioned with ocassional return calls to ask for money etc.

    I have been in violent relationsips with active alcoholics but this was worse and reduced me to a shadow of myself rapidly. The lies! I had misgivings from the beginning and have been really pleased to read up on this. I thought I was going mad.

    Reply
  6. jay d.a.

    just recently split up with my partner of over a year, it has been really painful and quite a destructive relationship where i felt i was the only one interested on building it up while my partner was oblivious to my feelings. the odd thing was that i didnt feel he was being genuinely mean towards me, but that he did not really understand what he did cause my suffering.

    Now, with hindsight, I believe he may have a narcissistic personality disorder, or perhaps it is my way of feeling with anger. although i am happy of looking at a future without him, i honestly think hes a good man and i wonder whether i should raise up this question to help him stop the destructive path he is in.
    We met and we really clicked, he was ending a 10yrs relationship with a househusband that let him do whatever. sex was always jut ok but they were good friends, he said. i told him to enjoy life instead of starting another relationship, he said he was ready. i was swept in by his good looks and his bubbly personality.
    trouble started early, he just move to london and discover drugs. i took him out to clubs. he was unable to be with me, he needed to sexually dance and touch everyone that was handsome or muscley, he would directly approach whoever he fancied and be ‘slutty’.well, anyone but me. i was confused, i wanted his attention yet he couldnt concentrate on my persona, to the point that he would use me to attract others, for instance kissing me while stepping backwards to rub his back against the guy behind, without consulting me. he said it was a game, nothing else. he would shine being in the middle of all this men trying to touch him, he would go to dark rooms and step up in a platform so that everyone could look at him while he was getting undressed. he told me what it turned him on the most of sleeping with many men was looking at all of them wanting him so badly; sleeping with ‘uglier’ men looking at their faces because they couldnt believe their luck. Obviously, all this was happening while together, not past experiences.
    he told me it was a game and i was worrying too much. i was devastated and confused, he said he loved me and all i could do was switch between crying and anger. we decided that the problem was my low self-steem. by then we were living together.
    at home was fine, he was all over me all the time, yet he couldnt deal with being ignored or on his own. he didnt have many friends and consider them boring. it was stressful to do anything that didnt involved taking his tshirt off, he found dinners and drinks at the pub boring, he couldnt engaged in conversations, and he would not speak or just change the subject suddenly in the middle of a conversation to something else, related to him or his opinion.
    as sex and partying was happening every other weekend, i told him he should do it on his own because i felt used. i became a househusband, uncapable of going out with him for fear of seeing him once again coming out of the toilet with some stranger or just ignore me. I explain to him that sex with others was fine but felt he did not include me, he wanted all the attention to himself. by then, our sex life was not much fun, at least compared with the one he had outside the relationship.

    he met a man one night, didnt come to sleep. we broke up but got together again, he decided to bring the man for a 3some, consulting the man before me, i said yes, i wanted to see who i was competing with. he was all over him and later told me matter-of-factly that he was confused by him and wanted to follow it to its natural end. i was devastated, he wasnt saying we break up, he was saying i just follow until i see where it goes but i love you. surely that was not how an open relationship worked. i ask him to end it and he said they were just friends yet he started hiding it, i could see txts of this man arriving and checked my ex’s browser history. also told him to stop putting a show in the clubs where all my friends go, there were other places were he could hunt, he got upset, he didnt care about other peoples thoughts. what about my opinion?surely if you love me you should at least take it into consideration. he couldnt understand.
    i ended up the relationship yet we still lived together for a while, i told him that i was fine with him doing his ‘life’ outside as i would do mine. then it all started, he would get really upset because i had a sexual life, he would ask me if i was in love with the person i just slept with! after one night stand. he wouldnt sleep at night and play pity games, yet still going out for days, telling me beforehand the sexual experiences he was looking for. my confusion grew, now he is jealous, doubting i care for him because i have a lover, yet he has many at the same time. he was really upset about me and my behaviour, shocked that i could be with other people.
    the most shocking thing is that he could not empathize with my feelings or feelings of others and how he used people, including me, for his own benefit. talking any issue was quite distressful as he would get upset if i commented, it was me and my self-esteem. my withdrawal would send him into madness.

