Wah Wah Wee Wah. Buckle up. Here we go — you are doing this.
I am really excited because we can get down to the nitty-gritty and get you outta there.
You might have been scared for months (years). It’s normal to be petrified to the point of shaking, to lose weight, drink too much and to want to seclude yourself away from other people’s opinions. Many people tell me that they hoped their partner had had an accident every time the phone rang. Then, it would be sorted without them actually having to leave. Harsh but true. You can feel desperate. And most people try to think their way out of it. But this process requires action.
The one thing about most Narcissists is that they behave in very predictable ways and patterns. They would hate to hear that because they think they’re special, but we can prepare you upfront. They tend to cycle in and out of being charming and being cruel in predictable waves. Once you realise this, you can start tracking this and preparing yourself for the latter. You can also time your breakup for when they are due to be charming. Sounds like PMS — hmm, Pre-Narcissist-Syndrome — Nah.
Before Breaking up, I need to say three things very loudly and very clearly:
- If you feel you are in danger — there are places you can go that will help you out. They know discreet removalist firms and businesses where you can get free household goods. Leaving and the time straight after leaving can be very dangerous when you are dealing with abusive partners. Please contact me, and I will try to find help in your area.
- See a lawyer if property or children will make this messy. I can hear you saying you can’t afford it. Please believe me when I say that 100% of my clients with children eventually end up at a lawyer. Even if it is simply to stop the ongoing pointless communication and to-ing and fro-ing. You will be super busy coping with life, so outsourcing some of it makes sense. You can often get the first visit free, so you can get an idea of your rights. Suppose you have a lawyer who has all your documentation and history at hand. In that case, they can step in as soon as things become complicated.
- Check with the welfare system in your country. Getting Child Support is something the Narcissist will use to manipulate you. Again — there are agencies to do these things for you. We are about minimal interaction between you and your ex. It also means they don’t have your banking details.
Breaking up by text is preferable. Not just okay — preferable. Underline that and don’t question it for a second.
A short, matter of fact text. If not, a note on the kitchen bench. No explaining. No reasoning. No ambiguity. Make it clear you are gone. “Dear John. I have left you. Please do not contact me other than by email on _______”. I will not be available to you by any other method. I will be in contact with you about finances and children.” Strong, firm, unemotional — no ammunition for them to manipulate. I can hear your brain telling you that breaking up by text is for assholes. No. Just no. You have given everything to them. Now is YOUR time to take it back. And that requires a change in the way you think.
Just quickly — the reason to have contact only by text or email is to have proof of their promises and words, so you can clearly see that you’re not the crazy one.
After you press send on that message — that’s when the real work starts:
Firstly, you need to let go of the idea you had of them. The “person” you fell in love with. That was a carefully crafted character to draw you in. It never existed except in your head. They will not go back to that — unless they’re pushed into a corner — and then they can only sustain it for a hot minute.
To stop yourself from going back, I need you to take a long hard look at why you landed here on my article.
List the events or reasons that have led to you wanting to leave.
Yup — old school — on a piece of paper — so that if it gets rough or if they manage to convince you that YOU are the crazy one — you will have it close by. These notes show the accurate picture of your person — not the magic web that they spun.
They’re not the person you fell in love with. Let it go.
The first few weeks of leaving a Narcissist may be very rough. If any person is in any kind of danger, do not hesitate to contact the authorities. Put the number on speed dial in your phone. You probably won’t have to use it — but as a good cub scout — be prepared.
Never — never ever open the door to an angry ex — no matter the story they’re telling. Have a friend you can call or text who can talk you through this. I do this for my clients.
You will be hanging on to those first few weeks or years where the Narcissist made you feel like the most important thing in the world. Truth is — you are still important to them — but more as an extension of them. You are their narcissistic supply, and this supply is vital to them, like plutonium to the Flux Capacitor.
Be prepared for lots of coughing and spluttering while they run out of gas. There will be kicking and screaming and all sorts of accusations. Add these to your list. of reasons why you are leaving.
Narcissists can make you fall in love with them so hard that it feels like you’re giving up a part of your heart when you leave them. This is because they’re very good at becoming the centre of your universe while you’re with them. It’s an illusion.
This brings me to my next point — they might come back or try to get you back. Especially if there is something the Narcissist wants or needs from you. Do they want to manipulate you financially, or maybe there are kids involved? Perhaps they need you to sign something that will be advantageous to them. They might come over and offer you drips of affection, keep you on the line sexually or then start with the insults. “No one will want someone as crazy as you” or “You will be lost without me” — this is to make you scared. When you are afraid, you are vulnerable — BOOM. Gotcha.
Next step — establish no contact. Yep — even if you have kids. It can be done. Family or friends can do drop-offs. Create a new email specifically for them to contact you. Make it a funny name — so you have a little giggle every time you know they have had to type it in. I made mine type email@example.com. My pleasure. Polish swear words are a thing of beauty. You are not overreacting — no contact.
