This is one of the most common questions that comes through on my stats page, as well as when working with clients. It’s heartbreaking to hear this question asked with such heartfelt emotion. Those who’ve been exploited by a Narcissist or other cluster-b disordered person just can’t seem to wrap their minds around the fact that their husband/wife/fiancé/partner simply moved on without missing a beat…which to the victim makes it seem they are worthless; not worth the time of day.
I asked this same question myself when I separated from my Ex.
What we usually don’t comprehend in the beginning is that the Narcissist hasn’t just left us. He or she was already gone early on in the relationship.
If we think back to everyday life with the Narcissist (not including love-bombing and hoovering phases), it becomes clear that the relationship was one-sided emotionally, physically, and often financially as well (the general exception being the cerebral narcissist who thinks all they have to do is provide the house and vacations, all for the sake of image).
I think the more applicable question is…how come I’m not being rewarded for my efforts? Why, after all these years of sacrificing my own needs, catering to them as though they were royalty, over-forgiving, and taking care of this person from A-Z, am I not getting some sort of reciprocation?
Sadly, this is another example of how societal, parental, and religious conditioning creates false narratives for us and taints our expectations of how life should be. As long as we try hard enough, work hard enough, and forgive enough, we will eventually be rewarded with fulfillment, right?
Only it doesn’t always turn out that way in real life…and it never turns out that way with a Narcissist.
The Narcissist knows you will keep acting with integrity, as well as continue to lead by example…while you hope that your empathy and compassion will rub off on them. If you just forgive them enough and act out of love and forgiveness, they will eventually see the light. Isn’t that what we were taught?
Yes. And that’s why it’s so hard to accept that they never reciprocated and further, went traipsing down the yellow brick road with their new supply. The crucial thing to understand is this – the very lack of feeling that enables them to move on is the very lack of feeling they had during the relationship. But since you started pointing out their flaws and making their life more difficult, the Narcissist has simply decided to move on with someone who doesn’t know them for who they really are. Plus, he or she needs someone with more energy than you since yours is almost non-existent at this point. This ensures the Narcissist will be able to extract ample amounts of supply.
They weren’t committed like you were. This is obvious in their devious behaviors such as:
- Watching porn
- Maintaining profiles on dating sites
- Pathological lying
- Facebook flirting and sexting
- Ambushes designed to shock and destroy you
- Daily verbal and emotional abuse
- Persistent name-calling and character attacks
- Smearing your name to anyone who will listen (yes, this happened even before the two of you split)
- Scheming to make you feel crazy
- Being mean to your children and pets
- Trying to convince you to believe in their conspiracy theories (you can’t trust anyone, not even your own family; everyone is determined to molest your children, so visits to your girlfriend’s house are out of the question; if people give you the “evil eye”, you will be struck down with a crippling disease or you’ll somehow break a major bone, so no going out in public without them; everyone’s talking about you behind your back, so don’t put your trust in anyone…not even at church;etc., etc.)
- Attempting to make you believe you aren’t a good parent, and that you try to overcompensate by buying your kids nice presents on their birthdays, Christmas, and other special occasions (this is so you’ll have more money left over for them)
That’s just the short list.
…and also the reasons why he or she can just leave. No matter how much they try to justify and rationalize their crimes. No matter how much they might say they still care about you after going off with a new lover. There will not be a magical day where the clouds finally part and the angels touch down on your relationship, transforming the Narcissist into a caring human being. There will be no remorse, no accountability.
So, the question isn’t really, “How can he or she just leave me?”… It’s, “How come what I’ve been told all of my life about the power of love didn’t work in my case? How come I’m not getting anything back for what I gave them? Why, after doing everything I was supposed to do, did they leave me anyway?”
The answer is simple. It’s because the Narcissist doesn’t operate with the same rules of life as you do. They don’t believe in integrity, accountability, fairness, or right vs. wrong. You will never be able to show them how wrong they are, nor will they suddenly “get it” one day. There won’t be compromise, mutual respect, an intimate bond, or life-long companionship.
However, those things can hold true if you leave the Narcissist. There are good people in the world that share your conscientious beliefs about integrity and fairness, but the Narcissist isn’t one of them and they will never have any interest in such things.
The best thing to do is leave them so you can feel good about acting with integrity instead of being angry that your conscientiousness goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Surround yourself with those who see the good in you and will lift you up.
Give yourself the gift of recovery. Go No Contact and try out The Essential No Contact Bootcamp. You get a money-back guarantee and affordable payment options so there’s absolutely no risk! Imagine yourself a year from today. Will you be lamenting over another year lost or will you be thanking your lucky stars that you made the break?