One of the biggest red flags that you may be in a relationship with a narcissist is that you have an ever growing list of things you aren’t allowed to do. Either because he has directly told you aren’t allowed to do those things, or because you doing those things always leads to an argument. There’s also a growing list of topics you can’t broach because you’re afraid of causing a fight. More and more you silence your thoughts and your needs, because it just isn’t worth the potential argument. But the list of things the narcissist won’t let you do is so long you inevitably slip up.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist is like living your life walking through a minefield. Any wrong move and everything could explode all around you. Your fight or flight response is always activated and you can’t even remember what relaxation or safety feels like. You are constantly exhausted, afraid to speak up, but you just can’t manage to leave the relationship.
If your partner doesn’t let you do any of the things on this list, either through direct order or through sabotage, that is a big red flag for a toxic relationship. If you have already left your narcissist or are in the process of leaving, keep reading! This article will help validate some of the weirder aspects of your experience. Validation is one of the most important elements of healing after narcissistic abuse.
Note: I use “He” to describe the narcissist in this article. This is just to make my life easier when writing. In reality, there are plenty of abusive narcissistic women in romantic relationships, gay or straight, and even in friendships. Don’t be put off by the gendered or even romantic language; this article can help you better understand all of the narcissists in your life.
1) Have Any Privacy
If you’ve been dating a narcissist, you probably know a thing or two about projection. Projection is when the narcissists accuses you of doing the exact thing they are actually doing. Most commonly in relationships, the narcissist will accuse you of cheating, when, in fact, they are the one who is having an affair. He will then become obsessively paranoid and jealous. The narcissist will go to incredible lengths to get access to you computer and cell phone. He will likely manipulate you into sharing all of your passwords with him, “I knew you were hiding something from me!” he’ll say if you refuse.
The narcissist will go through your phone, email, social media, journals, trash, work notes, absolutely anything to erode your sense of privacy and to maintain his sense of control. Whatever he finds he will punish you for and hold against you. A picture from Halloween three years ago with a male friend? “I knew you had sex with him. You’re such a liar! I forbid you from ever speaking to him again!” Compromising pictures? Gossip about a friend? Emails about your boss? He will forward them all to himself and threaten to release them if you ever try to break up with him. Of course, he’ll frame himself as a hero, claiming he just wants people to know the truth about who you really are.
2) Find Career Success
The narcissist always needs to be the center of attention. As a child, he likely suffered neglect from his parents and their love was doled out based on his achievements. If he had siblings, his parents encouraged competition instead of bonding. When the narcissist sees you, or anyone else for that matter, receiving attention or success, his wounded inner child registers it as a threat to his ability to have his needs met. He will lash out at you accordingly. The narcissist will humiliate you in front of your colleagues, get too drunk at the Christmas party, have an affair with your coworker, sabotage you before deadlines, pretend to get sick right before you have a big meeting. He will do anything and everything to prevent you from finding success and fulfillment outside of your relationship.
3) Have Friends They Don’t Approve Of
Control is the name of the game for the narcissist and having people in your social circle he can’t control is a threat to his power. What if they identify his behavior and tell you to leave? It’s not a risk he is willing to take, so he will slowly start to wear down your friendships. He’ll talk badly about your friends to you and start ugly rumors about them. If you still insist on being friends despite the lies he’s told about them, he’ll say, “I can’t believe you would be friends with someone like that. I guess birds of a feather flock together!” Then he’ll threaten to break up with you. He’ll delete messages they sent you before you see them, then convince you they don’t actually care about you. He’ll throw a birthday party for you and only invite the friends he approves of and tell you your other friends never responded to his invite. In reality he never invited them. He may even threaten your friends if they don’t stay away from you. And wow, you can forget about having opposite sex friends. When you’re dating a narcissist, everyone in your inner circle becomes a target.
4) Feel Confident
The narcissist’s control over you relies on your total lack of confidence and self worth. You may have entered the relationship a confident, secure woman, only to have your self worth slowly eroded through abuse, lies, and manipulation. Now, you’re a shell of your former self, afraid to voice your opinion, doubting yourself and your sanity, and allowing the narcissist to make all of your decisions, including what you eat and what you wear. Any time you find success, develop renewed confidence, or act like your old self, he has to shut it down. He will tell you how fat you are, that everyone thinks you’re a bitch, that all your friends talk shit about you behind your back, that you only got your job because your boss wants to sleep with you (and you led him on, of course).
He’ll tell any number of lies and invent any evidence needed to convince you that you are weak, pathetic, mental ill, unlovable, and unattractive. He wants you to believe that you need him around in order to function and that he is your only chance of finding true love. In reality, he is an energetic parasite sucking all of your life away. You were better off before you met him and you will be far better off when you are finally able to leave him.
