Don’t Be a Narcissist’s Enabler

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At that grandiose point that we realize that our partner is a narcissist/sociopath, we can also assume that we’ve been his/her enabler for a very long time. Our codependency to the narcissist and to the relationship drama itself has almost has as much to do with our allowing it as it does with the narcissist’s manipulation. And while this fact may not be an easy pill to swallow, accepting it and vowing to undo it becomes a giant step forward in our quest to mentally break free from this very toxic individual.

The truth of the matter is – and this applies to any situation where we get that uncomfortable feelingwhatever we allow is what will continue. If we allow the narcissist to disappear and reappear…to give us the deafening silent treatment…to press the proverbial relationship reset button whenever he feels like it…then he will continue to do so until the end of time. Keep in mind that, to a narcissist, this kind of bullshit never gets old. He loves it. It makes him feel gloriously alive and in control. If you allow it…hell, he’s in narcissistic heaven.

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And just in case you feel that I’m being judgmental about your game participation, I offer you the following two proof-of-enabling  examples from my own narcissistic hell:

One wee morning hour (around 4am), approximately two years and four silent treatments into the relationship, my ex and I were sitting in a studio (we were both musicians) playing guitar and having a grand old time. About eight hours earlier, he had finally called wanting to see after six weeks of absolute silence. During those six weeks, I had been inconsolable, having no idea why he’d disappeared again (this being before my “a-ha” moment, of course). I’d lost weight, been unable to sleep, and written letter after letter trying to get him to respond but to no avail. Needless to say, relieved that he finally called, I happily accepted.  So there we were, singing and laughing, and me feeling as happy as can be when he suddenly put down his guitar, looked at me in loving amazement and asked, “Wow. Why do you love me? I don’t even call you.” Great. My response, if I’m not mistaken, was to have sex with him right there on the studio floor. “Wow” is right. Even the narcissist was amazed at my enabling capabilities.

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Then, there was the time about six years later that my ex, after cheating on me, admitting it, and then trying everything – including a hard smack to the head – to pull me out of my crying jag, finally realized he might have gone too far (ya think?).  Feigning remorse, he begged me to forgive him. I continued to sob, pleading “Why? Why? Why did you do it?” until the N, completely exasperated and unable to pretend a second longer, threw up his hands and replied, “I don’t know! I always figured I could do whatever I wanted and you’d still take me back!”  My reaction? I don’t really remember and maybe I don’t want to. This happened after the “a-ha” moment and about four years before we broke up. Do the math.

narcissist-abuse-supportOh…and just one more: I can’t count the times that I would ask “Why do you do it?” or “Why do you treat me this way?” and he’d reply, “Why do you let me?” My reply? “Because I’m an idiot”, I’d say. Hell, I was right about that one! Or sometimes I’d just look at him so sadly and say, “Because I keep hoping you’ll change”. Either way, what came to pass was inevitable and, even now, it gives me a knot in my stomach. I was a Narcissist’s Enabler. And the fact that you’re reading this probably means you’ve been a Narcissist’s Enabler as well. In fact, I can say with confidence that anyone who lets a narcissist back in even after just one silent treatment is a Narcissist’s Enabler. The narcissist uses the silent treatment to not only gauge our level of codependency and/or enabling capability but also to gauge his level of control at any given time.  This is why the silent treatment always seems to occur out the blue, catching us off-guard.  Something that we do or say causes a warning bell to go off in the narcissist’s twisted head indicating that we might not be as gung-ho for his program as he once thought.

Shit, what’s going on here? Better give her the silent treatment so I can get the levels on this.

What we allow, will continue. I did it for years and years. In the end, when I didn’t (and my levels kept coming back negative), he left for good after thirteen or so years and never returned. That was a little over a year ago and not a word since. Obviously, whoever was on the other receiving end of his narcissistic evil was – and still is – being compliant. To her, I say good luck with that.

Please don’t be a Narcissist’s Enabler.

The above article is an excerpt from Zari Ballard’s workbook for narcissist abuse recovery, Stop Spinning, Start Breathing

If you enjoyed this book excerpt, order the full version here!

This is a re-post by request from 03/20/2013.


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  • Anna

    May 7, 2016 at 11:36 pm Reply

    Thank you for sharing & writing all these posts.

    I’m in the first & last silent treatment (4 days now over a very minor disagreement) with a new boyfriend of a month. It completely caught me off guard. Your posts have helped me immensely to see the situation for what it is.

    I’ve only contacted him once (after 3 days) to see what the deal was & to ask if he wanted to talk. He replied several hours later, “not now, maybe later”. When I read that I was like WTF? What kind of answer is that? But it hurts when someone just abruptly goes silent on you.

    I did decide I’m not interested in being w someone like that. I don’t want a relationship where the default mode is a silent treatment. It’s a mind f**k. But it still hurts.

    My question is do you contact them to tell them you are done & leaving the relationship or just disappear / go no contact too?

    I don’t plan on contacting him again- & I want to break up w him. Does a N need to know this- that you are breaking up, or does the no contact tell him eventually?

    Thank you.

    • Zari Ballard

      May 14, 2016 at 2:47 am Reply

      Hi Anna,

      Nope, the narc doesn’t have to be told anything. Just go silent and block, block, block. If he comes to the door, run in the other room and stick your fingers in your ears until he goes away. Thankfully, a narc isn’t that motivated to do much else. What no contact does is make the distance between his hoovers and appearances longer so that you can get stronger. He’ll get the hint, believe me.

      Zari xo

  • C

    February 10, 2015 at 3:57 pm Reply

    This is all eerily true. I allowed my ex to pull this abusive song and dance for a decade.

    This year, when he tried to come back after a 3 year silence, I didn’t respond. He stalked me for 6 months until I succeeded at blocking him everywhere including phone, social media and email.

    I even cut off friendships with all our mutual friends so he couldn’t get to me through them. They never protected me and enabled his abuse so honestly, fuck them. They were terrible friends.

    I haven’t heard a peep from my ex in 6 months. Does this mean he’s gone for good? I worry he’ll come back. If that happens, I’ll keep ignoring him, but it’s emotionally exhausting and reminds me of the abuse.

    • Zari Ballard

      February 23, 2015 at 10:32 pm Reply

      C wrote...I even cut off friendships with all our mutual friends so he couldn’t get to me through them. This is so right and so important to do in order to really make the break. Cut the ties that bind!

      Hello C,

      Thank you for writing and I have a feeling that you know exactly what to do if he does return again. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing. Good for you for not responding to the post-three year disappearance. What balls these guys have, I swear! Hopefully he learned that you will NOT put up with his garbage anymore.

      I understand that it reminds you of the abuse and, in a very twisted way, his hoovering after such a long time was intended to do this. Narcissists only return in order to keep you in the queue OR to always keep the narcissist in the back of you mind. The type of memories you have of this person do not matter to him as long as you have them. Isn’t that ridiculous? Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is keep on moving on and work towards increasing the emotional distance you have with the relationship. Since he tried and you so obviously rejected his advanced, I suspect he’s done. Congrats for a job well done!

      Continue to stay strong!

      Zari xo

      And I sooooo agree about the situation with mutual friends. I did the same thing and it saved me.

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