How Soon Is Too Soon?

How Soon Is Too Soon?

Someone asked me today: I’m hearing it so often that it’s being advised to not go into a relationship too early; but what is too early?

My answer: I think most everyone can see that going straight from one person’s arms into the arms

of another is never a good idea; I have known affairs that worked but they are the exception to the rule because the relationship started based on deception and lies and I don’t know how you could ever trust the other person when they say they love you when you know they were screwing around on their last spouse and that spouse didn’t know.  But I am a firm believer in “rules are meant to be broken” and really hate it when people say things like “All xxxxxx are this way.” “That never works” “That is impossible” because nothing is ever engraved in stone; there is always going to be an exception to any rule. Personally the minute someone says to me, you can’t, it will never work, that is impossible, or any other blanket statement of negativity I dig in my heels and set out to prove them wrong. I am a rebel that way, but I think there are a lot of people who consider it a personal challenge to be told they “can’t”.

Barring affairs and looking at the typical victim of narcissistic abuse; how long should they wait before they date again? I think a few factors come into play, personally I couldn’t even think about dating for a year, with my first husband I waited 2 years but I was really in love with him, had a new baby, starting a new job and was buying a home and didn’t have time to do more than casual date. I have never really needed a man in my life, I know not everyone is like me.

Some people could wait 3 years and not be ready, it is not so much the time you wait, it is what you do with that time that counts. If you are going to sit on the couch dwelling on your ex, don’t go no contact with the narcissist and continue to see him you could go 10 years and not be ready to date. As long as the narc is in a person’s life I don’t believe it is possible to truly heal. In my mind the relationship with the narc ends the minute the victim goes no contact.

We all have baggage we pack from our past, the less baggage the better chance of finding a healthy partner and having a healthy relationship. Let’s face it, a healthy person will get sick of always dealing with your baggage from past relationships. If your past partner screwed around on you, it is understandable that you would be suspicious but it could destroy a healthy relationship if you are always checking up on your new partner or accusing them of infidelity when they are being faithful and honest. Relationships are difficult enough under the best of circumstances, if you add in a bunch of shitty baggage from a narcissist you are putting undo pressure on a budding romance.

We all know that a relationship with a narcissist is the most unhealthy kind of relationship, depending how long you were with the narcissist you have learned some pretty F’ed up ways of coping and aren’t capable of a truly healthy relationship. Either you are “taking the temperature” of the relationship constantly, ie: “are we ok?” “Do you love me?”
Or you are defensive “If you don’t like it you know where the door is”

If your self esteem was severely damaged (I don’t know how it can’t be with a narcissist) if you get involved too soon there is the danger that you rely too heavily on the approval of your new partner, so if they have a bad day you take it as a personal insult. I think it is a recipe for disaster when a person gauges their self worth on the moods of another person whether that person is healthy or not and I don’t know how a person can rebuild their self confidence while they are involved with someone. I am not saying it isn’t possible but for a person to truly know that they can make it on their own and they are autonomous I think they have to have spent a good amount of time alone, maybe dating; but not living together, having babies, etc.

When James and I split the thing I had the hardest time with was; who am I? I had always been someone’s daughter, wife or mother and now I was “no one’s” I didn’t know who I was without a role to play. If I was a mother I had certain criteria that came with motherhood, or as a wife, but I didn’t have a clue who I was and what I stood for. Had I gotten involved right away I would have fallen into that role without ever figuring out who I was, …… at the core, ……. honestly ME. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that period of growth and it has given me so much inner peace it has changed how I view the world and my role in the world. It made everything I went through worth while and I wouldn’t change a thing from the past because it brought me to this point. I would love to see every woman live true to their core self, well…..in fact every person, (except the narcissists because their core selves are evil) but if a person isn’t raised to appreciate who they are at the core how do they ever know unless something happens to force you to investigate who you are?

I am not saying a person can not be happy or have a healthy relationship without suffering or if they didn’t have the ideal upbringing but I think the majority of parents do their children a great disservice when they don’t allow their children to be individuals and pursue their nature talents etc. When parents place their expectations on the child they grow up playing the role they have always been told they “should” so it is so easy for them to slide into playing a role for the narcissist. If a person has never lived true to their core self and always tried to live up to other’s expectations, it is natural to try to live up to the narcissist’s expectations and it is hard to be confident or have strong boundaries because they aren’t your own, but everyone else’s idea of who you should be.

