Staying With the Narcissist: 5 Reasons Why We Do It

zari-ballard-quoteOkay, so why do we stay with a narcissistic abuser even when – or after – we know better? Even when we, as smart, educated, and “normal” people, realize that something about this person that we love is off? Even as we watch the last slivers of our former self…the person we used to be pre-narc escape out the window? Well, the answer is complicated and don’t let anyone outside of your relationship tell you otherwise. Since nothing about the relationship with a narcissist is normal, nothing about the way that it ends will be either. The truth is that unless a person has experienced life with a narc first-hand, they will never understand. So, give up the “friendly” advice from friends and loved ones (“Just leave then!” or “I don’t understand this. Just walk out!”). You are the only one who can write the ending to the story. It is up to you, as the narcissist’s victim partner or target to come to your senses but without the guilt or self-judgment. Having guilt, shame, or self-judgment only keeps you wallowing in the loop so you must set it aside in order to get the ball rolling.

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Understand that what gets us into emotional trouble with the narc, causing us to hang in there way past closing time, actually stems from our rather good qualities. Think about it…under most circumstances we’d be praised for not being a quitter, for being willing to forgive, and for having compassion and patience. A person could certainly have worse qualities! The problem with a narc-situation is that none of this is ever reciprocated and that mixes it all up. Our brains simply aren’t wired to have our feelings and emotions so completely rejected…and again, why we continue on becomes our biggest source of personal angst. So, to start, lets take a look at just a few of the many complicated and crazy reasons why  we do stay to begin with a narcissistic abuser:

  1. Because if we could only make them understand, everything would work itself out. I don’t know about you but, as the years passed, I became more and more obsessed with making my ex – the narcissist – understand what it was that he was doing. His mind-boggling behaviors were so hurtful that I thought surely if I could make him understand that it was really, really wrong to just up and pull a silent treatment for a month for no reason at all, we could live happily ever after. Unfortunately, this never happened. I do think that 95% of us stay in the relationship just a little bit longer or allow the narcissist to come back just one more time for this very reason. Maybe the last time it happened we didn’t explain it well enough or maybe it’s that awful childhood with a narcissistic mother that gets him a pass or who knows but this time we’re going to make him understand that he just can’t do that to us. So we explain and explain in every way possible, sometimes calmly and sometimes wildly like a lunatic, that it’s his sketchy cell phone antics and his mysterious disappearances and reappearances and all those pathological lies that are causing the problems and break-ups. We figure anyone with half a brain would understand that we are right (because we are!) and try to fix it. After all, doesn’t he want a normal relationship? So we explain and we plead and we bargain but all we get is the infamous blank stare. And then another year goes by.
  2. Because, after all, nobody’s perfect! Since we can never quite understand what the narcissist is thinking as he behaves so badly, we bargain with logic to make excuses for it. Maybe he’s just having a bad day or maybe we really did act like a bitch or a drama queen or maybe we are too sensitive and jealous. Even though, in all of our relationships before (even those that ended badly), we never remember being made to feel so constantly uneasy, maybe it really IS us and we should cut him some slack. Even though, in past relationships, we never remember having to become a super sleuth investigator to get to the bottom of anything, perhaps now we really are making a big deal out of nothing. After all, whatever happened to let bygones be bygones? We’re certainly not perfect, so why should we expect our partner to be?? So when the narcissist returns, we choose to pick our battles and forgive and forget. And then another year goes by.
  3. Because the truth is that we never really have any concrete proof of anything, right? How amazing is it that no matter how adept we become at investigating the daily anomalies associated with narcissism we can’t quite put our finger on the concrete evidence? Some might say Well, maybe that’s because there is nothing to find! but I say that is absolute bullshit. Narcissists and sociopaths know EXACTLY how to keep their worlds from colliding. They continually lie, duck and dodge and talk in riddles and punish us for asking questions…all with the intent of silencing our suspicions. Even our intuition (which NEVER lies) is no match for the deception. A narcissist in the Game of Life is in it to win it. Everything, all day every day, is about what he can get away it. So, all of his shenanigans are done on the down low and, even with clues dropping all around him, he rarely, if ever, gets caught. And because he knows that we want more than anything to believe he is loyal, he’s not too worried about it. To us, any evidence we have always seems to be not quite enough. And because he knows that we want more than anything to believe he is loyal, he’s not too worried about it. To us, any evidence we have always seems to be not quite enough. So, we stay in the relationship if only to hold out for just that little bit more…and another year passes us by.
  4. Because he always eventually returns so he really must love me!! This is probably the saddest reason of all for staying with a narcissist because it couldn’t be farther from the truth. If the partner that we love truly loved us, he wouldn’t leave at all let alone leave and return over and over and over. My ex would disappear every year in October and not resurface until after the New Year, conveniently missing every important holiday in between and shirking all relationship responsibilities therein. This guy would literally vanish and each time he did this, I suffered like it was the first time. Because he always returned, usually feigning amnesia as to why we ever broke up, I thought we were destined to be together. I mean, what guy (or gal) in their right mind would keep returning, over and over, to someone he/she didn’t love, right? It made no sense. I figured surely one of his return appearances would stick. One time, as I stood at the door defiantly demanding why, based on his history, I should ever let him back in, he went so far as to announce “Those days are over!” and it was mighty convincing. In previous years, when I demanded answers as to where he’d been, he’d either shrug his shoulders or smugly reply “What does it matter? I’m here now.” Therefore, this newest announcement from his bag of tricks gave me great hope! Sadly, even though our gut tells us something entirely different, when the narcissist says that he loves us, we want to believe him. So, grasping at those straws of hope, we allow him in for one more chance. And then another year goes by. For me, it was just nine short months until the next October.
  5. Because we simply want to see what the fuck is going to happen next. Even better, when we’ve been in it long enough to predict the narc’s next move, then we stay to see if what we’ve predicted is fucking right. It usually is and then being right becomes an addiction in and of itself. Crazy? Maybe…but yup, that’s what we do. And then another year goes by.

