Valentine’s Day is a celebration for couples who share a special bond. But for those who have been unfortunate enough to fall in love with a narcissist, it can be a harrowing and sour experience.
Narcissists lack empathy and view relationships as something to be manipulated to get what they want. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, the narcissist is more focused on what they will receive (and how they’ll manage any affair partners they have) rather than how they can make their significant other feel special or loved.
In this article, I cover four different types of trauma narcissists inflict on Valentine’s Day. During Valentine’s Day, narcissists can better use their crushing tactics against you. These can cause PTSD and Complex PTSD, especially if these are experienced consistently or have become a pattern in your relationship.
1 – Humiliation Trauma
This generally involves taking away your dignity, lowering your self-esteem, lowering your status in your own or other people’s eyes, or making you feel embarrassed or ashamed.
Examples of humiliation trauma can include:
- The narcissist having their new supply either text or call you to command that you stop calling or texting the narcissist.
- The narcissist and their new supply calling you, together leaving a mocking voicemail, perhaps even laughing while doing it.
- The narcissist posting pictures of themselves with the new supply all over social media when they recently tried to get you to believe they were working on your relationship.
- Waging a devastating smear campaign by talking smack about you to your family, your friends, or your coworkers. I.e., “Oh, well, I tried to help her, but her functional alcoholism is just too strong,” even though you only have a glass of wine with dinner a few nights a week.
- Taking you out for a nice Valentine’s dinner. You’re under the impression that everything’s going along swimmingly, and maybe it’s been one of the best Valentine’s dinners ever with the narcissist. But afterward, perhaps even the same night, they announce that they want to break it off, get a divorce, or that they’ve met someone else.
- Giving you a blank Valentine’s card. Imagine getting a gorgeous card with your name on the envelope, you open up the envelope, and the card is completely empty.
- You sit down with them at the breakfast table to try to talk to them about something that happened or maybe about your feelings, and they completely ignore you, pick up the newspaper, and begin to read it as though you’re not even there.
Lastly, the narcissist may give gifts but without any genuine emotion attached, making them feel empty or worse – like just another item on their shopping list. Seeing other couples celebrating each other’s love only serves as a stark reminder that your relationship lacks so much of what should be present, leading you into deeper depression as you compare yourself negatively against others more fortunate than you.
2 – Rejection Trauma
This can look like making you feel unworthy, comparing you to other people (like that new secretary at work or that handsome CEO who just started working in their department), or shedding a negative light on you, your personality traits, or your accomplishments. Repeatedly giving you a long list of why you’re not a good enough partner for them, which oddly are many of the things they said they loved about you initially. Withholding affection and intimacy, or constantly breaking up with you.
The reason rejection trauma is so damaging is that a person who rejects you is going to become almost like an obsession if you don’t have the necessary coping skills to get through that experience.
We also know, thanks to studies, that a person who seems indifferent or non-caring is usually the person who has the upper hand in a relationship. (I dislike the idea of an upper hand because usually, in a normal, healthy, reciprocal relationship, neither partner is concerned with having the upper hand.)
The narcissist’s focus on themselves makes it impossible for them to truly appreciate their partner’s efforts on Valentine’s Day. It’s easy for them to become critical of any gifts or plans their partner has made, or to expect too much from them. This can leave their partner feeling unappreciated and unimportant. It can also lead to arguments if the narcissist believes that their partner isn’t doing enough to show them how much they care, despite their partner’s herculean efforts otherwise.
They may try to dictate what gifts their partner should give them or how they should spend the day together. They may also plan overly elaborate events or activities that require their partner’s participation, regardless of whether it’s something their partner actually wants to do. This can lead to resentment and frustration from the partner as they feel their needs and desires are being ignored.
3 – Abandonment Trauma
Narcissists will use different forms of abandonment to create a hypervigilance that they’re always on the verge of leaving you. It leaves you feeling emotionally unsafe, unimportant, and unsure of how your needs will be met or about the future of your relationship.
Examples of things that might cause abandonment trauma include:
- Repeatedly leaving you. In my first relationship with a narcissist, we were married for almost ten years, and it got to the point where he was always packing his bags and leaving about every two weeks. It became such a regular part of our relationship that I would fill his suitcases for him and leave them on the porch.
