Intentionally Emotive with Shaun Karim
Episode 8 - How do I know if I’m in a Relationship with a Narcissist?
Sometimes it can be difficult to identify–or admit–when we’re in a relationship with a narcissist. After all, they are master manipulators. In this episode, Shaun goes over–in detail–the things to look out for, and more importantly, what you can do to get out of it.
And after you leave that relationship, there is a new journey you need to take. Shaun goes over how to embrace that journey and how to truly make your life yours–by being loyal to yourself.
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Hey everyone. Welcome to the Intentionally Emotive Podcast with Shaun Karim. New episodes are available every Wednesday. If you haven’t already, please subscribe and check out my past episodes.
Today we’re going to go over how to identify if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist.
So before you got into that relationship, you felt lonely. Doesn’t matter if you were alone or not. That loneliness permeated your entire being. Sure, you have your job. Maybe you enjoyed it, maybe you didn’t. In either case, it took up time and put money in your bank account. You were at least OK with that. I mean yeah, you had friends and you all hung out with each other. During work at lunch time, happy hours, dinners, activities on the weekends. But friends can only give you so much emotional connection. There is a limit on what they can give you because they have their own commitments.
They certainly can’t give you companionship. Right? So with all that you had going on and occupying your time and brain space, you still felt a lack in something, like you needed something or someone to complete you. I mean, that’s what we’ve heard growing up. He completes me. I can’t live without him. He’s my everything.
That all always sounded amazing, right? Who WOULDN’T want that? So you became available and put yourself out there. You wanted to find that connection with someone. You knew at some point it would happen. I’m a nice person, you say to yourself. I have a good personality. I have a good job. I take care of myself. I’m smart. I have a good sense of humor. I value the important things in life….
So you start connecting with some people. A lot of them are nice. Maybe you’ve come across some assholes. But eventually you find this one person. There’s just something about them, and you can’t put your finger on it. Maybe you two get along so well with lots of laughter and great conversations. Maybe it’s just like, eh, OK. I can deal with this.
In either case, they’ve offered something to you that maybe no one else has, and it’s something that you’ve wanted. Companionship. Trust. Acceptance. Stability. They’ve been really sweet about it, and both of you seem so aligned in the things you like, the things you expect from each other, and where things can go. They even offer up their thoughts about you, about what you’re like together; that everything is amazing. Or maybe they’re providing for you in a way that you can’t for yourself.
Things seem to be going so well. Maybe you’re asking yourself, “This is amazing. Is this for real? It almost feels like it was too easy, too good to be true.” When you spend time together, it feels good. Feels comfortable. You’re so happy. They’re happy. It’s like months of this, right?
I’ve talked before about how no one can ever be 100% consistent. We’re human, not robots. We can slip up with the things we say vs what we actually meant to say; or we forget some things; or we do the wrong thing. It happens. You’re very understanding about that, so you forgive and move on.
But slowly you start to see that the level of consistency is dropping. Things seem to be… becoming less consistent. I mean now that word is not even relevant. What happened?
Suddenly, the things you’ve talked about before regarding how you feel, where you stand with each other, your future together… that’s all in question. But you weren’t the one to question it. They were. You used to be so aligned, and now it’s almost like those conversations never happened. Maybe you ask about them, and they can’t remember… or maybe you can’t remember them the way they happened? Am I going crazy, you ask yourself.
Slowly, things begin to fall apart. You don’t notice it at first. Other people in your life do, especially your friends. You don’t seem as happy; and you can tell something major is off because you’re not nearly as sure of yourself as you used to be. All the things that you talked about with your partner, the private things, the intimate things, the things that made you feel so vulnerable, the things you couldn’t share with other people who were so close to you… all of a sudden, it feels like they’re using those things against you.
They start telling you things like, “You’re too emotional. I didn’t say that. You’re overreacting. Can’t we just see where things go? Why are you asking me if I love you?”
All of that is a far cry from the conversations you used to have; when you spoke about how you wanted to build your lives together, the things you wanted to accomplish both individually and together, how you wanted to grow old with each other. Those conversations seem like they happened so long ago now.
Maybe you bring that up. They just stare at you blankly. Or they claim nothing has changed, but you know actions speak louder than words, and their actions are so loud, they’re deafening. And then you start seeing things you didn’t see before. Do they have a wandering eye? Why do we feel so emotionally disconnected now?
You start asking yourself, did I do something wrong? Maybe I need to change to get things back to the way they were. You try to talk to them about this, and they’re telling you that all of these changes are because of YOU? Like, it IS your fault?
So you try to change things. If it’s my fault, you say to yourself, then I need to change. They’re telling me what I need to change, so I’m going to do it. You start changing your behavior. The activities you enjoyed? Done. The TV shows you liked watching? Done. The food and restaurants you loved? Done. The people you hang out with? Done.
Now they’re in charge. They’re in charge of you, the things you do, and especially the status of the relationship. That strong commitment you two had at the start is no longer there. Now things are in limbo, just the way they like it. You concede these things because you just know that they’ll come back around. You’re making these changes because you want to show how much you care for and love them.
How long does this need to go? For how long do I need to feel like this? When will they see how much I want this to work?
There’s something here you don’t want to admit to yourself. You’re afraid of the embarrassment. You don’t want to admit that you were wrong. You don’t want to acknowledge the red flags you ignored, the ones you’ve been ignoring, the ones you keep ignoring. You don’t want to start over. You don’t know what tomorrow without them will bring. Your life will change so much if things between you two were to end, so you think it’s easier to stay.
But really, you KNOW all of that is bullshit. Yeah, it’s painful to admit that you were wrong, but THIS wrong? That sucks. Ignoring those red flags was a mistake, but you can do something about it now. Maybe you don’t want to start over, but is it worth running in place, or worse yet, going backwards?
That voice inside of you that you’ve been ignoring you is telling you to make a change. It hurts. It’s painful. It’s the opposite of what you’ve been doing. But you know you deserve better. You deserve to be happy. That means being happy in a relationship or being happy alone; in either case, the shit you’ve been going through you’re realizing isn’t worth it. Above all things, you’ve lost yourself.
Do I even know who I am anymore, you ask yourself.
So you broach the topic. What is this? Where are we going? Why can’t we really talk about it? Why have things changed so much? Again, they blame you, but fuck that. This may hurt like hell, but who’s going to take care of me if I don’t take care of myself? Not them. They haven’t, ever. And you’re realizing, slowly, that they never will.
You sit with yourself and you start to think. Have been played this entire time? The manipulation? The breadcrumbs of hope that I got every now and then while being showered with doubt, confusion, and anger? Is that what this is supposed to be like? Am I so used to being treated like this from my past that I think this is normal? Because this can’t be normal, right? There’s no fucking way.
They’re breadcrumbing you again. Now they’re telling you what they’ve done wrong and how they plan to fix it. They’re even talking about how they feel good about what your future looks like. All those conversations at the beginning? They’re resurfacing again. They’re saying all of the right things. They’re doing all of the things you’ve always wanted.
But with that strength inside of you, that strength and that VOICE that has always been there, is helping to understand that this needs to be the end. All of this needs to end, but YOU need to be the one to end it.
End it by staying true to who you are. Don’t budge. Don’t be manipulated. Don’t fall for their tactics anymore. Piss them off along the way if you have to, but at the end of it all, you decide to be loyal to yourself. Maybe for the first time?
So now the gloves are off. Kind of. They start to tell you what they actually think about you, about “us”. Maybe they even confirm some of the suspicions you’ve had, and now you think to yourself, if I was right about that, am I right about the other things too? Again, this is your fault, they tell you. Fine. It’s my fault, you admit.
It’s my fault that I want someone who understands what a relationship is, who wants to build something, who doesn’t want to waste time, and someone who will love ME for me.
That’s not you, you say to yourself about them. So you let them leave, but you ended it. You did it. You had enough self respect to do it. Those lies, manipulation, control, and deceit you’ve been dealing with are finished.
But now… you’re left alone. By yourself. But you’re not lonely. Not by a longshot. Because you know that, although you have work to do, that anchor that has been weighing you down has been severed from you, and now you can finally move on with your life.
You know, there was a time in my life when I thought I needed to be in a relationship to be happy. I thought I needed someone in my life to complete me. I thought being alone was the same as being lonely.
I realized after a long while that all of that is untrue. The trauma I experienced as a young child is something I carried with me well into adulthood. What ended up happening is I fell for people who were just like my caregivers; emotionally immature and unavailable, deceitful, unprepared for taking advantage of the opportunities life has to offer, always being unhappy and somehow always being attracted to drama even though they said they didn’t like it.
I thought my life had to be like that. I thought for the longest time that all of that was what it was supposed to be like.
But after all of those patterns being repeated over and over again, I came to realize a lot of things.
Sharing intimate truths with the person with whom you’re in a relationship only for them to use that against you is not someone who is worth your time.
When someone shows you who they are, you need to believe them. I’m not talking about them telling you who they are. If we understand that actions speak louder than words, then why do we ignore the irrefutable evidence that people give us when they show they are not worthy of our time, commitment, care, and love?
It takes a tremendous amount of courage to do the right thing for ourselves. It takes an immense amount of strength to listen to and follow what that inner voice tells you. Trust and listen to that.
If you feel unsure about someone or a situation, if you feel anxious by what someone is telling you–especially if it goes against what you know to be right, that is your body telling you to watch out. Take heed. Pay attention. There is some bullshit in your way that you need to avoid.
The trials and tribulations in our lives can either make us or break us. You’re going to be scarred no matter what, so you might as well be loyal to yourself first. I promise you that if you do that, everything else will work out.
Those primary caregivers who couldn’t care and provide for you the way you needed, the early relationships you developed with people that hurt you, the romantic relationships you’ve had going into adulthood, and all of the trauma that came with all of that forces you to go along with your family’s script.
The script that says you can’t go above this ceiling; that you will never accomplish more; that you don’t deserve more; that you’re not enough; that you’re not worth it; that you’re not capable–ALL of that can be rewritten, and you’re the one with the pen. So write!
That glass ceiling? Break through it. You can’t accomplish more? Bullshit. Do what you set your mind on and work at it. You deserve all of what you want. You are more than enough, and you are totally worth it. You’re capable of anything you want no matter what other people in your life tell you.
And understand that when you’re in a relationship, the next one you’re in, the one who isn’t a narcissist, or toxic, that it’s OK to want to feel safe with someone who loves you for the things that other people thought were unlovable.
All right, guys. That’s it for this one. Thanks for listening to the Intentionally Emotive Podcast with Shaun Karim. If you haven’t already, please subscribe on your preferred podcast platform you use and check out www.shaunkarim.com.