    Sorry it is such a long email, im really hurt and trying to make sense of it all, is this caused by drugs? being attractive means you have the right to do this? is this the regular gay lifestyle?
    i wonder whether he is narcissistic and whether i should try to help him…
    any advice? many thanks

    Reply
    1. Adam D. Blum, MFT Post author

      Congratulations on ending a relationship with a man who did not treat you with respect. This is always a very healthy action. To answer your questions: this is not the regular gay lifestyle and has nothing to do with the “rights” of people who are physically attractive. It is interesting that the focus of your posting is about helping him. There is little focus on you but a lot of focus on him. This is a dynamic that you may want to take a closer look at. Men who tend to focus on another’s needs while neglecting their own have a much greater chance of ending up in the kind of painful and destructive relationship you describe. My suggestion to you is to pull back from trying to help him (as his “ex” you are not in a good position to do this and people who do not ask for help are very difficult to help), and to focus on taking better care of your needs in all aspects of life and in all of your relationships. This is not a selfish act–in fact it puts you in a much stronger position to help others and the world. You have made a strong and bold step by ending the relationship–now keep up that momentum of self-care so that you’ll never be used or abused in the future.

      Reply
  7. Jessica

    I’m in love with someone I am beginning to think is a narcissist. I don’t want to break up with him though, as I feel so connected to him by this point and just plain don’t want him out of my life. I do see how I am being a bit hurt by his ways, though. We’ve been together for 2+ years. I notice signs that I do exhibit low self-esteem and am comfortable in the caregiver role in relationships. But I struggle with ongoing feelings of being undesired and unwanted, or just not being interesting or impressive enough, even though my significant other assures me he does in fact want me, that he does love me, and that I should just KNOW that he does since he has told me. One of the bigger issues, is his lack of on-going affection or verbal affirmation of his love. He hates saying the words “I love you” because he says we shouldn’t HAVE to say them, that we should just KNOW that we love each other. How can I express to him the importance of affirming love on a regular basis? He thinks we shouldn’t need verbal affirmation, but I feel sad and begin to feel unloved without it.

    Reply
    1. Adam D. Blum, MFT Post author

      I do hope your man has found other ways of expressing his love, affection, respect, and care for you besides saying the words “I love you.” It is very difficult to reach our full potential in life if our partners are not expressing love and kindness on a regular basis. At the same time, it is difficult to grow in life if we are not also expressing these same sentiments and actions to ourselves. It takes practice to use self-supporting, compassionate phrases and actions when relating to ourselves, and almost everyone could benefit from more of this. It is a direct route to greater self-esteem. Bottom line–if your partner’s unwillingness to tell you he loves you is part of a larger pattern of not attuning to you, then it is unrealistic to expect him to change in the future and you may remain feeling unloved in this relationship. If, however, your partner demonstrates his love for you in many other ways such as listening well, asking questions, caring for you when you are feeling poorly, and complimenting and encouraging your talents, then it is time to let in all this good and to redouble your own efforts at self-support. Books such as Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind can support you in this process.

      Reply
  8. Peter Mizla

    I dated a man for a year and a half who was bipolar. He told me the first night he was on lithium- which I quickly researched was a mood stabilizer.
    He was very handsome, charming, and smart. One of the first things I noticed about him was his lack of empathy and inability to show me any kind of true affection. As time went on he made a few comments that where aimed at devaluing me. About a year into the relationship he became more distant and self absorbed. The lack of any kind of feelings, the constant taking from him- and his inability to offer any kind of support was to put it frankly appalling. At the time I was going through much with my mother in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. He had a huge ego- also bragging about himself and his children going to private schools (he was divorced)Nothing was ever good enough for him- he felt he deserved the ‘best’ of everything. Our relationship ended quickly when he told me he ‘did not love me’. He walked away as my mother was near death- he had found another man on ‘Manhunt’. He came to my mothers service and began making mean remark’s to me! We saw each other briefly in mid summer 2012 for drinks. He said he had a new ‘buddy’- but they lived apart. At the restaurant He met a new friend of mine from work. He went into a mean a cruel rage with attacks- insulting me and devaluing me. I left the restaurant. This man has been hospitalized for weeks many years ago, filed bankruptcy – I feel today he was in fact bipolar with strong narcissistic tendencies. A real sick man who should be in therapy. Beware. of dating anyone bipolar- or those with NPD combined. I have GAD- and am recovering from this- and him after 1.5 years of therapy.

    Reply
    1. Adam D. Blum, MFT Post author

      Dear Peter,

      What an awful experience. I am very glad that you chose to work on recovery from this painful relationship with a therapist. So many people are afraid to take that step and then end up repeating destructive patterns. Since this is a public forum I want to make sure readers understand the difference between a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. Bipolar disorder is usually characterized by mood swings from depression to hyperactivity. People struggling with bipolar disease can also be empathic, kind, and loving. They can be good partners especially if they are engaged with therapy and medication. People with narcissistic personality disorder have difficulty empathizing with others. Due to their pre-occupation with themselves it can be very painful to love them because most of us are looking for care and consideration in relationship, and that’s what empathy allows. Assessing potential boyfriends for their capacity for empathy can make a huge difference in our lives.

