It’s easy to spot a narcissist from a mile away, or so we’re told. And yet, many of us end up in relationships with them anyway. We tell ourselves that this time will be different; this time, we’ll be the one to change them. But it never works out that way. Narcissists are experts at manipulation, and they know how to make you feel like you are the centre of their universe and the only one who can save them. By the time you realise what’s happening, it’s often too late. You’ve invested so much of yourself into the relationship that breaking free seems impossible.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re in the process of coming to terms with the fact that you’ve been loving a narcissist. It’s not an easy thing to accept but you need to face the facts.
How can I tell if my partner is a narcissist?
There are some tell-tale signs that your partner may be a narcissist. Here are some of the most common red flags:
- Your partner is always right and never wrong
- Your partner expects you to meet their needs without considering your own
- Your partner is constantly putting you down or criticising you
- Your partner is always trying to control you
- Your partner is manipulative and uses mind games to control you
- Your partner never takes responsibility for their actions or words
If any of these sounds familiar, then there is a good change that your partner is a narcissist, and that the reason you have been feeling so upset and uncomfortable in the relationship is that you have been subjected to narcissistic abuse.
What is narcissistic abuse?
Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse that is perpetrated by someone who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. NPD is a mental disorder that is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for excessive admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. People who suffer from NPD often use manipulation and mind games to control those around them.
This type of abuse can be incredibly harmful and often leads to long-term psychological damage. It is a form of emotional abuse that can be hard to recognise because it masquerades as love or care.
Narcissists are experts at manipulation, and they will often use your own emotions against you in order to control you.
Some common examples of narcissistic abuse include:
- Verbal abuse: name-calling, put-downs, yelling
- Control: making all the decisions, not allowing you to see friends or family, isolating you from your support system
- Gaslighting: making you question your reality, telling you that you’re crazy or imagining things
- Emotional blackmail: using your emotions against you, guilt-tripping, playing the victim
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s likely that you have been subjected to some form of narcissistic abuse.
How did I not notice what was happening?
Narcissists are experts at camouflage, and they often come across as charming and charismatic at first. It’s easy to be drawn in by their false promises and empty words.
When a narcissist sets about ensnaring a victim, they use a tried and tested approach called love bombing. This is when the narcissist showers their target with attention and affection in order to win them over. They will make grandiose promises and declarations of love in order to make you feel special and unique.
The narcissist will convince you that you are soulmates and “made for each other” by deploying a technique called mirroring. This is where they reflect back to you what they think you want to hear. They mirror your hopes, dreams, and desires in order to create an illusion of intimacy and connection.
It can be easy to fall for this type of manipulation, mistaking it for genuine for genuine love and care, but it’s important to remember that the narcissist is only interested in using you to meet their own needs.
What should I do if I think I’m in a relationship with a narcissist?
If you have found yourself loving a narcissist, the first step is to educate yourself about NPD and narcissistic abuse. This will help you to understand what you’re dealing with and give you some tools to start setting boundaries.
It’s important to remember that you are not responsible for changing or fixing the narcissist. They need to seek professional help if they want to change their behaviour.
It will be painful, but you will have to accept and come to terms with the fact that you have been abused. This can be a difficult thing to do because the narcissist has likely made you feel like you’re the one at fault. But it’s important to remember that abuse is never the victim’s fault. No one deserves to be treated the way you have been.
You also need to start taking care of yourself. Narcissistic abuse can take a toll on your mental and physical health, so it’s important to make self-care a priority. This might include things like exercise, relaxation techniques, and therapy.
If you’re ready to take the next step, there are a few things you can do to start moving on:
Set boundaries with the narcissist. You need to start putting your own needs first and start setting limits on what you will and won’t tolerate. This means learning to say “no” and sticking to it. It also means setting limits on what you will tolerate from them. This can be a difficult process because the narcissist will likely try to push your boundaries in order to continue controlling you. But it’s important to be firm and stand your ground
Start rebuilding your support system. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself and who support you.
Work on rebuilding your self-esteem. Narcissistic abuse can leave you feeling worthless and undeserving of love. It’s important to start working on rebuilding your self-esteem and learning to love yourself again.
Start planning your exit. If you’ve decided that you want to leave the relationship, start making a plan. This might include things like getting your finances in order and finding somewhere to live.
The final step is to begin rebuilding your life without the narcissist. This means surrounding yourself with supportive people, pursuing your hobbies and interests, and taking care of yourself. It might seem impossible to imagine your life without the narcissist, but it is possible, and you deserve to be happy.
The Bottom Line – The Aftermath of Loving a Narcissist
The aftermath of loving a narcissist can be painful and difficult, but it is possible to heal and move on. The first step is to educate yourself about NPD and narcissistic abuse. Then, you need to start taking care of yourself and setting boundaries with the narcissist. Finally, you can begin rebuilding your life without them. Take things one day at a time and be patient with yourself. You deserve to be happy and healthy.
For Further Reading
Check out the following posts about getting involved in an intimate relationship with a narcissist.
Dark Triad Personalities in Romantic Relationships: Are You in Love with a Narcissist?
Are you dating a narcissist? Do not ignore these signs!
Can a Narcissist Love Their Partner? How Narcissism Impacts Relationships
Warning Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist: How to Tell if He’s a Monster Behind Closed Doors
Red Flag Alert – are you dating a narcissist? What to look out for before falling in love
Can Two Narcissists Love Each Other and Have a Healthy Relationship?
What type of people are narcissists attracted to?
12 Warning Signs You Are Marrying a Narcissist
The Narcissist and the Enabler – a match made in hell
Understanding the Narcissist in Relationships – What You Need to Know
Why Narcissists String Along their Exes and Never Cut Them Loose
The Aftermath of Loving a Narcissist: How to Heal and Move On
The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle: How to Recognize It and Break Free
Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: Challenges, Strategies and How to Support Your Children
What is a Codependent Relationship – Signs, Symptoms and Solutions
Can I survive being married to a narcissist? – What You Need to Know
The Corrosive Impact of Narcissism in Relationships – Is Your Partner a Narcissist?
5 Steps for Breaking Free From A Narcissistic Relationship Pattern
Don’t Ignore These 9 Clear Signs of a Toxic Relationship
I dated a narcissist – Healing from the Trauma of Dating a Narcissist
Understanding the Dangers of Loving a Narcissistic Man
Divorcing a Narcissist? Coping Strategies for Surviving the Divorce Process
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