We all want our relationships to workout. We’ve all grown up with the adages that relationships require work, compromise and sacrifice. The problem many of us have is knowing when to keep fighting and knowing when it’s time to let go and move on.
De-coupling can be complicated and scary. Certainly there is a great deal of fear and uncertainty involved, but staying together when you are both deliriously unhappy has equally negative repercussions.
Staying with someone, for reasons other than love, commitment and happiness, stops you from living a full authentic life. For one, it means that you’ve accepted that the romantic aspect of your life will remain unfulfilled and that there will be an absence of intimacy for the rest of your days.
Your home is supposed to be your castle – the one place where you feel safe and comfortable. It’s supposed to be the place where you want to be – your sanctuary but, if you live in a hostile environment, you won’t get through without battle scars.
When the person closest to you treats you like an enemy – what does that do to your self-esteem?
When the one person that should love you the most doesn’t – how do we explain it to ourselves or others?
Some very rare couples are able to co-habitate and co-parent in the same house, while living separate lives, but it is extremely uncommon. In order for that to work, both people have to still treat each other with love and respect and have no desire to reconcile. There has to be a firm understanding and acceptance of rules and boundaries – otherwise it is a recipe for disaster, with anger, resentment and jealousy as the main course.
So, how do you know when it’s time to leave? When is enough, enough? If you experience any number of the following situations your relationship is likely past its due date.
You fight and argue constantly about even the minutest of things and it always leads to name calling, character assassination, put downs and anger. This kind of fighting usually stems from two people who have lost all respect for each other, who don’t trust, or like each other. If your home feels more like a war zone than a refuge and you’re constantly on guard, tense and anxious – get out – it’s not only affecting your emotional health at this point, it’s affecting your physical health, as well.
There is any type of physical violence. The news has been abuzz this past week in North America, showing footage of former Raven’s football player Ray Rice punching his girlfriend in an elevator and knocking her unconscious. He is then seen dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator and dropping her on the floor face down. Rice’s team cut him from their roster. The league suspended him indefinitely and he lost all of his endorsement deals. Some people were most defiantely thinking that this was a heavy price to pay for one incident, but his behavior says all that has to be said about the character of the man. After the footage was leaked the couple held a press conference and she took a lot of responsibility for what happened – which is common for co-dependents.
When you’re involved with someone who thinks and acts like beating you is acceptable, you will never find happiness. You will learn the dance of the egg shell steppers and your life will be filled with fear and constant anxiety.
When you would rather spend time apart than together. If the idea of going home to your partner after a long day is utterly appalling to you and you would rather hang out at the local pub than go home, go to your buddies until it’s time for bed, or be anywhere else than with your mate, it’s time to stick a pin in it. This relationship is done. If once you did everything together and now you don’t even ask your partner to join you for a family function, because you already know the answer, you’re not in a relationship you’re roommates.
When you are nicer to the neighbor, the postman, or the guy you get your gas from than your partner. When all or most of your communication with your partner is mean barbs, digs and passive-aggressive jabs, there is something really wrong with your relationship. There is extreme hostility and pent up anger and no one wants to live like that or be the recipient of that kind of hostility.
When you are having little to no physical intimacy. Sex is often the barometer of the relationship. If reasons other than age, or a medical condition are keeping you from being intimate with your partner, it’s very likely that more than just the spark is missing from your relationship. A lack of desire for one’s partner is usually indicative of a lack of trust, a lack of respect, and just a general dislike of that person. If you don’t like the person you’re with and you are no longer intimate – there’s nothing left and it’s time to move on. This was a big one for me and my long term Narcissist. I wish I would have recognized this earlier and given it a lot more thought, but it was one of many signs that I refused to see.
If there is infidelity. Some people can get past infidelity. For me that’s a deal breaker and a clear indication that you don’t respect me or our relationship. If you want to give your partner another chance fine – but if after you’ve discussed it and it happens again, I would say that’s all you need to know, it’s time to step out and let the other woman or man be the one that gets cheated on, because it’s not going to stop. In cases like this, often when you forgive it the first time, it’s almost like a get out of jail free card. They feel like they got away with it once and you didn’t leave, so they feel like they have a free pass to do it again.
If your partner acts single and excessively flirts with others. It’s certainly not a crime when a person’s head turns when someone attractive walks by, but if this kind of behavior happens all the time and it’s excessive, to me that’s just plain disrespectful and rude. If your partner is constantly ogling and flirting with other people and ignoring you in the process I’d say adios. If you want to act single then you can be single. My Narcissist would constantly covet the attention of women. He would brush it off as nothing and he was never overtly flirting with any of them and would always say he was just trying to make them feel comfortable, but he craved their attention and it would always spike up my jealousy and make me feel awful.
If there is an addiction of any kind and your partner refuses to acknowledge, or seek help for it. Addictions are tricky because you can never predict the extent to which someone can allow themselves to be carried away. You could wake up one morning and find out the bank account has been wiped out, your mate’s been arrested for a DUI, or your sex addicted partner has picked up an STD and passed it on to you. The possibilities are endless and living with someone, when you can’t comfortably predict their behavior, or what their triggers are, can be highly anxiety provoking and frightening. It’s not worth it. If someone is bent on letting their demons run their lives then walk away or they’ll control yours too.
