Updated: 4/26/2021 | What It’s Like to Be With a Narcissist
Disclaimer: What I’m describing is all textbook narcissist behaviors and this piece is a recount of my experience being in a relationship with one. I will also update this post as things unfold.
I am writing my experience for myself and in hopes of helping others identify abusive behavior by someone they believe loves them. I have had three significant narcissist (or narc) experiences in my life with one of them being my mother and two romantic partners. I hope you find the strength to leave your narc as I did. I am writing this to hold myself accountable to never repeat this cycle.
Here’s what being with a narcissist is like.
Why Are They Narcissists?
Reasons as to why people become narcissists can vary but it typically is a result of childhood trauma that causes the individual to emotionally stunted. The textbook term for the disorder is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (abbreviated as NPD).
Persons with NPD may develop unhealthy coping mechanisms which often may cause them to use people to find validation and coping. Narcissists are typically trying to replace a void or voids in their lives with what they believe they deserve. These voids are may be things narcissists did not receive in their childhood and they are constantly seeking it in adulthood.
Some examples can be love, sex, attention, money, drugs, addictions, etc. Often what they think they deserve can be grandiose delusions, what they haven’t put the work in to even begin to deserve.
Filling voids are usually an unsustainable and short-term solution. It can be damaging to the people narcissists interact with, which is why there are so many victims of abuse by narcissists.
They also believe people are interchangeable, not just romantic partners but friends as well. They are constantly looking for new people or things to fill the voids. They may even see other people as objects (objectify) or supplies.
One reason for this is that most narcissists lack empathy. They may develop perceived empathy and act in ways society tells them they should, but at the core they truly lack the ability to empathize with people and “walk in their shoes.”
I also wanted to mention that people with NPD fall on the spectrum and have varying degrees of narcissism. Not all narcissists abuse, and believe it or not, not all abusers have NPD. It’s very important to understand that not all narcissists are bad and to not stigmatize them as such.
Ultimately, abusers are bad and may have a variety of disorders that are not limited to NPD.
Cycle of Narcissism in Relationships
Narcissists typically follow this 3-step cycle with their partners and eventual victims.
- Idealization: This is also known as “love bombing.” The narc will shower you with attention, gifts, trips, fancy dinner and drinks, words of affirmation, etc. You will seem like the center of their world. Don’t mistake this for being their “twin flame” or “soul mate.” This process is where the narc starts to build your trust and you may feel like you’re “not like the other women/men” they’ve dated in the past. You’re put on a pedestal as someone unique and different. They are performing their best for you. They will even say “I love you” without truly meaning it.
- Devalue: The love bombing starts to decrease and becomes irregular. Their attitudes and actions start to change and even becoming inappropriate. Their attention starts to divert elsewhere and this throws you in for a loop because you’re no longer the center of their world. It will seem like a sudden or gradual 180-degree change. You start to notice that your narc is less than perfect and their words start to become meaningless. They may even forget the things you say sometimes because they are constantly trying to fabricate a lie. You may start to see your narc’s imperfections coming through. You may also feel like a rebound at times.
- Discard: Your utility has expired. You may not receive any healthy communication as they want to move on and want nothing to do with you. They may even say and do things that make you question your sanity and seem like the crazy one who doesn’t have it altogether. They will complain about you to friends or the new supply they’re trying to obtain. Attempts to resolve a situation are meaningless because the narc is no longer invested. You may behave and think in ways that seem out of character. You may feel worthless when you truly are not. You are only drained and remember even that is temporary. You may feel alone and abandoned. They are already in the process of searching for a new victim/partner.
This cycle is abusive and unsustainable. People are seen as objects that a narc supplies on until there is no longer any utility or fulfillment left for them.
These cycles can last years, months, weeks, and even days. Really depends on the narc, what use they have for you, and how long you’re willing to tolerate it.
