Falling in Love with a Narcissist Changes You

Being involved with a narcissist on a closer level inevitably changes you. You not only change your daily routines for them, but also adjust your morals, views and behavior – a necessary measure in order to be able to live with their deceit and manipulations. In addition to that, you tend to become easily irritable, depressed and not much fun to be around. Your willingness to change in order to please the narcissist and survive in a narcissistic relationship can reach worrying levels. After a certain amount of time, you begin to feel as if you are slowly losing touch with yourself. However, since you are usually so busy with catering to the narcissist’s needs and dancing to their pipes, you don’t spend too many thoughts on your own well-being. You might be aware of the fact that you are changing and that you are no longer your old self. However, you don’t really pay much attention to it. All of our attention is focused on figuring out the narcissist’s ambiguity and on trying to make them act with more consideration and commitment towards us. Our own wishes, desires and ambitions are turned into concerns of secondary importance next to our unconditional dedication to the narcissist.

When I started dating the narcissist, I almost immediately turned into a completely different person. Before meeting him, I was doing fine. Sure, I have always been a people pleaser and my lack of self-confidence has repeatedly caused me to be very insecure in my interactions with others. However, no one has ever exploited my tendency to be self-sacrificing to the same extent as the narcissist did. In my interactions with him I felt like a leaf being blown around by winds: I completely adjusted to his schedule. I changed my daily routines, my morals and behavior in order to keep him satisfied and to be able to survive in a narcissistic relationship. In the back of my mind, there was always the nagging thought that I was completely losing touch with myself and that I was throwing all my core values and beliefs overboard. However, I was usually too busy making sense of his behavior and dancing to his pipe to really take those thoughts seriously enough. I was apparently fine with losing touch with myself, as long as it enabled me to stay with the narcissist. I made the ultimate sacrifice: I willingly threw away my integrity and emotional well-being, in order to be able to hold on to an unhealthy and damaging relationship.

First of all, when you are dating a narcissist you often have to change your daily life, your routines and schedule in order to adjust to their needs – because the narcissist sure as hell won’t adapt or pay attention to your needs. If you want things to work out, you have to be the one making the sacrifices, being flexible and changing your plans to meet his schedule. As all of our energy and brain capacity is usually focused on them, we tend to neglect all the other areas of our daily lives: We cancel dates that we had arranged with friends and we neglect our hobbies, because we want to be constantly available in case the narcissist suddenly communicates a desire to see us. More often than not, they don’t, and we cancelled our plans in vain. It starts to get frustrating and heartbreaking very soon, but still we are often unwilling to adapt our behavior in order to shield us from further pain. We spent a lot of time sitting in front of the phone, waiting for a call or a tiny message – and turn into frustrated, irritated beings in the process. While I dated the narcissist I adjusted my entire schedule to his needs. I neglected my friends, I didn’t go to my sports courses anymore, because I jumped at every opportunity to see him. Of course I was often the one having to do all the travelling, spending hours on trains just to see him for a short time. My mind was so constantly occupied with making sense of him and obsessing about his ambiguous behavior that he started to define my entire life. Everything was always about him, he was constantly on my mind and the thoughts of his unavailability and distance were keeping me busy. In short, I was completely losing touch with myself, as I was turning him into the center of my world, changing my ways to adjust to his will and schedule, doing everything it took to make things work.

However, far worse than changing your schedule and your daily routines is the fact that you also tend to change your morals, views and behavior. In order to be able to hold on and survive in a narcissistic relationship, you begin to accept things that would have seemed unimaginable to the sane mind you had still possessed prior to being with the narcissist. I’m still amazed at the extent to which I was willing to adapt my values in order to be able to stay in a relationship with a dishonest and manipulative man. I submissively accepted the shady treatment received at his hands and repeatedly downplayed his ambiguous and shameful actions. I would never have imagined that I would agree to following a guy to a hotel room in order to have sex, and then to allow him to send me back home after he got what he wanted. As it turned out, I was prepared to go to that hotel – only feeling slightly uncomfortable – and was able to swallow my frustration over the fact that he sent me back home pretty easily. I still can’t believe that I was willing to bend my morals to such an enormous extent. I’m ashamed that he made me lose my integrity and that he brought me to do things I never thought I was capable of. You might feel assured of your values and beliefs. However, the narcissist is still able to make you change them in order to adjust to his shadiness and unavailability.

