How to Recover After Leaving a Narcissistic Relationship
© 2012 Katina Davenport
The word narcissism stems from the mythological Greek entity, Narcissus. He was said to be very young and handsome; forever to be in love with his own reflection after he rejected the advances of the nympho, Echo. The term is used today to describe individuals that exhibit behaviors such as:
- Extreme self-love or self-centeredness
- Problems sustaining relationships
- Difficulty with relating to the problems of others
- Oversensitivity to insults or imagined insults
- Shows no remorse
- Extreme exaggeration of one’s ability
- Willing to use other people without considering their feelings
- Difficulty with the word “no”
- Believes nothing is wrong with them, everyone else is wrong
- Failure to accept responsibility for one’s action
- Pathological lying
Those with narcissism are undiagnosed; partly due to their unwillingness to seek professional help because they believe nothing is wrong with them. Nonetheless, their symptoms are still very much noticeable. Some may have a very grandiose sense of self-worth, while extremely sensitive. They will overcompensate for their sensitivity by belittling others.
Many are intolerant to other’s sensitivity, making it easy for them to be controlling and manipulative. Those that exhibit these traits are extremely hard to deal with in relationships. Anyone that enters into intimate relationships with narcissists should expect to never have their needs met, to always serve them, and to avoid criticizing the narcissistic partner. These individuals tend to act out in rage and abuse when they feel shamed or criticized.
What Causes Narcissism
Researchers have found factors indicating possibilities for the cause of this disorder; however, the cause still remains unknown. Here are some factors:
- Some researchers have found children to be born with the disorder siting oversensitivity from birth
- Receiving an imbalance of praise and not enough criticism
- Parents that overindulge their children could produce a narcissistic adult child
- Children that have been severely emotionally abused
- Unpredictable care from parents or care givers
Regardless of the cause, I will agree that being involved with a narcissistic person is emotionally dangerous and can be physically damaging. Women that find themselves dating or married to one will testify that is a miserable existence. Majority of the relationship is spent trying to make the other one happy to avoid confrontation or violence.
How they Gain their Victims
Narcissists are often great talkers. They deem themselves to be experts on everything and everyone. They have a keen ability to make themselves seem like victims; in my case my ex-husband appeared to be a victim of bad relationships. Narcissists often display the same tendencies as con artists. They have the same ability to manipulate, find your weak points, and capitalize on your weakness. Unsuspecting women usually fall for the manipulation because they see themselves as rescuers.
Breaking up with a Narcissist
There is a line in a song that says “breaking up is hard to do.” I have found that line to be true as I tried to leave my ex-husband several times. Each time I tried, he would convince me that I was the cause of the problems in the relationship in order to get me to stay. Since narcissists like to be in relationships with those that can inflate their egos, getting the other one to stay becomes their main objective.
The best way to break up with a narcissist is firm rejection. Ignoring them will no longer make them the “star” of the relationship to allow them to stay in the limelight.
I experienced mixed emotions of relief and guilt after I left my ex-husband. I didn’t feel guilty about leaving him, but about being in the relationship. I asked myself, “How did I get into this?” I must have asked myself that question a thousand times.
Recovering from a normal break-up is a lot different than the recovery I experienced. I required counseling to heal from the mental impact of emotional and psychological abuse. I was not social for a year, not even with my family due to the trauma of psychological abuse. I didn’t go anywhere or speak to anyone outside of my home. I prayed a lot; and allowed myself to grieve for the loss of the relationship. Writing was my therapeutic outlet to release my feelings. With professional help, I established personal boundaries for myself that no one would ever be able to cross.
I often reflect on my decision to marry my ex-husband against my own intuition and advice from my mother. Recovering from a narcissistic relationship can be difficult without professional help. Professional help will allow you to deal with your wounded emotions to help you move forward, set boundaries, and help you to avoid these types of relationships.