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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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.