Even when the situation has already become almost intolerable, we still find reasons to hold on to our toxic relatioships with Mr. Unavailable instead of trying to save ourselves.They can be deceitful, break their promises, neglect you, ignore you and show you in thousands of other ways that they are not worthy of your time, energy and affection. We still often lack the strength and resolution to let go and try to rationalize our decision to hold on to them by dwelling on the most trivial aspects – such as for example on the fact that we have so much in common and therefore want to make an effort to make things work.
I was also a master of applying this kind of false rationality. Whenever my friends told me to leave him and pointed out to me that he didn’t even treat me with the bare minimum of respect, consideration and affection, I didn’t want to hear any of it. I would counter all of their sound arguments by telling them how much I and Mr. Unavailable had in common, how it is special to find someone with whom you share so much and that it would be ill-advised to just let him slip out of my hands. At the time, I was still convinced that that guy was the best thing that ever happened to me, that there was a special chemistry between the two of us, and that I will likely never find someone like him ever again. This kind of wishful thinking led me to stoically accept all of the disappointments, all of the lies and the mindfuckery. It seemed as if all of the drama and pain was a small price to pay for finally finding someone with whom you have so much in common.
And it was true: The two of us indeed shared common interests, common views and common tastes. I still look back at our first few dates and can’t help but smile at how happy I was back then, how easy-going everything was. Of course this was before I noticed all the manipulation and mindfuckery that was going on. We could sit opposite each other at a table and just talk for hours. Hours would pass and it felt like minutes. We never ran out of subjects to talk about. We shared a similar taste in music, movies, books; we seemed to have very similar personalities (this later turned out to be wrong); We even had the same scholarly interests: I am a student of American Studies, he already has a Master’s degree in the same field. He often recommended books for me to read, and I would devour them, being thankful that I had finally found someone with whom I could share my passion for American literature.
During those first few dates everything was still going fine: We laughed a lot together, he didn’t seem to be distracted or depressed, I felt as if I had his undivided attention and as if he was genuinely interested in me. As it turned out, I had to live on those first few carefree dates for the rest of our time together. Things soon began to change drastically: We almost never found the time and opportunity to have those kinds of conversations again. He was always distracted, his exgirlfriend was always in the back of his mind, looming like a shadow over our interactions. Additionally, his mood was irreversibly changed: Instead of still being the carefree, entertaining, funny guy I got to know on our first dates, he turned into a gloomy, depressed person who continually complained about his bad luck, his lack of perspective, his relation to his exgirlfriend, sister etc.
I refused to accept the cold hard facts and admit to myself that the person I got to know on our first few dates was nothing more than a facade. I clung to this early image I got from him and was reluctant to let it go and allow reality to catch up with it. I dreamed and hoped that things will once more become as easy-going, fun and relaxed as they were right at the beginning. Even after months of manipulations, broken promises, pain and heartbreak, I still believed that somewhere hidden inside of him was the guy I met on our first few dates. I reacted with patience, endurance and understanding to all of the disappointments, hoping that one day I would be rewarded for it, that I would get his other, better self back and things would finally be fun again.
If I had managed to let go of those naive hopes after he had overstepped the boundaries of decent behavior one too many times, I could have spared myself a lot of agony, heartbreak and disappointments. Narcissistic and unavailable men tend to be very charming and on their best behavior at the beginning. We are flattered by the attention and interest they are showing towards us and captured by their conversational skills, their intellect etc. It is hard to acknowledge later on that all of this was just a facade and that the fun person we got to know has transformed into a narcissistic manipulator.
I still firmly believe that sharing common interests, values and outlooks is crucial for a good relationship. I enjoyed being able to talk about my passions with a seemingly eager listener. However, having a similar taste in books, movies, music etc. does not make up for all the manipulation and mindfuckery, and there are aspects that are a lot more important for a healthy relationship – such as having a common understanding of decent behavior. Later on I got aware of the fact that while we seemed to have a good time and common interests, we definitely didn’t have the same morals, the same core values and the same behavioral patterns. And those aspects are a lot more important and decisive in defining the length and quality of a relationship.
So here is a word of final advice: Always be prepared to let go of your hopes and dreams when it comes to the behavior of narcissistic and unavailable men. Allow reality to catch up with your illusions. While narcissists might be masters at being charming and entertaining at the beginning, they will soon turn into manipulators, treating you with cold indifference. Refusing to acknowledge this will cause you more pain and heartbreak than necessary and only draws out the inevitable. They are not worthy of our time, energy and dedication, and no amount of common interests will ever be able to change that.