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Dating a narcissist has high highs and low lows. It will make you feel on top of the world one minute and then, questioning your worth, reality, and intuition the next.
Here’s what you need to know about dating a narcissist…
- Keep in mind: ALL narcissists are emotionally unavailable. They are disconnected from their emotions and have zero ability to empathize.
- ANYONE can fall for a narcissist. But only those with low self-esteem who need validation like oxygen will start dating a narcissist and continue to STAY. They will refuse to “give up” on a narcissist because they gave up on themselves a long time ago. They put all of their eggs in the “I’m going to be cool/smart/sexy enough for them to change/commit” basket.
- Narcissists are not capable of mutual relationships. They are only capable of self-serving transactions.
- Listening to the actions (which make up the patterns) of a narcissist is imperative. Their words mean nothing and will drive you crazy. Any words you speak, excuses you make for them in the name of unconditional love, understanding, etc., will ultimately be used against you.
- Dating a narcissist makes you want to get off of your white horse for good. You have to stay on though because once you’re off, the narcissist will step back/recoil/give you the silent treatment and then, use your reactivity and unraveling against you. They’ll shine a spotlight on your reaction to their bs and use it as irrefutable proof that YOU need help, not them. Before you know it, you’re apologizing to them for having a human reaction to inhumane behavior. Narcissists love this turn-around-deflection dynamic because it allows them to further victimize themselves, never experience any real consequences, and continue their all-important, all-about-me behavior. Remember, the crazier they can get you to look, the more in-control they become. Your reactivity is caviar for their ego.
- Narcissists are experts in emotional Chinese Water Torture. They keep dripping the proverbial water on you. And when you can’t take it anymore, they’ll say “Whoa! Re-LAX. That was just water! It’s non-toxic and it’s natural! What’s your problem? I was baptizing you with my love; guess you don’t want it. You have some real issues. Maybe you should go talk to someone.” You are left feeling even worse about yourself and crazy. So, you take responsibility for your partner’s behavior, further blame yourself, apologize, and beg for the water again.
- No matter how cool and care-free they so desperately try to appear, narcissists are image and control freaks.
- Narcissists are energetic and emotional vampires, who will passively suck the energy, the empathy, and the sanity out of you. And then, they will finger point and make you feel ashamed for being depleted of all three.
- Looking back, I think I had such a hard time accepting that I was dating a narcissist because that meant I would have to accept that my parents had a certain level of narcissism. It also forced me to address my own narcissism. Just because I wasn’t what I call a “direct narcissist,” I was very reverse narcissistic. I was making the selfish actions of a narcissistic people all about how I was not enough. I was making everything about me, just like the narcissists I was attracted to.
- There is no need to EVER worry that after dating a narcissist, he/she will become a better person with a new partner who’s everything you’re not. Narcissists are highly insecure people whose emotional development was arrested when they were given conditional love, abandoned, betrayed, abused, or bullied as a child. They were traumatized in some way; we all were. And as heartbreaking as that is, the fact that they don’t see themselves as ever in the wrong and use their romantic relationships to revisit the scene of an emotional crime just so they can be a manipulative puppet master (or a convenient victim when it serves them) is downright TOXIC. They thrive on creating a grandiose image of themselves and controlling that image at all costs. But because they are so insecure deep down, they can never keep up with the image that they portray. Eventually, they reveal who they really are: a shell of a person who will only ever be compatible with people whose levels of self-esteem are just as low as theirs.
- Narcissists are unable to operate from a place of love – for themselves or others. They operate from a place of fear. And the only way to keep that fear in check is to control other people (in the form of gaslighting, blaming, deflecting, chain yanking, mixed signaling, swooping in and out of your life, hot one minute cold the next, etc).
- If they know that you feel responsible for their feelings… that’s all they need. To them, it’s as good as going to bed with you. Control is the only thing that will truly turn a narcissist on. They’ll lose “respect” for those that they can control and will always like the idea of a partner who has boundaries, but they’ll always default back to the ones they can control. Without it, their ego can’t survive.
