There were two things that kept me stuck in the relationship with my boomerang Narcissist. One was the feelings it evoked in me. I would be so confused, why he would pull away, when being together felt so good. The other was that when he wasn’t being a jerk, he was really a great guy.
The feelings I had were incredibly strong, I was convinced I was in love with him. Once I was free of him and our relationship I realized that he was feeling something completely different than I was. In the moment he’d behaved like someone who cared, who was content, affectionate and happy. I was completely oblivious to what he was really feeling. It didn’t make a lick of sense to me and I felt compelled to figure it out, to help and to fix in any way that I could, because the good times, I thought, were just so damn good and how could he not be feeling what I was feeling.
The realization, that we weren’t sharing the same feelings, hit me like a ton of bricks. I wanted to spend every minute with him and it never even occurred to me that he didn’t feel the same way. When he was with me he sure didn’t act like that. We laughed, we talked, we cuddled, we held hands, for the most part, it was really wonderful and I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want that all the time. Figuring out that he didn’t and/or couldn’t feel the same way about me was a game changer. I had figured out part of the riddle. But that was only part of it.
The next was – why couldn’t he be that great guy I got glimpses of all the time? That was the guy I was in love with. I really didn’t care much for the angry, neurotic, insecure man/child that I got the rest of the time.
No one is 100% all good or 100% all bad. People are all different shades of grey. I’m sure even serial killers have some great qualities, but they’re certainly not someone I would want to date. When we are evaluating whether or not a person is good for us, we have to look at the whole picture of who that person is and not just on the bits that we like.
Even married couples have a few things they don’t particularly like about their partner…he leaves toothpaste in the sink…she hangs her bras in the bathroom to dry…she makes grinding noises when she sleeps…he snores… ect. These kinds of things are typical in all relationships, but when you’re talking about major issues like cheating, porn addiction, compulsive lying, fear of commitment, disappearing acts, irresponsibility, dishonesty, emotional abuse… these are deal breakers and they have to be. If your mate is exhibiting any of these behaviors any one of them is a good enough reason to walk away and if you’re still wanting to stay, then somebody better signal Houston, cuz there’s a problem.
I’ve had readers tell me that they felt like their partners were their soulmates and if it wasn’t for this pesky bad behavior things would be perfect. The thing is these pesky behaviors do exist. They’re real and they are likely not going to go away, at the very least not without being acknowledged, a strong desire to change and the appropriate amount of commitment to the therapy and to doing the work. Even after all that, the odds for a positive outcome still aren’t in your favor.
Another realization I had, was that that great guy that my boomerang Narcissist was, when he was with me, didn’t exist. He was a great guy, charming, funny, an attentive lover… because he wanted something from me. He liked to waltz into my life and weave this fantasy web for me. He was a damn good actor, because I bought his performance every time. He played sincere really well. When I would question his motives, he played hurt and dismayed to perfection. He was an expert at getting what he wanted out of people. It was very hard for me to accept that I really meant nothing to this guy that meant so much to me. Even his friends tried to warn me, but I was in la-la land.
I’ve had readers desperately try to hang on to their partners. They’ve been through counseling once – didn’t work, twice – didn’t work, three times, still didn’t work. They’ve given in and given up everything to make their partner happy and you guessed it – it still didn’t work. I think you only reach the truth when you have nothing left to give – and that is that you can’t make someone else happy if they’re not happy within themselves. Your partner can’t truly give something or receive something that they don’t have. Sometimes bad behavior is what it is. Sometimes dishonesty is what it is. Sometimes a lack of integrity is what it is and you can’t sweep it under the rug, it’s like dust, it keeps coming back and it just keeps piling up.
When you can’t trust your partner you aren’t in a real relationship. Part of feeling secure in a relationship is being able to relatively predict your partner’s behavior. If your guy or girl doesn’t show up when you expect them to, you’re not in a relationship. You can feed yourself all the excuses you want to, but if you don’t know what to expect tomorrow from your mate, you’re in a whole heap of trouble and you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. There’s no relationship in the world that’s worth all that uncertainty and self-doubt.
The only way to measure whether or not someone fits into your life is to consider the person as a whole. Sometimes bad behavior is just too bad to be in a relationship with. No one is so extraordinary that they get a free pass to mistreat you. No one needs a relationship more than they need peace of mind and self-respect. Holding out hope that their good qualities will resurface and permanently replace the bad is a fool’s hope and just not realistic.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only real test of a person’s true feelings is measured by their consistent everyday actions. If you don’t know where your partner is half the time, you’re not in a relationship. If you can’t trust them, you’re not in a relationship. If they treat you in an abusive fashion you’re not in a relationship. It’s time to step out of the land of make-believe and come back to reality. Just because you may have invested a lot of time and effort isn’t reason enough to stay. That’s just continuing to throw good money at a bad investment. If someone loves and respects you and wants you in their life, they will show up for you every day. They will prove it every day – not by what they say, or by what they promise, but by what they do – anything else is fantasy and just not worth the trouble.
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