30 comments on “Life Inside a Toxic Romance

  1. if your dealing with anger in a relationship it can become pretty ugly… id suggest you have a talk with her.. no one needs to be in such an unpleasant situation… either she’s agrees to attend anger management counseling or you find a way to let her know that her anger is damaging the relationship. No one deserver the anger of no one .. I was in a similar situation ..I wish you the best of luck.

    • Hi Stralende!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      This entire exchange happened nearly 2 years ago, 4 months prior to my ending my relationship with this woman. I have been no contact with her since ending our relationship.

      Our relationship was doomed from the start, and there was never any love in the relationship, it was all a facade.

      I posted this because I see many aspects of the way we related in a very different fashion now than I did back then. I definitely see my codependency at work, and I see how it frustrated her. We were very enmeshed. It’s best that it’s over. For both of us.

      Stephen Bach

  2. ooh man….its a narcissistic trait.. I can relate to this …

    On Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 3:28 PM, Stralende Middagzon wrote:

    > if your dealing with anger in a relationship it can become pretty ugly… > id suggest you have a talk with her.. no one needs to be in such an > unpleasant situation… either she’s agrees to attend anger management > counseling or you find a way to let her know that her anger is damaging the > relationship. No one deserver the anger of no one .. I was in a similar > situation ..I wish you the best of luck. > > On Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 3:21 PM, The Narcissist’s Son <

  3. My opinion for what it’s worth. NOTHING you could have done could have changed how that situation played out. NOTHING. For whatever reason, she wanted to be angry and difficult. THAT was probably more fun, gave her more of a zing at that point. I believe, when it gets to that point, they are bored already and probably already have other supply. Not ready to fully let you go, but, no longer needing to “play” nice. YOU were trying to figure “crazy” out and that can not be done. YOU were trying to figure out WHY she was angry ( and even apologized ) . Did it occur to you at that point you had done nothing to incur her anger? Or were you still at the point where you thought you had possibly done something wrong? Glad you are out of that situation 🙂

    • You are absolutely correct, Ellie!

      There was absolutely nothing I could have done that would have made it play out differently. She wanted to pick a fight. She wanted to lash out at me. She wanted to put me in my place. She wanted to see if I would become a groveling child begging for her forgiveness. It gave her some sort of high to see me in pain and frantically trying to make things right.

      At the time, my gut was telling me that I had done nothing that deserved such a rageful response, but of course at that time I also didn’t listen to my gut, so I let her continue to treat me horribly and allowed her to blame the entire altercation that occurred on me, even to the point where I apologized, even though I felt I did nothing wrong (CODEPENDENT BEHAVIOR ALERT).

      I wonder now if the the whole thing wasn’t some sort of test to see how much control she had over me; just how far could she push me. I now see other incidents that occurred during our relationship that give me a similar feeling, as if I was being tested.

      Did she have a new source of supply at this time? I have no idea. She may have, I’ll never know the truth.

      You are absolutely right: I was trying to figure out “crazy”. It’s what I did at that time. It was my mother’s programming at work: “The woman is angry / acting crazy, it must be my fault and I need to fix it”.

      I’m glad I’m out of that situation, too 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Ellie!

      Stephen Bach

    • Yes, very apt, Denise.

      When in a relationship with a narcissist, we are made to be responsible for their raging and bad behavior. It’s all about enmeshment. Excellent observation!

      Stephen Bach

  4. The feeling that the two of you are reading different scripts is part of an abusive, narcissistic relationship. She’s angry. You don’t know why. The feeling of dreading contact because you don’t know if the fight is over or not. It’s sad, this situation. It’s just sad.

    • I agree. We were following two entirely different scripts and the entire situation was terribly dysfunctional.

      Yes, I would definitely dread having contact with her when we would fight. She perceived this as me giving her the silent treatment. I didn’t go silent out of spite, I went silent because I felt I had no other recourse. I went silent because no matter what I did or said, it would be twisted and thrown back at me. Even my silence was twisted and thrown back at me. It was an impossible situation.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, 18.

      Stephen Bach

  5. Hi – In reading about the fight that took place, I thought it seemed really typical of an average way
    that a fight unfolds between a couple. Not necessarily narcissistic here. What I mean is, one of you is overworked and that tends to make you more prone to being annoyed. The other person misses you and things might be tense between you both for different reasons, hers might be because of the disconnect lately.

