Staying With a Narcissist: 5 Reasons Why We Do It

zari-ballard-quoteOkay, so why do we stay with a narcissistic abuser even when we know better? Even when we, as smart, educated, and “normal” people, realize that something about this person is uncomfortably off? Even as we watch the last slivers of our former self – the person we were before the narc – fly out the window? Well, the answer is amazingly complicated and don’t let anyone outside of your relationship realm tell you differently.

Since nothing about a relationship with a narcissist is normal, there will be nothing normal about the break-up. The truth is that unless a person has experienced life with a narc first-hand, they will never understand exactly what you are going through. So, pay no mind to the incessant “friendly” advice from friends and loved ones (“Why can’t you leave!” or “I don’t understand you. Just walk out!”). Only you and you alone can write the ending to the story. It is up to you, as the narcissist’s victim partner, to come to your senses. The catch, however, is that you need to do it without guilt or self-judgment. Having guilt, shame or self-judgment will only keep you lingering in the loop. You must set all that aside in order to get the recovery ball rolling.

Get the Book…Change Your Life

Understand that the majority of the behaviors that get us into emotional trouble with a narc actually stem from our good  qualities. Think about it…it’s our tendency to never quit that makes us stay past closing time and, under normal circumstances, we’d be praised for that! The same goes for our willingness to forgive and our penchant for being compassionate and patient. A person could certainly have worse qualities! The problem with a narc-situation is that none of this is ever reciprocated and this is where is gets mixed up. The human brain simply isn’t prepared to have feelings and emotions so completely rejected and, thus, the question of why we stay becomes a true 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 might to stay 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  the awfulness of his own mind-boggling behaviors. His actions were often so hurtful that I thought surely if I could make him understand  that pulling a month-long silent treatment for no reason at all was just wrong, we could live happily ever after. Obviously,  this never happened. I do believe that 95% of us stay in the relationship just a little bit longer, allowing the narc to come back just one more time, for this very reason. We think that perhaps we didn’t explain it well enough the last time 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! So we explain and explain – sometimes calmly and sometimes wildly – that it’s his sketchy cell phone antics,  mysterious disappearances and reappearances, and all those pathological lies that are the root of the problems and cause of the break-ups. We figure that anyone with half a brain would understand that we are right (because we are!) and do their best to fix it. After all, doesn’t he want a normal relationship? So we explain, plead, and even 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 when he’s behaving so badly, we bargain with logic to make excuses for it. Perhaps he’s just having a bad day or maybe we really were acting like drama queens or being too sensitive or jealous. Even though, in all past relationships (even those that ended badly), we never remember feeling so horribly uneasy, maybe, this time, it really IS us and we should cut the guy some slack. Even though, in past relationships, we never felt compelled to be super sleuth investigators about anything, perhaps now  we really are making mountains out of molehills. After all, nobody’s perfect, right? 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! How is it possible that, despite having swift spidey senses and amazing super-sleuth abilities, we can’t ever seem to produce undeniable concrete evidence? Some might say Well, maybe that’s because there is nothing to find  but I say that’s bullshit. Narcissists and sociopaths know EXACTLY how to keep their worlds from colliding. Mine would look right at me and say “You can’t prove that.” It’s all about creating plausible deniability. A narc will 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 this 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. He keeps his shenanigans so on the down low that even with evidence dropping all around, he rarely, if ever, gets caught. And because he knows that we want (more than anything) to believe he is loyal, he’s not exactly worried about it. To us, the evidence we do have never seems to be quite enough. So, we stay in the relationship if only to hold out for the one puzzle piece that will be undeniable…and another year goes sadly by.
  4. Because he always eventually returns so he really must love me!! This is probably our #1 reason for staying with a narcissist and it couldn’t be farther from the truth. If the partner we love truly loved us back, 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. This guy would literally vanish and each time he did, I suffered as if it was the first time. Since 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 in their right mind would keep returning over and over to someone he didn’t love, right? I figured surely  one of his reappearances would stick. One time, amazed that he was back, I demanded to know why, based on his history, I should even consider it. To this, he announced “Those days are over!” and it was mighty convincing. In previous years, his replies ranged from “What does it matter? I’m here now” to a shrug of the shoulder so this newest comeback from his bag of tricks gave me great hope!  When the narcissist proclaims his “love”, we simply want to believe. Sadly, we continually settle for crumbs…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 going to come true. It usually does and then being right becomes the addiction! 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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  • Suzanne

