7 things a narcissist will do when you try to break up with them

Navigating a break up is tough, but when you’re dealing with a narcissist, it can be a whole other level of difficult. It’s like trying to untangle a knot that only gets tighter the more you pull.

Now, if you’re thinking about ending things with a narcissist, brace yourself. They won’t just let you walk away without putting up a fight. They have their own ways of turning the tables, making you second-guess your decision and even making you feel like the villain in the story.

In this article, we’ll shed light on some of the common tactics narcissists use when faced with a breakup. This isn’t about demonizing them; it’s about equipping you with the knowledge to navigate this tricky situation.

So buckle up, because we’re about to dive into the mind of a narcissist during a breakup and how to come out the other side stronger.

1) They’ll make you the villain

One of the biggest signs you’re dealing with a narcissist is their inability to accept responsibility for their actions. Especially when things go south in a relationship.

Breaking up with a narcissist? Prepare for a hefty dose of guilt-tripping. They’ll go out of their way to paint you as the bad guy, the one who’s causing all the pain and heartache.

It’s all part of their game. The blame shifting, the finger pointing, the playing victim – it’s all designed to make you question your decision, to make you feel guilty for wanting to leave.

Remember, narcissists thrive on control and power. And when they sense they’re losing that, they’ll try to regain it by any means necessary, even if that means making you out to be the villain.

But don’t fall for it. Recognize it for what it is – a manipulation tactic. 

2) They may suddenly become the perfect partner

Yes, you read that right. Your narcissistic partner, who you’ve decided to leave due to their toxic behavior, might suddenly transform into the partner you always wanted.

This can be incredibly confusing. Just when you’ve gathered the courage to say goodbye, they may start behaving exactly how you wished they would all along. They may become attentive, caring, and seemingly remorseful for their past actions.

This is often referred to as ‘love bombing‘. It’s an attempt to reel you back in by showing you the idealized version of themselves – the version they know you’ve been longing for.

It’s counterintuitive but crucial to remember that this change is not genuine or permanent. It’s a tactic, a last-ditch effort to make you reconsider your decision. 

3) They’ll provoke major feelings of guilt

Guilt-tripping is a common manipulation tactic, and narcissists are masters at it. When you try to break up with them, they might start to remind you of all the good times you had together, or they might play the victim and tell you how much they need you.

Now this one hits close to home. I remember a time when I was in the throes of a toxic relationship, during which I was made to feel like the ‘bad guy’ for wanting to leave.

In my book Breaking The Attachment: How To Overcome Codependency in Your Relationship, I delve into how guilt can keep us trapped in unhealthy relationships and how to break free.

If your partner uses your empathy and compassion against you, making you feel guilty for wanting better for yourself, that’s a clear sign of manipulation. Remember, it’s not your responsibility to fix someone else – you have every right to leave a relationship that isn’t serving you.

4) They’ll try to make you jealous

In their desperate attempt to keep you hooked, a narcissist might resort to inducing jealousy. They could start talking about their new romantic interests or flaunt their post-breakup life, just to stir up feelings of envy and regret in you.

I’ve seen it happen too many times – the subtle show-off, the veiled bragging, all designed to make you question your decision. But here’s a nugget of wisdom I’ve learned from these experiences: anyone who needs to make you jealous isn’t worth your time.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once wisely said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” So when they start playing the jealousy card, remember these words. It’s not a sign that you’ve lost something valuable; it’s a sign that you’re moving on from someone who isn’t worth your time.

5) They’ll try to keep you in their life

Don’t be surprised if a narcissist tries to negotiate a ‘friendship’ with you post-breakup. They might insist on staying friends, keeping in touch, or even suggest casual meet-ups.

This is a way for them to maintain a hold over you, to keep you within their reach. It’s not about caring for your wellbeing or valuing your companionship. It’s about keeping their options open and maintaining control.

I remember a time when I fell for this trick. The promises of friendship felt comforting in the wake of a breakup. But as time passed, I realized it was just another way for them to keep me tethered.

So, if they suggest staying friends, think twice. You’re breaking up for a reason. It’s okay to sever ties completely and focus on healing and moving forward.

6) They’ll gaslight you

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic where a person makes you question your own perception of reality, your memory, or your sanity. Narcissists often use this strategy during breakups to make you doubt your decision.

I’ve been on the receiving end of gaslighting, and let me tell you, it’s a disorienting and damaging experience. You start questioning your own judgment, second-guessing your decisions, and before you know it, you’re stuck in a cycle of self-doubt.

Remember the wise words of Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Don’t let their manipulative tactics make you question your reality or the validity of your feelings.

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7) They’ll threaten self-harm or suicide

This is a painful and terrifying tactic that some narcissists use when you try to break up with them. They may threaten to harm themselves or even attempt suicide in an effort to manipulate you into staying.

Let’s be clear: this is emotional blackmail. It’s the epitome of manipulation, using your empathy and care against you.

If this happens, it’s crucial to remember that you are not responsible for someone else’s actions or mental health. It’s okay to feel scared or upset, but don’t let their threats pull you back into a toxic situation.

If they make such threats, urge them to seek professional help immediately, alert their family or friends if possible, and even contact emergency services if necessary. Your safety and mental wellbeing should always come first.

Final thoughts

Breaking up with a narcissist is a journey filled with obstacles. It requires strength, resilience, and the ability to see through manipulative tactics. But it’s important to remember that the struggle you face is a testament to your courage in standing up for your own emotional wellbeing.

In my experience, recognizing these tactics is the first step towards healing and reclaiming your independence. The path may be riddled with challenges, but I assure you, each step forward is a victory in itself.

As you navigate this journey, it can be helpful to dive deeper into understanding narcissism and its impacts on relationships. To that end, I believe this video by Justin Brown could provide some valuable insights.

This video explores spiritual narcissism, a parallel that can be drawn with the narcissists we encounter in our daily lives. It emphasizes the importance of finding your own path and not being swayed by manipulative personalities.

Remember, it’s okay to put yourself first. It’s okay to step away from toxic relationships and choose peace.

Take care of yourself, because you deserve love and respect – from others and most importantly, from yourself.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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