5) Enjoy Intimacy With Family
Anyone the narcissist can’t control is a threat to him. Anyone who has influence over you is a rival to his influence. Anyone who you have established intimacy with is a threat to him having his needs met. So is it any surprise the narcissist doesn’t want you to be close with your family? In some cases, he will try to alienate you from your family entirely, similar to how he will handle your friends. Other times he will try to manipulate your family against you. Of course, this will all happen while he is playing the perfect boyfriend/husband/son-in-law. I’ve heard too many cases of a woman going to her family and saying, “I think I need to leave, Greg.” Only for their family to say, ” How can you say that?! He’s the perfect husband! Why would you want to break apart your perfect family?!”
“Perfect” is always the red flag. No one and no family is perfect. The narcissist creates the smoke screen of perfection to hide his abuse. If you try to leave him, he may turn to your family and manipulate them against you. He may try to convince them that you’re having a mental breakdown. He’ll accuse you of cheating, developing a drug problem, abuse, things which he himself is guilty of, not you (projection). He may even create and plant false evidence. He’ll become their knight is shining armor, swearing to save you. When your whole family is a party to the gaslighting, it’s almost impossible to actually leave the narcissist.
6) Lose Weight
Don’t get me wrong, he’ll tell you he wants you to lose weight. Right as you’re about to leave for a party or walk down the aisle at your sister’s wedding. He’ll take food out of your hands and humiliate you in front of your family on Thanksgiving. But when it comes down to your diet and exercise, he’ll sabotage it at every turn, bringing home treats you can’t resist, making you late for yoga, and refusing to let you go to the gym because there are too many “creepy guys there who just want to hit on you.”
Why? He doesn’t want you to have any success. He’s painfully jealous of every one of your accomplishments. He also doesn’t want any other man to notice you. He may even try to convince you to cut your hair, stop wearing make up, and dress more conservatively. But most importantly, he doesn’t want you to have any self worth. The stronger your sense of self, the weaker his grasp is on you. If you get too strong, too confident, too self assured, you might wake up to his tricks and leave him. Abandonment is his biggest fear.
7) See a Therapist
Again, the narcissist does not want you to have intimacy with anyone aside from him, this includes your therapist, heck, it even includes your doctor, your boss, your college professor. But why he really narrows in on your therapist, is because deep down he knows his behavior is wrong and that a professional will be able to spot it. The very last thing he wants is for a professional to call him out and help you to leave. The narcissist will do everything possible to stop you from going to therapy. He’ll pretend to be supportive and offer to take you out to lunch before your appointment, only to take you to a busy restaurant and get stuck in traffic on the way home so you end up missing your appointment. He’ll park outside your therapists office and beg you not to go in.
If your therapist is of the opposite sex (or same sex for same sex couples) he will try to convince you that your therapist is trying to sleep with you. He’ll try to convince you that your therapist has it out for him and just doesn’t understand the love you share. Actually, your therapist understands exactly the love you share, which is poisonous, and that is what he is afraid of.
The sad truth is that not all therapists will be able to see through his games and manipulation. If you opt for couples counseling, be wary of the ways he tries to manipulate your therapist. If you find that your therapist has become a party to the gaslighting (known as a flying monkey), leave immediately and find an abuse counselor. Most narcissist experts will tell you that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is almost impossible to treat and that narcissists never change, so don’t expect therapy to fix your relationship.
8) Go Out Without Them
He’ll bombard you with horrific stories of women being kidnapped, then install a tracking app on your phone so he always knows where you are. It’s for your own safety, he’ll tell you over and over. Don’t you see how much he cares about you? How could you go on that bachelorette trip to Cabo when you know he’ll be crazy with worry about you while you’re gone? Still plan on going? He’ll tell you a sob story about his abandonment issues. How could you leave him when he’s in this vulnerable state? He’ll even invent a beloved aunt who died while on vacation in Mexico. Don’t you have a heart? Really, you STILL plan on going?! He’ll feign sickness right before you leave and beg you to stay and take care of him. If you still go, he’ll break up with you just as you get to the airport, telling you how abusive and neglectful you are. He needs a REAL women, with a heart, who knows how to take care of a man. No man could ever love a heartless woman like you.
The truth is, the further you get from him, the more his grasp on you weakens. He also doesn’t like the idea of you being alone with other women who you may talk about your relationship with. Inevitably resulting in someone pointing out how dysfunctional and unsafe your relationships actually is. It’s common for narcissists to forbid their victims, ahem… girlfriends, from even speaking to other people about their relationship; he claims they’re too jealous of your relationship to trust. Actually, he doesn’t want anyone to see behind his smoke screen. He also knows that the less social support you have, the harder it is for you to leave him.
