8 Mistakes You May Make When Leaving a Narcissist, (But Which May Be Necessary).

Christel Van Gelder Toxic Relationships 12 Comments

I was once married to a narcissist. It lasted 21 years. Only, I didn’t know it at the time. I only started to see him and his games for what they were when I got away.

“Nice people don’t necessarily fall in love with nice people.” ~ Jonathan Franzen

Getting away from a narcissist is not as easy as you think. The fact that they’ve manipulated you for so long, and done such a great job at it, has the power to paralyse you. You will be almost unable to:

  •  see it for what it is: pure manipulation, so you continue to do their bidding, even though you no longer want to be with them.
  • just break the pattern the moment you step away; instead you’ll continue to jump through hoops, at least for a while.
  •  whether you like it or not, your relationship with him is like trying to get rid of an addiction.

Here are some of the stupid things you may do when you leave your narcissist. I know I did a few of them, but I’ll keep you guessing which ones I did.

  • Being so caught up with them and their games, you still doubt yourself, even though you instinctively know you made the right choice. This self-doubt you take with you as you leave. You’ll need time to dissolve that bugger.
  • You want to call your ex. That control thing that made you get out of there, has rubbed off on you. So you’re craving it because it’s familiar, something you know well. And you start doing that which you absolutely hate and want to escape: you try to control him. You try to control him by calling him day and night. But that’s just what he wants you to do. Because it proves to him you still need him. Ask yourself: who’s controlling who now? And — really— do you want to do that?
  •  When he calls or texts you with some genius ploy to get you riled up, the first thing you do is respond. And then get riled up. Your response will most probably not be something a sane, balanced person would give. No, you’ll most probably go full hysteria on him. Again, you do exactly what he wanted you to do in the first place. Again you feed his narcissistic need as you have done for so long.
  •  You get insanely jealous when you know he’s out on the town, in your mind hooking up with other women. Because let’s face it, even though he probably told you he never cheated on you, he wasn’t exactly the choir boy he pretended to be. Deep down you already knew it but preferred to stick your head in the sand and believe all he wanted you to believe.
    Even though you no longer want to be with this man, even though you may be close to hating his guts, there’s something sick and twisted in your relationship. Which gives him the power to make you crazy with jealousy. And believe me, he loves it when you’re doing the crazy jealous bit.
  • He goes out every night to bars and lets you know. You despair over that, because it’s part of that sick jealous thing you’ve got going on, which he knows. And then one night you’re brave enough to go out yourself, and… Bang!! … He saw you or your car. And … Bang!!… He calls you to get justification, which you are in no way obliged to give him. Still, you try to apologise. You make up for you doing “a bad, bad thing”. Only to get reprimanded like a child, accused of hitting on other men, and being called a “whore” again, what he used to call you when you were still with him.
  • You may still have sex with him in what is an incomprehensible attempt to keep him in your control. Even you don’t understand why you’re doing it, yet it happens. And yet again you are giving him what he wants, control over you.
  • You send the people who are by your side, trying to help you get through, into total desperation. They may even get real angry at you because they want to keep you from doing stupid things. And there you go. Doing exactly the stupid things they tell you not to do. You may lose a few people over this, but your real friends will stick it out. Though they may well want to slap you and shake the obsessive madness out of you.
    In all honesty, even though your friends mean very well, it’s a good thing that you do your own stupid things. Because you need to bang your head into that wall a few more times before you’ll get it.
  • You believe everything he says, does or threatens you with. Again this is normal because you were “trained” to be afraid of him for so long. And he has undermined your self-esteem in such a way, that it’s only normal you still consider him to be the fountain of all truth. So there you go, believing him when he threatens you. When he blackmails you. When he projects stories of a bleak future ahead if you don’t do what he says.

“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.” ~ Sam Vaknin

Now all this may be quite upsetting. You may start to think that you’ll never be free of that man. And yes, in a way you’re still clinging on to him, which is your own doing. You’re still dancing to his tune. Because it’s scary out there on your own, especially with the narcissistic games on in full. In some way, you’re still addicted and we all know addictions need to be weaned slowly.

