Being Drawn to the Narcissist’s Mysteriousness and Unpredictability

One of the many things I’ve learned about narcissists is that nothing about them is consistent, predictable, save and ordinary. Their manners, the stories they tell, their behavior towards us are always characterized by mysteriousness and unpredictability – and it is exactly this shadowy aura that often attracts us to them. Being with them is never boring, as they are always capable of suprising and exciting us – and of involving us in an emotional rollercoaster ride. The excitement makes it very hard for us to let go and to acknowledge just how harmful their inconsistency is for our well-being. We are extremely drawn to their eccentricities and their anomalous behavior because it provides a welcome diversion. Consequently, after the end of our relationship to the narcissist we often feel empty and desolate – and we come to regret the fact that we have to return to our seemingly eventless, monotonous and lonely existence.

What adds greatly to the mysterious aura surrounding the narcissists is that there is no way of knowing what exactly is going on in their minds, They are absolutely inconsistent in their words and actions. On some days they shower us with affection, are extremely loving and passionate and make us feel elated. Then again they ignore us for days, serve us with lies and excuses and expose us to pain, drama, insecurity and triangulation. There is no way to figure out the rationale behind their fickleness and their changing attitude and conduct towards us. However, we often find ourselves drawn to the excitement that is an effect of their impenetrability – at least this was the case for me. On the one hand, I suffered greatly from the state of not knowing. On the other hand, I got hooked on the excitement that came from being with him. Nothing about him was predictable, save and easy – and paradoxically I learned to live with it, even treasure it.

Another aspect that contributes to their special aura is that they always have uncommon and exciting stories to tell. Most of them are probably greatly exaggerated or even entirely fabricated – but we are not aware of it while we are caught in our blind pursuit of them. We love listening to them talking about their dramatic earlier relationships, their messed-up childhoods, their strained relationships to their parents and siblings, the “exciting adventures” they have made in the course of their lives. My narcissist had a seemingly endless supply of dramatic and exciting stories to tell – and I was naive enough to appreciate his tales and to think of him as mysterious and special because of them. His stories led me to be all the more attracted to him and – cheesy as it may sound – I threw caution to the wind and ignored all the red flags that were staring me straight in the face. There was also a hint of mysteriousness in the messages he sent me. Sometimes he wrote long sermons – often written in a very elaborate register. Then again, he would sent me messages consisting of only a few ambiguous words. I would then rack my brain trying to figure out the intent of his message – and while doing so I often found myself in a strange state of agony and excitement. Nothing about him was unambiguous and unobscured. And while his shadiness was causing me pain, it also excited me at the same time.

One thing is very true for most narcissists: They are definitely not like your average guy. Almost everything they say or do is unusual, dramatic and inconsistent. The narcissist I dated presented me with an abundance of eccentricities. Some of them were endearing, others were causing me heartbreak and pain. He often started singing out of nowhere – which I loved. Once, after his exgirlfriend had again harassed him (and me), he told me to punch him in the stomach so he would get distraction from the emotional pain (Of course I didn’t comply). He often dragged me into deserted street corners to passionately kiss me. At times he showered me with beautiful and unusual compliments. He loved to make very philosophical comments. He wrote the most exciting, ambiguous and beautiful messages and had me reflect on them for hours. I could talk to him about my favorite books and movies, about my passions. We sometimes had long and animated conversations during which it seemed as if our minds and hearts were perfectly in tune. I couldn’t help but fall in love with every single one of these aspects – and now I curse myself for having been so dewy-eyed as to allow his eccentricities to make me turn a blind eye to all the red flags, broken promises and the exposure to unnecessary drama and pain.

To make a long story short, I was fascinated by him and found his unpredicability and mysteriousness alluring. Being with him was never boring, and I could always expect another grand story, another dramatic revelation, another unusual gesture. He had an aura of distinctiveness around him and I was extremely drawn to it. Unfortunately, this attraction and my longing for excitement made me deactivate my rationality and accept a lot of shady behavior. As I was so drawn to his mysteriousness and his unusual conduct, I repeatedly let him hurt me, break his promises and treat me with disrespect and neglect. I endured his long stretches of silence and detachment by looking forward to receiving new samples of his eccentricity. I was often close to leaving him because I could no longer endure the pain. However, something always kept me going. I couldn’t bear letting go of all the excitement that he somehow added to my life. Holding on to the excitement, however, meant having to go on enduring a lot of pain and disappointment. They were the consistent byproduct of the excitement that came with being with him. And I was willing to take up with all of it for far too long.

I’m really not proud of myself for falling for the narcissist’s special aura and the excitement he provided. I’ve come to interpret my penchant for his ambiguity and drama as a sign of weakness. However, there is no use in denying the fact that I was extremely attracted to him and that this attraction made it very hard to let go. Everything about him was dramatic, unusual and exciting, every aspect of his life and behavior was laden with mysteriousness and ambiguity. And I made it my task to figure him out. I was intrigued by it and lost my ability to think rationally in the process. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I also know that there are many others out there (especially love addicts and codependents) who made similar experiences. The narcissist’s tendency to act in a mysterious and inscrutable way has the power to get us hooked – at least it had that power in my case. Ever since I’ve cursed myself for having been so naive and weak to let his shadiness cloud my rationality.

