Too many folks get hung up on whether someone is a narcissist or not. But frankly, narcissism isn’t the only red flag that points to a toxic relationship.
They say, “Well, my partner does this or that, but they don’t do this…so, I’m unsure about leaving the relationship because I don’t know if they’re truly a narcissist.
If this sounds like you, you’re in the right place because I am going to address this issue today.
There are lots of reasons to leave a relationship and a person’s narcissism is only one of them. But since narcissism is the focal point of so many blogs, articles, and videos today, we have forgotten about basic decency as a required core foundation of healthy relationships.
In this post, you’ll learn why narcissism isn’t the only red flag you should be focused on. Specifically:
- Why a person’s narcissism isn’t the only reason you should leave (hello emotional abuse and emotional unavailability);
- The five common reasons you should consider leaving a relationship (like, yesterday);
- Specific examples of narcissistic and emotional abuse that you can apply to your own situation and decide if you should be planning your exit.
Want to stop the crippling indecision, stop being exploited, and finally live in alignment with your integrity and self-pride?
Then you’re going to love this post.
Let’s jump in.
5 Common Reasons You Should Leave a Relationship (regardless of whether someone is a narcissist)
Red Flag #1 – They constantly point out things they “don’t like” about you
Oddly, these may be the very things they loved about you in the beginning. Narcissists groom their targets by claiming to love everything about them…the way they dress, their hairstyle, their interests, their taste in music, their love of the arts.
Then shockingly, the things they once loved about you became the reasons they were ‘forced’ to cheat, have lost interest, or caused them to start a new relationship with someone else.
The reason this manipulative tactic has such a profound effect on your self-esteem is that you’ve spent a good portion of your life developing your preferences, interests, personality, and personal style. Along the way, you became comfortable in your own skin.
Then, along came someone who appeared to love every little thing about you. In fact, it seemed the two of you shared many things in common.
Then slowly, like dismantling a jigsaw puzzle, they began taking little parts of you away by claiming they were intolerable. Things that meant the most to you: your family, your friends, your appearance, your relationship with your children, the love you have for your pets, your charity involvements, your violin lessons.
Until you didn’t know who you were anymore.
Narcissists strive to keep people small and “well-disciplined”. This will play out through criticizing everything about you so that you end up changing yourself to fit inside the small box they’ve designed for you.
True love doesn’t take away the things that make up who you are. It doesn’t diminish you. If you feel like you can’t do anything right, that you couldn’t possibly attract someone else, that you’re “too old”, too needy, too sensitive to be in a relationship with anyone else, this is a sign it’s time to leave.
Red Flag #2 – They Always Lie
Most people don’t want to be liars. Maybe a friend asks you about their new hair cut or a new outfit they’re really excited about, but you don’t want to hurt their feelings by giving them your opinion. This might be okay, especially that your taste in haircuts and fashion might vary wildly from your friend’s.
However, when lies are used to cover up wrongdoing or to cause you to doubt your own perception of reality, these lies are abusive. If lies are rampant in your relationship, then you’re in the wrong one. Bottom line – you can’t have a healthy relationship with a liar.
Red Flag #3- They Constantly Cheat
There are many varied ideas and belief systems that revolve around fidelity and what is considered cheating. Some folks are into polyamory, and so, theoretically, are open to open relationships.
It may seem the lines are blurred when it comes to what constitutes cheating and abuse, but they’re really not. Here are some questions to consider:
- Does your partner gaslight you about the cheating?
- Do they blame you for their choice to be unfaithful, citing your looks, weight, or preferences as reasons they are straying?
- Do they insult you and make you feel undesirable?
- Do they claim you’re overreacting and that ‘everyone cheats’?
- Do they use cheating as a method of hurting you?
- Do they pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do or cheat on you when you don’t do them?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then cheating is abusive in your relationship. And even if you are trying out the polyamorous lifestyle and your feelings are constantly hurt by something your partner is doing, then you may want to ask yourself if you’re doing it because you’re truly open to it or doing it to hang onto someone (while abandoning yourself in the process).