The commenter asked: In my experience, even if you do get “better” after some time has passed, it won’t go away completely and I can imagine that some issues will only show up while being in a relationship. So where do you set the “threshold”?

My reply: Good point. I think what matters more than when you start dating after leaving the narcissist but how you date.
I think there is a tendency of a recent victim to want to “nail the relationship down”, a need to know this new person isn’t going to leave you, so they rush into another relationship. I think a person is ready to commit to a new relationship when they stop worrying about having one and are actually hesitant to jump into anything because they like their life the way it is. When you feel complete without a man in your life is when it is safe to have a man in your life.

I think it is very important that everyone take time before moving in together, especially victims of a narc. True healthy love will survive a year or two of dating and not living together, a narcissist usually will not wait around, he can’t keep up the charade that long and there should be lots of red flags flying after a couple of years. Also, it is a lot easier to leave a dating relationship than a common-in-law relationship or marriage making it less damaging financially and emotionally. A narcissist usually pushes for either marriage or having a baby early, it is their way of gaining control of the victim and making them dependent on them.

Commenter said: Considering how much it works me up when my anxieties are pressing through, when someone is mentioning only the “possibility” the something COULD be off (and big parts of that anxiety come from within me and the way I think I MADE him behave crappy) and how insecure I am of how a good relationship looks like….I’m actually wondering why there are no more articles about what “good signs” a relationship should have, with specific focus on narcissistic relationship survivors.

I replied: The reason I hesitate to list signs of a “good” relationship is: The narcissist has all those traits when a person first meets him. He presents himself to be the perfect lover, partner; or mine did anyway.
I have read articles on red flags that a guy is an asshole and was very aware when I met James about looking for red flags. I was in my 40’s and not naive in any way, or so I thought. I had a mental list of things to look for and with James I just kept going down the list and ticking off all these “good” traits. He was “perfect”
He called when he said he would ….. tick
He was on time or called if he was late ……….tick
He was not involved with anyone else…. tick
He had a good job and good career  ……. tick
He had a good family and was close to his family …. tick
He treated his mom well and lovingly …… tick
He introduced me to his family and friends ….. tick
He answered the phone with me there ……. tick
He told ME to answer his phone …… tick
He gave me a key to his place and told me to drop by anytime    that wasn’t even on my list but …tick
        ….tick
He was honest about his past mistakes and had learned from them …….tick
If I was upset I could talk to him about it and we could discuss it calmly and rationally ….. tick
he never got angry, ever, he was the most even tempered guy I had ever been with …….BIG tick
He wasn’t afraid of commitment …. tick
He wasn’t afraid to say I love you and show his sensitive side (in fact I thought he cried a little bit too much and cared for me more than I cared for him but that isn’t a bad thing. I vowed to not take him for granted or abuse his love and generosity) …… tick
He talked about the future in “we” terms …… tick
We had the same values and principles ……..tick
He was honest and I trusted him explicitly ……….TICK
        He was handsome and sexy …… BIG TICK
He had been hurt in the past and was ready to appreciate a good woman like me …… tick
He loved me just the way I was and often told me to never change …… Tick
If I was upset about something he knew exactly what to do to make me feel better …… tick
I felt for the first time in my life like I could be totally myself and he would still love me ….. tick

So where were the red flags? He sounded too good to be true, I know right? That is what I thought too, he was my soul mate. So when my gut instincts kicked in and said ”some thing is wrong here.” I said “Shut up!, there is nothing wrong, I am just not used to being treated so well. I am not used to a guy doing things for me and being so demonstrative. I have just always been so independent it’s going to take a while to get comfortable with a guy “taking care of me”. I had been told in the past I was too independent and guys felt I didn’t need them so I made a conscious decision to let a man spoil me and let him take care of me.  It didn’t seem too fast when I moved in after 6 months because we got along so well, we never fought, ever. And when he started to change there were lots of other things going on to explain why he might be stressed and on edge. In the past he had been taken for granted and his loving nature was abused so when he got angry about something I told myself he was just defensive because of his past, I just had to tell him and show him how much I appreciated him and with time he would know I was not like all the others.  It took me years to figure out it was ALL too good to be true. Everything about him had been a lie and a mask.

