When Your Partner Has C-PTSD

When Your Partner Has C-PTSD

Do you or your partner suffer from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), whether due to a toxic family of origin or a previous toxic romantic relationship, family relationship, or friendship involving narcissistic abuse?

Are you struggling with how to deal when your partner has C-PTSD?

If so, you know that CPTSD can trigger intense reactions in both sufferers and their loved ones. In fact, the reactions may be more intense when the person with CPTSD is triggered by someone they love. This is because loving someone makes it harder to put up a wall against their pain.

Helpful: This video offers an understanding of how C-PTSD can really affect you long-term. If your partner is the one dealing with C-PTSD, it may help you to better understand why they do some of the things they do.

If you’re looking for answers, stick with me and I’ll fill you in. But first, a couple of definitions so we’re on the same page going into this discussion.

What is Complex Post Traumatic Disorder (C-PTSD)?

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. This disorder can take years to treat and many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms or misdiagnose it. They may even victim-blame if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist. Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities. Learn what are the 17 symptoms of complex PTSD.

Helpful: This video offers 37 things you need to know about narcissistic abuse syndrome, AKA C-PTSD.

What is Narcissistic Abuse?

Narcissistic abuse is a pervasive, covert type of abuse that involves the exploitation and emotional and/or psychological abuse of one partner in a toxic relationship. This kind of abuse can affect a personal connection, such as marriage, partnership, friendship, or family relationships. When you’re dealing with a narcissist in the family, they will often abuse everyone in the household and even affect the extended family members. Even professional relationships and acquaintanceships can be affected by narcissistic abuse.

What is narcissistic abuse like?

While narcissistic abuse can result in profound emotional and psychological harm, as well as long-term, often debilitating, life-changing physical effects, the covert nature of this painful form of relationship abuse can make it difficult to spot and even more challenging to manage. Worse, if you find yourself involved in this kind of relationship with a malignant narcissist, your self-confidence and self-worth are often so low by the time you realize it, you can’t or won’t leave.

What do narcissists do to their victims?

Narcissistic abuse involves subtle manipulation, pervasive control tactics, gaslighting, and emotional and psychological abuse.  Many narcissistic abusers might be diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder – if they actually go to a psychologist for diagnosis, but this rarely happens as narcissists don’t feel that there’s anything with them. They may be overtly narcissistic, or they may be more of a covert narcissist. In either case, anyone in a close relationship with one of these toxic people will be used as a form of narcissistic supply and not treated like an actual person. Sadly, even the most intelligent and educated people can be manipulated and abused by a narcissist. Spend any significant amount of time with a narcissist who knows you well, and you’re guaranteed to get a taste of toxic. If you live with or communicate with the narcissist on a regular basis, chances are that you’ve been gaslighted so often that you might almost feel like it’s part of “normal,” but the idea of just one more instant has you doubting your sanity, your IQ, and your memory, not to mention your whole sense of self.

Helpful: This video offers insight into how C-PTSD from narcissistic abuse can affect you long-term, and it can also help you understand your partner’s C-PTSD and the effects it has had on their life. Also offered: tips for healing and hope for recovery.

Is every kind of abuse narcissistic abuse?

Certainly, the term narcissistic abuse can refer to a variety of behaviors, as described above. So, emotional abuse and psychological abuse are often the results of narcissistic abuse. Sometimes it may also involve a number of other kinds of abuse including the following.

Are all abusers narcissists?

Of course, most abusers seem to have some narcissistic traits, but while not all abuse involves narcissists, a large percentage of abuse cases seem to have at least one narcissist is involved. Of course, when you’re talking specifically about narcissists of a toxic nature (often referred to as malignant narcissists or toxic narcissists), you’re talking about those who have little to no empathy for the people around them and who act from that perspective.

In other words: they don’t care how you or anyone else feels, and you can tell because of the way they treat the people around them. Their actions clearly highlight their extreme lack of emotional empathy and compassion.

How does relationship trauma affect your other relationships?

Research shows that dealing with relationship trauma affects more than just those involved in an abusive relationship. It impacts people from their immediate social circle as well. In one study, researchers interviewed 88 college students and found that those who experienced a relationship trauma felt the need to isolate themselves from others and felt significantly less attractive to potential partners. They were also more likely to feel they had a lack of control over events in their life.

