It’s hard to get over a narcissist. They have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves for getting people invested and entangled within them.
If you’re going through the process of getting over a narcissist, here are some things that might help, as discussed by experts.
Table of Contents
- Stop blaming yourself
- Don’t “over-sympathize” for them
- Find your truth
- Have limited contact
- Clear your head
- See a specialist
- Recognize and validate your emotion
- Take your life back
- Love yourself
- Stop internalizing their projections
- Spend time with people who celebrate you
- Analyze why you were with a narcissist
- Try to step away from the relationship
- Disengage from conversations
- Talk to a trusted person
- Seek out professional help
- Have time for self-care
- Find your voice
- Figure out how you were trained to accommodate the narcissist
- Know the appeal
- Develop a new or expanded tribe
- Be gentle with yourself
- Return to self care
- Seek professional help
- No contact is the only way to go
- You need to go no contact
- You must make sure they no longer get any supply from you
- Be aware of the trauma bond
- Yoga can help you get over a narcissist because you are learning to love yourself first
- Go to therapy
- Be selfish
- Get small wins
- Stay away from negative people
- Hypnotherapy may help you manage your relationship with a narcissist
Dr. Angela Webb
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, McIntyre Psychological Services
Stop blaming yourself
Do any of these statements sound familiar? “You’re the crazy one. You are overreacting. If you wouldn’t have done that, I wouldn’t have had to do what I did. You made this happen and it is all your fault.”
These things are not true and the actual term for this is “gaslighting,” which is often the main objective for people who display narcissistic traits.
Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be very good at making you feel like their behavior is your fault. This person is less likely to take responsibility for their behavior, feelings, and thoughts. They can be manipulative and often seek control of situations so that they do not expose their insecurities, which is part of “Narcissistic Injury.”
It is much easier for them to blame someone else, which is you. One of the worst things you can do is blame yourself. You did not cause them to act that way, so stop blaming yourself.
Don’t “over-sympathize” for them
Yes, something probably happened to them in their lifetime that manifested into narcissism, but that is not enough to warrant your sympathy. Afterall, personality disorders are life-long patterns, and they did not become that way overnight.
Regardless of situations that others have been through, their maladaptive coping or lack thereof is not an excuse for you to accept them treating you poorly.
Find your truth
Individuals with narcissistic traits are keen on distorting reality. It is easy to fall into a pattern of thinking when you believe lies, thought you were going crazy or watched things fall apart around you. You can find your truth by watching how other people around you are living.
Look at others with healthy relationships for guidance.
The truth is that no relationship is perfect, but there are certainly some that are more healthy than others. Think of someone you know who has a healthy relationship. Look at their reality and compare it to the toxic environment you were in.
Another way to find the truth is to ask your loved ones for help.
Have limited contact
A healthy relationship with someone who possesses narcissism is challenging and can continue to affect your worldview. At most, you can encourage them to seek help so that they can live a healthy life.
However, this may backfire on you and make you feel worse about yourself because they often find opportunities to gain control and reinforce the pain you have already endured. If you have children with this person, document everything and limit your interaction with them as much as possible.
Clear your head
Give yourself a break. Take a vacation. Realize you have been through some tough times, and that it is time to take care of yourself.
If you have neglected your own needs during a relationship, find your inner peace by finding a quiet place and doing some meditation, using guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, or anything else that helps you relieve stress in a healthy way.
See a specialist
It would be a good idea to make an appointment with a therapist who specializes in recovering from narcissistic relationships. You may feel better after verbalizing your pain to someone who can truly help you.
Evidence-based treatment is a very healthy way to learn new coping mechanisms in order to minimize any residual anxiety, depression, or other mental health symptoms.
Recognize and validate your emotion
Stop saying, “I should have known.” Oftentimes as humans, we forget that our feelings matter. Whatever you are feeling is real and never wrong. Remember that it is “ok” to feel the way you do.
You feel the way you feel and you are always doing the best you can with the skills you have.
Take your life back
While you were in the relationship, your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors were likely focused on “not making the person mad.” You get a chance to take back your own feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
Take your life anywhere you want it to go. Be the best version of yourself.
Find what you love about yourself and be self-assured. Don’t allow your mind to dwell on their criticisms. Avoid wasting time and energy on negative thoughts.
You are more special than you realize. You are not the bad things that person said you are. You are stronger than you realize. Meet people, find new hobbies, and feel confident in yourself.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Narcissists come in many varieties, but we can be pretty certain that being with them for any length of time will likely make us feel invalidated, invisible, and unheard. We even may come away from them feeling as if there’s something very defective about ourselves.
