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What To Expect When You Break Up With A Narcissist

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

Any type of breakup is hard, but when you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist a breakup can feel like it’s going to literally break you. 

It’s exhausting dating a narcissist, and it can be deadly to break up with one.

Dr Judith Orloff, a clinical psychiatrist at the University of California Los Angeles, wrote that narcissists can make you “fall in love with them so hard that it feels like you’re giving up a part of your heart to leave them,” because they’re very good at becoming the centre of your universe while you’re with them.

Here’s What To Expect When You Break Up With A Narcissist

Break Up With A Narcissist

1. They will not make it easy.

You would probably assume that once the breakup it set into motion, the nightmare relationship would be over. Unfortunately, when breaking up with a narcissist, this is not the case.

A breakup can bring out the worst in even the most amicable of couples, but narcissists use the time to continue their crusade of fear and manipulation.

If you don’t approach your breakup carefully, strategically and without emotion, the whole ordeal can inflict severe psychological wounds.

2. They will never apologize.

Don’t expect to ever hear a meaningful apology or true remorse for your narcissistic ex because it is not something that they are capable of doing. 

3. They will blame you for everything.

At the beginning of your relationship, they placed you up on a pedestal that only Aphrodite herself could reach. You were the most beautiful, the most perfect, and the smartest person they have ever met and they were just lucky that you graced them with your time.

Now that the relationship has broken, you are damaged, and disgusting, and the demise of the relationship is entirely your fault. 

You have completely wrecked things, destroyed his trust, ruined the best thing you ever had, and completely crushed his soul.

You’re unappreciative of all he has done for you. You would be nothing without him. 

You have single-handedly destroyed all the two of you have built. You’re selfish and demanding. 

Overnight you have become the most despised person in the narcissist’s life.

4. They will guilt trip you into staying.

Guilt is a powerful tool for the narcissist to pull you back into the relationship.

The narcissist brings up every time he has done something nice for you or stresses how much he cares about you, or reminds you of the wonderful times you’ve had together.

If the positives don’t work to bring you back, narcissists default to their devaluing attacks. Any complaint you have made about the narcissist will be turned around on you. 

Break Up With A Narcissist

5. They will make you second guess yourself. 

Throughout your entire relationship the narcissist has slowly be tearing away at your self esteem and sense of personal value, and because of this you are probably already second-guessing your decisions. 

The narcissist will try to convince you that you’ve made a mistake. Expect to see charisma, coaxing, persuasion, and then intimidation, goading, and outright provocation to get back in control of the relationship.

The narcissist will say, 

  • You just misinterpreted what I said. Of course, you should know that deep down I love you; why do I have to say it all the time? 
  • What about all the good times we’ve had together? 
  • You look at the negative too much. 
  • You don’t understand the stress I’ve been under lately.
  • You take things too personally. 
  • You’re overreacting. 
  • You’re too emotional.

Once you have a clear head you can see that these are not apologies but just negative jabs to try and lower your self-esteem even more. 

6. They will make empty promises.

Get ready for the empty promises to change to shower upon you when you break up with your narcissistic partner.

All of a sudden they have some magical revelation, and they understand what they did and want to make positive changes to their behaviors.

You were right, they will do whatever you want them to, they will try things your way, and they are so, so, so sorry they ever hurt you. 

This is so tempting for those of us who wanted so badly for the relationship to work out. Now it seems like they really understand and want to make a change to make you happy. 

You may see a spark of hope agree to let them back in.

For a while, you think things are getting better.

However, when the narcissist gets comfortable in the relationship again, they will go back to being self-absorbed, inconsiderate, arrogant, insensitive, and blaming.

And invariably if things don’t go their way, they will instantly go back to the same defensive and antagonistic patterns. 

How many times will you see the spark of hope and believe that they can change?

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7. They will demand attention from you. 

Narcissists can be extremely persistent in demanding your attention. To often narcissists appear to be strong and independent, but they are actually extremely needy. 

You may get calls to come to fix her car, or he may still expect you to keep doing the accounting for his business, or she wants you to take down the Christmas lights on her house, or he expects you to still make his dentist appointments. 

It can be exhausting and difficult for you to say no to these persistent requests. Too often you get pulled back into interactions with the narcissist that really don’t benefit you.

8. They will start rumors and gossip about you. 

Once the breakup has started the narcissist will start throwing whatever rumors or gossip they can about you, whether it is true or not. They will say anything that they think may hurt your. 

