By Shahida Arabi MIND RISE

When Little Red Riding Hood Meets The Wolf: Covert Narcissists & Empaths


The wolves that feast on us know that our blood is powerful. They know our compassion is ancient magic, buried deep within our bones. They seek to have a sliver of the silver moon that lights up our eyes. They want to destroy our beautiful smiles and rob us of the inherent joy they will never possess in any true way.

Ever since there has been a Little Red Riding Hood, there has also been a wolf hunting her. Wolves cannot get past our red armor unless they disguise themselves. So they do so with glaring ease: they disguise their big, hungry eyes with eyes of soulful empathy. They cover their gaping mouths with words so sweet and slick they taste like sugar coated candy. They mask their fangs with promises for the future.

They devour us with their disguises, each one crafted masterfully to ensnare and charm us. If we want a long-lasting partnership, they pretend they are searching for the love of their lives, all while their real partners pine away for them at home. If we want a fairy-tale romance, they bring out the glass slippers, hoping we won’t notice the precarious glass houses upon which their lies are built. If we want the ravishing allure of a lover, they seduce us and abandon us. Their touch is heroin and poison, a drug they know we won’t want to detox from.

When deceit and deception are layered with the occasional bricks of truth, it’s far more difficult to recognize a pathological liar, even when they’re standing right in front of us. When death is inflicted by the torture of a thousand cuts rather than outright murder, it’s far easier to justify these microaggressions. As we nurse each wound, we tell ourselves they didn’t mean it or that these injuries aren’t as severe as they seem. When the scars are invisible, it’s easy to pretend they don’t exist.

We allow these wolves into our homes. We worry about the monsters under our beds and forget the ones who sleep beside us every night. We accept their lies and gas-lighting as our new reality.

Little Red Riding Hoods have a duty — not to wolves that maim them — but to themselves. They have a divine right to protect themselves from those who seek to harm them. Each one that has escaped from the wolf does so with the knowledge that predators do exist. They escape knowing that each time they go into the forest, they might meet one dressed in sheep’s clothing or even adorned with the guise of someone they would know and love.

This knowledge is powerful, but it’s not always enough. To conquer the wolf, Little Red Riding Hood must see herself through the wolf’s eyes –- she must understand that she is seen as a conquest, nothing more. Something to satiate his hunger. She must understand the wolf’s selfish needs, desires, and agenda, because otherwise she will be duped. Her biggest misconception is that the wolf thinks and feels as she does.

She must accept that the wolf is a predator, someone with a soulless agenda. The wolf needs to feed — and does so on many without a second glance. Pretending to be in love is one of the many masks a wolf wears so we give them access to devour us.

Love and trust make us vulnerable. So does compassion for the wrong people. The wolf knows this and depends on it. That’s why he showers us with praise, flattery, and a once-in-a-lifetime manufactured connection. That’s why he feeds us sob stories and crocodile tears. That’s why he trespasses into our lives with duplicity, rather than the truth of his character.

Beware the wolves who hide beneath the veneer of integrity and the facade of good will, for they are the most dangerous perpetrators of all.

Photo from Pixabay

For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith.

Sip a little more:

Girl & Wolf: Journey Through The Shadows Of Transformation

On Wolf And Wilderness — Is The Forest Where I Belong?

. . . Sip a little more : This She-Wolf Is Learning To Shed The Shit & She’s Letting You Go . . . #howlforyourlife #shewolf #youarethemagic


  1. Wow. Thank you thank you for this. This is so right on it’s scary like you are watching my life!! I’m thinking especially of the part where you think the person thinks like you. Will be getting your books.

  2. I get forget it Wolfie!

  3. Who is Hannah Lyles?

  4. Thank you. Beautifully explained.

  5. These imposters are empty souls & stick an IV needle into your soul slowly draining your life force. They are parasites – like ticks that attach to your soul feeling off of you. It is the traits of the empaths that buy into their sob stories – they will say anything to continue getting their supply unless they find a better source. Vampires !!

    • correction – “feeding off of you”
      ?? can comments be edited after posting ??

  6. Dori Peterson

    Total vampires. They will drain you until you are dry, lies upon lies and then they will walk away “the victim.” They are nothing but leeching parasites only God himself will have justice with. The only way to handle them is realize your worth and cut all contact. It’s a lifetime game if you give an inch- they are only here to play to win and suck you completely dry.

  7. HeathenWolf

    I support the overall message.
    The perpetuation of the negative wolf symbolism is disturbing and inaccurate. Let us be aware of the myths and stories we spread. Wolves are loyal, and a beautiful symbolism for nature, the wild, community and healthy boundaries.
    Humans that are toxic, abusive and parasitic are something to be aware of and cautioned about. This I support, but please leave the innocent and noble wolves out of it.

    There is currently a cull to destroy a magnitude of these magnificent creatures. Adding fear and negativity to the thought of them does not help nature or humans.

    Let us be Protectors of wolves, magic and nature.

    Be cautious of unhealthy humans.
    But please leave the wolves out of it )0(

  8. Marie-France

    This symbolism is very troubling. It perpetuates negative folklore about wolves. It is total rubbish. Wolves are noble animals. They are highly intelligent, highly social and loving family animals. Don’t keep using the word to allude to bad human beings. Just say there are bad human beings! The wolves have suffered enough slaughter because of this ignorant type of writing.

  9. Narcissistic abuse is very real and the humans it affects every day suffer in countless ways including being driven to suicide. The people harping on about symbolism are doing more harm to abuse survivors reading this post when they make it about imaginary wolves rather than humans being actively hurt every day. This piece uses Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf as a jumping point to talk about abuse dynamics. It has nothing to do with actual wolves and is clearly using something that existed prior to it in order to flesh out the dynamics.

