Lately I have been asked this question a lot – “What does an authentic relationship look like as opposed to a narcissistic relationship?” I freely admit that when I was involved in narcissistic relationships I too was very confused, and in fact I struggled to be clear about what a real, healthy relationship looks like, and what it is comprised of.
After a great deal of healing on myself, a lot of shifting of my unhealed parts, a lot of research and a lot of study – eventually and fortunately, what a healthy relationship looks like became crystal clear to me and this is what I would like to share with you in this article today.
This information, I know can help you – because it will allow you to know what an authentic relationship is really about, and most importantly who you need to be in order to create an authentic relationship.
By learning what a healthy relationship is this will allow you to know what to work on in order to prepare for a healthy relationship and how to create a relationship with life and yourself in order to attract who will meet you at this high vibrational level.
I previously recommend Gary Zukav’s Book Spiritual Partnership. This book lays a wonderful foundation to understand that your responsibility in a relationship is to take full ownership of working on your unhealed parts (as Gary calls them ‘the frightened parts of your personality’). This means spiritually growing and presenting yourself as healthily as possible as your half of a genuine soul partnership.
This is all about being prepared to focus on going within – taking responsibility for your painful triggers and old subconscious stories and being committed to your personal and spiritual growth to heal past these wounds.
If you are not committed to personal growth your half of the relationship is going to suffer, because there is no arena like an intimate relationship where your unhealed wounds are going to surface the most. These unhealed parts are your responsibility – not your partner’s.
Also we need to deeply remember – the relationship we attract into our life will reflect back at us those unhealed parts.
Don Miguel Ruiz’s wonderful book Mastery of Love is a very similar message. If you haven’t read this book either I also highly suggest it.
Today in this article I would like to take the journey deeper by granting more information and making the vast distinctions between an authentic relationship model and a narcissistic relationship model.
To do this effectively I will segment certain aspects of relationships.
Connection – Authentic Relationship
Authentic relationships celebrate two individuals as being separate entities. This relationship is not enmeshed, it is not energy reliant, and it is not co-dependent. It comprises of two individuals who are emotionally healthy and separate.
For die-hard romantics this may be disappointing. You may wish to be engulfed in ‘the love of your life’, ‘the person you can’t live without’ or ‘the person you can’t stop thinking about’.
The reason this doesn’t constitute a healthy relationship is that there is no psychic or emotional space. When psychic and emotional boundaries get enmeshed this means I stop seeing you as ‘you’, and you stop seeing me as ‘me’. This is the place where boundaries, respect and reverence become blurry and confused.
It is important to understand this: It is the ‘space’ between two people in which passion, connectedness, true intimacy, deep sharing, love, support and trust can breathe, grow and occur.
Without this space – enmeshment, engulfment, unhealthy expectations and dependencies get created. The relationship is smothered and stunted. It significantly runs the risk of forgoing the respect of separate identities and can become toxic.
The most enmeshed co-dependent relationships which ironically initially seemed so gloriously ‘loving’ are the ones at greatest risk.
If I see you as ‘you’ and you see me as ‘me’ then when we come together, we retain ourselves, we respect and have reverence for each other (healthy boundaries) and we create a third entity – the relationship. This relationship does not involve a power struggle of needing each other’s energy, threatening our own energy, pulling on it, diminishing it or draining it.
The third entity – the relationship – breathes back life into us as individuals and the energy of us as healthy and ‘full’ individuals breathes life and passion back into the relationship.
Connection – Narcissistic Relationship
A relationship with narcissist is one of enmeshment and engulfment. The relationship did not develop over time with two healthy self-fulfilled people retaining their interests and creating a healthy third entity (the relationship) at a respectful and healthy pace.
If we were to think of two separate circles retaining a great amount of their integrity and then meeting in the middle to create a third ‘circle’ that is the model of a healthy relationship.
The visual drawing of a relationship with a narcissist is both circles being enmeshed together as ‘one’ and then the circle of the non-narcissistic person gets less and less as the narcissistic individual’s circle takes over.
It is very important to understand both parties in a narcissistic relationship are co-dependent. The narcissist is in fact the most ‘co-dependent’ of the two.
The narcissist needs your energy, approval and attention (narcissistic supply) to emotionally survive, and this is the greatest driving force for a narcissist to enter a relationship. It is actually the greatest driving force that consumes the narcissist all day every day.
The narcissist does not see you as ‘you’ or allow you to have space emotionally to be an individual. You will be manipulated, controlled and punished to be what the narcissist wants you to be in order to hand over the narcissistic supply that the narcissist’s False Self craves.
The victim falls into this energy engulfment and believes that finally this person is the answer to every relationship requirement. The narcissist presents themselves as everything the victim desperately needed but feels they may not be able to provide for themself.
