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Why You Should Kiss Your Narcissistic Lover Goodbye Before The Relationship Gets Even More Toxic

  • 20 min read

Learn from my drama and painful mistakes

‘To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.’ Oscar Wilde

My first love was for a gorgeous musician. I was 21 years old and met him at a concert. A friend of mine had invited me.

They played a duet on stage. She played the cello, soft and warm. He played the piano, delicately and yet with a passionate speed that was breathtaking.

As I listened to the music, I just couldn’t take my eyes off this fascinating man who mesmerized the whole room with such an impressive ease.

He was also very charming backstage. He seemed down-to-earth and without airs and graces.

His brown eyes sparkled at me. My girlfriend noticed the looks we exchanged and warned me: ‘You’d better keep your hands off him. He has very bad luck with love.’

This charming, attractive man was a young, up-and-coming star

Although I’d heard what my friend had said, I couldn’t get him out of my head. And he couldn’t get me out of his either.

We wrote to one another often, and, one day, he invited me to an exotic café. He ordered for us. We laughed together. He talked about himself and his work. Although he was my age, he was already pursuing his craft while I was still studying.

When he told me about the female fans who would suddenly show up at his doorstep and stalk him, I googled him for the first time.

Only then did I realize that this charming, attractive man was a young, up-and-coming star who was already internationally known.

This attentive man reached for my hand

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125 miles separated us. He already had a car with which he surprised me one weekend in late summer in the city where I was studying. I liked that.

In general, I liked his pleasant manner, his interest in me, and his charm. He did a lot to ensnare me, especially with small gestures.

Although he was already receiving attention and admiration from the media, fellow musicians, managers, and friends, he sat with me on the Rhine and gave me the feeling of being someone special to him.

He kept saying that he had had a lot of bad luck in love and that he was finally looking for a woman who would take him as he was and make him happy. Secretly, I had been thinking for a long time that I could be that woman.

When this attentive and passionate man reached for my hand that weekend, I let myself in for a wonderful and painful adventure.

Today, I would advise my younger self against the relationship. The man almost destroyed me.

I was dealing with a textbook narcissist

Every person carries narcissistic parts in himself. Men, according to the Austrian psychotherapist Raphael M. Bonelli, are more prone to it than women. This is due to the male nature, he says. Aggression belongs to the nature of men, he explains in his book about the male capacity for love.

It was much too late when I realized that, in this wonderful, charming man, I was dealing with a textbook narcissist.

If I had listened to my girlfriend or to my grandfather, who told me, ‘With him, you’re walking on eggshells. He is like a mimosa’, then perhaps I could have spared myself some suffering.

But I was head over heels in love. Butterflies swirled wildly in my stomach.

I accompanied him on his tours. He introduced me to conductors, musicians, actors, and people from the media, to his friends and family.

He captivated me.

I had to adapt to his rhythm and agenda

After weeks of being in love, I found myself taking off my rose-colored glasses, and, with time, the true face of my boyfriend came more and more to light.

After Christmas that year, he had planned a trip for us. I was looking forward to finally being together with him for a longer period.

I came back to my hometown every weekend, but he often had a busy schedule due to rehearsals and concerts.

While the first weeks of falling in love were a blissful blur, I soon found I had to adapt to his rhythm and agenda. For example, we would see each other only in passing, or meet at an event where he was playing.

I am better than the others!

His appearances flattered his ego. He was courted, praised, admired, applauded and, all the while, I stood by and watched the spectacle, because that’s what it really was.

While he was out on stage, aping the happy, charismatic musician, I knew what was going on backstage: he was knocking over bottles in his booth, yelling angrily, tearing up his sheet music, and even holding me partially responsible for his emotional outbursts.

When he had a competition coming up, he would practice for nights on end with headphones on to perfect his playing, while everyone in the house, including me, slept.

We watched videos of other star pianists. He analyzed their touch, their melody, their expression, their performance on stage. Then he lay down in bed with me, drenched in sweat, and said:

‘I am better than the others! I’m going to win the competition.’

A few hours later he would be doubting himself again:

“the others are better than me”.