- If you’re dating a narcissist, you will never truly know how they feel about because they are always inconsistent: hot/cold/; yes/no/maybe. This “unknowing” keeps you invested because the more ambiguity they create (with a few crumbs of clarity here and there), the more “curious” you become. This causes you to become delusional enough to believe that if you turn your head for a hot minute, they’ll transform into the man/woman of your dreams.
- When you break up after dating a narcissist, it feels so much more excruciating than with anyone else. Your boundaries and expectations have been bartered down to such a low level, you feel like you have no identity or purpose. And rejection plants the seeds for FBI stalking obsession. Often, narcissists will disappear all of a sudden or break up with you and not contact you at all. Narcissists know how much ghosting paralyzes you. So, as long as they can keep you thirsty in the emotional desert, they have you primed to welcome them back into your life at any moment with their crumbs. They do this to keep you secured as a bench-warming option, do even less for you than they did in the relationship, and STILL get the sexual/emotional/financial benefits of having you as a partner (without the commitment, investment, or the monogamy on their end). By keeping you in this state of starvation, they know that you’ll never be totally done with them. If you ever did decide that you were totally done with them, they wouldn’t know what to do with that loss of control. So, they have to weaken your defenses to ensure their egoic survival (remember, deep down they feel insignificant and worthless).
- Narcissists don’t care about anything but control. Everything has to be on their terms. You can never “scare” them into thinking that “this is it” or that you’re leaving or moving on. They know better. They’ve conditioned you to be their 24-hour emotional/sexual/excuse-making/cheerleading, ATM.
- REMEMBER this: it takes a narcissist to be attracted to one. I am NOT AT ALL saying that you are an empathetically bankrupt narcissist who is selfish and thinks that he/she is all-important. You HAVE compassion and empathy (the compassion you have for yourself is what got you to this blog). What I am saying is that (this is a term that I totally made up and this is my non-professional opinion), you are a reverse narcissist. You truly believe that other people’s hurtful, deceitful, and heartbreaking behavior is ALL about YOU not being good enough. You internalize the narcissistic behavior of others. And no matter what angle you view it from, that’s STILL making it all about you. The only difference is that reverse narcissists have the ultimate game-changer that conventional narcissists do not: they have empathy (professional term: Empath). Empathy is an incredible thing to have, but you can’t truly give it if you’re not getting it from yourself (which is why I started using the term “reverse narcissist”). Work on your reverse narcissism by consistently having your own back and WATCH how your life transforms. You’ll soon stop being attracted to narcissists like a fly to horse sh*t. There ARE good men/women out there. You just have to be good to yourself, first and foremost.
Dating a narcissist? Here are the only ways you will ever be able to keep a relationship going with them:
- Accept that the relationship is 100% on their terms.
- Make it ALL about them and their needs. Never about you or yours.
- Never question them, their decisions, or their behavior.
- You can’t love yourself, have your own back, or regard yourself in a healthy manner. Ever. If you do, you should feel guilty about it.
- Accept their hurtful actions and behavior as an indication that you need to be better.
- Never, I repeat NEVER think that you are enough.
- Take all of the blame and apologize for everything.
- Never have any kind of discussion about your relationship or where it’s going.
- Recreate bad, disconnected porno sex in the bedroom and don’t ever voice any of your sexual desires.
- You must always downplay your intelligence, looks, success, and accomplishments so that he/she can feel more secure.
- Understand that he/she will always (either directly or indirectly), compete with you (and you must always lose).
- You must have a Ph.D. in pedestal building of him/her, door matting of yourself, and under-the-rug brushing.
- You must keep giving and giving so that they can keep taking and taking.
- Never age or gain weight.
- Accept that he/she needs A LOT of validation from others (not just you), to keep their pseudo-self-importance parade going. Do not try to compete or ever be number one. You will be made to look crazy.
- Accept that he/she will never be able to consistently value you because they don’t value themselves. If they did, they would understand that they are enough – independent of all of the superficial minutia (that they think legitimizes them).
Is there a silver lining in any of this?
The silver lining in dating a narcissist is that they always reflect what we need to work on: loving ourselves and healing un-dealt with trauma. They also make us address our own reverse narcissism because really, who would ever waste their time dating a narcissist other than a (reverse)narcissist?
