Breaking Up With A Narcissist
- Important Steps

Breaking up with a narcissist is one of the hardest things you will do in your life. You are entering into a power struggle with someone who lives to control and dominate. They don't like to lose and they will not give up easily. They have invested all this time in getting you to be the kind of person they want to have around them (think slave!) and they are not going to let you go easily. They certainly won't give you 'closure'.

There are certain behaviors that narcissists go through depending on whether they are the ones who choose to leave or you decide that you have had enough and want out. Either way, it's typical for them to tell everyone that they made the decision to leave because they don't want people to think they were dumped. So lies are common and you can expect many more of them in either case.

The basic requirements for you when breaking up with a narcissist, however, are essentially the same.

  • Establish that you were, in fact, in a relationship with a narcissist
  • Leave the situation and have little or no contact with them.
  • Get help
  • Learn about mind control and personality disorders
  • Get help
  • Undo the false personality they imposed on you
  • Build up your real personality again
  • Reestablish relationships with family and friends that may have been disrupted by the narcissist
  • Rework your criteria for the kind of relationships you want in the future and put them into practice.
  • Did I mention to get help?!?

Let's have a look at each of these in turn.


Breaking up with a narcissist - Be sure

Something important to recognize is that when a person first considers that their partner might be a narcissist or a psychopath, it's very difficult to accept the idea. The person has been programmed to ignore the red flags, to give the manipulator the benefit of the doubt and to believe that the problems in the relationship are theirs and that the manipulator is the role model.

Accepting that your loved one may have been abusing you and taking advantage of you is a big one to get your head around. Get help. Talk to family members and close friends. Tell them what has really been going on in the relationship and ask their opinion. You have been trained not to do this and it may seem that you are betraying your partner in some way. If you do experience this, let it be evidence for you that you are in a bad relationship.

Once you have established that you are dealing with a narcissist, it's very important that you keep this in mind at all times. Why? Because the rules are different than in the breakup of a normal, healthy relationship.

The narcissist is going to lie to you, a lot, they have been abusing you for the whole of the relationship and they are not going to stop, they are not going to change, no matter what they promise or how convincing they may sound (they are lying!). Trying to be nice to them in the hope that they will return the favor is a losing proposition. They will take what you give and not give anything back. They will say one thing and do another. You cannot negotiate with them. They will blame you for everything.

Once you have made the decision that you are leaving, keep reminding yourself of all the above and do not change your mind, no matter what they say or do.


Breaking up with a narcissist - leaving

Once you have decided that you are better off out of the relationship, get out as quickly as possible. This is much easier said than done, because the manipulator has made you dependent on them. The idea of leaving is probably terrifying, you may have difficulty thinking about how you can possibly manage without this person, even though you already recognize that your situation right now is awful.

The steps I outlined above are not necessarily sequential. Sometimes someone has to learn about narcissism and mind control in order to realize that they need to get out. Professional help here in invaluable. It will save you a lot of time and heartache.

As I said, getting out is fundamental but often very tricky. Getting away from the manipulator is vital to putting an end to the abuse. Find a way to separate.

Limiting contact is also a significant part of separating. Keep in mind that every contact with the narcissist is a chance for the narcissist to continue to emotionally manipulate you and generally mess with your head. Every contact with the narcissist is an opportunity for them to reinforce all the ideas that they have put in your head.

If possible, block the narcissist in all means of contact. If necessary, suspend your social media accounts so that the narcissist cannot track you. Information control is one of the pillars of mind control and the more information the manipulator has about you, the easier it is for them to control you. You want to starve them of information so that it's more difficult for them to know what's going on in your head. I say 'if possible' because I know how difficult doing something like that is for victims. The dependency on them is very strong and you are programmed to be with them. Not being with them can feel incredibly awful and the only way to ease the tension is to have some sort of contact with them, even if that is looking at their social media. This, too, should be avoided, firstly because it prolongs the dependency, and secondly, it's often distressing to see that they have already moved on and are with someone else, often doing the same things that they did with you!