I much prefer to give a few top red flags that he may be a narcissist
#1 red flag – He falls in love FAST and pushes for a commitment from the victim, pushes for sex early, and calls often, wants to spend all his time with the victim. In a healthy relationship a man will not push for sex right away, he won’t say I love you in the first week or two, he won’t be wanting you to move in or at least he will respect your right to want to take time. A narcissist will not allow you to take time, he will push until you give in. (and you do because he is so sweet and you don’t want to lose him)
#2 – calls you by some pet name early in the relationship, like Babe, Baby, Pumpkin, etc
#3 – All his ex’s were psycho bitches and took advantage of his good nature
#4 – With work, relationships, he is always the one who packs the load, everyone takes advantage of his good nature.
#5 – He sounds too good to be true, his resume looks like that of a man twice his age but he has nothing. He has done more, been more places, seen more things, knows more than anyone you know.

If a person sees any of the above signs I strongly advise they slooooooow it down in a big way and see how he handles it.

Another reason why I recommend waiting until a person is totally healed before dating because throughout the relationship with the narcissist you denied your gut instincts so you don’t know what is your gut telling you there is something wrong and what is just paranoia because you were hurt in the past. A large part of healing is getting in touch with your gut instincts and learning how to read what your body is telling you and then listening to it and not doubting yourself. 

I think that if a person is healed and totally in tune with their inner core and is living true to themselves in every way they would not ask, “what are the signs of a good relationship” because they will know it in their gut that this person is right and the relationship is healthy. It is when we live life according to other people’s standards and expectations that we have self doubt and question everything.

Personally I don’t want a relationship right now and that is not because I am too damaged to want one, or because I hate men or don’t believe in love but because I am enjoying my life without having to take anyone else into consideration that I don’t want to have to compromise in anyway. I suppose it could happen some day and I am open to it happening but I am so complete and quite enjoying the feeling.

If you are already in the relationship there isn’t much you can do except keep trying to heal and move on, it puts added strain on your relationship and hopefully your new partner is understanding. To be in a new relationship while dealing with past hurts slows down the healing process and may stall it completely because the relationships blur, the hurts of the past combine with hurt from the present and perceived hurts from the now are related to hurts from the past and you end up doubting yourself because you have never taken the time to clear the slate, never taken the time to learn what YOU want, what you stand for, what you really need so you can’t be confident about your decisions or how you feel because you don’t know who you are.

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16 thoughts on “How Soon Is Too Soon?

  1. I am right now going no contact after emailing him everything that I had to put up with and getting all his replies which are very useful as evidence of his thought processes (in writing!!).
    They range from telling me I destroyed his life, that I make him puke, that he did not feel any affection for me and did not care how I felt but also telling me all his declarations of love to other women were ‘just a laugh’ (he is an actor and has an entourage of adoring young actresses he has groomed for narcissistic supply)and would I like to visit an art gallery with him!
    I now have an email telling me his phone doesn’t work. In the context of no contact and the ease of emails I told him which repair shop to go to. He has always been very needy and has taken my love, my care ,my time my money and all my resources which in the beginning were in abundant supply (well maybe not money) I was living two lives.
    It has been one month of no contact after a twelve year relationship. A mutual friend (more his friend) emailed me to ask if I would be willing to have him be a mediator with both of us there in order to ‘reconcile our differences and be a loving couple’
    I have not replied yet as the only thing I can think of to say is that it would be like a concentration camp guard sitting down with a victim to ‘resolve their differences’
    I know I am going through some sort of PTSD, no energy, extreme tiredness but this no contact business is VERY powerful. Without especially doing anything to feel better, life itself is the natural healer. Over the years, I have read all the books, watched the videos etc and now, not being on high alert, my heart has calmed physically and emotionally.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Trust me..I know how hard the temptation is to not meet with the mediator.. But Please please don’t. And lose the e-mail!! I am sort of going through the same thing..my N and I work together in the same field. So while I have blocked and deleted him from my personal stuff there’s nothing I can do about people we work with. I’ve gotten rid of my FB account..and the close friends…well…they’ll just have to understand why I disappeared. But he’s having his coworkers “Check up on me” A few have gone as far as to ask me out. God only know what he is telling them..I can only pray in the long run his true colors shine through. Stay strong sweetie..You totally got this!!! It will get better. It really will.

