Getting over narcissistic ex...why is it so hard?

(27 Posts)
yorkshireme Tue 20-Jul-21 05:45:37

NC'd for this as I didn't want it linked to my other posts.

After two years I've just broken up with a man I now know (mostly thanks to MN) to be a textbook narcissist. Some of his traits included:

- love bombing and future faking right from the start. I thought I'd hit the jackpot (how wrong I was)
- the insane ex who had the affair that ended their marriage
- the same ex who now apparently tries to stop him seeing their young daughters
- gaslighting
- breadcrumbing (now I'm out of it I can see that he had me like a fish on a hook. I'm so ashamed)
- he was never at fault for anything, ever
- hero complex (particularly around his job)
- obsessive eating patterns
- subtle but persistent criticism of things I did
- flat out denial that he ever hurt me, despite treating me like something on his shoe for the last few months of our 'relationship'.

It ended because I found out he was with someone else. He's an arsehole and I'm a million times better off without him. But why is it so, so hard to get over him?

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yorkshireme Tue 20-Jul-21 05:47:26

Oh, I forgot to add the frequent explosive mood swings and silent treatment to that list.

What a fucking catch. But he still broke my heart.

OP’s posts: |
CrazyNeighbour Tue 20-Jul-21 06:41:04

I think you need to print that list out and read it every time you feel lonely.
What’s to miss in a dodged bullet?

yorkshireme Tue 20-Jul-21 07:11:18

You're right. At the moment it just feels really raw. And because he made me so attached in the way that narcissists do, it's fucking difficult for me to not seek his approval / confirmation that he still wants me.

I have blocked and deleted, which helps.

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yorkshireme Thu 22-Jul-21 07:24:52

Hopeful bump for any words of wisdom sad

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MBM18 Thu 22-Jul-21 07:32:13

I think it's hard to get over because you're pining for the man you thought he was and portrayed himself to be at the beginning.
No words of wisdom really, I'm no expertise in this area, but the old cliche of times a healer is very true.
Sounds like the break up is very recent, it will get better, you'll think of him less and less.
Take this time to focus on yourself and do some things you enjoy and that will make you happy.

nancywhitehead Thu 22-Jul-21 07:36:53

Even when someone you love has treated you badly and you know it in your logical brain, it can take a while for your emotional brain to catch up. That's where you felt it, so of course it's lingering.

It's a cliche but try to go easy on yourself. It's going to take a while.

If you like journalling, a break-up journal can be a nice thing to do, just check in every few days with a paragraph about how you're feeling around the break up and him. It can be a good thing to look back on in a few months' time and see if there has been any progress.

Good luck and well done getting away from him.

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Emmylou22 Thu 22-Jul-21 19:10:48

The push/pull at the end of a toxic relationship is normal. There's always that hope they might change and it really is the amazing love story they sold you at the beginning. The only way to move on from it is cut all contact. It's so easy to get sucked back in. I remember being devastated when the narcissist I dumped walked into the pub with a new woman on his arm. It made no sense logically to be upset. But it was gut wrenching and I felt so jealous of her.

They really do mess with your head, these awful men.

moirarosebabay Thu 22-Jul-21 21:03:46

Firstly just really really well done for getting out so relatively quickly. Not many do. I also think time is the best healer, being gentle with yourself. Your heart takes a while to catch up with your brain. I struggled for a while with my ex but now he has absolutely no hold over me at all. Informing yourself about what he is helps. I read the Lundy Bancroft book and a book on narcissists and it was scary how distinct the patterns of behaviour are. thanks

yorkshireme Fri 23-Jul-21 06:18:19

Thank you all for being so kind.

Yes, it’s the fact that for so long I held on to the hope he would change and actually be the person (I thought) he was for the first few months. Why did I do this?

Part of me knows how badly he treated me and what a horrible person he is/was, but part also is so heartbroken.

I have moments when I’m fine with it and then I have moments when I can’t get thoughts of them together out of my head. Why does he get to treat me like shit, then get his happy ending? Why am I the one who gets left alone?

I have definitely cut all contact.

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Malena77 Fri 23-Jul-21 06:34:10

You probably had some amazing times with him, especially at the beginning? Plus, future faking seemed so real, just round the corner? Life changing opportunity? The end was really bad but you were clinging on to hope that his mood would lift so that he becomes the infectiously positive, larger-than-life and oh-so-in-love person again?
I’m just guessing because that’s what happened to me and your story sounds similar. Obviously, my ex moved on quickly after breakup.
You miss the highs, the good times, the hopes, the dreams. The hurt is deep.
Be gentle with yourself. It’ll get better with time. MN, online info on narcissism and how to move on from such relationship helped me a lot. Once you’ll be able to focus on yourself - you’ll be ok. Good luck x

Malena77 Fri 23-Jul-21 06:43:06

Also - i know that it doesn’t feel like that for you now but: this breakup gives you a chance to, with time, start a new, healthy relationship. You will be happy again with someone authentic.
He may seem happy now but believe me, this new relationship will fizzle out, too, it’s just a matter of time. The pattern doesn’t change: idealise-devalue-discard. The new toy will not be as shiny in few years time. The mundane reality will hit him and so he’ll be back to his search for a new, optimum supply. He’ll never find it. The emptiness inside will be with him till the end.
Believe me, you’ve just won your life back!