Here are three ways to get over being with a narcissist and reclaim yourself after they have stolen your sense of self.
Stop internalizing their projections
Because narcissists find it difficult, if not impossible, to recognize and accept their negative qualities, they will project them onto you.
They will remind you of how often you think only of yourself, criticize your inability to forgive, or blame you for being judgmental as a way of not seeing these qualities in themselves. This is called projection and it keeps them feeling untouched by negative aspects of self while dumping them on you.
In order to get over a narcissist, you will need to shed their negative projections which you’ve internalized.
Spend time with people who celebrate you
There’s nothing better to erase the self-centeredness of a narcissist than being with people who love, cherish, and appreciate you.
Make sure to spend as much time with them as possible and inhale their praise and adoration. Let them take care of you as an antidote to all the emotional and physical care-taking you’ve done of the narcissist.
Enjoy rather than feel guilty when they shower you with love and make you the center of attention. This will help rebuild your self-esteem and bring you back to feeling valued and empowered.
Analyze why you were with a narcissist
When you feel you can rationally reflect on the relationship, consider what went wrong. Learn more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Traits.
Try to understand why you were drawn to such a self-centered person in the first place by examining your childhood, especially whether your parents had narcissistic traits. Look back at your life and identify if you’ve chosen to be with other narcissists.
Consider the possibility that you may have some in your life now and whether you wish to keep them close or back away from them. Think about how you can spot them in the future so you won’t have to go through another soul-depleting experience with one.
Alyssa Mairanz, LMHC, DBTC
Licensed Therapist and Owner, Empower Your Mind Therapy
Ending any relationship is always difficult. If it’s a relationship that no longer serves its purpose in your life or is a detriment to your own physical or emotional health, it might be time to cut ties.
Specifically when dealing with an ex-partner who is a narcissist, it’s important to watch out for certain behaviors and learn how to deal with getting over them in a healthy way.
Narcissism is a mental condition where people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for attention and admiration with a lack of empathy for others.
How to spot a narcissist
One major sign of a narcissist is when you see a combination of a grandiose sense of self (i.e. big ego) with the constant need for attention and praise. This is because high self-esteem is masking deep-rooted insecurity.
Gaslighting and degrading others is another sign. Narcissists need to put others down to make themselves feel better. They play the victim and are incapable of seeing their own flaws and wrongdoings and have an extreme need to always be right. They tend to be able to spin things to make you feel like you are in the wrong and need to apologize and do better.
Narcissists also tend to react with an angry or aggressive tone if they do not get what they want.
Here are some advices on getting over a narcissist:
Try to step away from the relationship
Often, when you step away from a narcissistic relationship, you are able to see the manipulation and question why you let that get in your head. Unfortunately, this clarity doesn’t appear until you’ve stepped away but is something you can look out for when heading into a new relationship.
Disengage from conversations
It is basically impossible to have a rational discussion with a narcissist, therefore, it’s important to try and disengage from conversations completely rather than try to get them to see your point or keep berating you.
Talk to a trusted person
If you are dealing with a narcissist and they are still attempting to communicate with you during the breakup, it’s important to talk to a trusted person.
As narcissists can easily get in your head, it’s vital to have someone to talk to in order to accept what is going on and gain perspective from someone who can help you see the manipulation and remind you of your self-worth.
Seek out professional help
It can also be very helpful to seek out professional help. Being in a relationship with a narcissist takes a huge emotional toll and can lead to intense feelings of self-doubt and low self-worth.
Anyone in this situation would need extra support as it’s a lot to carry alone. Having people in your support system is key, but the addition of therapy adds an extra layer of professional, unbiased support.
Have time for self-care
Narcissists tend to control their relationships and attempt to diminish the self-worth and esteem of their partners. This is extremely taxing and difficult to repair.
Make sure you take time for self-care and to practice self-love to reinforce the positive in you and identify your sense of self.
Leaving a toxic relationship with a narcissist can be extremely difficult. You are worth more than how you were treated and the damage in your life can be undone.
Know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and support to help you succeed.
Licensend Clinical Social Worker | Psychotherapist
Find your voice
It will take a while to start to distinguish your voice from your former partner’s. When you hear yourself making critical statements about yourself question, “Is that my voice, or my ex’s?” And if it is your ex’s, ask “Do I agree with that statement?”
When one is dating a narcissist for survival, you need to do what I call “auto-agree.” You don’t think about your point of view because the priority is to appease the narcissist. That knee-jerk inclination to parrot back the narcissist’s thoughts or auto-agree with whoever is in front of you will still be there when they leave.
