What It’s Really Like To Break Up With A Narcissist

When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, everything is about him (or her—but for this article we’ll use “him” as an inclusive pronoun). It’s confusing and exhausting. One day you get it together to leave. You’re finally ready to take the steps required to make your life and energy revolve around you and your needs again. Hooray!

While this is an exciting time, and you are to be congratulated on moving in a positive direction, you also need to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for the adjustment period right after your breakup, which is likely to present some challenges.

All breakups are difficult, but this type is often the hardest. You feel up, then down, over and over—it’s as much of a roller coaster as your relationship itself. Understanding the patterns you are likely to encounter can really help during the early months after a breakup with an emotionally manipulative person. Here’s a list of 10 common patterns plus ways to cope with each one:

1. Obsessing

Trying to have a relationship with a narcissist is nearly impossible, so you spent a lot of time analyzing his behavior and character to try and make sense of the curve balls he kept throwing you. After you leave your abusive relationship, this habitual pattern of analysis will continue until you force it to stop.

What works for me:

Whenever thoughts about what’s wrong with my ex arise, I remind myself that I am no longer concerned with him and force my mind to think about something else. I do this again and again. Most experts say it takes three months to change a habit.

2. Rationalizing

This is another one you will have practiced a lot. To get through all those dysfunctional trials with your narcissist, you had to make excuses for his behavior, minimize his abuse, reinterpret his lies, and tiptoe around his self-delusions, in order to keep the peace and justify staying with him. When you miss him now—and you will—you’re going to start rationalizing again, thinking, “Oh, he’s not so bad.”

What works for me:

I don’t call or text and maintain zero contact. There’s a reason this advice is given by all the experts. I’ll explain that further at the end of this list.

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