Sometimes, when a woman has been betrayed and abused by a narcissist, she chooses to stay in the relationship.

Others may question her reasons, but she has her reasons and they are her own.

For the abused woman, she is now faced with the challenge of surviving the relationship AND keeping her self-worth intact.

Is it possible?

How can it be done?

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, continues her conversation with Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Durvasula, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving a Narcissistic Relationship and many peer-reviewed articles, released her newest book, “Don’t You Know Who I Am?” How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility on October 1, 2019.

Her TEDx Talk, entitled “Narcissism and Its Discontents”  can be found in the previous article and podcast in which Anne and Dr. Durvasula discussed “How To Spot A Narcissist And Parent With Them.” This time, Anne and Dr. Durvasula talk about how a woman, who chooses to stay with a narcissist, can survive the relationship.

5 Tips For Surviving A Narcissist When You Choose To Stay

After learning how to identify a narcissist, Anne posed the question of what a woman, in a relationship with a narcissist or someone who exhibits narcissistic behaviors, can do to keep herself grounded in reality.

Dr. Durvasula provided five tips that can help a woman survive a narcissist when she chooses to stay in the relationship.

5 Tips For Surviving A Narcissist When You Choose To Stay

  1. Know how the narcissist operates.
  2. Manage your expectations.
  3. Know who you are.
  4. Set clear boundaries.
  5. Don’t lose your compassion.

These five survival tips can help a woman survive the relationship, keep her sane and help her maintain her self-worth.

Knowing How The Narcissist Operates Can Help You Survive

Knowing how a narcissist operates can help a woman identify when he is trying to twist her reality or set her up for more abuse.

Dr. Durvasula identifies four techniques a narcissist will use to control his wife.

4 Techniques A Narcissist Uses To Control

  • Deflection
  • Projection
  • Isolation
  • Generosity

Understanding these four techniques and how the narcissist in the relationship uses them can help a woman stay grounded in reality.

When Anne asked about deflection, Dr. Durvasula responded by identifying deflection as gaslighting “so it confuses the other person.”

“Anything that confuses someone else and denies, twists, and contorts the other person’s reality is gaslighting, which is emotional abuse.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Deflection is what someone does when they change the subject in the middle of a conversation or discussion. It can also be when they blame someone else for their actions and choices.

A narcissist will deflect their behavior onto their healthy partner, which often leads the partner to believe that she is the unhealthy one, and maybe she’s abusive or she, somehow, caused this problem.

Projection is another form of gaslighting, according to Dr. Durvasula.

A narcissist will often project by telling his healthy wife that she is guilty of doing something that he is actually doing, such as lying or having an affair.

A very abusive narcissist will attempt to isolate his wife from others.

“If you are in a truly, truly abusive relationship, we know that one of the main tools of the abuser and the controlling partner is to cut that person off from other people like from friends and family. Because one of the most important self-assessment tools for a reality check are the other relationships you have.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

The narcissist knows that if he can destroy those relationships, or plant seeds of doubt in her mind about their reliability, then he can keep her from seeing them, which gives him even more control of her.

A narcissist will use generosity to gain control of his wife.

How does he do it?

He’ll buy drinks at the bar, pay for everyone’s dinner, or invite people on trips.

Why does he do it?

Dr. Durvasula says he does it because he knows that, by being “generous,” he becomes a “good guy” in those people’s eyes. If his marriage goes sour, he has those people in his corner and will easily recruit them to continue abusing his victim.

“That doesn’t make him a good guy, that makes him somebody with a lot of wasted money in a bar, but they then fall for that thinking, ‘Oh, well he’s a nice guy because he buys the drinks.’ Then, they can find a lot of people who enable them.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

When a narcissist is generous, it’s okay to be suspicious because they usually have ulterior motives.

Deflection, isolation, projection and generosity are all techniques a narcissist may use to control his healthy wife. Knowing this and learning to identify when they’re being used, can help you survive the relationship.

Managing Your Expectations Can Help You Survive A Narcissist

If a woman chooses to stay in a relationship with a narcissist, which some do for their own personal reasons, then she should learn to manage her expectations.

Dr. Durvasula says a woman should understand that a narcissist is a narcissist, and that won’t change.

“Nothing is going to change. This is who this person is. This is who they were when you met them, and this is who they are now.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Dr. Durvasula says that a true narcissist doesn’t change, no matter how much sobriety or recovery they maintain, so keeping expectations low will help a woman survive a relationship with a narcissist.