    December 25, 2017 at 2:48 pm Reply

    Merry Christmas Zari, help please, 13 years trying to make it work or try to move on. We’ve both played the field trying to move on but never break the connection. We have never lived fully together. I know it’s over,I know it will never work, I know he’s tells me he’s now with someone else since July and think he loves her, But I know he’s been coming to mine every week trying to catch me with someone else and says he doesn’t know what he wants, but that we have a connection, albeit I know it’s just sexual now and still every week he’s in my bed. I understand through the help of all your books and this, how he thinks, but I can’t get to the bottom of why I struggle with following through with ‘no contact’. Why am I so weak. How do I get to the bottom of my issues of why I hold on? I’m looking at her Facebook now and they’ve flown from Britain to her home town in Brazil. But I know when he’s back he will be round again. Nobody gets it, why am I so weak? Why when it’s obvious to a blind man that he uses me for sexual gratification that I still hold on, when I know it’s so wrong. I feel like I’m as bad as him now, I even insist on pocket money when he comes just so I feel a little less used. Help, I’m an intelligent woman but so weak! How do I prepare for the eventual drop by upon his return. You think the fact that he’s threatened me with losing me my job if I interfere in his new relationship would be enough to steer clear but am I deep down thinking keep your enemies near until someone sweeps me off my feet, but know they won’t get near until I let go, but how without understanding my motivations? Maybe I’m so scared of being totally alone?. I’m 51. Help. X

    • Zari Ballard

      January 20, 2018 at 6:40 pm Reply

      Hi Suzanne,

      I apologize for how long it has taken me to respond. Yes, 13 years is a long time to be holding on but that’s exactly how long I held in there too…13 years. And I held in there for the sex as well which was great all the way up until the last day. Still, to this day and even after I wrote books about our relationship, he still sends me FB friend requests. So yes it’s hard but here’s the deal: the relationship is just not sustainable. It comes down to that. He threatens you. He’s a piece of shit and has no intention of ever being yours – ever. You have no other choice. It can’t work girl! Sure, the age thing may have a lot to do with it and I was 51 when I got out too (hmmmm…are you ME? lol) but you’ll never have a chance of EVER finding anyone else if you stay – and we know how fast the years fly by. Do not wait…you only have one life and he will waste it away if you allow it. He just doesn’t care.

      You are in a predicament. Please book some talk time with me so we can work it out. I have helped many many people get out of it. It’s all about changing your perspective. Although it’s no easy fix, having a cheerleader on your side (me) is a big boost up and out of the darkness. You CAN do this…

      Zari xo

  • Rob

    December 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm Reply

    “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 going to come true. It usually does and then being right becomes the addiction! Crazy? Maybe…but yup, that’s what we do. And then another year goes by.”

    This so totally right! Its the reason i keep thinking about my ex (female), even though i ended the relationship because of her being a malignant narcissist. Somehow i regret not being able to play the game anymore…indeed predicting her moves and seeing how she manipulated me (in surprisingly cheap ways btw) getting it all her way. In a way i was fascinated with it. So predictable…so surprisingly selfish…so strange. But more evil then i expected, more cruel, more selfish then a normal person can even imagine.

    Playing the game with her, yes it fascinated me and got me addicted,……but not a wise thing to do; in the end she used my addiction against me without even knowing it . And its just to hard to be close to someone you consider your partner…. and not wanting to see good things and love. So you always trick yourself to love again. Even when you know the game, you always lose, simply because creating an addiction never was the plan in the first place. But that’s all you do in a relationship with a narcissist; creating an addiction.

