Living Through and Recovering From a Relationship with a Narcissist

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Valentine’s Day with a Narcissist: A Romantic Nightmare

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Valentine’s Day is a sensitive and dreaded day for many people, regardless of relationship status.  Single people may dislike it. People in relationships can feel a lot of How narcissists use Valentine's Day to hurt their partnerspressure to “do it right.” And it can definitely bring on negative emotions for those who are going through any type of breakup. Yet Valentine’s Day with a narcissist can be an absolute nightmare. 

Narcissists are notorious for ruining big days such as birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas

But everything about Valentine’s Day is tailor-made for them to wield it as a weapon to inflict maximum pain. 

Valentine’s Day can be triggering for those coming out of abusive relationships with narcissists because it is a day specifically dedicated to the very emotions the narcissist distorted to gain our trust and then violate us using those emotions. Because the day is dedicated to love and relationships, everything about it is can be used fraudulently in their illusion in a multitude of ways with little effort, depending on where we are with them in the narcissist cycle of abuse.

In the narcissist abuse cycle of idealize-devaluation-discard-and hoover, there’s always something cooking up on Valentine’s Day. 

 

Valentine’s Day and Narcissists: Love as a Weapon

1. Devaluation and Discard

Starting huge arguments just before or on Valentine’s Day was not uncommon.  I have mostly negative associations with the day in our relationship because of these arguments, as they were some of the worst.  They occurred over alleged misunderstandings and things for which I was blamed and often had no control. I felt very confused about how they became so destructive. He was vicious during these arguments and all plans were completely ruined.

For our first Valentine’s Day together, he told me he threw gifts he had bought me including an “expensive bracelet” out the car window in anger while driving. This happened the night before Valentine’s Day when an incident started at a bar because another man talked to me. 

I will never know whether the gifts ever existed or whether he wanted me to feel that if I had only “behaved” and not reacted to how unfair he had been, I would have gotten the spoils of his love.

2. Deflection and Guilt. 

Speaking of reactions, he liked to say I didn’t appreciate anything he did for me–as if being grateful for times he was good to me canceled out abuse and gave me no right to speak up. 

Valentine’s Day gave him a specific day he could point to so it eliminated any vagueness on his part and gave him more ammunition.  When he did love-bomb me and made Valentine’s Day special in any way, he threw it back in my face or brought it up in front of other people.  He would mention it and then say I was selfish, never happy, or liked to cause problems, if I, for example, brought up a new lie he told me when he claimed to be earning back my trust.

3. Triangulation.  

If he was giving me a silent treatment or I didn’t want to spend the day with him, he made comments letting me know he had others to spend it with.

He would post comments on Facebook knowing I would see them to indicate a disengagement between the two of us and that he was “single now” and ready to include someone else in the plans he had supposedly had ready for me. He would hide or even delete our pictures.  

4. Hoovering And Future-Faking.  

Ah, his favorite.  Here’s are the kinds of things I heard:

“I was thinking about last Valentine’s Day when we…”

“Are you free on Valentine’s Day? I’d like to take you to brunch and see you one last time.”

“I got you [something he knew I liked that was hard for me to get myself] and I’d like to give it to you on Valentine’s Day.” (My, how presumptuous of him, right?)

He E-mailed me the day before the last Valentine’s Day we were still in contact (although we hadn’t been talking at the time) to send me a picture of himself on his wedding day wearing a bracelet I had given him, telling me that he will always love me and that a trip we had once taken on Valentine’s Day was the best time in his life.

The hoover game is strong around Valentine’s Day, so please be prepared. Once they get their foot in the door, then can come the lavish promises for the future. More trips they’d “have liked” to take you on or things they wanted to do with you if you were still together.  They still love you so much.  Won’t you see them one last time?

Stay strong. Valentine’s Day is the one day you can potentially predict contact. It doesn’t mean that they will definitely reach out, however, try to keep in mind how predictable they actually are and how similar their hoovers can be. There are reasons there are common hoovering techniques to be aware of

5. Control and Harassment. 

If Valentine’s Day passed during a silent treatment, I was subject to endless questions and jabs about what I had been doing with other men during that time.  

Guess what?  These can be hoovers too. 

Nothing I said was ever believed and having a specific date for which people tend to go on dates, express their feelings for one another and give romantic gifts fed his imagination and allowed him to persist in harassing me with his extreme jealousy.  

