Last night I watched an intriguing film which told the story of a man who had never forgotten his first great love. The extent to which he hadn’t forgotten her was obsessive. He thought about her all the time, wrote letters to her every day (which were returned to sender as she hadn’t lived at the address he had for her in decades), and mentioned her in his conversations with others (in a way which made people want to avoid talking with him). She was the one who got away and because of that she got in the way of all his subsequent relationships for the rest of his life. He couldn’t love anyone else because no one could live up to his idealised version of this perfect love he had had and then lost. She haunted him and through him she haunted everyone in his life.
Eventually we find out a secret about him and his relationship with this woman and why she got away, why this great love ended.
The love of this man for this woman was narcissistic.
He was Narcissus staring at his own reflection in a stagnant pond of the past, but to him that reflection was a magnificent ocean upon which he sailed chasing after a fairytale that with each passing year became even more perfect in its love. The past was always more alive to him than the present.
Although his love was narcissistic, he was not a narcissist but his obsession with this love, his absorption in the wound caused by the loss of that love, his living in the past, made him behave narcissistically.
While watching the story unfold, which it did in a dreamlike manner, my mind offered up a few associations of other stories told of love, loss of love, of obsession and pining away for something which was never real, for something which was never what it eventually becomes the further away from it you get.
One of the diagnostic criteria for NPD mentions a ‘preoccupation with fantasies of… ideal love’.
Those who have a been in a relationship with a narcissist will be treated to a version of this preoccupation with fantasies of ideal love one way or another, probably in many different ways.
In my own experience of narcissists – they never stop talking about love. They talk about love all the time because they’re obsessed with it.
But we’re all a bit obsessed with love and love to talk about love, tell and hear stories about it, read books about it, see films about it, listen to songs about it, chase after it, be chased because of it, pine for it, lust for it, think it will cure all our problems like a magical wand being waved over our hearts… or blame it for being the source of all of our problems, it’s the knife which stabbed our heart, the hammer which shattered us into pieces.
This obsession with love is a shape-shifter and can take on many forms.
One of the forms it can take may be to get us involved with a narcissist.
Our obsession with finding love meets their obsession with being loved… and, at first, it can be the greatest love story which ever happened in the history of love.
They appear to have stepped out of your dreams of love – you’ve finally found your prince or princess charming!
Why do you think that?
Can you recall what made you think they were the embodiment of your ideal lover?
Was it because they made you feel as though you were the embodiment of their ideal lover?
Everything about you was special, they couldn’t take their eyes off of you… you were just too good to be true.
If you can keep this love in the realm of fantasy it may stay that way forever and ever and you will live happily never to have an afterwards.
If you can stop reality from bursting your bubble… but you can’t because it isn’t you or reality which bursts it, it’s the narcissist who does that then blames you and reality for it.
There is something inside of the narcissist which can’t resist destroying the castle in the sky which they’ve built, and doing that while you’re inhabiting it.
Why do they do that?
They have it all and they throw it all away. You gave them your everything and it still wasn’t good enough for them. It was good enough for you, right, for you this love you had with them was perfect, they were perfect, you were perfect together. You made them your everything and you thought that you were their everything (because they kept telling you that you were)… how did this wonderful cornucopia of everything turn into a wasteland of nothing.
Nothing but pain.
Because for a narcissist the real everything is the pain. And there is nothing quite like the pain of the loss of perfect love.
There was a very clever scene in the TV series Girls which captured the narcissistic love perfectly. The whole series is an homage to narcissism in all its forms (including societal narcissism), but this particular set piece showed narcissistic personality disorder at work in a romantic relationship. The narcissist was the character of Marnie, and her victim was the character of Charlie. She breaks up with him in typical narcissistic discard fashion, and moves on quickly to someone else, someone better. She’s happy pursuing pipe dreams which offer happiness and that’s all that matters. But then she finds out that Charlie has moved on too, and this infuriates her. She actually states that she expects him to be heartbroken and pining for her and the love that he lost when she left him for many years to come, maybe forever never to get over her.
In some ways the only way a narcissist can feel love is when that love hurts. They can only feel your love for them when your love for them hurts you… then they know that you truly love them, that they are really loved.
Love, for them, is an unrequited longing. A yearning for an intense pleasure which is always just beyond reach. It is a searing pain that accompanies their every living hour… they’re attached to that pain more deeply than they are to anything else.
They chase obsessively after cures for their never-ending pain, but that pain can never be cured, that wound can never be healed, not because it can’t but because they don’t and won’t let it – who would they be or become without it.
It makes them special.
It makes others special too… for awhile.
If you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist, you know what that kind of special feels like.
