Top 10 Emotions People Commonly Feel During (and After) a Narcissistically Abusive Relationship

confusing behavior

Top 10 Emotions People Commonly Feel During (and After) a Narcissistically Abusive Relationship:

If you experienced, or are experiencing narcissistic abuse, odds are you are experiencing a wide range of emotions.  Based on my own experience, as well as the experience of those in my support group, here’s a list of what I believe to be the ten most commonly experienced emotions during and after narcissistic abuse:

1. Confused/Disoriented.

– Because our relationship moved really fast—like whirlwind romance, but deep down were a little confused. Something seemed “off” and too good to be true—but we couldn’t place it. We wondered if maybe we had issues with dating, or commitment, or self-esteem and that’s why they seemed too good to be true—especially if everyone else thought we were an amazing couple and had no problem with the speed at which things were moving.

– Because they told us they loved us soon into our relationship and we were a little confused or felt it was “odd” that someone their age would be so immature about love

– Because they seemed so certain we were the one for them…but it confused us, because they hardly knew us

– Because we’d see flashes of behavior like flashes of anger, rage, extreme jealousy, or they’d raise their voice, or get a little rough, and that all seemed really out of character for them

– Because they were very charming, witty, intelligent, and came across like Prince (or Princess Charming)

– Because they seemed to have a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality that seemed to come on out of nowhere

– Because we began experiencing crazy making behavior that began to erode our sanity and perception of reality—and we began to wonder if perhaps we were losing our mind, and really were misremembering or mishearing things

– Because we became uncertain as to who has the problem: were they acting in weird ways or were we being paranoid or was our perceptions of things off?

– Because we couldn’t tell if our relationship is going through the normal highs and lows of a relationship, or if it was indeed problematic

– Because they were a different person around other people, and no one else seemed to see their problematic behavior

– Because we are continually being told that we are somehow the problem—that we are too sensitive, too emotional, petty, couldn’t take a joke, or too jealous, or paranoid—or even that we were being controlling and manipulative.

– Because when their behavior got worse, or when we found out what they were really doing, we were blamed for it—that our behavior pushed them over the edge

– Because they would spin conversations and arguments and somehow the conversation would go way off topic and we’d find ourselves apologizing for things just to get our relationship back on track—thinking that if we could just get them to understand us, that things could get better

– Because they always had an excuse, and nothing was ever their fault

– Because they would do or say something illogical or manipulative, but then accuse us of being illogical or manipulative

– Because we knew our relationship had issues, but we kept telling ourselves that they would or could change…if only we could figure out how to get through to them

– Because they blamed us for their lying, cheating, and stealing, and so we double up our efforts to be a better partner…but it was never enough…and it never stopped their behavior

– Because we couldn’t figure out how things could go from being so great to so awful so quickly for no apparent reason

– Because whenever we brought up an issue, there was never any resolution—it was only silent treatment, them threatening to breakup with us, them breaking up with us, or us apologizing for bringing up their problematic behavior…and we were always so confused as to why they didn’t seem to want to ever work on things

– Because we didn’t know how things went from so amazing to so awful so quickly

– Because we don’t know why we feel so addicted to them and keep wanting to go back

– Because when we got out of the relationship, we couldn’t believe we were talked into doing a lot of the things we did—things that were against our morals, values, common sense, and better judgment

– Because after we were out of the relationship for several months, we began to really see their behavior clearly, and were really confused as to how we never saw it as highly problematic before

2. Isolated.

– Because we were so excited that we finally met our soul mate, that we wanted to spend every waking moment with them or talking to them…and we very quickly made them our whole world—spending less and less time with friends and family

– Because we didn’t realize that them wanting to text, and call, and skype, and wanting to be in constant connection with us was a form of controlling behavior—we thought it was love

– Because over time they didn’t like our friends and family and wanted us to spend time with just them

– Because if and when we did reach out no one seemed to understand or want to hear about it

– Because friends and family grew tired of hearing about us talking about the same issues but never leaving (because we held onto hope that things would change) and so our world got smaller and smaller

– Because we didn’t understand what was wrong with our relationship or who had the problem and so we quit talking about our issues…but because all we had in our relationship seemed to either be issues or grand, movie-like apologies for the issues, so we quit talking to other people altogether

– Because it was too painful to hear about how happy other people were in their relationships, and it made us aware of all the issues in our own

– Because they insisted we quit our jobs, drop out of school, or otherwise stay home to be a good partner or parent, and in an attempt to make them happy, we did—even though we them became financially dependent on them

– Because they insisted we work while they stayed at home, and we never got out to see friends or have a life outside of them

