Why is a relationship with a narcissist addictive?

A myriad of issues can arise when your partner is a narcissist. Despite this, many people are still attracted to the person and the relationship, and ending it is not an option. But why exactly? What makes a relationship with a narcissist addictive?

The origin of the relationship

A relationship with a narcissist can literally be addictive. But to understand how this addiction develops and works, it is important to know how the relationship begins. Especially how passionate such a relationship is at first. “Falling in love with someone with narcissistic personality disorder is very intense from the start,” says the narcissism coach. Lot Ann Mulder. “For example, you’re overburdened with messages and attention. The narcissist knows exactly what you crave and then gives it. Whether that’s attention, good conversations, money, or gifts, it’s given. The narcissist reflects a lot. Your standards, values, goals, and long-term plans are copied and passed back to you. You really found your prince(s) in shining armor, and that gives a sense of joy.”

The beginning of a relationship with a narcissist can often be great, according to Mulder, you don’t know what hit you, but a person with narcissistic personality disorder often has their own agenda for this. The narcissist really wants you commitment And I would like to have it in a short period.” The narcissist wants your bond as soon as possible. This is because the person has assumed some sort of alter ego for himself, and that is also unsustainable for someone with a personality disorder. So it is in that person’s best interest to get you to “commit” as quickly as possible. Which can, because in the end there is room for the projection of the “alter ego.” After all, this alter ego costs this person a lot of time, energy and effort.


The narcissist often leaves true colours Once the partner is committed to it. You’ll then see that after the hook-up moment, the dynamics will change, according to Mulder. “This often happens when people start living together, by the way, they migrate, or when a baby is on the way. In fact, it is when it becomes difficult for you to return to your old life.”

Literally overnight, a narcissist can change his behavior. “I heard from a client that it was still cake and egg on the day of the wedding, but the next day — when the wedding ring was on her finger — it was flattened immediately. The same applies after a couple has had a child. In such a situation it is sometimes Worse All of a sudden a disproportionate amount of attention is being given to the child and not to the narcissist This is very difficult for such a person This attention is Pillar #1 for someone with narcissistic personality disorder A relationship that goes downhill at any given time can be very traumatic for a non-narcissistic person “.

A narcissist can negatively affect a relationship in many ways. This has to do with the personality disorder they suffer from. Narcissists are often attention junkies, and they can’t handle it well if their partner is also spending time with others. They have little respect for others, cannot empathize with others and can respond to criticism with tremendous anger. On the other hand, they can completely destroy their partner’s self-confidence. They also star in manipulation. In other words: all the reasons not to be with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder. But why do people stay with this kind of partner?

Four reasons

Mulder knows that it is often the emotional people who fall in love with the narcissist. “Sensitive people who are emotionally damaged at times. They are often not used to ‘unconditional love’ and this is a normal or ‘normal’ feeling for them. They often really want to believe in a dream image, which makes them small Save the flags It’s easy to filter at first.

Don’t forget, Mulder explains, they were made entirely to fall in love. This also makes it difficult to leave a narcissist. “It’s about feeling. That first period is there for a reason, the period when you open your heart and fall madly in love. And maybe he also becomes a little addicted to this toxic form of love. Then the narcissist also discovers that you’re a little more sensitive than average, because they want you to be You become loyal to them, and it’s easy to perceive (read: manipulate) with people who have a lot of feelings.”

Broadly speaking, there are four main reasons people stay in a relationship with a narcissist, Mulder knows: bonding with trauma, an inability to believe someone is really like this, brainwashing and codependency.

1. Shock belt

“The trauma bond is a type of addiction, which is created by intermittent reinforcement. This means that pleasant moments alternate with terrible ones, and this is also what characterizes a relationship with a narcissist,” Mulder says. Those absolutely beautiful moments, like the awesome vacation, the fireworks in the bedroom, and the deep, beautiful conversations, are peppered with huge dramas and huge lows.

In a relationship with a narcissist, self-confidence often slowly declines. The narcissist also does a lot to ensure that your social circle becomes smaller and smaller, for example by playing against you, so that you only have him. This person then becomes one of the most important people in your life and you hear fewer counter messages, and those two facts also make you more manipulable. You’re also often more “grateful” for the fact that this person is in your life, even if that person isn’t good for you at all. Precisely because things often get worse in your public life after you meet a narcissist, a narcissist can become the highlight of your day by creating a (little) cute moment. But also by creating a low point, which gives you the feeling that nothing is worth living for anymore. “So that person you’re in a relationship with can give you a shot of dopamine, which makes you feel like okay. But that person can also color your day jet black. The pendulum swing of this (intermittent reinforcement) is addictive.”

2. The inability to believe that someone really likes it

“Many people tend to project—as they call it beautiful in psychology. Then you assume that everyone is built the way you are.” So you never lie to another person? Or would you never manipulate anyone for personal gain? Then you can’t imagine someone else could. “Even when you see it happen literally in front of your eyes, it’s sometimes hard to realize that it really happened because simply no one could have done it consciously and premeditatedly and meant it that way.”

3. Brainwashing

A person with narcissistic personality disorder ultimately wants to have as much control as possible over the person they are in a relationship with. “This person often imprints on you: ‘You can’t do without me, without me your life is not interesting.'” This message – subtle or inaccurate – is then repeated constantly, eventually making you completely believe it. This also makes the breakup from the relationship very scary, Because you really think life won’t get better after a breakup.

4. Co-dependency

Brainwashing is often associated with codependency. Because of this brainwashing, people get low self-esteem. They make a relationship where people who are not narcissistic are more important than themselves. The continuation of the relationship thus becomes more important than the individual’s (personal) happiness, desires, or health. “That’s what you call codependency. Some people are already ‘codependent’ before they get into a relationship with a narcissist, and some people slowly turn codependent in a relationship with a narcissist. So it’s very important to break that cycle of codependency.”

laser focus

Mulder knows from experience that people mainly stay with narcissists because of the way they have been brainwashed. “If you have been in a narcissistic relationship for a very long time, you truly believe that this is the best thing that has ever happened to you and that life without this person is not or will not be more fun.” Narcissists often manipulate their partner in such a way that they lose their will. “Someone really wants you to become certified.” And this manipulation sometimes takes place in very unsightly ways. From punishment and reward to making you very tired. “A narcissist keeps you up at night, for example, so that you perform poorly during the day, or that you can’t make smart decisions. Or a narcissist says you’re not good at your job. So that you feel less powerful (and therefore less independent and independent) in your work. Everything What the narcissist does boils down to “feeling better than” or maintaining “control”.

Through manipulation, the narcissist can slowly make your circle smaller. For example, you see your friends and family less and less, things are not going well at work, and so on. “As a result, you no longer know what to do with the situation and in the worst case scenario, your relationship is the only bright spot of the day.” Because a narcissistic partner is sometimes the only “positive” thing in someone’s life, the person becomes incredibly manipulable and dependent. It is precisely for these reasons that a relationship with a narcissist is addictive, and it is very difficult to break up with a narcissist.

Photo: Kenan Constance (Pixels)

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