The emotional toll of dating a narcissist: What you need to know

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So, you’ve decided to open your heart and fallen for a person who makes your head spin and your heart do somersaults. 

You’ve plunged into a relationship that made you feel good at first…but now you’re feeling drained and wondering if you made a huge mistake. 

You’re discovering that this person, who first made you feel like you were in a fairy tale, seems to be a narcissist hiding behind those intoxicating charms. 

If you have experienced or are currently dating a narcissistic person, you need to understand the emotional toll it can take on you.

In this article, we’ll explore the topic of dating a narcissist and what you need to know to cope with the emotional challenges that come with it.

Understanding narcissism: What are the red flags?

Before we get into the emotional toll of dating a narcissist, it’s important to first understand what narcissism is. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a condition where a person has an inflated sense of self-importance and a deep need for admiration. 

When you first meet one, you might feel swept away. Narcissists can be charming and charismatic and will do everything to make you fall for them – pay you tons of compliments, be overly affectionate, and shower you with gifts. 

This is called love bombing. And boy, it can be really hard to resist that level of seduction, especially if you’ve never been treated like that! 

But – and this is a big BUT – they are also manipulative and exploit others to achieve their goals. 

This ugly truth will show up as time goes on. Here are the signs you’re dating one: 

  • A lack of empathy
  • Unrealistic sense of entitlement
  • A tendency to exploit and take advantage of others
  • A need to be the center of attention
  • Arrogant behaviors and attitudes
  • A belief that they’re exceptionally special 

There are many more signs, but the ones above are the most reliable indicators of narcissism.

Why is dating a narcissist exhausting?

Dating a narcissistic person can take a significant emotional toll on you. Over time, you’ll find yourself feeling worthless, confused, angry, and self-doubtful. 

Why so? 

Let’s do a deep dive into how narcissists can inflict real damage on your emotional and mental health.

1) Your self-esteem and confidence go down

Ever notice how your SO never seems interested to know more about you or care about your preferences? Do they always think they’re right and you’re wrong? 

Believe me, that can be incredibly lonely and isolating. You may begin to feel ashamed of your own likes and dislikes, and you may even begin buying into the idea that, yes, you’re always wrong, which will lead you down a path of endless self-doubt. 

And since they’re never interested in what you have to say, you’ll eventually fall into the trap of believing that you’re so inferior and worthless that your thoughts don’t matter. 

This cycle keeps going until…

2) You may lose your identity

As your sense of self-worth goes down, so does your sense of independence. Where you used to make your own decisions confidently, you might now find yourself looking to your SO for validation and permission to do things. 

This dynamic turns your relationship into a one-sided one, where your partner has control and your freedom, identity, and capacity for self-expression diminishes.

3) You’re filled with fear of triggering their rage

Another issue with narcissists is that they are unstable and unpredictable. The slightest thing could tick them off and send them into fits of rage. 

So, what does any normal person do to deal with that? 

Well, it’s pretty simple – most of us want to avoid confrontations and arguments, right? 

So, unconsciously, you begin tiptoeing around them, avoiding any impression that you’re criticizing or disagreeing with them. Your once-sure steps become ever so careful, as if you’re walking on eggshells. 

Not only that, but whenever they get mad…

4) You may even blame yourself for everything

“It’s your fault I’m angry, you always do [insert behavior]!”

“If you’d just listened to me, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

And the ever-reliable: “Look what you made me do!”

Do these statements sound familiar? This is a classic narcissistic trait – the need to blame other people for their problems and shortcomings. 

Remember, they see themselves as perfect and superior, so for them, it makes sense that someone else is responsible for anything that goes wrong. 

And the worst part of it? You believe them. They’ve manipulated you for so long that you begin agreeing with whatever they say. 

5) You set aside your own needs and put theirs first

As I mentioned earlier, narcissists have an unrealistic sense of entitlement. They want you to give them special treatment and will make you feel selfish if you put your needs above theirs. 

Couple that with the fear of triggering their rage, and you learn to give in to their needs, all to avoid aggression.

This is the problem with toxic love – you can’t win. 

You can get stuck for years in this kind of relationship if you don’t know how to break free. 

I get it – I’ve been there. I’ve had my share of toxic relationships.

Fortunately, I chanced upon a mind-blowing free video by world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, which showed me how I’d completely been conditioned to accept toxic love. 

I learned how to stop self-sabotaging and tricking myself into thinking this awful relationship can fulfill me. 

6) You feel used

Here’s another sad truth about narcissists – they don’t see you as a person. In their eyes, you’re merely an object whose sole purpose is to serve them. 

As hard as it is to admit, they will take advantage of you to get what they want, and before you know it, you’re left feeling used and disrespected

Speaking of respect…

7) You feel like your boundaries are not respected

This ties in with my previous point – narcissists have no regard for other people’s boundaries; they will do what they need to get what they want!

They will make you do things you don’t want to do, and because you’re already at a point where you feel insecure and worthless, you’ll go along, never mind if it’s way beyond what you’re willing to give. 

All of these add up to make you feel mentally or even physically unwell. The toxic levels of criticism, bullying, and disrespect may even lead to severe issues like eating disorders and stress or trauma disorders. 

Coping with the emotional toll

So, now that you know the extent of the damage a narcissist can inflict on your emotional health, how do you cope? Here are some ways to get started: 

Practice self-care

All healthy love begins with loving yourself. The more you look after your own needs, the less prone you will be to the insecurities and erosion of self-esteem that dating a narcissist causes. 

Here’s some food for thought: Generally, people with low self-esteem or those who have a tendency to attract toxic relationships may be more susceptible to dating a narcissist

So, if you’re in an emotionally vulnerable state or you’re someone who has been in a toxic or abusive relationship, you might find it harder to resist the charms of a narcissist. 

That’s why it’s essential to nail down self-care. Self-care activities such as meditation, exercise, or hobbies can help you cope with the stress and anxiety associated with this type of relationship. 

Finally, focus on your personal growth and self-discovery to help you regain control and rebuild your self-esteem.

Set boundaries

Along with self-care comes the need to establish your boundaries and BE FIRM about them. If you don’t want to do something they want you to do, be confident enough to say no. 

And think about this – if you can’t advocate and stand up for yourself, who will? 

Seek support

Surround yourself with a solid network of friends, family, or a therapist who can help you process your emotions and provide you with a supportive and non-judgmental safe space.

Final thoughts

The tricky thing with narcissists is that they are often appealing and charismatic. They can hide their true motives and personalities really well. 

If you’re not careful, it’s easy to fall for their charm and fail to spot the red flags. And before you realize it, you’re stuck in an emotionally draining black hole. 

If you’re currently dealing with a narcissistic person, it may be helpful to seek professional help to guide you through this difficult time. 

Dealing with this type of person can be a long and challenging process, but be patient – you will get to where you need to be. The fact that you’re here now, reading this article, is a good sign that you’re getting ready to break free.

Remember, it’s important to prioritize your own emotional well-being and take care of yourself. And don’t forget – you deserve better! Repeat this mantra daily – “I deserve better”, and you will begin to really see that you do. 

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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