It’s easier than you might think!
Wait, so you’re telling me I can’t spot a narcissist right out of the gate?
AGHHH! Why does it have to take so looooong? What if I’ve already fallen for them? What if I get hurt again? What if I never find anyone to trust or love again?!
Okay, deep breath.
I have good news.
After years of extensive research, including “in the field” experience with boots on the ground (boots with a three-inch heel, but still), I am ready to share my collected data as it pertains to the question every single one of us with a narcissistic ex has:
How do I avoid falling for another narcissist?
My friends, the answer may surprise you. Then it’s going to empower you.
But first, a disclaimer:
If you are still healing, reeling, weak-kneed and wobbly after a narcissist ripped your heart out and, ala Hannibal-style, ate it in front of you…
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT put even one pinky toe into the dating pool.
Trust me when I say you are not ready (been there) to put your tender heart out there yet (done that).
Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. When will I be ready?
You’ll know by the end of this article.
Hear me out.
I used to believe I could spot a narcissist coming from a mile away. After not only my personal experience but also years of research and helping others heal after narcissistic abuse, I felt confident in my narc radar.
And when it comes to overt malignant narcissists, the ones who at first sight bombard you with charm and ooze their magnetism all over you (ew gross, someone give me a tissue to wipe this up), then yeah, I can see through them before the stain has a chance to set.
However, when it comes to those covert dudes (or dudettes), spotting them right away is not so easy, simply because narcissists are super good at hiding who they really are.
But not for super long.
This is why narcissists use love-bombing at the beginning of a relationship. They know the mask they’re wearing is held up by tape that is flimsy as shit, so they need to get you hooked quickly before it starts to slip.
And this is exactly what you can use to your advantage if you know what to look for and have the right tools in your toolbox.
Let me explain.
And I’m going to use my five-date dude to explain it.
He was cutey-cute. Handsome, actually. He played basketball and was in great physical shape too. So, your basic tall drink of water on a hot summer day.
Our first four dates included some walking in parks, around lakes, sitting in cars, and a couple of restaurants, during which we talked, laughed, and got along without effort.
Not to mention he was a hella good kisser.
Most importantly, he was not charming, as in oozy charming. Also, unlike my ex-husband, he did not profess his undying love and tell me I was his soul mate within weeks of meeting him.
He was super cool. Laidback. And fun to be with.
Until the fifth date. Or I should say, the end of the fifth date.
Now, given my past and my experience with having a narcissist shatter my world, you may be wondering if I’ve become cynical or jaded when it comes to men (no and no). Or if I’m on high alert (still no) and my sixth sense is that I see narcissists (okay this part’s true).
I do have a built-in radar, yet the volume is turned down to low and it mainly serves as a backup to what provides my true protection against ever falling for another toxic asshole:
- The trust I have in myself, which I’ll explain.
But first, back to fifth-date dude.
During our time together, which was spread out over a couple of months, we also texted back and forth. Not aggressively, so nothing out of the norm to see there. We chatted on the phone and never ran out of anything to talk about.
When he eventually asked if I was ready to take our relationship a step further, I admitted I wasn’t sure and would think about it.
Days later, I told him I was interested in exploring what seemed like the natural next step.
Cool, we agreed. And made plans.
The beginning of what would be our final date went as well as the others. We met for drinks, enjoyed another great meal, and then headed for some time alone.
Once we were in a private space, we took up where we left off after our last kiss. At first, the heat was there.
Then suddenly, he began making demands. Orders that I was to follow.
Within seconds, every good sensation flushed out of my body, and I turned stiff and cold. On instinct, I froze.
And that pissed him off.
Well, what actually made him angry was that I had come prepared with a boundary. And he had crossed it.
Scratch that — he tried to cross it.
I had also come prepared to enforce that boundary, which I did, and it took only seconds before the real him showed up.
Oh hello, Mr. Narcissist.
First, he pushed against my boundary. Then when he wasn’t successful, he began insulting and making fun of me. Mocking me.
None of this affected me for reasons I’ll share.
What did affect me was that I was suddenly alone in a private space with a man who was unsafe. So I backpedaled and placated and told him whatever he wanted to hear.
It’s not you, it’s me, I lied. It’s my fault, I lied again. I’m so sorry, I should just leave.
He followed me to my car and then stood in front of the driver’s side door, at which point he berated me for the next twenty minutes. I nodded and apologized again, focusing on getting into my car and away from him.
The next morning, I woke up to a barrage of texts. He brought up everything I had talked to him about over our first four dates and tried to use it against me.
Besides being shaken after the night before because I thought my life (or at the very least my body) might be in danger, his words meant nothing. I responded with a curt, “I have nothing else to say” and blocked him from every direction.
Had this happened ten or twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have had the courage to enforce any boundary, I would have taken all his words personally, and I would most likely have gone on a sixth date with him. Not only because he was good-looking and a great kisser…
But because I would’ve already been emotionally invested.
Those were the days when my need to be loved brought all the narcissists to the yard.
The days when I didn’t know myself. And I certainly didn’t trust myself.
And that’s the key.
You must unlearn what you have learned. — Yoda
Here’s a closer look:
You can’t just know what your boundaries are, you must be ready to enforce them. If narcissists are vampires, this is your garlic. When someone is crossing your boundary, they will react one of two ways. A healthy person will respect whatever boundary you put in place. A narcissist will not only push aggressively against it, but they’ll try and make you feel bad or guilty for even having one.
A narcissist will show you who they are, just like my five-date dude, as soon as you’ve put up a boundary. The key is, you have to believe them. So when I saw how his demeanor and tone changed toward me, how easy it was for him to switch from nice to nasty, I believed him when he showed me who he really was. And that made it a piece of cake to walk away.
In the past, by the fifth date with a guy I liked, I would’ve already handed over my heart with a big side of trust, which put me in danger once a narcissist’s mask slipped because I was already caught in their web. I was already emotionally invested. Today, it doesn’t matter how good-looking or kissable someone is, my heart is worth far too much to sacrifice for another wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them. — Obi-Wan Kenobi
It’s not about you
There was a time when I would’ve been completely thrown off balance had a man insulted or made fun of me. That was back when I believed other people when they told me who I was. Now that I know exactly what I’m worth and who I am, with my feet firmly planted in the ground of truth, nothing that five-date dude said made any impact since I know his words only revealed who he was and had nothing to do with me. Also, projection. Everything a narcissist accuses you of being is really an admission of who they are.
Save the good stuff
Once five-date dude went on the attack, he tried to use everything I told him against me. The problem (or his problem) was that I hadn’t shared anything deep or secret or told him of my fears or insecurities, so the guy had nothing to work with. After all, who I am at my core is not to be given out to anyone who comes knocking. So I save the good stuff for the good people who have already proven their goodness. And that takes time.
Now back to the question: Are you ready to date?
Take your focus off whether you can trust someone else. And instead, put it back on you.
- Do you trust yourself to enforce those boundaries when someone tries to cross them?
- Do you trust yourself to believe someone when they show you who they are the first time?
- Do you trust yourself to remember your worth? Your value? And your place in this world?
- Do you trust yourself to save the good stuff that makes you who you are and offer it up to only those who have proved themselves trustworthy?
Then there is nothing to fret about when it comes to falling for a narcissist because they will do all the work for you. All you have to do is sit back, trust yourself, and watch the show.
You may not even need five dates to figure one out.
That’s how strong the force of trusting yourself is.
So may the force be with you.
Always entertaining and beyond informative, thank you again to Suzanna for sharing her work with us!