If you’re recovering from narcissistic abuse in relationships and you’re thinking about dating again, you might want to know what to look for so you can avoid getting involved with a narcissist again in the future. (more…)
What’s wrong with me? Why do I keep going back to the narcissist?
Why do I miss them so much when they were so terrible for me?
Why won’t the narcissist just leave me alone?
Almost always, when you finally gather up the nerve to end a toxic relationship, you’re going to be faced with a rocky road at first.
What Makes the Narcissist So Hard to Leave?
Most narcissists will try to get your attention again after you’ve been separated – whether it’s immediately or after a period of time. And many survivors of narcissistic abuse admit that they get sucked back in from time to time.
This has a lot to do with trauma bonding.
What is trauma bonding?
Trauma bonding is similar to Stockholm Syndrome.
It’s a common condition among narcissistic abuse survivors and their abusers.
Trauma bonding essentially causes abuse you to literally develop a psychological dependence on the narcissist as a survival strategy during abuse.
And of course, trauma bonding also makes recovering from a toxic relationship significantly more difficult.
Speaking of “sucked in,” let’s remember that narcissists love to “hoover” you when they feel like they’ve lost control of you. Read more about hoovering here.
Oh, and let’s not forget the love-bombing of it all.
What if you’re the one trying to get back together with the narcissist?
Now, if you’re the one trying to reconnect with the narcissist, you’re probably experiencing a lot of emotional abuse right now – it’s exactly the type of thing a narcissist enjoys.
You’ll repeatedly go through the devalue and discard phases, peppered with brief episodes of reprieve in which you almost catch a glimpse of the person you once knew.
If you think about it, the psychology of people who have been abused by narcissists is so altered by the abuse that their reactions to things that happen in their life aren’t “normal,” for lack of a better word.
Trauma Bonding in Action: The Biting Puppy
What does that mean, exactly? Well, let me offer up a quick example using puppies. (Stick with me here, it’s not as crazy as it sounds!)
The Happy Puppy and the Biting Puppy
Let’s say that you were out to buy a puppy. You find a group of perfectly adorable pups and it’s time to make the choice.
One puppy seems happy and friendly, and when you hold out your hand, he sniffs it and offers up a little doggie kiss.
Another puppy seems a bit stressed, to say the least, and when you hold out your hand, he bites your finger, drawing blood in the shape of his tiny little puppy teeth.
A “normal” response would be to take the happy puppy home and never think of the biting puppy again, while a person who has experienced narcissistic abuse is more likely to keep going back to the biter and hoping for different results.
The fact is that it’s “normal” for us as humans to go toward pleasure and away from pain – after all, pain is a warning sign that something is WRONG. You feel me?
Along the same line, let’s get back to those dogs for a moment.
Think about the stories you’ve heard about dogs who stay loyal to their owners who hurt them. Why would they do that? It’s because of programming – the training and conditioning that you instill into them, along with their need to look to their “pack leader” for guidance.
How is this relevant to your situation?
Well, the fact is that if you’re going to voluntarily return to someone who has abused you, you’ve experienced a similar kind of conditioning.
And sort of like the dog, or even like hostages who experience Stockholm syndrome, you find that you become addicted to the need to please the narcissist, or the need to find out if he or she is okay, or even of the need to get some of his coveted “positive” attention if that’s what he’s been depriving you of – those glimpses of what he once was.
This is what brings you back, at least on one level.
And, like the dog who is beaten, the narcissist uses fear to control you – and when you’ve gone no contact or when you threaten to, the narcissist reaches deep into his manipulative toolbox and pulls out your biggest fear of all – the fear of being utterly, desperately alone.
So, in a way, you have to recognize that the feeling of obligation and almost desperation that you feel when you’re away from the abuser isn’t real.
The Ugly Truth: Maybe You Keep Going Back Because You’re Scared That the Narcissist Was Right
The bottom line, though is this: the reason you want that abusive jerk back, even though he put you through absolute hell, is because the pain of the idea of being ALONE, abandoned, helpless, worthless – that’s so much worse in your mind than the actual abuse.
Sometimes, having someone who just seems to have all the “right” answers – someone who keeps you right on the edge of sanity – just feels like home, especially if you’ve been stuck in a toxic relationship for long.
And that, my friend, is where we all sort of figure out where our places are in this world – it’s part of what makes us attractive to narcissists in the first place.
And what makes them attractive to the US – they can sort of seem like what we’ve always wanted, our hero, our savior – that is, until we discover that they’ve been secretly consuming our souls, one bite at a time. Before you know it, you’re left spinning and feeling empty.
So how do you get over the need to keep going back to the narcissist?
