I hear it time after time, “How do I protect myself next time”, “How can I ever trust again”, “Am I being too sensitive and imagining red flags?” “I’ve met a really nice guy but I keep pushing him away”. “I’m afraid I’ll ruin a good thing by being too distrusting”.
I remember trying to learn everything about narcissists, thinking that way I could detect them sooner and protect myself. But they always pretend to be your perfect match in the beginning, so how do you know? How can you trust they won’t hurt you?
Well meaning friends advise the victim to be honest about what they have gone through and if the guy is a decent guy he will help them to trust again.
Great in theory and it would work, if narcissists didn’t exist, but they do. One of the biggest mistakes victims make is to be an open book. The m.o. of a narcissist is to become your perfect match in order to hook you and then use the information to hurt you. It is his way of life, he thrives on the pain of others.
#1. We assume if we tell someone how badly we’ve been hurt in the past, they will be careful to not hurt us again. We think if we explain how our trust was broken they will prove they can be trusted. We hope that they will understand we are suspicious and paranoid, if we explain how our ex gas lighted us.
#2. It puts the onus of fixing your broken heart on an innocent guy who did nothing wrong.
#3. It puts your healing on hold, makes you reliant on a man for your happiness and keeps you in the role of victim, forever at the mercy of every asshole you meet.
Let me tell you about the guy I dated after leaving my ex. It was about a year after we had split, I got a new job and the mechanic was a cute guy that was obviously attracted to me. He wasn’t really my type physically, but he had a sweet personality, he seemed genuine. He was always excited when I showed up and would find a reason to talk to me. He asked me out and I told him I had been hurt really bad and just wasn’t ready to date.
He listened intently, told me how much he admired my strength to survive and rebuild my life. He helped me in little ways, as a friend. He lived above the shop at work and would invite me for supper after work. It was so nice to walk through the door and be greeted with the smells of a pot roast cooking. I didn’t have a shower where I lived so he would offer me to shower there. He loved my 2 dogs, was so good to them and offered to have them stay with him at the shop during the day.
The invitations for supper became more frequent, we would work on my truck and his hand would brush against my butt. Did he mean to do that or was it an accident? It made my heart skip a beat. He’d stand a little too close to show me something. Once in a while he’d casually call me “babe”. I found myself enjoying his attention. I met his parents and they loved me. He gave me a key to his place, just in case I needed to use his shower or a place to put the dogs. Every morning I woke up to a “Have a great day Babe” message on my phone. And every night I got a “Sweet dreams Babe” text. He would try to get sexual but I always explained I wasn’t ready, didn’t want to rush into things and he would understand. Sometimes I would spend the night and we would just snuggle with both dogs in bed with us.
He sounds perfect doesn’t he? But there were little things that made me question his honesty. Little red flags. But was I just being paranoid? Too suspicious? I decided to just make note of them and see what happened.
Eventually the relationship slowly shifted from friends to lovers.
I decided to surprise him one morning and let myself into his apartment. I had a gut feeling. My gut wasn’t wrong. I walked in to see a woman fresh out of the shower and him in the kitchen making breakfast. He was cold, distant and rather smug.
I handed her the key and said, “You’ll no doubt be needing this.”
And walked out.
I was devastated!! Again!!! How could he hurt me like this when he knew how hurt I’d been in the past? I had been honest and he was just like my ex. I slipped right back into victimhood. I cried buckets, for about a day and a half.
Then a light bulb went on. Yes, he was another narcissist, but I had seen the red flags, I had been right! I could trust my gut instincts. I wasn’t in love with him, how could I be? We’d only dated a couple of months. I analyzed exactly what I was feeling. My ego was hurt more than anything. I wasn’t that nuts about him, I had grown to like the man he pretended to be. I was not in so deep I couldn’t just walk away.
So I did.
When he got all flirty with me later I just laughed at him, literally, in the face. I watched him go from woman to woman repeating history and laughed to myself because I had dodged a bullet. I ended up leaving the company because the owners ended up being a bunch of narcissists. I felt like every where I turned was another narcissist!
When did things change? Or did they? How does an empathetic person survive in a world full of narcissists? It’s easy to feel defeated, why bother? Are doomed to be a victim the rest of your life?
I chose to not remain a victim. I stopped being an open book. I stopped dumping my baggage on people I barely knew and expecting them to make me feel better about myself. Whether it was a work relationship, friendship or romance. By describing my relationship with the narcissist to everyone I met I was in essence saying, “I am a victim”. I find that by letting people get to know me, before I choose to share my story; I am viewed as a survivor. Not a victim. There is a difference, a huge difference!
I looked at the relationship with the mechanic as proof that I could protect myself. I had seen the red flags, and when I was proven right, I walked away. I was able to accept he was another narcissist and didn’t keep giving second chances or making excuses. I survived. Instead of taking an attitude of woe is me, why me, and making it personal, I accepted it is what it is and moved on.
The only way of ensuring you won’t be victimized by another narcissist is to either never date again OR learn to trust your gut and trust that you will walk away and not invest in a relationship with a person who doesn’t value you.
I had done it right, albeit a little slowly because I didn’t trust myself. I had been more concerned with whether I could trust him or not when I should have been focused on trusting myself.
There is NO guarantees in life. There is no way you can predict how another person is going to act, no way you can know a person’s true intentions. The only person you CAN trust is yourself. Stop putting the control of your happiness in someone else’s hands.
One woman commented that she would find it easier to love herself if she could find someone who loves her. Which is totally ass backwards. As long as you are striving to win someone’s love you are going to feel vulnerable. They are always going to control your self worth, you will always walk on egg shells, you will always be evaluating the relationship and it will always make you doubt yourself. The relationship takes on far more importance in your life than it should.
When you live your life honestly, true to your core beliefs, values, and moral standards and not allow anything or anyone compromise them. When you own your past hurts and stop expecting others to fix you. When you stop acting like a victim, stop describing yourself as a victim, you will stop being a victim.
At first it’s hard to not talk about what you’ve been through. That is normal but as long as being a victim is such a big part of you, you should not be dating. If when you meet new people you include the narcissist in how you describe yourself, you are still being a victim. I don’t tell people about my past until they earn the right to hear my story.
People don’t want to hear it. What do we expect by over sharing with people we barely know? A decent guy doesn’t want to pay for the shit another man put you through. And why should he? If you are going to be analyzing his every move, checking his phone, testing his honesty, questioning his intentions, in essense; making him walk on egg shells, you are making him responsible for your mood and self esteem. You are putting yourself in the position of victim. You are creating drama and making him the villian.
The minute you start valuing yourself and accepting yourself the need for the approval of other loses its power over you. When you start loving yourself, you no longer need to be loved by someone else. And there is no reason you can’t be a person you love, because if you don’t like something about yourself, you have the power to change.
Instead of trying to be the type of woman a man loves, be a person you love. No one can make you feel less than when you are living your life honest to your core self.