I always considered lies and deceit to be absolute deal breakers. However, being with the narcissist I slowly learned to live with deceit, and I even allowed him to draw me into his world made of lies. When I realized that he was lying both to me and his exgirlfriend I was outraged and felt humiliated. Yet, I was again able to live with it after only a short amount of time. I somehow came to the conclusion that in order to be able to stay with him, I had to learn to come to terms with the lies. I not only accepted it and tried to live with it, but I was also turned into a liar myself. When I talked to his exgirlfriend on the phone, I tried to evade her questions and didn’t stick to the truth. I so desperately wanted to avoid getting the narcissist into trouble that I hid the truth from her. I knew that telling her the truth would have made her freak out and possibly throw him out of her apartment. To save his skin I was throwing my scruples overboard and served her with lies. I felt like shit, but didn’t know how else to solve the problem. I never chose to be drawn into their interactions with one another and to become a part of the unsolved conflicts between them. With his penchant for triangulation, the narcissist drew me into their craziness, and I lacked the resolve and integrity to withdraw.

Apart from adjusting your daily routines to their needs and bending your morals and core values, you also change because the narcissist’s behavior turns you into an easily irritable, depressed and frustrated mess. As an effect of enduring their ambiguity and of being repeatedly dealt with harsh blows, we are no longer our old, happy selves and annoy others with our gloominess. It doesn’t really come as a surprise that our frustration begins to show after we have been hurt and humiliated repeatedly. Narcissists suck all joy out of our lives and everything around us suddenly causes us to either get sad or irritated. I was always on edge and on the verge of crying while I was dating the narcissist. My best friend got an earful whenever we met. And even though she didn’t really show it, I know that I wasn’t much fun to be around at the time. I’m still thankful for the patience and understanding both my best friend and my family extended towards me. My constant sadness and gloominess was making me very aware of the fact that being with the narcissist was enormously damaging to my emotional balance. Yet, even though I was aware of how miserable he was making me with his unavailability and ambiguity, I still held on to him, because I was too afraid of being lonely again.

However, narcissists not only make us change for the worse, but after the end of the relationship we often find the strength to change our lives for the better. Because they have left us broken and shattered, we feel the need to completely reassess our attitude towards relationships and ourselves. We are so paralysed by pain and exhaustion that we realize we need to change in order to never feel that way ever again. While I was with the narcissist, I definitely changed for the worse. But now, looking at everything in retrospect, I can say that all in all, being with the narcissist made me change for the better. The pain he caused me and my willingness to accept his shadiness were eye-opening and made me question myself. I started trying out new activities in order to distract myself from the heartbreak: I’m now taking yoga classes and I generally try to be good to myself and to be optimistic about life. Sure, there are still setbacks. But I’m thankful that the pain of being with a narcissist forced me to reassess my attitudes and my willingness to sacrifice. I guess it is true: being thrown to the ground often makes you re-emerge as a stronger and better person. So instead of just being frustrated and sad about what happened to me, I’ve also learned to appreciate the opportunity for personal growth offered to me by going through emotional abuse.

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Being Drawn Into the Narcissist’s Crazy World

After having dedicated fourteen posts to the common modes of narcissistic behavior – with an emphasis on those I had to face in my last relationship – I will now put more focus on the victim’s perspective again. I feel more capable of talking about my own feelings and experiences in my interactions with the narcissist than of trying to make sense of his behavior. My motives and emotions are the only things I can work with, evaluate and try to understand. The narcissist’s thoughts and feelings will forever remain a mystery to me. The only thing I ever could was scratch the surface and try to point out in what ways the guy I dated fit the mold of narcissistic behavior. I finally accepted that there is no use in trying to make sense of why he acted the way he did, and why he broke my heart in thousand different ways. Instead of wasting time and energy on a vain attempt of looking for answers and meaning in the wrong places, I have to focus on myself. I have already spent too much energy and sacrificed too much of my own well-being trying to make sense of the narcissist’s behavior. If there is one thing I’ve learned by now, it is that racking my brain was never worth the effort and only prolonged the inevitable.

