Narcissistic Relationships: Was It Ever Real?

Updated on December 24, 2018
SinDelle profile image

I am a specialist in Cluster B personality disorders who has worked with people with disabilities and mental illnesses for over 10 years.

When someone finds out their loved one could be pathologically narcissistic, it is often very shocking. The information out there about narcissistic people is not hopeful. Much of it is hurtful and even hateful. They are referred to as evil, despicable, horrible, and, most of all, fake. When you research this topic, you may hear over and over again that a narcissist does not love you, does not know you, and is a fraud. You might even hear that you don't really know the narcissistic person. Some people may know this already in their hearts, but to hear it said out loud or to read it can still be a shock. Others are not ready to hear it, and it can be extremely upsetting.

That's understandable. When you love someone, when you have poured your heart and soul and energy into a situation, when you have done everything you possibly can, when you are desperately searching for a way to fix the situation and you hear that, it can be devastating. It can also profoundly affect how you feel about yourself and about the time that you feel you've wasted on this person. Many people become very angry at themselves or feel bad about themselves because of it. They often ask, "Was any of it real?"

Their Narcissism Has Nothing to Do With You

However true it may be that pathologically narcissistic people are not capable of what most would consider truly loving others, it's important to remember that this has nothing to do with you. The narcissist's ability - or lack thereof - to recognize or genuinely feel love has nothing to do with yours. The narcissistic person's inability to be their authentic self has nothing to do with you, either. It doesn't matter whether it was real to them or not. It was real to you. Your emotions are real. The relationship was real to you. That is what matters.

Dealing with the shock and trauma of these revelations can be very difficult and it's very common for people to feel tricked. They may feel duped, fooled. They may doubt their own emotions, their judgment, their value, they may even doubt their own perception of reality. This is understandable, but it's also not necessary. The only thing that was fake was the narcissistic person. Your feelings, your commitment, your plans, your part in the relationship were all real. Because of that, these things must be considered. The relationship must be grieved, just like any other relationship. It must be processed and dealt with, just like any other relationship. Perhaps even more so, as it's likely that people have given more in a narcissistic relationship than they did in others. They often have fantasies or hopes for the relationship that may also need to be grieved. And that's OK. It really is. Judging yourself harshly for believing in what was later revealed to be something other than what it appeared is not helpful. You wouldn't judge a friend like that, so don't do it to yourself.

Your Feelings Matter

Many people get stuck in a trap of berating themselves for their feelings. They say things like, "How could I not know? Why am I grieving over a relationship that was not real? Why am I so stupid? Why do I care about someone who never cared about me?" The answer to all of these questions is: you're human. Yes, it's often true that those become entangled in relationships with narcissistic people or can't break free from narcissistic family members have issues of their own, but everybody has issues. That's what makes people human, and it has nothing to do with intelligence. Nobody's perfect. So give yourself a break. Don't punish yourself for not knowing the lesson before you even learned it. That's silly, and it's unfair to yourself. Now that you do know, you can make better decisions.

That's important. Remember, a person can only claim ignorance once. After that, they know better. It's like that old saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." If a person continues to make the same decisions after they know better, they would do well to look within themselves and try to understand why they are doing that. That's the only way to change things because waiting around for people who have abused or taken advantage of you to suddenly wake up and decide it's wrong to do that is probably not going to work out. You have to decide when enough is enough. No one else is going to do it for you.

It may not seem fair and it may not seem right, but this is what it is. In a perfect world, nobody would hurt another person on purpose, and if they did, they would stop as soon as someone asks them to. But this is not a perfect world. Sometimes people are toxic and that's just how they are. They probably aren't going to change. Maybe some of them can't change. But everyone's feelings are their own responsibility, as is their well-being, so if something is hurtful or damaging, it is up to them to protect themselves from it. This often involves ending any association with the toxic or abusive person. That may be the healthiest response to the situation. However, don't make the mistake of discounting your emotions, your worth or the relationship as a whole just because for whatever reason, someone else didn't invest in it the way you did. It was important to you. It mattered to you. It was real to you. Your feelings - and you - matter. You can honor yourself - and therefore care for yourself - by honoring that.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 The Little Shaman

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image

        steve 

        3 weeks ago

        Aye, I've found all your articles on narcissm helpful, but this one in particular has been a balm to my soul. It is so necessary to forgive oneself for loving an illusion. Thank you so much...

      • profile image

        Denise 

        6 weeks ago

        thank you thank you

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pairedlife.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pairedlife.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)