To Everyone Who’s Loved Someone Toxic: You’re Not Broken, They Are

Being in a toxic relationship with a narcissist or a sociopath changes you. At first, it will feel as if you’ve found a soulmate, someone who truly understands you and loves you for who you are, but then one day you find yourself being mistreated in ways you never thought possible as your boundaries are slowly eroded. It’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming yourself, but this is an important time to remember that the abuse was not your fault. Here are things toxic people do to try and break you down — don’t let them!

  1. They create A Character For You To Fall In Love With. Toxic people carefully go out of their way to fake an entire relationship that includes lying about their past and pretending to have certain qualities just to form a strong bond with you. “We observe our target and strive to become a facsimile of whatever or whoever that person wants… Of course, everything comes at a price—we wouldn’t be doing it if we weren’t getting something from you,” M.E. Thomas, a diagnosed sociopath, writes in her memoir, Confessions of a Sociopath. Yet you had no reason to suspect this because when you interact with someone, it is normal to assume that what they present to you is who they really are.
  2. They say or do Whatever It Takes Because They View People As Objects.  Sociopaths and narcissists often make decisions without taking into consideration the harm it might cause others. “I am never compelled to do something merely because it is wrong—only because doing so would result in undesirable consequences. Thus, evil has no special meaning for me,” Thomas writes in her memoir. They think about what a person or situation can do for them, which means they are unable to view their partners as anything other than something to fulfill their needs.
  3. They exhibit Hot And Cold Behavior. This wasn’t just a situation where you got your heart broken because of a relationship that didn’t work out, nor is it about a guy being a garden-variety jerk or a woman being a gold digger. They held themselves out as someone who loved you, probably as the love of your life, but then in the very next minute and without warning they could flip and say things to you that people in love wouldn’t be capable of saying, look at you coldly as if they’d never seen you before, or cut you off as if you never existed. Love doesn’t turn on and off like a light switch.
  4. They lack a Genuine Attachment To You. People who fake relationships with others do so because they are unable to have real attachments to them. Instead, they mimic the interactions of a true relationship in order to get the benefits of one.  The lack of attachment explains why they are able to do the things they do that hurt you. The connection they have with you isn’t the emotional bond that they pretend that it is.
  5. They exploit your Love and Positive Qualities. They target people who have qualities such as a willingness to forgive because it makes it easy for them to get away with bad behavior.  Although you may feel humiliated to think about the love being one-sided or that you were duped, you were just acting the way people act when they’re in love. That’s nothing to feel ashamed about. You were just deceived into giving away your love to someone who didn’t deserve it.
  6. They have loyalty Only To Themselves While Expecting The Benefits Of a Normal Relationship. You felt a loyalty that was part of the bond you had and you had your partner’s best interests at heart. This was expected from you because narcissists and sociopaths have a strong sense of superiority and entitlement. Yet often they make decisions based on opportunistic motivations that benefit themselves. They will meet your needs so long as it also meets theirs, but they will never self-sacrifice for you and their motives are often underhanded.
  7. They fake their Emotions. In addition to having low empathy, the way that narcissists and sociopaths process emotions in general is different. Sociopaths may lack the ability to express genuine emotions at all, while narcissists may express them, however, the range is more limited and what they respond to is based upon their need to be loved and has nothing to do with you.
  8. They have A Need to Control and Incite Drama. Narcissists are unable to function and healthy relationships. They get bored and start to find flaws in partners they at first idealized, or they may get enjoyment out of tormenting them. They do not base relationships on open communication, respect, and fidelity because of the need to remain in control.
  9. They move On Quickly Because People Are Interchangeable. Narcissists and sociopaths frequently leave a string of broken relationships behind them. Because they are unable to form emotional attachments to people, they aren’t particularly concerned about the chaos they cause. They just move onto the next person to fill in the gap left by the last person when the relationship passes its expiration date.
  10. They repeat The Same Pattern In Relationships. Either they lack enough insight into themselves to see a problem or believe their way of approaching the world is beneficial or superior so there is no need to change. Ultimately, they fail to see a problem with it. Right now you may feel traumatized by what happened in the relationship, but as time passes, you will grow into a stronger person, although it may be hard to believe right now.  Your abuser, however, is destined to repeat his or her pattern, forever frozen in time in his or her dysfunctional habits.
I'm a writer, researcher and advocate in the area of toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse. I'm passionate about empowering people who have been in psychologically and emotionally abusive relationships and about raising awareness about hidden abuse, and have blog at https:\\ where I write about these topics. My educational background is in sociology, where I focused on gender, sexuality and sexual assault.