Loving a narcissist can be cruelly painful since you are always trying your best not to disrespect or upset them.
When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you’re constantly in fear, trying to save yourself from their exploitative and abusive behavior.
Narcissism is common, and 6.2% of the general population suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Stinson et al, 2008).
In 2009, Twenge and Campbell found that NPD has more than doubled in the U.S. in the past 10 years and that 1 in 16 people had NPD in their lifetime.
Narcissists have an insatiable need for admiration coupled with zero empathy, so it is no use trying to fix a toxic relationship with them. It’s better if you stop your love and supply for them.
How To Stop Loving A Narcissist?
If you’ve been in a long-term relationship with a narcissist, you know how tough it is to break up with them, stop loving them, or stop yourself from going back to them.
Here are some insights to help you stop loving them and move on:
1. Come Out of Denial. Accept The Reality With Brutal Honesty.
Survivors of narcissistic trauma often live in denial and shame. Yet, it is totally fine to accept that you fell into their trap. Stop blaming yourself. Start by being totally honest with yourself.
Denial is a short-term defense mechanism. Get out of it by telling yourself that the relationship is toxic and wreaking havoc on your mental and emotional health.
Accept that you need to break free from the narcissist. It can be hard to accept the hopelessness of the situation. That the person you love cannot ever reciprocate your love in a healthy way.
As author and therapist Shannon Thomas, Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse, puts it,
“The important thing to remember is that even if survivors stayed broken for the rest of their lives, the abusers do not. They are not experiencing the same devastation.”
Remind yourself that it is not your duty to fix the narcissist. Moreover, you cannot because they hate you for trying to change them.
2. Set Strict Relationship Boundaries. Cut Off All Contact.
The relationship is toxic beyond repair, so the only way to save further damage is to set up strict boundaries with the narcissist. Setting boundaries is not a selfish act; it’s an act of self-respect.
Knowing how to set boundaries is a skill that will serve you well throughout your life, and it is something that everyone should master.
Start cutting off all contact with them. It means blocking their phone number and social media accounts, avoiding places where you know they would be, and limiting any communication to only what is absolutely necessary.
Keep each exchange of words with them strictly transactional.
“I want you to do this.”
“I can’t do this for you.”
Communicating clear boundaries can be challenging, but they protect you from manipulation and gaslighting. Finding your voice can be hard at first; please go gentle with yourself.
“Love yourself enough to say no to anything that is not healthy for you.”
3. Seek Support from Friends, Family, or A Therapist
Narcissists expect love, respect, and praise, but do not give those to others.
Years of narcissistic abuse can make you become a people-pleaser, feel intense shame at yourself, be hypervigilant and stressed, unable to decide things for yourself.
Narcissistic abuse survivors often feel alone and helpless.
Breaking free from a narcissistic relationship can be emotionally challenging, and it’s important to have a support system in place.
Friends and family members who can provide emotional support and validation can be invaluable, but sometimes a therapist or counselor may be necessary to help you work through the trauma and abuse you’ve experienced.
As therapist, YouTuber, and author Dr. Ramani Durvasula notes,
“You’re going to need to rely on people who will be there for you no matter what.”
4. Focus on Self-Care and Self-Love
Narcissists will always place their needs before yours, and they will train you to be at their beck and call all the time.
After ending a relationship with a narcissist, and all of them are deeply selfish, take time to focus on self-care and self-love.
This may include practicing mindfulness, engaging in regular exercise, finding creative outlets for self-expression, and setting aside time for self-reflection and introspection.
On this, Julie L. Hall advises,
“You have the right to privacy and dignity. You have the right to personal safety and security.”
Keep reminding yourself that your worth is not defined by your relationship with a narcissist. You deserve love, respect, and support, regardless of your relationship status.
Working on building your self-esteem and practicing self-care can help you develop the confidence you need to leave the relationship and move forward with your life.
Why Is It Hard to Leave a Narcissist?
