Advanced search

How does it feel not being someone's narcissistic supply?

(35 Posts)
bringon2020 Thu 04-Jun-20 18:14:21

I have just found out most of my important relationships were with narcissists, who only saw me as supply. As an extension of themselves.

First, my mum. Classic engulfing mother. I was an extension of her. If I didn't perform and behave the way she wanted me to, she would withdraw love. Only figured it out last year, so for 40 years I considered it "normal".

Then, 20 years ago I met my husband. Emotionally unavailable (which for me felt "safe". If you look at attachment styles in adults, I'm that one who craves intimacy but is terrified of it at the same time). Self centered. Selfish. His needs were more important than mine. I was very good looking and intelligent, he liked showing off the good looking girlfriend. He spent the last few years saying that "I'm not as intelligent as I think I am".

I've been very unhappy since the DC. Fights all the time. DC with behavioral problems. Emotional abuse. (Always putting me down, but got angry when I asked for the separation).

A few years ago, I got close to a long time friend (acquaintance). It was what mumsnet calls "emotional affair". He wanted to convince me that I was amazing. He worked on that, for years. He did the love bombing and future faking routine. Textbook.

EA guy was, in mumsnet language, my "exit affair". He gave me strength to leave. He helped me with practical advice. He is married and I was never sure if I really wanted to stay with him after the separation. I was not leaving my marriage to be with him, that was clear. But I was infatuated. Part of me thought he was dodgy (red flags). The other part desperately wanted all that to be real. All this time, we never had anything physical.

Well, the other guy turned out not to be real. Right when I needed him the most, he dropped me like a hot potato. His artistic endeavours were suddenly successful and he got literally thousands of fans overnight.

I still asked for help in practical issues, and tried to talk things over. He wouldn't even engage. It was like I had suddenly ceased to exist. I was an unperson. An inconvenience. (that was humiliating).

So... I see now that was never in a relationship where I was not narcissistic supply. Where I was loved as a person, not for what I can do for the other one (and dropped or punished whenever I didn't do it properly).

Where do I start now? I don't want to become paranoid, thinking everyone I come across will be the next narcissist. I know I fell into these relationships because something in them felt familiar.

Funny that I have very good friends. Who, I think, don't like me for "what I can do for them". How can I have that with a future boyfriend? I don't want to fall prey to the next love bomber.

Ironic that running away from a previous love bomber 20 years ago was EXACTLY the reason I accepted the emotionally unavailable boyfriend who I ended up marrying.

I don't even KNOW how a healthy relationship works or looks like. I wouldn't recognize one if it looked me in the face.

I'm not planning to date anyone soon. But I want to be able to recognize a healthy bloke, when I eventually come across one.

Where do I start?

OP’s posts: |
bringon2020 Thu 04-Jun-20 18:38:50

Anyone? It took me so long to write it all, I would really like some advice, please.

OP’s posts: |
carlywurly Thu 04-Jun-20 19:15:45

I could have written much of this. At one point I had a narc mum, xh, dp and boss.

The mum I keep distanced, the boss I got shot of, the xh I keep at a civil arms length and the dp I'm working on.

I have some brilliant friends. I asked one yesterday why she thinks I attract this shit and she said I'm kind, straightforward and loyal, plus very used to putting others before me. I don't know how to prioritise my needs. I can't imagine an equal relationship sad

The barmiest thing is if I met the male version of myself I'd likely think they were out of my league.

carlywurly Thu 04-Jun-20 19:16:57

I haven't given advice but I'm planning on going to see a psychotherapist who specialises in narcissism. I worked with her before and solved the boss thing, tackled the mum thing but couldn't see the dp thing at the time..

Interestedwoman Thu 04-Jun-20 19:18:42

Funny that I have very good friends. Who, I think, don't like me for "what I can do for them". How can I have that with a future boyfriend?

You know how your friends treat you- expect a minimum of that from a boyf. Anything dodgy and bin them.

I don't even KNOW how a healthy relationship works or looks like.