The point is that when one person in a relationship is traumatized it can create an imbalance in communication between the partners and other people they come into contact with. For example, if one partner has been exposed to prolonged and/or extreme forms of abuse or neglect, it can create an imbalance in communication between the partners.

Can you have PTSD from narcissistic abuse?

A lot of people don’t understand that you can develop C-PTSD from long-term narcissistic abuse. It’s confusing because conventionally, post-traumatic stress disorder is associated with war, terrorism, natural disasters, and other life-threatening events. If you have PTSD, you may be experiencing flashbacks or nightmares about the event, avoid people or places that remind you of the event, feel numb or disconnected, have difficulty sleeping or concentrating, be constantly on guard for danger and have feelings of anxiety and fear. But what if you are suffering from PTSD after narcissistic abuse? Let’s talk about the differences between PTSD and C-PTSD.

What are the symptoms of PTSD from narcissistic abuse?

And how do you know if you have it? C-PTSD and other kinds of relationship trauma can be devastating to your physical, emotional, or psychological health, not to mention painfully life-altering – and usually not in a good way.

Not only can you end up depressed, numb, and feeling lost, but C-PTSD from narcissistic abuse may lead to behaviors such as:

See more symptoms and indicators of C-PTSD here. 

Can someone with complex PTSD have a relationship?

Short answer: YES, as long as they’ve healed or mostly healed before entering that relationship.

Detailed explanation: When you’re dealing with someone who has complex PTSD who has taken the time to do the work (or in some cases who are still in the process, a healthy relationship is entirely possible. The newer the discovery of C-PTSD and the less recovery work a survivor has done, the more difficult the relationship could be. Still, if you’re patient and willing to be supportive in a kind, consistent, gentle way, you can be of tremendous help to ease many C-PTSD symptoms. Just be careful to maintain your own boundaries in the meantime.

When you’re dealing with a less-healed person with complex PTSD, things can get a little difficult, but there’s still hope. You can make it work if you’re willing to be patient and compassionate. It can help to remember to consider their perspective and to treat them with kindness – just as you’d want to be treated if you were in their shoes. Let your empathy shine.

How should I deal with a partner who has C-PTSD?

It’s important to remember that not everyone is capable of loving everyone – and in some cases, of loving ANYONE – they meet. Some people are naturally more kind and honest than others, but other people have been taught to keep their feelings hidden from the world.

With this in mind, here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with someone who has been through relationship trauma.

  • They might not say anything until they’re ready. In other words, they might not express their feelings at all. Don’t take this as a sign that they don’t love you — it’s just a way for them to control how they feel until they’re ready to let go of their pain.
  • They might try to avoid any discussion about their exes or other relationships out of shame or embarrassment. If you ask them about someone else, it’ll make them feel uncomfortable and bring up bad memories from the past. But if you respect their privacy, they’ll open up eventually without pressure from you.
  • They might get defensive when you bring up past relationships or talk about your own experience with other people. Their own history might make them feel vulnerable and insecure — particularly if they’re still working through their feelings — so they might become defensive when confronted with issues from the pasts of others. This is a sign that there’s something going on inside that needs healing, but your questions could be interpreted as a challenge or intrusion by someone who feels threatened by the vulnerability.
  • They might go silent when talking about topics related to their exes, such as what happened between them and how they treated them in the relationship.

What should I do when my partner struggles with C-PTSD triggers?

A better question might be what are the best practices for your own behavior during C-PTSD triggers? See, this will depend on two things: the understanding that this really IS NOT about you, even if you did cause the trigger. So, stay calm and remember that this is one of those times when “better or worse” comes into play. Here’s where, most of the time, avoidant partners will just shut down. They will do their best to avoid situations that could cause them to feel hurt again. The problem with this is that there is no chance for healing, which can lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness.

How much responsibility do I have when it comes to my partner’s C-PTSD triggers?

