“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”
― Mother Teresa
My clients and survivors of my domestic abuse support group (contact us to learn more) often ask why they keep going back to the spouse that shows serious traits of psychopathology, typically, those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, and my easy response is simply to ask that question back to them: “I don’t know, why do you?” I know it may sound cynical or flippant, but I want to know their reasoning. I get that these relationships are highly addictive, and we believe that maybe, just maybe, they’ll change, but once the cognitive dissonance clears, and you are faced with the inevitable conclusion that personality disorders involve a set of maladaptive and abusive, ingrained traits that do not go away, why would you stay?
The paradox inherent in a relationship with a narcissist is that as humans, we have an aversion to loneliness. Think of your children. When is the last time you didn’t see them endlessly scrolling through their phones when they had the chance to do so? We all want to escape the loneliness of sitting with our thoughts. However, it is only when we are faced with our thoughts with no other distractions that our fog can dissipate.
The paradox that I’m talking about is that we seek a relationship, ignoring red flags, to escape feeling lonely. However, a relationship with a narcissist or borderline leads to more loneliness.
A Marriage with a Narcissist or with a Person with Borderline Personality Disorder is Lonely
You will never feel as lonely as when you are married to someone with narcissism or borderline personality disorder. This is because their psychopathology and personality disorder make it impossible for him to be there for you. You are alone to serve her needs. Do any of these things sound familiar? Look at this list each time you contemplate reconciliation after finally deciding to divorce the narcissist!
- Your needs and desires do not matter. He subjugates them. His needs are much more important than your needs.
- Your “pillow talks” or intimate discussions of your most vulnerable times in life are used against you. Ever talk about feeling like you don’t have a wide social circle? She will use that against you to point out that your personality is the reason you don’t have any friends.
- Are you in competition with him? Did you receive a promotion at work? He may feign happiness for you at first, but you’ll see that it wasn’t genuine, and he will quickly replace your recognition with his own (probably that he’ll make up).
- She hates your family and friends. You may believe that they’re bad for you because you trusted your partner, but then you’ll find yourself lonelier than ever.
- He wants you to applaud him in front of others for everything he does, regardless of what it was. How many times can you tell him you appreciate him so much for taking out the trash?
- She wants you to clean up, make lunches, work, come home, suffer from sleep deprivation, and if you don’t, she makes fun of you or rages until you just exhaust yourself by doing the things, she says other men do and would proudly do if they had a chance to be with her.
- He overexaggerates, embellishes, or just lies about where he’s been and what he does for a living to seem important or to hide his other life from you.
- She is so financially reckless that you are left with no assets or finances to do anything for yourself. While she shops at the Galleria on a weekly basis, you are left eating the children’s leftovers for lunch the next day.
- When you ask why he is doing (put in abnormal thing he does here), he rages at you for being nosy, questioning him, or confronting him. You stuff it inside, and you become lonelier.
- You are her captive audience to tell her how proud you are of her with everything she does, and how she is just the center of your universe. That doesn’t seem to be enough, so she looks elsewhere for others to tell her this and cheats. And you are to blame because you didn’t openly admire her enough (their bottomless pits).
- Your human feelings do not matter. Ever try talking to him about why you’re sad? You’d feel less lonely talking to your dog.
- She envies you and others but would never admit to it. How can you feel fulfilled in a relationship with someone who always feels envy or disdain for you?
Summary and Healing/Tips for Recovery
Just because we’ve had horrible relationship experiences and have suffered great relational harm with people with personality disorders, focus on spending time with yourself. Trust me, you may feel lonely at times, but others will understand why you’re lonely when you’re alone. Others do not understand (unless they’ve been in this situation) why you’re so lonely when you’re married. After having gone through the relational trauma with a narcissist, you may enjoy your alone time so much that the few bouts of loneliness will help you see that this is just the human condition. We all feel lonely at times, but this is your opportunity to learn more about yourself and to finally know that the worst loneliness is coming to the realization that you weren’t loved by the pathological, think of Mother Teresa’s quote.
Don’t fall for the illusion twice: we unwittingly fell for her loving others façade in the beginning (the honeymoon period)– only to find out that Ms. I Love Others was Ms. I Hate Others (and you), raging with the slightest narcissistic injury; now, why are we again falling for the illusion that they’re happier in another relationship? Wherever she goes, her narcissism follows because it’s ingrained in her personality as a hard-wired trait!
High-conflict behaviors follow her, and you will see that her psychopathology is not a cure for your loneliness. It probably made it worse.
I write these blogs as part of my own healing and as part of my goal to help others understand that there is so much more happiness on the other side of divorce after a pathologically toxic relationship. My own personal experience as well as my professional experience have taught me that the cyclical nature of these relationships is a hallmark of a toxic relationship.
When a narcissist has no viable intimate relationships in her horizon to fulfill her narcissistic supply tank, she may attempt to come back to you, and again, the honeymoon period is very short-lived. Know that the person you believe you fell in love with was more about you – what validation can you not give yourself? As soon as you stop looking for approval in your actions and you learn about the nature of toxic relationships, you will stop going back for more abuse. A healthy relationship takes time, and anyone who professes their love to you within days or weeks is most likely very emotionally damaged, but that person will never have the insight or honesty necessary to accept responsibility, and each relationship with another adult will end the same way for him/her. Becoming unstuck will be your ticket to emotional freedom and give you the ability to finally start healing from the aftermath of an abusive relationship, but you have to get out first.
Fairfax Family Law and Divorce Lawyer: An attorney with experience in divorcing a narcissist can help you redirect the blame to the narcissist, and help you understand that although people can fall out of love, it doesn’t happen so abruptly and silently, as it does in a marriage to a narcissist.
If you’re looking for an experienced Virginia family and divorce law attorney, contact Keithley Law, PLLC today by calling (703) 865-7710 and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office. We have decades of legal experience in high-conflict divorces.
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