“Breaking up with a Narcissist”. These are common search terms that lead people to Let Me Reach. While I am glad that readers are searching for ways to end their toxic relationships, I usually feel a little anxious for them because I know that “breaking up with a narcissist” is no easy feat.
Generally, when partners of a Narcissist start searching for ways to end the relationship, they often believe that doing so will offer them quick liberation from the agony they’re experiencing. After all, when we feel depressed or anxious, we simply make an appointment with a therapist and he or she will likely prescribe pills to deal with difficult emotions. We can schedule a massage and experience fast relief from pent-up stress. Finding information that we want is as simple as entering search terms into our web browser. Because we live in times where instant gratification is so easy to obtain, we hope and believe that we can get over narcissistic abuse in only a few sessions with a therapist, a coach, or by simply reading a self-help book.
What people may not realize is that going No Contact, while virtually paralyzing, is not the most difficult aspect of ending things with a Narcissist. The really hard stuff comes afterwards…and only after successfully maintaining No Contact. However, that may be difficult in itself because of the psychological manipulations carried out by the Narcissist.
How the Narcissist responds to one’s breaking up and going No Contact depends on what’s going on in the Narcissist’s life at the time. The victim can expect a variety of responses that include indifference, rage, or the all-time classic ploy of pretending to be sorry. Often, there is a combination of all three. Then, after the silent treatment, verbal assaults, and guilting/blaming, the Narcissist often comes back with a ramped up hoovering move that is almost always the death of No Contact. Such tactics involve a plethora of reality-bending schemes, such as the three examples listed below:
The “I’m sorry for hurting you and I vow to make it up to you” maneuver
This is a favorite ruse used globally by narcissists of all types (the only general exception being the cerebral narcissist). That’s because the narcissist’s partners are of the cooperative, empathic, tolerant, altruistic, and forgiving type and the narcissist has no qualms about exploiting these traits to the nth degree. When the narcissist shows up with flowers, jewelry, and tears (on bended knee for effect), his or her compassionate partner turns into instant putty, forgetting all wrongdoings and imagining a better future, which includes growing old together and holding hands while walking through the park.
Unfortunately, the narcissist’s thinking is entirely different. Their thoughts are usually centered on how they are going to hook up with the side-supply now that their primary supply has thrown a monkey wrench into their routine. Maintain your dignity by not reducing yourself to “monkey wrench” status.
The “I love only you” tactic
Breaking up with the Narcissist is not only influenced by their consistent verbal and emotional abuse, lies, and indifference, but also because they’re notoriously unfaithful. Therefore, they will try to make it appear that they have no control over the fact that they are a “sex addict” or “bad at being monogamous”… they are only with those other people for “fun”. The only person they really love is you. You’re the only one that accepts them, warts and all, and offers them a place to come home to at the end of the day; a place to fall and help all their worries go away. It’s you and them against the world. They confess they are messed up, maybe a little crazy, but it’s because you are so connected to them that they love only you. Don’t they always come back to you? Don’t they sleep in your bed?
Don’t fall for this poppycock. Remember, persuasiveness and charm are the primary traits of a psychopath. There’s no doubt you are unique and special, but the Narcissist doesn’t see those things in you. What they are working towards is keeping the number of his or her admirers high. The more people they have adoring them, the better…and they are telling their other partners the same thing.
The “I’ve had a divine epiphany” ploy
They were driving to work and it suddenly occurred to them, the two of you were meant to be together. It all became crystal clear in a matter of seconds. They don’t know how they didn’t see it before. In fact, the two of you should get married…and the sooner the better.
You’d fare better at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
If you truly want to break up with the Narcissist in your life, the best approach is to do it in stealth mode. There’s truly no need to explain to them why you’re doing it. Doing so only opens up a useless dialogue where you will likely get tricked into believing you’re making a big mistake. “Breaking up” is synonymous with going “No Contact” when a narcissist is in the picture.
You won’t get closure or validation. And please, don’t fall for the “let’s be friends” ploy. That will land you straight into la la land, where you will spend months, if not years, tolerating their multiple sex partners, disappearing acts, and your making monthly visits to your doctor’s office to make sure you haven’t contracted an STD.
Breaking up with a narcissist feels like death, but the really hard stuff comes afterwards because at some point you’ll start the journey of discovering why you were in a relationship with this type of person. You’ll need to uncover the wounds that kept you enmeshed with a toxic partner. You’ll need to forgive yourself. You’ll need to forgive your parents or caretakers that created the wounds that led you to enter into this relationship. And it will take a long time for all of that to happen.
Also know that breaking No Contact may give you temporary relief, but the long-term effects would be harmful if you go back to them. You cannot get real relief from the very person who hurt you. Breaking up with a Narcissist equals cutting them out of your life completely without giving them a chance to “explain themselves”, because whatever explanation they would give you would only be another manipulation.