Dating after narcissistic abuse

5 Tips to Avoid Users When Dating After Narcissistic Abuse

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Have you ever met someone when dating after narcissistic abuse, felt connected to them, and later discovered they were highly manipulative?

How often have you gotten excited about someone you started dating, only to be disappointed when you realized they pulled the old bait-and-switch?

How many times have you shared your deep thoughts and fears with someone, only to learn they had collected this information to control you?

In many cases, this is exactly how things play out when dating after narcissistic abuse.

As a trusting, caring, and compassionate individual, you like to think that other people are the same way.

But if you’ve finally scaled the mountain of getting over a relationship with a narcissist, you may find yourself smack-dab in the middle of ‘same person-different face’ syndrome.

For some reason, dating makes you feel as if you magnetically attract users and that unseen forces create this situation that you simply cannot control.

In this article, let’s pretend we’re on a coaching call. We’re going to cover five ways you might be sabotaging yourself when dating after narcissistic abuse and what you can do to show up as high value, sending the users running for the hills.

How to Show Up as High Value When Dating After Narcissistic Abuse

Before we get started, please know that you are already high value. All the pain you’re experiencing is not your fault. But there may be mistakes you’re making which can dull your sparkle, causing you endless heartbreak when dating after narcissistic abuse.

If you’re ready to stop the heartbreak, ghosting, and dead-end relationships, there are five key ways to do that, giving you a better chance of avoiding users and finding potential love.

Let’s dive in…

1 – Don’t start dating again unless you have put in some serious healing work

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. 

This almost always leads to disappointment.

Here’s the unfortunate truth. Unless you have done healing work to release the trauma you endured and have made strides to alleviate the trauma bond formed with the previous narcissist in your life, the trauma bond will simply transfer over to a new dating partner.

In case you’re just learning about all things narcissist, trauma bonding can be extremely dangerous – both physically and physiologically – when a narcissist is involved. Trauma bonding is basically Stockholm Syndrome inside of a relationship with someone you know and care for.

To make things even more complicated, narcissists don’t experience trauma bonds. Only we do. 

Sure, they might be addicted to the feelings of power they have over you, but they can move on from the relationship as if it never existed. In contrast, survivors of narcissistic abuse often spend months or years trying to heal from the effects of trauma bonding.

That’s because narcissists don’t bond or attach to us the way we do them. 

Perhaps you opened yourself up to the narcissist more than you had to anyone else in your life. You told the narcissist things you never said to anyone. You kicked boundaries to the curb. You made yourself completely vulnerable and called it bonding.

It’s pretty intense, and in the beginning, it felt delicious.

Little did you know that the narcissist encouraged you to divulge your deepest desires, dreams, and hopes to figure out the best way to manipulate and harm you. This is their use of cognitive empathy. 

Much like kicking a drug, you can’t recover from trauma bonding and narcissistic abuse if you dive right back into the dating pool without doing the necessary healing work.  This is why I advise people not to date again for at least six to twelve months after narcissistic abuse, and that’s with consistent activities toward narcissistic abuse recovery.

Just for the record, YouTube videos, eBooks, and webinars are often excellent sources of information, but they won’t heal you.  Following certain steps may help you reach a point of acceptance, but true healing work requires forming new neurological pathways and new habits, which videos and eBooks cannot accomplish.

Breaking the trauma bond requires healthy support structures, inflection, and planning. Don’t fall into the trap of believing it will somehow magically go away on its own.

THRIVE program

2 – Don’t “Imprint” 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.

Even if someone isn’t a narcissist, they may get a little flakey if you become too intense or clingy after going on one or two dates.

We often begin a story in our minds when we feel connected to someone, which may cause us to do or say things that drive people away…fast.

Listen, I’m not here to make you feel bad.

As survivors of narcissistic abuse, we’ve all made the mistake of misjudging someone’s intentions regarding dating. Heck, I found myself in relationships with three different narcissists before I finally got it right.

