Boyfriend of daughter with narcisistic Mom. Is there anything I can do?

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I guess I'm really stuck. I was dating the daughter (L) of a narcissistic mother, for over 2 years--and L is the adopted daughter of this narcissistic mother. Our relationship seemed to be really solid and strong, and then she started pushing me away, and not having reasons for it. But it created a bad dynamic between us. It started happening when L had a lot going on in her life: she learned rather innocently that her boyfriend just previous to me, who dumped her on their 1 year dating anniversary, had been cheating on her right from the beginning of their relationship! To me the complexities of that situation were how he dumped her (out of the blue) and then L learning 2 years later how he had been cheating on her. Also this past fall she had a close girlfriend dying from cancer, and another close girlfriend moving out of the area, and finally increasing care needs for her 97 year old narcissitic mother. From what I've gathered almost all of L's relationships have been failed because of poor choices on her part (her admission). So the end of our relationship came as now her mother needs virtually round the clock care. She has said she "will do anything for that woman as she goes through dying

The issue I'm trying to explore is that I deeply love her, and she has no idea of the toxicity that her mother has inflicted in her life. She knows that her mother has treated her awful her whole life, but I don't think she's ever explored the topic of narcissism. I feel that to suggest anything at this stage regarding that she needs to seek professional help (not her girlfriends) would be futile. It seems my only other choice is to sit on the sidelines, watch it play out, and be left wondering if any kind of realizations hit L when it's all over. I do feel powerless.

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Daughter of a narcissistic (NPD) mother here.....

Sometimes rejection is protection. This is important to keep in mind.

NPD parents get the toxic mess on everybody that has contact with the family. It's like emotional poop that get sprayed everywhere, and it doesn't end the day they die. NPD leaves a nasty legacy behind in the survivors. It is very common for children of NPD parents to have ongoing relationship problems due to the family/home life they had, and it's nothing they are doing consciously. You need to educate yourself on what Narcissistic Personality Disorder really is before you talk yourself into further emotional investment or any relationship rescue attempts. NPD is another planet and it requires a comittment to therapy and purposeful self change to overcome it as the child of an NPD person. It takes years of hard work to get past it to be healthy and have healthy relationships with more than a houseplant.

L might go through life having many relationships she ends just when things are going well because that's the programming involved with an NPD person. There is a deep dark hole of "might be" when it comes to loving an NPD person or the children who are surviving NPD.

Or it could be simple. If L is caregiving a dying parent, she won't have time for herself, therapy, or a relationship with anybody or anything else. It could be a long time before she's clear of all that. She may never be over it, even after her mom dies because NPD cancels out one person's self for the other. If L has never had a chance to discover her own person, she will have a hard time when her mom dies. NPD is like a parasitic relationship, where one of you has to completely let go of all personality, all desires, all opinions to satisfy the narcissist. If a relationship rescue were a plausible thing here, I would not bet on success because of the caregiving obligation. Caregiving an NPD person is more than all consuming. That NPD person will own your mind and soul.

Maybe the universe is telling you to learn something from this so ou can steer away in the future, and continue on your own path. Wish her well, but take care of yourself, and let this go.
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People make choices, and love makes you do silly things. Forgive my bluntness, but just as she seems to need to explore the issue of narcissism you should revisit the value of self-esteem and self-worth. Don't sit around waiting for scraps and move on with your life. There are many wonderful women out there willing to explore the special person you are; and to meet you half-way without excuses.
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If she's not your girlfriend anymore you have no choice but to let go and let her do what she needs to do. Trying to analyze her so you can get back in her life isn't going to work. Caregiving breaks up relationships all the time and if you try to interfere with her taking care of her mom (regardless of whether her mom is a narcissist or not) you'll be the one left out in the cold. Your ex-girlfriend made it clear that this is what she's going to do.