Leaving a relationship with a narcissist is easier said than done, and there are valid reasons.
- The cycle of abuse and love bombing that many narcissists engage in, where they alternate between being loving and affectionate and being emotionally abusive and manipulative, can make their victims trauma-bonded with them.
- Leaving a narcissist can be terrifying because of their nature of rage, retaliation, and a twisted sense of justice. This fear can keep victims trapped in the relationship.
- Narcissists can be extremely manipulative and may use tactics such as guilt-tripping, gaslighting, or even threats to keep their partners from leaving. They may also attempt to isolate their partner from friends and family, leaving them feeling like they have nowhere to turn. Narcissists often prey on individuals who have a tendency to prioritize others’ needs over their own, and may also target those with low self-esteem. This can make it challenging for individuals to leave the relationship, as they may feel that they are not worthy of love and support outside of the relationship.
- Finally, many people who find themselves in relationships with narcissists struggle with codependency and low self-esteem that they create in you, which can make it difficult to establish healthy boundaries and leave the relationship.
All these tactics work to establish and maintain control and power over you. If you’re in their trap, please seek support from trusted friends or family members who can provide a safe space for you.
Can a Narcissist Change?
You may wonder if a narcissist can change, particularly if you are in a long-term relationship with one.
While it’s possible for individuals with NPD to make some changes, know that NPD is a pervasive and ingrained personality disorder, and as such, it’s unlikely that a narcissist will completely change their behavior.
While therapy and other treatment options may help manage their symptoms and improve interpersonal relationships, a true personality change is unlikely.
At best, they can be taught how to behave like normal people, while keeping their urges to harm others under control.
Moreover, treatment for NPD often involves a combination of therapy (specifically cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT) and medication, and even then, progress may be slow and limited.
In fact, some experts believe that attempting to change a narcissist can actually make them worse.
Please remember, you cannot change a narcissist, and it’s not your responsibility to do so. Prioritize to protect yourself and your well-being, whether that means seeking support from a therapist or leaving the relationship entirely.
What are some signs that you’re in a narcissistic relationship?
Narcissists are profoundly selfish but expect generosity from you, have low self-esteem but humiliate and criticize you, and demand to be let off the hook but are unforgiving and intolerant of your mistakes. They expect constant love but treat you with indifference or contempt, demand loyalty from you but themselves open to cheating and leaving, and want you to be under their finger but will accept almost no responsibility. Finally, they will rage out if they feel you disrespected them, but will constantly disrespect you.
Can you tell if a narcissist loves you?
It can be difficult to tell if a narcissist truly loves you because their love is often conditional and self-serving. They may show love and affection when it benefits them, but withdraw it when they do not get what they want. They may also use “love bombing” as a manipulation tactic to gain control over you. Read the 10 Facts About Narcissistic Love.
What are some tell-tale signs of a narcissist?
Some signs of a narcissist include:
— A lack of empathy for others
— A tendency to manipulate and exploit others
— A tendency to blame others for their problems
— An excessive need for admiration and attention
— A preoccupation with themselves and their achievements
— A tendency to become angry or defensive when criticized
Narcissists are monsters probably created by their childhood abusers. They grew up deluded enough to exploit and harm others without regrets.
Don’t justify a narcissist’s present actions by their past suffering.
Don’t glorify narcissist leaders because they are doing what you would do in your fantasies.
Narcissists are these selfish, greedy, cunning people with an inflated sense of self and little respect for others. Alarmingly, these personality flaws are not just tolerated today, but even celebrated.
Three take-home messages:
- A narcissist may seek treatment, but any positive change is unlikely.
- Prioritize your well-being and safety, and take steps to stop further harm.
- Stopping your love for a narcissist allows you the well-deserved chance to be loved and valued for who you are, not what you do for them.
Speak with a therapist who can help you work through your feelings and plan a safe exit from the toxic relationship.
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Author Bio: Written and researched by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher, who writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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