What I’ve since learned is that because of today’s digital landscape, the thousands of dating sites, and the culture of instant gratification, dating is nothing like it was ten years ago.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll never find the right person. You just need to show up as high value and not as a people-pleaser who is a little too eager to get started on a relationship.

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.

It also means you’re in danger of an unhealed trauma bond transferring to a new person.

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.

3 – Believe them when they say they’re not ready for a relationship

Here’s the truth of the matter.  A large percentage of folks on dating sites, and even in real life, are simply looking for hookups or narcissistic supply.

It can be a huge waste of time to finally narrow down your choices to one person, and then they mention they aren’t ready for a committed relationship.

But, the bigger waste of time is believing this has changed because you are feeling good vibes from them. 

When you start feeling those hopeful vibes, you might start trying to make things happen.  This will attract narcissists to you like moths to a flame while causing most healthy people to run fast in the opposite direction.

It’s important to keep in mind that feeling chemistry with someone doesn’t mean they’re the right person for you.  This is why you should approach dating from a reality-based approach and not a fantasy-based approach. 

In more practical terms, pay attention to actions, not words.  A fantasy-based approach to dating can cause you to make crucial mistakes, including:

  • Believing a new dating partner is really into you, so you overlook the fact that they’ve only kept in touch with you by text since the first date
  • Subconsciously utilizing your previous conditioning as “good narcissistic supply”, doing things like ignoring long ‘blackout’ periods and jumping to attention the first moment they send you a smiley emoji
  • Offering to do things for a person you’ve just met, even though they didn’t ask, making yourself seem like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction to normal people, but an excellent supply source for narcissists and other users
  • Getting intimate too soon, then feeling hugely disappointed when you don’t hear from them again or notice they’ve started the slow fade
  • Doing things to prove you’re good relationship material, while the other person is just being their authentic self and not trying so hard
  • Closing up space for people who might be healthy partners because you’ve inadvertently landed yourself in another manipulative relationship

When it comes to dating after narcissistic abuse, you’ll need to form and utilize entirely different beliefs and habits regarding love and relationships.  Rebuilding your inner identity and having a strong sense of self will go a long way in helping you approach dating in healthy ways. 

When someone tells you they’re not ready for a relationship, believe them.  Don’t do an intricate dance in hopes of making them change their mind.

4 – 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 negative 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.

Dating someone new is supposed to be a fun, new opportunity for growth, learning to trust, and moving forward.  Don’t ruin your chance of a possible good thing by constantly talking about an 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 a 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 or, at the very least, someone who is obviously not over their last relationship. 

Being the rebound man or woman will not lead to a fulfilling partnership.

5 – Don’t go out of your way to avoid seeming high-maintenance, inflexible, or too assertive

If you’ve recently started dating again, have you found yourself making great strides to appear low maintenance and as easygoing as possible?

Do you agree to do things you’re not crazy about because you don’t want to seem too picky, or worse, boring?

Have you gone on another date with someone even though they’ve done or said things that remind you of a toxic relationship you were once in?

There is a difference between allowing another person their space and being abused. 

All of these are indications that you either haven’t figured out your boundaries and deal-breakers or that you’re not honoring them.

Why are these two things so important?  Because without them, it means you’re in grave danger of not having built up a strong sense of identity.

Without them, you will likely find yourself tolerating things that are outside of your comfort zone.  Further, not only will a potential partner not know your needs and desires, you run the risk of finding yourself in another manipulative relationship. 

Without a strong sense of identity, which includes your boundaries and deal-breakers, you run the risk of becoming who someone else wants you to be. And thus could begin another long road of being disconnected from yourself and your spirit.

If you aren’t clear about what you need from life and a romantic partner, you’ll end up with folks who will never be able to reciprocate or give you the relationship you want. 

The Risk of Authenticity

If you’re determined to make your next relationship a healthy and fulfilling one, you’ll need to be willing to have uncomfortable dating experiences before you find someone truly compatible with you.

