11 Lessons I Learned From Living With A Narcissist


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living with a narcissist

Only when living with a narcissist will you truly realize how toxic they can actually be. No amount of online research can prepare you for the havoc wreaked on your physical, emotional and mental well-being. They will crush your spirit and use you to their advantage whenever they can. Here are some inside scoops about narcissists that you may not find anywhere else.

A part of me feels resistance when it comes to writing this article. I don’t want to give this relationship any more energy than I already have. At the same time, sharing might allow one of you to recognize themselves in their own relationship and leave sooner rather than later.

I met M. when he showed up at one of my workshops on hypnosis. He arrived a couple of minutes late and right away I felt this strange attraction that I recognize only exists between soulmates. At the end of the event, once everyone left, he was still there. We talked about hypnosis and we talked about his passion, astrology. I happened to have printed my astrological chart the day prior and gave it to him. We discussed how amazing it was to meet someone who was a scientist and spiritual at the same time. He was single, a couple of years younger, cute, smart, well-traveled, tall and successful. He made me feel special, beautiful and seen. We talked until midnight and the next day he returned with a composite chart of our planets showing how aligned they were. It felt that way. We liked the same things. We were both from Europe. Both looking for a fun and respectful relationship. We had crazy chemistry. We started dating right away.

The first months were great. A lot of traveling. He loved traveling and had the means to take me along. Road trips and flights: Napa, Vegas, Monterey, Death Valley, New Orleans, etc.… It was magical. We would play videogames on the plane, watch movies, talk or do nothing. All was good when we were together, and I missed him terribly when we were not.

Unfortunately, our relationship was only a part-time one. He was recently separated and had a four-year-old to take care of forty percent of the time. He also was a high-level executive and sometimes had to work long hours. I could understand all of that. What I couldn’t understand is why he wouldn’t talk over the phone instead of texting, why he would ignore me when I shared how terrified I was by his reckless driving, why when it came to choosing a restaurant, he would reject my choice only to go with it later on. Most of all, I couldn’t understand why I was feeling so miserable in a relationship with a man I loved, doing the things I loved. I felt like a spoiled brat. Here he was, taking me to amazing places, treating me like a princess and I was complaining because he passed a car a little too close for comfort? After all, as he said, our planets were in perfect synch and we had this obvious immediate connection.

As the months went by, I fell more and more in love and I felt more and more exhausted. I was going from ecstatic to miserable. One day he was the man of my dreams, the next I knew I had to leave and leave quickly. He never was abusive, physically or emotionally. At least, not that I could clearly pinpoint. He was a busy man with a young daughter and he only could give me what he could. I tried to talk to him, but he was the king of avoidance. I felt more used than loved ones.

Nine months into the relationship, I finally decided to send him an email with a few points I wanted us to discuss… He played dead and I didn’t hear from him for the next six weeks. After I told him how much I missed him, he reappeared out of the blue and he tried to go back to things the way they were. The change was that I had taken the opportunity during those six weeks to reconnect with myself and become stronger.

When we started dating again the old feelings came back, more present than ever. One day I was in love, the next one every inch of my body was tense and painful. We had planned a five-day weekend to reconnect and I was looking forward to spending time in his arms, discovering new places, visiting wineries, walking on the beach and enjoying delicious meals together but, at the same time I was not sure of what to expect. From day one, my back was agonizingly painful. Sciatica had been part of my past, but I had barely experienced it since my divorce seven years prior. I was waking up coughing for no reason and I knew it was always a sign of stress for me. I was on vacation in a gorgeous setting and was suffocating. When I mentioned it to him, his answer was that my planets were not in the best position to support me at that moment. By the end of the weekend, I asked the Universe or God to send me a message, any message to tell me what to do. My wish was granted.

If you feel trapped. Leave!

Our argument started out of nothing: the way to measure speeding in USA versus Australia. For the first time, he bluntly told me I was wrong and silly for thinking I was right. The word “narcissistic reaction” came to me and it felt true. He apparently didn’t even know the word. I explained to him it was someone who believed he was superior and always right and gave a few examples of famous narcissists.

His reaction was mind-blowing: “every powerful male is that way”. I told him it was hurtful. His response was that it was not a problem for the narcissist. Finally, I mentioned that people with this personality disorder are often like that because they are incapable of feeling emotions or empathy. What type of feeling? He asked. “Love for example”. “Love is an illness” were his words. At that moment I knew I was done. Someone who can’t feel the beauty of Love could not be part of my life.
I broke up on the spot and spent the following weeks fighting with myself, avoiding calling him to apologize for something I didn’t do.

A few weeks later this is what I realize:

11 Lessons I Learned From Living With A Narcissist

1. No one is immune to attracting a narcissist.

I am a coach, hypnotherapist. I have helped over a thousand clients to heal from past traumas and raise their self-confidence. Many of my clients have been victims of narcissistic interactions. I’m aware of the pattern and it might be what allowed me to leave faster than most. Still, it didn’t prevent me from being attracted to one. Narcissists can be the most charming partners… at first. Don’t be fooled.

