Leaving the Door Ajar for the Narcissist

Another phenomenon that is connected to being in a relationship with a narcissist is that we tend to leave the door ajar for them, and invite them back in, long after the relationship has started to emotionally destroy us and suck the life out of us. On some level we desperately want the drama and insecurity to come to an end, we want to be able to breathe freely again, we no longer want to be tortured by their ambiguity and inconsisteny. However, we can’t seem to manage to disentangle ourselves from them, and instead we allow them to inflict further harm on us. No matter how many times they have already broken our hearts and shattered our trust, we are still more than willing to give them another chance. We cry, suffer and are tortured by agonizing thoughts, and still we allow them to do even more damage. In my case, my willingness to endure even more pain led me to suspect that I was on some level getting hooked on it. At any rate, I was convinced that enduring the pain and working through all the drama was still better than having to face the emptiness of being alone. Now I know that I was gravely mistaken.

The narcissist I dated disappointed me and broke my heart on an almost daily basis. I suffered tremendously due to the ambiguous and distanced treatment I got from him. I don’t know how many times I longed for the agony to end and wished for the ability to regain my ease of mind. Hundreds of times, I made the decision to put an end to it, to disentangle myself from all the madness…and still I never found the strength to follow through with it. I was broken and despaired and still jumped at every opportunity to see him again. I longed for the strength to opt out, I was trying to go No Contact on various occasions, and still I always invited him back in and accepted even more of the pain he was causing me.

The first time I was seriously doubting his dedication to me was when he sent me back home after having slept with me in a hotel room. He told me he couldn’t spent the night with me, because his exgirlfriend would just freak out and probably throw him out of her apartment. He didn’t care to mention that detail before he slept with me, and I was feeling enormously humiliated. Had I known earlier that he would sent me back home, I would never have agreed to go to that hotel room in the first place. However, he had first taken advantage of me, before he dropped the bomb. The normal and reasonable thing to do would have been to tell him to go to hell. However, after only a short time of intense anger and frustration, I was prepared to meet with him again. I’m ashamed at how little relf-respect I had at the time. I allowed him to humiliate me and cause me intense pain, and still came back for more. I was so hurt after the experience in the hotel room that I contemplated putting an end to my interactions with him. However, I left the door ajar, lacking the resolve to follow through with it.

Through my willingness to invite him back in, he learned that he could take advantage of me without having to suffer any consequences. After Christmas I didn’t get to see him for four weeks, and I barely heard from him during that entire time. He repeatedly cancelled on me, telling me that he was sick or too busy. Once I was already sitting on the train to meet him, when I got a message that he got a sudden bout of fever and had to cancel on me again. I spent two hours on a train for nothing and had to return back home without having gotten to see him. I was so extremely frustrated as a result of it, that I again longed for the emotional rollercoaster to end. I wished for the strength to let go and to disentangle myself from all the pain and disappointments. However, as had been the case before, I sill agreed to meet with him only a few days later and readily forgot about the heartbreak he had caused me earlier.

After that one date, I again had to wait four weeks to see him again. He continually told me he was too busy to see me, because he had to teach an intensive course. However, that course only took place on four days a week, six hours a day. I knew that he wasn’t too busy to see me, but never dared to confront him with that knowledge. After a certain amount of time, he didn’t even offer any more reasons for why he didn’t want to meet with me. It seemed as if I just had to be fine with not seeing him. He didn’t have the decency to at least offer an explanation – apparently it was too exhausting to do so, or I wasn’t even worth the energy to come up with an excuse. I never got an apology, some soothing words or at least an assurance that things would get better soon. I learned to live with being in a relationship attuned entirely to his schedule. I accepted that he was in charge and that I had no say in what was going on. Of course, I was almost losing my mind during those four weeks, and again, I longed for the pain to end. At that time, I tried to go No Contact in order to find the strength to opt out. For the first time, I took the task of disentangling myself seriously. I even managed to convince myself that I indeed had the strength to follow through with it this time. My frustration was so intense at that point that I really thought I could finally let go. However, I was once more gravely mistaken. When I heard from him again and he told me he wanted to see me as soon as possible, I jumped at the opportunity and my resolve evaporated immediately. I was too weak, too lacking in self-respect to save myself and let got. I found my weakness and willingness to leave the door ajar enormously frustrating, and still didn’t take appropriate action.

When I saw him again after those four weeks he came to my place and left after only a few hours, because he didn’t want his exgirlfriend to find out he was seeing me. It was humiliating. I hadn’t seen him in four weeks and he had to leave early so that his exgirlfriend wouldn’t freak out. I felt used, pushed aside and made a fool of. By then, however, I had gotten so used to the pain and disappointments that I didn’t even waste many thoughts on what had happened. I just accepted it and let him go without even giving voice to the fact that he was breaking my heart with his neglect and triangulation. Instead of showing some respect for myself and tell him to go to hell, I allowed him to come back to my place only a few days later. He kept breaking my heart over and over again, and I left the door ajar for him. He could come into my life whenever he felt like it, and leave me like a discarded piece of trash whenever he had no use for me, or his exgirlfriend was causing him trouble.