So much so that when it gets taken away it leaves you with an intense searing pain that borders on the obsessive.
Chances are that you never thought or felt as much for and about your narcissist until they hurt you in a way that no one has ever hurt you before and ever will. It cut you to the core. You’ll never be the same again.
Whether they discarded you or you escaped from them, you will never be able to forget them, and for a long time you will be obsessed with them.
Being obsessed with a narcissist is a normal part of the experience of a relationship with a narcissist.
Did the narcissist use black magic to cast a spell on you?
It can feel that way, and you may find yourself going down the path of magical thinking in an effort to explain to yourself why you can’t get someone whom you don’t want to think about out of your mind.
The harder you try not to think about them, the more you think about them.
And if you do manage to stop thinking about them, it’s like they have some sort of sick sixth sense about it as that is the very moment that they decide to remind you of their existence. Perhaps they send you a text, an email, try to contact you even though you’ve blocked them. Maybe they do it through someone else, either deliberately by sending a go-between to check up on you (and make sure you’re still obsessed with them), or accidentally, one of your friends asks you about how you’re doing, if you’ve been thinking about the narcissist, or maybe life turns on the radio with a song which was a favourite of theirs, maybe the theme tune to your great love.
You were almost free of them… but something pulled you back in.
is a big feature of the lexicon of a relationship with a narcissist. It is an intrinsic part of the narcissistic wound, and the wound gets passed onto you when you have a relationship with them. Their wound has a way of opening up wounds inside of us, sometimes because we have a similar wound.
is something which haunts and hurts all of us in some way.
You had the perfect love with your narcissist (before that word became their name). They were your ideal person. You were their ideal person.
Then all of that changed and became a nightmare of almosts which almost drive you insane.
You almost had the perfect love. You almost found your ideal person. You were almost their ideal person.
You almost had it all, for awhile you thought you had it all… and now… you almost have nothing left except your obsession for them, which is something you don’t actually want to have.
A relationship with a narcissist turns us into Narcissus.
At first by making us fall in love with our reflection in their eyes. We’ve never been so beautiful!
Later on that reflection changes. Bit by bit our beauty gets chipped away. Their eyes darken, clouds gather. The sun which shone upon us like a warm and blindingly euphoric spotlight slowly vanishes behind a dark cloud. Our reflection shifts from the light into shadow, until the shadow eats up the light completely.
Until all we see when we look in their eyes is a reflection of ourselves which terrifies us. We’re ugly, distorted, twisted, angry, venomous, vengeful, toxic shadows of our former beautiful selves.
We blame the narcissist for doing this to us, they’re the monster not us… but that does not bring the relief we’re seeking.
We can’t see ourselves anymore, but we can’t stop looking, searching to find ourselves again, see the beauty which once was there.
Just one more glance of that special vision of us which they showed us, which they used to see and which we saw because of them…
But the more we seek to find what has gone, the less we see.
The greatest trick the devil ever played was making us fall in love with ourselves as seen through the eyes of a narcissist.
Are you obsessed with your narcissist because of them or because of yourself?
Is it because of what they did to you or because of what you did to yourself?
Is it because you can’t understand them or because you can’t understand yourself?
A relationship with a narcissist brings us face to face with the narcissistic parts of ourselves, and as long as we refuse to look at what is there, avert our eyes and look elsewhere for a reflection which we prefer to see, we will be trapped in the pond of a past addicted to lost love and the pain of it all… until pain is all we feel, and feel intensely.
Writing letters to someone who will never read them.
But who are we really writing those letters to?
Who or what are we really obsessed about?
And what is the true purpose of that obsession?
Do we really want to hurt ourselves with it or are we trying to help ourselves?
How can an obsession help you?
More to the point, how can being obsessed with your narcissist help you?
An obsession with a narcissist feels more helpless than helpful. You feel powerless, your mind is not your own, it belongs to them. Even with them gone, out of your life, they’re still there, everywhere, still where they want to be at the centre of your universe, it’s still all about them. In fact it’s more about them than it ever was. Your every thought is about them. Your every conversation is all about them, even when it starts off being about something or someone else entirely it finds its way back to them. They own more of you now they’re gone than they did when you were with them.
They’re still doing to you what they did then. They’re still trying to control you. Only it’s not them doing it, it’s you doing it to yourself. You’ve become them in a bizarre twist to the story.
They’ve even managed to isolate you without them doing anything new or anything at all. You’re the one doing it. No one wants to be around you because they’re sick and tired of hearing about your narcissist, what your narcissist did to you, your PTSD due to narcissistic abuse, all narcissists in general, all the information you’ve gathered online about narcissists, the latest book you’re reading about narcissists, the most recent healing system which you’re using to cure yourself of all that your narcissist did to you, your new favourite hero in the fight against narcissists, and the latest person you know who turned out to be another narcissist.