My Narc Story
How It All Began
My relationship with my narc (short for a narcissist) started very lovingly. We’d constantly make plans to go out to eat because we bonded through food and hanging with friends. We’d try new restaurants, bars, go to parties, etc.
He “love bombed” me and made me feel like his twin flame. I felt like I was the center of his world. The attention felt really good. I introduced him to my friends and wanted him immersed in my world. I wanted him to be in my life forever.
He requested if we could become intimate but I declined various times.
In March 2020, he decided to take advantage of me sexually (most likely a narc behavior). At that point, we had already been close friends for over half a year. I made excuses and decided it would be OK despite a few of my close friends, including my nesting partner (NP), who thought his behavior was abusive and unacceptable. I willingly kept things moving forward with my narc. I made excuses because he made me believe that I was “not like the other women in his past.”
I ignored all the red flags.
We decided to move toward an open relationship. I have a very loving long term nesting partner (NP) of 8 years. Both partners, including my narc, were willing to give polyamory a try so that they could continue to be in my life and I could share mine with them.
Vacation Sounds Like a Good Idea
My narc and I eventually planned a trip to Hawaii and I had fun. I also knew he was still searching for another partner. He opened his Instagram one day and his feed is typically filled with the women he follows. He did this while we were at dinner and it caused me to get upset. It’s ok to look but doing so during dinner together triggered me and I just needed time to process at the beach afterward. We continued the rest of the trip without any issues.
We had also planned a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. At this point, he had matched with a woman on Hinge and seemed to really like her. She had a career as a PM and seemed to want a stable partner. I was happy for him. Two days prior to our trip he informed the gal that he was going on a trip “with friends,” which really only included me. The girl eventually found out it was me and started ignoring his messages which upset him.
He felt bad for not being honest with her and it affected us. While it’s not any of my responsibility to soothe him, I felt bad and found myself making arrangements to lie for and with him. I also was going to forego posting about our trip and tagging him so that girls would not see that we were on a trip together to increase his chances with them. I realized how manipulative and unfair (to me) this was and it did not feel good.
Can You Respect and Honor Our Relationship?
4 days into the trip, I expressed that I did not like feeling “hidden” in order for him to be successful at online dating and with his Instagram prospects. I wanted to be here fully immersed with him and actually enjoy our vacation “together.” I also wanted him to be honest about us, not just on a social media platform, but everywhere.
He did not have a response because he knew he was in the wrong. I was crying and asking that the only thing I really ever wanted was for him to have the courage to be honest about me. He stated that I was ruining his prospects because all girls ask about me. And that’s when I realized that I am not truly “worth it” despite having been told so numerous times in the past and another time just before this trip.
We had even made a relationship rule that if someone were to ask who I was, that he would be straightforward and let them know that I was his girlfriend. I asked him if he ever told anyone the truth and he stated he had not. He had not even made an attempt to find out how someone might respond and those relationships still ended.
He changed up the rules of our relationship and this caused us to fail. I knew then that he did not have a desire for us to succeed.
My narc took our polyamorous relationship as an opportunity to openly cheat. He even tried to connect with and f#ck my friends for lack of a better word. We had boundaries and he crossed them repeatedly.
He should not have committed to this if he could not date multiple people ethically. Sure, your dating pool will decrease, but you’ll find similar people and people who understand that it’s acceptable to have multiple fulfilling romantic relationships. Sometimes relationships like these are even MORE fulfilling than monogamous ones.
He agreed to end our relationship because he could not commit to being honest and present with me on this trip.
So I posted on IG stories that he was free and this caused a frenzy of concern with my friends. He asked me to eventually remove it. I even offered to end our trip early and go home Sunday so that he can move on. Initially, he said maybe and then convinced me to just continue working on us and complete our trip. I agreed to it.
Where Did This Come From?!
After I expressed my feelings, his attitude started changing.
He started arguing about VERY trivial things. He was navigating in La Paz while I was driving and sent me down the wrong way on a one-way street. We were told to pull over by a cop who told us to use GPS to get around safely. We agreed and the cop moved along.
My narc then raised his voice at me about tailing and potentially passing the police car that had stopped us after going down a one-way street. His excuse was because he did not want to go to Mexican jail or have to pay money to get out of a situation with cops. At this point, he was already inebriated. I stated that I would be careful and not pass the cop and that his loud tone of voice and condescending attitude was not necessary.
On the main road, he even asked me to pull over so that he could pour tequila into a cup to drink in the passenger seat (which is legal in Mexico). I was ok with being DD but didn’t know the abusive behavior that was about to ensue.
What’s Really The Issue?
On the ride home, I asked him what all the yelling and attitude was about. I knew there was a bigger underlying issue. Driving down a one-way road as a tourist should never have become that big of a deal. It happens and we move on.
He just kept yelling and repeating the same thing and started petting my head and taunting me by saying, “oh it’ll be ok Alex,” to the point I asked him to stop touching me. He then placed a finger on my lips and shushed me multiple times saying “shhhhhh.” I bit his finger after he would not remove his finger from my face. He started to laugh hysterically.
I was fucking disgusted at this point. I had gone from being someone he cared more about than anything in the world to someone he could not be honest with and was constantly berating. At this point, I started to think it may be more than just narcissism but a personality disorder, which my mother also has and disguises very well.
When we finally arrived at our Airbnb, he intentionally drugged me. He placed four pills into a pile (one of them being Klonopin, an anti-anxiety drug) and told me to take the pills so that I could relax and calm down. I was livid he thought he could drug me to alleviate the situation.
He seemed disinterested in talking about what had just happened during the drive home from La Paz and I didn’t care to press it any further because we were getting nowhere. I was being told to take the drugs and relax while I wanted to get to the core of our arguments. We laid in bed while he flipped through some lingerie-clad women’s Instagram profiles. His attention was elsewhere and not on our relationship. I was done giving in and cried myself to sleep.
The next day, we met up with my friends and went to see whale sharks. Before going into the water, he apologized about last night and asked if we could have a good time. I said yes because he sounded so genuine and remorseful.
At one point I was anxious about having to go into the water and was still sad about the evening prior. I unknowingly gave an unenthusiastic smile and think this may have ticked off my narc because I did not look as excited as I should’ve been to see whale sharks. Honestly, I was afraid to be in the water with large creatures because I am not a strong swimmer.
We got through our whale shark tour and walked around La Paz with my friends and their kids for a bit. Then we headed home.
Everything seemed OK, and Then it Wasn’t
After dropping off my friends and getting back to our Airbnb, it started to get really nasty.
The last straw with my narc was when he referred to me as an Asian Baby Girl (AKA “ABG”) because “I wanted to have everything paid for.” He stated that he wished I paid for more things. He literally stated it’s “part of my culture” and that “I could not help it” to get men to pay for things. My entire body froze. I had no clue where this was coming from.
My natural reaction was to prove him wrong and defend myself. I then went through examples of how I have paid for things without him prompting me to. I had bought my own plane ticket, split the cost of the villa, paid for the car, and more. I even went back further stating that I contributed to a table at a club in Vegas to impress his new ABG girlfriend. He didn’t seem to care and that’s when I knew my explanations were meaningless. He just wanted a reaction and to put me down…and he did exactly that. He’d also been drinking and on Adderall. His mind was elsewhere and he was devoid of any wrongdoing and remorse.
I was fucking livid at this point. I wanted to get to the bottom of this discussion. He was insulting me and calling me something I was not. He told me to just sit and enjoy our time in the pool. He didn’t want to talk about anything anymore. He tried to silence me by asking me to just enjoy our last night here. I could not just ignore it because I am still fuming and hurt inside.
He’s done this multiple times. Never ever the same topics, but in the same progression with a new “insult” or opinion he could not emotionally manage.