Ultimately, the narcissists biggest fear is that you will leave him. All of these tactics listed above all come down to him trying to prevent you from escaping his clutches. In order to leave, you are going to have to seek professional help from an abuse expert, set up safety precautions, and seriously educate yourself about the dangers of narcissistic abuse. Leaving the narcissist will likely be the hardest thing you ever do, but it will also be the best thing you ever do. And it might just save your sanity… and life. Check out my blogpost here on how to safely leave a narcissist.
Ready to start dating again? Working with a matchmaker is a safe, easy way to get back into the dating world. Join my free database here to be considered as a match for one of our clients, totally free to cost for you.
Fuck Boys: Where the fear of intimacy meets the need for validation.
As a matchmaker, and a woman, I have come across many so called “fuck boys.” But what is a fuck boy? My definition is “a man who craves your validation, but fears intimacy with you.” Some people describe a fuck boy as, “a guy who wants boyfriend privileges, but not boyfriend responsibilities.” In my opinion, the core of the fuck boy is the duality between his fear of intimacy and the validation he craves which can only be received from intimacy. That is why being with a fuck boy is so fucking confusing! But better understanding the fuck boy and what causes his fuck boyish ways will help you to avoid the emotional traps of the next fuck boy you encounter.
It’s important to know that the fuck boy’s fear of intimacy doesn’t begin or end with you. It isn’t even contained to his love life. He has likely created an entire lifestyle that allows for isolation. Maybe he is a workaholic or works remotely. Maybe his day is so regimented with diet, exercise, work, etc… he has no time for deep friendships or a relationship. His friends & family likely complain for lack of attention & birthdays are often forgotten. The fuck boy isn’t afraid of loving you; he is afraid of being seen & nearly every person in his life is included in that fear. The point is, his inability to love you, has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his own dysfunction.
What’s the best way to deal with a fuck boy? Not to. His fear of intimacy is deeply ingrained, likely stemming from withholding parents or other childhood trauma/neglect. It is not your job to heal another person. It isn’t even possible or ethical to heal someone against their will. Actually, the fact that you’re drawn to the fuck boy implies you have your own wounding that desperately needs attention. The best thing to do when you find yourself attracted to a fuck boy is to go deeper into your inner work and figure out why you are drawn to someone who is emotionally unavailable to you.
Being pulled into the dysfunction of a fuck boy will only cause pain & existential distress. With the fuck boy you may experience the most intense emotional & physical intimacy of your life. This is their suppressed need for intimacy bubbling up. The intimacy feels far more intense exactly because it has been suppressed and therefore holds a deeper emotional charge. Intense does not necessarily = good.
Once the fuck boy realizes intimacy has occurred, he will use insults, physical distancing, ghosting & other distance creating mechanisms to squash any connection & attachment that he has accidentally let slip through. This will likely be combined with a desperate need for validation. He will ask you for compliments & reassurances & in doing so project his insecurity & need for parental validation onto you. Although the fuck boy may claim he doesn’t believe in monogamy, his need for validation will likely make him jealous, wanting to know where you’ve been & if you are seeing other people. He needs you to chase him & only him in order to feel good about himself. Anytime his self worth is feeling low, he will push you away just to watch you chase him again. It’s a sick game in which your pain is required for his ego pleasure.
The cycle of intimacy & distancing can occur every few days or every few minutes. But the end result is always emotional torture for you. When the fuck boy tells you he doesn’t want a relationship, you better believe him, because doing otherwise is committing to a cycle of dysfunction that will leave you emotionally bankrupt & doubting your own sanity. In this case, the fear of intimacy, may very well be contagious.
Have you read 1984 or Brave New World? Something that caught my attention as a matchmaker is in both of these dystopian realities, romantic love is illegal. What is so scary about love to Those Who Seek to Control that both Orwell & Huxley made it major plot points of their novels? Why would love need to be illegal in totalitarian societies?
Why do you think the media is constantly berating us with images of failed romance & broken marriages? Why do you think we are told that monogamy is unnatural & impossible? Why has dating been gamified? Why are we so jaded about love? Because falling in soul deep love shatters our allegiance to false realities. Mind control is always based on fear. Love & fear cannot coexist. When we are in love, we are far less susceptible to fear based mind control.
Being seen & loved fully is the ultimate revolution. True love is an ascension into a new way of being. It is a stepping stone to better understanding the Divine. Falling in love is accessing our greatest power as humans, our ability to connect.