This is sort of up to your partner, in some ways, because they may or may not be able to accept any support, depending on how damaged they are and what phase of the relationship you’ve reached. Of course, you’re always free to walk away, but if you care about them and want to make the relationship work, chances are you’ll accept the level of responsibility they’re willing to give to you.

One important note: If you’re not equipped for it, please let your partner know. If you’re willing to help but don’t know how, that’s okay – there are ways you can learn. For example, You could choose to get some kind of counseling or coaching together or separately on how to deal with C-PTSD as a couple.

And remember this:

  • You don’t necessarily have to prevent your partner from shutting down, but you can certainly facilitate a safe, emotionally supportive response if the situation warrants, or some distance, or even a period of extreme closeness – depending on which of your partner’s needs you feel comfortable fulfilling.
  • The point is, listen and watch for what best serves your partner I’m the moment and read up on other ways to help your partner cope with C-PTSD triggers. 

How do I get out of a CPTSD trigger? 

Step One: Identify the trigger.

Triggers in C-PTSD can be overwhelming for both you and your partner. If you’re the one dealing with the trigger, the first thing you can do to help yourself is to identify it AS A TRIGGER. In layman’s terms, this can help to switch out of your emotional side and into your intellectual one.

Step Two: Understand why you’re triggered.

Then, take a deep breath and remember that you’re not alone – even if you are in the middle of a CPTSD trigger, you are not alone.   Even if you feel like an alien, you are not the only one who has C-PTSD as a result of narcissistic abuse.  This is not an easy question to answer, because everyone responds differently to triggers, so there really isn’t a sure-fire plan on how to get out of one.

Step Three: Who is your narcissistic abuse recovery support team?

Start by figuring out your support team – who can you count on to get you through the hard times in recovery, and who will be there to celebrate your wins with you.

My Best Support Team Recruiting Tip: If you’re feeling alone in your recovery, I get it. I did too, and that’s why I do what I do – and why I always suggest a check-up with your doctor to have C-PTSD diagnosed and to determine if you need to be medically or psychologically treated. A lot of survivors also need support from outside of these helpful but time-restrained support people – and their friends stop listening after a while – or worse, side with the narcissist. Or for any number of other individual circumstances, you find yourself feeling lost and lonely after narcissistic abuse – you’re going to want to join a narcissistic abuse recovery support group. 

That’s why I suggest that you also consider finding yourself a good narcissistic abuse recovery coach or coaching group, or a therapist to help guide and support you along your C-PTSD recovery journey. Or, if you’re struggling with money and can’t find someone who takes your health insurance, or you just want a little extra support, you can join one of our free online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups.

Dr. Robin Bryman’s C-PTSD Healing Tips

Dr. Robin Bryman, QueenBeeing’s clinical psychology content partner, offers the following tips for self-help healing for C-PTSD.

1. Ground Yourself.

Dr. Robin recommends that you first and foremost physically ground yourself.   She offers this simple technique for grounding.
A. Breathe…
  • Inhale through your nose, count to 6.
  • Fill your abdomen with air.
  • Stomach distended.
  • Do not hold your stomach in.
B. Hold your breath for 6 seconds
C. Exhale 6 seconds through your mouth.
Repeat 3 times.

2. Try Reparenting Yourself. 

Dr. Robin recommends a reparenting exercise that can be very effective, especially if you grew up in a toxic family and were invalidated or at least not given proper validation by your parents. Her simple exercise, below, offers a shocking amount of help because you can learn to validate yourself in the process.
  • Talk to yourself like you’re your own best “mom ” or “dad.”
  • Be loving and kind.
  • This can help you feel calmer and less alone, as well as improve your self-image and self-esteem.
“Know that you got this,” Dr. Robin says. “You’ve been through so much and have developed residency. Much more than most. Believe in yourself, and remember that survivors become thrives!”

Help Yourself Through Narcissistic Abuse Recovery and C-PTSD Healing

You have to keep in mind that relationships go through many stages. And if you’re going through a rough period, it’s possible that your partner may not be able to fully empathize with your situation. Explaining the situation might help, but you can serve yourself and any potential future partner best if you work through this healing before committing yourself to a new relationship.