One thing that is very hard to deal with – from a victim’s perspective – is being drawn into the narcissist’s crazy world of dishonesty, manipulation and triangulation. As they gradually reveil their true colors to us, we feel as if we are slowly losing touch with ourselves to the point where we can no longer function in our daily lives. I was so absorbed in dealing with all the craziness surrounding me that I at times almost lost control over my emotions and had a hard time completing the most basic tasks. As the narcissist worked as a free lance teacher at the same place I have a side job, I found it really hard to focus on my work and function the way I should have. Besides, whenever I tried to get ahead with my Master’s Thesis, I found that I couldn’t keep my focus. I tried to read through scientific papers, but it was often fruitless and useless, as my mind was always occupied with making sense of his craziness and unavailability. I racked my brain for days about why he didn’t call, why he still prioritized his exgirlfriend, why he blew me off once more etc. I desperately wanted to find answers to why things just didn’t work the way I wanted them to. There was no more brain capacity left to focus on anything else.

Being with a narcissist can at some point have you seriously doubt your own sanity. You are constantly surrounded by ambiguity, drama and disappointment. Showing codependent patterns of behavior, you often don’t manage to disentagle yourself from all the craziness, but instead hold on to the narcissist in a desperate attempt so make things work. However, in order to find the strength to hold on, we somehow have to make sense of their behavior. We want to justify our endurance and willingness to stay with them and therefore need to find the rationale behind their behavior. As we cannot manage to figure them out, we have to make do with every single excuse we can come up with. We accept each and every one of their lies and breadcrumps of affection to justify the fact that we are still holding on to them. Our desire to stay with them draws us deeper and deeper into their world of craziness and deceit – and we still try to make sense of all the disappointments and setbacks that keep coming our way.

Looking at the role I played in my relationship to the narcissist in retrospect, I am amazed and shocked at how much I was willing to take before finally having had enough. I allowed him to disrespect me, blow me off, lie to me and draw me into his crazy relation to his exgirlfriend, and still didn’t find the strength and self-respect to opt out. I spent thousands of agonizing thoughts on why he was being so unavailable, inconsistent and dishonest. More often than not, I blamed myself – thinking that I was too clingy, asking for too much, getting too attached too fast. On some level, I had long understood that he was not as emotionally involved as I was and that he had no stability, commitment and emotional support to offer to me. I pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind where they would be a constant and hidden source of unhappiness and agony.

Being with a narcissist, you often have an unusual amount of craziness to deal with. I was after some time completely overwhelmed by it. Never before did I have to deal with such a high level of dishonesty and ambiguity. Up until meeting him, most people I ever had to deal with were reliable, honest and considerate. Consequently, I was not in the least prepared for what the narcissist drew me into and couldn’t find a healthy way to deal with it. In the course of being part of an annoying triangle with him and his hysteric, hateful exgirlfriend, I had to deal with so much bullshit and mindfuckery that I felt as if I was losing my mind. She accused him of having sex with his sister, he accused her of being mentally imbalanced. She lied to him and told him I was forwarding his emails to her (which I of course never did). He believed her and got angry at me. I was suddenly part of a crazy world, where people were accusing each other of nasty shit and feeding each other lies, only to consider themselves as best friends again only a short time later. In my complete fixation on the narcissist, I tried to endure all of it. I listened to their bullshit and deceit and tried to make sense of it – a pointless and exhausting endeavor!

I kept wondering: Why is it that they yell at each other and throw lies and accusations at each other, but he still doesn’t move out of her apartment? Why does he constantly complain about her irrationality and then goes on city trips, to concerts and even to the dentist with her? I was slowly disintegrating into a human wreck trying to find justifications for his behavior. People kept telling me to finally let go. I didn’t want to hear any of it at the time. I tried to deal with both of them, I tried to make sense of what was going on, I endured their dishonesty and mindfuckery – and in doing so, I completely lost touch with myself. I must have been completely out of my mind to allow the craziness to engulf me to such an extent.