You do to an extent, if you genuinely have friends that aren't narcs. I'd say the only differences are that in a romantic relationship you're sexually attracted to each other (the sex has to be pleasant when it happens) and they take extra special care of you and give you more care than a friend.

If you have any friends who seem to be in healthy relationships, you can look to how their OH's treat them to see how a partner should be. Of course we can't know what's going on behind closed doors, but if the outer behaviour is good then it's useful for your purposes.

You could also do the freedom programme, they go into what an abuser and a decent man are like, and teach you to spot a lot of the tactics of abusers.

Allinadaystwerk Thu 04-Jun-20 19:29:36

Get good therapy. Honestly it is life-changing and liberating. See a psycho-therapeutic counsellor who specialises in trauma and or abusive relationships and sit with thexprucess for at least 10 weeks. Work on yourself and find out why you are the way you are. That will help you to heal and prevent future crap relationships. It is not easy to do this deep work but it is worth it.

Perfectstorm12 Thu 04-Jun-20 20:11:38

Therapy. Your whole thread is (understandably) about how others treat you. Very little about what you want, need, how you treat your significant others and what you really want. Go to therapy to solidify your own boundaries, to make crystal clear that you are the pivot point for your life, so that you are not waiting to be picked up and defined by someone else. Good luck, you seem like you are ready for a big life change.

bringon2020 Fri 05-Jun-20 00:41:06

@carlywurly I can't imagine an equal relationship either. Happy that you're working your way out of it.

@Interestedwoman your post made me think about the difference between friends and "something else". When does one thing turn into the other? I think that friends are somehow "a safe distance". But then, come to think of it, I think friendships become something else when there is some kind of "closeness" that is, really, the dinamics I'm used to: fulfilling a function. Doing what is expected of me. And being punished somehow if I don't. Trying to anticipate needs to prove that I'm worthy of love/attention/care.

I had never thought of that, so thanks a lot!

@Allinadaystwerk I've been on therapy many times, and in the last few years have had 2 therapists (in different cities). It's very, very important, but as any human relationship, has its ups and downs.

@Perfectstorm12 Ouch! Yes, I'm all about what people want from me, and how they treat me. And about validation. That's how I finally figured out that the "exit affair" was just an act. Every time I said what I want, instead of what I thought he expected to hear, he would like me less and less.

My XH thinks it's an outrage when I state clearly "what I want". He says "that's what YOU want" as if it's wrong.

So, as an exercise, I'll try to state what I want.

I want to feel safe, and feel that I'm accepted and loved when I fail too (XH thinks it's a crazy idea, to be nice with someone when they've failed. He thinks it teaches people not to work hard).

I want to trust my perception. To believe that what I'm feeling is valid and true. And use that as a compass to decide what to do.

I want to be able to make my decisions, and fail my own failures - not someone else's.

I want to have someone nice by my side. I want to have someone who wants to be "a team". Us against the world. (but then the exit affair promised that. So I need that to be true, too).

Again, I want to feel safe. Accepted. Good enough. (and I feel like crying just to think of that. Sounds like a crazy thing to ask)

OP’s posts: |
BubblyBluePebbles Fri 05-Jun-20 00:58:13

If possible, cut people off (go no contact =NC) or distance yourself. Ditch the Manager. Reject and try to stay away from negativity, people and situations that make you feel like shit.
Learn to know your worth and do NOT put up with any of it.
I've done all of the above.
Good luck on your new found journey 💐

bringon2020 Fri 05-Jun-20 01:21:05

@BubblyBluePebbles but that's the point, in a way. Am I being self indulgent? Am I just interacting with people who agree with me? I've been accused of all that, and I'm still unsure of it all.

