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The Reason You Date Emotionally Unavailable Men.

Do you continue dating unavailable men? If I asked, “What are the warning signs of an emotionally unavailable partner,” you’d recite them swifter than a recovering alcoholic recounting the big book.

After dating several self-absorbed men, you’d assume spotting one a mile away would be easy, as if their clothes are draped in red hazard lights, sporting a sign that reads, “Caution, you are entering a hazard zone. Turn around or die.”

You were certain this guy was different, and yet, he turned out to be the same. What gives?

Well, the common denominator in all your relationships is you. The process unfolds in a subtle manner, so it’s easy to conclude you’re the available one and he’s not. You’re also emotionally unavailable, and the reason this truth is deceptive, is because it began in infancy.

John Bowlby’s, Theory of Attachment is widely recognized in the field of psychology, and offers insight into how emotional bonds formed in early childhood affects ability to secure relationships later on in life. In order for a child to develop normal social and emotional development, a healthy attachment must be formed with at least one caregiver.

It’s the first relationship a child experiences and it sets the tone for future bonds as it teaches what it means to be loved and nurtured. Receiving adequate nurture and affection throughout early childhood develops an adult with secure attachment– securing fulfilling and healthy relationships with likeminded people.  

Out of the four, the avoidant and anxious-insecure are the two adult attachment styles that compel to one another, forming a toxic, dysfunctional relationship. Avoidant dismissive attachment develops when a primary caregiver fails to comfort their infant, forming an inclination to suppress their emotions.

The avoidant-dismissive adult has learned, in early development, to bury emotions due to the formed belief that depending on others isn’t sufficient in meeting their needs, hence their value for independence and desire to remain detached- avoiding vulnerability.

Anxious-insecure adults receive inconsistent nurture from caregivers; fluctuating between responsiveness and affection, while other times, unresponsive, and emotionally unavailable. Having needs met is a gamble. This unpredictable behavior is confusing, causing a child to cling as an act of desperation- like hey! I’m here you asshole, pay attention to me!

 When successful, the child feels rewarded and validated, encouraging the clingy behavior, and when it’s not, feelings of insecurity and distrust arise. Anxious adults internalize beliefs that love is a confusing and inconsistent ordeal, influencing future relationships to reenact that relational dynamic.

Opposites do attract. An avoidant adult is familiar to the anxious adult since they offer unpredictable displays of affection, resembling their first attachment. As he pulls away, you seek validation by moving closer, and if successful, needs are met. This dynamic allows space for both partners to dance around their opposing vulnerabilities.

 He retreats with little consequence, since you’re always waiting for his return. With control to set the limitations, this persistent cycle mainly benefits him. Within this dynamic, a committed relationship will not form, allowing both partner to remain unavailable, acting in a way that’s familiar.

If you haven’t considered the relationships formed during early development, I would recommend doing so. A significant portion of human behavior is learned from childhood. We tend to behave, abiding by what we believe is “normal.” As a child, belief systems aren’t challenged, and unfortunately, are so engrained, that as adults, we hardly recognize their influence.

It’s important to stay vigilant, discover your blind spots, and challenge them!

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse Psychology Relationships Toxic Love Uncategorized

Does distance truly make the heart grow fonder?

We all know the saying and we’ll use it from time to time to make ourselves feel better when facing a shit circumstance… but is it true?

Here’s the thing. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Love releases chemicals within the brain that are similar to the effects of cocaine. When removed, just like cocaine, distance creates symptoms of withdrawal within the body.

The brain became accustomed to the euphoric release of chemicals and without them, functioning becomes impaired for a short period of time. Like drug addiction, the body’s dependent on their drug, so when devoid, intense cravings occur, along with uncomfortable physical symptoms.

Most individuals crave and miss their partner during distance. Their presence was comforting, familiar, and felt good, however, not everyone will experience this phenomenon.

An emotionally unavailable partner is likely to reach out during distance when bored or lonely, but not because their heart grew founder. Why?

Any symptoms of withdrawal such as cravings or missing their partner, is considered a negative emotion, so when experienced it’s habitually suppressed.

Boredom and loneliness, although negative emotions, are also suppressed, however, they’re present enough for action to take place, but it’s not authentic. It’s like a watered down juice; you taste the flavor, but not nearly as strong.

