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How Narcissistic Relationships F*ck You Up...

I’m going to put it out there… Unless someone has dated a narcissist, been in an abusive / controlling relationship or had a stalker, they may not fully understand the impact that these relationships have on us. They think they understand and want to understand, but they don’t, and when they try to help, it can actually be really unhelpful because they don’t understand the emotional manipulation that you’ve experienced, which is ultimately what kept you in the relationship for so long, despite being completely broken.

I remember when I was being stalked by a massive creep, going to the police and them telling me there wasn’t anything they could do other than to call him and tell him to stop contacting me. After joining the police force I realised that was a crock of shit. There was so much they could do, they just didn’t know what, nor did they understand the impact of stalking, so they didn’t care. But that’s a story for another day, and a topic I will definitely discuss more in detail.

Back to narcissists. To put it bluntly, they’re fucking ass holes. They don’t care about anyone but themselves, they’ll treat you like shit and make you think you’ve done something wrong, but they are oh so charming, which unfortunately, keeps kind hearted, loving people like you coming back for more.

So what is a narcissist and how do you know if you’re dating one. Here are 11 typical traits of a narcissist in a relationship:

  1. They’re extremely charming at the start. They’ll compliment you, they’ll put you on a pedestal and make you feel so amazing about yourself because he wants you to think he’s ‘The One’.

  2. They love to talk about how good they are.

  3. They give you praise so you will praise them. By doing this, they really just want to hear you tell them how good they are. It’s a massive ego boost.

  4. They don’t have any empathy and they really don’t care about other people.

  5. You’ll start to notice they don’t have many (if any) long term friends.

  6. They start to put you down and insult you.

  7. They are the master of gaslighting! Unfortunately this can cause you to lose your sense of identity, forget who you are, believe everything is your fault, apologise unnecessarily and feel worthless.

  8. Sometimes they’ll dance around your relationship status, or they will tell you one thing but behave quite differently in front of other people.

  9. They believe they are always right and will not apologise.

  10. They panic if you try to break up with them, because they can’t accept someone other than them terminating the relationship because that means they lose control. If you try to end the relationship, they’ll turn the charm back on, tell you they’ll change and apologise insincerely.

  11. When the relationship ends, they’ll lash out. Some examples of this includes spreading rumours, lying to people, making you jealous and constantly insulting you (but worse than before).

Now that we’ve established what a narcissistic relationship looks like… How do you get out of it? You’ll hear people say – “Just leave”, “Why would you stay in a relationship like that”, “You deserve better”, “There are plenty more fish in the sea”, “I never liked him anyway” etc etc. These comments come from a good place, but like I said earlier, aren’t helpful because it’s easier said than done. The problem is, narcissists spend time laying solid foundations. They make you feel like a goddess, their Queen, they give you the confidence you’ve been searching for and they’re charming. But then they gaslight you, they’ll start a fight, treat you like shit and tell you it’s your fault, they’ll disappear and ‘how dare you ask where I’ve been’, they’ll make you feel (to quote Little Rascals) like “scum between my toes”.

Image by Danny G

If you have been successful in leaving a narcissistic relationship, my hat goes off to you and I’m giving you a virtual high-five and a giant hug, because sister – you deserve it. I know how hard that must have been for you. If you have been trying to leave a relationship, but keep getting drawn back in… please don’t be hard on yourself, please don’t say bad things to yourself and please don’t think anything less of yourself.

It is so hard to finally end things with a narcissist because they’ve shown you their good side, which is incredible. They’ve shown you the side of them you fell in love with, and, being the AMAZING person that you are, you want to believe that person can come back. You are hoping that with a little bit of time, they’ll love you and treat you like they did at the start and they’ll be able to change. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, so if you are trying to leave, but can’t figure out how, here are some tips:

  • Have somewhere to stay for a few weeks after your breakup. This needs to be somewhere your ex won’t know or won’t come looking for you.

  • If your ex has access to your bank accounts, have extra cash somewhere that they won’t be able to access.

