Many recovering Codependents find themselves completely uninterested in starting a new relationship. They struggle with the fear of being powerless and caught, once again, in a Narcissist’s trap. Many build up walls and refuse to let people in. They’ve become emotionally unavailable and distrusting of anyone looking to get close to them. Their armor is thick and impenetrable.
Battling Codependency is a process. Being militant and anti-relationship is part of that process. I think of Codependency as something that can rear its ugly head again under the right conditions, even after you think you’ve licked it, so it should always be something that needs to be maintained. A Codependent will always have to be aware and vigilant, but that doesn’t mean being single and guarded forever.
The road to recovery is about taking those little steps, every day, that bring you closer and closer to feeling like a person of value, of having high standards, of being firm with your boundaries, of having no tolerance for poor treatment, of taking action, when what we want is not on offer. of putting ourselves first and practicing self-care. The more we repeat these behaviors the stronger our neuropathways become.
At some point, if a relationship is something that you want to engage in, again, you will have to learn how to trust yourself and to always do right by you, in every circumstance.
I’ve put together a list of behaviors to always be wary of, not just for Codependents, but for everyone interested in dating. Awareness is key to your success.
Behaviors to Be Aware of When Getting Back Out There
Pedestalling: A term used when you start dating someone, who initially lathers you with attention and admiration, then after a period of time, their attitude towards you completely changes. This is different from a typical new love interest petering off to a normal state. This is going from high intensity obsession to showing little interest. It’s to the point where you believe you have done something wrong to cause this sudden turn about in their behavior. This is problematic for a Codependent because they will internalize the rejection, believing that it is their fault. They will stay and try to win back the love they believe they have lost. They will jump through hoops, over-do and over-give, all in the name of being loved. They may stay for weeks, months or years, trying to recreate those initial feelings. For an emotional manipulator their goal is to hook you in and hook you in fast. They want your admiration – it’s what they’re after. Once they think they’ve got you, they start the discard phase and the mask slips revealing their true selves. If you recognize this behavior in your new partner, first talk about it and see if something is actually wrong. If they continue to behave as if their interest has waned, get out. You have no need to prove yourself to anyone, especially someone who’s showing you they don’t share your feelings.
Goal Differential: If you are on a date with someone and they tell you they are not interested in a relationship and are just looking to hook up, or hang out and you think that because you have so much in common, there is chemistry and a relationship is what you want, that you’ll be able to change their minds, down the road. If you want a relationship and the other person tells you, that’s not what they’re looking for, then that’s it – walk away – what you want isn’t being served here.
Ex-Bashing: Emotional Manipulators will tell you horrible tales about the relationship they just left. It’s a multi-purpose tool. First it makes you feel sorry for them. They’ve been terribly victimized. The right target (a codependent, will want to fix and nurture this poor baby, who just wasn’t treated right and wasn’t understood by this horrible ex). Next, the sharing of such intimate details creates a trust-bond and encourages you to share things about your life (things that will be used against you later) and finally, it really shows how little insight they truly possess. They take responsibility for nothing, everything is always someone else’s fault and they are always the victim. If they say it enough times (and they have as part of their smear campaign against the ex) they will actually start to believe it. Never open up too fast to people you barely know. If someone starts to ex-bash, this is a huge red flag that you shouldn’t ignore. If you do, chances are that the ex they’ll be bashing next will be you.
Mixed Signals, Ghosting and Submarining: If someone is blowing hot and cold about you, if they disappear for days, weeks or months and then show up again like nothing happened and this is causing you pain, anxiety and upset then this is not for you. You deserve more than someone that treats you like an option. Mixed signals are exactly that – they are clearly telling you sometimes I’m interested and sometimes I’m not – If they make plans with you and then don’t show, if they stop returning your texts and calls and you have no idea where they are or what they’re doing and then they show up and expect everything to be ok – you need to show them the door. Chances are they are involved with other people (despite what they may say). Do not stick around and try to get them to choose you. If someone treats you disrespectfully, that’s all the information you need. You deserve better – end it before you get sucked into a Peak and Valley relationship.
U-Haulling: This is a term used for someone that moves way too fast in relationships. Dating should be the get-to-know-you phase – not the, we-have-stuff-in-common-so-I’m-just-gonna-move-in phase. If you meet someone and they are pushing really hard to be a couple right out of the gate – you need to pump the breaks. This is a clear indication that this person has parasitic qualities – meaning they can’t take care of themselves, they’re users and they’ve worn out their last partner and they’re on the look-out for someone else to feed off of. See my blog entitled, Understanding the Parasitic Narcissist, for more information. Before you ever, even consider, moving in with someone, a whole heap of time needs to have passed and in this time, you’ve witnessed that they can take care of themselves, they’ve got their shit together, they’re responsible financially, they’re dependable, you’ve spent a lot of weekends together and have done a lot of test runs, you both are on the same page, you’re compatible and it enhances both your lives. Do not move somebody in because you need help paying the rent. Take care of your own sandbox and make sure your potential partner can take care of theirs.
Stage 3 Clingers: It’s normal to want to spend time talking and texting with someone you like. When you’re in the grips of budding love, your hormones are racing, making you feel good, but spending all your time, glued at the hip, at the expense of everything else in your life, is not only a bad idea, it’s also very unhealthy. Isolation from friends and family is a typical feature of toxic relationships. Spending all your time together is not proof of how much you love someone; it’s proof of control issues and insecurity. In a healthy relationship you should always maintain separate friends, separate hobbies and enjoy your time apart. Your relationship should be an important part of your life, but it shouldn’t be your top or only priority. Codependents tend to lose themselves in relationships and their lives become all about the other person. Your children (for those that have children) and your well-being should always be at the very top of your list.
