signs of narcissism

How Obsessively Researching Signs of Narcissism is Ruining Your Life

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Have you found yourself obsessively researching signs of narcissism?

Did you recently leave a toxic relationship, only to continue your fact-finding mission like a journalist working for CNN?

Have you spent hours, months – or worse, years – trying to peer inside the mind of the narcissist to find out exactly what makes them tick?

Perhaps your relationships are strained because you talk constantly about your toxic Ex, and so you stay on recovery forums for hours trying desperately to gain a sense of validation.

Do you wonder how you can possibly get past the devastating pain and take your first steps towards healing already?

I hear you!

While recovery is different for everyone, there are particular things we do that hinder healing, and can even reverse any progress we may make when trying to get over a toxic relationship.

Ironically, these are activities that every person coming out of a toxic relationship does, and further, ones which we are innately wired to do!  

When it comes to obsessively researching narcissism, we sometimes believe that if we can figure out why a partner is being cruel and abusive, we can help ‘rehabilitate’ them and fix the relationship (which you’ve probably learned is impossible to do). Other times, we do it because we want to know as much as possible about the disorder to avoid attracting another narcissist into our lives.  Still yet, we may do it as a subconscious means of keeping a toxic Ex’s presence in our lives to fill the void that’s left when they (or we) leave.

Having gone through these experiences myself, I do not come from a place of judgment, but rather, I hope to save you time (and more heartbreak).  In this article, I discuss one of the top behaviors that hinder recovery and often keeps survivors from ultimately making it over the threshold to a better life, and that is…

Continuing to read an inordinate amount of material relating to narcissism.

During the discovery phase of learning why your toxic partner or Ex behaves the way they do, educating yourself about Narcissism is essential.  It aids in understanding the traits of the disorder and helps you recognize the dynamics of abusive relationships.   

However, there comes a point where further reading on the topic of narcissism becomes moot and even destructive. Moot because having a Ph.D. in narcissism won’t change the outcome of the relationship. Destructive because it keeps your focus on the narcissist, the abuse, the trauma, and, more importantly, it keeps you from focusing on healing your own core wounds.

Remember the old saying, “What fires together, wires together”?  Each time you repeat a particular thought or action, you reinforce the connection between your neurons, turning those thoughts and actions into a way of life, and thus influencing your day-to-day reality.

The truth is, you cannot truly begin your healing process while you are reading about signs of narcissism because to your subconscious mind, you are reliving the abuse. 

The more you think about your Ex, the more you’ll obsess about them and that will almost ensure that you’ll continue to attract negativity into your life (and it may also be why they keep appearing out of nowhere!) It’s one example of how your thoughts influence your reality. 

How to Stop the Madness

There are many elements involved in healing from Narcissistic abuse.  Just as with any loss, there will be periods of grieving, denial, anger, and depression. 

However, unlike a typical break-up where you would eventually get to a point of acceptance, many victims of narcissistic abuse stay fixated and obsess about their abuser, often suffering as long as ten years or more post-breakup.

Perhaps the bigger picture may help you make more empowering choices with your time.  When you compulsively research narcissism and spend hours a day on recovery forums, there are other things you may be missing out on in life, such as:

  • Time, presence, and creating fond memories with your children
  • Time with elderly relatives whom you may never see again
  • Time you could spend learning a new skill that could turn into a career 
  • Energy to take care of basic obligations
  • Founding your own business or a side gig that could provide the money to leave a toxic situation
  • The ability to fulfill your work duties for your employer due to increased sick days or weakened performance
  • Creating a healed self and doing things that could bring meaning to your life

While dealing with the unresolved trauma, cognitive dissonance, and extreme abandonment wounds in the aftermath of a toxic relationship are certainly difficult, none of these feel worse than the feeling of regret.  

A healing alternative: True healing begins with looking inside to your own inner, wounded core. Nothing outside of you will help you heal because your emotional injuries are within.

Instead of researching how the person you care about became a narcissist, the type of narcissist they might be, and where they lie on the narcissistic continuum, turn your focus onto healing your damaged self-image and healing the toxic shame that the narcissist cultivated in order to keep you dependent upon them.

Ironically, learning everything there is to know about narcissism will not be the end-all that helps you avoid attracting another disordered person into your life. Typically, all it will do is keep you bitter to the idea of ever falling in love again because you won’t trust anyone, and the real reasons that you stayed with the narcissist in the first place won’t be healed – which are your own emotional vulnerabilities that caused the consuming need for the narcissist’s approval and acceptance (which they exploited and used to their benefit).  