In a monogamous soul bond, we create our own world with our partners, which becomes a practice in crafting our own realities, in creating paradise on earth. When we trust in our ability to create our own worlds, we can’t be controlled. Is it any surprise Those Who Would Keep You Small, want you to stay single, swiping, sleeping around & empty?
Right now, we are in a moment of global shift towards a Love centered reality. Because of that, more soulmates are reuniting now than ever. The vibration of soulmate reunion, shifts not just their lives, but the entire collective. It was never meant to be a challenge to reunite with your beloved & as the days go on it is going to get easier & easier to manifest them. This is literally the perfect time to set you intention towards calling in your soulmate & the transformative powers of love.
If you are single, now is the time to melt the blocks of false programming & open your heart to love. Revoke your consent fully & completely from any programming that says you are unworthy of love & that finding a mate will be hard. Revoke your consent from the FALSE programming that all men cheat. Revoke your consent from programming that makes you cynical about love. Soften. Open the space in your life to reunite with your Beloved because I assure you, it is coming.
Have you ever wanted to talk to an ex after a breakup to get “closure?” I’ve heard a lot of women say this, and while I don’t believe you should rely on another person for closure, speaking to an ex (after much healing and time apart) can be helpful in your own healing journey. But when it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, they will never change or mature, so it is absolutely imperative that you find a sense of closure within yourself, without your ex’s participation.
So what is closure and how to you get it when breaking up with a narcissist?
Closure means the wound has healed. Maybe not perfectly or completely, but enough that your energy isn’t pouring out of it on a daily basis. That takes work! The word closure actually comes from an Old French word meaning barrier, fence, or boundary. When it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, closure has a lot less to do with healing face to face conversations and a lot more to do with creating boundaries that keep you safe so you can find healing within yourself.
Closure comes from within. If you are relying on someone else to get closure, it’s likely never going to happen. Image someone stabs you and you have a huge bleeding wound. You know you should go to the doctor to have it sutured, but instead you say you are going to wait until the person who hurt you goes through medical school and learns wound care before you get medical attention. That’s kind of like what relying on your ex for closure is like, especially when that ex is a narcissist.
Narcissists often use “closure” as an excuse to reenter your life, so it’s important to have a plan in place for your safety, healing, and closure. Read on for a detailed 5 step plan for getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist.
Go No Contact
When breaking up with a narcissist, it’s important to understand closure and what it really is, because your illusion of closure can easily be manipulated by your ex to keep the door open on your relationship.
One of the aspects of narcissistic abuse that makes the relationship so exhausting and damaging, is that narcissists are experts at getting you to let them back in, no matter how much they have hurt you.
Remember in the beginning when they bombarded you with love and gifts? When you thought, wow s/he might just be the one. When you were bragging to your friends about how you were dating the most romantic person ever? That was the fairy tale before the nightmare. But when it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, they will pull out all the stops, and then some, to get you to let them back in. They will tell you they are addressing all their flaws, they’re in therapy, they will tell you a sob story about their childhood trauma. They will promise to never hurt you again and threaten to kill themselves if they do. They will say all of these things and more all while buying you expensive jewelry and making you the most romantic dinner you’ve ever seen.
But how did you end up back at dinner with your narcissistic ex? Maybe they wore you down. Maybe they begged. Maybe they said something like, “I don’t want to get back together, I just want to talk. I’m in therapy and my therapist thinks we could both use some closure.”
That makes sense! Closure is healthy, right?
When it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, you need to know that closure is an illusion. Closure is the crowbar they use to pry open the door back into your life. Closure is something you are going to have to find on your own.
That’s why it’s so important that the first step of getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist is going no contact.
Set Up Safety Precautions
Think of it this way. A narcissist is an addict, validation is the drug, and you are the supply. Have you seen the crazy things addicts do when they are cut off from their supply? You need to think of the narcissist as a dangerous junkie who wants to use you to get their fix. It is important not to downplay the fact that leaving a narcissist and going no contact can become a dangerous situation.
It’s hard to focus on closure and healing when you are afraid for your safety. You need to put safety measures in place for your peace of mind, as well as your physical and emotional safety. Here are a few suggestions.
–Change your number. Even if you block a narcissist, they will find ways to contact you. They will buy burner phones or have friends reach out. To really cut off contact, you might need to change your number completely.
