There is conflicting science on whether or not happy memories are easier to recall than sad ones. Ask anyone who’s trying to get over a Narcissist and they’ll tell you they wish they could hang on to the bad, but always seem to recall the good.
We know that trauma bonds deepen the connection between abuser and victim. We know that early programming fools us into believing that intensity is the same thing as intimacy. We also know that codependency confuses us, it creates doubt, shame and guilt and its objective is to keep us where we are.
With all of these things working against us, it’s no wonder trying to break free from a Narcissist seems so difficult. These things seem so implausible that most of us, trying to get over the relationship, find our well-meaning support teams uttering things like, “Why can’t you just get over it.” And they get tired of hearing us talk about it, mope around and often relapse.
They watch us go in and out of relationships that are so obviously dysfunctional to everyone else around us. They get frustrated by our inability to distinguish reality from fiction. But mostly they get tired of watching us harm ourselves by ignoring obvious signs.
I get a lot of people asking me to make sense of their partner’s behavior. They’ll list tons of great things, followed by tons of terrible relationship crimes and they have so much trouble trying to interpret the signs. The truth is trying to discern someone’s real intention is a lot more simple than you might think.
They Love Me. They Love Me Not
If you can’t depend on them for anything, you’re not in a healthy relationship: If certain events come up, or typical things that would require the participation of a significant other and you already know you need not even ask your partner, this is huge sign that you’re not in a real relationship. No amount of post coitus cuddling and promises makes up for them choosing to not participate in your life.
If they treat you great one minute and then ignore you the next, you’re not a healthy relationship: You shouldn’t have to second guess where you stand in your relationship. If you’re getting mixed signals it means that your significant other isn’t committed to the relationship. Get out and don’t put yourself through the strain of having to figure out whether he/she are in or out. Relationships shouldn’t be something that requires guess work.
If they actively flirt or seek out other people while in your presence, you’re not in a healthy relationship: If your partner does that in front of you I’d hate to see what they do behind your back. Not only is it incredibly disrespectful it also shows attention seeking behavior and believe me, you want no part of that. The damage that does to your self-esteem isn’t worth any price.
If they don’t treat you like a priority, you’re not in a healthy relationship: If you constantly feel like you’re not important to the one you love, you need to get yourself together and exit the relationship. There are few things worse than unrequited love and if you stay hoping to change their minds you’re just setting yourself up to fail. If you ever want to change someone’s opinion about you, start with changing your opinion about yourself and walk away from anything that doesn’t lift you, or make you better.
If they don’t introduce you to their family and friends after a certain amount of time, it isn’t a healthy relationship: If you’ve been dating for months and you haven’t met their family or friends there’s a problem. It could mean they’re married, or in a serious relationship. It could mean that they’re serial dating or that they don’t have honorable intentions. It is healthy to wait until serious about someone before integrating them into your life, especially if you have children, but if you’re already sleeping together, you’re spending days living at each other’s place and months have gone by, I’d say, if it walks like a relationship and it talks like a relationship – it’s a relationship and I’d expect to be treated like I’m in a relationship. If your significant other is holding back I’d demand to know why.
If you want one thing and they want something else, it isn’t a healthy relationship: If you’re sticking around hoping he/she will change their mind and realize you’re the one, give your head a shake and get the hell out. I have a simple rule about change – either I accept things as they are or I leave. Change is hard in the best of times and when you’re hoping to change the way someone feels about you, and you think the best way to do that is by sticking around accepting the status quo you’re greatly mistaken. If someone isn’t sure how they feel about you, make their choice simple. Walk away.
If they show needy, jealous behaviors you’re not in a healthy relationship: The healthiest relationships I’ve ever seen consist of two people who have lives inside and outside of their relationships and who encourage the other to grow and be better. If your partner is extremely insecure and makes you feel guilty about wanting to spend time with friends and family, you’ve got a problem. If they need to stifle your growth for their own comfort level, you need to really pay attention to what’s happening in your relationship. It’s a clear sign that your partner is only interested in their own wants and needs and is not interested in your happiness. Never dim your light to make others happy.
