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Was I dating a narcissist?

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  • This topic has 19 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago by avatarMila.
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  • #875590 Reply


    I am a year out of an extremely toxic relationship that left me feeling completely depleted, used, devalued, depressed and anxious. I have been reading into NPD recently and it is hitting very close to home. I genuinely believed i was the problem in my last relationship, and it drove me to suicidal feelings, reactive abuse and all sorts of behaviours that i do not engage in during my everyday life. In short, i felt completely crazy, unsettled and unhinged. I know it’s extremely hard to identify and diagnose when someone has a personality disorder, especially narcissism, but I am curious to hear thoughts on whether my ex could have been displaying some of these traits. Some examples of his behaviour below:

    The beginning of our relationship moved extremely fast which i can now identify firmly as “lovebombing”; in the first few weeks of seeing eachother he had all but moved into my flat, and made many grand gestures. He used to complement me all the time and make me feel amazing, and i always felt like he put me on a pedestal, which i was not comfortable with at all. He definitely bulldozed his way into my life, and at the time i was so caught up with it that i thought it was romantic.
    When problems started to show in the relationship, we could never seem to maturely resolve anything and our arguments used to drag on for days and explode into something massive. He would constantly blame me for the arguments, call me over-sensitive, criticize me for nagging him and being constantly unhappy, and he would never apologize nor take any accountability for his actions.
    He used the silent treatment with me on many occasions, especially after big arguments. Sometimes he would block me off every form of communication, and disappear, only re-appearing when he was ready to speak, and of course to hear me apologize.
    He was hypocritical of me – he would criticize many of my personality traits and even the physical expressions on my face, throughout the relationship. He would criticize me for the way i spent my own money, and would say he worried about our future together because of how badly i handled finances (may i add he was constantly in debt, needing bailing out from either me or his parents whereas i was actually putting money aside)
    He had substance abuse problems and would lie to me consistently about stupid things
    Anytime he was unhappy, he would blame me or the relationship
    He used phrases such as, “even my friends think you’re crazy”; “i don’t have these problems with anyone else”; “why are you always so miserable”; “why can’t you ever let anything go”; “i will have a life of unhappiness with you”; “you’re crazy”; “if you can’t be happy with me, you won’t be happy with anyone” etc.
    Toward the end of our relationship, he become more verbally abusive during arguments, sometimes things would get physical but then he would blame me for the escalation
    He acted like a child when he did not get his own way; he often used money and finances to emotionally blackmail me. For example, when we spoke about him moving into my flat (which i own) he suggested that we open a joint bank account, and that instead of him paying me rent, he would put the money into a joint account that “we” could use for “our” future. Essentially, he didn’t feel comfortable paying me rent money. He said this was the only way we would move forward together, and did not give me any room for negotiation.
    His “gifts” would always come with a condition; for example, when we first started dating he bought us a weekend away on the condition that i would let him move into my flat and save money for the month. He then proceeded to stay with me for 3 months, completely overstaying his welcome, and during that time did not contribute financially to bills or otherwise.
    He would start fights and attack me in front of his family, and then i would flip out and his parents would think i was the problem. He said he was under great pressure to break up with me from his parents. His parents never defended me during these arguments, and always made me feel horrendous. Similarly, he would never come to my defense in any situation, in fact, the opposite is true.
    He would always talk over me or cut me off in group settings, and sometimes speak on my behalf
    Everytime we had even the smallest argument, he would make grand statements that he was unhappy and it was because of me, and we would never work. He constantly threatened to leave me and i was always on edge trying to ensure this would not happen.
    When he eventually did leave me, he did so in a very abrupt and brutal way. He snuck out of my flat while i was at work and left me a note. Then 6 months later he came crawling back with a lot of grand statements about how he regretted everything, how much he has changed, and claimed that he felt rejected when i did not come after him. He also stated he felt he wasn’t good enough for me, that i made him feel insecure.
    I found out he was seeing someone two weeks after he left me, and have a feeling he cheated on me. He is now in his second relationship in the space of a year, and it has really thrown me.
    I self-harmed when i was with him because my depression and anxiety got so bad – he freaked out when i had a meltdown and abandoned me in my time of need. He gave me the silent treatment until i eventually apologised and sought therapy.
    He would make comments about my close friends, such as “she’s hard work isn’t she” (in reference to my childhood best friend); i have a bad relationship with my sister that has nothing to do with him, but he would call her crazy and encourage me to cut ties.
    He would constantly gaslight me; one example, an argument we had one night when he was drunk stemming from something he said to upset me, that led to a torrent of verbal abuse from him. He claimed he never said that thing, and even though i insisted until i was blue in the face that he did, he continued to deny it.
    It is slowly dawning on me that perhaps i was in a relationship with a narc. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but so much of what i went through fits this picture and makes sense. I remember always telling him, i don’t feel like i’m ever good enough for you and i don’t even know if you love me. My emotions were never, ever a consideration during our relationship, and i even had to hide therapy from him because he thought there was something wrong with me for going long term. I felt like i had to “fix” myself to be with him. I felt extremely isolated and alone when with him, as if I lost myself in the relationship and forgot my worth. He lacked any capacity to show me empathy and i seriously wondered at some points whether he might be a sociopath because of his complete lack of emotions.

    I would love to hear thoughts on this because it’s a tough thing to digest and i don’t know if i’m missing the mark completely here. Or if, perhaps, i really am the one who is the problem.

    I can’t understand how he would have NPD, because he comes from an extremely close family and his parents treat him like absolute gold and he has never been abused. But nothing else makes sense right now.

    Thank you.

    #875595 Reply

    I hereby diagnose your ex as a, “piece of shit”. From what you describe you were in a horrible untenable situation, and you are no longer in that situation. I would focus on myself, and not waste one more once of energy thinking about him. That is the ultimate middle finger to someone who wanted your attention at any cost. You aren’t going to get anything out of dwelling on the question, “what was wrong with our relationship and did it fail because of me?” Go back and read what you wrote, I think you already know the answer (not you!). Its been a year and its time that you take back your power. Unpopular opinion: there is nothing wrong with being enraged at him that he treated you like this _as long as you channel that energy into something that benefits you_. In my case I turned it into the motivation to finish my degree, buy a house and have a successful career. So go ahead and give yourself permission to hate that fucker! Take a kickboxing class, go to therapy, or whatever helps you heal yourself. Give yourself permission to move on, you deserve it.

    #875600 Reply

    You just need to not be color blind and start seeing burning red flags.

    #875606 Reply

    I’m sorry you went through this. It’s a really difficult things to digest but I’m glad you came realize something was off and decided to reach out cause some people don’t. This sounds like the relationship with my ex. And this sounds exactly like the relationship my mom had with my father as well and he’s a diagnosed narcissist. She also started reading about narcissism as well afterwards and it hit VERY close to home for her too. She had no idea there was a name for what she was going through. Once someone does something terrible to you and YOU end up feeling like you’re the problem after an argument or feel like you’re the one that needs fixing or feel like you need to apologize for things you didn’t do or don’t understand, you’re not the problem. Gaslighting, triangulation, Silent treatment, making you feel worthless,
    love bombing (read into narcissistic supply as well), blame shifting, dismissing your feelings, lack of empathy, no matter how much you do, it’s never enough for them and they just take and take and something always has to be in it for them. It’s allll manipulation. Those are all red flags of a narcissist. I’m glad you’ve backed out of that relationship though and I’m happy you’ve broken free from it and have started researching the signs so you’ll be able to better see them in people (also look into covert narcissists as well cause not all narcissists are the same). Just remember to be patient with yourself cause survivors tend to be very hard on themselves during and after the relationship. You are NOT the problem. And this isn’t your fault (See ‘Trauma Bonding’). These things aren’t easy to see until you’ve distanced yourself from the person so don’t beat yourself up please. And if he comes back, don’t let him back into your life, no matter how much he says he’s changed because they almost always try to come back into your life at some point. They NEVER change. It’s a lot to digest but you’ll get through this all <3 and PLEASE be patient with yourself and your healing. You’re an insanely strong woman and, again, NOTHING is wrong with you. You’re amazing and you are worthy. Focus on yourself, do something or go somewhere you like, pick up a new hobby, talk to a therapist (cause this is emotional abuse and it’s difficult and life altering), be with people you love and trust. It’s very difficult right now but you’ll get through this all.

    #875608 Reply

    I think you should stop trying to diagnose him and get yourself into therapy or counseling. Maybe you need a new therapist because it’s honestly shocking to read that you are already seeing a therapist. Did you discuss this relationship in therapy?

    Now this relationship is in the past, but obsessing and over analyzing it and armchair diagnosing him is not going to help you move on. Who cares if he’s a narcissist or not? He treated you like dirt and now he’s gone. Instead of trying to figure out what his problems is, you should try and work out with a new therapist, why you accepted this kind of treatment from someone. Otherwise, you need to stop letting this horrible man take up any more of your time or emotional energy.

    Take care of yourself. Sleep well, eat well, exercise and do things that make you feel good and happy. Spend time with mentally well people who are good for you. I would advise staying away from relationships for a while, until you feel more confident in yourself and your abilities to spot red flags.

    Stay away from substances. Forgive yourself for not realizing how terrible he was and start on a better path. Take care. Good luck. Be good to yourself.

