So you have been to hell and back, taken the time to heal, done a lot of self-reflection and feel you are ready to start dating again but you are afraid your “picker” is faulty or that you are a narcissist magnet. How can you guarantee you don’t end up in another toxic relationship?
Before you even think about dating again, I have a few questions for you;
– How long has it been since your relationship with the narcissist ended?
– Did he discard you or did you leave the relationship?
– Why do you want to start dating again?
Why are these questions important?
Victims need to take sufficient time to heal before they even think about dating again. A relationship with a narcissist is nothing like any relationship you have had previously, you are not going to heal as quickly and healing requires a lot of self-reflection and inner healing. With a normal breakup the two parties usually remain friendly to some degree and the other person is not slandering you. Even in relationships where there was infidelity or financial ruin, both people are willing to take some responsibility for the failure of the relationship. But with a narcissist, the victim is devalued long before the relationship ends, the narcissist loathes the victim, and is intent of assassinating the victim’s good character. Not only is the victim blamed for the failed relationship, according to the narcissist the victim has NO redeeming features and is nothing more than garbage.
The victim is quite literally left a shell of the person they used to be. The same techniques used to break the spirit in a prisoner of war, cult member or even in some cases delinquent teens in some boot camps; have been used on the victim leaving them a “clean slate” to rebuild themselves from. It is important for the victim to take the time to put themselves back together. (another post).
How many of you have had someone try to console you by saying, “Some day you will find someone who will love you just the way you are.” or “The best way to get over an ex is to get under someone new.” That may work in normal breakups but it is deadly when trying to recover from a narcissist. To rely on someone else to make you feel good about yourself, valued and loved is akin to wearing a T-shirt with “Narc Target” printed on it.
So…….. you have done the necessary work to heal and feel ready to date; whether you are actively looking for love on internet dating sites or just taking the “if it happens it happens” approach; you need to set your boundaries. Setting boundaries long before you start dating is going to make the dating process much less confusing. If you do not know your “deal breakers”, sit down and write out the things that you will not tolerate from a romantic partner and refer to them often. If a person doesn’t have set boundaries when they are confronted with a situation they feel uncomfortable about it is too easy to compromise their values, by setting boundaries and not allowing anyone to cross those boundaries you are giving yourself guidelines so you know when you are being disrespected and have the conviction to defend your boundaries. You must decide what your boundaries are, they vary from person to person. You will have “deal breaker” boundaries where you don’t even try to work through the problem, if these things appear you simply walk, no discussion. There is one deal breaker that everyone should adhere to and that is;
– Never ever under any circumstances get involved with a married person. If they are cheating on their present partner they WILL cheat on you, you are not special, their ex is not psycho and he is not going to change because of your special love. If you are already involved when you find out he (or she) is married, walk……….not only are they married, they lied to you.
Now for the 8 Dating Rules For Protecting Yourself from a Narcissist:
1. No sex too soon, there is no rush; once a woman has sex with a man her brain releases certain pheromones that make her more trusting and fall in love easier.
2. No living together before a year. Enjoy dating! enjoy missing each other. Don’t be desperate, if he dumps you because you wanted to wait a year before living together then he has issues about being alone and is looking for narcissistic supply not a relationship. And if you feel you need to be with him all the time you have issues you need to work through and more than likely you are relying on him/her to make you feel good about yourself or you are gauging your value by that person.
3. Don’t give up your friends, continue to have your girl friend time, if he can’t handle it there is something wrong. On the same note, you can not get upset if he has guy time. We all need time with our friends.
4. If your friends and family don’t like him, trust their opinion, you don’t have to immediately dump him but certainly slow it down and try to look at him with realistic eyes.
5. If you find yourself walking on eggshells, watching what you say so as not to upset him, no need to go any farther.
6. If your gut is telling you that something isn’t right, believe your gut and start paying attention to when your gut reacts.
7. If you catch yourself thinking, “all he needs is a good woman, he has so much potential.” proceed with extreme caution
8. Google his name and if you meet him on a dating site Google his username. It may not reveal anything and it is not a guarantee they are being straightforward with you but it could show some very valuable information; good or bad. it could confirm what he is telling you or you may find out he is into XXX porn sites, Gay sites, or a dozen dating sites looking for casual hookups. In BC you can go to Court Services Online and find out if a person has had any judgements against him/her just by putting their name in, no file number needed. In some cases you may be charged $6 to see the final outcome of the case. Some people feel it is being paranoid or sneaky to check someone out on-line, but with today’s technology you are crazy not to. Like I said, just because nothing shows up does not mean he is all he says he is, BUT you may just find proof he is not what he says he is.
Remember, you are both on your “best behavior”, this is the best they are going to be; never ever think you will change them. if you find yourself thinking, “he/she would be perfect if only…….’ and you can’t live with them the way they are then walk. All people put their best foot forward in the beginning and once you have been together a while you both start to relax and show more of your true self.
If you have dated someone a year and none of these things have reared their head I would be willing to wager that the person is not a narcissist. There has been the odd victim who has come in and said that their ex was wonderful for years and then out of the blue turned into a monster but usually when pressed they admit there were signs long before the final discard that they ignored.
Good luck and if you do one thing right, make it be to take it slow. Love, true love takes times to grow and will not disappear if you are not glued at the hip 24/7.