Breaking Up With A Narcissist: What To Expect And What To Do

A healthy relationship requires two people to see each other as equals. However, some individuals have narcissistic traits, leading them to assume that they are superior to the other person. If you have found this about your partner and are thinking about breaking up or ending things with a narcissist, you should know it is not as easy as it may sound. You may try talking with them, but you will realize that they will not acknowledge their behavior. However, analyzing your partner’s traits and having a proper plan could help you out of this. Read this post if you think you are on the verge of breaking up and parting ways with a narcissistic person, as we tell you certain things that you should know before quitting and disengaging from the relationship.

In This Article

23 Things To Know When Breaking Up With A Narcissist

We have divided the list into two sections — what to expect during a breakup and what to do during the breakup.

What to expect during breakup with a narcissist

1. Resist your idea to breakup

You may face stiff opposition from them.

Image: IStock

If you are at a stage of the relationship where the narcissist still sees potential in using you, then you are going to face stiff opposition from them. They may pick arguments and brush aside your feelings and decisions as ‘silly’.  They try to exhaust you mentally and physically to the point that you might reconsider your decision of separating from them.

2. Make temporary amends

They might come up with temporary amends to prevent you from dumping him. Expect a lot of drama from the partner. There is going to be a constant apologizing, pleading, and even bargaining for the sake of continuing the relationship. They might plead with you and emotionally blackmail you into staying in the relationship.

3. Manipulate and arm-twist

You might notice that they are doing all the things that you always expected them to do. They try to show that they have “changed” and “turned over a new leaf,” realizing their mistake. But it is mostly a trap you should be careful about. They are doing this in order to prevent a separation.

4. Resort to emotional meltdowns

They may stage an emotional meltdown.

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If none of the previous tricks work, then the next step would be to stage an emotional meltdown seasoned with hysteria. Be prepared to be reminded of all your difficult moments and how they did so much for you during those times. These tricks will make you feel guilty for thinking of abandoning and distancing yourself from him.

5. Blame you for everything

If you do not soften with their emotional manipulation, then they change their strategy to play the blame game. The conversation could start something like this: “It was you who started it.” “You are overthinking.” “Just because I focus on myself does not mean that I do not love you.

protip_icon Point to consider
A narcissistic person may impact your self-esteem by giving you silent treatments and gaslighting you.

6. Remind you of your shortcomings

Narcissists feed on the pain and poor confidence of their partner, and it can be extreme in the case of a malignant narcissist. Therefore, they will spare no opportunity to point at your drawbacks. They might dig your past and come up with instances to remind you that you cannot take care of yourself. They try to use your shortcomings to stay clinged on to them instead of ceasing the relationship.

7. Seek attention in any form

Be prepared to witness their attempts for your attention.

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They deliberately pass by your place of work, they fake an ailment, or they “accidentally” send you an email describing some problem. Be prepared to witness several moments of desperation to seek your attention.

8. Public shaming

A narcissist cannot accept defeat. If they cannot attain a win, then they might try breaking you emotionally by ridiculing in front of others. If not possible to retain the partner, they will probably blame you and create a fictitious context in which you are the one who did not deserve the relationship. They will try creating a scene at social gatherings, shame you in front of friends or relatives, or even post content on social media to humiliate you. The more you suffer through these moments, the more satisfied they feel.

9. Rekindle contact

They might try to rekindle the relationship through common friends. They are likely to leverage friends who are sympathetic to their situation.  You must be careful at this stage because you may feel obliged to listen to a friend or relative and forgive the narcissist instead of departing and disaffiliating yourself from him.

10. Drag the situation

A narcissist might drag the breakup to make things difficult for you and to buy time to impress you. If you filed a divorce from your narcissistic spouse, then they might drag the matter during the court proceedings.

11. Show off of progress

You may be out of their life but not out of their mind. The chances are that they would have already got their next victim and want to communicate it to you. So, be prepared to see them post on social media about how they are happy with the new person and how well they treat them. You may even be forced-fed the latest updates about their lives through common friends.

