A relationship with a narcissist is like a tornado- a whirlwind of abuse, mind twists, blame, criticism and disapproval. It leaves you feeling like you are walking on eggshells. The person you fell in love with was a fraud- you saw only the mask that they wore. Now that you have realized he (or she; I will continue to use “he” to simplify things) is a narcissist, you also realize that he is a liar with no conscience and that he loves only himself. It is hard to admit that he has never really loved you, but you need to understand he is incapable of loving anyone other than himself. He has damaged your self-esteem and confidence and your feelings of despair, loneliness and anxiety have all increased. He probably has you questioning your own sanity. However, you CAN leave the narcissist and this unhealthy relationship. You NEED to leave the relationship to regain your own mental health and the joy you used to feel.
A narcissist will only be concerned with his own thoughts and needs; he has not, and will not, be concerned with your needs or your feelings. It is much better to end a relationship with a narcissist, the sooner the better, rather than letting it drag on. It will only drag you down farther and cause more psychological harm.
10 steps to end it
- If at all possible, go to a therapist or support group BEFORE you end the relationship. Use the therapist or support group to learn what you can do and say, as well as the characteristics in yourself that make you a narcissist’s victim. Most women’s advocate groups and domestic abuse shelters can give you good references if you don’t know where to turn. Even if you have not been physically abused- you have most certainly been emotionally and verbally abused.
Note: if you are still with the narcissist, he will do everything in his power to discourage you from going. He will attempt to embarrass you, accuse you of being crazy (he will say that’s why “you” need therapy), disrupt your schedule so you can’t make the appointment or meeting-and so on, to prevent you from getting outside help. The more he does this, the more you can be certain you do need the help, and the more determined you should be about getting it.
- GO QUICKLY to avoid abuse once you have made the decision to leave. Don’t argue, disagree, explain or blame- you cannot win. He will reject your view point as he has always done. He will twist your words and make you doubt what you are doing. The narcissist will see your leaving as the ultimate betrayal. Make short, neutral statements (like, “you could be right” or “I don’t want to discuss this any further”)-and keep repeating the. Don’t fall into his trap of arguing or trying to explain.
- PREPARE YOURSELF during, and after, leaving for brutal, aggressive retaliation. He may easily fly into a narcissistic rage when he feels abandoned. He is likely to accuse you of using him, abandoning him and financially “taking” him as he actually does those behaviors to you. The narcissist is capable of rage and retaliation for any slight (imagined or not), so despite your own anger or need to prove him wrong- do NOT challenge or provoke him.
- DO NOT ANSWER the door if he comes to your house, do not respond to texts, phone calls or emails. Communicate only when you absolutely have to, and do so through the use of a third party.
- SURROUND YOURSELF with understanding friends and loving family. If you have been living together- separate bills, assets, and property as soon as possible to end reasons for contact. Change all passwords, establish separate accounts, and consider shopping at different stores, etc to avoid running into him.
- THROW AWAY, donate or sell any keepsakes that remind you of him; this will help you detach from him.
- CEASE ALL CONTACT in order to get emotionally strong and healthy. Make a list of the criticisms and put-downs that he used to say—TODAY– and then disprove each one with a positive statement about you. For instance, if you wrote, “he said I’m an idiot”-counter that with, “but I am smart!” Or “he said I was ugly and no one else will love me”, counter with, “but I have friends and family who love me, and there are lots of fish in the sea-there are more people out there to love me”.
- GET COUNSELING or join a support group if you didn’t already do so.
- FIND NEW FRIENDS and new “non-romantic” relationships. You will find that all kinds of genuinely nice people will come into your life. Join a class or a group that interests you-it doesn’t have to cost money- just anything that will bring you into the company of new people. Rejoice in having an active, normal social life without that dark, black cloud hanging over you.
- GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO GRIEVE. Don’t jump right into another relationship. The quicker you enter into a new relationship, the higher the likelihood that it will be with another narcissist or another personality disorder. You have a lot of healing to do; there has been a lot of psychological harm done. So take the time to grieve, to mourn the loss, and to heal. Give yourself time to learn to love yourself again and the time to relearn how lovable you are to others.