Dating can be difficult. There’s often a lot of pressure and it can be hard to get an accurate read on your partner at first. This is especially true if you happen to be dating a narcissist. Narcissists are known for having malleable personalities. They can change their affect, interests, and even moods on a dime to suit a situation. They are also capable of being extremely superficially charming. This makes it easy to be duped by a narcissist because they often start off by showing you exactly what you want to see.
If you find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist, it may take some time for the mask to slip. When it does it can feel overwhelming to see your partner for who they truly are for the first time. You may realize you want out, but it can be scary to try to extricate yourself from someone who is manipulative and self-serving. Here are some tips for breaking up with a narcissist without giving them the upper hand.
What You Need to Know When Breaking Up with a Narcissist
- Be prepared to feel bad
Narcissists enjoy being in control, and if you’re initiating a breakup, they will try to seize back the upper hand. They will try to convince you to feel guilty and do anything to keep you from exerting your will. Be prepared for them to exploit any vulnerability they see. If you hate seeing them cry, they will weep. If it breaks your heart to hear someone beg, they will plead. Prepare yourself for an emotional barrage, so you can steel yourself against it as best you can.
A narcissist will likely promise to change, but according to Psychology Today even though change may be possible, it can’t happen while they’re participating in an abusive cycle. If they haven’t undergone significant therapy and worked to truly halt the abuse, any change is likely temporary. Remind yourself beforehand that no matter what promises they make, they likely do not intend to keep them.
- Acknowledge the abuse happened
Narcissists are master manipulators, and because of this, they’re often emotionally abusive to their partners. They may pick on you or insinuate that everything you do is inferior. According to Healthline.com, narcissists set out to damage your self-esteem and inflate their own, “because it makes them feel powerful.”
Emotional abuse can be subtle, but it’s extremely important to acknowledge it so that you can break the cycle. Often narcissists will convince their partner that any emotional damage is their fault and that they deserve it. Imagine a close friend in your shoes and think of what you would tell them. It can help to imagine the scenario was happening to someone else to gain clarity that the negativity and toxic relationship patterns, isn’t your fault.
- Cut them out of your life completely
The easiest way to avoid being manipulated is to cut the narcissist out of your life completely. Don’t pick up the phone when they call, don’t respond to their texts… just avoid them. If you live with the narcissist and need time to plan your next move, have everything in place beforehand, so you can go quickly. The longer you allow the narcissist to communicate with you, the more opportunities they have to try to manipulate you into staying. Tell friends or family members about your plans to cut this person out of your life to establish accountability and have a support system in place.
If you’ve been in a long term relationship or are married to a narcissist, check out more advice on divorcing a narcissist for further steps you can take.
- Be kind to yourself
Just because narcissists have difficulty with empathy, it doesn’t mean you need to. If you’re breaking up with a narcissist it’s okay to feel sad. Breakups are difficult. Take your time to grieve the relationship and be kind to yourself as you would after any breakup.
There’s a reason you wanted to be with the narcissist in the first place – they probably came off initially as extremely exciting and charming – so don’t blame yourself. You have permission to feel your feelings, take space and be sad. Just remember that your partner cannot change and isn’t the person you thought they were. You can be sad without turning back!
Being with a narcissist can feel like an emotional roller coaster. They have the capacity to make you feel the best you ever have, using flattery and charm. They can also make you feel lower than you have ever felt before with insults, derision and gaslighting. If you’re ready to get off the ride, remember these tips, and know you can move on.
As you are going through the rough process of breaking up with a narcissist, don’t forget to treat yourself with the kindness your partner couldn’t. Once you’ve freed yourself of your toxic partner, you’ll be able to look back and see everything a bit more clearly. When you’re ready, you’ll be able to find the right partner: one who values you as an equal and is able to give you all the love and emotional support you deserve.