One of the negative outcomes of a relationship with a narcissist or any kind of uncaring person is the effect it has on our ability to find a new and healthy relationship. All too often, we come away from hurtful experiences feeling not only angry and betrayed, but afraid to get involved again. This lack of trust, of both others and ourselves, can keep us from finding the love we want.
While taking a break from relationships is often a good way of getting back in touch with your own needs, desires and values, it can become all too easy to simply avoid relationships altogether under the guise of any number of self-deluding excuses. You can tell yourself you’re too busy, you need some time to yourself or that you are sick of dating. But what often lies beneath those stories is a genuine fear of intimacy. After all, getting close to someone means we run the risk of getting hurt again.
There aren’t any statistics on this, but it seems likely that highly sensitive people (HSP) would be particularly vulnerable to avoidance behaviour. We already feel overwhelmed by everyday life and need to retreat to recharge our batteries. And as we are often the targets of narcissists, getting involved with someone new can be a daunting and frightening prospect.
Everything good you’ve ever believed about human beings is contradicted. Every thought you’ve had about loyalty, experience, and truthfulness is denied. Every trope you’ve heard about marriage, love, and partnership is hammered into silence. Every idea you’ve had about human connection is trashed by the narcissist’s behaviour.
In many concluded relationships, after the shouting has ended and our psychological immune system has kicked in (permitting us to remember all the not-so-wonderful things about our ex instead of crying our eyes out) there comes a moment of calm and detachment when we’re ready to start over. And with that comes the forgiveness moment when you actually remember some of the good times—and you’re okay with the memory. You can pick up a photograph of the two of you without wincing and maybe even smile.
BUT That doesn’t happen with a narcissist.
Those of us who will be feeling the shame and guilt of not seeing those red flags will be really hard on ourselves. Why couldn't I just see them instead of ignoring them, you may be thinking. There is a fine lien between noticing and knowing and then doing nothing about them. You got to know the ex narcissist in a particular way, they earn your trust and you believed them, you went into this relationship fully present and with love. The other party were in this relationship to extract your energy and everything so that they could feel good about themselves. Is a very unfair exchange and not balanced at all.
If the red flags were so obvious, why didn't we see them if they were so 'easy' to spot... right?
You were lied to, confused and attention was placed elsewhere to ever be able to make sense of what was happening. We never imagined that such a person ever existed or could ever be capable of doing such awful things to us.
You may think, “Only someone as dumb and naïve as I am could have been taken in by them,” or “There’s something really wrong or missing in me that I didn’t see who they were."
This kind of thinking is a serious impediment to your emotional recovery.
A narcissist self-regulates by feeling powerful and in control. To be able to do that, he or she needs someone to push around, which is why it’s impossible to stop the narcissistic train. When you’re robbed of a sense of agency in one important arena—when you're in a defensive crouch and unable to be proactive—it’s very hard to stay emotionally balanced and in control in other parts of your life, except in superficial ways. Yes, you’re getting out of bed, doing your work, and paying your bills, but much of the time you're on auto-pilot. That gets in the way of recovery—as do financial anxiety, fear, and a host of other unpleasant emotions.
Think tortoise, not hare, as you work at recovery. The pace may be slow but you’ll get there, keeping the goal in sight.
If budget is an issue, you will have discounted sessions with me if you are already a patreon member. All sessions are conducted on zoom or I do run a face to face clinic in Warwickshire, please do get in touch for more information.
Still have a question about entering into another relationship? My innovative Balance Membership will help you manage your negative self talk and break free from the toxic habits that have affected your self-esteem for far too long. Become part of my healing community today.
Your Thoughts: have you found that you self-isolate? Are you ready to move forward into another relationship and trust that you will find a healthy individual? Would love to know your thoughts.