You can escape the madness, my friends, and I can help you. I do it every day, all day with people all over the world. There is no magic fix but relief is possible. It all begins with understanding. If you want to talk about it, call me. This is a crazy life we lead and recovery from narcissist abuse has got to be a team effort.

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  • Jenny

    August 5, 2017 at 11:42 pm Reply

    It’s real simple. if we weren’t Love-Bombed, we wouldn’t fall in love with this ‘pretend” soulmate to begin with. The End. I was clueless as I’m sure we all were. So in my mind, the most important thing to do as a society is teach our teenage girls about these predators and this love-bombing techniques they use to catch us.
    We all want to meet our Soulmate,I know I did. I didn’t believe it love-at-first-sight though. I use to grunt in disgust at those romance movies where this happened because I just “knew” it was fake. That is until I met my ex. Instant connection. I “knew” him. What I didn’t know was that he was an expert at seducing women. Lots and lots of women. Now I know I was played He was looking for someone like me to marry and fit in his new life as a teacher. And I was a perfect match. We were married a year later. What I thought was a storybook romance turned out to be a huge mistake and a waste of 15 years of my life.
    If I had known about Love-Bombing, I wouldn’t have been so smitten so quickly. I would have been cautious, taken my time.. Kept my options open. I would have continued to date that cute lawyer who was respectful, easy going, and really into me. Who knows, I might of married him instead, and then I wouldn’t be sharing this story right now.

    • Jenny

      August 6, 2017 at 12:10 am Reply

      I just want to say I find it freeing to admit that I was played by my ex from the moment I met him. It’s freeing because I no longer “have” to love him. He was NEVER my Soulmate. I didn’t do anything wrong. I can never change and make him love me again. Because he never loved me to begin with….. His hook into me has always been, “If you would only change and stop being you, I would want to be with you, spend time with you, be in a relationship with you.” But I know now, that this is a LIE. Nothing I can ever do will create a “happy ever after” with this man because he NEVER LOVED ME. We didn’t have a soulmate kind of love at one time. This was a fairy tale he created for his own agenda. But just because he was incapable of love, this doesn’t diminish the love I felt for him. My love was genuine. I know how to love another person and I will love someone again.

