How Do You Stop Loving A Narcissist When You Feel You Can’t?
Nobody ever walks away from a Narcissist without knowing that there is a great deal to dislike about that person. But that doesn’t mean that walking away is easy. On the one hand, you know full well the kind of awful person the Narcissist really is. However, on the other hand, another part of you cannot conceive of a life without that person and feels hopelessly emotionally attached. Today, I want to look at how you get over the hurdle of “loving” the Narcissist so that you can break free.
What’s love got to do with it?
What has love got to do with the seemingly insurmountable difficulty of detaching emotionally from a Narcissist?
Everything. But quite possibly not in quite the way that you might think.
The entire centuries-old Romantic Love industry would have us believe that, without that person in your life, you will would surely die an emotional – and possibly also physical – death.
But is that likely?
While it can happen, it is reassuringly rare (https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-die-broken-heart-emotional-questions/) . So you really don’t have too much to worry about on that score. It’s rather less likely than, say, Death by Toaster*– yet few of us would waste time worrying about that eventuality.
There’s nothing truly romantic about loving a Narcissist
The other important aspect of the Romantic Love industry that we need to look at is this: there is nothing truly romantic – or lovable about an ongoing relationship with a Narcissist. Once the lovebombing starts to peter out, you discover that you have a partner who is:
- mean-spirited and
Plus, to add insult to injury, that partner has a VERY long memory for every way in which you ever disappointed and/or irritated them.
You discover that before you ever tune into the lexicon of abuse and terms like “ manipulative”, “triggers”, “gaslighting”, “walking on eggshells”, “narcissistic”, “supply”, “future faking” etc etc.
You soon learn that your relationship requires a very delicate balancing act. You become increasingly conscious of the need to censor yourself, at all times, to keep the Narcissist relatively sweet. You learn to subordinate yourself to them in all things.
You believe that you are willing to go to those lengths out of love for them. Because, after all, otherwise why would you put yourself through all of that?
Why would you keep doing that over and over again?
If you take the time to check in with your own beliefs about what love really is, you can hardly fail to acknowledge that this “love” you feel for the Narcissist has precious little to do with love. You “love” them in spite of rather than because of who they are.
Practical reasons for staying
Admittedly, all survivors of narcissistic abuse can cite a number of practical reasons for staying. These reasons are an inevitable consequence of the kind of enmeshment that a Narcissist aims to create in your life. They include:
- hopes and dreams
- not wanting to be seen to have failed
- inability to cope alone
- lack of skills and or qualifications resulting from the marriage
- physical and/or emotional health issues.
All of these are real and challenging. However…
Emotional Whack A Mole
Detaching emotionally from a Narcissist can feel like some kind of monstrous game of Whack A Mole. No sooner do you try to target one of your concerns, than another one pops up and another and another…
It becomes a kind of Anxiety Whack A Mole game that you just can’t win.
There is a reason for that. Those moles don’t just keep popping up out of nowhere. Those moles keep on popping up as fast as you can whack them down because there is some kind of underlying mechanism that is designed to keep them popping up.
Since this a relentless game of Whack A Mole that you are never going to be able to win by whacking away at those pesky moles, you need to do something different. What you need to do is disable the mechanism. Once you do that, your life will get to be a whole lot better and simpler.
So, how do you do that?
You go back to the Love issue.
The love bypass
If you are not staying with them out of love, what is it that prevents you from leaving?
Actually, the antithesis of love: a profound lack of love.
Not for them but for yourself.
Narcissists teach you to not love yourself. They teach you to live with a love bypass from other people – and yourself.
For most of us, that starts in childhood. We grow up with at least one parent, or other family member, who teaches us that we are unlovable.
In order to be sure that we learn the lesson well, they go to great lengths to drum into us exactly which heinous crimes we have committed that make us unlovable. Those crimes are, of course, a nonsense. They are no more than some kind of useful fabrication that serves their purpose. You should be able to see those fabrications for what they are.
