Narcissistic abuse can make life feel unbearable. Here at BTR.ORG, we understand.
Emotional Abusers & Narcissism
While not every abusive person (also known as sex addict or pornography addict) has diagnosable NPD, many, if not all, have narcissistic personality traits that they use to manipulate victims throughout the course of the relationship.
The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle
Often, these relationships follow a pattern. Many women are told that the relationship is following the sexual addiction cycle, however, it is usually actually following the cycle of emotional & psychological abuse:
Narcissistic Traits & Behaviors
While this cycle is happening, you are also having to deal with:
- someone who is obsessed with himself
- daydreams often of wealth and power
- cannot self-reflect
- uses others as tools to get what he wants (including his own children)
- turns others against you to make himself look/seem better
- chooses to have zero empathy for you and your feelings
Psychological & Emotional Abuse Victims Can Protect Themselves
So how in the world do you cope with this?
In one word, boundaries.
In Doctor Ramani Durvasula’s book, Should I Stay or Should I Go, she paints a very realistic picture of marriage and partnership with a true, diagnosable narcissist: should you choose to stay, your relationship will need strong boundaries. You will need to have a strong support system to take your good news and your bad news to because your partner will never be able to provide the love, empathy, excitement, and support you deserve. You’ll require physical space to yourself because your partner will need a break from the constant gaslighting and undermining. It will also be necessary to emotionally detach because your partner will never make relational decisions; he will always make self-centered decisions.
Boundaries Protect Victims Who Stay Or Go
If you decide to leave the marriage, you will still need plenty of support and self-care. The abuse will not suddenly stop once the divorce is final, especially if you have children with the abuser.
Now, if your partner is not a full-blown diagnosed narcissist, but does display traits, you will cope in a similar way: set strong, high boundaries. As he responds with “believable behaviors over time” . And no, two weeks doesn’t cut it. “Over time” means at least two years of non-abusive behaviors, then depending on current behaviors, slowly assessing the situation, consider if it’s safe to begin to allow your partner to enjoy the gift of sharing your life with you again.
How to Know if Your Husband is Changing
BTR advocates for women to set boundaries in place so that if they choose to wait and see if their partners will become safe, they are not putting their lives on hold and putting the abuser at the center of their universe, but living full and meaningful lives brimming with growth while giving their partner the chance to engage in the 13 steps of change.