Notice it, and instead of the auto agree just say “I will have to think about that,” and then actually do when you are solo with no pressure from outside influences. Write out lists of what I believe versus what the ex believed so you know what voice/values/concerns are actually yours.
Figure out how you were trained to accommodate the narcissist
Coming up, everyone is trained to behave in certain ways and be attracted to a certain someone. Journal, go to therapy, explore your story. There is no shame in how you got here. Figure out what was missing in your childhood, consider and make a plan how to address what was missing.
Know the appeal
Start to focus on the needs you filled for yourself by being with this person. Were they the life of the party, a rebel, a truth speaker and you enjoyed being in that orbit even if you don’t have the same talents?
Did they take care of things you don’t understand? Did they make decisions so you didn’t have to?
Figure out the needs the narcissist was filling – what parts of you were underdeveloped that you were using the narcissist to supplement? Start to develop those skills. You don’t have to become perfect at these skills but develop some mastery so when you are out looking for a partner, you don’t screen them based on your lack.
Develop a new or expanded tribe
Narcissists leave relationships by setting emotional fires all around them. Do not focus on trying to control the narrative that your ex is putting out to friends, family, coworkers, or associates. Let that go and know that people that really matter will figure out the truth based on your ongoing behavior and relationship with them, not the narcissist.
Let loved ones know what the ex is saying about you behind your back, on social media, or in the text is none of your business.
Do not allow others to report back to you. Focus on your self-development, encourage new interests, and new opportunities to meet people that are not connected to your ex.
Keischa Pruden, LCMHCS, LCAS, CCS
Owner and Therapist, Pruden Counseling Concepts
Be gentle with yourself
Give yourself permission to make mistakes without condemnation. Allow yourself to sit with your feelings and analyze them without having someone else tell you how you feel or what you should do. And give yourself time to be alone.
Rushing into another relationship soon after being freed from a narcissistic one almost guarantees you will choose another narcissist, or a narcissist will choose you.
Return to self care
People who are in intimate relationships with narcissists often find themselves catering to the needs of the narcissist, often to the detriment of their own biopsychosocial health.
Once a person ends a relationship with a narcissist, engaging in self care should be high on their list. Whether it’s a return to previous activities like long baths, manicures/pedicures, reading a good book, or finding new hobbies such as gardening, exercise, or even journaling, devoting time to activities one loves and has nothing to do with anyone else is definitely a way to heal after being in a dysfunctional relationship.
Seek professional help
Why? Being in a narcissistic relationship can leave in a person in a biological/psychological/social desert. More than likely, there will be issues with self esteem, engaging in emotionally healthy relationships, and some depression and/or anxiety.
A qualified therapist can:
- help identify dysfunctional thoughts/behaviors.
- help identify more functional thoughts/behaviors/strategies.
- offer support as changes are made in the life of the client.
Getting over a narcissist is a journey, not a sprint. It takes work, determination, and support to be free from the damage inflicted by a narcissist.
No contact is the only way to go
Narcissist do not like rejection! No contact is sometimes the only way to go.
In my experience, they tend to send out their flying monkeys to get information from you or take a dig at you.
The only way to win with a toxic person is not to play. Escaping from a toxic relationship can feel like breaking a piece of your heart off, like a wolf chews it’s leg off to escape a steal trap. Leaving isn’t easy, but it’s sometimes necessary to save yourself from dying inside.
Gaslighting is confusing. It makes you question yourself. It can be isolating. This is why no contact is the only way with a narcissist, as usually, their main form of communication is to gaslight and manipulate you with their words.
Once you have gone no contact with a narcissist, why would you want them to come back to you? If you give them narcissistic supply and good validation energy they will absolutely want you around. For the most part, I believe that they would be fine continuing to suck energy from you, just because you took a break!
Narcissist’s don’t change so be careful about this decision.
While going “no contact” may help you get over your ex, the only thing that will really help you get over them is time. If you were dating for one year, you need about 6 months to get over them, it takes about half of the time that you were together with them to get over them.
No contact is a strategy that works if you were dating a narcissist, someone with NPD, narcissistic personality disorder. If you are a codependent and they are a narcissist, then going “grey rock” or “stonewall” means you are setting yourself up for success from getting sucked back in or “hoovered” by them. If you have to co-parent it may be more challenging to go “no contact.”
A narcissist sees their partner as a coffee machine, something that is useful to have around, will definitely be missed if you don’t have it, however, they don’t care how the coffee maker feels. They just want to use it.
Body Language Expert | Speaker
You need to go no contact
Malignant narcissists are empty. They lack healthy emotional connections. So they need to be fed a constant narcissistic supply of other people’s emotions, or they fall into a dark abyss of nothingness.
