You know what the worst thing about being in a relationship with a narcissist is? No, it’s not the abuse or the humiliation you go through while you’re still with your abuser.
What’s even more painful is how dating a narcissist changes you for good.
You assume that you’re safe the moment you get the courage to leave the relationship. Well, sadly, you’re not – even after you’re over your narcissistic ex.
You still have a long way to go. You still have a huge job: to prevent this experience from turning you into a different person.
What does dating a narcissist look like?
Dating a narcissist is probably one of the worst things you can experience in your lifetime. It means spending time with someone who devalues you all the time while seeking admiration.
They must be the dominant figure in every relationship. The only way for these people to feel good about themselves is to put others down.
I don’t care if your narcissistic partner assures you that they love you – believe me, they don’t. They’re incapable of loving you since their only goal is to break you.
How Dating A Narcissist Changes You
Most victims played by narcissists experience similar changes in their personalities. These are the most common ways people broken by narcissists love and behave:
1. Questioning your self-worth
Every narcissist puts a lot of effort into convincing their victim that they’re not good enough. It’s just their modus operandi and the only way they can feel better about themselves.
So what happens after some time? Well, as much as you try to resist it at first, eventually, you start believing them.
They get inside your mind and make you believe that you’re worthless. Sadly, this feeling remains long after the narcissist is gone.
Even after you end the relationship, you continue questioning your self-worth. If you weren’t good enough for them, you probably won’t be good enough for anyone else, right?
Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s the way your mind works from now on.
You end up criticizing and devaluing yourself the same way they did without even being aware of it.
It’s clear that this relationship is the main cause of your low self-esteem. Your narcissistic partner achieved their goal: they destroyed your self-confidence and sense of self-worth.
2. Becoming a people-pleaser
Many victims of narcissistic abuse have one thing in common: they become people pleasers. At first, you probably argued with your narcissistic partner. You defended your opinion and gave them valid arguments.
But after a while, you got too tired. Before you knew it, you ended up nodding your head at everything they say. You lose your strength, and you give up.
Nevertheless, the biggest problem is that this becomes a personality trait of yours. You’re no longer only trying to please your narcissist – you’re doing your best to please all of your loved ones as well.
It’s clear that they’ve managed to convince you that you’re never right. Their emotional abuse has taken a toll on your mental health to the point where you’ve completely lost your true self.
You think that the only way to keep someone from abandoning you is by agreeing to everything they say. That’s the only way you’re accepted and validated.
3. Walking on eggshells
How dating a narcissist changes you: Well, among other things, fear becomes part of your personality.
You never know what might trigger your abuser. Did you say something wrong? Are you chewing too loud? Are you even breathing in a way that might upset them?
This person tried their hardest to turn you into a robot. You’ve been doing everything in your power for some time to avoid conflict with them.
So, you start walking on eggshells. You’re scared of asking too many questions or saying what you really think.
You’re scared of being open about your feelings. You’re trying your best not to make waves, and you’ve become overly cautious of upsetting anyone in your surroundings.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s natural for you to let a loved one be if they’re stressed out. It’s okay if you back off from time to time instead of causing them additional stress.
But the problem is that this becomes how you cope with all of your relationships. It has become your way of life.
4. Forgetting to prioritize yourself
Even if you manage to build a healthy relationship after breaking up with a narcissist, you’ll have a hard time putting your own needs first.
This is a toxic relationship pattern you’ve learned: your partner is always the priority.
People with narcissistic personality disorder have a sense of entitlement and an inflated sense of self-importance. They display high levels of grandiosity and superiority.
They think that they deserve first place in everyone’s lives, and so they expect special treatment from everyone around them, especially their victims.
Somehow, your partner has persuaded you that their needs and well-being are more significant than your own. No matter what happens, you always come second.
And with time, you accept this kind of arrangement, just to keep them around.
Nevertheless, the problem continues even after you break free from this abuse. Deep down, you think that your problems aren’t relevant enough and that putting yourself first is the most selfish thing you can do.
Well, trust me when I tell you that it’s not. On the contrary, putting your own wellness first is an act of self-love and the way we should all behave.
5. Questioning your sanity
Gaslighting is a manipulation technique people with narcissistic personality disorder use on their victims. Simply put, it’s a form of emotional abuse where your narcissistic partner tries to convince you that your perception of reality isn’t valid and that you should doubt yourself.
How does it work?
Let me give you an example. You know you two had a huge fight last night. Your partner called you names and was even abusive.
Nevertheless, the next morning, they reenter the love-bombing phase and deny everything. They claim it was just a meaningless dispute and that you’re exaggerating.
Or you find inappropriate text messages on their phone. In a split second, they delete everything and try to convince you that you’re imagining things.
After you’ve been subjected to gaslighting for some time, you really start to second-guess your perception of reality and question your sanity.
What’s going on? Are you the crazy one? Are you imagining things?
When you start asking yourself these questions, it means that their manipulation tactic is working!