When feelings are wholeheartedly expressed, withdrawal produces impairment and takes time to recover because the body’s essentially detoxing. If you loved and cared deeply for someone, it’s natural to feel deeply saddened by the loss.

It’s also important to consider that an emotionally unavailable partner or a narcissist, have sought out a replacement, filling that void. Since incapable of creating lasting, meaningful relationships, it’s likely they’ll reach out when that replacement ends, like it inevitably does.

If you find this dilemma is applicable to your current situation, just remember that you’re not an option, especially when they’re bored or lonely. Not to sound crude but…. fuck that.

Be with someone who treats you like the main course.. not a platter of desserts to pick and choose which one to indulge in.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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healing love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse Relationships Toxic Love Toxic Relationships

The Dizzying Cycle of Narcissism

A narcissist is a complex, manipulative individual, so naturally being in a relationship with one is mentally exhausting.

It feels as though you’ve been running in circles, accomplishing nothing, except an occasional bathroom trip to vomit from incessant, dizzying bullshit. It could be sunny outside, but a cloud of confusion rests above your head, and depending what phase you’re at in his dizzying cycle, it may be a thunderstorm.

A narcissist uses a three phase tactic, referred to as “the dizzying cycle,” to keep their partner engaged. Using the term “partner,” in such a context feels morally irresponsible, so instead I’ll use the word “target.”

Throughout the relationship, a narcissists target will experience three phases: idealization, devaluation, and discard.

The lovely idealization phase occurs at the beginning of the relationship. A narcissist identifies a new target they’re keen on procuring. When they look at you they see profit, and of course, they want it.

To be trappable, a narcissist understands he must put his best face forward, making sure interactions are flawless. To do this, he wears a mask, careful it doesn’t slip and reveal his true colors.

In the idealization phase, he love bombs the shit out of you, saying what he thinks you want to hear, throwing compliments, giving gifts, and showering you with attention, intent on making you feel special. Before revealing his true identity, it’s imperative you fall for him, otherwise, he has no legs to stand on.

When successful, he initiates the devaluation phase. Depending on the narcissist, this may occur overnight. Suddenly, they’re behaving like a different person. Naturally, issues arise due to this character change and any conversation is unproductive, leaving you confused and overwhelmed.

He offers no explanation for his behavior, and if he does, he’ll flip the blame on you. After a period of behaving callously and cold, he sometimes follows up with a sob story, plucking at your heart strings.

Eventually, after a period of benefiting from your supply, he decides you’re not worth the headache- too many emotions to deal with. You were poking holes, not only through his logic, but his mask as well, so he discards you.

It’s like being tossed in the trash, displaying no emotion or care while doing so. You won’t get an explanation, and because he lacks empathy and truly doesn’t care, he smiles while doing it.

Whatever action is taken afterwards, in attempt to establish closure, is denied via silent treatment. You reaching out, calling, and sending texts, expressing your emotions, only serves at feeding his insatiable ego. It makes him feel important and special.

The alarming thing about this cycle, is how parasitic a narcissist can be. Just because he discarded you, doesn’t mean it remains that way. A narcissist will come back, repeating the three cycles for as long as you allow it.

Each cycle becomes worse. The idealization phase will have a shorter duration and his method of discard will become increasingly cruel. The process is selfish and undeniably heartbreaking.

A target could spend years trying to maintain the idealization phase, riding the highs and lows in hope that one day he’ll remain the person they fell in love with.

Hopefully, after enough abuse, a dawning realization transpires: he was never the man you fell in love with.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Education love people psychology Relationships Society

You’re dating a human, not a supreme being….right?

Oftentimes, partners and relationships are first on an individuals list of values, as if their some supreme god. Although meaningful and important, a top value should never be a person, place, or a thing.

Values are a critical component in our lives, motivating and dictating all behavior. Values influence ethical behavior, as well as personal passions and beliefs. They create boundaries– informing others how we’d like to be treated and what we won’t accept.

What is most important to you, says a lot about you. For example, if compassion is a high value of yours, its likely you’re an understanding, giving, and healthy person. Perhaps, this has influenced your career path or ability to create meaningful relationships.

However, if you value something that’s not measurable, such as a person or a thing, you’re treading deep waters. When a value is externally based– it’s subject to change, meaning you lost free will of the outcome. You can’t control people or situations…only how you respond to them, but if control over that value is lost, whatever you lost it to, now holds the power.