The narcissistic / co-dependent relationship is a connection of seeking external energy and power. ‘I need energy from the outside in order to feel whole and worthy’. People who believe in all-consuming idealised love, or are needy for this version of relationship are highly susceptible.
Psychic, emotional and physical space gets taken up and permeated. The narcissist has to enmesh with you at this level to read you and control you. Despite the uncomfortableness of being love-bombed or other warning signs that present with the narcissist, such as exposure of pathological lies, or other sources of supply (previous and still existing partners) appearing and protesting, you allow it.
As everyone knows who has been through an intense relationship with a narcissist, the idealising (being glorified by the narcissist as his or her new wonderful source of narcissistic supply) is inevitably followed by the devaluing and discarding of you when you no longer feed the insatiable requirements of the False Self appropriately.
Respect and boundaries become null and void and the pathological and vengeful nature of the narcissist destroys trust. Connectedness and real intimacy (which never actually existed) is disintegrated time and time again.
The relationship becomes a power struggle of survival, obsession, toxicity, addiction and destruction. Your energy is being sucked out of you, and your character twisted and turned as you suffer immense character assassinations and pathological projections.
You are severely diminished, and it is impossible to know where you, the narcissist and or ‘the relationship’ begins or ends. It is a toxic engulfed, pathological, enmeshed mess. The relationship disintegrates rather than grows.
Completely absent is the authentic relationship connection model: The relationship grows from the energy of the individuals, and the individuals grow from the energy of the relationship.
Allowing Others to Be Themselves – Authentic Relationship
Authentic relationships do not need to make the other person be a certain way in order for the other partner to be happy.
In an authentic relationship if you are having a bad day, I don’t need to change your mood in order for me to be okay. If I try to fix you to make me feel better or feel you will take it out on me if I don’t fix you, then either I am controlling you or you are controlling me.
In an authentic relationship I can honour you enough to allow you to process and do what you need to do in order to look after you, and you honour yourself and me enough to take the responsibility to do that.
Neither person needs to suffer in the meantime.
Allowing Others to Be Themselves – Narcissistic Relationship
A relationship with a narcissist is all about the narcissist controlling you to administer narcissistic supply in order for him or her to feel better. Initially this is the giving to get – to draw the attention of how wonderful you believed the narcissist is.
Later when you are not dispensing the right supply to uphold the pathological version of the False Self as all important, wonderful, above reproach, special, unique and omnipotent, you will be severely , maliciously and vengefully punished. This then grants the version of narcissistic supply that allows the narcissist to know he or she is important enough to shatter your emotions and your life.
You will discover that you are often, if not virtually always, the scapegoat and held responsible for the narcissist’s bad moods. The narcissist does not take responsibility for and process healthily his or her negative emotions, and the narcissist due to his or her pathological envy has zero tolerance for you continuing to be happy in life when he or she isn’t.
You certainly don’t allow the narcissist to be his or her self either. As the narcissistic pathological behaviour emerges and intensifies you become deeply embedded into the co-dependent outer-focus game. You are so unsafe, so on edge and so emotionally dishevelled that you retaliate with controlling behaviour trying to frantically change what the narcissist is or isn’t doing in order to stop the abuse and emotionally survive.
Completely absent is the authentic relationship model: Not needing the other person to be a certain way in order to be happy.
Emotional Authenticity – Authentic Relationship
In authentic relationships individuals do not look to the other person and try to ‘read them’ or ‘diagnose them’ in order to decide how to ‘show up’ in order to get the best effect. This equates to handing over one’s power, and / or seeking to manipulate situations
In authentic relationships individuals present with emotional authenticity. They are committed to non-violent communication with integrity. They are honest about how they feel and take 100% responsibility for how they feel. They express this to their partner authentically.
How this looks is: if I am upset with something you did I can state ‘I feel (the feeling) when you (what you did) could we (offer a solution)?’ This is done rather than bottling and not expressing it until it reaches a point where I express hurt at an inappropriate intensity or in an unacceptable way, or simply expect you to know what is going on with me without being emotionally authentic.
Authentic relationships create true intimacy as a result of being committed to emotional authenticity. By me expressing my emotions honestly it grants you the opportunity to meet me at this high vibration of truth and connectedness. Because I honour my feelings enough to know they are valuable and worth expressing, this grants you the invitation to value my emotions too and wish to support them.
If you accept my invitation of this high frequency of ‘In To Me See’ (intimacy) you can meet me at a heart level of integrity and love. You are not playing a guessing game with me; you can trust me and know who I truly am. You are inspired to grant me compassion and support in this vibration of ‘realness’.
No longer are we in a mental head struggle, we are connected through our hearts, and don’t need to argue or agree on semantics and details in order to connect.
