When guys meet Mom, explains Behary, "they feel like they're under the microscope. They look at the mother and think, 'Is that what my wife or girlfriend will be like in 20 years?'" Fearing constant judgment and the mom's intrusion into every aspect of their lives, the boyfriend's feelings for his girlfriend might not be enough. In the end, he'll admit that there's no way he can be with that mother-in-law. How My Parents Fell For My Husband
After the failed marriage proposal, Ben and I stayed together for a year trying to work it out. I vacillated between codependency and dependency, entitlement (I deserve for this relationship to work) and blame (it's all Ben's fault). I asked myself over and over, "What would Mom think?" And, when I contemplated the answer, I couldn't bear the thought of telling her that I'd failed. According to Vaknin, children of narcissists fear abandonment and relationship failure and may be hard-pressed to accept relationship red flags or bail from sinking ships.
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For daughters of narcissists, a breakup can cause a collapse that's on par with post-traumatic stress, according to McBride. A few years of regular dating and breaking up can be devastating. "Each [break-up] chips away at their self esteem," says McBride, "and they often think that maybe they won't find someone who cares about them for who they are."
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I don't think my mother has meant to hurt me; I think she just doesn't realize what she's doing. When she tells me "I'm sorry your relationship failed," she thinks she's being empathetic. But she didn't teach me how to love or be loved, and she isn't a relationship role model—or even helpful. In the end, says Campbell, "There's no magic solution… You have to be adult enough to understand that and get the most out of it that you can."