The Addiction

It’s Narcissist Friday!

What is it about narcissists that attract us and hold us?  How do they burrow so deeply into our heads?  I hear so often from people who have been in intimate relationships with narcissists and have found their way out of the abuse—but it is all they can do to stop themselves from jumping right back in.  In fact, if the narcissist didn’t close the door so easily and permanently, these folks would never really leave at all.  This phenomenon is seen in family and friend relationships as well, even in organizational relationships.  There is something about how narcissists weave their webs that goes beyond the normal connections between people.

It has been helpful to me to talk about a narcissistic addiction.  I recently wrote to someone that the feelings created by the narcissist are much like those produced by drugs or obsessive behavior.  In order to understand this, we have to realize that addictions can come from chemicals within our own systems.  We can be hooked on adrenalin, for example.  I suspect that it is also possible to be hooked on whatever hormones or chemicals are created in experiences that make us feel good about ourselves.

Narcissists watch for people who project feelings of need.  Whether it is low self-esteem, vulnerability from abuse, or pain from a broken relationship, narcissists know quickly when a person is susceptible to their charms.  They are usually very good at reading people and understanding opportunities.  (This makes some people believe that narcissists are empathic, that they can feel what you feel.  But they only know when those feelings are present and when a person can be used, they do not feel what you feel or connect with your feelings.)

Think of it as a drug dealer who knows which drug will make you feel what you really want to feel.  Somehow he gives you just the right one and makes you feel happy, or strong, or loved, or important, or whatever.  When you were sitting by yourself, feeling low, he found you and gave you the way to happiness.

This is what narcissists do in so many cases.  They are the friend who comes right when you need a friend.  They are the lover who makes you feel so special.  They are the teacher with all the right words to make you feel like life can be good.  Narcissists are what you need them to be.

But, of course, these things all come with a price.  Just like the drug dealer who gives you the first few hits for free, payment is expected later.  By the time payment is demanded, you are hooked.  You have felt the wonderful good the narcissist has given and you have felt the incredible pain of having that good taken away.  Now you will do just about anything to get the good back and keep it going.  The narcissist will threaten, tease, taunt, even withdraw—just to make you need him even more.  Eventually, he will give you only a little, just enough to keep you under his control.  Narcissists get bored and want more than any one person can give.  The more you need, the less you have; and the less you have, the less the narcissist wants you.  Just like any drug.

Then it ends.  Maybe it was your decision.  But you feel like you are in withdrawal.  You have to keep reminding yourself of the pain to stop yourself from calling her.  You have to be so strong to ignore his call.  You want to drive by the house, peek in at his work, send an affectionate text—even though you know the pain you suffered.  This unreasonable urge to do what you don’t want to do is evidence of something wrong, some kind of addiction.  It may be common in narcissistic relationships, but it isn’t normal.  You need to push through it.

So treat it like an addiction.  Take it seriously.  This is not a game and it will not be fun.  Find some strong support.  Get people praying.  Admit the need and let others help.  Listen to their cautions.  Find a good counselor.  Set up some reasonable boundaries that you believe in and will keep.  Don’t answer the calls.  Don’t agree to meet.  If you have to see or deal with the narcissist, have someone else along.  Eventually, the feelings go away.  It may take some time.  We have a tendency to remember the good things and forget the bad, at least when we want to.  So maybe you should write down what happened.  Let a supporter read what you wrote and add whatever is necessary.  There are reasons you wanted out.

You do not need the narcissist. You only think you do.  You want the feelings he produced, not him.


Filed under Narcissism

20 responses to “The Addiction

  1. Fellow Survivor

    Oh So right David. I want the excitement, the great sex, the adventure and the adrenalin rush that always surrounds her. But I don’t need the lying to and about me, the put downs, the spouse that won’t be there when you need to have a medical proceedure. The hiding money, the deciept, the aloofness and indifference to and for my needs.

    This morning in my prayers I tried to focus on the things I am thankful and grateful for. First on the list is that I have a relationship with Jesus. I first heard the knock at the door when I was 13 and for whatever reason I openned the door. Some people never hear the knock so I count myself lucky on that count.

    Second on the list is I was born in the USA. Pretty lucky on that account. Next my parents raised me and my siblings to have gentle hearts. Then, my daughter is a believer who gets great grades and never gets in trouble. Finally, I have two great friends that I have had for over 30 years. Stack all that up against a woman that I truly loved who used, abused, and ripped my heart out.

