At the end of a relationship with a narcissist, you may feel like you are crying so hard you can barely
breathe. One of the reasons for so much pain is trying to determine what about your relationship was
Let’s start with what isn’t real before we tackle what is.
- The person you first met (isn’t real).
The man or woman you met at the beginning of the relationship wasn’t authentic. That person
doesn’t exist. You were seeing a representation of what you wanted.
I have heard so many times from women and men, “This person checked every box of my wants
and needs.” Of course, they did. Narcissists, especially covert narcissists, are keen. They ask the right
questions and mirror what you want They love-bombed and learned what you needed and
mirrored that right back to you. They were never fully committed to you or the picture of the life
they drew for you. Now you’re left devastated and wondering what you can do to get this
At this point, you may have resorted to clinginess and neediness, becoming the person you
never thought you’d become. You are just trying to prove to the narcissist you’re worth keeping
and fighting for.
- Their plans for your future, together.
Oh, those plans were exactly how you saw your life rolling out, and you didn’t even know it
could be that grand! The narcissist studied you and painted a picture of your future – together –
accordingly. But those plans never materialized. It was yet another promise not backed by
- Their empathy.
Narcissists can mirror empathy, but that’s about it. They don’t have the capability or the desire
to show true empathy toward another human being or animal, in most cases. They’ve watched
you and others show concern, and they can mimic those behaviors. This is what is confusing. At
the beginning of the relationship, they show care and concern for your wellbeing. Then, near or
at the end, that empathy has disappeared. It leaves you under a cloud of shame, wondering
what you did to cause such an often abrupt change in a person’s demeanor.
- Their dedication to you.
A narcissist told me once, “Laura, I was fully committed.” I can look back on that now and laugh,
but at the time, it was baffling, because his actions certainly were the antithesis of committed.
The now ex-boyfriend went out with a male friend, and it just so happens a good friend of mine
was at the same bar. She took pictures of him dancing and flirting with other women.
Another way a narcissist shows a lack of devotion is the casual dismissal of plans. Maybe you
were supposed to meet for dinner, and suddenly, your other half has something come up and
you are expected to not only be okay with it but applaud that person’s decision. If you confront
them, there is no accountability or apology. Their needs, of course, come first. You are third,
fifth, or twelfth on their list of priorities. And yes, this hurts.
- Their words (aren’t real.)
Narcissists have golden tongues. They say what you want to hear, then add a drop of even more
than you expected. But when it comes to a narcissist carrying out those plans…don’t hold your
Actions speak louder than words. They say one thing and do something completely different It’s
contradictory, and it causes cognitive dissonance, which takes us to our list of what IS REAL
about the narcissist.
What IS Real:
1. Cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort caused by having two different beliefs clash.
This happens because a narcissist presents themselves as a kind, empathetic, loving human
being, then later flips the script and becomes a manipulative, selfish, mean human being.
You are left struggling mentally and emotionally, trying to determine which person is real.
And unfortunately, it’s the latter. Their true colors have surfaced.
2. Pain and disappointment.
The pain and disappointment a narcissist has caused in you are real. The roller coaster of
emotions in this toxic relationship has produced so many highs and lows that you are
exhausted and hurting.
The cycle of abuse becomes an addiction. Hormonally, the highs cause dopamine and
serotonin to be produced, where the lows cause cortisol to come in a rush. The extreme
highs and lows can cause weight gain or loss and significant anxiety and depression.
Therefore, leaving a narcissist seems like breaking an addiction.
3. Doubt and crazy-making.
The doubt and crazy-making a narcissist cause you to feel is real. You begin to lose self-
esteem and self-confidence. You become a shell of the person you once were because you
are waiting on the narcissist to tell you exactly how you should look and behave. Sure, a
narcissist does that with ever-changing standards and the cycle of emptiness and adaptation
occurs over and over.
4. Silent rage.
The silent rage you feel emanating from most narcissists is real. It’s hard to put your finger
on what is wrong because a narcissist will say “Everything is fine” or they will chastise you
for even asking what’s bothering them. But you feel it. Deep down you can sense that a
narcissist has anger lingering just below the surface that may emerge and any given
moment. It’s scary, and it leaves you feeling like you did something to put the relationship in
this place, but that you have no idea what you did. You take on the sole burden of trying to
keep the relationship afloat.
5. Their words.
A narcissist’s words are not real. Their entire existence is built on lies, and they can
sugarcoat anything and make it be what you want to hear. Watch their actions. Do the
actions of this person match their words? Most likely you will find the answer is “No.”
Words from a narcissist are empty promises.
We look at all these traits and we think, “I need to get out of this!” My hope for you is that you
find the strength to do so. I did it, but not without dropping to my knees in pain, tears, and prayer many,
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