Well, get ready you are in for an interesting ride. I won’t lie it isn’t going to be easy. But you can move on, to someone better...you.
Realize that the break up will be brutal and the answers you need/want will not be forthcoming.
If the narcissist breaks up with you, it will likely be sudden, brutal and seeming without any care or concern for your feelings. They are done using you, or have decided they can get their needs met somewhere else. The cut will be final and complete...unless they figure they can still use you to get something. Don’t fall for it. It is going to be painful, this awakening to who they really are. Trust the process.
If you are breaking up with the narcissist be prepared for it to be all your fault and for the charm to be laid on thick. They need to get you back because they weren’t done using you yet. Keep this in mind. Trust all your reasons for wanting to break up. If you waver, don’t let them know. Cut off communication or if that is not possible, direct all communication through your attorney. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you engage, the chances are you will be back in it with them and not even know it until it is too late. The more times you try to leave and go back, the harder it will be to ever really leave. You deserve better. Your feelings are real and your experience can be relied upon. Trust your gut.
If you cannot cease all communication, become as non-reactive as possible. Narcissists seem to thrive on conflict and creating situations where you doubt yourself. Stop giving them opportunities. It is a common misconception that you will be able to reason with, discuss or relate in a manner that assures a mutual understanding. Keep in mind, they don’t care about that. That is you. You care about that. They just want what they want and will manipulate and lie to get it. You cannot have a battle of wits with an unarmed man. And you cannot have a honest conversation with a narcissist!
Realize that in leaving the narcissist, you are attempting to break a trauma bond (a connection between the abuser and victim through intense, shared emotional experiences). Do research on how this manifests in your life. Get help from a qualified coach or therapist. This is important. This is likely not the first narcissist in your life, there is probably a long line of them. If this is truly your first, do the work to ensure that it is your last.
Remove all your connections to the narcissist. Unfollow them on social media and inform your friends to keep you in the dark about what they are up to. You need a media blackout. Remember, you likely got this far in because they loved bombed you into believing that you were the center of their universe and their love for you unparalleled. This was most likely a manipulation. Remember, if this relationship worked for you, you would not feel the way that you do and you would not be so conflicted about trying to exit it.
Be prepared for the narcissist to move on, quickly. But there will likely be some sort of boomerang. Something that you possess that they need or weren’t done with yet...be prepared. It might look like you never mattered. Do not be fooled. You did matter, it is just you outlived your usefulness and so it was time for them to move on. This can change at any time, you can become “needed” again. Trust your reasons for leaving or that they left you in the cold and calculated manner they did. Steel yourself to this truth. Get help.
You will grieve the loss of this relationship because you were invested. You loved. You cared. Losing this narcissist person will be a loss for you. That is the bad news. The good news is that if you can grieve the loss and see how you ended up where you did, you never have to end up there again! Getting angry also can be helpful. I am much better able to hold my boundaries when I pissed. It is ok to be pissed for a little while. Again, get help from a qualified therapist or coach. There is no shame in getting support. You are not dumb, wrong or an idiot (these are the things my clients say to me all the time, and I have thought the same thing about myself on several occasions). You are a person who loved someone who isn’t capable of giving you love back. It really is that simple. If you want to have the love returned, you are going to have to pick someone else.
Do some research on narcissists and trauma bonds. This will go a long way to helping you see the patterns of your own behavior. It can also help you not relapse into contacting them when the day comes when all you can remember is the good times. And believe me, that day will come! And it may come a lot. Thinking fondly of them doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision, if there were no good times and only bad, you likely would have never gotten this far in. As my friend says, “everything looks good going in...” We are usually only capable of seeing the glaring red flags in retrospect.
Avoid the shame/blame game. You are likely going to feel shameful about your participation in this relationship. All the things you gave in order to receive. Be nice to yourself. Be kind. Treat yourself like you would a friend or child or pet that you love. You are human. You are not horrible or bad or even wrong to love this person. It really comes down to the fact that you love someone who lacks the capacity to love you back. There is no shame in that. No blame either. It just happened. And if you do the work now, it never has to happen again.
Be patient and gentle with yourself. You have been through a lot. But all that has happened can and will give rise to a newer, better you...if you use what has happened to you, for you. I am a firm believer that if I am not the problem, then I am fucked. It isn’t that I think that I should go around accepting responsibility for other’s shitty conduct. It is just that I am the only one that I can change. I cannot make someone love me, treat me well, respect me or show up for me. And I have learned, very painfully and hard, that trying to get love from someone who either doesn’t have it to give, or isn’t interested in giving it, is a wasted effort all the way around. My time so much better spent on things that I can actually participate in.
I have learned to view people’s capacity. I ask myself all the time:
“Does this person have the capacity to be my partner?”
“Does this person have the capacity to be vulnerable, authentic and present?”
“Does their capacity match mine?”
If I find that I am the one lacking capacity, chances are I am not in relationship with a narcissist. If the other person lacks capacity in my estimation, it doesn’t really matter what they are or not. They are just not a good fit for me. It really doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. I have left some pretty amazing people over this whole capacity thing. I loved them but I could see that our capacities were not in line and my continued involvement with them was only going to bring me more of the same shit I was already tired of getting. So I left. You can too.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you might (correctly or incorrectly) assess the other’s capacity, that you have any power to make them actualize it. Capacity, not unlike potential, is theirs to effectuate or not. You can encourage and support another’s growth and change but you can’t make them want to do it, do it or even wish to do it. That is inherent in the individual. And none of us are able to grow that up in someone else. Sucks, I know. But as with so many things in this life, it is an inside job. And no matter how close you are with someone, you will never be inside them. Ever.
The best way to heal from any bad relationship is to take your power back. Find out who you are and why you engaged to the level you did. Find out what you want/need. Forgive yourself for the things you did to be loved. We all need love and sometimes we don’t really know how to go about getting it. It is really quite confusing. Look at the status of today’s relationships, I can tell you, most people have no idea what they are doing, or even why. You are not alone. You are not unloveable. Perhaps, as has been my experience, we can only attract that which we already possess within ourselves. The more I have learned to love me, the better and higher quality of people I have pulled into my orbit. And I have also had to do the very hard work of releasing those who are not capable, willing or likely to be able to give me that which I deserve: respect, honesty, love, tenderness and parity.
One sided relationships are always out of balance. So I have learned that I cannot be balanced when engaged in one. It is like trying to make a cross country trip with a flat tire, any forward progress is stalled, delayed and thwarted because I haven’t addressed this one very important issue that is holding me back.
Healing is hard work. So much easier to disappear into the next shitshow. But if you want to retire from your bad relationship circuit, start here. Do the above. Take some time for yourself. Hike into the woods, and allow yourself to get lost. Walk the beach or a path near you. Nature is where I go to find myself. To walk and talk to God and to find out who the hell I am. Spend time alone. Get help from someone who knows the path and can help. Do not beat yourself up, chances are if you have gone ten rounds with a narcissist you are pretty bloody already. Take a deep breath and begin. Once you find out why you bit the hook, you never have to bite it again...