“You are going to live a life devoid of empathy. You are going to live with someone who is arrogant. You are going to live with someone who is rageful. You are going to live with somebody who’s constantly needing validation.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Trying to get him away from his “toxic friends” isn’t going to change him either. While his wife may think they are a bad influence on him, reality is that he’s surrounding himself with people who will enable him, or who are just like him.

Dr. Durvasula reminds us that a narcissist isn’t going to magically change when he’s surrounded by “better” people.

“Even a person, in the midst of any group of people, if they’re good and solid, that goodness and that solidness will shine through. Maybe not as brightly as it would if they were around good people, but a person who is just not a nice person is going to be not a nice person. These people make his voice louder but getting him away is not going to silence that voice.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Dr. Durvasula says that keeping expectations realistic means knowing that the way things have been is the things will be.

“To choose to stay in it with realistic expectations is very different than maintaining unrealistic hope that one day this is going to get better. This is like being in Chicago in the dead of February and walking outside in a bathing suit. You’re going to freeze to death. You know that. You live in Chicago, it’s February. You always wear a heavy coat.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Managing expectations is an important survival technique when living with a narcissist. Disappointment is less likely to happen when expectations are realistic.

Setting Clear Boundaries Will Help You Survive Staying With A Narcissist

It’s good to have boundaries, but when it comes to living with a narcissist, it’s important for a woman to know exactly what her boundaries are.

Dr. Durvasula recommends three boundaries all women should have when dealing with a narcissist.

3 Boundaries To Have For Dealing With A Narcissist

  • Don’t engage.
  • Don’t try to have deep conversations.
  • Don’t try to defend yourself.

Everyone hopes a narcissist will change, but it’s not very likely to happen. Just like having realistic expectations, holding these boundaries will help you avoid disappointment.

Engaging with a narcissist is simply feeding their ego, which they don’t need help with. Often, engaging with a narcissist may also just lead to confusion and frustration.

Dr. Durvasula recommends keeping conversation to a minimum.

“You’ve got to learn to totally dial it down to make sure that you’re keeping it literally to all the things you talk about is the weather, the first day of school is next Wednesday, did you see that the guy across the street got a new tractor to mow his lawn, like that’s it.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Trying to have a deep conversation with a narcissist is like trying to have a conversation with a brick wall. There won’t be any empathy or validation. Only the narcissist’s feelings matter to the narcissist.

Dr. Durvasula recommends going to someone safe if you want to have a conversation that’s deeper than the weather or the neighbor’s new lawnmower.

“If you want deeper conversation you need to do it with other friends. People close to you. People you can trust. You have to engage in radical acceptance that this is how it’s ALWAYS going to be, much like the managing expectations.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Self-defense is a natural response when accused of doing something that we didn’t do. However, Dr. Druvasula says it is useless to do with a narcissist.

“There is no defending. There is no explaining. You’re never going to win at that game because narcissists argue like lawyers. You can’t win, so don’t bother. There is no defense. They like the argument for the sake of argument so don’t argue with them.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

To prevent herself from crossing her own boundaries, Dr. Durvasula recommends that a woman who must deal with a narcissist know what to talk about ahead of time and, if she does have to spend a lot of time with him, she should plan some self-care for after.

“Have the topics that you won’t talk about. If you do have to spend a lot of time with your narcissist, create a little bit of a detox period for yourself. Do something that’s pleasant for you whether it’s a meditation, a book you like, exercise, something.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Setting boundaries and planning ahead of time will help a woman survive dealing with a narcissist.

Knowing Who You Are Will Help You Survive Living With A Narcissist

A narcissist will try to engage and get his healthy wife to cross her own boundaries. He’ll also try to convince her that she’s the abusive one or that she’s the one that is unhealthy.

If a woman knows who she is and what she is about, she is less likely to fall for these tactics.

If she knows who she is, then, when the narcissist accuses her of lying to him, she’ll know she doesn’t lie and it’s probably him who’s doing the lying.

A woman who knows who she is and knows her self-worth, will also know to have what Dr. Durvasula calls “unconditional accepting spaces.” These spaces can be found among family, friends, or even a therapist.

She reminds women that a narcissist will try to minimize exciting news, so she recommends remembering the boundaries we set and don’t try to announce good news to the narcissist first.