You know you’re doing this but you can’t stop yourself. You’ve tried countless times, but it’s exhausting to control it and you keep losing control. You’d avoid yourself too if you could. If someone else did to you what you’re doing to others you’d probably label them a narcissist.
As painful as it is, this is part of the process of healing yourself from a relationship with a narcissist.
Think of it this way – if you go on a cleanse to rid yourself of toxins in your body, the toxins have to be flushed out of your system, and that’s usually a sweaty, stinky, unpleasant, things get worse before they get better process. The longer that your body has been absorbing the toxins, the longer it takes to flush your system.
So, your obsession with your narcissist is the psyche’s way of flushing itself. Every time you talk about them, every time you research and read up on narcissists, you’re sweating them out.
However, as with a body cleanse, there’s usually more to it than getting toxins out of your system. If the toxins were willingly ingested as part of something which used to give you pleasure until it started to be a pain and became unhealthy for you, you need to figure out what the attraction is and why it happened.
This is not something that someone else can do for you.
Sure they can give you great answers to your questions which hit home and make sense. But their answers will not be bespoke, tailor-made for you even if they say they are and you’re paying for a service which offers to do that. They’ll be generalised, one size designed to fit all, something they stitched together for themselves which may fit you, but it will not fit all of you and will need to be altered, or someone else’s take on your situation, you and your story seen through their eyes, processed through their mind, filtered through themselves.
Something that worked for someone else may work for you, but it may also not work for you – Don’t worry if it doesn’t, there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just not them.
Most of all – someone else did the work of finding the answers to your questions.
In the case of healing from a relationship with a narcissist the real healing comes from doing the work, from finding the answers to your questions yourself (and not the kind of finding which comes from using a search engine).
One of the ways to do this is to listen to yourself. When you’re talking about your narcissist, your relationship with your narcissist, listing everything which is wrong with them, how badly they hurt you, how terribly they treated you, and how much you love to hate them – listen to what you’re saying, especially the stories which you repeat and those elements of the experience which you keep coming back to and going over again and again until it feels more like stroking than poking a wound.
Listening to yourself can be more tricky than it may seem. If someone were to ask you if you’re listening to yourself when you’re talking to them, you’d probably get defensive and maybe even offended – Of course, you’re listening to yourself! You’re NOT a narcissist!
But you may actually only be hearing yourself talk rather than listening to what you’re saying.
Extract via Listening Myths and Misconceptions / Skills You Need
Mostly we tend to listen to ourselves the same way that we look at ourselves in a mirror. We know what we’re saying the same way that we know how we look. Although we’re more likely to admit to not being certain of our looks, more likely to confess to not having looked at ourselves properly, and may be more open to someone asking us if we’re looking at ourselves as we glance at a mirror.
Sometimes others become a mirror for us because we refuse to look at ourselves.
When what they reflect of us into our eyes is beautiful we want more and more, perhaps because we don’t believe what we are seeing and need for them to make us believe. It can take a lot of convincing. And even then we may never believe it… we may find it easier to believe something else, something ugly.
When what they reflect back at us is ugly, we tend to accept it more readily and hate ourselves for doing that, or pride ourselves on being able to shoulder the burden of it without it breaking our back, and we’re usually better prepared for it. We quite like fighting against it. The world is full of beautiful creations which have been spawned by people fighting their own ugliness, be it real, imagined, or someone else’s view of them.
The reflections of us which others show us are as real as the ones we show others of themselves. They know us as well as we know them.
A relationship with a narcissist is a house of mirrors… where all the mirrors eventually shatter all at once, and all that is left is what is within the mind’s eye. Inner self-reflection is the only mirror left, and it is the most interesting mirror to look at and to see yourself in… looking back at you, seeing you.
Oh how wonderfully insightful! Its great to read something that explains so well the un-explainable turmoil of the mind when involved with a narc.
Thank you 🙂
One of the things which has helped me deal with the turmoil is to accept it as part of the experience rather than rejecting it.
Years ago I read a piece of advice in an encyclopedia for children on how to deal with a tornado approaching your house. It advised opening the windows rather than shutting them, letting the tornado in rather than trying to shut it out, as this would relieve the internal build up of air pressure and the tornado would pass through causing less damage. I don’t know if that’s good advice for an actual tornado, but it struck me as rather an interesting tactic for a metaphorical life tornado. Kind of like that Zen advice to be a tree which bends in a strong wind as you’re less likely to break. So when turmoil hits let it pass through you knowing that you’ll be okay once it has passed, and it will pass. Each time it hits and passes you learn a bit more about how to deal with it and become more confident in your ability to handle it.
