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Why it’s Hard to Break Up with a Narcissist: They Never Let You Go

If you’re reading this, then like I once was, you’re likely caught in the seemingly endless cycle of trying to break up with a narcissist. 

It feels like a madness that we can’t escape.

They depart suddenly for reasons that seem either minor or made up completely.

They may pretend as if you don’t exist.

When they do decide to speak to you again, they act as if they are lowering themselves to interact with you.

Or perhaps you are the one to leave because you can’t take their actions anymore, but they won’t stay away. This time, they treat you as if you are the love of their lives.

The Narcissist Breakup Cycle Explained

H.G. Tudor, is a narcissist author who writes about how narcissists view relationships and their partners in his books and online in his blog, Knowing the Narcissist.

His work tries to fill in the gaps left by unanswered questions:

Why would the narcissist do that? 

What was the narcissist thinking? 

What was the narcissist’s goal? 

That didn’t seem to make any sense– what was the narcissist trying to accomplish?

What did the narcissist want?

Did the narcissist know he was hurting me?

Did the narcissist care about me?  

To describe how breaking up with a narcissist happens, he wrote three posts about the three stages of breaking up.

What his articles do is tie together what the narcissist is thinking, feeling, and attempting to accomplish at each stage with what the partner is experiencing.

He calls the stages “Post-Discard Battles.” The reference to “post-discard” is a reference to when the cycle begins (after being discarded by the narcissist). 

He calls them “battles” because during each stage, the victim struggles. Those struggles can be either external with the narcissist, internal in the victim’s mind, or both. 

So as we are progressing through the five stages of leaving narcissists psychologically, here is what is happening externally in our interactions with them. 

Why Breaking Up with a Narcissist is So Hard

Stage One: The Emotional Battle

The first stage begins in the aftermath of the initial discard.

The victim is shell-shocked and overwhelmed. He or she and can only react according to the lovesickness, cognitive dissonance, mind games, and chemical bond that have been produced during the relationship.

There is no other basis for a victim to process the relationship.

There is no frame for understanding the relationship because this is the first glimpse that something is not right, and whatever that “something” is tells us that this relationship is somehow unlike a normal relationship.

There is no other way the victim can respond to the narcissist other than emotionally. When emotions are involved, the partner doesn’t stand a chance.

If the narcissist returns, and he or she probably will, the victim will always go back during stage one.

Hear H.G. Tudor describe “The Emotional Battle”

Stage Two: The Head vs. Heart (HvH) Battle

At this stage, the victim has realized that there is a problem with the narcissist. The relationship is untenable. The victim may have been through enough discards or discovered horrible secrets, as is what happened to me.

He or she may have stumbled upon information about narcissism and figured out that the partner’s interactions with them fit the pattern of narcissistic abuse.

The victim may have had friends or a therapist tell them that their partner has a problem and they need to leave.

They may have discovered new betrayals.

Whatever it is, something or some combination of things has taken place and the victim is no longer processing the relationship in a purely emotional manner.

It is at this point that the victim begins to have an internal battle with herself about the emotional tie to the narcissist. 

The thoughts he or she has now about the actions the narcissist begin to contradict the earlier perception.

Tudor also refers to this as the Logic versus Emotional Battle.

Because all of the same dynamics from the emotional battle are still at play, a victim may struggle with this battle for a long time. It is not a sudden overnight switch from one way of viewing the narcissist to the other. 

Nor is the process of change in perception linear, as the victim may swing back and forth and not know what to believe or how to reconcile the two views.

Is my partner really a narcissist, or am I wrong?  

Maybe he can change.  

He seems really sorry–maybe I should give him another chance. 

If only I hadn’t done [x], maybe [y] wouldn’t have happened so maybe we should try again.  

We have something so special if he would only stop doing [x] things would be perfect.

Maybe he realizes now how much I love him and he will treat it as if it’s valuable to him.

I just want him to explain why he did it.

I just want to see him one more time and have closure.