I know that somewhere deep inside of you…
You have the ability to truly love yourself. You have the ability to empathize with yourself; to be in a mutual relationship with yourself first, and to authentically connect with and truly love others who are deserving of your time, energy, and love. I know it.
Instead of subscribing to the “Why me? Why am I not good enough?” dialogue, know this: the narcissist was put in your path not as an indicator of your lack of value but as a spiritual northern star.
And we all know what northern starts do, don’t we? They are there to guide us; to point us in the direction of where we need to be. NOT to be the Happily Ever After, end-all-be-all.
If you recognize dating a narcissist as the northern star that he/she IS, you’ll be open to the motivation that your involvement with them provides – motivation to work on loving yourself, owning your decisions, acting on your intuition, and having your own back.
There’s no need to get off your white horse and retaliate. You realizing your worth is their karma.
x Natasha Adamo
Are you done with toxic relationships and ready to attract (and be attracted to) healthy relationships? Do you want to connect with others on a deeper level than the comments below? Click here to become an Emotional Mastery Member and learn more. If you’re looking for more personalized, one-on-one help, you can work directly with Natasha Adamo here.
NAILED IT ????!!
I was always blaming myself. It’s just so true that a narcissistic partner can leave you questioning your self worth. I was a narcissistic too, but atleast I had empathy in my previous relationship and never thought to hurt my ex the way they hurted me. It was like I was in a trance throughout my entire relationship until my ex unexpectedly pulled the rug from up under my feet. I woke up from the trance once I realized I wasn’t capable of doing what my ex did to me. I went days upon days still am in a way trying to figure out what I DID. When it was not me, my ex could not love me and always fought against my love. My cousin the other day asked me what is the one thing that your ex did to prove their love to you. I could not think of one thing. Proving their love? I had to think about that one because it sounded so foreign. Sadly enough I tried to come up with something, but in reality I knew that the thing that my ex was “proving” was not love, it was in my head of what seemed like their love for me. When only it was just something my ex was doing out of manipulation most likely, but I called it proving their love. Thanks for sharing Natasha!
I cannot thank you enough times for sharing this Melody. What an inspiration and beautiful soul you are. Your realizations are helping more than you know. Thanks soul sis 🙂 XOXO
Wow this is so true. I can’t think of one thing that my ex did to prove he loved me. I thought he loved me in my own little imagination.
I cried with every paragraph I read. I exactly was in same situation. It is even the worst things in the world. I am happy I found out this website after he broke up with me,because it helped me to stay on my white horse and love myself. As always thank you, Natasha ! xoxoxo
I am so proud of you Gem and happy that the post helped! xx
I have learnt so much about my ex by reading this blog. I have beaten myself up over the last month since he dumped me by text and refused to speak to me after 26mths together. I also opened my eyes to things that I previously ignored in order to not to ‘rock the boat’. Having had a really hard year he couldn’t provide the full support I needed.
He has moved on already and collecting my stuff today made me realise that he will never change until he realises he needs to. It’s a case of what HE wanted takes precedence over anyone and anything else.
Like you said it has made seek support to deal with my own issues and it doesn’t matter how much friends say he has the problems and it really is him, it’s only when you take off the rose coloured glasses and see him for who is actually is.
YES Tray! Thank you so much for reading and sharing. You are loved and supported beyond words. I’m so glad that the blog has helped! Thx sister XO
Amazing!!! Thank you Natasha, your post hit it right on the head! I love you and this blog so much <3 xoxox
Thx you love you soul sis xoxo
Another thing they do is triangulation. In the beginning when he was Mr. Perfect, a woman confronted me in a bar shocked he had moved on without telling her. I believed his lies that she was crazy.
At the end of our relationshit, after the silent treatment, he moved on to a very young woman without telling me, and continued to talk to me until I found out. Triangulation in the beginning and end, and in turn using me to triangulate the new one.
If you are love bombed from the start, RUN. They also love to future fake. It’s been 6 months and I’m doing better, but still very traumatised. These people are morally bankrupt and have no soul.