I stood by him through everything

Sometimes he would send me home because I would only distract him.

I tried to understand him. I admired his will and his drive to improve his art.

When he won the competitions, he was in high spirits. If he lost, I had to build him up again. But my devotion was never enough for him.

Late at night, he would gather his friends and meet in a fancy restaurant to discuss the concert. Everyone gave him encouragement. Everyone boosted and lauded him, told him how much they appreciated his music.

When we went to his place at night, he would then make fun of his friends. He put his achievements above theirs. He had already reached another level, one that the others would only dream of. It’s good, he would say, that they also see it as he does, that he would be very good, better than the others.

With such statements, his narcissistic traits came out more and more to the fore. He seemed to me like someone who was trapped inside.

Psychotherapist Bonelli said:

‘The narcissist circles (…) around himself in love’. He is like a ‘man in bondage.’

My admiration for him began to wane

The scales were beginning to fall from my eyes, and he noticed it.

My admiration for him began to wane, no longer blindly enthusiastic as I had been about everything he did.

The dazzling facade was crumbling. I still tried to listen to him, but, at one point or another, I also told him my opinion, which was contrary to his perception.

Above all, with time, I also began to express more clearly my needs and desires, which did not suit him.

I swallowed my wishes on Valentine’s Day

It was just before Valentine’s Day when I asked him what our plans were for that special day. He hadn’t mentioned anything about it yet. That’s when he got really angry for the first time. I found that very strange and inappropriate.

He said I couldn’t put myself in his shoes at all. He had an important concert in a month where he would accompany the orchestra. He would be practicing and wouldn’t have time for anything else.

I swallowed my wishes, but on Valentine’s Day, when I didn’t hear from him, I called him and told him again that I wished we could see each other, at least for a few hours.

I don’t think he knew what day it was. My call had pulled him out of an exercise, which he immediately reproached me for. I should put myself in his place, he said. If we saw each other, it would take too long.

Then he went one better:

‘I don’t know if our relationship can stand that. I can’t have deceived myself again.’

I cringed. He reluctantly agreed to go out that night and invited me to his place, but he could tell I was tense. What effect his words had had on me he was not aware of.

Admiration was his elixir of life

The world seemed to revolve only around him. Even in the next few weeks, when we disagreed, he directly questioned our relationship.

I noticed that he met more and more with his musician colleagues. Among them were women who adored him. He also allowed himself to be adored in front of me.

Admiration was his elixir of life. With him, it was all or nothing, his opinion or not at all, and I, as his girlfriend, had become a person with whom he no longer shared much.

I found out from friends when he was at a meeting in the evening or a guest of a famous conductor.

He wanted to satisfy his insatiable need for admiration

Woman photo created by master1305

He apparently no longer wanted to take me with him, although I was well received in his circles — even though I was not an artist.

That often annoyed him, too. He seemed jealous of me when friends raved about me instead of him.

For that reason, among others, he now seemed to want to keep me away from everyone. From the outside, via reviews in the feuilletons and acquaintances, he could still satisfy his insatiable need for admiration.

I was no longer enough. He sucked me dry like an emotional vampire. I felt as if he would use me and then throw me away again. When I was allowed to visit him, I had to be with him completely. Then I was allowed to leave again.

While my feelings and desires were swept under the table, he presented himself as empathetic to the outside world, and suggested that he understood the desires of others.

But when we were alone, he complained that the others no longer thought about him, but always about themselves.

The climax was finally reached when I had to write my term papers and later started my Bachelor’s thesis.

When he heard that I was stressed and couldn’t take care of him (on the contrary, I would need his support), he shut me out.

‘It’s better if we don’t see each other for now. I need to concentrate. You have to work.’

He didn’t seem to want to be considerate. My situation annoyed and burdened him.

At first, I couldn’t believe that he was serious. But he was.

He had broken out of his emotional prison

A few weeks previously, I had had the feeling that we had found each other once again. He had opened up, broken out of his prison for a moment, and become human.

He told me about his father, who had abandoned him and his brother at an early age. He was only four years old when he started his piano career. His mother, with whom he had little contact, raised the two boys.

He threw himself into his playing, which gave him self-confidence and focus.

