Being in a relationship with a narcissist is confusing and painful. If you have come to the realization and accepted you have a narcissistic person in your life -- you have overcome the first obstacle of moving forward towards healing. First you have to come out of denial that this person is ever going to change. Many clients I work with tend to attract narcissists for the following three reasons.
1. Poor Boundaries – If you do not have a practice of setting good boundaries, narcissists will recognize this and will take advantage of you. When you have strong boundaries in place, you are less likely to be manipulated because you know how to protect yourself emotionally. Boundaries are how you communicate with others what you will and will not tolerate. If you do not have boundaries, prepare to be abused by the narcissists in your life. Many of us are not taught how to set boundaries and if you don’t have any right now that is okay. You can learn how to set healthy boundaries in therapy. I would recommend first getting in touch with your gut instinct. Tune in with yourself and ask yourself the following questions:
· Am I being abused?
· Do I understand the extent of the abuse?
· How is staying in this relationship affecting my health?
· How is staying in the relationship affecting my peace and happiness?
· Am I ready to get out of the relationship?
· Do I need help and support figuring out your next steps?
· Do I feel alone?
Once you can answer these questions the work of setting boundaries begins.
2. Codependent Habits – even if you leave a relationship with a narcissist but you do not break your codependent habits, you are in danger of attracting another narcissist. You may be codependent if you put other’s needs in front of your own, if you’re afraid to stand up for yourself, you are a people pleaser, you will do something for another person even if you don’t want to, you deny your emotions, or if you rely too heavily on another person. It can be so hard to learn how to voice your needs, especially if the narcissist will punish you for doing so. But the more you practice putting yourself first the stronger you will get, and the less you will care about pleasing this narcissistic person. If you learn how to break codependency, you will have a much better chance of attracting healthy relationships in the future.
3. Unhealed Subconscious Wounds – Many clients who come to me for help grew up in an abusive household or had a parent with a cluster B personality disorder. Unfortunately, when they grow up they end up attracting a narcissist whether it's a partner or friend. Many times we pick partners or get into relationships with people who will recreate the environment we grew up in. For example, if you had a father who would never let you express your feelings you may subconsciously attract a partner who suppresses you emotionally as well. If you had a sibling who gas lit you and distorted your view of reality, you may get into a relationship with someone who does the exact same thing. In therapy you can work hard to: become aware of your subconscious wounds, process these wounds, and ultimately heal these wounds so you stop attracting partners who keep you stuck in an abusive cycle.
My name is Mallory Beckwith, LPC-Associate. I specialize in helping victims of narcissistic abuse break free and recover. If you need help contact me at 512-265-6607.