How to break up with a narcissist

Do you need to break up with a narcissist?

How to break up with a narcissist and red flags to look out for
How to break up with a narcissist and red flag to look out for

In a previous post How to spot a narcissist, we looked at narcissistic traits and I showed you some examples. Before we move onto How to break up with a narcissist, take a look at some the red flags to look out for.


  1. will claim deep emotions, but display none. A narcissist will tell you they love you but after a period of time, they stop showing it. They lack the motivation to maintain their romantic façade, and employ defenses to avoid closeness, according to Psychcentral. They become cold, critical and angry, especially when they’re challenged or don’t get their way. So I suppose in some way, they do have deep emotions, just not the nice ones.
  2. are dismissive of your skills, abilities or achievements and hate it when you ‘show off’ any of this to them. I was once told to “shut the f*ck up, all you do is talk about that f*cking job!” He actually overheard me telling a group of colleagues that our ward had won the annual award for excellence.
  3. don’t like when you do something without including them i.e. one of my exes sulked when I took my sons and their girlfriends to Portugal for a week. It was “why didn’t you take me as well?” He actually wanted me to pay for him to come on holiday, and pay all his expenses! “I don’t get holiday pay so I’ll lose £1000 if I take a week off!” he’d whine.
  4. talk constantly of their exes and how wonderful they were? One ex always spoke of his gorgeous ex, and he criticised my weight whenever he could. “You’re getting a bit lardy-arsed there girl.” he’d delight in telling me when in company. Oh how I laughed when we bumped into his ex — if you’ve ever seen the movie Shrek, think Fiona.
  5. try to please you to win you over initially, but once they’ve made their ‘catch’, they just please themselves. One ex drove me to and from work (3-4 minute walk from my home) in the beginning. I thought he was so sweet with all the driving me around but he had an ulterior motive — jealousy. He was keeping tabs on me.
  6. are emotionally unavailable and keep you at a distance, ‘cos they’re scared if you get too close, you won’t like them. I realised that in each of my three relationships, although I thought I loved them, I really didn’t like them.
  7. are motivated by the chase. It’s the chase, not the catch that motivates them. Once they’re victorious, they can lose interest, and move on to the next conquest before it gets too emotionally intimate. If not, they’ll be emotionally unavailable, as above.
  8. have an astonishing amount of crazy’ people in their past i.e. One ex described his mother as a mad woman, his father a psycho and an ex of his should have been Sectioned. And I took it all in! I felt for him and tended to attribute his behaviors to those ‘crazy’ people

This list is not exhaustive and you may know of other red flags?

Almost anyone can be a narcissist

How to break up with a narcissist
How to break up with a narcissist — Photo by Vinicius Altava

And let’s be clear — not all narcissists are men and not all men are narcissists. I’ve only used he/him/his for ease and brevity. Narcissists might be women like your mother, your sister or even your best friend.

In fact, most us have some narcissistic traits. Looking out for our ourselves and our own needs is quite a good thing really. In fact it’s crucial to being a happy human being and building positive relationships with others. Okay, I get that.

Still, I always wondered why I attracted these narcissistic men. I mean, was it me, did I come across as weak or needy? Moreover, what did I ever find attractive in said narcissists (other than their absolute gorgeousness)? Well I’ve found some answers.

“Studies show (Brown, 2013) that narcissists market themselves in attractive, deceptive packages. They may present with a swagger, intense eye contact, charm, knock-your-socks-off seduction……..”

Thinking back, yes my exes had those traits, and that’s why I found them attractive — I mean, who doesn’t like a bit of swagger? However, around eight to twelve months in, I noticed red flags and realised they were actually there early on. (Mind you, it took a lot longer the first time, with the boys’ dad.) Yet I chose to ignore them.

As for why they chose me? I’ve read that narcs are said to target successful, attractive, self-sufficient, and intelligent empaths as partners? Hmmm, it wasn’t my innate qualities like empathy and compassion that attracted them then? Yes, it was those too. These qualities give narcissists an ‘in’ to conduct their manipulation and suck the life out of their victims.

Most people wouldn’t entertain narcissistic abuse past a very early point. However, people with empathic traits are something else: they have a need/wish to fix people, help and heal.