“You know that they are going to insult you. You know that they’re going to invalidate good news. When you get a promotion, they should not be the first person you tell. You call your people. You call the people you trust and love and who will be thrilled for you.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Telling friends and family that are safe, loved and trusted first will provide the validation and positive response that a woman is looking for when she has big exciting news, like a promotion.

Finally, after she’s received all the praise and basked in all the excitement she can handle, then, and only then, should she tell the narcissist the good news. By that time, she’ll be able to handle the negative spin the narcissist puts on the announcement.

A woman who understands her self-worth is also a deterrent for narcissists. Dr. Durvasula says they can detect when someone can be played and when they can’t.

“They know, because as soon as they see that somebody is not falling for their game, they’re going to get out pretty quick. Narcissists are uncanny at figuring out who a good target is and running with it.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

A woman who knows who she is can’t be played.

Don’t Let Living With A Narcissist Make You Lose Your Compassion

Living with a narcissist can make a woman hard and cynical, losing her compassion for others.

Dr. Durvasula knows it isn’t easy. She also knows it’s important to maintain strong relationships outside the one with the narcissist.

“It can be so easy to become so hardened by this and so hurt by this that you don’t allow other loving spaces to occur in your life. I don’t mean finding a new partner or finding a lover, I mean friends and family and people close to you.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

The people outside the marriage are going to be the ones that help with the reality check. They’re going to be the ones that can help a woman determine if what the narcissist said is the truth or not. They’re the ones that will be there when she is ready to leave the relationship, if she ever is.

They’re the ones that will help her stay sane.

Women in a relationship with a narcissist end up giving most of what they have to the narcissist. Dr. Durvasula suggests reversing that.

“Sadly, we tend to give 90% of ourselves to the most toxic people in our world and then give the 10% to all the good ones. We need to flip that math. Give 90% to the good people and give whatever is left over to these really difficult toxic people.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Nurturing relationships outside of the one with the narcissist will help a woman stay grounded and survive.

Choosing To Stay With A Narcissist Can Be Difficult To Survive

Dr. Durvasula understands that there are many reasons a woman may choose to stay in a relationship with a narcissist. They are her own personal reasons and others may question them.

The woman who chooses to stay, whether for financial, social, or medical reasons, can survive and come out stronger in the end. Dr. Durvasula believes these women usually don’t realize their own strength.

“It’s often a heavy legacy to carry, but you don’t have to lose the best of yourself because you’re in this. I think that we all have broader shoulders than we think, and you can carry this burden and see it for what it is. Find meaning in that suffering and cultivate the other meaningful parts of your life.” -Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author

Dr. Durvasula encourages everyone to teach their children, especially their daughters to choose healthy partners. Teach them the signs to watch for and how to set boundaries before getting into relationships. Help them understand who they are.

With these survival techniques, any woman can survive life with a narcissist. Using these techniques, can also help her be prepared if the time ever comes for her to leave the narcissist.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery wants all women to find safety and peace, whether they choose to stay in their relationships or not.

One way we can help is by providing a safe place to share. With more than 15 sessions a week, it’s easier than ever to find a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group session that fits your schedule without having to leave your home. Each session is led by a Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

I will be continuing the conversation I had last week with Dr. Ramani Durvasula. If you have not heard the beginning of this conversation, please go to last week’s episode, get caught up, then join us here today.

Before we continue that conversation, if you are struggling with a relationship where a man is exhibiting abusive behaviors like lying, gaslighting, manipulation, or you’re not sure if he is and you’re not sure if you’re crazy, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is the perfect place for you to talk about your situation.

There are professional Betrayal Trauma Coaches who can help you identify the abusive behaviors, help you set boundaries, and there are other women who are going through it. The coaches report back to me that the sessions are amazing, intimate, loving, and validating. If you have not seen our session schedule please go to btr.org, click on Daily Support Group, and check out the daily session schedule to see if it will work for you.

We have multiple sessions a day in multiple time zones. It is the only place on the earth where you don’t have to explain what’s going on. You don’t have to get somebody to understand. They understand it immediately and so they can immediately help you in a really safe space. Again, that’s at btr.org.

What Tools Can A Woman Use To Survive A Narcissist?

Often a narcissistic man will attempt to deflect his own behavior patterns to the healthy partner, to his wife or girlfriend, causing the healthy woman to question whether it could be true, whether she, herself, is the unhealthy person, or if she’s abusive. Do you recommend any self-assessment tools to provide a reality check for a healthy woman?