    But even with all of that said, almost daily I think about the great times we had together (the addiction) and the what could of and should have been. The hurt runs deep, very deep but my very soul just could not tolerate the abuse any longer. It was literally driving me crazy.

  2. Carolyn

    This article is SO true. I made the decision to leave my Narcissist after 5 years of highs and lows. It took me two failed attempts before I was finally able to walk away. Lies, lies and more lies, betrayal, porn, vulgar and obscene texting, put-downs, using his Bible only when he wants to “thump me over the head with it”…and I still have had such a hard time getting him out of my head. NO CONTACT is the very best thing. He tries to persuade me to do things with him…all sweet and nice…and when I say “no”…he becomes verbally abusive. Says things to hurt me as a Christian woman. I realize that healing from this is a process. He went right out (actually began searching for his “new girl” while he was still in my home) and got heavily involved with someone. I have no interest in dating whatsoever. I need to take time to get my “radar back on course”. However long that takes…by the Grace of God…it will happen and I will be a better person for having gone through this. I never understood Narcissism until I started researching the behaviors that he was exhibiting. The lack of compassion and empathy when he had hurt me was the most hurtful. I kept feeling like he had no soul or conscience. I had two panic attacks during our marriage…none ever before, and none since. I don’t think I will ever have one again. It’s is a terrible thing to have someone purposely hurt you…and then see that they could care less that you are suffering. My prayers and support to all you women and men who are the victims of something similar. Stay strong…and stay firmly entrenched in God’s Word. HE is all we need. God Bless!

    • LD

      Wow, I could have written this myself. I had panic attacks and was diagnosed with PTSD due to my relationship with an N. I emailed David the name of a free resource that really helped me and I hope it can help other victims of N abuse. It’s at (hope it’s ok to post this??) The free ‘click tracks’ have helped to take the sting out of the memories that I would obsess on…the cruel taunts and verbal abuse simply because I told him he had hurt my feelings and I asked him not to do it anymore…that always brought on more! No empathy for the hurts they cause you…only more hurt for “criticizing” them or hurting you…such crazy “logic”. Ugh. My heart goes out to everyone. I STILL feel it’s my fault we are divorcing because he has said it so many times. When I ask what I did wrong and how do I make it better he says I should just know. 😦 These click tracks have taken the sting out of the memories and I do feel overall happier, but as a Christian I keep feeling that I failed and should have been STRONGER against his attacks and that maybe I could have somehow loved him out of it and been the example of a good Christian wife that wins her husband to the Lord. It just hit me…maybe the click tracks will work if I focus on the guilt while listening to them, lol. But I wonder if anyone else feels this guilt and if their N ex wants nothing to do with them and tells them it’s all their fault yet you don’t know what you did!!??? Is this common??

  3. John

    This was another great post. I would add these comments, because I have thought about this topic a lot. Narcissists do not have the same filter that normal people do. For example, I cannot say to someone within a month of meeting them that they are my soul-mate and that I will never leave them , even if I like them a lot. Saying this brings about a responsibility that most thoughtful people (young inexperienced lovers an exception maybe) are aware of and are considerate enough to respect that it may not be something they can promise. Narcissists have no problem saying these things (even if it is the seventh person they have called their soulmate), which tricks us into believing our special brand of love is exactly what this person wants and will always want. When we find out it is not true, we feel violated at the deepest level.

    A second thing narcissists do is constantly criticize everyone in their life. They also criticize those closest to them, but they also will occasionally idolize them even up to the end. This brings about an “us against the world” feeling in their partner, the partner feeling extra special that they are loved despite the narcissist hating just about everyone else. Along these lines narcissists also hide it very well when you have injured them. They may tell you they are mad about something or even rage when it happened, but when they ultimately leave you and give you the reasons, you will be shocked that they have been holding onto things that you were unaware of or that you thought were in the past. This secrecy and deception makes us want to go back and beg the narcissist to reconsider, it was all a misunderstanding.

    Third, narcissists are so arrogant that we feel that we are special just by association. We buy into this arrogance lie and when the narcissist is gone, we have this aching feeling we are being denied a special life with a special person and it is worse when we know someone else has taken our place. This is where it helps to challenge the thought and challenge our addiction. What was actually special about the time with the narcissist – yes, there were good times, but most came with a healthy dose of abuse.