      Reply
  9. Spoon

    Excellent Article Dr.Blum ! It rang a bell when you wrote about ignoring calls and forgetting birthdays ,that resonates very well with me ! I ended a relationship with an NPD partner months back and I have been treated with depression , and Im on the path to healing and recovery . I remember how I was swooped out of my feet when we first met , me out of all people ? why does he talk to me ? I remember how he was the subject of talk and admiration of good looks amongst many of our college folk . Now when I look back I realize why he contacted me out of all people to help him with his exams as we were doing the same major . In the beginning , I was always praised , flattered , called ‘one-in-a-million’ , how he never understood why people would take advantage of my kindness (or lack of boundaries) when he did the very same ! I noticed that he was getting distant after he got what he wanted and slowly started to change , grow cold and distant , I was just his narcissistic supply , I would have a lot of calls unanswered or even text messages unanswered , I would notice a total flip in his personality when we would go to events and he would interact with other people and he would be overly charming , overly friendly , too good to be true ! He was emotionally unavailable ,at times I wouldnt see him in weeks under the pretext of “I am so busy I just dont have the time ” . When I had left college to do an away rotation , our contact diminished even further , when I had come back I saw him for 20 minutes only because he had to study for his exams (which were after 4 months) , I realized how he befriended new acquaintances (narcissistic supply) , friendly , nice folk , who would pump his ego and admire him , and how he got close to another person and was cheating on me while I was away during those months . I was asked to apologise to him for suspecting he would do such a thing , I refused and that’s when I put my boundaries after people-pleasing him and having my codependent side on ,it only made matters worse , I got his cold , freeze , distant side and rage, in an attempt to bust my boundaries and go running back to him , I wouldn’t be greeted in his birthday party, I would stand alone , vilified , whilst he is right next to me talking to distant friends with his charming ‘false-self’ on , I would get a call just to take him to the hospital and during admission I would get a long silent treatment for hours until friends or family would visit , and he would put his mask on again , that was a red flag ! I remember confronting him after keeping quiet and not understanding the whole situation for a whole year , I understand he felt cornered and I discovered his true sense of self , my birthday passed he didnt wish me claiming he was angry at me for confronting him 1 month prior to his exam , and how inconsiderate I was in not thinking about him (extremely selfish , one-way street ) , he left college without even saying goodbye even , I had no self-respect to understand he was with another individual all this time and that I had to let go but I had invested so much , emotionally , financially and physically in this relationship and was so attached to let go ! I finally mustered the courage and did that and he contacted me again and put his charm on because he wanted my tv and microwave , since I was moving out and done with college ,I refused to entertain that and since then blocked him out of my life ! I did undergo therapy , my therapist concentrated more on me , rather than what happened with him , and how we worked on self-love and healthy boundaries and taking care of my needs , and I have been treated for depression as well , not the best first love experience ever , but truly one where I learnt a lot about myself and others ! Narcissists and Codependents have a way of finding each other in this universe ! Thankyou for the great article and sorry for the long post :) have a great day !

    Reply
    1. Adam D. Blum, MFT Post author

      Thanks for your post. I’m sure many other readers will find their experiences reflected in your story, and find inspiration in your path of seeking therapy, focusing on you, learning about boundaries, and loving yourself. You have a lot to teach others by sharing your story. Thanks again for contributing your perspective.

      Reply
    2. Nathan

      wow spoon…a lot of what you described totally relates to the experience I had with my guy… it’s just unbelievable….

      Reply
  10. RC

    Oh my Lord!
    I thought I was one the the few loving a Narcissist.
    I know how we all suffer with it but I must say it feels so good to know I am not alone.
    Let’s take care of ourselves people :)
    Lots of love!

    Reply
  11. sally

    I think I’m in love with a narcissist! I’ve been dating a guy for the past six months who I absolutely adore, however I’m afraid he could be incapable of having a real, mutually-respectful long-term relationship.

    He has a lot of signs of narcissistic personality disorder: He’s charismatic, and fun, and can sometimes be manipulative… but so far in a non-harmful way. For example, he started to act like he loves cats once he realized that I did.. but I don’t buy it! He does not respond well to criticism. He cannot be wrong in an argument — he will change his stance mid-way to make it as if he was right all along. He is extremely outgoing and needs to be the center of attention – he’s a ham for the camera. He is extremely insensitive, even though it doesn’t seem like he does it on purpose. For example, he raised his voice at his sister over something fairly unimportant. She started to tear up out of frustration and he said sternly without an inch of compassion “Why are you crying? I need to know xyz.”

    He’s told me about his failed past relationships. He’s been told by numerous exes (he has way too many for his age!) that he’s incapable of love. He’s has many relationships of 6 months to a year, and only one that lasted a bit more than that.

    All that said… I think I read somewhere that narcissists are not supposed have anxiety… but my guy is very anxious. He’s constantly worried about things and often has a negative outlook. (Worried about his job, finances, family problems — even though things are actually pretty good!) Is it possible to have a combination of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Generalized Anxiety?!

    Also, with my guy, some things are not in line with your warning “clues”. He’s big on birthdays and valentine’s day and stuff like that, but I almost get the sense he does it out of perceived obligation (I actually don’t care much about that stuff at all). My guy is very reliable, and communicates with me constantly. He is somehow commitment phobic and needy at the same time. Sometimes he says he doesn’t love me, or anyone. He warned me toward the beginning that I should get out of the relationship because he “will inevitably do something to piss me off.” But he makes an effort to see me almost every day. When we are alone, at first he was a bit awkward in non-sexual intimate situations (being next to each other on the couch, for example), but the closer we get the more affectionate he is. In social situations he is inconsistent in terms of paying attention to me. I think it has to do with the company and how confident he feels. He usually hams it up, circulates the room, flirts and chats with everyone and lets me do my own thing at the party. But, other times he doesn’t leave my side.

    Despite all his quirks, I still adore him. There’s really something special about him. He’s one of the most clever people I’ve ever met. We have great long talks about philosophy and politics and our work and our families. In some ways the relationship fulfills me a lot. And, while we’ve yet to have any real conflict, I sometimes feel that it lacks emotion. He’s never told me how he feels about me in a straightforward way. Now he shows me lots of affection.. but he always leaves me feeling a bit unsure. I’ve tried to communicate this to him, but he takes it as criticism — like, he’s emotionally inadequate – and he gets defensive. We have great, deep conversations, but we can never venture into territory where he doesn’t want to go. He’s a complex guy.

    Anyway… are people like him a lost cause? I can’t find advice on how to help a narcissistic lover, or how to manage a good relationship with one. Everybody says to just run away. Is that the only answer?!

    Reply
    1. Adam D. Blum, MFT Post author

      Dear Sally,

      Thanks for your post. From your description I can’t tell you if your boyfriend is a narcissist and it wouldn’t be prudent for me to try to make a determination without meeting him. I can tell you that anxiety is a universal emotion that is consistent with narcissism and all personality types. A question I think you might want to explore is “Why am I continuing to date someone who says he doesn’t love me?” Is there a part of you that is more comfortable with someone who doesn’t easily adore you? Is there a part of you that feels you don’t deserve to be met emotionally? What comes up for you when you imagine a man being fully present, empathic, and loving with you? These are difficult and important questions that you could ask yourself with great compassion.

      I am curious about the fact that you are writing to me, asking me if there is any way you can help your partner, even though I imagine he has not asked you to help him with the issues you describe. Does your focus on him allow you to avoid the hard job of learning more about how to love yourself, grow, and become as “big” as you desire?

      If you are not fulfilled by your partner’s personality, I would advise you not to expect him to change. Ask yourself: can I be happy with this man even if he never responds to me with the kind of emotional, loving contact that I am looking for? If not then it would be a kindness to let him find someone who doesn’t need that kind of contact in a relationship. I wish you the best in your exploration of your needs and fulfillment.

      Reply
  12. Mark

    I think my boyfriend of 9 months is a narcissist. He makes mean jokes and thinks they’re hilarious. He flirts shamelessly with everyone (in person and on Instagram) and when I say it’s disrespectful to me he says I’m insecure. Recently he entered a 12 step program for Crystal Meth (which I’m very happy about) but a week later we argued because he was being unreasonable and he dumped me.

    He’s all I think about. I cant stop crying.

    I just emailed him to ask if he’d be willing to meet and talk.

    Am I crazy?

    Reply
    1. Adam D. Blum, MFT Post author

      Dear Mark,

      In my opinion I think it would be unwise for you to attempt to rekindle this relationship. Sometimes we can get focused on someone who is repeatedly unkind to us as a way to avoid focusing on ourselves. The brave step here would be to pull back from the relationship, allow yourself to feel the pain of loss and survive that, and then begin to rebuild your life by focusing on your own personal growth and self esteem. You will experience short term pain but will receive a major lifetime of benefit from feeling good about you.

      Perhaps a part of you already knows this. There is a part of you–the part that loves you–that broke up with him in the past for not treating you with kindness. A part of you knows that you deserve full respect and that part of you is advocating for you when you break up with him.

      Your boyfriend will also benefit from focusing exclusively on healing from his dangerous addiction rather than leaping back into a relationship. So you will also be serving him by ending the relationship.

      I realize this may be very hard for you. You may be caught in your own cycle of addiction–to this man. Difficult jobs become much so easier with support. I encourage you to seek support from friends, a therapist, and free groups like Codependents Anonymous.

      Take care,
      Adam

      Reply

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