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.
Written by: Natasha Adamo