Getting Hooked on the Drama Created by The Narcissist

As I have already pointed out numerous times in my earlier posts, when you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you are not quite yourself anymore. You are engulfed by their drama and mind games to such an extent, that you lose touch with yourself and end up turning the narcissist into the center of your world. Your complete fixation on the narcissist often has the effect that you lose your capacity to think rationally, to question your behavior, to protect your boundaries from being overstepped and from saving your emotional well-being from completely going down the drain. The drama that is so readily provided by the narcissist is swallowing us and demanding all of our energy – with the result that we have difficulties functioning in all other areas of our daily lives. We neglect our tasks and find it hard to focus on our work or studies, because we are completely absorbed by their drama.

This constant exposure to drama, ambiguity and deceit can have two very contradictory effects on us. On the one hand, we are slowly but surely growing tired and exhausted of it. We desperately want things to finally be easy, relaxed, less straining and depressing. We would give so much for the narcissist to end his constant unavailability, distance, inconsistency and triangulation. We belief that if they could let go of all of these troublesome modes of behavior, things could finally be the way we want them to be. However – shocking and irrational as it may sound – we also somehow learn to get used to the drama. Our willingness to endure the drama provided by the narcissist can even lead us to get hooked on it. We actually learn to love the drama and accept it as a fixed component of our relationship with the narcissist. We sometimes even reach the point where we can no longer imagine being with him without having to deal with constant drama and heartbreak.

This contradictory frame of mind can be very confusing and damaging. On the one hand, we are sick and tired of their manipulation and ambiguity. On the other hand, we are hooked on the excitement and emotional rollercoaster that accompanies their inconsistency. Our willingness to endure and absorb the drama provided by the narcissist, leads us to question our own sanity. We can’t find the rationale behind our repeated decision to hold on to them in spite of the fact that everything they ever do is causing us nagging feelings of insecurity, agony and disappointment. We can’t really admit to us that we have likely become addicted to their drama and the accompanying excitement, because it completely contradicts human rationality. The bitter truth, however, is that we have been so consistently fed with deceit, ambiguity and drama that he have grown to live with it – even to appreciate it. I still don’t know why we are doing this to us: Is it a survival strategy? Is it a welcome opportunity to punish ourselves for our supposed inadequacy? Is it because our daily lives provide so little excitement that we readily leap at their drama and allow it to become part of our being?

The only thing I know is that I could have surrendered and saved myself on countless different opportunities, but every single time I decided to hold on and submissively endure more of the blows he dealt to my self-esteem on an almost daily basis. I could have told him that I’d finally had enough and that I couldn’t take any more of his drama and deceit. However, I never followed through with it and instead increasingly lost touch with myself and sacrificed my emotional balance. I was on the brink of letting go several times; I tried to break contact with him on several occasions. After a few days, I always quit the endeavor, because on some level I missed the excitement that came from being with him. I was convinced that it was better to endure his drama with patience and endurance than to be on my own again, with no one but myself to deal with. I’ve always had a hard time being lonely, and therefore couldn’t find the strength and resolution to let go and save what was left of my emotional well-being and strength.

I didn’t only accept the drama passively and stoically, but sometimes I even helped to create it and to keep it going – or at least I didn’t try to end it when I could have well done so. When his exgirlfriend harrassed me with her countless attempts to call me and tons of text messages, I could have just blocked her number and saved myself a lot of unnecessary torment and pain. However, on some level, I was too curious, to unwilling to just put an end to the drama. It almost seemed as if I was hooked on the agony and hurt that I derived from reading her messages. The first time she tried to call me I even answered the phone (because I didn’t know her number back then), and instead of just hanging up, I listened to what she had to say for more than an hour. After that phone conversation, I felt so confused, hurt and shocked that it was almost impossible to bear. I learned, during that conversation, that I had become the target of so many lies. Besides, I have been confronted with the sick accusations that the narcissist and his exgirlfriend were throwing their ways on a daily basis. It was heart-wrenching and disgusting. However, instead of hanging up the phone so that I wouldn’t have had to listen to all that bullshit, I talked to her and let the pain paralyze me.

On some level, the pain and drama seemed to make me feel alive and provided my life with excitement – something that had admittedly been partly missing from it before I met the narcissist. I was in a deeply confused state while being in that relationship. On the one hand I was despaired and on the brink of a mental breakdown, because nothing was ever easy or going according to plan. Everything was somehow disappointing and dramatic – and it was slowly sucking the life out of me. However, after I had finally realized that all I would ever get from him was drama, pain, and inconsistency, I learned to accept and live with it. The realization that things would likely never be easy, that he would probably break my heart in the end, didn’t keep me from still chasing after him. I was convinced that getting drama was better than getting nothing at all and than returning to the eventless and monotonous life I lead prior to meeting the narcissist. In the end, I had not only gotten used to the drama, but I had also grown to appreciate it and the excitement that was stemming from it.

So I guess one conclusion that can be drawn from all of this is that I was certainly complicit in my own emotional abuse. I could have walked away a thousand times and told him I had enough of his shady ways. However, out of a deep fear of being alone, and because I had grown used to drama and pain, I allowed him to trample all over me again and again. Looking at my behavior in retrospect, I can – as usual – only shake my head in disbelief. I’m shocked that my desire for excitement and diversion let me to accept to be disrespected and taken for granted. But, I’m not really willing to accept all the blame for what had happened to me. Sure, my codependency was an important factor, as it made me the perfect target for submitting to his drama. However, narcissists are particularly talented at emotionally manipulating us in such a way that we keep going in spite of having lost almost all of our hopes that things might get better.

As usual, there is a positive lesson that I have learned from what had happened to me. I now know that there are both positive and negative kinds of excitement – and that the excitement we receive from being with a narcissist almost exclusively belongs into the negative category. The excitement derived from being in an inconsistent and unhealthy relationship will never add any value to our lives. We might think we can’t live without it, and that our lives are monotonous without the drama provided by the narcissist. However, in our misguided endeavor to submissively endure whatever they are throwing our ways, we often don’t realize that we are doing enormous damage to our emotional well-being and that we are losing touch with ourselves. I’m glad that I’ve finally learned that I alone am responsible for providing my life with excitement and purpose. I never again want to feel so deprived of diversion and excitement that I so willingly allow someone else to hurt me and fill my life with misery and pain.

The Codependent’s Constant Urge to Apologize

While I was in a relationship with the narcissist, my ability to assess my behavior rationally was greatly impaired. Looking in retrospect at some of the things I did while being with him, I can often only shake my head in complete disbelief and horror. However, while I was still being with him, I didn’t waste many thoughts on my complete defenselessness and blind deference. I did whatever it seemed to take to keep the relationship going, and it never really occurred to me that I was completely debasing myself and allowing him to overstep almost every boundary of decent behavior. It was like being on a drug. I was addicted to him, to getting his attention and his little breadcrumps of affection. Nothing else seemed to matter to me anymore. My entire being revolved around him, almost every single one of my thoughts was dedicated to him, and whenever I sensed his distance and detachment I felt as if I was dying inside. This addiction, of course, impaired my ability to think rationally and to question my behavior. I was so fixated on him and his inconsistent and ambigous way of treating me that there was no more energy and brain capacity left to question my motives, my desires and my deep unhappiness.