Because of all the above, the ideal exit is to leave the relationship and then tell them that you have gone. This way you don't have to listen to all the manipulation and abuse that happens when a narcissist is told that the relationship is over. If you can get your stuff out of the house while they are not there and then text them that you never want to see them again, this will save you a lot of trouble!

Obviously, for many that is not going to happen for various reasons. But the same ideas hold, get out quick, do not engage in long conversations about the relationship, who's fault it was, potential futures, etc. Remember the narcissist is not going to change and they are lying to you.

They will try all sorts of tactics to get you to stay. They will say it was all your fault, then tell you that you are making a huge mistake, you are missing out on a tremendous future, they may say it's their fault but obviously don't mean it. They cycle through threats, predicting horrors in your future without them, being friendly, back to blaming you and so on and on... For that reason you are better off not listening to any of it. It is designed to upset you, to cause chaos in your head so that you can't think straight and it all makes you doubt the correctness of your decision to leave.

Get help from friends and family. Financial help, emotional help, companionship, a place to stay, a shoulder to cry on. Whatever you need, ask for it. You have been trained not to ask others for help. It's time to break that pattern.


Breaking up with a narcissist - learning

You have to learn about mind control and narcissism.

These types use mind control techniques to dominate and exploit their victims. These are not special techniques known only to a few, they are the usual influence techniques used by everyone but with a very specific purpose in mind. That purpose is to build compliance in people around them, to create dependency and take away people's free will.

The effect of influence techniques is not understood by most people. In other words, the effects work outside of people's awareness. That means that people are affected in certain ways and even though they may be aware that they are being influenced, they do not understand how that happens. This, in turn, means that people cannot mentally resist the techniques. If you don't understand something that is happening, you can't take steps to stop it.

The idea is to learn about the subtleties of mind control techniques so that you see how specifically you were controlled. Once you get the how, then you have choices in how to respond to the techniques. As well as that, the influence of the technique on you from the past disappears. This is fundamental in undoing the damage done to you by the narcissist.


Breaking up with a narcissist - pseudopersonality

The pseudopersonality idea is a brilliant model for describing the effects of manipulators on others. Basically the manipulator wrecks the personality of the victim, makes changes and then freezes these changes in place. This model was first described by Edgar Schein when describing the brainwashing effects on prisoners of war in the 1950s.

The manipulator changes the perceptions, thought processes, ideas, beliefs, emotions, decision making and behaviors fo the victims. This basically adds up to a personality change.

This is why family and friends say that they hardly recognize the victim any longer and why victims say that they lost themselves in the relationship, or that they literally don’t know who they are any more.

The three steps mentioned are not necessarily three distinct stages. For example, the manipulator is criticizing the victim on an ongoing basis throughout the relationship, chipping away constantly at the real personality. So step one is actually an ongoing process, making sure the real personality has difficulty functioning. Likewise, the manipulator may also be forcing different changes at different points in the relationship.

The overall effect is that the victim has a new but false personality imposed upon them. They literally become different than they were before. This false personality is called a pseudopersonality, from the Greek 'pseudes', meaning false.

The pseudopersonality is programmed to trust and believe in the manipulator. It is trained to take care of the manipulator. It is trained to put the desires and needs of the manipulator before it's own. It is made to be dependent on the manipulator. The life of the victim revolves around making the manipulator comfortable. Simply put, the manipulator controls every aspect of the life of the victim.

However, the pseudopersonality never completely destroys the real personality. Think of it as the pseudopersonality repressing and dominating the real personality. This explains really nicely the internal conflicts of the victim. One part of them loves and adores the manipulator, another part hates the way the manipulator treats them sometimes. The pseudopersonality is programmed to be terrified of leaving the abuser, but the real personality knows that getting out is best. The pseudopersonality is trained to look out for the manipulator and the real personality resents having to do these things.

As long as the pseudopersonality dominates, the victim often goes against their own best interests.

