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Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula specializes in narcissistic personalities, and in helping people identify and heal from narcissistic abuse. In a new video on her YouTube channel, Durvasula outlines the characteristics of a narcissistic relationship, and how it’s best to extract yourself as early as possible.
“Narcissistic abuse works because they, in an almost parasitic way, overtake your sense of identity, your sense of self,” she says. “By the end of the relationship you’re basically living in their service, walking on eggshells to avoid setting them off, convincing yourself that you do like the same things as them to avoid conflict, accepting the toxic conditions of the relationship and justifying it, and clipping away at your ambitions. Basically, to make the relationship work, you stop being you.”
If you are in the early stages of a friendship or romantic relationship with someone who has a narcissistic personality, Durvasula’s advice is simple: accept yourself. That means trusting yourself and your own instincts, preferences and boundaries, and not letting the other person sway you.
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“If you do it early enough, the relationship simply won’t work,” Durvasula explains. “They will get tired of not being able to dominate you.”
However, she adds, trying to stand your ground in an established relationship can be a lot more difficult. It is likely that any efforts to assert yourself will be met with mockery or gaslighting, or simply dismissed. “You have to really white knuckle it, and then you have to be prepared for rejection and abandonment, because the odds are they’re not going to stick around,” she says. “But if you’re willing to let them go, then accepting yourself is actually the healthiest path forward.”
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.