You’ve made a break for it and this time you really mean it; the problem is that your relationship with the narcissistic partner has left you vulnerable to his/her (I’m going to stick with ‘his’ for the rest of the article, but it could just as easily be ‘her’) manipulative powers of persuasion.
The narcissist won’t leave you alone when you walk away – both mentally and physically, he will try to remain in your life and this is why you need all of the tricks and techniques available to prevent him from weaselling his way back in.
If you should ever find yourself trying to escape from such a relationship, be sure to pay special attention to the following.
Understanding The Narcissist’s World
A narcissist truly believes that he is the center of the universe; that he comes first and is always right. Narcissists are somewhat emotionally barren and lack the empathy to even consider the impact their actions may have on those around them.
They are often deeply unhappy individuals (regardless of their exterior appearance) and they like nothing more than to project these ill feelings onto others in the hope of driving conflict – the veritable cat nip for narcissists.
A narcissist is a master of fakery – he can turn on the charm at the drop of a hat and compound lie upon lie in a bid to get his own way and stroke his own ego. He seeks out a person’s emotional triggers early on and uses them against them once the honeymoon period is over.
A narcissist is a user – he gives very little in the way of genuine warmth to a partner, but insists upon a constant stream of it flowing to him. He requires compliments and kind words on a regular basis and will seek to punish a partner if these are not forthcoming.
He sees relationships purely as sources of supply; a supply of attention and love even though he is incapable of returning the latter.
When the partner tries to break away from the narcissist, he doesn’t see them as a loss, per se, but rather their withholding of this supply. He is confronted with a wounded ego and anxiety as to how he will meet his supply requirements. This is one good reason why he is so likely to try and regain the lost relationship – not because he loves or cares for the partner, but because he cannot go without attention and affection.
Understanding The Role A Narcissist Plays In Separation
When you attempt to leave a narcissistic partner, you will face a barrage of mental manipulation, and unless you are able to recognize it for what it is, you will suffer greatly because of it.
A narcissist will attempt to lay all of the blame at your door; he will spin his own versions of past events and seek to convince you of them. He will deceive, trick, and argue in such a way as to not only convince himself that he is right, but also make you doubt yourself and the circumstances of your separation.
You must remain mentally strong and maintain your grasp on reality at all times. Don’t let his lies paint a different picture to the one you actually experienced during your relationship.
A narcissist will seek to make you feel guilty and worthless in an attempt to make himself feel better. As hard is can be to resist these attempts, you should try to see through his eyes to understand why he is saying all of these hurtful things. This should help you to reduce their effects on you.
Set Firm, Meaningful Boundaries
When you want to leave a narcissistic partner behind, you will almost certainly find resistance on their part. As talked about above, they see your act as a threat to their ego and an end to the supply you provided them, and they will likely try to worm their way back into your life somehow.
They will turn on their act once again and this may make it appear as if they have truly changed, that they are repentant, and that you have shown them the way. None of these things are true; the charm they put on and the pity they try to extract from you are just more mind games to mask what’s real and underneath.
To combat this, you need to set concrete boundaries that prevent the narcissist from being able to play these games in the first place.
You may still be in love with him, which makes it all the more difficult, but by putting some distance between you – even if metaphorically – you will give your mind time to regain clarity and see things as they truly are.
Ideally you will not take his calls, see him, or have contact with him full stop, but if you feel in some way that you owe it to him (which you shouldn’t), or you have to maintain contact for other reasons (such as children), then do it on your terms. Set the time, place and length of the contact and tell him that it will end at the first sight of belittling behavior, raised voices, or derogatory remarks.
Better yet, if you have to see them for any reason (say you share custody of a child), then try using the Gray Rock Method to interact with them in a way that will reduce the risk of you getting hurt again.
More essential narcissist reading (article continues below):
Escaping the clutches of a narcissist is never easy and there will be times when you feel like giving in and returning to him. This is why it is essential that you find people who can give you the strength you need to overcome the hard times.
Unfortunately, as part of his mind games, the narcissist may well have already contacted mutual friends and family to convince them of your wrongdoing and even if he has not, many people will struggle to identify with the person you describe – remember, he may well have put on the charm around others.
But wherever you find them – and it might be that you have to seek out people who have been in your situation and understand what you are going through – be sure to keep them at hand for the inevitable moments of self doubt and surrender.
Let them know the boundaries you have set and tell them to call you out should you ever let these boundaries drift or fall down. You may find that you have altercations with your supporters, but let it be known to them in advance that you appreciate all that they are doing for you.
Recognize Your Own Limiting Beliefs
Having a narcissist for a partner can well and truly mess with your head and the result is likely to be a number of limiting beliefs that you have about yourself, them, and your relationship.
For instance, you might believe that:
they truly love you
your love for them can prevail given time
you are to blame for the ending of the relationship
they bring you happiness that you will not find elsewhere
things can go back to how they were in the beginning
they have seen the errors in their ways once and for all
you can fix them and that it is your duty to stay and help
they feel the same way that you do
Not one of these things is true. They are incapable of love, meaning your love can never prevail. You are not to blame and you can find greater happiness elsewhere. Things can never go back to how they were and stay that way because they have not seen any error in their ways. You cannot fix them and nor is it your responsibility, and they most certainly don’t feel the same way as you.
Practice Self Kindness And Understanding
An essential component of saying goodbye to the narcissist in your life is to be kind to yourself in the process.
During your time together, he will have broken you down repeatedly and left you doubting yourself, your beauty (inner and outer), and your ability to function without him.
Just know that you are deserving of more. You have a strength that has been hidden in the shadows and all you have to do is learn to summon it again.
It will take time; more time than it ever takes to move on from the breakdown of a healthy relationship. You will have to give yourself some leeway and know that hard times are ahead and that they will test your resolve.
But kindness to oneself is a powerful thing; the more you practice it, the more it takes hold within your heart. You should be acting out of kindness towards yourself each and every day until it becomes natural once more.
Rebuild Your Self Image
The narcissist in your relationship will have tried to shatter the image you hold of yourself and remake it as he sees fit for his purpose. So when you leave him behind, what you see in the mirror could be very different to that which you saw before you met him.
A part of your healing will be to rediscover what it means to be you; there will be some additional scars inflicted by your ex-partner, but your inner self will eventually shine again.
It may take professional therapy or it may just be something you achieve with the help of your loved ones, but picking up the fragments of your true self and putting them back together is important if you are to avoid similar relationships in the future.
Take It One Day At A Time
It will have taken the narcissist quite some time to wear you down and mold you the way he wanted you, so don’t be surprised to learn that it will take just as much time to get back to your old self.
There is no exact timeframe for recovery – it will depend on the depth and severity of the hurt and the length of time you suffered it for.
The only thing you can do is to take things one day at a time. If you can get just a little bit stronger each day, then it is a victory over the narcissist and while you will inevitably have setbacks, maintaining an upward trajectory is the only sure-fire way to reaching yourself once more.
And most importantly of all, let your narcissistic partner, and the relationship you had together, teach you a lesson. Never let your dignity and power be diminished again – you should now be better equipped than most to identify a narcissist, so avoid them at all costs!