Is My Relationship Picker Broken?

Mr./Ms. "Right" stand on the threshold of your recovery!

Posted Feb 28, 2011

Do you ever feel like you can't seem to find or pick the right mate? Things just don't work out and you don't know why? Or, maybe you are in relationship and wondering how you can improve your relationships skills to make things better?

If narcissistic parents raised you, you were likely taught what I call the "legacy of distorted love." You learned that love is about what I can do for you or what you can do for me. This is because as an adult child of a narcissistic parent, you were constantly in pursuit of love, attention and approval from your parents.  The energy spent, to no avail, caused a set up for dependent and co-dependent relationships This is not what love is about.  While it is common to try to "fix" your partner, let's look at what your tasks are to create a healthy relationship. We can fix us, but we can't fix others. It is true that we tend to draw people to us who are in our same stage of emotional development. So, if we work on our own recovery, we draw healthier people and energy to our space and time in life.

For convenience in reading, the following love and recovery tasks are written using the gender "he" but can be interchanged for both gender. See proposed relationship tasks below:

• Remember to reciprocate. The relationship has to be give-and-take, and you need to be able to give and receive with grace and love.

• Your love for him is for the person that he is, not what he can do for you or what you can do for him. 

• If and when your unfinished business with Mother or Father gets triggered, go back to the healing steps and work on them, fully owning that this is your work to do. If he is interested in working on it with you, he is a "prince" for sure, but it is primarily your job. (See 5-step recovery model in Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. ) The steps apply for men too.

• Let him know in the very beginning that your trust was impaired in early childhood and that trust is a lifelong recovery issue for you. Continue to work on trust issues without projecting them onto him.

• Fight your own dependency needs so that you do not behave in dependent or codependent ways with him. Interdependency is a must for a healthy relationship.

• Keep boundaries around your personal space and encourage him to do the same. Allow each other privacy when needed. Whenever this is difficult, discuss it promptly.

• Be authentic and yourself at all times.

• Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Expect him to do this as well, but know that you cannot control or demand it.

• Above all, be accountable for your own feelings and behavior.

• If he is ever misguided and tells you that you are acting "just like your mother or father," gently tell him to never say that again.  

This is a sensitive issue for adult children raised by narcissistic parents. The goal is to behave in different ways and learn new ways to love. It all starts with your own recovery. The healthier you become, the more you find you are attracted to the same. Narcissistic families, or is a worthy goal to improve our interactions with those we love. It tops my list! Agnes Repplier in The Treasure Chest, says, "It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere." So, when your relationship picker is broken, work your own recovery!


Additional Resources for Recovery:

Resource Website:

Book: Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Audio Book:

Workshop: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Virtual Workshop. Work recovery in the privacy of your own home, complete with video presentations and homework assignments:



Daughter Intensives: One on one sessions with Dr. Karyl McBride

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