So You're In a Relationship with a Narcissist, Now What?
Part 3 of 3 on how to cope with the narcissist in your life.
Posted Dec 29, 2015
As you learned in Part 1 and Part 2 of this article series, being in a relationship with a narcissist is emotionally draining and can cause you to question your sanity. You're feeling guilty about things that aren't your fault; you're told that you don't remember things the way they really happened; you have to follow "rules" that don't apply to the narcissist.
Things are just getting worse in your relationship. Promises aren't kept and the fights keep getting bigger. Let's say you've decided you can't handle the stress of being in a relationship with a narcissist anymore.
Now what? Here are recommendations from my book, Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People - and Break Free.
1. Be Aware of Hoovering
In Part 2 of this series, we talked about the concept of "hoovering". When the narcissist senses that you are leaving the relationship, they will try to suck you back in. This is done by voicemail, email, even messages from friends and relatives. The narcissist will promise you the world - they tell you things will be better this time (note they never actually apologize to you). This is a common pattern in abusive relationships. There's an abusive episode, then a reconciliation phase, then a buildup of tension, then another abusive episode. The cycle doesn't end. With a narcissist, the blowup gets worse each time you reconcile. And that blowup is coming.
2. Get Thee to Therapy
Start attending individual therapy (therapy with just you and the therapist). It is important that you have a neutral third-party with whom to talk. It's time for you to focus on what you want and need, not what the narcissist needs. You may not have even realized how much you have become focused on the narcissist's needs and ignored or squashed down your own. Counselors can help you start feeling like you again, and help you learn healthy boundaries.
3. Go No Contact
When you leave the narcissist, cut off any contact (if you have children, consider working with a parent coordinator regarding custody). Block their phone numbers. Block their email from texting you. Block their email from emailing you. You need to do this with every way they contact you. Don't pick up calls from unidentified numbers. If friends and family start telling you that they're relaying a message from the narcissist, stop them in their tracks and tell them that you aren't interested in hearing it. If they continue to push, walk away. Contact from the narcissist can lead to hoovering (see number 1 above).
If you concerned for your safety, leaving an abusive relationship is when you are most at risk. Be aware that narcissists can be volatile. Contact your local domestic violence shelter, and call 911 if you are immediately in danger.
Consider having an "emergency bag" packed with a change of clothes, medication, and toiletries. Keep the bag in your car trunk in case you need to get out of the house immediately.
4. They May Drop You Quickly
When the narcissist catches on that you may have been drained of your "narcissistic supply", they may drop you like a hot potato. Narcissists are always looking for their next "fix" of attention. The narcissist may inexplicably drop out of sight or leave you a blistering voicemail with a level of anger that is way over the top. This is when you go no contact (see number 3 above). The narcissist will be back when they can't find a new narcissistic supply or that new narcissistic supply runs out. Narcissists are pros at keeping their options available and on the back burner. Avoid being hoovered back in (see number 1 above). Also consider getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases, as narcissists commonly have an "overlap" (also known as cheating) of relationships.
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