One of the consequences of my love addiction and my desire to keep things going was a highly developed tendency to apologize for almost everything I did. Even when there was no reason at all for me to actually be sorry, I apologized over and over again. It seemed to be the most natural thing for me to do when things didn’t go well and a conflict was on its way of developing. As a result, I went through my days, constantly feeling sorry and submissively accepting the blame for everything. I basically apologized for wanting the most basic and common things – such as for example being treated with the bare minimum of respect and consideration. I felt like I was asking for too much, when in fact I often only asked for what should have been an essential part of every human interaction. Of course this had a very negative effect on my self-esteem. If you are constantly feeling sorry, and are convinced of your own guilt, even though you didn’t really do anything wrong, it can make you slowly lose your mind. You have subconsciously accepted the fact that the relationship can only keep going if you take responsibility for everything that is going wrong; because sure as hell the narcissist won’t accept any blame or feel sorry for the ambiguous and inconsiderate way in which he is treating you.

I could list numerous instances in my relationship with the narcissist when I was feeling sorry and accepted the blame, even though I was the one being mistreated and neglected. He often promised he would call me later and then didn’t follow through with it. He once promised me – while he was gone for the weekend to visit his sister – that we would Skype the following day. Of course I didn’t hear from him all day and he didn’t even apologize for not keeping his promise. As it was not the first time he didn’t match his words with actions, I sent him an email in which I (calmly!) complained about feeling pushed aside. I told him he could at least have informed me about not being able to talk to me on Skype. I got a very defensive email in which I was accused of overreacting and of causing him stress. And what did I do? I completely accepted the blame and apologized, even though my accusations were completely valid. Of course he would go on not following through with his promises until the end of the relationship. I allowed him to push me aside and keep his distance, and he learned that he could treat me with inconsideration and get away with it.

He kept our relationship a secret from his exgirlfriend for a very long time to keep her from freaking out (as he told me). Of course, I was not satisfied with being kept a secret and I told him it would be the better solution for everyone if he would just be honest. When he finally told her, she apparently completely lost her mind and threatened to throw him out of her apartment. I felt extremely sorry for what happened and apologized to him. There was no reason at all for me to feel sorry, as the conflict was completely theirs to solve and I didn’t have to carry any blame for what was going on between them. Still I accepted the blame for the trouble he was in and felt very bad about myself for seemingly bringing him into that situation.

I once dared to send him an email in which I gave voice to my deep dissatisfaction. I told him I could no longer bear to be treated with ambiguity and that I had the nagging feeling he was not being honest with me. I got an angry and defensive reply in which he told me that my email had not been appreciated and that it was unfair and evil of me to accuse him of dishonesty. He also told me I should leave his exgirlfriend alone and not try to cause her stress by contacting her. I never once tried to contact her. I wanted to completely avoid her, while she was the one harrassing me with calls and text messages (which I mostly ignored). I felt completely helpless, angry, misunderstood, hurt and confused, but I somehow managed to swallow all of those feelings. Instead of telling him to go to hell (what I should have done!), I apologized submissively and nearly begged for his forgiveness. I assured him I was ashamed of my behavior and that he was right. As had been the case before, all of my accusations were valid. After the ambiguous and inconsistent treatment I had received from him on a daily basis, it was only natural for me to give voice to my frustration and sadness. He was, however, unwilling to accept any blame and in my desire to keep things going I apologized and accepted the blame for everything. I was completely losing touch with myself, debasing myself, and stoically accepting his neglect and disrespect, because it was the only way to not lose him. I soon began to realize that he would likely never take responsibility for his faults and that I just had to forget about them, if I wanted the relationship to continue.

I found myself constantly apologizing and feeling sorry for things I shouldn’t have felt sorry for. Sometimes I felt genuinely sorry, at other times being sorry was just a way for me to avoid conflict and to keep him from getting angry. On some level, I sensed that I submissively felt apologetic for just giving voice to completely valid feelings and desires. Whenever I had mustered enough strength to finally stand up for myself, I immediately felt sorry afterwards. Being faced with an angry and defensive reaction, i caved in and turned back to being silent and submissive. A huge heap of dissatisfaction and frustration was building up inside me, because I sensed that I was not the one to blame and that I was debasing myself by being sorry for things I shouldn’t be sorry for,

My codependency and love addiction, as well as his unjustified anger and unwillingness to accept blame, always made me feel apologetic. Being sorry was my way to solve conflicts as fast as possible, because I knew he would be unwilling to solve them. I learned to accept that he would never be prepared to change his behavior due to my frustration and anger. His only answer to every single one of my complaints was getting defensive and providing me with lame excuses. He would often respond by saying things like “What do you want from me?” or “What am I supposed to do about it?”. He was always the blameless victim and I went along with it, thinking that it was wrong of me to bother him with my anxtities and needs. I basically learned to accept that I was not allowed to have any hopes or expectations. Whenever I allowed myself to give voice to them he got distant and defensive and I apologized for daring to stand up for myself.

Being in a codependent relationship with a narcissist can therefore be enormously damaging to your emotional well-being. In order to keep the relationship going and avoid conflict, we often too readily apologize and accept blame for asserting our most basic needs. After having been with the narcissist for a certain amount of time we learn to live with the fact that he will never take responsibility for his shady behavior and ambiguous way of treating us, and that he will never be the one to solve a problem by accepting the blame and changing his ways. The only solution left to us is keeping quiet, swallowing our anger and frustration and accepting the blame for what is going wrong ourselves. In the end, our sense of self worth is completely shattered, because we are constantly being submissive and feeling sorry, even though we did nothing wrong.

Narcissists are extremely talented when it comes to shifting blame to others. After a certain amount of time we are deeply conflicted and confused. We sense that we are not treated rightly and that there is really no reason to constantly be sorry, but still we readily accept blame to hold on to an unhealthy relationship. Our submissiveness is not only damaging our sense of self worth but also allows the narcissist to go on treating us with neglect – because he knows he can get away with it and even get us to apologize for everything that is going wrong. Being with a narcissist is therefore emotionally crippling. They are not empowering us, but they are keeping us down and allow us to debase ourselves for them.

For me, the tendency to accept blame was particularly developed, because I have always been a so-called people pleaser. I can’t bear it when people are being angry with me. I can’t stand my ground in a conflict and I often end up apologizing to appease others. This character trait obviously makes me the perfect bait for narcissists: They can disrespect me all they want and for as long as they like. I will probably not find the strength and courage to stand up for myself. Additionally, my self-esteem has always been rather low, and therefore I am more likely to believe and accept that I am actually the one who is wrong, and that the narcissist is right in shifting all the blame to me. Being with the narcissist was an eye-opening experience for me. I have finally managed to discern those behavioral patterns in me and can begin to work on them. I no longer want to submissively accept blame for asserting my basic needs just to keep a shitty relationship going. It’s one of the most emotionally crippling experiences ever to be treated with disrespect and still be convinced that you are the one to blame. I don’t want to feel that way ever again.

Narcissistic Behavior 12: Dictates the Terms of the Relationship

When you are in a relationship with a narcissist there is always this nagging feeling of complete powerlessness, of losing touch with yourself and of having no say at all in what is going on. The reason for all of these feelings can be found in the fact that the narcissists tend to dictate the terms of the relationship, and you silently agree with those terms – often without even being aware that you are the one being chased around, suppressing your own wishes and desires in the process. After a certain amount of time you start feeling tired and dissatisfied without really knowing the source for those feelings, because you do not allow yourself to reflect too deeply on your relationship to the narcissist. You want things to work out so badly that you content yourself with the little breadcrumps they are throwing you and you follow their terms and conditions obediently. This obedience forces you to suppress your own needs and leads to a feeling of loneliness and helplessness. You think that by following their lead you are keeping them satisfied and that soon things will change for the better, that one day your wishes and desires will also matter. As I have already pointed out countless times, those wishes are often in vain, and the increasing awareness of this fact will only increase your helplessness and despair.