If you stick around because you think you can’t do any better, you’re not in a real relationship: I can’t tell you how many of my clients list all these amazing things about their partner. Things like, “He is model gorgeous, his family has money, he’s got a really prestigious job, he’s famous, he’s in politics, she’s an actress, or a doctor …. Yeah I get it, they have some things going for them. Great. It’s too bad they treated you like shit. When you stick around because they have one or two special things about them, you are putting a price on your self-esteem. The fact that they have money isn’t more important than the way they treat you. if you think that the few perks you receive once in a while is more important than the way they treat you, then your priorities are all screwed up. If Irina Shayk can walk away from wealthy, gorgeous, famous and talented Cristiano Ronaldo, you can walk away too.
If you are wondering more times than not, whether or not your partner wants to be with you, you have to come back down to reality. In healthy relationships you don’t have to wonder or guess what your significant other is thinking or feeling about you, because they are telling you and showing you that you are a priority – consistently. If someone is ok with hurting you or making you feel uneasy, then they are not for you. You don’t need a scale to balance out the good vs the bad. You don’t need to be a detective to put all the pieces together. This is really simple stuff. Either they treat you consistently with love, kindness and respect and there is a balanced reciprocity, or their isn’t. It doesn’t matter if they’re gorgeous, rich or famous – whatever you think you will gain from their attributes pales in comparison to what you will lose by sticking around and allowing them to keep kicking you. Do right by you. Practice self-care and take care of you first.
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Aloha… thank you so much for your blog, I read it over and over and over. It’s just been a few months since I left my narcissist, and have had no contact now for three weeks this time. He still emailing me and I am not even opening them rather just leaving them in the trashcan. He insists that we belong together but continues throughout our relationship to go back-and-forth between me and his ex-girlfriend. I’ve met a wonderful new man who is everything I said I wanted my narcissist to be, And I’m very happy in my new relationship; and I am working really hard on using my experience with the narcissist to ensure that I behave appropriately. He contacted me again this morning via email and it made me shake. I did not answer nor did I read it. Thank you so much you’ve Helped me more than you’ll ever know and I just want to let everyone know that there is someone out there for you! That will be everything you want and need and you can be everything they want and need and have a healthy relationship! All we have to do is keep up the no contact, and then continue to reprogram our brains by reading and therapy and information …we can overcome our codependency.
Ask anyone who’s trying to get over a Narcissist and they’ll tell you they wish they could hang on to the bad, but always seem to recall the good. POWERFUL SAVANNAH AND SOOO TRUE.
9 YEARS………..My family and friends constantly tell me about the bad and the eggshells I’ve walked on all those years and the abuse and ignoring and punishing me for days. And all I would do is think of the good and how much I love her. Crazy stuff. Everything you say my relationship was unhealthy but cant even stick to no contact for longer than about 5 days. I did it again and contacted her and BANG I copped it again. I have try again. I want to think about the bad. She shoves this new girlfriend in my face enough and I go back for more, and patronises me with messages saying she hopes I find someone who will love and care for me so I can be happy. What a fucking Narc…..
Thanks again Savannah.
I’m so tired of feeling like this and want to feel positive again and exert positiveness.
I feel very bitter and angry. I’ve given up on love. I don’t feel like anyone would want me. How do I ever get past that?
My relationship of nearly 4 years tucks every of the points you listed.
I tried to leave actively for the last 8 months but he still managed to drag me back in by saying a few “right” words and making promises he never kept.
I found it increasingly hard to walk away from him due to my own emotional attachment to him but more and more I come to the conclusion that until I am free from him I will ever be happy as the past 8 months have been absolutely terrible.
I just need strength to say no once and for all.
I have been reading every weeks info,
Sometimes several times.
I believe I have been dealing with N for 4 years, however I don’t believe another woman was the issue. He would just make irrational decisions to end the relationship. We work for the same company, the last time he tossed me out was because he didn’t like the color of my supervisor, the prejudice just coming out of the clear blue.
