There is a thrill that comes with toxic relationships. The constant unknowns, the ups and downs, and displays of rage disguised as “passion” can actually be extremely addictive.
The combination can be thrilling, which is one of the reasons why dating can feel dull after enduring life with a narcissist.
The topic came up recently with one of my clients, who worried she would never feel “that thrill” again. Although it had been a year since leaving her abuser, she missed the rush that had come with the ups and downs and believed she would never be satisfied with a “normal” relationship.
It can be challenging to adjust to a normal relationship after going through a traumatic and toxic situation with a narcissist, and here are the reasons why.
#1. You may not feel the same sexual connection
One of the main worries that my clients have is that they will never have the same intimate feeling that they did with their narcissistic ex.
When reflecting on intimacy with a narcissist, it is important to realize why the sex was so good. It’s not because your partner was giving. In fact, most of the time, narcissists are going to be extremely selfish in bed.
A narcissist will mirror you, especially at the beginning of your relationship. When you are intimate with them, it will feel as if they see you in a way that no one else ever has.
These beginning moments of intimacy will translate into a false connection that isn’t real. Still, you will become absolutely transfixed and obsessed with getting to that place again, even though they will become less and less giving.
#2. You are addicted to the roller-coaster ride
I can prattle on and on about all of the negative parts of dating a narcissist, but the truth is that you most likely already know them. You have spent enough nights crying and telling yourself time and time again, “This time, I’m really going to leave.”
But what we don’t talk about enough is how incredibly… exhilarating the roller coaster can be. The fights, the making up, the invalidation and validation that you scarcely get, and the love-bombing that comes back, giving you that little piece of hope that things will change… it’s like a drug.
You will most likely end up becoming trauma-bonded to the narcissist, and that is an entirely new journey in the addiction, as you will feel like you would rather die than walk away from your abuser.
#3. You miss the love-bombing
Over-the-top gestures, words of affirmation, and talk of soul-mates and destiny… it’s something that you will only experience when being love-bombed by a narcissist.
In the aftermath of the storm, you may start dating someone new, and they will be calm and paced and respectful… and it doesn’t give you that same heart-exploding feeling that you got before.
All of the love-bombing was a lie, but that can be incredibly hard to accept because it was a fantasy, and everything we have been conditioned to believe is “love” in our society/culture. Many people also stay because their abusers provide tiny glimpses of light (sparse love-bombing) in between the horror of everything else.
#4. You are conditioned to accept drama and toxic behavior as “normal.”
Before the narcissist, I had plenty of unhealthy and dramatic relationships. They didn’t contain the same level of emotional and physical abuse but were still extremely toxic.
Drama and toxic behavior were normal in my life. After all, my childhood was full of emotional turmoil and constant drama. My intuition became something that I ignored because my thoughts and feelings were constantly invalidated.
Deep within, something told me to stay away from the Narcissist, but I dismissed the uneasy feeling and continued onwards because I didn’t know how to listen to it, and to be honest… the drama was something that I secretly craved.
Eventually, I was able to cultivate an amazing and healthy relationship after narcissistic abuse… but it took some serious self-discovery to identify and work through my past so that I was in a good place.
I will leave you with the same advice that I provided my client. You are by no means destined for a lifetime of toxic relationships. You deserve a respectful, healthy, and loving relationship with both your friends and (if you choose) future romantic partners.
Identify the reasons why you feel hooked on the toxic roller-coaster. Then you can begin working towards cultivating a new belief around what you want and need in a healthy relationship.