Narcissists are particularly prone to have things their way. They want to be the one in power in their interactions with others. They make the decisions within a relationship and withdraw their attention and affection whenever they feel like it. As soon as they feel that you are getting too close, they manage to create a certain amount of distance to stay in power. You have no say at all, but are ordered around and start feeling completely empty and powerless. However, it often never really occurs to you that you are played like a puppet on the string and that you are following the narcissist’s terms and conditions. With their assuring, affectionate and soothing words, they manage to make you feel as if your feelings, wishes and desires greatly mattered to them. You therefore believe that you have an equal say in the relationship and that your wishes would be taken seriously by the narcissists would you ever dare to give a voice to them. After a certain amount of time you may begin to become fully aware of your powerless situation within the relationship. However, out of a fear of losing him and being on your own again, you often still don’t find the strength and conviction to rebel against it and start voicing your own wishes and desires.

From the beginning until the end of my interactions with the narcissist he dictated the terms and conditions. He dediced when to meet, where to meet and for how long he intended to meet with me. I don’t think I ever once proposed a time and date for a meeting. Everything always went according to his schedule, and I just accepted it silently as if it was a sort of written law that he was the dominant person, making all the decisions. I often didn’t even know when I would see him again. Whenever I dared to ask him, I got an unsatisfying answer from him, as he told me that he didn’t really know when he could make time again due to his busy schedule. Sometimes I had to wait for days for him to propose a new date and time for a meeting. It was absolutely nerve-racking and depressing, and sometimes I had the feeling that I was slowly going insane from his tactics of keeping me waiting in the unknown. I so desperately wanted to be with him again and couldn’t stand the fact that I had to wait for days for him to be available. He not only decided when and where to meet, but also often took the liberty to cancel on me last-minute, or the inform me that he would be late.

He was always in complete power and even determined when we would talk on the phone. I never dared to call him spontaneously or to propose a time for a meeting out of a deep fear of being rejected. He called me whenever he felt like it and often even had the nerve to ask me to call him back, so that the phone bill of the phone plan he shared with his exgirlfriend wouldn’t be too high. I was stupid enough to call him back every single time and stoically accepted the fact that my own phone bill was getting higher and higher. The absolute low point of my interaction with him was reached when he sent me home after sleeping with me in a hotel room out of a fear of upsetting his exgirlfriend if he didn’t return back home to her for the night. Of course I felt humiliated and used. I already dedicated an entire blog post to that incident and don’t intent to point out the details again. I just needed to mention it as a prime example for the fact that I was played like a puppet on a string and that things always went according to his wishes, needs and conditions. My feelings were never really considered and my acquiescence was just taken for granted.

During the entire course of our relationship I agreed to his terms and chased after him like a dog. Whenever he proposed a time and date for a meeting – often after being silent for several days – I would immediately jump at the opportunity to see him again. I would make time for him and if necessary cancel the plans I had already made with others. I was so happy to finally be able to be with him again that it never occurred to me to question my own powerlessness. He threw me his little breadcrumps and I just happily accepted them and completely forgot my own value in the course of doing so. I often spent hours on a train just to see him for a very short amount of time. After a few weeks of chasing after him I started feeling tired, exhausted, frustrated and dissatisfied. I was beginning to question my role within the relationship and to realize my powerlessness within it. When I finally dared to voice my feelings, he promised me that things would get different soon and that due to his very busy schedule he didn’t really have time at the moment to see me more often. I wanted to believe him and therefore it never occurred to me that he dictated the terms of the relationship to keep his distance and stay in power.

As you can probably imagine, things never changed for the better. I was never really asked what I wanted or if I was okay with an arranged time and place for a meeting. He just assumed that I was okay with whatever he proposed and I swallowed my doubts and anger. Right until the end of our relatinship he was always the one in power, deciding on every little aspect of our interaction. I had no say at all and silently agreed to his terms and conditions. As a result of my silent consent, I often felt extremely powerless and dissatisfied. On some level I began to realize that my own wishes and desires never really mattered, that I had no say at all, and that I was following him around like a dog on a leash. It took me a very long time to become aware of my own powerlessness, because by feeding me little breadcrumps of affection and attention he convinced me that my feelings mattered to him. Even after I had finally realized that I was completely passive in our relationship, I did nothing to change anything about it. I thought that if I just went on agreeing to his terms and conditions, I would keep him interested and satisfied. I so desperately wanted to be with him that I swallowed my wishes, accepted my powerlessness and debased myself to keep things going.

The whole extent of my silent consent and powerlessness only revealed itself to me after the end of the relationship. Back then I was so busy considering his wishes and his needs and keeping him satisfied that I completely forgot thinking about my own well-being. On some level I always knew that something just wasn’t right, and that I was not getting what I needed. I just never allowed myself to think to deeply about it. A misguided wish to hold on to him made me accept his disrespectful and uncommitted behavior. Now I know that in a healthy relationship no one should be required to debase himself the way that I did to keep things going. I never again want to suppress all my feelings, wishes and desires just to keep a shitty relationship going. If you are with a narcissist with an urge to always be the one in power, you certainly won’t get what you want, and you will end up feeling frustrated, powerless and exhausted. Do yourself a favor and stop holding on to the illusion that things will get better. We deserve to be taken seriously and to have our wishes and desires met.

Narcissistic Behavior 4: Blowing Hot and Cold

Another common pattern of behavior among narcissists is their tendency to blow hot and cold. One day, they shower you with their attention and passionate affirmations of their affection and care, only to later on completely withdraw their attention for several days in a row. This strategy allows them to kill two birds with one stone: They make you hold on to them, while at the same time they manage to keep their distance. Being treated so inconsistently is extremely nerve-racking, frustrating and exhausting for those people involved with the narcissist. It creates a strong feeling of insecurity, as we never really know why we are treated that way and where the relationship is headed. When treated affectionately we dare to hope, only to have those hopes crushed later on when they start to withhold their attention again. It is a seemingly endless rollercoaster ride with no opportunity to get off.

Another reason why this strategy of blowing hot and cold is so damaging for those involved is that it makes us hold on to toxic relationships for far too long. Instead of realizing that we will never get what we want from the narcissist we are dating, we cling to their occasional signs of affection. Our need and wish to be loved and respected leads us to blind out all the clear signs for their cold indifference and we focus on the sparse signs of their supposed affection instead. Whenever we finally muster the determination to opt out, they manage to keep us hooked through their fake affirmations of how wonderful we are and of how much they care about us.

The narcissist I dated was a master at blowing hot and cold, and he turned me into an emotional wreck through his inconsistency and ambiguity. During our entire relationship, I was always in doubt, I never knew were the relatioship was headed, and I always questioned the sincerity of his feelings towards me (and rightly so, as it later turned out). On some days, I was convinced that he really cared about me, that he respected me an genuinely enjoyed being around me. On other days, his cold indifference led me to assume that he was probably not that interested in me, and that I was just a nice distraction, a way to pass some time.

His ambiguous way of treating me already started right at the beginning of our interaction. Just as so many other narcissists, he used a strategy called “love bombing”, which means that he made a huge effort to get my attention and affection. On our first date, he was funny, smart, entertaining, affectionate and I felt like I had just won the lottery. Things moved ahead quite fast and so we already kissed on our first date (he initiated it, of course…). On my way back home, I was convinced that he was genuinely interested in me, and that this was the beginning of something wonderful and exciting. However, my dreams were already shattered the next day: He completely ignored me at work, and didn’t even say goodbye before he left. It was a slap in the face and the first indicator of all the pain and disappointments that were still awaiting me.