Coming to terms with the realization of how little self-respect and strength I had shown in my relationship with the narcissist was – and continues to be – painful. I basically allowed him to trample all over me and draw me into his crazy world without much resistance. I’m relieved that I have finally come to the point where I no longer feel the need to find the non-existent rationale behind his behavior. It took me a very long time to get there. Even after he had already flown back to the U.S. I still racked my brain trying to figure out his craziness. I wasted many agonizing toughts on the question of why he had left without even uttering one word of goodbye. Now, I can finally accept it as being the final act of his indifference and emotional abuse that I allowed to go on for far too long.

It takes a very long time to disentangle yourself from all the craziness that has been surrounding you for months – and to let go of the desire to find an explanation for what he has done to you. Only if you accept that there is no real rationale behind what happened to you, can you finally find closure. I’m still not at the end of my journey towards full recovery. I still catch myself trying to make sense of his complete unavailability, I’m still often sad because of what happened, and sometimes I still miss him very much and think in a very idealized way about the good times that we shared (despite of all the craziness). But, by now, I have also learned to see that being with him would never have made me happy. While I was still in a relationship with him, I always thought that if he could just let go of the craziness, drama and ambiguity, being with him would be the greatest thing ever. Now I know that the craziness, drama and ambiguity were a fixed part of him, and that he would likely not manage to let go of these traits any time soon. Being with him surely was an eye-opening experience that made me question my approach to relationships and my willingness to endure and hold on to the point of self-sacrifice. I never want to allow others to turn me into a victim ever again. And I never again want to nearly lose my mind being engulfed in craziness and deceit!

Narcissistic Behavior 11: Lack of Integrity/Inconsistency

As you might have already noticed, many of the characteristics of narcissistic behavior are interconnected or even overlapping to some degree. The next narcissistic mode of behavior I will focus on (lack of integrity) is closely connected to their hypocrisy and the fact that they love blowing hot and cold. Narcissists often seem to change their opinions, plans and wishes on a daily basis. Their actions almost never match their words: They say one thing, and then do something that totally contradicts their words. For those involved with them this inconsistency and lack of integrity is frustrating and confusing. It is completely impossible to find the rationale behind their behavior and to figure them out. However, we never stop trying to make sense of them, because we so desperately want things to work out. Since this endeavor is bound to fail, we waste a lot of energy and dedication and in the end have to face the depressing realization that everything was in vain.

The most painful aspect of their inconsistency and lack of integrity is that they often make grand promises and propose possible plans for the future and then don’t stick to them. We tend to believe in their promises (because we so desperately want them to be true) and consequently we are often left completely shattered and despaired once we have to accept that they never intended to act on them. Disappointment is a constant and fixed component of our relationship to the narcissist. After a while our hearts are nearly broken beyond repair from all the setbacks and broken promises we had to endure. We have to come to terms with the painful truth that we just cannot rely on the narcissists. Their behavior is so inconsistent and lacking in integrity that we can never believe in their words and we completely lose trust in them. The heartbreaking truth, however, is that we still do not have the intention to leave them. We often accept their shady behavior, we swallow the pain, we allow them to go on breaking our hearts, because we cannot stand the thought of losing them and being on our own again. In the end we have sacrificed our well-being for nothing, as our endurance and patience will not be rewarded.

The narcissist I dated completely lacked integrity and was absolutely inconsistent and unreliable. He broke thousands of promises, he almost never stuck to his words and he changed his views on a daily basis. Being with him was one of the most frustrating and exhausting experiences I ever made in my entire life. My heart got broken every single time he broke another one of his promises and in the end I was on the brink of a break-down because I just couldn’t handle any more disappointments. I know that I am partly to blame for what happened to me. I should have given him the benefit of the doubt at the beginning, but then I should have opted out after having realized that he would likely never act consistently and give me the commitment, honesty and affection that I was looking for. I allowed him to break my heart over and over again, but after a brief period of intense despair, I would swallow the pain and go on as if nothing had happened. I always clung to the hope that one day he would stick to his promises and things would turn out the way I wanted them to. Even though there was no basis for daring to have hope, I held on to him with patience and endurance, because I couldn’t stand the thought of losing him. The months I spent with him felt like a test of how much I could endure before finally breaking down. It was a time of intense self-sacrifice, pain and heartbreak.