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    • Allegra, good for you and it will get better and better. Especially when you cut out all contact whatsoever. That means cutting friends that stay friends with him out of your life, reading his emails, or responding to his emails.
      I had one really good friend I cherished but he tried to stay friends with both of us and he would listen to the lies my ex was telling everyone and then come to me and ask about the things he was saying. I refused to defend myself; if he was my friend he would not have even listened to that bullshit and wouldn’t need me to defend myself. I guess me cutting him out of my life made me look guilty but I wasn’t in a competition for friends; I was trying to survive and I needed people in my life who believed in me and didn’t bring me down. Some people like the power being friends with both gives them. They get info from both sides and share back and forth with glee. They can’t wait to share that they are “in the know” I asked several friends to please not tell me what he was doing because it hurt yet they couldn’t do it. I stopped taking their calls, I stopped setting myself up to be hurt.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Allegra, I think you will see huge progress in your healing if you truly cut him out of your life completely. I wouldn’t even reply to his email, you don’t have to explain your decision. He is just trying to get a response, reaction, no matter what you say or do he will find a way of using it to start some sort of drama or trauma. If you agreed to go to the mediator he would be a no show or twist things and get you flustered in front of the friend. If you don’t reply he will call you a bitch and you didn’t even try when he was so willing. There is no winning with a narc and what loving relationship is about winning and losing?? only a relationship with a narcissist is about winning and the only person winning is him.
      Stay strong and ignore the email, ignore the friend and carry on with your life.
      HUgs

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  2. I agree with your narc red flags. Especially saying I love you and pushing for commitment.
    I’d make sure and see a man get mad so I could know how he treats me when he is really upset.
    As for how long, there isn’t a time. It’s variable. Check on your own red flags and see what is damaged. Consider a group program like Celebrate Recovery or Living Free–maybe you’ve got some co-dependency issues to heal.
    Being content inside of you, willing to walk away when a man feels wrong for you, and able to be vulnerable again when a man feels right were my green lights.

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    • Kristi, exactly. There are no set “rules”. When you know without having to ask anyone if this is right, when you are in tune with your gut instincts, trust them and follow them. Then you are ready. When you refuse to compromise yourself for any man because the right man would not put you in the position of having to compromise your core principles.

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  3. I can’t say how long to wait either. I’m stubborn in the fact that I now refuse to call whatever N and I had a “relationship” because it wasn’t. A few of my friends have tried setting me up with people but now its like I’m on hyper alert. I see red flags everywhere. Oh he mentioned he lives with Mommy and this one keeps telling me how damn hot I am. I guess in truth I am not ready and that’s cool. I’ve learned to have fun with myself and I never did that before. And even though my kids are now older I still absolutely refuse to bring any man into their life that’s not rock solid stable. (Thank God I kept my wits about them when it came to N) Even though the first two weeks were rough I now realize that what everyone said was true. When you’ve had enough you’re DONE and you won’t settle for any less than what you deserve. 🙂

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    • Traumamomma, I don’t know if it my age and I would feel this way even I hadn’t met my ex N; but I just don’t “need” a man in my life any more. I have the opportunity but like you said, I just don’t “settle” any more. When I think back on my life, I wasted a lot of time on men who really worth my time, because I thought I needed a man in my life. Or I listened to friends who thought I should date a guy, or I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and the relationship developed and I really wasn’t that into him; or I cared too much about whether I was what some guy wanted and not whether he was what I wanted. I don’t think they are all narcissists but especially at this age I want a man who has grown through his life, doesn’t need a mother, or a babysitter, or a roof over his head.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have no contact with my ex because when I see him it causes me to feel pure pain in so many ways. The fact that I love him and miss him and need so badly to talk to him doesn’t even compare to the distress I feel when I see him. I trust no one. I feel like I will never trust anyone again and I do mean anyone. I was beaten again tonight and you can only imagine the paranoia the cops thought about as I spoke to them. We live in a small town. Everyone is related to some one. No matter who you talk to, you are talking to someones spouse, lover, ex, mother, sister, brother, father, in law or cousin. When you rule those relations out, you then have best friends and room mates. Nope, safety requires you just keep your mouth shut. I am fine other than 60 or 70 strap marks criss crossing my body. One busted eye. This is my fourth attack and as cautious as I am. I am not safe. The captain seems to me safe and neutral and I hope to have him get me some protection. The people I need protection from are like asking God for a restraining order against his favorite angels. Trust ? something i need so much of. And yet I may never be able to obtain this trust again. Atleast when I am alone I can all ways count on myself. I am bruised and hurting. wish I had a bottle to cuddle up with. The sad part is if I owned a weapon, There would be some men missinh=g some pertinent bady parts. Best I not obtain one.