    Finally, narcissists tap into our own narcissism. I have posted before that I think this is the biggest key to recovery. If we buy the fact that the narcissist’s world is so special and that being on their pedestal makes us special, falling off is like the end of the world. We will do anything to go back. Our recovery is in disbelieving we are special, as strange as that sounds. Because in doing this we are challenging the narcissists view and embracing our own humble place in the world, one person of billions. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have uniqueness, it just means life will go on with meaning even if we are not the center of the universe, the lie the narcissist tells themselves and we believed.

  4. Cassie

    I had been doing ok for the last few weeks. Yesterday, I had a feeling while watching fireworks. I missed my N so much and wished he were there with me. I was even more sad today, I was in tears. When I read the post, I suddenly felt better. I understood it and read all the comments which were great and helped me a lot. When my N left, it brought me to want to know God even more. I couldn’t understand why this had happened and didn’t know much about narcissism. I only researched when the N dumped me the way he did. I am very grateful to God, the internet and finding this wonderful blog. Thank you everyone, with a special thanks to Kathie. Everyone is wonderful. I love it.

    • Fellow Survivor

      Excellent Post EVERYONE. I could have written them all. Cassie, when you mention fireworks, that makes me think you had a special time with your N while watching fireworks in the past. That’s what make “no contact” so hard. Even if we avoid “the N” events and experiences we shared with them can be just as bad as seeing them in person. Every restaurant has a memory. Every movie theatre has a memory. In my case, the Beautiful Botanical Gardens, first date. Boston Market restaurant, picked up dinner there twice a week when the ex was pregnant. My favorite Sushi place, our favorite sushi place. When my daughter posts pictures of them together on her facebook page they pop up on mine. I was having a really good day today, I even had the motivation to clean up my office, and then a picture of her on facebook shows up. Boom. Down in the dumps again. I think the key to getting over this particular problem is going to these places with friends and experiencing events with friends that are just as fun and enjoyable so we can substitute these new memories for the memories with the ex N. Sort of like writing over a program with a new program with computer software.

      Cassey, we have all been where you are. Six months ago I could barely think much less work. All I could do was to talk about the hurt I was experiencing with EVERYBODY. What these people do is just plain wrong and it does not make any sense. There is no logic or reason behind any of their decisions. One of the keys to recovery is to stop looking for any resonable explanation for what happened to us. Its not there. Leave them to a life devoid of Love. Love can not and does not treat others the way we have been treated. I refuse to live a life like that or with someone like that. It still hurts, don’t get me wrong, some days it hurts alot, but I just will not be treated like a doormat and neither should you. You are not alone.

      • Cassie

        Thank you for your comments fellow survivor. You are so strong! May God continue to bless you and your daughter.

      • Fellow Survivor

        Cassie, I am hoping to grow into my posting name. I’m not there yet, meaning a total survivor. I will repeat Katherine’s kind words that Christ already suffered for us and he does not want to see us suffer needlessly. I experienced adventure and excitement in our marraige, but not love. Now the adventure and excitement are gone, and still no love. Love does not treat others as objects to be used and discarded. I try to stay focused on that fact to remind myself that what I lost was a dream and not something real. These people were never loved as children so they don’t know what it means to love. I think they may resent the fact that we know how to love and that is why they treat us so badley. But who knows. As I have said before none of this makes any since which makes us crazy trying to figure out an unsovable puzzle.

      • Victoria

        I must agree with John. Narcissit fool us in to believing that we are “extrodianrly special”. That is why it is hard to let go of the good times and the Narc.. I think we give them more credit than they deserve or worth. I remember thinking my ex financee was my ” Brad Pitt” , yet, my co-workers and family thought otherwise, they could not see what I saw in him. Narc mirrors back what we want to see/feel.

        For me, even with all the expensive gifts, the good times were shadowed by never feeling totally happy, safe, and secure.

        I believe our unresovled childhood/family dysfunctions make us susceptible to the Narcissist’s addiction. I read that Being with a Narc wears on one’s psyche and overall health. You can read about this on, and listen to their excellent radio podcasts!

