It is probably safe to say that when you started your relationship you weren’t expecting that your partner would turn out to be a narcissist.
Narcissists can be irresistibly charismatic and charming at the beginning of a relationship. They will shower their partners with affection, compliments, and gifts, but as soon as the other side commits, things start to go downhill pretty fast.
While living with a narcissist is a complete nightmare, breaking up with one can be even worse.
If the narcissist doesn’t want you to leave they’ll keep pressuring you to turn back, often with the same old promises that things will change. The narcissist can make your life a living hell in order to keep control of you and the relationship.
Here are some things you can expect to happen once you break up with a narcissist:
1. They will demand attention after you’ve left them
It is much easier to leave a narcissist if you cut him/her off as much as possible. However, such people can be extremely persistent in grabbing your attention. People have reported many types of attention-grabbing behaviors from narcissists who feel rejected, for example: middle of the night calls, entering your house without permission to get their belongings, hundreds of messages a day, constant pleas for you to “make clear” why you want to leave – all of which lead to the narcissist denouncing you for being so negative.
If you have kids together, these pleas for attention could go on and on, pressuring you into giving them time to talk to you for “the sake of the children”, which in reality means for the sake of his/her own egotistical need to be acknowledged.
2. They will promise to change
If persuasion or guilt-tripping don’t manage to pull you back into the relationship, the narcissist will pull out the promise of change. Suddenly (s)he might say (s)he understands why you’re upset and want to leave. (S)he will appear to be taking responsibility for his/her behaviors, promising to go to therapy and do everything you ask while being so sorry for hurting you.
This could come across as a tempting appeal for someone who truly wants their relationship to work. It now seems like the narcissist finally understands what you expect from them and is ready to make things right. Hope builds in you again and you breathe a sigh of relief.
But this hope soon disintegrates. The narcissist cannot stop trying to control you, and they can’t seem to be able to control their own behaviors for any length of time. If you agree to get back together, for a while you might think that things are getting better. However, once the narcissist gets comfortable in the relationship again, (s)he will inevitably go back to being self-centered, arrogant, insensitive, and blaming. And if things don’t go his/her way, (s)he’ll instantly get back to the same defensive and antagonistic patterns as before. It’s up to you how many times you’re willing to believe the narcissist’s false promises…
3. The smear campaign
If you were married to a narcissist, and you decide to leave (s)he may bring you to the courtroom.
(S)he will gather whatever mud (s)he can get his/her hands on – whether true or not – just to see what can hurt you.
Be prepared for him/her telling everyone you know about what a “monster” you are, whether it be among your friend group or in front of a judge.
Narcissists have a desire to win above all else as they lack empathy, and could care less about the consequences of their actions.
Your ex will work to the best of his abilities to pollute the waters and paint you as the black sheep to your co-workers, friends, family, and everyone else willing to listen to the smear campaign.
4. They may stalk you
While stalking is normally not obvious or threatening by narcissists, it is not uncommon for them to fortuitously be at the grocery store when you are, to appear out of nowhere to a social event you’re attending, or change their jogging schedule so they go down your street every morning. Be prepared in advance that these unexpected meetings might occur. They are designed to put you emotionally off balance and keep you aware of the narcissist’s presence.
5. They will get needy
Although narcissists appear to be strong and independent, they are in reality extremely needy. You may find it difficult to let go of taking care of the narcissist. You may get desperate calls to come fix her car, or he may still expect you to keep doing some accounting for his business, or she wants you to take down the decorations on her house, or he will want you to still come down to walk the dog which you bought together.
It can be extremely exhausting and difficult to say no in such circumstances, and too often you could see yourself getting pulled back into interactions with the narcissists that do anything but benefit you.
Once it’s all over
Figuring out how to leave a narcissist whom you’ve loved is probably the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life.
But you can shake your self off of narcissistic abuse for good.
Similar to a black hole, if you take away the energy that is being given to feed the narcissist, then there is no longer anything for them to feed on and the poisonous dynamic begins fading away so you can finally break free.
And once it’s all over you’ll rebuild your identity and become stronger than ever before.