Over the last ten years, the word narcissist has become more popular. Narcissism is not a new trait. It is something that many of us have a little of in our lives. Posting a selfie on social media or looking at your reflection in the mirror puts you on the healthy end of narcissism. However, as you move down the spectrum, you start to see more extreme behaviors, and this can lead to full-blown narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)
Living with someone that has NPD is extremely hard. Experts say that there is a pattern to the way people with NPD behave. It is important to remember that this disorder stems from something that has happened in childhood, and leads to toxic traits that prevent the narcissist from being able to feel empathy, experience real love and enjoy healthy and lasting relationships. The important thing is how someone with NPD reacts to their behaviors. It is possible to live with the disorder in some cases, sadly NPD sufferers rarely have any accountability, so it’s more likely they will follow the same pattern throughout their whole life.
It is very traumatic when you have found yourself in a relationship with someone that has NPD. The start of your relationship will have been full of love and grand gestures. This period is known as the love bombing stage. Over time this will change to the devaluing stage where you will notice your partner is criticizing you more and focussing on your flaws.
It feels like you have gone from being placed high on a pedestal to being hated and nothing you do is right. There are many tactics NPD sufferers use to manipulate and control you, including gas-lighting and the silent treatment. This will cycle for years until the narcissist moves to the final stage, which is known as a discard. However, there are multiple resources that state the final discard only happens when the victim of this cycle of abuse decides to go no contact with the narcissist.
Surviving a relationship like this is extremely difficult as their behavior is designed to keep you under their control and make you believe that you cannot live without them. You may find you suffer from something called trauma bonding. If you are trying to walk away from a marriage with someone that has NPD, then you will need a good divorce lawyer. Dealing with a marriage break down if NPD is involved is exceptionally tricky.
The key to survival is to make a clean break. You need a strong group of people around you that will understand the incredibly hard job that lies ahead. You should also consider some counseling for trauma bonding. A break up from someone with NPD is unlike any other breakup you will experience, and it can leave you with some profound scars.
There is life after the narcissist, so stay strong, allow yourself to feel all the emotions, and focus on rebuilding your confidence. Learn how to set healthy boundaries in your life and move forward without ever looking back.