 

Valentine’s Day with a Narcissist Can Be an Isolating Experience

Because of how Valentine’s Day was treated in our relationships with them, we probably don’t have a lot of positive associations with it.  Again, it may not be positive for many people, but for us especially, it may be traumatic

We may end up in emotional turmoil. Anxiety may especially run our lives if we wonder what’s going to happen: Will they start an argument?  Will the day go smoothly? Will they hoover? 

It may stir up old questions about the narcissist and love, or left us back in a confused state trying to figure out if the narcissist actually ever loved us or not.

It may be especially difficult to receive support during this time period from others, as Valentine’s Day is perceived as a light-hearted holiday, even frivolous by some. It’s common knowledge that people sometimes suffer depression during the Christmas holidays, but Valentine’s Day? 

People who experience negative emotions around it may be perceived as just being bitter or jealous. Everyone is supposed to pretend to be happy on Valentine’s Day. If they are in relationships, they are supposed to pretend to be in a happy couple. If they are not in relationships, they are supposed to stifle their grievances and let the “happy couples” celebrate. 

Any complaints are perceived as envy– either of those in relationships by singles or those in “better” relationships by the attached. 

So if you don’t feel as if you can reach out to anyone or others don’t understand, I hope you will at least recognize that you aren’t alone. You aren’t alone either in experiencing the trauma of how the narcissist has used it as a form of emotional abuse or of feeling that others don’t understand.

If you can, try to take care of yourself in the way that your partner never really has. Maybe not on Valentine’s Day, or maybe it provides the perfect opportunity, but the ultimate transcendence of the narcissist’s control is to reflect on love beyond what we experienced in the relationship when we are ready as part of our path to recovering.

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.

23 Comments

  1. Thanks as always. Last Valentine’s Day we were about 1 month in and I was being ‘love bombed out of my mind.’ Today so far, I’m feeling detached and a bit numb. By late afternoon I’ll have cycled into rage again. It’s okay though. Feelings are impermanent and subject to constant change (thank goodness).
    Happy Valentines Day.
    Cynthia

    1. Happy Valentines Day, Cynthia!

      1. Hi MB. Yes, it definitely makes sense that Valentine’s Day would be used during the love-bombing stage! It didn’t correspond in the calendar correctly in my relationship for that so that’s why I couldn’t include it, but it’s a prime opportunity. Thank you for reading.

  2. I camln totally relate to you. This is comforting to me today. .thank you!

  3. And yes, last valentines day, it was very early and I was being extremely love bombed. I get angry a little but it will pass. Excuse my typos by the way 🙂

  4. I just discovered your website on Quora. Thanks for putting it up! I haven’t seen anyone address Valentine’s Day and narcissism like this before. My ex was wealthy, and always showered me with gifts, roses, dinners, the whole works. Then after I left him, he served me with divorce papers on-that’s right-Valentine’s Day!

    1. Hi Kelley. Thank you for reading my blog. I feel like they manipulate Valentines Day to suit their needs in the most manipulative of ways. I’m sorry to hear of what you went through.

  5. So sorry to hear of your experience, Kristen. I have been through similar heartache and am still trying to sort through it all. The emotions can come and go so unexpectedly. I pray you will continue to heal. You are brave and only growing stronger and stronger through your experiences.

  6. Christine Freitag

    For me, the one thing that wasn’t mentioned was how my narc couldn’t wait to see where “I” was going to treat “him” to dinner. Another freebie for the taker! Then my stomach would be in knots waiting for at least a card. Nothing. His excuse? It’s a stupid holiday or he didn’t have time. I’m so glad for these sites. I would still be in the dark and thinking it was me!!

  7. Here’s my narcissist text from today:
    I dropped off a Valentine card , guess it doesn’t make much sense , along with some flowers , candy and fucked up divorce papers, think that’s all you need , just sign them and get them back to me, I’ll take them to court house and pay the fees, I put a little cash in card so kids could take you out for dinner. Praying you just tear up papers, but I think it’s just wishful thinking ? Love you baby!!!

  8. And the next text. Is this the idealize Hoover devalue part?
    “Just doing what you want, I can’t ever please you, no way do I want a divorce please don’t be upset at me for following your wishes, I want us having a nice dinner, I really didn’t expect a yes, you wouldn’t let me take you to dinner or breakfast for your birthday baby, Valentine is for lovers, that normally means two lovers. I do love you Baby!!!”