People can hurt and betray you. If they’re at the top of your list of values, then what do you do? Values give our life meaning and your number one just shattered into a million pieces.

One betrays the self when choosing unhealthy values, creating a destructive mess. If respect is high on the list, and someone disrespects you, its likely you’d cut them out of your life (assuming it’s appropriate given the situation.)

However, if you value respect just as much as a partner, what happens if they profoundly disrespect you? Let’s say they committed an act of infidelity. Since both values are just as important, what do you do?

You might accept the mistreatment and later feel ashamed, because you trashed a significant value. What did it ever do to you?! Conflicting values become problems in several aspects of your life.

A person, place, or thing isn’t maintainable, as opposed to dignity, security, or respect. It’s also important that such values aren’t measured by people, places, or things.

If you allow your dignity or respect to be betrayed by an individual, those are wavering values. I understand people will challenge your values. Naturally, you may be disrespected or hurt by the actions of another, but this doesn’t mean those values should be called into question.

If people are valued above everything, they’re given power to dictate your life. It should be yours and yours only.

Own your values.

What are your top five values?

How do you measure those values?

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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healing Letting go love Narcissistic Abuse psychology Relationships Toxic Love Toxic Relationships

Narcissism Isn’t A Choice – It’s A Mental Disorder

When healing from narcissistic abuse, the aftermath of confusion and pain are often the focus of conversation.

Of course, it’s healthy to discuss and understand your relationship with a narcissist, but I’ve noticed an important aspect missing in that conversation.

Narcissism is a mental illness. In the DSM-5: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, (also my version of google) refers to this illness as Narcissist Personality Disorder.

For an individual to meet criteria for diagnosis, five of the following nine symptoms must be present:

  • 1. Grandiose sense of self- importance
  • 2. Preoccupation with fantasies of success, brilliance, power, ideal love, and beauty.
  • 3. A belief that he or she is special or unique and can only be understood by likeminded individuals.
  • 4. A need for excessive admiration
  • 5. A sense of entitlement
  • 6. Exploitative behaviors
  • 7. A lack of empathy ***
  • 8. Envy of others or belief others are envious of them
  • 9. Arrogant or haughty attitude and behaviors

A disclaimer is paramount: behavior ranges on a spectrum. Not all individuals who display a few of these symptoms meet criteria for diagnosis. The average person will experience moments of self-importance, arrogance, entitlement, or a need for admiration, etc.

During an evaluation, presence of symptoms is not enough- duration and frequency are essential components when considering diagnosis. A person who exhibits such symptoms for a short period of time, on a less frequent basis, will not qualify for narcissistic personality disorder.

An individual must present with five out of nine symptoms, beginning in early childhood and also occurring in multiple situations. A desire for admiration, sense of entitlement, arrogance, in romantic relations alone- isn’t enough.

An individual fitting criteria for diagnosis would frequently meet five symptoms with an early onset, causing impairment in several domains of life- social, vocational, educational, and relationships.

Being aware of this is important for healing to take place. You were dealing with a mentally ill individual that operates under a skewed and irrational perception of reality. If he doesn’t acknowledge or seek intensive therapy, he’ll continue to suffer from NPD.

Nothing was your fault. Take it with a grain of salt and never take his actions personally. There’s nothing you could have done differently to change him. It’s a decision he must make. If forced upon him, it would only lead to resentment and under such circumstance, improvement is rarely effective.

All that confusion, frustration, and mental exhaustion wears you down, to the degree of questioning your own sanity. You were in love with an individual who currently lacks capability to think and behave rationally, using manipulation and exploitation as means of communication.

You’re not crazy, dramatic, or asked for too much. You were a vicim responding to a confusing and abusive situation.

This weight is not yours to carry.

It’s time to put it down.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Education healing love psychology Relationships

They Always Come Back


You’re finally feeling like your old self again. All those days stuck in fear, wondering if you’ll ever move on are now thoughts of the past…and then bam! Out of nowhere, he pops up, creeping his way in with a plan to hijack your mind. And it works.

Why does this happen now, when you’re practically touching the finish line? It’s like he turns into a canine dog with advanced receptors in his nose, getting a whiff of you moving on and then tracking you down.

It’s selfish love. If this isn’t the first time, it’s likely you’ve fallen in this trap before. How did that work out? Probably not well.

An emotionally unavailable man, sensing their ex moving on, is hit with unresolved conflict. Their immaculate ability to repress emotions has reached a dead end street.

