There is absolutely zero benefit to trying to have a reasonable relationship with an unreasonable person.
It’s a horrific lesson in the power of entropy, at best.
At worst, an extended interaction with an abusive or narcissistic person can leave you scarred for life. Or dead, hung on your own need for closure, common sense, or any spark of rational behavior.
But it ain’t gonna happen. They aren’t going to suddenly become kind, sane, empathic.
And sometimes the best closure you’re going to get is to accept the fact that closure is not going to come. Not from them.
I get it though. Sometimes you can’t prevent somebody from hurting you. The first time. And sometimes you even get sucked into continuing a relationship with a consistently hurtful person.
It’s ok. We’ve all done it, at some point.
We’ve all put up with weird behaviors and ignored reddish flags along the proverbial quest for magnificent love.
Still, the fact remains, and is worth repeating:
There is nothing to be gained from negotiating, collaborating, or even corresponding at all, with an irrational, abusive person, and the sooner a person can embrace this fact, the better equipped she will be to live a happy, drama-free life.
Think about it.
Wouldn’t you rather put that energy into something beautiful, positive, and productive, like spending time with people who see you, listen to you, and respect your boundaries?
But sometimes it can be hard to decide when to cut people out of your life, and these days it seems like everyone’s talking about “narcissism.”
- But what if they need help?
- What if they’re a family member, a boss, a housemate?
- What if they were abused when they were kids, or they have PTSD, or they’re an addict?
Sigh. Consider the possibility that none of that is your problem. Not at all.
But…what if you love them?
Yeah, it can be tough. And breaking free of an abuse cycle is no small task, that’s for sure. But sometimes you just gotta cut the cord, so how can you tell when that’s the case?
You need a litmus test, of sorts.
A way to tell if you’re just having a temporary hard time with someone, and it’s worth it to persevere, or if you’ve gotten sucked into a whirlpool of insipid, narcissistic abuse, and you need to get OUT before the undertow does you in.
So, what exactly are the behaviors of a narcissist, and why are they so hurtful?
If you’ve ever been under an abuser’s spell, you already know how awful it can be, and how hard to break free.
If there’s anything that can help, it’s facts.
Forget about why they are doing these things. You won’t ever figure out why and it doesn’t matter. Focus instead on WHAT they are doing, and recognize if you might be enabling them by continuing to play along. Don’t worry about the explanations and excuses and stories you’re making up in your own head about it.
Focus on actions that actually occurred, words that were actually spoken, and sensations you, personally, felt.
Focus on the time spent feeling bad. That was real. Do the math. How much time was it? One hour? Five hours? How many hours per week, per year? What percentage of your waking life was that? Was it worth it?
Besides doing the math and focusing on the facts, I have found that having a tangible checklist makes a huge difference in how clearly I can see whether or not to end a tricky relationship.
This is what I call my “Aw Hell No! Checklist,” and it describes specific actions that abusive and/or narcissistic people tend to take.
Personally, after surviving more abusive relationships than I care to enumerate, I now have a zero-tolerance policy for people who do any of these things, even once. Twice? They’re out. Life’s too short for that kind of drama!
So, if somebody in your life is acting in these ways, consider cleaning house and making space for somebody who’s capable of an actual friendship. In case you want to do some googling, the clinical terms for these behaviors are gaslighting, bypassing,bullying, manipulation, passive-aggression, violation of consent, and good old-fashioned physical and emotional abuse.
Set the bar wherever it works for you, but take it from me, who grew up with narcissistic parents and spent my entire 20’s and most of my 30’s playing out the exact. Same. abusive. Crap. over. And over. And over….
And then I learned:
It’s not my fault all that bad stuff happened. But it is my responsibility to at least try to say NO, the next time somebody tries to suck me in. And the time after that.
Because why would you want to be around somebody who abuses? Even if you don’t want to call them out — that’s fine.
Ask yourself: how do you want to pass your very short amount of time here in this life?
And trust me, if you stick to this list, you’ll open a whole new niche in your life for authentic, mutual and loving relationships! I’m now two years into a calm, happy relationship with a healthy and kind man, something I never would have believed was possible. And it’s been six years since my last PTSD-induced depressive episode.
Because I learned to say Aw Hell No!
And you can too.