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5 Things Narcissists Would Use Against Us Forever If We Let Them

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If it wasn’t clear from the title, I’d like to warn anyone going through the turmoil of breaking up with a narcissist that what I write here about narcissists and their motivations so starkly may feel harsh and painful to read.  I write it only with the best of intentions, hoping it will help others as the knowledge eventually did me. 

Being with a narcissist is an extremely painful experience that keeps you stuck for months or years in confusion about what happened and can leave you unable to trust yourself.

You may doubt your own memories of the relationship and get lost trying to answer questions that seem to have no answers. You may inexplicably long for the person who hurt you and remain unable to comprehend why. You may be wracked with conflicting emotions that never seem to subside and that keep you from being able to enjoy your daily life.

Even after I realized that I didn’t love my ex-boyfriend the way I used to and there was no going back, even after the pain had far outweighed anything positive I was getting out of his continued attempts to forge his way back into my life, even after I had finally shut that door to him and looked ahead to the unknown, there was still something holding me there as the fog began to clear… just standing… on the other side.

Not waiting for him, but just standing.

Something that I needed to take care of.

I knew I was vulnerable and I had to get out of there, but…

I didn’t even want him back but…

What was it I needed to do?

I needed to learn and accept the truth.

Five Things You Must Understand About Narcissistic Abuse Before Moving On


First, how do I define moving on?

I think there are at least three important things that characterize it:

  • letting go of attempts to hang onto the past
  • not responding to hoovers or checking up on your ex
  • taking active steps toward the future, no matter how small

What do I mean by hanging onto the past?  Reaching out to the narcissist. Purposely keeping mementos because they remind you of the narcissist. Waiting for the narcissist to come back into your life. Leaving channels unblocked so that he or she can contact you, or going to places where you know that he or she might be so that you could run into him or her.

It doesn’t mean that you feel positive all the time or are happy about what happened and look back fondly at the events. It doesn’t mean that you have fully accepted what happened yet or forgiven the narcissist (that’s up to you if and when you do that).

Moving on is about facing forward instead of backward. It’s about not being stuck in place waiting for the narcissist to explain or rescue you. It’s about taking some control back over your own life even if you’re not sure where to go.

It’s about knowing that the relationship is over, even if a part of you has to grieve over it for a time. It’s about embracing all of your emotions and reaching out for support and waking up every day being proud of yourself that you made it through.

I believe that knowing and eventually accepting the things below will help keep us moving away from the door we just closed and into a better future.

These are the most painful things we must face about what we just went through and once we can start to weave these into our understanding, we can begin to do just that.

They are the things that the narcissists have been using to control us all along.

1. The Set-Up

The entire thing was doomed from the start. It was a set-up. It was one-sided. 

It doesn’t matter whether it was intentional or not. It was not ever a relationship that was built on a foundation of commitment, fidelity, trust and honesty on the side of the narcissist, so that set you up to be exploited.

If it hadn’t been set up that way, you would not be in this position. You would not be a survivor of narcissistic abuse. The very nature of narcissistic abuse is that in order for the abuse and exploitation to occur, it has to start from day one with some of the things described below. The relationship could not have turned out any other way.  

WHY IT MATTERS:  You don’t want to go back to a relationship where there is no chance it can ever work. Keep walking.

2. The Bait-and-Switch

It wasn’t love. Narcissists never enter into relationships with the same mindset or goals that you do. They are unable to form healthy attachments to people and while you were falling in love and providing them the foundation of a solid relationship, any loving emotions they felt, if they felt any at all, were due to how you made them feel.

WHY IT MATTERS:  He or she is incapable of loving you. Keep walking.

3. The False Persona

The person you loved did not exist. In the beginning, narcissists construct a persona they want you to see. They lie about their pasts. They mirror your interests and align their present actions around you, enmeshing their lives with yours until you are dependent on this illusion.

They omit what they don’t want you to know about and gaslight you about what else they are up to. They make promises they don’t intend to keep and make plans that they know they will find a way to never make good on. It’s a false reality construction customized to your desires.