This means that when someone repeats patterns that cause you to feel emotionally unsafe, you are willing to walk away and mean it.

It means putting your authentic self out there, showing up for yourself, and letting the people who aren’t right for you fall away from your life.

This means that you have to be so authentic and real that you risk making waves and calling it quits.

If you want to stop attracting narcissists and users, these tips will help you show up as high value so you can repel narcissists like an invisible shield and put up a wire fence against users and manipulators.

You should never violate your moral code to gain another person’s approval. However, if getting a handle on insecurity is something you might benefit from, make plans to do so. Not because you want another person to accept you, but so you can accept yourself.

Security is not found in attachments to anyone or anything outside of ourselves.

Get boundary tools to shut down narcissists and Boundary Breakers (and prepare yourself for true love, if that’s your dream!)

Check out my groundbreaking video course THRIVE!

You will get video training (in digestible bursts) to help you to create better boundaries, stop betraying yourself, and stop acting out of alignment with your own integrity. 

Learn more now!

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Leave a Comment:

Edith Cordero says February 24, 2023

Great advice. I have been doing these things since and it has been over a year and I have not dated because I have been enjoying life alone and healing and relaxing and working towards my goals. It was the power of God that broke the trauma bonds and set me free and healed me. I pray that those who have traversed thru this narc path find healing and peace. God bless you. Please take care of yourself . Don’t subject yourself to anymore abuse and disappointment. You don’t deserve anymore pain.

Don says August 3, 2022

I have become very careful who I give my heart to. Have met some ladies, that went from one extreme to another. Many in the dating game, are not sincere. I am in no hurry. If the right lady is out there, I’m willing to wait. Have recently hooked up with a serious possibility.
Thanks Kim for all your info. Has given me a lot of direction.

Priscilla says August 3, 2022

Thank you Kim, for sharing this wisdom.

Jennifer says July 25, 2022

This is exactly where I am right now!

I see what I lost in myself
It’s empowering to know that awkward dates are normal
I agree that you have to find or become yourself again and never let you go!
We are all precious in gods eyes. On our own or if it be along side someone else.

“Thrive” sounds good for me.


Ganiyat Tijani-Adenle says July 20, 2022

Kim, you’re a natural and that’s why I appreciate you. I wish I knew you like 10 years ago.

Linda says July 20, 2022

Its been over a year and I am nowhere near ready to date. I have such work to do on myself first. At this point I’m still not interested in dating. Maybe someday but I’m in no rush.

Hailey says October 28, 2021

Thank you Kim for this insightful article. It has really helped me as I start to date again. After a lot of healing. Great tips and reminders!

    Kim Saeed says October 30, 2021

    Thank you for letting me know my article was helpful, Hailey. It means a lot 🙂


Melvin Medero Moore says March 21, 2021

I have been following and appreciating your posts for some time. For more than fifteen years I have provided individual psychotherapy and conducted workshops with women who have survived abusive relationships. Thank you for your insights and advice to the readers of your blog; I am not only writing to say that you are “right” in your approach to avoiding and healing from unhealthy relationships – I believe you absolutely are, but also to say that I have not been “wrong” or alone in my approach, an approach fashioned from an understanding of trauma and its effects, and attachment theory, but more importantly from the experiences and stories of my clients. Thank you for the work that you do.

Anonymous says July 3, 2020

Thank you ?

Ed says July 1, 2020

Thank you for taking the stigma off of us. I totally agree. I have to do shadow work and im not jungian. Im object relastions and was raised by a malignant narc. Married a covert (vulnerable) im still w her i am disabled by spinal issues and unable to walk more than 200 ft. I was a masters level psychologist who trained in tge 80s. Everything was borderline back then. The red flags are very useful. People rushing sex over the top praise.
It really floors me that they don’t have object constancy-probabluly makes it easier to cheat on you. Out of sight out of mind. I use the observe don’t absorb technic and she hasn’t acted up. But has become avoidant in re;to what’s going on kids. Well that’s fine. She can control the information all she wants.