-Set all social media to private and change your handles. The narcissist will create new profiles to digitally stalk you and leave hateful comments on your posts. Set everything to private and don’t approve people you don’t know. You may also want to change your handles so the narcissist can’t find you and continue to keep tabs on your life. Also keep in mind geotag usage. You don’t want to tag yourself at a location if you are still there and you don’t want to tag yourself at the same place multiple times. The narcissist may start hanging out at that place hoping to run into you there.
-Alert security. If you live in a neighborhood with security or an apartment building with security or a doorman, let them know. Share with them that you have an unstable abusive ex. Show them the person’s pictures. Ask that this person not be allowed in under any circumstances. Many security professionals have dealt with this situation before and may have some added insights or security precautions they can recommend.
-Get an alarm system. Easy, not very expensive, and will help you sleep better at night. You can also ask the alarm company if they have any additional recommendations.
-Move. I’m not saying you should sell your house and move to a different state, although some women do end up doing that. But it may be possible to move. If your lease is up, don’t renew. If you live in an apartment community you may be able to move to a different unit. Ask your management company if this would be possible. Explain the situation, share any documentation including letters from your therapist and paperwork from the police. They may be able to help you out and let you move into a different unit.
-Consider a restraining order. You will need to work with the police on this and you will need evidence. Do not delete any messages your ex sends you, as tempting as it might be. A restraining order is not a foolproof strategy, but it will set a very serious tone to your ex and provide the evidence you need to carry out some of these other strategies. It can also enrage your ex and cause them to lash out, so please be sure to have security measures already in place.
These strategies may seem time consuming and even expensive, but you can’t put a price on your safety or peace of mind. You have been making the narcissist the center of your world; it’s time to put your wellness and safety first in a concrete way.
Work With A Domestic Abuse Center
You may think that sounds dramatic and unnecessary. Maybe your ex was only emotionally and never physically or sexually abusive, so why would you go to a shelter? It’s a misconception that abuse shelters are just for those who have been physically abused. A domestic abuse center assists men, women, and children, gay or straight, who have dealt with any kind of intimate partner abuse, whether that be physical, emotional, or sexual.
Contacting your local abuse shelter or domestic violence help center is a huge step towards getting closure. Having been abused by a narcissist, you likely have been gaslighted. That means there is a small part of you that may still be wondering, “What if I am crazy. What if he really is just trying to love me?”
Talking about your situation with a professional is going to be one of the most validating experience of your life. It will knock that self doubt right out of your head. When I was trying to leave an abusive relationship with a narcissist, a friend’s mom put me in touch with a counselor she knew at our local abuse shelter. The counselor called me and asked, “Does he tell you he loves you to death?” “Yes.” “Then you better believe him.”
Never before had someone voiced and validated my fears so clearly.
Her saying that changed everything for me. She then walked me through how to leave, the plan I needed to make on how to escape, and how to do so with the least amount of risk to my safety. I truly would not have been able to leave without this support.
Your local domestic abuse center is also going to be able to recommend resources to you for your physical safety, as well as emotional healing and closure. Most can provide therapy with one of their counselors in house, often at a free or reduced rate. But if they are unable to do so, they will be able to recommend the top experts in your area.
If you are unsure of who to reach out to or are unsure if you are experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Again, this comes back to validation. Validation is such an important part of the process because being in a relationship with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a profoundly invalidating experience.
Educating yourself, whether that be through reading, working with a therapist, or attending a 12 step group, will help you close the door on this relationship by creating space between your emotional involvement and your psyche. By understanding NPD through a clinical lens, the next time your narcissistic ex tries to use a classic tool of manipulation, you will be able to recognize this behavior as a symptom of his/her disorder. You will have the insights of renowned experts and therapists validating your experience. You will be able to breathe and seek out one of the tools you learned through your research, rather than getting sucked back in. This isn’t a perfect practice, but overtime you will be able to use your research to shift your perspective and your response.
Educating yourself isn’t just validating, it is also going to help you better understand your ex, yourself, and your dynamic. When you really integrate the understanding that your ex isn’t just manipulative or flawed, but actually suffering from a personality disorder that most therapists agree is incurable and nearly impossible to treat, I promise it will be a lot easier to have compassion for the both of you and walk away.
I recently put together a list of books I recommend to my clients who are breaking up with a narcissist. You can find that list here.
Go All In On Healing
One of the most important aspects to getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist is learning to put yourself first. The narcissist likely demanded your undivided attention, guilted you for having friends or hobbies, and made their emotional outbursts the center of your universe. Your relationship with the narcissist has likely robbed you of your relationship with yourself.
Maybe the most healing thing you can do right now is vow to fix that. Take a moment to promise yourself to put your wellbeing first now, no matter what.