OP’s posts: |
thenamesarealltaken Fri 05-Jun-20 01:29:07

Hi! I've read all of the thread just to say, and I have a few thoughts... I think firstly, you need to stop thinking you need anyone at all but yourself, to feel great. Then you need to heal from all that involvement with narcissists. Take a break and think, how do I want other people to see me? How do I want other people to treat me? Start with you, make you strong, make you happy, make you more confident and increase how much you value and respect yourself to over-flowing. Love yourself, as you want others to love you. By caring for you, no I dont mean selfishness, egotism or vanity, you will take steps NOT to allow a narcissist to play their games on you again. Stand tall, dress well and go out there, when you can, and present a person who narcissists would not go near, as they'll not be able to play you, they'll sense that and steer clear. They rarely choose people who present as strong and confident. But, just to be safe, just incase you do get sucked in, watch videos on a popular site, on the topic of narcissism and covert narcissism. Learn how they suck you in - for one, they often try to get to know your childhood issues to pick out your weaknesses and focus on offering what you're missing. This binds you too quickly.

I suggest you do not emotionally connect with any new guy you meet for a while. Go to restaurants, other venues, car journeys, use public transport, etc., see how they are with others, including irritating people, people who make mistakes, eg wrong food delivered to table at restaurants, wrong change given. See them around family and friends, their neighbours, etc. How are they about you seeing your friends, male and female, how do they got on with them? How are they in an argument? Are they are critical of you? Are they complimentary. Are you listened to? Do you get to decide on what you do? Are your views listened to? How do they react when something goes well for you? How do they react if you're unwell, eg headache/toothache, etc. You can learn a lot in a few months of you date them and not agree to anything else at first. Hopefully, you'll know a lot about them before your heart commits too strongly and that's what dating is about- seeing how you get on, seeing if you are a match before committing your heart more. Too many people 'couple up' too soon, based on early attraction, excitement, fear, etc., and before they know it, they're heart is connected to a narcissist who they spend all their time feeding. If you think you've dated a narcissist, then you discard them as easily as you would discard food, or anything else you dont like - because they're bad for you. But, you can only protect yourself from narcissists if you hold off from giving your heart and properly date a man and that excludes constant texting, video calls, etc.
But first steps .... make you strong.

BubblyBluePebbles Fri 05-Jun-20 03:18:04

I 100% agree with @thenamesarealltaken. They've given a detailed explanation of what you may have wanted to hear.

No, it is not selfish to want to be happy and to be treated how you would want people to treat you. That is not narcissistic.

You need to work on yourself to become strong and confident. Take time to 'find' yourself. What are your life goals? It's okay to not have any yet; it's never too late to figure them out.

You cannot expect anyone one to give you what you are not prepared to give to yourself. Love yourself enough to expect nothing less.

Don't rush into relationships (dating or friends). Take time to 'suss out' new people and do not ignore the red flags. Learn to follow your gut feelings. I have increasingly learnt to trust my gut over time, as a result of dealing with each negative experience.

If you would not want it for your child, then it is not good enough for you.

Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you deserve to feel happy, respected and to receive unconditional love.
Write positive sticky notes about yourself, plans, goals and dreams and stick them on a mirror, doors or in a note book (if you do not have privacy or if you do not live alone).
Learn to journal (write down your thoughts) and give yourself realistic deadlines to pursue tasks, e.g. Go for a walk once a day/week, have a bubble bath once a week, join an online exercise class, enrol on a course in order to pursue a hobby &/or future career. Allocate yourself 'me-time' if you have caring responsibilities, e.g. wake up a bit earlier in order to practise 30 mins of yoga, meditation or to just read a sell-help book in peace before everybody wakes up. Snatch moments of 'me-time' here and there, e.g. Stay in bed and prentend to be asleep or sick and read a book or surf on your phone instead!
As another poster suggested, self-help videos such as 'How to Spot a Narcissist' on a popular website are very helpful.

