6 Differences Between Healthy and Narcissistic Relationships

Now, it might be obvious as to the differences between a healthy and narcissistic relationship.

Actually… it can prove tricky, especially if you are a kind-hearted person who likes to give the benefit of the doubt.

It also proves difficult to initially differentiate if you prefer to see the good in people. 

Getting caught up in a narcissistic relationship makes people wish they saw what was coming. Isn’t hindsight wonderful?

If only we could all see the drama ahead, we might have taken the next exit rather than stay on Highway Toxicity.

Now, you can take the next exit by knowing the 6 differences between healthy love and a relationship built on lies and control.

Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships center around several strong concepts, including compassion, respect, loyalty, patience, empathy, kindness, and compromise. They do not snowball into problematic situations, and guess what—they exist!

The Early Stages of a Healthy Relationship

The early stages of a healthy relationship usually involve both people enjoying each other’s time equally. They invest while remaining true and loyal to their lives and priorities. 

Healthy relationships build steadily – starting with a strong foundation.

Narcissistic Relationships

With narcissistic relationships, you will see more in terms of invalidation, gaslighting, devaluation, entitlement and discarding. 

There are shifts in dynamics, and often the person getting themselves involved with a narcissist will begin to feel a shadow of their former selves, potentially even being isolated. 

The Early Stages of a Narcissistic Relationship

Rose, charm, love bombing – it all happens during those early stages. This is all designed to get you hooked into the narcissistic cycle of abuse, that eventually rolls back around to itself after periods of devaluation and discard. 

Those initial stages can be breathtakingly distracting – and that’s the smokescreen the narcissist wants to show you. 

The 6 Differences Between Healthy and Narcissistic Relationships

#1 Trust vs Gaslighting

No relationship is perfect, but a healthy one will include trust and even make trust one of the top priorities. 

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For love to survive in the long term, there has to be an element of trust; otherwise, you’re constantly left to question or assume, which can prove dangerous. 

People in healthy relationships are acutely aware that trust is a core value that should be shared, but it goes a little beyond that.

Trust is also heavily involved with yourself. To trust your opinions, your beliefs – your reality. Nobody should be putting that into disrepute. 

Narcissistic relationships aren’t formed on trust at all. They’re built on fragile egos, lies and gaslighting. Taking away a person’s reality by confusing them or questioning what they know only feeds the idea that the narcissist has full control.

Healthy relationships leave plenty of room for each person to own their reality, and appreciate the other person’s version. 

#2 Security vs. Insecurity

Knowing who you are is a big part of a relationship. When once begins, each person brings themselves fully in. That only works in the long-term if both people are sure of who they are and strong in the stance that they’re secure. 

To be secure, you must know what you want, who you are, and what you like. Nobody can come and take away aspects of you or create an insecure version of you.

Narcissists are well known for being insecure people, and they always project their insecurities onto the person they are with. This is done slowly over time, so the other person, possibly once very confident, is now left questioning their identity.

Insecurities derive from constant criticism or ridicule, which is all the narcissist knows how to do.

#3 Encouragement vs. Control

Isn’t it wonderful when you want to do something, and your partner encourages it? 

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It doesn’t have to be anything big, but it can be equally. From starting a new fitness class to deciding to go back to school for your degree, healthy relationships are encouraged to grow by encouragement itself—the promise that you’ve got each other’s backs and that you can try new things with the support of the other. 

Narcissistic relationships fail this in so many ways. Instead of encouragement, then narcissist will offer the following:

What do you want to do that for? It’ll cost so much money.

Who will pay the bills while you’re sitting in a classroom?

Yoga? Don’t you think you’re a little old/unfit to start a new fad?

Discouraging is a form of control. The narcissist in a relationship will want the other person to do what they think is right, not what they think is right for themselves. 

What’s healthy about that? Nothing!

#4 Boundaries vs. None

Healthy relationships thrive with boundaries. Acting, thinking, and feeling independently means being comfortable saying yes when necessary or no when something doesn’t feel right. 

Space is an important aspect of healthy relationships. It allows each person to grow apart and together, and it’s a good thing to give each other.

When looking at narcissistic relationships, any kind of boundary is often violated by the narcissist unless too strong to break down. If that’s the case, the narcissist will respond in anger and often rage,as their entitlement becomes limited by the personal rules of another. 

Narcissists hate boundaries because they believe they have the right to walk all over their partners, to know everything, to be in your business, and to tell you what to do. They are motivated by your weaknesses, and if your boundaries are weak, they can manipulate you as they see fit.

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#5 Hope vs. Fear

That amazing feeling of being with someone you love who loves you back is incomparable. There is happiness, joy, and hope—hope that you can walk a long path together and grow and heal in the company of one another.

Hope sees you through difficult times, but you do it together.

Narcissistic relationships couldn’t be further from the truth. They don’t align with hope at all, and instead turn more to fear. To look into your future – what most people in a relationship with a narcissist see is fear. 

Will it always be this way?

Will all this eventually be a memory?

Will they change?

Will I always feel so trapped?

What am I missing out on?

#6 Progress vs. Stagnation

Any kind of relationship stays the same. As time goes by, people change and so do their situations. As we get older, our priorities shift, and no relationship is free from challenge or struggle. 

What makes the difference between a healthy relationship is the progress made over time. That feeling of moving forward and progressing alongside somebody you love, versus standing still and feeling as though the world is passing you by. 

You try to identify what it is you want, but all your dreams keep getting quashed by the dominant voice of the narcissist. 

Stagnation is a huge problem, and in a narcissistic relationship, this is caused by the narcissist constantly holding you back. They don’t want you to move forward because then you might succeed in something and leave them. 

A narcissist fears change because change is something that they cannot always control. That’s why they like dynamics ‘just so.’

Healthy relationships? They thrive in the midst of change. They survive, rely on evolution and growth, and refuse to hold anybody back.

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