The one thing that people write to me about most frequently is how to get over a narcissist.
Believe me, I understand. Getting over my ex is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. So why is it so hard to get over a narcissist?
Why Getting Over a Narcissist is So Hard
To get over a narcissist, we must ask ourselves this question:
How is it possible to miss someone who has damaged us and devastated our lives so carelessly?
It’s possible to miss someone who has abused us because love-bombing is abuse too. When our partners love-bombed us, it was done under false pretenses because we didn’t know what we were falling in love with.
Love-bombing is just as abusive as any of the more obvious forms of abuse. This is difficult, yet critical, to accept.
Understanding and accepting that all of the stages of our relationship with the narcissist were abusive is crucial.
Until we do, we are very vulnerable to being hoovered by our partners into the relationship again and again. Even if our partners do not hoover us and we have gone no-contact, we can feel lost, disempowered, and without hope because what happened for years.
Getting over a relationship with a narcissist means that we must definitely go no-contact, but it’s not enough. We also have to stop idealizing the narcissist and the relationship.
Getting Over a Narcissist
It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to go no-contact separately from releasing our idealistic view of our partners and the relationship.
In other words, if we are still in the relationship with them, the narcissist is still around to manipulate the perception we have of them, which then makes it more difficult to ever leave.
In order to re-frame the relationship as one that doesn’t serve us and motivate ourselves to go no-contact, we have to be able to see it from a view other than the romanticized one that they feed us long enough to pull away from them.
Nice trap they have us in, isn’t it?
The Relationship Between No-Contact and Stopping Idealization of the Narcissist
To be completely free, what is more likely is that you will have to go back and forth between the two required steps until you find that you have put the relationship in the past and you are whole once again.
In other words, the two things have to go hand-in-hand. There are actually five stages we must go through to leave the relationship completely:
During a short burst of no-contact, your view will get a little less rose-colored. Then when you make contact once again, you will be that much closer to breaking away for good the next time.
And yet you cannot stop there. You cannot live in the past with the image of the narcissist intact as it is.
So what does it look like when you move between “going no contact” and “ending the romanticization of the relationship?”
Step 1. Going No-Contact
You absolutely must stop interacting with the narcissist in your life before you can even begin to recover, much less completely stop idealizing the relationship. Even though it is obvious, its importance cannot be understated.
You can’t leave the door open to be friends. You can’t leave the door open for them to get in touch with you with the idea that you “just won’t respond.”
You can’t look at their social media profiles or contact any mutual friends to find out how they are doing.
If you are still interacting with them, your life and your thoughts are not your own.
You will not recognize how much they have an influence on what you are thinking and how you feel until they have been gone for a few weeks. They have penetrated every layer of your being and know everything about you.
There is a pervasive fog that clouds your mind. Confusion may be your primary emotion. You may not even realize it until you have spent time away from them for a few weeks.
They split you into two people in their own mind with their actions, and thus you become two people in yours as well: the one that wants to believe in them and the one who knows they will never be good for you and will never change.
They have been slowly draining you out of the one who wants to believe in them by conditioning you not to speak up.
They have eroded your own will and slowly replaced it with their own and then tried to silence that other part of you that is trying to rebel against how you have been treated.
That part of you that wants to believe in them has been indoctrinated with their lies of love. It will try to keep you there, locked in a fantasy until you are drained of everything you ever were.
You must get away, and yet this is also why going no-contact is not enough.
Going no-contact is the fight for your right to control your own life and physical space. Gaining a realistic view of the relationship is the fight for your mind and thoughts. If you cannot go no-contact completely, you can do something called going “gray rock” instead.
Step 2. Stopping Your Idealization of the Narcissist and the Relationship
How much time do we spend going over and over the relationship in our minds, like a “choose your own adventure” story playing out endlessly, as if there’s that one path to the end that will give us our happily ever after if only we can find it?
We open door after door, but maybe somewhere in the middle of the story, we forgot what happily-ever-after would even look like. Maybe the story changed and we forgot how we wanted things to end.
So much damage done, so many new leaves now heaped on top of one another waiting for us to turn over, we wouldn’t even recognize what season we were in anymore even if things did ever start to change.
Drowning in the pages of the story, we lose sight of what we are fighting for. All we remember is a dream of the past where we felt infinite love. Because of that person they once showed to us, all we want is to feel it again, although that person now seems to have disappeared.
This is what keeps us tied to them.
A lot has been written about going no-contact, yet I have seen very little written about how to stop idealizing your ex. There is little recognition about how painful this process is or what we must accept in order to make it here.
Yet this is one of the keys to both staying no-contact forever and to mending ourselves so that we can move forward and out of their shadow.
Being unable to do this is what can keep people stuck.
We must see the relationship for what it actually was, not as the narcissist wanted us to see it. To do that, we must reframe how we see the narcissist, see the world through their eyes, and dismantle our view of what could have been.
Complete no-contact will be difficult before idealization ends, and yet idealization is difficult while the narcissist’s influence lingers. This is the paradox of a relationship with a narcissist.
This is why the hoovers work so well, and why we live in this purgatory for months or years. The initial attempts to break up fail because:
- We still miss what we had and have a hard time moving on. We get abuse amnesia and wonder if it was as bad as we thought it was.
- We may blame ourselves or wonder if things could have turned out differently.
- We’ll still struggle with the cognitive dissonance and wonder if they can change and if we should try again.
In other words, “no-contact” is pretty useless without a complete mental shift.
We either still have the idea in our heads that it’s okay if they come back into our lives, thus undoing any progress we make when they are gone– or we keep them alive in our heads, negating some of the loss of their physical presence.
We have to banish them from our minds too.
The End Game: Getting Over the Narcissist
Partners of narcissists break up with them so many times before eventually leaving. This is because it is nearly impossible to actually leave until the mental frame has been set on leaving.
Breakups can be “test runs.”
Sometimes you may think you have set your mental frame toward no-contact, but you realize you haven’t quite set it far enough out to drag yourself away from their death grip.
If it weren’t for our own minds, every time the narcissist came back, we could just ignore them. We have a construct that we must dismantle first. This is the painful part–we don’t want to dismantle it.
We have to pull apart a life with them we don’t want to pull apart to rip into memories that were positive for us and open up a host of questions without answers.
We will grieve and lose pieces of ourselves–pieces we never wanted to lose.
Yet there is really no choice. It’s us or them.
And though it’s painful, there is light too. The light comes from the truth. You learn that the pain they caused was not personal, and that is a turning point that puts you on the path to healing.
Assistance with Recovering from a Breakup with a Narcissist
I’m always on the lookout for new and high-quality resources for survivors. Are you struggling with how to leave your narcissist partner? This course on the five steps you can take to exit can help. Are you having trouble recovering from the relationship even after it’s over?
Try enrolling in this Webinar on getting started with your recovery so you can start to get off the emotional roller coaster or this one on using EFT Tapping to break the addiction to the narcissist.
Lovefraud webinars on relationship abuse are presented by experts but also from the perspective of experience. Almost every instructor learned about the behavior of sociopaths in relationships the hard way. They’re affordable and offer practical information you can start using immediately. If you decide to try one, send me an email and let me know how it went!
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