How to leave a narcissist

How to leave a narcissist - girl waving bye bye
How to leave a narcissist – Images by Pixabay

You’ll already be exhausted from constantly battling their behaviours, so leaving a narcissist is always going to be tough. But it is possible. Just trust your gut, maintain firm boundaries, and keep reminding yourself why you must walk away.

Here’ some of the things you must do to leave your narcissist:

  • Re-engage with your family and friends circle if your narcissist has kept you away from everyone. You’re going to need some support in both getting away from your narcissist and staying away. Don’t be embarrassed to reach out to them. Your family and friends will more than likely know that it’s your narcissist that’s split and divided you all. They’ll be delighted you’ve made your mind up to leave and will no doubt be happy to have your back.
  • Report any abuse to the police or at least tell your GP what’s been happening. You may need a written record if you wish to go court at a later date. Your GP might also be able to help in accessing refuge and mental health support for you and any children
  • Log out of any devices he might have access to and change any passwords he knows so that he can’t track or trace you. Buy a cheap phone to use in case he has a tracker on your old one. You don’t want to go through all this just for them to catch up with you when you least expect it. It will also stop him being able to contact you and trying to wheedle his way back in.
  • Look out any documentation that belongs to you i.e. passport, proof of address, bank statements. If you can’t physically take them because he’ll know you’ve done so, take copies or screenshots on your phone. You might need these when you try to get housing or for financial transactions like hire purchase for furniture.
  • Hang on to every bit of money you can get your hands on and hopefully you’ve been able to squirrel some away. You’re definitely going to need your own money, so perhaps you’ve been saving for this day. Give all the cash you have to someone close for safe-keeping so that your narcissist can’t get to it.
  • Don’t tell them you are leaving. Arrange a time when you know they won’t be around and have a friend or a taxi pick you up. Have them take you somewhere safe. You might have to use the police for this if you fear violence or other retribution. If you tell them you’re going, you know they’ll only manipulate you into staying. So don’t!

Other things to consider when leaving

Cut other toxic relationships
Cut other toxic relationships — image from Pinterest

While the following are not as high up the list, it might be a good time to

  • Cut out any other toxic relationships like the friend who jumps up and down and says “I knew it!” when hearing the news. Or like my friend who said “None of us liked him, and Jenny says he chatted her up at your party.” Hmmm! She could have told me at the time rather than letting me marry the pig!
  • Throw out any gifts, letters or cards that will remind you of your narcissist. They’ll only have you crying into your white wine hot chocolate and weaken your resolve. Avoid any alcohol if you’re the type of drinker who gets sentimental and weepy. Your narcissist would be delighted hearing you sob into the phone, telling him you still love him. That would only tighten their vice-like grip on you once again.
  • Do some work on yourself like improving your self-esteem, confidence, or coping skills. You’ll need all your wits about you, and more, to get through leaving a narc because it’s hard, trust me. You can find lots of psychological and mental health information, support and resources online like websites, blogs, online apps and tools.
  • Make a list of why you won’t be going back to your narc and won’t give them any more chances. You’ve probably given them one too many already. Did they keep their promise that they’d change? Long-term I mean? They will not change and you cannot change them. No matter how many chances you give a narcissist, the results will always be the same.

Over to you


Again, there are many other things you might choose or have chosen to do when leaving your narc. I’d love for you to share them with us. What are your thoughts on narcissists or the people who stay with them? I look forward to reading any comments and answering any questions.


Mum to two amazing sons. Following recovery from a lengthy psychotic episode, depression, anxiety and anorexia, I decided to train as a Mental Health Nurse and worked successfully in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I am a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and a Mental Health Awareness Trainer, Mental Health First Aid Youth and Mental Health Armed Forces Instructor. Just started my mental health from the other side blog.

38 thoughts on “How to break up with a narcissist”

  1. As you may know, I have dealt with a narcissistic sibling. To add to what you’ve written… they are hollow on the inside. They have no self-esteem. And, their stain on your life will be there until you begin your healing journey. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  2. It fascinates me the way language around narcissism is used, because I don’t think most people would think it would be okay to talk about “the borderline” the same way.

    1. Yes, I agree to some degree. And put the way you did, it made me LOL. I suppose it’s like when does narcissism become a Narcissistic Personality Disorder? At what point did my exes become narcissists and do they have undiagnosed NPDs?

