Think about when you first met your narcissist. What was going on in your life back then? Were you coming out of a bad relationship with someone else? Were you young and vulnerable, trying to escape a traumatic childhood? Perhaps you were needing someone to save you and just make everything better.
If you answered yes to any of these, then you were ripe for a narcissist to sweep you off your feet. Narcissists love to be that knight in shining armor -- in their minds, they like to create a fairy tale and they look for characters to be a part of their play.
And those characters must come with a certain criteria: they must be overly giving of themselves, put themselves second, be willing to adore their knight, and above all, they love to be saved because they can't save themselves.
If they meet anyone outside this criteria -- someone who is selfish or demands she receive and not just give -- the narcissist will not be interested.
You may be asking yourself, "How in the hell did I get here? How did this happen to me?"
Because one day you were minding your own business, and suddenly this person came into your life and turned it upside down.
But here's how it happened:
Somewhere in your childhood you may have had a narcissistic or codependent parent that only loved you on certain conditions, not unconditionally. You were taught that if you put your needs aside to make that parent happy, you were rewarded with conditional love. And as a child, any love felt good so you took what you could get.
So you learned early on that if you are overly giving, and made someone else a priority over you, you would receive love, even though it was minimal at best.
And by the time you began forming adult relationships and looking for a romantic partner, your bar was already set very low. You knew how to be the ultimate caregiver, but never knew how to demand things for yourself.
You also knew that should you actually raise the bar for yourself and demand more, you may just get punished. This form of punishment might have been rejection, neglect, degradation, criticism or isolation by your narcissistic or codependent parent.
So no, you weren't ever going to rock the boat. You knew to keep your mouth shut and never demand anything from anyone. You will give, and give, and give -- because that's what you do best.
And that is why you were a perfect match for your narcissist.
But now you are truly stuck. In your heart you know you deserve better, but because you have spent YEARS pushing your needs aside (and getting punished for when you try differently), how on EARTH would you ever have the strength to break free? How can you possibly be expected to raise the bar for yourself after years of being taught that it's wrong?
I am here to tell you, you are allowed to RAISE THE BAR. It's okay to do so. You will still be loved.
Nothing bad will happen if you do. In fact, only good things will eventually come.
But it won't feel like that in the beginning. No, it will feel REALLY AWFUL.
Everyone around you is so used to you not having boundaries -- especially your narcissist. So by you raising the bar, you're gonna piss off a lot of people.
Yep -- be prepared to not only piss off your narcissist, but your mother, your father, that coworker who walks all over you, even your children! Your kids may be the most pissed off -- because they want things exactly they way they are, and God forbid you don't take care of them like you used to! Nobody wants someone who says "no" to them.
Actually, no UNHEALTHY person wants you to say "no."
But lots and lots of healthy people want you to say "no." Healthy people respect healthy boundaries.
Boundaries are sexy. Raising the bar means you are a badass.
People will crave more of you when you aren't such a giver all the time.
What would happen if you were to walk into Wal-Mart and they were just giving stuff away? That stuff would kind of lose its value, right?
Free stuff is good, but we tend to throw it away quicker, and we often get bored with it.
But valuable stuff -- the stuff we work hard for, the expensive stuff -- we hold onto that! We are proud to have something that wasn't given to us for free!
The same goes for someone who doesn't give away their self-respect and all of their love without requiring people to earn it. If you don't give that away, then those who've earned it will find it immensely valuable!
Everyone in your life -- especially your romantic partner -- must EARN your love every day. Don't give it away. Raise the bar.
Lindsey Ellison is a women's divorce coach, who specializes in helping women break free from their narcissistic partners. For more information on divorcing or breaking free from a narcissist, click here.