Help Your Partner Through C-PTSD Healing After Narcissistic Abuse

If you’re in a relationship with someone who suffers from trauma, remember not to get caught up in the drama of their anger or occasional outbursts of violence. Instead, try to understand what’s going on for them and offer them support by listening and talking things through instead of rushing in and trying to fix them. Remember that they’ve been through a very difficult and painful situation that took them away from who they were supposed to be.

They can’t get back the person they once were, but they can certainly become a better, more balanced version of it – and that’s what you’re going to help them shoot for. And consider where they’re coming from, what they were taught, and who they really are by thinking about the following questions, and asking them if appropriate.

  • How did they grow up?
  • What did they learn from their parents?
  • What did they experience at school or in the workplace that made them who they are today?

It’s important to take into account these things when understanding what caused the problems in the relationship. This, along with steady, unfailing support and a willingness to keep an open mind, can go a long way into helping your partner feel safe again.

Advice for Managing C-PTSD in Your Relationship

In either case, remember this: how you go on from a traumatic event is important – and the most important thing when it comes to getting into your next relationship is that you’re ready. You must take the time to heal and to learn to stand up for yourself and to set firm boundaries. You must learn to value yourself properly and to recognize your worth. If you grew up with toxic parents, chances are that you’ve never fully managed to do that.

Here are some resources to help.

Resources for Healing After Trauma Caused By Narcissistic Abuse

Professional Help for Managing Trauma and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

If you are experiencing symptoms that are affecting your day-to-day life, it is important to get professional if needed. There is no shame in working with experts to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Consider talking to experts if you experience the following symptoms.

  • Ongoing distress, anxiety, sadness, etc for multiple weeks.
  • Feeling like you’re stuck or you have an inability to function in your life.
  • Feeling hopeless all the time.
  • Your work or school is affected.
  • Your daily life and activities have been affected.
  • You are using drugs or alcohol to cope.

It never hurts to start by contacting your family doctor or mental health professionals. Also, consider talking to a clergy member about a referral if you go to church. They may know a professional in your community that you can work with. You can also check out the narcissistic abuse recovery support resources here.

Self-Assessments for Managing Trauma and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery 

More Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

  • Best Books on Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
  • Comprehensive Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Glossary: This is a comprehensive guide to words and phrases (related to narcissism, NPD and related conditions, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery) that are commonly used in articles, videos, and narcissistic abuse recovery support groups. Defined here as specifically how they relate to narcissism, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery, these terms have been developed by psychologists, coaches, therapists, and survivors of narcissistic abuse who need a way to understand and overcome the abuse.
  • FAQ Help: Whenever you need help with something related to this site or you want to know how to find something, join a group or otherwise deal with an issue you’re having, visit our new FAQ Help page.
  • Self-Care for Survivors: This is a page that covers everything you need to know about self-care, from how to build your own self-care kit to how to sign up for self-care support, and more.
  • New Resources Page: This is a one-stop overview of narcissism, NPD, and narcissistic abuse recovery, offering a long list of resources that will be helpful for you.
  • Stalking Resources Center: If your narcissist is a stalker, the information and resources on this page will help you get and stay safe.
  • Visit Our Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Resources Page

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only.  It’s very important to always check with your doctor before taking any action that could affect your physical or mental health.  

Take the C-PTSD Quiz Now

Take the C-PTSD Quiz Now

Have you been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist? If so, you might have also be at risk for complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Most people have heard of PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A disorder often diagnosed in soldiers, PTSD happens, on the most basic level, when someone has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event, such as the horrors often reported from the battlefield. It may also happen when someone witnesses a murder, has a car accident or experiences another type of short-term or single event trauma. But not everyone knows about C-PTSD, or Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. C-PTSD is often seen in abuse survivors, and it is sometimes referred to as Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome in the online narcissistic abuse recovery community.

Take the C-PTSD Quiz

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Self-Assessment – Do you think you have C-PTSD? Take this test and find out if you might be a victim of this pervasive disorder.

 

Ready to get results on your C-PTSD Quiz? Press “Ready to Send” and scroll down for results. 