All those notes, brainstormed and carefully written into your phone, later sending as text messages, (I know the deal) fed his ego. He’s now feeling uneasy….or even worse- emotional.

He doesn’t want you to move on. What if you find someone better than him? What if you never speak to him again? If he’s so concerned, why didn’t he consider that before? Because he’s emotionally unavailable and loves conditionally.

True love has no conditions. Using affection as a tool for control isn’t love. There are strings attached- expectations.

Unconditional love doesn’t seek rewards. Love isn’t some business transaction. What do I get in return? Like a puppy, scratching at your door, tail in-between his legs; he’s looking for compensation. No matter what he says or does, it’s driven by an urge to feel he still matters.

To give him that is to satisfy his fragile ego. It wasn’t undying love that brought him back to you. Sounds brutal but it’s the truth. An emotionally unavailable man would have to confront his issues, which requires acknowledgment and uncomfortable work.

Unless he says, “Hey I’ve been in therapy for the past few months and realized I wasn’t ready for a relationship but I’ve made progress and would love a second chance at trying.” If you laughed, like I did, it’s probably because it’s hard to imagine this ever happening.

Don’t backtrack on your progress for someone who’s not progressing. Practice self-care, meet your own needs, and direct energy toward your passions.

It may sound cliche, but life really is too short. Don’t waste your time on shallow individuals, mindlessly chasing a bone because in a few days, they’ll trade it in for something new.

Only a boy offers a woman breadcrumbs. Love yourself enough to know you deserve the whole fucking meal.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse Relationships Toxic Relationships

The price is your soul

How much are you willing to spend on making a relationship work?

With a narcissist, the price is non-negotiable. Just remember, if you need to obtain a loan, the lender can change your fixed interest rate, and considering the circumstance it could add up to the cost of your soul. Are you sure you can afford this?

Soul Suckers

When referring to narcissists, I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “energy vampires,” but personally I like to call them soul suckers. Yes, a narcissist sucks the energy out of people like a vampire does blood, but the cost isn’t death, it’s your soul.

A “soul” is defined as the essence and spirit of a person. For just a moment, place aside any religious beliefs you may have, and consider this definition in context of the present moment (like being alive and shi*t.) What do you like about yourself? What makes you special, talented, or unique?

That’s your soul. It gives you character. When feeling good, you’re connected and catering to those personal aspects, allowing them to flourish. Perhaps, they make you feel alive or important, like your time on planet earth is meant for great success. While at your best, life has meaning and you’re striding to either find or make that happen.

And inevitably, there are moments when you feel like crap, as if taking out the trash is an impossible task, because everywhere you go, there you are, and it’s an offensive, lingering smell. A shower doesn’t do the trick- you tried scrubbing, exfoliating, but after the tenth time, you raised the white flag. Feeling alive but vacant in a body you no longer feel is yours.

Finding your way back to normalcy feels intimidating like, “Where do I begin when I constantly feel like throwing up. I’m going to win world’s first person to reach china via projectile vomit?” Seem’s impossible, I get it.

When dating a narcissist, that’s the price you pay: your soul. All your amazing attributes took a hitchhike and got murdered by a sociopath in the woods, pretending to be a lumberjack in the state of New Mexico. It’s really not a fun time.

A narcissist will pick you up and throw you so far away from yourself, it feels like traveling to China, without GPS to go track yourself down. He’s spectacular at draining energy from your soul, and each day, it works- leaving you more disconnected and exhausted. It’s like wondering if you’ll ever feel normal again and can you even remember what that feels like?

A cloud of irritability follows you and everyone notices, wondering why you’re so snappy, unmotivated, or disinterested in doing the things you used to love? You’re not attending the birthday dinner for Uncle Jack, but not due to a busy schedule. Your energy meter ran out last week and you’re too broke to fill it.

Threats, manipulation, and deception leave a narcissist with complete control. He becomes the sole beneficiary and you? Well, practically dead. Time and effort expended on someone who lacks capability to feel human compassion, remorse, and empathy. All those times, expressing how he made you feel like trash, were wasted because he didn’t care to understand.

Gravitational Pull

It’s your soul that matched you with this mess- quite literally. A narcissist is drawn to those who contradict them. You have feelings- he hardly has any. People love to say narcissists seek out weak individuals, but that couldn’t be more inaccurate. To feel what you feel takes incredible strength– because it hurts.

