If you feel that all of your energy is being sucked away by the person with whom you're in a relationship, it's possible that you're with a narcissist. Such people have an inordinate need for attention and admiration, use people and have difficulty being self-critical, according to psychiatrist Mark Banschick in a January 2013 article in "Psychology Today." Cutting ties with such a person can be a way of preserving your own mental health, and it may not be as difficult as it appears.
Refuse to give the narcissistic person the attention she craves. Once energy-depleting people are robbed of their source, they tend to move along, says psychiatrist Judith Orloff in an April 2002 article in "Oprah Magazine." This is more likely to be effective if the narcissist you want out of your life is a casual friend, rather than someone with whom you've been involved for years.
Do not react if the narcissist baits you. A narcissistic person likes reactions, and if he can't get a positive one because you are ending the relationship, he may attempt to get a negative one. Don't be surprised if he makes up lies about you, accuses you of wrongdoing or otherwise presses buttons. In her book, "The Path Forward: Surviving the Narcissist," Loyola University professor Lisa Scott warns that eliciting a reaction proves to a narcissist that he still has a hold on you. To make a clean break, ignore rumors, ignore his phone calls and walk away when he baits you.
Stick to the boundaries you set. Narcissists have difficulty respecting other people's boundaries, so expect them to be tested. If you ask the narcissist not to call you and she does anyway, don't pick up the phone.
Resist manipulative attempts to make you feel guilty. Some narcissists take a victim stance, says psychotherapist Samuel Lopez de Victoria, and try to make you feel guilty for not doing enough for them or trying hard enough. Recognize that a narcissist is responsible for her own well-being, and that any attempts to shame you into continuing the relationship is self-centered manipulation.
Ignore promises to change. A narcissist who wants to have you under her control is likely to promise to change or temporarily behave in a kinder, more loving manner. Be aware that these individuals are highly resistant to change, as they do not realize that their behaviors are inappropriate, says Scott.They rarely seek professional help for their issues.
- Psychology Today: The Narcissist
- Oprah: Protect Yourself From Energy Vampires
- PsychCentral: Narcissists Who Cry -- The Other Side of the Ego
- The Path Forward: Surviving the Narcissist; Lisa Scott
- Banschick notes that narcissists can be vicious when they don't get their way. The type of person who believes he is the center of the universe is also a person who can refuse to accept that he is not welcome in someone's life. The end of a relationship could bring out dangerous behavior, so if you feel this might be a possibility, avoid bluntly ending your relationship face-to-face and opt for email instead. Contact authorities if your safety is threatened.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.