What kept me most stuck in the hell of my narcissists was in trying to avoid the turmoil because I feared it. Much of the turmoil is debris caused by the narcissist imploding and exploding, and trying to make us responsible for their mess.
What a great read for me this year as I recover from my own experience… even a bit weird because last year I directed him to one of your posts and he not only liked it, he commented in commiseration with you regarding his mother. Oh, if I’d only known what I was in for a mere 6 months later… Thanks for your messages. They help in myriad manner.
Thank you 🙂
That – If only I’d known then what I know now – part of the experience can be confusing, as it can make us feel both stupid and intelligent simultaneously, and we often get caught up in looking back at how naive me may have been rather than focusing on what we have learned and how that enriches our present and will help us in the future.
The pain of the experience gives us the impetus to go deeper within and grow stronger roots, and because we do that the fruits we produce mature and become richer, tastier, more full of life.
Many of the things I’ve learned by being in relationships with narcissists have improved my relationships with others, by making me appreciate people who aren’t narcissists more, by giving me an understanding of how to deal with someone who is being narcissistic, and by making me more conscious of my own narcissistic behaviour and how it can cause complications. It’s also helped me to deal with general life chaos, and be less susceptible to the narcissistic aspects of society and the media. It’s particularly useful for dealing with social media.
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I swear you post whatever is on my mind. Last night, I cried about the loss of my relationship. Because today will be exactly 2 yrs since our last, painful conversation. I thought…why am I still thinking about him? How long was it good anyway — 6 months? 9 months? And even during that time and after which was a total of 4 yrs, he wasn’t there emotionally, mentally. He was absorbed in his hobby which later turned to career. Even though I cry about it from time to time, I don’t feel that deep pain in my heart that literally paralyzed me. Mentally I am aware that I am sad that I shared my whole heart and soul w him. I honestly have no idea what he truly thought of me. He treated everyone the same which to me made me feel like, I wasn’t important or significant. He couldn’t care less if I was there or gone. I have no idea if he liked me. Did he stay out of After several months of EMDR therapy and Processing, I am okay. It is unfortunate it took me almost 1 1/2 yrs to reach to the point of acceptance and Acknowledging that my feelings were valid.
But, there is not a day or a moment that goes by that i don’t think of him. I find or see him in everything. And I mean, everything. It is only recently that now I can view it from a memory stance rather than react by becoming physically ill or be consumed w anger.
Btw, I’ve been reading, Focusing, which you mentioned to me awhile back. So thank you for that.
Thank you 🙂
I once read an article about divorce which stated that the end of a relationship is similar to a death, and that we need to go through a period of mourning after the loss of a relationship. That period of mourning ideally should equate to a percentage of the length of the relationship (I can’t recall what the percentage was) however it can last as long as the relationship lasted depending on how much of ourselves we invested in it and how deeply we were hurt by it. It said that we should try to refrain from pressuring ourselves to let go and move on before we’re ready to do that naturally.
But I think we never truly lose those whom we let into our hearts even if we want to because we feel betrayed by them and ourselves for having let them into our hearts in the first place. There’s a reason why we opened ourselves up and let them in, a reason which is part of our own inner story. Something we needed to learn by bringing it into our lives through having a particular relationship with a particular person.
A relationship with a narcissist tends to force us to develop a deeper relationship with ourselves.
One of the most harrowing aspects of a relationship with a narcissist is to realise that in many ways you never existed for them. I remember thinking many times that my parents wouldn’t notice if someone else took my place as their child (I also used to think they’d prefer it if someone else replaced me as they’d be better at being their child than I was) because I didn’t really exist to them. I was a figment of their imagination which they only remembered when it was convenient for them, when they needed me to exist – and the person they needed to exist wasn’t me, it was their version of me. I often felt like an object, a toy which they’d toss aside when they’d finished playing with it, if it didn’t please them or if it broke. As painful as this was it did make me focus on getting to know who I was for myself.
Sometimes when we think of them we’re actually thinking about an aspect of ourselves which is tied into the thought we’re having about them. We don’t always think of ourselves directly, sometimes we do it indirectly through others.
Do you think that perhaps two people are star crossed lovers rather than one of them being a narcissist? I think you said before you didn’t think my ex was a N. He was a Gemini and I was a Taurus 🙂
I suppose you could say that a relationship with a narcissist is one that comes under the star crossed lovers label. If you love a narcissist, if a narcissist decides they love you, the relationship is doomed in one way or another.
Of course relationships which don’t involve a narcissist can also fall apart and be just as painful and harrowing as those involving a narcissist.