    Why so hard to get out: addicted
    Why so hard to recover and let go: addicted

    Did anyone plan to create an addiction; no

    That is why your mind is so screwed up when its ended. Sad.

    Thanks for your blog and info!

    • Zari Ballard

      January 10, 2018 at 7:31 pm Reply

      Hi Rob, yup…we become addicted to the very drama that we hate. It’s a normal feeling when you’re with a narc.. Now, however, you have to be confident in the truth that you ALREADY know….that being what she is and what she did. AND that you ended it. Good for you…stay free, brother. You saved your own life…’s just a matter of your heart catching up with your head and it sounds like it almost there. Re-training your brain back to normal doesn’t happen overnight. Best of luck to you, brother:)


  • Diana Prince

    December 3, 2017 at 4:06 am Reply

    Hi Zari, I am a couple of months out of an n relationship (after 18 months). I was going no contact, until my ex sent me a message that his uncle died. I did not read nor respond to his Wattsap message, so then his elderly mum sent me a Wattsap message saying that her son wanted to let me know that her brother died. Of course, not wishing to seem like an a**hole, I replied to her saying that I was sad etc…..and then I sent the same message to my ex – so that I would not look like an uncaring a**hole to him, either, and then he replied with a thank you and a large X. BTW, my ex n is 53 years old!! So having his mum send me a message just seems odd in itself. I have no obligation to my ex or his family and yet, he used both validation and control in one fell swoop, which feels like a double whammy. I am so angry at myself for breaking no contact, and although I have read many articles about what the expect and how to react, I cannot seem to let go. I’m already out there dating again, and yet, my ex has this nasty hold over me which I cannot shake off. Ideally, I would like a one on one consultation with you to discuss my relationship, please. I live in the UK, and I hope we’d be able to figure out a suitable time to do this. Thank you.

    • Zari Ballard

      December 3, 2017 at 5:02 pm Reply

      Hi Diana,

      I would be happy to speak with you, girl…I speak with people all the time from the UK using the Viber app. Go to this link and book some time and I will work out the time difference and send you some times to choose from. No worries….lets figure it out:)

      Zari xo

    • Joanna

      January 6, 2018 at 7:26 pm Reply

      Hi Zari,
      I wanted to thank you for your ongoing support since 2015. All of our phone sessions have helped me be narc free without guilt or shame. I know once you attract a narc especially if you are an empath they all come out the woodwork. I appreciate you taking time out of your damn near booked schedule to listen to new prospects I was dating and decide if worth pursuing. Your right our suffering changes nothing! You are my hero and an expert in this field. I thank you for count less phone sessions while juggling so many others caught in similar if not worse situations. You made lemonade out a bad situation and ladies and gentlemen we can as well. I had to stop in 2018 to say happy New Year and thank you again for not only narc therapy but being a business professional friend.

      • Zari Ballard

        January 10, 2018 at 6:18 pm Reply

        Thank you, sister! I am proud of everything you have done throughout our time together. It’s all you, girl….you did it all:)

        Love & Hugs,

        Zari xoxo

  • Janice

    October 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm Reply

    i have been with this guy for 12 years, according to him when we met he was single – had left ‘her’ over a year previously but were sharing their Son and his upbringing, I thought this to be quite admiral as my ex husband left me with 3 children under the age of 12 totally disappeared off the face of the earth and re-emerged with younger model in tow some 9 years later when the youngest had just turned 18 years old with the comment ‘you are all grown adults now and not my responsibility’.

