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Toxic Relationships: Recovering From a Narcissist

Narcissists look cute on the outside, but they're all predator on the inside.

Narcissists look cute on the outside, but they're all predator on the inside.

There is Nothing More Toxic Than a Narcissist

My relationship with a narcissist changed me for the better. I’ve come a long way in the two years since that relationship ended. My wish is to offer hope to others who are in a relationship, or trying to end a relationship with a narcissist. It is undoubtedly one of the hardest toxic bonds to break. However, it can be done, and I’m living proof.

There is nothing quite so humiliating and hurtful as an intimate relationship with a narcissist. I dug around online in the aftermath of my breakup. I wanted to see if other people had recovered from the psychological fallout of this type of toxic relationship. I was surprised to find very little about actual recovery.

What I did discover online was a wealth of forums and articles about how to get away from the narcissist. There were plenty of tearful stories about the wreckage and psychological ruin. Unfortunately, there was very little about how people actually recovered successfully.

So I came up with my own plan to recover and move on from being psychologically mangled. The person I was with was incapable of treating me with dignity and respect – a typical narcissist trait.

I determined to rebuild my self-esteem from the inside out, so that I would never again be susceptible to an abusive relationship. I also wanted to reach a place where I was narcissist proof. I needed to appreciate my real value so that I could turn away toxic people and not look back.

Narcissists Have No Remorse

Waiting for a narcissist to change in to a decent human being is like waiting to spot a unicorn. It won’t happen - and your time and energy could be better spent on other things.

I spent two years hoping she would change. Two long years enduring someone who couldn’t really appreciate me, and who emotionally abused me on a regular basis. My self-esteem was in tatters.

At the time, I was unable to disconnect from this soul-crushing relationship. I just couldn’t find any detachment, even while things were getting worse. I knew I wanted out, but I couldn’t reach the exit.

The End of a Toxic Relationship is Like an Atomic Blast

The night of her holiday party was my wake-up call. Her behavior was so horrifying that I vowed to sever my connection to a person who didn’t seem human. I think everyone has a defining moment when they’re involved with a narcissist. In truth, there are usually many defining moments, but we tune them out. There’s usually a horrific event that alerts us, once and for all, that we need to go and never look back.

We were in the process of a breakup. The problem with a narcissist is that making a clean break is almost impossible. There a are a lucky few that are strong enough to do it - but mostly, by the time a break up is on the horizon, the partner of a narcissist is has been so beaten down psychologically they are unable to move.

Around the time we were attempting to break up, my ex narcissist decided to have a holiday party and invite a circle of acquaintances we both knew. She had invited me to spend New Year’s Eve with her, and I thought she extended an invitation to the Christmas Party. It never even occurred to me that I wouldn’t be welcome.

Even though I was tired from a long school year, I decided to surprise my ex -narcissist by putting in a surprise appearance at the party. It was a two-hour trip by train in sub-zero cold, but I was ready for a fun night and was willing to brave public transportation and the elements. I bought a nice bottle of liquor and a box of cookies and embarked on the trek.

I arrived with my gifts and a big smile on my face, ready for a good time. When I arrived, my ex took one look at me, and I knew immediately that something was wrong. My stomach knotted up. She looked at me like I was a homeless drunk who had just crashed her party. She clearly didn’t know what to do and was appalled that I was there. She ran into the other room to hide behind her guests.

I spent the next half hour milling around trying to figure out what to do with myself. The other guests could tell that my ex didn’t want me there, and they didn’t know what to do either – they were friends with both of us. I could not remember when I felt more uncomfortable, or awkward. I had been part of her life and welcome in her home for two years. Suddenly, I was an unwelcome intruder.

She actually stood in her living room with her back to me the entire time I was there. My time at the party didn’t last long – I lasted one half hour to be exact. It finally occurred to me that another partygoer was a person of interest to my ex. Before our relationship was even over, she had already picked out my replacement.

It's all about the narcissist.

It's all about the narcissist.

Narcissists Don’t Understand Love

This is a common, and disturbing, phenomenon amongst narcissists: They are unable to form healthy attachments with other human beings. So even though they may say they are in love, they always have their eye out for the next best thing. And there is always a next best thing.

The narcissist is incapable of settling down with one partner. Even if they are in what appears to be a committed marriage - rest assured they are dabbling on the side. They are consummate entertainers looking for devoted groupies. They are always on stage performing their one man, or one woman, show – because it really is all about them.

If there is the opportunity to get more attention and adoration from a potential love interest, the narcissist will take it. Anyone who thinks that their narcissist is capable of being faithful is fooling himself, or herself. They are always on the lookout for something better no matter what they say to the contrary.

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When I realized I was not welcome at the party, I remember grabbing my coat, calling a cab to the train station and standing outside in the freezing cold. My emotions kept cycling through numb, horrified and heartbroken.

I felt like I was in a bad soap opera – standing in the freezing cold, sobbing over someone who had never been worth my time or energy from the very beginning. In that moment, I felt like the biggest fool on the planet. I vowed, in that moment, that this was really the last time. I would never attract, or be attracted to, someone this disturbed again.

She came running outside before my cab pulled up. She kept hugging me and she told me everything would be ok, that I shouldn’t have shown up to her party. She wasn’t expecting me, and she had wanted to spend the evening mingling as a single woman – never mind that our relationship wasn’t actually over. She was already in the market for her next conquest. She assured me that since we were spending New Year’s Eve together she would make it up to me then.

I stared at her in disbelief through my tears. I couldn’t believe this woman actually thought I would ever go near her, or her home, again. I knew that was the last time I would ever set foot in her house.

She gave one last big hug, handed me a tissue to dry my tears and put me in the cab. It never occurred to her that her behavior was abnormal. In her world, my part in her little play had ended. I was merely an extra who was no longer needed on the scene.

She called and emailed for three days. I refused to respond. She finally realized I was not returning for New Year’s Eve and gave up. What disturbed me the most was the fact that she actually thought I would return to spend time with her after my private, and public, humiliation.

We continued to stay sporadically in touch after the nightmarish party scene. She kept trying to explain behavior that was unexplainable. I still harbored a slim hope that she would somehow miraculously change into a caring, compassionate person. On my end I believe that’s referred to as magical thinking.

I spend a lot of time during our relationship hoping that would happen. However, waiting for someone to change is a sure sign of danger. They won’t, and I wasted a lot of time waiting, wishing and hoping.

As time went on, I noticed that she was repeating the same sad excuses over and over in her emails. I finally realized that she was never truly sorry to begin with and that she would never be sorry. I finally had to accept the truth.

The refusal to let go of the emotional connection was part of my own emotional fixation. I had the choice to walk away. I continued to hang on despite all evidence that I was better off shutting her out and moving on.

I wish I could say it ended there, but with a pathological narcissist it never ends right away – they like to leave a trail, and an opening, in case they need you in the future. Our communication continued off and on for a year, before I discovered that she was actually in a couple of relationships with other people while she was still communicating with me. So I would get emails about getting back together some day, while she was sleeping with other people. The reality of her manipulation finally set me free. I ended communication with her completely.

Even though I’d like to believe that my self-esteem was in fairly good shape, my relationship with the narcissist taught me that there were holes in my self-esteem that I was unaware of. Patching up the holes became my primary concern over the following year. At long last, taking care of me became my priority.

There were places in my psyche that needed healing, and the toxic relationship brought my most painful issues right up to the surface where they could get some air. I was able see what I was doing to myself by allowing such toxicity into my life. Anyone who’s with a narcissist is suffering from similar issues.

Sometimes, Contact Helps You See What You Need to See

The constant email and Facebook reminders that she really believed her aberrant behavior was out of character, and that she really believed herself to be a kind, caring soul became tiresome after awhile. I was listening to the same prepared speech over and over.

While no contact is ultimately the way to go…for some of us staying in contact almost builds our emotional immunity. The more you hear, the less you want to hear as time goes on. In my case, by the time I cut off contact it was just a relief. There was no longer sadness about the loss.

You’ve heard the same thing with your narcissist. Whether parent, friend or romantic interest, you’ve heard the speeches that rarely change except for a rearranged word or two. The speeches are designed around the same themes and each narcissist has their own special theme based around their unique brand of delusion and insanity:

*No one appreciates them or how wonderful they are.

*No one appreciates how much he or she suffers at the hands of others.

*Everyone else has a problem - they are perfect.

*They are just trying to do some good in a world where everyone is out to get them.

*Because they are special, other people must understand when they get upset and shut down or lash out.

*They don’t remember that they got upset then shut down and lashed out, and you must be crazy for accusing them of such behavior.

If you’ve experienced any of these scenarios with a narcissist, then you understand the how empty and desolate it feels when you finally realize who, and what, you’re dealing with. You have to come to terms that you’re dealing with a monster, but with that realization comes true freedom – because you can never go back, only forward.

You’ve Been Trained to Throw Yourself in Front of the Bus

You may have been raised in a home with an alcoholic, an addict or a narcissist. In those homes the parent and their issues come first. The spouse of the damaged parent spends a lot of time worrying and trying to change their spouse. With everyone putting the narcissistic parent first, there is little energy left over for the children.

There is little positive emotional energy in homes like these. What is being modeled in these families are unhealthy, unsafe relationships. The children suffer the most, because the scars from childhood repeat for them in adulthood through an attraction to abusive relationships.

It is impossible for an adult child of an addict, or narcissist, to enter adulthood without serious emotional problems, including codependence. The pathological narcissist thrives on a steady diet of adults who have trouble believing they deserve to be treated well.

The right book can set you free

I woke up to my own emotional problems when I read the wonderful book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents. The book made everything clear in an instant. Through real life stories and the gentle narration of the author - I finally understood my magnetic attraction to self-absorbed, Narcissistic people.

I feel right at home with them for a reason, and I don't want to give away the insights of the book here. It's better to just read and absorb Ms. Gibson's wisdom and clinical expertise. I can tell you it helped me identify my own childhood wound, and awareness leads to mindfulness which leads to healthier choices.

The book has tremendous value for anyone who's grown-up with troubled, self absorbed parents and the impact it has had on the lack of quality in their friendships and romantic relationships.

The relationship with a malignant narcissist forced me to face the real issue: Did I really believe I deserved to be in a healthy, loving, reciprocal relationship, or did I, deep down, believe I was doomed to unsatisfying relationships that were destructive, toxic and unsatisfying?

A Toxic Person Will Remain Toxic

If your survival as a child required you focus on every nuance of a parent’s mood – then you probably have a tendency to be over vigilant in your relationships. Growing up with a narcissist is literally growing up in an emotional minefield.

In other words, your primary love relationship takes up an extraordinary amount of your mental and emotional energy. Your brain is hard-wired to be so tuned in to someone else that you can’t take care of your own emotional needs and safety. It’s one of the primary symptoms of co-dependence.

You expend so much mental energy on the narcissist that your other relationships, interests and goals go on the back burner. When everything else takes a back seat, your life becomes unbalanced, and that’s when true misery settles over your soul.

This is what was happening to me during my time in my toxic relationship. The narcissist in my life was draining me to a point that it took all my strength to function at my job and other areas of my life - never mind a social life. My ex made sure that I was so busy attending to all of her emotional needs that there wasn’t much room to maintain healthy friendships with other people. I didn’t know how to disconnect from her drama. I wasn’t able to set good boundaries.

This a common problem for people who grow up to be codependent – an inability to set healthy boundaries with other people. I had spent most of my life not knowing where I end and someone else begins. It started to dawn on me that I was not responsible for anyone else’s feelings or problems.

The Beginning of the End: How do You Really Feel?

It was not my job to repair another human being. My new mantra became “I didn’t break it. I can’t fix it.” By continuing to accept responsibility for things that were beyond my control – I was actually the co-creator in my miserable relationships.

Learning how to feel my feelings became imperative, because I realized my ex-narcissist was slowly destroying me emotionally. I started tuning in to how I really felt when I heard from her. The knot in my stomach was a sure sign that I was uncomfortable, but I was mixing up discomfort with love.

Separate love from fear

I realized that feeling nauseous when dealing with her was a sure sign I shouldn’t be dealing with her at all. Once I got the feelings and thoughts straight in my head – I realized that what I had felt towards this person wasn’t love, it was more like pity and fear, but it wasn’t love.

Anyone who’s spent a lot of time with a narcissist knows, deep down, that the person causes them pain – especially if it’s a love relationship. If you’re still in a relationship with your narcissist, you may be thinking there is some hope. Maybe you’ve given up years of your life trying to keep your sinking ship afloat.

Until you release your need to make it work with someone who is pathologically focused on themselves, you will stay stuck. The breakup forced me to decide: Save myself, or stay in something that would eventually destroy me. I chose me.

The minute you become willing to acknowledge that you’re in a toxic relationship, and you don’t feel good about it, is the first stepping-stone to regaining emotional freedom and peace. Feeling my own feelings and taking responsibility for them was painful but necessary. I was truly serious about forming healthier attachments and attracting a relationship that was actually good for me.

If only the inside showed on the outside, we'd never go near them.

If only the inside showed on the outside, we'd never go near them.

The Healing Begins: Seeing The Narcissist For Who They Really Are

Sometimes it’s easier to idealize people and look the other way when their behavior is less than stellar. Everyone deserves a second chance. In a healthy relationship we sometimes accept certain qualities in our partner that we may not love – but aren’t serious enough to end a relationship.

I had to open my eyes to what I was really dealing with, before I could make peace with the fact that there was no future with her. The selfish, self-absorbed, entitled behavior made a reciprocal, healthy relationship impossible.

She would feign flashes of insight about her behavior. She would cry and apologize – then she would quickly turn it around and blame me for her bad behavior. Then she’d wait a few days and do it all again, an exhausting cycle with no respite. This is what narcissists do; they are incapable of true empathy or insight.

Where Can You Turn When You’re Climbing Out of Hell?

My Buddhist practice has saved me on many occasions. The type of Buddhism I practice requires chanting – an excellent form of active mediation. While I was still suffering the after effects of my toxic relationship, and harboring fantasies that she would show up at my door and apologize, I turned to my spiritual practice. I reached out to other Buddhist friends, went to meetings and participated to the best of my ability.

Whether you’re Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, or Buddhist - your religion is there to help. Prayer works if you’re willing to admit you need healing. You just have to ask. Even if you haven’t participated in your religion for a long time, you will find a welcoming community that’s willing to support you. It certainly helped me in during my darkest hours.

Accepting Responsibility For The Choices You Make

There’s a famous spiritual quote that circulates on Facebook. It says: “Let go or be dragged.” It sums up the connection to a narcissist or any other personality-disordered individual. You have to be the one to disconnect because they won’t. They will mingle on the outskirts of your life for as long as you’re willing to communicate or leave the door cracked open. The door has to be completely shut.

It’s easy to blame the narcissist, but the truth is we’re choosing to engage. We are making a conscious choice to take on an impossible relationship with an impossible person. As adults we always have the choice to let go.

Once I had assumed responsibility for throwing myself under that particular bus, my angst began to lessen. I reminded myself regularly that what I participated in was always my choice, and that each new moment of each new day presented a fresh opportunity to make better choices.

Taking Responsibility: A Toxic Relationship Takes Two

People who are not codependent do not get involved with narcissists. The reason for this is that a person who’s used to a healthy dynamic would be unable to tolerate the constant abuse.

Codependence is a reliance on relationships that hurt. It is an inability to trust our own feelings and get out of our own way. When you’re codependent, you hang on to bad relationships for dear life – not acknowledging that you’re causing your own pain.

Reading some books on the subject helped me deal with my codependent nature and the pain it was causing me. I was picking the very people who would hurt me the most, and I was unable to set healthy boundaries with the narcissists in my family.

Melody Beattie’s book “Codependent No More” is a classic for a reason. Keeping this book handy and referring back to it when I felt myself slipping into wanting and needing my ex was a tremendous help during the healing process.

I also read several books on Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Between reading and attending Codependent’s Anonymous meetings for a while, I slowly began to heal. Once we understand ourselves, and our codependence better, the less we are willing to tolerate toxic behavior.

Redirecting Your Energy and Focus

When a relationship with a narcissist ends it creates a vacuum. So much of the relationship revolved around you and the narcissist obsessing over the narcissists needs, that you forget how to focus on other things, including your own needs.

Focusing on other things helped me work through the healing process. Renewing some of my personal commitments to myself, such as doing my writing and daily hiking, helped me feel that I was accomplishing something. This helped boost my self-esteem back to normal levels.

Rediscovering what you’re good at and devoting some time and energy to doing what you love will help you through the breakup with the narcissist. It will also make room for people in your life who share your interests and passion. I naturally started to attract quality people.

I made a lot of new friends during the healing process. Reaching out to make new friends and reconnecting with old friends was a welcome diversion during my narcissist recovery program. Before I knew it, I no longer had any desire or secret fantasies about rekindling a relationship with the narcissist. I was too busy and having too much fun.

You Can Change What You’re Attracting and What You’re Attracted to

Getting out and pursuing my own interests, rediscovering my spiritual practice and making new friends helped me get a better handle on what healthy connections looked like. As soon as I started “doing me,” everything else fell into place. I was able to be more discriminating about the type of people that I wanted around me. I did run across another narcissist in my new circle of friends. It took about a month to realize I was dealing with another toxic person, and I ended the friendship immediately.

The universe or God, or whatever you believe in, will provide you with exactly what you think you deserve. Changing a mindset takes some time, but it’s not as hard as you might think. It is well worth it to spend time alone getting in touch with what you want and need.

It has now been two years since the relationship with the narcissist ended, and I can honestly say I’ve never felt stronger, happier or more at ease with myself. I am dating and socializing and keeping an eye out for the healthy person who’s worthy of my time and energy. Next time, I’m no longer accepting crumbs.

© 2014 Macteacher

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


mistyeyes on April 19, 2020:

glad i came across this article. i I finally walked away after a decade of my life was a colossal clusterf*ck of what i thought was supposed to be reality.

my big kick in the head is that in the 1st year or so of knowing him, adoring his "charm" i actually pulled 20 or so books about NPD because his ego was bigger than conceited people I've crossed paths with in the past. little did i know that was a sign of what this all came to be.

4 breakups over 7 years of dating, i put my job at risk and within my last session (2 classes) of finishing my masters degree had the biggest anxiety/panic attack that i had to drop out. i had been mentally beaten to the point i no longer recognized ME. the fact he was older than me and 2 failed marriages (they both left too) should have been the biggest red flags...which one of his bros pointed out to me on more than a couple of occasions.

what's worse.... i feel like I've lost out on the most important years of my daughter's life (almost 21 now) by putting more effort and absolute useless energy into that jackass (he's not her father). my leaving is my breaking this cycle for me... because i feel so empty & dead inside and most importantly for my daughter so she realizes this type of "relationship" is NOT the end all be all.

i feel relieved right now that i don't have that agonizing feeling of being disrespected, unappreciated, and worthlessness. i feel plenty hate which i know will subside..with time.

R... on August 06, 2019:

Thank you for such a beautiful article. Having suffered so much due to a toxic person in my life, I finally closed all doors. Having bad time accepting things, this article was exactly what I was looking for. There are not many articles saying what to do after removing toxic people from your life.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on December 03, 2018:

Dear Goldilocks,

It's going to be painful for a while. But like removing a bad tooth, eventually, you will feel better. Reach out to other people. Find hobbies that you enjoy. In short, do you. It's been about the Narcissist for long enough. It's time to make it about you. Good luck!

Goldielocks on December 03, 2018:

I am just comin g out of a toxic relationship with a narcissist. I am on alot of pain.

NeverAgainAgain on October 09, 2018:

Hello Wendy,

Thank you. I'm glad you are happy. I've been as low as I could have been but now it's time to climb back up. I'm determined to heal, be wiser, learn and be at peace with myself. I'm having counselling and re-connecting with family and friends. I'm also still no contact and beginning to remember who I am. I am no longer surrounded by chaos and drama, judgment and negativity and beginning to accept that the person I was in love with was a fantasy / maybe even a mirror of myself. The way she made me feel when I saw her true colours made me a reflection of her - absolutely miserable!

I am determined to grow and evolve and be me.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on October 09, 2018:

Hi NeverAgainAgain,

What an awful experience. Yes, they use and discard people at an alarming rate. I'm sorry you got caught up in her web of deception. They don't genuinely feel anything for anyone - and when they say they do they are lying.

I'm single and quite happy. I'm pursuing my own interests, getting ready to retire from teaching in a couple of years and just enjoying the absence of toxic behavior in my social life. I hope you heal as quickly as possible. She doesn't deserve any space in your head.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on October 09, 2018:

Hi Beth,

I'm sorry for the pain you must be experiencing. A month is recent. But I'm glad you're healing and moving forward with some good reading material. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. :-)

Beth Mason on October 05, 2018:

I just want to say thank you for your words of wisdom. I broke up with my narcissist a month ago. And have been continually accepting his bread crumbs for the past month... Followed by pain and humiliation, belief I can help him see his errors!.. to blocking.. then more bread crumbs.