PacificState Fri 23-Jul-21 06:55:56

I know when I've had breakups with men who were like this (two in my case, both fairly short relationships thankfully) it was really hard to put it behind me, both times, and they're still quite 'present' for me years later.

I think there's something about these relationships that's very hard to process, emotionally - possibly because none of it was real, but you thought it was for a while? So you don't even really know what it is you are processing. You might know rationally but your rational thoughts and your emotions aren't lining up, and it throws everything off kilter. If you've spent an entire relationship being lied to and gasslighted, the normal emotional process of reviewing what happened (we met, we liked each other, we slept together, we loved each other, we discovered differences, we tried to make it work, we couldn't) doesn't cover it. The only honest review would go something like 'I met a narcissist, I was deceived for a long time, I was manipulated, I got dumped' (or whatever) and that's a very difficult thing to comprehend.

Not sure if I'm explaining myself very well! But for what it's worth, while it's a really difficult thing to go through, the fact you're finding it difficult is confirmation that you're emotionally healthy, I think. If that's any consolation! You'll get there, eventually. I still think about the two men who did this to me and I'll never really understand it (and I like to understand things, so it's annoying and still a bit 'WTF??') but it's not painful any more.

PacificState Fri 23-Jul-21 07:07:08

I mean, it's really hard to comprehend that someone you had real feelings for had no real feelings for you, at all, despite everything they said and did. It's bewildering - it's not like 'they loved me at first but then they fell out of love with me', which is horrible and painful but comprehensible. These people don't feel anything for their partners - in a true sense he wasn't having a relationship with you at all. You were a sort of meat avatar for whatever strange processes play out in his head, you were never a real person to him and this was never a real relationship. And of course that's going to be a massively difficult thing to process, because almost all of your emotional experience from the moment you were born would lead you not to expect that from someone.

(Not saying any of this to be harsh! But if he really was a narc, this is the truth about how it was for him - you never really existed for him, because nobody really exists for him. It will take you ages to wrap your head around it, but in a way that's a good sign - everything in you expects a real, substantial, emotionally honest relationship. That's healthy, and means in the long run you will be happy and whole. He never will.)

Emmylou22 Fri 23-Jul-21 09:58:02

I echo all the other posters. He doesn't get a happy ending. He isn't capable of being a truly happy fulfilled human. I realised after I ended a toxic relationship I never really believed monsters existed until I met one. He didn't behave like a normal human. And people like that will never know happiness.

You can and will feel better with time, no contact whatsoever (don't fool yourself into thinking you can have a little bit of contact - you need to cut him out completely), and maybe a bit of counselling.

Please look up Richard Grannon on youtube. His videos really helped me understand what I went through.

MissSmiley Fri 23-Jul-21 10:00:46

PacificState

I know when I've had breakups with men who were like this (two in my case, both fairly short relationships thankfully) it was really hard to put it behind me, both times, and they're still quite 'present' for me years later.

I think there's something about these relationships that's very hard to process, emotionally - possibly because none of it was real, but you thought it was for a while? So you don't even really know what it is you are processing. You might know rationally but your rational thoughts and your emotions aren't lining up, and it throws everything off kilter. If you've spent an entire relationship being lied to and gasslighted, the normal emotional process of reviewing what happened (we met, we liked each other, we slept together, we loved each other, we discovered differences, we tried to make it work, we couldn't) doesn't cover it. The only honest review would go something like 'I met a narcissist, I was deceived for a long time, I was manipulated, I got dumped' (or whatever) and that's a very difficult thing to comprehend.

Not sure if I'm explaining myself very well! But for what it's worth, while it's a really difficult thing to go through, the fact you're finding it difficult is confirmation that you're emotionally healthy, I think. If that's any consolation! You'll get there, eventually. I still think about the two men who did this to me and I'll never really understand it (and I like to understand things, so it's annoying and still a bit 'WTF??') but it's not painful any more.


Great post

Notabunnyboiler Fri 23-Jul-21 10:44:12

Had exactly the same with someone I was involved with. The ghosting and silent treatments are the worse and emotionally very cruel. I even remember begging him to text me! Even though he has been a horrible cunt to me I still want him - how sad and pathetic am I!? My mental health is at a low because of this. I even contemplated ending it all. Everything was everyone else's fault, he was perfect, broken marriages not his fault and yet he behaved this way! Initially love bombing etc, 100s of texts until the silences began. Unbelievable. Hang in there. It will get better.

Fireflygal Fri 23-Jul-21 10:54:51

@PacificState, well said.