No contact is exactly what it sounds like: no contact whatsoever. That means blocking their number. This is hard. Because you will want to control what is being said about you. But block it.
If you left something at the Narcissist’s house, you should just leave it and let it go. Consider it a teeny tiny price to pay for your own sanity and well-being. For example, I left with a small van of my kid’s toys and clothes, recipe books, and my Kitchen Aid. I left stuff that held years of memories. Or — you could also slowly give your friends your possessions when they visit– one box at a time — to avoid suspicion.
Make sure you have your own — very separate bank account. Narcissists generally love nice things and money and will attack you financially if they have the chance. So again — make sure you have put some money where they have no access.
Remove all connections with the Narcissist that you have in common from all of your social media. You can message people and explain — this sounds really over the top. But — trust me. The Narcissist, almost without fail, will start cyberstalking your friends and family, claiming to be worried about you. Cut off their supply.
I remember thinking that blocking them was a sign that I was still being controlled or “giving in” to their behaviour. You have to suspend all judgement during this time. Crazy times call for what looks like crazy actions. Sometimes it’s just better to start completely fresh and remove any association of the Narcissist from your life. This includes their friends and family from all social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn.
The more connections you still have to each other, the more opportunities the Narcissist has to slide back into your life somehow. But, of course, they could also use their friends to try and make you jealous.
On the topic of Social Media, don’t cyberstalk them. They want you to do just that. As I said in my previous article — they will be curating a life that looks amazing — probably with a new person.
The best way to explain how they move on so quickly is to say that they don’t feel emotions in the same way as non-narcissists. As a result, they don’t need time to heal and — like in “The Game of Life” — a seat in their little car is empty, so they need someone to fill in the gaps.
All is not as it looks. The Narcissist cannot have successful relationships. Don’t let the illusion fool you. It wasn’t you; it’s them. And they are gone. Yay.
Grief — yup — grief. There will be a whole lot of it. Shame. Embarrassment. Humiliation. Shock. Anger. Fear. All of these will come and go. Please reach out to a therapist. Your friends will be there for you — but they often struggle with how to help. It is really best to see someone professional before splitting up to have that support already in place.
Have a list of things that you love to do. Not expensive things — just things that make you smile — or made you smile in your life before you met the Narcissist. You probably put your needs totally aside in the relationship and might be confused about what you want. That’s normal. Go gently. I need____. I want____. I feel____. Your new mantra.
If you are co-parenting, you will feel like you are losing a small piece of your heart every time your kids go to the Narcissist’s house. I wrote a little somethin’, somethin’ earlier that hopefully will help with that.
If you do jump on dating apps, and I did, to be honest, even before I left (oops, a daisy) — I get it. You feel worthless and useless. Damaged goods and anyone giving you attention feels fantastic. Just be aware that you are vulnerable and try not to jump in too quickly or share too much too soon. We don’t want you in the same spot again. Enjoy getting to know new people who did not know you as part of the couple, but remember that you come first. You need time to heal from this.
You might need to have some conversations with your family, depending on your relationship with them. You might have been hiding a whole lot because you were ashamed of the position you found yourself in. Tell people. They probably already know.
Don’t try and have a conversation with the Narcissist to make them understand or see what you are asking for as reasonable. They will call you unreasonable — ah, the irony — and you will never get the outcome you want. They don’t change. They don’t want to change. Their behaviour gets them what they want.
I would not suggest couple’s therapy. It is like banging your head against a brick door — only you are the only one doing the banging. It is an experience that no one should have to go through. Get your own therapist, and don’t tell your ex who it is. EVER.
I know you desperately want to show the court the kind of person/parent your ex is. But, as I have said before, the truth is that we have a legal system, not a justice system. Very little is allowed as evidence in court. Plus, court proceedings will require you to come face to face with your ex, and you may be humiliated in front of perfect strangers. A Narcissist can charm people. Mediation with a Narcissist is something they will love — they love to perform. Unless your ex is sending your kids to sell drugs, you will not be able to deny them access. Going to court is also an excellent way for a Narcissist to financially devastate you — by continually holding up proceedings until you run out of funds. So just keep court in your back pocket as an absolutely last resort.
My final suggestion is, “Do not blame yourself.” Then they win. They want you to question yourself. Don’t question your trusting, giving qualities that they took advantage of. These are your strengths. Do not let them convince you otherwise.
And a bonus one right out of the left-field — buy new bedding. I can’t explain it. But it helps.
There’s never a right time to leave. Then, one day, it comes upon you like a strong voice, and you know that you have reached the end. It is different for everyone. But make a little step every day in working toward being prepared. My advice is exactly the same for men as for women — because both can find themselves in a relationship with a Narcissist. May the Force be with You.
PS. If you’ve been feeling the pull to have me by your side as your Marriage Mentor and you’re ready for deep support to bring your marriage back from the verge of divorce, click here to join my The Marriage Fix waitlist and let’s talk about the best way I can support you: