I never imagined that I’d one day say, “Help! The Man I Love is a Narcissist.”
But I did.
I loved a narcissist, and it took me a good while to realize that.
As a result, my life was a never-ending emotional roller coaster ride; a continuous state of imbalance where I was left holding the short end of the stick. He had a way of draining me of my energy, and making me feel insecure and overall bad about myself.
That should’ve been my biggest clue that I was in a toxic relationship.
HELP! THE MAN I LOVE IS A NARCISSIST
“I think the man I love is a narcissist.”
That’s what I told my therapist almost five years into the relationship.
By the time I grasped what my partner’s problem was, I was a nonstop nervous wreck. I cried most of the time and second-guessed my every move. Moreover, I couldn’t concentrate at work, and my asthma attacks had increased in frequency and intensity.
A MAJOR PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL NUMBER
Notwithstanding, my background in psychology and all of the reading and research I did on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), I was in complete denial. It was hard to wrap my brain around the fact that the man I loved was a narcissist.
My judgment was clouded by several factors:
- We were childhood sweethearts, so we had a history
- He was raised in a very abusive environment where demonstrations of love were few and far between
- I thought that if I demonstrated what healthy love looked like that he would change
I was wrong to think that I could “save” him.
Someone did change and it wasn’t him.
GAS LIGHTING WAS HIS SPECIALTY
Gaslighting has a serious impact on people’s psyche. It left me feeling bereft and devalued as a woman and as a human being. My ex’s favorite tactics were minimizing and devaluing my emotions and feelings, and saying things then denying that he’d said them. At one point, I actually thought that I was losing my mind.
He gaslighted me into believing that every argument we had (the majority of which he initiated), to include the ones about his inability to move on from his ex (one of his narcissistic extensions), were all me and my “issues.”
His position was that I was making a big deal out of his constant, continuous mention of her at the most inappropriate moments and that I was blowing everything out to proportion.
According to him, there was absolutely nothing wrong with what he was doing. I was the problem. It was always me and my insecurities.
This is just one small example of what can happen when you love a narcissist.
THE BIG RED FLAGS WERE THERE
The red flags were there even before things became serious between us, and included the following:
- Inability to accept criticism and admit when he was wrong
- The expectation that no matter what he did, I’d still be there
- Manipulation to get certain things from me
- Temper tantrums
- Impulsive verbal attacks
- Inflated sense of self-importance
- Grudge holding
- Vindictive thoughts and actions
- Mind Games
And the list goes on.
But as usual, when you love someone, you refuse to believe them capable of doing anything that would hurt you
Overwhelmed by everything that was taking place, I decided to take a step back and objectively analyze the situation. And there it was, plain as day. All of the evidence that my love for him and the history we shared kept negating was right, smack in front of me.
I finally became convinced that the man I loved was a narcissist, that I was in one hell of a toxic relationship, and I needed to get out.
According to research, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and the development of narcissistic traits tend to have environmental and hereditary etiologies.
Every narcissist is an extension of a narcissistic parent, who’s an extension of a narcissistic parent, and so on, which in a nutshell means that every narcissist has narcissistic extensions. They can be a child, an ex-partner, and even a current partner.
In my case it was all three.
You couldn’t say a word about his ex-wife because it would be interpreted as him not having picked the most beautiful, the brightest, the sexiest, and the most coveted woman around. The same for his daughter.
His overinflated sense of self-importance; of being the best and only picking people and things that increased his stature would become injured (narcissistic injury), and he’d lash out in narcissistic rage, an overly aggressive burst of anger designed to inflict as much harm as possible.
I lost myself amid the chaos and confusion. It got to where I had to emotionally and psychologically detach just so I could survive.
THERAPY HELPED TO GROUND AND REMIND ME OF WHO I WAS
Loving a narcissist isn’t easy.
Systematically, making their partners insecure about themselves, and keeping them in a perpetual state of uncertainty about the relationship, is part of the narcissist’s repertoire.
Throughout the time we were together, I wondered if he ever really loved me. I got the answer to that question in therapy, during a discussion on narcissistic extensions.
I found out that was exactly what I was, a trophy, and nothing more than a means to an end.
Moreover, I realized in therapy that my need for survival and for loving myself was greater than my desire to help him overcome his issues.
Narcissists can’t be fixed unless they’re willing to own their issues and go into long-term therapy, and even then their ability to change is questionable.
I had gone through a divorce several years back that left me broken and unsure of who I was, and of who I’d become. Nevertheless, I knew for certain that an emotionally abused, disrespected, dismissed, unloved, unappreciated, and disregarded woman wasn’t going to be it.
So, I left.
IF THE MAN YOU LOVE IS A NARCISSIST
My personal experience is just that, my personal experience. I can’t tell anyone what to do or not do. Everyone has to make those decisions for themselves. However, if you’re reading this article, you’re searching for an answer so I will say this:
Loving a narcissist or someone with narcissistic traits is going to take a lot out of you. It’s going to require you to accept shorts, to apologize when you aren’t the one at fault, to feel loved one moment, and completely unloved the next, to feel like you’re losing your mind, and like a nervous wreck the majority of the time.
Be prepared to be invalidated, and even controlled. To second-guess yourself, and think that no matter what you do, you’ll never be good enough. Also, expect to be pushed away when you’re trying to show love and affection, and to receive demonstrations of love and affection only on the narcissist’s terms.
Additionally, expect to be ignored when you go out of your way to look beautiful, only to hear the narcissist compliment other women in your presence with zero regards for your feelings and/or emotions.
And don’t you dare gain weight, age or have any other form of imperfection. You’ll hear about it in every way possible, and none of those ways will be nice.
When we’re in love we tend to believe that it’s virtually impossible to live without the other person and that’s the farthest thing from the truth.
We cry, we hurt, but we get back up wiser than we were before.
Every person deserves so much more than occasional regard because of a hidden agenda. They deserve to be completely and sincerely loved, respected, and cherished.
Finally, some decisions are difficult to make, but events and situations make them easier to make. When it came down to survival, I chose me first, and I hope and pray you’ll choose you first, too.
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Much love and peace,