Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Have you ever wondered, “Is he a narcissist?”
I write from the perspective of a woman because I am one. However, what I write about does not discriminate against age, wisdom, gender, or sexual orientation. I have been lucky enough to coach and connect with men and women in twenty-three countries around the world. I’ve worked with supermodels, celebrities, politicians, C.E.O’s, professors, professional athletes, students, entrepreneurs, musicians, single moms/dads, lawyers, psychologists, retirees in their 70’s, teenagers just starting out, and the list goes on.
What has surprised me the most: NONE of us are immune to red flag blindness, pain, toxic relationships, and thinking that somehow, our “not enough-ness,” is at the root of it all.
We ALL Google search the sh*t out of our exes issues, our own issues, and fears. We ALL stalk, obsess, and feel alone in our pain.
No matter what, I think we can all say that we are related to and have been in relationships (both friendship and romantic) with narcissistic people. For this post, I’m going to focus on narcissistic exes.
If you are trying to get to the bottom of “Is he a narcissist?” here are 5 lessons I’ve learned:
- Narcissists are emotionally unavailable.
- Like attracts like – who’s going to be attracted to a narcissist other than another narcissist? (this is what I call “Reverse Narcissism”). You’ve got one person who has blinders on when it comes to anything other than their needs, agenda, and attention-mongering. You then, have another person who has blinders on when it comes to anything other than making the selfish behavior of their narcissistic partner all about their perceived lack of value. Either way, no matter how you slice it, you’ve got two people who are making everything, all about them. Both are unable to own their own behavior and because of this, unable to let the other person own theirs.
- The same red flags that you choose to turn a blind eye too/work harder to try to be the exception to/negate, are the same reasons that you are in toxic relationship territory. They will be the same reasons why you break up.
- It is possible to miss someone and know that they are not good for you. It’s okay to miss a narcissistic ex and know that you can’t get back together with them but miss them anyway. However, if you keep getting hurt by someone, it IS possible to take your heart out of the boxing ring. It IS possible to stop equating being beaten up with being pursued. It IS possible to remove the wool from your eyes and acknowledge that you’re not only getting beat up, but that you don’t like getting beat up and deserve to never get beat up again (by yourself or anyone else). It IS possible to partake in the JOY of being and avoid toxic investments. You wouldn’t do it with your money so why do it with your heart? It’s okay to miss the HIGH that the sh*tty investment gave you as long as you stop viewing it as something worth investing in. Bad experiences can have incredible moments. The goal is not to beat yourself up and allow guilt, shame, and blame to take over. The goal is to acknowledge your pain in the context of the awareness that you now have of your ex’s emotional and relational ineptness.
- Narcissistic exes are the hardest to get over. The highs are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced and the lows, although deal-breakingly awful, are more easily looked past. You hang onto the memory of the last high as anticipation for the next one builds. Once your relationship is over, narcissistic exes will also claim (whether on social media or however), to be/do/say everything that they withheld and told you that they’d never do. They will claim to now be everything that they consistently weren’t – honest, connected, responsible, empathetic, and accountable. They will often display their “epiphany” in the most selfish and hurtful ways.
And when you see all that, how can you NOT think it’s all your fault? How can you NOT think that you really weren’t enough?
If you are asking yourself, “Is he a narcissist?” Here’s what you need to know…
I used to have to be all in or all out. It was an emotional coping mechanism for me. When it came to narcissistic exes, I had to either vilify them and think that they were the scum of the earth or, I had to idealize them (as I de-pedestaled myself). Neither way ever worked. Indifference did.
The one thing that helped me the most in achieving indifference was realizing this:
Because I was in so much pain, I was trying to convince myself that my ex was an awful person and that he never loved me. This ended up adding salt to an already painful wound.
Just like my own reverse narcissism didn’t make me a terrible person, the narcissistic exes of mine are not bad people.
Not all narcissists are bad people and this post is not about being a good or bad person.
It’s about setting yourself free.
Because I am the girl that goes all-in when it comes to love, I also went all-in when it came to having to process a breakup in either black or white. I told myself that my heart could not handle any more grey, as my mentality spray painted everything around me in 50 shades of it.
The common denominator with narcissistic exes was something that I felt all along while in the relationship, but could never pinpoint and recognize for what it was – selfishness, emotional unavailability, a lack of emotional intelligence, and empathetic bankruptcy.
Like I said, I used to think for a really long time that a narcissistic ex had to be bad person. These guys were not bad people and I believe that many of them did love me as much as they possibly could.
I finally became indifferent when I accepted that what I was looking for just wasn’t in their emotional range.
It’s like if you took me to a calculus class at the most prestigious university. It wouldn’t matter if George Clooney was teaching the class, and giving out 24-carat gold pencils – I wouldn’t take the class.
Not because the university isn’t good enough or the teacher isn’t hot enough or I’m unimpressed by the gold pencils.
Something about me: I can’t manually divide. I hate math and whenever I’ve tried to learn it, my brain just shuts off. Anything other than 4th-grade math is not within my range.
There have been so many times in my life where I’ve tried to like, love, and learn the proverbial math and every.single.time, I ended up being the sucker who gets humiliated and knew better from the get-go.
Whether your ex regrets doing what he/she did to you is a non-issue. The moment you are free is the moment you realize that narcissistic exes are not bad people – they just don’t have it within their emotional range to give you everything that you claim to want and deserve – everything that you are denying yourself or you would not be attracted to them in the first place.
Not being able to do math doesn’t make me a bad person – it makes me someone who is unable to do math (and who can admit it). The problem with narcissistic people is that even though they can’t relationally add or subtract, they come to the table claiming to be the ambassador of mathematics.
These aren’t bad people. They are painfully insecure and selfish people who are in serious denial and will never have it within their range to do the math (even though they claim to be mathematicians).
Narcissists are unable to command your respect because they misrepresent themselves left and right. They think that the truth has versions. Indifference sets in the moment you realize that these people are so self-involved, it never had and never will have anything to do with you.
If you met an amazing person online who represented themselves as a marathon runner and then when you met in person, you saw that they needed to use a cane to walk… would you tie your value to bringing out the marathon runner in them? No. You would accept that they cannot sprint (let alone walk without a cane). End of story.
Narcissistic exes don’t need to be vilified. They need to be acknowledged as people who cannot relationally sprint.
Do you know who CAN sprint?
SPRINT out of your own reverse narcissism. SPRINT out of the dysfunction, out of the bullsh*t, and know that no matter how skilled other sprinters may be…
No one will ever be able to ignite the sprinter in you more than YOU.
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.