Now that everything went down the drain – and my well-being with it – I am forced to reassess my penchant for ambiguity, mysteriousness and eccentricity. All those traits usually go hand in hand with shady and disrespectful behavior. I came to regret the fact that I was drawn to his shadiness and the excitement and drama provided by him. It is a pattern that I can also discern in my previous relationships. Right from my first boyfriend to the narcissist – with only one exception – the men I’ve been with all showed signs of eccentricity, shadiness and haughtiness. Being with the narcissist has finally opened my eyes to the fact that what I apparently crave is excitement and unpredictability – and that normalcy, stability and security do not have the same appeal to me. It is painful to admit it and it makes me doubt myself – but at least, I’ve finally been able to realize this flaw in me and I can now start to work on it. My heart has been severely broken due to my tendency to fall for toxic people and the excitement they provide. It has made me reassess my attitudes towards relationships and the faulty expectations I bring into them. I’ve finally been forced to admit to these flaws. Having experienced the pain and despair that can stem from them was an eye-opening experience. I no longer value shadiness and ambiguity, I no longer want to be blinded by excitement, I no longer want to put up with neglect and distance.

The narcissists may be able to sweep us off our feet with their passionate, unusual manners. However, what usually follows in the wake is pain and heartbreak. Often, when they reveal their true colors, it is already too late, as we are in too deep and unable to let go. I think I’ve learned my lesson: I never again want to be so starved for excitement that I’m willing to accept neglect and detachment in my pursuit of it.

Leaving the Door Ajar for the Narcissist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Get Closure After Having Been in a Codependent Relationship with a Narcissist

Getting closure after having been in a codependent relationship with a narcissist is really hard to achieve for several different reasons. First of all, because his behavior has been so ambiguous, damaging and inconsistent, we are unable to make sense of it. However, we feel that in order to be able to get closure, we need to figure out why he treated us the way he did. Only if we find the rationale behind his conduct, will we finally find the capacity to let him go and move on – at least that is what we assume. As we are unable to find the answers to the questions that are still holding us back, and that still keep our minds focused on the narcissist, we cannot move on. Throughout the relationship the narcissist has been unable to provide us with satisfying explanations for his damaging way of treating us. Consequently, we still try to find the answers we are looking for ourselves – a very futile endeavor! Long after the relationship has ended we still rack our brains with agonizing thoughts and blame our own inadequacy for its failure. Even when our most trusted friends or our family members tell us that we are not to blame, but have simply been involved with an unavailable exploiter of our affection, we refuse to fully believe them and are still convinced that we are undeserving of love and affection.

Another reason why getting closure after narcissistic abuse is so difficult is that they often left us completely confused, shattered and on the brink of a nervous and emotional breakdown. Because they have been manipulating us for a long time, have treated us with disregard, neglect and distance, and nearly drove us insane with their mind games, ambiguity and inconsistency, we feel completely drained of energy after the end of the relationship. In our fragile state we are unable to assess what has happened to us with a clear and calm mind. Instead, in our confusion and exhaustion, we tend to downplay the damage they have done to us, idealize the “wonderful time” that we had with them, and nearly lose our minds longing for them. It takes a very long time to gain the ease of mind to finally be able to rationally assess the role that both we and the narcissists played in the relationship.

A third reason why getting closure is enormously hard to achieve is that they often abandon us very suddenly without offering a satisfying explanation for their conduct. After we have been struggling for months to keep the relationship alive, sacrificing everthing we had – including our own emotional well-being – we are shocked and paralysed when they just leave  without even having a comforting word to offer to us. Their sudden withdrawal and abandonment of us is the final proof of their cold indifference, and we are utterly devastated – feeling discarded, disrespected and lonely. The damage done to us by their sudden disappearance and apparent carelessness will keep our minds busy for weeks – and even months – to come, as we try to find the answer to the question of why we deserved to be treated so disrespectfully. After all, haven’t we endured their unavailability, ambiguity and deceit for months? And this is how they repay us and how they reward our patience and endurance? We just can’t deal with the pain coming from the realization that while we were prepared to give and love to the point of self-sacrifice, they don’t have a problem with abandoning us. We often don’t even get a proper goodbye or an apology (or explanation) for their unavailability and the endless pain they inflicted on us.

This is exactly what happened to me, and even though I have already come a long way on my journey to recovery, I still find myself struggling because of the careless way in which he abandoned me. It came so suddenly that it brought me to the brink of a complete breakdown. He had made plans to spend two days at my place with me and my family. However, just a few hours before he was supposed to arrive, he told me he couldn’t leave because his exgirlfriend was hysteric and freaking out due to the fact that he intended to spend time with me. He apologized and told me he would visit me the following weekend to make up for it, and that he would tell his exgirlfriend that he would be visiting his sister in Berlin (in order to avoid further confrontations). However, when the weekend finally arrived, he decided to actually go and visit his sister and cancelled his plans to come to my place again. He assured me he would really make up for it and visit me once he got back from Berlin. He promised that he finally wanted things between us to be relaxed, fun and easy-going, and that he valued and respected me, and genuinely cared about me and my feelings. However, once he got back from Berlin, he told me – without offering an explanation for it! – that he had decided to leave Germany for good and fly back to the U.S.

I can’t find the words to describe the pain I felt at that moment. I allowed him to cancel on me three times in a row. However, I still clung to the hope that he would finally follow through with his promise to come back for a visit to me and my family. Being so suddenly confronted with the fact that he intended to leave was completely paralysing and sucking the life out of me. He told me he wanted to keep an open mind about the future and that he would maybe be able to offer me a place to stay in the U.S. I communicated the wish to see him before he left in order to say goodbye. However, I would never hear from him or see him again. He just ignored my last message and left three weeks later without uttering one word of goodbye – without offering an apology for all the pain, disappointment and heartbreak he caused me.

