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11 Crazy Things You May Do Before Going No Contact

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Looking back, my process for going no-contact with my ex-boyfriend actually started over two years before it came to a complete end.

I didn’t understand what was happening to me at the time, nor would I have been able to explain it to anyone else.

There were times when I wanted desperately to leave, but I couldn’t envision any possible future without him, and there were times when I wanted nothing more than to stay and forced myself forget the things that had made me want to leave.

There were times when I also wanted him to leave, and times when I begged him not to.

There were times when I walked out unable to take any more–and then afterward I waited desperately for him to inevitably contact me and draw me back in.

Many times I behaved irrationally as if controlled by something outside of myself. Who is this person acting like this? I would sometimes think. Why are you doing this?

It was as if an alien force had taken over my body. I was in there somewhere, but where I didn’t know.

Emergency sirens only I could hear were blaring in my head at all times.

Different emotions took their turns cascading through me relentlessly: anxiety, fear, disgust, despair, elation, relief, recklessness, defeat, exhaustion.

What I did not know at the time but can see now is that my mind was preparing itself to leave the relationship during that time, and a part of me always knew it.

Very specific and distinct things happened during that two-year time period provided me with psychological self-preservation and gave me psychological strength.

They were things that led to thoughts that led to actions. Those actions led to reactions. Those reactions led to emotions, and on in the cycle.

All of these things, however confusing or painful at the time, moved me closer to eventually being able to go full no-contact with my ex-boyfriend.

Here are eleven things that happened to either protect or prepare me psychologically for getting there.

Sometimes I moved in between a couple of them for awhile, but all of these I recognize now marked very distinct stages of my mindset.


There are 11 stages through which you might progress before you're able to go no contact and mean it.

Stages of Going No Contact and Meaning It

1. Epiphany #1: I Realized Something Was Very Wrong

Things had been taking a darker turn for a while.

However, a series of major incidents suddenly occurred that were so out of character from the person with whom I was first presented and with whom I had fallen in love, that I could no longer accept that my ex was the person I thought he was (e.g., massive outbursts, cruelty, secret lives, etc.).

It was the mask falling off and my subsequent realization that this wasn’t normal.

2. Deny, Deny, Deny

He began making excuses for his behavior.

Because I had never encountered anything like this before, I was not ready to accept the implications of what he had shown me under the mask.

I accepted his excuses and I repressed how bad it really was, just wanting things to go back to the way they used to be.

All of that reading I’d done about narcissism?

I pretended suppressed all that knowledge as if I’d never even read it, believing he could never be a narcissist.

I was willing to overlook and forgive when he started to love-bomb me again.

3. Bargaining

Once he had me back where he wanted me, the love-bombing had almost stopped. He was often back to the behavior that had led me to believe something was wrong.

I could no longer deny the things he’d done, but now I was just confused. He had given me an explanation for the behavior, but he was up to it again.

Why couldn’t he just stop? If he could, things between us would be perfect.

I’d tell him he hurt me with the bad behavior. Just give me one more chance, he’d say.

4. Splitting

Chance after chance I gave him, but nothing actually changed.

Which one was he– the “good one” or the “bad one?” I couldn’t decide, and I’d “split in two,” knowing the truth but believing the lie.

I wasn’t ready to face consciously yet that he was not that person I fell in love with and never would be.

5. Fantasizing

I started having fantasies about the relationship that fell at extremes.

I wished he would either just somehow disappear and never talk to me again so I could be free, or I wished he would make a grand gesture, stop all the bad behavior once and for all and claim me so we could start over and be happy.

I’d wonder what would happen if I just blocked him without saying anything if I was the one who just disappeared without even saying goodbye.

6. Rebellion

Some part of me started to pull away from him.

During all the break-ups, he disappeared for long periods of time because I was no longer providing him with the strong sources of attention and adoration he needed.

Yet the longer periods of time away from him gave my head a chance to clear and the anxiety in my chest a chance to loosen.

I started doing all the things he used to harass me about not doing, like going out with my male friends or with any males at all.

When he did eventually contact me again, after long periods of silence, I didn’t worry about how long it took me to text or call him back.

The more I took charge of my own life again, the more empowered I felt.

7. Helplessness

My strength was growing, but his influence was still keeping me from rejecting his version of events (the relationship).

I was getting there but not yet quite ready to act and I was filled with a feeling of dread.

The thought entered my head that I would never get away from him until one of us was dead.

8. Rock bottom

My entire life felt as if it was on hold and was not moving forward because he was still in it.

He was dominating my thoughts and controlling my time.

I wanted something to change, but I felt powerless to do anything about it.

