Every now and then, someone asks me for advice. (Yes, people are just that desperate!) Moving on with our lives after the N-relatioNship is never as easy as other folks seem to think. Granted, those other folks have never been in LOVE with a narcissist, but that means they're usually the first to offer quick advice.
Those of us who loved a narcissist are a little bit slower to offer advice. We know the narcissistic relatioNship is complex, the abuse often subtle, the loss of self-esteem comparable to the Boiling Frog Analogy. It's never an easy task to separate from a narcissist...even when we admit to ourselves that the relatioNship is unhealthy.
We end up believing we'll never be happy, satisfied nor content without the narcissist. We fear being a Single Person. We believe our misery is permanent. We scoff at people who tell us, "This Too Shall Pass." We interpret our emotions as reliable guides for appropriate action. NOT! We either pull the covers over our heads and block out the world; or we run back to the narcissist because our feelings insist he or she is the Love of Our Life. Oh, it's pretty much hell getting over a narcissist.
The following email is a message I received from a reader (bless her heart wherever she may be.) I hope my humor offered some relief while also offering wisdom about the Three Stages of Healing. I've been there folks, as have hundreds of my friends and let me tell you something about loving a Narcissist: "This Too Shall Pass".
WHY do I miss him so much...Why do I long for im?????!!!!??? OMG'osh, am I completely crazy? CAN YOU HELP ME!!! This is the second Narcissist I've fallen madly in love with!! HELP! XOXOXO FranticInAtlanta
You miss him so much because you liked the guy. You long for him because he filled an inner yearning for an intimate partner. Yearning for an intimate partner is normal since human beings are social creatures. We need each other in order to be mentally healthy. Whether or not you are crazy, though? Sometimes the only way to prove we’re not crazy is to abstain from the N-relatioNship and find out.
How long after your first boyfriend did you start dating another maN?
Recovery gurus suggest waiting one year before starting a new relationship. This is because we are still grieving the loss of our former partner. If we haven't given ourselves enough time to heal the residual emptiness, we may 'use' another person to fill up the void instead. Or even worse, we might return to the rejecting narcissist for a second, third & fourth attempt to fill the hole in our hearts. A hole they created in the first place!
Dating a new person too soon, shortcuts deep healing. Our spirits feel lifted up again. We feel good, but it's not love. It's infatuation. And infatuation results in an inevitable crash when we ask ourselves, "What the bleep was I thinking?" Sooner or later, we accept our losses and surrender to 'legitimate suffering' if we hope to live sanely, healthily and happily---with or without a partner.
Even though waiting One Year before starting a new relationship is the standard answer, you may consider a Two Year Abstinence Period as a safer bet. After years of conversations with cyber-friends, my suggestion would be as follows:
1-Join a support group comprised of people who are dealing with similar experiences
2-Suffer six months of withdrawal. Rely on recovery friends to keep you from "Going to the butchershop when you want a loaf of bread"
3-Avoid filling your inner emptiness with addictions. Addictions distract us from pain temporarily; but they delay, prolong and prevent personal growth and responsibility
4-Practice celibacy. In other words, abstain from sexual relationships. Even one-night-stands catch us by surprise when the oxytocin flows. As Helen Fisher informs us about the Biology of Love: "Never copulate with someone you don't intend to marry."
5-Reward your celibacy by getting a plant for your bedroom. This little plant serves as your first needy companion post-N-breakup. We might wanna call this:
Stage One: Get-A-Plant
If you take good care of that plant for six months until it blossoms with good health and vigor, then and only then, are you ready to take the second step:
Stage Two: Get-a-Pet
If your pet is still alive and doing well six-months later, and you've proved your ability to nurture both flora and fauna, it might be time for the third step:
Stage Three: Get-A-Partner
If you are in Stage One Get-A-Plant when accepting a dinner date, you will interpret his noodle-slurping as 'Hot and Sexy' because you are absolutely certain this guy will make you blossom like a Peace Rose.
If you are in Stage Two Get-A-Pet when accepting a dinner date, you will interpret his lousy dinner manners as something you can fix with just a little direction . And maybe a dog whistle. Let me remind you: It's safer to train a pet.
If you are in Stage Three Get-A-Partner, you will realize there is nothing attractive about noodle-slurpers. You will know it's not your job to fix anybody. You will also know in the depths of your soul that no woman deserves to be stranded inside a burning house awaiting rescue by a maN who started the fire in the first place.
A Stage Three Woman stranded in a burning house also knows in her gut: her Knight in Shining armor cannot come to her rescue because he's busy slurping noodles with a Stage One woman who feels he's kinda cute...kinda sexy...and kinda remediable...in a cuddly sort of way...
Part Two: Get-A-Pet
Part Three: Get-A-Partner
Other References of Interest: