Recently on The Narcissist: A User’s Guide Facebook page, a questioner asked: “Why can I not just let go of it and him?” She knew this toxic relationship was harmful, yet she felt powerless against falling back into the same old patterns with the narcissist in her life. She went on to share that even though the narcissist himself had become involved with another person, she still couldn’t let go.
This is a common situation. We are involved in a toxic relationship with someone who uses us for narcissistic supply. We know that we should discontinue the relationship, yet we feel drawn back to the narcissist time and time again.
There are two basic reasons we can’t let go of a narcissist:
1. We’re getting more out of having the toxic relationship than we think we would get out of not having it. If the toxic person is powerful or wealthy, for example, we may get some sort of positive impact on our own self-esteem by remaining in their circle. If this person drops us an emotional crumb every once in a while, we may consider this gesture is much more meaningful in our life than other influences. Its effect is magnified. This is co-dependency. We are being used as a source of narcissistic supply, yet we use the narcissist for emotional validation, too. We are each using the relationship for an emotional boost.
2. We believe that having a toxic relationship with the narcissist is the best we can do, for whatever reason. Even if we know in our head this is not the case, we overrule the logical thought with our emotion. This keeps us stuck in the toxic relationship. Letting go of the narcissist will lead to seeking happiness on our own (which in turn will open us up to healthier relationships with others). But we are fearful of this and cannot take action because of Number 1 above.
It is helpful to understand the “why” that we stay in a toxic relationship, but at some point, we must stop focusing on the why of what we’re doing and move forward. Accept the situation as it is, not what it has been in the past, nor what you wish it could or should be. Also, be aware that until we do this, we are signaling to a narcissist that we are available as narcissistic supply.
A positive step can be as simple as saying to yourself, “This relationship is bad for me, and I cannot continue to have this person in my life.” “The past is the past, and I am choosing to move forward.” “I will not allow myself to be used as this person’s source of narcissistic supply.” Messages such as these can build you up and keep you focused.
Consider this: It’s possible that someone who has so little regard for us now won’t miss us very much when we let go of them. There is a distinct possibility that a toxic person will rather easily move on from us, particularly if they have replaced their source of narcissistic supply. This may make it easier to say goodbye. It is a very hard thing to come to reality with these relationships, but you can break the pattern.
Relationships are tough. When you’re dealing with a narcissist, a relationship turns into a bewildering and painful roller coaster. A narcissist knows how to blame you for everything — and then make you believe it. A narcissist identifies your most vulnerable points, and then uses your weaknesses and words against you. You must learn how to make it stop, and then be strong enough to take control and stand up to narcissism.
This site will help. First, you need to understand what makes a narcissist tick. Then you need to learn past the “why” of the narcissist to the “how” of dealing with narcissism. We offer strategies and coping mechanisms to help you find your way back to sanity. We also provide many examples of narcissistic behavior from our own experiences as well as those of other people to let you know you are not alone.
From 2008, when work was begun on The Narcissist: A User’s Guide (paperback and pdf download versions) and following up with The Narcissist at Work (paperback, Kindle and pdf download), until the present there has been an awakening. The subject of narcissism been brought into the daylight by researchers, mental health professionals, and survivors of all kinds of relationships with narcissists. The media has publicized tons of information on narcissism, and speculated on how pervasive narcissists are among the general population. Along the way, the term “narcissist” itself has been popularized, sometimes leading to misuse.
Over-exposure tends to desensitize and neutralize people’s perception. A narcissist will want you, and others in your sphere, to believe that what they’re up to “isn’t that bad,” that you’re overreacting, or even that you’re making things up. They will use every attempt to influence for a “win,” and they will actively recruit others (including those in law enforcement and the judiciary, if need be) who can be manipulated into promoting their interests. Because of this, you must be prepared to take on a narcissist alone.
The good news in having more information on narcissists and narcissism available nowadays is that you can more easily find validation to supplement the support you’re getting (if any) in your personal circumstances. We hope you find the information and resources on this site helpful, and wish you well.