I don’t seem to be able to break the habit of contacting my ex fiancé even though he had several online affairs, alternated affection with contempt, lost his temper with me, lectured me constantly to try to force me to change myself in pretty much every way, sabotaged my friendships and acted obnoxiously when my family member died and I had a massive cancer scare. What on earth do I do?
Everything you said about your ex fits the description of a narcissist:
• making accusations
• showing contempt
• sabotaging your friendships
• lacking empathy
• having online affairs that feed his need for validation and praise
Most people enjoy admiration, but for narcissists, the craving for validation is never-ending, as they need it in order to feel empowered and worthwhile. Thus, the primary drive in their lives is to seek praise and conquest, whether through seduction, power, or status.
Narcissists unconsciously target well-meaning, vulnerable people as their intimates. Yet ironically, narcissists end up holding in contempt those who admire or love them. While they seek admiration, they have disdain for people foolish enough to be deceived by their grandiosity. Moreover, they fear that intimates may discover the extreme emptiness and vulnerability underlying their grandiosity.
Thus, in intimate relationships, they protect themselves from criticism, humiliation, and rejection by over-reacting with contempt or outrage whenever they are challenged on any level. Contempt becomes a tool to keep their partner and other intimates insecure and dependent, thus, ensuring their continued validation. Contempt erodes the partner’s self-respect, which will make it harder for that person to stand up and leave the abusive relationship.
Breaking emotional ties
Narcissists will drain the life out of you. It is critical that you stay away from someone who is demeaning toward you, has online affairs, and sabotages your friendships.
Leaving a narcissist can be difficult because your self-confidence is diminished, and narcissists tend to excel at manipulation and seduction. They may threaten and berate you and alternatively use their skills of charm and seduction. It is up to you to avoid becoming weak to such maneuvering.
To quit a relationship with a narcissist, you have to make a conscious decision to avoid the narcissist. You’ve got to be strong and decide flatly that you will end the relationship.
You can make it a bit easier by keeping busy with friends and family. If you can afford it, travel is a great way to free yourself of your old habits. Initially it will take willpower for you to resist the urge of contacting him and to avoid being seduced by his charms. It is natural to miss a person you have been emotionally involved with for so long, even when that person is often unkind and contemptuous. But you will miss him less after the first three months of no contact. After a year, things will become much easier.
Keep in mind that relationships should be loving and supportive. If your return to him, his negative behavior is likely to get much worse.
Remember that in a good relationship, each partner wants the other person’s happiness. Look for someone who embraces your friends, who cares for you, appreciates your desires, and who feels empathy for what you are going through — your disappointments, successes, and losses. Look for someone who never (or hardly ever!!) shows contempt toward you.
by Dr. Alison Poulsen