His cold indifference and disgraceful abandonment of me completely ripped my heart apart. I spent weeks racking my brain, trying to find an answer or explanation for his wordless, sudden departure. Because of his disrespect and inconsideration, I was completely convinced that I was undeserving of affection. After a few weeks I was so hurt by his silence that I wrote him one final email, pointing out to him how disappointing, cowardly and disrespectful it had been of him to just leave without saying goodbye. I am not proud of writing that email, but considering how hurt, angry and despaired I was, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I couldn’t resist the urge to tell him. Of course it was a futile endeavor, because a narcissist will never give you the answers that you are looking for. He replied that it was wrong of me to accuse him, that I had hurt his feelings with my email, and that I was disgraceful for having forwarded his emails to others – something I had never done, and had never even considered for a moment. So as I could have expected beforehand: He didn’t provide me with explanations, he didn’t offer an apology – but instead, he accused me of things I hadn’t even done.

I had the final proof that a narcissist will never help you to finally get closure and move on. They cannot provide us with answers and explanations. All they ever do is deny their own responsibility, shifting blame to others, and feed us with lies and excuses. I held on for too long to the idea that I would get an explanation – maybe even an apology – from the narcissist I dated. However, even my final act of trying to get these things from him didn’t yield any satisfactory results – in fact I had to deal with the additional pain of being called disgraceful for something I hadn’t even done in the first place.

Consequently, you have to be the one providing closure and peace of mind to yourself. The narcissist will never help you get closure, as he is unwilling and unable to offer explanations for his behavior, or to provide you with an apology for turning you into an emotional wreck. It took me a long time to realize that it was the wrong strategy to hope to get closure by turning to the narcissist for an explanation or an apology. After receiving that final email I was completely assured that only I had the power to make me regain my strength and emotional well-being. As I was so completely shaken and despaired because of his cold indifference and my complicity in my own emotinal abuse, I decided to read a lot on the topics of codependency and narcissism. Finally being able to put a label on what had happened to me was the most important step on my way to recovery. While I was still in a relationship with him, the thought that he might be a narcissist never occurred to me. However, I was immediately willing to attach the label “codependent” to me after the breakup. Reading a lot on codependency, I learned that we often attract narcissistic men who regard us as perfect target group for their manipulations and ambiguity. Because I could finally assess the nature of my relationship rationally, I had completed an important step to getting closure.

Getting over a codependent relationship with a narcissist can be extremely difficult. As a result of all the ambiguity, disappointments, deceit, and manipulation, we are often completely confused and paralysed at the end of the relationship. We are desperately looking for answers, and in our despair, we think that the only one who can provide us with them is the narcissist. However, just as was the case during the relationship, the narcissist is unable and unwilling to provide us with a satisfying explanation for his shameful conduct and his sudden departure. We can therefore only get closure, if we finally realize that we are the ones responsible for our own well-being and emotional advancement. We have to let go of the misguided belief that only the narcissist can provide us with solutions. We also have to see that we will likely never get the answer for why we were treated with neglect and disrespect – more often than not, the narcissist doesn’t know the answer himself. We can only gain peace of mind if we manage to let go and focus all our energy on ourself. We have to try to find the rationale behind our own behavior and understand why we allowed others to abuse us so shamelessly without showing much resistance. The only persons we have the power to change is ourselves. Realizing that only we can provide ourselves with closure is pramount to our ability to heal.

Another important lesson we have to learn in order to be able to get closure is that there is nothing unlovable about us, and that we were not abandoned because we are essentially bad people who do not deserve to be cared for and respected. The only mistake we ever made was loving someone with all our hearts, who didn’t know how to reciprocate those feelings. The fact that we were abandoned in such an inconsiderate way does not reflect badly on us, but on the narcissist who was unable and unwilling to value the genuineness and purity of the love we had to give. Realizing this has, for me, been one of the most important steps to getting better.

Narcissistic Behavior 14: Detachment

One of the characteristics of narcissistic behavior that can be emotionally damaging to an enormous extent for those involved with them is their detachment. Narcissists don’t seem to be able to feel with the same depth and purity than we do. Being with them, there is always the nagging feeling that we seem to be far more dedicated to the relationship and emotionally attached to the narcissists than they are to us. We are racking our brains about why it is that they can be so distanced and show so little involvement, while we are giving them all we have to give and often love them with all our hearts. It is pure agony to have to realize that the person you so ardently love and for whom you would do almost everything, is not nearly as emotionally involved and likely doesn’t share your feelings – at least not nearly to the same extent. To shield us from the pain that comes with this realization we often push it aside, cling to the little breadcrumps of affection they are throwing us and completely deny their lack of involvement. Our denial, however, does not solve the problem. Because we are unwilling to accept that they are not nearly as attached as we are, we are disappointed over and over again – whenever their lack of attachment becomes evident once more.

Even after having been disappointed numerous times, we still hold on to them. It would be unbearable for us to admit the evidence for the fact that they don’t really show any signs of a deep emotional attachment to us. We cling to the memory of those moments in which they showed us little signs of their supposed affection and think that if we only hang on, be patient and enduring, things will get better. We fool ourselves by holding on to the conviction that they might be emotionally attached to the same extent as we are, but they are just unwilling to show it. In our belief that some people are just unable and unwilling to show the real depth of their feelings, we deny all the facts that support their detachment and carelessness. We go on denying until we reach the point where their detachment becomes so obvious that even we can’t manage to turn a blind eye to it. By then we often have already invested so much into the relatioship – so much dedication, heartbreak, patience, understanding and energy – that we can’t stand the thought of just letting go. Consequently, in spite of clear evidence for their emotional detachment and lack of involvement, we still can’t let go of them. We hold on and debase ourselves in a misguided belief that our love for them can do miracles, and that if we just give them enough time, they will gradually learn to be as emotionally involved as we are.