  • Mandy

    July 10, 2017 at 3:59 am Reply

    Argh! I’m so cross with myself. After three weeks of no contact and having blocked him on my phone, I was driving to the hospital to visit my sick grandmother and found myself behind “the other woman” I followed her car and sure enough she pulls up outside his house. I then drive round the corner, pull over and send a txt telling him to have a lovely afternoon with his “friend” as that’s what he insists she is even though she frequently stays the night. Anyway, he then texted me back with a simple hello and lots of kisses. It makes me feel sick to my stomach, I wish I hadn’t contacted him. Back on the wagon now and his number re-blocked. I wish I could understand why I miss the bastard so much. I have never loved someone with such intensity in all my 52 years on this planet. When I was with him I couldn’t take my eyes off of him, I was transfixed, caressing every part of him with my eyes, my heart always felt so full of love and desire for him even though he totally fucked with my mind on a weekly basis.

    When I initially found out what he was up to, I turned up on his doorstep one morning and sure enough she was in his bed. She came downstairs barely dressed to tell me to leave him alone as they were a couple. I told her wow, that’s odd because I’d been seeing him for four years and thought we were a couple, and how his bed had barely had time to get cold as I’d been in it the previous afternoon. I also told her that we weren’t the only two women in his life right now but she wouldn’t listen or believe me. All he did with the three of us standing there was to keep repeating that he didn’t have to explain anything to me as I was out of order for turning up out of the blue and that I was shouting and being abusive and didn’t deserve his time. I know it makes me sound like the crazy stalker one here but this is what they do to you. Turn a sane woman mad! I’ve done all the late night drive-byes, totally ridiculous and I feel ashamed, never felt the need to do this with any of my previous boyfriends. No one ever produced this level of permanent anxiety and paranoia ever.

    It makes no logical sense why they are so difficult to leave apart from it being an addiction. Last night for the first time I recognised and acknowledged that feeling, it truly is an addiction. I was craving a fix of him, it was a painful craving but I was at least recognising it for what it was. I had to keep re running all the shit things he’s done to me to try and stop the feeling but even that doesn’t really help. I suppose it’s like any addiction, we just have to ride out the excruciating agony of going cold turkey in the belief that it does eventually get better. But like many of the posters here, although I am sure I will find love again, I don’t believe I will ever love another again with such intensity. I think that’s their hook, for some insane reason we love them with such insane intensity, we feel them in every cell of our bodies, how the fuck do they do this? It’s like black magic, voodoo I will never make sense of this as long as I live.

    • Mandy

      July 10, 2017 at 6:16 am Reply

      I’ve also done the endless trying to explain what’s normal behaviour, respecting others feelings and boundaries etc. Endless epic texts and emails trying to make him see the light. Their behaviour is totally predictable, but so as I am learning from reading Zari’s book, so is ours, we too follow a pattern until we finally wake up to the painful reality that things will never ever change within the relationship no matter what you do. I’m out, but still suffering indelible pain and heartache, I know it will fade but it can’t come soon enough as I am a broken person and struggling to function in the most basic of ways. Giving myself a pat on the back today as I have at least got out of bed and showered and made myself look and smell nice. I don’t always achieve that, the most basic of daily rituals. 🙁

