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How to Leave Your Narcissistic Partner

7 min read

By Clarissa Vanner

  • People with narcissistic personality disorder are very good at using manipulative strategies to convince you to stay in the relationship.
  • While leaving a narcissistic partner isn’t easy, it’s also not impossible.
  • Establishing a trusted support system, working with a therapist, and creating a plan are just a few ways to help you leave your narcissistic partner.

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is not easy or healthy. Their unreasonable expectations, intense need for admiration, and lack of empathy can all take a serious toll on your mental health. Most narcissists don’t reach out for help either because they don’t think they have a problem. They firmly believe the problem is you. This is why breaking up with a narcissist is usually the best thing you can do for your health.

Though it may be the best option, leaving a narcissistic partner isn’t easy. Luckily, there are steps you can take that can help you leave them. Follow along as we break down the telltale signs of a narcissistic partner plus effective tips to leave them for good!

Signs of a Narcissistic Partner

Though no one wants to be in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s easy to fall into the traps of their charm, especially in the beginning. But as your relationship evolves you may start to notice red flags. According to Healthline, some of the telltale signs of a narcissistic partner include:

  • They were very charming at first. They may have complimented you constantly or told you they loved you very early in the relationship.
  • Constantly hogging the conversation and talking about how great they are.
  • Constantly looking for compliments.
  • They lack empathy.
  • They don’t have any (or many) long-term friends.
  • They constantly pick on you. It may appear as teasing early in the relationship but it may evolve to mean comments later on.
  • They gaslight you (a form of manipulation and emotional abuse).
  • They always think they’re right and never apologize.
  • They may lash out when their self-esteem takes a hit.

When to Leave a Narcissistic Partner

When dealing with a narcissistic partner, Psychology Today says it’s important to take control and confront bad behavior. It’s also vital to trust your feelings, be assertive, and set boundaries. Unfortunately, as much as you may try, dealing with a narcissistic partner isn’t always feasible, especially if it starts taking a toll on your mental health.

Choosing Therapy says narcissistic partners often engage in narcissistic abuse. Any form of abuse should not be tolerated and is a key sign that it’s time to leave the relationship. Here are a few other red flags the source says indicate it’s time to leave your narcissistic partner:

  • You’re being emotionally manipulated or gaslit.
  • You’re being humiliated, intimidated, or dismissed.
  • Your partner is monitoring everything you do including what you do and who you’re with.
  • Your partner is very jealous.
  • You’re withdrawing from your family and friends.
  • You develop anxiety or depression as a result of your relationship.

How to Leave Your Narcissistic Partner

Leaving a narcissistic partner is not easy. People with narcissistic personality disorder are very good at employing manipulative strategies to convince you to stay in the relationship. Sometimes they may even make you feel like the problems of the relationship are your fault.

While leaving isn’t easy, it’s also not impossible. First, it’s important to stay firm in your decision to leave and take effective steps to leave them for good. Let’s take a look at 9 tips for leaving your narcissistic partner next.

Make a Plan

If you’re physically threatened you should leave the relationship immediately and seek shelter. Go to someone you trust or reach out for professional help. If you’re not immediately threatened, the first thing you should do to leave your narcissistic partner is make a plan.

If you live together, you’ll want to decide if you’re going to leave or if you’re going to ask them to leave. If you are the one leaving, make a plan of where you’ll go after announcing the breakup. Choosing Therapy also suggests having a plan in place during the “potential counter-attack phase when you may be acting quickly and unable to think as clearly.”

Write Down Your Reasons for Leaving

One way narcissists manipulate others is by distorting reality. This can cause you to question your own reality and make you second-guess your reasons for leaving. An effective way to prevent this is to make an extensive list of reasons why you’re leaving.

Choosing Therapy says writing down these reasons can help “re-ground you in your reality during the separation process.” While you may be tempted to show your narcissistic partner this list, the source also says it won’t likely be helpful in making them change their behavior so it’s best to keep it to yourself.

Surround Yourself With People You Trust

Narcissists often isolate their victims by demanding loyalty and commitment. As a result, this may isolate you from your friends and family. Whether this has happened to you or not, it’s important to reconnect with people you trust.

Whether it’s family and/or friends, having a support system can help you successfully leave the relationship. You can ask your support system to check in on you daily, especially during the transition to ensure you’re safe, healthy, and on track to leave your partner for good.

Avoid Unnecessary Conversation

When you’re ready to leave, Better Help suggests making it quick. You may be tempted to hear your partner out and let them have a say but the source says people with narcissistic personality disorder are good at drawing people back in. It’s best to make it a quick goodbye.

Once you’ve decided to leave the relationship and have a plan in place, inform your partner that you’re leaving. The source says it may also be helpful to leave your emotions out of the conversation. If you think you’ll have a hard time leaving quickly, the source also suggests having a person you trust there to support you through the process.

Reduce Contact With Your Partner

After leaving the relationship it may be best to avoid any unnecessary contact with your ex-partner. If contact is necessary, Better Help suggests having a third person involved in the conversations, whether they happen in person or via phone or email.

If your ex continues contacting you, do your best to avoid responding unless you absolutely have to. The source also says it can also be helpful to limit how they can communicate with you, such as blocking them on social media or changing your phone number.

Prepare for Retaliation

Your partner may respond to the breakup in a variety of ways. Better Help says they may be angry and hurt or they may move on more quickly than you. Depending on how they respond, they may lash out, so it’s important to think about how your partner may retaliate and prepare for it.

The source says one way you can prepare is by changing the passwords to all accounts, such as your email, bank accounts, and social media. It may also be a good idea to block your ex-partner from viewing your social media accounts too.

How to Co-Parent With Your Ex

If you have children with your ex-partner, co-parenting can be a challenge. Better Help says it’s usually helpful “to have limited contact with your ex.” But if you are dividing custody and expenses, you’ll need to do your best to make decisions together. Having a third party involved, such as a lawyer can be helpful too.

Your partner will likely try to control the decisions which can make decision-making a challenge. The source suggests taking time to consider which things are worth fighting for and which things aren’t.

Purge Reminders of the Relationship

Narcissists are known to give elaborate gifts as a way to maintain control of the relationship. They also do it to make you think they’re amazing. Choosing Therapy points out that reminders of these elaborate gifts may make it hard to “remember the pain of the dark times as you move through the breakup.”

With this in mind, it may be a good idea to purge all reminders of the relationship to help you move on. You can put these reminders in a box and save them for later if they’re very meaningful to you but if they don’t provide you with good memories then it’s best to dispose of them entirely. It may also be challenging to completely remove all reminders if you share children, but you can still find ways to limit your reminders of them.

Seek Professional Help From a Therapist

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is not easy and leaving that person can be even more challenging. This is why leaning on a professional, like a therapist, can be very helpful.

As a result of your relationship, you may have developed low self-esteem or confidence and distrust for others, and they may have distorted your own perception of reality. Choosing Therapy says a therapist can help “guide you as you rebuild reality.”

Junior Managing Editor

Clarissa is the Junior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat. She aspires to live a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating foods that nourish her body, but she isn't afraid to indulge in a little chocolate here and there! Clarissa loves cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with her dog. In her free time, you'll find her relaxing in her hammock or curled up on the couch reading a book.

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