top of page

My Detox from Toxic Love 

By Kate Mintz

The word “narcissist” is thrown around a lot. I dare say it is more commonly used as a synonym for self-obsessed or selfish than as the term for a legitimate personality disorder. I, of course, am no certified shrink—I actually suffered through Psychology 101 more than the average college freshman. But I think I have enough experience in the department of dating this type of partner to share a few pearls of wisdom.


Perhaps a narcissistic person’s most deceiving and captivating trait is their ability to make you feel special. At the onset of the relationship, narcissists make you feel like you are “one in a million.” You are the apple of their eye, you can do no wrong—all that bullshit. These feelings can draw even the most strong-willed people into a relationship with a narcissistic partner. After all, we, as humans, are trained to desire companionship. Yet, this whimsical, seductive, and over-the-top beginning is often a tell-tale sign of a narcissistic personality. 


This period of time is what I—learned from my actual licensed psychologist—call the "high." Others call it “love bombing,” but I prefer this metaphor when analyzing my own experience.  Allow me to explain: this ‘high’ is potentially more potent than that brought by any drug. Throughout the relationship, the ‘high’ serves as the key ingredient to keep someone entangled with the narcissist. While under the metaphorical influence, the narcissist makes their partner feel like they are the only person on the planet. 


The power of the high is often what causes the narcissist to drive away their partner’s loved ones.  The victim becomes convinced that their partner is the only one who knows the real them.  Friends are no longer deemed necessary—the overwhelming affection seems enough to fill any void. Suddenly, it feels as though this relationship is the only aspect of life that matters.  


But this relationship does not remain as a mutual utopia. Dynamics begin to shift, and the relationship feels like a source of stress rather than a provider of happiness. Victims of narcissists itch to return to the level of euphoria that they felt during the phase of doting and adoration. As such, when their partner begins the stage of neglect, degradation, and extreme jealousy, also known as the low, they are classically conditioned (Psychology reference to prove that I did pass the course) to remain on the metaphorical rollercoaster to feel that high once more.  The narcissist’s partner begins to lose their sense of self-worth as they become fixated on pleasing and stroking their partner’s ego.  


In my own experience with an ex-boyfriend who (I now realize) exhibited narcissistic personality traits, the constant whiplash from high to low made it seemingly impossible to exit the rollercoaster. I was entirely addicted to the thrill of his inconsistent adoration. I tried to quit and many times, I failed. I was deeply ashamed—I would tell myself that I was simply never going to be strong enough to break away. But one day, it finally hit me. Recognizing this unhealthy pattern was my key to escaping this cycle of emotional abuse. In the process, I learned the importance of giving myself grace.  


Someone once told me that a healthy relationship should be so consistent that it feels slightly boring. Of course, no one wants to be with someone who puts them to sleep, but now I understand what they mean. Never again will I allow myself to question which version of my boyfriend will answer the phone. Never again will I accept mistreatment to prove I am worthy of someone else’s love. Today, I’m nearly one year clean. I could not be more grateful to have gotten off that ride and have maintained a vow never to return to the amusement park again. 

bottom of page