Narcissistic abuse syndrome is a form of psychological trauma that can come from being in a relationship with a narcissist. Narcissists are highly manipulative and emotionally abusive, leaving their significant others feeling confused, isolated, and stressed out.
Understanding the signs and symptoms of narcissistic abuse syndrome can be the first step in healing from this type of traumatic experience. While healing can take a long time, it’s not impossible. Recognizing that you are a victim is the first step.
You Constantly Doubt Yourself
Having doubts about your own worth and abilities is a common sign of narcissistic abuse syndrome. Self-doubt is a lack of confidence regarding yourself and your abilities. It’s a mindset that holds you back from succeeding and believing in yourself. Narcissists are experts at making their partners feel inadequate and hopeless. They will trick you into believing that you are not capable of anything and make you think that you can only depend on them to be valuable.
You Struggle With Anxiety and Depression
Narcissistic abuse can lead to prolonged periods of anxiety and depression. The constant criticism, gaslighting, and manipulation can wear on anyone, causing their partner to struggle with their mental health. The significant stress you face from dating a narcissist can trigger feelings of worry, nervousness, and fear, especially when you never know what to expect from their behavior. Many victims of narcissistic abuse seek therapy to help them understand and control these feelings of lack.
You Feel Trapped in the Relationship
Narcissists often trap their partners by making them feel like they can’t live without them and need them to succeed or even function normally day to day. This can make it difficult to leave, even if you know the relationship isn’t healthy. They will make you feel dependent on them, and because of the lack of self-esteem you are suffering at their hands, you won’t be able to think you are capable of being ok and stable by yourself. They will devalue you and make you feel worthless in order to make themselves look and feel superior to everyone else, especially you.
Your Needs and Feelings Are Consistently Dismissed
Narcissists only care about themselves, their needs, and their wants. Partners of narcissists often feel like their own needs and feelings are dismissed or not important. Of all the ways that a narcissist commits emotional abuse, invalidation is one that is particularly harmful. It is a vicious form of manipulation in which you are shown that your emotions are not worth the time, energy, or space for consideration.
You Start to Question Your Own Sanity
Gaslighting is a common tactic of narcissists. They will twist your words, deny things they’ve said, and make you doubt your own sanity. If you feel like you’re going crazy, it may be a sign that you are being emotionally manipulated. When they invalidate your feelings, it is usually with a phrase to tell you that you are crazy or something similar. Gaslighting by a narcissist can be difficult to identify, as it often involves subtle, gradual manipulation.
You’re Always Walking on Eggshells
Narcissists can be very unpredictable, and partners are often left walking on eggshells, not knowing what mood the narcissist will be in next. The constant emotional volatility and unpredictability of the narcissist can create an environment of fear and anxiety, where the partner constantly feels on edge and uncertain about what might happen next.
You Feel Like You’re in Competition with Your Partner
Narcissists feel the need to compete with their partners and be the best, leaving partners feeling like they’re in constant competition, and because they have made you feel so inferior, they will always win such competition. This is the typical narcissistic abuse cycle with a pattern of manipulation and emotional abuse the narcissist uses to confuse a partner and make them question their reality. They somehow manage to manipulate you into competing, and after you ‘lose,’ they will take great pleasure in belittling you.
You Feel Like You’re in a One-sided Relationship
Narcissists take and take and rarely give back. Partners are left feeling like they’re in a one-sided relationship and that they are being taken advantage of. Remember, no one is more important than them in their minds. They expect you to give and give because you worship and love them. They will continue to take and only give back if it benefits them in some way. That’s how a narcissist thinks.
You Find Yourself Making Excuses for Your Partner’s Behavior
It’s common for partners of narcissists to make excuses for their partner’s behavior, even when it’s harmful or abusive. Narcissists take absolutely no responsibility for their own destructive and abusive behavior. If they were rude to someone at a family dinner or party and hurt their feelings, it’s not their fault because, in their mind, they’re right, and this person deserved it. Also, it’s important to note that most narcissists are bullies. They will hurt people to make themselves look big and powerful.
You Feel Like You’re Losing Yourself
Narcissists can be very demanding, leaving their partners with no time for their own interests or friendships. This can cause partners to feel like they’re losing themselves. Because narcissists are self-absorbed, they expect the same from you: obsession with them. A narcissistic partner will feel bothered about your hobbies, inspiration, and aspirations, so all of that goes out the window when you are dating them. The whole relationship is about them, not you and them.
You’ve Started to Avoid Social Situations
Narcissists often isolate their partners and make them feel like they can’t have their own friends or go to events. This can cause partners to avoid social situations altogether. They will manipulate you into spending all your time with them and only them and will try to make you feel bad if you are spending time with someone else. Also, being in public with a narcissist is like walking on eggshells: you never know when they are going to be abusive. In order to avoid this, you just stay home.
You Feel Like You’re Never Enough
Narcissists are never satisfied and always want more. This can cause partners to feel like no matter how hard they try, they’re never enough. There will always be someone better that you will constantly get compared to. There will be someone who does something better, who cooks better, who looks better. Because your self-esteem and self-worth are already distorted, you will believe all of these things, and you will almost start feeling thankful that they are around, only because of their manipulation.
You’ve Experienced Emotional Highs and Lows
Narcissistic relationships can be very intense, with partners experiencing intense emotional highs and lows. Some days, they are extremely loving, and other days abusive. This is how they control you. Due to the narcissistic manipulation cycle, you will sometimes feel very loved and in love, although it is just your mind playing tricks on you. And, some other times, you will feel very down and not valued; the narcissistic partner will make you feel like they are the only one that can make you feel better. Some days, they are extremely loving, and other days abusive.
You Feel Like You’re Being Controlled
Narcissists want to control every aspect of their partner’s life, leaving them feeling powerless. Since they have removed you from your social interactions with family and friends, they have stripped you of any hobbies or activities you enjoy, and they have taken over your interests, they will now control your time and your thoughts. They will be the only thing in your head, and everything you do will be for them and them only. There will be a point where your whole existence revolves around them.
You’ve Lost Trust in Yourself
Narcissistic abuse can make you doubt yourself and your own judgment, leading to a loss of trust in yourself. Remember who you were before a narcissist got a hold of you. Remind yourself of your strength, your power, your courage, and the beauty in you that survived. You don’t need to “find” yourself because you’re not lost. You’re still in there, so dig deep and unearth the person you used to be and have yet to become.
If you think you may be experiencing narcissistic abuse syndrome, know that you are not alone. These relationships can be incredibly isolating and manipulative, but there is help available. Speaking to a therapist about your experience and finding a support group can be a great way to start healing and taking back control of your life. Remember, you deserve to be in a healthy, loving relationship that prioritizes mutual respect and care.
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