I found your words helpful and inspiring.. The past month I have read “narcissism” by Alexander Lowen. Which did help me uncover some of my own psychological patterns which predispose me to toxicity.. But I have never thought of myself as codependent until reading this. I will be reading the books you mentioned. And hopefully will enjoy my life to the fullest without falling victim in the future. Enjoy your new found life ❤️

NeverAgainAgain on September 28, 2018:

Ha, it will be hard for her to say I seduced her when part of my wedding speech was how she pursued me :)

One week of no contact and still going strong. Regular counselling set up. I am determined to be a survivor and not a victim.(Even though it hurts right now). It's my birthday very soon, so I am about to be reborn! If I can do this anyone can...I have been broken into tiny pieces but once you start sticking them back together, you can only get stronger.

A nony mouse on September 26, 2018:


well, I am pleased to hear that at the very least you are not wasting any more of your life by being directly with her. We have fewer problems now ours is out of our lives. Our son has Deficits in: Attention; Motor co-ordination and Perception with Pragmatic Disorder and Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which was undiagnosed at the time of divorce. It means that the original ancillary relief order did not take this into account. His condition means that childcare would be much more expensive. The Income Support people asked me to investigate work, I live in a rural location about 1 hour away from Hereford, Worcester and Kidderminster, where I might feasibly find the sort of lab jobs that I am qualified for. A full-time job would mean leaving at 8am and returning at 6:30pm, meaning that my son would require 4 hours care in term time and 10 hours per day in holidays. Care for children with these sort of conditions can only be done on a one to one basis, because of the insurances that childcarers have, they would also be required to find a suitably qualified carer. I have been told that care would cost at least £10.30 per hour. The working tax credit system does not deal with these extra costs, so at the moment the moment I am not being pressurised into work. The main problems are likely to come later on down the line, when I have not worked for years and try to re-enter the workplace or when I come to retire. There are too many day to day challenges to worry about what might or might not be in the future. In fairness, a lot of our problems are down to the way the legal system works against us, but you can imagine, a narc uses that to their advantage.

Sorry, that I assumed that you were a bloke, I am not homphobic, its just a probability thing. Personally, I think that people can be gender fluid and that some people can be simply overly influenced by 'heteronormative' culture (don't know if that is a PC term or not). I would absolutely defend the right of anyone to experiment with their sexuality, but that needs to be done with the awareness of their partner, that is experimenting that is done with the CONSENT of BOTH parties. This very much sounds like she was happy to try out lesbianism and make out that this is what her orientation has been all along. When in actual fact it is simply about what she is getting out of the situation and screw you. Sorry, that she has used you in such a vile way, that she used you as novelty says way more about her than it does about you. During my own divorce, my ex made out that I had somehow twisted his arm into marriage, which was complete bull, it was just his way to try to excuse his dreadful behaviour. Sure, she will be making you out to be the evil seductress to all and sundry and sure it will be difficult for outsiders to see the truth of the matter. But you know the truth and with time this often comes out. One of the other things mine said was that he never wanted our son. My mother believed for a while that I had got myself pregnant against his wishes, my father never believed this, it affected our relationship. With time, the fact that this was a lie came out, because he married a woman with 4 children who were not even his, let's face it if you do not want your own child, why would you take on 4 of someone else's. I asked my father why he did not believe this himself. He said that during our divorce, he had gone into the loft of our marital home to check out the roof. He had seen a lump under the loft insulation and lifted the insulation to find 2 piles of sealed envelopes with addresses in my handwriting on them. He was curious as to what they contained. He opened 3, each one contained a letter of thanks for wedding gifts sent to us by my friends and relatives. My dad noticed that all the envelopes had names and addresses of my friends and relatives on them. He remembered that his uncle had 'phoned him and asked why he had not received any acknowledgement of his gift and that we had believed that it must have got lost in the post, when in fact it had been diverted by my ex. My dad did not tell me at the time, because so much was going on. He did say that he realized that I had been in a losing situation the day I met the guy and no one could have known this at the time. Sorry to say, it looks like we have both been in a similar situation, but maybe lucky in comparison with the poor sod that your's kept hanging on for 30 years.

NeverAgainAgain on September 26, 2018:

Narcissism is truly awful isn't it...what a way to live and treat people.

I tried to help my wife with her emptiness (I could see and feel it) but she's used my compassion against me.

I have no intention of seeing her again. Her own family have just told me that this is the pattern of her life. She puts a spell on someone, leaves them and then keeps them dangling. They have explained it perfectly. She's kept one bloke hanging on for 30 years with an on/off relationship in between marriages and other partners. (There have been several).

I was her first same sex relationship and marriage...she made me believe it would work because she could finally be herself. Now I feel like I was just a novelty that she is now embarrassed about. I feel pretty empty.

On a positive note, the rollercoaster ride has stopped and life is calm at the moment. I won't be getting back on her tracks. I've seen her too many times without the mask on now to know that underneath that beautiful smile is someone who can be as cold as stone.

I hope everything is working out better for you now.

A nony mouse on September 25, 2018:


It was very stressful, unfortunately, these sorts of people only love themselves and when they finally destroy their relationship, they may show up again shortly if things do not work out with the new person. if they are rebuffed, well hell hath no fury like a narcissist.

My ex's behaviour obliged me to move away from Cambridge where I had been a biomedical researcher. As I said previously, he continued his bad behaviour with wife number two and was arrested and spent Christmas 2015 on remand, Karma.

I understand how you feel, it is a real emotional rollercoaster with these sorts of people. They will tell you that they love you, just to get what they want, with very little concern for how the power of their deceits to hurt you. She has already kept you hanging on by leaving and telling you that she loves you. How about your friends and daughter who love you, she has isolated you from them, do they or you deserve this, I am guessing that the answer is likely to be no. She is already on husband number 3, so she is aware of her ability to attract a mate, but just in case it does not work out she'll keep you hanging on in the hope that she might throw you some scraps.

Yes, I can understand that you loved her once and want that back and that you feel sorry for her, but this will not fix her. I can also understand a wish to abide by your marriage vows, but this only cuts in one direction in your relationship. Love is simply not enough in a relationship, to be successful you need mutual trust and respect. I am not saying that narcissists can not change, but you know the old joke: how many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb? One, but the lightbulb must really, really want to change. Well, that one applies the most to narcissists. The next move is yours, but please don't waste your life in a relationship that eats your time away when you might be happier alone or even with someone else.

Good Luck

NeverAgainAgain on September 25, 2018:

Hello A nony mouse,

It sounds like you have had some terrible experiences with your ex. Quite extreme behaviour and you needed to protect yourself and your child. It must have been really stressful and disturbing...

As much as my wife has emotionally upset / used me, I have no need to exact any kind of revenge or pretend my life is any different to how it is. When I married her I meant every word of my vows and I will act with loving kindness always. The only thing that has changed is that I will do so without being under any illusion that I should try to save my marriage anymore or that I can help her to resolve her underlying issues.

I hurt for her that she will never find happiness that lasts or that has any real depth. It is a lonely way to live.

She does not love herself and I tried to love her enough for the both of us. Now I must learn how to love myself again.

A nony mouse on September 25, 2018:

Dear NeverAgainAgain,

should have spelt out suckering in a bit more clearly. Most people call it hoovering. Essentially, it consists of the ex trying to drag you back in some way. Which they will use every which way to do. So mine walked out on me, when our son was 10 months old in pursuit of his online mistress. It did not work out for him, so regardless of a considerable history of bad behaviour, he tried to sucker me back into a relationship.

First off was the excuse to get a foot in the door. He was supposedly returning to get some of his things, this quickly turned into "I'll give you a hand with bathing our son". Now, who could disagree with that and not think that perhaps he wanted to be a good absent father? Well apart from the fact that when he was living at home he did jack. Well, we all like to think that we would give some one a fair chance at turning over a new leaf. This is a big mistake with a narcissist.

I asked him for his new address as I wanted to start divorce proceedings and needed to serve the petition upon him. He refused and said that I would have to wait the 2 years separation to divorce. Now while I was in no hurry to start a new relationship, I also realized that all he was likely to do was to mess around for 18 months to see if he could do better for his self and if he failed he had a back up of being able to walk back into the marital home. I told him that as I no longer trusted him and he obviously from his behaviour wanted out, then a divorce would allow us to both move on. His reply was that if I did not know his address, that I could not divorce him, so he was not going to tell me. See the controlling going on. I told him that, as we were not together and he was the one to have an affair and walk out what did it matter to him if I divorced him. I told him that his behaviour was wrong and that if he refused to co-operate that I would send my solicitor into his workplace to serve the petition on him there.

With that, he stalked out of the house, demanding that I keep the door open and reminding me that it was still partly his house. See the controlling going on again. It was January and freezing cold after 20 minutes I went out to find out what was going on. At first, I could not see him. Then I realised that he was leaning front ways across his cars front two seats. He beckoned to me and as I went to open the car door to speak with him he drove off injuring me. I called the police, but the police did not log it as a domestic incident, they logged it as a RTA and no further action was taken.

That was just the start of a catalogue of bad behaviour on his part. He even got the judge fooled that I was just an overprotective mother. He got unsupervised contact and was a nightmare. The best bit, he used to sit outside my home night after night, then he might not turn up for contact, leaving everyone waiting around, just wondering if he was simply late. Or he would turn up and brag about his supposed latest conquest and how much better she was, shame he did not figure that I was laughing on the inside that he had spent so much time outside my house that either a) it was unlikely that he had anyone or b)if he had scored she obviously did not rate him or he would be constantly at her side, not outside my home. He probably only said this stuff because he had lost control of the situation and I was resistant to being suckered in. The you have hurt me by starting a divorce, so I'll hurt you by seeing other people mentality. A bit deflated when the response from me was "good for you, fill yer boots". Hurt by this, he then started making unfavourable comparisons between me and fantasy woman. I initially ignored it and simply said that it was a good job that we were getting a divorce then, as it meant that he could move on. A bit of an own goal that one.

He kept going on every time he had the opportunity, then one day he made out that I was jealous, so I laid it on the line that the purpose of divorce, was that both parties were free to pursue or not, whoever they chose to and that really I did not consider his love life to be any of my business, just as mine was none of his. Should have seen the look of disappointment on his face. He still did not get the point and was argumentative and aggressive at every opportunity. So I started to behave subtly differently. I made sure that when it was Saturday night on contact weekends, I was down the pub, so when I answered the mobile to him there would be lots of background noise of people having fun. Sometimes, I would put a big vase of flowers in the front window, other times I would answer the door dressed to the nines, none of this seemed to be working, he was still showing up aggressive and abusive. So onto next trick. I bought a big pair of men's shoes and left them in the porch in full view for when he returned our son. Now our son had a receptive speech disorder and because I called my father 'dad', my son also called him 'dad', you can only imagine the anguish it caused my ex. I only really hoped that the thought of having a man around might cause my ex to curb his behaviour, needless to say it didn't. Quite amusing that someone who had, had a mistress and walked out and was now supposedly having new relationships, might be disgusted that the ex he had discarded, might have picked her life up and carried on without him.