  • Block your ex’s phone number, block him on all of your socials and make sure your account settings are super private, so they can’t find any information about you. If you want to be extra cautious, get a new phone number and shut down your socials completely for a while.

  • Don’t go to the same places you used to go to with your ex.

  • Leave when your ex isn’t home and you have some time to pack up everything without them being there.

  • Tell the people closest to you about your plan, and only those closest to you that you trust.

  • Write down your loved ones phone numbers on a piece of paper in case your ex breaks your phone.

  • Don’t be afraid to call ‘000’ if your ex comes home and becomes violent.

If you’ve managed to leave, now what do you do? You’ve got to mend relationships with friends because your ex convinced you certain people shouldn’t be your friend or in your life, you’ve got to find your feet again, and you’ve got to try to rediscover who you are. Unfortunately, this whole situation has seen you completely lose yourself, you feel like you’ve lost your identity, you feel like you don’t know who you are anymore and to put it bluntly, you feel worthless. I get it. I feel you. I see you and I’ve got your back.

When trying to rediscover and reconnect with who you are, I’ve got a few tips that might help you. But firstly let me say, that it is not as simple as reading what I have to say and doing it. It takes time… you’ll be sad, you’ll be mad, you’ll be angry, you’ll feel hatred, you’ll be sad again, you may feel alone and then slowly, you’ll begin to heal. During this time you need to make yourself a priority, journal, meditate, whatever it is that is going to protect your energy. You’ll eventually find little moments of happiness in each day and start to feel a little bit better each day. This journey takes time, so tune in to your body, do what you need to and most of all be kind to yourself.

Image by Kyle Broad

  • Work through it. This is a painful process I know, but it is the only way to heal. Process what happened, where you’re at now and what life looks like now. If you don’t know how to do this, the easiest way is to journal about it.

  • When other people (or your ego) tell you you’ve made a mistake, check in with yourself and remind yourself why you broke up. Remind yourself of your worth and what you deserve.

  • Don’t look at your ex’s socials. It’s just going to fuck with your emotions.

  • Give yourself TIME!!! Time to cry. Time to mourn. Time to feel.

  • Write down a list of all the things you love doing, and START doing them! And, try new things while you’re at it. You won’t want to do this, but you’ll be surprised how it will help you.

  • Exercise. While this might be the last thing you want to do, you NEED to do it. It’s a form of mindfulness, it releases endorphins, it increases your energy and it gives you time to switch off from the outside world and everything that’s going on.

  • Start dating again. Find a ‘friend with benefits’ if that’s what you need. You don’t have to be ready to get into another serious relationship yet, but simple human interaction can work wonders.

  • Take a step back and look at how fucking strong you are for surviving everything you have. Look at the lessons you’ve learnt, look at how strong you are for walking away and how resilient you are.

Recovering from a breakup of any kind is difficult because your heart is involved, and when our heart gets hurt, the pain is like no other. Unfortunately narcissistic relationships can be even harder to get over. While you’re working through everything make sure you lean on your friends and family. They may not understand what you are going through, but the healing process will be much ‘easier’ if you surround yourself with people you love.

I’d also highly recommend getting professional help. If you are struggling to process and come to terms with what happened, engage a psychologist; and if you feel you need guidance and help moving forward with your life, find a coach to help support you. You owe yourself time and attention, and if you want to find your confidence again, that is exactly what you need to do.

I often tell my clients to date themselves. They usually look at me and have no idea what I’m talking about, but bear with me. Think about what you’re like when you start a new relationship. What do you do for your new partner? EVERYTHING. You want to make sure they feel loved, you go out of your way to let them know you are thinking about them, you help them when they need it, you make sure their needs are met and they become the centre of your attention. So – do that with yourself. Love yourself, get a massage, get a mani and pedi, go out for dinner, make sure your needs are met… Date yourself and talk to yourself like you are your own best friend, because you set the standard for what you will accept, and more importantly, you deserve it.

If this resonates with you, or if you’ve been through a difficult breakup, I’d love to know if you found any of this useful.

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