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How to Get Over a Narcissist: 2 Must-Do Steps

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Understanding how to get over a narcissist is a lot easier than actually doing it.  However, before we can do it, we must first become aware of the path to complete recovery. 

It starts with a question about what is keeping us tied to the narcissist.

To get over a narcissist, we must ask ourselves, “How is it possible to miss someone who has damaged us and devastated our lives so carelessly?”

Why Getting Over a Narcissist is So Hard

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. [Read Narcissist Love Bombing is Like Poison]

This is difficult, yet critical, to accept. 

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. We may be unable to fully process what happened and let go of the aspects of the relationship that seemed positive. 

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.  

How to Get 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. 

This is because our partners consistently influence our thoughts while they are in our presence.

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.  

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:

  1. 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.
  2. We may blame ourselves or wonder if things could have turned out differently.
  3. 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!

Want more? Get more articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox. 



Don’t forget to check out these free 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. Thanks for this post. I just wish I’d gone no or low contact much sooner than I did. It’s impossible to keep your sanity around these creatures. Their way of thinking is the reverse of any sane person. It’s also crazy how hidden this pathology is.

  2. Thank you for this post. Narcissists cause terrible harm; harri mutka in tampere became even more vicious in the discard phase. impossible to believe it was the same person I had met or presents himself to the public. Narcissism abuse can never be normalised.

  3. Once I went no contact for a few months, I began to realize how gullible I’d been during the love bomb stage. Telling me what I wanted to hear, and having it work so well was embarrassing to admit at first. But I’d been conned by a master, and I credited myself for still believing in love that much.
    Now I wonder if I will ever love again, because trust is a real tender spot for me. Then I remembered to love myself first, and anything extra will be gravy.

  4. Thank you for this post…. It reassures me that I made the right decision.

    I’ve been feeling horrible lately. I decided to end things 1 month ago because he got physical for the first time. I was in this relationship for two years. Giving everything I had to him, while he only had aweful things to say about me.

    When we met he told me I was gorgeous and he was instantly in love with me. After a while, after I’d fallen in love with him he started changing. Suddenly I was too fat (and believe me… I’m not), I wore too much or not enough make up, he compared me to other women constantly and really made a sport out of it making sure I knew that he was looking at others. Whenever I would be fed up with the way he treated me, he would simply look at me as if I was the most boring person in the world. He would keep staring at me, silently, while I was crying and telling him that I felt hurt because of all the things he said. A couple of times he said he was sorry and then the emotional abuse would be gone for a couple of weeks. Everytime I was hopeful things were getting better, they got bad again.

    Besides the awful words he often was extremely distant. He went from an amazing lover to someone who never sat next to me on the couch, never made love to me anymore unless he needed a quick fix, never gave me the feeling he loved me or needed me. Nothing. I was so lonely

    And then he also blamed me for everything… I couldn’t talk to him either. He would be the most lazy person I knew and never helped around the house. When I got frustrated he told me I should ask him if I wanted something done. But when I asked him he called me a ‘nag.’ So I couldn’t tell him that I was fed up with something, because then I was nagging. I could discuss stuff with him because then I was nagging. And if I asked more than 1 question I was nagging as well. So in the end I was afraid of asking/telling/discussing things with him because he would define me as a person that nags all the time.

    So I ended it. And I thought things were gonna get better instantly. Which they did. Really. I feel a lot calmer now that he’s moved out than when he still lived here. There’s only 1 problem: He doesn’t stop contacting me. I blocked all of his social media, I blocked his number. The only thing he can reach me on is through mail. I have to keep 1 line of communication open because with him moving out there are still things that need to be taken care of. But since we broke up he contacted me every day. But not to say he’s sorry…. no. To blame me that I was nagging all the time and that it ruined us.

    At first I reacted to his messages, mails, whatever. Because I felt hurt. I hoped that at least he would see what he did to me. I hoped that at least he was a little hurt for losing me. But he’s not… he’s perfectly fine and happy. He sent me this mail yesterday saying that he felt bad that he wasn’t feeling bad. So he just wanted me to know that he was feeling bad for not missing me.

    It destroys me. It’s not fair that I’m aching and missing this a**hole while he is just… happy?

    I know I made the right decision. I know it. But it kills me that I meant so little and that I’m so easy to get over.

  5. Thank you for such a wonderful article, my ex wife of 29 years was text book Narcissist!, then after our separation I landed myself another one, it wasn’t until a close friend describe What a Narcissist was and all the pieces fell into place.Its been a difficult journey to heal from them , but all I can say is learn as much as you can about Narcissism and it helps a great deal with the healing, Your article was fantastic!

