dating narcissistic abuse

6 Ways to Fail at Dating after Narcissistic Abuse (For Women)

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So you’re ready to start dating again after 9 months of successfully NOT lying on the floor in the fetal position.  You’ve stopped crying over dog food commercials and you think you’re ready to get back into the dating pool.

You put on your itty-bitty, yellow polka-dot bikini (underneath the Eskimo suit) and feebly make your way over to  You see a few profiles that look okay and you “favorite” them so you can check them out again later. 

As you’re logging off, you see an article from a popular dating advice guru on How to Catch and Keep Him Forever.  You click on the article and realize you have a LOT of work to do to be ready for dating.  You sign up for the newsletter and those of ten other dating gurus that promise to make you the apple of every man’s eye, even if he’s only seen you from across the room for less than thirty seconds.

Each newsletter tells you to not be clingy, needy, or make him feel suffocated.  You must be grounded, yet fun and flirty.  You should find out what clothes and hairstyles he likes…but, you must do so with the understanding that he might be seeing other women, so you need to suck it up and be the epitome of emotional maturity while he decides which of you he wants to be with.

Don’t fall into this trap.  While some dating advice “gurus” do offer useful information regarding Do’s and Don’ts, it’s mostly a conditioning trap and one best avoided, especially if you have people-pleasing tendencies.

Dating After Narcissistic Abuse – A Woman’s Field Guide

dating narcissistic abuse

Instead of signing up for programs that guarantee you will find, catch, and keep a man in less than thirty days, you should work on any vulnerabilities you have.  Try to eradicate the hurtful comments that keep playing through your mind, focus on your strengths, and view yourself through fresh eyes.

It’s true that no one wants a clingy, needy, or possessive person as a partner, whether they’re a man or a woman.  If you believe you fall into this category, it means you’re operating out of fear and distrust because of past relationships.  If this has been a pattern for you, it’s likely because you’ve always put others’ needs before your own, failed to establish mutually beneficial boundaries, and thus, felt resentful and taken advantage of. 

In one form or another, you subconsciously felt that you had no choice in the matter, so you just accepted this unacceptable behavior.

But you do have a choice.  If anyone tries to make you feel otherwise, they are not the right person for you.

The Sinful Six

So how do you get back out onto the dating scene without making fatal mistakes?  Following are six things that are guaranteed to set you up for failure if you haven’t done the necessary self-work before diving back into the dating pool:

1- Not being honest on your dating profiles or in initial communications.  If you only went skiing that one time seven years ago, don’t list it as a hobby.  If you have children, say so.  Don’t wait to spring it on someone after five dates because it could be a deal-breaker.  Don’t post a photo of yourself that’s ten years old or post pics of yourself in a bathing suit when you were twenty-seven before you had kids.  That’s just not being honest, and the person will see you eventually, anyway. 

Doing those things only makes it seem you aren’t comfortable with who you are now.

Instead:  If you’re an introvert who loves reading and loathes crowds, be honest about it.  Put yourself out there in your truest form.  Be genuine so they can fall for the real you.  (Tip – if a potential match asks you to send a bunch of pictures of yourself, delete that person from your list.  While you should only post current pics that illustrate you in your natural state and surroundings, anyone who asks for more pics before meeting you first is shallow and probably a narcissist).

2- Getting sloshed and having sex on the first dateWorse:  Getting sloshed, having sex on the first date, and calling him twenty times the next day.

Instead:  Make a rule to not have sex with anyone until you are sure you’re in a mutually exclusive relationship.  One that’s built on a solid foundation of being your authentic self.  Let the relationship flow naturally without feeling the need to control your new partner. 

If you feel clingy or needy, you’re not ready for a relationship yet.  Let your new date know that you need to slow things down and then work on your self-esteem.

3- “Imprinting” onto the first person you go out with.  Logically, there is no reason to expect someone you’ve just met to enter into an exclusive relationship with you.  Even though your first few dates might go swimmingly, don’t make any assumptions.  If your date wants to be exclusive after one date, run fast in the opposite direction because this is unhealthy and one of the red flags of a manipulator.

Instead:  Dating is a time to get out and meet new people.  Just as your date knows nothing about you…you know nothing about them.  If you feel clingy after meeting someone once or twice, it means you’re still looking outside of yourself for validation and you have more work to do in this area. 

Self-validation takes work.  If you’re not doing the work, you’ll always be looking outside of yourself for your worth.  If this describes you, you’re not ready for dating yet.  

4- Stalking your new date online.  Seriously, this one speaks for itself.  You’ve got serious abandonment and self-esteem issues.

Instead:  Stop dating, see #2, and find a good therapist.

5- Subscribing to every dating newsletter you can find to morph into the “perfect date”.

Again, some of the dating experts out there offer great advice when it comes to expectations and presenting yourself as high-value.  But, if you’ve recently come out of an emotionally abusive relationship, your perception may not be healed enough for you to consider dating yet.  Narcissistic and emotional abuse may have altered your perception in a way that could cause you to attract the same kind of manipulative individual.  

Instead:  Trying to be something you’re not is tiresome.  Furthermore, you shouldn’t be focused on what someone else wants in a partner.  You should focus on what YOU want in a partner.  You still need to maintain dignity and emotional maturity, but if you’re a blue jeans and flip-flops kind of gal, don’t go out and buy a bunch of strappy sandals and slinky dresses in an effort to attract the wrong kind of guy.  Sure, you want to look your best, but you also want to be yourself, not someone’s Barbie. 

If a guy insists on adornment in regards to hairstyle and wardrobe choices, he’s shallow and you need to Pass Go and Collect $200.

6 – Talking about your Ex or past relationships.