In the end I had to move away and thankfully when he bought the matter to court again, it could be seen how abusive he was and contact was halted.

I know that you are heartbroken, but please break away from this person, you deserve better. Make sure you are seen out and about with new girls. It only has to be platonic, if that is all that you feel you can manage. If you really want to make sure she gets the message. Go to a lingerie store, buy a pair of really sexy knickers that you know she would not buy for herself. So if she only wears thongs get a Brazilian or French knickers, unless she was genuinely small herself, get a size 8, if she is really small, go for a 12, ie make sure she knows that they are really not her knickers and make sure they are an expensive make; would recommend Aubade, their knickers are generally £60+, so try to pick them up in the sale. What you do is, you put them in an envelope, addressed to her with a note saying, I found these in the house, so I am returning them to you. Her mind will go into overdrive and she will assume that you have a new girlfriend, who is willing to splash out on fancy lingerie for your benefit. Even narcissists don't like to make a fool of themselves, so she is less likely to come chasing after you and you can rebuild your life in the peace that you deserve. If you are unfortunate and she reports this as harassment to the police, all you have to say is that you were just returning her belongings. Job done.

Mary on September 24, 2018:

Thank you for sharing, I can relate to your story and was very emotional reading it, I can literally feel your heartbreak while waiting for the cab, I have recently felt that physical pain when I read texts from my ex narc to a secondary source and realised he was getting ready to discard me...I feel my world and everything I have known for the past 4 years has literally fallen apart...while I do not miss the drama he created I feel a huge void in my life and pray that i can heal as you have. Thank you for giving me hope.

A nony mouse on September 24, 2018:

Dear NeverAgainAgain,

it could be a lot worse at least you do not have children together. When you have children, unless she abandons them with you, you are suckered in by the contact situation. My ex-husband used the contact handovers as a means to continue his bad behaviour towards me. Inevitably, children identify with one or other of their parents. The dangers are that if they see a parent who gets what they want by lying, controlling and manipulating, they may think that is the way to be in life. Or if their sympathies lie with the other parent, they may think that this is just the way that relationships work and might fall into relationships that have a similar dynamic themselves.

As for me, I was advised to keep a contact book. My ex's behaviour was so bad that I moved 126 miles away, when he dragged me back through the courts for this, the courts put a stop to contact with a section 7 order (UK).

This meant that he had no excuse to continue harassing me and he found someone new. That lasted just over 3 years before the police contacted my parents worried for my safety. It turned out that 90% of the crap that he used to do to me he did to wife number 2. He wound up spending Christmas 2015 in prison on remand, unfortunately, new wife rescinded her statements and the prosecution did not go ahead. From social media, I can see that he has moved to another area and has got a new job and he is back out there trying to score with the ladies at salsa.

Your ex, if you cut off the supply she gets from you, will go find someone new to do this to. Sad to say, that like a bad smell these sorts can hang around for a long time, just waiting to wind you around their little finger again. Don't fall for it, dissociate yourself from her as much as you can, because trust me you don't need the heartache, life's too short.

NeverAgainAgain on September 24, 2018:

Thanks for replying. I am going to a Relate counselling session tonight as I realised I couldn't sort my head and heart out alone. I'm staggered that people (that my wife) can act like this, especially when they are cherished, nurtured and loved.

My heart has been ripped out and she's danced on it.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on September 23, 2018:


My heart goes out to you. Yes, you were in love with a mirage. The woman you love didn't really exist. That's the sticky part with Narcs, they present us with our ideal partner, who wouldn't fall for that?

The problem is they have no soul, and your story verifies that fact. They are nothing more than vampires preying on those of us who fall for their act.

Don't beat yourself up. But do get some support through therapy, or a 12 step group like CoDendent's Anonymous. You just had your heart ripped out of your chest, don't try to go it alone.

You will get through this. You are stronger than you think. You navigated an impossible relationship - you can heal from it as well.

NeverAgainAgain on September 23, 2018:

Hello, thanks for the article. Here's my story in case it helps me / someone else by me sharing it:

I'm not sure if my wife is a narcissist or a sociopath, but I think I am co-dependent. Together for 4 years it really was a relationship of two halves. Up until our marriage 2 years ago, (Her 3rd marriage, my first) my wife was amazing. I was everything she ever wanted, we were twin flames and I was the love of her life. Our sex life was off the scale. She wanted to be with me all the time. I adored her and was head over heels. Part of me still is. The attraction to her was / is magnetic.

Once married though, she literally changed overnight. Everything she loved about me she started to dislike. She withdrew her attention and affection, making me work harder and harder for crumbs of love.

6 months into the relationship she walked out, returning a few weeks later after a holiday abroad with her adult daughters. She told me I needed to change. Her attitude towards me fluctuated with her mood or whether she needed me to do something or not. She would make me feel really loved for short periods of time and then withdraw and criticise to make the discard more effective. Whenever I tried to discuss things she would flip and walk out for hours or days (to talk about me with her daughters) or deny everything saying I was 'over sensitive'. I had stopped spending time with my own daughter, my friends and family by now. Everything revolved around her and how my actions / words would affect her mood.

Earlier this year she inherited a large amount of money and the day the cheque cleared she told me she wasn't in love with me and that she had been 'going through the motions' and she was leaving, but could she stay until her new house was ready!? I'm ashamed to say I let her. She told me she was leaving but didn't want to lose me, so I agreed to keep trying once she had left. We dated every week and had two weekends away together (in the UK) before she eventually started to cut off again following another luxury holiday abroad with her daughters and 3 months after she had moved out.

I confronted her last weekend and she told me she loves me as friend but has no other feelings for me. Simple as that. She had not been dating me, she had just been hanging out and leaving me hanging on. This despite texting me every day to say she loves me.

She came to collect the rest of her things yesterday. I said, 'I didn't think this would happen to us' and all she said was 'can I take the microwave if you don't use it'. Then she was gone. Four years of my life spent trying to please someone who could not be pleased, fix someone who could not be fixed, even though we both knew where her inability to love herself or others comes from. I am grieving for a woman I possibly never knew. I am in love with someone who doesn't exist and who in the end took everything I had to give, emotionally, practically and financially and she left wanting just one more thing...

The shock of how her let her treat me is mixed with the massive loss I feel as I loved this woman with all my heart. A real paradox.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on September 06, 2018:

Hi Allison,

This happened a long, long time ago, and I think you missed part of the story. We weren't exactly broken up. A real ex-doesn't invite you to spend the weekend following the party at her place after a break-up.

She did this sort of thing a lot it was very tumultuous because it was all about her. After me, she started dating two women at the same time and lying about it. She actually invited me out to coffee a year later to make "amends." This involved talking endlessly about her lying and cheating in a positive way because she thinks she's a great gal..

So, no, she's a Narcissist. I didn't have time to write a full book. And include every detail - because the purpose of the article when I wrote it several years ago was to help others going through the same kind of toxic roller coaster with people who deliberately mislead them and play games for their amusement.

I"m actually quite happy and my life is drama free because I no longer date people like her. She actually friended me on FB about a year ago, and I let her because I have no feelings towards her whatsoever.

I find your response to be condescending and a trifle obnoxious. If you're not a narcissist and you have not been victimized by's ok to keep it moving without adding your uninformed opinion. Have a nice day.

Allison on September 06, 2018:

You decided to "surprise" her at her party. When people are going through a break up, those kind of surprises can feel intrusive. If she didn't expect you there, she may have invited someone else she was trying to impress - like a new lover. You showing up unannounced while you're in the process of breaking up seems disrespectful.

You were on a break - she doesn't owe you anything. The fact that she extended an invitation showcases she wanted you there. Maybe when you didn't RSVP she felt like you snubbed her so she moved on like any rational person would do.

I understand you felt humiliated at the party - you have a right to your feelings. But it was also a position you put yourself in by not following party etiquette and submitting an RSVP. You felt unwelcome because your surprise was unwelcome. She didn't plan on you being there.

I'm not a narcissist, but if my ex showed up unannounced to an event or party I'm hosting I would act the same way. It's disrespectful.

No offense, but I stopped reading your article after your party story. Victimizing yourself as a way to validate your poor actions seems disingenuous. Maybe you should look at the ways you contributed to this situation. It seems like the problem in this relationship was not a narcissist - but poor communication.

A true narcissist would never apologize or try to make amends, they just cut you off like you don't exist.

May I suggest you read: "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work" ... even though you weren't married - the message of the book helps with any loving relationship.

Hope you find the happiness you are looking for! It seems like this wasn't the relationship for you.

Gardenfrock on August 15, 2018:

Smashing fences like a branded wild horse, senses startled by horrific shock after shock, it was this blog that first gave meaning to my journey of researching narcissism. Like others here, I will always hold your deep sharing of gut wrenching experience & the rich, diverse scope of learning, as a warm candle in the rugged bush of the hard of this journey.

As trauma victims often function from a splitting space of hyperarousal when under threat, to then embark on the intense path of researching, understanding, grief, inner turmoil, questions/answers/stories upon stories stimulating a high on reflection/resonance/chilling similarities/aroused on kin narratives/connections fire a global community of shared trauma...expression has no bounds when a shaking voice is cupped & soothed with collective mirrors screaming from the hell of narcissistic entrapment. It is the fury beginning of a journey of reaching deep into complex selves - a breaking of taboos -an unthinkable subversion of the archetypal parent might find you coming to terms with what "abuse" is & does - the damage is creepy.

I'd like to speak to Bobby's recent comment about how he/she rode high on 'making' a healed self, yet finds a sense of diminishing as the damage emerges with gnarly, cruel chains. I feel we are initially in those early fight or flight stages; hyperarousal swings us toward survival; we might then, at any point, drop from this state into an almost exhaustive space...left with a brutal awareness of being broken, & the visceral of ourselves is acute. It is the incredible articulation of Wendy's shared story which gives you a solid light forward. I believe you are going in, Bobby. A stage - never linear. I see a therapist. I became too hyperaroused after feverishly analysising narcissism & immersing in dialogue on forums...have needed to return home & understand myself now. The warmth of my log burner has been witness to guttural grief. The more I know & accept the lost girl, I feel the woman who lost herself to abusive relationships was she is as raw as the match catching the paper.

pboy90 on August 14, 2018:

thank you, i needed this

bobby on August 14, 2018:

i just wanted to say, ive been recovering from a break up from a 2 year relationship that ended around a year ago and ive yet to come across an article that i can identify with more than this one! up until now ive been feeling alone and lost, i dont miss her, i dont want anything to do with her, but ive found it very tough moving on alone, to start with, the first 6 months was great, i focused on what im good at, started working out alot, doing the classic "me" stuff, but ive just found that the damage from the relationship is slowly making me bitter and isolated and i dont really know if this is just a phase in the recovery process, ive started getting social anxiety so meeting new people is proving difficult. shes gone from my life now, i dont miss her at all but im left with this damage that i dont know how to fix

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on August 08, 2018:

Hi Sara,

I just read your sounds like you are dealing with someone who is very childish and confused...and very, very needy and selfish. She may be a narcissist, she might not be - but the real issue is how you feel when dealing with her. If you feel exhausted and depleted and unhappy with this person then there is your answer for you what you need to do.