9. Epiphany #2: This is Never Going to Get Any Better and I Must Act

There were several mini-epiphanies that accompanied this one.

I cannot live with the feelings I am having.

He’s not going to change.

He’s not who you think he is.

This is not what you think it is.

You don’t want to be with him.

And he will never leave you alone or respect your boundaries.

I have to act or something bad is going to happen.

10. Exit Behavior

In this stage, I was ready to finally fully accept what had happened in the relationship. Yet I needed to get away from his influence to do it because I was still vulnerable. It was a trap.

I was desperate to push him far enough away so that he wouldn’t have a desire to contact me, at least for a long time.

I did things out of desperation that I would not normally do (nothing illegal or permanently harmful) in order to attempt to make him want to avoid me.

11. Barricading My Heart

Eradicating him from my life and giving him a good reason not to come back enabled me to gather the last of my strength and close the door, going no-contact with complete awareness and acceptance of what that means.

The fog cleared.

It took me months to gently accept the new reality. I had to go through a process of letting the bricks wall up a little higher each day.

As I was able to make new connections about the past that I wasn’t able to see at the time, the door continued to thicken, and likely always will.

It was important for me to recognize the stages in order to understand how I got here and why it took me so long.

Most importantly, I needed to forgive myself for being unable to get here sooner.

Going No Contact is a Process

When partners of narcissists try to implement “no contact,” the narcissists often try to entice them back into the relationship.

Going no contact with a narcissist is something we do only when we are fully aware of what we are dealing with and when we are ready to protect ourselves from further harm– an action taken with the best of intentions.

Going no contact and meaning it, however, is something else entirely.

Going no contact often fails at first if and when the narcissist uses an excuse for contacting us by hoovering us (or our defenses are weak and we don’t close all the methods to begin with).

Getting serious about going no-contact requires an awareness of the repercussions and a psychological readiness that often takes time.

It requires us to think through not only the logistics of no-contact, but the emotional implications as well: the relationship is over, and there can be no more romanticizing it or believing the narcissist’s lies.

Partners implementing no-contact must ask themselves, am I truly ready to accept this? If I am not, I may be vulnerable to something that the narcissist may do in the future to try to come back into my life that I can’t anticipate.

No one should be able to tell any of us how long it should take to be ready to accept that information and move forward.


Don’t forget to check out these resources:

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. This is almpst a blow for blow of my life over the past 2 years +. Amazing to think there are so many people out there suffering from the same problems!
    I think if I hadn’t had kids with my partner our relationship would have been over a long time ago, or maybe I’m telling myself that to make me feel better. The biggest issue with regard to qalking away is the drastically reduced access to my children, it breaks my heart to know that walking away means not seeing them on a daily basis, however I am coming to realise that growing up around this kind of relationship is only going to set them up for adulthood pretty poorly so know what I need to do but simply can’t atm. Feel like a lost cause but I will continue to read great articles kike these and try to find the courage to break away.


  2. Wow. I have read several of your articles but this one has resonated with me the most. I have been in an almost 3 year relationship with someone I believe to be a narc or at least has strong narc tendencies. As of right now, I think I’m going back and forth between the rebellion and helplessness phases. Earlier in our relationship, he was under an extreme amount of stress for understandable reasons and I wrote off his behavior during that time. I was very much so attached to him and always willing to go above and beyond to do whatever I could to “prove” myself and keep our relationship intact. I didn’t start to really see the “light” until after the first year or so. Since then, our relationship has changed from him always trying to “leave” (which I know now was really a manipulation tactic to get various “supply” out of me, mainly money) to now I have made several unsuccessful attempts to leave and he’s the one making “efforts” to keep us together, however surface/superficial. Once I started seeing him for who he really was and verbalizing that to him, he started to shift the tide and blame me for all of our issues–“I don’t respect him, I talk down to him, I don’t build him up, etc.” “He only acts out aggressively because of how I treat him.” Simply speaking the truth about his behavior or real events that have happened is a problem for him. So now, I am the person who needs “fixing.” My solution is now to dissolve the relationship but instead I get guilted because “if I loved him I would stay and fight for our love” or I get called a “coward” who doesn’t want to face issues head on and deal with them. So when I leave, he always eventually worms himself back in some kind of way. He’s shown up at my house, called my mother, shown up at my job, bought me plane tickets and of course will call incessantly, even though his number is blocked. Then once we make that first initial contact, a lot of times it’s downhill from there and I find myself back “in it” though I’m not really in it, if that makes sense. It’s like he has some type of hold on me. We do have “moments” of good times between us but I would say that at least 50% of the time or more, we are at odds and it’s getting worse. Recently, we have had times when I feel as if I’m in hell. I have acted out verbally in ways toward him I’m not proud of and have had moments when I just wish I were not alive to experience such immense emotional pain, but at the same time I’m not suicidal. I’ve never felt so much rage/negativity toward another human being as the feelings I’ve experienced toward him. Then I find myself dealing with the guilt and shame of acting out of character which then allows him to “point the finger” and turn everything around on me. It’s crazy. If your steps are accurate, I am hopeful that I will soon make it to the end and get out of this once and for all.