Some research suggests that their brains don’t show the normal neural pathways to the brain’s pleasure centers. So instead of feeling happy when someone they love is happy, they feel good when they control the happiness of others. They become addicted to the sense of power they have over someone’s happiness.
They want to be the sole power company that provides you with all your energy, light, and heat. They may go above and beyond the norm as targeted lovers, friends, employees to create pleasure with their attention, gifts, and compliments. Unfortunately, they also feel pleasure by creating pain in their targets.
By controlling and creating more pleasure in their targets, they can also get hits of narcissistic supply by withdrawing that source, turning of energy light, and heat. They may escalate the “hit” of emotional supply they get from you by being cruel and abusive, then circling back to offer pleasure again in an endless narc loop.
If you are the target of a malignant narcissist, you are a possession, a source of supply that they can pick up and use anytime.
Most of us and can heal, forgive and move on from bad relationships with love and time. But the time for Malignant Narcissists is not linear. They feel any pain that has ever happened to them as if that pain is still happening. It hurts just as much. So if they think you hurt them, they feel it’s never too late to hurt you
They feel they should be able to reach for you to get the pleasure they once had so if you go no contact, they can feel just as angry at you years later as they did when it first happened. They may show this by continually calling you, or driving by your house, or trying to come back months or years later.
You must make sure they no longer get any supply from you
As a step before going no contact or as an alternative to no contact if you have to continue to see your abuser because of children or other unalterable connections, “Go Grey” when you are with them.
Don’t give them any of your emotions. Cut off that aspect of their narcissistic supply. Use a monotone voice and as little facial expression or body language cues like crossing or uncrossing arms as possible.
No matter what they may do to trigger you or those around you, stay neutral and show no fear, no anger, no happiness, no sadness. So, for example, if they call and try to make you laugh or get you mad, give them nothing. If they try to engage or ask questions, talk about the most mundane aspects of your day. When they speak, don’t give them emotional feedback. Repeat back what they say neutrally.
It is horrible that you have to hope they will find other sources of Narcissistic supply, so they don’t have to cycle back to you. It’s another level of effects of abuse. Therapists may even say it’s a good thing if your ex has a new gal because as much as you may fear for her future, she becomes a source of supply, and that may keep him from continuing to hurt you.
You have to go no contact. You have to hope your abuser won’t keep playing with you at a distance with actions like smear campaigns, name-calling, and damaging your other relationships to continue to make them feel connected and in contact to get supply
Normal appeals to have them stop treating you well don’t work as only consequences that affect them have any impact. Their greatest fear is public humiliation.
If they look weak or stupid to their friends, family, or workgroup when they seek to reconnect with you that can work, to motivate them to stop, it also backfires and creates a level of embarrassment that could escalate to violence.
In any case, you need to continue no contact; for example, if you go no contact but your abuser is still driving by your house, continue to ignore it.
No contact has to be complete. There should be no social media or any way for them to know about your life and feed off of it or see how to insert themselves in it or destroy it.
Make sure your mutual friends, family work contacts, etc. don’t give your abuser any supply indirectly from you or sources of information about you that they can use. If they are in contact with people you have in common, you need to trust them not to talk about you to your abuser
Your abuser may seek to know what’s going on in your life from a mutual friend and feed off it at a distance. If something wonderful is happening in your life they may want to remove or destroy it. For example, if they find out your dating someone new, they may find a way to falsely smear you with that new boyfriend or girlfriend.
If you can’t trust your friends not to share anything about you, know there is a chance your abuser will use what they share to come back and hurt you.
So if you can’t trust your friends or family, you may have to go no contact with them, at least a while. Or be very careful what you share with them about your life. A healthy way to handle that is to share with them that you have a fear that your abuser will use and or manipulate any information they have about your current life.
Say that in order to feel safe, you have to monitor what you share and thank them for respecting and honoring your safety. If they disagree that your abuser is a Malignant Narcissist and or they don’t understand what harm a Malignant narcissist can cause, you may be at risk.
You may also have to change or let go of relationships with people because they are interacting with your abuser in a way that denies he did great harm to you. If they normalize your abuser’s behavior and act as if nothing happened to you or is happening, that’s not healthy.
Simply knowing someone you are in contact with is sitting across the table with your abuser, and laughing may be too painful for you. And if you have a valid concern that your abuser may try to bad mouth you or make up stories about you to them, know it’s ok to protect yourself and step back.