But the good news is, the more he continues to play you, the more you do the stupid things above, the sooner you’ll get it. The more he puts the pressure on, the sooner the day will come when he goes too far. That will be the day when you stop and think: “Hey, didn’t I leave him to get away from all this sh*t? Why do I let him still do that to me?”

When that moment comes, that’s it!
That’s when finally the little button in your head, the one he knows how to turn on and off so well, will just click to a new position. A position he can’t control. The position that says “Enough”.

I believe that doing these stupid things, which no rational or sane person comprehends, is part of the getting out process. I also believe that the day will come when enough really is enough. Time to end all the games and nastiness. And sometimes it’ll take you just a little bit longer, but at least you’re becoming aware that what you’re doing is not good for you.

That awareness is the first step to ending the pattern. The more aware, the less you’ll jump. The less you jump, the more confused he’ll become. And there comes a day when you’ll be able to face your demon unafraid. And you’ll understand that the “no-contact-rule” is the only way to deal with your narcissist, who’s been holding you in the palm of his manipulative hand for so long.

If you want out, you have to get rid of your addiction to him. You have to step away at all levels. You do that by no longer picking up the phone, not answering his texts or emails. The only reply you may give is “talk to my lawyer or to X-Y-Z”. But no longer let him connect with you in a direct way. That’s what the no-contact rule is all about.

And girl —or boy—, if you do that I guarantee you you’ve made the biggest step to winning. To winning yourself and your power back. To winning your freedom back. And you’ll make the first step to getting out completely, as now you no longer play his games.

That power —the knowledge that you did it, that you got rid of your addiction, and survived— that power will make you stronger than you thought you’d ever be.

“When you lose your ego, you win. It really is that simple.” ~ Shannon L. Alder

Are you currently going through a nasty divorce? Are you totally sucked into the “Olympic Games of Manipulation”? Do you do stupid things that scare you and your friends?
Well, I suggest you take the time to rethink your options and strategies.
Much wisdom to you!

Oh yes, and call me if you need help in figuring this out. I know what I did, I know what worked and didn’t. So I know I can help you.
Don’t wait until you give in, just make sure you get the right help and support.

Shout out and send me a mail!

More reading materials that can help you:

Preparing to leave? Here are some practical tips for you:

Are there kids involved in your break-up? there may be some manipulation going on. Read here what you can do:

When you leave a toxic relationship and you start over, please be aware of some stuff that’s for sure going to come up:

Share this Post

Comments 12

  1. hi i have been in a narc relationship for 6 long degrading humilating ,….every emotional imaginable years,
    i have known for a long time that he was toxic .when a friend told me about her narc man it made me think,,omg that sounds exactly like my man,, now everything that i read reminds me of him,its like someone has interviewed him for every single article blog post etc that i read, you no he has done some really horrifying things to me that i thiught i would never allow any man to do but the worst most disgusting humiliating demoralising thing he ever done was told my 2 boys who were 12 and 14 at the time, that i was a junky.i t makes me cry just to put those words out there, but even worse than that I DIDNT LEAVE HIM FOR DOING THAT. my eldest boy witness my narc hitting me and the next day went to school and started cutting himself {he has only done this once as i got him help and narc has ony ever hit me once} my boys and i have been through enough and cant go through another horrible painful day with this man. I need help to leave i need to no if leaving always has to be so traumatic and aggressive.. can they ever break up on good terms without the drama,
    everything that i have read has opened my eyes to who he really is and is giving me the strenght to leave, and believe me when i say no man will ever have that kind of poqwer over me again. i was a strong girl when i met him and that girl is slowly coming back, he will not be the controller of my happiness or my kids, everything he does now i can see coming cause his so predictable, i dont bother biting back or getting emotioally sucked into his delusions, all i need and want now is to get as far away from this basket case as i can, but as painfree as possible,
    Can we break free in a matute adult fashion ..is that even possible with a narc???? please help me

    1. Post

      Hi Leeann,

      I am sorry you are going through this.