I have seen women who due to a lack of awareness, education, and healing have dated narcissist after narcissist. Truth is, I have been that woman. And if your attraction to a narcissist stems from unresolved childhood trauma, there is a real risk that could happen.
That’s why the moment you realize you are in this dynamic you have to go all in on your healing. Many women are pulled into this dynamic with a narcissist due to childhood trauma. Many were raised by a narcissist or co-dependent parent. Sometimes people who tend to be more empathic are easily drawn in by a damaged narcissist. The point is, you not only have to heal from the trauma of this relationship, you also have to be willing to turn inwards and find out if there was any trauma that drove you to this relationship.
By no means am I trying to blame the victim here. What happened to you was horrific and not your fault. What I am saying is that the process of self discovery and healing that can come after leaving a narcissist can be deeply empowering especially after such a disempowering experience. It may be painful, but looking inward with ultimately free you from this dynamic and open up space for life altering healing.
Ultimately, the tools you use for healing will vary depending on what works for you and it will take a lot of experimenting. For me, I found hypnotherapy, Theta Healing, and homeopathy to be my go to strategies.
Ready to start dating again? Working with a matchmaker is a safe, easy way to get back into the dating world. Join my free database here to be considered as a match for one of our clients, totally free to cost for you.
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The truth is, more women than I would like to admit are recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. Sadly, some of these women don’t even know their relationship was abusive. Too many women are left with the emotional wounds of abuse and PTSD, but don’t understand what’s happened to them. It’s not their fault; too often abusers make the victim believe they are crazy, dramatic or even the perpetrator themselves.
All breakups are hard, but ending an emotionally abusive relationship can leave you feeling like you have lost your sense of self and sanity. You may be feeling completely broken with no idea how to recover because you have completely lost trust in yourself. You may be wondering if you are crazy, if you were wrong to end the relationship, or if it would be easier to just give in to your ex’s demands.
As women, we are woefully uneducated about emotional abuse. So when it comes to recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship, the first step is awareness and education. You need to learn everything you can about emotional abuse not only to reclaim your sanity, but also to heal the patterns so it never happens to you again. That’s why I recommend these five books to all of my clients who are recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship.
This book is an epic game changer for ANYONE, but if you’re recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s required reading. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that causes you to question your own sanity. The seeds of gaslighting are usually sown slowly overtime, encroaching on your sanity inch by inch until you find yourself completely doubting your memory and experience of reality.
For example, your partner constantly flirts with other women in front of you. When you confront him, he blows up, berating you with examples of your “pathological jealousy” he tells you you are weak, needy, crazy, and destroying your relationship. “You are sabotaging our relationship with your jealously because you can’t handle being happy.” A gaslighter will use yelling, aggression, and below the belt insults until you are willing to accept their version of reality, which is that you are crazy and they are always right. It may get to the point where you are quite sure he is cheating, but you convince yourself you are wrong, it’s just your irrational jealousy and fear of being happy.
Being gaslighted can make you a zombie completely controlled by your abusive partner, making it near impossible to leave the relationship. This book will not only help you identify all forms of gaslighting, it will also give you step by step guides for facing gaslighting in all aspects of your life. In short, it will help you recover from the emotional abuse and reclaim your relationship with your self.
Not only is the book so well written you’ll want to binge it in an entire weekend, it’s one of the best you’ll find about understanding narcissistic abuse. Not all emotionally abusive men are narcissists, but many are. If you aren’t sure what narcissistic abuse is or if you think your abusive ex might have narcissistic tendencies, you can read the first chapter of Dr. Durvasula’s book here.
Dr. Durvasula, one of the top experts on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, categorizes a few types of narcissists. But the thing they all have in common is a pathological lack of empathy. Infidelity, stalking, gaslighting, and love bombing often go hand in hand with narcissistic abuse as well.
Everything starts out great with a NPD partner. They’re charming, treat you like a princess, the sex is great. It doesn’t hurt that they are usually handsome, well dressed, and successful. In the beginning, your relationship will be the envy of all your friends. Which is part of what makes it so hard to admit that you’re living in a nightmare and leave once the narcissists shows their true colors.
I highly recommend diving into Dr. Durvasula’s book, but if you can’t wait for your book to arrive, check out her fantastic episode on Red Table Talk.
If you’ve been in an abusive relationship of any kind your boundaries have been systematically violated, worn down, and dissolved. Maybe your ex insisted on having all your passwords and access to your social media account so he could keep tabs on you. Eventually, you got so sick of the fighting you just gave in and let him have your passwords and anything else he wanted. Now, you can’t even remember the last time it felt safe to say no to someone. Maybe saying no has never felt safe to you.
