Everyone’s bound to date a few lousy people before they find The One, but some guys cause way more damage than others. I found this out the hard way when I unknowingly got into a relationship with a complete narcissist. This was a man who needed people to love him, but wasn’t capable of offering love in return. His manipulation skills made it hard for me to see it at the time, but this is how he nearly destroyed the person I used to be:
When we first met, he was a different person.
I’m not an idiot. I wouldn’t just go for a complete narcissist and assume I could change his arrogant ways. When I first met this guy, he was completely different. I met him in through a mutual friend, and from the beginning, he was interested in me and my life. He seemed extremely genuine. As soon as we began dating, though, everything changed.
The less attention he gave me, the more I craved it.
This guy was charming, so I fell hard. The moment he had me on the hook, though, he seemed to lose interest. It was as though he’d gotten what he wanted and his job was done. Suddenly, I was giving him all my time, effort, and attention. As for him? Well, he was just sitting back and taking it.
He was a pro at negging.
This was his area of expertise. Backhanded compliments (or negs) came thick and fast with this guy. He’d tell me that I was pretty for a redhead or smart for a woman. There was always a catch — a little slap in the face that came afterward. These little comments never seemed like a big deal in the moment, but they’re the sort of things that end up eating away at you over time.
I tried to change him.
Once I was in deep and saw his many flaws, I was a real fool. Rather than just getting the hell out of there like I should’ve, I thought that I could change him. I spent days, weeks, months, trying to get him to be the guy I fell for once again. Spoiler: It didn’t work.
He made me cut a lot of people off.
Since our relationship was all about him, he wasn’t too happy when I went to hang out with my own friends. He didn’t blatantly demand that I do it — that would have been too obviously controlling — but he did make me see them in a different light. He’d bitch and moan about them until I started seeing some of my nearest and dearest friends in a whole new way.
He expected me to change for him.
As though the fact that he hated my friends and family wasn’t bad enough, I’m not entirely sure he liked me. There’s no doubt that he tried to change me, even in small ways. He’d comment on how I should dress, how I should act, and what I should say. Whenever I did something that he didn’t like, he’d tell me, “I thought you were cooler than that.”
My self-confidence took a real hit.
I wasn’t the most confident lady to begin with, but I was sure of what I had going for me. By the end of the relationship, though, I was completely shaken. I’d spend hours getting ready just to look right for him, hoping desperately for his approval. I never felt like I was enough for him, and he relished that.
My only friends were his friends.
Once he’d managed to isolate me from my social group, we started hanging out with his pals way more. Of course, he was the center of the group — the one everyone had to listen to and pay attention to at all times. When we were out together, I was more like an accessory than a girlfriend.
I started to feel less and less like myself.
In the end, I knew that I’d changed. My friends were no longer around to give me a reality check, but I could see it myself. I was so desperate to keep him and his affection that I’d be any type of person he wanted. Still, nothing I did mattered. The relationship was all about him.
He was a toxic person… and I knew it.
While I knew that this guy was toxic AF, that didn’t stop me. The less he cared about me, the more I begged him to. Looking back, I feel like I must’ve been crazy. I’d seen girls act like this before and thought, “WTF is wrong with them?” But, when you’re in the midst of that crazy situation, it’s hard to see the light. I’m just glad that I did in the end.
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