Then, when you do meet someone who becomes a partner, they may show signs of being a narcissist, but because your wounds aren’t healed, you may rationalize, justify, and explain away their bad behaviors.  The dynamics will feel natural to you on an unconscious level, and it will feel that the logical next step would be to stay in the relationship and go into “fixer mode”.  You may even feel like you know them from a past life – because you do.  It’s our innate drive to reenact past traumas in order to resolve them, also known as repetition compulsion and is one of the top self-sabotaging behaviors of those who’ve experienced abuse.  

Almost all toxic relationships parallel one or more that we’ve been in previously, either with parents and/or former partners.  

Lastly, if you want to join recovery forums, choose ones that have an actual healing focus, as opposed to ones where members are not engaging in healing practices of their own, are still in their toxic relationship, are not moving forward in any meaningful way, and keep you in a triggered state…which feeds more into the unhealthy obsession.  While these forums may have a place in the discovery of your partner being a narcissist, they don’t offer much benefit when you need to heal and recover.

You’ll know when it’s time to leave the abuse forums and turn your focus to healing.  The question is, will you?

Get started on your healing plan with The Beginner’s Healing Toolkit below!

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Anonymous says February 24, 2020

People want relief from the frightening experience of being at the mercy of a narcissist. It’s a terrible thing.

I did go to a therapist to deal with narcissistic abuse. But we rarely if ever talked about narcissism. The focus was on me taking a journey toward wholeness.

Here is an explanation of The Levels of Power that was given to me by my therapist. It is really good. I don’t know where this originally came from. I don’t know who came up with it. I changed it a bit to make it more readable.

Some of these things are practiced in healthy child rearing. Like giving children controlled choices. The following is in the context of therapy for narcissistic injury. I edited it a bit for clarity.

Levels of Power

First level of Power –
• Simple definition is that “A” has the ability to get “B” to do something “B” wouldn’t otherwise do by the light of their own reason.

Second level of Power – This is done indirectly
• “A” can limit the choices of “B” to those “A” wants “B” to have.
• “A” limits “B”‘s choices to a series of things “A” likes.
• “A” creates boundaries “B” must adopt. This limits “B”‘s options to things that are not harmful or offensive to “A”. Or at least to things “A” is happy with.

Third level Power –
• “A” controls the wants of “B” so effectively that “B” believes it needs what “A” says it needs, or what is in “A”‘s interests.

Now imagine you are “B”:

The first level of Power experience –
• You know “A” is doing something to you because you are aware “A” makes you do something you don’t want.

The second level of Power experience –
• You get some freedom from “A”. But you are aware it is bounded freedom. You know what the limits are, spoken or unspoken.

The third level of Power experience –
• You think you are free. But “A” controls your needs and wants. And that is REAL power because you don’t react negatively towards it.

People are searching and searching for assurance they won’t ever go through the trauma again. They are trying to arm themselves. They are trying to figure out what they didn’t know that allowed them to be used so hurtfully used by another person.

    Anonymous says September 15, 2020

    Wow just wow? this is very helpful

6 Shortcuts to Reclaim Your Inner Strength in One Day - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says October 19, 2019

[…] good news is yes, it’s possible to stop ruminating over the narcissist, but it will take time and practice.  And it all starts with training your mind to think different […]

