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Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question

Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 842
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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Narcissistic relationship

Customer Question

Why do I ( ex co-dependant partner) still feel attracted to narcissist?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.

nphbrown :

I'm going to think about this as I go about an hour's errands, after just getting home from 2 hrs errands. Let me try out some questions to help me get more oriented.

nphbrown :

What do you find attractive about him? You had 3.5 years with him, and it's normal to grow to love many specific aspects about your beloved, as if a chin, some bony legs, an infectious laugh, some ways of speaking, or many other parts of him could each be a "logo" for him or a "hook" for his theme song. What do you admire or remember or re-imagine about him that's not likely to be duplicated by any other man you might find?

nphbrown :

Another big hook for a conarcissist (a one-page comparison in the Wizard of Oz compares narcissist with conarcissist, and many people have factors on both sides) is a specific "love story" -- starting with the beginnings and turning into the main plot-knots and concluding with "If only I could get him to xyzmpt and not to pftyzxx, he'd be happy and everything would get better."

nphbrown :

THis story is sometimes an "I can fix him" hook, a big one for codependents in general.

nphbrown :

Gotta go now. It's not crazy to be attached to many aspects of your ex's uniqueness, and recovering from those attractions involves becoming aware of them, usually by becoming numb or disgruntled about a new romantic interest by unconscious comparison with the invisible Him.

nphbrown :

If you are hoarding keepsakes from him, and pictures, they will keep you enthralled (where "thrall" is actually enslavement--yours is psychic enslavement). Each aspect of Him that you pinpoint when thinking about & imaging Him acts as a living keepsake. Each "keepsake" animate or inanimate that you bring up into full conscious view, by looking at it (picture, cufflinks, etc.) thinking and/or writing/saying it, you can then knowingly and in grieving memory throw into the river of time, either physically or psychically, where it can then sink into oblivion. Psychic keepsakes, or specific fondnesses are more difficult to drop away into the river, because you can't pick them up and look at them. But you can learn how to do it.

nphbrown :

If you really just want to know why you still feel attracted to him, it's because you loved his whole being and presence, even the behaviors that you hated, since they made the emotionally dark side from which his bright side became even brighter when it shook the darkness away.

Customer:

I do not have anything because he gave me nothing. So that's not a problem. Have just come from T/T. Do not fully understand the last sentence. Can you explain more? I know that it is illogical to still harbour feelings for this man. I wish I could drown them but they creep back. IT would be very stupid of me to ever get back with him as I would be unhappy again. I KNOW THAT! What is love?

Customer:

Why the attraction? I hope I am not a narcissist but Ifelt he was an extension of myself and there was no power struggle but it seems I must have been wrong. I held my hand out to him and believed he wanted to hold on as he STAYED! Well, until it suited him! I do feel, though,that in some way I damaged the relationship by being too clingy and demanding of his time. This is a fault in me. BUT he did not want an intimite relationship. This is the narcisstic thing. So maybe I would never have got anywhere even if I had let him have more space. I also value my independance and did appreciate that trait in him also which I know he wanted to preserve. I feel he did not know me and that is very sad.I find it hard to let go the feeling that I did fail because of some personality problems I have and maybe I gave him a false image also. These are the regrets I live with even as I learn more and realize he had some quite sick ideas about love and sex.

nphbrown :

Two quick reactions, and then I'll explain my metaphorical flourish.

nphbrown :

1. If you think feelings are supposed to be logical, then you think you're a thinking type. That might make him comfortable, because he didn't want too much feeling. [You could take the Jungian Types test online at www.humanmetrics.com where 70some forced choice questions help you label yourself Introvert/Extravert, Intuitive/Sensate, Thinking/Feeling, and Judgment/Perception, and there are free 1 page descriptions of the 16 types. My guess about you as a psychiatric nurse would not cover E/I, but dealing comfortably and conscientiously with human fleshly needs and enjoying established procedures would favor Sensate, while eagerly seeking hidden truth in the psyche favors Intuitive. There's so much uncomfortable to feel in a hospital setting that dominant thinking seems a safer style to keep them in bounds--and puzzling over the fact that your feelings seem illogical is DEFINAtely a habit of running your decision-making by thinking. Leading a planful life and getting things done is Judgment and greater spontaneity & procrastination more Perception.

nphbrown :

2. There is no person whose personality frailties would not play a role in their relationship breaking up. So you can learn from examining your personality. But you could also come to false conclusions about what caused it, though I heartily agree with trying anyway. And the same characteristics & behavior that are a bond-wrecker in one relationship could be just great for another one by the same person. Self-esteem always plummets when you are the dumpee, because you can't help but feel powerless.

nphbrown :

It's actually normal for the dumpee to figure out what she could have done differently to sway the dumper's attitudes so that he'll regret dumping her and want her back. That's one path to restoring your self-esteem, because you always learn to view yourself through the mirror of his attitudes toward you, and that is NOT objective but totally colored by what your being and doing triggers in his feelings, unacknowledged of course. So we normally try to "fix" anything we think might have soured him towards us. I remember when my second great love, of 3.5 years finally dumped me for the umptienth time (she was a narcissist, and very seductive) one of the reasons was that I wasn't a muscular man like her recently dumped husband (car repairman) had been, so I wasn't her type. So I started working out at a gym with weights, just to prove to myself (and if luck would go my way, to her) that I was a mesomorph afterall, since anybody could become that. It didn't work, but the modicum of muscles did lift my spirits and self esteem. She was totally wrong for me, and I was wrong for her; but neither of us paid any attention to that until our passion had subsided somewhat.

Customer:

I appreciate this feedback but not being very computer literate I am not sure if I am being charged extra fot the extra questions I have asked on top of my intitial question outlay which was only $27 Aust. I am a senior and on a pension and cannot afford more than that.So am scared to go on.

nphbrown :

So now to the darkness/brightness metaphor. In the emotional dynamics of loving, about which I've developed the only intelligent (and emotionally logical) theoretical explanation, the more occasions for negative emotions, and the more intense those are, the more intensely positive will the rebound be IF the relationship develops a durable pattern for returning to the bliss that came before each downturn. Love is designed to burn more brightly in adversity, because that's how our species managed to not only survive but reproduce and rear children under very difficult and often dangerous circumstances during the last 4 million years. So if your man would whack at your self-esteem regularly because of some need of his, and thus trigger shame, self-doubt, and perhaps some worry or even anger in you--but then not long afterwards get loveydovey to romance and compliment you, then the rapid turnaround from negative to positive emotions would make you feel very strongly, but also very trapped, because just as his positive turnaround would pretty much always come sooner or later, so too would another episode of putting you down verbally. In general The more roller-coaster drama a relationship has, the more tenacious will the attachment of both people to each other will be.

nphbrown :

And it sounds like his aberrant sexual fantasies and perhaps behavior patterns might have also evoked a paradoxical sequence of emotional reactions in you. And the more paradoxical the sequence becomes, the more potentially habit-forming it may become. An extreme example is the carefully choreographed tipping between pain, shaming, scaring and erotic amplifying that goes on in sadomasochistic orgy-parties, known in USA as Dominant/Submissive roleplaying.

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 842
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Still waiting for nphbrown to answer further question on same subject.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Am anxious for further reply but am not sure of time zones. Now 8pm here. Will wait for email from Just Answer to let me know when you are online.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Can you give me more info?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Am I wrong in thinking that a narcissist partner can do his damage so insidiously that even a 'normal' person can not recognise it, and when they do, feel as if they are sinking fast with no life buoy to grasp so they hang onto the narcissist partner in a desperate attempt to save themselves? But he let's go!

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