You have decided or it may have been decided for you that you no longer want to stay in a relationship that is tormenting you. Leaving a narcissistic relationship is one of the hardest things to do. In my work with clients and with my online community I provide lots of information to people who find themselves with a narcissist or toxic individual. Here is how to get out safely with your wellbeing intact.
When we fall in love it’s natural to attach and form a romantic bond, but once in love with a narcissist it is not easy to leave let alone detach from them.
Why it’s hard to break up?
Pathological narcissists or people with narcissistic traits present as charming, interesting and seductive to be around and will treat you with kindness and warmth. They may even love bomb you. This is where the dysfunctional attachment to the narcissist begins. I am not saying that it is wrong that you are being treated with kindness, charm and respect at the beginning. Of course you want to be with them but you become easily dependent on their attention and validation of you.
Once you are hooked onto this they become secure and then they aren’t motivated to be nice to you. Their charm, warmth and respect fades and is replaced or intermixed with varying degrees of criticism, demands, coldness and emotional abuse. You become accommodating and try to win their love and attention back and meanwhile your self-esteem and independence of mind are compromised. You may even become gas lighted and begin to doubt your own decisions and perceptions due to blame and lies. When you question this you become attacked, intimidated and confused by manipulation.
Over time you learn to accept the abuse or even attempt to avoid conflict and become deferential. Because facing the reality is too painful. To leave is the only option as this behavior becomes a cycle of abuse and unfortunately you are too weak and vulnerable to be able to do anything about it. You cannot save them, only yourself. Below are some tips and strategies that may help you to cope and heal after leaving a narcissistic relationship.
- Go no contact – limited no contact
Block them! I mean of all your communication avenues,.That means phone, email and social media. You need some time to yourself to ‘breathe’ and get your thoughts in order. You are not going to be able to do that if you have constant abuse through secondary sources. The narcissist will try to contact you! You have to cut off this communication, you need some time to get your mind in order.
Now, this may not be as straight forward if there are children involved, so what I suggest here is limited contact. I feel that at the beginning of this process do go no contact but only when you are ready begin with limited contact and it needs to stay like that. So, what does limited contact look like? It will mean that you have to clarify what it is that you are communicating with the narcissist, be specific and stick to only the facts that you want to get across. Take the emotion out of the content that you are talking about, this will give you the advantage. Please know that the narcissist will use your triggers and emotions against you to trip you up and get what they want. As these interactions are about gaining power over you and controlling the conversation, to do that they need to initiate an emotional reaction out of you and will press your buttons. Be wise to this and prepare yourself accordingly.
- Join a support group
It is really important at this time that you have support of people that understand and care for you. Having to explain your decisions to people who do not get it, is not good for you to be around them at the moment. You need to surround yourself with people who give you positive validation. Finding a therapist might be a good idea too.
- Become more autonomous
To heal and move forward from an abusive relationship it is helpful to build a life outside of the relationship that includes separate friends, hobbies and other interests. When you leave you will need a fulfilling life to supplement or replace the relationship. You will need to surround yourself with positive things that will help you to heal and remind you that there is a life outside of this person and relationship.
- Build your self esteem
This is very important, you will need all the strength that you need. It is important to reconnect with yourself and get to know you all over again. In relationships such as these your identity would have been compromised and diminished, therefore reconnecting to your own needs and values is important to build your inner strength. You will need to learn to become more assertive and build boundaries.
- Learn how to nurture yourself
This follows on from the last point of reconnecting with yourself. Learning your needs and putting them first. This is really important if you have children as you will be teaching them to value themselves and to build a robust connection to self. This is a life skill and will insulate you from the abuse.
Please allow yourself time to grieve the relationship and false future promises that were made to you in the relationship. This will help you to process your emotions and recover from the relationship. I would also urge you to find an experienced Manchester divorce solicitor who has the understanding and experience of dealing with narcissistic personalities. Mediation is not a good option where there is a history of abuse.
As long as you’re under the spell of the narcissist, they have control over you. In order to become empowered you will need to educate yourself. Come out denial and see the reality of what this really is. Information is power. Read up on narcissism and abuse, I have a lot of information on my website. Regardless of your decision, it is important for your own mental health and to redeem your autonomy and self-esteem.
By guest blogger Anoushka Macin of Balance Psychologies
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