“Do I run?” or “Do I stay?” Contrary to popular opinion, these are not the only two options for people who find themselves in a relationship with a narcissist. What if there is another way? Dr. David Hawkins offers an alternative solution for you to consider if you ask yourself if it is possible to stay in a relationship with a narcissist.
In this insightful article, we explore the complexities of staying in a relationship with a narcissist. Dr. David Hawkins of the Marriage Recovery Center discusses the extremes of “staying and praying” for change or “running for your life” and advocates for a middle-ground approach involving reflection and consideration.
Wisdom is emphasized, and taking time apart for healing and assessing change is encouraged. Six key steps for determining genuine change in a narcissistic partner are outlined, offering valuable guidance for those navigating such challenging relationships. Ultimately, the article provides a balanced perspective on the possibility of finding a healthier future while prioritizing one’s well-being.
Is it Possible to Stay in a Relationship With a Narcissist?
Navigating a relationship with a narcissist can be an emotionally and mentally exhausting journey. Dr. David Hawkins, the director of the Marriage Recovery Center, acknowledges that when faced with ongoing, chronic narcissistic and emotional abuse, individuals often find themselves torn between two extreme positions: staying and praying for a miraculous change, or running for their lives.
However, a balanced approach that involves reflection, prayer, and careful consideration is essential when dealing with such complex dynamics. In this article, we will explore whether it is possible to stay in a relationship with a narcissist, providing insight into finding a middle ground between these extremes.
Should I Run, Should I Stay, or Should I Reflect?
The Extreme Positions
- Stay and Pray: The Hopeful ApproachOne end of the spectrum suggests that individuals should stay in the relationship, entrusting their faith in divine intervention. This approach assumes that if they remain steadfast and faithful, God will eventually bring about positive change in the narcissistic partner. However, this position may inadvertently perpetuate the cycle of abuse if change does not occur.
- Run for Your Life: The Drastic EscapeAt the other extreme, some advocate for an immediate exit from a relationship with a narcissist, emphasizing the inherent danger and hopelessness of such partnerships. While this approach prioritizes one’s safety and well-being, it may not consider the possibility of change or the complexity of personal relationships.
The Middle Ground: Reflection and Consideration
A more balanced approach involves reflection and careful consideration of the situation. Dr. Hawkins suggests that this approach allows individuals to step away from the abusive environment temporarily and seek support from loved ones and professionals. This period of reflection enables them to assess the potential for change and intervention.
The Role of Wisdom
Wisdom plays a crucial role in dealing with narcissistic and emotionally abusive relationships. The Bible encourages believers to “consider” and “reflect” in times of trouble. This implies that taking time to make a wise decision is not only acceptable but also endorsed.
Reflection: A Time Apart
Taking time apart from an abusive relationship is often the first step toward healing. This separation can range from brief respites to more extended periods, depending on the severity of the abuse. During this time, individuals can find solace and support among caring, godly friends and family members.
Assessing Change: Six Steps to Determine if He’s Really Changing
Lundy Bancroft, a renowned expert on abusive relationships, provides a framework for assessing whether a narcissistic partner is genuinely changing. These six steps can help individuals gauge the potential for a healthier future:
1. Surrounding Himself with New Influences
Positive change begins when the narcissistic partner willingly surrounds themselves with better influences, signaling a commitment to transformation.
2. Listening and Valuing Your Perspective
A shift away from oppositional behavior is a positive sign. If the narcissistic partner starts listening to and valuing your perspective, it indicates a willingness to change.
3. Taking Charge of His Change Process
Acknowledging the need for personal growth and actively seeking help, such as counseling or therapy, demonstrates a commitment to change.
4. Giving Up the Victim Role
Rejecting the victim mentality and embracing the necessary changes is essential. It shows that he trusts you and the process of change.
5. Taking Meaningful Actions
Actions speak louder than words. The narcissistic partner should take concrete steps to support your goals and well-being.
6. Demonstrating Commitment to Long-Term Goals
Real change is a journey with no set timeline. A commitment to the long-term process of personal growth and relationship improvement is a positive sign.
Dealing with a narcissistic partner is challenging, and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Extremes like staying and praying or running for your life may not always be the best choices. Instead, taking time to reflect, seeking support, and assessing the potential for change through the six steps outlined can provide a more balanced and informed approach to handling such relationships. Remember, your well-being is paramount, and finding a path that ensures your safety and emotional health is of utmost importance.
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.