Life with a narcissistic partner isn’t easy. You have to put up with upsetting behaviour, arrogance, lack of empathy, and manipulation. But still, despite all of your past experiences and the wisdom that comes from a more mature age, in midlife, you may keep on attracting these types of men.
Far from protecting yourself from them and starting over a new life chapter, you may seem to be falling for their charms constantly, even though they can be downright destructive and damaging. So, why is this still happening?
Breaking a cycle is easier said than done unfortunately and reasons for falling in love with those types of men might be several.
According to therapists you either might have a narcissistic parent and you may seek a partner out, subconsciously or not, who possesses similar traits or you’re struggling with self-esteem issues, often denying your own needs.
“Some people may fall in love with someone with NPD due to unconsciously repeating maladaptive patterns from an earlier stage in their life – writes Karen Arluck, a licensed clinical psychotherapist in New York on Psychology Today-. While others simply weren’t paying attention to the red flags at the beginning of the relationship due to all of the intoxicating feelings of falling in love and wanting this person’s affection“.
We can’t deny men with a narcissist disorder can be very charming and exciting at first sight without revealing their true colours right away. They are often intelligent, good-looking, humorous, powerful, and confident. So many of us return to them simply because others feel “boring” in comparison.
Who amongst us doesn’t like to feel special and feel like they have met their soul mate? Who doesn’t want to feel love at first sight?
How to figure a narcissist out
Sometimes narcissists can appear as if they are coming to your rescue, ready to lift you up, and they often start a relationship by love-bombing you. In reality, though, they only use our insecurities to inflate their ego and to keep us under their control.
What we forget is that a man with this highly self-centred personality, with an excessive and pathological need for admiration, might sooner or later make us subjected to fits of rage, constant putdowns, and an expectation that we will meet their every need while denying our own.
What’s more, getting older doesn’t cause a narcissist to mellow out. He lives in a constant midlife crisis and his reality (no matter what it is) is always way short of his dreams and aspirations.
According to Julie L. Hall, author of “The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free,” narcissists become more extreme versions of their worst selves as they age, which includes becoming more paranoid, angry, abusive, and isolated. And, as their power continues to diminish, they become even more desperate.
“If a narcissist isn’t getting the amount of attention they’re used to receiving for their looks, money, or charms, they’ll make up the difference by using the energy they once used on others and putting it on themselves. Rather than growing wiser with age, they’re more immature – remarks Christine Schoenwald writing on Medium -. Narcissists are not into growing old gracefully, they fight against it with everything they’ve got. Any lessons or wisdom that might be gained from the ageing process is lost on the narcissist”.
What’s the best way to handle a narcissistic partner?
If you’re trying to figure out how to deal with a narcissistic partner, you probably wonder if his behaviour will ever change. The truth is that it is difficult for people with such a disorder to unlearn these patterns unless decide to see a therapist.
What you can do, however, it’s to use strategies to make life easier – such as practising self-care and setting healthy boundaries – or maybe decide it’s about time to question yourself about your choices and investigate your subconscious desires a bit more.
In general, narcissists love someone who doesn’t believe in themselves or whose insecurities get the best of them, individuals who are codependents as well as those who are empaths or people pleasers.
“If you repeatedly find yourself in relationships with narcissists – explains Amy Launder, accredited Psychotherapist and Psychological Coach-, it is likely that this isn’t a coincidence, and that there is something deeper at play here. There is something, probably subconsciously, that is driving you towards narcissistic partners, or that is pulling them towards you. It might be that you are being driven by repeating patterns from the past, or that you are meeting some need, however self-destructive that may be“.
Working on developing rock-solid confidence and a sense of self-worth is often the way forward to breaking free from these relationships.
“Obviously, developing confidence and self-love is a lifelong journey – says psychotherapist Dana Dorfman, PhD to Marriage.com – but once you start reminding yourself of what you deserve and project that confidence outward, narcissists will see you’re not someone easily manipulated and therefore not a good victim for them to prey on“.
Remember, no one should have to tolerate abuse at the end of the day. If dealing with a narcissistic partner is taking a toll on your physical or mental health, it may be time to seek support to help you walk away from the relationship.