Dr. Durvasula: Yes, this pattern of deflecting their behavior to the healthy partner reflects two things. In part, it’s something we call projection. When something is uncomfortable in us, we don’t like it, so unconsciously we’ll project it on to other people.

For example, somebody might have a forbidden sentiment, like they have a racial prejudice or something, they’ll accuse someone else of being racist when that is not at all true. We tend to project those uncomfortable, forbidden parts of ourselves on to other people. Projection is one of the key defenses of the narcissists.

Secondly, deflection is also gaslighting, so it confuses the other person. Anything that confuses someone else and denies, twists, and contorts the other person’s reality is gaslighting, which is emotional abuse. When all of that is happening, some people say, “It’s almost like my reality changed. I was getting sucked into this alternate universe.”

If you are in a truly, truly abusive relationship, we know that one of the main tools of the abuser and the controlling partner is to cut that person off from other people like from friends and family. Because one of the most important self-assessment tools for a reality check are the other relationships you have.

The people that far predated this partner, the people who know you and love you and get you and unconditionally are behind you. That you can go and check this out and say, “You know, it’s interesting, my partner accused me of (whatever it is and it’s not something you believe about yourself).”

A good honest friend will say, “Yeah, sometimes you can be like that,” or they might say, “Goodness, in no universe we occupy are you that thing. That’s so strange that this person would say that.” We all need those safe reality check spaces to go to.

Like I said, in a lot of these narcissistic relationships, many times the narcissist detects that there are other people around their new partner that are going to be healthy and, slowly but surely, they distance themselves from them. They say negative things about those friends like, “Oh, your friend, she doesn’t have your best interests at heart,” or, “Your sister was flirting with me,” or whatever it may be, to create mistrust in those relationships to take away that support network. But we need those faces.

Another place a person can get that is in therapy. If you have a good therapist, that good therapist will give you the reality check. If you’re go into therapy and say, “This is what happened, and it confused me.” A good therapist will walk you through and say, “That’s not been my experience of you.”

It’s having these kinds of unconditional accepting spaces, where your reality is not being twisted. That can be very useful. Ultimately, though, what I want for everybody is that they have within themselves a space where they know who they are.

A Woman Who Knows Who She Is Can Survive A Narcissist

The challenge with narcissistic relationships is that narcissists prey upon vulnerable people. People who aren’t cynical. People who actually have been hurt in the past, so they believe the party line that was given to them in childhood. People with histories of trauma.

All of these groups are more vulnerable to narcissists because they, themselves, are still doing their own work on themselves. That’s not at all meant to be blaming the victim, it’s just it’s a vulnerability. It’s just like people whose parents are addicts are more likely to be addicts. It’s genetic.

This isn’t genetic as much as what we learn. They know, because as soon as they see that somebody is not falling for their game, they’re going to get out pretty quick. Narcissists are uncanny at figuring out who a good target is and running with it.

I think that that’s another thing that’s so important, especially for young women, to do the work of knowing who they are and what they are about. The problem is, many people start dating and getting into relationships long before they do that kind of inner psychological work, so they’re building the airplane in the sky. You’re learning about yourself while you’re in this relationship and this relationship is actually twisting your reality.

Narcissists Will Buy Their “Good Guy” Image

Anne: What would you say to women who are worried about their abusive husband spending time with unhealthy people around him? So, they’re like, “Ugh, I don’t like it when he spends time with his family or these friends because they just support this entitled mentality that he has.” What would you say to women like that, who are actually attempting maybe to isolate their abuser from the system that enabled him to be an abuser?

Dr. Durvasula: It’s an interesting idea because, obviously, these enabling systems around this person are adding fuel to this person’s fire, right? There is no dissenting voice. They are empowering him, they are enabling him, and he gets away with it, and this can happen.

Anne: I’m just going to interrupt you, in some circles they’re called “flying monkeys,” right?

Dr. Durvasula: Yeah, but flying monkeys, to me, are also people that the person enlists at the time the relationship ends. The flying monkey model, to me, is like—let’s say a marriage is falling apart or someone is breaking up. The narcissist will then go and poach everyone. Even the people close to their partner, their friends, other family, and say, “Hey, did you know that she cheated on me?” “Hey, did you know that she was doing this?”

