In narcissistic relationships, there are times of euphoric joy mixed in with times of confusion, uncertainty and pain. You never know whether you are going to be rewarded or punished, your head gets stuck in a cycle of trying to figure it all out and you become addicted to the narcissist. It’s a known condition called trauma bonding.
Your brain, in any normal situation, would tell you to run to the hills but unfortunately, it’s so tied up with trying to figure out the confusing situation that you somehow inexplicably find yourself bonded to him and unable to function without his love and attention.
Stage One – Love Bombing Phase
Narcissists will usually love bomb at the start of a relationship, bombarding with compliments, spend lots of time with you and generally make you feel really special. Quite often, you will feel a nagging doubt that something isn’t right, maybe it’s too full-on, your narcissist is wanting you all to himself, the professions of undying love are really soon into the relationship etc. But these nagging feelings are often swept under the carpet as it just feels so good to be someone’s world and hey, isn’t that what all the fairy tales told you about what true love feels like!
You feel euphoric, you’ve finally found your soulmate and your brain chemicals cause a strong attachment to form. You feel safe and start to open up about your fears, your secrets, your vulnerabilities. It feels ok to tell him you’ve always hated your nose and he assures you it’s the most beautiful nose he’s ever seen.
The narcissist may be making you feel like he’s the perfect soulmate but in reality, you’ve given him on a plate all your wishes and he’s simply mirroring your request. He’s an actor, a very good actor and you get drawn in more and more.
Stage Two – Narcissist Control
Once the narcissist is satisfied that you are fully hooked he now moves onto stage two, narcissist control, where you will be expected to prove your love by being perfect. Being with a narcissist is exhausting and at this stage, you will no doubt fail at something. And if you don’t he will change the goalposts so he can test his control, leaving you even more confused.
Techniques he will use to test his control include gaslighting, withdrawing attention, he will probably also slyly mention that he has been thinking about what you said and he agrees your nose does look a bit odd, anything to dig into your vulnerabilities!
Instead of walking away, the trauma bond causes you to feel addicted to the narcissist and you long for the feelings of stage one. You try harder to please the narcissist and to win back those feelings you felt at the beginning of the relationship. The narcissist knows this and will use it to his advantage. You may find yourself coerced into unfamiliar sexual practices and playing out the narcissist’s dark desires in an attempt to show you are indeed the ideal partner and worthy of his affections.
Link between Narcissism and Addiction
The feelings you are feeling are very similar to heroin addiction and in fact, the same areas of the brain are affected. Users talk about the first hit of heroin being like an out of body, euphoric experience. The user feels godlike and untouchable. But this experience only ever happens the first time with heroin.
Despite this, the user becomes hooked on trying to relive that first euphoric experience and ‘chasing the dragon. They become addicted even though they know it’s no good for them and struggle to walk away. Sound familiar?
Stage Three – The Discard
At this stage, the narcissist is likely to have other women that you may or may not suspect. He will have made you feel totally unworthy of his attentions. Despite your best efforts, he is now bored and he will either create a fictitious argument to end things or just simply disappear. You may be at this stage wondering what the hell just happened or you may still be at stage two.
Know though that often the narcissist will never truly disappear, they like to keep you on a hook so they can reel you in again if they get bored or are low on other attention. The question is are you going to put up with this?
Breaking Trauma Bonds
I know you are probably going crazy inside, reliving everything, trying to figure things out. Maybe the narcissist is currently giving you the silent treatment or maybe he’s discarded you for another victim. Your head is telling you it’s unacceptable and to just walk away but you feel panic. You feel addicted to the narcissist and that life isn’t worth living without him. You pine for his affection and attention.
You may have been at this stage before and have told yourself ‘enough is enough’ yet each time you leave you find yourself returning to him.
The first thing to realize its that this is all normal with a narcissist relationship. Trauma attachment bonds have been formed in your brain and these ‘threads’ need to be broken. The more you feed the threads by going back to him, stalking him on Facebook, keeping him in your life, asking about him, the stronger these threads become and the harder they are to break.
I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but like the heroin addict, you need to go cold turkey and break all contact. Stop feeding the bonding threads.
No time is going to feel like the ‘right time’. If it feels better to do it next time he is giving silent treatment then do that but don’t give any last statements, just quietly go. It might be really tempting to give a ‘ fuck you’ closing statement but trust me you aren’t strong enough and it will come back to haunt you. You will either feel the need to ‘put it right and say sorry’ or he will get a load of nastiness into a reply before you get the chance to block leaving you even more hurt. Leaving without explanation is the best ‘fuck you’.