Yes! I have mentioned triangulation and future faking before but don’t know how I forgot to mention it in this post. Totally agree. Thank you SO much for sharing Janessa. You are a gem and you’re not alone xx
The same thing just happened to me! We had been together for 3 years and he just disappeared the first week of July. I later found out he had moved on to someone else without even breaking up with me. I am so glad I’ve found this website. While the grief is still there, at least I’m able to understand what the heck happened and that its not me.
You’re loved, supported & not alone xoxo
I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure my ex is a narcissist, or at least exhibits many of the traits. We broke up 10 months ago and I’m embarrassed to say I’m still not over it. I keep thinking maybe I should have been more accepting and forgiving and less possessive. If I was cooler and chiller, we could have made it work. Maybe it’s my fault that he lied to me and broke promises…
The deep dark secret is that part of me doesn’t just want to be with him; part of me wants to actually BE him. He’s basically the cool popular kid I never felt I was, and I constantly sought validation and recognition from him during our relationship. He’s off traveling the world right now, hanging with famous people, as an influential artist/entrepreneur. I have to remember, though, that he doesn’t have the integrity or empathy that I so desire in a partnership. My fear is that he would, for the right person. How do I get over that fear? I want to move on but feel stuck.
Hi Lee! You’re in good company, I’m no psychologist either 🙂 I know exactly how you feel and what you’re going through; it’s normal to feel that way. I wish that I could elaborate more, but to get over that fear, you need to consistently remind yourself of who he IS. XOXO
I totally know how you feel, it’s been almost 2 years and I can’t get over my selfish ex. I look up to him like he was something so important. In reality was lazy, never liked to work. Mean, snappy, insecure fuck. And not to mention mommas boy at age 44. He’s with someone now I feel so sad that he’s gonna be happy and treat her better than he treated me. I hate that feeling. I’m jealous, but I know deep down he’s not for me.
Thank you so much for this wonderful site, Natasha. I recently managed to end a relationship with an “emotionally unavailable” (his final words to me) and totally narcissistic (my word) ex-boyfriend (an actor – *eye-roll*), and it was incredibly difficult. Unlike other break-ups I’ve had where it hurts but makes SENSE, I struggled to piece this relationship mess together until I finally realised exactly who (and what) this man really was. Like so many girls that come to this site, I made excuses for him while he systematically love-bombed, triangulated and then destroyed every single element of my personality: just as he had done with every single girlfriend before me. Putting myself back together again, re-finding my confidence and learning to trust myself again has taken a long time, but this website has been a life-line. It helped me get out. So THANK YOU. xxx
Thank you from the bottom of my heart Holly. I’m happy to help and honored to have played a part in your healing and realizations. You are understood, supported, loved, believed in, backed, and never, ever alone. All my love to you soul sister. XOXO
This was very enlightening. thank you so much for posting. I just deleted and blocked one of these pieces of sh*t. I get that I have work to do and I am doing it. He’s definitely a narcissist…every single bullet point is him to a “tee”. I knew from the start not to get involved…but the good news is that it led to my waking up and seeing the pattern of attracting emotionally unavailable men. Like I said, I know I have work to do, but I am glad that he won’t attract anyone great..is that terrible to say? he treated me like such crap..I am on my white horse now…and I am not getting off..thank you for all your posts..they really help!
YAY!! So happy that the posts have helped 🙂 You are loved, supported, believed in, understood & never, ever alone. XO
Your posts are SO spot-on, so intuitive, so well written and SO helpful. I recently had a 10 month long distance relationsh*t with a narc. My self esteem plummeted, I lost myself and felt completely f*cked in the head, not knowing up from down. He was take take take, a silent treatment man-child and a future faker. I finally pieced it all together, did the research, prepped myself for his inevitable hoovers. After over a month of him not writing a single word to me and not calling, he wrote me, asking for info on a good local restaurant. No “hello”, no “I’m in your area”, no “how are you?”. Nope. A cold dinner request, out of the blue, as though I’m the board of tourism and like nothing ever happened. I didn’t respond. I was ready for this. This was followed by another text – trying to bait me. Unbelievably I walked by him that night (small city). I said hello (not in a friendly tone) and kept on walking. He had stopped to speak with me and was shocked I kept going. He was with a male friend, I’m sure it killed his ego and was embarrassing. It was very obvious he was just blown off. What followed were several more texts and a final one requesting we speak. It took all of my strength and wisdom to not even answer him. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done because I was addicted to him. I am still struggling with that decision but I know I made the right one. Your posts solidify that. So I thank you for helping with my cognitive dissonance and confirming for me that I ended on top of the mountain, do-to-speak. Like the end of a movie. She prevailed and will have all she desires. 🙂
YES!! Thanks so much for sharing Erika 🙂 I’m honored to have helped. You are loved, believed in, supported and never, EVER alone in this. Thanks for the support and for being a part of this tribe. BIG hug to you soul sis. xx
It took me 8 years on an unstable, on & off relationship (without a title), 1 beautiful child, endless sleepless nights and a horrible humiliating night just 4 days ago to finally understand my value; My sons father is a narc. All I ever wanted was a little family with him, regardless of all his faults (because in my mind there is no perfect man any ways). Years and years he fed his ego by making me feel inadequate. I was always the one apologizing and , always scared to say anything because it could scare him away. 3 days ago I finally had the nerve to end this nightmare. I called him out on his faults, I told him I have had it with this relationship and that this is not what I wanted. Keep in mind that we have a child together so I can’t cut all communication. However, I did send him a text asking him for distance & my set of rules w/ hours for communication w/ our son. Today I finally had the nerve to block him from social media. My plan is to avoid seeing him at least for several months. It’s going to be very hard for me. Today I feel very good about my decision and plan. I just hope he doesn’t come back with his charming personality and play with my mind again. Keep in mind my situation is a little different because we have a child and share custody, but any advice, support, suggestions would be appreciated. I need to stay strong on my decision…
Hi Jax! I wish I could advise but cannot in the comments. I do offer one-on-one coaching if you are interested and would be happy to help further (link is on the homepage). Keep coming back here to the blog and just know that you are loved, understood, empathized with, supported, backed, believed in and never, ever alone. All my love to you. XOX
This is an amazing read! Stop on too! Do you have an article on how to recover from a narcissit relationsh*t and get yourself back! I want to hurry up the progress and although he’s got a new girlfriend…. I want him to regret treating me like shit and feel destroyed that he let me go!
Hi Christine! So happy that it served you 🙂 I have numerous posts that will help, just search through the search bar or categories at the top. Wish I had the time to go through them all for you. I will try to write more about this soon! Thank you for the love and support. You’re not alone. xoxo
Wow, thank you for writing this. I had to read it 3 times because I found it difficult to read the reasons why I was attracted to this man. I finally made it through your entire piece and am so glad I did. I have been pushing my self-esteem lower and lower as I ruminated over why I was being treated like sh** by this man who claimed to love and care for me so much. This put a mirror to our relationship and to myself. I think I will be coming back to this article to keep reminding myself of the reality of this situation. You are so right about the North Star theory! This breakup has made me realize important things I need to change about myself and past traumas I haven’t healed. It brought all that up! I’m so glad you pointed that out because it put all of these crazy emotions in context. I am feeling more balanced. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Hi Stacey! I’m so happy that the post helped 🙂 Thank you for your love, sisterhood, support and for being a part of this tribe. You’re not alone. XO
So a friend recommended this blog to me after my narcissist left me. I met him just before I moved countries for a year; we kept talking for six months and he even came to visit me once. The last time we saw each other was when I visited home for Christmas and after that he just stopped messaging me without any explanation. Completely left in the dark and made me wonder what I did wrong. Obviously, I am not to blame and I realise this is a blessing in disguise! It’s so difficult to just leave because you ‘know’ it is wrong and whilst I don’t feel on top of the world in my current state, I’m also hopeful for the future! Thank you for writing this and sending positive vibes! x
Happy it helped! 🙂 Thank you so much Zara – for taking the time to comment, for being a part of this tribe, and for being the light that you are. You are loved, understood, backed, believed in, supported and never, ever alone. Sending big love to you sister. xx
Thank you Natasha, this was the root of all my problems, You are an angel straight from heaven! Be blessed
I’m so happy to help 🙂 Thanks Louise! Right back at you sister. xoxo