Anonymous says June 25, 2020

Great Article!

Ex-Nympho says September 28, 2019

You are totally right there. In the last sentence where you write: “Security is not found in attachments to anyone or anything outside of ourselves.”

For so many years I had to walk down that road (being so needy and wanted sex and attention), and luckily I have found some kind of peace. Its been crazy

Tio says September 2, 2019

It is too dangerous for someone who is in still the healingprocess of a relationship where narcissistic abuse took place to date so soon again. Maybe you are suspicious or want heal your wounds with the other date at the first time. there is said if you are not healed you can narcissists attract again. This is said by someone who had experienced in it and after one relationship wort a narcissist she met an other who was also a narcissist . In the beginning he was very friendly but when he moved in it was clear that it was a narcissist cause she was not cpmp;etely healed from the former partnerwhere narcisstic abuse took place Some narcissistic individuals can feel it from a far distance when somebody is a target for supply. As they can smell it from a far distance their prey. They don”t lool like a lion or a crocodile bit come in human form and in the beginning it can look understanding how they talk but you”ll never know and it can be a trap to get supply of it and in this case the target. The wounds are still too open and it can feel vulnerable to have a date or an appointment again so soon after the relationship is over with the former relationship with a narcissist. They thrive on fears negative emotions and anxiety and can feel this in a short time and when they are in they get nasty and can be full of scorn and hate and can cause obstacles and delays and it fabricates problems.

Brenda Barton says September 2, 2019

I had never thought of deal breakers before but I’m pretty sure that a couple things will be on that list such as if you send me a picture of your male anatomy or even ask me to send you any nude pics before we’ve even met it’s a definate no go. And if you try to get me to have sex in a parking lot that’s definatly on there too.

    Candy says September 2, 2019

    I wholeherartedly agree with the unnerving comments some people will make off hand or think it’s joking. I want to thank Kim for posting such a wonderful and insightful article and what to look for in a next relationship. I thought I had found someone just recently who was super attentive, kind and stable. You have no idea how you can be fooled into thinking that this person is a someone that would be good for you. I think that when you meet a man (or woman) on a dating site (which are fraught with con artists and users) you should adhere to a strict rule of your own personal boundaries . One of the first questions I would ask is “what do you expect from a dating partner you have met on a dating app?”. It is an honest and forhright question not meant to indimidate or shove a person into a corner against a wall. They have their mindset and you have yours and there is nothing wrong with that… your boundaries at work. I had not dated in two years and this man came on like gangbusters , only to disappear after the first date . It surely is a strange world out there for all of us. The traditional rules don’t apply any longer . If you are older female like myself , it becomes a sea of desperation for a lot of us. That is not where you want to be or to even ellicit that vibe. I do agree on one point regarding the above poster… if they talk about their sexual desires right away, that is extremely off putting. They only want a hookup. And please beware of younger people trying to contact you if you are older by 15 or 20 years. We all know what they want. Best of luck to all of you out there in the dating arena but set those boundaries high as Kim suggests.

Alex says September 2, 2019

Fantastically helpful article Kim… I feel like you’ve given me “permission” to be more me and less what someone wants me to be. Thank you. xx

    Kim Saeed says September 2, 2019

    Thank you so much, Alex! Yes, radical authenticity is the way to go 🙂


Cynthia C Rafler says September 1, 2019

I have been learning a lot from both your emails and no contact bootcamp. I don’t plan to even think about dating again until next June. I won’t register for online dating sites, neither. I think it is smart to start showing as a high-value authentic person.

    Kim Saeed says September 9, 2019

    I’m so glad you’re in our private group, Cynthia! I agree with you, online dating sites are increasingly becoming spaces to AVOID. I’ve been on a few, mostly for research for a dating site I’ve been working on behind the scenes, and they are truly disappointing.

    Big hugs to you!

    Kim XoXo

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