  3. This feeling of needing to disconnect with him on all levels has been going on for 5 months. Physically it’s happened emotionally its getting there. Currently at between 10 and 11. Hoping I don’t backslide.

    1. You aren’t physically attracted to him anymore?
      I use to think my narc was the most beautiful woman on earth! I was mesmerized and a little intimidated even by her beauty, but since becoming more aware of who she really is beneath the mask of near perfection, she fools everybody with, is one of the ugliest souls I’ve ever met! Before, there’s was nothing I wouldn’t do to be with her, and now I think I finally accept the fact that none of it was ever real to begin with. She learned my biggest insecurities and of my troubled childhood and used them to slowly deplete my self esteem and self respect, she gaslight all the time saying I’m psychotic or crazy or insecure or jealous for having feelings any normal man in the same situation would be feeling. She denies any and all wrongdoing and nothing ever gets resolved bc she makes everything my fault somehow. She is self righteous, self entitled, and has double standards. She can treat and talk to me disrespectfully and accuse me of whatever she wants, but as soon as I question her loyalty she gets hypersensitive and punished me with silent treatment for weeks, all the while going out drinking with her girlfriends and hooking up with random men at nightclubs. I only know that for sure bc she left her phone on my car one night when I dropped her off. I know I shouldn’t have bit I needed to know the truth bc my gut was telling me things I didn’t want to believe. I easily got in with the first 6 digit passcode I tried, I call it divine intervention, and what I discovered about her secret life away from me while I’m psychologically tormented and left with severe cognitive dissonance she’s out acting and behaving like single woman without a care in the world for me as if I never existed. She had hooked up with several different men during these times, she never had ANYTHING good to say about me to anybody, the same exact words she said to me she also said to other men, she blocks me everywhere, and will only call me from a private # for some reason. All of this goes on when we aren’t face to face, but when we are face to face she is totally different, caring, attentive, and sweet. She tells me I’m the only man she’s ever really been in love with and nobody has touched her since we met in 2015, tells me how she can’t go out on the dates she gets asked out on because she’s still so in love me much less kiss another man…… According to her own text messages to her bff, everything she said to me was a lie! She had made out with multiple men, had sex with a couple, and even had the audacity to act like I did something unjust by looking thru her phone to see what she does when she discards me. I have every reason not to trust her, I know I don’t want to share my life with her, but it’s so hard to break the trauma bond, I feel like I’m finally done playing her games. We have a son together and he is such a joy to be around, but I’m almost ready to to walk away entirely die to the trouble and all the drama she adds to my life. It’s not worth it anymore, the good times are nonexistent and don’t outweigh the bad by a sizeable margin, so I’m trying g to lick up the pieces and put my life back together at this point. She calculated an attack on me that has left me homeless, jobless, and hungry. I think I’ve finally had enough of this abusive cycle she’s trapped me in for so long. I love her and I’m confused as to why I love her, I know she doesn’t love me. She can be so intoxicating one minute and so hateful and cold in the next. Passive aggressive behavior that keeps me confused. I’m either pleading with her or defending myself every time we see eachother. I literally don’t have problems like this with anybody else. She constantly says hurtful things about me that aren’t true. Uses our son to reel me back in when I’ve had enough of the drama and celebrating and insults and the covert attacks on my character and me as a parent. It’s offensive. I just want it to be over so u can move on and be happy again. Hopefully, like you, I won’t backslide either.
      Praying for you and wishing you peace,

      1. God bless you Brandon !…you deserve so much better !!

    2. I feel like I’m exactly where you’re at, and it all started about 5 months ago ironically. Good luck and best wishes!
      Icexalso lost interest in the physical with her bc she does something to ruin it for me everytime. I deservet to be treated with love and respect also, just like she demands from me. I love her, but I’m slowly learning how nor to. I still have some confidence and she didn’t completely break me so there’s still hope for me, but she’s never going to change.

    3. I also hope you don’t backslide. Do you two have children together? If so, what do u plan to do to handle that aspect of the manipulationship?

  4. Thank u for writing this. I stumbled across this from my Google search ‘ how long should it take for me to heal from narcissistic abuse? ‘.