- You’ve got to change your mind. I know, it sounds simple. But if you change your mind and literally DECIDE that you don’t need him, you’ll eventually get there – even if you have to fake it a little at first.
- Use the law of attraction to your advantage by employing a simple-to-remember mantra or affirmation that you repeat to yourself anytime you have feelings or thoughts that make you want to go back.
- And, if you have to, create a little “narc-resistance” file – one where you write down or record your reasons for leaving – and staying away – and make sure you’re very honest with yourself – after all, no one else needs to see it.
- Stick to your no contact plan.
Avoid the Hoover Maneuver – How a Narcissist Sucks You Back In
Often, when the narcissist in your life feels the need to gain more of your attention and “narcissistic supply,” they will use a technique we call the “hoover maneuver” – and it’s meant to suck you back into the relationship, or at least, into the drama.
Have you ever experienced a desire to reconnect with a narcissist after you’ve separated from him or her? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Finding Your Catalyst to Save Yourself From Narcissistic Abuse
Knowing that you want your life to change requires that you take stock of your life, and for victims of narcissists, this can be really tough – especially when you consider what happens to us when we’re in these kinds of dehumanizing relationships. It means that you have to examine every area and look at what’s not been working to make you feel the inner satisfaction that you’d like to have.
The first way that you can find your catalyst is to understand the things in your life that matter to you. Your catalyst for motivation won’t be the same as someone else’s, because no two situations are the same. I think maybe for people who are dealing with narcissists, the situations may be more similar than we think – we tend to feel that we have to prove to them that we’re not like “all the others” who didn’t stand by them, or we are too full of fear to move forward. I have talked about this topic earlier before, actually.
What gets you up in the morning?
What really matters to you?
As you move toward removing yourself from your relationship with a narcissist, or even after you’ve done so, you might find yourself feeling sort of lost – and who can blame you?
You’ve been under the influence of the narcissist long enough by now that you may be suffering from any number of common side-effects and complications of narcissistic abuse in relationships, both physical and mental.
But now, it’s time to decide who YOU are – and what YOU really want.
Maybe you really dream of having a beautiful home, or perhaps you’re more concerned with financial security for your retirement, or more time to spend with your loved ones.
If having time to do what you want to do with creative work is what matters to you, then your catalyst will be whatever action gives you the chance to free your inner artist.
This may be something as simple as cutting back on hours with work or finding a different job.
Try something new, whether it’s career-related or otherwise. You
It might be the catalyst of taking an art or a writing class. Whatever it is should be something that you truly desire – something that you feel your life would be lacking if you didn’t have it.
Get ready to change – and accept that it’s necessary.
The second way is to accept that you’re going to have to change things in order to get what matters to you. Many people are willing to acknowledge what matters to them, but then they balk at the change.
You won’t get what matters to you without change. It’s like losing weight. You can’t shed pounds if you stay sedentary, eating like there’s no tomorrow. You have to be mindful of your movement and intake – it’s simple mechanics.
Be Open to Receiving What You Want
The third way to find your catalyst is to give it the opportunity to happen. You’ve got to be open to receiving what you want!
For example, if you want to start your own business, but your personal and professional life doesn’t leave you with room to learn about business development or to increase your talents, then something has to give.
You have to make room to let the change in. Maybe that means spending a little time after work on the weekdays or on the weekends to educate yourself. It’s a temporary sacrifice for a long-term benefit. You feel me?
Firm It Up: Know Exactly What You’re Going For
The fourth way to find your catalyst is to make it concrete. Write it down. Share it with others. Find a mentor. Don’t allow this change you want to remain nothing more than a desire.
Be Freaking Fearless and Plan Ahead
The fifth way is to not let the size of the change throw you off your goal. Some changes that people want to make really are pretty big. Changes like moving from your home to live in another country because it’s what you’ve always wanted is a huge change – just like the changes you’ll be making as you go through your recovery after a narcissistic relationship.
You wouldn’t want to pack up overnight and head out the next morning. You can’t throw away personal responsibility when a catalyst happens. What you have to do is focus on the things you need to do in order to reach that change sensibly.
If your goal is moving to another country, you would want to find a place to live and secure a way to support yourself financially before taking the leap. Those are action steps that you can take that lead to the big change.
Small change is what equals big change and it gets you closer to where you want to be in life. Think about how often you’ve just accepted your fate – your lot in life.
Have you ever made an action plan to get to a better place? To have more peaceful relationships by setting boundaries? To feel the thrill of waking up each morning, ready to lead a life that excites you?
If you’ve been watching time pass by, waiting for a bolt of lightning, consider this day your wake up call. It’s time to embrace every catalyst you encounter so that years down the
road, you’re not still stuck in the mud wondering why life passed you by.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
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