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Oh gosh… yes, it’s definitely a hoover. There’s so much guilt-tripping in these texts. Everything is *your* fault, right? You’re the one that won’t let *him* do anything or doesn’t want to work on the relationship. If I can make a suggestion, I would try putting it all aside and waiting a few days until Valentine’s Day is over before you even think about any of it again if you can. Then he can’t mix up your signing papers with the “romance” of the holiday. It seems as if he’s trying to get you to make a rash decision to change your mind by love-bombing you. Good luck and try to stay strong! -Kristen

      1. Thank you for your insight and validation. I didn’t realie the guilt statements. Now I can. Excellent idea to hold off so holiday does not compound it. He’s always so dramatic. He proposed when I had a life crisis and we were broken up for over a year up to the proposal. He had grandiose plans. I gave up alimony. After wedding, 3 months of verbal abuse, financial control and trying to force me to sell my house which He said I could keep and rent when engaged. Also, he ended up not contributing to the household and lived in my house. He insisted I watch him take showers or would get insulted and angry. Promised health insurance I gave up from former husband (I divorce him, a physician, 12 years ago but I was a SAHM to 3 kids and never worked). After wedding he said he didn’t believe in health insurance and if I couldn’t pay medical bills to claim bankruptcy, He owns a successful wedding venue and is so cheap. Even did laundry at his house and didn’t want to help with water bill. If I make a mistake “I thought you weee a smart college girl.” I walked o eggshells evaluatikh all my words catefully before speaking. He read my emails, search history and phone (no passcodes) bc he was so insecure. his moods were unpredictable. He needed constant admiration. Sex was the focal point. He would send me frontal nude photos by treats with explicit messages when I was substitute teaching or in a meeting. I made him leave 5 months after the wedding. And this valentines texting comes 2 months after our separation.

  9. I would not normally say end a marriage without trying bc I believe in marriage so strongly but, in your case you need to get out. And, I completely agree with Kristin’s reply. YOU are not his problem HE is his problem and you cannot help someone like that get better. He doesn’t want to get better.

  10. Therapist called me and said I’ll see you but not you s a couple. He says I’ll hekp you get through divorcing a narcissist or help you stay safe if you decide you must stay. He said he was charming, black and white, grandiose, made decisions s for me when he was not qualified (legal) and he could pick up the control. He said he is a specialist in personality disorders and my husband thought he was gaining his approval with his long speech tog his side but was revealing the narcissist traits. At 63 he said he has no chance to change and doesn’t even want to change. He also read my husbands text messages the good ones ad the attacking ones. He told me if I was his daughter he’d say get out and fast. I value marriage too! I say it must be catastrophic to divorce. My first husband was a sociopath. I stayed 20 years bc of my strong marriage values. Second narcissist. My brother was one too. He also abused me and was much older than me. I got immune to that personality or I get attracted to it. I won’t try again. I can’t breaj the cycle.

  11. Mine passed away in November age 46 just gone we had our tough times & everything he ever did that hurt me mentally & emotionally has just disappeared I find myself missing him like crazy because despite the way he was I loved him with all my heart & I feel completely & utterly lost without him I didn’t think I would feel anything but I feel it even more so because despite his misgivings he was my one true love however you think you feel or will feel don’t take it for granted because chances are that when anything like that does happen you will have so many regrets & wish he/she was still around.

  12. Kristen, This was such a powerful article for me, as most of your pieces are, and I especially connected with your sentence under “Deflection and Guilt”: “Speaking of reactions, he liked to say I didn’t appreciate anything he did for me–as if being grateful for times he was good to me canceled out abuse and gave me no right to speak up.” Yes! Somehow, they feel that their good actions allow them to abuse us and never give partners a chance or a right to speak up for ourselves when somethings hurts or feels wrong. This came up for me this week as I was about to see my therapist and my husband said he’d be back from an errand in time for me to take my car. When he didn’t arrive, I called him and asked where he was and he said he forgot and to take one of our other cars (yes, we have three, for two people, because he loves cars). But, that wasn’t the point; I’d waited, based on his words that he’d be back. I told him that if I’d done that to him, he’d have screamed for 10 minutes. He called back and apologized and I felt empowered. Wrong! When I returned home I was so buoyant from seeing my therapist and then I saw a typed note from my husband, who was enraged. He kept saying I was an “asshole” and had “ruined” his day, the day before his birthday. (Strangely, every day SEEMS to be his day). In the note, he kept saying how ungrateful I was and what the f# is the matter with me, and that he’d bought me a salad and crab legs and that he was eating elsewhere and to cancel his wonderful birthday dinner and that he wasn’t going to dinner with me that night, the next night or maybe ever saying that he can’t stand having dinner with someone that loves to argue over s##t. and he’d “rather eat by himself on his birthday any day thank you!” It was vicious and a typical shaming response by a narcissist to punish. I sent it to my therapist who said it was abusive and not to react. He turns every argument and every incident into his hurt and I apologize for his ABUSE! I am so tired of being bullied, steamrolled and micromanaged by him. By the way, he ended up having dinner at home and did take me up on my pre-planned sushi dinner for his birthday. So, in a tribute to Valentine’s Day, here is a poem I wrote this morning to myself that I want to share here and thank you for holding this safe space for our community. xo
    My poem:
    February 14, 2019