What is Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

While C-PTSD is closely related to PTSD, it refers to a reaction to longer-term trauma that can take place repeatedly or continuously over the course of weeks, months or years.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse and other types of ongoing trauma. Symptoms for C-PTSD are similar to PTSD but also include other symptoms that can lead to significant impairment in relationships and your quality of life.

This disorder can take years to treat and many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms or misdiagnose it. They may even victim-blame if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist. Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities.

What are the Symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

According to the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, the symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder are as follows:

  • Rage displayed through violence, destruction of property, or theft
  • Depression, denial, fear of abandonment, thoughts of suicide, anger issues
  • Low self-esteem, panic attacks, self-loathing
  • Perfectionism, blaming others instead of dealing with a situation, selective memory
  • Loss of faith in humanity, distrust, isolation, inability to form close personal relationships
  • Shame, guilt, focusing on wanting revenge
  • Flashbacks, memory repression, dissociation
  • Eating disorders, substance abuse, alcoholism, promiscuity
  • Chronic pain
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems.
  • Migraines

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, you may also experience dissociation, which is a separation of normally related mental processes. Dissociation manifests as brain fog, or feeling disconnected from reality. Sometimes developed as a trauma response, it offers a victim a way to “get away” in their mind. Dissociation can in extreme cases lead to multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder.

Another common symptom for survivors of narcissistic abuse is the avoidance of certain social situations, including a feeling of not wanting to leave the house  You might also find yourself prone to triggers and flashbacks to your abuse, among other things.

This video playlist offers an overview of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), including symptoms and how to overcome them.

How is Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) Treated?

There are a number of different treatments available for people with C-PTSD, and no one treatment will work for everyone. Each situation and each person is different. We do find that survivors are best served by therapists who have had similar experiences (and who therefore have a deeper understanding of their situations). Coaches can also be effective when they’ve shared similar experiences and have had appropriate training adn there aren’t other mental health issues. Additionally, coaching can be an ideal complement or followup to an ongoing therapy relationship.

  • Traditional “Talk Therapy” – Talking it through for C-PTSD patients is sometimes the best way to treat the disorder. Counselors and psychotherapists that are specially trained in PTSD treatment can usually help the person find closure for the traumatic incident that has caused such a lifestyle change.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This type of therapy helps a C-PTSD patient realize that events that took place weren’t his fault and helps alleviate feelings of guilt. A therapist listens to the PTSD patient describe the traumatic event(s) in detail and then helps the person understand the incident and why it happened.
  • Coaching – When the person suffering from C-PTSD is otherwise mentally stable, a good narcissistic abuse recovery coach can help them discover the answers they seek and learn new coping techniques for dealing with the issues that come along with it. This can work together with or independently from traditional therapies.

Read about more treatments for C-PTSD right here.

 

When Abuse Makes You Forget How to Talk About Yourself

When Abuse Makes You Forget How to Talk About Yourself


Communication as we all know is incredibly important in any relationship, but when we’ve been involved with narcissists, even the most skilled communicators can feel helpless and handicapped when it comes to being understood – narcissists will inevitably refuse to understand us, especially when what we’re saying is not something like “OMG, you’re so amazing.”

For example, try telling a narcissist exactly how you feel about the way they belittle and invalidate you – and watch how they twist the conversation around. In some of the most extreme cases, you will end up apologizing for not thinking they’re perfect and for having the nerve to even suggest otherwise.

And, when we go through years of this, not to mention that narcissists often isolate their victims from others who might actually offer some support, we sort of forget HOW to communicate – in a way. We stop feeling like we can (or even should) talk about OURSELVES, and we stop trying to make valuable contributions to conversations, in part because we’ve been conditioned to believe that we have nothing of value to say and nothing to offer.

We believe that we’re not good enough and that no one wants to hear what we have to say anyway. When we do speak up, we tend to keep it short and to the point when it relates to ourselves or our own opinions or beliefs.

There was a time in my life when, if you asked me a question about myself, I might not even know WHAT to say, or even if I did, I’d feel awkward saying it and wanted to get the attention off me as soon as possible.

This was because I had been conditioned to think that nothing about me was interesting or even worth hearing about.

When we go through narcissistic abuse, we might find ourselves dealing with depression.

We might also develop other issues – various compulsive behaviors, or an eating disorder or substance abuse problem, because sometimes, we try to sort of  ‘self-medicate” to deal with our issues.

We could have flashbacks or panic attacks, and we will most definitely deal with a certain amount of self-doubt. Some of us experience suicidal thoughts – and in the worst cases, some people find themselves seeking or even carrying out the abuse they experienced as a child. On the flip side of that, you may go so far in the other direction that you are a different kind of unhealthy – for example, an abused child who grows up to be a doormat parent (as in, allowing your kids to become spoiled and run the show). It’s a fine line, isn’t it?

But back to communication.

There are certain issues that can directly affect our ability to communicate after this kind of abuse – and as always, I’m going to tell you that I believe knowledge is power – and the first step to power is to realize there’s a problem. We’ve got to first discover it and then admit it if we’re ever going to heal.

So, after abuse, the issues that might affect your ability to communicate are multifaceted. The first one I’d like to outline is our heightened reactions to various common relationship issues – we may become triggered over something small, such as an innocently-used phrase that used to mean something awful. Example from one of my clients: her narcissist would always say “Who are you trying to impress?” So when she was later in a healthy relationship, this same phrase uttered by her new partner triggered her and caused her to revert for a moment to her “former self,” the abused self.

This leads to my next point: emotionally-fueled disagreements. When we’re healing, we don’t always know how to deal with conflict and we may get overly emotional when we don’t mean to. Going back to the client I just mentioned, in that situation, her trigger led her to an emotionally-fueled discussion with her new guy – but in his healthy state, he actually calmed her down by validating her and reminding her that it was okay to be emotional sometimes, and then by comforting her and HEARING her (IMAGINE!).

We may also withdraw and become unresponsive when triggered by our old issues, which obviously affects our ability to communicate, and we almost always feel a serious aversion to conflict. This can lead to an inability to talk through our issues especially if we feel judged or like the person we’re communicating with is somehow not on our side.

We may always have a lingering doubt about how our partners in the future feel about us and sometimes doubt their faithfulness, especially when our narcissists include romantic partners in the past.

And thanks to the fact that many of us have never felt loved unconditionally, we often find ourselves having difficulty accepting any love at all – we are suspicious of people who try to offer it to us and we often need repeated reassurance of the fact that someone cares about us.

This of course can push people away from us and isolate us even further, which will make communication even harder.

So how can we get over this? What can we do to improve our ability to communicate after abuse?

First of all, you have to let go of the fear and start with the basics. Let me ask you a few questions.

Do you dread talking to strangers or those you barely know? Some people seem to be born with the gift of gab. They talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime, about anything. By understanding a few strategies and putting in a little practice, you can talk to anyone with ease, too. You don’t have to be mesmerizing. You just have to convince the other person they are.


A successful social conversation puts the emphasis on your conversation partner. It’s also a highly effective way to sell products and services.

You can become an excellent conversationalist, even after narcissistic abuse. Try these tips.

1. Make a good first impression. People make a lot of conclusions about you before you ever open your mouth. Conveying the message that you’re friendly, confident, and relevant provides a huge advantage. People will naturally want to engage with you and will listen to what you have to say.

  • * Stand or sit up straight. Put on your best confident smile. Look them in the eye.

2. Pay attention. Everyone wants to matter. By giving your conversation partner your full attention, you can accomplish that with ease. Avoid looking at your watch, your phone, or scanning the room. Keep your attention on the other person.

3. Avoid worrying about what you’ll say next. This could easily fall under the previous point, but deserves specific attention. Are you one of those people that’s viewed as socially awkward? That’s because you’re worried about what you’re going to say next. You’re not listening intently to the other person.

  • * When your mind is furiously working to think of something to say, you become fidgety, your eye contact wavers, and your anxiety is obvious. It makes others uncomfortable. Just listen, and the other person will give you plenty of material to move the conversation forward.

4. Turn the spotlight on the other person. You’ll find that your most successful conversations will be about the other person. People love it when you show an interest in them. Keep turning the conversation toward the other person, their interests, and opinions. Your new friend will greatly enjoy the conversation.

