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The 5 Possible Ways Relationships with Narcissists Can End

Can I get real with you for a few minutes? Can we have a talk?

Is your relationship with the narcissist ending, but then not really?

Are you still breaking up and then getting back together with the narcissist?

Does he or she come back around every so often?

Do you stay in touch with him or her, or keep the lines of communication open in the hopes that he or she will reach out?

Forget about the past for a minute, and how he or she used to treat you at the beginning of the relationship.

Let’s ignore in this article the messy business of trying to figure out whether he or she is a good person who has bad days or an evil person wearing a mask to get you to fall in line.

None of that matters right now.

All I want to talk about right now is you.

If you are in that grey area where you are still interacting the narcissist, whether you would call it a relationship or not, then you have five options. The truth of the matter is, these have always been your options, but you did not know it.

You see, as soon as a relationship with a narcissist begins, it is already ending. The most painful and difficult part of being in a relationship with a narcissist is accepting this truth, however, you cannot remain in denial about this.

You must choose one of these options, or eventually, it will choose you. 

 

realtalk

 

How to End a Relationship with a Narcissist — Who Will Benefit?

You Can Continue This Same Pattern Indefinitely.

It’s the ending that stretches on and where nothing ever changes. Your entire life is on hold waiting for the narcissist to stop hurting you, for things to go back to the way they used to be.

I know you don’t want to be locked in this pattern. It hurts! It feels like you are slowly being tortured.

Let’s look at why it keeps happening. Something you do causes a narcissistic injury to your partner, probably something you couldn’t even foresee or likely it is something you had every right to expect. Whatever it is, suddenly you’re on the outs again.

Yet a few days later, he or she can’t live without you again, or perhaps you are desperate to find out what it is you did. All you want is to be treated with dignity and respect.

Why persist in this pattern? Why try to talk to an adult about what honesty and respect mean? Why keep playing detective and trying to unravel mysteries? Why does nothing ever make sense? Why let them pretend to be the victim at the very same time they victimize?

You absorb their poison and accept their blame. Yet you try to show them that all we want to do is be in a loving relationship and wonder why that isn’t enough– but you aren’t crazy for expecting that it should be.

It’s a game that can never be won. They will keep eroding you until there is nothing left if you let them. You keep playing hoping that someday it will stop. You can play out this pattern for months or years.

Unless they discard you, they’ll let you keep going as long as you have it in you.

You Can Fight Back.

When they demand too much, when their abuse is too obvious or they hurt you too much, you might feel like rising up.

No, maybe this time you won’t accept the blame. No, maybe you won’t let them tell you that asking for basic respect is starting an argument or being disrespectful, or maybe you will demand that they stop violating your privacy.

Maybe you have a right to be angry at how they are treating you! Maybe they deserve to feel some of your anger for a change.

And this keeps you from becoming dead inside.

But it usually ultimately leads back to Option #1. On top of it, you’ve given them a special treat. One of a narcissist’s favorite games is a ploy for sympathy and now you have given them some ammo they can take to their fan club to show them how horrible it is to be in a relationship with you because you’re so “angry and argumentative.”

You Can Go Dead Inside.

This happens to many people who stay in abusive relationships. They lose themselves completely, and I promise you that at some point if you keep choosing Option #1 over a long enough period of time, you have a strong chance of ending up here.

Even if you don’t give up and succumb to it on your own early just to keep the peace, slowly over time you’ll lose more pieces of yourself through identity erosion every time the narcissist returns and you concede another millimeter of one of your boundaries or a basic human right. 

If the narcissist doesn’t discard you before you end up here, they usually do once their partners get to this point because there is no supply left. Their partners no longer react to anything they do, because all of the life has gone out of them.

You no longer react to anything the narcissist does, however, it’s not by choice. You are no longer able to feel anything at all.

You Can Play Their Game.

No, not really. You can’t.

Maybe you want to try to keep them in your life but you’re finding their rules too hard to play by.

But if you try to pretend like you’re buying every word they say and just tell them what they want to hear and go out and do your own thing anyway, you’ll never be able to get on their level. Do you know why? Because narcissists do not have a conscience or emotional empathy and you do.

Narcissists can dish it out, but they can’t take it.

They don’t want “open” relationships, and they sure don’t want to be with people who are doing the same type of double-dealing that they are. It would be humiliating for them to be lied to and “cheated” on.

They expect total loyalty and fidelity but feel entitled to do whatever they want to do in relationships because they find a way to rationalize it. 