12. Resort to silent treatment

Narcissists often use the silent treatment as a manipulative tactic in relationships. By deliberately ignoring their partner, they assume control and cause uncertainty and anxiety. This passive-aggressive behavior destabilizes the relationship, making the partner question their worth and actions. It’s a power play to exert dominance and leave the partner feeling disempowered and perplexed.

13. Triangulation

Narcissists use triangulation by bringing a third party into the relationship dynamics. The narcissist often compares their partner unfavorably to this third person and triggers competition, jealousy, and insecurity. It’s a manipulative technique to kill their partner’s self-esteem and to gain control and attention, often leading to a tumultuous and painful end to the relationship.

What to do during a breakup with a narcissist?

14. Do not blame yourself

The first thing you should do is not blame yourself for what is happening around you. It may not always be easy to identify a narcissist early in a relationship, and it is okay. Just because you chose a narcissist as your partner does not mean you can never choose the right life partner again. Your mistakes are not the essence of your life. You are not the reason for canceling or terminating this relationship.

15. Stand your ground

You need to stay firm on your decisions.

Image: IStock

A narcissist partner might want to mislead you and make you question your decisions. But doubting yourself at this stage will only slow down the breakup process and thus buy your partner more time. You need to stay firm on your decisions and be sure of your decision instead of withdrawing or forsaking the matter at hand.

16. Dissolve ties completely

Do not let anything linger that can affect your confidence. Cut any connections that you could have with your partner’s life. It includes breaking ties with common friends and deleting them from your social media accounts. Only stay in touch with those who understand your plight and do not brainwash you as per the narcissist’s instructions.

17. Take help

It is okay to seek support from friends and family members. If you need more help, then look for support groups. It is essential to keep yourself in good mental and physical health. The more wasted you feel, the more the narcissist can feed off from your suffering.

An anonymous fashion blogger and youth volunteer who was in a toxic relationship with a narcissist says, “I had contacted the police way before our relationship had ended because of the harassment I was receiving when we had broken up. He would turn up at my door all the way from Wales in the middle of the night, he would find out what events I’m going to and turn up, he would contact me by calling me, texting me, Whatsapp-ing me, Facebooking me, calling from withheld numbers from Saudi Arabia, calling me from his friend’s numbers and he would do it constantly. He even turned up at my door at midnight from Saudi Arabia. I had police case numbers and Domestic Violence files, but he kept at it. He rang me from Saudi Arabia one night and whispered down the phone, ‘I will always find you. I just have to be creative.’ I would have panic attacks in my sleep and wake up trying to scratch my own skin off, or I would run to the door to check it was locked. I was suffering and in so much pain. I was referred to therapy to deal with my trauma, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. I was finally free (i).”

18. Prepare yourself well

If you are divorcing a narcissistic spouse, then be prepared for a fierce legal battle. A narcissist will spare no chance to prove flaws in your decision. Prepare well so that you do not buckle under pressure.

19. Avoid temptations to compare

Did you just happen to spot your narcissistic ex with their new partner? And they seem happy? Do not compare their situation to yours. Narcissists love creating a happy facade, which allows them to enjoy the sight of an overly jealous ex. Be happy that you are no longer their victim and move on.

20. Start with a clean mental slate

Do not let bad memories affect your day-to-day life. The more you damage your life after the harrowing relationship, the more you give a chance to a narcissist to feel victorious. Nothing will make them more delighted than seeing you devastated.

21. Remember the lesson and not the pain

You made a mistake while choosing a loved one. So what? Life is an ever-learning experience, and each new experience makes us wiser. You are now likely to be much careful and discerning while choosing a partner. Therefore, do not let the pain burn you emotionally.

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Prioritize self-care and healing and be hopeful about finding a better partner and a stable, content relationship.