Boundary Pushers: Toxic people tend to enjoy pushing other people’s boundaries. To them the more you do and the further you’ll go are seen as proof of love. It doesn’t matter to them that you don’t want to do something, or that you’ll feel uncomfortable, all that matters is that they get what they want. Your job, as a person of value, is to protect yourself. Make sure that all of your needs are getting met, make sure you are not being pressured to do something you don’t want to do, for example – if they don’t want to use condoms, then they can sleep with someone else. Unless you really know someone – this should be a must in the early goings of all new relationships, because there really is no good time to bring up, “Hey I just happen to have a wicked case of genital herpes.” It’s more important that you protect yourself, than it is trying to get someone to like you – especially if it costs you your health. If someone wants you to send them X-rated pictures – send them a picture of your naked middle finger instead. At no time is this a good move for you. There’s always a risk – don’t take it – even if you’re trying to come across as flirty or sexy – that’s not the way. People of value do not put themselves at risk.
Sex on the First or Second Date: Unhealthy people like to move very fast to secure a relationship. When attention and admiration are what you’re after, what better way to move things along, than to share a deeply intimate act. Knowing that someone is a good fit for you takes time. Sex complicates matters while you are still trying to figure things out. If sex is all you want, knock yourself out, but just make sure that that’s clear up front and that you are a person capable of having only a physical relationship.
Watch out for extremes, for instance – wanting to spend time together is a good indication that you’re both on the same page. Spending too much time together is not healthy, just like spending too little time together is unhealthy. There is a line.
The bottom line is if it doesn’t feel good, if something feels off, you don’t owe someone your time and energy – end it. Learn to trust your instincts, let them guide you. You don’t need to stick around and wait for proof. Get in the habit of putting yourself first and expecting that your needs be met. When you trust yourself to always act in your best interest you can handle any situation.
Image courtesy of nuttakit at freedigitalphotos.net
Thanks for the reassurance. I needed to hear what you had to say.
You just described my nearly octogenarian parent. I have been told recently who I may talk to and what I’m at say. This from a woman who shoves herself into any and all relationships. But two. She has even tried to keep me from conversing with them. Thankfully, they recognize her for what She is, an over bearing lonely elderly narcissist. When people ask me questions she jumps in to answer. Then spews psycho babble at me about of all things……
Remember I said a few weeks back I’d rather stay single with a dog? She’s why. People really do sometimes marry a person most like their parent. I did twice. Nature intervened the second time. We would have been married 20 years this month; nature and his stubbornness gave a fatal heart attack before we made it five years.
I bet he’s in the here after telling anyone who will listen how it’s all Electra’s fault. ( lol)
P.S. mother’s answer when told her daughter had become a widow at 30 was to tell everyone I was not allowed to marry again. She forbid it.
All of these were broken when I met my Narcissist spouse. As a man, we have a such weakness for sex. Sex for a man comes in three kinds: Good, Better and Best. (lol). My Narcissist spouse took advantage of that. I trusted that she was using birth control (she said she was), but found out later that she was not. She got pregnant and took advantage of my “nice guy” programming of “doing the right thing”.
Use the condom. You take control of the birth control. It is much better if you can wait until you have decided that she is “long term relationship material”, But as my Dad always says “A hard dick has no conscience.”
Just been ghosted by a sociopath about 5 weeks ago, after a 16 months relationship where he would not commit. I cannot begin to tell you how during the relationship, my emotions would swing like a pendulum. I was living on a virtual merrygo round.
Ultimately he ghosted me. The pain of being ghosted is horrible. They were signs in the early part of the relationship that something was off with him…but just couldn’t put a finger on it. He was like no other man I’ve been with. He did the usual love bombing and then the devaluing. I tried to break up with very early on, but he bombarded me with text messages and phone calls which made it hard to ignore him, since I still loved him. Then I assure he found someone to replace me. Hence the discard.
I can live without him, but what is keeping me up at nights is just how quickly he changed and without warning. I have been in No Contact since he ghosted me and it has been one of the hardest things thing that I have ever experienced I am not wishing this kind of pain on anyone as it is pure torture. But I am sticking to No Contact. As the saying goes if you are going to hell…keep going.
And thank you so much Savannah for your brilliant insight inside this insidious disorder. You have really helped us navigate this hell that they have put us through.
Not to discard your legitimate pain, what a blessing you got away from him so easily. He could have led you on and left you with four children and without a good job to provide for them. There is nothing wrong with you, in fact you must be quite healthy and normal for a Narcissist to let you go so quickly. He probably found found an “easier mark”. You are good and normal, he is the one that is sick.
A healthy man would see your inner and outer beauty and be smitten with you.
Thank you Larry. You’re probably correct with that. I stopped the sex as I came to the realization that he was using me for sex. The FWB thing was happening after 2 breakups.
And I do believe that he found an easier target. To them we are interchangeable. Like a pair of shoes. These people are inhumane and this is why they will never find peace and happiness.
I think that saying is, “if you’re going THROUGH hell, keep going …” (not TO hell) 🙂
It’s amazing that you chose to stick to no contact right now you are at the stage where you are internalizing the rejection. Fight as hard as you can.
I can’t thank you enough for your thoughtful, true and to the point articles! They give me comfort and help and peace of mind. Thank you!
I used to pray to God to “give me a clear sign if this person is not right for me”. If you have to ask God for a sign that IS the sign. I’ve learned, as you said Savannah, to trust my instincts. That’s why God gave it to us. So yes, if something doesn’t feel right, GET OUT. Oh the lessons I’ve learned.