Carolyn Stephens says September 5, 2019

I been involved with what I now know is a true narcissist I was really confused he knew just what I needed to hear treated exactly like needed I sometimes thought he could read my mind. After a few months of dating I was falling hard and he announced he thought I knew his ex wife turns out she had been a good friend several years back I lost contact. No only did I know his ex turns out we ran in the same social circles he even ones my ex husband I was dumbfounded. Figured that is how he seem to know me so well. I was wary but everyone told me he was a really great guy. We ran into his ex when she saw us she looked scared hustled over 2 rows of seats didn’t see her again I really wanted to talk to her I don’t hook up with friends ex’s was head over hills but she wouldn’t return call I should have known to good to be true. He began to cheat with nastyist spans in town leave evidence for me to find than lie and call me crazy. Made me feel like how could he want her. I’m only time he would admit cheating was when his lover told on him said things like it’s not my fault cause she approached me had a 3some with man friend and his girl friend I knew before it happened golirl didn’t know me I was bartending she started talking about it her boy friend saw me and made her hush they met at bar made me wait on them I told my man what I heard he laughed said it was a joke he took them to my house room mate heard sexual sounds told me when I got home he told all friends I needed to see a shrinkvfor accusing him of. Doing something so dirty it did sound crazy even to me his buddy knew I heard and admitted. It again he said why didvypilu ruin my life to his friend never apologized should have left then can’t say why. That’s just tiny portion of how he hurt me. This went on for years He never showed a glimmer of remorse I thought he was taking nobody could be so loving kind any have nemo remorse and sex was always hot hot hot but I never felt like he made love to me. Still big os were multiple and mind blowing. That’s hard to give up in your 30s and 40s. Finally it hit me one day not only felt no remorse I caught him smiling and sometimes he even laughed at me when I was crying and vegging for answers I left many many times he would eventually come back and ibalways was glad till have him back he would see me get happy to lower the boom hurting me worse than ever. Finally I saw a msg on his phone telling another girl that he had been searching for soul mate and she was it he also told her he loved her. Look me in my face and said I owe you n0thing not even an apology. That was kick in ads I needed. I want him out of my life but making it happen is complicated. I hate his guts want to claw his eyes out it his horrible situation in trying to figure a way out my grown son just went back to work I can’t leave him here it’s a mess. Both my son and I are still GRIEVING over death of my youngest son. I really am Lowe than ever beffore I consider myself strong not not sure how to dig my way out. I know God is with me but not feeling anything but grief. Someone please help me.

The Only Two Things You Need in Order to Stop Attracting Narcissists - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery & Personal Growth says December 9, 2018

[…] Recently, I wrote an article about how obsessively researching narcissism can ruin your life.  […]

Diane Murillo says October 16, 2018

During the three years I have been with my boyfriend he has been coming and going he doesn’t let out and show any kind of love and affection but then yet he says he loves me and cares but the same time he’s mean and very cruel and can be a cold person I don’t understand him. This is the longest time giving me the silent treatment 3 weeks now his ex-girlfriend said he left her cold and homeless my brother passed away I only 2,000 to pay back for The Cremation of my brother and he left me and my bad situation he says that he found another girl I don’t know what’s true or not I just don’t understand him. Why why why do I miss and hurt that he’s gone.
Maybe because I believed in him he changed his mind so much off and on help me.

Ethel G says August 8, 2018

Thank you so much for this article, Kim. You truly hit it on the head…I had been visiting certain “anti-Narc” pages on Facebook and other places; and eye-opening as they thankfully were, I have found myself constantly focusing on the situations and people responsible. It caused me to question relationships with even deceased family members, at a time when I need to move forward and heal from so many toxic situations. Thank YOU for opening my eyes! <3

    Kim Saeed says August 8, 2018

    You’re welcome, dear Ethel. I’m so glad to know you found my article helpful 🙂


    Kim XoXo

Cathy says August 7, 2018

I spent about 2 weeks obsessively listening to different YouTubers talk all about narcissists. It was two weeks after the discard and the initial realization was an epiphany, but I soon realized that after the initial aha moment of realizing it wasn’t that I was worthless, the rest was triggering, re-triggering and traumatizing. So I quit. But he damage was done and I began imagining all the ways he could hurt me and ran over and over the things nhs that were said or done that now made sense and pointed to how I’d been used and manipulated. This brought on violent panic attacks that lasted for a couple weeks. (Lot of two week blocks of time in my recovery process)
I’m utilising meditation, EFT, visualization, self care activities, reaching out to true friends (discernment is really important I’m finding out with sharing this )
What has me still is the missing him. The real crazymaking was only about a month long so I have mostly great memories of our time (in between some weird, suspicious stuff I ignored)
So it’s now a battle between reality and my memory if only the good stuff. That makes me sad a lot and still I get into fear of what he may be telling people or what he may be doing with the new supply. Worrying that maybe I’m wrong about the narcissist and he really isn’t and now he’s going to be happy and give her what was never fully given to me. All of the usual stuff. I certainly hope I don’t spend years missing him. It really feels like someone I adored has died. Thanks for your help Kim. You were the first that opened my eyes and helped me in my healing journey.