He went on about ways to die because he was never going to get a new job and amount to anything. He said he would be a “pleb” forever. I said I’d do something risky like base jumping while he may take drugs like heroin to do it. At one point, he screamed at me to “shut the fuck up” multiple times and stormed inside, and jumped into the shower.
Then I Left
I packed my bags and approached him one more time asking him if my removing myself is what he wanted. He stood up to hug me and I backed off because it was an abusive tactic to try to soothe me and not genuinely deescalate the situation. He looked at me, smirked, and nodded his head vigorously to confirm my leaving is what he wanted. I grabbed my belongings and drove off.
Later on, I learned about the evil narcissist smirk, grin, or smile is a sign of someone sociopathic and entirely incapable and void of empathy.
He then texted our friend group on Facebook to tell them I should not be driving drunk. My NP called me and I pulled aside assuring him I was not drunk. I barely had half a drink and needed to remove myself from my narc’s abusive behavior.
My narc tried to make me feel like I was the unstable one to our friend group. I let our group know I was removing myself from his narcissistic and abusive behavior and assured them I was not driving drunk. He removed himself from the group immediately after I aired my reasons.
My NP knew that I was not drunk and trusted my decision to drive to Cabo for the night. He also offered to get me a hotel room but I said I would be fine.
My narc texted me around 2AM with a chain of texts begging me to come back and then ending the conversation with “I hate you Alex.” “I did not think you would really leave.” I was so done. I just wanted to have a night to myself and needed space to process the abuse. I hated that this had to happen while I was on vacation in another country with someone I love.
I know I’m not anything he accused me of. I was his emotional punching bag because he tried starting new relationships under false premises and it’s no surprise they failed. And the failure became all my fault. My heart broke because his dishonesty “made me hard to love.”
I could tell for months he had been trying to push me away. And then he’d take me back when things didn’t work out with a prospect. I was done being a rebound and the hidden partner. I deserved to be loved ethically and fully. He said I could not offer him the partnership he wanted because of the current living situation with my NP and that I didn’t believe he was worthy of a senior-level job. I understand these as insecurities his ego is bringing forth, but they are not deal-breakers to why I would or would not love him. He will eventually get to where he needs to be careerwise and I wanted to be beside him every part of the way.
I still love him, but I will not put up with this nasty behavior that seemed to have no resolution in sight. His abuse was relentless during our trip. This was the point I knew I was in the discard stage of the narc cycle. He was doing everything in his power to push me away.
He wanted to try at monogamy again and even gave me an ultimatum to be monogamous with him which really threw me for a loop. Did he really want to be with just me forever? It was very hard to believe seeing as how addicted he was to getting validation from women on dating apps and Instagram.
I even entertained the idea. What would monogamous life be like? Boring. I wrote up what I wanted and that list did not include monogamy. I’ve known the lifestyle I’ve wanted for years and was not going to change it for him.
I had fought for him to be in my life. Even my NP was willing to include him long term. Polyamory is not easy, but it’s doable and my narc assured me he was willing to make it work. I thought he could change for us. I thought I was worth it.
I realized then that he could never change if he did not heal. He didn’t comply with our rules for a healthy relationship and this caused extreme stress on us. I would cycle through jealousy or not feeling important enough for him to be truthful and he would become exhausted from having to lie to new prospects about his relationship status. He would return to me each time and then veer off without any communication.
He is in denial about being a narcissist and has not attempted any progress to work on his past so that his future can thrive. His past is now causing pain in the present and will continue to do so in the future. And this pain resonates. It bleeds and affects your relationships, friendships, careers, big life decisions, etc. It hurts everyone.
He will continue to run from friend to friend, girlfriend to girlfriend, job to job, etc., and find no real meaningful relationships because he’s constantly masking who he truly is.
I learned that what I had done was exposed his bad behavior by demanding that he change if things were to work out between us. I wanted him to tell the truth and that request put him in a hard spot (narcissist injury). He reacted the way he did. I felt bad for a bit, then realized I am too old for this shit. We’re in our mid-30s FFS. Why is this happening?