Could it be that since he doesn’t appear to have been cheating that he is not a N but perhaps BPD?
He has fairly severe OCD, and had a nightly ritual of washing his clothes the minute he walks in, takes his shower, moved the clothes to the dryer and then washes the ONE towel, from there it goes on to his daily chore list . He goes for long periods of not drinking, then binge for a night.
I wrote to you last night on an old blog that on my Birthday he decided he wanted me gone( no explanation ) and let my horses loose. For my own healing I would like to know what (who) disorder I may be dealing with. Thanks Suzy
Shatteredneedglue: The presence of absence of another woman does not constitute Narcissism. A Narcissist is diagnosed using the criteria in the DSM.
Thankyou from Australia Savannah, for your most wonderful blog.
I can so relate to every point that you have written! My “problem child” swept into my life 6 months ago and I have been on a roller coaster of highs/lows, obsession ever since.
I thought that after almost a lifetime of men as above I was done, but sadly no.
I am still struggling with denial/fantasy ..still giving him the benefit of the doubt .
I think that I am hooked on the excitement/adrenaline rush.
When I look closely he truly has nothing to offer me as I wouldnt even ask him to change a lightbulb.
i am reading your posts since half a year…all the way from holland. your experiences and insights are my new beliefs and motivation.
After reading this and looking back at the relationship I had with my Narcissist, I actually can’t believe that I could do this to myself?
I really needed to hear these words today, each statement rang so true. I am going to study this page. God bless you, I am so grateful to have found this blog. You have helped me so much with your posts but this particular post really hit home.
These catalogued of thoughts and questions and behaviors are incredibly helpful, thank you once again. Experiencing a narc is extremely disorienting as you have written about often — partly because their thinking and actions are so chaotic and partly because they intentionally manipulate us to gain control and for the sadistic pleasure it brings them.
Really when I read this post what comes to mind is this: if I am confused in a relationship that *by itself* is all I need to know. Healthy and functional relationships in my past have never been confusing. When you are respected and valued there is only clarity and not confusion. Confusion comes when I get mixed signals or when my partner’s behavior is not congruent with her words (like with the narc: who always said I love you while flirting with any man enough for long pants).
Your blog is so helpful because it brings order and organization and clarity to a muddled and confusing situation. But the confusion itself points very clearly to a single solution: get out!
Ps: NarcRepellant good to hear from you. The married guy and his behavior says far more about him than you. It doesn’t mean you are a magnet, it means he is a maggot.
Thank you for sharing your insight and for the service you provide. I so look forward to your posts. You helped me understand the crazy relatioNship I was in and to break free of it, to which I am so grateful. One year post-N, I met a man who seemed the opposite of N and I was so hopeful to have finally found a normal, caring person. I read and re-read your advice and looked for red flags. All was well until he seemed to start sending very mixed, confusing messages but your words echo in my mind and remind me that the messages really aren’t confusing…he’s clearly telling me through his behavior that I am not important enough to make a priority. The codependent in me wants to spend days analyzing his behavior to offer up excuses for him and even go to great lengths to show him how loving and giving I am, and worthy of him. I used to pride myself on being such a giving, loving person, but now I recognize the behavior as an illness thatI need to overcome. In this case, I have no idea what this guy’s deal is but I don’t care. His behavior shows he’s not interested in me so I will move on and not look back. Thanks for another affirmation of how clear people’s behavior really is and for giving me the strength to put my needs first without feeling guilty for doing so.
Does this apply when going back to the narc for the 10th time? I have all those in the last week. He just dumped me via text again. Am I the narc???
It’s been a while since I’ve visited this site and commented. I hope everyone, including the regulars, are doing well.
Something happened last week that prompted my return to comment here. But before I get to that part:
It’s been two years now since I left my Narc, and I’ve been consistent with No Contact. He now feels like a bad dream I had in the distant past. I’ve changed a lot, and for the better.