The term star crossed lovers is connected ot astrology and refers to the stars messing up a relationship. In relationship astrology the natal charts of a couple are compared using synastry or a composite chart. There are certain aspects and placements which may cause problems.
This is an interesting post about using astrology to understand your love life – http://realitysandwich.com/116617/star_crossed_lovers/
Ultimately all relationships, whether they work out or not, are a part of our relationship with ourselves. Many of the difficulties we have with others tend to connect to issues we have in our relationship with ourselves, and those difficulties can help push us to figure out our issues, which changes how we relate to ourselves and therefore to others.
It’s actually fascinating to explore relationships through astrology, especially as an evolutionary experience. There’s a great book – Through the Looking Glass by Richard Idemon – which focuses on the astrology of relationship with self and other. It’s a great read and not just for the astrology, but for the perspective on feeling, emotion and interaction. 🙂
Yes. I remember this mirror. And yes, it took convincing. The problem was that the reflection was very inaccurate, and I knew that, so I had to buy into it, myself. I was as busy convincing myself as he was. But … initially, it was so great to sink into that belief that for this other, you’re great. It felt a bit like being on a really great, totally relaxing, luxurious holiday. Then the bill came, and it was huge. And that’s a sort of standard thing with narcissists. Nothing’s free, of course.
Many of the questions you raise here are similar to those my counsellor raised.
Great post. 🙂
Thank you 🙂
That’s a brilliant analogy!
If you consider the sort of pressures which we all have placed upon us, by ourselves, others, society in general, on a daily basis about being and becoming this and that, living up to some standard, some ideal, of size, shape, personality, identity, status, lifestyle, etc, and how it chips away at us like a woodpecker pounding on a tree, and we suffer from a sense of never quite reaching the mark even if we surpass it (there’s always a higher level no matter how high you go)… a narcissist, in the early stages of the relationship, can feel like a wonderful break from the relentless pounding and pressure, but in the later stages they become a much more intense version of the pressure and pounding because we’ve shown them exactly where to hit us to make a hole in us.
Initially they make us feel so good about being ourselves, it’s hard to resist that kind of experience. And perhaps that’s one of the most important things to learn from a relationship with a narcissist, but it’s also one of the first things we lose sight of when the other stuff happens and by the end of the whole shebang we regret the best of it because it led to the worst. We may even become afraid of feeling good about ourselves because it made us vulnerable to a world of pain.
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Thank you! 🙂
We do endure a lot of criticism, don’t we? When I stop to consider it, it’s a wonder that any of us make it out of childhood … and then there’s those of us who were raised by narcissists (and worse) . As you say, we’re woodpecked into submission.
For a long time I couldn’t really think about how good the ex-narcissist initially made me feel. It made my skin crawl. Not so much any more. He had warned me, too, but I thought he was joking, kind of. I stuffed the warning bell. If there’s one thing I learned from that “relationship,” it’s that I needed to do some personal work. I’m a better person because of it, and oddly enough, I have a narcissist to thank for that.
I can empathize with that! From the plural of “narcissists” I take it you had to deal with several ones? Depending on how severe their conditions are, that must be extremely tough! Dealing with a single one was devastating.I had been at the brink of suicide
I had to deal with just one, who was otherwise extremely well adjusted. That, however, only made it harder to accept the eventual betrayal and made it even more unexpected when the full extent of it came to the surface.
By the way, some of the users here had followed my blog. I think my previous blog was compromised by some of my narcissists followers, so I decided to set up a new one:
If you would like to know what it is like to live with a narcissist wielding political influence, please follow. She is up for election in Seattle currently! I also deeply, deeply hope that my experiences can serve as a cautionary tale to other people who think their loved one might have NPD.
Thank you very much for sharing 🙂
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Thank you for your kind comments. 🙂
I was married to a narcissist and I also believe that my mother was a narcissist. My mother passed away many years ago and it was only after I married (and divorced) a narcissist that I slowly came to realize that my mother was also likely a narcissist. Reading Ursula’s blog was part of the process, as well. In a number of ways, I married one because I had been de-sensitized to them, but I also did it to myself, too.
Sorry to hear that your blog may have become compromised.
I’ll come by for a visit. 🙂
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I think it’s important to acknowledge the good elements of the relationship with a narcissist because they help in dealing with the bad elements. They balance out the picture. But it does take time to get to that point where we allow ourselves to see the good bits, as those became bad bits when they made us vulnerable and opened us up to a world of pain.