Unfortunately, when you’re in that situation, you just can’t.
The Narcissist makes those heinous crimes feel so incredibly real to you that you cannot help but buy into them.
You don’t make it onto you own list
When a Narcissistic partner comes along, they will first hold out the promise of the love that they know you crave and then withhold it.
That leaves you feeling condemned to make that person love you, in an attempt to break what seems to be our life’s curse.
You learn never to channel any of the love in your heart to yourself.
I can still remember how, when I was married to “my” Mr Nasty, all the love in my heart went – more or less in that order – to:
- My child
- My pet
- Mr Nasty
- My friends
- My work
Nowhere did I figure on that list. I was invisible to others and to myself.
I had learned too well the lesson of not loving myself.
When you don’t love yourself, it makes it so much easier to stay in a harmful, hopeless relationship.
Under those circumstances, it is hardly surprising that you will cling, emotionally, for dear life to a person who once promised to love you. You have ceded to them your role of believing in your own worth and seeing yourself as a lovable human being.
Ideally, we all learn to love ourselves in childhood from loving parents and/or carers and that becomes the bedrock of our identity as functional adults.
You love the Narcissist because you have not learned to love yourself.
So how do you stop?
What you can do that works to stop loving a Narcissist
If seeing and knowing what a horrible person they are does not do the trick, then you have to do something different. Something radical.
You have to turn from looking at them to looking inside yourself and making good your love deficit. You have to learn to love yourself. When you can do that, the Narcissist will hold no further charms for you.
Loving yourself, when you don’t know how to do, can be a slow burn. It’s not something that you can do overnight. However, it can be broken down into small manageable steps, each one of which will grow your confidence, your self-worth and your happiness.
My passion has always been about teaching survivors of unloving relationships to love themselves and surround themselves with people who love and appreciate them. If you, too, want to learn how to do that, my Break Free Membership has all the tools you will need.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.
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7 thoughts on “How Do You Stop Loving A Narcissist When You Feel You Can’t?”
How can I continue to live with a man who doesn’t and never truly loved me. And how can I find out if he is truly a narcissistic
I am not at all sure that that is the right question. Perhaps the question that you really need to be asking yourself is: “Why would I continue to live with a man who doesn’t, never did truly love me – and never will?”
You can continue to live with that man. And you can expect to be incredibly unhappy for as long as you do.
As regards whether he truly is, or is not, a Narcissist, that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he is profoundly unloving and the relationship is killing you by inches.
Well I am starting to reframe a bit. I even have changed the term abuser to “personality disordered” when speaking about my now ex husband. I think loving a narcissistic self centered person is very confusing … there has had to be some good or we wouldn’t have been there in the first place. But when we wake up to what is really going on – that is the painful time of realization that you can’t fix or change that person into what you dreamed of or wanted him or her to be. I was with my person for more than 40 years …. married 38 and separated 2 years and 2 years divorce. I am still in a healing process as I still have feelings of attachment …. but I am finally understanding the term “love yourself”. I am in a good phase now – focusing on healing and continuing to learn and grow, and maybe even into forgiveness eventually. Thank you
Glad to hear that you are now moving forward, Elizabeth.
We all have to solve the conundrum of loving a Narcissist the best way that we can.
For a lot of people, understanding that the person that they saw and loved was actually the Narcissist reflecting back their own behaviors and values can help. For others, it makes sense to hold onto the truth that all the love you put into the relationship was real. It’s just that the person you gave it to was not real.
Hi Annie 🌺- jst read about stopping loving a narc and love myself but I can’t afford the Break free membership- and im trying to find myself and love myself – can u suggest something else I could do or another alternative if possible please x Thankyou – Jackie 🌺💕x
P.s Very interested in what you teach and love the reason behind it 😍x
The Break Free Membership is the place where I can provide all the tools, in depth learnings and insights that make it a whole lot easier to implement.
As regards other alternatives, I put out a monumental amount of short-form information on Instagram. Other people do, too. So, that is a great place to go.