      It’s going to be hard to leave. I am not going to lie to you.
      And it’s best to prepare if you want to leave. mentally, emotionally, but also in a practical way.
      Practical I mean: Have a place to go, have some money away, have a support system of friends and family that you know you can rely on.get a restraining order or warn the police if necessary.

      Please know that it wasn’t you. You were like a toy to play with as he saw fit. He loves the power he has over people. You owe it to yourself and your boys to get a life… without him.
      I cannot guarantee a pain-free way to get out, because that would be lying. But you can protect yourself. If you signed up maybe you got the free stuff I am giving away. But if you want give me a shout and I’ll have a free ebook for you with some tools in it that will help you to deal with emotions.

      If you want to chat, click this link: https://3chlifecoaching.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?appointmentType=132530 and schedule a free call. It is no strings attached and you’ll get some insights already and you’ll get some tools and tips to consider.

      Now one piece of very important advice… if you leave..make sure you do apply the NO-Contact rule. Contact can only be happening via a lawyer or an intermediary person. Because every time you do have contact he’ll play you. The sooner you can implement that rule, the easier the transition will be as you will be out of the worst part of the drama that happens.

      In the meanwhile keep strong. Maybe sign up to my email list so you can get access to the free stuff, which can help you ( also the self-care one is very useful!!) and think about that chat.


  2. This man i dated mostly on and then sometimes off for four years lied and lied to my face. My intution always knew better but i would reject it because he would tell me i was just making up problems and really insecure. I felt overwhelming anxiety and insecurity wondering what he was doing and always trying to stay one step ahead to catch him in his lies. When a girl publicly outed him, he called her crazy and told me to believe him and not a stranger. I constantly played his game and chased him. Finally I saw enough in his phone to say to myself while i dont know the whole truth, i know enough to know this isnt right and its making me my worst self. He still has me doubting if i made the right decision. But my small amount of self love I have is saying i did the right thing and to give it time. I was so manipulated by him, I almost lost what I worked so hard for like my school, work, friends and family. I am so hurt I fell in love with a man I thought was the best thing that ever happened to me. I kept painting him in this wonderful facade and choosing to think all the bad things were in my head. How do I start to pick up the pieces of my life and shaping it into one I want to live? I have just initiated no contact. Thank you for your advice.

    1. Post

      Hi M., I’m sorry to hear that you are dealing with this. Don’t beat yourself up over your mistake, please. It can happen tom anyone. Anyone can fall for a narcissist or a manipulative person. Be happy that you have found out, that you are trusting your gut. That you are now taking positive action. You start picking up the pieces after you deal with the emotions: anger, hurt, sadness, shame. Whatever the emotion is allowed it to exist. Don’t run away from it. Just feel it. Maybe write about it. You need to grieve, and the only way to do this is by letting your emotions exist, and feeling them. Personally, I find journalling has a soothing influence. By writing about what you feel and why you also start to distance yourself and observe yourself as it were. Then emotions will slowly become less painful. Also, another technique is to write down what you believe about him or yourself or what you did wrong and just jot down the opposite thought nxt to your original statement. Even if you don’t believe that new thought. Sit with it. See if there is any truth in the opposite thought by any chance. Plus another biggie: Forgive yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong. You just fell for the wrong guy. There’s no shame in that. So forgiveness, especially yourself, is key to the healing process. It can take a while, that process, but just trust it will happen. And good on you to use the No-Contact-Rule. Even if you fall off the wagon once in a while, again, no beating yourself up. Just regroup and start again. Hope this helps a bit. Take care.

  3. Thank you for sharing this I’m considering myself lucky that I only lost one year of my life in a abusive narcissistic relationship it’s been only a week since I last talk to him but reading this only made me realize not to let this go on for longer then it has and everything you mentioned sounds all so familiar I almost fall for it again he wrote me and he’s playing hard ball now but after reading this just makes me realize it’s just a game a trap, and I no longer want to live this way
    thank you

    1. Post

      Good for you in staying strong. It’s hard, I know. It will take some time. But it will get better. If you can keep up the no-contact rule as much as possible, the process will be faster. Take care! xo Christel

