There are worse things than being single. At the top of the list is a toxic or manipulative relationship. Toxic relationships not only rob you of your independence in the present, but also deeply affect your self-esteem and emotional regulation.
Having a good partner can make or break your happiness in life. But being in love — or the idea of it — can blind us to certain problematic aspects of a relationship, and one of the biggest blind spots is narcissistic abuse. Simply put, narcissistic abuse occurs when a person uses words, language, or actions that seek to control, manipulate, change, or influence their partner’s behavior.
Being in a relationship with a narcissistic person can be detrimental to your mental well-being and self-esteem, or worse, cause you to lose your identity. No one should go through that, so here are the signs to watch out for.
walking on eggshells
Do you feel like everything is a perilous slope? You may be very successful in your career, thriving in your social life, but every time you have to say or do something with your partner, you are constantly concerned that you are saying or doing something wrong. If so, you should sit back and notice this carefully.
The feeling of being constantly walking on eggshells is not healthy – constant stress can even have a physical impact on your body – because our minds and bodies are not set up to fight endless insecurities. Resilience is great, but being with your partner shouldn’t be about resilience. You should not find ways to survive, but thrive.
Our partners are supposed to make us comfortable, to be our safe haven and to have a friendly presence in our lives. If you feel judged by them for their narcissistic behavior, consider it a big red flag.
Do you feel like you don’t recognize the person you’ve become since you started the relationship? Here’s the thing: Every time someone enters a relationship, it’s normal to change a little — you make small changes in your life to align with your partner’s needs. We also pick up some habits from each other. That’s healthy.
Most importantly, such adjustments are mutual. But if you feel like you’re out of control or that you don’t even identify yourself, it’s time to rethink the relationship. Many victims of narcissistic behavior talk about feeling sadder than ever, that they no longer enjoy the things or activities they used to do, and that they have lost their spark.
It’s important to hold on to the things that make you you. A partner with narcissistic behavioral tendencies will try to manipulate you to change your dress style, your eating habits, your schedules, your approach to work. . . you get it.
When the manipulation & control becomes too subtle, it can also lead to gaslighting. This means that the narcissist is deliberately trying to confuse their partner and distort their sense of reality. If you’re constantly being told you’re wrong, you’ll eventually come to believe it, especially if it’s coming from someone so close to you.
It’s only human to internalize this kind of feedback. But this puts you at risk of doubting your own intentions, actions, and reality. Narcissists are master manipulators and can convince you that an apple is an orange. Your trust in your partner makes it easier for them to convince you. And that’s bad news.
When this continues to happen, you will eventually find yourself questioning your own sanity: “Why do I keep doing the wrong thing” or “I’m really worthless”.
If you find yourself dealing with narcissistic behavior, it’s best to trust your instincts. If there are red flags or alarm bells, hear them, pay attention, and walk away if you don’t feel safe.
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