I don’t believe relationships with narcissists work out.
I believe those who stay are sacrificing themselves for the relationship. They may be suffering from Codependency, Dependent Personality Disorder, Stockholm’s Syndrome, Traumatic Bonding, and Brainwashing. They martyr themselves for the relationship.
Even if the person was mentally healthy when they entered the relationship with the narcissist over time the spouse or partner is reduced to an object who’s wants, needs, and feelings are not important. This person stops thinking about their own needs. They exist to serve the needs of the narcissist. They aren’t even aware they are trauma bonded, codependent, or have a personality disorder of their own.
Does it make me wonder about myself? It makes me see myself years ago when I was in a narcissistic relationship. I was lucky I found my way out. I am able to see and recognize the truth. I understand the mindset of those still in relationships with narcissists.
Those in relationships with narcissists will excuse the behavior. They are suffering from cognitive dissonance. Perhaps they think deep down he is a good person, and no one knows him like they do. Only they understand, doesn’t this somehow make them special? The martyrdom, they need to feel needed for their own sense of self worth. The narcissist is a taker, his partner a giver.
Perhaps the partner stays because they fear being alone, they don’t want to break up the family, or they are financially dependent on the narcissist. There are many reasons people stay. Staying does not mean the relationship is healthy or working out. Some stay so long in the abuse they lose themselves totally. They end up blaming themselves for the abuse to the point of defending or making excuses for abusive behavior.
“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”
Those who stay in long term relationships with narcissists will begin to suffer compromising their health including mental health. Many suffer from depression, anxiety, C-PTSD. Their physical health is in jeopardy as well. You become so beaten down you cannot find your way out. You may not see it at the time but the discard is a gift.
This is based on my own experience as a former codependent in a abusive narcissistic relationship. I was codependent, trauma bonded, and lost all sense of myself.