They bring everyone over to their side, and then they’re all doing the bidding. Like, “What are you doing? Why are you breaking up with him, he’s such a great guy?” “Well, why did you do that to him? Of course, he’s hurt.” That kind of thing. They enlist people.

I think that the people around them before that kind of rupture happens are just merely their enablers. One of the classical models of the narcissistic person is they are often very generous because they use money or invite people on trips, or they buy the round of drinks at the bar. That’s their way of keeping people close. It’s a lot less effort than having to actually listen to people and people never want to kill the golden goose, right.

They’re like, “He’s a good guy. He buys the drinks.” That doesn’t make him a good guy, that makes him somebody with a lot of wasted money in a bar, but they then fall for that thinking, “Oh, well he’s a nice guy because he buys the drinks.” Then, they can find a lot of people who enable them. It could be their boss, it could be somebody who is very powerful in a small town, it could be any number of reasons.

Women Should Know That A Narcissist Doesn’t Change By Changing His Friends

The fantasy, though, becomes, “If I could just get this abusive, controlling, hostile, difficult, unempathetic guy away from his enablers, he’s going to turn into a nice guy.” That’s a fantasy. That’s absolutely a fantasy.

Because, even a person in the midst of any group of people, if they’re good and solid, that goodness and that solidness will shine through. Maybe not as brightly as it would if they were around good people, but a person who is just not a nice person is going to be not a nice person. These people make his voice louder but getting him away is not going to silence that voice.

Anne: Yeah, it also made me think, as I went through that, that this is—because after his arrest he was “free” to hang out with whoever he wanted, because he had a no-contact order and he couldn’t talk to me and I couldn’t influence him at all.

Then, from a safe distance, I was able to observe who he chose to hang out with. He was just choosing to hang out with people who I thought were super unhealthy and abusive and just people I would never want to be around. That’s who he was choosing to be with when he had all these options.

That helped me realize, “Wait a minute, why am I trying to get someone who is acting this way away from other people who act this way, when that’s really who he wants to be with? I just need to let him be free, fly.” I even told him that at the very end. I said, “Fly, go, go do what you want,” and he refused to leave. He wouldn’t leave the home, so that was fun.

Choosing To Stay With A Narcissist

You acknowledge that some women may not be able to walk away and, for them, managing expectations can protect them from individuals and the effects of ongoing abuse. Can you expound on managing expectations and how it can protect a victim from ongoing abuse?

Dr. Durvasula: There are so many reasons why people can’t leave narcissistic relationships. Financial reasons, cultural reasons, they have children, religion, fear, anxiety, and that they still actually love the elements of this person, they want to be married. Even on some of the good days are enough, they want that person around.

All of these are valid reasons and I, nor anyone else, can stand in judgment of that. In this group, though, I’m not counting people who are victims of severe psychological, emotional, or physical abuse. Obviously, that’s an entirely different game where safety becomes everything, but in your garden variety narcissistic relationship there are a lot of reasons why people stay in these invalidating spaces, all of them valid.

If you’re going to stay, though, then you’ve got to maintain realistic expectations. By that, I mean you’ve got to recognize that this is not going to change. This pattern is how it is. Do not expect that, all of a sudden, if you lose 25 pounds, they’re going to be happy. When your kids are grown and out of the house everything is going to be happy. If you kept the house a little cleaner, it would be happy, he gets a promotion, he’s going to be happy.

Nothing is going to change. This is who this person is. This is who they were when you met them, and this is who they are now.

A lot of narcissistic relationships get worse after you have kids. Some people will say, “We were kind of going along and then we had kids. Then it got really dark.” You’ve got to remember, for a narcissist, a kid coming along, kids are inconvenient, they’re noisy, they’re messy, they’re demanding, they are magnificent, but the fact is they’re demanding. For a narcissist that feels not only like a competition, they’re not always the greatest source of narcissistic supply and they pull the partner away.

That’s often why a lot of narcissistic relationships start changing, and not to mention a woman who has a child, her body changes. There is a period of time where it’s not what she wanted it to be and, unless she has lots of resources, she’s not going right back to her pre-baby body, ever, quite frankly. All of those things can make it complicated.

In terms of managing those expectations, this isn’t going to change. This is it. You are going to live a life devoid of empathy. You are going to live with someone who is arrogant. You are going to live with someone who is rageful. You are going to live with somebody who’s constantly needing validation.

