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What a Narcissist Says About Break-Ups: They Never Let You Go

There is a blogger named H.G. Tudor who is a narcissist currently in therapy and he keeps an active website with articles he writes about how he thinks.  He reads the same literature that survivors of narcissistic relationships read to understand how we feel and the effects that narcissists have on us. Some of his writing tries to fill in the gaps left by unanswered questions: Why would the narcissist do that?  What was the narcissist thinking?  What was the narcissist’s goal?  That didn’t seem to make any sense– what was the narcissist trying to accomplish? What did the narcissist want? Did the narcissist care about me?  The writing is both scary and eye-opening.

In a series of three posts, he describes three stages that victims go through when they are breaking up with a narcissist.  He calls them “Post-Discard Battles,” because they start after the “discard” phase of the relationship.*  He calls them “battles” because during each, the victim is struggling either externally with the narcissist, internally in his or her mind, or both.

  • STAGE ONE:  THE EMOTIONAL BATTLE

The victim is shell-shocked and overwhelmed, and can only react according to the lovesickness, confusion, mind games, and chemical bond that have been produced during the relationship.  There is no other basis for processing the relationship.  Because there is no schema or construct in the mind yet for processing a relationship like this one (which is unlike any other ever experienced before), there is no other way the victim can respond to the narcissist other than emotionally.  If the narcissist returns, and he probably will, the victim will always go back during stage one.

  • STAGE TWO:  THE HvH BATTLE

Tudor also refers to this as the Logic versus Emotional Battle.  At this stage, the victim has realized that there is a problem with the narcissist and the relationship is untenable.  The victim may have been through enough discards or, as is what happened with me, they may have stumbled upon information about narcissism and figured out that their partner’s behavior fits the pattern of the disorder.  They may have had friends or a therapist tell them that their partner has a problem and they need to leave.  They may have discovered new betrayals. Whatever it is, something or some combination of things has taken place and the victim is no longer processing the relationship in a purely emotional manner.  All of the same dynamics from the emotional battle are still at play, however, and it is not a sudden overnight switch from one way of viewing the narcissist to the other.  Nor is the process of change in perception linear, as the victim may swing back and forth and not know what to believe or how to reconcile the two.

Is my partner really a narcissist, or am I wrong?  

Maybe he can change.  

He seems really sorry–maybe I should give him another chance. 

If only I hadn’t done [x], maybe [y] wouldn’t have happened so maybe we should try again.  

We have something so special if he would only stop doing [x] things would be perfect.

Maybe he realizes now how much I love him and he will treat it as if it’s valuable to him.

I just want him to explain why he did it.

I just want to see him one more time and have closure.


If the narcissist returns, and, again, he probably will, the victim will almost always be unable to resist going back during stage twoand they will likely go back more than once because the head has not yet won out over the heart.  They have only begun to become aware of what has happened and it needs time to sink in. The narcissist knows this and will use it to their advantage. The victim’s natural strengths and weaknesses are psychologically manipulated to further cause doubts and confusion, weaken judgment, and isolate from external support.  A victim can stay stuck in this stage for a long time.

  • STAGE THREE:  THE FINAL BATTLE

In the third stage, the head finally wins out over the heart.  Each time a discard or break-up occurs during the HvH Battle, the victim gets a little closer to the final stage until finally reaching the other side and entering it.  Once there, they have control of their emotions again and no longer feel under the influence of the narcissist.  The victim develops some sort of protections to keep the narcissist out and guard against anything the narcissist might say or do to try to get back into the victim’s life or hurt the victim.  The risk that the narcissist will show up again, however, never goes away.  The narcissist may catch the victim off-guard and that is what the victim wants to protect against.  If the narcissist returns during stage three, the victim has more control over whether they go back.  Yet the uncertainty of if and when the narcissist will return is why the battle never ends.  Tudor writes:

“This final battle takes place in a land where the battlefield, for the first time, is more of your choosing than ours.  You have better equipped to fight this battle and whilst there remains a risk of defeat and you are being ensnared once again, it is far less than in the previous two battles… How long will this final battle last?  It will continue until one of us no longer lives.”

*  *  *  *  *

When you get into a relationship with a narcissist, you permanently become part of their collection and they can try to take you down and play with you whenever they get bored.  They may break up with you temporarily or pretend to break up with you, or you may break up with them, but they never really break up with you.  In theory, this gives the narcissist a measure of control. That is why we did what we did; so we always had a way back in,” Tudor writes.**

Yet, in reality, the control lies with the survivor of the relationship.  It will always be up to the survivor to ensure that the relationship is at its end.  And the only way to ensure it and preserve your own sanity is to bar that emotional door in your heart by remembering that they deceptively manufactured it in the first place so that they could forever gain access without having to earn the right to enter through legitimate means.