  6. I’ve been with a narc for 37 years….and it’s taken all of that 37 years for me to finally figure out it isnt me, it’s him. My mom came from the era where woman tolerate abuse and just hope one day they’ll get old and chill out…..we met when I was 15, he was 23. There were never many relationship issues the first 8 years because of our age differences so we only saw each other a few times a month but I did know he was an a@;hole, no big deal I thought all guys can be that way and he wasn’t mean to me. But after all those years of never officially being a real couple we decided I was going to move in with him after I graduated college. The first 6 months were total bliss. I wasn’t working yet so I cooked every night, we had great sex all the time and never once fought. But then I got pregnant and that’s when it all changed. He turned nasty, wouldn’t tell me he loved me anymore and found anything and everything to complain about. I realize now why, it wasn’t all about him anymore. So I made my bed so I had to lie in it. I played the part because I refused to raise my son in a broken home….now our son is 28 and I’m still with this man who has physically and mentally abused me for years. I began drinking about 10 years ago more and more and was finally able to stop a year ago but I’m still with him. An incident happened about 4 weeks ago and he hurt me pretty bad physically and I called 911 and they arrested ME! The police report said I was erratic and his story was better. I had a busted mouth and a bloody nose (only thing visible to police) and I still went to jail. I couldn’t go home for a week. But now I am home with much time on my hands because I can’t leave the county even though I’ve never been arrested or anything. I began reading and discovered the narcissist and trauma bonding on Pinterest and the light after 37 years came on. I’ve been trying to figure out all these years what was wrong with me. Why I never felt good about myself, why I couldn’t talk to other people, why I never felt truly loved or appreciated. He said to me once I was allowed to come home that I was lucky for my sake that he wasn’t the one who went to jail or it would not have turned out well for me. He’s threatened me, he’s silent treatment me, he’s said he loves me, he’s told me he can do so much better than me, he’s told me I’m pathetic then tells me he’s taking me on a month vacation this summer. I’m taking all of this in and then reading about the narc empathy relationship and every single thing he’s doing is text book….my plan now is that once the state attorney drops the charges of domestic violence against me (my attorney feels confident they will) that I’m leaving. I’ve not told him because he will make my life a living hell. But I’m scared and the only way to make this work is for me to put all of my stuff in a storage unit and get in my car and drive as far away as I can and just start over. Do everything except change my name. I’m scared he’ll find me though only to try and woo me back and if I don’t he’ll get nasty and start defaming me to our son making up lies so I’ll have to constantly be assuring my son I’m fine etc…wish me luck and that I’m safe.


      He may not even try…..easier to find new prey

      1. He will try because he needs to have the control factor over you and he will manipulate your son into believing you are mentally sick.

    2. Dear Ann,

      I hope you are in a better place now, far away from that terror of your life. Your story is horrible, and i feel deeply with you. 37 years of your life spend in such a nightmare with a man that clearly did´nt deserve you. I only spend 1,5 years with mine, and ran away 3 weeks ago. It is tough but we have to remember that there is a good happy life for us out there – after putting in the hard work of finding ourselves again and setting our boundaries. We have to become our own best friends. And remember to shed the the gulit that we carry, which is not ours to carry.
      Best of luck from Julie in Denmark

    3. Wowwwww sounds so much like me n hubby, I like you probably would have put up with the abuse as long as you have, but my hubby just died after 20 yrs of abuse, all I kno after 9 months of his death is I’m free!!! I tried even going to another country once!! He used to b a cop, and you kno how they stick together, yepp he got a private detective, I really am glad you have a plan in place. He died at home just me n him here, after he died I stood at the foot of his bed and told him, im done now I fullfilled my vows, am I happy, I dont c that not really, it’s more relief, I miss what I thought we had. Divorce was always on the table, but in the end he’d sweet talk me out of it. He’d been in hosp 10 days, docs couldnt do anymore for him n its in the middle of covid, so they sent him home, his words to me on the phone from the hosp were he wanted to come home to die, and I could stay there /here if i wanted. He’d also tell me he loved me everytime we ended a call, I told him I didnt ever want to hear that from him again, I didn’t either. I went so far as to tell him i detested him a few days b4 he died. Writing this has made me feel a bit guilty, I guess its human nature, but no im not gonna go there anymore, I dont have to. I kno i have alot of work ahead of me to wash him out of my mind and heart, and I will, this now is my time!! Thanx so much for lettn me ramble on, I truly wish you the best.

  7. How To Heal from Narcissistic Abuse | In the Shadows of the Fairy Tale

    […] stop isolating the good times and our positive view of the narcissist from the abuse that occurred. This has been my view all along, as well. We cannot merely go no-contact–that’s only half the battle of recovery; we […]

    1. My best weapon is thinking about the horrifying abuse & every time i started idealizing the relationship replacing those unrealistic idealizations & thinking about the horrifying abuse!! Now this does take time & practice…I Know!! But I feel it is a powerful weapon!!

      1. Thtank you for your input. My question is, why do people like this constantly Lie. Why don’t they exhibit any regular human emotions, or accountability. Can You assist?. I barely sleep now. Sorry for timing.

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    […] stand on the other side. You have to keep working on moving yourself forward. You have to stop romanticizing them to avoid being vulnerable to potential future […]

  9. We Can't Leave a Narcissist Until We Go Through These Five Stages | In the Shadows of the Fairy Tale

    […] In Stage #5, our mindset changes and we no longer view the narcissist or the relationship the same way. We become ready to tear it all down. We must actually take actions to remove oneself from the abusive situation physically and psychologically.  This involves two steps: […]

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    […] Brown (p. 241) says that the only way out of suffering is to stop the positive intrusive thoughts of the narcissist, and, by extension, what I have been referring to as ending idealization of the narcissist and the relationship. […]

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  19. I couldn’t go no-contact because of the children. But I did stop interacting with him on any other level. I had to do a handover to his family so that he would stop leaning on me to help him with this and that. All contact with him was done at the door for handovers of children, and text message.

    The more I stepped back, the more he pushed, and it was quite unpleasant but I had begun to reframe him when his behaviour OBVIOUSLY affected the children, which is what gave me the strength to get rid of him.

    Interesting writing, I hope it helps others

    1. I am in this same position right now, he’s been out of the house for four weeks today but only no contract for four days (his love bombing and continual texts, emails). My older two kids see it as they are teens but my youngest is having a rough time with the separation.

      My current challenge is trying to figure out my next step. I’m currently oscillating between feeling stuck (unable to move forward) & like I am going to run out of energy & strength to keep on. *I CAN’T GIVE UP!*

      Peace to us all who have come across this website.

      Thank you Kristin!

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