A relationship with a narcissist is emotionally demanding, as the narcissist will turn nearly any conversation about you or the relationship back around to himself, explains Thomas Plante, Ph.D., adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, in the "Psychology Today" article "How To Spot a Narcissist? Pretty Easy When Everywhere!" Narcissists tend to be initially attractive due to their gregarious nature, but this attraction wanes quickly when you realize yours is never going to be a relationship based on equality. Ending the relationship and leaving your narcissistic boyfriend is best accomplished by acknowledging to yourself that your needs and feelings matter.
Prepare yourself for the inevitable fallout that you will face once you declare your intention to leave the narcissist. Narcissists thrive on displacing their own deep feelings of insecurity, explains Dr. Craig Malkin, chief psychologist at Harvard Medical School’s Cambridge Hospital, in “5 Early Warning Signs You’re With a Narcissist,” published by "The Huffington Post." Even if he is a large part of the reason why the relationship isn’t working, the narcissist may turn to blaming you for everything or at least the brunt of the problems. No amount of conversation will persuade an ardent narcissist that he is at fault, so don’t worry about formulating a defense. Instead, get ready for a potentially disproportionate reaction to your announcement that you are, in fact, leaving.
Reach out to your sources of social support, including friends and family. Social supports can reduce stress and increase your feelings of security, explains the Mayo Clinic in the post “Social Support: Tap This Tool to Beat Stress.” The narcissist, explains Dr. Malkin, vehemently avoids any outward expression of emotion or vulnerability. While your boyfriend might indeed cause quite the scene when you tell him you’re leaving, he will also likely seem cold and indifferent about your feelings. Having the support of other, emotionally healthy individuals can help you feel less isolated in the midst of disconnecting from him. Social supports can also be invaluable once you have left to help you process and recover from the end of your relationship.
Have a plan prepared for leaving. It’s important when leaving your narcissistic boyfriend that you have a place to go and the ability to discontinue contact with him. By nature, a narcissist can be manipulative, particularly when he perceives a loss of someone who has provided his sense of importance and grandiosity. Don’t continue to be that source of support for your boyfriend’s self-esteem -- keep in mind that this was never your responsibility in the first place. Disconnecting from a narcissist should be complete, with no calls, texts, emails or other forms of communication that can open doors to his manipulative ways. If necessary, ask an impartial friend to act as a liaison once you’ve left, to tie up loose ends concerning financial obligations or personal belongings. Advise the friend not to engage in discussions with your boyfriend about your relationship, which are unnecessary and counterproductive.
Seek counseling or therapy, ideally before but certainly after you’ve left your narcissistic boyfriend. Engaging in a relationship with a narcissist isn’t healthy, primarily because it’s inherently out of balance emotionally. Seeking professional help to assist you in understanding and identifying what brought you into the relationship with the narcissist can help reduce the chances that you will fall victim again.
- Psychology Today: How To Spot a Narcissist? Pretty Easy When Everywhere!; Thomas Plante, PhD, ABPP
- Psychology Today: Stop The Narcissist Relationship Cycle
- Huffington Post: 5 Early Warning Signs You're With a Narcissist; Craig Malkin, PhD
- Mayo Clinic: Combat Stress With a Strong Social Support Network
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