The Psychological After-Effect of Being with a Narcissist

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Ending a relationship is never easy. Breakups are always a hard process and decision to go through. However, sometimes dumping someone doesn’t mean you’ll be easily moving on. As long as we’re on earth, we’re going to meet different people of different kinds. We might, unfortunately, attract that not-very-welcome kind of people who master lying and abusing, and who are very charming yet manipulative. In other words: narcissists.

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It’s never easy to spot a narcissist; I remember a Tunisian TV host chose to invite some women to share their experiences with their narcissistic exes and a lot of Tunisians started wondering what a perverted narcissist is. I wasn’t convinced that they were talking about a narcissist because I believe it’s much deeper and more painful than the stories they were telling. Because let’s make it clear: every narcissist is an asshole, but not every asshole is necessarily a narcissist. So, before talking about the aftermath of a breakup, let me highlight the most common signs of being with a narcissist:

A narcissist knows well how to hold your mind and your will in captivity. Psychologically speaking, it’s considered emotional violence, though a narcissist can go far in their rage to practice verbal and even physical violence toward their victim. And guess what? It’s always your fault, it’s literally as if they beat you and then blamed you for damaging the carpet with your blood.

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But you will always be the one who apologizes because they’re the expert of “emotional manipulation” whom you’ll follow even though deep inside you can feel there’s something wrong with your relationship. You’ll be confused about many things: At first, they’re special, but later on, you’ll be nothing. At first, they’re kind and caring, later on, they’re arrogant and cold. At first, they’re the one, your dream partner, later on, they’ll be your nightmare. At first, you’re cool, later on, you’re crazy. Narcissists can make you question your sanity and whether it’s all real or just in your head. Narcissists will suck your soul dry and isolate you away from your family, friends, and anyone who can be supportive and loving and call alert for you. Narcissists will disconnect you from your wants and needs, devalue your opinions, and absorb the life out of you. I’m not talking about a haunting spirit in a horror movie, I’m talking about a human being with no humanity, so empty and hollow inside that they want to see everyone miserable for them to be happy, and even then, they will never be satisfied or happy. A narcissist is not just a pretty face person with a charming smile who’s constantly checking themselves in the mirror, they’re real monsters.

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So if you’re currently in a relationship, please don’t panic, just see deep inside and try to listen clearly to your heart. If there’s something wrong, your heart will detect it and try to enlighten you with the truth. Read more about it but don’t get paranoid, and if your sweet baby turns out to be a soul sucker then RUN.

Once you dump a Narcissist, you become a survivor. Remember that when someone survives a war or a damaging event, in most cases they’ll suffer from trauma. Being with a narcissist is a damaging event in your life and it’s a war between your past and present, a confusing questioning where you can’t tell if your ex is the sweet angel of your first encounter or the cold monster who damaged your mental health. To make it easy for you, just forget about the first image of the sweet angel because it’s not real. A relationship with a narcissist is a full-time drama where saying goodbye is never the end of the story. A narcissist does not have a “goodbye” system in their mind; they will always come back if you don’t insist on the “no contact” method. They will try to get you back by being sweet again and using the puppy face, they will be the gods of romance, don’t be surprised if you find them singing under your window, it’s all an act. Once they give up on getting you back, they will use everything against you, they will insult you and try to make you believe that you’re nothing. They will even start victimizing themselves and turn your surroundings against you, but no matter what happens, don’t argue or talk back, the storm will pass. Now it’s only you and your damaged mental state, it’s only you and a long way to recover from your previous relationship. Brace yourself for a therapy marathon – because, let’s face it, we go to therapy because of those who need it the most. Consider waving goodbye to couple therapy as a final shot at reconciliation if you’re holding onto the hope of fixing things. Beware, though, as narcissists can skillfully weave their charming manipulation tactics, even fooling their therapists in the process. 

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According to psychological research, a lot of narcissists’ victims experience anxiety after the breakup and they show obvious signs of depression. The more abusive the narcissist is, the more likely they are to traumatize their partners. That experience can lead to a fearful approach to life and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This typically leads to chronic anxiety, sudden memories of abuse, emotional numbing, and even a sense of a foreshortened future. The victim comes away from hurtful experiences feeling not only angry and betrayed but also afraid to get emotionally involved again. This lack of trust, in both others and ourselves, can keep us from finding the love we want and sometimes will lead us to look for rebounds. That will only make the victim repeatedly fall into a loop of bad choices because they’re not ready yet and too broken to feel worthy. So, according to psychological and even spiritual studies, victims will only attract more assholes and messed up relationships into their lives. Sadly, later on, they will go through the lifelong effects of narcissistic abuse on their mental health, which is called Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. Victims of narcissistic abuse often come disconnected from their own emotional pain and mental anguish. They will be desperately seeking answers for their failure and try to solve the specific problems and flaws that the narcissist identified as the shortcomings of their partners. Narcissists will use tactics such as gaslighting, word salad, and silent treatment with the intent to distort the victim’s reality and impose their own instead. So it’s true a narcissist’s victim might dump the narcissist but it will take time to move past the shadow, to know that it’s never the victim’s fault, and to isolate the reality from the illusion the narcissist jailed them in.

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If you have experienced narcissistic abuse, understanding the nature of narcissistic abuse, its effects, and Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome is critical to healing and restoring your ability to engage in self-care. I know the self-love thing is kind of a cliché but trust me, it’s true. Narcissistic people try to make us blind, followers, and dead inside by ignoring our true selves. You deserve love and affection and you are strong enough to overcome the trauma. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible, stop pushing yourself too hard by doing all the things the narcissist said you can’t just stop looking in the mirror they put in front of you, break it, and live a life based on your philosophy and the true meaning of life. Do not fear failure, a narcissist might be sexy, charming, and successful but they’re never truly happy, never satisfied, and never will they have the power to love. Focus on painting a better future for yourself and mending the broken pieces of your heart.

 

Imen Riahi