Willingness to place yourself in a vulnerable situation, surrendering to the outcome is a power move. Burying uncomfortable feelings is not, it’s running from fear. *Avoids to conserve weak ego* I’ll speak for myself when I say the latter sounds a lot weaker.

Unfortunately, a narcissist sees otherwise. To him, displays of emotion and compassion are not only a sign of weakness but a place to profit. The more understanding you are, the better off. It’s a safe space from judgement and it means you’re less likely to leave and more willing to empathize. Of course, a narcissist understands to get there he must prep and prime by introducing to you….his false self.

Crafting a perfect partner, one who meets all your needs and fall hopelessly in love with. He spent time listening to you, getting to know your wants, likes, dislikes. This intel is used as material for impersonation. Once successful in winning your devotion and love, their true self will be unmasked.

A narcissist will never choose a partner he’s ashamed of. He’s sized you up and wants to show you off as arm candy. After all, his image is sacred and the woman he chooses will support that.

Both parties see potential in each other. You see someone who can fulfill your relationship needs and he sees a weak partner who’s trappable. Trouble arises when the big reveal occurs and his manipulation has been successful.

You see how he treats you. You feel it, but why do you stay if what initially drew you in, is no longer there? You don’t knock on a door when you know no ones inside.

Is it because you already feel vulnerable? He alienated you from loved ones while making you doubt everyone and everything in your life. He used your insecurities as a knife to stab you in the back. So, why?

Did he initially help you forget a disliked aspect about yourself? Was he giving you something you couldn’t provide yourself? And even though it’s not the man you fell for, are you staying in hope that he’s somewhere in there, willing to open that door?

I’ll leave you with these questions to consider. With that answer, you’ll find the key. And by the way… you always had it.

Now open your own damn door ( I say this with love)

-Jessica Bruno LMHC




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healing love psychology Relationships Toxic Relationships Uncategorized

Your Relationships Are Avoided Mirrors

You can’t stay up in the sky forever. Is that what you thought? Or were you so high you forgot to consider the inevitable come down?

That’s what happens when you date an emotionally unavailable partner. It’s not a “normal” heartbreak, leaving a conventional mess, because it was never healthy. And I get it, he was unavailable, it’s him, not you….well, not exactly.

You’re also emotionally unavailable– it just doesn’t seem that way because your unavailability plays out differently. Emotional suppression and avoidance are not the only indicating traits. If you continue to date partners who fall within that category, it’s because your unavailability is approached and exhibited contrary to theirs.

This polar opposition forms a dysfunctional sense of balance, which is why you’re attracted to avoidant men and they’re attracted to you.

If you’re falling in the same trap a hundred times, there’s a lesson you’re not learning. Whether you believe it or not, you were presented a mirror, and each time it was deflected. How do I know this? Because nothing is different. It’s the same partner, different face.

Ignoring the role you played is easy. when you’re doing the heavy lifting to make the relationship work, therefore, you’r the available partner and he’s not. It’s not that simple.

Available people don’t date unavailable people, and if they do, when their partner begins behaving like someone they don’t know- it’s a door slam in the face and goodbye.Why would they stay to watch the rest play out? That sneak peak was informative enough. This isn’t the Jerry Springer show, and besides, there’s more favorable forms of entertainment than that shit.

You staying to fix or change someone else= unavailability.

Why? You believe you can. You’re blind to the facts. You’re emotionally invested and emotions distort the truth.

The facts/ the truth = the real story.

An available person would see the story for what it is, regardless of their emotions. A person who’s experienced healthy, loving relationships has an overall positive self-image, knowing damn well what isn’t tolerable.

An unavailable person will fabricate and re-write the story until it’s favorable. “I can change him. I just need to work harder.” Meanwhile, you moving closer, pushes him further. *Kills all feelings* If he’s not comfortable with emotions, why would he be with yours? Because that became your story.

“He loves me. He said he never felt this way about someone before so I must mean something special. I just need to prove it.”

Unfortunately, in a budding romance, avoidant men make all women feel that way. I’m not saying it was a lie, but during the initial stage, it’s likely he always feels that way. It’s new, exciting, and lacks expectation, which for him = perfection.

No real commitment = no need to suppress emotions

When called out for behaving inconsistently, he then begins to withdraw and suppress.

A negative emotion = disconnection.

