Falling in love with a narcissist
Like any relationship, it starts off well…
Narcissist. It’s a word that has been thrown around a lot in my life. A word that I have never really known the true definition of, or given extensive thought as to how to identify the red flags.
A while back, I found myself in a troubled relationship. From day dot, these red flags waved steadily in the breeze above my horizon, preventing me from seeing the reality of what I thought was a steady, supportive love.
No-one wants to admit they have fallen in love with a narcissist. I didn’t want to admit I had fallen in love with one. I chose to ignore everyone’s warning signs and now am dealing with the repercussions brought about by my naivety. Silly me.
Narcissistic personality disorder or NPD is a condition which sees a person have an inflated sense of self-importance – especially in the case of an over-achiever who knows they are good at what they do.
Narcissistic personality disorder is found more commonly in men. The cause is unknown but likely involves a combination of genetic make up, environmental factors both external and internal, past and present traumas, and an undeniable sense of self-righteousness.
Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for the feelings of others, an inability to handle any criticism and a strong sense of entitlement.
Lucky for me, I have been raised by an extremely strong mother who happens to be an expert in this field; dealing with and being bullied all her life by narcissistic men. So for her, identifying this was no issue. The real struggle was trying to alert her love heart-eyed daughter before it was too late. She is my rock and has taught me from a young girl not to get caught up in other people’s emotions and projections. But for me, falling in love with a narcissist was a slow burn.
Like any love, it started off peachy – my admiration for this significant other was all consuming. Every passing minute was spent in absolute awe, everything reminded me of them and a magnificent halo of light surrounded me with the purest form of joy. If you are lucky enough to have ever been in love, you know exactly what I am talking about.
But as time passed, certain things began to surface. Things that I had easily pushed aside before. They’d say one thing but show me another. I remember being in a constant state of confusion, a confusion that deeply rooted so far into my consciousness that I began to feel crazy, like I had lost control of everything that had once felt so stable.
In the beginning it was little things, like receiving text messages asking me to come over, suggesting that my presence was missed yet when I arrived it was as if I was just another shadow on the wall. Despite all my efforts to converse I would be blatantly ignored, shut down and told to leave.
The name calling was passed off as teasing, the put-me-downs intended to help my “growth” and the drastic mood swings were blamed on having a “bad day”. Perhaps in the early stages, naivety was my protection mechanism.
My emotions were written off completely. When I would finally muster up the courage to confront them in an effort to both disclose how I was feeling and resolve whatever it was that was making them act this way, they would practically laugh in my face, tell me that what I was feeling wasn’t important or protest in pure anger.
And then, these behaviours became more frequent. The snide comments began surfacing in everyday conversations:
“Spoilt, sensitive, emotionless, cold.”
Four words among the many, that to this day have bruised hard. To them, I was insignificant and inexperienced. When you begin to feel like a puppet getting strung along by their upper hand, that’s when you know there is a problem.
I fought so hard to make sure I was the person that they wanted me to be. I changed the way I acted and reacted. There was and to some degree still is an awareness in everything that escapes my lips, overly-conscious about what I would say around them. Cautious incase something would set them off and ruin the evening. When your voice and inner monologue becomes so structured, conversation just seems to fade and tension builds up.
I started to deeply doubt all of my abilities. The things I had once loved doing were questioned and my notion of love completely reversed and was flipped on it’s head.
“You are lucky to have me, no-one really likes you.”
I began to question my self-worth and retreated into a tight little corner. I had constant anxiety that everyone around me was turning their back on me. I was so belittled and felt so insecure that I honestly believed they were the only person that truly loved me.
This has been a particular struggle to write as I guess I am still feeling the effects of the trauma they caused, but I feel strong. Well, stronger. And although it’ll go completely against everything that I have and will say, this person still remains such a strong influence in my life. I do and probably will always have a deep admiration and appreciation for them. No-one likes to play the victim and I guess writing this maybe a little part of me still thinks that I was a little deluded throughout the whole relationship. Despite everything they had done to me, I still feel the need to protect them and I am not exactly sure why.
I can tell you though that if you ever find yourself in a similar situation to me, know that you are not alone. Speak to friends, family, even a stranger about what you are feeling because chances are they too have found themselves in a similar circumstance.
Know that you are good enough. That you are capable of being loved and of loving. Know that everyone has faults and flaws and that it is not normal for someone, especially someone that is meant to love you, to pick each and everyone one of them out. Know that you are strong, stronger than you can imagine and with strength comes great power. Know that someone else’s snide remarks should not and will not define you. That as much as you think they love you, and as much as they convince you that they love you, that you are better off without them. A concept that is so much easier to write than to comprehend.