His inconsistency would turn into a fixed part of our relationship: He would tell me to come with him to visit his sister, and then never mention the idea again. He would assure me he intended to move out of his exgirlfriend’s apartment, only to say a few days later that he had no intention to do so. He would express the wish to call me on skype, and then I just wouldn’t hear from him (he didn’t even take the time to tell me he changed his plans). Sometimes I didn’t hear from him in days, and then he sent several texts all at once. On some days, he sent me the loveliest emails, full of signs of affection. On other days I got cold and indifferent sounding emails consisting of no more than two sentences.

His inconsistency became particularly evident on two different occasions: One time, I was already sitting on the train to meet him, when I got a message in which he told me that he was all of a sudden not feeling well and had to cancel our date. He didn’t even apologize for the fact that I just wasted hours on a train for nothing. He ended his message by telling me how smart and pretty he thought I was. It was a typical example of blowing hot and cold: He blew me off in the last minute, and at the same time used sweet-talk to keep me from getting frustrated and mad. It worked: Sure I was extremely frustrated because I had just wasted two hours on a train without getting to see him, and because he waited until the last minute to cancel on me. At the same time, I was soothed by his nice words. This is why their strategy of blowing hot and cold is so harmful: They trample all over us, disrespect us and play us like puppets on a string, and we allow them to do so due to their occasional assurances of how perfect we are, and of how much we mean to them.

The other prime example for his inconsistency occurred towards the end of our relationship. Before I went on a weekend trip to Hamburg with a friend, he sent me a long email, telling me he wanted to make things work in Germany and he wanted our relationship to finally be fun, easy-going and relaxed, instead of dramatic and inconsistent. Once I got home again, I didn’t hear from him in days. When I finally got an answer, he told me bluntly, that he would leave Germany in only a few weeks, that he had already booked his flight, and that he would until then be very busy preparing everything for his departure. I was completely paralysed: Only a few days ago he fueled my hopes by talking so positively about the future. All of a sudden he presented me with a fait accompli, telling me he would leave without giving any reasons for his sudden change of mind. It was the perfect example for his indifference towards my feelings. He just did whatever he wanted to do without a care for other people’s feelings or opinions, and he didn’t even show enough respect to be honest and straightforward, or to give an explanation for his sudden decisions. He completely changed his mind within only a few days, and I just had to deal with it: He sure as hell didn’t care about the fact that he had ripped my heart apart. The only thing he ever cared about was himself and that is also why he was able to toy with other people’s feelings without feeling remorse or shame.

The narcissist’s tendency to blow hot and cold is a very powerful tool of manipulation: It allows them to keep their distance, without having to fear that we might lose interest in them. We nearly go insane trying to make sense of their inconsistency and having to live with the insecurity of not knowing where the relationship is headed. Their fake signs of affection fuel our hopes and keep us from leaving them and saving ourselves. It only prolongs the inevitable and causes us to stay in toxic relationships for far longer than is healthy for us. In the end, the inevitable will happen nevertheless: They will suck the life out of us through their ambiguity and leave us heartbroken. They only care about themselves and are indifferent about our feelings. They will hold on to us for as long as it is convenient for them, and for as long as we are still a nice source of distraction. When they no longer have the need for us, they will just blow us off without feeling any regret or remorse. The fact that they just ripped our hearts apart and left us depressed, frustrated and emotionally exhausted is of no interest to them. Their cold indifference will add a lot to our pain and make our journey to recovery very difficult and long. More often than not narcissists will completely break our spirits and the longer we hold on to them, the more painful it will turn out to be in the end. The inevitable will happen despite all our efforts to make things work. The reasonable strategy is to always be skeptical about their sweet-talk and try to opt out as soon as possible!

Narcissistic Behavior 3: The Lone Wolf

When I started reading a lot about narcissism I was oftentimes surprised by the characteristics that were listed as being typical for narcissistic behavior. I was made aware of the fact that narcissists often exhibit modes of behavior that I wouldn’t have associated with narcissism beforehand. Reading more on the topic was therefore an eye-opening experience for me and helped me learn more about the unhealthy relationship I had clung to for several months. Before I started engaging myself with the topic of narcissism, the idea didn’t even cross my mind that the guy I had been dating might have been a textbook narcissist. I just wasn’t fully aware of the signs of narcissism. Had I known what I know now right from the beginning, I would have found the strength to let go a lot earlier. That is also why I find it so important to share my experiences: It is not only meant to ease my mind after months of emotional abuse, but also as an eye-opener for others who might find themselves in similar situations. It helped me tremendously to finally be able to put a label on and find an explanation for what happened to me. A few weeks ago, I was convinced that the blame for everything that had happened lay with me, as I was codependent and therefore allowed others to disrespect me. Now, I know that a large portion of the blame needs to be redirected to the narcissist who exploited my insecurities and emotionally abused and manipulated me in a very shameful way.

One of the characteristics of narcissistic behavior that I wasn’t aware of beforehand is their tendency to make themselves out as lone wolves. I was always convinced that narcissists were typically surrounded by lots of admirers and had a very busy social life. While this might indeed be true for some narcissists, there are also those who seemingly take pride in their existence as lone wolves and their penchant for solitude. The narcissist I dated definitely belonged to the category of lone wolves: He didn’t have any close friends, he wasn’t in touch with his parents and he had no social life to speak of. The only people left in his life were his exgirlfriend and his sister, and his relationship to both of them was strained. He was in constant conflict with them, but at the same time he continually affirmed how much he loved and respected both of them with all his heart.

One could certainly argue that the fact that he lived in a foreign country (Germany) and didn’t even speak the language could be a factor adding to his solitary existence. However, he worked with many fellow Americans and they often invited him to events. He just never showed any interest in joining them and instead declared that he thought they were all fakes and suck-ups and that he didn’t want to spend his free time with them. I also often wanted to interrupt his solitude by spending time with him. He often said that he had too much work to do, or preferred to be alone. During the five months we dated, he never once went out with friends. The only things he ever did was going to concerts or city trips with his exgirlfriend, and during those activities they usually had fierce arguments. He sometimes went to meet his sister, but those encounters were more often than not also accompanied by conflicts.

It wasn’t enough for him to wallow in his solitude. He also tended to badmouth others, labelling them as suck ups and “stupid motherfuckers”. He made it seem as if the world consisted of fake and evil people without integrity, and as if he was the only sensible person walking this planet. He often drew me right into his negativity: He pointed out countless times how much he hated our work colleagues, and I was almost induced to take his side and share his opinions. It never occurred to me that his assessment of others might be wrong – a product of his narcissism. Looking at it in retrospect, I feel ashamed for attaching so much importance to his negative opinions on others. As it turned out, he was the one without integrity.

He never seemed to have a problem with his solitary way of life but rather wore it like a badge. For him it was more a sign of distinction than an indicator that others might be avoiding him. He readily talked about his meager social life and declared that it had always been this way. Even when he still went to college he was – as he called it – a loner. He would prefer to stay in his room, playing guitar and studying, while others went on dates or to parties. I don’t want to convey the wrong impression here: There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend time on your own and with not wanting to go to parties etc. I’m also a rather introvert person who occasionally enjoys being alone. However, this penchant for solitude becomes problematic if it includes badmouthing others, and if it is trumpeted out into the world as a tool to make yourself seem more attractive or mysterious. It is also problematic for those people who are emotionally involved with them and who would love to spend more time with them: More often than not narcissists declare a desire for staying alone, and use their image as lone wolves to keep you at bay. It is exhausting and frustrating and you get the nagging (and valid!) feeling that you are being avoided.