No one, including you, actually knows what they are really like because their identity shifts for each audience to get people to like them or to get something out of them.

WHY IT MATTERS:  You don’t want to go back to that person because they weren’t even real. Keep walking.

4. Idealization

The reason you miss them is that they reflected back to you your best qualities. This love-bombing is a form of idealization, not actual love, and it is contrived in order to get you to drop your guard quickly so you will make yourself vulnerable to them.

It ended as soon as you did something such as disagreed with them or they got bored, but as soon as you started to leave they would pour it back on again to get you to provide whatever it was you were giving them that made them feel validated again.

WHY IT MATTERS: Not only are they incapable of loving you for you, what they were giving you is not even really love and can only end in misery when you fall off the pedestal–which you always will. Keep walking. 

5. Brainwashing

Narcissists will never tell you any of this, and that is part of how they abuse you. Don’t look to them for any answers. In fact, the more you spend time with them, the deeper into the fog you go. They will keep you in a state of confusion and anxiety as long as they can. 

This leaves you in an acute traumatized state where you are unable to process any of this on your own as long as they are in your reality at all. This is why you must get away from them.

WHY IT MATTERS:  If you go back, you will be back in that state again– and you’ll be in this doomed relationship with someone who can’t love you and who will never leave you alone until you decide you have had enough.

Keep walking now. Before he or she comes back.

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Kristen Milstead

Kristen Milstead is a narcissistic abuse survivor who has become a strong advocate for finding your unique voice and using it to help others find theirs.


  1. Hi Kirsten,

    Your article comes at a time i need it so much. I’m in the fog but very aware of the truth. Its so clear. Your words about the fact that he doesnt care for me only about what i can do for him hurt very much but they are true. I feel in my gut its true but its very hard to accept. I will keep walking but at this moment…it feels like i’m standing just like you said. Its been a week i didnt hear from him because i’m not doing what he wants anymore and doing my best of keeping my boundries. Its so hard because the tention is moving up and now i’m getting the silent treatment. I’m feeling guilty of not reaching out to him but i know thats my thing and i have to keep my boundries but its so hard..

    I cant thank you enough for your words, it makes me feel i’m not alone or crazy.

    Thank you,


    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hi Jacky: I am so sorry you are going through this pain. I know these feelings very well. He has been controlling the situation for so long but now YOU are in control again and it feels so foreign. Every day it gets just a little easier until weeks pass and you look back at how far you have come and how much easier you can breathe. Your mind keeps getting clearer and clearer. All of these things will sink in as he is not around to cause more confusion and you will start to have your own life back again. You can do this. Every hour, every day away is another step forward into your new, stronger, better life. You may not see it now but it is out there waiting. Thank you for continuing to read my posts. ❤ -Kristen

  2. Hi,

    I have to add something that became also very clear to me after reading your article and i hope it makes sense to somebody.
    I’m afraid to let go..afraid that i see it all wrong and i have to keep believing in his kind words and the good times. That its true that i’m the one who’s difficult and destroying the relationship. That the next woman will be better for him..and i’m not good enough.
    Its heartbreaking to feel this way and keeping my boundries, boundries i almost dont believe in…


    1. Kristen Milstead

      Yes I remember that feeling too. That’s why learning why they did what they did helped me move forward so much. Only people who have this mindset are capable of doing what they do. And people with this mindset are not capable of just changing overnight. This is what happens to them in every relationship. It may take months but they cannot sustain the idealization phase because it’s just that– idealization and they inevitably start to feel empty when the real world comes in. It was not you, that is how they project and make you believe you destroyed things.

    2. Wow…those are exactly my fears. I have not yet taken the step to move out because I have more fears, we have 2 kids and I don’t know how I can live without his daily physical support with the children and of course the home we have built together, the ease of life. Despite all this, I am always anxious, always debating whether I should stay or go but more of I need to go kind of feelings dominate. I really want to start over but sometimes I think maybe iam overreacting or am gonna lose it all to someone else and be miserable alone. I have so many fears yet now I understand my husband is a narc.

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