      • Lorie

        July 10, 2017 at 6:43 am Reply

        Hi Mandy, I read your post and I know that is difficult for you to write. I know as I have been there. Your story truely is my story. It was devasting to me to find out about the other women and the other life he was living. I am in 1 yr no contact and now I am out of the fog. I feel for you, come here often. It helps to read these stories. Your story still effected me as it was so much like mine. I pulled in his house just as she pulled out… caught… but he still lied. Said it was a different friend. When I said… “I SAW HER” he still tried to lie through it, I still went back. Why I have no idea but I was always on guard and was basically a spy incognito. Finally after I was 3 way’d on the phone by “the other women” and he didn’t know I was on the line and to make a long story short he said he loved her and to come over. This after I had just left with kisses, hugs and I love you’s to me. Its all very twisted. I still remember that gut wrenching feeling. I too am your age. It gets better not to deal with the mess of it all. Thanks for writing you didn’t even know it and you helped me!

        • Mandy

          July 10, 2017 at 4:52 pm Reply

          Your story is my story Lorie! I felt like a spy too. And my narc lied in the face of all the cold hard evidence and made me feel like the crazy one. Unless you’ve lived it there’s no way of understanding what a narcs victim goes through or why we stay in the face of such awful abuse and why we find it so hard to leave. I went out tonight to band practice and then the pub and laughed and had lots of fun and felt like me surrounded by good honest friends who love me. I came home, switched on the laptop to look at emails etc and my narc has emailed me playing the pity card, they never stop do they? I’m ignoring him, but felt sick when I saw his email show up. If I mark it as spam that should sort out any future emails? I think I will be a very frequent visitor to this site for some time to come. I’m so happy that you are out of the fog, I wish you happiness and love. One day I will have moved on from this pain and it can’t come soon enough. xx

          • Lorie

            July 10, 2017 at 6:44 pm

            Mandy I am so glad you went out and got to laugh and to be yourself. There is life after this. Just do not break no contact. Take if from someone who has over and over and as Zari says they will never ever change. I have felt that gut wrench.. and its best to ignore. You don’t ever want to see or go through facing that again do you? They will try everything and us nice people who want to give the benefit of the doubt suffer. You will have sadness but that slime bag doesn’t deserve you!!! We got this!!

    • Zari Ballard

      July 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm Reply

      Hi Mandy,

      Oh yeah…it sure does seem like BLACK MAGIC VOODOO! lol I am sorry you are going through all this. Please consider calling me about it. You’d be amazed what a conversation (s) can do, girl. I’ll drill that bastard out of your head…it’s what I do and I’m good at it:) Read the reviews. It’s all about changing your perspective and I mean that. You don’t have to suffer and you WILL make sense of it (and quick). You don’t have to be going through all this nonsense, driving around. I’ve been there, done that and it IS awful. Breaks my heart to read your story.

      Zari xo

    • Mandy

      July 10, 2017 at 4:56 pm Reply

      Hi Zari, I’d love to talk to you but I’m in the UK and I think it would cost me a fortune in phone costs! I read your book and so much rings true, they really are a species unto themselves! But we, the victims are too. It’s all textbook stuff! Thank you for replying and thank you for your book and this website, it’s a lifesaver! xx

      • Zari Ballard

        July 14, 2017 at 5:47 pm Reply

        Hi Mandy,

        I talk to people every day from the UK. We use the Viber app which is free and the connection is amazing. So, don’t let the distance of continents stop you, girl. Book some time and let’s chat:)

        Zari xo

    • Jenny

      August 6, 2017 at 1:00 am Reply

      “I don’t believe I will ever love another again with such intensity. I think that’s their hook, for some insane reason we love them with such insane intensity, we feel them in every cell of our bodies, how the fuck do they do this? …..” They don’t do it. WE do it. We create the intensity inside ourselves. My ex even told me this. He said that I exuded pheromones and that’s why he loved having sex with me. Maybe that’s what attracts a narc to certain women? Anyway, we’ve been victimized twice. First by the narcissist. Second by our own bodies. When we fall in love, love hormones surge through our body strengthening the feelings we have for the other – bonding us to them. Please don’t underestimate yourself. All the passion and connection in narc relationships comes from us, not them. Since my narc didn’t love me, I wasn’t “receiving” anything from him I just “thought” I was receiving love and connection from him. In reality, I was SELF-intoxicated by who I “thought” he was, but since he wasn’t this person, I had to be the one creating the connection and intensity all by my lonesome!! So I know I will feel even more connection and intensity next time I fall in love because the guy I’m with will be reciprocating my feelings for him, with his feelings for me. We will build on each other’s intensity. Besides that, it will be REAL not fake, so it will be delicious. Magic!!!!

