10 Reasons you remain hooked to a narcissistic/toxic/abusive relationship

Which of your personality traits got you hooked to a narcissist? What is keeping you stuck - unable to see sense and unable to reclaim your life?

Many people write to me seeking advice on how to divorce their narcissistic spouse. While ending the relationship is important, it is not enough on its own. Even if you do divorce a narcissistic partner, you may still have the same traits and behaviors that attracted them to you in the first place, and you may continue to attract narcissistic individuals into your life. To truly escape from a narcissist, it's important to focus on transforming yourself and addressing any underlying issues that may have contributed to the attraction. This may involve seeking help through therapy or life coaching to improve self-esteem, set healthy boundaries, and break the cycle of attracting toxic individuals.

Once you have identified the reasons why you got hooked to the narcissist and why you remain hooked to them, it becomes easier to break free from the cycle. Seeking help through life coaching or therapy can be beneficial in learning how to improve self-esteem, set boundaries, and break the pattern of attracting narcissistic individuals.

1.Low Self-Esteem

It is common for people with low self-esteem to have negative thoughts about themselves, such as believing they are not good enough, worthy of love or respect, or deserving of happiness. These negative beliefs can make it more difficult for someone to recognize when they are being mistreated or taken advantage of, as they may feel like they don't deserve any better. They may also have a hard time setting boundaries or speaking up for themselves, making it easier for a narcissist to manipulate and control them.

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be especially damaging to someone's self-esteem, as the narcissist may use tactics like gaslighting, criticism, and manipulation to erode their sense of self-worth. It's important to remember that being in an abusive relationship is not your fault, and that you deserve to be treated with love, respect, and kindness. Seeking help from a therapist or life coach can be beneficial in learning how to improve your self-esteem, set healthy boundaries, and break the pattern of attracting narcissistic individuals into your life.

2."I don't deserve to be loved"

Next, a belief that we are not worthy of being loved can keep us hooked to a narcissist. Some people may believe that they are not deserving of love and that only those who are high achievers or meet certain standards are worthy of being loved. 

This belief can come from internalized negative thoughts or from patterns learned in their family of origin. This lack of belief in our own worth can make us more vulnerable to being mistreated and can lead us to accept poor treatment from a narcissist, as we may feel like we don't deserve any better. 

It's important to recognize that love is not a premium that must be earned, and that we are all deserving of love and respect. Working on improving self-worth and learning to love and accept ourselves can be helpful in breaking free from toxic relationships and attracting healthier, more supportive individuals into our lives.

Client Story:

 I was coaching a client in the Ease Platinum program who had a history of being in abusive relationships. Despite the work she had put in to improve her self-love and the work her coach had done to help her, she still struggled with believing she was worthy of love. 

In one coaching session, we explored why she was still hanging on to a relationship with a partner who was abusive, hoping that he would eventually love her. She said she was trying to be at her best behavior, thinking that if she showed him her good qualities, he might love her. I pointed out that there were already warning signs of abuse in the brief interactions she had had with him, and that there were more signs of him being abusive than loving.

I asked her why she would waste her time waiting for him to love her and suggested that this might be coming from a belief that she was not lovable. We talked about the importance of recognizing her worth and not settling for less than she deserved in a relationship.

3."I can heal people through my love and empathy"

When we believe that we can fix or care for damaged people and relationships, we may be attracted to individuals who are emotionally damaged and lacking in empathy and remorse. These individuals may be narcissists or have other personality disorders that make it difficult for them to feel and show compassion towards others. We may feel a strong desire to help these people and believe that our own empathy and love can heal them. This can be a common behavior for empaths, who may have a deep understanding of emotions and a desire to help others.

However, it is important to recognize that not all people can be fixed or healed, and it is not our responsibility to take on the burden of fixing someone else's issues in a relationship. It is important to focus on our own growth and healing and to set boundaries in relationships, rather than trying to fix or control the behavior of others. This can help us to break free from toxic relationships and attract healthier, more supportive individuals into our lives.

Trying to fix or care for damaged people and relationships can be an attempt to find healing for ourselves as well. We may believe that by helping others, we will find some healing for ourselves. However, it is important to recognize that our own healing and growth is separate from that of others, and we cannot take responsibility for the healing or behavior of someone else. This can lead to codependent or enabling behavior, where we try to control or manipulate the behavior of others in order to feel better about ourselves. It is important to focus on our own healing and growth, rather than trying to fix or control the behavior of others.

4."Lack of Emotional Intelligence"

A lot of people are unable to honor their own life experience, feelings, emotions, and needs because they didn't grow up in an environment where their feelings were valued. They grew up in an environment where their own feelings and emotional experiences were neglected and thus they didn't know how to value the same for themselves. As a result, these people may grow up thinking that their feelings are not important, and that what they feel and experience has no value. 

They may also have difficulty identifying their feelings, as they have not learned to connect with their emotions. This lack of emotional intelligence can make it easy for other people, such as narcissists, to trap them and hook them into abusive relationships. Even when they are being mistreated or abused, these individuals may not connect with their own hurt, but instead try to figure out ways to behave better in order to gain the approval of the abuser. It is important for people to learn how to honor their own feelings and emotions in order to establish healthy relationships and improve their overall well-being.

individuals who have not learned to value their own feelings and emotions may have a hard time recognizing when they are being mistreated or abused. They may not be attuned to their own emotional experiences, and may not be able to identify when they are feeling hurt, sad, or angry. As a result, they may not realize that they are in an abusive relationship until it becomes severe or intolerable. Narcissists are skilled at exploiting the vulnerabilities of others, and may use various tactics, such as gaslighting, to make their victims doubt their own perceptions and emotions. 

