Being romantically involved with a narcissist is not like any other relationship as it’s a relationship that will have you doubt any and every part of your sense of self. It is a relationship that will distort your reality and slaughter your self-esteem and if you are not able to “read” it correctly, it can follow you in your future romantic endeavors. The fallout is unlike that of any other breakup, if you know what I’m talking about, then do read on….

Let’s get some things straight right from the beginning, whatever doubts you have after a narcissistic entanglement, reconsider!!!  Whether you find yourself wondering if there is something fundamentally wrong with you. (There’s not.) Or if you are doubting yourself in being able to find love again. (You will.)

While I wouldn’t wish a narcissistic-relationship experience upon anyone, there is a lot to learn from it. A relationship with a narcissist can wake us up to our blind spots. Some of the traits that make us popular in personal relationships and lead us to excel in professional ones might not serve us in love. And those traits are catnip to a narcissist, whose primary aim is to exploit our goodness for their own gain.

Here are some of the traits that can make us a good pray for a narcissist:

  • Striving for perfection so we as to safeguard our value.
  • Taking more responsibility than our share to feel valued and desirable.
  • Eagerness to please so we feel chosen and loved.
  • Idealizing someone based on his potential rather than accepting their actual behavior.

The key here is Self-Love!

 Self-love is the only way to move forward. It will guide you toward healthier boundaries, higher standards, and robust self-worth. Cultivating and realizing who you are and what you can put in a relationship will help you form excellent partner-selection skills. Once you know what you are worth you will be able to relax into the courtship process. You will be able to prioritize yourself, spot the red flags a mile away so have fun when you put yourself out there. You will feel secure as you will be having your own back.

Of course, it might take therapy to recover after a difficult experience in love. Once you’re ready to enter the dating pool again, you still need to be alert. It is a new dance that you just learned, and you need to keep on practicing to master. Here are tips to help you keep the focus on your well-being as you make wise choices.

Focus on YOU

There is a saying in Greek:

 «όποιος καεί με το χυλό φυσά και το γιαούρτι» (once you are burned eating soup you tend to be cautious with yogurt).

It’s common to overfocus on red flags and diagnoses when you start to date again. You can get overworked by trying to understand what happened to analyze personality patterns and try to diagnose whoever comes your way. This can be helpful at the beginning, but it can easily become obsessive and distract you from your real aim, to focus on you and move on.

Trust your GUT

Usually, our gut feeling is right there at the beginning. You know that something is off but your need to find love, your feeling of loneliness or your willingness to compromise as to NOT be accused of being picky usually gaslight you to go ahead. You doubt yourself, second guess your intuition and hope that everything will turn to be the fairy tale that you’ve been dreaming. But it is NOT! If it does not feel right at your gut then MOVE ON!

Forgive yourself!

Rather than wasting your energy to be on a constant alert, creating endless lists of red flags and sniffing around everything and anything, try to cultivate compassion and forgiveness for yourself. It happens, your kindness and selfishness are nothing to be ashamed of. You allowed yourself to be manipulated but now you know better. Once we stop beating ourselves up and blaming us for all that happened, we can start trusting our ability to navigate life and love again.

 Moving On

What is “moving on” for you? Not only how will it be but primarily how will it feel? What will a new and healthy relationship feel to you? How will it make you feel as a partner and in your own self? This is the key here. Look for the feeling that going forward will be giving you, rather than on how it will be different from before.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the ingredients of a loving relationship that would have you personally thrive? What are your requirements, your wishes, and your needs? What will it take for someone to intimately access your world?
  • What qualities are you looking for in a partner. What core values do you have that one needs to meet? How do you want that person to make you feel? Do you feel most secure with a partner who is emotionally sensitive and mature? Do you desire devotion and to feel the center of someone’s world? Do you wish to build a life with someone, to create a family? Is communication, care and common goals or spirituality important to you? Do you feel that you are worthy of receiving whatever you desire?
  • Sometimes deep rooted in us is the doubt that we aren’t worth enough, and these inner mental blocks mean we may invest in scenarios that offer less than we deserve. Do you find yourself doing the following: Trying too hard, people pleasing, negative self-talk, feeling constant guilt when needing to say no to a perspective date, constantly doubting your intuition and your gut feeling? All these are clues that we have these inner barriers to love. With gentle self-awareness and self-compassion, we can melt away any of our mental blocks.

Filtering System: How to choose the One that Suits You

An effective filtering system is always a good idea, so you can sift out misaligned matches.

Your filtering system will be most effective when you start off with what you are looking for. Rather than focusing on the attributes of a potential partner, focus primarily on listing all the things that work for you.  What works for you in terms of emotional attraction, physical attraction, and companionship with a long-term partner.

Regardless of how unromantic this is, you may want to consider creating a spreadsheet. Plug in your simple criteria for review after dates and other interactions. This is a remarkably effective way to make good, fast decisions. It can even help you keep yourself under a leash when you get too excited, and your love hormones are about to go overboard. You can use this list for cross-checking your experience against what you knew was important before you met this new person. Revisiting your filtering system will help you stay anchored in yourself and avoid being lured into a fantasy.

Having said all that, paying attention to your intuition should be the number one filtering sift.

Do not give up! Use this experience and the knowledge that you gain from it as equipment that will make the journey of finding a meaningful connection even more valuable. Whenever you feel ready to start navigating the dating pool again, do remember that love is a core aspect of the human condition. There are many wonderful people out there, kind-hearted, sensitive souls who have been humbled by difficult experiences themselves and who are now consciously seeking meaningful romantic connection from a place of emotional maturity.

Anna Hamboulla
Psychologist and Psychotherapist
ECP Accredited
PCA Supervisor