If the narcissist returns, and, again, he or she probably will, the victim will almost always be unable to resist going back during stage two.

This is where the narcissist breakup cycle can stall out for a long period of time while the pattern repeats itself.

The victim will likely go back many times because the head has not yet won out over the heart. The victim has only begun to become aware of what has happened and the details need time to sink in.

The narcissist knows this and will use it to their advantage. The victim’s emotions and thoughts, such as those above, as well as his or her inborn strengths and weaknesses, can be psychologically manipulated.

The narcissist will use them to cast doubts and confusion, weaken judgment, and isolate the victim from external support.

All of these factors can keep a victim stuck in this stage for a long time.

Hear H.G. Tudor describe “The HvH Battle”

Stage Three: The Final Battle

It seemed to be the ideal relationship: he came from a beautiful country and I always wanted to live in the sun. Submitted by a narcissistic abuse survivor.

In this stage, the victim’s head finally wins out over the heart. Each time another discard in the narcissist breakup cycle occurs again during stage two, the victim gets a little closer to the third and final stage.

Once victims finally reach it, they start to gain control of their emotions. They no longer feel as if they under the influence of the narcissist.

During this stage, the victim develops some sort of protection to keep the narcissist out. He or she guards against anything the narcissist might say or do to try to return or to cause harm.

The risk that the narcissist will show up again, however, never goes away. The narcissist may catch the victim off-guard and that is what the victim wants to protect against.

If the narcissist returns during stage three, the victim has more control over whether they go back. 

Yet Tudor believes that the battle never ends because the victim can never really be certain if or when the narcissist will return.

He writes:

“This final battle takes place in a land where the battlefield, for the first time, is more of your choosing than ours. You have better equipped to fight this battle and whilst there remains a risk of defeat and you are being ensnared once again, it is far less than in the previous two battles… How long will this final battle last? It will continue until one of us no longer lives.”

Hear H.G. Tudor describe “The Final Battle”

Does the Narcissist Breakup Cycle Ever Really End?

This article dives into what a narcissist says about narcissistic abuse and describes his three stages of breaking up with a narcissist. But is he right?

When you get into a relationship with a narcissist, you permanently become part of their collection.

They can try to take you down and play with you whenever they get bored. They may break up with you temporarily or you may break up with them, but they never really break up with you. “That is why we did what we did; so we always had a way back in,” Tudor writes.

In theory, this appears to give the narcissist a measure of control.

This, however, is only because his three stages assume that being on-guard is our final stance against them.

The narcissist would always have control if we were forever the passive actors they manufactured us to be. If nothing ever changed.

It is the narcissists who stay frozen in time, locked forever in fantasies of the past.

Without self-reflection, they are destined to repeat the same patterns in every new relationship. If they try to return to you, they will try to loop you back into that same tired pattern.

Yet we can change.

We, as the partners or former partners of narcissists, can grow, learn, thrive and move on.

Thus, Tudor’s analysis of the stages of the narcissist break up cycle ends prematurely.

Perhaps there’s something poetic about the fact that a narcissist perceives that there is nothing beyond stage three, where we are always protecting ourselves against being invaded by the narcissist again, where he or she is always appealing to us.

The Fourth Stage of Breaking Up with a Narcissist

There is actually a fourth stage.

It is in this fourth stage that we finally beat the narcissist. In this stage, we are no longer affected by anything the narcissist does.

Yes, it is true that it will always be up to the survivor to ensure that the relationship with the narcissist is over.

Yet in time, as we become healthier, stronger people, we will integrate the experience into who we are and heal the wounds from it.

We no longer have to protect ourselves from anything the narcissist does, because the narcissist no longer holds a key to the new person we have become.

 

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!

More About H.G. Tudor

Learning to think like a narcissist has been instrumental in my own healing. It answered some of my outstanding questions. It also filled in many gaps in my understanding of why my ex-boyfriend behaved as he did.