For years, he said, he didn’t know who his father was. He would have done research and eventually found him. Even talked to him at one of his concerts. He now understands better why he had left the family and the country. It had all been too much for him.

Whether he planned to meet with his father again. No, he knew everything now. That was enough for him.

Deep down, he still didn’t feel loved, or at least, that’s how it seemed to me.

All the admiration around him wasn’t enough. His father had left and that gnawed away at him. He fought for the attention that had been denied him at a young age.

He broke up with me

A few weeks later, he broke up with me. It had already been announced by the fact that he had simply stopped contacting me and only responded when asked. But he wanted to see me, he said.

The meeting was short. He said he could not go on like this, couldn’t let himself be steered by his emotions, but think of his work.

I sat very quietly next to him and didn’t know what to say except,

‘all right’.

I was utterly heartbroken. I dreamed about him at night, played our conversations over and over in my head and I thought about what I could have done differently.

What he had said and how I had reacted to it. Should I have been more sensitive?

Again and again, I reached for my cell phone. But there was no new message. I remembered that he had once made fun of a friend who had just broken up with someone.

‘It’s no use contacting the person who broke up. He’s not coming back,’ he said.

That was my guiding principle. I held on to that and spent the next few weeks trying to throw myself into my final paper. I only had a few pages left to fill, but it was still hard for me to concentrate.

At some point, I stopped checking my phone. I even went to the sea for a few days to clear my head.

I finished the paper and sent it off. I answered questions from the professor in the colloquium. Then I had my degree! I celebrated it and enjoyed life again.

When I talked to friends from my studies, they said that they had not recognized me in the last few months. I had spoken less, and the joy of life and the optimism that characterized me had disappeared.

They were glad to see me happy again.

I was ready for a new chapter but then…

I applied for my first job near my hometown and got it. Of course, every now and then I thought back to my ex. But I was ready for a new chapter.

I had just finished my second interview at the agency that wanted to hire me when I saw a missed call on my cell phone from my ex-boyfriend. He had not left a message.

A little later a message came. While cleaning up, he had found one of my t-shirts and an old photograph of us. I could pick the t-shirt up from his place. He had moved in the meantime. He sent me the address.

He wanted to meet with me. I swallowed. What t-shirt, I asked myself? Was I supposed to meet him again?

A few days later, I was standing in front of his new apartment. But although I rang the bell, I did not go up the stairs but stayed at the bottom.

Instead, I sent my grandfather up. My grandfather was more like a father to me and he agreed to come along. It had been a nice trip for him.

He came back down with a bag and we started toward the park where we were going to eat some food and sit by the pond.

As we enjoyed the late summer day, I thought about how it had now been a year since my ex-boyfriend and I had met.

My grandfather told me that he had been very surprised that I had sent a courier instead of coming myself.

‘I’m sure he was hoping to see you again,’ he said, winking.

As we took another walk around the pond, my cell phone vibrated.

It was him.

He was also at the park and had seen me and my grandfather. He wondered if he had ever told me what a loving person I was. I would also take such good care of my grandfather.

He said, he missed me

It was not until days later that I answered him and agreed to meet him again in person.

About three months had passed and a lot had happened in both our lives. We met again in the café where we had our first date. Everything was just as it had been back then. He smiled at me. Ordered for us. Asked me questions. Told me about his life.

At some point, I asked quite freely what he wanted from me; why he wanted to meet me in person.

Then he told me that he had gone through an old cardboard box. He had found my t-shirt as well as some photo albums. He had wanted to throw them away, but hadn’t had the heart.

He looked deep into my eyes.

‘I think I miss you’, he said.

How could he tell, I asked him? He hadn’t slept much in the last three months and had been thinking about me all the time.

He had tried to distract himself, to meet with other women who wanted him, but it hadn’t been the same.

He would have frequent stomach aches. That would be called lovesickness, he said with a grin and reached for my hand. But I withdrew it from him.

I was not ready to reheat everything and I did not want to continue from the same place as three months ago. I needed some time.

He understood that and invited me to his place. He would like to know what I thought of his new apartment. I agreed.