    Heart-to-heart on Valentine’s Day

    I’m tired of hating myself through your eyes,
    So I will pleasure myself on this rainy day
    Playing the classics, making my lentil soup you never eat
    And letting one of my cats knead my stomach
    On the sitting room sofa
    In a room forbidden to sweet felines
    As happiness purrs among us.

    The pet gate is down and the bedroom doors stand open
    And I smile and see that peace has come to me
    And joy dances in my moral fiber
    As I nurture my nature and find dignity and courage
    To rest in my spirited character and say hello to myself
    And in my mind, my heart leaps toward the front gate
    As you enter from the garage and close the door.

    Vicki Zimmerman

  13. This is the first time I read a story and thought I’m not alone. I’ve read bold and articles. Lists of traits with short examples. What you specifically described is so familiar. Almost word for word. Are we married to the same guy? I feel you are growing and wiser. Not responding is called the “gray rock.” I do think like me..,can’t live like this. I’m separated. After 12 years I’m finally strong enough. Proud of the way you can recognize his behaviors.

    1. Hi Cindy, Are you responding to me or someone else’s post? I wasn’t sure. Your posts are very insightful as are everyone’s comments.

      Hugs to all,

      Vicki

  14. I could barely see through the years while reading this. It’s a’ll so very true. I week before Valentine’s Day he told me out of the blue ” you do realize I won’t get paid again before Valentine’s Day” although he works for his parents and can just ask for an advance if he needed it. Not that he ever byes me anything anyways but ALWASY has new things that he doesn’t even need. We fought horribly all weekend and then the beginning of the week he asked if we could just get along for the kids. Then he was so sweet and extremely loving and actually spent a bit of (quality) time with us which is rare and because I didn’t act bothered by him coming in at 1 am Valentine morning (business closes at 9 pm should be able to be home by 10) Then at 2 am he had to rush off to help learn the donut business ( another family business) When he came home from that I had 2 hours before I had to get ready for work so that would be the only time To spend with him, he had To “RUSH” To the bathroom and then an hour later I started reminding him I was going to have To leave soon. To make a long story short I should have been greatful for him coming home and saying Happy Valentine’s Day. He started a fight with me minutes before needing to leave causing me to be late for work then later on made me feel like crap about that as well. That night he he was starting the silent treatment because he could tell I was upset and then it all turned into I don’t care about “his feelings” and how what everything I was trying to say was irrelevant because we are supposed to be talking about HIS feelings even though the conversation was started by me about why I was upset and how he hurt my feelings. Then he said well I don’t even know where our relationship even stands. So needless to say I slept alone and am still in tears this morning. This has been going on for 5 years and I am desperately trying to get out of this but am stuck at the moment until I can come up with money to move us out of here. Thank you for the posts that make me not feel quite so empty, crazy and so alone in my struggle.

  15. Hello, Is there a way to edit or delete a post here, as we can on Facebook as I double-posted, at least a portion of one, when I didn’t see it come up as it took time to post. I can’t delete the second partial one. If not, that’s okay; I just didn’t want to clog the comment section.

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hi Vicki: I am not sure if you can do that on your side or not, but I can delete the second one for you.

      Also… I absolutely love this poem. Thank you for posting it. Are you interested in submitting it (or something like what you wrote here) in the section “Tell Your Story” to be published?

      -Kristen

  16. Yes Vicky I marveled the parallels between our Narcissists. Thank you. I found your post very insightful as well. I was married to a sociopath for 20 years, single 11 years, dated this narcissist for about 9 pf 11 years. N’s don’t take no for an answer. Break ups where they go away are impossible. He swooped in when I was vulnerable with the legal agreement. Faldo futuring me. Married a few months before separating, 2 months later he’s stalking and contacting me with FOG or sickening love or attacks. I have a lot of practice with these guys. Thought 2nd hubby was borderline. I was mistaken.

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