During my relationship with the narcissist, I always wanted the misery to end and longed for the strength to let go. I often clung to the illusion that I was in possession of the resolve it took to opt out. I often avoided any contact with him for days and started to feel proud of myself for being able to do so. However, as it turned out, no matter how hard I tried, I could never manage to disentangle myself. Whenever he communicated a desire to see me, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. He could basically ignore me for days without offering an explanation for his silence, and I would still jump whenever he contacted me again. I never managed to follow through with my resolve to leave and to try to regain my ease of mind. He treated me like shit, took me for granted and toyed with my feelings, and I was still too weak to let go. Looking at my willingness to leave the door ajar from today’s perspective, I feel intensely ashamed of myself. No wonder he didn’t treat me with respect, when I repeatedly invited him to trample all over me.

The narcissists can repeatedly expose us to pain and agony, and we still can’t manage to finally close that door. No matter how much they humiliate and disrespect us, we leave the door ajar and invite them back in to inflict even more damage on our already fragile emotional well-being. They always make use of the opportunities we offer them: As long as we allow them to overstep the boundaries of decent human behavior and let them get away with everything, they won’t respect us or see the need to change their behavior. They shamelessly exploit our willingness to forgive and forget until we either can muster the self-respect to close the door or are hurt and damaged to such an extent that we can’t take any more of it.

I felt so despaired, exhausted and imbalanced that it almost came as a relief when I learned that he intended to leave the country. The fact that he would move thousands of miles away from me offered me the opportunity to finally breathe freely again and accept the end of our relationship. It was exactly what I needed to be able to close the door for good. If he hadn’t left the country, I would probably still be leaving the door ajar for his manipulation, drama and inconsistency. Being with the narcissist was an eye-opening experience. In the course of processing all the pain, I learned to enjoy my own company. Besides, I realized how damaging my willingness to hold on to him was for me, and as a result I started to question my own views and motives, as well as my attitudes towards relationships. I never again want to be so in need of affection and company that I am willing to allow people to repeatedly trample all over me. Being on your own is definitely better than slowly being destroyed by pain and insecurity.

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16 thoughts on “Leaving the Door Ajar for the Narcissist

  1. Closing that door can be one of the hardest things you ever have to do, but also the best thing you can ever do for yourself – I know. And sometimes, life actually steps in and lends a helping hand by removing the person from your life. 🙂
    Great post.

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  2. Very, very true. I also found it hard to close that door. But once I had, I refused to open it again, in spite of his begging and crying – begging and crying that would have turned to hypercriticism and character assassination if I had opened it.

    It’s important for you to take responsibility for your part in this “relationship.” But don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that all of us make errors in judgement (and in everything else). 🙂

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    • I’m glad to hear you were strong enough to keep the door closed…Due to the fact that my narc left the country I was spared the begging. There was a definite, irreversible end and no doubts about it. It really made things easier for me. Thank you so much for your comment and for reminding me that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of it 😉

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  3. How right you are. We hate the relationship with its inconsistencies, the drama, the lying, and never knowing where we stand – yet we can’t seem to be able to let it go. I think a big part of it is the fact we’ve invested so much into the relationship that we loathe to leave – you invest so much more of yourself in a relationship with a narcissist, much more than in a regular one. That’s how I see it anyway. My narcissist has been back in my life for a few months after a long break with no contact. I think I’ve explained to you before it’s because we used to be very good friends before it turned into something else. There’s no way I’d still speak to him if we hadn’t been close friends for years before it all went wrong. In any case, he’s moving back to my town soon, after almost a year away, so that will be our real test. I do think the reason I can be in contact is because I’m totally strong again and I don’t see him being able to pull me back into a relationship again or able to hurt me in any way. Let’s hope those won’t be words I live to regret!
    As usual, great post 🙂

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    • You seem to be very strong. I’m sure you will be able to keep the door closed 😉 But I’m still glad that my narc left the country…it makes it so much easier to close the door and stay no contact. I’m not sure I would have been strong enough to keep the door closed if he hadn’t left. Thank you once more for your comment! As usual I can fully relate to what you are saying.

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  4. I can relate to this. Narcissists get you used to their abuse. It becomes like an addiction. If you don’t get a fill of it regularly you don’t feel functionable no matter the destruction it is causing you. Like a drug or alcohol addiction, you keep coming back for more. I did that a lot with one of the men I dated on and off for 4 years. Many of the narcissistic traits you have discussed match him perfectly yet he wasn’t a narcissist. But I might have transformed him into one with my very vulnerable co-dependent state. Almost like I was telling him, ‘thank you! Give me some more!’ I’m glad that I nowadays notice when i’m in a bad situation with a man but it has been a hellova journey for me to get where I am now.

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    • Thank you so much for your comment! I’m glad to hear you managed to make some real progress. I also sometimes think that I might have increased the narcissistic tendencies of the guy I dated with my codependency…I treated him like a god…and maybe it left an impression on him and influenced his behavior.

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