The past year, I decided it’s best that I remain single and not actively date anyone, because I’ve got bigger things to tackle and focus my energy on, like self-care, getting better and my career. I have not been on dating sites, don’t actively seek mens’ attention, and lately have been turning them down/any offers for dates. I’m just not into it or ready.
Part of the reason why I also turn men away is because I’m still not 100 percent sure yet that I’m no longer a magnet for Narcs. 1-2 years of healing cannot erase a lifetime of programming. So I’m suspicious of men who hit on me or ask me out — I wonder if they’re Narcs who can sense what’s left of my issues.
Anyway, last week, a married male friend of mine freaking HIT ON ME. It’s been over a week since this happened and I’m still upset.
I’m upset for the usual reasons (breach of trust, him being disrespectful to me and his wife) and I KNOW that this is not my fault and has everything to do with him, but I just can’t take it.
Am I this much of a loser magnet? Are only unhealthy, predatory a**holes going to be the ONLY men who are attracted to me? What the hell!
Yes, I ended the friendship immediately and felt no need to justify myself to him, and I haven’t looked back.
This was such a clear-cut, straight forward article!! I wish I’d read this within two weeks of meeting the ex. I practically had a full-time job of analyzing every incident, every word, every action or lack thereof. I was spiraling out of control (pun intended as all of this extensive analysis took up spiral notebook after spiral notebook). I heard myself explaining, “It’s complicated” to others when trying to describe him or the relationship. I’m keeping your article close at hand and will review it when I’m in a new, hopefully uncomplicated relationship! Thank you, as always!!!
Every post is exactly what I need to hear that day. I left my N but I’m really struggling with no contact. I still feel like I have to have his acceptance and approval. This is so hard yet I know I have to stay away.
Good morning Savannah ,
Your emails always are tuned in my thoughts , today was great as my relationship hit the majority of criteria above .. as much as I know in my mind that this was the best thing for me … I still struggle with the betrayal, abandonment, and lies ..the feeling of never being good enough … being left for someone way younger … and he married her within a year … have to heal myself from all of this ….. thank you for describing exactly what I experienced and validating that I’m not crazy !!!
“do right by YOU” pretty much sums it up. thanks
I’ve been reading the articles here for a few months, but I’ve never commented, until now. When I first found this site, it was from doing a search on narcissism in relationships after I terminated my short fling of three or so months, and kicked my ex-N out of the house.
I have noticed in a lot of the comments here and on other sites, that people seem to be romantically and/or sexually attracted to the their N’s in some form or another, if not just emotionally. However, in my case, as an aromantic asexual (someone who does not fall in love and feel romantic, or sexual attraction) I was not very attached to the N I had let into my life.
I had one serious relationship before I met my ex-N (who was also younger than me by a couple years), and hadn’t dated in a few years, so I wasn’t even looking for another one.
Partly due to the fact that I’m fine being single, and also due to my orientation. Although because of my inexperience, and my need to know how I “really” felt about romance/sex besides feeling uncomfortable with it either due to how I was raised, and my orientation, I decided to give it a go with my ex-N.
I noticed warning signs early on and ignored them, because I had never known anyone who was a narcissist. Though, like many, my ex-N has a history of substance abuse and possibly borderline personality disorder (I’m not certain about the BPD but I strongly suspect it).
So everything I thought was weird, or made me feel judgmental (which I try not to be) about their comments, I passed off as not knowing them well enough yet, and as such, I couldn’t judge them for being ignorant of certain things. Like never having met or been with someone like myself, who has no interest in being swept off their feet and being physically intimate.
I believe this is what made it so difficult for my ex-N to deal with, because I didn’t fall for their tricks. I’m also a very calm person, and was a spectator to their constant drama (which I had to deal with from the beginning).
Whenever they yelled at me, which at first I thought was due to stress, before it became a pattern, I told them it was abusive and it needed to stop. Of course they didn’t, which was the last straw for me and I ended it. All I did was cry as a reaction to being yelled at, cause no one likes getting yelled at, and that was the most they got out of me (besides some money I’d lent them and made them pay me back).