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    • Brooken Hart, OMG! Can you not leave the town? Was it your ex? Why? You can’t stay there, even if you have a protection order; it is only good for law abiding citiczens.
      I am sure it would be hard to leave your family but at least you would be safe away from there. Talk to police from a different town and get a peotection order for that city. I don’t think I am fully understanding. Is there a woman’s shelter anywhere near you? I want to help. Hugs

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  5. I miss having that special person in my life. You know, the one who at the end of the day tells you about his day and listens to how yours went. I miss sharing. But I don’t miss the ex. He was only pretending to share. Behind my back he was planning my replacement, emptying the bank account etc. I have no direct contact with him – I have a legal advisor who deals with him. We’re in different countries so I’m never going to bump into him. He still controls me by forcing me to take him to court to get back my share of the property we bought together. He can make me look like a vindictive, jealous woman this way, can’t he? That makes him look better, or so he thinks.
    In fact, he looks ridiculous. What mature man discards his partner of 10 years and the very next week turns up at his sister’s birthday celebration with new woman in tow? Normal, healthy people can’t move on as rapidly as that. By introducing his new partner so quickly to his family he has exposed himself for the child that he is.
    I need time before I’m ready to think about anybody else in a romantic way. I’d like to have some male company but only to share common interests.
    By the way, I’ve been researching how best to present myself when my court case comes up. They tell me it could take 2 years or more. I hate the fact I’m still tied to him financially and I’m already frustrated that I can’t get on with my life till I have the means to go where I want. I don’t want to come across as angry, seeking revenge etc. But I want to be prepared. I know he will do everything he can to attempt to discredit me. He will lie. I know I have to stay calm. Sorry, I’m hijacking your post. Are there any tips for meeting a narc in court? What documentation should I prepare?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cx2, as a matter of fact I did a couple of posts on just that topic about a year ago. I am using my phone to comment and can’t provide the links right now but when I get an internet connection later today I will post them here. I did one on what to prepare to take and another on how to dress in order to look and feel confident. Look for the links later today.

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  6. I think you’re right Carrie, it’s not wise to go stright from one person’s arms to another. Someone told me:” You gonna need at least two years..” Maybe it’s right, maybe not.. What’s true is that there are a huge baggage from the past and that it’s impossible to heal completely when the narc is still involved in the life.

    I’ve maybe not lived enough on my own, maybe the time since I left is to short (it’s just 7 months), but I’ve already fell in love. He is an old friend and has helped me an supported me through my travel away from my narc. We are dating, but very carefully and he isn’t hurrying me. He knows I need time to heal. He has helped me so I can stand on my own feet today and make my own decisions. I feel more independent than before. And I know that if we decide to continue just as friends, I’m gonna be very sad, but I can handle it.

    I’m happy that I have him. Happy that I can share everything whith him, and that I feel so relaxed whith him.

    I still don’t know anything about the future but I am enjoying my life here and now.

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    • Lyckliga Lisa, Like I said, it is not so much how long before a person dates again and more to do with what they do with that time. If the time is spent working on yourself and if you take it really slow when you do start to date the odds are much better you will be ok.
      I know of 3 women who got involved very quickly and it worked for them. But one of them didn’t do anything to work on her issues; she was fine with the man she started dating after the abusive guy but when he died she totally slid back to her old ways and now her daughter is involved with an abusive guy and she takes the guy’s side and has let him move in to her house. It is really sad. I know other women who have had a string of abusive relationships. Always the same story. The guy comes on really strong, seems like a really nice guy and once he has her he becomes abusive. But they just keep going from man to man hoping on the odds that sooner or later they will get lucky and meet a nice guy.
      But there are a lot of assholes out there; I much prefer being proactive about who I choose to date.

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