    I too was in an on/off manipulationship with my ex. The recent bout of our togetherness started in April 2013. We were ‘ official ‘ from Nov 13 to Mar 15. I ended it due to his inappropriate bullshit. Then got caught up in a vicious cycle of abuse under the guise of ‘ best friends ‘ (which of course had every Hallmark of being boyfriend and girlfriend with none of the commitment on his part, but every possible expectation that I had to behave in the way he deemed necessary,) from Mar 15 to April 2018. Since then there has been limited contact/communication/time spent with each other, very few sexual encounters with him (the final time was mid June 2018) and ever since a series of very negative interactions as I’ve become less and less willing to comply with his demands/expectations.

    I too feel I’ve been healing and garnering the strength to make the final step towards no contact for the past 2 and a half years. It’s been a horrendous experience and I’ve lost many things I held dear, least of all my self respect and love of my authentic soul. I’m still suffering the psychological and physiological effects of stress and trauma but I thankfully am beginning to feel I’m almost back to my best self.

    Everything you wrote here resonates with me. It’s very helpful to read these validating stories. I’m committed to my recovery and to helping others do the same.

    Much love to you and all survivors/thrivers.


    1. Kristen Milstead

      Thank you for reading, Paula!

    2. I appreciate reading this article. I have been struggling with a relationship since 2013. I lost my husband in 2011 and was heart broken. I met this man on a dating website. We met and got along well and he immediately attached himself to me. It was a “save the beauty” deal. A Fairytale Romance that we had…and he told me that co sisterly. He said all the right things at the beginning but if I did not do what he suggested he would get angry. Example: I talked to him late one night I was on the couch, he told me to go to bed and not sleep on the couch. I fell asleep and the next day when he asked if I got in bed I told him no…he aggressively hung up on me. That was the beginning. I have been through aweful things, he would call me vile names and has threatened me. When he drank he was a lot worse. I kicked him out several times and I always let him come back. It has been so hard to just not forgive and let him back in, because of loneliness and when he was good he was great! He gave me all the I am sorry’s, it will never happen again. He would come back and destroy things at and in my house. He would blame it on me, it was my fault. When we were not together, he would come to my house when I wasn’t there and leave obvious signs that he had been there. He denies it all. My children didn’t like him and my son had several verbally altercations and there were threats. We have spent 6 months separated at times, but he would do the grand gestures and be very sweet and kind and I would let my guard down and back into my life he came. We have been apart for a month now, and I just received a text wishing me well and saying nice things…because my daughter just got married. I don’t want to do this anymore, I want a life with a nice man that treats me with respect…but the loneliness is horrible and he has made me feel like no one else will want me but him. How do you keep from just not doing this anymore…I am just a weak woman. He says I am a narcissist and makes me feel crazy. Help! Please do not list my name, as I know he reads these kind of articles about narcissism.

      Lady X

  5. I feel like ive written this post, after 2 yeaes of push and pull and emotional abuse, and silent treatments i only yesterday decided i dont want to feel like tbis anymore ( at times ive felt on verge of a breakdown) i finally blocked him , i want to move on without his abuse affecting my life amymore ,,, x

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hi Marnie: I am so sorry to hear about what you’ve been through but I’m glad to hear you’ve found the strength to block him and work on strengthening your life without him. You’re not alone. Stay strong! -Kristen

  6. Hi Kristen. Thank you so much for this post. I was in tear nodding my head the entire time. Reading your steps has given me hope that complete no contact will be sooner than later. I started noticing the major red flags in November 2017. About 2 months ago i was at step #10. One of his friend’s wives is a therapist (or some sort of mental health counselor) for a jail so i reached out to her for her “professional advice”, therefore having to kinda put my ex boyfriend’s business out there (his NPD). I told her if she felt uncomfortable being that they were friends, then i would stop the convo. She led me to believe she was there for me, however, she flaked on me a couple of times for coffee and wouldn’t return my calls or text. Just 2 weeks ago my ex confronted me angrily and warned me never to call that girl again because she complained to him that i involved her in drama. I confronted her and she told me that if he was really abusing me that i would’ve left him easily because we have no kids, not married, and don’t live together. She says i am volunteering drama in my life. NOW i was really confused, hurt, feeling like I’ve overreacted, questioned my sanity again because a professional was telling me that i was not abused and this is my fault. For the first time in 8 yrs i blocked his number, but yet i still check my phone under blocked messages to see if he’s text me. I can’t focus, i feel lost, hopeless that I’ll never be strong enough to move on. Reading your post gave me some hope again. Thank you. Wishing u all the best on your continued healing.