        In closing, God put Narcissit in our lives for a reason. God is telling us to heal, learn from the experience, and not to repeat.

        Since ending a 5 year ups/down relationship ( never lived together) 6 months ago:
        I have:
        1. Started reading the bible more
        2. Completed a half marathon
        3. Learned to be my own best freind
        4. Volunteered more in the community
        5. Went on outings ( hiking, opera, took a out of state metro train) by myself.
        6. Most importantly, I learned I need to heal, and that the next time I fall in love, I will not trust my heart to a Narc.

        God bless!

    • prodigalkatherine

      I just saw this- you are so welcome. Glad you are feeling better. I give you a lot of credit because it took me quite a while- you seem very determined though. So exciting to think what wonderful things your N free future holds :)!! You go girl!

  5. Angela

    These posts and comments were all so good and true. It sure helps to know that the experiences with a N and the recovery after a N are..(sadly) normal.

  6. Victoria

    I came to the conclusion that I must not put all the blame of my pain, betrayal, and disappointment, on the ex Narc. I should have had more fath in myself, trusted God more, and been my own hero,.

    There would not have been an opening for the narc to slip in, and the addiction to start.

    As with any drug dealer, Narcs dont care about us., they give us a temporary releif to keep us hooked and addictive .

    In the future, I will be equipped with the right armor to ward off any Narc evil drug. An example, is when Jesus came across the devil in the form of a snake,, he was tempted, yet he realized what it was, the price, and he crushed it.

    Be kind, compassionate, and giving, yet be your own hero..

    Hugs ll!

    • Cassie

      Victoria, I had felt the same way you felt in the almost 9 years of being with my N when you said the good times were shadowed by never feeling totally happy safe and secure. I mean I was happy with him, but not planning for the future and him being in and out did not make me feel secure. also agree when you said God puts us with N for a reason. There was so much that he showed me that I feel I needed and I know I was suppose to show him things but he did not open his heart.

      • Cassie

        We all need to heal from this abuse and I wish everyone the best on their next journey in life. Talk to people, be happy and free and trust and believe in God. I am grateful to everyone and God Bless All!

      • Victoria

        Cassie, thanks for the reply!
        It bother’s me that so many N survivors that are in distress. We must rememebr that God is in control, and he never gives us more than we can handle. I deeply believe that one can not hurt others and not suffer as well.

  7. Sue

    It’s been three years since my ex cheated on me and said he wanted a divorce. The addiction to him is still so strong, despite lots of therapy. I noticed a big jump in healing when reading the book “The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free From Exploitive Relationships” by Patrick Carnes. It has very practical steps to break the addiction. If anyone is dealing with withdraw, I’d highly recommend it.

  8. No contact. I highly recommend it.

  9. The last serving of wheat

    I cant believe how deeply this person has burrowed into my brain. I didn’t see a risk of “addiction” coming and the whole situation feels unnatural, espically the difficulty of not being able to let go. Unfortunately it is very real. My reality model has been shattered.

  10. Fellow Survivor

    The addiction is real that’s for sure and I am learning a lot about myself.

    I recently started dating again and have met several very nice ladies and a couple of ladies that are just full of drama and action. Guess which ones I am attracted to. Yep, the drama girls. I remember that “high” I used to get from the x and it is the exact same thing.

    The nice ladies are reliable, pretty, with no drama. The other two are unreliable, pretty, and non stop drama. Go figure.

  11. HDG

    WOW, I SURE NEEDED THIS TODAY! I’ve read many of the posts here but never this one until now and NOW is when I needed it most. Feeling sad and lonely.Afraid I was going to relapse. I loved the man I THOUGHT I knew and cared greatly for his family and friends..I’ve been remembering our good times-always in public- wondering if he misses me. HE DOESN’T ! ” I will never want another woman if you and I aren’t together” lasted until he got home to his computer.People outside his church and a few friends(anyone not in his circle of admirers he called jealous liars) warned me to be” very careful “they were right,everything he did to 3 exes ( he and pastor told me as a Christian woman to I am to ignore the past, ) he did to me too. God blessed me not to be able to marry him(financial reasons)before his ‘mask’ of love,respect and kindness fell off to reveal an angry,abusive,manipulating,selfish person.Such a relief to have a place to speak TRUTH and not be RIDICULED or AFRAID! God bless you………..

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