    You were annoyed by her comments, wanted to show her you were willing to go to the gym though you were tired, and so took off from the kitchen and began putting on your shoes. To you, a guy, this is being proactive and fixing the perception she has of you and making her happy (by appeasing her). To her, a female, because you left the talk abruptly, with “fine, lets go”…. she knew you were upset and were acting out instead of talking. To her, that night, she would’ve rather had a longer verbal meeting of the minds at home, than to pretend everything was fine at the gym.

    I have had fights such as yours with my husband before and I can tell you that she felt probably that you were being aggressive by withholding your feelings and words from her. Then, acting as if everything was supposed to be happy and over with because you did what you thought she wanted which was to go to the gym with her. Everything fixed right? No.

    You compounded the distance by still not talking about the elephant in the room before your shower after you returned home and then again by leaving without attempting to talk it over before work the next day. You were simply putting on a smile and an attitude that was showing her she was not worth bothering with. Again making her feel more distance between you two.

    When one of you checks out and avoids more conflict by appeasing the other and acting like things are happy, it’s not really bridging the divide like you think. My husband and I are both from narcissistic families and when we do have exchanges similar to this one, it will not get better until you verbally fight it out for however long it takes when you both understand each wrong that happened.

    Her infidelity and a possible std was not a good outcome several months later, sorry about that. I could tell you that you’re right, good job avoiding her wrath, but sometimes people are mad from a fight and her choice of words are honestly not that surprising because she was pissed. I just think in this fight, things went wrong all over the place.

    I’m sure to have many people disagree with me but I really thought about how many times my husband and I fight and also how the relationship grows in time from it happening.

    – Cindy

    • I am going to add a disclaimer here, It is never advisable to fight it out with a narcissist or a disordered person. When a relationship disintergrates to to the level described they can become very violent and do grave bodily harm. Yes even a woman to a man. Do we need to talk about Jodi Arias?

      In my opinion, NO ONE should expect a person that has worked 11 hours to do anything to appease them. To make them feel better or secure. Relationship or not. Someone that has worked that many hours has a right to “kick back” and relax. in a normal relationship perhaps a convo can be had re the long hours and how she felt maybe she needed to spend a little more time with him. And at a gym, really? What about kicking back in the couch with a cold one and turning on a good movie and relaxing? Together? The woman involved sounds very self centered to me. Hell bent on not just getting her own way but getting her own way by you jumping with joy at whatever it is she wants to do/ not to do at every given moment. She could have kissed him on the forehead and told him she knew he was tired and to relax , that she was going to the gym for a bit. That way both could have done what both needed 🙂 But only a “normal” well adjusted woman could have gone that route.

      Victims of N’s are “conditioned” to “walk on egg shells”. To appease, to suck it up, to turn the other cheek when confronted with something they do not want to do but the N does. And to act happy about whatever it is. They have been trained that confrontation is not a good thing but something to be avoided at all costs. And even then, in the discard phase THIS is not good enough. I think the point was missed entirely and should stand as a
      red flag” waving boldly in the storm that the ” percieved” crime he committed did NOT fit the punishment.

      A healthy relationship grows by conflict and resolution. A disordered one never has a resolution to a conflict. It’s a power trip where all the cards( and how they are dealt ) are held by the disordered person. The BEST thing to do is GET OUT. Sooner than later.

    • Hi Cindy,

      I somewhat agree with you, but mostly disagree.

      The first point I would like to make is that this fight is an example of a horribly dysfunctional exchange between two enmeshed individuals. This is not a healthy interchange in any way, shape, or form. We are both being stubborn and neither of us was willing to validate the other’s position, which leads to rampant escalation. Were there more things I could have done to diffuse the situation? Absolutely. I did try to ask her what was wrong, and her response was that I was supposed to already know (I’m a mind reader?). If you are going to hold me accountable because I didn’t do more to diffuse the situation, you would also have to hold her accountable as well. For every time that you pointed out that I could have done more to diffuse the argument, she also could have done more. She could have told me what was wrong in the mud room. She could have told me what was wrong in the car, when I explicitly asked her what was wrong. She could have stayed awake and waited for me to get out of the shower and we could have had a discussion then (I was out of the shower by 9PM and did not expect that she would already be in bed). She could have said something about having a discussion to me when I kissed her goodbye in the morning. None of those things happened either. So in that respect, we are both equally to blame.

