Thursday, July 7, 2016

5 things I do differently after my Codependent-Narcissistic relationship (part 1 - social settings)

We all know that surviving a Narcissistic romantic relationship changes us forever. First weeks and months we tend to keep our guard up all the time, and some people can work so hard in order to avoid the painful experience, that they screen out most of their new connection. However, as months (or, in my case, years) pass we get around to feeling a bit more secure and begin to step out and test the waters a little more in social settings. Still, it is good to work on having more awareness and keeping our hard-won lessons in mind so that we do not gravitate back to the patterns that can make us vulnerable to the Narcissistic types once again.

Here are some of the things that I learned to do differently in social settings so that I avoid the familiar pitfalls:

1. I listen to my instinct closely.

If I get an uncomfortable feeling around someone, I do not try to dismiss it or reason it away as I did in the past.  Instead, I act on what it is telling me. Being nice and polite has its place, but it should never mean forcing yourself to go against your own strong feelings, especially in social settings, where EVERYONE should have fun, including you.

2. I pay more attention to how the person really behaves not just an image they are trying to present.

This may sound odd at first, but it actually makes sense. Say, a guy you met at a bar is trying to appear very gentle and polite, but every time someone else tries to chime in the conversation they keep talking over them and generally ignoring the newcomer. Yes, they are paying close attentions to you (probably because they want something very specific out you) but they are betraying their inner meanie by being dismissing other people who are just trying to make new friends or have a conversation.

3. I do not hesitate to show my self-respect by distancing from an unpleasant encounter. 

If a person behaves in a way that I myself consider impolite, like acting in an arrogant, argumentative or distracted and disinterested way I do not hesitate to simply move on to the next conversation. During a casual social encounter, everyone in the room is looking for an engaging and uplifting experience, and if they are not ready to behave accordingly it is totally fine to move on and find a good match elsewhere.

4. I do not mask or withhold my opinion.

In my experience, being afraid of using your own authentic voice is a surefire way to end up being a passive audience to someone who will monopolize the conversation and waste valuable time you could spend meeting other people. Sure we need to be polite and considerate while voicing our own view on things, but there is no need to be afraid that the person won't like you if you do not second their views. If can not handle the fact that each person is entitled to their own opinion, then they are probably not someone you want to be closer with anyway.

5. I move to my own schedule.

If someone tries to hijack the evening, by which I mean have a very high-energy, involved conversation, suggest immediate or close future plans and then texts or calls right away and I am not ready to move as quick, I let them know in the polite but firm way how I feel. If they do get the hint, I contact them back if and when I genuinely feel like it. If they do not, I stop the communication altogether. And if that ever fails to stop the communication, I am sure I would be completely fine with letting them know their attention is so unwelcome it is bordering on harassment.

There was once a time when I felt obligated to carry on a correspondence that I did not enjoy for fear of deeply offending or hurting the person, and now I finally realize that equal respect and consideration should be afforded to both parties and that it is up to me to verbalize how I really feel if nonverbal cues fail to make the point clear.