Time to Go Home
We ended our trip one day early. Rebooked our flights and he sent me texts stating that he loved me, sorry it didn’t work out, and that he wanted some time apart. I just felt like it was a lie after lie. If he were really sorry and wanted to work things out, it would have never gotten to this point.
He also said, “I’m not mad at you. Sorry for fighting, I wish we could have gotten along more.”
And the fighting was so much more than that. It included character judgment, stereotyping, gaslighting, manipulating, projecting, and the whole fucking gamut. It was ABUSE and it drained me.
I was reminded that he changed up the rules that caused us to fail. He could’ve been straightforward from the start but was too cowardly to do the right thing. I condoned it when I shouldn’t have.
I felt like an object he was done playing with and now it is someone else’s turn.
We met up at the lounge in the airport and I stated that I was going to write this post out for myself and for others who are going through something similar. I had not been in such a toxic cycle with someone for a long time. Our relationship spanned over a year and five months and didn’t officially start until May 2020 when he returned from Mexico with another partner he was dating at the time (which with whom he cheated on with ME when he took advantage of me).
I was glad I was strong enough to walk away. I stated that I never needed him and that I always wanted him to be in my life. It was unfortunate it had to end so chaotically because it had started so amazingly. I let it all out in the airport lounge. His abuse made me react in a very mean way in an attempt to put him down because of what he put me through. I later learned that this is called reactive abuse, where one partner is pushed to a point where they react by yelling or throwing insults and the narcissist then uses this reaction to make themselves into the victim.
He stood up and came by to sit next to me to try to make one more attempt to shush me but I did not let him. I told him that I would rather not ever be around his manipulation ever again.
Now I see his true colors and I am liberated! The narcissist mask has fallen and I see how ugly and evil he truly is.
I am deserving of (a) healthy relationship(s). And so is he.
Do You Still Want to Be With Your Narc?
I already had a few friends ask me this. And the answer is no. I thought he could change but he will not. I will be going NC with my narc for the rest of my life. Bye Felipe! (no offense to actual Felipes)
I discovered he had deleted me off IG and added a woman, whom he has rebounded with repeatedly, just one day after returning to Seattle. I know they have a trauma bond that is toxic and he easily “hoovered” her back into his life. I was probably deleted to gain her (or others’) trust. I hope that one day she gets the strength and courage to leave him but it seems like she may have BPD which are personality types that are easily manipulated by narcissists.
I asked my narc to return my belongings and it appears that he’s been shopping! He returned my belongings and included items from other women. The items were all different sizes. ???? This was done intentionally to further hurt and insult me. I’m just disgusted and this encouraged me to step even further away from this situation.
He also contacted my friend mentioning that we had broken up and asked her to go get a drink with him. This was all just a few days after we had broken up and returned from Mexico. She stated that it was inappropriate since I am her friend and she is currently dating someone.
AND now he is pitting women against me…the smear campaign. He had to block one woman at the request of our mutual friend and in the process threw me under the bus. She messaged me and referred to me as a bitch, spoiled, and jealous. So I know that much is being said about me to people who will believe him. I learned that they’re referred to as “flying monkeys,” a reference from the Wizard of Oz. My NP stated that these are people whom the narc knows will validate and give him attention. This is freaking bananas!
2/11/2021: Keeps getting better! He’s added a woman that our friend specifically asked that he block back on Instagram. I’m at a loss for anything at this point. Fuck this guy. He was also blocked from ever contacting a few women in his life on his birthday. If this doesn’t indicate the terrible human he is, I don’t know what else will.
I’ve come to the solid conclusion that he is not going to change. Not even enough to be the decent friend that I once thought he was. His need for validation will be his demise. He will continue to do what he can to get what he wants at the expense of others. I have lost all faith. I am out! Pure ????️.