  • Agi

    July 9, 2017 at 3:41 am Reply

    I’m 1 month into no contact, and I’m really struggling… so sad, depressed and unhappy all the time… when will I be happy again, and why do I still miss him so much after all he’s done to me for almost 4 years…?

    • Lorie

      July 10, 2017 at 3:11 am Reply

      Agi I wanted to respond to your post as I have been there. No Contact is the only way to go. I have gone back and it only ends up being the same hurting worse than the time before. I always tried to make him understand.. it doesn’t work. Don’t go back or answer no matter what they say. It will get better but it does take time to step away from the situation and to come out of the fog. It is very traumatic that someone can be like this once you get the a ha moment. You are hurting and that is understandable but it gets better. It has taken me 1 yr to get out of the fog and start living again. Zari had a blog that mentions I believe 1 month for every yr you were with the narc. Stay strong we are all here for you. You are not alone!

      • Agi

        July 11, 2017 at 12:26 am Reply

        Thank you Lorie, for your kind words… oh yeah: I went back about 6-7 times throughout this 3 and a half year “relationshit”. I always thought that if he keeps coming back, he must really miss me and this time around, he will treat me with love and respect. Each time I was wrong, I went back for more emotional abuse, more cheating and more humiliation. He even humiliated me in front of all his friends…they eventually BEGGED me to leave him, saying I deserve so much more, and they have witnessed his abusive behavior for more than 30 years…they said he will NEVER change and please try to get on with my life. So sad that his friends really loved and respected me, but he just couldn’t. In the last few months, he was downright MEAN and EVIL, as if he really hated me… WHY? This is what I don’t understand: he hated me, and I still loved him. And I’m having a hard time letting go, he is probably out having the time of his life 🙁

        • Jenny

          August 6, 2017 at 2:44 am Reply

          Hi Agi. My ex hates me too. One of his favorite things to say to me was “You get what you give.” In narc speak that means if I gave him unconditionally love, never complained, and accepted everything he did carte blanche, then in return he’d love me (as long as I met the above conditions of course). But the minute I grew a backbone and decided to quit accepting his crap and breadcrumbs of attention, well he turned on me with a vengeance. Even though I know it breaks your heart to know he hates you, to me this is a very good sign. My narc, when he reached this mean and evil stage, stopped trying to hoover me back because I didn’t have anything to offer him anymore. Which allows no contact to really work. I knew who he was. A self centered manipulative man. And he didn’t like this image of himself. So by hating me he makes me nothing. He totally devalues my opinion of him, making it worthless. Now he can ignore it and me and preserve the positive, great guy image he has of himself, with a little help from his other sources of narcissistic supply who still haven’t figured out he’s a narcissist.

  • LA

    June 27, 2017 at 1:50 pm Reply

    Great read indeed!… 3 years of being with N, totally completely clueless the first year, trying to prove and explain myself over and over again.. with super-short devalue, discard & hoover cycles happening every 1-3 weeks basically from the day we met… Having AHA!! moment after one year when I finally decided to google what the hell is going on… and yet, though it became crystal clear who he is after reading the very first article about Narcs, I got hoovered back again and again and again for reasons #1-4, because I soooo wanted to believe that there is a way… (nope! doesn’t exist!)
    But for the last half a year or so the only reason I got back into this madness was reason number 5… Yep, it is crazy!
    Though the good news is – at least for me – that I finally got over #5 because being able to predict every move, word or action became very unpleasant to say the least… It got old eventually.

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