When you leave a toxic relationship, you’re sure you’ll never get involved with another narcissist. But, other than your partner, what have you really changed?
In toxic relationships, the unhappy person is still as codependent as the narcissistic one. You see yourself as the caregiver, peacekeeper, or whatever term makes you feel better about being the enabler. Being needed and valued for the way you unconditionally love is enough to sustain you through the bad times and far better than being alone. To understand this better, read…
As their caregiver, you’ve made excuses for them and their behaviors, compromised your standards, talked yourself out of your true feelings, and prioritized them above yourself in every way. Over time and without full awareness, you’ve changed entirely in order to fit into the toxic relationship better and reduce conflict. After all you’ve learned over the length of your relationship, do you believe you can just unlearn these behaviors by changing partners?
And if you don’t change the way you interact, you can unwittingly teach your new partner to behave similarly to your old partner.
How does this happen?
What seems like ordinary shifts and compromises for a new love interest can develop into expectations and normal interactions. Wanting to make a good impression and get along with a new romantic interest, you may pretend to agree with their opinion when you either don’t agree or don’t care either way. Each time you pretend to agree, you miss the opportunity to allow for differing views or resolve conflict in a healthy manner. It’s possible to become so agreeable that you lose your voice, or so afraid of conflict that you neglect your own stance on an important issue. And suddenly, you find yourself in a very familiar toxic relationship.
Being aware of your needs, desires and behaviors helps you develop appropriate emotional boundaries but denying yourself can guarantee an emotional relapse into a new toxic situation. The following are a few ways you can increase your chances of a relapse:
1. Doing too much for others.
2. Being too agreeable
3. Putting other people's feelings before your own.
4. Participating in events or behaviors you think are wrong.
5. Caring for others when you do not feel well.
6. Trying to fix things when someone is complaining.
7. "keeping the peace" often
8. Having increasing difficulty with saying NO.
9. Blaming yourself without evidence.
10. Explaining away or making excuses for bad behaviors.