    1. Hi Erika: I’m so sorry to hear about this. My suggestion is that for people who haven’t been through this, many will never understand. If they don’t try and won’t listen, and make comments like that, simply cut them out of your life. They will only re-victimize and re-traumatize you. Her being a therapist, if she doesn’t want to take more time to learn about narcissistic abuse or even trauma bonding (!!!), well, that seems to be a blind spot in her own professional capacity. But as far as YOU, you cannot take other people’s limitations personally. Just shut the door on it. You know what you went through. And you are not alone! There are millions of us out here. I know it may not seem as if you will be able to move on, but waking up every day and even just taking everything moment to moment is an act of heroism after a situation like this. You *are* a symbol of strength already to people who haven’t gone no-contact yet. 🙂 It’s a journey that is not always linear, but please try to remember that you are already on the path, and that you have others out here who are on that same path. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and share what you are going through. Please stay strong! -Kristen

  7. 2 1/2 years together. I’m putting things in order to move out. He knows. Hoovering has started. He is holding back his annoyance over things I am doing for me that put HIM out. I see it under the surface. I’m finally at the stage of realizing I’m worth SO much more than this. A part of him is worrying that thus is the beginning of the end but he isn’t voicing it hence the hoovering. I’ve told him I dont want him to know where I will be living for a little while – he will find out. I’m in a small town. But I’m buying enough time to keep my head clear and have a small supportive network. I don’t believe he is a full blown narc but there’s enough there to let me see I don’t want this to be my future. I’m not as attracted to this. I thank him for taking advantage when I was happy to do everything for him.It’s making it so much easier. The good times are not often or big enough to outweigh the bad any more. I see past the surface to the ugly and my guard is never fully down. The harderst parts – knowing there will be times I will miss. Wondering if I will ever feel what I felt for him. Contemplating a life without the drama and how I will fill that time. I’m not ready to go no contact. But I wont have him at my place and he doesn’t know this yet but I will NEVER live with him again. I moved out once before and went back. Learned my lesson.

    1. Hi Lisa: It sounds as if you have a strong plan and know what you are going to do. I’m very inspired and encouraged by the conviction that you have to put this plan in motion, and I bet many of the men and women reading this are as well. You have captured your thoughts and feelings so well, how you feel torn about so much, but know what you must do. Just taking any steps to get your life back help. Any small steps are the first steps. You know you are on the path now even if you know you are not ready. I remember that feeling so well. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Stay strong and good luck! -Kristen

  8. It was hard for you to get away from your ex by yourself, I have 3 kids with mine and feel that I will never be able to escape his control…

  9. Insightful Kristen, thank you.  The last sentence was impactful as the individual I was involved with told me he “would never let me go” the first time I spent time with him over dinner.  At the time, I thought that was an interesting statement and somewhat sweet – but I guess I missed a red flag at the time.  Just didn’t understand narcissistic behavior patterns!  Would you agree?

    From: In the Shadows of the Fairy Tale Reply-To: In the Shadows of the Fairy Tale Date: Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 8:58 PM To: Subject: [New post] The Power of Brainwashing: Don’t Underestimate What’s Happening To You

    Kristen Milstead posted: “”You’re the love of my life. When you’re on your deathbed, all you have to do is call for me and I’ll be there.” His eyes would burn into mine intensely, then he would close them and look away as if he had peered at a flawless midday sky that was too br”

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hi: I cannot imagine how difficult things must feel for you and I don’t know your story, however, it may be even more crucial for you to try to leave if you can with the children there as well. Things are never hopeless. There is a world of people and resources out here waiting to help you. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers or know each of the things in your life you would have to overcome to make changes, but please don’t give up! Stay strong and keep reaching out to all of us. -Kristen

  10. It is four in the morning and I am awake am sick to my very soul because my boyfriend has been punishing me with Silent Treatment for almost three weeks. I have been through so many soul-crushing episodes of silent treatment that I thought I was inured to them but as I have unpleasantly discovered I am not. Your article made me cry- I am still crying as I am typing this. My boyfriend is a full blown covert Narcissist, and like you I did not realize this until it was too late. I realized something was very wrong early in the relationship but at the time I had never really heard of personality disorders. I thought Narcissists were people who could not pass a mirror without checking their hair. I was a sitting duck.