You may be  intrigued, shocked, or frightened by this idea that there is no such thing as a “final discard.” If so and you want to arm yourself with information, I recommend reading more about what Tudor says about the cycle of breaking up with a narcissist. He has written several books on many related topics, such as preparing to go no-contact and understanding hoovering.

His books walk you through things you probably wouldn’t consider. He is very blunt about what narcissists think and feel. 

Go slowly and take a break if any of it becomes too overwhelming emotionally or difficult to read. Some of the ideas, though enlightening, are extremely painful to comprehend at first. They become easier to absorb with time and distance from the relationship and I believe the wisdom gained is invaluable. 

I recommend these books by Tudor for more information on the real point of view from a narcissist:

 

Don’t forget to check out these resources on the website while you’re here:

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Kristen Milstead

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

37 Comments

  1. Mr Tudor;

    “How long will this final battle last? It will continue until one of us no longer lives.”

    On the contrary Mr Tudor!

    My “Godfather” uncle Guido with 3 goodfellas in tow and a nail gun made the narc an offer he couldn’t refuse.

    Uncle Guido is the best!

  2. They never change, he is amost 60 still playing games
    I was foolish enough to take him back a second time. The woman before me they broke up several times and she stalked him while I was seeing him. I know now he loved it. I feel sorry for her she took him back for the 5th time. I would never let that man step foot in my life again. They are sick people and you can only think of yourself because they only think about themselves. Live life move on from the joker.

  3. What a shallow and boring life the narc leads, same thing over and over and over again. If only they knew the depth of living and joy that they are missing out on. They will never know magnificence and omnipresence in its true form. Egotistical joy is a poor substitute for the wisdom, strength and inner happiness gained by empaths who have come through this trial of the soul. Love is all there is people. All the rest is illusion and will die. Most likely a sad and lonely death, having left behind….nothing of significance by their own choosing. Evil. You think demons do not exist ? Yes they do. I have survived this three times now, what i take with me cannot be taken away from me.

  4. What if they never come back? Can that be an option? Discarded and gone.

    1. Pray for that alternative. I lost myself, my freedom, and almost lost my child. Mine discarded me in the most gruesome way. After leaving me for dead, my ‘soulmate’ traveled, spread lies, and even tried worming into my social circle by pursuing those in my inner-circle. Even after being left destitute and alone for months while he lived his ‘best life’, I went back and took responsibility for his abuse. A mere few months after our fairytale wedding he unceremoniously threw me out into the streets. The same man who professed to love, cherish and honor me is the same man who later sought my destruction. He prides himself on his ability to get what he wants. Looking back, it’s a sound assumption given the abuse I allowed and the thousands of make-up/break-ups. Only now, I have found strength in God. It sounds cliche but the methods these creatures employ are if nothing else, insidious. This scripture opened the door to my freedom: 2 Timothy 3 : “ Godlessness in the Last Days

      1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

      All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God

      10You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whoma you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of Godb may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Trust in God and take every day as it comes, every road crossed begins with one step. Prayers to you all and Godspeed.

      1. Love that and I too love Jesus And I am trying to escape a 17 year relationship with a narcissist that I have two children with.

  5. I’m in stage 3, been married 20 years. I almost lost everything around me , including “me” . I cannot lose this battle. I just can’t. I know first hand about their need to collect and control everyone they Hoover. In the beginning I watched him do it to all these poor girls and was even with him when he’d show up at their houses under the guise of “we stayed friends”. No wonder these poor girls were more startled and astounded than happy and pleasantly surprised by his unannounced visits! Holy crap. I was quietly confused & compliant. He’s still maintaining them & grooming newbies.
    Currently, he’s expected back to get his things and leave : he’s been going back and forth for the last 6 years , every 3-6 months , 2000 miles between me and his sex slave. I’ve been having nightmares about him walking around my house like nothing happened. Deep breath. Keep breathing. Over time I realised he was a manipulator but only over the last 2 years did I learn it had a name and diagnosis. Lovely. It’s evil.
    I have good strong support from family and friends but the strength needs to stay in me.
    Thanks for all this info. Good luck and Godspeed to all of us.

