Loving the Narcissist: Patterns of Survivors

The Journey

Let me in, let me see what is inside

Let me feel that place where you are trying to hide.

Two wounded souls from different places in time

Coming together without a map or a rhyme.

As you suffer in silence, I fly around in the dark

and search for words to help you embark.

Stolen moments meet us half way

to carry us forward thru a whole new day.

Two lovers gather in the evening silence

Yearning to touch and find their way once more.

They seek solace in the arms of each other

Hoping to find what they are looking for.

The past sits on the edge of reason and doubt

While it waits to be soothed and coddled.

Confusion lurks and passions await

Time moves on in haste.

The bed feels empty; the mind is reprieved

By a thought or a gesture that provides some relief.

I wait and I ponder and I wonder as I wander

The roads are clear but the climb is steep.

The painting is finished but the oils have yet to dry.

The journey is in motion and there is still more to do.

The dancers step forward and take their cue

While the room lets out a sigh…

The sounds are released and they move

Two people together, aware of nothing

But the instruments guiding their way.

When you find yourself writing poetry, you might be in love with a narcissist. The Imposter Syndrome, Anxious and/or Avoidant types, Survivors of Narcissistic Parents, Empaths and Highly Sensitive People. These are the patterns of women that I see who attract the narcissistic partner. Often these are very strong professional women in very capable positions. Many times, they make more money than the partner and, in these cases, I see the male taking a more entitled role. For example, the male tends to become very lazy in the sense that he is not pulling an equal share of the weight, in the home, to compensate for his wife or partner making the higher income. This makes her life even more difficult.

In my office, I will see these amazing women who are doctors, therapists, lawyers, educators, and making very good incomes but they are unable to attract the healthy partner. These career women are very successful in their positions and unhappy at home. It is interesting that our society had no problems with the male being the breadwinner while the woman stayed home and became the dutiful wife. Now that the woman is a career woman, the male is not always receptive to equality. Like with the character Paul, in the movie version of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” happy to be the handsome partner to the older wealthy woman that he is living off of, we are seeing similar situations now. The pandemic has brought more and more women forward, who are now seeing the truth in the pudding. Working from home, side by side with their partners, they realize what type of worker this man really is.

Why do we love them? A client, who didn’t believe in divorce and was married for ten years told me, “I am still waiting for that man to come back that I met in the first year.” Oh, how charming and what a gentleman they can be in that first year. The honeymoon stage of the relationship. You are the Goddess, the Princess, the Queen, and are wined and dined, gifts are brought to you, how could any woman resist such a temptation? Now Adam is giving the apple to Eve. Or is he the snake? The snake would mean he was a sociopath/psychopath because he was aware of what he was doing. Playing the role of “Adam” would be more likely for a narcissist because he does not know he is a narcissist. He is playing a role that he has learned to play and has fun with, during that honeymoon stage. Until he gets bored and gets what he wants, then he settles in; to his routine.

By the time he gets what he wants, the women are so captivated by all the fun they are having. Imagine if you are in a profession that is very stressful, at the end of the day, you are not thinking about psychoanalyzing the narcissist and wondering how long this will last. You are not even thinking he is a narcissist. The hints that come your way, seem minute at first. The narcissist will make you aware of who he is in subtle ways that are not direct. You are not having a two-way conversation where he is listening to you and asking you questions to get to know you more. You are so wrapped up in the romance and how handsome and sexy he is, the smile on his face which is to die for, that you fail to notice he is not really paying attention to you. The eyes are staring but no one is home.

Narcissists can appear so fantastic and ‘normal’ when you don’t have a chance to observe their behavior over extended time. Dr. Rhonda Freeman Neuroinstincts.com

The first time the smile leaves his face and you face his wrath, you immediately go into taking this personally and trying to do better the next time. At your office, you are used to putting out fires, so you employ a similar strategy at home. In the honeymoon stage, the hints might be few and far between. You might see something that you are naïve about. He plays you with a response that seems plausible. How were you to know that his female friend (see yesterday’s blog post) is not someone he sleeps with but she sure plays an extreme role in his life. At first, it is a slight argument about her being his friend and he doesn’t sleep with her – because she has a relationship she is in and they are all “friends.” Over time, you learn they have shared a hotel room together, because it was cheaper for their job and it was separate beds. You might notice that she shows up for the holiday with a very nice gift in hand. Suddenly, you realize he is conferring with her rather than you. While this may be a platonic relationship with terrible boundaries on both people’s parts, it is not acceptable to a professional businesswoman who wants to be the priority in her man’s life.

What are you to do? You have fallen in love with this man. Maybe you now share a home together – too quickly, still in the honeymoon stage or in denial just outside of it. You may have settled for the excuses for a few years and are now married. You have a lease, a mortgage, maybe children, it isn’t an easy process. The longer you stay with the narcissist, the more you become trapped in a web of deception that you didn’t see coming from the start. If you leave, he is going to be the Knight in Shining Armor, all over again – for the courts or the people around him that he convinces. You are going to be the fool who is blamed for things that he twists into a story and no one but you is the wiser.

I have known women who have divorced with nothing; just to get rid of him. They knew, by then, he would be hard to fight in court and they didn’t have the money. Women who have money, with him, must get very strong attorneys – who understand narcissistic men. They have to get guardian ad litem’s  (GALs) involved when there are children. GAL’s are so often NOT therapists nor do they have any expertise in narcissism. I know another situation where both parent’s had personality disorders but of course the narcissist ended up winning in the end. His personality disorder trumped hers and he had the better lawyer. Divorcing is not easy with a narcissist. Thus, Wendy Behary’s book “Disarming the Narcissist,” can come in handy.

If you think the honeymoon stage ending was pivotal in the downfall of losing your lover, wait till you go through the divorce or a break-up – that he orchestrates. And just like that, you are “incapable of love,” or you are the Devil. They are going to “make your life miserable,” as has been told to me by my clients many times or they will “never speak to you again.” The latter comment can resurface later to be re-explored with an email or phone call that he makes to see if you are still waiting. I know a woman who’s boyfriend contacted her a year later, after he was now married, to ask her out to dinner. He neglected to note he was married. Sometimes the call never comes because they realize they would not get you back without an apology and they are certainly not going to do that. How easy it is to pick up some new victim, now that their ego has been strengthened by your love. That winning smile can get lots of women into bed. And it does. Next!

When it is over, you get a sense of relief. That sense is heightened depending on how many years you had spent together. If the end occurs shortly after the honeymoon stage; when you are still in the throes of naïvete, it causes the victim to be in a lot of distress and denial. If you haven’t quite connected the dots yet, you are still in love and extremely confused.

Thus, loving the narcissist is a difficult journey that will always meet with a bitter end. If we were both healthy people with healthy attachment styles, it would be a kind break-up or a mutual divorce. We would recognize that we weren’t the right people for each other and maturely come to this conclusion. How do we stop from meeting the narcissist? It takes a lot of work with a psychotherapist, who specializes in understanding the survivor of this disorder. We have to work on re-building your sense of self-worth, teaching boundaries, and helping the survivor learn, to ask for what they want. We also have to tackle how they got to this place. We do this by looking at family dynamics that contributed to shaping this person. This shows us a profile of who they were; when they met and fell in love with the narcissist.

While you may not be in Columbus, Ohio, you can take my course Surviving the Narcissist, on Udemy.com. It is inexpensive and you can take this two-hour training in your own time. It is just a start, but I recommend doing this in adjunct with psychotherapy.

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