Are you dating or were you dating a narcissist?
First of all: I’m sorry.
What an awful experience.
I’ve been there and I know exactly how toxic, tiring and full of frustration that kind of relationship is.
My last relationship before my current one was a toxic, narcissism-fueled nightmare.
Every single day is like hauling a massive weight uphill. Then your partner criticizes you for not hauling the weight faster or better or while smiling more.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.
But whether you’re still in that relationship or broken up, I’d like to give you these tips for fully detaching from a narcissist and moving on with your life.
1) Face the facts
You can’t address a problem if you don’t acknowledge it.
You have to first face the facts:
You are emotionally attached to a person who is unwell, exploitative and bad for you.
Narcissists are not just “annoying” or hard to be with.
They are emotionally destructive of everyone around them and are not equipped for a mature relationship.
We all have challenges in love and finding the right person!
The narcissist is different:
He or she has a worldview that’s so warped that it’s impossible to talk reason to them.
I’m sure you’ve tried and failed many times. Been there, like I said…
So, first of all you really need to face the facts about narcissism. It generally comes from a deep insecurity and need to experience constant attention and validation.
That need is bottomless and it’s up to the narcissist to recognize and address their issues, not you.
Realize that you are worrying about a person who is not truly dedicated to you and is unfit to date or be with right now.
Reading up on narcissism and what it is can also be a great idea here.
“They exploit or take advantage of others for personal gain. They require constant feeding of their egos, and thus crave excessive admiration.”
2) Fly the coop
If you want to follow the easy steps to detach emotionally from a narcissist, first you need to get the hard stuff out of the way.
You need to actually leave the narcissist physically and be in a different location away from them.
This is obviously much harder if you have kids together, share finances or a house and other concrete ties (which I’ll get to a bit later down in the article).
The basic thing is that you can’t afford to stay in close physical proximity to a narcissist if you want to emotionally detach from them.
You need to create actual distance from them and start building a new and different life elsewhere outside their clutches.
You also need to limit the amount of contact you have, as a narcissist will often use social media and communication to stay in touch and slowly rope you back in…
Often they’ll work at you slowly and then pounce when you’re in a moment of a lot of loneliness or sadness, for example.
Cut those ties physically and then cut off the digital and communication aspect as well. It’s not going to help you at all to stay in touch any more than is absolutely necessary.
3) Find support
Now dealing with a narcissist is no fun at all. You’re going to need support.
What makes this twice as crucial is that often those of us who fall for a narcissist have some kind of inner doubt or desire to feel needed and wanted.
We may have not received enough love as kids or feel like this narcissist is charming and charismatic.
We fall for a narcissist who seems to want our praise and admiration and value it.
Narcissists often tend to first come across as charismatic and charming, with a lot of infectious energy.
But they don’t actually care about you or the love and attention you give them:
You’re just a fungible source of attention, affection and resources for them. You’re not special.
They just want to be showered in that love and luxurious attention. They don’t give a crap about you.
Realizing that is a huge let-down.
And you’re going to need friends, family and resources including possibly therapy and extra spiritual help to bust through the torture that a narcissist will put you through.
4) Free your mind
The extra spiritual help I mentioned in the last step is very important here.
When we start to look around for answers to the deeper questions of life, there are so many people offering their opinions out there.
Motivational classes, books, seminars, retreats, you name it…
Some are good, don’t get me wrong.
But there are also some really disturbing trends that I’ve come across in the New Age and spiritual movement.
I call it “toxic spirituality” and it’s basically where gurus blame your problems on you having bad vibes.
The truth is that many of these gurus themselves are narcissists and are locking you in a cycle of you feeling the need for their praise or approval to be whole or valid.
You do not need it!
In fact, you should run away from those who try to break you down and tell you you’re broken or “low vibration.”
Instead I encourage everyone to check out this eye-opening free video from the shaman Rudá Iandê.
Rudá himself got caught up in the New Age “Law of Attraction” type of movement himself and ended up burnt out and disillusioned.
But he found a new way to rediscover your authenticity and personal power that doesn’t rely on vibrations or “thinking positive.”
If you’re dealing with separating and leaving a narcissist behind, these are spiritual truths you need to hear for yourself.
5) Flip the script
Flipping the script is crucial when dealing with a narcissist and self-obsessed person who you are attached to.
You need to go down to the very roots of what’s linking you to this person and the desire and heartache you feel about them.
What’s at the core of that?
