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Idealized: What Being Loved by a Narcissist Feels Like


I understand everything now.

It feels like a grenade just went off. The shrapnel is falling, scattering, and all of the clues are flooding into the right cracks all at once, but too quickly for me to absorb each in isolation.

I begged you for answers so many times. But how could I have expected you to give them to me when you did not understand any point of view other than your own?

You could not find the disconnect between our perspectives anymore than I could, so how could you provide any answers other than the ones you had already given me–the ones that hadn’t made any sense to me?

I am humbled by how differently two people can see the world, how a fraction of a shift in worldview can create realities so vastly different it is almost as if one of them dreamed the other up.

Which one of us was the dreamer?

You created such an elaborate world for me. 

Do you remember this?

This idealized place where I was “the one.”

Where you had only ever kissed girls who were your girlfriends, who numbered on one hand, where you had been cheated on by almost all of them.

Where you were a victim of circumstance, having been betrothed to someone when you were a baby that you didn’t know and didn’t want or plan to marry.

Where various other edges were flattened or blurred to fit the narrative you wanted me to have.

Where when I gave you a tiny piece of my heart you just held onto it patiently until I gave you another one… and then one day you were holding all of it.

“I love it when your lips are red,” you’d say, smiling as we lay together facing one another. We’d stay that way suspended staring into each other’s eyes, holding onto one another as if the clock and the calendar of the ordinary world had fallen away. Your skin felt like electric satin under my fingertips.

“You do?”

“Yes. There are four reasons why they get red,” you’d continue. “When you first wake up, when you cry, when you’re mad, and when we kiss.” And then, of course, you’d kiss me.

That was a reality you created for me, but those moments were real ones. This I know now.

The physical realm does not lie. Bodies do not lie. If I allow myself to be back in that moment, I know that what you were showing to me was real.

If I must trust my intuition on the lies, then I must trust my intuition on everything. I don’t get to pick and choose.

You always insisted… insisted… insisted over months and over years, “I never lied to you about my love for you.”

I was so confused about all those tears you cried to everyone about how I was the love of your life and what that gesture of wearing the bracelet I gave you on your wedding day could possibly have meant. It used to drive me crazy trying to figure out how or why you would do these things and then hurt me in the ways that you did.

In one of the very last conversations we had, I begged you for closure. I begged you to just tell me you never loved me before we stopped talking because I wanted to hear the truth from you. I wanted your words and your actions to finally align for once.

And what was your response? “I love you and I always will. There’s your closure.”

I was infuriated, finding it the most selfish response you could have given me. Nothing about that response or your actions at that time said “love”– nor did they say love when hours later you made a big online to-do about your relationship with someone else for the benefit of the people in one of your other realities.

But that’s because I wasn’t thinking like you.

“It has been amazing so far hasn’t it? I told you I would love you like nobody else ever has and I delivered. Okay, I was actually loving your praise, love, admiration and adoration of me, but to you it felt like I loved you in a way which went beyond anything you had ever experienced before. That certainly kept you happy. You told me every day how happy you were…

“You told me every day just how much you loved me. You cared for me, looked after me and helped me in so many ways… Of course it was not all one way. I gave you everything I could. I only did it though, to get your fuel. I give to receive. I do not know any other way.

“You sometimes told me about your love for me being without condition. I didn’t understand what you meant. No, that is wrong. I understood what you meant but I struggled to imagine doing this. I love you with so many conditions, the chief one being that I only actually love you for the fuel that you give me. Not for who you are. It will take you a long time to understand this and even longer to accept that this is the case…

“You gave me absolutely everything. Your heart, your soul and you poured every essence of your being in to the concept of us. I know you did this because I could see you doing it. I had to because I needed that in order to sustain me. The more you gave, the more brilliant I became, so you gave even more in return. It was an upwards spiral. Two people working in magnificent harmony. You because you believed in us. Me because I needed your fuel. Not that you ever realised this. Why would you?

“I became the perfect partner, complimenting you, praising you and loving you in that oh so spectacular way. It was intense, it was scintillating and I made sure I became everything that you would want from a relationship. It was a great deal for us both. I made you feel ultra-special. You gave me the ultra fuel that I need. Does it matter that what I provided to you was based on something else? I would say not, you still got what you wanted didn’t you?” -H.G. Tudor, “Reality Check

If you can't go no contact with a narcissist because you have children, or work or live together, or for other reasons, try a tactic called grey rock.

I know you do not even know that you loved me only because I loved you so much.

How could you know? This is what love feels like to you and you know no other way. You didn’t love me in this way to hurt me, and if you could love me for myself, maybe you would have. But you can’t. What you really love is the way I loved you– the way I mainlined your love like it was heroin and then poured myself all over you.

And… here’s the worst part… you were hoping I would be the one who would never let you down, who would love you every moment of every day, no matter what you did, for the rest of your life, while feeling deep in your heart that that would never be the case.

