How To Leave A Narcissist
I’ve been on a kick recently with narcissism so I figured why not add one more. Narcissism is such a fascinating personality disorder. Most people have the vision of the person loving themselves in the mirror. The reality is there is so much more to it than that. That version is what the exterior looks like to many people. Underneath the hood of a narcissist is someone who most times has a fragile ego. They have to be in control of situations and other people in order to feel better about themselves. They are incredibly adept at emotional manipulation. When your relationship turns sour and you suspect narcissism it’s good to know how to leave a narcissist.
Here is the definition of narcissism again in case anyone needs a refresher. According to the Mayo clinic:
“Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.”
A Fragile Ego
Underneath many narcissists is a fragile ego. This is what leads them to using the emotionally manipulative tactics they employ. Their fragile ego is what they have to protect. Even thought it’s kind of counter-intuitive to what we tend to think a narcissist is. We usually have a vision in our mind of someone who thinks they are all that and a bag of chips. And that is how many narcissists come across on the exterior. However, on the inside they are hiding, and protecting, a fragile ego. This is why they can react so violently to things that seems small to many of us.
One of the biggest signs of a narcissist is their inability to take criticism. Or to actually admit they are wrong. If you pay attention closely you can actually see this pretty clearly when dealing with a narcissist. They are the type of person who honestly seems to not be able to say “I’m sorry” and mean it. Their sorry’s are usually something like “I’m sorry we fought” or “It’s too bad we got in an argument”. Not that they are actually sorry, just that something happened. It’s nearly impossible for them to admit fault.
Projecting On To You
Their fragile ego’s project anything that goes wrong onto you. That is, it’s your fault something went wrong, even if you had nothing to do with it. Somehow it’s your fault. The underlying (and actually fairly simple reason) is because they don’t admit they are wrong. It’s not in their nature. It protects their fragile ego. An emotionally stable and strong person can admit they are wrong freely without feeling bad or less of a person about it. The reality is we all make mistakes all the time. That’s called being human.
Now let’s look at some of the signs that will have you heading for the door and saying how to leave a narcissist.
How To Leave A Narcissist
I want to start this section by saying you can actually have a relationship with a narcissist. You have to be a very strong and emotionally stable person to do so. You have to be confident and extremely emotionally intelligent. Most people don’t want to be in a relationship with a narcissist and for good reason. However, it is possible to have an ongoing relationship like a marriage with a narcissist.
That being said, if you see these things happening A LOT and can’t handle it, start making a plan for how to leave a narcissist.
This is a common trait for narcissists. Some of them are much better at sneaking it in here and there and not using it like a battering ram. If you find yourself constantly being belittled, bullied, shamed, criticized and other methods of verbal abuse, start making an exit plan. This sucks to be around for long periods of time.
Narcissists are famous for isolating important people in their lives. They do this in order to control people better. If you find your narcissist constantly working to isolate you from family and friends then it’s time to start thinking about getting out.
We all lie about some things some of the time. Narcissists tend to lie about a lot of things much of the time. Lies of omission – simply not telling you critical information, is common. Making up facts is something that happens quite a bit with narcissists. Excessive embellishments to the point of absurdity are considered a lie. Something like “I took care of your dog this weekend” in actuality means he drove by the house. When the lying gets to this point head for the door.
Remember narcissists are masters of emotional manipulation. Much of the time the way they manipulate is through guilt. Making you feel guilty for doing things you have no right to feel guilty about. Seeing your family. Calling your brother. Eating healthy food. Calling you selfish for doing anything that doesn’t benefit them. All kinds of fun stuff.
One of my favorites – gaslighting. When you catch a narcissist gaslighting you know it’s gotten real bad. Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation so bad it can make you feel crazy. The narcissist insisting you said something – when you didn’t. The narcissist moving things to make you feel like you’re losing your mind. Telling you they told you about someting – when they haven’t. Things designed to make you lose your grip on reality. This is a big sign that will having you figuring out how to leave a narcissist.
I shouldn’t have to put anything here. While narcissists are certainly emotionally violent by messing with your emotions, physical violence can become an issue too. If anyone ever gets physical with you, it’s gone too far.
How To Leave a Narcissist
Now let’s look at some actual ways to go about leaving a narcissist.
Get a 2nd Opinion
One of the first things you can do to begin to leave a narcissist is to get a 2nd opinion. This can be a therapist of course but you can also use a best friend. When we are in something neck deep it’s hard to take an objective view. I had a friend in a relationship with a narcissist that came to me for advice. When he described what was happening to him I was able to give him an honest assessment. I could provide the objective view to him. He saw things more clearly through my eyes since I wasn’t directly involved.
Develop Your Support System
As has been discussed narcissists are great at isolating their partners. They do this in order to control their worlds more. Make sure you rekindle and build up a strong support system. You need other people in your life that you can depend on when the time comes. If a narcissist had his or her way you wouldn’t have anyone else in your life. Don’t let this happen to you.
A relationship with a narcissist will tear your self-confidence down. Many times you’ll wind up wondering where the old you went. This is because of the narcissists ongoing emotional manipulations. And if they gaslight you you’ll start feeling like you are going crazy. Once you wake up and realize you aren’t going crazy start doing things to get yourself on level ground again. Concentrate on YOU and rebuild.
Set Firm Boundaries
This isn’t easy in the best of circumstances. With a narcissist it’s absolutely critical. Be firm and clear about what you will and won’t tolerate. If the narcissist can’t agree to what is important to you in a relationship then they are choosing not to have a relationship with you. And in the long run that’s probably for the best. Tell them you won’t be in a relationship with someone that lies to you. Or that your family is important and you will spend time with them. If the narcissist doesn’t like it too bad, that’s on them.
If and when you make the decision to actually leave a narcissist it’s important to limit contact with them. Obviously this is hard if you were married and have kids with them. Do your best to keep contact at a minimum. A narcissist will do whatever is possible to try to suck you back in. He or she will spin reality and make things your fault. They will lay all of the blame at your feet for why things are the way the are. They will launch a smear campaign where you are the evil perpetrator and they are the victim. Limit your contact with the narcissist. This is key when you are figuring out how to leave the narcissist.
If you are working through how to leave a narcissist here are some resources that may be helpful.
How To Kill a Narcissist – by JH Simon
Time to Go! Leaving Emotional Abuse And Other Forms of Abusive Relationships – by Norva Semoy Abiona
How to Leave a Narcissist and Keep Your Dignity – by Laura McWilliams
Narcissist Personality Disorder Toolbox – by Daniel Fox
Once you realize you are in a relationship with a narcissist take a deep breath and assess the situation. As I mentioned it’s possible to have a long term relationship with a narcissist, even a marriage. The key is awareness. You have to be extremely emotionally intelligent and be pretty darn self assured and know who you are and be unwilling to deviate from that.
If you find that your relationship with a narcissist is too much to be around (and the majority are) then do some research on how to leave a narcissist. It is possible but to do so effectively you need a good game plan. Remember, you are worth a great relationship.
In good mental health,