  6. Smarter/ Wiser

    Just when I thought I read most everything I could find which explained what I could expect from this type of relationship, I have found this article which gives me the exact information that I am seeking: what happens next? Tudor explains everything in great personal detail – step-by-step, and that completes my sphere of expectation. Thank you! I am experiencing Stage 2 – heart vs. head – although he has not circled back (yet)…it hasn’t been a month since I told him I couldn’t continue under the circumstances. My real concern is what to expect when he does as has been his pattern for quite some time. I just didn’t know what I was dealing with until now. This is indeed a battle of control and power, but it is my goal to win the war – (even if it means I lose a few battles) and even if that ultimately means I die first. Thank you for helping me understand and prepare.

  7. What if I got to the last stage and he still stalks me? I’d this my fault? I block him and then he comes to my street. I date someone and he follows me and emails them at work “did Cindy tell you about us? Maybe you should ask her. She is in love with me” I got to the second to last stage and actually married mine! Then very quickly got to the final stage. His last fiancé was part of his collection for many years. She moved. He followed her. She was 44 and was find dead in her sleep. No one knows why. Some said it was alcohol poisoning. I recall when we were dating only a week before her death him talking to her and they were apart (I hope) for 7 years. I’ve seen texts to his ex wife (ended in 2001..18 years after divorce ) how he wished she was in his arms. She has been remarried for 6 years and he still texts her. When she divorced him he beat her car with a baseball bat a year later when he discovered she was dating. 2 days ago I divorced him. My gut tells me nothing will get him to leave me alone except dying like his last woman. He’s in his 60s now. Replacements used to help distract him but he always stalked everyone. Like he has to have everyone in his control. He doesn’t discard one victim for another. He keeps them all hostage. He seems even worse with me bc he’ll never get younger women like us again at his age, 2nd marriage after being labeled psycho and homewrecker is a blow to his ego. I’m the cause. I will be his target of rage when he realizes he’s lost all control. I’ll never be hoovered in again.

    1. Wow Cindy I am so sorry you are going through this. I was married to a Narc who literally almost killed me when I left him. He stalked me off and on for 20 years and has now seemed to stop after I publicly exposed him.
      I wish I could offer you some advice but honestly I can’t. I don’t know why they do what they do exactly and why one thing works for one and not another. I hope you stay safe and stay away from him. Good luck.

  8. I just started reading about narcissistic abuse probably because i didnt want to believe that it was happening to me. Everything in this post is so accurate that it seems like my life written out. He has left me so many times i have lost count. No one not my family or what few friends i have even know the half of it. I have never seen myself as someone that could be abused like this but im seeing it now an im quite disappointed in myself. I feel like i dont even recognize myself when i look in the mirror i know people have seen how much i have changed but i dont know how to get myself out of this hole ive been in for 4 years. It only been 3 days since ive heard from him an i know its coming sooner or later. I know i can do this whole no contact thing ive read all of the other comments of people doing an i think i want to be that strong i hate that i now question myself about why am i not enough i should be enough an that makes me sick i was never like that before i was fun an now im just a shell of what i once was. Im just worried that its still so fresh that im not strong enough to resit him. Im not sure what stage im in here. I guess i just want to say i think you are all amazing for being able to break free i just hope i can.

  9. I hear this narcissist as a kind of braggart looking for attention! “Wow! Look at me! Aren’t I the center of the discussion?! Aren’t I the smartest person of all?!” A narcissist has the emotional range and facilities of a 5-year-old child; he may have learned vocabulary word, however, his comprehension will never be at the level of a normally functioning adults. A narcissist misses the meaning of things – he is hearing and interpreting through a damaged and torn screen. He cannot heal. He may be able to act as if he is healed. For a while.

    To trust a narcissist who makes the claim to be “in recover,” or out to “advise” victims is to fall straight into the narcissist’s net.