Avoidant men leave and return- a predictable pattern, which speaks for itself, but that truth is distorted because you re-wrote the story, remember? I know, “He said he regrets it and that he misses you.” And you believe those words, regardless if he meant it, because that consists with the story you’re telling.

If you stay with a partner who’s minimally committed, inconsiderate, and behaves selfishly, you’re not as available as you think. When he retreats away from you, it prevents a deeper relationship from forming. If you’ve been ignoring the men who can give you that, is it a coincidence or a deeper issue?

Are you chasing after an unavailable partner because you’re used to the emotional highs and lows? When it’s good, you feel good, and when it’s bad, you feel really bad, and now, you don’t just want that high, you need it to feel normal. More often than that, we accept the love we think we deserve.

If you’re familiar with unpredictable and inconsistent love, then that becomes your normal, hence why that “mirror,” is difficult to see. Chasing a person or thing that’s not good for you, is really just a way of escaping yourself.

Why are you escaping your own reflection?

Look. What do you see?

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Education Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse psychology Relationships Toxic Relationships

2 Early, Crucial Warning Signs You May Be Dating A Covert Narcissist.

How do you see a warning sign, if it appears to you, an embellished gift? Ironically, early signs can be brushed over by the compelling features of a new relationship. Unless one lives cautiously, with a skeptical perspective, is it plausible to consider, a decorative gift may be an empty box of cardboard….or worse, a king snake?

It’s too good to be true”:

Are they showering you with attention, gifts, compliments, while confessing, “I don’t usually do this.” Super weird, because they seem to naturals at it. If you’re struggling to find a flaw in your partner, they could be love bombing you. I would like to declare, “putting your best face forward,” doesn’t indicate an insecure individual, but I can’t. Sure maybe on a job interview, but a relationship? I don’t think so. A secure individual understands it’s healthy to show up and present as your true self because having flaws is not only human, but unique. I always say, if they’re seemingly “perfect,” a relationship is not what they’re after, its validation and admiration.

When they can no longer put their best face forward, and their mask begins to slip off, issues arise. People pretending to be someone they’re not, aren’t satisfied with who they are, and because that demands deflection, they’ll never be satisfied with you, regardless what you offer. A partnership inevitably requires work, and if they were in it for the long haul, they wouldn’t have entered as a different person.

Best sex you’ve ever had:

I’m not delusional enough to suggest this is a problem without stipulation. If you were mind blown after the first time you had sex, and almost every single time afterwards, it might be a performance, especially, if he often makes comments, or asks questions relating to the sex or his capacity to make you feel good. For a covert narcissist to feel important, he must impress you and win you over. Look for signs of sexually compulsive behavior, that indicate a point is trying to be made, for example; initiating sex, back to back with little breaks in between. (I’m talking multiple times in a short period)

The last thing is to look for signs of ownership, specifically within the first few engagements. Look, if you’re into roleplaying and what not, by all means- fantastic, but if he treats your body as if he already know’s it, when he should be learning- not fantastic. Unless there was a beforehand discussion on what you’re into, and what you like, he shouldn’t act like he knows, at least not so damn confidently.

-Jessica Bruno, LMHC

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Education Emotionally Unavailable healing love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse psychology Relationships Toxic Relationships

Are you dating a narcissist?

A narcissist is emotionally unavailable, but not every person who’s emotionally unavailable is a narcissist. If you’re going to begin healing and confront brutal truths, it’s necessary to know the difference.

Two Main Types of Narcissists

An overt narcissist behaves like your “average” narcissist. They loudly brag about their accomplishments, one up everyone in the room, and exude an air of arrogance. They want to be powerful and untouchable. I imagine they dream of leading a cult with millions of followers, who wake each morning, praying to a photo of their face.

For such reasons, an overt narcissist is easily identifiable. As soon as you meet one, you’ll know. Underneath their mask of confidence, lies an incredibly insecure individual, compensating their feelings of inferiority by seeking external validation.

A covert narcissist, commonly referred to as the passive aggressive narcissist, is difficult to spot, making them dangerous. They’re subtle, calculative, and move cautiously. Their charming mask isn’t noisy like the overt narcissist- it’s quiet. Initially, their behavior is thoughtful and attentive, listening rather than speaking.