Why do you think they monitor and control their partners so much? They don’t view you as an individual with your own separate needs and desires. They expect you to be obedient, and how would you feel if you did do those things?  Shame and remorse do not limit their behavior, but they do ours.

Besides, what exactly would be the point of this? This is not even a real relationship. It would be two people pretending to be in one… instead of just the narcissist.

You Can Walk Away and Take Your Life Back.

You can go no-contact or grey rock At any time, you can end your suffering and start your life again.

Some part of you already knows you will have to do this. Some part of you doesn’t want to. Some part of you can’t see a new future for yourself yet.

And yet some part of you can’t continue the present as it is. You’ll have to step forward blindly, not yet knowing what the future holds but trusting it will be better than any of the other four possible relationship endings with a narcissist because the other four lead only to your demise.

If the Narcissist Discarded You

What if the narcissist has left you? Is that the same thing as leaving, as Option #5?

No. 

You did not actually make a conscious choice to leave.

If you have not done the mental work of blocking that door in your mind, the narcissist can always come and go as he or she pleases.  Even if the narcissist has left, you can never really know that the relationship is over until you go no-contact for yourself emotionally and decide it is over for yourself.

Narcissists do not ever really break up with you because they perceive you as their possession that they can come around to interact with when they feel like doing so. 

Because of this, it must be you who breaks up. It must be you who institutes no-contact.

You must decide to break up and “consciously intend it with full implications and an awareness of all that that entails in the present and future. It is a deliberate act that contains a solemn vow that one can never go back.

“Intending it” means any unpredictable and unknown action the narcissist takes now or later is irrelevant.”

When I say that it must be you who breaks up, I don’t mean that you need to call the narcissist on the phone and make a declaration, I mean that you need to make a choice in your own mind about what you want and what you intend going forward. You need to empower yourself and take control back.

If you have not actually left the narcissist in your heart and mind, even if you are not currently interacting with him or her, if you are still waiting for him or her to come back, then you have actually chosen Option #1.

Relationships with Narcissists End When You Decide to End Them

 

Look at the options again. Really look at them.

Which one will you choose today?

Which one will you choose tomorrow?

And the day after?

Each new day is a choice. Please choose wisely.

 

If you’d like to get a copy of the free toolkit that I developed to help go no contact, it is available at this link:

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.

14 Comments

  1. Thank you! I need your help very bad!!

  2. What if you decide to leave , you can do it and he knows as your past relationships were all narcissistic ones and when you left the others you never looked back and he knows this as he witnessed hoovering with no outcome from them exes , and the moment he really believes you will leave( just once , but for good ) which would have happened , he kills himself with you packing upstairs . He took a bunch of medicines and went in cardiac arrest and the ambulance ( his misfortune probly never considered in his mind) was not properly equipped to undertake cpr from me and by the time second ambulance came his brain was deprived of oxygen to a point of no return. How do I get my missing pieces back from him? I wanted him to live, to see himself forgotten as my other ex es. I wanted him hoovering so I can spite him showing him I meant what I said when I left him. He knew me all too well. I feel miserable after more than 1 year. How do I claim myself back from a dead narcissist? Would appreciate an insight on that. Thank you.

  3. I feel that these men are somehow demons in human bodies. I have a man like that. I prayed and hoped that he changes, but no. He’s getting worse by the day. I feel am so unlucky to endup in such a relationship. Have decided to go no contact after he told me that our children are mine alone and I should just go on with them. I’m so tired and I don’t feel a thing about him anymore.

  4. I have been with my “fiance” for 10 years and we’ve been engaged for the last 3&1/2. It’s like from the moment the ring hit my finger he completely flipped a switch. Started ignoring me, blowing off plans, not answering my calls, I noticed him giving me dirty looks, and the wedding plans…psshh, it was like I became invisible. I’ve been pretty certain that he’s cheating since shortly after, but he has never admitted it. Not even in the face of tons of circumstantial evidence (a near empty box of condoms in his car, a woman’s phone # written down, secretive with his phone…all the classics)! Now he’s become angry and has begun coming out with the fits of rage! Yesterday our entire house got destroyed because I got another woman asking “where’d she go” on my phone that I left recording when I went to dinner with my aunt! He now has me questioning my sanity by denying that anybody else was here. He’s now telling me that I make these types of things up and then start believing them! He refuses to even listen to the dang recording because he says it has to be fake or something I made up! Everything inside of me is telling me I can’t do this anymore but I can’t seem to make my feet move! Or make my heart believe this is over or never was real to begin with!