I saw a rather brilliant rant today, thought I’d share it as I think you might enjoy it:
I love rants… especially in how he responded to people thanking him and he responded by saying, “you were willing to do the work”- so damn true. It’s all about choices. And it’s work. Making choices is work especially good choices since they tend to involve boundaries and being disciplined. I was leaving work today and thinking about choices, as I saw a patient whose choosing to make certain choices which were causing problems for her. I am learning to keep my mouth shut more, listen and not be so eager to say stuff. You have taught me that. To listen to ourselves and then ask people to listen to themselves. That’s when change happens- and the power stays were it belongs-with the person who seeks and not with the advice giver.
I enjoyed this particular rant because it was intelligent and humorous. He addressed several of my pet peeves about the self-help industry but rather than just point out things which he saw as problems and criticise them, he presented an optional perspective in a constructive manner. I also loved his moustache.
What I particularly liked was the point he made that someone who works in the self-help industry needs to remember that their job is to help people help themselves, to show people that they have the ability to do that and to remind people that each person is their own healer/helper.
Most of us are aware that we don’t always make the right or best choices for ourselves, and that some of our choices have caused problems for us. Because we’re aware of this we may decide to go to a professional for help and advice. Sometimes we only go to a professional due to the results of our choices being so problematic that we can’t sort things out for ourselves or ignore the problem anymore. We’re looking for help and advice, and guidance on how to make better choices for ourselves, how to help ourselves. The last thing we need is for a professional to take us through a list of all our faults and flaws – we’ve already got one of those lists, we probably have a large collection of those – or to point out to us that we’ve made bad choices and are still doing it all wrong – we do that to ourselves on a regular basis. We’re not looking for criticism – we get plenty of that from ourselves, from others, from society and the media – what we really want is for someone to give us a space where we can figure things out, talk things through, find solutions, and be given understanding.
When someone gives us understanding it allows us to be understanding towards ourselves too, and can lead to an understanding of the situation. There are always extenuating circumstances, those may get overlooked or dismissed – listening allows those parts to be brought out into the open to be seen, heard and understood.
Listening consciously to other people has many benefits – sometimes in hearing them tell their story, we figure out our own. 🙂
Thanks 🙂 His moustache rocks- I always wonder about the dudes that do that though- the curly deal at the end. I’d like to listen to his story.
You might find this entertaining… I mean informative – http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/11/01/how-to-grow-a-handlebar-mustache/
That was awesome…and entertaining! I especially liked when they made a point about DO NOT TRIM EVER, even when you are tempted to do so while growing it out. Picturing that is funny 🙂
It is just so painful to think of even of the good times, because it feels it has all been a lie.
It’s a common quandary which all those who discover that they’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist come across. The good gets lost because the bad eventually takes centre stage, the dream disappears and the nightmare takes over, and when it does it colours everything good in shades of bad. In some ways this needs to happen because the good once hid the bad and now the bad hides the good. Over time a balance between the two is reached, but that time can seem like an age – depends on how much of yourself you invested in the relationship, in the narcissist and their ideal persona, and how much of their betrayal includes self-betrayal (of you to yourself, of you ignoring the warning signs which are obvious in hindsight and that hindsight hurts us almost as much as the narcissist did).
Once the lie is found it makes everything which came before it seem like a lie. It isn’t all a lie but sometimes we need to see it that way to get ourselves out of what we got ourselves into.
Black and white thinking doesn’t help us in the long run (although it can help int he short term) when recovering from a relationship with a narcissist because there are many conflicts and contradictory elements which can’t be solved using that kind of thought. With narcissists the lie is tangled up in the truth, and the truth is tangled up in lies.
When you get enough distance from the experience you’ll be able to appreciate the good times, but right now don’t pressure yourself to do that. When you’re in the everything was a lie phase, it’s important to go through that and see things that way. Each phase is necessary.
Focus on what is and was real for you, true for you – ask yourself questions, let the answers unfold and let the experience work through you and you through it at your own pace. There is much to learn from it about life, ourselves, others, and the meaning of relationships.
Take good care of yourself, be gentle with yourself!
I am pretty sure I just met yet another narcissist (I’ve had two as boyfriends/friends, plus work with a female one) last week, because I’ve been obsessed with him since. It’s the only explanation I can come up with — him being narcissistic. Because I’ve met plenty of people in the 10 years since my last narcissistic boyfriend, and never had such a reaction.
Thank you for this post – and others. I just printed out the one explaining why an empathetic person is attractive to a narcissist. It’s wonderful! It does help me remember I’m not alone. I have to say, though, how upset I am with myself, that I would be this upset! I’m so embarrassed right now, and have to see him again today. I currently feel like that tornado is passing right through my soul – the one you just wrote about.
You wrote that we need to listen to ourselves regarding what? What question do we ask ourselves first? If I ask myself why I am upset right now, well, I think I hear an answer I’m too embarrassed to write…
Thank you for sharing 🙂
That’s exactly the sort of question to ask yourself. Ask yourself the questions to which you’d like to know the answers.