Identify all the aspects, physical, emotional, energetic, self-created.
Do you have an idealized version of this person? Do you feel like you can save them or be their hero?
What’s trapping you in the cycle?
Identify these traps and then flip the script.
Imagine you were behaving as the narcissist does. Would he or she stay with you, love you, remain loyal to you?
This will expose to you how lopsided the relationship and love is, and can often be the brutal cold-water shock that you need to wake up from the trance of being attached to a narcissist.
6) Take your own side
When you’re emotionally attached to a narcissist, you become accustomed to hearing them out, taking their side and being there for them as much as possible.
Little old you can get left behind in the process, which is part of what’s so sad about being in love with a narcissist.
You end up selling yourself short and engaging in a process of self-abandonment.
This can tie into really toxic and painful patterns of unworthiness that really hurt you and create a downward spiral for your future relationships as well.
Falling into a narcissist’s trap can really create negative momentum and make it easier for it to happen again and again.
This is not good.
Which is why you need to take your own side and think of your own self-interest.
A narcissist tries to make you feel like your life and value depends on the extent to which you care for them and look after them.
But what about you?
Take your own side.
Make a list of your top needs and priorities apart from this person. Then go after them.
7) Treat your ties with caution and care
Like I said, sometimes you may have property in common with a narcissist or may have kids together.
This definitely makes it harder to separate, and you should indeed be careful and proceed with caution when kids are involved.
Separation and divorce are very painful and can do a lot of psychological damage to youngsters and teens.
But in the end I admit I really respect those who’ve made the hard decision to separate when their relationship was toxic and unhealthy.
In the end that’s often best for any kids involved also.
Just make sure that you try to avoid loud fights and angry scenes in front of the kids and that the parting of ways takes place without as little public spectacle as possible.
8) Tune out your inner critic
If you’re emotionally attached to a narcissist, you often have an inner critic who’s like your worst enemy and always droning on into your ear.
I know because I’ve been there.
Your inner critic in many ways is likely similar to the narcissist themselves:
It tells you that you’re being a bad person, that you need to be more understanding, more patient and more loving of the narcissist.
It tells you that you’ll regret leaving or moving on from them, that you won’t meet anyone better.
This inner critic can’t be forced to shut up.
But you can make the conscious and ongoing effort to tune this inner critic out.
They are just your inner doubts and insecurities coming to the surface and trying to sink you back into old and unnecessary patterns of compliance and subservience to the narcissist.
Hear the inner critic. Then ignore it. You have the right to live your life and not be toxically bound to a narcissist.
9) Take care of your body and mind
Taking your own side and noting down your top priorities is going to definitely involve caring for your mind and body.
This means putting those priorities first which will ensure you stay as healthy and sane as possible.
Dealing with attachment to a narcissist can hurt your physical and mental health, which is why rebuilding these two aspects is a key part of moving on.
You can’t really attain your self-worth and independence from a narcissist until you discover and put your own strength into play.
This starts with a well rested body and a mind that finds a measure of calm and security in the midst of the storm.
So let’s go there.
- Watching, reading and listening to content that boosts your mood and sense of self-worth and enthusiasm for life.
- Practicing meditation, enjoying nature and spending time around people who bring out the best in you.
- Avoiding overuse of your smartphone and devices as you “power down” from the fast pace of a digital life.
- Considering decisions and steps before acting, so that you’re not deciding things out of impulse or emotional trauma.
- Eating healthy food and choosing to eat in amounts and food groups that make you feel well.
- Exercising on a regular basis for at least a small amount of time each day.
- Getting enough sleep and having a comfortable and clean place to sleep.
- Breathing deeply and getting out into the fresh air and away from technology addiction.
All of these will help you begin to decouple from the snares of a narcissist!
10) Take control of your own destiny
Looking after yourself and flipping the script is all about taking control of your own destiny.
A narcissist will make you feel like caring about yourself is a betrayal or letting them down.
The problem is, as I wrote, that no matter how true your love and affection for the narcissist is, he or she will never get enough.
You’re just a resource to the narcissist because of their own self-fixation and inner vacuum.
This is why they must face their issues and deal with them on their own, rather than roping you into a codependent nightmare.
For your part, you’re best off taking control of your own destiny.
Looking after yourself is a start…
Progress to finding and following your purpose…
Along with not letting anybody into your inner sanctum who tries to twist and manipulate your emotions in the way a narcissist does.
You deserve better, and you’ll get it when you demand better and nothing less.