No contact is tough, but it really helps break those toxic connections. Remove her and block her on all social media, block her phone number and move on towards a life and relationship you deserve. You owe her zero explanation so don't offer any. Just go quietly.

You can let mutual friends and connections know that you need no contact with her for your own peace of mind and that you would appreciate no comments or conversation about her. You don't need to know how she's doing through her friends.

You can always reconnect on social media when you feel stronger in a year or two and no longer have feelings for her. You do what works for you and don't worry about how anyone feels about it. You're not responsible for other people's feelings or issues. Good luck!

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on August 08, 2018:

Hi Dee,

It's only by dealing with the darkness that helps us appreciate the light. Yes, they never change...and that's where people get caught up - hoping they can change the unchangeable. They are mentally ill. Once a person realizes they are dealing with a mental illness - it's time to go! Thank you for your kind word. :-)

Dee on July 30, 2018:

This article absolutely has been the best I have read on Recovering from NPD relationships. I beg anyone who has stumbled upon this to RUN away if in a relationship with such a person. They intend to only hurt, harm, and actually loathe anything positive about you. I am speaking with plenty of years of having experienced this. And yes, they can be psychopathic and many have committed or attempted murder on their victims. I am a LIVING example who escaped. NO CONTACT is difficult but best. I have surrounded myself with daily self help like these articles on the internet, books, prayer and ME TIME. THEY NEVER CHANGE. Believe me. I have enough to write my own book. But please do not wrap your life around this person any longer. They will never truly love or are they capable of such. I am only sorry I spent far too much of myself invested in a dead end relationship. I am healing slowly but surely. I pray for all caught in their web to get free and find out life can and will be better. Thank you for this very well written article and all advice appreciated.

Sara on July 26, 2018:

Thank you so much for your article Wendy. I'm finding it extremely difficult to cut all ties with my ex. We broke up just over two weeks ago and it's like every time I'm reeled back in, just enough to not know whether I'm coming or going.

When we got together everything, like all new relationships, was exciting and fun. After a while things started to change. She had lost both her parents a number of years ago and hadn't yet grieved. She was previously married to a man who abused her and then began a relationship with a woman, whom to this day still has a hold over her.

I found this out when we went out for drinks with my partner, her ex and her partner. I could sense something was up. It stung and took me a few weeks to bring this up. I knew every time she got a text from her she would be all over the place emotionally. The same would happen with her ex husband.

During our relationship the focus was often on me, saying that things were being hindered because my parents didn't know about our relationship (few of her family and friends knew either) or because we were living apart etc. She would always put things back on me as to the reason we might not be going so well at the time. I apparently was often to blame for the small things that seemed irrelevant but yet she would always make a point to throw the blame about. There's also been some name calling once a couple of drinks were taken.

I provided so much support, was always there. Stayed with her on Sunday nights when she was upset (driving a 2.5 hour drive to work the next morning), listened patiently when she spoke of her situation with both her exes, encouraged her to go to counselling (which she said she's finding very helpful) and reconnect with her family.

Only two days ago she told me that she knows I'm the person she wants to walk life's path with and she's feeling very positive. Since then she has taken the big step and come out to her ex husband. She now queries that the next obstacle in our way is her not being comfortable with her sexuality and that this is causing her to stress out and maybe she just needs to be single.

I feel equally she wants to have a hold on me and is waiting to see if the grass is greener on the other side.

I can't determine if this is narcissistic behaviour (maybe I have the blinkers on) or if things have just been against us from the start. I feel so drained in all aspects of my life, as though there's not an ounce more to give. When I think back to how I was before our relationship, I was a very happy go lucky person, comfortable in my own company, happy to travel and seek new adventures with my job. Now I feel I've lost myself but yet here I am, wondering what the next text that comes my way is going to contain :/

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on July 14, 2018:

You are very brave to make the move to leave. These kinds of relationships are the hardest to leave because of the brainwashing and mind games. You are going to be very emotional for a while. But know that it will eventually pass.

You are going to second guess yourself and go over all the details in your head till you can't stand it anymore, but it is a process so just go with it. I recommend finding a CoDA meeting (Codependents Anonymous). It will help to be around others who are struggling with toxic relationships.

I also recommend pursuing something you've been wanting to do to keep your mind busy and off the Narc. It could be anything, learning how to play a musical instrument, learning a second language, starting a garden and learning about plants - whatever you've dreamed about being able to do but haven't had the clarity to do because you were in a constant state of emotional and mental crisis.

Good luck. You will get through this you are strong and you know your life will be much better without him. :-)

bobbie on July 07, 2018:

this literature and your story helped me out a lot, I got so tired and had no more energy trying to fix him so we could have a normal life and I got all the best promises when he seemed normal but his actions would start up again. I had him removed and im still emotional and go in and out with tears, but I ni in my heart it wasn't gonna change

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on July 04, 2018:

Hi Teresa,

No, the name was not Richard. LOL.

Teresa on July 04, 2018:

That sounds exactly like my ex narcissist! Is his name Richard by any chance?

Sharon Beverly from Tampa, FL USA on May 24, 2018:

Thank you, so much, for sharing this. The Narcissist I was involved with was an internet relationship. It lasted 6 months. We were making plans for the future. I thank God he is so far away from me. I broke it off. Before I could finish blocking him from all my social media and phone, after I messaged him to tell him we were done, he had already texted me. I blocked his number as quickly as I could. It was my friends, who have known me forever, who truly love me, that finally, gently intervened, because they saw me losing my glow, my sunshine, my positive attitude. I was withdrawing from them, from life, and really starting to believe it was all my fault. I was believing that I really wasn't the happy person everyone else knew I am, including me! Hindsight has indeed been 20/20 for me. I now know why he would hang up on me, when he was displeased, and I had no clue? Because he was raging. He couldn't afford to have me hear the true him. He slipped up a few times, and used that word, and told me just that. He couldn't speak to me when he was raging, even if it wasn't because of me. The most chilling thing he said, right before I broke it off, and this helped me see the truth too, was how much fun it was to watch a person go down in flames, when he set out to destroy them, because they deserved it. Why? They didn't live up to his standards, or to his perception of God's standards. I still have love in my heart for this man, because I also see just how broken he truly is. Not my job to fix him, but it still breaks my heart, because I really loved him. The beginning was beautiful, charming, and loving, but the closer we grew, the more controlling and manipulative he became. I was blinded by love. Again, thank you for this. Really helped me.

Gaetana on May 17, 2018:

Thank you.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on April 28, 2018:

Dear Noha,

I am sorry for what you went through with this woman. There is definitely a hook for those of us susceptible to self-absorbed partners. It's a pattern that's formed in childhood. It's a deep-seated need to fix our pattern with our parents. Toxic parents end up raising codependent children.

I hope you find happiness in your new relationship. If you still find you are struggling then perhaps therapy or a support group like CoDA will help. Good luck!

Noha on April 23, 2018:

After 2 year relationship with a girl suffering of bulimia and NPd I decided to move on. In the beginning she seemed a stable healthy person. Very smart and active, slowly she reveled all her problems and an abusive mother and absent father in her childhood. We dated living far away, me in Rome and she in Tokyo. Early on she wanted to move I with me relocating to Rome. I already knew she suffered from a lot of stress and anxiety but had no idea about the scale of the problems until she moved in. So I discovered that she was way more depressed than she shown. The plan was that she would have started looking for a mini job and start seeing a therapist, eventually she just stayed in bed for months . With me suffering and pushing her to start a treatment . This only made us fight over and over. I suffered so much I became verbally abusive and exausted. She even had bulimic binges ( she told me no thsst later) while telling me that it was over. After few months she finally started seeing someone but after just few meetings the summer arrived and after going to Bruxelles to see her mom she never wanted to come back home. She blamed me in an unreal way, it seems I was the cause for her stress. I was the entire problem for all. I felt abandoned and I entered a huge phase of deep anxiety for the whole summer. A true nightmare. I tried to end the relationship but she didn’t wanted, becoming severely angry with me and manipulating me. I had to force her to come back to see me jus to understand that living toghter was not possible. So she moved to her mother in Bruxelles and few months later she wanted to go back to Tokyo to finish her study .( she even blamed me for convincing her to pause her Study to try to get cured).

She moved there and asked me to go visit but just few days before my departure she said she dumped me telling me she wanted to eventually date someone else.

I was destroyed and I felt depressed like nev before. I avtually started to move on with my life just to get back with her 6 months later. We spent a month toghter and everything seemed perfect. But again, when I visited her in Japan it was like always. It was all about her and her problems, I was just assisting her. And in her mind I should have enjoyed this. I started realizing that this was toxic and it was all about giving her something that would have never been enough. When I moved back to Europe and few months later she came for her vacation we had a fight while texting and this led to her not wanting to see me. She wanted to be with her friends telling me that she didn t know why but she felt bad everytime she was with me. Again, she didn’t wanted to split up. She just wanted to ignore me and get back to me when she pleased.

But by this time I saw the pattern. Like food she wanted to have me completely and puke me when she had enough.

Everything or nothing.

This experience made me realize how much I enjoyed taking care of someone instead of myself. Now that has been a bit more than a month I see how much energies I have for me.

I started dating a girl now, sweet and kind , and I see how hard it is for me to trust someone that really likes me. I see how somehow I prefer to give all my attentions to someone that doesn’t want me instead of risking being rejected by someone that is really there for me.

We can blame the narcisistic ex for what he did. Or we can ask ourself why we loved being beaten up all the time.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on April 11, 2018:

Hi Mara,

I'm not a therapist. Everything you wrote here should be shown to a good therapist who can help you sort out all of these issues.

I can tell you that one of the things my ex used to bug me about constantly was my weight. It was her contention that if I loved her I would lose weight.

It got so bad I was afraid to eat in front of her. I was a nervous wreck, when I hadn't been before. It was never an issue in my other relationships.

I know now to walk away from anyone who tries to control how I look or feel about myself. I also know that I come from a family full of angry, controlling women. Because of this energy in my background I would get caught up and consumed with relationships with angry, controlling women. That is my theme and I know what to look for, and what to avoid.

This man played on your insecurities and pushed all your buttons. It wasn't about other women, it was about making you feel bad. Narcissists get high from the attention they get when they hurt someone. It's creepy but true.

The only question you ever need to ask yourself in a relationship is this:

Do I like myself when I am around this person?

If the answer is no, then don't look back. Look forward to a future with men who treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve.

Good luck!

Mara on April 05, 2018:

Hi Wendy, I read your article and found it so insightful and helpful. I'm still working on healing from my separation and divorce from my ex, who I was with for 9 years. I had been with him for my entire adult life (from 18 to 27), and even though it was my decision to separate and divorce, the loss and guilt I felt was excruciating. I don't even know how to classify his behavior over the years, but finally I had enough and couldn't stand it anymore. From the beginning, he was always looking at other women, talking about other women looking hot or fit, and when I would get upset, he would tell me that he thought I was mature enough to have these kind of normal adult conversations. He once, early on in our relationship, told me that all men look at other women and imagine having sex with them. That was so upsetting for me, but he just told me I was being immature. He was always "testing" me, because he believed I had jealousy issues, and so he would make comments about women specifically to "test" my "maturity". I know this, because he admitted to it. He said he wanted to "push" me to get over my jealousy issues - my jealousy "issues" only started because of him looking at other women, and making me feel like I couldn't trust him! I lost trust in him early on, but didn't want to admit it to myself, and I kept hoping he would change, that he would finally understand and care about my feelings, that he would treat me as I treat him - with love, respect, and complete faithfulness. But maybe when trust is gone, at a certain point it can never be repaired or regained. Those issues started early on in our 9 year relationship, within the first 1-2 years, and he remained the same throughout - we would have arguments about him being overly familiar, in my opinion, with other women, and he would call me jealous, paranoid, crazy, controlling, irrational, and untrusting. And I would vacillate back and forth - is he right? Am I being controlling and jealous and causing issues in our relationship? Or am I right and he needs to change. I would almost always end up agreeing with him that I need to work on being more understanding, less distrustful. But these issues kept coming up because I guess I knew that it wasn't right. In the last year of our relationship, he was driving a girl home from work late at night, and he didn't even tell me about it at first. We went out for dinner with this female colleague of his one night, along with two other friends, and then my ex volunteered me and him to drive his female colleague home. Well, to my shock, my ex knew the way to her house. Once she was out of the car, I asked him how he knew the way, and he told me that he'd driven her home from work a couple of times because she didn't have transport. I was so upset - I would be waiting at home for him, because he was working very late hours, and he'd be driving home another woman and not even telling me about it. Of course he told me I was being crazy, ridiculous, jealous, possessive, etc, and said there was nothing wrong with it, and he continued to drive her home on occasion even though I was upset about it. I had such tension about his friendship with this female colleague of his that I ended up having a panic attack at the gym and had to be given oxygen on the floor of the gym. And one of the people working out at the gym happened to be a doctor and so he came over to assist, and he went downstairs to the gym cafe to get some honey to give to me to raise my blood sugar. I was crying and still gasping a bit, and so he kindly and sincerely fed me the honey spoon by spoon, and that made me cry more because this random man was more caring for me in that moment than I felt my ex was being. I just heaved a big sigh, because I thought I was over all this - the panic attack happened in roughly May 2015, we separated in September 2015, and the divorce paperwork went through in May 2017. But maybe I am still struggling - I don't think about him as much anymore, I don't ruminate as much about the pain he caused me, but I struggled for a long time with anger and resentment about what he put me through and him continuing to believe that I was the one in the wrong, that I had the controlling and jealousy issues that caused us so many fights over the years. Another incident with that female colleague: at a work party, she leaned across him to say something to me, and she rested her hand at the very top of his thigh as she did so. I was so shocked and I confronted him when we left the party ... and he laughed at me. He laughed because he thought I was being, once again (in his words) crazy, jealous, irrational, and he claimed to have not even noticed her put her hand on his leg. He didn't believe me at first. I didn't believe him that he didn't feel it, and even if he didn't notice it, what does that mean other than that they clearly were comfortable with each other in a way that most work colleagues of the opposite gender are not. I felt angry at him for a long time, but then got back in touch with him recently to say hi, and I feel like I am not fully allowing myself to move forward - as he has so clearly done. Do you have any thoughts on what I have said with regards to my situation? How would you categorize what I went through with my ex? And how I do heal fully - because I don't feel truly healed, and not at all certain of my ability to "ward off" similarly "abusive" relationships. And was he abusive to me? In an emotional sense? He was always criticizing what I wore, how I looked, telling me to get this waxed, to wear this, to fix my hair or makeup this way, and whenever I put up resistance, he would tell me that I didn't care about looking good for him. He would tell me that all women care about these things and about looking good for their man. This was so upsetting to me because I did and do make an effort to look nice, and it hurt to feel like he rarely saw that, that he only ever had criticism for me, that I was never "good enough" so to speak. He would comment on other women passing by, and say "look at what she's wearing, you should wear something like that" - and I always felt compared to other women, and always coming up lacking. I don't know why I stayed in the relationship for so long, except to say that I loved him in an all-consuming way, and we did everything together. But I always felt that I came second to his mom, and perhaps tied in importance with his friends. So along with the criticism, and him looking at and talking about and acting inappropriately with other women, he was also putting me in the position of resenting his mother for ALWAYS taking priority - she was even calling him during our honeymoon to discuss a family matter, and yet I was the one in the wrong when I got upset about it. I was the one who was being possessive and not understanding. I just wanted our honeymoon to be about us, to for once not have his mom "around", even via phone. *sigh* How do I recover from all this pent up resentment that I still feel?

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on March 28, 2018:

Dear Vanessa,

I sorry for the trouble you are in. I don't know enough about your situation to offer any concrete advice. Do you have your own job? Do you make your money? If not, you should start.

Every woman should have her own emergency fund, so that if she gets in a bad situation, she has the money to move. You can go to the bank on your own and set up a private account in your name only, and don't tell him about it.

He can only imprison you if you allow it. I am also assuming he is not physically violent, if he is then please call your local domestic abuse hotline for resources.

If you do have your own money, then wait until he goes to work, and move out and don't leave any contact info. You can always replace the stuff later - I know because I've been there. I'm assuming no kids are involved.

I've recommended to many who have written here: Find a CoDA meeting (Codependents Anonymous) you can look online for one in your area. You will find a community of supportive people that are also trying to break free of toxic relationships. Good luck!

A nony mouse on March 22, 2018:

One last thing I should say about rogue therapist.

No matter how embarrassing the situation, this guy needs reporting so that he will eventually be exposed. When this happens, all the women that he has behaved badly towards, will hopefully come forward and this will either force him out of practice or force him to operate ethically.

Can say that he charged £360 for 3 hours work and he overcharged by at least £120, his trade association thought that he ought to refund the whole sum, as they thought the value of the 'therapy' I received was jack. Safe to say there was no such offer of even a partial refund. Only wish that I could name him, but this would start libel action on his part.

Must add that when a complaint is made to a trade association that a therapist has joined voluntarily, the therapist can not then claim liable against the complainant. Some trade associations make complaints about therapists public, some do not, but it is always worth complaining, because it has the potential to change the therapist's unsafe behaviour and save others from unpleasant situations. At the very least, it let my therapist know that I would not tolerate his unethical breach of confidentiality or threats.

Will try to put this information on other sites.

A nony mouse on March 21, 2018:

Should also add that there is a guy out there who advertises his therapeutic services for women victims, who himself is narcissistic. Unfortunately, I came across him. He is pretty much advertising for co-dependents. He happily takes money for work that he has no intention of performing. His modus operandi is that he takes an overly long personal history to ensure that you are a suitable client. If you are like me and you might pose a danger to him by standing up for yourself, he then takes your money and agrees to work with you. However, when you ring to book an appointment he will prevaricate time and time again. When he has had enough, he will then turn around and threaten you and say that you have been harassing him, he claimed to have shown my private notes to third parties and made a veiled threat to the tune of: 'You have made me feel uncomfortable and I am going to make you pay'

I immediately turned to the Clinic for Boundary Studies, who said that I should report him to his trade association. Which I did. The head of the association was completely dismissive. Then I received a letter saying that I was being investigated for a social security claim, this was dated 2 days after this guy had threatened me, it seemed too much of a coincidence. I contacted the trade association again, this time a different guy dealt with me, I described what had happened without mentioning the therapist's name, to my surprise the guy on the other end of the 'phone was able to name this guy. He went on to say that despite practising over 100 miles away from the rogue therapist, he had, had 2 very traumatized women pass through his practice that had similar stories. He said that he had personally tried to tackle the rogue therapist, but that this had resulted in a slew of threatening solicitors letters.

The trade association was made to realize that they needed to tackle this guy. They did their best to do this, but he refused to abide by their procedures and they revoked his membership. He started his own trade association, from which I understand he was forced to step down and he started his own training school, but I have been told that he had some serious disagreement with a number of his trainers, whom he simply sacked. Put it this way, the head of his trade association describes him as a dick who has pissed off too many people to continue operating to the same degree in his country, so he has gone international. Whoah, watch out world!

Just thought it was an interesting approach to narcissistic supply, to actually advertise for potential victims. But on a serious note, I heard that a psychologist described this guy's behaviour as antitherapeutic, I would concur, I would also say that if any woman gets into a sticky situation, with a therapist that sounds like this, then for goodness sake report it.

A nony mouse on March 21, 2018:

My ex, narc or not, was charming at first, which I believe is the pattern with narcs; after all how else would they attract anyone in the first place. When these sort of characters turn, the behaviour is kind of difficult to believe, the victim probably thinks it is something that they have done wrong. When one of these characters are called out on their behaviour, sure they will appear to behave perfectly, for a while. But, since the victim has allowed their personal boundaries to be transgressed once it is never too long before it is happening again and again.

The victim is invariably trying to get back the charming person they fell in love with. There is some biological basis to this. Years ago some research was done with animals, I think it was pressing a lever for a reward. They set it up 2 different ways. 1) pressing the lever gave the same reward every time 2) pressing the lever gave varying awards including nothing at all. The animals with varying awards pressed the lever a greater number of times than those getting a fixed award. There have been some comparisons drawn to people in jobs and the same appears to hold true there too. Certainly, I feel that this model would explain the destructive hold that gambling holds over some individuals. It could also explain why victims who are free to leave their abusers continue to stay. The variability of the reward, possibly makes the reward more desirable.

Not so in my case. I just got the hell out. Eventually, I was able to move and the courts put a stop to contact. We now live in hiding.