Realising you were with someone who doesn't have empathy or the capacity for genuine love is mind blowing. I had always believed there was some good in people however now I know why historical tales tell of evil/darkness because they are referring to people who we would now describe as personality disordered.

The speed at which a narcissist appears to attach to a new person makes you feel devalued but remember they need adoration and it's essential for them to function. It's the equivalent of an oxygen tank. To get the adoration they will morph into whoever they need to be for the new partner. They always have an end goal so as soon as they feel secure the manipulation begins.

Cleverpolly3 Fri 23-Jul-21 10:57:24

OP he is unwell
He’s a hologram.

At some point you will not only understand but you will also accept why none of it was real because of the above facts.

When you truly come to terms with this then you will start the real process of cutting the tethers that his disorder has tied to you and the misery they’ve inflicted on you.

Once you believe and know in your bones it was never about you then the sense of rejection and grief will melt away because you see you could have been anyone: it isn’t personal.

It is not a question of arrogance to believe you could never have not been loved by a narcissist as they are re not emotionally functioning human beings. You can’t ask yourself those questions when you’ve been abused by a narcissist. It is a vital process of sense making. It is entirely personal to him.

yorkshireme Fri 23-Jul-21 15:39:27

These replies are so so insightful. I cannot thank you all enough. MN is full of fucking wise women.

I'm going to re-read your words and let them sink in, also carry on reading up on narcissistic traits as that is helping.

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yorkshireme Mon 26-Jul-21 07:13:42

Urgh...nights are the worst. I was awake for hours last night.

I'm so angry and upset that he's walking around with his new woman and I'm here, fucking hurting from the way he treated me.

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Missusblusky1 Mon 26-Jul-21 07:42:31

Love this thread. So many insightful comments on here and it’s helped me too.

Almost a year on from my escape I’m still bearing the mental scars but now I hear about his new girlfriend (moved in and engaged after 3 months) and 99% of my feelings about it is pity for her. She’s completely loved up like I was and is gushing about how he makes her so happy…. But it won’t be long until he starts belittling her, ignoring her, triangulating her, ghosting her. Now im out of it I can see things so so clearly and often wonder how she believes his
lies, he has no friends, his family or children have nothing to do with him, he’s constantly moving and changing his job, why doesn’t she question this? Then I think back to what he told me and I believed everything he said, it wasn’t his fault, it was just who he is, etc. Essentially though, their relationship has nothing to do with me and as I have told a friend “if she turns him into an actual human being, good for her” . Tongue in cheek as they never change, but I feel sorry for everyone that has the displeasure of meeting him.

Truly evil and the normal emotions of sympathy, empathy, love, compassion, they are all mimicked because they are missing. An empty soul wandering around in human form. Glad I escaped before we got serious, really feel for those that still have ties to theirs.

Lostthewill80 Mon 02-Aug-21 11:51:38

Hello all (I'm male)

I won't bore you with my full story but I'm hoping to jump on here as I'm having my own struggles with a narc.
I've eventually came to see the signs but it's still a massive struggle to "forget" all the ups and accept the truth of whats really in front of me I suppose. The push/pull behaviour is what I'm addicted too I think. The uncertainty of whats coming next. Will she message, will she not. Will she want me, will she end it. It's awful to live wondering what version I'm going to get. Pining for me one day, then the next I'm not even worthy of a text.

I know what I need to do but I'm just not that strong yet and it's killing me. I check WhatsApp to see if online, wondering if she's watching me as I know she used to. I'm blocked on social media but she used to often unblock me so I'm addicted to checking to see if she has or not.

I told her about her terrible behavioural patterns and basically had the tables turned as though it was my fault. Unbelievable really it's left me gobsmacked. She stopped messaging the other day. Not sure if it's just the silent treatment for me saying something or if it's ghosting or ended.

I feel so pathetic to be so down about it. I'm supposed to be a professional and I sit here day dreaming totally lost in the sense on nothingness.

TheFoundations Mon 02-Aug-21 12:32:54

You're still so invested, OP. This is how they do it, and it's why it works so well. They find the bits of you that are the most vulnerable, and hit you there.

You need to do 2 things: Get away from the 'why??' mindset. Accept that there is no answer in the world to your 'why's. He treated you badly, it will never make sense to you, the end. Why would you want such horrible behaviour to make sense to you anyway? Horrible things make sense to horrible people.

The other thing, which is the 'forward looking' thing, is to examine what it is he's touched that's so vulnerable. This is all about you, and nothing about him. Once you work out what it is, you can find ways to give that part of yourself a long, comforting cuddle, and help it feel protected and safe. This will improve your existing relationships (including family/friends/professional), and ensure that you don't get involved with another abuser.

oreo2020 Mon 02-Aug-21 22:37:07

I congratulate you with your firm stance. I thank god that he is with someone and so you are free of his harassing.
I am with someone similar but for much longer and I know i need to LTB. i left 3 times but was always to weak to stay away. And now deeply regret every day that I continue with him.

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