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.