Incidentally, one of the narcissist’s favorite tricks is to claim they have a sex addiction, can’t help themselves, and then appeal to your good heart to “stick with them through it all”. All this accomplishes is you staying in a relationship where you will ALWAYS be cheated on. I’ve been in this field for over ten years and I’ve never seen a cheating narcissist STOP cheating.
Red Flag #4 – Their words don’t match their actions
Narcissists are absolute geniuses at telling you what you want to hear at just the right moment to keep you hooked in the relationship.
Think back to the last time you caught them cheating or they suddenly materialized after disappearing off the face of the earth for two weeks. Regardless of the dialogue that played out, I would imagine they successfully rationalized and minimized their relationship crimes.
In the moment, you may have even felt like you could sympathize with what they were saying. They promised they would try to do better, that they love only you, that the two of you belong together (and should get engaged), that they’ll get that house the two of you looked at, that they will break it off with the new person.
And you bought into it.
Alternately, they may have come back saying they met someone new and now can’t decide between you or the other person. This is the initial step in their plan to triangulate between the two of you.
This is precisely what they do to people who are over-conscientious (willing to give the narcissist the benefit of the doubt) and who tend to over-intellectualize (tries hard to empathize and believe the narcissist has some understandable reason to be hurtful).
It also plays into the fairytale you have in your mind about their finally having The Epiphany and renouncing their awful behaviors for the sake of true love.
Before you know it, you’re accepting things you never thought you would in your relationship, vowing to stick by their side, and feeling like a fool because of it.
That’s because, on a subconscious and intuitive level, you know the narcissist is a liar who has absolutely no plans to change.
Red Flag #5 – They make you choose between them or your children
Narcissists are jealous of anything or anyone that takes your attention away from them. Your children are no exception.
One of the most heartbreaking elements of narcissistic abuse is the disconnect that often happens between abuse victims and their children. There are few things that make the narcissist feel more powerful than having so much influence over you that you are willing to obey their commands and interact with your children according to what the narcissist deems fit.
I’ve even seen parents kicking their older children out of the house because the narcissist said it was time for them to go.
There are two common and unfortunate scenarios that typically play out when one is involved with a narcissist regarding their children. First, abuse victims are so consumed with the narcissist due to crippling self-esteem issues, trauma-bonding and PTSD symptoms, they have little attention or energy to give to their children. Many times, all they can do is clothe and feed them, but have very little capacity to be truly present with them. This often results in children feeling unseen, neglected, and unloved.
Second, because parents who are targets of narcissistic abuse often develop such extreme levels of anxiety, depression, and hypersensitivity, they can become impatient with their children, or find themselves resenting their children for behaving in ways that upset the narcissist. This leads to a further disconnect, with the children feeling unloved and unworthy, which may lead to their developing either codependent or narcissistic traits as a defense mechanism.
If either of the above scenarios describes your relationship with your children, it’s a sign that screams it’s time to leave.
The Life-Changing Magic of Opening Your Mind to Other Reasons Someone’s a Crappy Person
It doesn’t matter whether someone is a narcissist if these five common relationship crimes are happing to you.
Narcissism isn’t the only red flag in relationships
Emotional abuse and emotional unavailability are not issues you can fix by staying in a relationship with someone who doesn’t care about you or your feelings.
Learning how to let go of toxic patterns (and relationships) can be challenging, but it’s always worth the effort. Unfortunately, over time, abuse often progresses- it can become so bad that you lose your entire sense of self.
No matter your circumstances, you are inherently deserving of love and happiness. It’s possible to break free from unhealthy cycles and find fulfillment and joy in life (and relationships)!
Today, after healing myself through the exact steps in The Essential Break Free Bootcamp, I experience healthy happy relationships that are kind, supportive, and fulfilling, and I have absolutely no trouble in walking away from anyone who is manipulative or abusive because I feel safe and in ownership of my worth and power.
I want the same for you too.
If you want to become aligned with these truths to actualize your recovery out of the pain and into truly healthy, wholesome, and fulfilling connections, then I’d love to help you.
You can start this journey today by clicking this link.
As always, I eagerly look forward to answering your comments and questions below.