Breaking Free: Why Breaking Up With A Narcissist Is Not Your Average Break Up
Breaking up hurts. Rejection on any level sucks, no matter how you slice it.
Most people recognize that relationships end for all sorts of reasons. Some are nasty, some are amicable and some are mutual. But they generally follow the same pattern – relationship ends, one or both parties grieve and then move on.
Getting over a relationship with a Narcissist is a much different kettle of fish. Depending upon the duration, the impact of such a union could have profound emotional, psychological, spiritual, physical and even financial effects on its victims.
Once a partner does manage to break free and gain the much needed emotional and physical distance, either by choice, necessity or abandonment, they are often left with some devastatingly painful questions like – Did he ever love me? Did I mean anything to him at all?
What one must always remember is that Narcissists do not love. They do not form normal, healthy, attachment bonds to anyone. To a Narcissist, their partners are objects, a source of supply, nothing more. And coming to terms with the fact, that you meant nothing, to someone who meant so much to you, is incredibly painful. Realizing that you were lied to, duped, conned and manipulated all along, is enough to send even a saint into a psychotic rage.
I think the hardest thing to get over is the deliberate mind fuck, the psychological warfare that the Narcissist uses to keep his victims emotionally invested in him.
Narcissists are generally angry, miserable people and they love to project their misery onto those closest to them. Once the honeymoon phase is over and their true colours emerge, their victims are saddled with trying to understand what’s happening in the relationship. Why are they pulling away? What did I do? Why is he treating me that way? Why are they ignoring me?
This kind of emotional torture is exasperated by the Narcissists hot and cold routine. The mixed signals of I love you one day and hate you the next, has women and men not only questioning their sanity, but their sense of self-worth as well. They are pathological liars and will lie about even the most insignificant things. If their partner catches them in a lie, they will often, either spin another set of lies or fly into a Narcissistic Rage and even put the blame on you, to keep you off balance.
They use a form of psychological intimidation, called Gas Lighting, where they present false information to their victims, which makes them doubt their own memory, perception and even sanity. They will often say something, then sometimes even in the same conversation state that they didn’t say that to perpetuate the confusion.
A Narcissist will take no responsibility for anything. He will criticize your appearance, abilities and your very existence. Everything has become your fault and you cannot ever please them despite your best efforts. The closer you try to get to them the further they pull away. Then once you start to pull away, they will turn up the heat and start their pursuit once again. This constant beat down erodes their victim’s self-esteem leaving them feeling completely confused, off balance and drained of all their emotional resources.
Everything is all about them, always and this consistent pandering to their every need and want, often pushes their targets into Co-dependent-like behaviour. Victims get so wrapped up in the relationship and trying to fix it, that they lose themselves in the process. They have stopped thinking about their needs, their goals and their own happiness. All of their energy is spent on trying to win back the one they fell in love with. What most fail to realize is that that person never existed. The Narcissist pulls the old bait and switch. The person you met in the beginning was an actor and the one they are with now, is the true individual behind the mask.
Many get caught up in seeking the emotional validation of –am I good enough – from someone who will never give it to them. This validation seeking can go on for a long, long time. There is nothing more soul destroying and degrading than jumping through hoop after hoop trying to prove your worth, to someone who will never see or acknowledge it.
Narcissists are akin to a psychological parasite. Once they get inside your head it’s almost impossible to get them out. They spend the early part of a relationship learning all about you, what makes you tick and what buttons to push, to best manipulate you later on. They pay keen attention to your vulnerabilities, your fears and what causes you the most hurt, as a means of control, for a Narcissist must always be in control. They will go to great lengths to isolate you from friends, family and other sources of support.
Once a relationship with a Narcissist ends, most victims are left with the enormous task of weaving through all the lies and the abuse and building themselves back up. Their sense of self-esteem and self-worth will have been virtually annihilated. They have to rediscover who they are.
Being free of such a monster should be considered a blessing, but what often happens, after prolonged exposure to this type of abuse, is that many will actually pine and grieve for the return of their tormentor. They have come to believe that love equals pain and that they are deserving of this type of treatment. They’ve placed the Narcissist so high up on a pedestal, that even crumbs of their affections and attention are better than nothing at all.
A Narcissist doesn’t like to throw away any sources of supply, so they will continue to play this game with you indefinitely. The more pain that the Narcissist can inflict upon their partner, the less respect they have for their victims and they devalue that source of supply. If a Narcissist does leave, it’s because they have found a new source, but they’ll often be back to throw you more crumbs and prolong your suffering.
The abrupt and heartless manner in which they leave their partners is bone chilling. When a Narcissist is in stage one, the over-evaluation phase, with his new target, they focus all their energy on securing that new source of supply. The fact that they have left you in emotional turmoil, a spiraling depression or perhaps even financial ruin, will have no impact on them. It’s all about them- it always was. These people are happiest when they have at least one or two individuals pining for them, who they can run to, at any time for sex, money or an ego stroke.
If at some point the victim decides to end the relationship, the Narcissist will experience what Freud calls a Narcissistic Injury. This is any slight, real or imagined, that threatens the Narcissist’s false belief, that they are special, superior and unique. The Narcissist may rage or grieve over your parting, but one must always remember, they are not grieving the loss of the person in their life, they are grieving the damage done to their ego, the lost source of supply, the efforts it took to secure that supply and the anxiety they will have to face to obtain more.
The grieving won’t last long though, since they do not take responsibility for anything, your leaving won’t resonate with them as, “I’ve done something to make them leave.” They will immediately start telling themselves – ‘They’re nuts, they thinks they can do better than me. I’m better off without them. They’re damaged anyway,’ as part of the devaluation process. And just like that you are discarded in the Narcissist’s mind, regardless of the amount of time, or the amount of suffering you may have endured.
When a normal relationship ends, both parties usually go their separate ways and move on. When you’re involved with a Narcissist the relationship ends abruptly, without notice, or it never ends. They like to keep a hold of you, they are control freaks and they will do that, by offering you the friend card. This friend card entitles them to unlimited supply of your attention, resources, affection, ego strokes, or sex, with no responsibility or commitment. It also stops you from being able to move on.
They almost always seem to have an innate sense of exactly when you might be getting over them and just like that, they waltz back into your life, as if nothing ever happened. The loving, caring person returns and you may be thinking, finally ________ (insert name), has realized my worth and things will be different this time. Don’t be fooled. The actor is back, just long enough to take control of you and your emotions again. If you engage for any reason, it won’t be long before the mask slips and the real McCoy is back to further torment you.
Once you have managed to get out – stay out. Stop all communication and burn every bridge behind you, thus souring the milk of your Narcissistic Supply. It’s better to covet a Narcissist’s indifference, than their toxic form of love.
Your involvement with a Narcissist has likely changed you in ways you could never have imagined. Make the decision to break free and stick with it, start to rebuild your shattered self image, regain your power and dignity and most importantly, learn the lesson that you were meant to learn from this encounter. But that’s another blog!!!!
Savannah Grey is a writer, a certified hypnotherapist and has degrees in both Journalism and Psychology.