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Forgive the Narcissist?

Uploaded 1/18/2011, approx. 4 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

To preserve one's mental health, one must abandon the narcissist. One must move on. Moving on is a process. It's not a decision. It's not an event.

First, one has to acknowledge and accept painful reality. Such acceptance is a volcanic, shattering, agonizing series of nibbling thoughts and strong resistances.

Once the battle is won and harsh and agonizing realities are assimilated, one can move on to the learning phase. The learning phase involves labelling, educating oneself.

We compare experiences. We digest. We have insights. Then we decide and we act. This is what it means to move on.

Having gathered sufficient emotional sustenance, knowledge, support and confidence, we face the battlefields of our relationships, but this time fortify and nurture.

This stage characterizes those who do not mourn but fight, do not grieve but replenish their self-esteem, do not hide but seek, do not freeze but move on.

And then, of course, there is grieving. Having been betrayed and abused, we naturally grieve. We grieve for the image we had of the traitor and the abuser, the image that was so fleeting and so wrong.

We mourn the damage we did to ourselves. We experience the fear of never being able to love or trust again. And we grieve this loss as well.

In one stroke we lost someone we trusted and even loved. We lost our trusting and loving selves and we lost the trust and love that we felt.

We may have lost our ability to trust and love. Can anything be worse than this compounded loss?

The emotional process of grieving has many phases.

At first, we are dumbfounded, shocked, inert, immobile and traumatized. We play dead to avoid our inner monsters. We are ossified in our pain, cast in the mold of our reticence and fears.

Then we feel enraged, indignant, rebellious and hateful. And following this phase, we accept. Then we cry. And then some of us learn to forgive and to pity.

And this is called healing.

All stages of grieving are absolutely necessary. And all of them are good for you. It is bad not to rage back, not to shame those who shamed you, to deny, to pretend, to evade, it is counterproductive.

But it is equally bad to get fixated on our rage. Permanent grieving is the perpetuation of our abuse by other means and by ourselves. By endlessly recreating our harrowing experiences, we unwillingly collaborate with our abuser to perpetuate his or her evil deeds and misconduct.

It is by moving on that we defeat our abuser, minimizing him and his importance in our lives. It is by loving and by trusting anew that we annul that which was done to us.

To forgive is never to forget, but to remember it's not necessarily to re-experience.

And this leads us to forgiving and forgetting.

Forgiving is an important capability. It does more for the forgiver than for the forgiven.

But it should not be a universal indiscriminate believer. It is legitimate not to forgive someone. It depends, of course, on the severity or duration of what was done to you.

In general, it is unwise and counterproductive to apply to life universal and immutable principles.

Life is too chaotic to succumb to rigid edicts and rules. Sentences which start with words I never or I always are not very credible and often lead to self-defeating, self-restricting and self-destructive behaviors.

Conflicts are an important and integral part of life. One should never seek them out, but when confronted with a conflict, one should never avoid it.

It is through conflicts and adversity, as much as through care and love, that we grow.

Human relationships are dynamic. We must assess our friendships, partnerships, even our marriages, periodically.

In and by itself, a common past is insufficient to sustain a healthy, nourishing, supportive, caring and compassionate future in a relationship.

Common memories are a necessity, but not a sufficient condition.

We must gain and regain our friendships on a daily basis. We must reassess and reassess our relationships on a daily basis.

Human relationships are a constant test of allegiance and empathy, a test which the narcissist so often flunks and fails it miserably.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissistic Abuse: From Victim to Survivor in 6 Steps

To move on from being a victim of narcissistic abuse, one must abandon the narcissist and move on. Moving on is a process that involves acknowledging and accepting painful reality, learning from the experience, and deciding to act. It is important to grieve and mourn the loss of trust and love, but perpetual grieving is counterproductive. Forgiveness is important, but it should not be a universal behavior. Human relationships are dynamic and require constant assessment. It is not advisable to remain friends with narcissists, as they are only nice and friendly when they want something. Inverted narcissists who remain in relationships with narcissists are victims who deny their own torment and fail to make the transition to survivors.


Victim of Narcissist: Move On!

The narcissist lives in a world of ideal beauty, achievements, wealth, and success, denying his reality. The partner is perceived as a source of narcissistic supply, and the narcissist pathologizes and devalues them to rid themselves of guilt and shame. Moving on from a narcissistic relationship involves acknowledging and accepting painful reality, educating oneself, and gaining emotional sustenance, knowledge, support, and confidence. Forgiving is important, but it should not be a universal behavior, and no one should stay with a narcissist.