22. Make new friends

You can choose your new social circle.

Image: IStock

A breakup does not mean the end of your social life. In fact, considering you are now wiser than before, you can be better at choosing your social circle. While it is essential to avoid common friends and those who sympathize with your narcissistic significant other, it is not necessary to isolate yourself socially. Cutting down your social life is going to add to the stress of the breakup.

23. Remain positive

A breakup with a narcissist does not mean the end of the world. Life goes on, and there are still several things to do. There is nothing more pleasing for a narcissist than the sight of their ex in a depressed state. Therefore, gear up and remain positive towards life.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What to say to end a relationship with a narcissist?

Plan and write down your thoughts about the relationship. You may mention what is hurting you and what you have expected from them. Also, write that whatever you are trying is not helping. Try to keep the tone subtle and not negative. Finally, express good wishes from your side. You may also seek support from a confidant or an expert.

2. What is the average length of a relationship with a narcissist?

Although it depends on the people and circumstances, in most cases, it could be hard to sustain a relationship with a narcissist for more than a year.

3. Would narcissists care if I broke up with them?

No. narcissists operate solely from their ego. They do not care if you break up with them. But you may find them very depressed or upset after breaking up. This is primarily because they have lost their ability to control you. They made try to convince you that you have made a grave mistake. If that doesn’t shake you, they will put forth negative evaluations of your life, such as telling you that you were nothing before you met them.

4. Do narcissists get jealous when I move on?

Narcissists may feel jealous or threatened when they see you have moved on. This is because they never thought you would have wanted to be with someone else. Such people are very possessive of their partners. They like to control them, but it will make them feel very angry when you get away. They will likely try to get you back through any means, even if it involves sabotaging your new relationship. The best way to deal with their jealousy is to let them know that everything is over between you and them.

5. Should I be scared to break up with a narcissist?

You don’t need to be scared while breaking up with a narcissist. But it is not wise to do it alone. These people often brainwash their partners into believing only they are ideal. As a result, you may find it hard to approach your loved ones. But it is crucial to seek the opinions of your friends and family members and even get a therapist’s advice while breaking up with a narcissist. A narcissistic person may attack you socially, guilt-trip you, convince you of making a mistake, and blame you throughout this process. It can feel overwhelming. So, having people by your side and staying true to your decision is essential.

6. How do you know when to break up with a narcissist?

You must break up with a narcissistic person if they abuse you physically and emotionally. At this stage, they will make every attempt to manipulate, monitor, and even gaslight you. You will find that you constantly heeding their demands and neglecting your needs. You may not even be on talking terms with your family because narcissists often make their victims feel like their loved ones are enemies. These signs should definitely make you break up with your partner.

Breaking up with a narcissist partner can be an exhausting experience and take a toll on you emotionally. But you must do so to prevent yourself from the chances of long-term narcissistic abuse. Narcissistic partners usually blame their partners for their mistakes and resort to emotional meltdowns to try and gain sympathy for everything. Thus, it is essential that you stand your ground, prepare yourself mentally and emotionally, and resist the temptation to get into an argument.

Infographic: How To Handle A Break-Up With A Narcissistic Partner

While being in a relationship with a narcissist is not easy, breaking up with them is equally challenging. Narcissistic individuals are often so self-absorbed that the idea of being dumped may cause them to react wildly. The infographic below includes pointers to help you deal with a narcissistic partner when you’re breaking up with them.

things to do when breaking up with a narcissist (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • The idea of breaking up with a narcissist might seem difficult initially but could save you from mental disturbances and harassment.
  • Stay positive, be mentally prepared, seek support from family and friends, and accept that relationship as a learning experience.
  • Also, avoid comparisons, refrain from self-blaming, and dissolve all ties with them to restart your life on a fresh note.


Going through a breakup with a narcissist can be difficult. Expect to feel overwhelmed, confused, and hurt. It’s important to take care of yourself.

Personal Experience: Source

 

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