It’s just like a conversation with another person only you’re having it between you and yourself. If someone else was upset with you, you’d want to know why. You’d ask them why they were upset and probably ask other questions of them to clarify the situation. You’d want to understand what’s going on with them, and between you. This applies to our relationship with ourselves. Talking things through with ourselves is like talking them through with someone else.
Since you’re upset with yourself, it’s important to know why and to have a discussion between you and yourself about it so that you can go beyond being upset with yourself and find out more about what’s going on inside.
You don’t have to share the answers you get with anyone else, you just need to share them with yourself. Listen to what’s going on, acknowledge whatever it is. If it’s embarrassing, then deal with it as you would if a friend was embarrassed about themselves – be compassionate and encourage yourself to confide in yourself.
Sometimes those embarrassing truths are very liberating, especially once we’ve talked them through with ourselves.
When you’re with this man, listen to the inner chatter going on inside of you. We’re always talking to ourselves, but we don’t always listen to what we’re saying. Listening tends to clarify what’s going on.
Wow, well written and excellent questions posed. It’s been hard to keep my focus off her when “the house of mirrors” shatters, and I’m standing there alone and nekked, staring at myself. I feel like I’ve literally died, and there’s no going back. I have to mourn the ‘old version’ of me as well as a relationship that never really existed. I want both people back, but I still question myself, do I really?
I find myself having mini conversations with her in my head, like, I know when she’s thinking of me. I tell her, “Don’t come here, or our soul contract has ended”, and then I imagine myself cutting the psychic cords. Maybe I’m just wanting her to think about me (but not really), or maybe I’m just plum crazy. Regardless, I feel sick every time. Not a day goes by that I don’t have dry heaves. I just want to get to a place of complete detachment and grateful.
I guess I’m saying it’s really hard not to obsess when they’ve made such a mess, and one is faced with picking up the pieces. I still haven’t figured out which ones fit, but at least I’ve figured out some of which don’t. Thank you for sharing, always getting me thinking.
Thank you 🙂
There’s a lot to be found in allowing the obsession to run its course and working through it. We tend to become obsessed with things and people who hold answers to our questions – we’re not always fully aware that these are answers to questions which we’ve asked.
Each thing you figure out, celebrate it and take the time to let it sink in. Traumatic experiences take a long time to process. Progress can seem slow. Time is different when it comes to matters internal and of the psyche.
Each forward step you take… is a giant one in many ways 🙂
im back. i dont know if u still remember, yeah i was the cancer 32 yrs old who made a relationship with a 22 yr old cappy guy. we are once friends then after 2 years became lovers.. however things are falling apart now. I stumble upon this post of yours about narcissist, and everything…everything that states here happened and happening to me.
I felt the love he shown. it was magical. Ive never had the blissful feeling ever, this hearfelt leap i surrender and i did everything for him. He said he never had the kind of relationship and partner also who takes care of him and showed him unconditional love. However, after months i felt like he doesn’t appreciate it anymore. he started to tell me, am i trying to prove that i take it more seriously than him? he doesnt look at me the same way before. and when i reached to the point that i want to take some time off on our relationship, he begged and cried not to leave him.
Fastforward to now, he became distant. very distant that he told me he realized that he is holding back and i don’t need the kind of man he was. That it was his fault and he has many problems in the surface of his career and family. and he is lost. and although he didnt tell it directly, it shows in his actions and no more affection to me that our relationship is eliminated from his life. but what confuses me is he told me to hold on, and even say please.
he ignore my messages for a month now. i asked him to talk in personal and offered help. he said we will talk, if he is ready.
i was an obsess freak since then. i cant get him out of my mind. everyday i talk to my friends and tell the stories over and over trying to seek a correct answer, analyze what he is thinking and what can to do. to wait or not.
im trying to withdraw from the feelings that i invested only to find out im craving for more.
i should be the one to handle this maturely, but i cannot fathom whats goin on also inside of me. thats why i cannot think properly because my mind is preoccupied of him, of us together. Creating scenes on my mind of whats wrong and what could have been.
This situation and feeling right now is like castle thats burning down. although i am realizing liitle by little that loving him is not helping me, i started to list down what i really wanted in a relationship and the type of his love that im getting is not half of what i want and yet i couldnt get out from this beautiful chaos.
I do remember you and your story 🙂
I recently came across a series of psychological articles on relationship dynamics which I think you might find interesting as it may help you understand what is going on both with you and with him and in your relationship:
The articles cover three particular dynamics – demand-withdraw, pursuer-distancer, and fear-shame – that occur frequently in intimate relationships.
