How to break up with a narcissist: 10 key steps

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So you’ve suffered through the toxic cycle of idealization, love bombing and abuse… and you think you’re finally ready to break up with your narcissist partner.

Statistics show though that it takes an average of seven tries before a person successfully leaves an abusive and/or toxic relationship.

How to shift the odds to your favor?

Follow these ten steps and prepare your exit.

Step 1: Make up your mind

Partners of narcissists are often plagued with self-doubt and guilt. This is the reason why some remain trapped in toxic relationships for years.

You see, narcissists are experts at making their partner feel like they’re evil and selfish for thinking about themselves. But more than that, they’re good at convincing their partners that they’re somewhat unstable, and therefore don’t make wise decisions.

In order to leave a narcissist, you have to be sure and VERY firm with your decision…even if it makes you feel “selfish” (you aren’t!).

Here are two things that you must do if you’re struggling to make up your mind:

  • Take a hard look at yourself.

Examine who you are.

What are your traits? What makes you happy? What are you most scared of?

Getting to know yourself better and examining yourself as if you’re an outsider will help you look at the “bigger picture” of your life. It will also help you prioritize yourself instead of the narcissist.

  • Take a hard look at how you love.

How we make choices and how we love are shaped by our experiences and influences.

Look back on your relationships and try to examine how you love.

Why do you think you’re staying with a narcissist?

As the world renowned shaman Rudá Iandê explains in this free video, many of us stay with toxic partners because how we see relationships is flawed.

For example, we fall in love with an ideal version of someone instead of the real person. We try to “fix” and “help” our partners even when they’re already manipulating us.

Once you realize that you indeed deserve better, you’ll become firmer with your decision to leave.

And when this happens, you’re already halfway there. Everything after that is just good timing and logistics.

Step 2: Have an exit plan

Wanting to leave is one thing, ACTUALLY leaving is another. The latter could be very difficult for some. But having a good plan will make things much easier.

So first things first. Leave without telling the abuser.

Resist your urge to be kind and honest by telling your narcissist partner your plan to leave them. This will only allow them to negotiate and gaslight you.

This might seem so simple but many of those who are in toxic relationships express their decision to leave…making it impossible for them to do so.

Instead, act as naturally as possible while you work on your exit strategy.

You might want to contact a few people you trust—like your parents and best friend—so they’ll work out a plan with you.

Plan everything.

When exactly do you plan to leave? What are the things you should prepare? If you have children, how are you going to ensure that they will be protected? And so on.

Step 3: Gather all paperwork

Gather all files and data that they may use against you, and everything that will prove who they are and how horrible they have been. The latter is for backup, in case they try to manipulate you.

But mostly, it’s for you: so you remember exactly why you are leaving, so you won’t go back.

Step 4: Slowly start distancing from them

Book projects away from where they are. Spend more time regularly with your family and friends. Get more alone time.

If your finances are tied to them, research how you can make your own once you leave.

What passions did you give up because of the narcissist? Go to the people and places that make you remember who you are again.

You have to rehearse how beautiful and free life could be without the narcissist to feel confident you can make a clean break.

Until you are absolutely sure, be careful and keep your plans under wraps.

Step 5: Surround yourself with trusted friends, experts, and allies

The further they are away from your narcissist partner’s circle, the better.

Don’t ask for help from within your mutual circles like your spiritual group, career mentors, or even mutual friends because your narcissist partner has likely “poisoned the well.” 

This means that people—even the kindest ones in your closest circle—have likely been given information that discredits you or makes it downright challenging to take your side.

Some examples of “poisoning the well” might be your narcissist partner pretending to ask people in your circles for help with your “secret mental illness,” or that you have been cheating on them, and have a history of lying they are trying very hard to forgive.

If you have been spending time with your friends and family apart from your mutual circles, you’ve already cracked the endgame of the narcissist alienating you, so you have no option but to stay.

Step 6: Talk to a therapist

If for any reason, friends and family aren’t options right now, reach out to a therapist or a counselor with a specialization on intimate partner abuse and/or violence against women.

They will understand what you are going through even if you don’t have bruises to show for it because physical abuse is just a tiny part of emotional, financial, or psychological abuse (and psychological abuse is the expertise of the narcissist).

Step 7:  Work towards overcoming your shame and guilt

Narcissists are exceptional at burrowing into your box of shame and using it against you, and to their benefit.

As soon as you begin to distance yourself from a narcissist, they will immediately sense that they are losing their power over you.

You have to be prepared for the high probability of blackmail that will hit you.

Essentially, every story and memory you have entrusted them with can now be weaponized against you.

Your guilt over not being there enough for a friend who committed suicide? They are now suicidal and you are the only one who can save them.

You’re unable to be there enough for your sick grandmother? They are now suddenly sick with some unknown illness and they need you more than ever to hold their hand.

And the list goes on…

To ease any worries you have that there might be truth there, turn them over to experts and other people in their circle.

If they threaten suicide, call their immediate family, the police, and/or a nearby hospital. 

Remember, you don’t need to be the one to help them.

Repeat to your conscience,  “I can help without needing to go back into the relationship.”

You have to release your shame and guilt to be free.

Step 8: Be prepared to lose some friends, possibly even family

The same beguiling charm that won you over the first time will be used to win people over to their side.

And I so wish it didn’t have to be the case, but there will be people who will believe them.

Don’t waste your precious time and energy setting them straight.

Tell yourself “The right people will ask to know both sides” and “everyone who takes his side, deserves him in their life.”

Breaking up with a narcissist also means breaking up with a lot of people who don’t believe enough in you.

It will hurt worse than the breakup especially if you’re the kind of person who keeps a very tight-knit circle.

Things will get better though.

Once you focus on yourself and your healing, you’ll start to attract a different kind of circle who share the same values for authenticity.

Trust you will be happy again.

Step 9: Practice radical self-love

The narcissist has likely used your compassionate nature to manipulate you so don’t let it happen again.


Channel that unconditional love and forgiveness to yourself first, over and over, as long as you need it.

If this feels selfish for you, imagine if it happened to your closest friend or sister or daughter.

You would tell them to take care of themselves.

You would tell them it’s not their fault..

You would tell them to forgive themselves— that they are not stupid for being kind, for trying to see the best in people!

You need to learn how to be your own best friend starting now.

Repeat to yourself, “I am learning to take care of myself, better and better each day.”

“I am supported by genuinely good people.”

Step 10: Don’t let the narcissist do more harm to you

Once you’ve managed to separate yourself from the narcissist, you will gain energy, and with that, righteous anger. 

You might be tempted to take matters into your own hands. You will want to warn everyone, especially his next potential victims.

Know these actions have a high potential to backfire against you.

Focus on yourself instead and rebuild your community.

It might sound hard but you have to be clear that underneath all this righteous anger, might be a call for revenge.

But the best revenge is living your best life, not a life centered around the narcissist still, even if the intention is destroying them, or stopping them from committing more harm.

Last words

 You’ve worked so hard to earn your freedom. Enjoy it. Heal. Love yourself more than any lover could.

And most of all, use your experience to learn more about yourself and how you love so you would not be in a toxic relationship ever again.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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