11) Write this down
When you’re separating, or separated from a narcissist, a lot of drama tends to come up.
They will use guilt, shame, seduction, threats, jokes and friendship to try to rope you back into supply them with the attention and affection they crave.
To escape the cycle, you need to have your feet firmly on solid ground.
Narcissists are the ultimate revisionist historians.
The past is whatever they say it is and they’ll make you out to be the ultimate bad guy if they want to twist you around.
Write down key events or issues so that the next time they try to talk you in a circle you have written documentation of what really happened.
This isn’t so much to show the narcissist. It’s more to show yourself what really happened so that you don’t fall headlong into the gaslighting nightmare once again.
Write down warnings for yourself so you recognize the tricks that the narcissist tries to pull out when you walk away from them.
12) Wipe out any financial codependence
Finances and property you share with the narcissist can be very binding.
If you are somewhat financially dependent on the narcissist, you can end up trapping yourself emotionally or relationship-wise.
You are mixing emotions and financial needs in this case, and that’s a very dangerous place to be.
The narcissist who has financial control will often use their money to exercise control and manipulation over his or her partner(s).
This is not a position you want to be in.
If you’re in this position you want to get out of it as soon (and as fully) as possible.
Start by finding a job you can do or somebody who can loan you money on an emergency basis until you get out fully from the grip of the narcissist.
You do not want to be in a position where you’ve emotionally moved on but you’re still requiring payouts or financial assistance from the narcissist.
This leaves them with far too much power over your life and allows them far too many avenues to cruise back in when you’re at a vulnerable moment.
13) Watch your mindset
As you go through the separation process with a narcissist, I’ve emphasized taking your own side and tuning our your inner critic.
This is crucial!
Your mindset is a bit more subtle and also has to be something you’re conscious of.
Think of your mindset as a picture frame.
You may have a firm understanding of what is going on and your desire to step away from the narcissist and move on.
But your mindset is the frame around all that. It’s basically your personal reality.
Make sure you believe in your own worth and potential, that you believe in standing up for yourself.
Ensure that you’re entering situations with a firm grasp on your sense of self and your own value.
If not, the narcissist is likely to eventually suck you right back into his or her twisted world, no matter how determined you are to escape it.
14) Welcome new connections but be cautious
Separating from a narcissist may involve meeting someone new and transitioning into a new relationship, or it may not.
There’s really no “right” answer here, except to pay attention to the dynamics.
If you’re not really emotionally ready for something new and jumping into it as an escape or quick-fix, you need to stay single for a moment.
If you’re transitioning into a healthier, reciprocal relationship with somebody who is mature and won’t exploit you like a narcissist, then it can be an ideal lateral move.
Welcome new connections and romantic or friendship opportunities that come into your life.
Just ensure that they aren’t oases that try to get you to drop the ball on your own personal development and journey.
There is no replacement for self-work and developing your own rock solid sense of self and your purpose.
Separating out from a narcissist is all about defining your own value and not being dependent in a toxic way.
As such, it’s best to only enter into something new if and when you feel ready and you feel it will be productive and valuable.
15) Wrest victory from the jaws of defeat
Life is all about learning. But I think I speak for all of us when I say that we hope for the day when there’s a little less learning and a little more living and loving!
To hasten the arrival of that blessed day, it’s important to build yourself into the powerful person you can be and to cut ties with those who leech off you and tap into your more codependent instincts.
This is not a healthy love, to be emotionally attached to a narcissist. It’s nothing that will bring you true fulfillment or meaning in your life.
It can’t work to be in a relationship or in love with somebody who doesn’t appreciate you.
Becoming free from the physical and emotional grip of a narcissist can take some time, but it’s never as impossible or horrible as the narcissist wants you to believe.
Don’t give them that power. Don’t give up.
Live your own life and set your own standards. You have no obligation to stay in this emotional bond.
Remember, also, that there is so much life left to live in healthy and empowering relationships instead of swimming around the swampy waters of narcissism.
Baby, bye bye bye
The above easy steps to detach emotionally from a narcissist aren’t always a piece of cake.
But if you believe in yourself and take firmly to heart the fact that you are not responsible for a narcissist’s wellbeing or life, you are giant leaps ahead of where you started.
You don’t owe anyone anything.
You don’t need to stay in this relational dynamic.
You have the absolute right to live your own life and to find a partner and emotionally bond yourself to a person who truly respects and loves you.