    #875613 Reply

    I was going to disagree with you on your first paragraph, but I realized you made some really valid and good points. I do agree with trying to figuring out (diagnosing) someone, it provides a means to realize what red flags did you miss. It is so true on your message to move on and stop worrying about him and what you did or didn’t do.
    You made some very valid and important points.
    I’ve been in a relationship a narcissistic people and they will destroy you and think everything is their fault.
    LW your statement that his parents treat him like “Gold” is the reason he is narcissistic; I know from past experience…this is not your typical “What would you like for Thanksgiving supper” but a “this is all about so and so, do whatever they want”.
    Let it go and follow the advice of others, it’ll be hard, it’ll be lonely and at times you will feel nothing but sad. But remember you are now out of a toxic relationship and it’ll only get better. Don’t put a time stamp on anything, just live life, enjoy it and enjoy your freedom from this toxic relationship.

    #875616 Reply

    It honestly doesn’t matter what he is — a narcissist, a jerk, whatever.

    The only thing you can do anything about is you. And, yes, you need to fix your picker. If someone tries to strongarm you into letting them move into your place, that is a flag. A big one. It is 100% not true that he did not “give any room for negotiation.” There isn’t any negotiating necessary there. You don’t need his permission to say No. You have agency.

    That you weren’t out of there, permanently, the second things “got physical” is the #1 thing you need to work on in therapy. Immediately. You don’t have good boundaries, and that should be your focus, NOT him and his behavior. That’s not so you can feel bad, it’s so you can avoid attracting someone else just like him and wasting years of your life on this shit.

    Change your steps in the dance if you want a better partner.

    #875617 Reply

    The diagnosis doesn’t matter. At all. You don’t need to know why he behaved the way he did.

    Here’s what you do need to figure out: why you stayed with a guy who treated you like dirt in a thousand different ways. That’s where therapy can be helpful.

    #875621 Reply

    Yes, those much more succinct responses are the important part of what I meant. Diagnosing him isn’t going to unlock his reasoning or whatever or give you closure. Figuring him out isn’t going to illuminate any answers for you.

    You need to work on why you chose to stay with him after every single shitty thing he did. I mean, there were so many things he did that were so bad.

    #875631 Reply

    Thank you all for your responses. There are definitely things intrinsic in me that I need to and am working through with therapy. While I absolutely agree that there is no point in dwelling on the relationship or armchair diagnosing my ex partner, I just needed some clarity that what I was dealing with wasn’t a normal person, and comfort in knowing that others have been through the same. Identifying these behaviours is very helpful to me in noticing red flags, because, as you say, i lack healthy boundaries. Also something I’m working on in therapy. I have talked about my relationship quite extensively in therapy, but there are many things that I did not discuss with my therapist during the time as I was trying to protect my relationship. Regardless, my therapist did suggest that my boyfriend was abusive and encouraged me to end the relationship many times. I suppose I wasn’t ready to hear it. I am continuing to work on myself and rest assured I do not spend most of my time thinking about my ex. I guess I just had a bit of a relapse and needed to understand why he treated me the way he did; but of course, I never will truly understand that. Thank you all once again, your advice has been truly helpful x

    #875636 Reply

    You can read a dozen articles on NPD and say “Yup” OR you can read a dozen articles on BPD and say “Yup”. There are a handful of diagnoses that you could point to but the others are right: all that matters is how you react when someone is being shitty to you.

    Now that you’ve been through this, hopefully you have a more solid gauge on suspect behavior like love bombing or transactional gift giving.

    #875720 Reply

    “I just needed some clarity that what I was dealing with wasn’t a normal person”

    Why? Why does that matter? If he was a “normal” person, I guess someone who didn’t have a personality disorder, would that make the things he did OK? Would it have meant your relationship was good and supportive and fulfilling and healthy? Of course it wouldn’t.

    I get the impulse to understand why this happened. I really do. But – and I’ve struggled to find a way to say this that doesn’t sound like victim-blaming – the reason it happened is that you put up with inexcusably terrible behavior, over and over again. You could have stopped this at any point, and you made an active choice to let it continue.

    I don’t say that to hurt you or blame you for the things he did. What he did was not your fault, in any way. I’m just trying to help you see that you had agency here. You had the power to choose a different life for yourself. What’s done is done, and I’m so glad that you’re not with him anymore. But it’s really important that you understand that for future relationships. If you’re unhappy, if your partner is hurting you – you have the power to change that. You have the ability to leave.

    Reducing this to something really basic: good relationships are supportive. They make you happy. They make you feel good about yourself. They bring positive change to your life. No relationship is 100% perfect all the time, but if you’re not respected, if you don’t feel loved, if you’re upset and unhappy a lot of the time, it’s a bad relationship and you should leave.

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