The narcissist has an almost pathological fear of commitment which causes him to ultimately destroy every relationship he enters. He does not want your love as he has no connection to his own feelings, or rather only to those of his wounded ego. He simply wants to be in control of you and what goes on within the relationship. We know that when he has won you over he feels strong and invincible because he has you exactly where he wants you, completely under his spell, reading the lines from his script. Remember, you are the lead actress in his play, for the moment at least. At the same time, the more comfortable things become; the more bored and disinterested he starts to feel. And the more loving you are, the more panic he feels because love is the scariest thing in the world to him. This sets up a Fight/Flight response within him, causing him to orchestrate an argument - usually raging at the object of his fear (you), followed by the Houdini Act so that he can escape for a while. Once his panicked feelings subside, or you in turn start to lose interest, which means he has now lost control of you, back he comes to re-set the scene all over again. And of course as his leading lady and dysfunctional dance partner, you take his hand and off you twirl again. But rather than talk about the narcissist, let’s look at what goes on from our end.
Is it possible that some of us who were involved in a toxic relationship might also have our own commitment issues? Was the narcissist the perfect partner because deep down inside we knew that it was never quite going to work? Were we simply mirroring his fear of commitment but from a different angle? He was actively avoiding commitment and we were passively avoiding it.
Nobody can hurt us unless we allow them to. But until we learn to fully love ourselves, we so often do. Instead of saying, ‘This guy can’t love me because he’s too damaged and has some serious issues’, we take his emotional distance and disappearing acts as a personal rejection and try even harder to get him to care. We need his love to prove to ourselves that we are OK. And when he doesn’t, it affirms to us that we’re not. Could our reason for staying also be partially to do with the thrill of the chase?
I personally pondered that question both during and for a long time following the relationship and wondered whether my desire to have my ex love me was simply because I couldn’t get him to – or at least only partially. Did that contribute to my great need for him to show me that he cared? Because he wouldn’t, or couldn’t, or deliberately didn’t? How much of it was ego on my part and how much of being with him was my own commitment phobia (and need for control) playing out? I was so busy trying to get him to love me that I hadn’t even considered what might happen if he had actually decided to fully commit to the relationship. Would I have been as enamored of him at that point, or would I have found myself losing interest the same way he did when he was certain he had me under his control. In the past I had not been interested in men who adored me, I only wanted the ones I couldn’t get. Of course I was recreating the inner child chaos, which so many of us do – I couldn’t get my emotionally distant father to care, or not the way I needed, so every man in my adult life was merely another version of my father, with a different face. I was trying to right the wrongs of that first male/female relationship.
On some level it was also serving me to stay with an emotionally distant man. One; it was replicating a relationship pattern I was familiar with from childhood, two; it was proving to me that I was unlovable and three; it was proving to me that men were not to be trusted and that ultimately it was safer to be on my own. Hmmm, not the healthiest of thought patterns!
If this resonates with you, here’s something to consider. During our time with the narcissist we often find we have lost ourselves completely by focusing all our energy on our partner, the awful things he is doing or has done, the abuse, the neglect, the chaos. While we are locked in that energy, we safely avoid looking at what it is in ourselves that serves us to stay in that unhappy situation. And once it is over, we then become locked in the unfairness of it all, which keeps us just as stuck but in a different way. In reality, all the toxic dynamics of these types of relationships are only a reflection of our own lack of self love and possibly our own fear of commitment and true intimacy. Until we change ourselves and raise our energy high enough to tap into the vibration of self-worth and healthy self-esteem, we will always attract a reflection of our own core damage. Once we love and care for ourselves more, we automatically bring better people into our lives.