His lack of integrity and his inconsisteny became apparent in every aspect of his behavior. The most painful aspect was – as I have already pointed out – that he just never kept his promises. He told me he would spend another weekend with me and my family and even cook dinner for all of us, he told me he would move out of his exgirlfriend’s apartment, he told me he would look for job opportunities in Germany so that he could stay there – and not once did he stick to his words. He said that spending time with me was very important for him and that he would always make every effort to be able to be with me. In reality, I often didn’t get to see him in weeks, because he was either “sick” or “too busy”. At the beginning of our relationship he told me he would always treat me with respect and that he always wanted me to feel save and protected. However, no one ever disrespected me the way he did: He took me for granted, pushed me aside repeatedly and turned me into an emotional wreck.

His actions almost never matched his words: He told me he wanted to spend time with me on the weekend, and then just ignored my messages when the time had come. He insisted that his exgirlfriend was driving him crazy and sucking the life out of him, because she was hysteric and mentally imbalanced. A short time later he would again call her his best friend and go to concerts or on city trips with her. He wasn’t even consistent when it came to the most basic aspects of his lifestyle. He told people that he was a vegan. However, whenever I spent time with him he consistently ate meat (sometimes even large amounts of it). Of course he always had an excuse (“I needed the protein”). On various occasions he complained about our work colleagues, insisting that they were all “stupid motherfuckers” and that he would one day say it to their faces. As you can probably imagine, ne never did. He just went on complaining about them to me and then acted in a very subdued and nice way when he was around them.

So to cut a long story short, he just completely lacked integrity. He probably wasn’t even aware of this flaw in his behavior. From what I could gather from our conversations and interactions, he thought of himself as being very honest, genuine and straight – a model human being. He was surrounded by an aura of integrity and sublimity that his actions just never matched. This was of course very confusing for me. I was so taken in by this aura, that his contrasting actions were like a slap in the face every single time. The narcissist I dated had already occupied such a large spot in my heart that I was repeatedly willing to forgive and forget. I so desperately wanted things to work out between us, that the only thing I ever focused on were his words and grand promises. I so wanted them to be true that I was keen to deny and blend out his inconsistent and disppointing actions. Whenever I was once more disappointed and let down, I tried to focus all my attention on his words and keep my hopes alive. I allowed things to go on for far too long because he was always very good at keeping me going through his sweet-talk and false promises.

The narcissists lack of integrity and inconsistency is harmful for those involved with them on many different leves. We suffer because we cannot make sense of their behavior. We try to find the rationale behind the fact that they almost never stick to their words, and more often than not, we seek the faults in our own behavior and think that there must be something wrong with us. Furthermore, the continuous disappointmens that come our way as a result of their lack of integrity are sucking the life out of us. As we keep believing in their false promises and sweet words, we allow them to disappoint us over and over again. We so desperately want things to work out that we forgive and forget and cling to a naive hope that one day the narcissist’s actions will match his words. This will likely never happen. We go on enduring the disappointments with endurance and patience until we reach the point where we can’t take any more of it and are on the brink of a break-down. Our relationships to them are therefore characterized by extreme self-sacrifice and pain. In the end, we often have to admit defeat and come to terms with the fact that all our efforts have been in vain. As I have mentioned so many times before, it would be better to notice the red flags early and find the strength to opt out. Things will likely not work out no matter how hard we try. We can save ourselves a lot of drama and heartbreak if we just let go. Every healthy and working relationship needs two partners who are willing to treat each other with honesty, integrity and commitment. If one of them is just unwilling to do so, the relationship is doomed.

Narcissistic Behavior 8: Constantly Mentions His Exgirlfriend

“I should have told you this earlier: I’m still living with my exgirlfriend”… I don’t know how many times I wished I would have ascribed more importance to this warning signal he gave me on one of our earlier dates. However, when he came out with this confession, I wasn’t even that shocked or surprised. In my naivety I was convinced that it was okay to still be good friends with an exgirlfriend. Little did I know that I would later on deeply regret the decision to not keep my distance from a guy who clearly was still too attached to his previous girlfriend. When I finally realized the crazy and disturbing nature of their relationship to each other, it was too late, as I was in too deep and had already become part of their drama and sick mindgames, deceit and craziness.

I have dedicated several posts to the nerve-racking, immature and dramatic triangle between the narc, his exgirlfriend and me, and I don’t intend to repeat myself over and over again. This post is therefore dedicated to one aspect of the triangle that I haven’t paid that much attention to in my earlier posts – namely the narcissist’s tendency to rub his exgirlfriend’s existence in your face. Narcissists often have a talent for making their exgirlfriend’s names a part of almost every sentence and to constantly make references to them. Even if the topic has nothing at all to do with their exgirlfriends, they somehow manage to slip their names into the conversation. You are therefore continually reminded of their existence and the fact that they still seem to occupy a large amount of space in the narcissists’ mind.

At the beginning you don’t really mind and you dismiss the fact that he constantly mentions her as a normal byproduct of their friendship. However, it often turns out to be a grave mistake to blend out all the signs. In my case, it was one of the biggest mistakes I made in the course of my relationship with Mr. Unavailable. After some time, his exgirlfriend revealed her true colors and I had to come to terms with the fact that she was crazily jealous, deceitful, hateful, hysteric and didn’t allow him to meet me (she threatened to throw him out of the apartment). Her unreasonable behavior, however, didn’t prevent him from mentioning her name in almost every sentence. She complicated my interactions with Mr. Unavailable to an enormous extent, forcing us to make our encounters a secret, and looming like a giant cloud over the times we spent together. I’m not proud to admit it, but I began to despise her for her irrationality and hatefulness (back then I didn’t know she was probably behaving unreasonably due to also being a vitim of his narcissistic manipulations). But still, the narcissist was rubbing her existence in my face, telling me about every detail of her life as if it was the most natural thing to do.

He would tell me in detail about the things they did together: having dinner at an Italian restaurant, going to a Beethoven concert, going on city trips, going to the dentist, going to the fitness center etc. He talked about it on a daily basis, and I didn’t even admit to the fact that it made me severely depressed to hear about them spending most of their time together. I didn’t want to sound like a crazy, clinging, jealous person and therefore swallowed the pain and jealousy. He mentioned her so frequently that I, at one point, just silently accepted the fact that she was a fixed component of our conversations and interactions. On some level, I knew that it was unfair and not normal to rub an exgirlfriend’s name into the face of your new partner. However, he talked about her so nonchalantly that I just assumed that it was indeed normal behavior, and that it would make me seem clingy and dependent to have a problem with it.

Things didn’t get better: He answered her calls, sent her tons of text messages and went grocery shopping for her when he was with me, and he informed me about every little detail of her life: I learned about her job, her strained relation to her family, her lonely existence, her childhood, her daily routines – I even learned about her sex dates with total strangers or the fact that she was giving Mr. Unavailable face massages. Sometimes he read her text messages out loud to me (and she sent him tons of them!). I never asked about any of it. He just told me about it, as if it was the most natural thing to present your new partner with a biography of your exgirlfriend.

I sometimes felt the urge to just shout out that I didn’t give a tiny rat’s ass about his crazy exgirlfriend’s life. But of course, I never dared to do so. I didn’t even complain when he mentioned her name in almost every email addressed to me. Once, he rambled on for several lines about how much he respected her and how he wanted her to stay in his life forever. Of course it felt like a slap in the face to read it and it reduced me to tears. However, even though I knew that it was completely inappropriate and unfair of him to tell me these things, I kept my mouth shut and just accepted it. I don’t know how I could have had so little self-esteem to allow him to treat me like this. I know I should have stood up for myself, but I was too intent on holding on to him and enduring the costs of doing so.

In the end, his exgirlfriend had become a fixed component of our interaction: She turned our dates into secret missions, she kept him from spending the night at my place, and the thoughts of her hysteric, hateful behavior were constantly keeping Mr. Unavailable distracted. However, her irrationality and deceitfulness did not keep Mr. Unavailable from constantly mentioning her name. He talked about her on a daily basis and in such an uninhibited way that I thought it apparently was just a normal thing to do. As a result, I swallowed my anger and frustration out of fear of being thought of as a jealous and dependent person. It never really occurred to me back then that it was not the decent thing to do to rub an exgirlfriend’s existence all over my face. Only when looking at it in retrospect did I finally understand that I allowed him to make a fool of me. Back then I still felt sorry for him when he told me about how strained his relationship to her was, and when he complained about how she was exhausting him with her hysteria, irrationality, hatefulness and deceit. I even offered him to stay at my place should his living situation become unbearable again.

