Breaking up with a narcissist is a complicated and stressful process, and once you’ve finally managed to extricate yourself from that web of lies and deceit, you need to protect yourself and your newfound freedom.
Turning your back on someone you once loved, even if it was someone who manipulated you at every opportunity, isn’t easy.
You might find yourself looking back on the relationship with rose-tinted glasses, remembering only the good things, and glossing over all the times you felt you needed to walk on eggshells or deal with a narcissistic tantrum.
Now you’ve made it to the other side. It’s in your best interests to stay there and not be drawn back into a toxic relationship.
In this article, I want to explore the damage you can do by responding to a narcissistic ex’s demands and how to navigate the post-break-up period so you can embrace the future with your self-esteem still intact. i’ll explore what you should NOT do when breaking up with a Narcissist.
5 Things to Never Do After Breaking Up with a Narcissist
#1 Try to be Friends
Let’s say you agree to be friends with your narcissistic ex, Charles. At first, he’s supportive and understanding, offering you a shoulder to cry on and even taking you out to dinner.
But his kindness and empathy don’t last long, and a couple of days after taking you out, he sends a message saying, “Are you free to meet up for coffee this afternoon? I really need to talk.”
You had plans with friends, but you quickly canceled them and agreed to meet up.
Once at the coffee shop, Charles dominates the conversation, talking about his life, achievements, and current struggles.
You can’t get a word in edgeways, and even if you could, Charles wouldn’t listen. He’s only interested in getting validation and sympathy.
As days become weeks, Charles’s demands on your time become more frequent and fervent. He calls late at night and sends numerous text messages, always expecting an instant response.
Charles guilt-trips you whenever you try to set boundaries, saying, “I thought we were friends. Friends are supposed to be there for each other no matter what.”
Charles has no interest in being friends – he wants to manipulate your emotions and keep you under his control. As long as you maintain contact, Charles will continue to exploit you as a narcissistic supply.
Nothing is genuine in such a toxic relationship, so your best course of action is to set boundaries, demand some time for yourself, and prioritize your emotional well-being.
#2 Blame Yourself
When a narcissist moves on from a relationship, they do so quickly. One minute, they can’t bear losing you, and the next, they’re on social media celebrating how they’ve finally found true love – with someone else.
Being replaced so quickly can leave you feeling that you weren’t enough and that your shortcomings caused the relationship to fail.
You might blame yourself for not giving in to your ex when he demanded more attention or for not tolerating his constant need for validation.
But the truth is, it was never about you. Narcissists are masters of manipulation, and their ability to move on is just another ploy to assert their dominance and feed their insatiable ego.
Let’s take an example to illustrate this further:
After breaking up with her narcissistic ex-boyfriend, Mark, Sarah was devastated. She couldn’t understand how Mark could move on so quickly while she was still drowning in heartache.
Sarah blamed herself, believing they could have salvaged the relationship if she had been more attentive or showered Mark more affection.
One day, Sarah logged onto social media and saw Mark’s latest post—a photo of him with a new woman, captioned: “So grateful to have found my soulmate! I’ve never been happier.”
This public declaration of love and happiness shattered Sarah’s already fragile self-esteem. She felt inadequate, comparing herself to Mark’s new partner and wondering why she couldn’t measure up.
It’s essential to understand that a narcissist’s behavior after a breakup has little to do with the worth or value of their former partner and everything to do with their deep-seated insecurities and self-centeredness.
#3 Stalk Them on Social Media
While it’s normal for people to check up on their exes after a breakup, it’s neither healthy nor constructive.
For instance, after ending her tumultuous relationship with a narcissistic ex-boyfriend, Alex couldn’t resist checking his social media profiles.
She wanted to see what he was up to, who he was hanging out with, and whether he appeared happy without her.
As Alex scrolled through her ex’s posts, she saw he’d been partying, attending social events, and even sharing pictures with a new woman.
Seeing him seemingly having the time of his life without her triggered a rollercoaster of emotions for Alex and left her self-esteem in tatters.
Stalking an ex-narcissist on social media can harm your emotional well-being and hinder your ability to move on.
Seeing yourself replaced conjures up feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy while trying to find a connection to your ex prevents you from disengaging.
Whenever you view your narcissistic ex’s profile, you give them the attention they seek, feeding their ego and providing them with a narcissistic supply.
Is this what you want? After all, you broke up with them for a reason and can start afresh with yourself as your highest priority.
Consider reading: What happens when the Narcissist sees you are looking good?
#4 Fall for Their Hoovering Attempts
Narcissists might move on quickly, but that won’t stop them from trying to hold onto the narcissistic supply you provided.
If a narcissistic ex feels you’re moving on, they’ll turn the tables on you and attempt to hoover you back into their sphere of influence.
Whatever form it takes, the intent is the same – to lure you back into the toxic relationship so they can continue to manipulate and exploit you.
Let’s look at one of the most extreme forms of hoovering – the threat of self-harm:
After finally ending her toxic relationship with a narcissistic ex-boyfriend, Sarah thought she could move on – but her ex had other plans.
Unable to bear losing control over her, he resorted to desperate measures to hoover her back into the relationship.
One evening, Sarah received a series of frantic messages from her ex, claiming he couldn’t live without her.
He texted, “I can’t believe you’d do this to me. I’m so broken without you. If you don’t come back, I don’t know what I’ll do. I might end it all.”
Sarah’s heart began to race, and a wave of guilt washed over her. The thought of being responsible for his well-being tormented her.
Terrified that her ex might actually harm himself, Sarah felt trapped and overwhelmed by guilt and responsibility.
Despite the emotional abuse she endured during their relationship, her empathy and concern for his well-being clouded her judgment. She worried that he might act on his threats if she didn’t respond or return to him.
This manipulation tactic is known as “emotional blackmail” and is a common hoovering strategy.
By threatening self-harm or suicide, the narcissist preys on the victim’s compassion and sense of responsibility, making them feel guilty for leaving and pulling them back into the toxic dynamic.
To handle such a situation, it is crucial to recognize the manipulative nature of the narcissist’s behavior and understand that their actions are not your responsibility.
If you genuinely believe the person might be in danger, take their threats seriously and immediately contact emergency services or someone close to them who can offer support.
#5 Expect Them to Take Responsibility
Even if a narcissist ends a relationship, they won’t take responsibility for its failure and will shift the blame whenever the opportunity arises.
For instance, after their breakup, Rachel’s narcissistic ex-boyfriend, Mark, launched a smear campaign.
He crafted a narrative portraying himself as the innocent victim while presenting Rachel as the sole reason for all the failings in their relationship.
Mark took every opportunity to present Rachel as an emotionally unstable and controlling partner.
He exaggerated minor conflicts and twisted the truth to cast himself as a selfless martyr who endured endless hardships in the relationship.
One evening, at a friend’s birthday party, Mark approached a group of their friends and initiated the topic of his recent breakup with Rachel.
He said, “It’s really sad how things ended with Rachel. I tried my best to make it work, but she was just too possessive and jealous. It was suffocating, and I had to end it for my own sanity.”
Unbeknownst to Rachel, Mark’s campaign extended far beyond their social circle.
He posted passive-aggressive comments on social media, making Rachel appear responsible for their failed relationship and leaving her embarrassed and emotionally exposed.
In this example, Mark shows classic narcissistic behavior in his refusal to take responsibility for the breakup and his attempts to manipulate others’ perceptions of Rachel.
He avoids any self-reflection and accountability while painting himself as the innocent victim.
This kind of smear campaign is a common tactic employed by narcissists to bolster their fragile self-image and avoid facing the truth about their actions.