How dating a narcissist changes you: One of the worst consequences of this type of romantic relationship is self-sabotage. This is especially dangerous because most of the time, you actually don’t have a clue that you’re doing it.
If your partner has been diagnosed with NPD, they can’t stand seeing you thrive. Keep in mind that this person is your biggest enemy: they trip you up all the time, just so you wouldn’t succeed.
After some time, you start believing that you don’t deserve great things. You’re not meant to be loved, you’re not capable enough to get that promotion, and it’s no wonder you have no friends.
How does it work?
So what happens the moment you start building a new relationship? Well, your inner voice starts telling you that it’s doomed to fail right from the start.
Instead of fighting for it, you sabotage your relationship. You deliberately make mistakes or run away.
Why? Because you’re certain it will fall apart. Either way, you assume it’s better to be the one to ruin it in time.
7. Lowering your standards
When you first get into a relationship with a narcissist, they do something called love bombing. They lavish you with compliments, grand gestures, presents, and undivided attention.
But the moment you get used to it, it all goes away. Not only that: soon, it’s replaced by a devaluing phase when narcissists put down, insult, and abuse their victims.
At this point, you’re unaware that you’re dealing with narcissistic behavior, so you accept this as a normal dating pattern.
How does it work?
What happens when you finally break your narcissist’s spell? Your standards remain lowered.
You accept breadcrumbs in your new relationship. You think that your new partner is perfect just because you don’t find traces of their infidelity or because they don’t give you the silent treatment every time you get into a fight.
Basically, you’ve experienced the worst, and anyone who shows up will be better than that. So instead of looking for your soulmate, you end up settling for someone who gives you the bare minimum.
People diagnosed with NPD display a lack of empathy. They don’t give a damn about breaking their victim’s heart – as long as it makes them feel good.
When you spend years with a narcissist, you forget what it feels like to be heard. You learn to keep your emotions bottled up because nobody actually cares about them.
The only way to survive and keep yourself sane is to become emotionally detached from the rest of the world. You build high walls around you to keep all of their abuse and manipulation out.
Sadly, many victims of NPD hold on to this emotional unavailability even after the relationship ends. It becomes your defense mechanism.
You’re not doing it on purpose, but you’re shutting other people out. You repress your feelings and hide them not just from yourself but also others.
How dating a narcissist changes you: Well, as if their abuse wasn’t enough, they also persuade you that it’s your fault that you’re the victim. Sounds incredible and insane, I know, but sadly, that’s how things roll.
Do they devalue you? It’s because you’re not good enough to deserve their validation.
Do they abuse you? It’s because you provoked them.
Are they being unfaithful? It’s because you didn’t give them everything they’ve been looking for.
Even though this kind of reasoning makes no sense, it’s the way a narcissist’s mind works. The worst part is that they manage to convince you that this is true.
You end up blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong in your life. Don’t get me wrong – it’s one thing to take responsibility for your actions. That’s how adulthood works.
Nevertheless, you’re not to blame if someone treats you poorly. You’re not responsible for being anyone’s victim!
10. Social isolation
Narcissists work hard to keep you just for themselves. At first, you assume they want you to spend all your time with them and give them your undivided attention because they love you so much.
However, the truth is quite different. They’re deliberately isolating you from your friends and family members to brainwash you with more ease.
How does it happen?
If there isn’t anyone there to warn you about all the red flags, it’s easier for a narcissist to manipulate you. Besides, if they cut you off from all your loved ones, it’s harder for you to leave. After all, where would you go?
The narcissist tries hard to convince you that nobody loves you like they do. Even those closest to you wish you harm, and they are all a bad influence on you.
With time, you get used to this social isolation. You forget how to communicate with people and turn into a loner.
Even after you escape your romantic relationship, you’re scared that none of these people will take you back. Basically, you end up all alone – just the way your abuser wanted.
11. Emotional exhaustion
You feel drained and tired after they suck you dry. You’re emotionally exhausted from everything you went through with your partner with NPD.
You have no strength left for a new relationship. It’s like you’re beaten up and destroyed for good.
You’ve lost the ability to function in a healthy relationship. You have trouble reconnecting with your friends and family members, let alone getting back into the dating pool.
Well, that’s exactly where your narcissist wants you. They expect you to lose the will to live, so your relationship with them, ironically, becomes your comfort zone and safe haven.
At least, you know what to expect there.
I know it’s hard, but you have to find the strength to break free from this cycle of abuse. Remember: not everyone is like your ex, and you will meet a nice guy or girl.
Give other people a chance, and most importantly, give yourself a chance.
12. Emotional codependency
If you understand narcissism, you know that people who have NPD want their victims to be fully dependent on them. I’m talking about emotional codependency here in the first place, but things sadly don’t end there.
A narcissist makes you believe that you can’t make it without them – emotionally, physically, and financially.
First and foremost, your entire mood depends solely on how they treat you at any given moment.