Clinging to someone with all your strength, who doesn’t really have any use for our feelings and doesn’t know in the least how to return them is a crippling and heartbreaking experience. I held on tightly to someone for months, who clearly wasn’t nearly as emotionally attached as I was. For me, he became the center of my existence. He would always be my first thought in the morning and the last thing on my mind before I fell asleep. I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible, call him whenever I had a spare minute. In short, I felt for him with all my heart and was dedicated to a point where I was beginning to sacrifice my own well-being. In the beginning, it never even occurred to me that I might be investing much more into the relationship than he was. It never crossed my mind that I might not be his first thought in the morning, that his heart was not really in it, and that while I was giving all I had, he was only prepared to give whatever it took to keep me going.

After a certain amount of time, I began to sense his detachment and I slowly became aware of the fact that while I was prepared to sacrifice almost everything for him, he was always keeping a certain distance. On some level, I knew that I couldn’t be sure that he even had deep feelings for me. However, this realization was so painful that I kept pushing it aside. I tried to ignore all of the signs of his lack of emotional involvement and instead clung to the little breadcrumps of affection I received once in a while. My unwillingness to accept his distance led me to endure a lot of shady and ambiguous behavior patiently and with endurance. I somehow learned to live with the fact that while I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible, he seemed to be okay with seeing me about once a week. I also somehow came to terms with not being able to talk with him on the phone as often as I would have liked to. Whenever I received a message or a call from him it was really special for me. I would read his text messages and emails over and over again, because they were often everything I had to keep me going. They kept me in the illusion that on a deeper level he felt just as stongly for me, as I did for him, and that he was just unable to show it.

When I once complained about seeing him so seldomly, he only told me that he would also love to see me more often, but just didn’t have the time. I then told him that I had the nagging feeling that I seemed to care much more about seeing him than he did about seeing me. He denied it and just coldly stated that he had learned to live with shitty situations and therefore wasn’t so affected by not being able to see me that often. I once wrote him an email in which I complained about his lack of dedication. He accused me of being clingy and of overreacting. I accepted his explanations, lies and exuses over and over again. However, during the entire relationship I always sensed his emotional detachment as I got enough evidence for it on a daily basis, and just couldn’t deny all of it without taking a certain amount of damage. As a result, I was never really happy with him. On a deeper level I was aware that I was a 100% dedicated to him and loved him with all my heart, while I didn’t really get much in return. At times I was angry with myself for being so weak and for allowing myself to care so much and to love so ardently, when he apparently didn’t know how to reciprocate those feelings. I sensed that I would eventually get my heart broken, and still didn’t manage to let go and save myself.

My sadness and despair increased gradually, and it took me months to finally reach the point where I could no longer turn a blind eye to what was going on. I had an eye-opening epiphany while I was on a short trip with my best friend to Hamburg. We had a great time together and made so many fun experiences. One evening, when I lay in the hotel bed, I had the deep wish to call him and tell him about everything I had experienced. It would have been the most natural thing to do. It was another proof of the depth and intensity of my feelings for him: He was the one I so desperately wanted to talk to to share my experiences, because he was the one I cared about the most. However, I nearly choked on the realization that I would somehow not dare to call him and that during our relationship I never dared to just call him spontaneously. He had managed to keep his distance so well that I never dared to approach him. He was always the one approaching me and I had just accepted it without even giving it a second thought. On that night in Hamburg, painful realizations were nearly crushing me. It had finally become so very evident to me how distant we had always been to each other and that what we had was not even a real dedicated relationship. All of a sudden, I knew that I could not and would never be able to rely on him for emotional support. I understood that he would never be willing to give me what I needed: dedication, affection, honesty and consideration. The signs had been there right from the beginning and it took me several months to finally realize that he was detached and distanced and unable to appreciate and reciprocate my deep, loving feelings for him. While I had loved him unconditionally and with all my heart, he always managed to keep his distane and deny me the emotional support that I needed.

Being with a narcissist will more often than not leave you feeling empty, lonely, shattered and on the brink of an emotional breakdown. Our relationships with them are almost always one-sided, as they are unable and unwilling to feel with the same depth and dedication as we do. We tend to invest all we have in them and love them to an extent where we sacrifice our own wishes, needs and ambitions. Their detachment often is very evident, but we somehow manage to turn a blind eye to it, in order to shield us from pain. However, on a deeper level we are often very much aware of their lack of commitment, and it keeps us from feeling satisfied and happy. Having to accept their lack of emotional involvement is heart-breaking. How can it be that while we love them so ardently, and bear everything with patience and endurance, they are unwilling to reciprocate those feelings? We rack our brains in order to find an answer. We are convinced that we are the source of the problem, as we are just not deserving of real love and dedication. It would never occur to us that we are in a relationship with a narcissist who doesn’t have any use for our love. In a relationship with a narcissist you will never get what you want. Whenever you get too attached, they somehow manage to keep their distance. They cannot give you the stability, commitment and emotional involvement of a real relationship. We should therefore always try to face the facts – no matter how painful they are – instead of living in denial. We can try as hard as we want to, but we will never be able to turn them into the loving and dedicated partners that we are looking for. Having to beg for love and attention clearly doesn’t do us any good and it is a waste of time and energy. We should never debase ourselves and dwell in agony for a relationship with someone who doesn’t know how to value our feelings and how lucky he is to be the one our affections are directed at.

Narcissistic Behavior 13: Monopolizes Conversations

Narcissists not only tend to make all the decisions in their relationships to others, but they also monopolize every conversation and turn you into a silent listener. They never seem to get tired to talk about their achievements, their problems, their life story, their jobs, and they don’t really seem to be that interested in anything we might have to contribute to the conversation. While we might, at the beginning, still try to participate actively in our conversations with the narcissists, we soon begin to abandon the attempts and accept our roles as silent listeners, nodding along smiling to whatever they have to say. The narcissists’ tendency to be the dominant part in every conversation might seem like a harmless little quirk – especially when compared to such harmful modes of behavior as their deceitfulness, inconsistency, triangulation and manipulation. However, after a certain amount of time, being degraded to silent listener can also take its toll on us. We get used to swallow our own contributions and begin to feel that we have nothing important to say. We might even end up feeling neglected and losing touch with ourselves as a consequence of not being taken seriously.