I now know that I should have told him to shut up and that I didn’t want to hear her name ever again. I also know that his behavior was absolutely immature and impudent. Had he behaved like a grown-up, he wouldn’t have conjured up such an annoying triangle. The decent thing to do would have been to sort things out with her first, and then to enter into a new relationship. His ambiguous, deceitful way of treating us turned my relationship with him into something resembling an episode from a bad soap opera. He seemed to enjoy the drama surrounding his person too much to finally sort things out and treat us with honesty and respect. He wallowed in the attention bestowed on him by both of us and didn’t want to lose any of it. Consequently, he played us both like puppets on a string, and was feeding us with breadcrumps of affection to keep us attached. The only words I can think of to describe this kind of behavior are disgusting and pathetic.

If a guy we are dating is constantly rubbing an exgirlfriend’s name all over our faces, we should interpret this behavior as a clear red flag and try to opt out as soon as possible. The annoying, dramatic and exhausting triangles that narcissists love to conjure up will eventually suck the life out of us. We feel disrespected and fooled, but never dare to speak up out of a deep-seated fear of losing him or of sounding jealous and unreasonable. However, our doubts and frustrations are more than justified. It’s not a characteristic of a healthy relationship to continually be reminded of an exgirlfriend’s existence and to feel as if you were in a relationship with two people simultaneously. Being treated with respect and consideration encompasses being the sole center of attention, instead of only a part of a triangle. We shouldn’t be satisfied with being treated ambiguously and with being put on hold. No matter how low our self-esteem, we should make ourselves very aware of the fact that it is never okay to be toyed with and turned into a component of a shady drama. When you are in a loving, adult relationship, the exgirlfriend just shouldn’t be much of an issue anymore. Everything else is just unfair, painful and pathetic.

Narcissistic Behavior 5: Lies and Excuses

Another thing that narcissists apparently just love to do is feed you with lies and excuses. They always seem to have an excuse up their sleeves with which they try to explain their shady behavior, and they never get tired of using lies and subterfuges to keep us at a distance. I lost track of how many times I have been blown off, let down and disappointed by Mr. Unavailable, but for every single time he had an excuse or some dubious explanation to offer. The fact that things just never seemed to be his fault, prevented me from getting angry at him. To shield me from pain, I made an effort to believe in his excuses. I never wanted to admit to myself that he might be trying to keep me at bay, that he was not interested in letting me come too close.

Once the relationship is over and we are trying to process what has happened, we become more and more aware of the many instances in which the narcissists were dishonest with us. We finally begin to accept that we have allowed them to get away with far too many lies, and that we let them disrespect us for too long. We are partly to blame for it: In our unwillingness to reflect on their shady behavior and look deeper at the causes behind it, we allow them to repeatedly trample all over us. We readily accept their excuses, because we don’t want to see that they might be lying to us. Even if we suspect that they might be dishonest, it does not take us long to leave our qualms behind us and go on as if nothing happened. We have a penchant for dismissing their dishonesty and deceit far too quickly. The narcissists learn from our behavior that they can easily get away with their lies and excuses and they shamelessly exploit this insight.

For a long time I was also very reluctant to believe that the narcissist I dated might be lying to me and using excuses to keep me at a distance. I was too naive and gullible, too intent on shielding myself from pain, that I allowed myself to throroughly question his behavior. I had occasional doubts, and often felt pushed aside and neglected, but I always managed to keep those troubling thoughts from taking up too much space in my head. Looking at the relationship in retrospect, I am no longer able to determine when I was lied to and when I was told the truth, and it is shocking to face this realization. It puts a deep shadow on my entire interaction with him, and it leads me to question every single one of his words and actions.