It sounds as though these are playing out in your relationship with this man, and may be part of the reason why you find yourself hanging on when you want to break free from the ‘beautiful chaos’.
The relationships which we have with others are complex and complicated even when things are going well, when things start to go badly we may get caught in a spiral that makes us dizzy with confusion. Clarifying the confusion and figuring things out usually requires focusing less on what the other person is feeling and thinking and focusing on what we’re feeling and thinking because by understanding our side of the story we can get a better insight into what’s really going on.
We often project and transfer onto others parts of ourselves which we need to face and integrate into ourselves. Sometimes present relationships reflect past relationships, particularly those which influence our relationship with ourselves. Sometimes we want from others what they can’t give us because it’s not their job to give that to us, it’s up to us to give it to ourselves.
You represent something for him and he represents something for you – but what is it that you represent for each other and it is really about the other person or more about yourselves. It sounds a bit as though you both want each other to fulfill a role for you which isn’t who either of you are – you’re both fantasising about who you want the other person to be for you, and that fantasy is what is fueling the obsession and the holding on to each other.
Astrologically this sounds as though it could be connected to transiting Pluto in Capricorn which may be aspecting both of your Suns. It might be an idea for you to get a chart reading which includes a look into the effects of the transits going on at the moment.
ursula, just wanted to add also that he caught him cheating month of April, i even saw the girl with him. it was traumatic, he kneeled and cried for 3 hours. it was the most sincere cry i had ever seen so i forgave him. A month later, i caught him once again via social media. He apologize and said to never give up. I dont know ursula, looking back now it felt like is he just like the game and chase? everytime i read in astrology that capricorn is the most faithful, the most serious in relationship…i wonder why my cap guy is almost LOST at everything? maybe because of his age.
I am torn between giving up or worth saving the relationship (?)
i still love him and though i find many reasons to leave him, i still found myself hook on the relationship we started. its really so hard to read his mind, and sometime i get philosophical answers than personal
I remember you mentioned that you had found out he was being unfaithful.
Reading generalised interpretations of Sun signs will only give you a superficial idea of how a Sun sign might be. They are not going to be specific to every person born under a sign. To get a more specific interpretation you need to get a chart reading done for a specific person, with all the other planets, their placements and aspects, and even that will still be about the ‘potential’ of a person.
Having Sun in Capricorn does not = faithful in relationships. Some Capricorns are faithful, some aren’t. Some people are faithful, some aren’t.
It’s best not to use astrological interpretations as a means of knowing who someone is and what they are like, as helpful as they may be they’re just a guideline. If you want to know a person, you have to get to know the person.
This man seems to be regularly unfaithful, which means that’s the way that he is. It’s part of who he is and if someone wants to be in a relationship with him then they’d better be prepared to put up with his unfaithfulness. He may apologise for it when he gets caught but he still does it. It’s something he does and he’d probably be better off being in an open relationship, however those who are unfaithful often don’t want their partners to be unfaithful to them too.
He’s not going to change (unless he decides he’s had enough of that behaviour). He said as much when he apologised and asked you to not give up on him.
It’s not that difficult to read someone’s mind, especially if you’ve taken the time to get to know them, listen to them, what they say, what their opinions are, and observe what they do, how they behave, what moves and motivates them. The better you know someone the easier it is to know what they’re thinking. If you’re truly interested in what they’re thinking, the person will respond to that interest. Most people will tell you exactly what they’re thinking if you ask them. The problem is that we often don’t like what we find in their minds, what they’re thinking, and therefore we dismiss it, pretend that they’re not thinking it and tell ourselves that they are too mysterious and hard to know.
We don’t like it when people aren’t thinking what we want them to be thinking, if their thinking isn’t our thinking, if their thinking is different from our thinking. When we want to be in a relationship with them we may try to control their thinking, want it to be what it’s not, want to change their thinking, and we get confused, disappointed, prone to delusion, illusion and fantasy when we find that we can’t control them, change them, get them to be who we imagine them to be.
You want him to be faithful – he’s not. A million astrological interpretations of Capricorn can tell you that the sign is faithful, but that does not make each person who is a Capricorn faithful. Besides he is faithful – just not to you or other people, he’s faithful to who he is, he’s faithful to his relationship with himself, and part of who he is is someone who is unfaithful to others.
If he isn’t who you need him to be for you, even if at one point he seemed like he was, then that most likely won’t change and you need to decide if you can accept him and like, love him as he is or if you can’t.
Be clear with yourself about your own thinking. This is far more important than being clear about what someone else is thinking.
Take good care of yourself!
Awesome article! 5 stars! 🌟
Thank you very much for sharing 🙂
Excellent article thank you
Thank you for sharing 🙂
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