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Enter the Narcissist…
If you’ve found yourself in one of those unbearable situations, where you lie awake at night wondering is my relationship really a relationship? I feel you.
I’ve been there too. The longing, the unknowing and the unsureness of it all. You wonder whether you’re going mad at times.
Did I imagine it? Is it real? But they said this, they did that…
Sometimes the confusion of it all can feel a little addictive. When you see them they shower you with love and affection, when you don’t see them they seem to ignore you.
If you call them out on their BS you’re being insecure, your doubt is merely a mirror image of how you’re feeling…
You doubt yourself, you get insecure… The things you liked about yourself suddenly become things that you don’t like anymore.
If you’ve reached a breaking point, just know that you’re not going mad. I’ve said this before on this blog, your feelings are valid, so stop doubting yourself!
I wanted today, to go back to those thought patterns I know oh so well and outline the frame of a healthy relationship in hope that I can help others.
Just know that love shouldn’t hurt.
Heal your inner self first…
Let me tell you that if you are in one of these relationships, the first thing you need to accept is that you need to heal yourself. I know, it hurts to hear you’re at fault but trust me, you need to heal your inner self.
I can also tell you this is not an easy process. It takes time, dedication and commitment to sit and feel through things that have affected you.
I also want to point out that you are not faulty, or to blame, you simply haven’t begun on the path of healing yourself, and it can happen, you just have to choose to grow.
We all have our own battles, shadow sides or trauma, whatever you want to call it. The point is we all have a difficult path to walk, that’s just life.
If you’re struggling to build healthy relationships the change has to start within- and that can be a tough pill to swallow. I know because I ran from myself for years. I allowed others to miss treat me and then I blamed them.
I didn’t understand that forgiveness was for me, not for them. By not forgiving and coming to terms with things, I was simply just repeating the same pattern over and over again.
When I took the time to truly heal myself (which took a few years and fighting some addictions) I then began to process my relationships…
We all have different paths to walk, like I said earlier, I can’t tell you how to heal or you may even not be ready yet and that is fine.
Ways to heal yourself could involve therapy, ending relationships and spending time on your own, rehab (for addictions), fresh starts- as in cutting people out or moving home, even starting a new hobby and meeting new people. Fresh starts don’t always have to be negative.
You could try healing your inner child with hypnotherapy, meditation daily, even abstaining from sex.
I can’t tell you what will work for you, but I can tell you that change and healing take time.
There are no quick fixes but spending some time alone is essential. Your focus must be shifted to yourself and if you’ve spent your life being a giver, this can be a difficult process all in itself.
Over time you will realise that establishing healthy boundaries and seeing every day as an opportunity to make yourself feel good is essential.
Every single day should be an opportunity to build confidence and heal.
So when you are ready to accept that you need to heal or you begin the process of pulling yourself out of the depth of uncomfortableness you should being to see a pattern that emerges.
Your story should hopefully become just that and you will begin to understand what a healthy relationship is.
So here is my Acceptance…
When I was younger, I had a big heart.
I was a giver.
I over gave because deep down I was lacking in Love.
I was hurting because I didn't have a father figure.
I'd meet people and I'd go out of my way to help them.
I'd go to the ends of the earth to please them
(well maybe not literally but you get the idea).
My relationships weren't much better,
I always felt I had to prove to them how much I loved them.
They'd say things like "you're too kind"
or "that's so generous of you."
When the love wasn't returned I couldn't understand why,
after everything, I'd done for these people,
why didn't they love me in return?
But here was my first fault. What was ‘love’ in this scenario? I was overextending myself to please others. I was putting more energy into helping them than myself. I had unhealthy boundaries and I was always scared I was going to lose them so I lacked stability.
Not one of those things is love.
It also left me with some unhealthy scars and an inability to trust people.
When I met new people I'd get consumed by anxiety.
I'd think that people didn't like me instinctively.
It took me an incredibly long time to build up friendships
with people and when I did,
I always felt like I wasn't good enough.
I was frightened deep down that they didn’t care about me or that they would eventually abandon me.
Which of course after a while they always did (who wants someone unstable and needy).
Either I'd served my purpose or
I'd start to notice some shifty behaviour and question it.
That's when the discard phase would come,
and all those uncomfortable wounds would be opened up again.
I’d got so lost in a pattern of behaviour I couldn’t distinguish what was a healthy relationship anymore. That’s where I’d find myself lying in bed at night wondering if my relationship was really a relationship?
What is a healthy relationship?
So after I took some time to heal my inner self, I developed a six pillar system for myself.
Six pillars of what a healthy relationship should feel like.
These don’t just apply to narcissistic relationships, by the way, they are simply questions and points that I wrote down about what I think, makes a healthy relationship.
Do you listen to each other? It sounds basic I know but seriously this is so important.
I always think this is a telltale sign after an argument. Once the dust has settled, do you sit and talk about what has happened or do you just sweep it under the rug and pretend it hasn’t happened?
Even if someone hasn’t apologised yet, do you at least sit down and talk about what’s happened?