  5. I’m literally shocked you’re describing my boyfriend to the tea. I’ve always thought of him as the greatest guy and he can’t be this word. But the truth is as soon as he makes me feel like I’m the greatest person on earth and we’re soulmates he says something nasty or does something mean. And then of course disappears. And I realize I’m never gonna see him again and a week later he pops back into my life after i started healing And says of course I’d never leave you were soulmates. And the same behavior repeats itself. Tells me I need a nose job so I can be perfect for him. I need to lose weight so I can be his trophy wife. He said he doesn’t mean to be insulting it’s just everything else is perfect . I keep saying I’m going to get out of the relationship that was his name pops up on my phone I can’t ignore it. It feels like an obsession

  6. Hello.
    I had no idea I was in such a relationship. I didnt understand why I could allow myself to be treated so badly. I would never stand for such treatment against a family member or friend. I would have helped to find a way out for them. Then I heard the word narcissist. Just a week ago.
    11 yrs I have been in this turbulent relationship. Thinking the entire time…. I have NEVER been this loved nor this hated my entire life. What a fool ive been. He spent past 5 yrs in prison for beating my face with a hammer. That was the last physical beating I took. Mind you I would certainly choose the beatings with his fist than the ones with his mouth. He got out of prison and came to me 3 months ago. I actually believed, once again, that he needed me, wanted me that he had changed. He knew what to say to make me believe it. I told him my address. He showed up and took everything. My home, I was living in an RV I had managed to buy while he was incarcerated. He took my car and made sure that I couldn’t work again so I could not replace any of it. He put me in the car drove me several hundred miles and took the clothes off my body and dumped me on the road. The embarrassment was overwhelming. The fact I believed him AGAIN.
    He now text me all the time letting me know he needs me. He has a way of making me forget how evil he can be. I’m scared because being alone at my age is just scary. But I don’t want to be treated this way any more. I feel so worthless and as he puts i. “I’m taking up good peoples air” I’ve prayed to stop breathing. But I think God has left me too.
    I’m scared he will return. Restraining orders are just pieces of paper. I’ve had them on him for yrs. I’ve hidden but He has always found me. Hurt my family to get me to come out of hiding. Now my family no longer speaks to me because that’s what he wanted. Me to have no one so all I would have is him.
    Please if anyone finds them self in a relationship with a narcissists it won’t EVER change. The person will always make u think it will but truth be told it won’t.
    Don’t live in fear. Like I do. I have no one now and not sure I can trust again.
    Good luck to you. Get out while your still sane and still have some knowledge of yourself. Because the longer ur in it the further you get from who you once were.

    1. Though I don’t know you. These men are evil. I am on my own now. I am ill. It is scary being alone. But the alternative is far worse.
      I am learning to enjoy the peace of mind and silence. I have read many stories. But I wanted to reach out. Don’t be afraid of being on your own. You will attract good people again. God bless (empath/Co dependant or God knows what label would be put on me. The whole lot is crazy making). Hope you get away. God bless

  7. How do you leave when you have teens/kids and no money?

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hi Laura: This article refers to the psychological aspects of what happens if you stay, and you bring up a point that, practically speaking, there are circumstances where leaving may not be possible in the immediate future or may not be the best decision and, in any case, would require much more strategic or long-term planning. In that case, there are still some steps you can take to try a form of “emotional no contact” while you decide if leaving physically is the best option for you. It’s called grey rock. You can read more about it here: https://fairytaleshadows.com/what-is-grey-rock-how-to-go-no-contact-with-a-narcissist-if-you-have-children/ Thank you for your comment. I wish peace for you and your children as you decide how to move forward and navigate the relationship. -Kristen

  8. After 10 years of the back and forth, I chose Option 5. I even went to court and got a restraining order against him. He threatened my children. There was no question about what to do. It’s been almost 3 years. I’m disappointed to say that I still feel dead inside. Is that normal?

  9. Thank you Kristine i liked this i have done the first 4 back an forth for many years even decades. No 5 is coming. One thing once your dead inside it makes just functioning in normal life dutes an preparing to leave so much harder ( no energy) an very lityle will . please don’t wait this long .

    1. Hi Bob: You are so welcome. I’m glad this article resonated with you. I completely agree that the more of yourself you lost, the harder it is to leave. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment and add your voice! Wishing you strength on your final journey toward #5 and onward through your recovery. -Kristen

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