“I don’t want to be in another relationship….ever.” This is one of the most common statements I hear from clients, as they move forward in their healing and that makes sense. Who would want to engage in something that was so painful and traumatic?
Relationships with emotional manipulators often cause addictive-like behaviors in their targets, with the extreme highs and the extreme lows and the feelings of powerlessness and the inability to stop the obsessive thoughts and feelings.
Once an alcoholic or a drug addict has kicked their habit they can never engage with it again as the law of addiction tells us that any re-engagement with the substance (or person in this case) will cause automatic re-addition. When you quit your addiction, it must be forever, or else you run the risk of becoming a slave to it once more. This is why, “No Contact” is recommended for these types of relationships.
For a Codependent, in conjunction with having a dysfunctional sense of self, comes an inability to maintain their identity in a relationship. So, the idea of immersing themselves in a relationship is akin to playing with fire. For some people, choosing not to engage in relationships ever again, allows them to maintain their independence and a sense of control over their lives.
It is usually a good idea to remain single while one goes through the healing process. It’s here where one learns how to be comfortable with being alone, the fundamentals of self-care and how to be autonomous in all areas of life. It is normal to have one’s guard up and create a form of emotional armor to protect themselves from further hurt and most of my clients indicate that they do go through this phase of self-imposed ‘singledom’ while they work on themselves.
Remaining single for the rest of their lives does work for some, it only becomes unhealthy when it is done from a place of fear. Being healthy means being open to possibilities, while at the same time, trusting yourself to make the right call at the right time.
What Healthy Looks Like
It’s similar to the aspect of learning how to eat a healthy diet. Unlike other addictions one simply cannot just stop eating. You have to learn, first and foremost, what good nutrition is – just like in relationships you have to learn what a healthy relationship is.
With a little help from Melody Beatty I’ve compiled a list of healthy relationship behaviors:
- Development of self is the top priority for both
- There is room for each other’s growth and the desire to change is accepted and encouraged
- Both have separate interests, hobbies, friends and activities they enjoy outside of the relationship
- Each are secure in their own worth and do not require the other to confirm or validate them
- There is reciprocity, compromise and appropriate trust
- Relationship is based on reality
- Acceptance of each other as they are
- Each partner practices self-care
- Both enjoy periods of being alone
- There is no guess work or mixed messages, there is consistent love, kindness and respect
- Dependability, responsibility and maturity
I would add a good dose of humor, as well and the ability to joke and tease each other, without fear of the other taking offense or lashing out. The happiest couples, I’ve witnessed, tend to always look for the humor in everything, rather than reasons to be offended.
In addition to having a cognitive understanding of the physical behaviors of a healthy relationship, there also needs to be an emotional shift in perception, before one undertakes a new relationship.
My big A-Ha moment, pertaining to my diet, came with the realization that what I put in my mouth had a direct correlation to how I felt about myself. The same holds true for relationships, pun intended. I stopped punishing myself and sabotaging myself with food and relationships. When I learned to love myself, I stopped doing things that would cause me harm. I wanted to treat myself well, I wanted to do things that were good for me and made me feel good and that became my driving force.
I broke the childhood tape, that kept trying to bring me back to a place of hurt and I learned to trust myself, that not only would I recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy, but that I would act on it too. Once you reach that place, the tools to make decisions that are in your best interest, are in place and you should be able to date again without fear, if that is your choice. Though there is a certain charm to being single, I think the motto of any healthy single person should be, “Yes, I’m single and you’re going to have to be pretty fantastic to change that.”
HI Savannah, Thank you Thank you Thank you. Well timed. I have been doing it tough the last month.
I read this today and realised “Yes”I am single and you will have to be pretty fantastic to change that.
It’s so hard some days trying to erase the memories that still come to me everyday. It’s realising that there are bad memories is the most hardest thing xx
This article has given me the courage to keep implementing No Contact between me & my ex N/S. We were together for almost two years. For the first year, my ex treated me like a queen (at least fifty percent of the time lol)…even bought me a ring & proposed Christmas Eve…
Within 30 days, my ex all of a sudden went from pure Divine Love and Adoration towards me, to nothing but extreme hatred and contempt.