Narc Rose Tinted Glasses
It’s important during no contact and whilst healing your addiction to the narcissist to remind yourself of the reality of the situation you were in. It’s quite common during the initial period of no contact for you to crave the narcissist so much that you forget how bad things were. The bad feelings may even feel like they weren’t as bad as how you feel now. But remember the feelings now will pass, the feelings you felt before would last for the length of time you were with the narcissist and become worse and worse as your self-esteem crumbled.
Here are some things you can do to keep it real and start healing:
Make A List
List down all the bad things that happened, the situations he put you in, the silent treatment, how you felt and keep that list handy for whenever you are tempted to get back in touch. Make it as detailed as possible with as many feelings as possible. Each time you find yourself weakening or craving reread and ask yourself ‘is this the sort of relationship I want for myself?’ You are worth so much more, it’s ok to feel weak but please don’t give in.
The narcissist you saw in the beginning wasn’t real. You are craving someone who never existed. It’s really important that you realize this point. You made it so easy for them to mirror back a perfect image of what you wanted your soul mate to be because you told him what you desired, your hopes, your dreams, it was easy for him to pretend for a short time. Narcissists are great actors but they are soulless.
Feel A Bit Sorry For Him (if you must) But Don’t Give In!
Imagine being him. Imagine being a soulless person who feels worthless every morning. That wakes up every morning and needs people to stroke their ego just to exist, feel normal and get through the day. That needs to feel they matter by controlling someone’s emotions and they can only feel the buzz if they are making someone suffer for their love. By all means feel a bit sorry if you must, but not for long and when you do, have a little listen to Lily Allens song ‘Smile’, the lyrics certainly used to make me smile. At some point he’ll try and get back in with you, don’t let him, please.
His New Love Isn’t Better Than You
If he’s moved onto another victim it may look all shiny on the outside and you may be thinking ‘what’s she got that I haven’t, I’m much better than her’ but trust me its all part of the game. You might like to read my other article on this subject but she will soon be being treated like you were. She isn’t better than you it’s just another source to stroke his ego.
Break All Ties
This means block, don’t look at his Facebook, change jobs, move towns if you have to but do everything you can to escape this self-esteem sucking vampire. I know I’m repeating myself but he is never going to be what you want him to be, he’s fake. You are a beautiful, gorgeous lady and worthy of a lovely fulfilling relationship.
Be Prepared For Your Next Non-Narcissist Relationship To Feel Boring
It lacks drama so it may feel boring at first. But true love isn’t something you have to constantly prove or be punished for. It’s a safe place that allows you to explore your dreams. Your addiction to the narcissist was unhealthy and mustn’t be used as a comparison for any future relationships. A new relationship may not be the right forever relationship but give it a chance, don’t immediately end it because it doesn’t feel as exciting. Normal people don’t love bomb straight away, there is interest of course but it’s not as intense.
But I’m Still Trying To Understand Why He Did This To Me
If you are asking yourself this you have to realize that all narcissists are the same, they are a breed of soul-sucking people that use the same stupid tactics. Once you are healed you will look back in disbelief at their behavior and you will feel so glad you are no longer with him.
Let Those Feelings Out
Grieve, cry, get angry! Write your feelings down, talk to a close friend, see a counselor and get those feelings out of your system. Search empowering songs on Spotify and create your own list to lift your spirits. Only empowering ‘fuck you’ songs allowed, don’t get soppy on me!
Find Other Ways To Create Good Brain Chemicals
You are addicted to the narcissist so you will feel withdrawal symptoms. You need to replace these chemicals with other feel-good things so you aren’t tempted to contact him because you feel low. Join an exercise or hobby class, try and meet some new people. Avoid places where you might bump into the narc but take this opportunity to explore new things.
The narcissist is so emotion sucking that you may have neglected your own needs. Now is the time to put you first. How about a massage? A makeover? A new diet?
Finally, ask yourself if this had happened to your best friend, what advice would you give to her? I bet it’d be along the lines of ‘I know you feel upset but he’s a jerk, you are far too good for him and you need to get rid’.
And you are. I promise that if you have the strength to go no contact and block this idiot out of your life for good, you will look back on this in a few months and be like ‘what was I thinking’. But you have to be out of it, work on breaking your addiction to the narcissist and be fully healed to see it for what it was. It’s time for change, you are worth so much more. Break the trauma bonds and set yourself free.