5.Low Self-Love Quotient

People with a low self-love quotient tend to believe that the only source of love is outside themselves. They have a low estimation of their own worth and value, and often think that they are not capable of being loved. As a result, they may feel that they have to compromise their own needs, values, and boundaries in order to receive love from others. This can lead them to get hooked into abusive or narcissistic relationships, as they believe that the only way to feel loved and nurtured is through someone else. They may tolerate abuse and neglect, and ignore red flags in their relationships because they are so desperate for love. It can be difficult for them to break out of these patterns unless they learn to love and value themselves, and recognize that they are worthy of love and respect.

They believe that the only source of love is outside themselves, as they have not yet learned to love themselves or connect with the love that God has for them. It's like the musk deer, which is unaware that the beautiful musk smell emanating from it is actually coming from within itself. 

They may not yet understand that they can find love within themselves by learning to love themselves and by partnering with God. This lack of self-love can cause them to become hooked into narcissistic relationships and find it difficult to leave those relationships.

6. Trauma Bond

People who are trapped in a narcissistic, abusive relationship may experience trauma bonding, which is a type of psychological attachment that develops as a result of ongoing abuse and intermittent positive reinforcement. This can occur when the abuser alternates between abusive behavior and moments of kindness or good treatment, causing the victim to become confused and have mixed feelings about the abuser. The victim may start to think that the abuser is not all bad and may develop an attachment to them, leading to a cycle of abuse and attachment. This phenomenon is known as the Stockholm syndrome and is similar to the conditioning that occurs in the skinner's box experiment. It is a result of remaining in a narcissistic, abusive relationship for an extended period of time.

Skinner conducted an experiment where he placed a mouse in a box with a lever. When the lever was pressed in response to a red light, the mouse received an electric shock. When the lever was pressed in response to a green light, the mouse received food pellets. The mouse learned to only press the lever in response to the green light because that was when the food came. However, Skinner then switched the circuit so that pressing the lever in response to the red light would result in food, and pressing the lever in response to the green light would result in a shock. The mouse had to re-learn to press the lever in response to the red light in order to receive food. This is similar to what happens in a narcissistic relationship, where the behavior of the abuser is unpredictable and constantly confusing, causing the victim to become so focused on trying to understand and navigate the situation that they may forget that they have the option to not be part of the crazy making and remain focused on centered on themselves.

Trauma bonding can occur in a variety of situations, including relationships between a child and caregiver, a hostage and a kidnapper, or within a cult. It is essential to identify these types of trauma bonds and actively work to sever them in order to facilitate healing and personal growth.

7. Complex PTSD

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of PTSD that occurs as a result of repeated or long-term exposure to traumatic situations. This can include living in a toxic relationship or experiencing narcissistic abuse. People with complex PTSD may have difficulty regulating their emotions and may struggle with issues such as depression, anger, and difficulty focusing. 

They may also experience dissociation as a coping mechanism to protect themselves from the trauma they have experienced. To cope with the intense trauma of complex PTSD, the mind may learn to dissociate, or disconnect, from the traumatic experiences. This can help the individual to manage their emotions and protect themselves from further harm. However, dissociation can also make a person vulnerable and contribute to remaining trapped in a cycle of narcissistic abuse. 

8. Neurobiological changes 

This can also occur in the brain and the body, including changes in the way the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, and gut function, and changes in the release of hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. These changes can lead to emotional and physical dysfunction, making it difficult for individuals with complex PTSD to take control of their lives and be their authentic selves.

9. Stuck in their values

It is common for individuals in abusive relationships to hold on to certain values, even if those values are causing them harm. For example, a person may value forgiveness and continue to forgive their abuser, even if the abuser shows no remorse or effort to change their behavior. Similarly, a person may value trust and continue to trust their abuser, even if the abuser has repeatedly proven themselves untrustworthy. It is important to recognize when values are causing harm and to consider the value of self-love and self-preservation. It is also important to recognize that people do not always change, and holding on to the hope that an abuser will transform may prevent a person from seeking the help they need to escape the relationship. It is okay to reevaluate and adjust values in order to prioritize self-care and well-being.

10. Victim Mindset

It is important to recognize the victim mindset and understand that it does not promote growth or improve the quality of life. The victim mindset may provide temporary attention or sympathy, but it does not offer lasting happiness or fulfillment. It is important to take responsibility for one's own well-being and recognize that nobody can make us happy, but rather it is up to us to make ourselves happy. It is also important to acknowledge that our feelings, experiences, growth, and lives are our own responsibility and it is up to us to take care of ourselves. It is possible that some people may hold onto the victim mindset because it gives them something, such as attention or sympathy, or because they are unwilling or unable to take responsibility for their own lives. It is essential to recognize and break free from the victim mindset in order to improve the quality of one's life and promote personal growth.

Categories: Narcissism