These unresolvable conflicts often lead the victim to think that there is something wrong with them, that the narcissist is right and that they are defective in some way. Some victims say that they think that they are actually going mad.

The trick in breaking up with a narcissist is to get rid of this pseudopersonality. Simple leaving the relationship is not enough. The pseudopersonality was put in place with intense influence techniques, without the knowledge or consent of the victim, over some period of time. The victim does not know how it was put in place. Therefore they don't know how to undo it and it does not go away on it's own. Which means it will persist for decades if not dealt with.

Getting professional help to understand what was done, how it was done and why it was done is highly recommended. In this way, the effects of the manipulator wear off, the pseudopersonality disappears and the victim's real personality is allowed to flourish once more. In this way the person takes back control of their own lives.

Another important factor is that once the pseudopersonality is in place, it is instantly recognizable to other manipulators! If you have a pseudopersonality, it's as obvious to other manipulators as if you had it tattooed on your forehead that you were in an abusive relationship before. This is why people get caught in multiple abusive situations, not because they 'attract' narcissists.


Breaking up with a narcissist - re-emerging

As the pseudopersonality disappears and your real personality begins to take over, you have to relearn how to make your own decisions. In the mind control situation, there was a master program running, imposed by the narcissist, and this master program informed your thinking and decision making. For example, "If I do this, will s/he be upset? Yes. Ok, pick something else..." Without that, you have to start making decisions where you are at the center of your own universe and the decisions benefit you first.

For someone who was born into a toxic family, one where there were narcissists, they will have had a pseudopersonality from the start. Their real personality was never allowed to develop. For these people this is an added complexity in their recovery. They have no 'before the abuse' personality with which to compare the abusive situation. So part of their recovery is to figure out who they really are. Sometimes this is at the level of what their favorite food is, what their favorite type of movie is, what their favorite color is and so on.

It can be difficult navigating this alone. Again, professional help is invaluable.


Breaking up with a narcissist - old and new relationships

Many victims of narcissistic abuse have been isolated from family and friends in one way or another. Sometimes these relationships need to be fixed. Many friends will say that they are glad you figured out what was going on and that you are now 'back'. Others may be still smarting from something that happened and no longer want to be friends. You may realize, now that you know how to spot a narcissist, that some friends were actually abusive and you no longer want to have anything to do with them. And some people will not get what you have been through, they simply won't understand it. Look at the amount of time that you have spent to learn about this topic and realize that they will never invest the time to learn, and so you have to deal with that aspect if you want to continue the relationship with them.

In terms of getting into a new intimate relationship, my advice is to give yourself some time in order to settle into your own identity first. Then before you get involved with anyone, make a list of the values and beliefs that are important for you in a partner. The reason I suggest this is that the list you had before has gotten you into trouble. It was not effective. For example, someone who is fun to be with, someone who showers me with gifts and praise, someone who falls in love with me quickly, might provide for a fantastic time initially in a relationship but can end in utter disaster.


Breaking up with a narcissist - more reading

You can read more about the symptoms of narcissism, things manipulative people say, signs of an abusive person, the dynamics in an abusive relationship and what constitutes a good recovery from a narcissistic relationship.

Like this page?


Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?

If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Available now!

54 tips image
54 Practical Tips For Dealing With Psychopaths and Narcissists

You have the theory but how do you actually apply it? This book spells it out...

Find out more

Mind Control Manual

mind control manual s

Vital concepts about mind control, cults
and psychopaths

Do you think that you might be in an abusive relationship? Are you realizing that the group you are in may be a cult?

This manual will give you a different perspective!

What Is Narcissism?

what is narcissism small

A practical guide to protecting yourself

Do you think you are being taken advantage of emotionally, physically, sexually or financially in your relationship? Do you want to leave but you can't seem to get away?

Learn how to break free, and why you need to!

Tips for dealing with psychopaths and narcissists

Fortnightly newsletter with practical tips and ideas
Learn more...
'7 Vital Do's and Don'ts of Decision Making' when you subscribe!