And we thought the only things that were certain were taxes and death!  It turns out that for survivors of narcissistic abuse, there is one other thing that is certain: our lifelong need to protect ourselves from being manipulated back into an entanglement with the narcissist who abused us.

Yet in time, as we become healthier, stronger, happier people, it will cease to be a “need” at all.  It will just be a natural part of who we are, and who we are will render the narcissist impotent, as they no longer will have a key to this new person we have become.

H.G. Tudor has published a few books from the perspective of this idea that narcissists don’t break up with you. It’s a new way of looking at things when you realize that it will never really be over until you decide it is over. His books walk you through things you wouldn’t even normally consider, and he is also very blunt about what narcissists think and feel when they are in these stages with you. If you are intrigued, shocked, or frightened by this idea that there is no such thing as a final discard where narcissists are concerned and want to arm yourself with information, I recommend these books by Tudor for more information on the real point of view from a narcissist:

These books are available on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, so as a subscriber, you pay nothing extra to download them from Amazon and keep them to read as long as you wish.  You can try it out Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days here:

 

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like this series on breaking up and going no-contact: 

And also this series on the relationship between hoovering, no-contact, and discard and what hoovering really is to narcissists:

Want more? Please consider subscribing for more articles like this one.  Thank you for reading.

 

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Kristen Milstead

Instagram: fairytaleshadows

11 thoughts on “What a Narcissist Says About Break-Ups: They Never Let You Go

  1. Awesome article! I am the proud survivor of an 8 year relationship with a narcissist. This article detailing the stages of the battle to break free is so spot on its crazy. Reading it was like traveling back in time. Stage 2 was the longest and the worse for me because I knew I did not deserve the mistreatment yet I felt powerless to stop the cycle. I would leave and just wish he would simply move on and forget about me. He always gave me time to get over whatever it was that made me leave then come right back. During the last break up I met a guy who I really connected with. The connection was so strong it made me realize what I was giving up and only to be misused. I have been in stage 3 for about 9 months and my resolve is strong. He can call, beg, or do handstands, I am good! It took someone treating me with love and respect to get me though stage 2. Best advice to give either a woman or man is to be aware these people exist. Run and do not engage them at all.

    1. I give H.G. Tudor the credit for identifying the three stages. I spent a lot of time explaining them so I could keep referring back to them in other things I wanted to write, because I agree with you about how accurate they are. Thanks for your comment. Congratulations on making it to stage three!

  2. Thank you so much for that article. I don’t even know where I’m at right now. It’s been 7 years of this slow-progressing madness and now I’m so angry with him, I send him hateful texts and he completely ignores me as of lately. We have a young son together, we live in different states and he makes no effort to see his son, it’s always been up to me, yet he guilts me horribly if I tell him I’m going to cut off all contact. There is no court order, so I’m ready to completely block him from our lives. I know my son will be better off with out his father who is inconsistent at best and with a little time, he will slowly start to forget about his father, he doesn’t even ask to talk to him, so I think he will be alright (he’s 5). I just need to be brave, take that step and close the door. I don’t like him anymore, I finally see what a monster he is, I just can’t move past the guilt society lobs at mother’s who don’t want bad fathers in the picture. What to do? What to do?

    1. I’m so sorry for what you are going through. My heart goes out to you. It must be so hard to share a son with him and have to worry about your son at the same time you are recovering yourself. It’s so overwhelming, I can’t even imagine doing both, so you must be a very strong woman. I wish I had some words of advice for you, but all I can say is to try to stay strong, don’t be hard on yourself– you are not to blame, and if you can, try to find a therapist who can help you work through anything you may be feeling on a regular basis so that will always be your time for yourself to work on healing. Thank you for much for taking the time to visit my page and read by blog.

    2. you are so close to freedom, please go ahead and finish with this. Please stop texting him or telling him anything regarding your plans or your life. Please protect your son! He’s already been exposed to this evil in his most formative, tender years. Focus now on getting recovery and clarity for both of you. I wish you well.. Since leaving a narcissist, I can now spot them pretty well and avoid getting into relationships with them. They are so toxic. There’s no point in trying to communicate with them, they will never change. There is no closure.

      1. Hi Kelley-

        Thank you for your reply. Everything you said is so spot on. It sounds like you are well into your recovery and are all the wiser for it. They are horribly toxic and it’s taken me 7 years to realize that there is no point in talking to him, he uses things I tell him as weapons to hurt me. I think I am waiting for someone, anyone to tell me it’s ok to cut off all contact, even for my son. There is no way having this person in his life could ever be a good thing. I keep telling myself that if he wants to have a relationship with his father one day, he can find him, but for now, he doesn’t need to experience the disappointment, lies and letdowns that are sure to come his way. He’s only 5, he’s so sweet with a big heart. Thanks for reading this 🙂

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