You do this to put closure on what has happened and try to understand it from their perspective.
In an unhealthy relationship, you won’t do this and you’ll usually get the guilt trip at this point if you try to. The relationship will not feel equal. There will be one dominant partner and one submissive one.
If you listen to each other, without another argument boiling up, even if things feel raw you should feel equal and free to express your opinion.
Things should not blow up into a full-scale argument again.
You should also want to fix things or if you really don’t think things should be fixed you should come to a mutual understanding that you are not compatible.
Do you feel safe talking about things and can you communicate openly?
Do you feel free to talk about anything you want? …or is there a subject that you’re not allowed to talk about?
Do you feel like if you talk about a certain subject your friend/ partner will become angry, or it will lead to an argument so you avoid it?
Do you often receive silent treatment?
Do you feel like you have to tread on eggshells to please them?
Do people actively ignore you during an argument?
These are all signs of emotional abuse.
Healthy communication relies on respect for each other’s feelings and thoughts. It should allow information to be exchanged freely without any limitations.
Communication should feel free, open and pleasant to do so. We all have a voice for a reason.
This one can be tough, we have all been hurt by love. Trust though should be mutual. If your partner gets jealous very easily this is not a good sign. If you feel jealous frequently this could indicate weak boundaries, insecurity and unhealed trauma.
A healthy relationship should be trusting. You should both be free to spend time apart and know that you will come back together. It’s also healthy to spend time apart. If you find yourself together constantly this is not a good sign.
Establishing healthy boundaries at the beginning of the relationship is essential. Talking about what you think is acceptable and what is not.
It’s also important to understand that past trauma should not be projected onto someone new.
If your ex cheated your new partner is not the same person. We should always give the people we begin a new relationship with a whole bucket of trust, they have not deceived us.
Do you make plans together?
Do you have a goal for the future together?
If they have some time off work do they make plans with you first and then fit in other stuff around that? Or are you bottom of the list?
This can be really damaging to your self-esteem if you stick around someone like this.
Sure sometimes everyone needs some space, that’s healthy. What’s not healthy is that if they’re always out with friends or they don’t make an effort to see you.
You are in a relationship with this person, you should be an important part of their life.
Does one of you spend a lot of time outside the relationship and one of you just stays at home?
Maybe one of you is an introvert and the other is an extrovert, and that is fine, but this may cause unhappiness down the line.
Look at your life before you met each other. Maybe you are introverted but you used to love travelling alone, now the thought of going anyway without your partner seems very unlikely. This should be a major red flag that something isn’t right.
If one of you is happily living their best life and you’re sat at home feeling lonely and thinking what has happened to your life? A controlling partner. That’s what.
Are they interested in what you’ve got to say?
Do you feel exciting when you talk to them? Or do they make you feel like you’re insignificant? Do you feel like you’re not as good as them?
A loving partner will love what you have to say. Someone that is invested in themselves will not like it when you feel good about yourself.
Beware also that the narcissist will lovebomb you at first.
To someone insecure and lacking in confidence this will feel amazing. If you’ve made friends with someone and they’re filling you up with excessive compliments be wary.
It might feel good at first but these people are like vampires for your soul. They will stop doing this when you’re hooked and then enters the narcissist. Leave. These people will really damage you if you let them.
Do you do lots of healthy activities together? …. or is it drinking non-stop?
People who care about you, care about your health. They don’t like to see you suffer and they put your mental and physical health first. They care about your well being and help you to be the best version of yourself.
Sometimes when we have feelings for someone it can blind us to someone’s actions.
It’s even harder when you share a mutual bond such as children or a mortgage.
It can be hard to know what to do for the best. Life is a challenge for all of us. We can’t all be perfect, however, how we treat others says a lot about who we are.
Your health should be important to someone that you have a relationship with. People who encourage addictions, unhealthy behaviours or a lack of exercise do not have our best interests at heart. They may not be bad people, just simply bad for us.
Changing your life
You can make your own guidelines, but for me, these have all come from experiences I’ve had and were major red flags that I ignored at the time.
In order to escape the cycle of narcissistic abuse, I ask myself these six things when I start any relationship.
- Do you listen to each other? If one of you has a conflicting opinion, do you respect it? Can you have a disagreement and respect each other’s opinion?
- Can you communicate openly and without judgement? Do you both have a voice? Or is there a power struggle for who is right?
- Do you trust each other and respect each other’s boundaries? Do you trust your partner? If you establish something as unacceptable to you, does your partner respect this?
- Do you make time for each other and plan things together? Do you talk about a future and set goals together? Short term and long term? Are you excited about spending time together?
- Do you remember details about each other’s life? Are you interested in each other’s lives? Do you highlight the positives of each other lives? Or do they just talk about their crazy exes?
- Do you engage in healthy activities with each other?
If you keep these six things in mind, it should help you make clearer decisions about who to let into your life.
One day maybe we’ll all have a world where we look after each other until then we can take care of ourselves.
It’s not selfish to put yourself first.
The road to recovery is long.