It’s not uncommon, for those who date a covert narcissist to remain in the dark until they’ve been discarded (although, they always come back and repeat a three phase cycle- which I’ll elaborate on in another post.) Their manipulation is subtle, hidden behind hot and cold, aloof, and passive aggressive behavior, leaving you in a cloud of confusion, constantly doubting what’s true and what isn’t.

Regardless, whether you’re dealing with an overt or covert narcissist, the underlying motivation is the same; to seek admiration and feel a sense of importance, disregarding the cost. Their personal relationships are merely transactions to receive a source of supply they can selfishly benefit from.

If this hurts you, they genuinely don’t care. A narcissist does not experience emotions and human compassion like the average person. They lack emotional depth, so tapping into someone else’s is extremely difficult, and to some, impossible. Their lack of empathy ranges on a spectrum, like all behavior, and it’s likely they suffer from a personality or mental disorder (but not always, in which case, behaviors would indicate mild to moderate on the spectrum.)

Initially, allowing you to feel wanted and cared for is easy, because they’re prepping you for supply. Once obtained, you fall down the rabbit hole and become trapped. The rest of the process consists to maintain your placement down in the trenches, exerting minimal effort, but enough to keep you guessing, wanting more.

Having established an upper hand in the relationship, they’re free to return as they please, stealing supply by saying what they know you want to hear, via false promises, and retreating back as if it never happened, leaving you dumbfounded and upset.

Showing them you’re upset feeds their ego more. If you disclose how their emotionless behavior makes you feel and express your undying love, in hope it might change their ways, your tears of frustration is music to their ears. Whatever you’re saying is not digested, because all they hear is, “Wow, look what I can do. I’m so special, loved, and important.”

The Emotionally Unavailable

The emotionally unavailable are often called narcissists because their emotional disconnect can be easily mistaken for a lack of empathy. When an individual, such as the emotionally unavailable, learns to suppress their emotions, the process of doing so, becomes habitual, but doesn’t indicate a destitute of empathy. (In another post, I’ll discuss why one learns emotional suppression and the function is fulfills)

Their feelings and actions shift, without rhyme or reason, leaving you perplexed, without solid ground to stand on. Dissecting every word and behavior becomes a full time job without benefits or compensation. You’re running in circles, expecting to arrive at a destination. Feeling constantly uncertain is the one thing you can be certain of. Just like dating a narcissist, this is no peaceful place to reside. 

Like you and I, the emotionally unavailable have feelings. They’re human too. You know this, although sometimes it’s hard not to peer up at the sky and look for unusual spaceships. They desire to be seen and loved but suppressing emotions is habitual and creates unconscious internal conflict that’s projected through inconsistent behavior. 

Just like the covert narcissist, their initial presentation was entirely different in the early phase of the relationship, alluring their partner into a trap. The main difference between emotionally unavailable and the narcissist is intention.

A narcissist intends and profits from your misery, not giving two shits about it. An emotionally unavailable person profits, making it difficult to leave even if you’re miserable, but doesn’t necessarily want to make you feel that way, but if it happens, they’re not exactly remorseful or concerned due to their ability to disconnect from those feelings, but deep down, they do exist.

Their intentions are not malicious, although it may feel that way. Disclosing how their behavior makes you feel, will prompt them to withdraw and retreat to a place of comfort. Since they’re threatened by their own emotions, dealing with yours, feels like the ultimate ambush. *Aborts mission, avoids, and hides.* In turn, you witness a cold, dismissive partner, and naturally will take it personally, but it really is a defense against vulnerability and fear of dependence. Avoiding that is their perception of surviving.

As they dismiss your feelings, you question whether or not you’re even entitled to have them, and begin wondering if there’s any truth behind their words, since their actions paint a different story. This subtle manipulation may not be intentional, but just like a narcissist, they rarely ever leave and stay gone.

Walking back into your life after a period of silence, and repeating that same cycle is incredibly selfish, but you’re dealing with someone who lacks emotional intelligence. You can say how you feel and they can try to imagine how you feel, but if they’ve never walked in those shoes, what perspective do they relate with? Especially since this level of emotional disconnect is embedded from an early age. This doesn’t excuse their behavior, but allows you to take responsibility for your own.

I’ll continue to discuss these lovely gems, diving into the “whys and hows” their behavior originated, and why that attracts you to them, as well as why they’re attracted to you. A somewhat obvious hint: polar opposition. It’s a dysfunctional dance of a toxic balance. If you care to understand these complex movements, stay posted.

-Jessica Bruno, LMHC