You’ve read every online article you can find on Narcissism. You’ve printed them out and made your own binder-Bible, complete with chapters and subtitles. You know so much about the disorder, you could probably pass the Field Test for Abnormal Psychology.
All the quizzes, checklists, and worksheets you’ve completed indicate he’s a Narcissist. Your therapist says he’s a Narcissist. Your instinct tells you he’s a Narcissist. Yet, you are not fully convinced.
Add to that the fact that he has cheated on you numerous times, is gone for long stretches with no explanation, calls you names and refuses to acknowledge how much of a jerk he is.
Or worse — he’s found a new girlfriend, yet keeps you on the side for the occasional romp in the sack.
Maybe, in spite of his horrible childhood and sadistic mistreatment by all twenty-seven of his Exes, you can love him enough to help him. Maybe, just maybe, he will soon realize the error of his ways, see how much he loves you, and vow to spend the rest of his life making up for the pain he’s caused you.
Is he a Narcissist? Probably. Can he change? Almost certainly not (and does it really matter, given all the relationship crimes he’s committed?) He may give the appearance of having changed, but those incidents are simply hoovering attempts to hook you back into the relationship.
At this point, the label “Narcissist” doesn’t matter. What really matters is that in spite of the mounting evidence, despite all he’s done to desecrate the relationship you have with him, you are willing to give him another chance.
How many times must you be betrayed before finally realizing the relationship will not improve and that the person you’re sharing your life with won’t step up?
Typically, when people ask if their partner is a narcissist, they are seeking answers and/or loopholes, as follows:
- If they reach out to an expert to see if their partner might be a narcissist and the expert says “yes”, then it means the victim isn’t “bad” after all and the relationship problems are largely the narcissist’s fault. This is a normal part of the discovery and healing process.
- Others want to know if their partner is a narcissist because if the source or person they’re asking gives any indication that the abusive person MIGHT not be a narcissist (which the victim often wants to hear), then they erroneously believe there might be hope for the relationship.
Here’s the deal – It doesn’t require the labeling of your abusive partner as a “narcissist” to navigate your situation. Analyze why you feel the urge to hang onto the relationship in spite of his blatant mistreatment of you – and also explore the possibility of your being codependent.
Why Does it Matter if I’m Codependent?
Most people with codependent traits get by in life rather well and are often very successful. However, if not treated, codependent traits and behaviors worsen over time. It causes perpetual feelings of sadness that never quite go away, with most sufferers living in quiet desperation without ever really knowing why.
Curiously, many codependents aren’t aware of having these traits, often believing themselves to be strong-willed, independent, ambitious, and unwilling to take anyone’s crap. And they often DO have those traits in their professional and social relationships, but when it comes to romance, it’s often a different story.
If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, and feel a confusing compulsion to remain in that relationship, you may have codependent traits.
According to Robert Burney, author of The Dance of the Wounded Souls:
“Codependence is a deadly and fatal disease because of emotional dishonesty and suppression. It breaks our hearts, scrambles our minds, and eventually kills our physical body vehicles because of the Spiritual dis-ease, because of our wounded souls.
The key to healing our wounds is to get clear and honest in our emotional process. Until we can get clear and honest with our human emotional responses – until we change the twisted, distorted, negative perspectives and reactions to our human emotions that are a result of having been born into, and grown up in, a dysfunctional, emotionally repressive, Spiritually hostile environment – we cannot get clearly in touch with the level of emotional energy that is Truth. We cannot get clearly in touch with and reconnected to our Spiritual Self.”
It Doesn’t Matter Whether or Not He’s a Narcissist
What matters is that you are not being treated the way you deserve. What matters is that your love and patience will never be appreciated…but instead, exploited repeatedly.
He will never regret what he’s done, nor will he ever compensate you for your pain In fact, he will continue to blame you for all of his indiscretions and rage attacks, making you feel even worse about yourself, and turning your codependency into a sickness that will eventually ruin you (and your children, if any are involved).
If you suspect your partner is a narcissist based on their cruel and abusive mistreatment, then it’s best to acknowledge the abuse and the necessity to leave . Try to cease researching narcissism in hopes of finding some loophole that points to his possible recovery.
Acknowledge the abuse for what it is.
Then, make a plan to go No Contact or Modified Contact in the case of shared custody. If you do share children, start planning your escape and visit a divorce attorney. And whatever you do, don’t agree to remain “friends”. That’s Narc-speak for keeping you in his queue of bedroom buddies.
Your new life is waiting for you. All it takes is the decision to honor your right to happiness.
**I use the pronoun “he” for ease of reading. However, female Narcissists can be every bit as sadistic as the male ones (often more so) , and look prettier doing it.