So to sum it up, the narcissist’s tendency to pride himself on his existence as a lone wolf can be difficult to deal with for those who are involved with them. Narcissists often use it as a strategy to get our affection and to make themselves seem more attractive and mysterious. We tend to fall into their traps as our hearts often go out to the mysterious, unappreciated outsiders. We think that all it takes for them to feel happier and less lonely, is our attention and affection. In our imagination, it is exactly what they need. Once they got us hooked, they use their supposed penchant for solitude to keep us at distance and to avoid having to spend too much time with us. In addition, their tendency to badmouth others often leads us to adopt their negative opinions and we turn against the people we have liked so far. Their supposed preference for solitude can therefore be seen as part of their narcissistic strategies to play us like puppets on a string: They use it to get our affection and later on to keep us at bay. So whenever a guy acts all mysterious and solitary, be skeptical! You can do yourself a big favor if you just take to your heels and run as fast as you can…

Narcissistic Behavior 2: Pretends to Be Mr. Nice Guy/Hypocrisy

I’m very aware of the fact that not every narcissist acts the same way, that some characteristics are very prominent in the behavior of some narcissists and not in that of others, and that there are both overt and covert types of narcissists. I can only talk about the experiences I made with the narcissist I dated, and illustrate those characteristics of narcissistic behavior that were mirrored in the way he interacted with me. One characteristic of narcissism that was highly developed in him was hypocrisy, which became particularly evident in his penchant for pretending to be a nice guy and a model human being, who would never harm anyone.

This narcissistic mode of behavior can – as almost everything he does – be extremely harmful for those people interacting with him on a deeper level. Whenever they assure us of their innate goodness and tell us about their inability to hurt anyone, we desperately want to believe them. We have often been hurt many times in the past, and hearing him say that he would take good care of us and would never ever hurt our feelings, is like heart-balm and makes us feel like we just won the lottery. When we realize much later that he turned out to be a heartless, manipulating narcissist, our entire belief system is shattered. We were so convinced that we had finally found a guy who would never toy with our feelings and leave us heartbroken. Now we have to come to terms with the fact that we have been fooled and that what he presented us with was nothing more than a facade. Accepting that Mr. Nice Guy never existed is extremely painful, and we often cling to the hope that maybe if we are just patient enough, we will eventually get him back. The cold hard truth is: We won’t…

The narcissist I dated was a textbook hypocrit and a master at pretending to be a wonderful, caring human-being. On one of our first dates he even lamented that life was not easy for a guy who was so caring and worried about other people’s feelings. He said that because he was so caring he often had to fix the damage done by others (especially in relationships) and that it would therefore be so much easier to be more of an asshole. He even seemed to be genuinely upset about his inability to be cold and indifferent towards other people’s feelings. Whenever I asked him why he still lived with his exgirlfriend, he assured me it was because he was so worried about her feelings and didn’t want her to feel abandoned and let down. He made it seem as if he was always neglecting his own ambitions, plans and wishes, in order to please others and be considerate of their feelings. Everything he did was seemingly a product of his big and noble heart, and I was naive enough to believe him. I never would have thought that this model of selflessness would later turn out to be a textbook narcissist, a selfish monster who treated other people’s feelings with cold indifference.

At the beginning of our relationship he told me that he had the feeling I had sold myself short in the past due to my low self-esteem. He assured me I had every right to be more confident, as I was – according to him – extremely smart, pretty and kind. He knew that I still had to stuggle with trust issues due to an earlier relationship in which I was also used and manipulated. I found it hard to put my trust in Mr. Unavailable, because I feared being let down again. He was really upset about me having those trust issues, because for him it was just another proof of the fact that he had to fix the emotional damage done by others, as he was such a nice guy and others were just plain assholes. He assured me in every possible way that I could let those trust issues go with him, that he was not like the indifferent asshole I had last dated, and that he would always care about my feelings and treat me with the respect I deserved. He even got angry whenever my trust issues would come to the surface again and urge me to finally let them go. According to him, he was not like the asshole I last dated and it was unfair to let him suffer and to not trust him because of him.

Of course he made me feel extremely guilty and I was convinced that I was not being fair by letting my trust issues affect our relationship. I worked really hard on letting those issues go and was eventually able to do so. I began to really believe that Mr. Unavailable was indeed interested in me and worried about my feelings and my well-being. I found it save to put my trust in him and to let go of my suspicions. Looking back at the relationship now, I deeply regret that I believed him and that I let my guard down and made myself vulnerable. He basically urged me into trusting him just to manipulate and emotionally abuse me. I let my guard down and got nothing but heartbreak, disappointments and despair as a reward. I never would have thought that the guy who so vehemently assured me that he would always treat me right, would turn out to be the guy who would break my heart in the most painful way possible. I was so convinced he would never let me down and would always treat me with respect: In the end, he was the guy who disappointed me most in my entire life and the guy who caused me so much pain like no one else has ever done before.

His supposed innate goodness seemed to extend to everyone around him: He prepared coffee for his students, he went out to buy tea for his colleagues, he motivated his exgirlfriend to give up the job she hated so much and to upgrate her education (at least that is what he told me). One time he even told me how he talked to a prostitute in Costa Rica, trying to convince her to make more out of her life. Back then, I was impressed by those stories and believed that he was a model of nobility and selflessness. Now I’m extremely angry and find most of his stories ridiculous.

He would constantly assure me of his deep regard and respect for me, continually complimenting me for my good-looks, my intelligence, my kindness (blabla). He would motivate me to have more self-esteem and to believe in myself. He uttered sentences like “I never want you to have to worry about anything, baby” or “I always want you to feel cared for and protected.” I desperately wanted to believe him. I was convinced I finally found the perfect guy who would never dare to break my heart and let me down.

Because he was so talented at pretending to be Mr. Nice Guy all the people around him seemed to adore him. He was a very popular teacher and his students just loved him. His colleagues valued him for his good-manners and his conversational skills. Everyone had something nice and appreciative to say about him and it seemed as if he could do no wrong. After he had finally shown his true colors to me, it was extremely difficult to let go of the illusion that he was the perfect gentleman. Everyone adored him and so I questioned my own judgment. After all, how can someone who is so popular, be the monster you think he is? I found it extremely hard to believe that his nobility and goodness was a facade. He even managed to fool my family and friends: They all loved him after meeting him and my best friend even jokingly told me that she gave me permission to marry him. Letting go of the illusion is difficult and painful and I was very reluctant to do so. I didn’t believe in my own judgement. It was also nearly impossible to talk to others about the way he emotionally abused and manipulated me. They all still believed that he was the nice guy he pretended to be, and I feared they maybe wouldn’t believe me. Fortunately, I have a loving family and a great best friend and they believed and supported me unconditionally.

So to sum it up, the tendency of many narcissists to put on a facade of nobility and goodness is very harmful for their victims. We let down our guard and put our trust in them, only to be emotionally abused and manipulated. In the end they have not only broken our hearts, but completely destroyed our trust and left us feeling confused, angry and empty. It is difficult not to question our own judgments and to accept the fact that everything they presented us with was nothing but a facade. In addition to that, we often find it hard to reveal our feelings to others, as they are still convinced he is the model of goodness and nobility he pretended to be. We fear they won’t believe us, we fear that our judgment might be wrong and that we might be at fault…It is extremely confusing and painful.

Whenever you find yourself in this trap, you need to believe in your own judgement and free yourself from the unhealthy relationship to your narcissist. We should never hold on to them out of a misguided belief that we might be at fault or that they might at some point go back to being the nice, caring and loving guys they were at the beginning of your relationship. Face the cold hard facts and save yourself some time and energy: It was nothing but a facade!

