Imagine for a moment that you have to break up with a really nice and caring person. Although it won’t be easy you know that it simply isn’t the right match and that it would be dishonest to continue with the relationship. You end things, feel a lingering tinge of sadness, but are able to move on with your life.
Now let’s shift gears. Imagine that you have to break up with a person that has manipulated you, verbally abused you, possibly physically abused you, cheated on you, and continually caused you to feel blame and shame for the duration of your relationship.
Which break-up do you think would be harder? Logically it would be ending things with the person who was kind and friendly, but it is the complete opposite. It will take you weeks, months, or even years to break the chains of the narcissist… if they don’t leave you first.
Breaking free from a toxic/abusive relationship is one, if not the hardest thing, that you will ever do and here are four reasons why.
#1. You will struggle to accept that it was all a facade
During the beginning part of a relationship, a narcissist will morph themselves into your ideal match. The first few months of the relationship will most likely be amazing, especially during the love-bombing phase.
However, it is not real. Someone cannot love you immediately after getting to know you, and that beginning phase was just an illusion. However, you will try to go back to that place over and over again once the “love” fades and you are left with mere tidbits of what once remained to keep you on the hook.
The memories from those first few months are so strong that most people will stay as the relationship gets increasingly worse and worse. They don’t want to believe they will never be treated the way they were in the beginning.
#2. You have been conditioned to doubt your worth
There was a moment I will never forget years ago when I was with my narcissistic ex.
We arrived at a party where I didn’t know anyone a few months after dating. He told me that I should mingle and that he would return shortly.
A few minutes later I saw him across the room with another girl, a huge smile on his face. For that entire night, he ignored me completely. They sat together and played music together, and I tried to act calm as it felt like he was testing whether or not I was “cool.”
After we left, I asked him why he had ignored me all evening. He answered that she was just a friend and I was being silly. Then, he told me that I was lucky to have been there at all. He said that although she was extremely pretty, he was committed to me… wasn’t I just the luckiest girl?
That moment sticks out in my head because it was the first time he caused me to question my worth. There were many after, but the more that it happened, the more I felt like I couldn’t leave him because no one else would ever want me.
#3. You believed that you were soulmates
This is often the part that someone doesn’t understand if they haven’t gone through it first-hand.
How could you think such a toxic person was your soulmate?
I’m not sure why it’s such a strange concept to understand when we are conditioned to believe in soul-mates our entire lives. We have been fed a message by movies, books, and music that there is someone out in the world just waiting to complete you.
The narcissist felt like a soulmate. You locked eyes from across the room and suddenly no one else existed. When you had your first kiss, you felt it all the way in your toes and it is the most intoxicating thing you had ever experienced.
Even after all of the magic had disappeared and the dust had settled … you didn’t want to let go… because this was your soulmate.
#4. They will make shallow promises for the future
Every time that I began to pull away my ex would start promising that he would change and a couple of days would transpire with no smoking, or not drinking, some good habit would start… and quickly end.
I often hear the lament that the narcissist became a better person for his next girlfriend/boyfriend and fulfilled the promises that they had not kept for their previous partner.
The reality is that the same person is there in the new relationship even if they put on a front that it is different. Unless they were willing to undergo therapy (very unlikely as most narcissists refuse to admit they need help) there has been no change. It is the same person with the same toxic behaviors whether or not they got a gym membership.
If you are in the position where you are wondering why you can’t end things with the narcissist in your love, or you are struggling to move on, I want to remind you that you are not alone.
Personally, it took several years of self-reflection, therapy, and growth before I was able to fully move on and take my life back. Everyone is different in their healing journey, but I want to leave you with this final thought.
Ending things with a narcissist is horribly difficult, but you have so much to gain on the other side. Breaking free will allow you to get your life back, and in turn, you will finally get yourself back.