    So Mr New Guy I thought was admiral in this, and his reasons for not being with her was that they continually argued, she felt that she had a full time job and therefore was not looking after Son and Partner so they all fended for themselves, I was also told that she was not welcome in his family there had been some really bad blood years prior to the birth of their Son, this was collabrated by his Brother and Wife, his Dad and other friends of whom I met and spend time with on a fairly regular basis, and no-one seemed to think that we were not a couple, and other members of his family told me that he was single, that he left her, that things were not good at their home, and that he had moved out and was living on his own, which I was aware of, during our first year he met with my children and all was really good, after two years he moved in with me and one year later moved out, we did break up through our own means, then some 5 months later he calls, and hey heart does somersaults and we are back in a relationship – taking it slowly. I move, hoping he is moving with me too but a couple of excuses, work related, so I let these go, and now look back it was year upon year upon year. Then in May this year, for whatever reason, I just dont know I decided to drive past where he lived, not there, and so where ‘she lived’ and hey guess what he is there. So before I get the urge to storm in, I am spotted and he comes out, telling me we need to talk, having a total meltdown we return to my house separately and here he drops the bombshell I moved back with her some 2 ish years ago!!! OMG life has now hit rock bottom.

    Talking for days on this, because, me couldnt say this is the end, it was more of why, and why did I not see this! So the upshot became he is in Therapy, trying to find out why he led two separate lives, and me – a total wreck, still giving him a chance – is this wrong is he a narcissist, and why did I not know, see signs etc, we are, at present, split as he agrees we are making each other ill, and he has texted and said just give him time he will make this right, and will be there for me! When!.

    • Zari Ballard

      November 12, 2017 at 11:33 pm Reply

      Hi Janice,

      At some point, what does it matter if there is a label to define him? Awful is awful. Stay away from him. If you hadn’t of been spotted (translation: if you hadn’t busted him red handed), he’d still be hanging out with his live-in girlfriend. Who cares what he learns in therapy? In my opinion, therapy is to make him actually look as if he gives a shit. Why should you put your life on hold while he supposedly figures out why he is such a pathological lying cheater. What a crock of shit on his part. OMG. Nothing redeemable about anyone who does that, narcissist or not.

      Zari xo

  • judy

    October 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm Reply

    Ok. My relationship with Narc started exactly a year ago. I was in another state having job and living with ex and when we met online we could talk and text like an hour. He was like an angel from the heaven. He was the man that can hear me, understand me… like I said he was in another state and wanted to see me in person and after couple discussion I agree to met him for a dinner. It was like love in first sight. He was the Mr Perfect. and we start to see each other more often, mostly I was driving to see him. And one day he told me he cannot stand that I am living with my ex so come to live with him. My ex wasn’t a bad guy, he was actually very nice but the relationship was over. So… after his offer in his house, he drove me to the state where I live and the same day I resign from my job with one week notice and left my house in a same day taking just my clothes without saying anything to my ex about him. I was so in love, he worded to me we will get married, have a kid, beautiful house and we will open our place, I don’t need to work because he has a really good job so I can go for my dreams to do my Phd without worrying how I will afford.
    After I moved first month was just like a romance in the movies, after first month he start checking my phones, criticize my friends and my relationship with them and he also deleted some of them from my phone as I moved to another state I didn’t know anybody and the only way I could socialize was my friends over the phone. And after that he start creating nonsense arguments that I felt really desperate that how I cannot explain myself and he is making fuzz out of blue. Each argument was stronger than the other one and I started crying an having nervous breakdowns because seems like the man I talk does not hear what I say, it was no logic what he was saying or doing. But at the end he was always coming and hugging me and saying that he loves me and I am his love of his life. So i was thinking he is just getting jealous and I will fix it later on. He bought a new house right before we met so there were no furniture and staff even to sit on. So he wanted to buy furnitures and staff. And he also want us to fly where our family is and let them to get to know each other. My parents start making wedding plans.
    After I met his mother and get engagement party and stay with them 15 days with no problem(except she was bitching about why she cannot be with him alone, why I am there so on – the reason was because he wanted so. He said he would be so bored without me staying his parents for 15 days)…Whatever after this vacation he came home and I came after two weeks and strange things started to happen. when I was back he told me he want to break up, he is not happy with me, he would be better without me!!! after all these ceremonies and everything I couldn’t figured out why until I saw his mother 10 pages nasty email about me and my family. And I am a gold digger, I am worst than his ex wife who took everything from him when she was leaving and so on… I couldn’t believe my eyes and talk to him about it. He said she is nonsense it has nothing to do with her email. We are just fighting too much!! (Because of me??? or your non-logical arguments over anything???) it was two months ago and we are still living together, in this period he told me hundred times he owe me and try again and next day changed his mind and we are not good together. I cannot leave right know because he had all my savings that I borrowed him when he was buying a car and have no money. When I asked my money back he told me just to count for the months that I lived in his house, our travels and furnitures we bought for the his home? really 10K ?
    Now I found a job in the same city but I cannot cope with the depression and insomnia and I even to think to kill myself, I started two antidepressants as psychiatrist told me that I am in major depression but the side effects for the beginning is even worse. He says he is and he was in financial crisis but he didn’t tell me because I would leave him that is the reason he cannot give my money… I am in the situation now I have to live somewhere very far from where I used to live and know literally nobody and still living in this house with him with no support to my mental state he created. He keep telling me he will give my money in a week for a month… but he does not, even he does I don’t know how to start a new life all by myself after all that romance and promises and disappointments… I am 37 years old never married and I have no hope for the future now.

