Sex & Dating

5 Signs of a Narcissistic Partner as Seen in Netflix's 'Bad Vegan'

A story riddled with manipulation and red flags of abuse.

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5 Signs of a Narcissistic Partner as Seen in Netflix's 'Bad Vegan'

A story riddled with manipulation and red flags of abuse.

Bad Vegan is a chaotic “love” story between former restaurant owner Sarma Melngailis and her con artist ex-husband, Anthony Strangis.  Strangis was running an ongoing scheme on Melngailis where he exploited her using several tactics like financial and spiritual manipulation. He played on her weaknesses and ultimately, convinced her to send him a total of over $1.5 million USD. Melngailis was pulling this money from her then-thriving restaurants that were frequented by celebrities like Alec Baldwin and even former presidents.

As a result, her once-booming business failed after employees went unpaid. Because she was being tricked into sending him money, on paper, it seemed like she embezzled over a $1 million USD, and they both ended up serving time.

The story sparked several debates questioning Melngailis and how she could be so naïve, or if her marriage to Strangis was simply to tap into his “family’s” riches so she could pay restaurant-related loans. One thing that’s clear is that she was manipulated and by the time she caught on, it was too late. Thankfully, Melngailis recorded her phone conversations once she realized she was being used and was somewhat vindicated.

Melngailis’ story is questionable at times, but Strangis clearly exhibits toxic qualities. Granted, we can’t diagnose strangers but there are so many commonalities between Strangis and narcissistic partners, it’s only right to point them out. Here are the warning signs of a toxic partner.

They isolate you and control who you communicate with

During several points in their time together, Strangis sent Melngailis away to Rome and even forced her to stay in certain hotel rooms in her home city of New York, all so he could keep her away from her employees at her home office.

Her sister shared that she felt like she was mourning the loss of Sarma because she just didn’t keep in contact anymore. Strangis would also contact her family for her to give updates on her condition, as he lied and told them she was psychologically unstable.

They’re obsessed with fantasies of power

Strangis showed signs of grandiosity and was preoccupied with his power fantasy. He acted as if he had a special connection with the spirit world. He even made claims that he knew her dog, Leon from a past life and could make him immortal. For context, Melngailis had gotten Leon when trying to find Alec Baldwin a dog and was drawn to photos of Leon. She felt it was a sign, and naturally, Leon became her main source of comfort. Strangis used this to his advantage.

You’re part of an ongoing test, that you can never seem to pass

Strangis knew that Melngailis never felt accepted or understood by the world. He created a storyline of the “family” — inspired by a Marvel movie she later found out — and made her jump through a number of hoops and financial manipulation to get her seat at the table as “Queen.”

They don’t get mad, they get rageful

When self-aware people are wrong, they take a step back and apologize. When narcissists are wrong, they double down on their false narrative, openly question your loyalty and begin to threaten you to deflect the situation. This is narcissistic rage. Strangis exhibited this behavior when he realized Melngailis was catching on to his scheme. He told her, “You’re coming undone,” called her a coward and told her that she would lose her pending seat at the table.

They manipulate your finances

Strangis drained Melngailis for over $1 million USD and ran her restaurant into the ground. The moment that opened her eyes was when they sat in the back of a U.S. Marshall’s truck on the way to Riker’s Island. Strangis, completely lacking empathy, turned to her and asked her to get some money together to bail him out — without any indication of helping her.

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