There is no trace of the independent, self-sufficient person you were before you met them. You need their opinion and advice regarding everything in your life, and you become incapable of making your own decisions.
You’re addicted to their presence in your life, and you’re convinced you’d be lost without them by your side. They give meaning to your life, and everything seems pointless without them.
The relationship you have with yourself
The bottom line is that this person destroyed the relationship you have with yourself. They made you forget that you’re enough to be happy and that you don’t need them to give your existence purpose.
Consequently, you continue looking for that purpose in other people, even after you get over them. Little do you know that it’s hidden deep inside of you.
13. Anxiety and depression
Anxiety and depression are common consequences of narcissistic abuse. It’s actually pretty logical.
Your abuser pressures you to your breaking point. Your romantic relationship causes you so much stress that you end up developing fear, nervousness, and constant worry.
At the same time, they make sure to ruin your self-confidence. You end up feeling worthless, so, naturally, you get depressed.
Let’s not forget the social isolation you’ve been put into. You feel like there is no one in this world you can confide in, and you go through most of these things alone.
Nevertheless, the worst part is that these mental health issues remain after the end of your relationship. Yes, narcissism caused them, but with time, they sadly become a part of you.
But here’s some good news: all of it is highly treatable – especially if you admit you have a problem in time.
If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, the best thing you can do for yourself is to ask for professional help. Also, keep in mind that there are numerous support groups available for all victims of narcissism.
14. Serious trust issues
Who can expect you to trust people? The person who pretended to care about you more than anyone else, the person you let in completely betrayed you in the worst possible manner.
Now, you expect everyone to be the same. You think to yourself: “I gave them my best, but that wasn’t enough for them to treat me right. So what’s preventing everyone else from breaking my heart as well?”
These trust issues are a part of your emotional baggage. I hate to break it to you, but it’s quite unlikely that you’ll ever be able to trust people the way you used to.
Now you know life isn’t a fairytale. But that doesn’t mean you’ve subscribed to bad relationships for the rest of your life.
Look, there is absolutely no harm in being more careful. The truth is that there are some bad people out there who will try to take advantage of your kind heart.
However, don’t let one bad experience give you trust issues and ruin your faith in humanity. There is still some good left in this world, and as long as you believe that, there is some hope for a better tomorrow.
15. Adopting their behavioral patterns
This is also how dating a narcissist changes you: you become similar to them. Look, I’m not saying that you’ll develop this mental disorder, but you may adopt some of your abuser’s behavioral patterns.
For example, instead of working things out, you’re used to getting the silent treatment after an argument.
So you end up giving your loved ones the silent treatment instead of talking things through simply because you’ve learned it’s the “normal” way of handling conflict.
The examples are endless, but I’m sure you get the point. The bottom line is to understand that this is not healthy behavior and to stop practicing it the moment you notice the first red flags.
How does a narcissist make you feel in a relationship?
Being in this kind of abusive relationship makes you feel worthless, lonely, and insecure. You question your sanity, seek validation from this one person who keeps putting you down, and ruin your self-confidence.
In the long run, all of this might cause depression, anxiety, and some serious trust issues. The biggest issue here is that a narcissist manages to change the core of your being.
They destroy the person you used to be and turn you into a lifeless shell so they can mold you how they want.
How long do narcissistic relationships last?
Usually, narcissistic relationships last from six months to a few years. It’s unlikely this kind of relationship will last a lifetime because narcissists can’t last long in a relationship.
But it all depends on the dynamics. Namely, the narcissistic partner is usually the one who walks away first, even though most people would assume that the victim leaves when they’ve had enough.
The moment a narcissist sees they’ve managed to break their victim is the moment they get tired of them. They’ve accomplished their primary goal, and it’s time for them to target another victim.
This is what gives them power and satisfaction. Actually, this sensation of accomplishment after ruining someone is what narcissism is all about.
How does a narcissist react when they can’t control you?
When you show a narcissistic person that they can’t control you, you pull the rug out from under their feet. When you ignore them, and they realize you have them figured out, they start to panic and usually react with uncontrollable anger.
This is the only reaction that makes them feel powerful. Their manipulation tactics obviously aren’t working, and they don’t have a plan B.
In this case, they engage in threatening behavior and emotional blackmail.
To Wrap Up:
Now that you’ve learned how dating a narcissist changes you, it’s time to take your life back into your own hands and recover from narcissistic abuse. Beware of the red flags, and don’t let your relationship turn you into a different person.
Don’t let your past dictate your present and future. Leave it behind you where it belongs, and start afresh!
I’m not saying that you should undermine all the consequences of this toxic romance, but you can definitely minimize it – if you try hard enough. Trust me: there is life after loving a narcissist.
How Narcissists Treat Their Exes: 12 Shameless Ways
Saturday 26th of November 2022
[…] Dating a narcissist is never an easy thing to do, but being the ex of one? My condolences… […]