NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Challenge of Breaking Up With a Person Who is Narcissistic

I've written about narcissism in previous articles (see my articles:  Narcissism: An Emotional Seesaw Between Grandiosity and ShameA Relationship With a Narcissistic Partner: Where Did the Love Go?Coping Strategies For Being in a Relationship With a Narcissistic Partner and How Narcissism Develops at an Early Age).  In this article, I'm focusing on breaking up with a person who is narcissistic.

The Challenge of Breaking Up With a Person Who is  Narcissistic

While breakups are never easy, breaking up with someone who is narcissistic has unique challenges:

Get Ready For an Emotional Roller Coaster
When you end a relationship with someone who is narcissistic, you can generally expect to experience an emotional roller coaster, especially if your ex doesn't want to end the relationship.  If you've already discussed the reasons why you want to end the relationship, your best course of action for your own self preservation is to have no further contact with your ex.  

Talking about the breakup over and over will be perceived by your ex as a chance to either convince you to take him or her back or, if he or she is convinced that you've made up your mind, s/he might become emotionally abusive and malign you to people that you know (The Breakup: When the Need For "Closure" Turns Into Harassment).

You might think that you know your ex, but going through a breakup with someone who is narcissistic can show you a whole other side of your ex that you didn't know existed.

Beware of Your Ex's Narcissistic Rage 
When things were going well between you, you might have only seen the charming and funny side of your ex.

But when people who are narcissistic feel wounded or abandoned, they often display narcissistic rage, which can be astounding to experience because your ex will probably see the breakup as a wound to his or her self worth and sense of self.

This often involves a dramatic unleashing of rage at you and possibly to other people in your life.

Your ex might demean you, call you names, tell people you know how much you hurt him or her, try to humiliate you and, generally, become hurtful and spiteful.

The Challenge of Breaking Up With a Person Who is Narcissistic: Beware of Narcissistic Rage

When someone is in a state of narcissistic rage, s/he usually can't be reasoned with without causing the situation to escalate.

The person who is narcissistic needs to be in control, and if you're the one who took the initiative to end the relationship, this will upset his or her sense of having control.

Your ex will probably want to have the last word about your relationship with you and with others.

Even if s/he praised you to others before, now s/he might say that s/he never really knew you until now and you're just a terrible person.

And don't be surprised if some people that you know end up believing your ex when s/he tells them how awful you are.  People who are narcissistic can be very convincing.

After you've talked to these people, rather than exhausting yourself emotionally and physically by defending yourself, let it go.  The more you struggle around these issues, the more gratifying it will be to your ex who wants to create chaos as part of the revenge.

How to Survive a Breakup With an Ex Who is Narcissistic
As I mentioned earlier, the volatility will only escalate if you keep trying to explain why you're ending the relationship, so it's best not to keep going over the same thing.  

End contact.  In the short term, this will probably infuriate your ex, but nothing will be accomplished by maintaining contact if you know you want to end the relationship.

You will need to set limits with your ex, especially if the emotional abuse seems like it might become physical.  If your ex makes physical threats, you will need to find out your rights with regard to a restraining order--although in most cases, it doesn't go this far.

In most cases, the person with a narcissistic personality will be looking around rather quickly for the next person who will make him or her feel good because the breakup can leave your ex feeling empty and low.

Once your ex finds someone else who will admire and idealize him or her, you probably won't hear from your ex again.

Getting Help in Therapy
Going through a breakup with someone who is narcissistic can be overwhelming, and you might need  help from a skilled psychotherapist to help you to get through it.

You can especially benefit from seeing a licensed mental health professional if you have a pattern of choosing narcissistic romantic partners (see my articles: Choosing "Mr. Wrong" Over and Over AgainFalling For Charisma Instead of Character, and Choosing Healthier Romantic Relationships).

It's important to understand the underlying issues involved so you don't keep making the same mistake (see my article: The Benefits of Psychotherapy  and How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

Rather than struggling on your own, seek out help from an experienced therapist.

Making healthier choices for yourself will give you a greater sense of well-being and allow you to lead an healthier and happier life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR therapist and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.