If you are going through a break-up or divorce with a Narcissist it can be other worldly. You are dealing with a Jekyll and Hyde. A person whom you trusted and a person who could deceive you. A person who appeared loving and a person who could be cold, indifferent, entitled and manipulative.

Psychologist, Dr. Jordan Peterson, in one of his lectures, talked about how people may be devastated by tragedy but eventually could withstand it. What he says people have the most difficulty overcoming is malevolence. It causes trauma, cognitive dissonance and if not processed properly, the aftermath can last for a long time.

The good news is that you can empower yourself after a relationship with a Narcissist but you must be willing to understand the disorder and put effort into nurturing your self and soul.

Narcissists and other low-empathy emotional abusers often have a “playbook”. They may look different or come from different backgrounds but their behaviors are often similar.

After counseling and coaching many individuals who suffer from Narcissistic Abuse, I put together six main reasons why relationships with Narcissists eventually turn out to be impossible.

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Number One. Deficient Object Constancy and Bonding

This may be the number one reason why these relationships have a shelf life and are so painful for those who love them. They are able to attach, but attachment is different from bonding, loving and feeling compassion for another. Bonding is a healthy and necessary form of love. It basically means, I care deeply for you. I am willing to compromise with you, come to an agreement that you meet my needs but I also do my utmost to meet yours. I will listen, even if I don’t agree and feel safe about voicing my opinion. I consider your feelings and thoughts. It means I will hang in there and have your back (not stab it). Deficient Object Constancy wreaks havoc in intimate relationships. There is no gray area. If you sway from the Narcissist’s perfectionist agenda, there will be hell to pay. You are either all good or all bad. This unfortunately is common in pathological relationships.

Narcissists do not have the capacity to bond. They may appear to be deeply attached with you. A Narcissist will NOT compromise or take into consideration your needs. (Though they do at the beginning and intermittently) Any positive change is often short lived. Any deletion of a negative trait is often substituted with another. This is why
you often feel you cannot please the Narcissist as the hoops to jump through become out of reach.

You are either serving their needs or not. They often function in a stoic, machine-like way or stonewall as if you are invisible. They lack an “emotional chip”. This causes emotional pain and damage to those they “choose” to be part of their golden circle. Of course it never starts out that way. Survivors are often caught up in the memories of the early days of wonder.

Number Two. They are only interested in Power, Control and Impression Management.

Narcissists are often very charming, especially at the beginning. They are often highly intelligent and successful. They may have intellectual empathy, but lack the compassion of emotional empathy. They are always right. They must control everything in their world including YOU and anything and everything that may reduce their control may trigger their rage causing punishment and devaluation. Vindictiveness is common.

Their rage can be hot-headed or cold. They need the world to see them as a hero, above-board and admired.

They will often go to ANY LENGTH to maintain that power, control and impression management even if it means throwing you under the bus. Anything that causes shame or vulnerability is BAD and must be reckoned with.

Number Three. People are interchangeable, replaceable and compartmentalized.

This may be the hardest one to wrap your head around but is probably one of the biggest reasons why healthy and loving relationships with them don’t gel. Even if they “remain” in long term relationships or marriages, they are often seeking new supply in the form of people, things, organizations and work. Their thirst for admiration and adoration is endless. They fear abandonment and can’t be alone, so back up plans are a necessity to their survival.


Number Four. They are masters at the reward/punishment system.

If you defer to their every wish you may stay in their good graces for a time but the minute you need something, want something, disagree, are sick or have a crisis, they don’t care much and will punish you severely if you don’t put their needs, wants and desires first. The word compromise is not in the playbook. If you confront, disagree, call them out or worse yet, share your discomfort or hurt, they will stonewall, gaslight, project, manipulate, triangulate, manage down your expectations, give you the silent treatment and sometimes withhold sex, affection and time. Clients often refer to the good times being reduced to receiving breadcrumbs.

Number Five. They have a harem and eventually you join by default.

You are made to feel very special in the beginning. Unfortunately, you don’t realize until later down the road, you are often sharing the Narcissist with a harem. No matter what they say or how they try to convince you, pay attention to actions and gut feelings. I know that so many partners of Narcissists want to believe that they are the only one. Sometimes the Narcissist will engage in other romantic relationships or emotional affairs. Even if they are cerebral (meaning more interested in intellect versus sex), they are often addicted to porn or have an audience of admirers. During the idealization phase, they may focus all their attention on you to ensnare you in their private club to make you feel specially chosen. Once you are “in” you will slowly be demoted and devalued. Remember, while you are being idealized, other people who supply the Narcissist with “fuel” are often given the silent treatment or shelved. They always have lots of balls juggling in their royal court. Mess up and you will be immediately demoted and punished for not following the unspoken rules of their kingdom. It is only when their other “harem” members are misbehaving or boring will you be dusted off the shelf but beware, as soon as someone new arrives on the scene or you misbehave, back to the shelf you go.

Number Six. The disorder is permanent and the cycle ingrained.

Some experts will tell you that Narcissists can be helped with certain therapies. Yes, this is true BUT… it is imperative for you to know that this is rare. Even with long-term therapy (meaning years), there could be some minor improvement yet many experts will often agree that most Narcissists will NOT go nor remain in therapy. They have to be very motivated, stick it out and believe that something is wrong. This is more often not the case.
You are far better off considering therapy or a support group for yourself.

Having a relationship with a pathological Narcissist and the experience that goes with it will probably be one of the most unbelievable, insidious, impossible,passionate, painful relationships you will ever have in your life.

In the End, you do have a choice.

Narcissists are very often attracted to Empaths and Co-Dependents due to their over the top empathy, understanding and rationalizations.

If you are waiting and hoping for the day the Narcissist will consider you as an individual person with needs, wants and desires of your own instead of someone who is there to meet all of their unreasonable demands, understand you may wait a lifetime.

Dig deep within, take the time to heal your own inner wounds. Protect and enforce your boundaries in relationships. Learn to incorporate self-care and never forget you matter. Stand up for yourself and take back your power. It is never too late.

Laney Zukerman is an author, relationship coach and psychology professor.

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