Last week I wrote “5 Signs You Might Be Dating a Narcissist.” Now I would like to offer advice on how you can free yourself from this potentially toxic relationship dynamic.
I will state once more for the record that I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m writing about this because at different times throughout my dating life, I’ve found myself in the role of both narcissist and victim. It’s a complex subject matter that goes well beyond the scope of these two blog posts.
If you feel that you are in an abusive situation, please seek out professional help. In the meantime, read on to learn about some strategies for moving forward with your life.
Recognize the Pattern
If you read last week’s post and thought that it applied to your relationship, I might guess that you’re a self-loathing empath. Narcissists tend to choose empathetic partners because they know that, more often than not, empaths want to “save” the people they love from a life of loneliness.
Narcissists also target people with low self-esteem because someone who doesn’t feel worthy of respect will put up with all kinds of narcissistic bullshit for an astonishingly long period of time. In essence, you are being used. Your partner might not be using you on purpose—not all narcissists are self-aware—but that doesn’t matter. You still deserve better.
Let Yourself Feel Angry
Once you recognize what’s going on and that it’s toxic, let yourself get angry. This can be a hard thing to do, especially if you’ve been entangled in your empath-narcissist dance for a long time. You might feel that you deserve what you get, or that your partner has some kind of hold over you.
It might take time and an improvement in your self-esteem before you feel entitled enough to stand up for yourself and take control of your life. Have patience, and talk to a therapist if you feel the need to. Yes, anger doesn’t feel great, but it’s self-destructive to hold it inside and a necessary part of moving forward.
Stop Fueling the Behavior
Use all that newfound self-confidence to set clear boundaries. Stand up to your girlfriend and demand respect. At first, she’ll probably get angry and turn things back onto you—gaslighting is a popular strategy among narcissists—but stay strong. Eventually she’ll either start treating you better, or she’ll leave.
Narcissists hate it when people refuse to buy into their self-aggrandizing agenda. They don’t have the time or patience for non-admirers, so don’t be surprised if she ghosts you and moves on to her next victim. Just remember, you deserve to be with someone who respects you and treats you well.
Block Her if Needed
If she can’t find a suitable replacement, or wants to test the power she once held over you, your narcissistic ex might reach out—weeks, months, or even years after you’ve broken up. She’ll probably do so in a very sincere-sounding, apologetic way. She might say something like, “You’re the only man I ever loved.” Don’t fall for it. This is her attempt at luring you back into the toxic life you’ve worked so hard to escape.
Give it at least three months of zero contact, more depending on just how dysfunctional your relationship was. Sometimes it’s best to cut ties forever, knowing that no amount of love and affection can “fix” a narcissistic person. They need to want to fix themselves.