      One other point I would like to make: I wasn’t pretending nothing was wrong. Not in the least. I wanted to discuss the issues, but that was impossible. The only issues that were up for discussion were the issues that she perceived that I had. If I had any issues with her, they were twisted / gaslighted / rewritten to be my fault, requiring that I apologize for daring to bring up an issue that I might have with her (“How dare you question me! Apologize right now!”). I made many attempts to get her to talk, and she refused. She would rather be fuming mad at me for days than actually discuss anything like adults.

      If you look a bit more closely at what she said in her emails, she made me responsible for repairing the ‘damage’ that ‘I’ had done to the relationship. This is her making the entire altercation my responsibility and her removing herself from any blame for our impasse. It was my job to come groveling back to her and apologize for all my infractions, as she perceived them. How is refusing to accept any culpability for our altercation not narcissistic behavior (i.e. all issues with our relationship are my fault)? Furthermore, if you read her emails, she twists everything I say and throws it back at me. This was a regular pattern with any altercation we would have: I couldn’t say anything without having it twisted and thrown back at me, so I learned to say nothing at all, and then would be accused of giving her the silent treatment. This pattern is identical to the pattern I had with my mother. Sad that I kept repeating the pattern.

      Perhaps a little more background may help to understand the situation a bit better.

      This fight occurred during the first week of January. During the weeks prior to this fight, things had been going really well between us, or so was my perception of our relationship. We had an excellent holiday season, and had spent much quality time together. Then this fight occurred, literally out of nowhere.

      Looking back, I could see a few reasons that she decided to pick this fight:

      – We both had significant time over the holidays where we were not working, which means we spent much more time together than we normally would. Now that it’s early January, we were both back to working our regular schedules which means we weren’t seeing each other nearly as much. Perhaps this was a source of frustration for her that led to this fight.

      – As I mentioned, things had been going really well between us during the weeks before this fight. Perhaps she was feeling engulfed and too close to me emotionally, which triggered her anger.

      I think part of my stubbornness during this fight was related to how frustrated I was that things had been going so well, and now we were right back to zero again, in the middle of yet another huge fight over nothing. I was immensely frustrated and weary with the entire relationship.

      Another critical aspect of this fight is that it never was resolved in my opinion, just like every other fight we would have. This fight ended up dragging on for nearly two weeks. Most of the time, I would end up apologizing for whatever she told me I did wrong, even though I felt I did nothing wrong, just to make the fight go away. This is terribly unhealthy codependent behavior.

      I feel that Ellie really nailed it: I was subjected to nearly two weeks of her anger because I showed some frustration over going to the gym? The punishment absolutely did not fit the crime.

      I certainly appreciate the comment, Cindy! I hope that you are able to see how this exchange is not healthy.

      Stephen Bach

  6. Hi Stephen,
    I could write 3 books here. When you wrote in one of the comments: “I wonder now if the the whole thing wasn’t some sort of test to see how much control she had over me; just how far could she push me. I now see other incidents that occurred during our relationship that give me a similar feeling, as if I was being tested.”
    Yes, you were being tested. You just need to know that you would never have had the right answer. EVER. She wanted to go to the gym?? No, she wanted to make you feel guilty because she knew you were going to say NO. Then when you decided to go she thought: WE ARE ALWAYS DOING WHAT YOU WANT… Trust me, in over 14 years, I never passed a test. And I was always to blame. And what was even worse it was that only me was keeping it all together and adjusting. Till I got tired. It took me a long time to understand his game. The: “you are lucky that you have me” or the “who’s going to want you with 5 kids” really got me. I was lucky that I finally opened my eyes… and about the second question, someone who LOVES me will want me with my 5 kids and more.
    Have a nice day 🙂

    • Hi Paola,

      I can empathize with writing three books! I feel the same way! So many clues that I missed for so long. I’m just thankful that I finally realized the disaster that my life had become due to my relationships and took measures to remedy the situation.

      I agree, I was tested quite a bit. Some of her tests I can remember being quite blatant. She was constantly trying to assess how much control she had over me. I can also remember the fleeting smirk she would have when she was successful in getting me to do her bidding. It’s quite pathetic that I tolerated it as long as I did.

      I definitely hear you on how it was always my responsibility to be constantly adjusting to keep things together. You’re right, it’s exhausting. The emotional capital required to sustain my dysfunctional relationships left me a shell of my former self and the journey back to whole has been an arduous one. Thankfully, I had the wherewithal to extract myself from my predicaments, as did you. There are many that are never able to extract themselves.