Mary Joye, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Winter Haven Counseling
Be aware of the trauma bond
An expedited way to get over a narcissist is to study intermittent reinforcement that creates the trauma bond and work to be conscious of your subconscious and physiological reactivity.
It isn’t love you feel, it is a trauma bond.
This is systematically created by the narcissist to create a bond by love bomb and discard. In short, they build a pedestal for you and tear it down. They usually combine some form of isolation with this and keep you away from those who truly care for you. If you have been raised in a traumatic childhood or are codependent at all, this may make you more susceptible to the trap.
To escape, it may feel like you can’t live without them but it is more like an addictive response that creates feeling good when you are in touch with them and feeling extremely anxious when you are not.
You break the trauma bond by pushing through the anxiety and staying insulated with friends instead of isolated. This will also prevent future hovering from the narcissist. It’s imperative to get educated about trauma bonds because when you’re educated you are better able to be liberated forever.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Wisdom Within Counseling
Yoga can help you get over a narcissist because you are learning to love yourself first
Taking yoga will flush your body, strengthen your muscles, cleanse your mind, and give you a healthy outlet for any challenging or upsetting feelings from your past relationship.
Go to yoga at least once a week and if you can, three times a week for at least one hour. Go to a local yoga class versus doing yoga on your own, so that you can also have a new supportive friend group.
Going to yoga can help you feel stronger in your muscles and therefore stronger in your self-esteem, which prevents you from going back to a narcissist. Doing yoga also helps you focus on yourself and improve your self-care practices, which are often lost in negative relationships.
It can help you get over a narcissist because you are learning to love yourself first and realizing that every moment is an opportunity to value yourself. Yoga helps you learn how much to give to others and how much to get back to yourself and teaches you how to see yourself as beautiful.
Go to therapy
Working with a therapist can help you identify negative thoughts and triggers. In therapy, you can learn what parts of your childhood influence do you picking up now or narcissistic partner. You can also talk about the pain and the loss of what you hoped your past relationship would have become.
Therapy can be a safe place for you to process emotions from your childhood, release negative emotions from this past relationship, and learn about setting healthy boundaries with a narcissistic person. It can help you realize that you may have parents who are narcissistic which influences attracting a narcissistic partner.
Working with a counselor is like trying on a new pair of shoes, so it takes time to find the right fit. Make three interviews with three different therapists and get to know them in one session to see if they would be a good fit to help you reach your goals.
Going to counseling helps you gain mental clarity, strategies to communicate your feelings in healthy ways, and techniques to set boundaries with narcissistic people in your life. Seeking therapy can help you create a new healthier pattern and help you become more aware of your relationship tendencies.
Miles Mason, Sr.
Founder, Memphis Divorce
Having represented many women who have divorced men they claim are narcissists, I recommend the following:
Learn to understand the long-term impact of controlling behavior. Near the time of separation, many women don’t understand what has been happening to self-esteem and confidence.
If you need to hit the reset button in life, do for yourself before you seek to do for others. Get new clothes with the look you want. Travel to some place you have always wanted to go.
Get small wins
Look for little daily victories over problems. Build emotional momentum.
Stay away from negative people
If you have someone in your life who leans too much on you, find a way to distance yourself. Again, now is the time for selfishness. “Put on the oxygen mask for yourself before assisting others.”
Founder, NYC Hypnosis Center
Having a relationship with a narcissistic personality can be all consuming. It may be a close family member, friend or romantic partner that you are unable to confront about their unhealthy tendencies.
It can be easy to wrap yourself in their world and lose a sense of self. Their charisma may be what draws you in but experiencing that other side of their personality can leave you feeling frustrated and confused.
The toxic and unpredictable behavior, angry outbursts and the constant need for attention can feel overwhelming.
Hypnotherapy may help you manage your relationship with a narcissist
Hypnotherapy is highly effective at helping you manage your relationship with a narcissist. The goal is to focus on what you can control which in essence is your behavior and a strategy to address it. Through various techniques including visual imagery, deep relaxation exercises and repetition, you will learn to set boundaries and stand up for yourself.
Furthermore, through hypnosis, you will be able to access earlier events, gain greater insight into the behavioral patterns, see warning signs and address them before situations escalate. You will understand how to make better choices, specifically when to engage and when to walk away. When you do confront the narcissistic, you will be prepared.
Hypnosis also enables you to determine underlying reasons you may attract a narcissist, or why they are hostile toward you specifically and to break free from those patterns.
Hypnosis is a natural relaxed state where one is fully aware of everything that is happening and acts in accordance with their own value system. While in hypnosis, the hypnotherapist taps into the subconscious, a state in which one is able to access memories that are buried and is highly susceptible to initiating change.
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