Talking about Exes during a first date is not cool.  Negativity has a way of coming back around on you and manifesting in your life when you promote it by speaking and thinking bad things.  If you’re at all familiar with energy vibrations and manifestation, talking about Exes on a first date is like casting a curse on any future you have with the person sitting across from you.

Instead:  Dating someone new is supposed to be about growing, learning to trust, and moving forward.  Don’t ruin your chance of a possible good thing by constantly talking about your Ex or what you don’t like about past partners. Doing so could make it appear that you have issues with control and low self-esteem.  It isn’t attractive. 

On the flip side, if your new date is bleating on about their Ex, gently try to redirect them to a different topic.  If it doesn’t take, wave down the waiter and ask for your check.  Not only because they clearly aren’t ready to date, but it’s also one of the top red flags of an emotional predator.

The Truth

No one is going to rescue you.  You cannot depend on another person for your fulfillment.  That has to come from inside of you.  Too many people get back into dating before they’re ready because they think someone else will make them feel better or take care of them and it almost always leads to disappointment.  All the new age stuff about mindfulness and loving yourself isn’t baloney.  Those are two things that will help you to attract the right kind of relationships, romantic or otherwise.

If you know you need to purge the horrific addiction and devastating emotional and spiritual contamination from a narcissist, then please consider The Break Free Program.  Healing is a process that can open up some truly transformative revelations and opportunities when we give ourselves the chance to recover and thrive. 

You can find out more about The Break Free Program by clicking this link.

I look forward to answering your comments and questions about this sensitive topic.

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Anna says June 17, 2014

I just really cannot see myself traditionally “dating” again. I think the next go-round, and I do believe that there will be love for me again, that I will not meet the person at some bar or online. I want to find a FRIEND, someone I can learn to love and trust first and then fall in love with. Maybe it will be at work, at some spiritual retreat (because they will have to be spiritual) or who knows where, but I have to know what kind of person they are first. They can’t just be some anonymous person on the internet who could be making up/saying most anything about themselves. I need to see them over a number of situations and need to know them as more than just some profile picture. Only then will I know if they are a person I can trust.

    michelle says February 28, 2017

    I don’t think its the method of dating so much as to if I am truly ready. I met someone online years ago who wanted a friendship first. He was not looking to rush anything. We ended up in a relationship years later. I think its about where you are personally, listening to your inner voice and simply knowing your intention. People reveal who they are all the time…we simply must be willing to listen.

gracielynne62013 says April 5, 2014

Excellent advice. I will bookmark this and when I get my reblog working right will reblog. Thanks for the guiding light in a dark and messy world.

Carrie Reimer says April 5, 2014

I say Amen to that!
If we are to avoid getting hooked up with another loser we have to take control of how we date and stop trying to “catch” a guy. If I may add one more point? Don;t dump your girlfriends for a guy. So many times the woman meets a guy and takes on his friends and her g/f’s get stuck on the back burner until the guy turns out to be a jerk and then she’s calling her friends again. G/f’s are so important and a woman should always make time for her friends. If the guy can’t handle it or doesn;t like the friends then you best be taking another long look at the guy because if he doesn’t like your friend there is a veyr good chance he is not going to like you down the road.
AND…………if he doesn’t care enough to make sure he calls in plenty of time for a date and you have plans, stick to your plans, otherwise he will think he can snap his fingers and you’ll come running. Sure you want to see him but do you want to be sitting home waiting for him forever more?
A lot of times we teach people how to treat us. In the beginning we want to be so agreeable and easy going but it can bite you in the ass later because he is on his best behavior also and if leaving you sitting until the last minute is his best behavior just wait until he gets to know you.
REspect yourself and do not accept anything less than total respect.
Great post Kim!!

    Kim Saeed says April 5, 2014

    Awesome input, Carrie…I may just go in and edit the article to include this info! So. very. true!

threekidsandi says April 4, 2014

Very good reminders, thank you!

persiakarema says April 4, 2014

Brilliant post! Sound advice.

StrongerSoulSurvivor says April 4, 2014

Great, sensible advice Kim which I plan to ‘favourite’ for when I’m ready to get back in the water. I think I like ‘Be honest’ best. That’s kinda where I’m at right now – I am who I am and I won’t pretend otherwise.

KarinKateriKei says April 4, 2014

Wonderful post Kim! I’m dipping my toe into the dating pool and wary of piranhas. Coming out of the abusive relationship, I’m noticing that I’m much more wary but certainly better informed. After ending the previous very long (and normal) relationship, much of this would be good advice in general. Thank you as always for your insight.

Anna says April 4, 2014

Awesome advice that I will heed when (if?) I start dating again!

armyofangels2013 says April 4, 2014

Authentic love ONLY for me! It doesn’t have to come from a potential life partner…I think I knew these things…but ended up with an abuser anyway…MUST work on ME!!!! (Note to self)

    Kim Saeed says April 4, 2014

    Me, too. It’s a hard lesson that many of us have to learn. You know, it wasn’t just the abuse from the abuser…it’s the life-long conditioning that made many of us so insecure, we stayed in the abusive relationship for too long…

      armyofangels2013 says April 4, 2014

      Absolutely! In my case, Generational patterns of codependency and domestic violence…I am determined to break the cycle by working on everything within my power! Maybe generations to come will experience none of this…it will look like a page out of a history book!

happinessweekly says April 4, 2014

I learned the hard way too!!!! Whatever did happen to that knight in shining armour???

    Kim Saeed says April 4, 2014

    I know, right? I’ve heard of his existence, but haven’t seen him with my naked eye 😀

navigator1965 says April 4, 2014

Superb post, Kim. This is advice to live by.

    Kim Saeed says April 4, 2014

    Thanks, Navigator!

      navigator1965 says April 4, 2014

      You’re welcome. Just calling it as I see it.

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