  3. Sorry, you make a point late on, why didn’t the friend tell you? What would you have done if they had told you? You’d have told her to * off, becvause that’s what we do. How many times did you drop all your mates when you met some fabulous new partner? I know I did, time and again, especially when I was young.
    I think the best thing a friend can do under those circumstances is minimise their own contact with the partner, but not report anything to you. They’re in a no-win situation.
    Did wew once have this conversation before? In which case, I’m sorry for repeating myself.

    1. Hey, no worries P, it happens when you get to ‘your’ age lol. I get what you’re saying – but I think it would have raised an issue for me cos I obviously would want my partner to be liked by my family and friends and if they pointed something out to me, I’d be wary and look out for it in the future.

      I’d also have raised the issue with my partner about ‘chatting up’ my friend and see how he responded.

      Of course, this is all in hindsight 😉

      1. I bet you’d have been wary of her, too. Another reason not to speak out.
        If you had said anything to him, he would have denied it, either way, so it would have been down to you to judge how convincing he was. Men, eh?

  4. I agree with your strategy. Change phones, phone numbers, take your money that you’ve saved up maybe and all your legal papers. Maybe pictures you like to have (from you and the children maybe). Make sure you never have to see this person again. Become really independent of them. Great post!

    1. Hey Kacha, nice to hear from you and I hope you are well?

      Thank you for commenting and as always, your input is very much appreciated 🙂 Yes, along with being independent, I also should have added, the best thing you can do is be happy without them!

  5. I would like to add that sometimes we go back because of many different reasons. And this is not your fault. They are very good at making it look it was all a big misunderstanding and they’ve finally seen the light and have changed. They’re sorry and this will never happen again! They swear! BUT… It’s a trap. You go back and things are great and it’s like another “honeymoon” phase all over again until suddenly you look in the mirror and can’t recognize yourself again. It NEVER changes. In fact, it usually ends up worse.

    1. Oh I agree Angie, there are many reasons why we stay, or go back. One ex was just good at making me laugh. That is — until he threw buckets of water over me and tried to throw
      me out looking like a drowned rat!

      Oh yes, I’ve had all the sorries, the it won’t happen again, you know how much I love you’s etc and your right, it changes short-term but they just can’t keep it up for long and they revert back to type!

      1. Every time it happens it is harder to leave too. They pay attention. They make it harder to stash money, they make it harder to go anywhere… I wish there was a way to tell every victim exactly how to get out and give them hope.

      2. I know. And there’s more than a few ways to leave. A lot of the time the person needs to ‘be ready in themselves’ and feel confident to make that change. We know there’s no easy way to do it 🙁

  6. This sounds like a pretty solid plan! Thanks for sharing this. Even those who know the signs may sometimes find themselves in a relationship with a narcissist and breaking things off can be emotionally difficult and sometimes actually dangerous. I especially like the step of making a list of reasons why you won’t go back. It can be so hard to remember the logical reasons when emotions flare up.

    1. Thank you for commenting my lovely, your input is always appreciated. Yep, even when you know — it’s never easy to leave them 🙁

      I truly believed after the last time the boys’ dad hit me so badly, that he was capable of killing me. Accidentally, of course. I don’t think he’d mean to do it.

      Anyway, I knew that as much as I loved him, I really didn’t like him. Time to split – sadly.

  7. I’ve been prone to getting into relationships with narcissistic men throughout my life… I’m sure there are a number of reasons why I keep doing this… and it’s been very hard to break the pattern. 😕

  8. I have only realised over this past weekend that all 4 of my wives have been narcissists. I divorced 3 and now I just have 1 to leave and get rid of. Unfortunately, I’ve been completely cut off from everyone I ever knew so won’t have help to leave her but I know I want to.

      1. Thank you, I think I’m going to need it to get my stuff out of here is going to be hard as she’s working from home. Hard but not impossible, am I right?

      2. Sorry for the late reply Dave and I hope you’re out now and settled happily somewhere else 🙂 Yes, it’s hard but not impossible. Good luck and keep us posted 🙂

      3. Still with the narc, trying to get out is proving harder than it looked. I have still got some women’s places to try next week. It’s not easy though when she is now working from home permanently and comes down if she hears me talking to anyone.

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