During your entire relationship, the narcissist insisted on extreme privacy about your interactions together, and now they are spreading all kinds of misinformation and slander and trying to ruin your good name.

Be prepared for your partner to tell everyone how you’re the bad guy, whether it be among your friend group or in front of a judge. It is one way that they gain as much sympathy as possible.

9. They will accidentally run into you all over town. 

It is not uncommon for narcissists to accidentally be at the grocery store when you are, to suddenly appearing at a community or social event you attend.

They may even change their running schedule so they go down your street every morning. 

Be prepared ahead of time that these unexpected meetings might occur. They’re designed to keep you aware of the narcissist’s presence and emotionally off balance.

10. They will make the breakup drag on forever.

Your narcissistic ex will likely refuse to settle or negotiate during the breakup, especially if we are dealing with divorce.

Remember, narcissists only care about winning and getting what they want. There’s no room for negotiation in their minds.

Whether it’s dividing your assets or deciding on child custody and support arrangements, your ex will drag out the proceedings. If you aren’t married, they will still likely play games with you throughout the whole process.

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It can take years to heal from the wounds of a relationship and a breakup with a narcissist.

You may not see it now, but after you’ve broken up with your partner for a while, you’ll start to look back and realize how toxic and manipulative your partner was.

You’ll almost breathe a sigh of relief and be so thankful that you managed to stick it through.

While there may be a lot of scars that come from dating an emotionally abusive narcissist, keep in mind that the experience will hold you in good stead for the future.

You’ve learned a lot about yourself, and what kind of partner is better suited to you.

You’ll also be much more aware when a narcissist enters your life – and you can avoid experiencing that kind of toxic relationship ever again.

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories

Canada

UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

18 thoughts on “What To Expect When You Break Up With A Narcissist”

  1. This situation is happing to me right now…it has destroyed me inside…but I try to find a hope for healing my heart and mind…thanks for this topic..

    1. Thank u so much for sharing. Im going on 2 years of trying to reestablish myself after being in a 20 year abusive relationship with my 4 children. Its so encoursging to know im not alone and that my feelings are validated. Me and my kids have been able to reunite with my family and friends and see a brighter future. Its still a battle to not get caught up in his reality and im still second guessing my choices but everyday i stay strong i can see such happiness in my kids that was missing. We can laugh and be goofy and not be scared of triggering a bad reaction and to see my kids and even our dog not walking on eggshells. I hope this helps those who need to see there is hope out there.

  2. I finally gathered the little courage and faith I had left in me to tell the people that truly care and love me the truth about my relationship so that I can somehow be done with him for good and get him out of my life. I just recently went through this and have known what I thought was the love of my life for almost 10 years, but finally got into a serious relationship last year. All the articles I’ve read tonight from you in regards to narcissists and abuse, have been the EXACT dynamic and story of my life since I’ve been with him. I’ve never been in an abusive relationship so as you can tell I am extremely traumatized, lost, hurt physically and mentally, but I don’t know what to do next. I know you just literally provided 10 things of what to expect after breaking up with a narcissist, but is it wrong or me to still want to be with him, to miss him, I completely feel like I’ve lost myself completed and even come to hate myself because I blame myself for things and think I deserve all of this.

    Your articles are going to be my holy grail and a big staple to this healing process, and I’m thankful for souls like you in this world that can still shine light on the darkest moments, and for giving me hope that I finally did something for me.

    Thank you.

  3. I never understood what was happening or why. This has been a journey thru hell but I finally see day light. It took her coming back and reaking havock. Pulled the kids and I out to stomp on us for fun to walk away with another guy. Thanks for the insite. Many questions and sure there will be many more.

  4. I have told him I’m selling my house and moving away without him. He is so sad and can’t believe I’m doing this to us. He is a cheater and always will be but I catch myself thinking maybe we could make it work,. Then I hate myself.

  5. Is anyone out here still in this group? I’m struggling with this going on 2 years after being married to one for 13 years. I need to break the pattern!

    1. I’ve been trying to end my relationship since 2020. We were married 21 years. It is a horror show, BUT I can do this. This is my third try and I had to leave the state to escape. I’m back, strong and fighting back for my life. It can be done. I have melt downs, but then I look at what I have now, friends and family that care and my health back. And I have spent more on lawyers than I thought was possible! But, I can’t let him win.