5. Worried about running out of things to say? Repeat the last few words of your conversation partner.

  • * “So, you went scuba diving on the great barrier reef?” Then just sit back and relax.

6. Always have something interesting to say. You will have to contribute something interesting to the conversation on occasion. Be prepared. You wouldn’t blindly reach into a dark closet and wear the first thing your hand touched. There’s no reason to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Be prepared.

  • * Watch the news before you head out the door and be aware of the latest global and local happenings.
  • * Have a story or two prepared.

7. Expect success. Your expectations and results match more often than not. Expect to have a good conversation. Believe that you’re a great conversationalist. Visualize conversational success.

8. Give one sincere compliment. Avoid making a direct compliment, because it can be potentially awkward and begs for a response.

  • * “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen” is too much.
  • * “Wow, you obviously work out. What type of exercise do you do?” is very complimentary without going too far.
  • * One sincere compliment is enough.
  • Even after abuse, you can learn conversation skills – or re-learn them. 
Believe it or not: This is THE Most Soul-Crushing Part of Narcissistic Abuse

Believe it or not: This is THE Most Soul-Crushing Part of Narcissistic Abuse

“Everybody is looking for validation, no matter who you are, and I think that’s a need of the human condition – to look for affection or recognition or validation.” ~Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

If you are or have ever been involved in any sort of relationship with a toxic narcissist, there’s a chance that you’ve been educating yourself on what you’re dealing with.

Between the gaslighting, the narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury and the flying monkeys of it all, you’re probably thinking you already know the worst part of being in this awful situation.

But the truth is that all of the name calling, verbal cut-downs and narcissistic control that you deal with are only the beginning – and as horribly painful as they can feel, the absolute worst part of being mentally and emotionally abused by a narcissist comes down to one thing: the devalue phase.

Why do I say this? I mean, after all, we already know that every part of the narcissistic abuse cycle can literally become debilitating.

But, it’s about more than that – it’s about validation.

I’ll elaborate in this video:

It’s when you talk and you get only grunts in response. Nothing that actually indicates the narc has heard you or understood you – just a pause and a breath.

He’s just waiting until it’s his turn to talk again, after all. He could care less what’s happening inside your head – he only wants to know that you’re there for him.

If you think back, you might remember that, if you asked him (or he volunteered) how he felt about you, he always said things like:

  • I love the way you make me feel.
  • I love how you always listen.
  • I love that you’re always there when I need you.
  • I love how you take care of me.
  • Etc.

See how there wasn’t really anything about YOU PERSONALLY there?

And it’s not that you should really care or even feel offended – I mean, it’s just the narcissist’s “way” right?

Well, that would be the case if you didn’t seem to catch the narc appearing to genuinely connect with other people when he’s more of a brick wall when it comes to understanding YOU.

He will be nice to them. He will seem to have empathy for them and if you dare to even bat an eyelash the wrong way in regard to those people? He will tell you HOW THEY FEEL! And still, when it comes to you, the narc seems to have a blind spot, as far as you can tell.

But then you start to wonder. What’s so bad about me? Am I really as (insert insulting lie here – crazy/lazy/ugly/bitchy/stupid, etc.) the narc says I am?

So, by devaluing and disregarding you with those subtle little behaviors, the narcissist achieves his goal: to beat you down emotionally and mold you into the good little supply he wants.

And once he does, the happiness you hope he’ll find will never quite arrive. Because the more you try to become perfect for a narcissist, the more he loses respect for you.

Over time, he will have you believing that you’re not even an actual human who even deserves to be treated with even the most basic dignity. And you will find yourself acting in kind as you desperately seek to justify it to yourself with thoughts of personal change and self-sacrifice.

You rack your brain on ways YOU can change in order to elicit change from him.

But here’s the thing – none of that will matter unless both people are willing to give.

You can only change so much without any reciprocation at all. Compromise means two parties come to mutually agreeable resolution in which both parties get what they want. Otherwise it’s just you giving and giving and him taking. Feel me?

Now it’s your turn – what do you think? Is validation one of the biggest things you’re missing when it comes to your relationship with a narcissist? Are you forgetting who you are? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments and let’s discuss it. 

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