– Because they drained the accounts or we didn’t have access to them and couldn’t afford to leave

– Because we didn’t know how we would be able to financially, or physically be able to manage being a single parent

– Because they insisted we move to a new city, state, or country to be with them and we didn’t know anyone there

– Because when the relationship ended, no one believed us

– Because when the relationship ended, we were embarrassed and ashamed by everything that had happened, and that we didn’t get out sooner

– Because when the relationship ended, we didn’t trust anyone and just wanted to be alone

– Because when the relationship ended, and we did seek out help from a therapist or friend, we felt like our experience sounded crazy that we were afraid they wouldn’t believe us

3. Anxious.

– Because they began devaluing us by making snide or sarcastic comments about our gender, our intelligence, our education, where we were from, or appearance, and we began to believe that we were lucky to be with them

– Because they were continually acting squirrely and hiding their phone, or “friending” or messaging people we didn’t know on social media and trying to convince us we were just jealous and controlling

– Because deep down we didn’t trust them, but we really wanted to, because the good times could be so good, or because we had kids with them and wanted to keep our family together

– Because we know if we brought up any of their problematic behavior, they’d “punish” us in some way (silent treatment, leaving, divorcing, not paying child support, etc.)

– Because we felt that our relationship was always one conversation away from being over

– Because we didn’t know how we’d make it without them

– Because we knew something was up and so we always felt the need to play detective

4. Depressed.

– Because we felt so alone

– Because we felt like we will never heal from this

– Because no one gets it

– Because we know we need to leave, but we don’t know how

– Because we are sad that they hurt our children verbally, emotionally, and/or physically and there’s nothing we or the courts can seem to do about it

– Because they’ve manipulated our children–telling them that we tore the family apart, or were abusive/hurtful and turned our children against us

– Because they’ve launched a smear campaign against us and now everything thinks we did all these terrible things we didn’t do

– Because we don’t know where to turn for help

– Because we don’t feel like we fit in with our other friends or even other people

– Because we feel like we’ve had time stolen from us by them

5. Numb.

– Because we are trying to make logical sense of their illogical excuses

– Because we aren’t allowed to be angry with them, so we stuff it deep down and numb out with alcohol, or prescription or illegal drugs

– Because we know what they are up to, but don’t want to rock the boat so we numb out

– Because our feelings have been invalidated for so long that we don’t even know how we feel—and we just feel numb

– Because they upped and left us like we never matter to them

– Because we were replaced in a matter or days or weeks and they erased all trace of their relationship with us

– Because we can’t believe we fell for all their excuses and lies

– Because we can’t believe we stayed for as long as we did

– Because feeling our anger and hurt can be unbearable

6. Fearful.

– Because after we broke up we saw their “mask” slip and their total level of “indifference” and lack of remorse, and it became clear that not only do they not love us, they don’t even like us—and could possibly even hurt or kill us

– Because no one seemed to take our fear about them seriously and thought we were over-reacting—especially if they’d never been physically abusive to us before

– Because we were afraid if we spoke out they would end our career, or otherwise try to destroy us

– Because they were leaving thinly veiled threats that friends, family, even the police or court seemed bothered by, and we wondered if we really were going crazy

– Because we don’t feel that we can trust anyone—even police, therapists, friends or family for fear they will think we are crazy or somehow will tell our abuser where we are

7. Angry.

– Because we gave so much of ourselves and they treated us like dirt

– Because we stayed for as long as we did

– Because other people like church members, friends, and even therapists were encouraging
us to try and work things out

– Because we fell for their manipulations and lies for as long as we did, not realizing that we were being manipulated or lied to

– Because they used our religion against us, telling us we needed to forgive them

– Because of how they continue to abuse our children when we aren’t around

– Because no one seems to believe us about what happened

– Because since we weren’t being beaten, people don’t think what we went through was abuse

– Because people tell us that we need to move on like that’s something easy to do

– Because our lives are blown apart and we have to not only heal from this but pick up all the pieces of our lives, emotionally and financially and deal with their smear campaign against us

– Because they’ve moved onto the next person and don’t have any healing to do, while we feel emotionally devastated

8. Full of guilt and remorse.

– Because we spent years or decades of our life in this “manipulationship”

– Because we wanted something better for our children, and don’t know how we got tangled up with this person

– Because every time we tried to leave they’d lay a guilt trip on us to stay—that somehow they needed us to get better, that they had a bad childhood, or that they need us to stand by them as they go through therapy, or that by us leaving we are the ones tearing the family apart, or that we are abusive, cold-hearted, and uncaring