Love Your Narcissist? Make Him Stay, Depend on You (Tips, Resolutions)

In a relationship with a narcissist, it is important to know what not to do and what to do to maintain the relationship. Avoid disagreeing, contradicting, or criticizing the narcissist, and never offer intimacy or challenge their self-image. To make the narcissist dependent on you, listen attentively, agree with everything they say, offer something unique, be patient, and be emotionally and financially independent. It is also crucial to know yourself and set personal boundaries, treating yourself with dignity and demanding respect from others. If the relationship becomes abusive, consider going no-contact and ending the relationship for your own well-being.


Narcissist's Insignificant Other: Typical Spouse or Intimate Partner

Living with a narcissist can be exhilarating, but it is always onerous and often harrowing. Surviving a relationship with a narcissist, maintaining a relationship, preserving it, insisting on remaining with a narcissist, indicates therefore the parameters of the personality of the victim, of the partner, of the spouse. The partner, the spouse, and the mate of a narcissist who insists on remaining in the relationship and preserving it is molded by it into the typical narcissistic mate, spouse, or partner. The two, the narcissist and his spouse, collaborate in this dance macabre.


Adulterous, Unfaithful Narcissists: Why Cheat and have Extramarital Affairs?

Narcissists cheat on their spouses for several reasons. Firstly, they require a constant supply of attention, admiration, and regulation to regulate their unstable sense of self-worth. Secondly, they are easily bored and require sexual conquests to alleviate this. Thirdly, they maintain an island of stability in their life surrounded by chaos and instability. Fourthly, they feel entitled to anything and everything and reject social conventions. Fifthly, they feel that being married reduces them to the lowest common denominator. Sixthly, they are control freaks and initiate other relationships to reassert control. Finally, they are terrified of intimacy and adultery is an excellent tool to suppress it.


If You Love a Narcissist, This is For You

The text describes a relationship with a person who is emotionally unavailable and causes pain and rejection. The person craves love and intimacy but pushes the other person away and hurts them first. The relationship is described as a form of self-harm, but the other person cannot let go. The relationship is a mix of good times and bad times, and the person is described as fleeting and penumbral.


Your Role in Narcissist’s Shared Fantasy is Why He Hates You (hint: you make him feel himself – and human)

In summary, the narcissist's intimate partner plays a crucial role in the shared fantasy by fulfilling the roles of admirer, playmate, and mother. This allows the narcissist to experience maximal grandiosity and feel safe enough to separate and individuate. However, the intimate partner's presence also leads to the narcissist's self-hatred and inability to maintain meaningful communication with both the outside world and himself. The intimate partner ultimately becomes a threat to the narcissist, as they make the narcissist feel human, which is something the narcissist does not want to be.


When Narcissists Become Codependents

Living with a narcissist can be harrowing, and the partner of the narcissist is often molded into the typical narcissist mate, partner, or spouse. The partner must have a deficient or distorted grasp of herself and of reality, and the cognitive distortion of the partner of the narcissist is likely to consist of belittling and demeaning herself while aggrandizing and adoring the narcissist. The narcissist is perceived by the partner to be a person in the position to demand these sacrifices from her. The breakup of the relationship with the narcissist is emotionally charged and is the culmination of a long chain of humiliations and subjugation.


Loving My Narcissist HURTS so much!

Loving a narcissist is a painful experience due to their lack of empathy, idealization followed by devaluation, and inability to truly connect with their partner. The narcissist's inaccessibility and indifference can be devastating, as they often discard their partners without any emotional reaction. This experience can leave the partner feeling shattered, questioning their own judgment and ability to trust themselves and others. Ultimately, the pain of loving a narcissist comes from grieving the loss of who they used to be and the potential of what could have been in the relationship.


Mourning the Narcissist

Victims of narcissistic abuse often struggle to let go of the idealized figure they fell in love with at the beginning of the relationship. When the relationship ends, they experience a cycle of bereavement and grief, including denial, rage, sadness, and acceptance. Denial can take many forms, including pretending the narcissist is still part of their lives or developing persecutory delusions. Rage can be directed at the narcissist, other facilitators of the loss, oneself, or be pervasive. Sadness is a paralyzing sensation that slows one down and enshrouds everything in the grave veil of randomness and chance. Gradual acceptance leads to renewed energy and the narcissist being transformed into a narrative, another life experience, or even a tedious cliché.

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