Do you need to break up with a narcissist?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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
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
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 winehot 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.