‘Difficult relationships become like a puzzle’

How Do Adult Children of Narcissists Develop in Life?

Alexander Burgemeester


Remember, the child really just wants love and affection from their narcissistic parent. To admit that their parent is abusing them means giving up all hope that this love will ever come. Since the thought of this is very painful, children simply make excuses (often putting the blame on themselves), and carry on trying to get the love that they crave…

This is part of the reason that children of narcs end up in stormy, difficult marriages. If they find a spouse who is abusive in the same way as their parent, and they can get their new spouse to love them, then maybe their parent actually did love them all along. Maybe it really was their fault for not learning exactly how to act in order to get it. 

And so, difficult relationships become like a puzzle they have to solve, to prove their parent’s love really did exist – but was just being withheld. So they move from abuser to abuser, trying to beat the puzzle.

… is to remove the protectiveness around their parent. If the patient can accept that their parent was mistreating them, and that the love was probably not there, they can then break out of this cycle of bad relationships.

Of course this is a painful hurdle to jump, and as with many forms of therapy, things can get worse, emotionally speaking before they get better. But, life is easier on the other side of these hurdles.