My work as a couples therapist makes a tangible difference to any tender issue….
Are you sometimes afraid of your partner, do their moods swing in one direction to another in a short space of time, especially if they feel rejected by you?
If so, you may be in an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist.
In my practice, I often see people who speak about their self-doubt and their fear about the direction in which their relationship is heading. They speak of something intangible which gives them the sense that the relationship is unhealthy and wrong. They feel it is out of balance and have a sense that something is not quite right. They are constantly on edge and are aware that they are often walking on eggshells, fearful they will trigger something off in their partner at any given moment.
A female client of mine explained, “I’m here because I feel the most debilitating anxiety in the pit of my belly and I’m emotionally drained by it all. I know I love him when he is kind but when these awful outbreaks happen, I feel lost and overwhelmed. I used to be spontaneous and passionate about the direction my life was going in but now I feel weak and powerless. Everything about me seems small and frail when I’m with him and I’m more nervous and anxious then I have ever been before. It’s as if my own personality disappears when I’m around him.”
“I find myself “double checking” everything I do as I’m afraid he will, once again, explode into a jealous rage. It’s as if I’m hiding a big chunk of me away. I pretend to family and friends that I’m no longer with him as I know they have noticed a difference in me. I know that my weight loss and the numbness I feel is caused by the relationship. I’m just not the same anymore. I’ve changed but I’m unable to let go of him. This has been going on for years now but I’d be nothing without him. Or at least I don’t think I could survive being alone.”
She continues, “I wonder… Do I suffer from love addiction or co-dependency as I can’t seem to break this abusive cycle between us? These arguments happen out of nowhere, so I tell myself that this time I won’t react as I feel I must be doing something to set him off. It’s like being with Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as one minute he’s caring and tender towards me and the next moment suspicious, manipulative, scary and possessive.
I tell myself that the real ‘him’ is the gentle caring one and that’s what keeps me going. It’s as if I’m constantly battling with a dual argument in my head. One saying I must get out of this relationship as it’s bad for me; and the other voice saying that if I try harder, we can make something special together as physically we are so attracted to one another. Strangely, I have noticed that when we are intimate together, particularly after an argument, we are intense and close and all the horrible things dissolve. And that’s the dilemma….”
A lot of people stay in unhealthy relationships because they have developed a belief that they are “causing” the problems. They feel full of self-blame and have a fear of being alone. They find it near to impossible to break the dysfunctional patterns of relating. They believe that being with someone is better than being alone, even if that someone mistreats them and adds nothing of value to their lives.
Emotional abuse is so silent and so hidden because in public the narcissist is often charismatic, persuasive, exciting and confident. However, within the relationship the narcissist can show little sign of empathy and sensitivity. Somehow, you can feel that their personality just doesn’t seem to add up as it’s fraught with dishonesty, blame, control and manipulative games which can leave many in a constant state of despair and confusion.
One minute the relationship is over and the next, back together. The victim of the narcissist will always be “anticipating” the fall out, never quite knowing where it is going and in what direction. Many try to leave and look for a way out, but this kind of toxic attachment is extremely difficult to break as the victim of narcissism feels so powerless.This type of relationship leaves the victim little energy or choice but to stay stuck in a cycle of neglect and control.