  4. I’m leaving tomorrow its bin a year I’ve had enough.
    This isint love.
    I can do better on my own.
    To all the other ladies n gents out there going thru this.
    You can do it.
    Believe in yourself.
    Stay strong.
    Love Rosy

    1. Post
  5. I’m male, been married to a narc female who not only controls me with sex, but is a bad thief, everything from stealing my wristwatch to credit card fraud on family members, even our children. The lies she concocts are outrageous, but no way to disprove. I’m currently divorcing her and trying to use the no contact rule. She has our second home right next to me so watches my every move. I have a sane girlfriend after a 2 yr separation from her, but can’t bring her to my home because of threatened violence. She herself is currently on a overnight date, but wants to have kinky sex w me when she gets home. Says I’m the only one who can do it correctly. I’ve told her know, but let’s see how strong my will is. Help

  6. I was with my narc for less than a year, He was a father of 3, I have no children of my own. Unfortunately I lost my son during pregnancy to an abusive relationship I was in at a young age. My narc seemed like the man of my dreams, who literally appeared out of nowhere coming after me. My last relationship lasted seven years I was engaged he was my best friend unfortunately he fell into a drug addiction he could not control. After three desperate attempts of trying to save him I called off my wedding, I had to walk away from my life, I had to walk away from my best friend. At the time I thought it was going to be one of the hardest things I would ever have to do. I was mourning the death of a person who was still alive. After that I took three years to myself petrified of falling in love petrified of giving someone the power to destroy me again. I worked really hard on loving myself again. I turned down so many relationships out of fear an one day randomly my narc came after me and didn’t give up until I finally let him in. I told him all the pain I endured and why I no longer looked for love, I told him my secrets and my weaknesses and he pretended to be there for me. He literally felt like the best thing that ever happened to me after a few months the fairytale started to change. He tried forcing me to quit my job because I worked with to many men, he owned his own company he took over my phone onto his phone plan without my permission. He tried forcing me into this fancy brand new house. He tried convincing me to have a baby after a short period of time. He started isolating me from my friends and my family but little did I know he was talking to multiple women behind my back and sneaking around with them while I wasnt allowed to do anything. He convinced me that he loved me more than anything and I was just being crazy and irrational but I knew for a fact that you don’t do that to someone you love. The moment I started to stand up for myself and fight back knowing that I didn’t deserve to be snuck around and he completely changed into my worst nightmare. I started to notice he was a pathological liar. He started playing cell phone games. Every time I would cut him off he would come back begging for another chance just for me to give him and him to start his games again. I thought getting over a drug addict was devastating. But little did I know getting over a narc seems to be damn right impossible. I’m trying so hard to understand and make sense of this all but I just don’t understand how the sweetest guy I knew turned in to the most evil manipulative cold hearted person. Before I knew it he was making low blows and verbally attacking me anyway he could. He told me if my ex fiancé died from drugs it’s all my fault because I did nothing I allowed him to do it which was far from true. He even went as far as throwing my dead son in my face. How is it that I walked away from seven years of my life and lost a child an managed to pull threw but I can’t move on from one single year with some phsciopath. How could someone who supposedly loves me verbally reopen my scars. I’ve never felt so helpless weak my life. He just keeps coming back for more. How do I successfully free myself from him?

    1. Post

      I’m getting a feeling that you have been drawn into this relationship because of the past, of losing your baby, your other relationship, tell me where I’m wrong. I have written another article on the practical steps you can take to step away from the narcissist. Here is the link: https://www.christelvangelder.com/practical-tips-when-leaving-narcissist/
      But still, the way to get out is to
      1. make a decision, which ultimately is choosing yourself!
      2. make a plan( see the article on practical steps)
      3. inform/educate yourself as much as possible on the subject
      4. go no contact.
      The last one is hard– I know– but it’s really the only way to save yourself.
      Also take time to grieve. To forgive yourself. So be kind to yourself, make sure you also forgive him, even though you don’t condone what he has done to you. It’s important to release all those emotions.
      Hope this helps. I wish you a lot of strength and wisdom.

  7. Pingback: Why you’re not to blame for a toxic relationship. - Christel Van Gelder

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.