      You are correct, there’s never a chance of coming to a resolution, and we aren’t allowed to ever be right. Here’s an analogy of a typical disagreement with an N:

      N: It’s black
      Me: No, it’s white
      N: (annoyed) it’s BLACK!
      Me: (confused) I think it’s white
      N: (angry) BLACK!!
      Me: OK, it’s black (hoping to end this petty disagreement)
      N: What, are you stupid? It’s white! (smirking)

      No matter what, I’m wrong.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Best wishes on your healing journey.

      Stephen Bach

      • 🙂 Thank you Stephen 🙂
        That last part really made me laugh :)…
        I feel angry for all the things that happened, but I’m angrier at myself for allowing someone to treat me that way for so long… I hope I learnt my lesson 🙂
        Best wishes to you too.

      • Thanks Paola!

        I felt that one of the hardest things for me to do was to stop being angry with myself and forgive myself for allowing myself to endure my predicaments as long as I did. When I had never been forgiven for any of my mistakes for nearly my entire life, I found it nearly impossible for me to forgive myself. Have faith that you did the best you could. Believe that you are worthy of forgiveness. Giving yourself that forgiveness is a critical step on the journey toward healthy self love.

        Stephen Bach

    • I would submit that it is narcissism. Narcissism in a pretty extreme form.

      Here’s some typical traits of a female narcissist based on Sam Vaknin and Tara Palmatier’s assessments of the archetype. How many of these traits do you see exhibited in the above exchange?

      1. The Hoodwink. The narcissistic woman begins a conversation (attack) with one topic. When you present facts that are contrary to her beliefs, she hoodwinks you by going on a different tangent, changing the subject or making a brand new accusation. While you’re still defending your original point, she distracts you by jumping to another topic that’s completely unrelated.

      2. SHUT UP! When you try to explain your feelings or point of view, this kind of woman may brutally tell you to, “Shut up!” Narcissists not only can’t cope with the truth, they go to great lengths to deny and obliterate it.

      3. Name-Calling. This is the last resort of narcissists and other bullies. If they can’t defend their position or their behaviors, they resort to emotionally-based personal attacks. It’s another distraction technique that sidetracks you from the original point of contention by putting you on the defensive.

      4. Projection. Narcissistic women accuse their victims of actions or thoughts that they themselves are actually guilty of. This is a primitive defense mechanism.

      5. Splitting. Narcissists see the world in all-or-nothing, good vs. evil, black-and-white terms. They have little ability to understand context or nuance. Either you see things her way or you must be invalidated. You cannot agree to disagree with this kind of woman. Any criticism, difference of opinion or challenge to her “authority” is seen as a threat and you will be treated in a manner so as to be devalued and demonized. This is another primitive defense mechanism.

      6. Smear Campaign. First, they split and then they smear. It’s not enough for a narcissistic woman to disagree with you or despise you. Everyone else in her world, including your own family and friends, must also hate you and see how wrong you are.

      7. Gaslighting. Women who use this tactic deny things they’ve said and done (and often accuse you of the very same transgressions they committed). They distort reality, claiming the event never happened (“you imagined it…YOU must be crazy”) until you begin to doubt your own sanity.

      8. Increasing the Volume; Not the Logic. The more wrong an emotionally abusive narcissistic woman is, the louder and/or more stubborn she gets. Her level of fake outrage, vindictiveness or emotional withdrawal is in direct proportion to how correct you are. She will either talk over or shout at you, repeating the same simplistic, emotionally-charged statements over and over until she drowns out all reason, or give you the silent treatment until you submit and apologize for your “offense.”

      9. Blame and Shame. Narcissists blame others for everything that is wrong in their lives and never consider how they contributed to, and often caused, the problems and their own unhappiness. They shift responsibility to make you seem bad or crazy in an effort to shame you into submission.

      10. Playing the Victim. When narcissistic women are put on the spot for their bad behavior or dishonesty and they can’t deny it, then they play the victim. They claim they are the ones who are being unfairly attacked for “standing up for the truth” and having the “courage” to speak out or etc.

    • Hi SAWG,

      I don’t remember exact details of when the fight before this occurred, but our typical pattern was some sort of serious fight over nothing every 3-4 weeks. Most every fight started over something extremely trivial (in my opinion) and then would go on for days. I remember one fight that went on for 2 days because I said I needed to leave her house early one Sunday to get home and do some things around my house. I realize now that I had triggered her fear of abandonment when I “surprised” her by saying I needed to leave early. Fights that would last up to a week were commonplace. There was a very ugly incident that occurred about 18 months before the fight documented in this post. Looking back, I should have broken up with her then. That fight was the first fight we had where I knew for certain that my feelings were absolutely irrelevant in our relationship.