I'm sorry that you're hurting over the break-up but the best thing you can do is leave her alone and let her come to some realizations on her own, if she's capable of that. You can't and shouldn't force them down her throat, people need to learn for themselves. You feel powerless because you are powerless. Respect her decision to end the relationship.
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Great point MickiSuzanne! I read your statement about your ex and your mother and thought I wrote it myself! That was my big 'ah ha' moment too. I figured it out 22 years ago when I got divorced. I kept wondering how I had such a solicitous father who would do anything for my mother who he made constant excuses for and then married such a verbally and emotionally abusive, cheating man who was constantly manipulative. And then I sat up one night after a lot of counseling and thought "I didn't marry a man like my father. I married a man like my MOTHER". It made sense to me that even as a woman, regardless, your primary trusting, loving relationship is with your mom. A), if you are unlovable to the person who birthed you, you must obviously BE unlovable. And B) when you have a codependent spouse aka "Dad" telling you that this crazy person 'loves' you, you grow up thinking that's what love IS. It must hurt, it must be 'earned', like the carrot you will never reach, hanging in front of your nose. I have always since then 'gotten' the term 'recovering' because I will never be 'over' my mother not loving me (she has told me since I figured it all out, among other things, that she didn't really bond with me as a baby". WHAT???). It is work to remind yourself that you are good, lovable, not perfect but who is, that is fine.
I have a great, long term marriage to the love of my life now. But I had to be ready for it and him and know I deserved to be happy and love doesn't have to be complicated and drama, drama, drama. BTW I do not speak to my family or my mother. She still tells everyone how terrible I am and that I am the problem,etc. I can't say that it never gets to me. And she has successfully turned my whole family against me and worked my own daughter (who inherited her dad's genes I think). It isn't all the perfect happy ending. Nothing this messed up is. But I am happy and wouldn't trade what I have for anything and all the hard work is worth it.
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Speaking as the daughter of a narcissistic mother, I have to say some of us spend our lives trying to earn their approval. And some of us make awful choices in relationships; from what I've read, it's an attempt to subconsciously right the wrongs of childhood.

I was drawn to alcoholic narcissists and the last one was abusive. I'm still healing from that damage. The book "The Emotionally Abusive Relationship" has a chart. You're asked to check off your partner's positive aspects and negative aspects. On another page it asks you to do the same with the person most responsible for raising you.

My abusive narcissist ex and my mother were exactly the same.

I would let L know you will continue to be there to support her emotionally, by text, email or phone or in person. That is love, that is loyalty. Only you can decide if it's too much self-sacrifice. If it is, continued friendship is a wonderful thing. True friendship is all love without expectations.

Don't tell her the truth, she will see you as a problem to be avoided. Truth is (usually) something we have to find on our own.

Blessings.
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If you are still communicating with the girlfriend....or perhaps...just for your own future well being....this book might be a great gift or resource item: "Boundaries" Book By: Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend. It was a life saver to me, as I had to take over care for my parents, and neither their relationship together, or mine, especially with my mother, was good. My mother has a narcissistic personality and is also very obsessive-compulsive, and now with dementia too....so she's a 'pistol' to have to deal with. I could NEVER live with her or bring her into our home and survive it!! Boundaries teaches people from these kinds of relationships just how to recognize their own needs and set their own boundaries....for self preservation. There is also a book aimed just at children caring for parents that might be helpful. I cannot believe how much these books helped me! Good luck.
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You know how we're allowed to criticise our own families, but we take it so badly when outsiders do? It's the same but more so for your former g/f, L. You can see what her mother's treatment has done to her. She may or may not, probably not because she isn't even looking; but the point is she doesn't want to hear it. And certainly not from you.

I agree with the consensus about the kind of choices L has made. Poor ones, habitually. Some people just do do that. It could be she pushed you away because things were all going too well. It could be that her mother takes up so much of her focus she can't cope with anything else. Whatever it is, though, you can't invite yourself back in; it won't work. Any pressure you put on her, even unintentionally, even complimentary pressure, will add to her stress. Don't do it.

I do agree, too, though, with VStefans, that if you want to be a friend to L there are things you can do that will brighten her day. It can be good to know that someone is rooting for you. It could be that in the fullness of time she'll want to think again. But if you do that with any expectations you are not respecting L's need for space to deal with her issues, and you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Be a loyal friend by all means, and good for you, but for heaven's sake don't turn down any better offers.
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Move on. Everything is a gift. We just forget, only to remember. Life is way to short to attempt to hang on to this. Rejoice in all that you are.
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Wonderful, kind, compassionate, yet realistic, responses here.
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A caregiver of a dying care-receiver has too many issues and time-demands to be making any long-term decisions. This is true not matter what the relationship between the giver and receiver is like.

If that were the only factor here, I'd say be patient and if you think the relationship has long-term potential, stay in the background and stay supportive on a "friend" level.

But there is another factor here. Your gf was given up by her birth parents and was emotionally abused by her adoptive parent, who was mentally ill. This factor is Not Her Fault, but it is not your fault, either. The fact that she does not seem to recognize how dysfunctional her situation is does not seem encouraging for a quick healthy outcome.

Perhaps it would be good for you to have a few sessions with a counselor. Not because there is anything "wrong" with you, but because you are in a difficult situation and deserve good help in moving forward in a way that is healthy for you.

Do let us know how this plays out for you. We care!
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