I always wondered how you could have hurt me if you loved me so much, but it’s because it wasn’t me you were in love with– it was what I did for you.

If you had loved me, you would never have wanted to cause me any pain.

Yet you had no empathy for anything you did to me.

You only knew you did not want the way I made you feel to stop, so anything you could get away with that did not make my love stop was justifiable to you.

You kept others around just in case I ever stopped giving you what you needed, just in case I let you down.

And then it happened… I did let you down.

It was the self-fulfilling prophecy that I understand, but you won’t.

When I found out about the others, my despair at what you had done felt like criticism to you, a lack of gratitude for all you had given me.

When I withdrew my trust, to you, I was selfish and self-absorbed.

But most importantly, when I tried to encourage you to go about things the legitimate way and just earn my trust back, that request threatened to blow apart the entire world you had built for us and destroy the fragile perception that the man you had created for me was beautiful and perfect.

To you, everything you did after that was just insurance against being rejected and alone as I continued my inevitable downfall in your eyes from my position as your favored one.

Once I had seen that the reality wasn’t real, there was no going back and you knew it. To me, it was all just an inexplicable pattern of behavior by someone who claimed to love me that was damaging what we had together.

But you didn’t value what we had together, or me. You wanted only my admiration back, that pure, unfiltered worship.


The answers were right in front of my face the entire time. We were looking right past each other.

I dreamed that you were just like me, and you dreamed that I could live in a cage, without thoughts or plans that contained anything but you. 

The difference was, you sold me my dream while stealing my soul with your lies, keeping from me the truth that would show me the dream was only an illusion.

I’d see love on your face, and you’d tell me you love me. “Why don’t you believe me?” you’d scream, as my heart would peel away in strips with each new betrayal or lie. I’d be forced to confront the false reality you created. He’s not who I thought he was.

And you’d see pain on my face, and I’d tell you I was dying. “Why did you hurt me like this?” I’d scream, as your heart would harden to ash with each fresh tear.

And you’d be forced to confront the false reality you created too, run away from the shame of your own actions with the back-flip, she’s not who I thought she was.

Of course I’m not. I’m a human being. I came from my own world. I have my own reality.

You would go to your death insisting you loved me. And believing it too. This I know. You said one day I would know how much you loved me, and you were right.

You loved me in a dream once, where no one ever cries.


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Kristen Milstead

Kristen Milstead is a narcissistic abuse survivor who has become a strong advocate for finding your unique voice and using it to help others find theirs.


  1. Wow this brought tears to my eyes. Hard to digest but definitely needed to hear/read this. Explains the entire 10 year relationship I’ve been in, and currently trying to get the courage to walk away from.

  2. I feel like I am reading my own story, it’s eerie that they all have the same pattern. And they just move to someone new and we are left trying to put our lives back together.

  3. this made me cry. mirrors my own experience especially the aftermath when I forgave him for the infidelity and how it seemed he could not bear to be the villain. so I became the one who wasn’t supporting him, who didn’t understand him and he played the victim so well I was made out to be toxic and damaging for him. It was truly traumatic

  4. Chauntelle A Russell

    That was GOOD!!!

  5. Phew. I got chills reading this one. So much was so familiar.

  6. I may rewrite this slightly and use it as a letter to my narc soon to be ex husband. He continues to stalk me even though our divorce is final in a few days, marriage was only 4 months and we’ve been separated for 5 months. Our 1 year anniversary is tomorrow and wedding cake is in freezer. Thank you for articulating what it was like to be “loved” by a narcissist for brief moments I doubt myself and feel weak. Staying strong is hard even when there’s no doubt he was a malignant narcissist and I don’t feel chains around my neck anymore. The brain is programmed and it takes time. Keep writing and healing us!

  7. I am right at that point that you mentioned. I am trying very hard to let go and be strong and find the me I used to be. Your story told in the point of view of trying to see what love is with a narcissist is spot on.

    I showed him love, but I was looking for a reality that doesn’t match his reality. His reality is a shadow and a selfish ploy the whole time during our relationship. I gave and gave and gave my heart, my choices were not mine and everything he said was okay because I wanted to prove that I loved him. Yet the more I saw his love was ice and my love was warmth, the more it hurt to discover I never would feel a full heart. I always had such emptiness and pain when he played nice. It was simply playing nice to get something in return. Not just something but everything, he got all of me. I am left with nothing but hurt and I have to rebuild myself now. Why oh why do I want him at my side? Just to fill a void in my life, a person next to me?. No. That’s not worth it. Whatever is left of my heart is not worth losing it for the pain of having him beside me to take the whole of me and squash me again. Thank you for sharing your article.

    Well written, well said!

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  9. Ouch. Reading this is like a reflection of my words and feelings. It’s almost the same thing as what happened to me.

    1. I’ve noticed the patterns are very universal in our stories. It’s almost eerie.

  10. Searching for hope...

    This brought tears to my eyes….I feel your pain, confusion, anger.and journey to finding closure. thanks so much for sharing.

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