    After four years, I am in that horrible stage where I KNOW he is slowly killing me- he is cruel and abusive and treats me like something disgusting on the bottom of his shoe when he is in full-blown Silent mode. He knows there is something wrong with him- he admits to feeling detached and to not understanding emotion. When he treats me well it is like the whole world goes from black and white to technicolour. The good times last for many months, long enough to hook me. I relax, and once I begin to trust him again and am feeling secure and happy he somehow senses it and he throws me into emotional chaos by suddenly, and without any apparent reason, cutting off ALL communication. Ninety percent of the time I have NO idea what I have done. I have no idea whether the silence will last a few days or several weeks. During this time I make a fool of myself (even though I promise myself I will be strong) and I write long emails and texts apologizing for everything I can think of. I beg him to think of all the wonderful things we have done and all the things we have yet to do. I tell him how much I love and need him and remind him that he has said he needs me, too. I have no idea if he reads these frantic and desperate words. I have no idea if he has blocked me- I get more and more upset and depressed as time goes on. Then I get frustrated and angry then very depressed- all in the space of a few hours. If the silent treatment is a long episode, I get VERY depressed and can’t stop crying. Or texting. I am a wreck.

    When he finally breaks his silence and we are back together I can’t discuss it so I am scared to say anything at all for fear of triggering another event. I find myself desperately wishing I could leave. I believe that one of the reasons he is attracted to me is for sex. He is a very selfish lover and very rough: he doesn’t believe that giving pleasure to one’s partner can in itself be pleasurable. Sex was exciting at first because he can go for a long time without having an orgasm, but this quickly became a problem. It sounds great but it really is NOT. It hurts after a while, It is all about control and that is not fun. I am left feeling like I am being serviced, there is zero emotional attachment and it is impossible to have a really good sex life when there is no emotional connection. I often have bruises and he like to bite which I HATE. When he is absent I miss laying beside him but when I finally have him back I want to cry. Why can’t he LOVE me? Why can’t I love me?

    He showers me with gifts, none of which I want. They are all pricey and highly impersonal. He is excessively flattering- too much, too fake, it reminds me of Pepe Le Pew. It is strangely insincere. Yet he cooks beautiful meals for me and we travel frequently. During our trips he is a very fun and interesting companion and I especially love our long and short outings. We do so many things I could not replace him with 10 friends. If I had 10 friends. I don’t have any left- he is my only and closest friend and I am his only friend. It is a real trauma bond that keeps us together. Supply and demand.

    I still have trouble believing that he is hurting me intentionally, even though he has TOLD me that he uses the Silent Treatment to punish me. He has actually told me that he uses it to correct my behaviour and if I don’t know what I have done then I should think harder. The few times he has admitted what he was upset about I was stunned: once it was because he had a DREAM that I went to dinner with another man. Once it was because I told him we should take his car to the car wash because it was dusty. Most of the times it is a mystery.

    He is insanely jealous and implies that I have been regularly unfaithful to him. There is NO reason for him to think this as I have never cheated on anyone and never would. This really hurts as it is a personal attack on my ethics. However, I honestly believe and have quite a lot of evidence that he has not been unfaithful to me. So far at least- I realize that it could happen.

    I know this is not a normal relationship but NO ONE understands how and why I put up with him. I honestly don’t know myself. I have tried to use the Silent Treatment episodes as a way to exit the relationship but I just can’t do it. I am okay for a few days then I miss him so much I can’t bear it. I think it is true that I am literally addicted to him. In some sick way he must be addicted to me- an abuser needs someone to abuse.
    I recently tried to discuss Silent Treatment with him- how it is considered emotional abuse and how much it really hurts me- and just after I told him he started THIS episode. I feel like I have given him fodder for the fire.

    So here I am, sad and sick and crying at 4 in the morning googling NPD and trying to fortify myself by reading other people’s accounts. I am not close to being able to leave yet but I AM getting there. I have left other bad relationships but this one is so complicated and twisted I just can’t seem to leave even when I am disgusted at my own lack of self-respect. Thank you for laying this out- I have ecperienced many of the emotions that you have written about and you give me hope.

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hi Georgia. Your story touched me so much. I recognized so many familiar elements in it to mine. How are you doing today? The ONE THING that has helped me the most even beyond reading stories of what other people had been through has been reading and learning how narcissists think. That is because I had to truly understand why he did what he did and get it through my head that he couldn’t love me the way I loved him, and that nothing was going to change no matter what I did. It had to sink in a little at a time, but then I started to have shifts in the way I thought about things and he didn’t have control over me anymore. I am so glad to know that my words have helped you somehow. I feel almost as if we have to get away from them a little at a time. I just wrote an article about some things I did while I was still with him that helped me get out sooner, sort of a companion piece to this one, and wished I’d realized at the time how much they were helping so I could do more of them. The biggest thing I would suggest is what you’re already doing: using the silent treatments to try to make yourself as strong as possible. You might not feel it at first, but you’re slowly pulling away from him emotionally when you do things to turn your mind away from him while he is gone. It might feel strange not to try to get in touch with him because it feels unfamiliar without him. I promise though that those feelings can go away with time. Thank you for reading and reaching out here. -Kristen