Only if he gets the appropriate therapy and is honest about our relationship will I let him back in my life. I have to fully trust that he is someone who will make me feel safe all the time. Not just when it’s convenient for him. I know the major crux of our issues have been because he is dishonest with others yet wants to be with me and them at the same time. I feel hidden, not embraced, and disrespected. I deserve to be acknowledged and put on a pedestal permanently. And so do his other partners.
Honesty has to be at the forefront. Always.
We established boundaries and ground rules to make things work. He did not even follow-through with them even once.
He thinks honesty will ruin all his chances and that I get to reap all the benefits because I am a woman. If I am worth it, why does it even matter? I’ve been consistent in his life and we will find new polyamorous people who have the potential to be amazing partners. And in Seattle, Wash. there is a huge polyamorous community that he has yet taken the time to explore.
What if he finds another person open-minded like me? I would love to meet her!
When you decide to live a polyamorous lifestyle, it really does not have to be so hard. My narc decided to make it hard. And this turned me into someone who was hard to love. ????
While I do not believe in fully discarding narcs, sometimes it’s healthy to go no contact (NC). My brothers have been NC with my mom for over 15+ years and that works for them, but may not work for everyone else. It’s really up to you and what you are willing to tolerate.
Narcissists are very charming and hard to immediately identify. They will make you feel like the most important person in the world but it’s all a game to them until your utility runs dry. You will see a future with them until you realize it was all smoke and mirrors.
Related: How to Identify a Covert Narcissist
I thought I could not live without my narc and then realized that is what he wanted me to believe. There were moments where he even said that he could not have a life without me. And I wanted to believe that so badly because I wanted that too.
They will make promises and then break those promises. Then they move onto the next shiny object because they won’t take the right action to fix their current problems. The cycle continues.
Be strong and learn to identify what is real and what isn’t with a narc. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, but a weight has been lifted off my heart and body once I walked away. It took my narc to become relentlessly abusive and unwilling to resolve things for me to realize I was dealing with someone who isn’t going to meet me halfway.
Is There Hope?
Luckily, narcissists can heal, but they need to put in the work. I remember asking my narc if he could possibly be a narcissist. He read up on it and stated that he was empathic and that narcs lack the ability to empathize. I realized that they can also create a false sense of empathy and still truly lack it at the core.
I even suggested he bring it up with a therapist who can help with identifying and working towards a treatment plan.
Healing is always possible and will help you get further in life.
Your responsibility is never to heal your narc. It is their responsibility to do so when they truly want to change.
Always put yourself first and take the time to heal and grow if you encounter a narc. Healing may take days, months, and even years. Get the appropriate counseling you need and participate in activities to enrich your soul and life.
There were many things I did that were out of character and unpleasant during our relationship. I never want to repeat these behaviors and become a hurt person who hurts others. I have signed up for therapy and look forward to healing from this experience.
I still cry from time to time. I am reminded of what we were and how it got so bad. The separation is fresh and I have to keep reminding myself that I fell for someone who was not real. It was all a performance to win my heart. This was not NORMAL. It always had been from the moment we met.
When that facade was exposed, he reacted in an abusive way because I uncovered his intentions and stopped tolerating his bad behavior. I just learned about narcissistic injury and that his tears are due to self-pity or loathing from being uncovered rather than for actually hurting me.
There are also plenty of narc support groups on Facebook if you want to meet others who share a similar experience as you. I am reminded that I am not alone and anyone who has never gone through this experience can’t even begin to comprehend how insane it can be.
Here are a few I recommend starting with:
- Covert Narcissist Support Group
- Steps to Healing
- Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Network
- Signs of a Narcissist
- NPD Survivors
Other great resources:
- How to Identify a Covert Narcissist
- What You Need to Know From the Spouse of a Narcissist
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) symptoms and causes
- List of Recommended Reading for Narcissist Abuse Survivors
If you found my story helpful, please share it. Thank you so much for reading.
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