I can only be emotionally authentic with you if I am emotionally authentic with myself. I can only be real with you about my feelings and my heart if I have learnt to love and accept and value myself unconditionally, including my vulnerable and painful feelings.
It is only people who have worked at their inner development who can be at this level.
This is the level of: “I no longer fear being rejected and abandoned when showing up as the real me (flaws and all).”
Showing up with true emotional authenticity is a key feature of authentic relationships.
Emotional Authenticity – Narcissistic Relationship
You can’t see the narcissist as him or herself because the narcissist is showing you a False Self, a fictitious character assigned to extract narcissistic supply. When you do see the real person you recoil in horror at the maiming, persecuting, insecure, vengeful malicious being who you thought was ‘the love of your life’.
In a relationship with a narcissistic individual the narcissist is always reading you and diagnosing your behaviour (body-language included), in order to know how best to lie, manipulate, feign or control in order to gain narcissistic supply – and is firmly committed to not showing up authentically.
The narcissist hides frenetically what is really going on with him or her, until the mask drops and it is blatantly obvious. At those times these painful thoughts and feelings are not expressed in self-ownership or integrity – they are projected and scapegoated by the fiercely defending False Self.
The narcissist firmly believes that his or her vulnerable parts (true emotions) are totally unacceptable and will lead to rejection and abandonment if exposed, and this does not allow the narcissist to engage in honest emotional communication. The narcissist rejected and abandoned his or her True Self long ago, hence why a False Self was created instead.
The narcissist will tell you a completely different version of reality and then blow up and accuse you of all the reasons you are not good enough for his or her False Self. These accusations were never previously raised by the narcissist with integrity as emotionally authentic needs.
You never know one moment to the next what the narcissist is thinking, and / or capable of – and the truth is, because of the narcissist’s disowned True Self, neither does the narcissist. The intensity and inappropriateness of the blow ups and attacks from the narcissist constitute malicious and violent communication.
This is where you have to be really honest with yourself and take your responsibility for self.
You are also not in emotional integrity. You dismissed many warning signs early on that triggered you and you did not speak up. This means you weren’t solid enough to express your emotions authentically either. You decided to push uncomfortable feelings aside and hope for the best, rather than put any strain on the fantasy you wanted to believe this relationship was.
When you do get really truthful with yourself and your own self-healing inner processes, you will understand that you too were running your own versions of fear of abandonment and rejection if you fully and truthfully exposed your True Self and showed up authentically.
This means you can realise that your essential personal growth requires doing the inner work of fully loving and accepting yourself, and every part of you including your own uncomfortable and not so great feelings so that you can be authentic to yourself and in relationships.
Within a narcissistic relationship the more abused you become the more and more difficult it becomes for you to express your emotions appropriately and operate in emotional authenticity – or to even know and believe you have emotional rights and value. The intensity of expressing your feelings will be manic and quite possible deranged as a result of the mind-bending abuse.
Communication within the narcissistic relationship model is the arena where the dysfunctions are the most highly apparent, and within this model of disordered communication trust, authenticity and intimacy is shattered.
Completely absent is the authentic relationship model: Both individuals showing up with emotional authenticity and healthy non-violent communication.
Personal Responsibility – Authentic Relationship
In an authentic relationship I can leave you to work on your inner stuff, and I don’t take responsibility for it. I don’t try to fix you, and I don’t accept your projections of it on to me. I take full responsibility for my 50% of the relationships (my unhealed parts and triggers), and I let you take responsibility for your half. I know I can’t heal you – I know only you can heal you – and I encourage and promote you in your self-empowerment and self-responsibility to do so.
I support and love your journey of ‘going within’ just as I love my own.
I meet you with love, support and care when you come to me with emotional authenticity, just as I invite you to as well – and I know that authentic love means pulling me up with integrity if I don’t.
In authentic relationships people are going to slip up at times, absolutely – but no longer is the goal about controlling and ‘getting’, or materialism, survival or projection and self-avoidance – it is about a deep commitment to spiritual goals and personal growth and creating the most joyous, real, passionate level of deep integrity, trust, love and intimacy possible.
The slip ups and continued healing and taking responsibility are all a part of that. As each challenge is healed with personal responsibility and emotional authenticity the promise of love, trust and connection grows even deeper.
Personal Responsibility – Narcissistic Relationship
In a relationship with a narcissist – he or she is not committed to working on inner wounds.
The narcissist will not drop the False Self in order to honestly meet the unhealed wounds, and may use therapy, books or suggestions to get some relief in order to gain energy for the False Self to reinstate itself again as ‘business as usual’.
Therapy with a narcissist is also a way for the narcissist to discredit the partner, project blame and create more control – or simply play out the ‘telling of want you want to hear’ to keep you as narcissistic supply.
