This is my third blog looking at the difficult question of dealing with a narcissist. This one focusses on the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Clients have often described quite lengthy periods of being happy with their partner at the beginning of a relationship. Things may deteriorate gradually or almost overnight – once the person on the receiving end has a deep emotional commitment to the narcissistic partner. This might include marriage or having children together.
People are often left totally bewildered and wonder what happened to something and someone who seemed so perfect at the start. They can question their own sanity especially as those on the outside of the relationship such as family and friends still believe the person is decent and caring. Spending a lot of time with someone who has a narcissistic personality can make it hard to remember what a healthy relationship even feels like and so it is important to remember the following:
What is a healthy relationship?
- Both people listen and make an effort to understand each other
- Both people acknowledge their mistakes and take responsibility for them
- Both people feel like they can relax and be their true selves in front of the other
Some people with a narcissistic personality can be verbally or emotionally abusive.
What is an unhealthy or abusive relationship?
One which includes:
- Name-calling or insults
- Patronising, public humiliation
- Telling, threatening
- Blaming you for everything that goes wrong
- Jealousy, monitoring your movements or attempting to isolate you
- Telling you how you really feel or should feel
- Denying things that are obvious to you or attempting to gaslight you (see my next blog for more about gaslighting)
- Trivialising your opinions and needs
When should I leave?
While every relationship has its ups and downs, there is a big difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. It is generally best to leave the relationship if:
- you’re being verbally or emotionally abused
- you feel manipulated and controlled
- you’ve been physically abused or feel threatened
- you feel isolated
- the person with a narcissistic personality shows signs of mental illness or substance abuse, but won’t get help
- your mental or physical health has been affected
Need some advice and support?
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!