Healing from narcissistic betrayal

I think one of the things about narcissism, and why it’s so hard as the survivor, is the knowledge that we’re all human and humans have flaws.

Eilis Dunne
3 min readJun 12, 2022


Photo by Mark Stosberg on Unsplash

In my experience with my ex, his betrayals cut even deeper because somehow, and for some reason, in my eyes he didn’t have that kind of flaw in him — the macdaddy flaw of betrayal. He was incredibly loving, better, and above the harsh cruelties that are a part of some people.

It’s ironic because he was exactly, that, cruel and harsh. Or at least his asshole self was.

A part of narcissism is the ego-centric nature of believing one is better and more powerful than others. Him being better and above everyone else was what I grew to believe was true about him. I didn’t think he was someone with run-of-the mill human flaw.

I am someone who does a ton of yoga, meditation, journaling, self-reflection, and growth. I understand and see human flaws. I understand they are a part of all of us. I have a lot of compassion for flaws, I give flaws a lot of grace, I believe flaws provide us connection points with others because no one is flaw-less. I know that I have flaws and my partners have had flaws. We are flaw-ridden if you will!

Yet, he fooled me. I eventually believed he wasn’t like that, wouldn’t ever do something to hurt me so much.

But he did hurt me, and he hurt me repeatedly. He knew he was hurting me and he didn’t care. His life revolved around him, he did what he wanted and when he wanted it. He cared about me only when it suited him, when he got something out of it.

What’s my point here? No one is flaw-less but some narcissists are great at wrapping people up in their stories. My ex was quite compelling and a great storyteller.

I suppose a particular sign of dating a narcissist is if you hear yourself say “he/she/they wouldn’t ever do something that hurt me so much.” I remember telling my mom that when she asked me how he dealt with his anger. Notice how much energy is in that statement… “wouldn’t ever” is a powerful statement, especially when you know flaws are a natural part of being human.

In a different relationship (not with a narcissist) I might say something like “I’m sure they will unintentionally hurt me at some point, so when they do, I think they’ll listen and respect where I’m coming from and we’ll work it out. Same goes for when I unintentionally hurt them. If they intentionally try to hurt me, well that’s a different story and that’s not ok with me.”

Everyone does things that hurt other people, whether intentionally or unintentionally, especially in relationships. We can’t get away without it.

If I find myself saying “they wouldn’t EVER do x…”, it’ll be an opportunity to look at why I’m so vehement about that belief.

  • Is it because I have had shit relationships before, took 2 years off from dating to grow, and now intentionally choose to date really wonderful people who have shared with me what it’s been like for them to be betrayed by previous partners and are extremely present to how their actions affect others?
  • Is it because they love me so much, they tell me that repeatedly, and I seem to be the center of their universe? (red flag)
  • Is it because… well huh, I really have no good reason come to think of it … and in fact, when I’ve seen them scorned by people in the past, they actually don’t take it very well and I’ve seen them be conniving and deceptive. (red flag)

I had a therapist who asked me to start looking for red flags. I didn’t know what they were. I remember leaving that session feeling naïve and that it was a bad thing.

It’s not a bad thing. There is beauty in believing the world is a kind and loving place. But also, I’ve determined that therapist was right, I didn’t know what red flags looked like, so now I’m learning.

Net net — If you think someone isn’t capable of betraying you, take a closer look at why you think that. People can suck, Love yourself.



Eilis Dunne

An anxious girl’s mindful way through love, sex, and life.