Gail on March 21, 2018:

Thank you.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on March 17, 2018:

Dear A nony mouse,

I"m sorry we don't agree about co-dependents. But I stick by my assertion that co-dependents are very much attached to approval from toxic partners. Which is why so many of us stay in long-term relationships with a Narc.

What you are describing sounds more like a sociopath/psychopath. They are even more unpleasant and dangerous than your average Narcissist.

I'm glad you got a divorce and got away from him. He sounds very dangerous.

My article was really addressing relationships that are not physically violent.

I hope you and your child are in a safe place where he can not find you. Good luck.

A nony mouse on March 12, 2018:

I resent the way in which the term co-dependent is used. I was with my narc ex for nine and a half years and everything was fine until I gave birth to our son, over eight and a half years in. Then all hell broke loose, because he resented the attention a small baby took away from him.

We went to 3 different relationship counsellors: 1) told him he needed to get off his online games, roll up his sleeves and pitch in and be supportive (we did not go back to her because he said she bullied him; 2) was a guy who told him much the same (we did not return as my ex thought that the therapist fancied me); 3) started to get somewhere, she figured out that he was a narcissist and that he would not change, so she persuaded him that perhaps he should leave me and set up with his secret squeeze. This at least gave me the break from domestic abuse that I needed to start divorce proceedings.

I object to the term co-dependent, because it somehow implies that I was a willing participant in my own abuse. I was not, I was more like a hostage, trying to placate a terrifying terrorist in my own home. He used to be on his computer until the early hours of the morning, I would be asleep and he would force himself upon me and if I dared object, he would choke and hit me. His excuse for this behaviour was that I had gained weight during my pregnancy and had stretch marks and he no longer found me attractive. He used to lock me in the house when he went to work. As my child was a baby and I was no longer working he thought that entitled him to behave as he wanted to. The therapist said that the only way he would leave would be on his terms, as this is the way of the narcissist.

His parents, unfortunately, persuaded him to stay. He knelt before me and pleaded "I've been a selfish b*stard and nothing like this will ever happen again; but I need my space" So I agreed to give him his space, I told him that I was going to my parents over Christmas and he could go figure what he was going to do to put our relationship right whilst I was away. What he did not know was that I bugged the household computer, I came home to discover no positive attempts to resolve our problems, but lots of time emailing other women, going on and viewing violent porn. It was not going to change, I told him he needed to stop locking me in for safety reasons and secretly started divorce proceedings.

I stopped trying to be the person he wanted and when he started all the threats to leave I told him he knew where the door was. He went for it and I asked where he was going so I could start divorce proceedings, he said he did not know. He left and returned a few weeks later on the pretext of collecting belongings, I asked again for his address so that I could start proceedings. He refused saying if I did not know his address I could not divorce him, I told him that I would have the papers served on him at his workplace, he tried to run me over.

Shortly after this, I received a 'phone call from the other woman, she wanted me to take him back to stop him pestering her. So obviously, it had not worked with the other woman and that is why he did not want a divorce. I did divorce him, it was hell, the judge did not believe how bad he was and said that I had indulged in an exercise in hyperbole and allowed him unsupervised access to our son. He hid money in a trust fund which meant I had to sell up, his behaviour, together with the fact that our son was diagnosed with a developmental disorder (with which he was no help whatsoever), meant that I moved miles away to where my parents live. He was unhappy about this, we tried to offer him a pattern of contact that would be more convenient all round, but he refused to compromise in the interests of our son. It went back to court and they put a stop to contact.

He has since messed me and our son around with maintenance payments, because he would rather pay for the new wife and his 4 stepchildren, than his disabled son and me who has given in my career to take on the whole responsibility.

Has not worked out so well for him though. In December 2015, the police contacted my parents, worried about my safety. After establishing that I was OK, I was asked to contact another police force. They asked about why our relationship broke up, I told them about the abuse they said that he had perpetrated about 90% of what I described on his new family and that the new relationship had gone nuclear when 2 of the stepchildren joined his household. They had arrested him and charged him with domestic abuse and he had been bailed. During the course of the police investigations, more serious evidence came to light and bail was rescinded and he spent 3 weeks on remand. Unfortunately, the new wife rescinded her statement and the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case.

My point is that using the term co-dependant is demeaning to the victims of narcissists, because no one would consciously choose to be in this position; in actual fact many people are trying to escape such partners. The fact that narcs are particularly nasty and difficult to deal with is not the victim's fault and the demeaning language around this is perpetrating a dysfunctional narrative.

Vanessa Valdez on March 08, 2018:

I really appreciate your post. It really helped me. I am in a relationship going on 4 years it has been toxic from the start and is only getting worse. My partner is most definitely a narcissist on many levels. I am looking for advice on how to leave without being sucked back in again we live together and he controls everything i no longer have a support system and I don't really have any family members to help me he plays that card a lot i just know at this point I need to get out of this house I'm slowly losing my self again! All I know is that I am not able to be myself I have to be what he needs all the time and he constantly criticizes and disrespects me.

kks on February 19, 2018:

thank you,thank you, thank you!!!

just escaped from a relationship very similar to yours.

Thank you for your wisdom and insight and for pointing me in the right direction with your recommendations on what books to read.

Congratulations of the positive direction your life is heading

Jo on February 18, 2018:

My narcissits partner is in the process of leaving. We were together for five years. Even from the beginning i knew this man had no empathy, everything was about him. Resolving problems in our relationship was never about having a loving conversation where we listened respectfully to each other to help each other sort things out It was about name calling pointing the finger and blaming me. His nastiness, he would say if i didnt do the things i did he wouldnt get angry and shout.

I came from a family where you spoke when you were spoken to and my father was abusive to my mum. I had carried the trait of withdrawing into my adult hood which i told him and he said i was just ignorant. But my ex partner did not want to know the why's and my feelings didnt matter as they werent relevant. He is in the process of leaving and i should have finished the relationship a very long time ago because any feelings i had for this man he destroyed with how he treated me. I loved this article i have had tears but i am choosing me :)

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on January 29, 2018:

Hello AnneMarie1962,

I'm glad my personal experience could help. Narcissists rely on people who they perceive as easy marks for their supply/attention. The cool thing is...we get to decide not be easy marks any more. Namaste, and good luck on your journey.

Anne marie1962 on January 26, 2018:

Sometimes you don't realise the weight of something you've been carrying, until you feel the weight of its release.

Anne marie1962 on January 26, 2018:

Three months out of a seven year relationship with a narcissist... including a very, very brief marriage!!!!! During the past 3 months I have trawled the internet reading everything available and NONE and I mean NONE of what I have read, watched or listened to has she hit home the way your article did! even touching on where MY personality issues started and why I became such a sad, used, abused basket case. I am four weeks into counselling and can tell you that your article is the first thing that has given me the hope that I WILL get well and come out the other end of this nightmare! THANK YOU from the depth of my soul x Anne Marie namaste

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on January 04, 2018:

Dear Heart B Healed and Dean,

I know you both are in a difficult place, but you've done the right thing by leaving your Narcissist. Those relationships are exhausting, demeaning and never get better.

Stick with no contact, and start pursuing your own interests and dreams. Make new friends and I guarantee a year from now you'll be well on your way to having your sanity and life back. Good luck to both of you!

B on January 03, 2018:

I am just realising I have been in a relationship with a toxic narcissist. I can relate to EVERYTHING I have read in this article and it has helped so much. THANK YOU.

Dean on January 02, 2018:

Im three months out of a 2 year relationship with a woman that you have just described in this atricle to an exact T and I just want to say thank you for sharing this.

It is given me a glimpse of hope that I will someday be able to feel like a human being again as I have been numb inside now for so long in dealing with this kind of person.

I left the relationship and ended up sleeping on a hard wooden floor for a month and then technically homeless because of her, but I managed to pull myself out of this and even now she has been trying to lure me back in.

Thank you for giving me some hope that this nightmare will end eventually. Honestly, thank you.

Heart B Healed on December 22, 2017:

Thank you for the post and courage to take care of yourself instead of allowing your life to keep slipping away. It is important to accept the responsibility we have in this situation...good of you to address.

Last month, i finally had the ah-ha moment - the one that was the catalyst to leave - for good. It was because of the Weinstein joke. The last 10 years have been a miserable battle. They were years of taking care of his needs, dealing with his selfishness, drunken rants, his moods, his schedules, his preferences and apologizing over and over for all the "hurtful things" i did to him.

Read that again...I APOLOGIZED TO HIM! Every thing wrong that every happened was my fault. It is the same story as others who have been through this nightmare.

I am scared to be alone now but it has to happen. My life and heart can't suffer anymore.

I made the choice to stay and must face the difficult task of rebuilding.

I wish everyone the best is moving past the utter devastation...the "relationship" that was a complete and total lie.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on December 20, 2017:

Dear Lost,

Nobody can destroy you without your permission. Please see if you can't get into a therapy group where you can meet others struggling with the same issues. CoDA - Codpendent's Anonymous has groups all over the country. There is life after your Narc. Please don't give up or give in. Good luck!

Lost on December 20, 2017:

So inspiring to read how all of you moved on so happy for all of you.

But no matter how hard I try I do not see the light in the tunnel.

He destroyed me completely .

I do not want to socialize or meet other people because I only attract narcs friends or narc partners .

I left my job because I worked with my ex narc after he suggested that i have to work make money and help him and his new supply raise their comming kids.

Not having a work or friends or family makes it so hard for me to see future but thinking maybe i should be their doormatt because I am just a wreck . No good for nothing or anyone . His goal to destroy me worked out .

Gina on November 26, 2017:

This was one of the best articles on NPD. I am just starting the recovery process after a 21 year marriage. There are no words to describe the insanity of these people or the level of narcissistic abuse through silence, lies, gaslighting, cheating etc... ughh it is just unbelievable what they can do to ravish your life. I have two children with this sick, sick man and thank God, although it took this long to get away, I have educated my children as he was diagnosed NPD, BPD in 2013. I always thought it was passive aggressive disorder but he is a Covert Somatic Narcissist. He is Malignant and the level of deception that had been going on in the last 21 years of my marriage is frightening. Too much for me to go into but there were full other lives with other people and so much more. Thankfully, I am at the end and should be divorced within a few weeks but he continues to try to control as much as he can. The best thing I did for myself was educate me and the girls. This was my saving grace reading articles such as this. People with this disorder are so toxic and should be removed from your life as quickly as possible. I took 17 years to figure out what this person was doing. Narcissism is NOT curable.. They will chew through your life and you will not know what is happening to you. Then discard you years before you even know you have been discarded. Anyone that is reading this amazing article please listen to the writer if you are still in a relationship with a Narcissist, please also see the Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse. Educate yourself as much as possible and get help to get away as quickly as possible. They are devoid of love, apathetic and cruel. You are just a source of supply to a narcissist. Narcissist objectify people so their victims are for their usage only. They Do NOT Love because they CANNOT love. They are deceptive, fraud, con-artists and could care less about you or your children. Con means "Confident" which is what they do. They gain your confidence through the idolization phase of their cycle of abuse and then start ever so slowly devaluing you. You don't even know it's happening. You just know that something is very wrong but can't figure it out. Listen to this writer and heed the warning. Educate yourself, seek therapy to get out as quickly as possible from this very Covert Abusive nightmare!