Narcissistic Behavior 1: Sees Himself as Victim and Avoids Responsibility

The next few posts will be dedicated to illustrating the characteristics of narcissistic behavior and to pointing out how those characteristics were mirrored in my relationship with Mr. Unavailable. It took me a very long time to see that the last guy I dated was a narcissist and a master at emotionally manipulating others. After the relationship was over I readily accepted the label “codependent” and began to search for flaws in my own mindset and behavior. On some level, I knew that I was not treated fairly during our relationship, but putting all the blame on myself was exactly what I have always been used to. So instead of accepting that I was emotionally abused and manipulated, I thought that my codependency was responsible for the mess I had gotten myself into.

Looking at it now, after I had some time to deal with it, I have changed my evaluation of what went wrong: I now know that codependent people often attract narcissistic and unavailable men, who manipulate them and turn them into emotional wrecks. No matter how low our self-esteem and how high our insecurities, it never justifies being emotionally exploited and abused. So instead of readily accepting all the blame, we should also see that we have been victims of abuse, and that through their cunning strategies of manipulation they made it hard for us to understand what was going on and to opt out. I still think of myself as being a recovering codependent and of being to blame for a big portion of my misery. But I also have to point out that right before I met Mr. Unavailable I was doing just fine. I was reduced to a heap of misery, depression and insecurity in the course of my interactions with him.

Learning that I have been dating a narcissist was of help to me: Now I could begin to fully assess the relationship and both our parts in it; I finally had explanations for his shady behavior and I could begin to leave it all behind. At the beginning, I was a bit sceptical of putting the label “narcissist” on Mr. Unavailable, because I thought that maybe it was just my defense mechanism wanting to shield me from accepting all the blame. But after I have read a lot on the topic and every description of narcissistic behavior exactly matched his behavior, I began to accept his narcissism. There are overt and covert types of narcissists and Mr. Unavailable was more often being covert than overt. This fact made it so hard for me to see that he was indeed a narcissist.

The first characteristic of narcissistic behavior I will talk about is their tendency to see themselves as victims and to avoid responsibility for their own behavior and everything that happens to them. My Mr. Unavailable was constantly whining about his bad luck, how everything just went wrong, and how he felt trapped and put under pressure. Back then I accepted his role as innocent victim and thought that life has dealt him some harsh blows. After some time, I began to see that he was to a high extent responsible for his own misery and that he just avoided accepting this unpleasant fact.

He was constantly unsatisfied with his job, hating what he was doing, and lamenting that he did not really get ahead and that what he was doing was not intellectualy stimulating. However, he never tried to find other work, he never really initiated actions to get ahead. He just stoically went to work and then complained about it. He tended to blame Germany for not wanting to give him a decent job. However, after almost two years in Germany he still hadn’t even learned the language. He couldn’t even order food at a restaurant in German. If he really wanted to get ahead with his career, he would have learned the language, because that would have been the basis for improving his chances for a good career.

The next aspect he continually complained about was his living situation and the relation to his exgirlfriend. He always lamented the fact that he was still living with her and that she turned his life into a mess. He even said that she was responsible that his entire life was so miserable. In spite of his complaints, he never made a real attempt to move out but stayed with her and allowed her to harrass him without defending himself. He presented himself as the poor victim of her dependency, jealousy and hatefulness. However, he always could have changed his situation by just moving out and thereby giving both of them the chance to heal from their messed up relationship. I guess he enjoyed being the victim and avoiding responsibility too much to take action and work towards the betterment of his situation.

In general, he made it seem as if the entire world had conspired against him, keeping him from getting ahead and being happy. Everything seemed to be going against him and he never got tired of pointing out his bad luck and the many blows that fate has supposedly dealt him. It was not enough for him to present himself as a victim, but he also badmouthed those who had made something out of their lives. Whenever someone was cheerful, successful or ambitious, he would label him or her as suck-up, motherfucker (his own words!) and fake. According to him, the only reason for their success and happiness was sheer luck – something that has always been denied him. He complained that others were not appreciating his genius and that he had so much to offer, but no one wanted to see it. He never got tired of pointing out that his sister (who also lives in Germany) only got a good job because of her good looks. It never seemed to occurr to him that she had actually gone through the trouble of learning German, and that this might have increased her chances of getting a job here.

Even when it was obvious that he was to blame, he still somehow managed to avoid responsibility and to redirect the blame to others. He even did not take responsibility for the excrutiating love triangle he produced through his ambiguous, manipulating and dishonest behavior. He played both me and his exgirlfriend like puppets on a string and thereby he turned us into emotional wrecks (look at my last post for more information). Whenever one of us dared to complain, he would declare that he felt completely trapped between the two of us. That he had set this trap for himself never even occurred to him. At one point he admitted that he behaved poorly towards me by always giving in to the wishes of his exgirlfriend. But instead of apologizing and accepting the blame, he followed this statement with a simple: “But what was I supposed to do?”. It was just another prime example for his utter inability to accept blame and take responsibility. Whenever he declared that he felt trapped, I was immensely hurt, because I didn’t know what I had done wrong. The only thing I wanted was being with him. Was that too much to ask? Why did that simple request make him feel trapped? I just couldn’t find an explanation, but nevertheless accepted the blame.

So to come to a conclusion, narcissists always find a way to avoid taking responsibility and to redirect all the blame to others. According to them the reason they do not get ahead is that everything and everyone has conspired against them. Those that get ahead only do so out of sheer luck and because they are fake suck-ups. This refusal to accept blame can nearly drive you insane, beause you end up being the one who does accept it. You believe his view that he is not to blame and that he is only a victim. You readily accept whatever blame you can (especially if you are codependent and are used to putting blame on yourself). In the end, we feel completely confused and helpless: On some level we know that we haven’t done anything wrong. But as Mr. Unavailable so vehemently avoids taking responsibility, it must be us who are to blame? So there must indeed be something we have done wrong? We are racking our brains, trying to find out in what ways we are to blame, and Mr. Unavailable get what he wants: He is the blameless victim who never did anything wrong…

Constantly taking the blame for things we haven’t done is exhausting and confusing. It lowers our self-esteem and leads us to seriously question our judgments and behavior. Being with a narcissist is therefore extremely draining and unhealthy. We never should lower ourselves to such a degree that we accept blame for things we haven’t done. This leads us to see victims in those who manipulate and hurt us. We should always remember that those that so readily label themselves as victims are more often than not the perpetrators. Refusing to see this only prolongs the emotional exploitation we receive at their hands.

Narcissists and Their “Crazy, Hysteric and Jealous” Exgirlfriends

I know that I have already dedicated two entire posts to talking about my Mr. Unavailable’s strange and changing relation to his exgirlfriend. Since I’ve written them, I have read a lot about narcissists and their penchant for triangulation, and it made me realize that my previous two posts on the issue are insufficient. Back then I wasn’t fully aware of the role I played in the love triangle and that is why I feel the need to take up the topic again.

Nothing has hurt and exhausted me more during my time with Mr. Unavailable than the drama with his – as he often called her – “hysteric, mentally imbalanced and crazy exgirlfriend.” It often felt like I was in a relationship with two people as she was always on his mind and therefore seemed to follow us around like a shadow. He continously mentioned her name, wrote text messages to her while spending time with me, adjusted his life to her schedule, was constantly worried about her feelings and always complaining about her jealousy, craziness and totalitarian behavior. Once she got hold of my cell phone number (because it appeared on their shared phone bill) she tried to call me numerous times, sent me tons of text messages and exposed me to her craziness. She was a constant source of drama, and I just couldn’t understand why he still lived with her in the same apartment. Back then I was convinced that she was a crazy, jealous and hateful person, turning the life of Mr. Unavailable into a mess. Looking at the situation in retrospect has taught me that she is probably not the monster I thought her to be, but just another victim of his narcissistic abuse. The ambiguous treatment and emotional exploitation she received from him has probably led her to behave as unreasonably, hurt and hateful as she did.