The problem is, we don’t really teach children healthy boundaries. We are taught sacrifice=heroic and that putting others before ourselves is how we show love. As adults many of us don’t have a healthy understanding of boundaries. Narcissists and other predatory or abusive personalities almost have a sixth sense for women with poor boundaries.
Developing healthy boundaries is not only the first step towards severing the ties between yourself and your abusive ex, it’s going to help you create healthy relationship dynamics in the future. Side effects of healthy boundaries include: more energy, higher income, more free time, healthier partnerships, richer friendships, greater compassion for self and others.
Education is one of your best weapons when it comes to healing from an emotionally abusive relationship. But if your education doesn’t include better understanding yourself, it’s falling short. The fact is, abusive men, psychopaths, and narcissists are attracted to certain personality types. They tend to be drawn to empathic women, women who are sensitive, giving, and often don’t have the best boundaries. Introducing the highly sensitive person (HSP) a term sometimes used interchangeably with “empath.”
HSPs have sensitive nervous systems which makes them a target for abuse. They will often quickly cave to the demands of their abuser because they can’t handle the stress and drama of fighting. HSPs are often shy, struggle with intimacy, and feel they may never find someone. This makes them particularly vulnerable to the “love bombing” so common at the begging of emotionally abusive relationships.
Turning to the empath side of the highly sensitive person spectrum, empaths identify strongly with the feelings of others, often losing themselves, their needs, and their own perspective in their partner’s. As a result, they find themselves putting the needs (or demands) of their partner above their own. This means far too many empaths end up in toxic or abuse relationships.
If these dynamics sound familiar to you, you might be an HSP or empath. This book will not only make you feel seen and understood, it will give you the tools you need to create healthier relationship dynamics in the future. You can also check out, The Empath’s Survival Guide by Dr. Judith Orloff.
Are you a caretaker or people pleaser? Do you have a need to be needed? Do you have a history of being romantically involved or friends with emotionally vulnerable, needy people? Alternatively, you might feel that you need someone to take care of you, feeling totally lost and vulnerable outside of a relationship. If so, you might have codependency issues and those issues might be a reason you ended up in an emotionally abusive relationship.
Codependency often goes hand in hand with emotional abuse. The codependent finds it almost impossible to walk away from a relationship, especially one where they have taken on the care taking role. That’s why codependents tend to stick around longer than is healthy or safe.
Codependency usually comes from a place of low self worth. You may feel that you are unworthy of love and therefore caretake others. If they need you, they can’t leave you. The problem is that makes you vulnerable to people who will take advantage of your care taking, lack of boundaries, and empathy. These people will leave you depleted (& far worse) then manipulate you into staying in the relationship.
Codependency is a pretty common dynamic, not just in romantic relationships, but in family dynamics and friendships as well. Codependent no more will go a long way towards helping you develop healthy relationships in all areas of your life, while helping you to make yourself a priority.
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Here are some scary facts for you. Autoimmune disease is on the rise, especially among women, and more than 50% of Americans are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Depression and mental illness are epidemic. And for too many women, our hormones are a hot mess of imbalance. The fact is, a lot of us Millennial a dealing with unseen, chronic illness, and it ain’t fun. But by and large, we also want to travel more than any generation before us.
I know from experience, the stress of traveling with chronic illness can ruin the best of holidays.
I have a condition called Reactive Arthritis. It means that a few times a year, usually triggered by illness or inclement weather, my joints get achey. Sometimes it’s annoying, sometimes it is painful. Luckily, I can easily manage it with Aleve and lifestyle choices, but it is still something that’s on my radar while I travel.
It hasn’t prevented me from traveling, but it certainly has impacted the way I travel. Long days of partying and nights in crowded hostels are not really my thing nowadays. Trust me, I’m not upset about that part! But in the past I’ve let the stress of worrying about my arthritis impact my life more than the arthritis itself ever has. Now, I like to think I have a system down for managing chronic illness and stress while traveling.
So after years of traveling with chronic illness, I had a few words to say on the topic.
Bring All Of Your Medication
Duh, right? Packing for a trip to Mexico City, I was so stressed about bringing every gluten related supplement (I was on a gluten free kick) I totally forgot to pack my inhaler. Luckily, I didn’t need it, but Mexico City is not a place you want to visit without your rescue inhaler if you have asthma.
Get Your Own Room
I know at a certain age there is a temptation to do the whole hostel thing. And even when traveling with friends it is tempting to share a hotel room to save on cost.
It is so not worth it.