I also realized that I am somewhat codependent – I take care of people, and put them first before myself depending on the person. But I also know my boundaries. I’ve had enough experience with other peoples’ drama, that I know when to quit and refuse to be abused by someone whom I had never treated cruelly. Once I cut them out of my life, I never contact them again if I can help it.
Every time my ex-N demanded I needed to do something – like have a job even though I was working off and on (but not giving them any money, of course) – because we were together for such a brief period, I told them straight up that we were NOT in a committed relationship, nor were we engaged or otherwise married. I wasn’t relying on them financially in any capacity (though they constantly tried to act or say that I was, which was supposedly a habit of their past exes).
They also accused me of being the one using them, despite the fact that they were living with me, and I’m sure all of it was because I didn’t behave like someone who could and would fall head over heels for them. All I did from the start, was make what I thought were compromises. Even when I didn’t want to be intimate and they did, I went along with it – though I realize now that was wrong. They often didn’t ask for my consent, which is just another layer of abuse I’m sure they’ve done to other people.
Especially their ex before me that they’d dated for a few years off and on, whom they compared me to several times (despite making derisive remarks about their ex’s life choices like wanting to be a homemaker – which is perfectly within their ex’s right to do), and their other past relationships that tended to crash and burn.
All the classic N behaviors were exhibited by my ex-N, from the cold shoulder and silent treatment, to trying to make me jealous, yelling at me and accusing me of things (sometimes under the guise of trying to help me, because they were the type who needed “tough love”, so they applied the same tactic, which didn’t work), everything under the sun.
Ultimately, all they really cared about was money and having someone to take care of them. Which obviously wasn’t going to be me. So I’m glad that I was able to see it for what it was, and not be sucked into a lifetime commitment. I know that my short-term experience is nothing compared to what some people have gone through, particularly where my orientation is concerned, but it opened my eyes to what N’s truly are… and it might have saved me from a worse relationship down the road.
Now that I know the signs, and know I truly have no interest in anyone apart from platonic feelings, I’ve been able to learn from this and move on. Every problem in life is a learning experience, and that’s what I intend to do.
I might think about my ex-N on occasion, when I have a minor epiphany about their behavior I hadn’t noticed back then, but for the most part I don’t. It’s taken me a while to get to where I was before that time, since I’d put aside my own hobbies (like many of us do or did).
If I hadn’t gone through it, I might not have had the experiences or even the knowledge I needed, later on, after the fact.
It’s just another stepping stone to where I’m going in life, and I won’t let it weigh me down.
I was dating someone at my work (different department so we don’t see each other often) I ended it with him over a year ago and suspected that he was a narcissicist or had narcissistic tendencies. I was a wreck and am just starting to feel like i am getting myself back. Soul ties are very strong!! I know that i am a codependent and that the majority of my relationships and marriage have been with emotionally unavailable men/ narcs. Anyway, i have made sure that i don’t acknowledge him or make eye contact. If i do run into him at work its just a quick good morning and i carry on my way. When i called it off with him he said this is how all his relationships end and that he is unable to form emotional bonds with women and has been that way since he was 18 yrs old. His preferred form of communication is texting/messenger. We both basically just avoid each other but in December he started trying to engage with me again but i just ignored it. Then for some reason the other nite a msg from him showed up on messenger dated Feb. 29. He said i hope u are well just wanted to say hi and see if you wanted to chat sometime. I find it very awkward at work between us and i know thats my fault. Anyway if u have any interest in talking about it let me know. Is this another hook? What does this mean? Part of me wants to see what he has to say and the other part of me thinks its been over a year who cares if its awkward we hardly see each other anyway. The codependent part of me says maybe he has changed and leaves me fe3l8ng very confused. Help i need your advice!!!!!
So simple, but this says it all. No question about it, walking was the right thing to do.
Thanks for all your wisdom and kindness!