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Loving a narcissist is hard, and honestly, it hurts. I know from personal experience. See, I’ve dealt with several narcissists in toxic relationships in my life – family members, friends, and even a spouse. One thing I recall vividly from each of those relationships is that I felt a deep, profound love for each of them. I remember in each case the exact moment when it became very clear to me that they did not have the same affection for me, and let me tell you, it was painful.
Can you relate? Do you have a narcissistic spouse, friend, or family member? If you do, and you’re anything like I was, you can’t help but love them. If you’re being honest, your love for them runs deep down to the core of who you are – or at least it used to. They are or were a part of you because of it. You love with your heart and soul, with every part of your being.
Sometimes they confuse you, though, because they can be so mean and so hurtful. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get through to them. They always seem to have some issue with you and even when you think you’ve finally figured out how to make everything okay with them, they never fail to hurt and disappoint you. Sadly, despite your sincerity and your genuine desire to just make them happy, they can’t even seem to muster up politeness for you – much less actual love. You might even start to wonder if you’re the problem.
I’m here to tell you that not only are you NOT the problem but that the narcissist in your life unquestionably IS. The painful truth is that a narcissist just can’t love you back because they are not capable of actual love. In fact, while they might understand the concepts of love and empathy on some level, the truth is that they can’t feel these things because in so many cases, their emotional development stopped during toddlerhood. At best, you’re looking at an emotional preteen.
In any case, this lends to their extremely egocentric nature and their lack of concern for the feelings you and others have. Without intense healing and therapy to address their “core wound,” narcissists will never be able to grasp the concepts of unconditional love and empathy for others. Unfortunately, I have never heard of a narcissist who has successfully changed – nor has anyone else I’ve interviewed or worked with in the past.
The bottom line here is that when you love a narcissist, you love someone who is not capable of loving you back, and it hurts. It hurts down to your soul, causing a deep ache that is nearly indescribable. Loving a narcissist hurts in a way that most people will never truly understand. And that’s part of the reason that when you try to discuss your relationship with people who haven’t been there, they never seem to quite get what you’re talking about. They’ll either minimize your concerns or even try to help by offering “standard relationship advice” – which can be quite unhealthy for someone who is dealing with a narcissist in many cases. For example, if you’re feeling unheard in a healthier relationship, the standard advice might be to sit down and have a conversation about it, or even to go to counseling together and work it out. But if you do these things with a narcissist, they will use the opportunity to manipulate you (and the counselor, given the opportunity), and this can just reinjure you and make you feel even more miserable.
When you’re dealing with a narcissist, chances are that you’ve put up with your fair share of verbal and emotional abuse and manipulation from them, to say the very least.
Maybe you have a narcissistic parent who favored your sibling and taught them how to torment you as well. They were in it all together. Perhaps you have an aunt, uncle, or cousin who is a narcissist. Or you’re married to a narcissist, or in some other way involved. But in any case, whoever the narcissist in your life happens to be, you probably already know by now that you absolutely cannot trust them. A narcissist will never have your best interest at heart, even if they’re your parent or spouse – and that’s because they are completely and only focused on their own needs being met at any given moment. Your needs don’t even come second – they literally do not concern themselves with what you want or need at all.
Now that you understand all of that, I’m going to share with you 10 reasons it hurts to love a narcissist.
1. Repeated Episodes of Abuse and Manipulation
Narcissists are creatures of habit and they are quite predictable. Sometimes, you might even wonder if they have a narcissist playbook because they all seem to have nearly identical patterns. If you’re dealing with a romantic partner who is a narcissist you might have initially thought they were your soulmate. After all, it seemed that they liked everything you liked, wanted the same things as you and that they totally just “got” you. If it was a friend or family member, you may have initially assumed they had your best interests at heart or at least that they loved and cared about you unconditionally. But as time went on, and life happened, you saw that was far from the case as you began to see their true narcissistic colors. Narcissists treat you terribly and will condemn you in a heartbeat if it serves them to do so. Even looking at them the wrong way seems to provoke them into a narcissistic rage. As one of their primary sources of narcissistic supply, you also become an emotional garbage dump for them. They will take out their anger and frustration on you, whether or not it’s related to you, and they’ll do it over and over again. But you don’t walk away because you love them. It hurts to love someone who is abusive to you and who is cruel to you in every way.
2. Narcissists Kill Your Dreams
Despite the narcissist’s best efforts, something in you secretly (or otherwise) has desires and things you want to make happen in your life. I other words, you have dreams and wishes like everyone else. Let’s say you want to move to a tropical island after retiring. You plan and scrimp and save to make it happen, but the narcissist will not hesitate to laugh at it and to tell you to stop living in a fantasy world. Even though they don’t support your dreams and just do the opposite, something in you believes them – maybe you are just being immature and imagining things that are impossible, you think to yourself. Ultimately, the narcissist’s negativity is often enough to destroy any hope you have for the future, and that hurts like hell.