Some might argue that we are partly to blame if we allow others to be so dominant, because we apparently just don’t try hard enough to bring ourselves into the conversations. This might partly be true for some of us. Especially codependent people and people pleasers accept their role as passive listeners without much resistance. We usually have low self-esteem and as a consequence tend to believe that what we have to say is not as important, interesting or relevant. Furthermore, out of a deep wish of being polite and of pleasing the narcissists, we don’t dare to interrupt their never-ending flow to bring in our own thoughts. We are convinced that whatever they have to say is much more interesting than anything we could contribute to the conversation. We also soon come to the conclusion that it makes the narcissists really happy to talk about themselves and to have found such patient listeners in us. Because we want the narcissists to be satisfied, we stoically accept the role given to us and maybe cling to the faint hope that one day they will run out of topics and then our turn will come. As is the case with so many hopes we nourish with regard to the narcissists, we at one point have to let go of them. I have come to realize that narcissists never run out of topics and never get tired of talking about themselves. Our turn will likely never come.

The narcissist I dated monopolized almost every conversation we ever had (apart maybe from the ones on our first date). It would be unfair to suggest that all he ever talked about was himself, as he could indeed also talk very enthusiastically about a bunch of other topics. However, he clearly enjoyed presenting his life story over and over again. During the few months the two of us dated, I learned a lot about his unhappy childhood, his job, his college years, his existence as a lone wolf, his achievements, his talents, his relations to his exgirlfriend, sister, parents etc.

At the beginning I was thrilled by it. I was an ardent listener, convinced that everything he had to say was interesting, important and special. I could listen to him for hours and never get bored. I was used to being the dominant part in my conversations and interactions with others and it somehow felt nice to be the listener for once. Listening to his extraordinary stories, I got the feeling that whatever I would have to contribute to the conversation would seem boring, trivial and uninteresting in comparison. As a result, I often kept my mouth shut and contented myself with being the passive listener. However, after a few months I began feeling frustrated as a result of my conviction that I had nothing interesting to say and that I was passive and boring. I also was frustrated because I sensed that the narcissist was not really interested in anything I had to say, and that I would likely never become an active participant in our conversations. Because I got so used to swallow my own thoughts and views, I began to lose touch with myself. I was so obsessed with keeping the narcissist satisfied that I completely pushed aside my own wishes. At times, I felt as if I had completely lost my voice. Being degraded to the role of passive listener can after some time have you doubt your own value.

There was one instance where I seriously began to doubt my role within my relationship to the narcissists. We met at a café in the afternoon for a few hours and I didn’t get to speak more than a few isolated words during all that time. He talked for hours without pausing for more than a few seconds, and I don’t think he even asked me one single question. It was an eye-opening experience. On earlier occasions I had always accepted my role as passive listener without questioning it or feeling neglected. Now, for the first time, I began to realize that I was allowing him to silence me and that almost all I ever did was nodding along smiling to whatever he had to say. Of course, this realization also made me question the genuineness of his interest and affections for me. It’s not that I never tried to bring myself into the conversation. However, I soon began to be convinced that whatever I had to say was not nearly as interesting as the stories he told me. I therefore lost the courage to open my mouth and began to feel frustrated about being silent and uninteresting. He didn’t really seem to mind.

At times he would encourage me to talk more and assure me that he felt really bad about monopolizing our conversations. He said that I had lots of interesting and intelligent things to say and he would therefore want me to contribute more to our conversations. However, I began to realize that this interest in anything I might have to say was rather short-lived and superficial and that he would take over the dominant part again after only a short time. He was not only dominant when it came to our conversations, but also in every single part of our interaction. When he was at my place, he took my computer to show me youtube videos – often a seemingly endless stream of them. He seldomly asked whether I was even interested in seeing them or whether I had something I would want to show to him. After a certain amount of time, I often got tired of watching those videos. However, out of my desire of keeping him satisfied, I never protested and instead watched whatever he had to show to me.

The same behavioral pattern could also be discerned in our email correspondence. He almost never answered any of the questions I had asked him, but instead rambled on about completely different topics. Whenever I dared to complain about feeling low, he never addressed the issue but instead diverted the topic back to himself, complaining about how low he felt. He then often went on for pages about the reasons for his sadness, and about the many problems and crises he had to deal with at the moment. He would give me detailed written accounts of his daily routines, even telling me the most trivial things – such as for example that he went to the dentist (of course with a detailed description of what the dentist thought about his teeth). Of course he would sometimes ask how I was doing and assure me that he wanted to know what I was up to. However, when I told him he never would show any real interest in it and often even completely ignore it. When I, for example, told him that I had finally found a topic for my Master’s Thesis, it took days for him to even ask me what my topic was. I began to feel really frustrated about his apparent lack of interest in anything I did or had to say.

Whenever he talked about himself, he tended to do so in very favorable terms. He said, for example, that he could sing pretty well, that he knew he was a good teacher, that his students adored him, that certain women had crushes on him, that lots of people depend on him (his sister, his exgirlfriend) and that he was very good at motivating others to make the best out of their lives. In the beginning, I was impressed. However, it didn’t take long for me to become tired and skeptical about this kind of talk. He also seemed to be in constant need of positive affirmation. He wanted me to comment on his clothes or his art. He liked to make collages and would show many of them to me, almost forcing me to comment on them. I loved to look at his art. However, I soon also began to understand that he, first and foremost, showed it to me out of a deep need for positive affirmation – and that was also what he expected to get from me.