Marme on November 12, 2017:

Omg, your story about the holidays is so strikingly similar to my brief encounter or relationship with a Narc. He did the same thing, he invited me to a family bbq and I got all dolled up showed up and he took 1 look at me like I was street trash and ignored me the whole time. The night before he was calling me his gf? I wondered wtf did I do?! This all explains it. I was only with him for 2 months and it messed me right up. I get it now. Wow that story just hit so close to home. I actually kinda laughed because its so silly that we would think the issue is with US. Thank you.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on October 19, 2017:

Dear Jojo -

Counseling is always best. See if there are any support groups for kids. Al-Anon might be able to give you a lead. Narcissism is very similar to addict behavior. So, believe it or not, 12 step programs are also effective for those dealing with Narcissists. Sending you and your son healing energy. on October 16, 2017:

I lived with a Narcissist for 25 years.Finally left 6 months ago. My son is the one dealing with his Dad. I keep telling him that his dad is not well.Alex is depressed and I want to help him.I need to forgive myself for staying so long in this toxic relationship. Any suggestions to help me with Alex? Thank you

Nat on October 12, 2017:

I have been living this nightmare for over 15 years. I am exhausted. I finally had the atomic blast. It only been two days. I need to be strong and never return. Thank you for your wonderful article. No one could understand why I kept going back. You explained so well.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on October 11, 2017:

Dear Andy, Amy, Melissa H and Claire R -

I'm so happy my experience has helped you if only to let you know you're not alone. You're not.

I'm sorry you've had to go through such bad experiences, but the bad experiences really do bring us closer to loving ourselves more, raising our standards - and have some much-needed peace and sanity. I'm sending healing energy to all of you. :-)

Andy on October 11, 2017:

Great article the manipulating way he used to twist things to make him look good finally over now just to close that chapter in my life and begin a new one thankyou for sharing

Amy on October 07, 2017:

Today is the day I ended it - yet again. This time, it needs to stick. This article was exactly, exactly what I needed to read. Thank you so much for your time and thoughtfulness in its creation and sharing!

Melissa H on October 05, 2017:

Thank you for articulating in print what is difficult to find words for.. I am at the end of a 3yr battle with my Narc, and I gotta say, it nearly did me in.

The lies, the stealing, the manipulation, the shame, the abuse, the isolating behaviour, the pain, the sorry's, the drama.. The damage..My god.. The effort to deceive on every level.. It's exhausting even writing this!

Wow! I didn't see myself as susceptible to a person like this. But that just makes them try harder to fell you. I read every word on this topic now to reinforce to myself that I'm not the only one who fell prey to one of these human parasites. It is heartening to know, that the light at the end of the tunnel is not always a freight train! I thank you!

Claire R on October 03, 2017:

I love this article. It has given me hope. I am only out of the relationship 4 days. He was physically and emotionally abusive. Here's praying that I can be as strong as you.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on September 28, 2017:

The woman he left you for probably made a more pliable target. They look for partners they can control. I can assure you their relationship is dramatic and toxic, but some partners have the ability to tune out the more extreme behavior of the Narcissistic/Sociopath.

No, I've dated here and there, but no serious relationships. Not because I don't want to, but because my focus is getting an online business off the ground. Doing that around a full time job is hectic.

The next relationship needs to be with someone who exhibits kindness and emotional stability. I'm not settling for less. I don't have time for the drama.

I don't trust most people either. However, I've managed to spot red flags and eliminate people from my life before I get hooked.

It's really about me developing the ability to trust myself and my judgement...still a work in progress, but I'm getting there.

Becwas on September 27, 2017:

Hi Wendy - great article! I had a similar experience with my ex stalking/flaunting their new target in front of me prior to the breakup... except I was in the backseat of the car! We all carpooled together - I know exactly what you mean when you say it felt like a soap opera moment!

I have 2 questions - have you met/seriously dated anyone else since? I have found it difficult to trust other people.

And secondly, just out of curiosity, was yours a sociopath as well? Mine never hoovered, & as far as I'm aware is still with the woman I was left for, so I'm guessing he was more socio than narc.

Anisa on September 17, 2017:

I read this article with complete shock. I felt like it was describing me and what I've been through. I never thought my ex was a narcissist. Not until today. The way you defined it made so much sense.

Thank you for writing this beautiful healing article. It won't be the last time I read it.

Kirsty Stanbrook on September 07, 2017:

What an encouraging and inspiring read. Thank you so much. I am disentangling from a narcissistic relationship in which my role has been an excessive codependent. Life is really only just beginning as I do the healing work on myself. I am older and hopefully wiser in how I envision my life to be. Your testimony is wonderful and gives hope for many of us who are still in the early stages of recovering from narcissistic relationships. Thank you.

Stuart on September 05, 2017:

I can relate to an ex narc, was together for 2years. 2children from my ex 1of her own.

She changed to be a webgirl comprising our relationship and a child of her own adding (she lived with ex) for us while my feelings and beliefs were just gaslighted, so I left. Fueling narcissistic behaviour more...

2weeks she came back and it ate at me for months. repeated behaviour lack of contact 1on then off push pull, hot n cold no empathy.

Then my 36th birthday on holidays was dumped on my bday, 8hrs of silence in the car on the the way home. Gaw it ripped at me. 18th May 2017 crawled back had suspicious ideas and gut feels she was cheating. I would ask then manupulated that I was. (Gaslighted)

I guess my penny dropped when I finally realised that she wouldn't change, we got engaged in our 2nd anniversary I wanted it to change. when It didn't I thought love was what we wanted and knew deep down I would not ever be able to have a normal relationship. Love and normal people don't do this.

I was surrounded by children at a park and she would go off over ex issues and blame me for the behaviour patterns of her own turmoil. Ie drugs, self blame projecting every people's to me why we can't move in together it was but an excuse.

I extensively researched narcissistic behaviour and gaslighting to better understand why I felt the way I did for months.

She said the very last thing Il never be happy your right I replied walked over, took the ring and walked away. as I got in my car 18th August 2017, 3months exactly of repeated behaviours, victimisation and emotionally abused, The universe was telling me something and 3weeks of no contact to date.

I walked away, I get good and bad my days, I want to go back but cannot, thank you for the net and experiences go through. I will stand for my me and my kids, what cannot kill you makes you stronger-our willingness to forgive and forget.

Primpo from Bayville,NJ on September 03, 2017:

I can relate totally!! It's been 20 years but they were the worst of my life and the mental anguish and scars took such a long time to get control of . I had nightmares for a long time. I gave birth to two children from that relationship and that in itself was another story but he left long before they turned 2 and never supported them. moved onto another woman who had 3 girls and stayed with her and raised her kids. I have suspicions of what happened with them but too much for me to think about . I am settled in my new life now and basically happy and content. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It really affects everything you do in your life and I could of been a professional by now, instead the after effects from that relationship and the beatings took a toll on my body and mental ability to handle things. I am going to finish school to get my bachelors degree to help abused women. so I am going to study behaviors.

Susanna on August 29, 2017:

Thanks for this. Related on so many ways. I got out of the relationship thank God. Healing myself now

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on August 22, 2017:


I feel your pain, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I saw the ex-Narc at a party a few weeks ago. I had no reaction, and we chatted and it was fine. I saw her for the damaged person she is. Someone who is ok to chat with at parties but is completely hopeless as a close friend or romantic partner. They cannot help themselves, they are damaged, children.

I've learned over the years - it's been about five years since I wrote this article - that inner peace comes from knowing who we are and we are willing to tolerate. It also comes from knowing we deserve a kind, decent human being for a partner, and don't have to settle for anything less. Good luck on your journey.

DonnaAnne on August 18, 2017:

I have not yet completed reading this article, mostly due to tears. This article is so spot on I feel like I could have written it myself. I experienced the Atomic Blast this past weekend. I felt like I was going through a check list and every box was marked. This has been an emotional week and I am preparing for the second atomic blast when all of our common friends will be hit with the "she is the toxic person" and she will give them notice to stop all contact otherwise they will be the next one off the team. This was one of the patterns I had seen before and tuned out. I am also a child of a narcissist parent and many scars from a childhood riddled with abuse from an emotionally disabled brother. I have forgotten who I was and until this week did not realize I had given up the things in life I loved. I am afraid tho that as I look deeper and begin to heal that the problems in my marriage are also due to my attraction to a person who I thought I could rescue and change. Today is a new day, I have some rough days ahead but I feel that I now have the information to help me get through those days and to start healing and moving forward.

Josh on July 09, 2017:

Just a message to say thank you Wendy so much. I have related to your story so deeply and I now have a name for me ex, a narcissist!

I wish I got rid of her when I felt unhappy.

In the first 2 months of our relationship, I felt unhappy becuase of her narcissist behaviour I was getting myself in to, but they're we're not big enough for me to end it. When I brought it up she cried and I felt bad and all of that bs they make you feel. However at the time I would have brushed this behaviour off at the time and put myself first, as I've never came over a narcissist before (I'm 21) and I was very attracted to her, so I brushed them off and accepted that I can deal with them. As time went on we had a great time, I fell in love. But a year later she ended it. I won't go into it, but it was a horrid breakup ammungst other awful things I was trapped in what was a relationship off and on for 6 months straight. She was keeping me from moving on as I was still trying to fight for her and us. finally I got some of the closure I needed where I did not agree with the behaviour and that was getting with other lads. Even when we were not together, but when she came crawling back after telling me she got with other lads. She did this twice in out 6 months off and on period and the second time was my wake up call. The penny dropped when she came back saying she still loved. This is where my wake up call was. (In my world, if you love someone you will not go out your way to hook up with other people and even more so come crawling back! No no).

My true closure came when In sum I said I had enough of feeling like this now and that I realised nothing will change. I gave up on her. She continued to message me but I ignored it for 3 days, then still continuing, I contacted her parents and asked her to stop this behaviour. She did everything her parents told her, so this was a good trait which worked out in myfavour.

Again Wendy, thank you for your post. In this 6 month period, I've been blind with what I was experiencing and it's amazing to be not the only one going through what you described in your post. Again thank you thank you.


Wendy Golden (author) from New York on July 06, 2017:

Dear Molly,

Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I don't know why your ex blocked