Being in a relationship with a Narcissist is so confusing. I remember talking on the phone for hours with my best friend trying to put the pieces together. “So he told my parents and me yesterday that he wanted us to get married and today he said he didn’t love me and was just acting for three years”… “What the heck just happened?” I was so convinced that my Narcissist had a brain tumor or some rare type of Bipolar Disorder, how could he just flip a switch a change like that? Now I know the answer is, well because he is a Narcissist and unfortunately, that is just what they do. Ouch!
It was the worst feeling… how could things change so drastically so quickly? In my book, The Psychologist & Her Narcissists, A Guide To Surviving Toxic Relationships, one of my tips is not to waste your valuable time trying to decipher the “whys, hows, or whats” of your toxic partner. Crazy just does not make sense; try to work on accepting that. I know, much easier said than done.
It takes people in some narcisistic relationships years to figure out the patterns and to understand the cycle. It really is super confusing and hard to accept and I spent many years in school studying and then training to be a psychologist and it still makes me scratch my head. Do not beat yourself up for being caught in their trap or wanting to stick around to see if things could change. It is so easy to be temporarily stuck.
One day you are their prince or princess and then all of a sudden, they hate you. This drastic change in emotions and behaviors creates that yucky feeling caused by cognitive dissonance, or two competing ideas in the brain. Of course, you want that loving, charming, romantic, fun version of your partner back. Who wouldn’t? Now you have to accept they have another side, a cold, hurtful, unreliable, abusive side. This is very painful.
So if you are like me, you asked yourself the “whys, hows and whats” over and over again. I spent hours ruminating and trying to figure out these questions:
“Why did he do those things?”
“What does this mean?”
“What is going on here?”
“How could he abandon me like that?”
“How could he say that? “
“What did I do wrong?”
And here is the worst one I think, “HOW CAN I FIX THIS?”
Let’s start with the worst one, “How can I fix this?” I know this hurts and if you are a problem solver, giver, and hard worker like many targets of supply are, then you may feel like you have a chance at changing your partner. I am sorry to say that you do not. Change comes from within and you can only change yourself if you want to change, and you cannot change anyone else. Moreover, personality traits like pathological narcissism are extremely difficult to modify. Do not waste your precious time attempting to fix such a broken person, you deserve better! Healthy people do not abandon, humiliate, manipulate, and hurt their loved ones repeatedly. Remember Narcissists are creatures of habit and these behaviors are patterns. If you were discarded once, you will be discarded again. If they cheated once, they will cheat again. If they lied once, they will lie again.
If you have discovered that you had the misfortune of being in a relationship with a Narcissist that is the answer to all of your “why, what and how” questions…. It’s because they are a Narcissist. If you want to work on something more therapeutic to heal yourself, turn those questions into something useful and look at your behavior. Ask yourself these questions, maybe try journaling your responses:
“How am I feeling right now?”
“How can I heal from this relationship?”
“How can I show myself compassion?”
“What will help me move on?”
“What red flags did I miss?”
As you approach recovery, please gently work on analyzing your behavior, motives, and feelings. Do not waste your time trying to figure out your Narcissist. It will not change their behavior and it will not make you feel better. They are disordered individuals and their hurtful ways are patterns. Remember when your wheels start spinning to tell yourself that you already know the answer to all those questions, it’s because they are a Narcissist. Invest your energy and thinking skills into your recovery and wellbeing. Be well and take good care. I know you can do this!
Much love and support,
Survivor and Author of the Psychologist & Her Narcissists, A Guide To Surviving Toxic Relationships