So you’ve read every online article you can find on Narcissism/Sociopathy/Anti-social Disorder. You’ve printed them out and made your own Binder Bible, complete with chapters and subtitles. You know so much about the disorder, you could probably pass the GRE.
All the quizzes, checklists, and worksheets you’ve completed indicate he’s a Narcissist. Your therapist says he’s a Narcissist. Your instinct tells you he’s a Narcissist. Yet, you are not fully convinced. Maybe, in spite of his horrible childhood and sadistic mistreatment by all seventeen of his Exes, you can love him enough to help him. Maybe, just maybe, he will soon realize the error of his ways, see how much he loves you, and vow to spend the rest of his life making up for the pain he’s caused you.
Add to that the fact that he has cheated on you numerous times, is gone for long stretches with no explanation, calls you names and refuses to acknowledge how much of a jerk he is. Or worse, he’s found a new girlfriend, yet keeps you on the side for the occasional romp in the sack.
Is he a Narcissist? Probably. Can he change? Almost certainly not. At this point, should it really matter if he’s a Narcissist? No. What really matters is that, in spite of the incriminating, mounting evidence, you don’t want to let go. Despite all he’s done to desecrate the relationship you have with him, you still hold out hope.
It doesn’t matter if he’s a Narcissist or not. What matters is that it’s likely that you are highly codependent.
Why Does it Matter if I’m Codependent?
Most people with codependent traits can get by in life somewhat well and are often very successful. However, if not treated, it gets worse over time. It causes perpetual feelings of sadness that never quite go away, with most sufferers living in quiet desperation without ever really knowing why.
Curiously, many codependents aren’t aware of having these traits, often believing themselves to be strong-willed, independent, ambitious, and unwilling to take anyone’s crap. On the surface, it may not look like codependency, but if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship (such as the one described above), and feel a confusing compulsion to remain in said relationship, it’s likely you are codependent.
According to Robert Burney, author of The Dance of the Wounded Souls:
“Codependence is a deadly and fatal disease because of emotional dishonesty and suppression. It breaks our hearts, scrambles our minds, and eventually kills our physical body vehicles because of the Spiritual dis-ease, because of our wounded souls.
The key to healing our wounded souls is to get clear and honest in our emotional process. Until we can get clear and honest with our human emotional responses – until we change the twisted, distorted, negative perspectives and reactions to our human emotions that are a result of having been born into, and grown up in, a dysfunctional, emotionally repressive, Spiritually hostile environment – we cannot get clearly in touch with the level of emotional energy that is Truth. We cannot get clearly in touch with and reconnected to our Spiritual Self.”
It Doesn’t Matter Whether or Not He’s a Narcissist
What matters is that you are not being treated in the way you deserve. What matters is that your love and patience will never be appreciated…but exploited repeatedly. He will never regret what he’s done, nor will he ever make good on it. In fact, he will continue to blame you for all of his indiscretions and rage attacks, making you feel even worse about yourself, and turning your codependency into a sickness that will eventually ruin you (and your children, if any are involved).
Stop holding out hope. Stop researching his disorder in hopes of finding some loophole that points to his possible recovery. Stop forgiving the unforgiveable.
Go No Contact. If you share children, start planning your escape and visit a divorce attorney. And whatever you do, don’t agree to remain “friends”. That’s Narc-speak for keeping you in his queue of bedroom buddies.
Your new life is waiting for you. All it takes is the decision to honor your right to happiness.
**I use the pronoun “he” for ease of reading. However, female Narcissists can be every bit as sadistic as the male ones, and look prettier doing it.