You may also not be taking responsibility for working on your unhealed parts. You are in survival mode, you are trying to combat the rug being pulled out from beneath you at a moment’s notice, the being adored one moment and despised the next, and the narcissist always finding ways to extract supply and / or project on to you and maim you further.
This is why it can be very difficult to take full responsibility for yourself until you have created No Contact and can determinedly dedicate yourself to your own healing.
Completely absent is the authentic relationship model: Both individuals taking full responsibility for their own unhealed parts and their half of the relationship.
Self-Love and Self-Value – Authentic Relationship
An authentic relationship is a relationship where each individual values and loves themselves and has done enough personal development to firmly understand If I don’t value and love myself I will require that from you.
In authentic relationships what this means is there is no longer the neediness to get attention, to be appreciated, to be ‘fed’ the good feelings that an individual is not creating for themself – and holding the other person responsible for.
Authentic relationships do not ‘give’ because it is expected, demanded or to offset the fear of abandonment, rejection or disapproval if they don’t. Giving is not done in order to get energy back.
Authentic relationships supply appreciation, love, support and care as a natural expansion of sharing energy.
In authentic relationships both individuals have done enough development work on themselves to be ‘In-Love’ before connecting to a relationship.
What being ‘In-Love’ means is to have done an inner journey, looked within and established ‘What is it within myself that is blocking me off from being and experiencing true authentic love?’‘ and then clearing those inner blocks.
What this focus creates is a powerful vibration of being imperfectly perfect – meaning – ‘I unconditionally love and accept myself wounds and all, and I am committed to working on healing these wounds in order to become the best, most loving and authentic person I can be.’
This is what the journey of creating self-love and self-value is all about.
It is the internal creation of authentic love which then can be shared in an authentic relationship. This doesn’t stop when the authentic relationship shows up. The focus is on continued inner seeking, taking responsibility, personal development and working on self in order to strengthen and maintain the ‘In-Love’ state, in order to be the best partner you can be for your 50% of the relationship.
Self-Love and Self-Value – Narcissistic Relationship
The narcissist rather than loving and valuing him or herself is filled with intense self-loathing and toxic shame, and is dependent on outside energy to offset emotional self-annihilation.
Whilst in a relationship with a narcissist, your levels of self-love and self-value are also terribly deficient. You don’t leave and honour yourself, desperately hoping that the ‘perfect partner’ will return. You, just like the narcissist, have made another person responsible for your emotional wellbeing. You are hanging on to try to reclaim the person who was showering you the energy which made you believe you were lovable and valuable.
Both you and the narcissistic are self-avoiding – not taking responsibility for self-love and self-value – and instead looking to the outside for it and power struggling over it.
Completely absent is the authentic relationship model: Two people who embody self-love and self-value.
How To Create an Authentic Relationship
I hope this article has helped you understand what your true goal in relationships is.
I would like you to understand this – if you want the height of heights, if you want a true soul partnership, a real soul connection of incredible trust, love, passion and integrity – the model of Authentic Relationship is what you want to aim for.
To believe it exists for you – you need to become it.
Remember in this physical energetic Universe – water seeks its own level – you can only create the outer relationship that reflects back to you the relationship you have established within yourself.
If you feel inspired to create an Authentic Relationship here is a very simple point form of your goals:
1) Take full responsibility that authentic love starts with yourself and turn your focus determinedly inwards to yourself.
2) Clean up your fearful and painful inner programs that are still connecting you to painful and non-authentic choices, behaviour and relationships.
3) Heal and use processes on yourself to become the vibration of ‘In-Love’.
4) Make it your absolute mission to show up with total emotional authenticity in every area of your life, and have no attachment or expectations as to what others do with this – this is about YOU becoming a high vibration of authenticity in order to receive it.
5) Know that by becoming this high vibration you are sending out a very powerful message to the Universe of ‘like attracts like’ and it is inevitable that you will connect with others and ultimately a soul love partnership at this level. (This person is already working hard on him of herself somewhere in the world to meet you at this high vibration of love!)
6) Know that by being this high vibration authentically you will easily see who is a potential partner who will meet you at this high vibration of IN-LOVE.
I hope this article has also helped you realise how futile a narcissistic relationship is – how it is everything but an authentic relationship. The narcissistic relationship was never meant to be an authentic relationship, and never will be.
Your narcissitic relationship was the wakeup call of a lifetime for you to work solidly on yourself so that you can become and attract the real deal…
Real authentic love awaits you – but you need to be it. Then it will come!
I would love to hear your comments.
Latest posts by Melanie Tonia Evans (see all)
- When Is It Safe To Date After Narcissistic Abuse? Part 2 - October 2, 2015
- When Is It Safe To Date After Narcissistic Abuse? Part 1 - September 25, 2015
- Interview with Nicolle Edward – Founder of Rize Up Australia - September 17, 2015