BubblyBluePebbles Fri 05-Jun-20 03:22:28

*read a self-help book
*pretend to be asleep

Perfectstorm12 Fri 05-Jun-20 07:31:23

We only change when that 'ouch' becomes painful enough that is intolerable. We are creatures of habit. I hear you absolutely on how you want to live, but there is a process of change that needs to occur when you move away from anyone else's expectations. And it is bloody hard and terrifying, because to decide to live in your own worth means deciding for yourself rather than reacting to others. But it is so worth it.
In terms of narcissism, we all have narcissistic traits, some far more advanced than others. The key, in my mind, is to focus on your inner change then you will no longer find those who want to use you tolerable to be around. Why would you ever want to be anyone's toy when you are plotting your own life course? Your other relationships will improve as you show your own worth, you will find that team player to live alongside, or you will just be content to live alone...who knows. Just embrace change, go to therapy.

supercali77 Fri 05-Jun-20 07:57:39

Richard grannon. You can still find him on youtube though for how long I'm not sure. Instagram he is on with plenty of information on CPTSD. Complex trauma across time, recovery, emotional literacy and quitting the codependent cycle

CorianderLord Fri 05-Jun-20 11:08:50

Hm, I suppose I was lucky in that my first, and current long term, relationship was with the worlds most stable man. Very lucky because I'm a bit of a loose cannon so was unexpected.

I think in the early days what showed it the most was just - consistency.
There was no hot and cold, no extreme love bombs and declarations, he maintained healthy time away with friends/ family. I didn't feel 'rushed' or like there were any games.

He just was kind, considerate without being overbearing. He didn't want all my time from the get go and he was happy to spend time apart whenever.

If something was wrong with either of us he was very clear - he wouldn't be vague he'd just say 'I'm feeling really stressed with work right now, would you mind if I just had a few days focusing on this and then we can go out for dinner or something when I feel calmer?'

Or if something was wrong with me he'd just ask to talk it out.

He's very supportive and understanding. I can tell he's actually listening and thinking about what I've said.

In comparison with my sisters abusive ex, it's like night and day. When we went out for dinner with them he'd spend time talking to my sister and her friends about their lives and jobs etc. Whereas hers pretty much talked to her or about himself.

So I guess pay attention to how they treat others around you as well (if they're too charming or flirty RED FLAG).

bringon2020 Fri 05-Jun-20 23:06:40

@thenamesarealltaken You're spot on the "getting attached too quickly". With the narc2 (the "exit affair") what I did was ignore all the red flags because I wanted so badly to be close to someone. I have written on my journal at the time about the red flags, I was conflicted at the time. But I couldn't discard him.

So, I have to work on that. On, as you said, not get too attached. That will be hard.

I'm working on self compassion. I think I never thought I deserved any compassion, so I accepted relationships where people trated me badly. I think once I learn to respect myself, for real, it will become intolerable to cling to people who are not nice to me (as I've always done).


"You cannot expect anyone one to give you what you are not prepared to give to yourself. Love yourself enough to expect nothing less." --> exactly that! I'm working on that. A lot.

I'm trying to be nice to myself. Right now I'm doing the work of several people. DC are at home full time and I have to homeschooling, housework, cooking, trying to find work and work on my professional projects, and also care for my mental health. With no acess to my support network. It's impossible to do everything! So I just keep telling myself that I'm doing the best that I can. Trying to be nice to myself.

@Perfectstorm12 It was a huge change in my life when I decided to take seriously my wants and needs. I never had given myself permission for that. My XH and my DM are shocked every time I state a boundary. So far it's such a new feeling that it feels like an adventure.

@supercali77 I'll check. I've been reading a lot about CPTSD, narcissism, abusive relationships. This books are like maps, or diagrams, where I can see, clearly, the dynamics that have shaped my life until now.

@CorianderLord perhaps you're not such a "loose cannon". I think people who are damaged (like me) actively push away the sensible and respectful partners. I'm sure I came across decent people. But I sent them away.

When you describe your DP, I'm like "does it really exist?" I haven't met people who are this mature, man or women. The fact that you stayed with him, instead of looking for something else, means you're reasonably stable as well.

OP’s posts: |
bringon2020 Fri 05-Jun-20 23:18:16

Today I had a bit of a "pity party" thinking how badly people have treated me. How I tolerated very mean treatment from XH and also the narc2. I didn't deserve that, because no one deserves that. Every person deserves to be treated with kindness and respect, regardless of "doing" anything good or "being" something. Because kindness and respect should be the baseline.