- Consistently being unreachable, blocking you from their phone and social media, talking about people who have a crush on them, and staying in touch with an ex beyond what you consider reasonable.
There are only very few scenarios where the narcissist should be getting in touch with an ex, and one of those includes sharing custody of children. They’ll often claim they’re visiting because they want to keep things somewhat normal for the kids, which is a massive cover. After all, narcissists don’t care for their kids any more than they care about anyone else.
When the narcissist claims that they’re going by to spend time with the kids, there’s commonly a bit more going on than you’re aware of. They’re usually still having relations with their ex. I often hear about this from parents who are divorced from the narcissist, but the narcissist still comes to visit them. They’ll tell me, point blank, how the new supply (you) doesn’t have a clue about this, but they and the narcissist are still sleeping together.
Further, abandonment trauma is formed when the narcissist is always emotionally unavailable, which is most of the time. Even when it seems like they’re being emotionally available, it’s just a way of building rapport with you to sucker you.
When celebrating Valentine’s Day with a narcissist, there might not be much genuine emotion involved in the exchange of gifts or words; everything could seem superficial and shallow rather than heartfelt or meaningful. This lack of emotional connection makes it impossible to enjoy Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day can also bring up underlying issues surrounding abandonment or neglect from past relationships, which further add to already existing feelings being experienced within your current relationship- making matters even worse for those stuck with someone incapable (or unwilling)to meet your needs emotionally. These thoughts often lead some victims down dark paths such as self-deprecation or suicidal ideation-making an already difficult period even harder for them to deal with alone without proper support networks.
4 – Betrayal Trauma
Betrayal trauma thrives on the resulting trauma of a manipulator or abuser breaking spoken or unspoken contracts within intimate relationships where trust is expected. This is especially apparent during popular holidays such as Valentine’s Day.
Examples of betrayal trauma include:
- Learning that your partner or spouse has been carrying on a long-term relationship behind your back. The narcissist may even have families behind their partners’ or spouses’ backs. This is more common when the narcissist is going overseas for business, which they may well be, but surprise, they accidentally started a new family with someone while they were there, too.
- The narcissist getting engaged behind your back when you thought they were going to ask you to marry them.
- Accepting the narcissist’s apologies for having an affair only to discover that they never ended it, or learning that the vacation you’ve been looking forward to and saving up for is no longer an option because the narcissist spent all the money on something or someone else.
Furthermore, many narcissists may use this day as an opportunity for abuse – whether verbal attacks against their partner because they don’t buy something extravagant enough (in their eyes), physical violence due to feeling “unappreciated” by not receiving enough attention during festivities, or just general manipulation tactics such as guilt-tripping into doing what they want instead of what would make them happy (or vice versa).
All these behaviors are unacceptable, yet unfortunately common when dealing with narcissistic individuals – making Valentine’s Day incredibly taxing mentally, emotionally, and physically in the process.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day with a narcissistic individual can quickly become a nightmare, leaving you feeling disrespected and unvalued afterward.
When contemplating the narcissistic mindset, it’s essential to accept certain things about narcissistic people. They attach themselves very tightly to their dysfunctional behaviors because they consider these behaviors to be privileges. They want to keep these privileges at all costs. These “privileges” include things such as infidelity, not staying employed, regularly getting loans from friends and family, and all manner of avoiding adult obligations and social contracts. Basically, all the things you consider to be relationship crimes.
How To Protect Yourself Against Trauma Narcissists Inflict On Valentine’s Day
Do you ever feel like you’re about to snap?
Are you guilty of sucking it up and saying, “I just need to work harder?”
This place is familiar to me. I get it. You don’t want to start a process that could take a long time. You’re also not sure if you can trust yourself not to give in to hoovering attempts by the toxic person in your life.
I also understand that you’re probably ready to try anything.
A fresh perspective. A different pathway. A new YOU.
Everyone has the innate capacity to heal themselves. But it’s likely you will need external support to heal the traumas that get in the way of your ability to tune into this gift.
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