    Leave narcissists alone. Move away. There is nothing to see here. They may be pitiable, but theirs is a calamity that has nothing to do with you. MOVE AWAY. DO NOT LOOK BACK, THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

  10. Such an empowering article. Feeling much better equipped from reading it. Been on the merry go round of Battle Two for longer than I care to admit Sat here in the discard stage feeling the usual shame of not being able to go outside the door in fear of the thought of being asked about my partner is and breaking down in an emotional heap not knowing how to respond. What make things worst is that i am feeling powerless at the loss of contact with the step-children whom i have grown to love and bond with who are innocent by-standers in this shameful game.

    At first i thought my partner was suffering from Othello Syndrome constantly accusing me of infidelity in the most impossible circumstances. I soon learned that this was a trick to lie, be deceitful and be dominant and controlling. The more she would devalue the more i would try and prove myself to the point where I have been questioning my sanity for a very long time. Seems that over the last few months a change had occurred in me where I was no longer getting as emotional when discarded. But that was followed by a longer than normal period of idealisation where i thought things were actually getting. What a fool was only to be discarded again and back to being an emotional wreck. Time to change my destiny!

  11. I revel in the knowledge that we move forward with the THE knowledge and then we become, ” a new person that the narcacist does NOT have the key to any longer” – you no longer live a life of looking over your shoulder. You are now free. Awesome! And very true.

  12. One of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with has been the alienation of a friend of over 22 years, who became our joint friend. Since the breakup she has not spoken to me. Sent a very unkind email not meant for my eyes, obviously.
    I realized that she had been told ‘things’ about me and she actually believes them! ‘My’ narcissist is a qualified Psychologist. She is a master of manipulation and appropriating friendships….I’ve witnessed this with others.
    After a painful few months when
    I realized what was probably happening and eventually not dwelling on what she could possibly have said to MY friend that could possibly be bad enough to completely discard me, I started my long road to recovery. It has been a long and difficult road paved with deep sadness and incredulity.
    That was the final straw….that such evil could be perpetuated and believed! Of course, no true friend would behave in such a manner. It was soul destroying and I still am saddened until my common sense returns.
    Thank you for your articles. I’m very appreciative.

  13. Kristen Milstead

    Hi Sunil: It is just that they have less emotional empathy so they don’t automatically connect to the emotions of others when they make their decisions. If something they do hurts someone else or would hurt them if they knew about it, it doesn’t cause them to feel guilt or to feel similar emotions at just the thought that others will be hurt. So other people don’t factor into their decision-making. It allows them to do things that are very cruel and seem inhuman. -Kristen

  14. “ARE NARCISSIST MONSTERS in guide of human beings? How can they be so cruel ?

  15. …Long 10year very traumatizing relationship, 1 beautiful little daughter together. Many many spins on the narcissits merry go round.
    It feels like he killed me! I’d never wish this horrible cruel shit on anyone… And trying so hard to stay strong. Lots of therapy, great family and friend support and very gently taking one day at a time.
    I’ve read so much the past few years and watched many videos etc. So greatful for this community of very impowering beautiful individuals. Thanks xx

  16. This information is scary and helpful I realize I’m in stage two but I am definitely pulling out and moving on. Time to get off the roller coaster.

  17. justwantadvice

    I left my abusive narcissist 3 years ago. Immediately after I left he moved a way younger girl in. They together got on drugs. He eventually got locked up. For the two years he was locked up she left him, and started dating someone else. I had always been there for him not matter what through court I stood up, I wrote him, I took my children to see him, sent him money etc… One day he comes to me saying hes always loved me and being locked up made him realize what he had done wrong. He apologized, and acted the way I always dreamed he would. During this time of him trying to come back my mom was diagnosed with Cancer within 3 months she had passed away. I told him I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I had just lost my mom I was lost hurt scared confused. By that time he was coming home every weekend on a pass. Within 3 days of me telling him this I caught him with her. The same day he was in a bad atv accident. I was there the whole time he was in the hospital feeding him, wiping his tale, and everything he needed all while he was texting her he loves her in the hospital. I decided I was done, and eventually he came back, and now every time I have peace with it he comes back. Things will be great and then bam im forgotten about. Its all my fault bc I didn’t know what I wanted. Im mad bc I dont know how I let him back in my life dont know how I let him have this control over me again. I find myself questioning is he really a narcassist or am I crazy. Why is it so hard to let go when it took a long time last time, but I finally did it, I feel like it would be a lot easier this go round.