      One of the biggest things I’ve learned in my healing journey is to look at the pattern of behavior. The pattern my xGF followed was essentially the same for every altercation we might have. Reframing those altercations from a narcissistic perspective makes them make a great deal more sense.

      I had been telling her for nearly 2 years that I really hated the way we fought and how we never resolved anything. Her response: “It’s not that bad”. I had proposed coming up with rules on how to “fight fair” and she would ignore my requests. She would constantly gaslight me about events that occurred in the past, telling me that I had “never said anything about this before”, even though I would have emails that I could show her that I sent to her that I could use to prove that I did bring it up previously. She was a terrible snoop, and had hacked most of my email accounts. I had caught her several times hacking into my email and social media accounts. She was terribly controlling, and if things didn’t go her way she would break into a rage.

      One of the most telling moments of our relationship was when her daughter (with whom I had several altercations as well during our relationship), then 17, walked up to her mom in the kitchen and said “Mom, I get my anger issues from you”. Mom turned to her and denied having anger issues, nearly getting angry in the process. Her daughter’s statement was golden. Her she was, 17 years old, recognizing that she had issues managing her anger, and also recognizing that her mother had issues managing her anger, even though mom was in total denial about her anger issues. When we broke up, her daughter had made many huge strides in dealing with her anger and was well on her way to be a respectable woman.

      Stephen Bach

      • Unfortunately SAWG, the prognosis for such a person is grim to say the least.

        In order for them to heal, they would have to admit that some of the circumstances that they have found themselves in might be their fault. When one is not able to admit to complicity in events, it’s not possible to reach a point where true change can occur. Most people that are like my ex only get worse as they get older, not better. As they get older, their ability to acquire narcissistic supply diminishes as their looks fade and family and friends no longer engage them. They have to ramp up their abuse and manipulation in order to maintain sources of supply. It’s an ugly and sad life to lead.

        The best tactic to deal with such people is to avoid them entirely. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. If a relationship must be maintained, it is critical that you put strong boundaries in place and do not allow them to be compromised. If your husband is still allowing his ex to manipulate and get away with bad behavior, he needs to take steps to be able to recognize her manipulation and set boundaries with his ex so that her manipulation and abuse are not carried into yours and his relationship.

        Best wishes to you and your husband,

        Stephen Bach

  7. Hi Stephen,

    I really do see your points and your frustration and understand why you reacted the way you did at each interaction. I also understand hers at each point; I’m not trying to make it your fault and your responsibility for making up, she wasn’t expressive enough either.

    The extra information you wrote afterword to frame the situation is helpful too.

    I went back and re-read the original post and read all of the reply postings and it, to me, still feels like
    the familiar altercation of a normal married couple. You said you had been together for 3 years at this point right? These kinds of fights are pretty common, I’m married 17 yrs., together for 28 yrs, and we’re very close and respectful of one another. We spend a ton of time together also, and we know when to give more care to one another. We love each other very much and still find ourselves from time to time having the same kinds of arguments. You both almost sound like a carbon copy of us! We really enjoy each other and it’s wonderful most of the time, but sometimes we’re stressed by different things and emotional and don’t communicate like we would hope to at all times. You just learn that it’s o.k. sometimes to fight and have problems coming together but eventually, it works itself out. The funny thing is that you have passion in your fights… that’s because you love one another…. you call it enmeshment, I call this one closeness out of love.

    What I’m trying to explain is that I feel strongly that it may be extremely difficult to come together with anybody in your adult life on a permanent level due to the fact you’re hyper vigilant about protecting yourself from narcissism. I understand that. She may be more outward when she’s angry than you are, and that makes you uncomfortable, but she’s communicating, and bottom line is, she cares for you. I’m that same way.

    Sometimes, if you can accept that she expresses her anger, give her that release. In time, though she isn’t going to always be calm and respectful during these fights, you’ll realize that you always come together and love each other and that’s what matters.

