Ending a Narcissistic Relationship
Breaking up is hard to do, especially when your partner is a narcissist. When reasonable people break up, as painful as it might be, there is usually some kind of recognition that the relationship isn’t working for one or both parties. Most adults don’t want to force a partner to stay in a relationship that the partner doesn’t want to be in. As painful as it might be, “normal” adults heal from a breakup and ultimately get on with life.
With narcissists you tend to see more vindictive behavior, manipulation of your words and actions, and a strong resistance to letting go and moving on. For these reasons, you might need some additional, specialized support if you are looking to end a narcissistic relationship.
Below I’ve outlined five important things to consider when breaking up, all of which hold the potential to contribute to your healing from a narcissistic relationship over time.
Understanding your attraction. Many people who are in relationship with a narcissist grew up with one or more narcissistic parents. It can be shocking to realize that you have taken the relationship dynamic you experienced with a parent and recreated it in your romantic life. For example, seeking out partners who are emotionally unavailable because a parent was emotionally unavailable. We do this unconsciously. We seek out the familiar. Recognizing your patterns of attraction are the first step towards changing them.
Setting boundaries. Clients often find it helpful to view ending a narcissistic relationship in terms of setting a boundary. Articulating your desires as a boundary helps you to clarify for yourself what is okay and what is not okay going forward. For example, do you want to end communication with this person? If you want to continue communication, what type of communication is okay? Do you want to end the romantic aspect of the relationship but try for friendship? Boundaries can change over time. However, being clear on what your boundaries are can be a crucially important tool for navigating the end of a narcissistic relationship.
Communicating effectively. Reasonable adult communication rarely works with narcissists. It’s important to identify what you want from the narcissist in your life and whether or not it’s possible to get it. In other words, the best communication tactics in the world are highly unlikely to convert a narcissist into someone who is capable of meeting your needs. I support clients to understand what’s possible and how to stop wasting time, energy, and emotional resources trying to change their partner.
Getting support. Just like with any big decision you make in your life, the more support you have the better. I encourage clients who have family members or friends they can trust to enlist their support once they decide to end a narcissistic relationship. Ending relationships, even ones that are detrimental to our well-being, can be extremely difficult. Having people you can count on during this kind of life transition definitely helps.
Practicing self-awareness. I see a direct correlation between level of self-awareness and suffering due to narcissistic relationships. That is to say, clients who are actively working on their ability to self-reflect and to observe their own habits and patterns do better when it comes to ending the cycle of narcissistic abuse, freeing themselves from unwanted relationships, and choosing different kinds of partners.
Use this link to get more information about healing from a narcissistic relationship.
About the Author
Diana Calvo is a psychotherapist and coach who helps people get unstuck and transform their day-to-day experience of work and life. After 20 years successfully climbing the corporate ladder, Diana experienced her own journey of healing and awakening. She discovered her true calling to guide others on their journey out of suffering and into a life of purpose and joy. Diana left the corporate world to start her own coaching business. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her dog Joey and a beautiful view of the mountains. She works with clients across the globe.