Being in a relationship in any capacity with a narcissist is a learning experience. In order to survive with your sanity in tact, naturally you need to learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It helps you to understand what was really happening & that contrary to what the narcissist in your life told you, the problems in the relationship weren’t your fault. It also helps you to spot the early signs of a narcissist, so you won’t end up in a similar relationship again.
That being said though, there are other valuable lessons you can learn from a narcissistic relationship.
Responding instead of reacting is a very valuable skill! Not only in relating with narcissists, but even with healthy people, responding is a good relationship skill. Reacting is done in the heat of the moment & without thought. while responding is done after some consideration. Narcissists love reacting because people will do or things when they react that they wouldn’t normally do if they had taken the time to consider their predicament. This can prove to the narcissist that their victim is crazy, abusive or anything else they want to claim. Healthy people don’t act this way of course, but even so, reacting can cause problems in even the healthiest of relationships. It’s a good idea to stop for a second to take a deep breath, then release it slowly when you’re tempted to react. This action calms anxiety & anger, & gives you a second to consider your response.
Boundaries are a very good thing. Narcissists respect no one’s boundaries. They feel they have every right to say & do anything they please. Once a victim is away from this sort of behavior, they learn that boundaries really are a wonderful thing. They also learn to appreciate people who have no problems with boundaries.
“No” can be an excellent way to figure out if a person is functional or not. Narcissists can take the simple word no as a victim being rebellious, difficult, disrespectful & even abusive. A functional person takes no as a boundary & they respect it. If you want to see if the new relationship in your life is a healthy one, say no & see how the other person reacts.
People believe what they want to believe. Human beings like things to be as we think they should be, & we can get upset when that perception is threatened. A healthy, functional person will consider the evidence & even if it’s uncomfortable, go along with the change. Dysfunctional people aren’t this wise. They may refuse to face change. This is never more evident than when there is evidence showing them that a narcissist isn’t the great person they think he or she is. This is when they become especially vicious to the narcissist’s victim. Many of these people don’t want to believe that person isn’t the great person they thought they were, possibly out of fear of looking foolish. It’s more comfortable for them to believe the narcissist’s smear campaign of the victim rather than the victim sharing the truth about the narcissist. Or, they could be gaining something from the narcissist- money, favor, etc. Sometimes, they are victims of abuse by someone else, & when the victim speaks out against the narcissist, it triggers their own pain. These people will do anything to shut down the victim so they can continue denying their own pain. For victims in this situation, it’s best to avoid such people at all costs.
Let people think what they want. Closely related to the last paragraph, one valuable lesson I’ve learned from relationships with narcissists is to let people think what they want. Narcissists create their own version of victims that they believe is accurate. Their flying monkeys & those close to them will believe whatever the narcissists tell them to believe about their victims. No amount of work on the part of a victim can make any of these people believe anything they don’t want to believe. In fact, trying to convince them of the truth most likely will make them think the victim is crazy & treat the victim even worse. Why go through that? Let them think whatever they want, & live your life however works for you.
Of course, there are more things I’ve learned. What about you? What have you learned from your relationship with a narcissist?