    Marriage will be full of good times and bad times, but you learn about each other and accept some faults you both have. Your parents and people in life all wrote on your slate making up how you are. Everyone will be angry now and then and even say something that’s meant to hurt you. I don’t think it’s always narcissism and just want to show you that you will miss out on potentially the love of your life if you expect perfect communication and actions at all times from people. Give some consideration for stress and emotions to run wild every now and then, or even every week. In her interactions I heard her apprehension, hurt, anger. I know why she didn’t talk when you asked her to.

    It’s unfortunate that you two broke up months later because I saw the communication everywhere and you weren’t able to see it. Sometimes it was non-verbal but it took place.

    You may find a woman you’re more closely like, if that’s what you want and need. Sometimes the perfect one for you is the one who triggers you and forces you both to grow together…. over time.

    Cindy

  8. I think the other comments to the original post pretty much reflected most of my thoughts so I don’t have much to add there.

    But I do have a problem with Cindy’s posts. I’m not angry at her/you at all I just think you are dead wrong.

    When looking at the pattern of communication with Stephen’s ex including his further explanatory responses to comments it is incredibly clear to me we have the dysfunctional yin-yang of codependent and narcissist (or maybe other Cluster B PD). I see a lot of what I went through in the past in his posts and my ex was definitely NPD.

    I’ve been remarried to a great chick for 9 years and our very rare fights can hardly be called fights. We know we’re on the same side and not trying to win the argument. We know we’re not trying to hurt each other so we stay in the uncomfortable discussion until we find where the miscommunication is. Often times it’s rooted in one of us being triggered by past dysfunctional things. We always talk through it in the moment. My fault usually lies in retreating, emotionally shutting down, and becoming purely compliant. My wife has her very different style. (google enneagram, I’m a 9, the wife’s a 1). But we help each other spot the defense/coping mechanism and try and get real and vulnerable about things. (Brene Brown helped here – google her). It always squashes things in a fair way, bringing us closer together. Our arguments turn into discussions that last a few hours at most often ending in tears, hugs, kisses, and more closeness. None of our fights end up in one side winning. We either both win or no one does. We’re a team and I feel this is what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. Anything else is BS in my book. If my wife dies before me I’ll settle for nothing else in the future.

    Fights with my ex were just like fights with Stephen’s ex. They were about nothing and were only resolved when I admitted I was the only one at fault and apologized to death. Whoever is always right, justified, and or angry IS the narcissist, period. It is a defining feature.

    In post-codependent hindsight, the proper way for Stephen to have interacted was to stick to his guns and basically go to the gym when he felt like it and let her go when she wanted to. If she lodged good, sound, and emotionally fair arguments as to how to arrange the schedule differently he should have considered it and possibly negotiated a compromise. If she threw a tantrum or held a grudge he should have dumped her and ceased responding to all communications before she hoovered him back up with his soft compassionate gooey center.

    His fault was in giving in and holding on to resentment about and being passive-aggressive-ish. That’s how I did when I was less functional. It’s not good or healthy, but that’s his part.

    Her fault was she was a petty, selfish, immature piece of crap. I think we know whose side I’m on.

    Cindy, your argument holds no water for me. If week-long arguments happening every month with one side winning every single time is a normal healthy relationship to you – you and you’re husband are jacked up. If that’s not what you’re saying, you may be fine.

    Longevity makes no difference, either. My grandparents were married 40+ years in dysfunction before they died. Grandpa was a raging malignant narcissist. My parents are crazy dysfunctional and have been married 42 years and talk a bunch of vague generalities about how their marriage “just works” and “your mother is my best friend,” and when they argue they say crap like sure we fight but we just “move along.” AKA ignore their problems. My parents are a hot mess. They barely speak unless my father has a stranger to show off in front of. And my Mom just takes the crumbs he gives and thanks his emotionally empty self.

    I don’t believe in passion in fights that’s a code word for I’m an adrenaline junkie for the drama of an up and down relationship. I see nothing functional about that. I call BS.

    I don’t believe Stephen’s ex cared for him like mine didn’t care for me. It’s a fake caring, fake love, fake relationship. One that involves lots of feelings of possession/ownership of the other person but without giving a crap about how the other person actually feels. Narcissists are actually incapable of really caring about anyone but themselves.

    Stephen is 100% right to be vigilant against narcissists. Codependents are their natural prey. We have to develop proper boundaries to spot and avoid narcissists. Until then we are susceptible to their clever gaslighting and manipulations. Once the boundaries are nice and solid Stephen can be less vigilant. But only he and/or his therapist can gauge that.