I could ramble on for pages, but I think you all got the gist: Being with a narcissist can be a frustrating and self-alienating experience. Everything always seems to be about them: They are the dominant agent in almost every aspect of our relationship with them, making all the decisions, dicating the terms, and monopolizing conversations. We begin to accept our part as silent and passive listeners and in the process we lose touch with ourselves. We want to keep them satisfied and as a result swallow our own thoughts, wishes and needs. We end up feeling frustrated due to our passivity and develop the belief that we simply have nothing interesting and intelligent to say, and that no one is really interested in whatever we would have to contribute. The narcissists might fake interest at times, but we soon begin to realize that it is short-lived and superficial, and that all they are looking for is someone who is willing to listen to whatever they have to say. We smile and nod along for months, and our self-esteem and emotional well-being shrinks. If someone just loves to talk a lot (and especially about himself) we should interpret this behavior as a clear red flag and be very alarmed. Having to fight for attention is not healthy and doesn’t do our self-esteem any good. In a healthy relationship, our partner is genuinely interested in what we might have to say and will offer us enough opportunities to bring ourselves into the conversation. We should never allow someone to silence us. We also have interesting things to say and no one should have the power to make us believe otherwise.

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 10: Obsession with Appearance

Compared to the narcissistic modes of behavior I have written about in my previous posts, their tendency to be obsessed with their appearance (and the appearance of others) seems to be pretty harmless. I would definitley agree with that assessment. While most of their habits are very confusing, painful and exhausting for those involved with them, their passion for extravagant styles of clothing and their desire to look good can be seen as a harmless little quirk. They certainly don’t hurt our feelings by wanting to look good, and more often than not, their appearance is one factor that makes narcissists so attractive to us. They are in possession of a certain aura that is just really hard to resist and that makes it hard for us to let go of them an put an end to the unhealthy relationship we find ourselves in. There is just something about them that makes us come back to them no matter how much they’ve hurt us and how many times they have already disappointed us earlier.

Even if their obsession with their appearance doesn’t really do any damage to us, I still find it worth mentioning and dedicating an entire post to it. My reason for writing about the modes of narcissistic behavior is not only to comment on how potentially harmful their conduct is for us. I also want to illustrate their less harmful quirks, as being aware of them can contribute to our ability to discern narcissists. Those quirks are also a part of the bigger picture, and knowing about them can make it easier for us to work out whether we are involved with a narcissist or not. But don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that every guy who cares about his looks is automatically a narcissist. Only in combination with some of the other modes of narcissistic behavior should an obsession with appearance be regarded as a warning signal.

The narcissist I dated was certainly obsessed with his appearance and invested a lot of effort into his style of clothing. He possessed tons of clothes and going to thrift stores was his big passion. He knew the price that he had paid for every single item of clothing that he owned and also knew exactly where he had bought it. Whenever I met him, he would point those details out to me and then he would expect me to comment on his style. I never really had a problem with it, but rather thought of it as a lovely little quirk. I found this little peculiarity lovable and endearing and never got tired of listening to him pointing out enthusiastically were he had bought his clothes.

He did not only own tons of items of clothing, but his style could also be described as being relativelly extravagant. He had some really unusual pieces of clothing that made him shine out of the crowd. Sometimes he even wore cowboy boots or a coat in a very bright color. I will never forget how he turned up on one of our dates wearing a green overall. You might be tempted to think that he surely looked ridiculous in it. But he was one of those people who could pull off something like this and not seem ridiculous doing so. If anything, it made me fall in love with him even more. He also showed a remarkable attention to detail when it came to his style. He would not have a problem wearing a hat or a cap, he had very fancy sunglasses and sometimes he even walked around with something resembling a women’s handbag. Once he even told me that people tend to mistakenly think of him as being gay, and that he had often been hit on by men in the course of his life.

When it came to his appearance he was like a chameleon. He often drastically changed his look and experimented with different styles. During the time I dated him he began to grow a beard. Sometimes he would wear really noticeable glasses, instead of putting in his contact lenses. He just really liked to be playful about his appearance and to change it on a regular basis. I was very attracted to his extravagant and changing style and thought of it as exciting and special. For me, it greatly added to the general sense of mysteriousness and excitement that was surrounding him like a cloud of perfume.

He was not only obsessed with his own appearance, but also frequently commented on the looks of others. While I was involved with him he would comment more on my appearance than on anything else. He knew every single one of my moles and scars and commented on every single part of my body (from my eyebrows to my toes). He repeatedly paid me compliments on my “good looks”. I was told on a regular basis how “pretty and sexy” I was, how he really liked my legs, my ass or any other part of my body. He never seemed to get tired of reminding me of how much I turned him on through my appearance. At times I began to suspect that my appearance was all he was ever interested in. When I carefully voiced this suspicion he pretended to be shocked, but he still went on commenting on my appearance more than on anything else.

Narcissists also have a tendency to think of themselves as very attractive and good-looking. The narcissist I dated also belonged into that category. On one of our dates he told me that he knew he could be very attractive to some women. He was also often convinced that someone had a crush on him, and he would openly admit to it by saying things like “she probably has a little crush on me”. I often knew the women he was talking about and wasn’t so sure about the correctness of his assessments. But of course I never dared to voice this suspicion, but allowed him to stay in his belief. The fact that he was assured of his good-looks was also mirrored in his tendency to use selfies as profile pictures on social media platforms. He had a different selfie for each platform (Facebook, Google Plus, Skype) and in each of those he had put on a look of mysteriousness and seriousness – gazing into the distance with a thoughtful expression on his face, pouting his lips, trying to look irresistible. Not even I could look at those pictures without thinking of them as slightly ridiculous.

I’m now at the end of my little discourse on the narcissist’s tendency to be obsessed with his appearance. As I have already pointed out earlier, this trait is not causing us any pain and therefore seems to be harmless when compared to their other modes of behavior. We often think of their obsession as endearing little quirk. More often than not we are highly attracted to the aura surrounding them as a result of their extravagant style of clothing and attention to unusual details. It makes us think of them as exciting, special and mysterious, and can contribute to our harmful habit of holding on to them for far too long. We are unwilling to let go of the exciting man who is bestowing his attention on us. We are convinced that we have made a good catch and are therefore more prepared to overlook their disrespectful and inconsiderate behavior. I was also far too distracted by the aura of singularity that was surrounding him, to find the strength and rationality to let go of him. As a result I endured months of disrespect and neglect without standing up for myself. I hope I have learned my lesson and will never again allow good looks and eccentricity to cloud my judgment and make me accept shady behavior.

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!

Effects of Being with Mr. Unavailable 4: Severe Depression and Insanity

The following lines will be dedicated to the feeling of falling into a deep bottomless pit – a feeling that I became more and more familiar with during my time with Mr. Unavailable. In the end, I was so emotionally exhausted from all the pain and drama that I sometimes feared I was on the brink of losing my sanity. Even now, almost a month after the end of my interactions with him, I still find myself randomly starting to cry (although never in public), because I’m still struggling with the effects of the ambiguous, unfair treatment I received. It’s hard to just shake off all the pain and disappointments and go on as if nothing happened. I invested so much love, dedication and patience into this relationship, trying to make it work, that having to realize that all of it was in vain was like a giant slap in the face. Despite of everything that happened, there was a time when I cared deeply about Mr. Unavailable. My feelings for him were so honest, pure and deep that I was sometimes amazed I was capable of feeling so much for another person. I would have done amost everything for that man. So when I realized that I was the only devoted person in our relationship, it was like someone had stabbed a knife into my heart.

It is a truly heartbreaking experience when the person you care so deeply about and who occupies a special room in your heart, treats you with disregard and neglect and cannot offer you certainty and stability. That insight is so painful that I pushed it aside for far too long and held on to the naive hope that things would change for the better soon. In my blind pursuit of him, I would do everything just for a chance to see him. I was chasing after him like a dog, debasing myself to make things work. I’m not proud of myself, looking at all of it in retrospect. But I guess I just wanted to be with him so much that it seriously impaired my ability to think rationally.

So when at times I didn’t get a message from him in days, I would feel so incredibly low that I spent all of these days in a state of agonizing pain and apathy. I would rack my brain thinking about why he didn’t leave me a message. I tried so hard to push the thought aside that he just might be emotionally detached and investing far less into our relationship than I did. It was too painful for me to accept. I so desperately craved to be cared for, loved and accepted that I couldn’t let the thought of him being indifferent enter my mind.

At one point, I didn’t see him for four entire weeks. He told me he was extremely busy. Then he told me he was sick. I tried really hard to believe him. When we finally agreed on a time and place to meet again, he blew me off in the last minute and I had to take the train back home without getting to see him. Sitting on that train back home, I felt like a desperate loser and I had to make a huge effort to keep myself from bursting into tears. After he blew me off, he promised we would get to see each other the following weekend. I tried to console myself by looking forward to it. When I texted him on the weekend, asking him when and where we should meet, I just didn’t get an answer. He never responded to one of my texts and ignored me the entire weekend. Of course it was a clear sign that he was avoiding me, not wanting to see me. I couldn’t get a clearer proof of his complete emotional indifference towards me. I never really wanted to accept that insight, and when he contacted me a few days later, telling me how much he wanted to see me and how he missed me, I so desperately wanted his words to be true that I went on as if nothing had ever happened.

However, that four weeks of being pushed aside and ignored had left me feeling like an empty shell. I spent most of those four weeks in agony, lying in bed, desperately waiting for him to call or leave a message. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or see anyone. I lived in complete isolation from everything and everyone around me. I’ve never felt this way before and in the end I was convinced that I was losing my mind. How could I allow myself to suffer so much because of a person that clearly didn’t care all that much? Did I have absolutely no piece of self-respect left? Those four weeks of isolation, depression and apathy were such a horrible experience that I hope with all my heart I never have to endure something like this ever again. At times the pain got so bad that it had an actual physical impact on me: I was shaking all over, throwing up and starting to lose hair. I had to force myself to not constantly look at my cell phone to keep myself from going insane.

Many of you might think that it was absolutely naive and desperate of me to keep holding on to someone who couldn’t have made it clearer that he wasn’t all that emotionally involved. It’s certainly true. But you also have to see that whenever we met he seemed to be genuinely crazy about me, and he couldn’t have been such a perfect actor and fake all of it. At times he seemed to be so sweet, caring and loving that it was hard to dismiss all of it as fake. He spent three days at my place, getting to know my parents and I could tell that he genuinely enjoyed the time and the presence of my family. All of this made it hard to accept the utter indifference and distance he would show towards me at times. I couldn’t deal with his changeableness and inconsistence: I would rack my brain because I couldn’t make sense of his behavior. At times I was convinced he cared about me, then again I thought he couldn’t care less.

To sum it up: The time I spent with Mr. Unavailable was the most exhausting time of my life. At times I was so depressed from him blowing hot and cold that I thought I was going crazy. The way I let his fickleness affect me clearly wasn’t healthy and let me to lose touch with myself. I completely isolated myself from everything and everyone, as my entire being revolved around him and his inscrutable way of treating me. I was prepared to do almost everything for him because I cared about him with all my heart. Having to accept that the person you turned into your absolute priority treats you like an option is heartbreaking and shattering.