However, for some reason I thought, for my whole life, that I didn't deserve kindness and respect. So, I clung to people who were occasionally horrible to me (starting with DM, of course).

That's sad. I think I'm grieving that. And it's painful. Nobody tells you how painful life is AFTER you leave the abusive relationship.

OP’s posts: |
AnnaNimmity Sat 06-Jun-20 10:38:43

when you grow up with a narcissistic parent, they create you and the way you see yourself. Your mother makes everything about her. It's her feelings, and her wants that are important. And as a child you realise that quickly. And unfortunately you learn everything about relationships from her. So you know or think that you don't matter, that your feelings weren't important, because as a narcissist, it was only her that was important. And it was only her feelings that were important - why bother expressing anything if it was only about her? And you probably became an excessive people pleaser because you wouldn't want to upset your mum - it just wasn't worth it.

I grew up with similar OP, and I can only say that therapy has helped me massively. Like nothing else. Self pity won't help I'm afraid. People have treated you badly because YOU HAVE LET THEM. You can' only change yourself so do it. Learn how to have and enforce boundaries (and it will be connected to learning to recognise your own emotions and needs). Learn how to love yourself - such a cliche but true.

People with healthy boundaries, good self-worth, good self esteem do not put up with shit from anyone. They certainly don't take back cheats, liars, people who treat them badly. They walk away from love bombing. They see red flags and they run.

AnnaNimmity Sat 06-Jun-20 10:40:50

It's painful afterwards OP. But after that? It's enlightening. Exciting. Amazing. You're free. And you've learned from it all. And you've learned to love yourself. And you realise you don't need anyone else.

You'll get there, but it's a journey. I can't recommend therapy enough.

bringon2020 Sun 07-Jun-20 04:03:12

@annanimmity I'm having therapy, and I'm looking forward to being through all that!

OP’s posts: |
wildone84 Sun 07-Jun-20 05:11:42

Being in therapy helps. I come from a similar sort of background, I'm in my mid to late 30s and last and current boyfriend are the only two non-narcissistic men I've encountered. I finished with therapy a couple of years ago and I did it for quite a while.

These days I am much less forgiving and I have ditched men over things that I wouldn't have dumped them for in the past. For example, after I finished therapy, a man I was dating and had only known a few weeks called me a really nasty name, then claimed it was a hilarious joke that I just hadn't understood. Dumped him, saw it as a red flag. I didn't like the energy behind it and thought it was a bit nasty, not funny. So you become more selective and realise that you need to weed these losers out, and don't doubt your instincts. My current guy has never mistreated me or done/said anything unkind.

It feels more peaceful and like you're more in control when you are not someone's source of supply. You get to focus on you, with less drama and negative energy flying around.

I wish you well, it sounds like you're on the right path.

wildone84 Sun 07-Jun-20 05:15:24

Also, I was so conditioned to attract and accept narc's that I had narcissistic friends, lots of narcs in my family, narc boyfriends, narc business partner. I had to let go of a lot of people and I am NC with significant people in my life, because I feel that if I open up contact I may backtrack and go back to where I used to be, with accepting poor behaviour.

wildone84 Sun 07-Jun-20 05:19:39

I also forgot to say, I was in and out of psychodynamic therapy for about 4.5 years. It was a long process for me, and like turning a massive ship around in a different direction because all these people were in my life and no one else. The only person I had for a while was my therapist. So it's great you have some good friends.

I cut out the narc's and I had no one else. And I was so damaged at the time and traumatised by how they had treated me, I was too afraid to look for friendships or a relationship.

Not saying it will take that long for everyone though.

bringon2020 Sun 07-Jun-20 17:28:48

@wildone84 I think for some reason, I don't take shit from friends the same way I do with partners. Probably I was trained that way from birth.

When you were in this process of ditching the narcs, have yu ever thought "it's not possible that all these people are narcs. I'm probably over reacting".

Because I think that sometimes.

OP’s posts: |

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in