When you can’t trust or depend on the person you’re with. Being in a partnership means being able to count on each other. When your mate is so far removed from the relationship that he/she can’t even be counted on for the smallest of tasks, it’s akin to being alone, because you really are alone – you just live together.
Being in a relationship can be amazing. There’s nothing like the feeling of falling in love. The air smells a little sweeter, the sun beams a little brighter and you can’t stop smiling, but just as love can blossom and grow, it can also die. If your loved one makes you feel anger, indignation, depression, pain, anxiety, fear, rage, jealousy and disrespect, you have to understand and recognize that these are not love feelings. These are a lack of love feelings. If your relationship has deteriorated to the point where you can no longer stand each other and there is a ton of animosity and resentment, then it’s time to weed your garden, so you can start seeking those happy feelings and let love bloom again.
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This not only applies to couples . It can apply to the type of relationship that we have with family members who are quick to judge or stab you in the back.
Your articles are some of the best I have read on narcissism. I very much appreciate them. One of those heart dropped moments – was a day when he accidently hurt me. It was truly an accident, but he showed no regret, no responsibility, no concern, just an aversion to being blamed. When I look at other times when I was hurt or sick or broken he showed a remarkable lack of involvement nor support for my medical problems…so…I think that’s a really strong part of being able to depend on them. An N doesn’t take care of you when you are sick, sometimes doesn’t even seem to care that you are. And doesn’t want to hear you “whine” about it.
Wow! I recently was exposed to your website and now read it on my elliptical while I’m trying to find myself. I almost fell off, blinded by tears when I read this blog. Except for the flirting and the fact that I was the unfaithful one, the rest of signs pertained to the last 7 years of my marriage. I am finally divorced as of January, but it took a really long time to get there. After reading the signs, seeing it in writing and being able to relate to them, it really made me sad that it took me so long to see how unhealthy my marriage was. I’m welling up as I write this! On the flip side, I’m glad I finally realized it was time to go and found the strength to do it. I was tired of the mulberry bush! I hated who I became with my husband. I’m finding myself after 22 years! Thanks for making it real and that I’m not “a crazy, delusional bitch” like I’ve been told for last 7 years! Take that, EX!
Finding this site has been such a blessing for me. The past 10 years with my Narc husband have been hell on earth (we’ve been together for 20). This article hits everything I’m dealing with on the nail! I’m ready to leave taking our youngest child with me (we have an adult child away at college). Since I’m showing no emotions and we’ve slept in separate rooms the past two years, he’s becoming desperate even contacting my female friends behind my back worried I’ve thrown him under the bus trying to explain to them why he is a chronic cheater….and of course it’s my fault. Thank you Savannah and to those who share their stories because this site has given me more courage, it helps so much to know you’re not alone!
It’s funny how now that I don’t have feelings for him anymore (and show it), he actually try’s to spend time with me and have sex at least once or twice a month. (Before that, we went several months without having sex.) Guess he can sense I don’t love him anymore, so he’s trying his best to “hook” me again. It ain’t gonna happen. I feel a little bad cause the day he gets divorce papers from me, it’s gonna come as a huge ego shock to him. He’ll get over it though. I know I will.
It trips me out how these types (Narcs) are able to blow hot and cold constantly in their relationships, but the moment that their partner doesn’t want them, is over them, or is just not responding to them, they completely PANIC. They fear being “abandoned” more than anyone else.
Thank you for another great posting! And thank to Wifenumber3 comment. I do to have a Narc partner that has been years past his AA treatment and supposedly cured. I’ve often admired his sticking to the rule of not even a drop of alcohol. Before I learned about NPD I often wondered about his periods of sulkiness, unreasonably hostility and somebody told me that there is something called dry drinking when they don’t actually drink but succumb to their addiction mentally. This probably a lousy explanation. Anyway, there were times in the past when I couldn’t understand this sudden mood change, couldn’t cope with it and really, there were times in the past when I thought that maybe if he were drinking it would be better. Little I knew then, that there are people in this world that I can’t understand, fix, control, change. And it’s not up to me to to do all of the above. Now, I am holding dearly to the advice that the happiness is not something that someone gives to me but something that I have in me and it’s my as long as I DON’T GIVE IT UP AND GIVE IT AWAY.
I love your point about addictions. I have always made los excuses for my NH because he was able to conqour alcoholism and has been in recovery for years. However, I have seen a pattern of replacing that addition with others: OCD hoarding. Sex addition. Controling behavior. Even an addiction to me (he mistakes as love). This article enligtened me to the fact that new addictions can be random and sudden and will change as often as the Narc’s mood swings do. I will be more mindful and far more self-protective as I move forward with what I have to do next.
When I read this, I thought about an episode of “Sex and The City,” when SJP dates a man who is in AA. He was a sex manic and became addicted to her. When she left him he started drinking again.