Updated: Jul 5, 2022
Are you in a toxic relationship with a narcissist or are struggling to disengage from one? Maybe your partner blames you for everything and you are familiar with feelings of guilt? Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells?
Narcissists have a lot of tools that they use to make you feel awful about yourself. They might stonewall you or refuse to engage in any conversation with you. They might confuse you by being the best partner; showering you with gifts and putting you on a pedestal only to ignore you the next day. You might be frequently wondering what you have done wrong and feeling upset by their actions.
Narcissism is a word that has been used a lot in recent years. It describes a person with a grandiose view of themselves. A narcissist will struggle to empathise with those around them and will disregard other people’s feelings. They do not understand (or they refuse to acknowledge) the effect that their behaviour will have on other people. Narcissism is generally on a spectrum; at the highest end is narcissistic personality disorder and the lower end is people with traits of narcissism.
The two types of narcissism are grandiose and vulnerable. Grandiose narcissists were likely treated as superior as children, and this feeling of superiority continues into adulthood. These people can be aggressive and exaggerate their importance. Vulnerable narcissists, on the other hand, usually have a childhood of neglect or abuse and their narcissistic behaviour might serve to protect them from feeling inadequate as well as a need to feel as though they are special. If this sounds familiar and you have been in or are in a relationship with a narcissist then you might also find familiar the feeling of fog that can descend on you during discussions or arguments.
Ending a relationship with a narcissistic is not easy. If you are the one to end the relationship it can feel like a huge rejection to the narcissist and one that they won’t take lightly. Rejection brings up feelings of inadequacy or low self-worth. If you have just ‘escaped’ a toxic relationship then I want to tell you that you are courageous, strong, and resilient. You might not feel strong right now, but it takes great strength to leave a toxic relationship. And oftentimes, when we do manage to leave, we feel like we are wandering through a thick fog, depleted of all energy and inner resources.
Let’s look at how you can help yourself to detach from the ex.
· Disengage! Try to remain distant emotionally as well as physically. Do not give the ex partner any fuel by trying to explain how you feel since the break up. You will be wasting your time and it is likely that they will use this information against you sometime down the line.
· If you have children with the toxic ex then you might feel at times that you will never be free from them. It’s important to maintain neutrality as much as possible in front of the children.
· Try not to bad mouth the other parent in front of your kids. Children can see this as a reflection of themselves. They might have thoughts similar to ‘dad is bad, and I am his son therefore I must be bad too.’ It can also create feelings of conflict in the child as they battle with who is right and who is wrong.
· Co-parenting with a narcissistic ex unfortunately means that there has to be some interaction. Try as best you can to keep all interaction to an absolute minimum. Make any interactions strictly about the children and where possible have the interactions via email.
· The narcissistic ex will use conversations to draw you in, confuse you, blame you and try to trigger you. Keep to the facts. Try to stay as calm as possible. If the ex begins to name call or become abusive then it’s absolutely ok to walk away or hang up the phone. You can clearly state that you will not tolerate their behaviour.
· If you receive emails and texts that trigger you put down your phone and walk away. Any emotional responses could lead to days of back and forth arguing. The ex wants you to feel upset and triggered, they want attention from you by way of response. Don’t let them have the satisfaction.
· Once the kids are older things might become easier in terms of making arrangements. Usually, the kids can arrange drop offs and collections themselves.
· At this stage it’s also important to watch out for any toxic behaviour towards the children. Narcissistic parents like to feel in control of their children. Once kids become teenagers, they might feel control slipping away. This is when things might become harder for them…and you.
· Having good boundaries for yourself and your children is vital for your mental wellbeing. This means thinking about what you will and will not allow in terms of their behaviour towards you. Once you are feeling stronger you will be able to state clearly that their behaviour is unacceptable, and you will eventually be able to disengage from them.
If you are struggling to end a relationship that is toxic, and your mental health is suffering contact me today for a chat. I can help you to sort out your feelings and thoughts around the relationship. I can help you to gain some clarity and we can explore ways to move forward with your life.