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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  • the end

    June 19, 2017 at 4:24 am Reply

    It’s so painful, to fall head over heels with someone who you know, you know, deep down inside yourself, you know, you do not love me. I know it. They’re like collectors of old socks or something. I’ll just have it around, case I need it. This sock might break down in the wash, I’ll get this sock over here…put that on….find another sock today

  • the end

    June 19, 2017 at 4:19 am Reply

    Sorry about the pathetic pleady bit at the end – I’m gathering you know this feeling, however. Just REELING from this shit.

    • Zari Ballard

      June 21, 2017 at 12:31 am Reply

      That’s okay…believe me, we understand…..xo

  • Lorie

    June 18, 2017 at 4:22 am Reply

    Wow… great read. When I read number 1 it brought back many memories. I always had wondered why I tried to make him understand. Why wouldn’t anyone understand that cheating and lying are wrong….and why would I keep staying there. Like you said… were not quitters ha. I am on No Contact for 1 yr and I am out of that fog. I was sad for along time wondering how someone could do this to someone else. I mean were adults if you don’t want to be in a relationship just tell the other person, but to have a whole different life that I never new about for 10 yrs.. well….I stuck with it after I found out for about 3 yrs….Trying to make it work and fighting for the US. After leaving I had to stay very very busy and I did… Never cried this time at all… but I was in a fog. I am really now after a yr feeling happy its over…. that I am free of the insanity, the detective work and the drama.

    Thanks so much Zari and to all that have come here to write there stories. It does really help when someone else has been through it and “gets it” as there’ s nothing else like it.

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