I have to be glad that all of this is over now. It allows me to slowly gain back my sanity and to evaluate my behavior. I never want to feel this way ever again. Next time I will give my heart to someone, I have to apply a more careful screening process 😉

Effects of Being with Mr. Unavailable 1: Nagging Uncertainty

After having dwelled for quite some time on the different factors that turn a Mr. Unavailable into what he is – namely unavailabe – I will now use the next few posts to deal with what the effects of being with such a person are. I doubt that there is one single woman out there who possesses the mental strength and self-assurance to not be affected by the constant ups and downs that come with being with a Mr. Unavailable.

Especially codependent women are lacking in self-esteem and strength and are therefore especially affected by those men on two levels: First of all they are more prone to fall victim to them, because as they are not confident and happy with themselves they often attract shady guys who will only further lower their self-esteem. Secondly, as we don’t have the strongest personalities and depend on others for approval, we often are blind to the unjust treatment we receive, we are unable to free ourselves from unhealthy relationships and we tend to blame ourselves for everything that goes wrong. We often have to deal with nagging self-doubts and low self-esteem and that’s why the negative effects of being with a Mr. Unavailable hit us the hardest. We lack the self-assurance to tell ourselves that we deserve better and to free ourselves from unhealthy relationships as a consequence.

The first effect of being with Mr. Unavailables that I want to deal with is what I called “nagging uncertainty” in the title of this post. It’s one of the effects that I had to struggle with the most. I’ve already written about how changeable and fickle my Mr. Unavailable was. One day he would make promises about a bright future together…the other day he would threaten to leave the country and go back to the U.S. One day he would tell me he intended to move out of his exgirlfriend’s apartment, the other day I had to look at intimate pictures of the two of them on social media platforms. I could go on forever at this point, but I’ve already dedicated several posts to his faulty behavior and don’t want to repeat myself.

The effect of his changeableness was that I never really knew where the two of us were headed. I was in constant fear of losing him, as he continually threatened he might leave the country soon. I was never really allowed to touch upon the subject of what the future of our relationship would look like…if there was a future at all. I tried to talk to him about it, but all I good were evasive utterances and nothing that even came close to a satisfying answer.

As a result, I couldn’t even enjoy the time we spent together…not even when he spent an entire weekend at my place (which was a very special occasion as he usually had to stay at home with his exgirlfriend). There were always nagging thoughts in the back of my mind. I constantly had to remind myself that I should never allow myself to enjoy the time spent together and his presence too much. He might leave soon and it would make the farewell even more heartbreaking and devastating.

It was emotionally draining. I loved spending time with him so much, but at the same time couldn’t allow myself to enjoy it to the full extent. I even felt guilty and weak for enjoying it. I knew I was too emotionally involved and spending too much of my dedication, time and energy into a relationship that could just go down the drain at any moment. It is nerve-racking to be hanging in the air like this, not knowing where you are headed, dreading that all of your dedication and love will not be rewarded in the end, but will have been completely in vain.

Adding to this was the fact that I often wouldn’t hear from him for days. He would leave me hanging in the air, having agonizing thoughts about when I would see him again and why he didn’t leave me a message or call me. Sometimes I didn’t get to see him for several weeks. It didn’t seem to be bothering him and when I complained about feeling pushed aside he wouldn’t address my concerns. I started to realize that he was far more emotionally detached than I was, that he didn’t really allow himself to be too deeply involved with me and therefore tried to keep some distance. It made me feel even guiltier for not being able to be just as emotionally detached and to not let our interactions affect me so much. As it turned out, almost my entire being revolved around him and it was hard to bear being pushed aside and treated with distance and detachment. I clearly turned a guy into my priority who treated me like an option.

I’ve often asked myself why he even wanted to keep seeing me, given the fact that he was obviously not allowing himself to get too emotionally involved and that he must have realized how much he was hurting me through his changeable behavior. Only too late did I realize that being a textbook narcissist he didn’t really spend much time worrying about how I might feel or how much I might suffer from all of it. All he cared about was himself and apparently he found that I was too nice a distraction to just let me go out of consideration for my feelings…

As a result of all of this, I’ve spent the last five months feeling on edge. I could never fullly enjoy the time spent with him. I was never sure of where the relationship was headed. And I felt guilty for not managing to be more detached and for allowing myself to be so emotionally involved. As codependent people often do, I blamed myself for everything and tried to find the rationality behind the fact that he would often ignore me for days and keep me hanging in the air. I thought he was handling the entire situation in a more reasonable and mature way than I was and that I was the one to blame for my own misery.

Looking at it in retrospect, I realized that while I was certainly responsible for my misery to a certain extent, there were no excuses for his cold indifference. I now know that it was wrong of him to allow himself to even start dating me, given the uncertain situation he was in at the time. He should have known that he was only hurting my feelings by drawing me into his vagueness and uncertainties. He couldn’t have expected me to handle the situation in the same detached manner as he did…especially not after he was giving me hope by making plans for the future and repeatedly assuring me of his regard, respect and serious feelings for me. He was blowing hot and cold and sending me mixed messages: One day he seemed to be genuinely loving and caring, the other day he was detached and talking about leaving the country. I never knew how I should feel about any of it…

So to let you know the outcome: he is leaving the country in a few days. I’m starting to realize and accept that this is the best option for both of us. When I learned that he would leave I was at the same time utterly devastated and strangely relieved. Relieved because the exhausting and emotionally draining times of nagging uncertainties and agonizing thoughts would finally be over. I was on the verge of having a break down, because I couldn’t take it any longer. I feel strangely freed from a heavy burden that was weighing me down. Now I can finally start the healing process, take better care of myself and leave the painful emotional rollercoaster behind.