I can’t give an inventory of the many excuses and dishonesties I was confronted with during my relationship with Mr. Unavailable. However, I will try to name a few examples: Mr. Unavailable had a tendency to cancel or postpone our dates. He was often either sick, too exhausted or overworked to meet with me. At some point of our relationship he announced he was no longer able to give me phone calls, because his exgirlfriend didn’t want him to call me (they shared some dubious phone plan and she got the shared phone bill). From that moment on, our chief channel of communication was via email. However, he often didn’t write for days and then offered the explanation that his computer battery was not working properly.

Once he cancelled on me in the very last minute and told me that to make up for it, he would spend time with me on the following weekend. However, when I tried to contact him on said weekend, he just didn’t answer my calls and ignored every single one of my messages. I heard back from him on Sunday evening and he denied my accusations that he ignored me on purpose so he didn’t have to follow through with his promise to spend time with me. He said he had been running errands all weekend and was just too busy. This excuse was so lame that not even I was willing to believe it, and from that moment on my trust in him was irreversibly damaged. The realization that he had ignored me to get out of meeting with me was shocking and painful and made me feel unwanted. From then on, whenever we had agreed on a time and place to meet, I was already suspecting that he would surely blow me off again. This was very often indeed the case. I realized that I just couldn’t trust him anymore, that I was constantly expecting to be disappointed, and this insight was saddening me.

One time he promised he would spend another weekend at my place, that we would go for long walks and watch movies together, and that he would even cook for my entire family. I was eagerly looking forward to it. As you can imagine, it never happened. He told me he had to stay at home with his exgirlfriend because she was hysteric. The are no words to describe the all-encompassing disappointment and sadness I felt.

Things got even worse, once his exgilfriend had gotten hold of my cell phone number (it appeared on their phone bill). She gave me a call and during our conversation I learned that he lied to her as well. He often denied that he was meeting me, telling her he had to go to work, to run errands etc. He told her that he had met me at a work party – another blatant lie. He told her he was no longer seeing me, when we were still regularly seeing each other. When I confronted him with the fact that he was denying our relationship towards his exgirlfriend, he offered the excuse that it was his only choice if he wanted to avoid trouble. I felt made a fool of and pushed aside, but that never was a problem for him. He always seemed to care a lot more about not hurting the feelings of his exgilfriend than about not hurting mine.

After our relationship had already ended, he presented me with the lamest excuse he ever had to offer. He flew back to the U.S. for good, without saying another word to me, without even leaving a message saying goodbye. He just took off without another word. I was hurt beyond belief. I knew our relationship had already been over, but after all the kindness, patience and endurance I had shown towards him, all the bullshit I had put up with for far too long, I expected at least a word of goodbye – especially given the fact that I would never see him again. It would have been the decent and respectful thing to do. His silence was the final proof of his utter indifference and selfishness. I knew he avoided saying goodbye, because he was too cowardly to face me again. When I voiced my disappointment about his ungraceful departure, he offered the lame excuse that he just wanted to save everyone a lot of trouble and drama. I knew that he only wanted to save himself the trouble of saying goodbye. It was the suitable end for a relationship that was right from the beginning marked with deceit and excuses.

So to sum it up, whenever you have the nagging and ever-present feeling that your partner is not being honest with you and is using excuses and subterfuges to keep you at a distance, you should seriously consider opting out. Trust is the basis of every healthy relationship, and once you can no longer trust your partner, your relationship is doomed. Had I paid closer attention to all the signs for his dishonesty, I would have tried to save myself earlier. In my desire to make things work, I was too earger to ignore the unpleasant aspects of our interactions and allowed him to trample all over me. Even when I already knew that he was not completely honest with me, and that I was unable to trust him, I pushed those thoughts away from me. I always wanted to give things another chance, I kept hoping that things would surely change. I would have saved myself so much pain and energy if I had let go of those naive hopes earlier. Constantly having the feeling that you are not treated fairly, that you are fed with lies and excuses to be held at a distance, is extremely painful. It makes you feel worthless and undeserving of affection. Instead of staying with someone who makes you forget your worth as a person, you should save your affection for someone who knows how to value it and will always treat you with honesty and respect. It’s the basis for every functioning relationship and we should never settle for less!