Esme hates Valentine’s Day. Growing up with a narcissistic parent, she feels there is a love void in her heart. No matter how many people love her, she feels unloved. Her best friend Mary keeps saying she should practice self-love so she can open her spirit up to the love that’s already around her. In theory, Esme knows she deserves more love than her narent offered while she was growing up, but down inside, she still feels unworthy.
It’s the time of year when everyone wants to think cozy and romantic thoughts about love, but there is a much darker side to relationships if you grew up the child of a narc. If you grew up focused on your parent’s needs, you might find it’s a struggle to love yourself. You might wonder if the narc has stolen your love and it could be true. Here are five ways the narcissist steals your love:
- The Narc Offers a False Substitute for Love
A relationship (if you can even call it that) with a narcissist is one sided. You might love them and you might do a lot of nice things for them, but most of the time a narc will only use you and give nothing in return.
Whether you’re in a romantic relationship with a narc or were raised by one, chances are you’ve received more criticism than love. True love doesn’t try to fix you, form you or force you into another’s mold. True friendship is a two way street, but with a narc the relationship goes mostly one way. If you are still trying to please someone who constantly criticizes you, perhaps they are not worthy of a relationship with you.
- The Narc Tries to Block You From the Love of Others
The narc likes to interfere with your relationships by talking about you or putting you down and trying to get others to exclude you. This process of shunning or isolation is obviously not love, but it keeps you from loving relationships. The narc wouldn’t want you to have a warm and fuzzy feeling with anyone else now, would he?
When a narc is through using you, he’ll try to run you out of town. Whether it’s because you told the truth, married someone he doesn’t like, or voted for the opposite party, you have failed to meet his expectations and now you are the big bad villain. The narc will scapegoat you and try to separate you from the rest of your family and friends. This is not love.
- The Narc Wants You to Feel Like a Failure at Love
A Narc will treat you like you are inadequate because you haven’t loved her the way she wanted. After all if you can’t love your own mother the way she wants, you must be devoid of love. This is not love but manipulation. Love is not jumping through hoops to please someone. The narc probably knows you are way better at love than he is and in order to keep you to himself, he wants you to feel inadequate. You might actually be very good at love. Perhaps you should try it with someone capable of giving love back to you.
- The Narc Wants to Rob You of Self-Love
If you grew up with a narc parent, you might feel guilty for loving yourself. That’s probably because the narc’s emotions and needs took precedence in your childhood. You might even sense your narent’s feelings before you feel your own. If you were taught that self-love is selfish, then you might not know how to love yourself. If any of these things ring true for you, it might be wise to find a good counselor and explore this further. You have the right to love and care for yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t have any love to give to others–which brings us to number five.
- The Narc has Screwed Up Your Basic Concept of Love
Whether you dated a narc or grew up with one, chances are your relationships are influenced by narcissism. This is not your fault, but if you choose to become more aware you can gain a better life. If you are a people-pleaser or codependent or lone star isolating yourself from messy relationships, you probably need to study up on what real love looks like. If the narc has messed with your mind, you might be so used to abuse that you don’t recognize real love.
So that’s the bad news, but the good news about love is much better than you thought. Real love is much kinder than the so called love from a narc. The world is full of empathetic people who actually care about you. Not everyone wants to use you. And despite what the narc tries to say about you, you are both loving and lovable.
The sooner you recognize the ways the narc has interfered with your relationships, the sooner you can get the narc out of your life and move on to real people who know how to love. When you let go of the twisted versions of love imposed on you by the narcissist, you will be free to love yourself and in turn you will be able to give and receive love with others.