Should I divorce my narcissistic spouse?

Help, my husband is a narcissist: breakup protocol

If all male narcissists were so easy to recognize, then probably not so many women would have been in a relationship trauma (by the way, how about a uniform consisting of poorly fitting blue ties, tanning beds and orange hair ?!). In these wonderful rounds of women, in which we eat together, drink wine and are more open than seldom, we disabled people recognize each other pretty quickly. "A narcissist, you know," says one of her unhappy love. And the other nods knowingly.

Of course there are also narcissistic sisters or bosses. Or the acquaintances who piss us off with their self-portrayal on Instagram. But nowhere do narcissists catch us as ice-cold as in a love relationship, in which ideally the heart, soul and our childlike need are completely open.

"I couldn't turn up his attention like the warm water"

I didn't reveal Sebastian as a narcissist at first glance - not even at the second and third. Probably back then, in my twenties, I didn't even know what it was. At first there was just the guy I met at the politics seminar once a week. Well, with his blond curls and long girlish eyelashes, he fell fully into my prey scheme. But he was also clever and, in a delightful way, opaque. He also drew fantastic comics in his ring binder when he was bored. I heard that because after a while I let myself fall naturally into the folding seat next to him. Not that he invited me - he was too cool - but he didn't seem to mind either. We hit it off, exchanged notes, drank beer together at semester parties, and one Saturday night I went to see him.

I can't remember the details of that first night. I just remember that I got hooked pretty quickly. During the brief love affairs before that, the young men always got on my mind quite quickly. Here, on the other hand, was someone whose affection and approval I had to do my best, who I couldn't just turn up like the hot water in the sink. He seemed to have his fingers on my temperature controller for that. If he didn't get back to me until three days after spending the night together, I was outwardly cool - but inside I was blazing.

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"I panted for every crumb he threw me"

I don't know why I left him to call so often. It was our rules of the game - and I was still quite inexperienced in relationships. I later tried to analyze what this game had to do with my early experiences; with my vain, independent father and mother, whose love I often had to fight for. At that time, however, I fell seriously in love with Sebastian, showed him that too - and was correspondingly devastated when he told me after a few weeks that he wasn't sure whether he really loved me. But he doesn't want to part because of that; he likes to be with me. "What are you waiting for? Go! ”I want to call out to the girl from back then today. I once read the clever sentence somewhere that you should never stay with someone who makes you feel difficult to love.

The girl I was walked away but stayed in sight. Still acted independently on the outside and panted inwardly for every crumb of affection that Sebastian dropped. Even if this crumb was poisoned. "Don't look so sad," he said sometimes. "Happy you're a lot prettier." I tried to smile and told myself and my friends how busy Sebastian was with his master's thesis and that it was cooling down his feelings for me.

Maybe I stayed because he drew me beautiful comics. And because it wasn't at all cool in bed with him. We were close, intimate, and he let himself go. Only to become the intellectual head again half an hour later, which fascinated me with its sharp mind as well as kept me at a distance. An arrogant sack, convinced of himself and therefore probably so independent, incorruptible, almost obsessively honest.

He thought, he said a few months later, that he was in love with me again: No joke, that's how he put it. Presumably he felt how I was slowly giving up, and that's why he pulled me up to arm's length again. But just not closer. He wrote me very delicate poems - and not two weeks later he hissed in an argument that he doubted that I would find a man again after him. I, now completely brainwashed, defended myself against this insolence, but also believed it a little.

A narcissist needs another insecure and aggrieved personality

Hot-cold, near-far, attention devaluation: I only noticed this constant pendulum pattern much later, when I hadn't been with Sebastian for a long time. I've read books on male narcissism and with their help found more pieces of the mosaic: his receptivity to my admiration. Or the fact that Sebastian's mother was hospitalized for months because of a serious illness when he was a toddler. That he always had the feeling that he was subordinate to his little, mentally handicapped sister.

Sebastian didn't tell me all that himself, of course, but his mother, with whom I actually had a more reliable relationship than with him. He didn't let himself be looked into - God forbid! What he revealed, how much he loved, he measured anew every day and accurate to the milliliter.

But my back and forth with him also shows that a narcissist cannot play his relationship game alone: ​​It takes an insecure, narcissistically injured personality like me for the game to get going. When we finally finally ended our relationship after two and a half years of emotional roller coaster and several excruciating unsuccessful attempts, I felt like the last person. On the one hand, because Sebastian had told me about it so often. And secondly because I had been through this cold-blooded crap for so long.

But then it probably brought me something after all: good sex, solidarity with other damaged women - and an unmistakable indicator of narcissism. As soon as I notice someone throwing the line after my admiration, like him, as soon as I took a bite, jerked it, let me down, only to then crank me up again, how he creates closeness through drama, degrading me or idealizing me, I'm so out of it. Imagine it's World Narcissism Day and nobody goes.