  11. 1hook2needles


    I really appreciated this article. I can’t even say for sure what stage I am in, but I can say that everything you wrote about calmed my heart, and made me feel like there is hope for me on the other side. I just ‘celebrated’ my 6th anniversary with my husband 2 days ago. This after being separated for over 3 months, and having him threaten divorce numerous times, block me from his phone unless he needed something from me, tell me that he just can’t see himself living the rest of his life with someone like me, but that he knows without a doubt that he loves me more than anyone he’s ever loved. Now, we’re back in the cycle. He has started to text, call and facetime just enough to make me think that there is hope, but when I really look at it, I don’t know if any of it is really real. I justified that fact that he did nothing for our anniversary by telling myself that it’s because he lives too far away, but the reality is that there was nothing to keep him from sending flowers and a card at the very least. He just doesn’t want to or feel the need to, because I’m still here, taking his calls. I hope to get to ‘the end’ soon, because I am literally exhausted. I want so badly to break free and live again, but I just haven’t been able to break the cycle completely. I am only at the stage of not calling or texting him. Any contact is made from his side. I suppose that next will be me just not responding. Wish me luck! I know from reading your article that you know exactly what I’m talking about, so thank you!


    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hi Heather: Thank you for reading! I’m so glad it was helpful. Yes I do know what you’re talking about. I feel as if even when I broke away, my brain still didn’t believe it for a while, so if you have that feeling, you are still vulnerable but you are still on the right track. It still hurts and everything feels wrong but every day your mind clears a little more. I believe it really is a process of freeing our minds, and things do start to get clearer. The anxiety starts to lessen and that feeling of being free of them feels so good, better than being in contact with them. But then the purge starts of getting the toxicity that they left behind out. I don’t think anyone understands this unless they go through it. You must be strong but I know you can make it. You have already made it so far and are almost there. You just have to believe you can do it now. 🙂 Thank you for being here and I hope you have a good night.

  12. I went through these stages many times.
    In fact I commented on your one post I read to tell me story and during the course of the past 3 years I am and have been thru every part of this.

    I feel like I’m reading my own story. But yet some part in me is damaged and sometimes I want him so bad like we were and sometimes I am soo glad he cheated and is now gone and with his new supply.

    We officially broke up 14 months ago but I’ve spoke to him every month in some sick way of his while he was married to the new supply (this didn’t last a year) and now that his divorced and again reeled me back in only to tell me to fuck off again basically.

    He twists things and constantly blamed me for h getting married and now blaming me for having a new bf so he had to move on and what did I expect.

    I have a pretty good life and a bf ( I mess it up mentally since I’m constantly looking for signs of the same narcissistic qualities.

    I have to somehow let this obsession or this space I’m in go else I’ll never truly be happy

  13. Darcy Anderson

    Very good article…. I went thru all those stages. I have been no contact now for 13 months but still see him daily with his new supply (we work together just different shifts. Thanks so much for the clarity

    1. Kristen Milstead

      You’re welcome, Darcy. Thank you for reading.

  14. This actually feels like I’ve written it !!
    I have gone no contact and the haze is evaporating
    But it’s taken nearly 12 months
    Thank you for sharing ????????

  15. despair2deliverance

    I think your 11 points are spot-on. As I read them, they traced my own experiences exactly. I especially appreciated the two epiphanies. First, the growing sense that something is very, very wrong–initially focused on the relationship, but then, as the bad behavior continues and the abuse ramps up, you begin to realize that there’s something very wrong with *that person*. For me, the second epiphany was not “this is never going to get better,” but “this is going to get much worse, and I have to act.” I did act first, and threw her out of my life. It’s been tough keeping the door shut, but I’m working on that, too. Thanks for writing this article. It’s a good one.

    1. This article totally resonates with me and my husband’s situation. Married 28 years, the abuse was/is so very covert. He’s great at walking that fine line between being a loving and caring person (mostly because he tells me he is) and being controlling and self-absorbed (mostly through his actions). With the help of friends, I was able to leave him. We’ve lived apart for over a year now. I’ve told him countless times I want a divorce, so now he amps up the love bombing. I can’t believe I still fall for it! We have 3 adult children who are so affected by his abuse that they struggle through life. I just want this to be over, yet I can’t help but pity him. He’s the perpetual victim. Thanks for your insights.

  16. Nearly all of what you claim is astonishingly appropriate and it makes me ponder why I hadn’t looked at this with this light before. This article truly did turn the light on for me personally as far as this particular subject goes. Nevertheless at this time there is actually just one point I am not really too cozy with so while I try to reconcile that with the actual central idea of your point, permit me observe just what the rest of your readers have to point out.Very well done.

