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Dating Someone Who Was Abused By A Narcissist

A reader, who is particularly passionate about narcissism, emailed me and asked, “Hey Ryan, what is going to happen when I date someone who was abused by a narcissist?” That’s a great question, dating someone who was abused by a narcissist can actually be a pretty significant undertaking!

Among different types of abuse, emotional abuse might be one of the worst out there. It affects the victim’s mental state, and in some cases, the suffering stays permanent.

Narcissistic abuse falls under this category and can happen in any relationship type. It may occur between two people who are married, dating, living together, or engaged.

This form of abuse includes intimidation, threats, manipulation, and other forms of strategies to dominate its partner. While some victims may easily cut off this toxic relationship, others may find it difficult to come out. The aftereffect of it may range from moderate to severe based on the survivors.

What would your approach be if you were to date someone with this history? Getting into a relationship with an abused victim requires you to be more understanding and know their needs. More on this is discussed below.

Five Things To Know About Dating Someone Who Was Abused By A Narcissist

Dating an abused victim can be pretty challenging regardless of the abuse type. You have to be the bigger person by being patient and empathetic. Here are some of the things you should know if you’re dating a person abused by a narcissist:

Trusting may take time

Trust is vital in any form of relationship and is one of the essential attributes of a healthy bond. However, it may take time to gain the confidence of your partner who has been through an abusive relationship, which in this case is narcissistic abuse.

No matter how good your intention may be, your partner will have doubt or uneasy feeling back in their head. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up or think they cannot recover. Give them time and try to understand their situation.

See also: What happens when an empath leaves a narcissist?

Seek reassurance from you

As a victim abused by a narcissist, their self-respect and self-image are left battered and shaken. Moving onto a new relationship may get tricky, and when they do, it takes time to trust or is paranoid. They get suspicious of your deeds and actions regardless of your intention.

It’s hard for them but more challenging for you. You need to be aware of your actions and words so they don’t take the wrong way. Also, use every opportunity to gain their trust and reassure them. Ask them about their everyday matters and be appreciative.

See also: Female narcissist traits

Respect their boundaries

Abused victims are often violated or ignored, disrespecting their boundaries. They may expect the same when they get into a new relationship. In this case, be mindful of your behavior and give them space when needed.

If they say no or disagree with something, you should let it be and give them time. Let them talk about it when they are ready. There might be a time when you two disagree, or you may want to prove a point. However, if you try to argue, it will only make them remember the past relationship, and they may not trust you or expect the same as before.

Expert advice: Being in a narcissistic relationship can be very damaging. You may start to lose respect for others. Or certain behaviors of others that the narcissistic personality doesn’t value. Typically, the narcissistic personality will only appreciate those who serve them, not a mutually beneficial relationship.

Showing empathy

No one understands suffering and pain more than the person who has gone through it. The quality of empathy is immense in victims, so much so that they will feel or recognize your pain, especially loved ones. You and your partner can heal together, sharing each other stories and finding solace in them. In a way, it will help build trust and a healthy relationship between you.

Expert advice: According to a study by Nicholas J.S. Day, Michelle L. Townsend, and Brin F. S. Grenyer—screened participants described those with narcissistic personalities as having “grandiosity.” Or “having a requirement for admiration, showing arrogance, entitlement, envy, exploitativeness, grandiose fantasy, a lack of empathy, and self-importance.”

Difficulty in dealing with both negative and positive events

A narcissistic abused victim lacks confidence and self-doubt and is paranoid about everything. They may take it wrong even if you try to make them happy or show compassion. The history of dating someone with a narcissistic personality disorder has shaken their mind and battered them. Regardless of the events, they get reminded of the experience and find it hard to cope.

Related: Signs a narcissist is done with you

Conclusion—Dating Someone Who Was Abused by a Narcissist

Dating a person with an abuse history may be challenging as it requires you to be patient and empathetic. The victims can be moody, have low self-esteem, or may suffer from anxiety. Hence, perseverance, kindness, and love are required from your end. Dating someone abused by a narcissist isn’t easy, but being kind and understanding will lead to a healthy bond.

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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