When A Toxic Relationship Shifts

In various relationships with the narcissists in my life, I remember a shift in their attitude with me.  It was always subtle, but I noticed it anyway.

My ex husband & I started dating during the second semester of eleventh grade.  By the end of the first semester of twelfth grade, he had become a bit distant.  We wrote notes often as many kids in the 80’s did, & suddenly his went from at least one or two a day to one every few days before suddenly stopping entirely.

Later in life, when I began pulling away from my parents & setting some boundaries, their attitudes became different.  My mother was obviously furious with me, but didn’t admit to it.  My father became controlling for the first time. 

I met my late mother in-law some months before my husband & I began dating, when we were just friends.  One day I was going to drive him to pick up a car he was buying.  I picked him up at his parents’ home, & although I could tell his mother didn’t particularly like me, she seemed somewhat friendly.  Once she realized we were dating, she became ice cold.  After we got married almost 4 years later, she became extremely vicious with me.

This sort of behavior is very common with narcissists.  No matter the type of relationship, at some point, there is a change in their attitude with the victim.  That change often comes about when the narcissist realizes the victim doesn’t want to lose the narcissist.  It also can happen when the victim starts to set boundaries or the narcissist sees the victim as a threat in some way.  Either way, narcissists want to make sure their victim behaves as they want.  What better way to do this than to abuse that victim?  They may make their victim feel so insecure, as if the relationship is bad & it’s all the victim’s fault.  They also may become controlling & manipulative, trying to make the victim feel as if they need to earn the narcissist’s affections.  They may make the victim feel as if it’s best to do whatever the narcissist wants rather than displease the narcissist & face their wrath.  The type of wrath naturally varies between overt & covert narcissists, but in either case it’s best not to face it, so many victims will do absolutely anything to avoid it.

The really horrible part of this is while this abuse happens behind closed doors, the narcissist continues to wear their mask to convince everyone else they are a wonderful person.  When a victim looks for advice & support, those who also know the narcissist often tell the victim how lucky they are to have such a wonderful person in their life.  That person loves the victim so much!  It must be nice having someone so loving in their life.  They’re lucky to have a parent or significant other care so much about them.  Such responses can leave a victim baffled & feeling as if they are the problem in the relationship. 

The result is the victim often stays in the relationship.  The victim feels utterly alone because no one believes them.  They believe the narcissist’s good guy/good girl act instead.  Victims learn quickly there isn’t any point in discussing the abuse because no one believes them.  Meanwhile, the abuse gets worse & worse.

Have you been in this situation?  Are you in it now?  If so, you’re not alone!  This is typical of relationships with narcissists. 

Don’t beat yourself up for getting yourself into this situation or tolerating too much from the narcissist.  Narcissists are experts at psychological warfare.  They can manipulate even the most brilliant of people because they are just that good at what they do. 

You also need to pray a lot.  God willingly gives wisdom to anyone who asks for it according to James 1:5, so ask for it!  He can help you to cope if you’re still in the situation or find ways to help yourself heal if you have escaped it.

Always remember that the treatment from the narcissist isn’t your fault.  Their actions are 100% their responsibility.  Don’t accept the blame for their behavior.  Don’t carry their shame for their actions.  Learn all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, healing from narcissistic abuse & about how to have healthy boundaries.  Take care of & protect yourself.

4 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

4 responses to “When A Toxic Relationship Shifts

  1. Cynthia, subtle is the key word. They are very good at what they do – putting others down and blaming them. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  2. eyeofdonnam

    Yes to all the above!
    I also have made the mistake of letting some of these people back into my life thinking I might have discerned the situation incorrectly! Unfortunately I forgave them & set myself up only to be heartbroken again…that will never happen again! I refer to this quote quite often as a reminder…
    Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” This is one of the hardest life lessons that I’ve ever tried to follow, but it is sage advice.
    Thank you Cynthia for all your insight. You are helping so many people to understand & validate what they are dealing with or what they have dealt with…Keep it going!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pretty sure we all have done that, unfortunately! Narcissists are so good at convincing their victims that they changed, this time will be different, blah blah blah along with making them feel so guilty for leaving them. It’s no wonder it takes most victims leaving & coming back a couple of times before they make the break for good. I’m so glad you learned though!!

      Oh yes.. I know that quote! How true is that?!

      Thank you so much for your kind words!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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