    Engage in animal activism or do something to help REAL life wolves instead of believing your voice should take up space on an article meant for abuse survivors. That is entitled and narcissistic in itself. What is problematic is you not allowing a piece of writing to help survivors and instead attacking a piece for doing what people in literature have done for centuries. The big bad wolf symbolism is not new. Find something else productive to do with your time and show as much compassion for humans as you do fictional wolves…you show your ignorance and cruelty when you ignore the countless pieces out there that reference wolves just to tear down one validating article.

    • Blair – so right you are. Shahida Arabi has helped so many with her understanding of narcissistic abuse – articles, books, essays, etc. I have read most & learned how to spot these types & if I should misjudge then know how to protect myself. There are the real wolves, as in nature, & then the symbolic wolf as in literature. Real wolves cannot suffer more slaughter because of this symbolism except by the actions of the “symbolic” wolf who targets humans, animals, etc. expressing their dark desire to inflict pain & suffering.

      • I completely agree Carol and thank you for your support. Symbolism is symbolism, and the people who choose to take it that far have other agendas than defending wolves in my opinion. If one truly care about wolves, I recommend people taking concrete actions to defend wildlife in real life and stop wasting time diverting from the topic on articles and resources meant for survivors. Manipulation and abuse need to be called out, and if an article builds on preexisting symbolism to do that, this has little to do with real life wolves. Nor do I think this article is promoting any harm towards real wolves – any discerning reader would be able to distinguish between mythological tropes used as a literary device versus active harm towards animals. Those who harm animals will do so regardless of whether one article uses that trope, because their personality is dark and sadistic already. Activists should focus on benefiting their cause in real life and not on articles like these.

    • HeathenWolf

      I think you underestimate the power of myth and mythology and the stories we tell.
      I have lived with Wolves and they are nothing like this symbolism and story. and the myth perpetuated in this story and culture helps aid in the mentality and fear around their slaughter.
      Perpetuating negative stories and myths perpetuates destructive behaviour.
      Ask the African Americans, the First Nations, the witches and other people and cultures that have been harmed, do to negative story and symbolism.
      Please don’t defend things that can cause harm.
      Once again the story and empowerment behind the intention seems very pure And helpful.
      But who will speak up and defend the wolves?
      And your comment seems very assuming, projecting and attacking.
      Many will speak on any story they hear like this, weather good intended or negative (and this is obviously well intended)
      We who defend the wolf mean no harm.
      On the contrary we are trying to stop the harm and negative symbolism, that does effect their lives.

      I say again
      Who will stand up and speak for the wolves?

      • No one is projecting here – I am speaking facts based on the two comments on this article which miss the point and the second comment written by “Marie” was quite rude. But the fact that you think I am projecting speaks volumes about you and your true intentions. Your compassion for wolves can better be used elsewhere, not on an article meant for abuse survivors. The fact that you continue to do otherwise shows your lack of compassion for human beings. There are millions of articles that reference wolves and uses the big bad wolf trope – are you commenting on those? Or are you and “Marie-France” targeting an article that specifically helps to validate abuse survivors? That, my friend, is suspect. This article specifically has a fairy tale in the title and builds on that. The author did not create the myth and her other writing actually uses the wolf as a symbol of power. I doubt one article has the power to harm wolves. If you want to dismantle stereotypes about wolves, write your own article, and do not monopolize space meant for abuse survivors. Find concrete ways to help wolves in real life that do not involve selfishly taking up space to talk about manipulation and abuse. I am done responding to this nonsense.

  10. Samantha

    Dark fairytales, as part of ancient oral storytelling, were a vital part of a person’s education, they were a cautionary tale, a lesson (usually in survival). Originally, adults were the audience of a fairy tale just as often as children. In the 19th and 20th centuries the fairy tale became more associated with children’s literature. Here, as back then, the storyteller invites the ‘child’ to identify with the protagonist Red, who is like them – trusting. Red possesses no fear, only an open heart. She is unaware there are predators out there who would do and say anything to eat her but the only advice she is given is to stick to the path in the forest. Sticking to the path can help but it won’t save her – she needs better, more specific advice than that to survive. A male wolf finds her and extracts information which he then uses against her later. Folklore uses a colourful, dark but highly relatable story to convey a crucial message. As does this article. They tell the ‘child’- they may meet a predator, that they will not look like a predator, that they will trick them, perhaps by pretending to be something they are not, Using information and knowledge gained from studying and questioning the child. It warns that they may even be a family member and that they plan draw you in (come Closer child) to do you harm. It also tells the child that they have power, the power to see through this – to notice their eyes, teeth, claws and to run. In the 10th century version the wolf eats Red. The end. Later stories ended with hope when a woodcutter came to free Red and her grandma. Wolves are a negative stereotype in fairy tales as they were relevant to that audience as known predators who were a threat to most villagers ( apart from perhaps the woodcutter with a big axe ) And even though attacks may have been rare the story signifies that they will tend to prey on the vulnerable, the young or old, the naive and trusting. The retelling of this tale In this context speaks to this tradition of using relatable folklore stereotypes to tell cautionary tales. Nowadays, we have new tales which tip the balance back the other way. Films like dances with wolves or tv shows like Due South and Game of Thrones attempt to show the wolf in a better light. Wolves as loyal companions or friends. Or in the case of GoT wolves who are wild and dangerous but only attack certain wicked, predatory humans in order to defend their family/friends. And those humans always ‘deserve’ the wolf’s protection or their wrath based on their character and deeds. Are these portrayals any the more realistic? Isn’t the point that there are wolves out there and they are not like us, they do not think or behave like us and to assume they do is a mistake. The central message is that they must be treated with caution if we want to survive.

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