Dotsy Maher says September 21, 2017

I kind of think you have to initially when you first wake up…
AND…you I think you need periodic checkins…especially if you are still drawn to someone you suspect…
AND..if you are able to make the break…
You MUST tell others it is good and possible..
But…to obsess ynfortunately I think may be an attempt to look for a way to make it work with the N…

6 Shortcuts to Reclaim Your Inner Strength in One Day - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says April 9, 2017

[…] good news is yes, it’s possible to stop ruminating over your Ex (or toxic co-worker, friend, family member), but it will take time and practice.  And it all […]

Deb says January 9, 2017

Nearly two years for me. It’s true that the obsessiveness goes on and on. The best thing I did was send a message to her new lover which was really for her… I stand by it 18 months down the line. That lie cost me four years and my marriage. She was never meant to be a serious concern , my husband even knew .. but she sold me on us being soul mates, then left as my divorce was finalised.. Actually plotted my discard for a New Years Eve party. The worst part was mourning the non existent love of my life , secondary was the smear and the realisation of evil .
I need to be careful because she has three children who I loved and one is still friends with my daughter.
Sometimes when life is good and I am distracted I forget about her for a few days at a time. When my life and head are quiet , that’s when I obsess again.

sunnychapman says September 27, 2016

All the yes.! I dropped out of the narc support groups after about 6 months because all people ever wanted to do was tell awful stories about their exnarcs. And we do need to vent…for a while, but at a point re-telling these stories endlessly and reading about narcs, watching youtube videos about narcs I felt was keeping me from moving forward. I started to realize that some of the people in these groups had been out of the relationship for years but still obsessed with their exnarc.
Wanting to have a better life, I started looking at ME and what had happened in my life, negative beliefs about myself, the things that led my into relationships with narcs. But if I brought up anything like codependency people would get angry and accuse me of victim-blaming. SO many people insisted that they didn’t have any self esteem issues, nothing about them needed to be healed, it was 100% the narc.
I used to think that way too, I was just an unlucky woman who was a sociopath magnet, it was all them, not me. But taking a good hard look made me realize that my family had trained me to believe that I was essentially worthless and didn’t deserve to even be alive. It was facing this that changed everything, I don’t obsess about the ex anymore, 9 months after the breakup. He pops up in my head once in a while but I smack him right out of there, lol.
Now my job is to change these negative ideas I have about myself and I really believe that can be done, I feel different already, more confident, less needy. I went out on a date with a guy who was a total narc and spotted it immediately and walked away. He was EXACTLY the kind of guy I would have just jumped right into a relationship with before.
It’s good to learn about narcissists and sociopaths so you can recognize them but then we need to turn the focus on healing those old wounds.

Katy says September 24, 2016

I have found these posts to be extremely helpful. I have been separated from my husband for two years. As I was getting my affairs in order after meetings with my lawyer to file my divorce papers, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Life expectancy is 18 months. While we do not live together I am still connected to him because of my son and his adult children who are dealing with the effects of this horrible disease. I find myself amazed because even as he is coming to terms with what is happening to him the lies and manipulation continues. I know he feels nothing for me and I try to limit contact with him as much as possible, the man is dying and his mind and physical body slips away more each day. I find myself thinking I will only be able to move in upon his death. The anger towards him is hard to come to grips with when you are struggling with compassion for someone who is suffering and will die soon.

S. Tribby says September 22, 2016

I am still interested in NPD, even though I have given up on a cure for my beloved daughter and I have no desire to try to change my mom’s mind about disowning me. I think NPD is raging in epidemic proportions and underpins all the horribly exploitive systems that make up our society from the law to education to the mental health industry itself. I am no longer obsessed. There are exceptions to what you say. A few people are born to fight back against the mental illness that pervades and destroys our world.

Sabine says September 22, 2016

I am in complete agreement with this post. I do not stalk my ex N nor do i obsessively read up on narcissism. I no longer need to as I learnt everything that there is to learn during the 2 years of the breakup and divorce. However I am unable to do no contact since we co-parent our younger 2 children. Also he lives very close by and has actually been well behaved for the last year so I have to carefully manage contact with him as the crazy fool cannot understand why we can’t be friends. I have done TRE, EFT , do regular Narcissistic Healing modules, attend CoDa meetings, practice mediation and self care YET he is still in my head constantly. That intrusive voice invades my mind like poison.I find myself repeating things he has said. Still having crazy conversations with him in my head. When will this stop? I have had enough.

Chris says September 21, 2016

Yes! Once you understand what happened, which is essential in start of aftermath, in agreement that you just relive pain. I have found most sites want to fuel your anger or sadness and not much on recovery. Furthermore, I am not a big poster but when have my focus been reaching out to say ok, so now how heal, this is only place I see focus on moving on, thanks

    Kim Saeed says September 22, 2016

    Thank you for your kind praise, Chris. I hope you continue to find motivation and encouragement here on Let Me Reach 🙂


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