It feels different this time. You tell yourself that you know the warning signs, and this potential new partner doesn’t have them. No, they are compassionate and generous. The bad luck has finally ended! You’ve finally stopped falling for narcissists, you tell yourself with conviction and joy.
You’ve broken the cycle!
Six months pass, and it’s like the trauma smacks you upside the head. It’s like the person has become just another replication of all the horrors you thought you escaped.
How did we get here? Again? And why does this keep happening?
1 – You’re Focusing On Red Flags & Glossing Over Yellow Flags
Ignoring the yellow flags is always a risk.
When we start dating someone new, our brain releases a variety of flooding chemicals that evoke a sense of passion, connection, and intimacy. The neuroscience of falling in love is as fascinating as it is alarming. Before we know it, we may be entrenched in a toxic relationship.
Let’s be honest. It’s easy to identify the significant areas of concern. These are the obvious signs, the ones wrapped in caution tape.
We forget that most narcissists don’t reveal their true colors right away. That would be too sloppy. Instead, they bait and lure with their allusion of kindness. They ‘rescue’ us with their natural confidence.
Like it or not, seasoned narcissists aren’t stupid. They’re calculated and intentional. They know that dating resembles a game. Unfortunately, they also know how to manipulate and scam the rules, so the game is in their favor.
What are some of these yellow flags?
- Distasteful comments about past partners
- Excessive talking about achievements
- Hyper-focus on material possessions
- Excessive talking about status or reputation
- Becomes highly agitated when “disrespected”
- Puts down people (directly or indirectly) when they don’t agree with their thoughts
- Acts as if they are above the rules
- Frequently interrupts
- Gives unsolicited and unwanted advice
Of course, these yellow flags do not guarantee narcissism. However, they can certainly indicate a troubling pattern. The more symptoms a partner displays, the greater your likelihood of dealing with a narcissist.
2 – You’re Attracted To The Chaos
Do you believe that intensity equals being alive?
Despite the anguish, being with a narcissist can be exciting. You won’t experience boredom. Instead, you’ll undergo a constant hurricane of intense emotion and impulse- you never know what day they’re going to be enraged and condescending or blissful and loving.
Why would anyone be attracted to such chaos, though? Don’t we all long for healthy and secure relationships? Don’t we know that we deserve respect?
The answer, of course, is complicated. Logically knowing something doesn’t mean we take the appropriate action to manifest it.
Many people return to narcissistic partners because other partners feel “boring” in comparison. They’re used to the dynamic ups-and-downs; they have mistaken that volatility for love and desire. The lack of the tornado feels more threatening than the tornado itself.
3 – You’re Trying To Recreate (And Rescue) Your Childhood
Unmet childhood needs grow stronger in adulthood.
Our behavior develops and cultivates via intergenerational patterns. For this reason, many children of narcissists grow up and find themselves trapped in adult relationships with narcissists. On a first impression, this pattern seems baffling. Why would someone want to recreate the horror and insanity?
The answer, of course, is complicated. When we have unmet needs in childhood, those needs don’t disappear once we become adults. On the contrary, those needs often grow stronger, and we tend to become critical of ourselves (and others) the longer those needs remain unmet.
The attraction towards narcissists, therefore, resembles more of a subconscious process. We may fall in love with partners that mimic our caretakers under the distorted impression that we can somehow “fix” them. Through this “fixing,” we believe we can inadvertently “fix” our childhood wounds.
This is why children of alcoholics have a higher likelihood of marrying alcoholics. It’s what these individuals know, and we are attracted to familiar patterns. While most of us want to believe that we marry someone utterly independent from our family-of-origin, an honest inventory often shows that we choose partners who closely resemble our caretakers.
Breaking The Cycle One Step At A Time
Breaking the pattern of narcissistic relationships takes time, willingness, and persistence. The healing doesn’t happen overnight, but the journey can be highly productive and rewarding.
If you’re still not sure why you’re attracted to narcissists, it’s time to do some soul searching and identify the potential reasons.
What connections can you draw between your previous partners? Even though we tend to focus on differences, what slight (or obvious) similarities exist?
Did you have one or more narcissistic caretakers? Did you experience domestic violence, neglect, or emotional abuse in childhood? Did someone take the lead in your life and make decisions for you from a young age?
Still not sure? It may be time to reach out for professional support. Working with a therapist or seeking coaching can help you uncover these answers, or at the least, help you see your situation more clearly.
Identifying The Pros
This may seem foreign, but it is imperative that you learn how narcissistic relationships have positively served you in your life.
Did these people provide a powerful sense of protection and safety? Were you comforted knowing that you were with someone who seemed so confident and assured? Were you with partners that impressed your friends or family?
The advantages may be more insidious. By being with a narcissistic partner, did you get to “blame” the other person for the distress in your life? Did you benefit from avoiding focusing on your own flaws and setbacks?
Acknowledging the “good parts” of such a horrific cycle isn’t fun. It’s downright painful. However, there are reasons why you keep falling into the same patterns, and you owe it to yourself to learn how and why you’re finding yourself stuck.
Identify What You Will Lose
Changing patterns always entails some semblance of loss. By letting go of narcissistic patterns, what will change?
Will you lose the “comfortable” chaos and have to navigate the strange waters of “healthier” dating? Will you miss the person who, at times, can seem so kind, magical, and intelligent?
Note that even positive loss can be painful. You’re allowed to feel sad or anxious or angry. You’re allowed to feel uncertain if this process is for you. However, by moving forward, you give yourself the chance for a new beginning.
Consider No-Contact With The Narcissist In Your Life
Are you currently in a relationship with a narcissist? Even though it may seem harsh, the only true way to change this cycle is by leaving the cycle.
The no-contact approach enables you to recharge your batteries and move on from the abuse. If you have a sinking feeling that something is wrong, don’t ignore your intuition. Your intuition is looking out for your best interest, but it’s your job to listen!
Spend Some Time Alone
Are you a serial dater? Can’t stand to be alone? This desperation fuels toxic relationships because it essentially highlights your visceral need for validation and attention.
Yes, spending time alone may sound scary or punitive. However, it can be a profound experience- especially if you’ve never done it. You deserve to build a healthy relationship with yourself. You deserve to spend the time healing and building your self-worth.
And if you do decide to get back into the dating scene? You’ll be armed with mental protection and ready to find someone who treats you with the love, respect, and kindness you have always deserved.
Be Kind To Yourself
Breaking free from narcissistic abuse is draining. You will make mistakes along the way. You may even revert into old patterns from time to time.
Know that this is normal. You are on your journey, and you don’t need to do the work perfectly to reap the excellent benefits of healing. Be kind to yourself. Be willing to learn, reflect, and forgive.
You can do this!
How to Stop Falling for Narcissists
Did you know? Rebuilding your inner identity is crucial when you are ready to stop falling for narcissists and explore romance again. If you don’t have a strong sense of who you are, chances are high that you will mold yourself into someone other people want you to be. If this is a romantic partner, it can lead to more emotional damage.
Get more tools to rediscover your lost self after narcissistic abuse
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