    1. Kristen Milstead

      It’s not your fault. A normal person would not have kept in contact with the other woman if he loved you as much as he claimed. He also would have been respectful and understanding after the death of your monther. It sounds like he can’t be alone so he is keeping the two of you on the hook. See if you can muster up some disgust for the idea that he can’t make you a priority. You deserve better. -Kristen

      1. Justwantadvice

        I’m definitely working on that. It’s crazy how even tho I believe I figured out what I’m dealing with it’s still so very hard to give up what I know it could be if only he were normal. Thank you for the advice

      2. Kristen Milstead

        I empathize with how painful it is to give up. There’s this feeling that if you could just explain to them, and, after all, they’re telling you how much they love you and you don’t understand then why they won’t commit to you when *you* can see how good it would be. To save ourselves I believe we have to see how they won’t ever do that because they are *not* normal. You’re very welcome. Thank you for sharing your story. There are a lot of us here who are where you are or can relate! Stay strong.

  18. justwantadvice

    I left my abusive narcissist 3 years ago. Immediately after I left he moved a way younger girl in. They together got on drugs. He eventually got locked up. For the two years he was locked up she left him, and started dating someone else. I had always been there for him not matter what through court I stood up, I wrote him, I took my children to see him, sent him money etc… One day he comes to me saying hes always loved me and being locked up made him realize what he had done wrong. He apologized, and acted the way I always dreamed he would. During this time of him trying to come back my mom was diagnosed with Cancer within 3 months she had passed away. I told him I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I had just lost my mom I was lost hurt scared confused. By that time he was coming home every weekend on a pass. Within 3 days of me telling him this I caught him with her. The same day he was in a bad atv accident. I was there the whole time he was in the hospital feeding him, wiping his tale, and everything he needed all while he was texting her he loves her in the hospital. I decided I was done, and eventually he came back, and now every time I have peace with it he comes back. Things will be great and then bam im forgotten about. Its all my fault bc I didn’t know what I wanted. Im mad bc I dont know how I let him back in my life dont know how I let him have this control over me again. I find myself questioning is he really a narcassist or am I crazy. Why is it so hard to let go when it took a long time last time, but I finally did it, I feel like it would be a lot easier this go round.

    1. Kristen Milstead

      It’s not your fault. A normal person would not have kept in contact with the other woman if he loved you as much as he claimed. He also would have been respectful and understanding after the death of your monther. It sounds like he can’t be alone so he is keeping the two of you on the hook. See if you can muster up some disgust for the idea that he can’t make you a priority. You deserve better. -Kristen

      1. Justwantadvice

        I’m definitely working on that. It’s crazy how even tho I believe I figured out what I’m dealing with it’s still so very hard to give up what I know it could be if only he were normal. Thank you for the advice

      2. Kristen Milstead

        I empathize with how painful it is to give up. There’s this feeling that if you could just explain to them, and, after all, they’re telling you how much they love you and you don’t understand then why they won’t commit to you when *you* can see how good it would be. To save ourselves I believe we have to see how they won’t ever do that because they are *not* normal. You’re very welcome. Thank you for sharing your story. There are a lot of us here who are where you are or can relate! Stay strong.

  19. Thank you so much for that article. I don’t even know where I’m at right now. It’s been 7 years of this slow-progressing madness and now I’m so angry with him, I send him hateful texts and he completely ignores me as of lately. We have a young son together, we live in different states and he makes no effort to see his son, it’s always been up to me, yet he guilts me horribly if I tell him I’m going to cut off all contact. There is no court order, so I’m ready to completely block him from our lives. I know my son will be better off with out his father who is inconsistent at best and with a little time, he will slowly start to forget about his father, he doesn’t even ask to talk to him, so I think he will be alright (he’s 5). I just need to be brave, take that step and close the door. I don’t like him anymore, I finally see what a monster he is, I just can’t move past the guilt society lobs at mother’s who don’t want bad fathers in the picture. What to do? What to do?