The most exhausting and ridiculous aspect about his relation to his exgirlfriend was that it seemed to change on a daily basis. Some days he complained that living with her has become unbearable, that she turned his life into a mess, that she was mentally imbalanced, and that he intended to move out as fast as possible. On other days, he would assure me of how deeply he cared about her feelings, how he respected and treasured her with all his heart, and how he thought of her as his best and most valued friend. His attitude often changed within only a few hours. Once he complained about how unbearable the situation with her was, and about the fact that she sent him tons of hateful text messages. Later the same day he posted intimate looking pictures of the two of them on Google Plus. He assured me he would never lie to her because he respected her too much, while I was at the same time aware of the many blatant lies he had told her in the past.

He rubbed her name into my face on every possible occassion. He talked about going out for dinner, a concert or some other event with her. They went on city trips, to the fitness center and even to the dentist together. He always told me about it, always casually mentioning her name as if it was the most natural thing ever to still do everything with an expartner in spite of being in a new relationship. The most frustrating part of it was that during the time we dated, we never once went out to a special event together: We didn’t go to concerts or on city trips. He did all of these things with her, and I allowed him to turn me into an option – someone to hang out with whenever his exgirlfriend didn’t have the time. I never even allowed myself to tell him about how frustrated I was, because I knew he would react in an angry, unsympathetic way.

Things really got out of hand when my phone number appeared lots of times on their shared phone bill. I got phone calls and text messages from her. The first time she tried to call me I answered the phone because I didn’t know it was her. We talked for about an hour and it was the most painful phone conversation I ever had: Hearing her version of events made me aware of the fact that he was blatantly lying to both of us, that he was playing us like puppets on a string, and that it was mostly his fault that things were so messed up. Yes, it was true, his exgirlfriend was indeed behaving unreasonably, desperately and hatefully. However, I think that her behavior is for the most part a result of his emotional abuse and vagueness.

I almost threw up, when she told me on the phone that she was convinced that he was having sex with his sister: It really opened my eyes to what a messed-up situation I found myself in. I never really believed that he was indeed having sex with his sister, but I was shocked that she dared to suggest something like this. I would immediately cut a person out of my life if that person made such hateful and shameful suggestions about me. He didn’t even seem to be bothered that much by it when I told him about it and even went on calling her his best friend. Their concept of friendship seems to be in need of some revision: In my view, friends don’t constantly lie to each other, and certainly don’t accuse each other of having sex with their siblings!

After that one phone conversation with her, I felt absolutely exhausted and emotionally drained. When I later on talked to him he tried to convince me that she had told me nothing but lies. I didn’t know what to believe anymore, I didn’t know who told the truth and who was lying. I was caught in the middle, having heard two versions of events and feeling absolutely empty. I never had to deal with such a mess, so many lies, such disgusting accusations. I suddenly found myself right in the middle of their weirdness and had become part of a conflict I never wanted to have any share in. I suddenly realized that there were thousands of unresolved issues between the two of them, and that they drew me into their fucked-up mess of a relationship. I was completely overwhelmed by my own feelings: Sometimes I felt extremely angry at her for being so hateful and dramatic. Then again I almost felt sympathy for her. Because I didn’t know the truth, I never really knew how I was supposed to feel about any of it. It is extremely exhausting and confusing to constantly be lied to and to not have a clue about what is really going on. I only knew that I had become the protagonist in a very horrible drama full of sick mind games and disgusting lies.

I have to accept the fact that I will never know the truth, I will never find out about the true nature of their relation. I only know that she was a fixed part of my relationship to the narcissist, a constant source of drama, lurking like a shadow wherever we went and whatever we did. While back then I was convinced that she was indeed the crazy, hateful and jealous person that he described her as, I now think that she is also a victim of his sick manipulation and mindfuckery and that he turned her into this hysteric, crazy mess. With his changeableness, vagueness and ambiguity he was hurting both of us, playing us like puppets on a string, and I guess he enjoyed being the center of our attention and the object of our jealousy. He could have put an end to all that drama by treating both of us with honesty and by dissolving all the ambiguities. He had too much fun watching both of us suffer on his account to do just that.

Whenever a narcissistic, unavailable man talks about his “crazy, jealous” ex, whe should treat such statements with extreme caution. Back then I was so brainwashed and confused by his sick games that I naturally believed his ex to be the hateful and spiteful person he had labelled her as. Now I know that he is probably responsible for her behavior, that he is not the victim but the perpetrator. Emotionally abusing two women at the same time, disrespecting them, lying to them and playing them like puppets on a string is just plain disgusting and it makes me angry to the point where I almost want to start screaming.

I still can’t believe I let myself be drawn into this mess and that I allowed him to disrespect and emotionally abuse me like that. The point is that many narcissists are extremely skilled at manipulating us. They serve us with lies and excuses, they flatter us and they make false promises. In the end we nearly go insane from all the ambiguity and from not knowing what exactly is going on. The love triangle I found myself in was one of the most painful, excruciating experiences I ever made. I have never before been part of such a fucked-up mess. I hope that having survived such an intense level of ambiguity and mindfuckery has turned me into a stronger person that will never allow something like this to happen again. Having to accept that you were a pawn in a game and not an appreciated and respected partner in a relationship is painful and depressing. It takes time to accept and get over the fact that the person you so ardently loved and cared about, served you with nothing but lies and manipulated you in the most shameful and disgusting way imaginable.

I apologize for the length of this post. I feel very strongly about this issue and it will still take me a long time to heal and get over it. I know that many victims of narcissistic abuse have found themselves in the middle of a love triangle at some point. It is an excrutiating experience that can drive you insane. If you ever found yourself in a similar situation, I would really love to hear from you.

Reasons for Holding On 4: Fear of Feeling Abandoned and Lonely

Not being in a relationship, not having someone with whom you can share all your thoughts, dreams and time, can sometimes lead to a feeling of extreme melancholy, loneliness and abandonment. People with codependent tendencies suffer to a higher degree from not having a shoulder to lean on, someone who showers us with signs of their affection and appreciation. As we often have low self-esteem, we have a hard time being on our own and we depend on others to give us the love and affection that we deny ourselves. Additionally, not being in a relationship often makes us feel like pathetic losers: We are convinced there must be something wrong with us, that we are not lovable the way we are, that we are not attractive or interesting enough, and that we will have to grow old alone. Those feelings can become so strong that they turn into an obsession, and finding a partner can become our top priority, a task that needs to be fulfilled as fast as possible. Our desire to immediately find a partner often draws us into the arms of narcissistic and unavailable men. We do not assess the situation carefully and throroughly enough before we lunge into a relationship.

Once we find ourselves in an unhealthy, dramatic and emotionally draining relationship, we hold on for dear life because we fear being lonely and abandoned again. We are convinced that we will never find another partner, and that we therefore have to make do with what we have and try to make things work under all circumstances. Instead of facing the feeling of being by ourselves again, we debase ourselves trying to please a man who does not deserve our efforts, our love and our time. We are so afraid of being alone again and of feeling abandoned, that we allow men to trample all over us in our efforts to make things work. On some level we might have already realized that all we will ever get out of Mr. Unavailable is pain, broken promises, drama and exhaustion. Our fear of being lonely, however, keeps us from drawing boundaries and saving ourselves.

