Why Victims of Narcissistic Abuse Go Back to Their Abusers?
I’m sure you’ve watched those YouTube videos on how to cut ties with your narcissistic abuser on and on. They are indeed helpful because they provide valuable advice on separating yourself from your abuser, not only physically but emotionally, as well.
However, few coaches of narcissistic abuse talk about the “no contact” relapse.
If you read the comments under videos regarding leaving your narcissistic parent or spouse, you’ll see many who talk about how it took them a few tries until they severed those ties for good.
What is a “no contact relapse” and why does it happen?
A “no contact” relapse is when a victim of narcissistic abuse (perpetrated by a partner suffering from NPD) goes back into the fold of the abusive relationship after the abuser has insisted he or she does this.
There might be other reasons why the victim re-establishes contact. Perhaps he or she feels guilty for abandoning the abuser or they feel as if the abuser’s emotional stability or inner calm depends on their actions.
Or maybe they just feel lonely and abandoned without the abuser in their life. Thoughts like “It’s good to have a family, even if they’re toxic” and “No partner is perfect and mine deserved a second chance” may pop up in the victim’s mind from time to time, reminding them of what they’ve lost when they cut ties with this person.
I went back to my narcissistic parents in 2020 after a four-year break from them. Truth is, I didn’t feel like I could go on without establishing contact.
I had to spent four Christmases alone, watching friends and roommates enjoy time with their relatively healthy parents. The feeling of not belonging to what I initially thought was a flawed but good family was quite intense.
If you’ve gone through a no-contact relapse like I did, know that it’s normal. Returning in the fold of a narcissistic family is something that many adult children of dysfunctional families do.
When you’re made to feel that you’re not worthy of love as a child and brought up in a highly stressful family environment, you learn that toxic relationships is what you are the most comfortable with. You can’t handle anything less than this.
You may wonder why is the pull towards abusive relationships so great. That’s because you have been given a “toxic relationship” blueprint at birth that helped you see the world through a distorted view. “Normal” and “healthy” for you mean “abusive” and “toxic” to others.
Your abusive caretakers taught you to seek relationships that are unsafe because they’ve also chosen unsafe relationships.
How to prevent a “no contact relapse”?
Coaches who specialize in narcissistic abuse tout the importance of healing your co-dependency to stop being attracted to unhealthy people.
I believe this is the key to healing from narcissistic abuse. Managing your own co-dependency and learning a healthier, more functional blueprint for navigating life is going to help you long-term.
How to heal co-dependency? you may wonder. This is definitely not a question I can answer in one article, but if I need to give you a tip, it would be therapy. Being in therapy will address that overwhelming need to be close to someone who does not love you.
Choose a therapist who is knowledgeable about narcissistic personality disorder and has worked with many victims of abuse.
Ask the therapist to work on your codependency traits and practice learning boundaries and asserting your needs loud and clear.
You can also work on your codependency by going to CODA or support meetings in your area, or by going through the steps of an ACOA meeting (very often, adult children of narcissistic families have grown up with alcohol or drug abuse issues as well).
Here are some links for your consideration:
CODA (Codependents Anonymous)
Adult Children Of Alcoholics World Service Organization
Home - Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Families
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA)/Dysfunctional Families is a Twelve Step, Twelve Tradition program of people who grew…
Out Of The Fog
Out of the FOG
Helping family members & loved-ones of people who suffer from personality disorders.
Good luck in your journey of recovering from narcissistic abuse and please be kind to yourself if tomorrow you’ll be picking up the phone to call your narcissistic father.
You’re not perfect, you’re a work in progress. Your mind is fighting the early childhood programming that tells you love and comfort only come from drama and abuse.
That’s a lot for anyone to process.