    1. I’m so sorry for what you are going through. My heart goes out to you. It must be so hard to share a son with him and have to worry about your son at the same time you are recovering yourself. It’s so overwhelming, I can’t even imagine doing both, so you must be a very strong woman. I wish I had some words of advice for you, but all I can say is to try to stay strong, don’t be hard on yourself– you are not to blame, and if you can, try to find a therapist who can help you work through anything you may be feeling on a regular basis so that will always be your time for yourself to work on healing. Thank you for much for taking the time to visit my page and read by blog.

    2. you are so close to freedom, please go ahead and finish with this. Please stop texting him or telling him anything regarding your plans or your life. Please protect your son! He’s already been exposed to this evil in his most formative, tender years. Focus now on getting recovery and clarity for both of you. I wish you well.. Since leaving a narcissist, I can now spot them pretty well and avoid getting into relationships with them. They are so toxic. There’s no point in trying to communicate with them, they will never change. There is no closure.

      1. Hi Kelley-

        Thank you for your reply. Everything you said is so spot on. It sounds like you are well into your recovery and are all the wiser for it. They are horribly toxic and it’s taken me 7 years to realize that there is no point in talking to him, he uses things I tell him as weapons to hurt me. I think I am waiting for someone, anyone to tell me it’s ok to cut off all contact, even for my son. There is no way having this person in his life could ever be a good thing. I keep telling myself that if he wants to have a relationship with his father one day, he can find him, but for now, he doesn’t need to experience the disappointment, lies and letdowns that are sure to come his way. He’s only 5, he’s so sweet with a big heart. Thanks for reading this ????

    3. Tessa So sorry to hear this. My kids are teens and they have no contact anymore with their father (4 kids,15 yrs married). I’m finally at stage 3 after 3 yrs. Looking forward to getting divorced and never plan for me and my kids to go back. Do get your child support though. They made them so they need to take care of them. Have had great counseling through women’s shelters. Very compassionate and helpful. Take care

  20. Awesome article! I am the proud survivor of an 8 year relationship with a narcissist. This article detailing the stages of the battle to break free is so spot on its crazy. Reading it was like traveling back in time. Stage 2 was the longest and the worse for me because I knew I did not deserve the mistreatment yet I felt powerless to stop the cycle. I would leave and just wish he would simply move on and forget about me. He always gave me time to get over whatever it was that made me leave then come right back. During the last break up I met a guy who I really connected with. The connection was so strong it made me realize what I was giving up and only to be misused. I have been in stage 3 for about 9 months and my resolve is strong. He can call, beg, or do handstands, I am good! It took someone treating me with love and respect to get me though stage 2. Best advice to give either a woman or man is to be aware these people exist. Run and do not engage them at all.

    1. I give H.G. Tudor the credit for identifying the three stages. I spent a lot of time explaining them so I could keep referring back to them in other things I wanted to write, because I agree with you about how accurate they are. Thanks for your comment. Congratulations on making it to stage three!

    2. This information is scary and helpful I realize I’m in stage two but I am definitely pulling out and moving on. Time to get off the roller coaster.

      1. Kristen Milstead

        Hi Mike: I’m glad to hear you’re making a decision to do something about your situation. Thank you for reading! Take care, Kristen

    3. …Long 10year very traumatizing relationship, 1 beautiful little daughter together. Many many spins on the narcissits merry go round.
      It feels like he killed me! I’d never wish this horrible cruel shit on anyone… And trying so hard to stay strong. Lots of therapy, great family and friend support and very gently taking one day at a time.
      I’ve read so much the past few years and watched many videos etc. So greatful for this community of very impowering beautiful individuals. Thanks xx

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