Whatever condition you might be struggling with, chances are there are going to be moments when you need privacy. Whether your stomach is upset, you’re feeling a wave of depression coming on, you have a migraine, or you just need way more sleep than the average person, knowing you have your own private, safe space to retreat to is going to bring you so much relief. Sometimes you just need to be alone and that’s especially true when traveling with chronic illness.
Travel can be stressful. Scratch that, travel is usually stressful. Stress triggers flare ups, mood swings, and autoimmune disease. It can also fuck up our hormonal balance. That doesn’t mean you can’t travel, it just means you should consider your stress tolerance when making travel arrangements.
Here are a few ways I recommend for reducing stress while traveling:
- Pay for your seat assignment ahead of time
- Do NOT book basic economy seats (normal economy is fine)
- Yes, it is worth it to pay for lounge access (I have Priority Pass Access with my Chase credit card)
- Pack ample snacks so you know you have something you can eat on hand
- Consider splurging on business class seats
- Get to the airport early
- Consider cruises instead of flying
- Use a travel agent, specifically a travel agent for the differently abled if you need extra help
- Make your hotel aware of your needs beforehand (there are actually agencies who will do this for you)
- Consider leisure travel vs. adventure travel
- Only travel with compatible travelers
Be Comfortable Doing Your Own Thing
One night on a group trip to Krakow I decided to stay in while everyone else went out. I relished in my personal space and spent the night journaling about the experience I was having traveling around Central Europe (also writing angry letters to my ex boyfriend, but that’s a different story!) It was quite literally my favorite night in Krakow.
If my friends want to go out drinking, that’s awesome for them, but I will probably opt out. Alcohol has a big impact on my mental and physical health. I also really love sleep. Likewise, my friends might want to get BBQ, while I don’t eat meat. I am certainly not offended if the group wants one thing, while I go do my own way. I won’t hold a group of people hostage to my dietary restrictions, but I also won’t sacrifice my comfort to please other people.
Know Who Is On Your Team
Even though I am totally comfortable doing my own thing, not everyone I have traveled with is. I once went on a trip to Vienna with someone who had no understanding of personal space or alone time. She also really couldn’t handle the planning and coordinating of travel, so every Uber, every subway ride, every museum ticket, ended up on my plate and I was a total grump about it. We also did not plan our days of travel the same way. She also wanted to wake up at 7 blow dry her hair, and get rolling. Whereas I like to take my sweet time to wake up, eat a huge breakfast, and take the day at more of a leisurely pace.
Another time, I went to Mexico with a guy I was dating. Likewise, he wasn’t much of a planner (or doer) so I ended up having to plan every detail of the trip while he played video games. He was also super indecisive about everything and got to the airport 30 minutes before our flight. I needed some privacy to have a meeting with a client and ended up having to bribe him to leave the Airbnb for an hour. It was all wildly stressful for me, but totally normal for him. We weren’t not compatible travelers and I learned the hard way that I can only travel with people who can share some of the responsibility and respect personal space.
I have also traveled with people who just don’t understand the literal needs of something with chronic illness (avoiding certain foods, less alcohol, more sleep) and that was a frustrating problem for both of us.
No judgement intended to other types of travelers, but it’s important to travel with a compatible traveler otherwise both parties be stressed out! You have to know that whoever is on your team is on the same page and supports what you’re going through.
Do Your Research
If you have dietary restrictions, come prepared with a list of safe restaurants nearby. Know where the closest pharmacy is and how late it’s open. If you don’t speak the language, at least learn or write down the name of your condition (in their language, duh), names of foods you need to avoid, and any other words related to your condition. I can’t tell you how many times I said GLUTENMENTES?! (gluten free) while I lived in Hungary. It was one of the first words I learned.
Remember to Enjoy Yourself
On my trip to Mexico City I was having a horrible time because I was sooo stressed about needing to know every ingredient I was eating while hoping and praying it wouldn’t make me sick. Then I said fuck it. I went to an incredible bakery and ate whatever the fuck I wanted. Seriously this bakery was out of this world. Even Gwyneth Paltrow thinks so. They have an open kitchen and I have NEVER seen so many sticks of butter in one place <3
So I ate some pastries. Guess what? Nothing happened. The gluten gods didn’t sweep down from heaven and damn me. My stomach and joints felt fine. I actually felt BETTER than I had the whole trip because I wasn’t obsessing and stressing about every small detail.
Here’s the thing, whatever you might be intolerant to or what might be a trigger, stress is way worse for you. It is so damn easy to spend your whole vacation worried about what could go wrong. Yes, so many things could go wrong when traveling with chronic illness. But you’re on vacation for a reason, to experience a new culture and get outside of your comfort zone. So eat the damn pastry and enjoy your trip.
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