When I fell in love with my narcissistic abusive ex, it was a high I had never experienced before, by the time I made it to 29.
He was hilarious. Charming. Kind. Supportive. Adoring. And quite generous with the little he had.
He always had the PERFECT thing to say when I was moving through any kind of stress or fearful moment, and was especially savvy when my spidey sense said, “This guy isn’t faithful.”
The effortless stories that rolled off his tongue about the multiple pairs of women’s underwear I found that weren’t mine, the racy email exchanges with his ex-girlfriend, and the multiple female “friendships” he kept very separate from me—his LIVE-IN girlfriend—are beyond laughable now, but at the time, I was desperate to believe them.
After almost a year of dating, the accumulation of shady lies, cheating, and manipulation finally came to a head in a dramatic fight on a street corner in Manhattan, and of course, him turning the tables by saying I was the crazy one.
To be fair, I HAD gone crazy.
Most victims of narcissistic abuse do, justifying the abuser to smear-campaign your name to mutual friends, conveniently leaving out the part that he caused the crazy.
But here’s the even crazier part:
When we were officially done, I still longed for him.
I missed the certainty of the future he promised me. The laughs. His thoughtfulness. And as unhealthy as it had been, I missed that he was NO LONGER trying to get me back! I craved the high I’d get every time he desperately tried to suck me back in to the next level.
Even if your partner or ex’s behavior doesn’t sound as soap-opera-y as my experience, the reasons we stay or long for someone who treats us more badly than kindly are similar.
As I’ve shared in previous Poosh articles on heartbreak and dating, our thoughts create our results.
If you are heartbroken over an ex who didn’t treat you the way you deserve, it is a result of your thinking.
To be clear, your THINKING didn’t create the result of the relationship not working, but your thoughts about him being gone now are what’s keeping you heartbroken.
Editor’s note: Although this article uses male pronouns, the advice applies to all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Here are five common thoughts that keep us stuck in heartbreak over Mr. Wrong:
1. Even though he’s said and done some nasty things, he’s still the best guy I’ve ever been with.
2. I can’t imagine feeling this way for anyone else.
3. Maybe if he wasn’t stressed about (insert his job, sick family member, money), things would be different.
4. I’d rather be with him and not have my needs met, than not be with him at all—that’s how much I love him.
5. I wasn’t perfect either—I can see why he’d get impatient, snappy, cold, etc. I’m willing to change and be better so that we can be together.
So, what do you DO with these thoughts in order to stop the torturous cycle of longing for someone who doesn’t serve your greatest good?
First, you’ve got to ALLOW them to come up.
When thoughts are stubborn and raw, we cannot recognize them as stories, even when we intellectually understand that they aren’t facts.
Cry it out. Meditate. Call a trusted loved one to hold the space for your pain.
From there, observe the cluster of thoughts keeping you heartbroken, and INVESTIGATE them.
Ask yourself: is it really true that he’s who I want?
I’m guessing if you’re reading this article, your deeper truth is that you long for a partnership that’s loving, kind, honest, loyal, passionate, committed, and fun, a majority of the time.
If so, then make your drama MATH:
If what I’m looking for is an up-leveled, beautiful, healthy partnership, and the last guy checked off maybe one of these boxes, then he’s NOT MY PERSON.
I know. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but healing and growth work isn’t supposed to be easy!
You must be willing to commit to the hard, by changing the thoughts that are keeping you stuck longing for someone who your most authentic self KNOWS isn’t right for you.
You are 100% capable of doing so. The abundance of freedom and love waiting for you on the other side is beyond worth it.