My pseudo-relationship (more on this later) with my narcissist has been brief thus far, but it feels like it’s been much longer. It got very intense very quickly, and it’s been pretty draining.
As these stories often go, our first date was amazing. I don’t even consider myself a good conversationalist, but his social skills were impeccable, and we completely meshed. In fact, we completely lost track of the time, chatting spellbound for 3 hours, and he wound up with a $36 parking ticket. But something was strange. He insisted on driving me home, even though I lived a few blocks away. I thought he was just being courteous. Then, he asked to come inside my house. There was an inflection to his tone that made it sound like he wanted to have sex. I said I didn’t feel comfortable bringing him inside after a first date. This conversation went on with him saying things like, “Ok, well let’s go somewhere else,” “What do you want to do?” all in this blatantly suggestive tone. Trying to expose his motives, I said, “Do you just want me to hook up with you?” He then looked at me like I was crazy. “Look at youuuu,” he said, “with all this sex on your mind. For your information, I’m a total gentleman. I would never expect that from you on a first date. So dirty! But while we’re on the subject of sex…”
And he used that device to segue into a conversation about my preferences, because he suspected we shared a significant one in particular. We did. He was so excited, but he made it clear that this attraction wasn’t just due to that. He thought I was pretty, smart, fun, etc. and he looked forward to getting to know me. After he left for the night he texted me, “I’ve never been so happy about a parking ticket in my life!”
He lived in a neighboring state, so we couldn’t meet more than 1 or 2 times a week. But I became hooked on him, and he seemed pretty hooked on me. He took me out, watched movies with me, and called and texted me sweet nothings from dawn to dusk. He wrote that he had romantic feelings for me, and he often sent me emoticon hearts in our gchat and text conversations. After we’d known each other for a mere two weeks, he introduced me to some of his closest friends and told them how excited he was to have met me. He told them that he had a “crush” on me, and that I was special and different from the others. It was winter, but he talked about spending summer on the beach together and all the fun things we’d do, as though he assumed this would work out. And why wouldn’t it? It seemed utterly perfect—at least it did at first.
He wanted to know everything about me, and I mean everything. Early on, he pressed me to disclose a lot of painful things about my past. He also insisted on knowing what my pills were for. I told him the truth. They were antidepressants, and I was forced to discuss more sensitive matters with someone I hadn’t known for very long. But I let him pull it out of me, because he had this aura of caring and trust. I recognize, in retrospect, that he wanted to know where my vulnerabilities were. He wanted to find my Achilles heel, so that he could use it against me later to make me feel guilty and crazy.
He began to criticize my body. Of all the men I’ve been with, he is the only one to have done so. I am healthy; I am an ideal weight for my height and I go to the gym a few times a week. Admittedly, however, I am not athletic and toned. He, a military officer, was obsessed with fitness. He’d panic if he had to miss a day at the gym or if he ate too many calories. At first, his comments to me were subtle. I brushed them off. But of course, they got worse. It didn’t take long for him to give me specific instructions about what he wanted me to change about myself, for him. “You don’t need to lose weight—well, actually, I wouldn’t mind if you became thin—but I want you to tone your butt, legs, and stomach for me. Keep your breasts the same size. Keep your nutrition good so you don’t waste away entirely. I want to be able to show you off in a little bikini. You can’t just stick to cardio at the gym, because you need to tighten up; add squats, leg machines, and sit ups. But please don’t think that, just because I’m making these critiques, I don’t find you attractive.” I was stunned, and as the survivor of an eating disorder (which I later disclosed to him, and which seemed to drive him further away from me), I felt very triggered.
Eventually, he became less romantic and more platonic or sexual in conversation. He still called and texted me from dawn to dusk, begging for my constant attention and validation. If he had a specific sexual fantasy, he wanted me to be available (i.e., be by my phone) at all times so that we could exchange dirty messages or have phone sex. When we reunited and enacted the fantasy du jour, he seemed to lose interest in me for a day or two until we’d identified a new one to fixate on.
It got to a point where there was absolutely nothing romantic about our partnership anymore. I wondered what I had done to make him lose interest. At the same time, the countless texts, with minute-to-minute updates of his life and his sexual fantasies, kept coming. It was as though I’d been rapidly demoted from the status of “potential girlfriend” to “friend with benefits.” Certainly, the texts disrupted my day. But I felt compelled to answer him right away. I was addicted to him for the few good moments, because he could behave so affectionately towards me and make me feel so alive. Having collected all that private “data” about my past and present issues, he knew I craved a strong, affectionate protector, and he provided that at times. I still felt like, no matter what I did to please him, I was not adequate. I was not satisfying him. I knew he was seeing other girls. Though he usually took each one out on a single date, he made no such romantic gestures towards me anymore.
We were never boyfriend and girlfriend. Granted, I never would have expected to be at such an early stage, but I wondered why he was so vague about where we stood. I wondered why, all of a sudden, he seemingly ceased to view me as a potential love interest. At this point, it felt like we weren’t dating—we were maintaining an intense, albeit superficial, friendship that was centered around his psychic and sexual needs. He seemed to want all the benefits (and more) of having a girlfriend without having to commit or maintain reciprocity within our relationship. He wanted me not because he cared for me as a person, but because I gave him attention and encouragement whenever he needed it. He wanted me because I responded to his countless texts and provided sexual gratification whenever he requested it. He wanted me because we were sexually compatible, and I would be accessible to him if and when he desired me.
One night, it all hit. I realized I was being exploited, and that our relationship would never amount to anything fulfilling. I told him that I couldn’t see him anymore, and I explained why. He reacted with absolute rage. My “accusations” were “nasty” and untrue, he said. He called me mentally unstable, saying that I was attacking his character unjustly. I told him that he also had issues of his own, and he told me that, no, I was the one who needed help. After all, he knew what I’d been through, and it made perfect sense that I should be worse off than he was. He argued that he held more credibility here. Then, he blocked me on gchat.
But I was still addicted. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I missed him, or at the very least, I missed the highs of our partnership. So I emailed him, asking why he’d blocked me. He didn’t respond for a week. Throughout that week, however, I’d been reading up on narcissism. Once he emailed me back, I knew that the best solution would be to ignore him. I did. Interestingly, in the email he denied having blocked me. I don’t know if he thinks I’m really that dumb.
I didn’t respond to his email, so he texted me the next day. And I’m ashamed to admit this, but I responded. I am so angry at myself, but I felt like I couldn’t help it. I still crave him and the illusions he provides. He’s being deployed out of the country next January, so if I don’t remove him from my life he will be elsewhere. But I hope I can find it within myself to let go and be strong. While he was gone, I felt lonely and under-stimulated, but I also felt like I had more mental energy and personal space. These resources could be used in healthier, more productive ways. They might be used in a positive relationship with someone else, but I feel as though I’ve given up on that. With other men, I don’t feel that same spark, because the narcissist “spark” is an impossible fabrication. It’s not mature or genuine, but it’s utterly sublime. It’s just like a drug, and I still want it. I regret having developed my addiction to this narcissist. I regret being forced to make him the center of my world when I know he regards me as nothing more than his personal, adoring audience and part-time sex toy. I see what’s happening, but I feel powerless to stop it.