    • Zari Ballard

      November 13, 2017 at 1:18 am Reply

      Hi Judy,

      Please, please forgive me for being so late in responding. Your story is so sad and so awful and he is a horrible man but you ARE SO YOUNG, SISTER!!! Do you live in America? For some reason, I feel that this awful woman who was to be your mother-in-law does not live here, am I right? OF COURSE it was the eight page email that caused this mama’s boy to change his mind and this makes him an absolute COWARD. Is it at all possible to go back to the state that you came from to stay with one of your friends?? Can you call your old job?? How about your ex? I truly feel that THIS GUY was the gold digger who saw a wonderful girl with a little bit of money he could steal for a car. What a creep!!! Is your name on anything because yes he does absolutely owe you that money but I doubt you will ever get it. Your mental health is more important at this point…God! What a complete narcissistic jerk!

      Judy, you DO know how to start a new life all by yourself…you just do it like you did before. You are only 37!! That is so young you have no idea. Save your money…in fact, HOARD it and give him NOTHING. In the meantime, call the people from your old life and make a plan. You made a mistake…so what…so many of us have done it. You must have a friend FROM YOUR OLD LIFE that you can trust…

      Please feel free to write me using this page…I really care and want to know how you are doing, my sad sister…..Stay strong and know that you can have a wonderful long life with a bright future…you really can!!!

      Zari xo

  • Bojana

    September 4, 2017 at 12:16 am Reply

    First I would like to say that this site is helping me survive these days, and after almost a year of searching it is the ONLY COMPLETE elaboration of my life during past two and a half years. I’m dealing with a serial cheater, Mr Nice guy, adored by everybody… I already left once for two months this year, but he promissed to go to therapy and to make things work because i am “the love of his life”. Ofcourse, he did it again…and again… 3rd time this year, last time with his maid and cook ho helps him with his children (he is a widower) . Now we are not together but I know he is here, close, sending messages and wanting to talk and to make things better and our separation “more civil”, after “all beautiful things we had together” (because “we are after all two good people)… and he says – “he will not lose hope and he will go to sleep and wake up with me in his head and his heart.”
    How can I deal with him in order to punish him, because that is my obbssesion now…

    • Zari Ballard

      October 9, 2017 at 7:04 pm Reply

      Hi Bojana,

      Getting even with a narc rarely works because their revenge on your revenge will always be worse. It sounds to me that your best revenge is to pretty much appear to vanish off the face of the earth. Block him and absolutely REFUSE to speak or communicate in any way. It’s the only way. Do not give him the opportunity to hurt you ever again. You can do this!

      If you want some one on one support and validation, book some time and talk with me. Sounds like you need some advice on how to deal with this…his shenanigans and his bullshit hoovering behavior. He is so not worth it…you deserve to be free:)

      Zari xo

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