Good evening, Elena. Are you and your mom okay with this pandemic situation? I’m worried about you and just need to know you’re okay.

After almost two years, I wanted to write to you because I have been thinking about you a lot lately. The power of memories is very profound. What we lived was something unique, and I find myself missing it more and more, missing you more and more… I am sure you will understand my thoughts, but it’s important you know that I just can’t get you off my mind. I don’t know where you are nor what you do, but I know one thing — I think about you all the time. Dear Elena, I remember everything about you. I hope I will be able to hold you in my arms again soon, my Elena, my ‘Shine.’”

His words opened a door to my past that I wasn’t sure I wanted to step through. I thought long and hard about the relationship we had, and as I thought about it, I realized that I am not the only one to have experienced the pain of being in love with a narcissist. That thought inspired me to write my story and share it with you. I hope it will save you some pain.

Only two years ago, I was happily married. It seems like it was so much longer ago than that. Incredibly, my life at that time had been completely changed in less than a year, and I remember being so grateful to the universe for giving me this wonderful man. He seemed like the man I had been waiting for my entire life. I thought I was so lucky. But nothing is free. Let me start from the beginning.

I am from Ukraine, and that’s where I was when this started. I had not been very satisfied with the dating and relationship experiences I had with Ukrainian men, so I decided to sign up for an international dating website. I had a pretty clear picture in my head of the man I wanted. At the time, I was 31-years-old and on top of my game. I felt like I was at my most beautiful, had plenty of energy, and was an intelligent woman. What’s more, I have blonde hair, long legs, and a kind heart. I also had my life together. I had a beautiful apartment, a good car, and my own little business. I’m not boasting here, but it’s a relatively attractive setup. In fact, I would describe myself as a dream wife by anyone’s standards. So, when my ex — I’ll call him F — first wrote to me on that dating site, I wasn’t really interested in answering him. He was ten years older than me, a Frenchman from Paris, worked for a corporation, and had a kid. He wasn’t my type at all.

I never would have imagined myself with a Frenchman. At one point, I even asked him how he felt living in such a big, dirty city that was full of crime. Although Paris is considered the city of love for many people, it wasn’t even on my top ten list of destinations to visit, let alone where I wanted to live. So, at first, I had no interest in him, but he certainly had an interest in me. I was his perfect type, and he set his sights on making me part of his second attempt at a family. As it turned out, he saw me as a perfect fit for his beautiful life and knew that with me, he would have a higher status and more respect from his friends and colleagues. That motivated him to pursue me relentlessly.

F was very persistent in wooing me. He bombarded me with sweet messages and compliments. I felt like a queen, a goddess — any woman would. He was so sweet, delicate, and polite. He was also so single-minded in achieving his goal of winning me over. I thought, “What a man!” He seemed to know what he wanted and acted immediately to get it. It seemed so masculine and romantic. I would later realize that all of this were potential signs of narcissistic behavior. There are many famous examples of narcissists, and the women who have been with them say they were so charming when they were pursuing the object of their affection — the toy they wanted at the moment.

It's how started my story that I described in my book My Toxic Husband: Loving and Breaking Up with a Narcissistic Man — Start Your Psychopath-free Life Now! Based on a True Story.

Certified relationship coach, Psychotherapist and Author