– Because we wish we would have seen the red flags for what they were

– Because we wish we would have left sooner

– Because they’ve told us time and again how everything is our fault, and that we’ve ruined their life

9. Embarrassed and ashamed.

– Because we didn’t see their abusive behavior for what it was at the time

– Because we can’t believe we didn’t see through them sooner

– Because other people continually ask us why we stayed

– Because we don’t really know why we stayed or how to even explain things

– Because our children saw a lot of what was going on and we feel awful for that

– Because we can’t believe we put up with all their cheating, lying, manipulating, triangulating, and otherwise toxic behavior

– Because we continually feel judged by others—that our ex’s behavior is somehow our fault

10. Revictimized.

– Because the abuse from them, from those they have manipulated into believing we were the problem (aka their “flying monkeys”), sometimes from therapists, attorneys, even our own children—and sometimes even ourselves, continues long after the relationship is over

– Because we get really angry with ourselves for feeling stuck in our pain after the relationship is over and try to force ourselves to “get over it”

– Because we went to therapy with them and they manipulated the therapist into thinking we were the problem

– Because there’s a part of us that still misses or loves them and we feel disgusted and angry that we feel this way

– Because if we break down and reopen contact with them believing for those brief moments (maybe even weeks or months) we think that things will be different, only for the abuse to start up again—then feeling stupid and angry with ourselves for falling for it again
– Because we feel like we should have healed by now—that the manipulationship is over, and they’ve moved on without looking back, but we feel stuck

– Because we are having really vivid dreams, trouble trusting other people, paranoia as to who else has an agenda, and we feel like we are losing our minds—and then get angry with ourselves for feeling all of this

– Because they are running around town telling everyone how we are some form of crazy, bipolar, abusive, manipulative, compulsive liar, an addict, alcoholic, neglectful partner or parent—and people believe them

– Because they are convincing other people to abuse us for them—so we are getting calls from strange numbers, people driving by, people calling us and harassing us at work, or getting dirty looks from people we don’t even know

– Because our friends, family, and even sometimes therapists, church leaders, or doctors tell us to just “get over it” or move on…but we don’t know how

This is what it feels like to be in a relationship with a narcissist.

None of these feelings or situations happen in a healthy relationship.

If you are continually feeling any one of these ten emotions about your relationship: confused, isolated, anxious, depressed, numb, fearful, angry, guilty, ashamed or embarrassed, or revictimzed, then please know that feeling this way is not normal or healthy, and that there is a very strong possibility you are experiencing narcissistic abuse.

Please know that you are not alone in this. You are not crazy. And yes, you really can heal from this.

If you would like ongoing, around-the-clock, free support, please join us: or


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I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse.

My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.

Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.

It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
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About Dana 308 Articles
I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse. My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life. Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics. It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.


  1. All of the above is right on, rock solid true. I have been in (and out…and in…and out; you know the drill) of a manipulationship for four years.

    He moved on lightning fast and his new girlfriend posted a boatload of love sh*t all over Facebook but…he’s back. He wants to be “friends.” Does anyone else hear the vacuum in the background?

    This time, there’s a glimmer of hope. This time, I asked myself, “Do you REALLY want to walk that road again? What is the purpose of a friendship with him?”

    We shall see. I’ve been sucked in before.

  2. I was hooked on your article with #1 – Confused. Everything, well almost everything that applies to my ex is just as you described. Also, why????? Why??????? I keep saying that to myself. And then you say “They didn’t even LIKE me!”

    Oh, the phone issues. Hiding, hanging up really fast, always telling me he was asleep, but then I realized he was out. More and more and more…………it wouldn’t stop until he threw me out the window like a cigarette butt on the freeway. And, I still ask, why???

  3. This video is so validating! Even though I’ve been processing all of these feelings for some time now, it is so powerful to hear them spoken by you and to know that there are others who have experienced and lived through these same feelings. I am so grateful for your openness and your willingness to share and help others and so many of your videos have been life changing for me. Thank you so much, I am so much stronger than I was a year ago. You have truly been a lifeline for me.

  4. I’m so scared. He started the smear campaign already. Turning his family against me. And trying to turn my 6 year old against me with lies. I havent had a job in 7 years. Anxiety and depression are my constant companion and even though I know I can make it on my own as I did before him, I’m afraid of all this craziness that is post narcissist relationship. Afraid to talk to a therapist because EVERYONE I’ve tried to talk to doesnt get it and blows me off. I feel so alone and afraid of the future yet I know staying is out of the question. Sigh….sorry to blabber on. Reading the list just brought up a lot of anxiety.

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