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My Narcissistic Ex-Husband

Reflections on loving and living with a Narcissist.  Let our experts guide you toward the healing power of moving on and allowing yourself some time in the spotlight.  Get advice on healing from his behavior and finding yourself again.

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Making friends is not easy for me and it never has been. Don’t let the online persona fool you, I am a total book-worm introvert with very little self-confidence in real life. I generally have always had a couple of very close friends that know me better than anyone else does – and then I have people that I chat with when we bump into each other in public. I have never been able to walk up to a person and introduce myself, I don’t do small talk, and I get overwhelmed when I meet a larger group of people that I don’t know.

And by large group I mean four or more.

You Lose Friends in Divorce

I lost long-time friends in the divorce. These were people I thought I could trust to have my back no matter what. They disappeared for various reasons but for the most part I think there is this mentality that once you are divorced you have divorce cooties that can jump on to them and ruin their own marriages if you get too close. I think some people just don’t know what to say and your relationship becomes awkward and then there are those that disapprove of what you are doing.

Anyway, not long into the circus that signified the end of my marriage I found myself with two close friends in real life and the rest online. Don’t get me wrong, I love my online friends! It’s just sometimes you need someone to come over, bring a bottle of wine, and let you cry.

I was lucky to have two very supportive women in my area. I really hate depending on other people, but I learned to. There were days they took the kids or brought dinner, or just told me it was going to be OK. You have to love friends like that.

1. You Have to Have Self-Confidence – or at Least Pretend You Do

Usually when you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist you come out of it with very little self-confidence left. You have been broken down and left in pieces, made to believe you are unlovable, and left with the idea that no one really likes you.

That’s not even counting the trust issues.

You kind of have to have some self-confidence in order to make new friends. So this is the difficult first step. You are going to have to take a deep breath and remember why people would want to know you. If you can’t think of any other reason remind yourself that you are loyal. You are loyal to a fault or else you would not have put up with the narcissist’s crap for all of these years.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to meet a loyal friend! I know that one of my friends turns into a Cajun fireball when someone says or does something to dishonor or minimize me. Who wouldn’t want a friend like that?

2. You Have to Open Up Just a Little

Part of friendship is sharing. You have to let a person know you – maybe not everything all at once but at least a little. That means that you are going to have to step out of your bubble and trust someone. This is probably one of the hardest parts that you’ll have to do.

On the other side of that coin don’t tell them everything all at once. I have this really horrible tendency when meeting new people to give them the story of my life – all of it. I think in my mind if they know everything then they can make an educated choice about whether or not they want to be friends with me. If they know all the bad stuff up front then maybe they won’t walk away when they see some of my negative qualities, and believe me there are a lot of them.

I did this the other night. We go to a big church and in a year I haven’t gotten to know anyone because it’s just harder in a giant church, right? Anyway the other night I met something like six new people all at once. To make it worse, it was the Pastor, his wife, and various other people in leadership positions. I said way more than I needed to and then spent thirty minutes crying in the car because I was overwhelmed with so many new people and because I am fairly certain I made a complete and utter fool of myself.

So, open up but keep it light. Give them a chance.

3. You Have to Get Out There

Finding friends is like dating. If you don’t get out there where you can meet people that have similar interests to yours you’ll never make new friends.

  • Take a class in something you enjoy like cooking, painting, or whatever
  • Get involved in a church group or some other group that meets regularly
  • Join a gym

There are lots of ways to meet people and develop friendships. You just need to get out and do it.

4. Don’t Lower Your Eyes

I went through a period of time when I could not look myself in the eye in the mirror. I forced myself to do it, little by little until I could. I don’t know if anyone else is so beaten down that they can’t look into their own eyes but I certainly was.

I think that I couldn’t face the fact that I had let myself down. I had a lot going for me when I was young but I had let everything slip away until I was an android – mostly robot but just a little of myself remaining. My own eyes accused me of not caring for myself.

Looking into other people’s eyes made me frantic. As soon as my eyes would meet theirs I would feel like I was about to be terrorized for some reason. I had to look down and away. Because I am naturally shy people tend to think I am snobby and aloof. It made it worse when I couldn’t meet their gaze because it made me look deceptive.