2. Narcissists are actually attracted by smart, educated, strong and sensitive partners.

They like the chase, the game and to win against of all odds. There would be no fun in dominating prey that is already half dead. They tend to gravitate toward powerful, confident women (or men). Their pleasure comes from the challenge. As he put it during one of our conversations “Women want to be happy. Men want to win”. Let me translate: Loving people want to be happy; narcissists want to win.

3. He gave me multiple hints. I chose to ignore them.

Over the eleven months we spent together, there were clues. So many clues. Why didn’t I see them? I don’t know. Our schedule was based on his calendar and his desires, never on mine. He never introduced me to his friends and actually told me he had none. Little by little, he isolated me from my friends. He told me we would always be connected no matter what and that I had no choice. He even told me that his mission on this planet was to be a “gift of God to women”. I thought he was joking. Apparently, he actually believed it and he seemed surprised I couldn’t see the truth in his statement.

4. He never was openly mean or dismissive. Narcissists usually don’t until they know you’re hooked.

He never told me I was wrong, or ugly, or stupid. The opposite, he often told me I was pretty and smart. Though on the other end, he questioned my opinions. He blamed “the planets” for being the cause of my being sad, tired or unhappy. If he had criticized me, I would have seen it, but it was never my fault. Just Mercury retrograde creating miscommunication or the Moon void of course making things blurry. Physical abuse is easy to recognize. Emotional abuse can be hidden. Especially if you are a sensitive, caring person, you might try to excuse behavior that is not acceptable. If you’re hurt by what he said to ask yourself, what would be the equivalent if he used his hands instead of his words. If it feels like violence. Leave!!!

5. My friends were seeing what I couldn’t see.

I stayed in touch with most of my girlfriends. Obviously, I saw them less since we were traveling quite a bit. A few told me to leave, most didn’t want to influence my decision. I knew I had their support that no matter what. Talking with them allowed me to hear my own words from another perspective. If your loved ones tell you to pay attention, Pay attention. They want the best for you. And please stay connected with people you know have your back.

6. My body was telling me the truth.

The pain in my body, the coughing, the backache, the fatigue were all signs that something was out of alignment. I just needed to listen. My body had to scream pretty loud for me to listen but in the past, I would have waited until I got sick, so I guess that was progressing. If you are in a relationship and get sick or overly tired for no apparent reason, it might be your body telling you, you’re not in alignment with yourself. Listen!

7. A narcissistic partner can actually be your soulmate.

We recognized each other from the moment we met. There was this amazing attraction that only exists in a soulmate connection. It doesn’t mean though that we had to be or stay together. We needed to learn from each other. Soulmate connections are there to help you grow. Some soulmate relationships are supposed to last, some aren’t. I learned from this relationship that I could say no, that I was stronger than ever and that I loved myself too much to accept being treated in a way that didn’t feel good.

8. You cannot change him. I know I tried.

M. was a narcissist or at least a man with strong narcissistic tendencies which meant he loved himself first and was convinced he was right. I tried to ask, to question, to argue, to love, nothing worked. Not because my message was not powerful, but because he didn’t want to hear it. No one can change anyone against their will. Narcissists deeply believe they’re right. So why would they change for you?

9. You cannot fit into their box.

He put this box in front of me. Maybe if I acted happier, said something smarter, was nicer or more distant… he would like to love me. But no matter how I behaved he could not love me because the only person he was able to love was himself. Such a familiar pattern. I had tried to fit into a similar box during my twenty-year marriage and most of my childhood with my mother. Once I recognized the pattern, I knew I had to leave. What is this box that you believe you need to fit into? Is it your box? Who put the box in front of you the first time? Recognizing it will allow you to leave faster and maybe to stop repeating the pattern.

10. If his heart is closed, it’s not your job to open it.

Talking about the box, look into his heart. Is it open, loving, connected? Or is it this a metal box no one can enter? A narcissist is not able to genuine compassion, care or love. He will be nice, kind and generous only if it serves him. Most of the time, he is the way he is for very good reasons. If you are a caring sensitive person, there is a good chance you will want to help him open his heart. This is not your job. He won’t open his heart for you. No one can make someone change unless they want to. And he doesn’t want to. In his eyes, he is perfect the way he is.

11. The only way out is self-love.

I could not change him, and he didn’t care for my love. The only approval he needed was his own. Today, I realize that the only way out was to claim that I was worthy, valuable and lovable. I needed to be stronger than the doubt I allowed him to create in my mind. Today, I stop trying to fit into a box that is not mine. Time to be free and smash the box. This is my life and I have the right to love and value myself. A narcissistic reaction? No, just knowing I am enough and that in order to love others I have to love myself first.

A few questions before we end. Where are you in your relationships? In a box that is not yours or on top of it, dancing from joy? Do you love yourself more than anything? Do you value your opinion, your feelings and what your body is telling you? Do you love yourself enough to let go of someone who makes you doubt yourself?

It is not easy. I still have moments when I’m one digit away from calling him. But I know I’m worthy of an amazing relationship with myself and I will banish from my life anyone who tries to make me believe otherwise. YOUR TURN.

 If you are tired of feeling anxious and stressed and are ready to be confidently yourself, visit my website to schedule a complementary 30 minutes Getting Unstuck Discovery Session www.fabyoulicious.com/schedule

Written by Dr. Fabienne Slama
Originally appeared in Medium.com

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