At the point where we realize that the man we are dating is unavailable for a healthy, serious and long-term relationship and unable to offer us the love, care and affection that we long for, we are often already in too deep. We have already invested so many emotions, so many feelings, so much energy, time, dedication and hopes that we just cannot bear the thought that all of this was in vain and never really appreciated or asked for. After having given so much and already painted scenarios for a future in our heads, we find it too painful to admit defeat and be on our own again. We think that if we just keep on being kind, patient, enduring and understanding, our partner will somehow turn into Mr. Available and give us what we so desperately need. We hope that giving him time will eventually make all our efforts worthwile and we will finally be in a healthy and committed relationship. This is probably not going to happen and therefore it would be more healthy to admit defeat right at the beginning and not waste more of our precious time and dedication on people who clearly don’t know how to value it. Let’s face it: giving all you have and loving a person with all your heart and dedication is the most painful thing ever, if the man those feelings are directed at has no use for them and treats you with disrespect.

By the time we realize that things will likely not get better, we have often already introduced him to our friends and family. This was also the case in my situation. He spent an entire weekend with me and my family. My mother worked her ass off trying to make him feel at home and comfortable. I also introduced him to my friends and we went out for drinks together and had a wonderful time. After having presented a man as your new partner, it is even more difficult to admit defeat and go on alone. It makes you feel like the biggest loser on earth to admit to your friends and family that things didn’t work out again. You would prefer to just hold on to him so that you don’t have to admit defeat. Fortunately, in my case, my friends and family knew how disrespectfully he treated me (even though he managed to leave a very good impression when he met them!). They knew how much I suffered from being with an unreliable and unavailable man and often advised me to leave him. So, when I finally managed to let go, they didn’t think of me as a loser, but as someone who has finally managed to save her last pieces of self-respect.

Another reason for not being able to admit defeat is that we often cling to the feelings of happiness and carefreeness we felt at the beginning of the relationship. We don’t want to let go of these feelings, we don’t want to be all alone again. However, we fail to realize that the happiness and carefreeness has been long gone and will likely never return. Holding on in our hope that these feelings might return at some point is a futile endeavor that should be abandoned immediately.

We also shouldn’t hold on to an unhealthy relationship just because we have already reached a certain age and feel like we need to commit as fast as possible or we will end up alone for the rest of our lives. We often have nagging thoughts like: “All of my friends are in loving and committed relationships. Why can’t I ever make it work? What is wrong with me? I will die alone…” By now I have realized that those thoughts are toxic and that I’d rather die alone than spend the rest of my life with a man who doesn’t value, respect and appreciate me.

So to sum it up, the fear of being alone and abandoned should never lead us to hold on to relationships that are emotionally draining and sucking the life out of us. Being alone is definitely better than being in a relationship with someone who makes you feel worthless and pathetic every single day. After I got out of my relationship with Mr. Unavailable I realized that being alone was exactly what I needed, that it felt so good to let go of all of the drama and uncertainty. Sometimes being in a relationship can make you feel so much more lonely and abandoned than actually being on your own!

Reasons for Holding On 2: Lack of Self-Esteem and Self-Respect

In many of my previous posts I have commented on the lack of self-respect and self-esteem, and the part it plays in being abused by narcissistic, unavailable men. It affects our relationship to those men to such an enormous extent and on so many levels that I now decided to dedicate an entire post to it. I have already declared countless times that had I been more self-confident and self-assured, I would never have allowed a guy to treat me the way I was treated those past few months. Loving and respecting myself would have led me to see that this is not what I deserve and to set up some clear boundaries, which I should never allow a guy to overstep. I did such a poor job at being good to myself that I let the emotional abuse go on for far too long without acknowledging how much damage it did to me.

Having low self-esteem and finding it hard to love and respect ourselves affects our relationships in at least three different ways: First, it makes us more prone to enter into a relationship with narcissistic, unavailable men. Second, it leads us to accept the little breadcrumps of affection those men are throwing us, and last of all, it makes us shift all the blame to ourselves and think that we are at fault for the shitty treatment we receive at the hands of the narcissist. In this post, I will shortly comment on each of these aspects and point out how they were mirrored in my relationship to Mr. Unavailable.

For as long as I remember I have struggled with self-doubt and low self-esteem. I tend to question every decision I ever made in my life, I’m never really satisfied with anything I do, and I’m often inclined to put all the blame on myself whenever I face a conflict or difficulty. Being so hard on yourself all the time is emotionally draining and leads you to be dependent on others for love, approval and reassurance. Because of the low opinion I hold of myself, I’m addicted to the feeling of being valued and appreciated that (ideally) comes from being in a loving relationship. My addiction to approval and love often drives me into relationships with shady men. I’ve often felt that being in a relationship – no matter how painful – is better than being alone with all my self-doubts and inner conflicts. Lunging into a relationship without giving the matter much thought offers me the distraction and excitement I’m longing for. If I was just happy being on my own, I would not be so inclined to enter a relationship with the first guy that shows interest in me. However, I’m addicted to signs of affection and interest and therefore rarely assess the situation rationally before I am already in too deep.

The second reason why having a low self-esteem is an important factor in our relationships with narcissistic, unavailable men is that it makes us hold on for much longer than is healthy for us. We fear being abandoned so much that we keep going back to them and try to make things work (even though it is not really in our power to do so). We not only accept the little breadcrumps of affection they are throwing us, but often think that this is all we deserve. Having little self-respect we allow them to trample all over us and still come back for more of the humiliation and disregard. This was particularly true for me: I allowed him to cancel our dates in the last minute; I allowed him to prioritize his exgirlfriend and continually break his promises; I allowed him to ignore me for days, not answering to any of my messages. Still I came back for more, not wanting to be alone again, clinging to the little signs of affection he was showing me occasionally. I readily turned him into the center of my life and focused all my thoughts on him, while he was treating me like a secondary option, to be discarded whenever he felt like it. I was too blind and too addicted to being loved that I never really took a moment to question what was going on and what I allowed him to do to me.

Having little respect for ourselves we not only accept to be treated with less than the bare minimum of consideration and affection, but it also leads us to put all the blame on ourselves. If they ignore us for days, we think we did something wrong and thereby triggered their emotional distance. If we are put into a secondary position behind exgirlfriends, we question ourselves and believe that we are just not attractive, interesting, special enough to deserve his full attention. Sometimes rationality pushes through and we realize that we are getting less than we deserve. I’ve reached that point on numerous occasions and was once led to write him an email, telling him that I felt treated unfairly and dishonestly and how much I suffered from his disregard and neglect. I got an angry reply in which he shifted a lot of blame on me. Instead of telling him to fuck off (excuse the language!), I readily accepted the blame and wrote a long email in which I apologized and begged him to forgive me for my accusations. Looking back at it now, I can only shake my head at how readily I debased myself, how I accepted blame even though the only thing I did was voice my justified concerns. I was absolutely brainwashed at the time, so blind and dependend that I blamed myself for just being honest and standing up for myself…

Even when trying to cope with the effects of emotional abuse we are often affected by our lack of self-respect and self-assurance. We readily accept the label “codependent” and hold a firm belief that we were complicit in our own abuse. We often utter phrases like “It takes two to tango” and think that we are at least equally to blame for everything that happened. It was exactly the same for me: When I started to recover I blamed myself for allowing others to disrespect me and readily thought of myself as being a codependent who needs to reassess her behavior and mindset. I still think this is partly true, but I’m slowly starting to take a stand against this kind of thinking. No matter how low the opinion is that we have of ourselves, it doesn’t mean that we deserve to be emotionally abused and exposed to all that mindfuckery and manipulation. We need to put more blame on the narcissistic abusers who took advantage of our insecurities, doubts and need for affection in order to boost their own egos! Simply labelling ourselves as codependent and blaming our own insecurities is not right. We also have to see that others took advantage of us, manipulated us, wounded us and turned us into emotional wrecks, and that it is never right to be treated that way, no matter how little self-confidence you might have…