Practice meeting your own eyes in the mirror. Smile at yourself. Look into your own eyes and tell yourself nice things. When you meet other people make it a point to look into their eyes while you are talking to them. Don’t stare awkwardly but listen intently and look at them!

5. Be Honest

If you freak out on them, be honest. Explain that you are working through anxiety issues stemming from an abusive, narcissistic relationship. Most people are really understanding and sensitive – and if they aren’t you don’t want them as a friend anyway.

Jump into the discussions here to get started meeting new people. Join First Wives World today and get helpful advice, encouragement, and affirmation.

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  • Comment Link linda Wednesday, 06 August 2014 22:41 posted by linda

    I am not sure I am qualified to give a statement on this.."life after the narcissist" because I am still with my NARC after 30 years. But to the women who have commented "they can't look people in the eyes" or they can't seem to find their way after the narcissist please...please...please find a way to get back what you once had. It will be a slow doubt..there will be days you take one step forward and two steps backward but just keep moving. Maybe you weren't a personality they lit up a room when you walked in it or maybe you tend to lean towards matter. Just finding contentment with your own company is priceless. Remember don't "awfulize" your situation by finding all of the negatives. I am not a big fan of Dr. Phil but to quote him .."it's better to be alone and healthy than to be with someone and be unhealthy". I am still with my NARC but I am learning to live again even while in the same house..but make no mistake..the goal is to get out eventually. I am spending this time to work on strengthen myself physical, spiritually, and emotionally and to learn all I can about the narcissist personality and how to deal with it. I am also learning what I can about codependency because herein lies the problem for me. I feel on my own "I am white in a room full of color", that I don't really have much going on for myself without the NARC because let's face it they like living on the edge and will always have something bigger than life going on. As a codependent personality I want to find my own way and make my life what I want it to be even if it appears dull to others. Finding support is crucial for anyone going through this with a NARC..find support through therapy, friends, family, whatever..just get support.

  • Comment Link FreeSpirit52 Thursday, 24 July 2014 20:37 posted by FreeSpirit52

    Such words of wisdom and helpful to all of us. I was with my Ex Narc/Aggressive Depressive/Cheat etc. I understand when you talk about not looking into anyone's eyes and having no self confidence which has been slowly eaten away and when you are finally divorced you feel totally empty. You have to start again and do similar things that you did when you were young ( well within reason!!) Very hard to trust not just others but your own judgement. Just looking in the mirror and seeing that I am ok and not bad looking for my age was a big step for me. I also have seen my ex in a picture recently and saw how ugly, no REALLY UGLY. So I feel my spirit has lifted a little. Thanks for the posting and sharing your ideas. Take care.

  • Comment Link thriving Monday, 07 July 2014 19:20 posted by thriving

    Yes. I'm living 2000 miles away from the place I called home my entire adult life. I know almost nobody, have no connections. It's easy to let depression take hold, which only makes things worse.

    I'm not good at making friends, I'm very introverted, but sometimes being alone crosses the line into being lonely. I need to find something, but I'd rather just go back to bed.

  • Comment Link amydouglas Monday, 07 July 2014 16:51 posted by amydouglas

    I feel a lot like this. I got overwhelmed in my relationship and lost close friends, and I think the ex wanted this to happen. I depended on him completely. Now that I have left, I have found it VERY hard to look people in the face while I'm talking. I feel a huge rush of anxiety and feel like I'm not worthy of looking them in the face. Thank you for the article, it is something I will work on today!

  • Comment Link SharP Tuesday, 01 July 2014 13:54 posted by SharP

    I used to be one of those people that thought divorced people had cooties and that when people got divorced it was both their faults. don't get me wrong, I could have done some things differently, but when you are in a relationship with a Narc, well, it just wont ever work EVER. So I have given people lots of room to make up their own minds. my kids hear me say, "It is more important for me to say it than for them to believe me" and they hear me say, "we are all just people making our way through this life the best that we can." Many of my "lost to marriage" friends heard me say it, chose not to believe me, spent time with the ex and became my friend believing me. But many just got caught up with the business of their own lives.... after all.... "we are all just people making our way through this life the best way that we can." Friends come and go and some stay forever. Great article. I have empathy for people who don't understand and have a hard time making friends. Hang in there!