I spent the next 9 months trying to convince my ex that I love them no matter what, I lost almost all my family & friends trying to appease my exes need for my constant time & attention…
I finally got it thru my thick head how severely abusive & manipulating my ex is when I was told they wanted to move with me to another state and start “anew “. I saved money for this, I gave up my job for this, and allowed my 3 children to go live with their cocaine and alcohol dependent narcissistic (but wealthy) father–
When we got to the new state & I unpacked some of our belongings, I noticed some dishes that needed to be ran in the dishwasher…so I ran the dishwasher. When my ex got home (while I was at the store) she threw a fit! I got a text with a picture of my belongings packed back in boxes and “How DARE you run the dishwasher before I had the chance to! You ruined my experience! All this stuff of yours clutters MY house! Get out!!”…
Needless to say, I left and drove the 22 hours back to old state… and now have my ex on No Contact. Thank God my iPhone doesn’t let me see the texts she still writes. One day I took her off block just to see what she was writing & it was a text boasting about how great of a person she is now that I am gone…
Even same-sex relationships encounter the Narc-Empath dance. My ex husband whom I was married to for almost 15 years is also a narc/sociopath…. I just need to not date for a long long time, heal my own childhood wounds, work on myself for mental & emotional health , and learn how to not attract those types of people into my life (whether male or female)
I’m going on three years now of being single ever since I left my Narc ex boyfriend, and I’ve gotta say it has been amazing. I absolutely love living alone now, and doing whatever I want, whenever I want. I enjoy not having to consult someone else’s feelings or thoughts. The smallest decision, like where to get dinner, to big life-changing ones such as possibly relocating for a new job, are my own to make. I’ve dated around, but haven’t been involved in anything serious, and don’t really have any desire to.
I recently went on a short vacation alone. I splurged on a great resort with one of those fancy pools, and I even went on a sunset cruise. It was GLORIOUS. I think I even surprised myself by how much I enjoyed myself.
During this time of healing, working on myself and recovering from co-dependency, I’ve noticed some big changes about myself. One that I am really proud of is that I no longer need to talk through/consult other people, such as friends, for making decisions about every freaking life problem. Because of my former issues, when I was younger I used to workshop, talk out and analyze things to death (because I did not trust my own perceptions, feelings and decision-making capabilities). Now, I just consult and trust myself, make the decision and follow through with it.
I admit that I will get pangs of wishing I was coupled up from time to time, but it only happens for one reason–traveling to two specific bucket-list destinations that I have. I would totally get on a plane to New York, Sydney or Hong Kong by myself, but those two places….they’re so naturally romantic that it really would suck to go there alone, they’re meant to be experienced with someone you love. And going with a platonic friend would just be weird.
Wow, I agree with you ladies! Being single is much better than living with a Narcissist. I would love a loving, equal relationship. I would love to make love to a woman who loves me. I never want to have sex with a narcissist who insists I please them, and they don’t please me. I guess that I should have been paid for that kind of sex. Lol
I am in no hurry to hook up with just any woman, it has got to be beautiful or no deal.
Having lost my friends due to my codependancy, Can’t even blame my ex grrrr. I am at the moment concentrating on friendship…so important. I’m also, how can I express myself? Seeing others as , simply put, we’re all struggling, some more or less. Some ‘friend’s’ forget it, they’re not friends and act so superior, totally in control of others but not themselves, Don’t need them, just more same, same. But I am really loving/enjoying some of my new friendships. For me It’s like a whole new, lovely world and that includes being able to express myself without fear of judgement on this site.
This is a wonderful article. I loved, loved, loved “Yes, I’m single and you’re going to have to be pretty fantastic to change that.” I wish I’d thought of that a month ago when a man came into my life and said he’d like to “see where this goes.” Its been a pretty healthy relationship thus far and I am on all new ground because of all the hard self-work I have done since my Narcissistic man left me for another victim (thank you, Jesus) thre and a half years ago. I miss being single! Not that I am really with him or committed at this point but love is so much different without codependency. I am on all new ground and I am very uncomfortable. Thank goodness I started therapy a few weeks before I met him because my counselor is saying “stay with the discomfort” and I am. Its all pretty uncomfortable! But I recognize that I do want a mate and partner and, though it may not be this person, I am excited to have attracted on a much healthier level this time. Still learning!
This is exactly what my conclusion 14 months post the divorce is: never ever again, unless someone pretty darn fantastic wants to share his life with me. I am afraid that I set my standards so high that there is not a chance that anyone can be good enough for me. Which is fine with me because I worked so hard on convincing myself that I am a whole person, good enough, and capable of being happy on my own that there is no way I would let someone ruin all this for the sake of not being alone.
Yes, there are times when I feel lonely and helpless but I quickly remind myself that I did feel like that when I was married and thought that I had a stable, solid relationship all vowed, signed and legalized. Except now, I don’t have to deny the feelings when they come and don’t expect anyone but myself to pull me through. I don’t have to pretend anything, I don’t have to prove anything to no one. I can go out if I want to and I can spend days by myself at home if I feel like it. I can throw a party at home without consulting guest list or a date. I can spend money whatever way I want to.
Gee… I don’t even have to have sex for the sake of having it!!! And most of all, I don’t have to tip toe around a semi-awake TV addict that might lash out his negativity at me or my child for whatever reason strikes his fancy. Oh, and I can wear red pants, or no pants at all if I want to. For me, this is called freedom!!! For me, this is claiming back my body, my mind and my soul. I won’t let anyone into my body, my mind and my soul, unless… I really, really find someone who would be worth it.
, “Yes, I’m single and you’re going to have to be pretty fantastic to change that.”
Pretty darn EXTRAORDINARY in fact!!
Love this!!! Unbelievably relatable! Thank you