  6. I have got to say that when they are cheating no you, they accuse you. I have used some of those very sayings, so who is the narc me or my partner?

  7. As I read this I am starting to notice that it’s not just her that has narcissistic tendencies… I have some of them too… how do I not be that way? Should I seek professional help? I want to be a good person especially for the woman I’m meant to be with.
    Any thoughts on how I can become a better version of myself?

    1. Everyone has personality traits that could potentially be deemed narcissistic. I think it more depends on whether or not you are coming from a genuinely good place when you exhibit these behaviours. True narcissists are not coming from a good place, they are out to “win”. Also, the fact that you are even asking this question in the first place probably means that you aren’t a narcissist. You actually have self awareness. I had read previously that people who have been in long term relationships with narcissists can often begin to display some of these traits but it’s more in defence to the abuse they are enduring than a reflection of their true selves.

  8. In a relationship with a narcissistic person for nearly 5 years now, and all the signs were there, but it’s only now that I realise what has happened.
    Most of you that have written on here are probably similar to me. Just see the good in most people, but it took me a while, as I done everything I could to help them out, with my time, effort and nearly 100k of my pension and it still isn’t enough.
    So lately, I have been thinking long and hard, and want to do it today. As I know I can still help her out, but will be in the same position in a few months.
    Not really looking forward to it, as I still love her, but definitely know we are not going to get anywhere. Too many broken promises, and have suspicions about other things as well, but I have gone pass the stage of asking her about anything, because she has the ability to lie, even when you know the truth, and show her.
    I’ll keep you informed to let you know how it goes. I know friends and family will help, but most of them will never know the truth, especially with the money side, because I know now I’ve been a fool and too ashamed to admit it.

  9. Hi,
    I am really glad I saw this page.
    I went through an hard relationship. We been together off and on last three years.
    I had to break it off with my ex like almost four months.
    He was physically, emotional, mentally abused toward me.
    I try to work out with him. But when I get upset or not happy or I want to cry he get really angry with me.

    He won’t let me talk to my friends or family because he feel like I am going to said bad things about him. I try to share with him how I feel or etc. he like stop with your anxiety, or tell me shut up.

    I don know if anyone ever felt this way, but sometime I do.
    I feel like am I lying about it? My family and friends noticed it. And they really don’t like him. And now his grandfather, uncle, and his close friends don’t like me.
    I felt like he telling lie to them.
    Sometime I feel like it is my fault for everything that I did. He is very control, and manipulative toward me.

    I want to express this. I really don’t know what to think or what to do?
    I felt like he brain wash me. I felt like he want me to wear something that he want, and etc.

    Now I am in safe place. Thank you for your time reading this.

    1. I hope you stayed away. I used to think clinical Narcissism was just pathologizing a spoiled brat who never grew up. I figured medical community opted to refer to it as “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” because it implies that there is some ailment that could benefit from billable hours. Whereas referring to such a person as a “Entitled, insensitive, self-centered jerk, with no integrity or remorse, and no moral, legal, or interpersonal accountability,” just sounded like a not nice person. I do think the classification of Clinical Narcissism is very accurate & useful in understanding what you’re dealing with when you are leaving.

      However, Im leaving my narcissistic partner now, potentially pregnant (planned. we were trying), after a crazy day including him getting caught lying to me about a woman he works with & the nature of their relationship, lying about drinking (he’s an alcoholic who is currently only out of jail for 10 days) and choking me out because I stood in door way blocking his ability to leave. Later he texts he hates me, then ask me to go to a hotel with him. I refused. He switched gears and said that I can’t blame his drinking for this morning, it was my fault. First, he claimed i attacked him, but it didn’t happen & couldn’t make it stick. Secondly, he said it was my fault for standing in the doorway. I pointed out he could have moved me, no need to strangle me. Thirdly, he said it was my fault because he could take anymore of my nonsense. (no specification or example), So its my fault he choked me violently because my nonsense made him mad.

      So I appreciate the forums, and articles that are there to help me navigate this scenario with a sense of community & shared experience. And for the purposes of this calling it NPD serves as an identifier. But it is important to remember that anyone selfish, manipulative, lacks empathy, who puts on a masked persona of adoration to make you love them & reel you in more to their world so they can mess with your reality, and devalue you is a jerk. And not something anyone deserves to deal with.

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