Hi Morgan ~
So, after almost four years together, I finally broke it off with “the narc”, as I now call him. It’s been about six months, and he has tried to get me to come back a couple times. I slipped once and had coffee with him, but all he did was yell at me, and try to guilt me for leaving. I learned about going no contact over the holidays, blocked him everywhere, and haven’t really heard from him since.
The thing is, I’m lonely. And while I don’t want him, I really want to start dating again, I want a partner or companion. But not if it means getting hurt, or being involved with another narcissist or abusive person.
My question for you is how long do I have to wait before I can start dating again after breaking it off with a narcissist?
Hello Shelia ~
First off, congratulations on getting, and staying, away from the narcissist. Learning to ignore people who struggle with this mental disorder is key to your successful recovery, and on-going sanity.
Next, I can’t tell you how often I get this question, especially from women who are empty and lonely, and just want to feel loved, adored, and cherished. Unfortunately, these emotional longings are the very things that make us fragile, and a potential target, as we enter into any intimate relationship.
Why? Because wanting to fill these desires from outside ourselves is actually a weakness, and any player, predator, or abusive person can sense it, almost immediately. And just like a wolf will never throw back a “weak sheep”, just because it was easy prey, neither will a narcissist or predator, when they’ve found an easy target.
That said, the first thing you need to consider, or ask yourself, when wanting to date again is:
+ Am I fully or mainly healed, and feel like I’ve got a strong core and foundation?
+ Or, has the pain from the narcissist just subsided a bit, and now I feel bored, lonely, and in need of stimulation?
The reason I bring up where you are at in your healing first, is because the average person takes approximately 18 months of no contact to physiologically detox from the chemical cocktail of Oxycontin, Opioids, Corticotropin-releasing hormone, and Dopamine, they were exposed to when involved with the narcissist.
These chemicals, whether you know it or not, do a number on your neurochemistry known as Trauma Bonding that makes you feel addicted to the narcissist. This “addiction” is a big part of the reason healing from narcissistic abuse can be so challenging. Because just when your mind has logically rationalized all the reasons you should leave, your body actually craves the “drug hit” your abuser was providing you – and “nudges” you to go back and get it.
The other aspect to consider when wanting to re-enter the dating arena after life with a narcissist is your mental-health. Most abuse survivors I work with suffer with some level of codependency, not to mention various forms of anxiety, depression and PTSD. And unlike the drug detox, which has a natural timeline for processing and releasing, these issues usually take a counselor, guide, therapist, or library of self-help books to deal with.
For total transparency though, about 96% of all Americans deal with some level of codependency. So, please don’t think you have to be “perfect” or totally healed to date. You just need to be strong enough to maintain yourself, and your mental and emotional well-being.
If not, here are the pitfalls of dating before your heart, mind and body are ready.
PITFALLS OF DATING TOO EARLY IN RECOVERY
+ Waiting to be rescued or fixed
+ Being consumed by lust or attraction
+ Being clingy, like you can’t live without them
+ Telling them too much too soon, or nothing at all
+ Pushing for a relationship, then holding the other person hostage
All that said, my advice would be to wait at least one year to 18 months to date, with the caveat being, you must do the self-care and self-love work to prepare your heart and mind for the right guy.