    “…you’ll realize that you always come together and love each other and that’s what matters.”

    No that is NOT what matters if one person is always swallowing their pride giving into a win/lose relationship paradigm. If what we have is consistent winner and loser in fights what we have is an emotionally abusive relationship, period. My Mom says that lame crap and is dead wrong about her relationship.

    Cindy is definitely correct that fights/disagreements will happen in even good relationships, but it is the pattern, the frequency and the depths of these fights that indicate how healthy or not it is. How they are resolved matters massively.

    It is very fortunate you broke up with her because she was a manipulative psychic vampire like my ex.

    She is correct that some triggering will happen but how you solve it together will say everything about the worthiness of the relationship.

    Nick

    • Thanks, Nick. I don’t think I could have said it any better myself. I think it’s great that you and your new wife approach your relationship as a team, and you both win or lose together. That’s wonderful!

      Yes, my ex most likely had some sort of PD. She exhibited every trait of NPD, along with some BPD traits as well. Who knows, I’m not qualified to diagnose, and it’s irrelevant, really, to the issues.

      You are absolutely right, Nick: I was was displaying a great deal of codependent behavior. I was of the mindset that I would say / do anything just to make the raging and anger stop and then later be resentful. Saying yes when I mean no, or vice versa, and then later resenting having to go against my desires is a defining trait of codependent behavior. I would also let myself get sucked back in when she felt as though I was about to leave the relationship; the classic hoover maneuver. Some of the hoovering was very creepy. We didn’t live together, and I would get ready to crawl into my bed at my house at night to find a note stuffed into my sheets about how much she missed me, how incredible I was, and how she wishes we were together in bed. She had driven nearly an hour each way during the day while I was at work to place that note in my bed.

      I do disagree with Cindy when she says that you “just know” that you still love each other, even though you are treating each other horribly. This, to me, is a sign of enmeshment. A healthy person would stand their ground and not accept such abuse in the name of “love”. Love is about respect, and it is not possible for healthy love to exist in the absence of respect. All abusive relationships are void of respect, and therefore void of love.

      I agree, my ex (nor any other significant other I’ve had in my life) never truly cared about me. She cared more about how I made her look and what I could do for her. I was an appliance to be utilized. Accepting this fact was one of the most difficult realizations I have had to make on my journey. One aspect of the codependent / abuser dynamic is that the better the job the codependent does of making their abuser feel fulfilled with narcissistic supply, the more the abuser will demand of the codependent. It’s a river that only flows from codependent to the abuser. Once the abuser has run the codependent’s river dry, they discard the codependent and move onto their next victim.

      Thank you all for your comments. I value each and every one.

      Stephen

  9. None of the Cluster Bs in my family and/or my ex-wife were never diagnosed with anything because they just don’t seek treatment. I have a couple of pity-party narcissists in the family who may have been diagnosed with something but they’d never tell.

    You can only armchair diagnose the Cluster Bs for this reason. The need to keep the appearance of superiority.

    Anyhow, I just wanted to say that I’m not dogging you for being codependent. I was the same way and I resist slipping back into that mind set all the time. We were trained by the f’ed up people in our lives to be this way. And I just wanted you to know I’m on your side in this and we all have to help ourselves and each other escape the mindf**kery of these people.

    You sound you like you’re doing well and keep it going, man. I’m on the same ride.

    Nick.

    • Hi Nick,

      Yes, no one is ever diagnosed. One of the outcomes of that under-diagnosis is that I think PD’s are much more prevalent in society than the statistics would lead us to believe. I don’t doubt that the number of people affected with a PD is much closer to 20% of the population, and not the much lower numbers that are typically shown in statistics.

      I know you’re not dogging me for being codependent. It’s part of who I am, and I doubt I will ever be able to fully shed some of my codependent aspects. I’m OK with that. All I can do is to take one day at a time and stay focused on continuing to heal. I have made major strides in the past 18+ months since I have become aware of the depth of my issues, and I continue to make strides every day. It took me 4+ decades to finally hit bottom and start to climb the ladder back up again. Climbing back up will certainly take time.

      I feel I am doing well and that I continue to improve every day. Every day brings new realizations of just how dysfunctional emotionally most of my life has been. I celebrate that I have found a way to break the cycle, and that I broke that cycle before my dysfunctional past was passed onto my daughter.

      Best wishes on your healing journey, Nick, and thank you for stopping by and commenting!

      Stephen

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