  17. Very helpful and I see myself in most of them. I’m at the last stage in this, where I still see him (we share 4 young children) but I’ve simply shut him out of my heart. Just this past weekend I finally understood that my telling him when he’s doing hurtful things will never set boundaries. He intentionally hurts me just to make sure he still has the power to do so, and because quite honestly it’s fun for him. I now fully understand the sentence I read when I first started reading about narcissism, not even knowing what I was looking for but googling the behavior. “If a narcissist is telling you about how they feel, you can bet they’re lying.” I finally realized he has no authentic feelings of his own. He’s like a shell who’s really good at setting it up so that when I leave him for his behavior and abuse he will appear to be the brokenhearted victim. It’s so sick. But that’s my life. 7 years in and game over I guess. I don’t care tell him what I know because he will destroy my children just to hurt me if I let on that he can’t even cause me pain directly anymore. I’m depending on God to do something about the kids before he does some serious damage to them.

  18. Norma Jean Lemley

    I’m going thro alot of that now / I see clearly what happened and how he did an still does / I’m trapped here for the time being , I still have to have another operation soon / an if I could figure a way out before / I would / the financial abuse is so out of hand / that he’s got such a death grip on everything / including trucks / cars / food / money I need help to keep my sanity in this situation, Thank You , NormaJean

    1. Kristen Milstead

      I’m so sorry… that is really scary. It sounds like you need to get out now! My advice would be to log into the National Domestic Abuse hotline Help is there. They can talk through the options and help provide you with the resources to help you get out of the situation. There is no reason you need to go through this alone or think you have no options. Take care NormaJean. Stay safe.

  19. Searching for hope...

    Fantastic post! I stopped all contact early August – I struggle because he assaulted me that caused a severe concussion and vestibular trauma which in turn impacts my daily life. I continue to be in rehab so I struggle with not thinking about him since I’m always reminded of him. That said, cutting off regular contact is what saved me. I am certain he wanted to drive me to suicide. The last few months after the assaulted were the worst but I hung on hoping for a miracle. I’m open to any advice on how to get him fully out of my head when the consequences of his actions impact my daily life. Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Kristen Milstead

      I’m so sorry to hear about all that has happened to you. I know what you mean about being reminded of your narcissist ex. That was one of the hardest aspects to deal with. It has been a struggle. Because of what you wrote, I wrote my post today about things that I did to help me stop thinking about him and missing him. I hope they will help. Thank you for your comment.

      1. Searching for hope...

        You’re sweet. Thank you!

  20. Hi,

    Thanks for your story. Its really helpful to know that i’m not crazy and alone. Still my mind is confused sometimes. Went no contact for a month now but i feel that i’m still fragile and a part of me is hoping to hear from him and the other part is not. Its like i dont wanna lose the sadness because then the separation is finally real. The days i feel very sad its like he’s close and the times when the sadness isnt so strong i feel more alone and have to get used to being without that feeling. I hope i’m making sence? These days i dont understand my own thinking most of the time and still going through so many emotions. Sometimes i even think that i had i all wrong and he was wright and his behaviour was all because of me. Sometimes my mind brings me to the point i believe i’m the narcissist. That scares me.
    Does somebody recognize this?
    My english is not so very good so excuse me for any mistakes:-)

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Yes, what you are describing is very normal. There are so many stages of healing and so much confusion. The narcissist leaves his mark even when he is gone. I just wrote my post today about things I did to move on after I went no-contact. But there are still a lot of feelings to work through sometimes too before you can get to that point.

      1. Yes i do recognize this. It is very confusing because of the things you are doing and look almost the same as he does. I had it too. Its a feeling that you dont want to feel because once you are believing it you are scared of talking to him about what you dont like what hes doing.

    2. You make perfect sense! It couldnt have been said any bettwr! I don’t know how to get out of mine. Going on 10 years and just the last 3 years I have noticed that changes and they get worse as times goes on!
      I am fearful mostly for my 8year old son who absolutely adores his dad and thinks he dissno wrong!
      It is such a crusade of battles we are fighting!
      I wish you the best of kuck!

    3. I’m so sorry you are going thru this. I too go thru those same feelings you’re having and many times i question if i deserve this and i question my sanity. I ask myself if i over reacted or how would other women handle the things that he does to me. I think I’m over the codependency, but I’m not over accepting that I’ve spent 8 yrs of my life with him and to start all over again.

    4. All i can do is sit here and cry reading this. The realization is gut wrenching, but the knowing Im not completely insane is a relief, but also gut wrenching. God give me the strength and courage to make choices that will set me free and keep me safe both emotionally and physically! I know my purpose on this earth is far more than this!!

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