3. The Relationship Is Not Reciprocal
You find yourself giving everything you have to the narcissist and they just take, take, and take. They never give back. They almost literally can’t give back. And if you ask a narcissist to do you a favor in any way, they will do it only if there is something for them. So, they will do you a favor, but only under certain conditions that benefit them. They have to get SOMETHING out of it or they most definitely will not do anything for you. And, of course, these conditions are often not ones that you can realistically meet. For instance, if you ask them to watch the child you have to together for an hour so you can go to the salon, then they will only agree to it under one condition. And it’s something much bigger than you’re asking for – so maybe they want to go on a trip with their friends. For a week. That means you will be the single parent to the child while they are having fun for a week. And they probably won’t even call you while they’re gone, unless they call when they KNOW you’re too busy to deal with them. Then, they’ll complain that you never talk to them when they call and say you don’t love them enough…this leads to yet another episode of you bending over backward to prove your love for them, all while managing the house and the kid and the pets alone…meanwhile, they’re sitting on the beach laughing with their friends about how they’ve got you wrapped around their little finger.
4. Your Needs Always Come Last
You are always having to put the narcissist’s needs ahead of yours and whether you intend to do so or not, you have to put your needs on the backburner. In fact, if this narcissist is a family member, you might not even be fully aware that you are ALLOWED to have needs and wants. The narcissist makes it very clear they are superior to you, so much so that they literally will not allow you to take care of yourself at all in some cases since their needs and wants come first, always. It is emotionally, physically, and otherwise exhausting, but often you feel guilty for even wanting to take a shower or to go to the doctor when you’re not feeling well. I recall feeling guilty for wanting or needing anything in my own toxic relationships.
5. Narcissists Are Boundary-Busters
The narcissist does not care if you have boundaries or rules. In fact, they actually feel like you’re not allowed to make choices for your self in many cases. They do not take you or your boundaries seriously at all. They will walk all over you without a second thought, actively and intentionally crossing your boundaries, one by one. Since you love them, you tolerate it – but you don’t recognize that over time, your boundaries are pushed so far back that you have almost none. For example, if you’re married to a narcissist and they suddenly become best friends with someone they are clearly and painfully attracted to (and you can tell this based on the way they act around and about this person), whatever y’all are into, you might have a real (and understandable) problem with this. But instead of understanding that they are crossing an obvious boundary that any married person would have a problem with, the narcissist will tell you to stop being so jealous and insecure, and they’ll say that if you are going to accuse them of cheating on you, they might as well do it – despite the fact that you never accused them of anything but just questioned this so-called friendship. (Of course, they also have double standards, so you won’t be allowed to have a similar best friend.)
6. Smear Campaigns and Secrets Spilled
If you were to go against the narcissist’s wishes, or if you go no contact with them, they won’t hesitate to go out of their way to ruin your reputation, and often your life. They will share private information about you that can be damaging through their social media platforms and they will even contact your boss and tell them reasons why they should fire you. And when it comes to secrets, no matter how much they swear to keep them under wraps, you have to know that you can never confide in a narcissist and expect confidentiality. Even if you did not let them down and they aren’t going to conduct a smear campaign, they will still leak out your secrets. Especially if those secrets are the key to giving them the narcissistic supply they need in some way. They have no integrity. Therefore, you will want to always confide in someone who you are close to, and that you can trust. A narcissist never fits that bill.
7. Narcissists are Pathological Liars
Narcissists are known liars and will never be truthful about anything unless it happens to benefit them in some way. Sometimes they lie just for the sake of lying. If you’re dealing with a narcissist, you might as well always assume that whatever they tell you isn’t true – or at the very least, take everything they say with a grain of salt. Never expect honesty from a narcissistic family member. If you know that they feed you lies all of the time, then you will realize that you cannot trust and believe anything they tell you.
The bottom line here is that no matter what, it hurts to love a narcissist. Remember that even if they promise not to hurt you, they most definitely will. They absolutely do not have your best interest at heart, and they have no idea what that even mean
Narcissists not only cannot love you back, but they leave you battered, drained, and very depressed. The best thing you can do for yourself is to go no contact and break things off with them or to go low contact if you must remain connected due to sharing kids or business together. You’ve got to take care of yourself, my friend, because the narcissist never will. Not in the way that you deserve. What you deserve is to be loved in the same way that you love. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live in a home where you don’t feel fear and anxiety every time they’re around – and even when you know they’re coming. You deserve to have a life that you love. Please, don’t forget.
Question of the Day: Can you relate? Do you or have you loved a narcissist who threw your love back in your face to hurt you over and over again? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.
These videos might also help you in better understanding the psychology of narcissists in toxic relationships.
- Narcissists Are Predictable! (The Truth on Why They’re All the Same)
- How a Narcissist Changes You
- The #1 Way to Spot a Toxic Narcissist: Look for THIS (How to Spot a Narcissist)
- Narcissists and Projection
- When the Narcissist KNOWS You KNOW
Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy.
She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.