What that means, then, is that you know that they are going to insult you. You know that they’re going to invalidate good news. When you get a promotion, they should not be the first person you tell. You call your people. You call the people you trust and love and who will be thrilled for you.

Call a few of them first, and then, and only then, you can tell your partner, “Oh, by the way, I got a promotion.” They’ll insult you, “Oh, that’s just a new title with no more money,” or “Who cares?” or “That’s not even that important of a job.” But, by then, you’ve already heard good things from the people who matter.

You’ve got to learn not to engage. You’ve got to learn to totally dial it down to make sure that you’re keeping it literally to all the things you talk about is the weather, the first day of school is next Wednesday, did you see that the guy across the street got a new tractor to mow his lawn, like that’s it.

The conversation can’t go any deeper than that. If you want deeper conversation you need to do it with other friends. People close to you. People you can trust. You have to engage in radical acceptance that this is how it’s ALWAYS going to be, much like the managing expectations.

You have to get out of patterns like defending yourself. Many times, people in relationships with narcissists are always explaining themselves. “No, no, no but actually remember. Remember when?” No! There is no defending. There is no explaining.

You’re never going to win at that game because narcissists argue like lawyers. You can’t win, so don’t bother. There is no defense. They like the argument for the sake of argument so don’t argue with them.

Set clear boundaries. Have the topics that you won’t talk about. If you do have to spend a lot of time with your narcissist, create a little bit of a detox period for yourself. Do something that’s pleasant for you whether it’s a meditation, a book you like, exercise, something. But understand that, sadly, once upon a time you made a choice, or a choice was made for you, that wasn’t good for you and, for reasons that are important to you, you’re choosing to stay in it.

But to choose to stay in it with realistic expectations is very different than maintaining unrealistic hope that one day this is going to get better. This is like being in Chicago in the dead of February and walking outside in a bathing suit. You’re going to freeze to death. You know that. You live in Chicago, it’s February. You always wear a heavy coat.

This is the equivalent of pulling on your coat when you know that the weather is going to be cold. You know it, so you prepare for it. You don’t walk outside in a bathing suit. It’s the same thing with a narcissist.

Anne: That makes total sense. I so appreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast today, and also, I want to thank all of our listeners who come and listen and who are so supportive of what we do here.

Words Of Wisdom For Staying With A Narcissist

Is there anything else you want to leave our listeners with since all of the listeners at Betrayal Trauma Recovery are in a relationship with a man who may not necessarily be narcissistic but with problematic behaviors and they’re going through really difficult things? Is there anything that you’d like to leave them with?

Dr. Durvasula: I would tell them that, “You know what, no matter if you’re stuck in this relationship or you can walk out, please don’t lose your compassion in this.” It can be so easy to become so hardened by this and so hurt by this that you don’t allow other loving spaces to occur in your life.

I don’t mean finding a new partner or finding a lover, I mean friends and family and people close to you. These relationships, people put so much of themselves in it that they get tunnel vision.

Sadly, we tend to give 90% of ourselves to the most toxic people in our world and then give the 10% to all the good ones. We need to flip that math. Give 90% to the good people and give whatever is left over to these really difficult toxic people.

I think a lot of people blame themselves for these situations. The fact of the matter is, we do not do good jobs, not as educators, not as a society, not as parents to teach our daughters to choose healthy partners.

People tend to replicate their early cycles over and over again. People with authoritarian, cold, distant, abusive, admiration, validation-seeking, unsatisfied parents tend to choose that in their partners. So many people didn’t get that lesson so, yeah, they threw themselves into these relationships.

It’s often a heavy legacy to carry, but you don’t have to lose the best of yourself because you’re in this. I think that we all have broader shoulders than we think, and you can carry this burden and see it for what it is. Find meaning in that suffering and cultivate the other meaningful parts of your life.

Anne: Thank you so much, Dr. Ramani. I appreciate your time. Again, I will leave all these links to the things that we talked about in the article available on our website.

Dr. Durvasula: Wonderful, thank you so much.

Anne: We always love to hear your questions and your comments. So, go to our website btr.org, click on Education, and you can find Recent Podcast Articles or you can just search Dr. Ramani Durvasula or other concepts and find this episode.

When you find the episode, you can comment at the bottom. We always love to hear what you think, what your questions are, maybe some of your experiences, so please let us know what you think of today’s episode.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

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