On the way home, I thought about the fact that he had not asked me about my thesis, but rather wanted to know if there was another man in my life.

What did he think I had been preoccupied with for the last few months? Did he even remember that I had to write my thesis?

The pain of our months together was still deep

The weekend before I was to start work, we met at his place. This time, I not only rang the bell, but also climbed the stairs.

He received me with a broad grin and wrapped me in his arms. I did not resist. But I also didn’t feel the desire to be embraced by him. The pain of our months together, in which I had been unhappier than ever before in my life, was still too deep.

In fact, the distance had done me a lot of good.

I had realized for myself that I had tried to support him with all my strength and to be the person he wanted me to be. I had assumed that if I loved him unconditionally, he would do the same for me one day.

I wanted to help him and show him that I loved him for who he was at his core. I had imagined that, eventually, it would click and I would also be the person he needed.

I had a hundred excuses ready

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As we sat down on the couch, I wanted to wait and see how he acted and what questions he asked me.

Instead, he told me, at length, how he had been, which competitions he had participated in, how the concerts in the opera and his retreats in distant countries had gone.

I listened to his monologue and remained silent.

‘You are so different,’ he remarked. ‘Don’t you want to get together with me anymore?’

Now it would fit so well. He had to work a lot and so did I. Then we could be together on the weekends. He would keep them free for me.

That sounded too good to be true. But he continued to lull me. I forgot to ask him the crucial question, namely whether he remembered that I had graduated and whether he wanted to ask me how I had been in the past three months.

I had a hundred excuses ready for why he neglected to do this. But in retrospect, I know he didn’t attach any importance to my milestone.

I let myself get involved with him once again. He told me everything I wanted to hear, reaffirmed over and over that he had missed me, that he desired me, and would plan vacations with me.

This first weekend after our breakup felt like a revival. I wanted to hold on to my first love.

He suddenly even started talking about marriage. A friend must have said to him, ‘You have to keep her and marry her!’

A few weeks later I found myself at the same point I had been months earlier.

I felt like I had been chewed up and spat out. Although the weekends would be packed with dates, he would forget about them or was surprised when I showed up at his door on Friday afternoon.

It seemed to me that it had all been about getting me back.

Now I was back, admiring him, caring for him, listening to him. I started to become a person I didn’t want to be again.

I felt exploited, devalued, and puny. My self-esteem was in the basement. This was not the loving, equal relationship that I wanted. I felt like I was in a prison, in which I could not live my needs and feelings.

I felt alienated from myself, while he, again, reacted more restrained and distanced himself. The gaps between our meetings became longer, although he told me that I was exactly what he needed.

I wanted to protect myself from being hurt again

One day I realized that he was not what I needed. I wanted someone by my side who respected my needs, with whom I could also take a stand without my counterpart being upset.

One thing I knew, this time, I wanted to protect myself from being hurt again and take the reins in my own hands.

I believed him that he wanted me and I gave him what he needed, but the problem remained the same.

As a narcissist, he always had to be the center of attention. All the spotlights had to be on him. I could see it. Only he was not aware of it.

I decided to put myself first before my situation became unbearable again. One Friday evening, I tried to reach him several times. He didn’t answer the phone. Even when I rang his front doorbell, he wasn’t there.

I tried so many times until I reached him. He had once again forgotten about our meeting and told me all the things he had to tell me to keep me.

But this time, I didn’t want to suppress my feelings anymore. I felt the anger rising inside me and told him how I felt, that this didn’t feel like a relationship to me. He didn’t understand and started to argue.

No! It was over.

Takeaway: You can be exactly who you are

‘To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance’, as Oscar Wilde said.

For me, that first love was a valuable life lesson.

  • If someone treats you the way I have described, separate from that person as soon as you realise it and don’t reheat the relationship. That will only lead to more pain.
  • You can love yourself and feel loved again.

When I see his posters in the city now, his appearance, the outer facade does not touch me anymore.

Others stop and look at the poster; I pass by.

I am happy to have found my zest and strength for life again, to finally feel loved for the person I am. I feel valuable and I stand by myself.

I can be exactly who I am, and that is wonderful.

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