You know what I’ve never heard?
Someone saying about their narcissistic ex, “They just got better and better over time!”
I’ve never heard it and you’ve never heard it because it’s not true.
Narcissists don’t get better, they don’t improve. This is a fact, basic science, aka Shit We Know to be True.
Like other scientific truths, such as:
- It takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds for light to travel from the sun to Earth
- Hot water freezes faster than cold water
- It’s impossible to hum while you hold your nose
- Boyfriends do more housework than husbands
- A cockroach can live up to a week without its head
Speaking of cockroaches, here’s another fact:
- Narcissists get worse over time
Maybe you can relate. Maybe if you’re like I used to be, or the people I’ve coached over all these years, or anyone who’s ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, you also think this has something to do with you.
I mean, they were great in the beginning, right?
At least mostly great according to the 90/10 rule of narcissists.
In the beginning of the relationship, 90% of the time they’re awesome, which makes the 10% of the time they’re not so awesome (when those red flags are flying) easier to ignore.
But then days, months, and years pass, and that 90% dwindles to 80, 50, 30 — until the moment comes when you’re back at 90/10 but for the opposite reasons.
And not only has the narcissist changed but so have you.
You’re not the same person anymore, they tell you. You used to be so fun and easygoing. You weren’t so sensitive, emotional, or difficult.
Uh yeah, no shit Sherlock.
But that’s what happens when you gaslight, manipulate, lie to, cheat on, and dick around with someone over a long period of time.
Damn right you’ve changed, though this change is in response to a narcissist’s behavior and not a change of your own making. Unlike a narcissist who changes for the worse all on their own. Though this change is not because of something you’ve done.
They get worse because of
Let me break this down.
a) A narcissist at the age of 20 doesn’t have much experience hurting people yet. They’re still seeing what works and what doesn’t. They’re learning how to get what they want, how to stay under the radar, and how to properly affix that mask so it stays on better — or at least a little longer.
Just like any of us as we get older, we figure things out. A narcissist does exactly the same only with the opposite of intentions.
b) Combined with getting older, a narcissist uses their experiences to get better at their game. Think of it like training. They hone their manipulating, lying, and cheating skills as the years go by. They practice.
Unfortunately, many of us end up being their first case study.
c) Was a narcissist pretty close to perfect when you first met? Did they put you on a pedestal and tell you everything you wanted to hear? That’s because you were their main source of supply. Then over the years as you became depleted and a shell of your former self (cuz duh why wouldn’t you?), a narcissist no longer considered you their primary supply and began looking elsewhere.
Just like a vampire who already sucked the life out of you and starts searching for a new neck to bleed dry. Or several necks, since as narcissists age they become quite greedy bastards.
Of course, this is absolutely heartbreaking when we realize how little we actually meant to someone who meant the world to us.
Yet as I often tell the people I coach, it’s also liberating.
Why? Because it has nothing to do with you.
Narcissists are going to narcissist.
That’s what they do. And there’s no stopping them.
No matter what you do or say or give, no matter how long you stick around and try, no matter how you change or adapt or sacrifice, inevitably you cannot stop a narcissist from getting worse because it’s who they are.
As for your own changes, this is part of your transformation.
This change you’ve experienced has the potential for growth, for empowerment, and for freedom.
There is nothing good or admirable coming from the change in a narcissist.
They get worse because they get better at being exactly who they are.
And the reason you need to know this is because being with a narcissist is painful enough. The recovery afterward is often harder than being in the relationship itself due to our eyes being opened to the truth.
So you need to know it wasn’t something you did or said that made a narcissist change. You might have been the first person they hurt but you definitely won’t be the last (as long as they’re alive and kicking).
I’m writing this all to tell you:
- You are not responsible for someone else abusing you.
- You didn’t deserve it.
- The way you changed when you were with a narcissist is not your fault.
And most importantly:
- You are not defined by what happened to you.
So use that change to turn your trauma into transformation.
And let the cockroaches — uh, I mean narcissists — continue to be exactly who they are.
Without you anywhere near them.
Thank you, Suzanna, for offering this validation to so many who need it. We appreciate you and your insight!