How To Go “No Contact” with a Narcissist
Why Go “No Contact”?
Going No Contact with a narcissist is often necessary to keep your sanity, but can be hard while you’re doing it. When your partner drains you of every last bit of emotional energy or adds toxicity to your life, it’s time to say goodbye. But, why is going “no contact” sometimes necessary? People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are notoriously difficult to end relationships with. When someone ends things with someone with NPD, the rejection they feel can be so intense they will do almost anything to undo the situation and make things go back to the way they were. This can be even worse when your partner didn’t see it coming and had no desire to go separate ways.
When ending a relationship with a narcissist, you may be taken aback by the range of emotion and behavior (s)he will go through to bring you back. There is no ending things and just moving on for them if they didn’t initiate the breakup. Let’s look at why that is.
Know the Reasons
Reasons someone with NPD stays in relationships include:
- Excitement: Not only are narcissists commonly charming and exciting, but they thrive on drama in a relationship as well. Whether it’s an exciting partner or the partner finds him/her exciting, someone with NPD gets a thrill from it. That rush is just like a high that leads to an addiction. Showing excitement and being exciting keeps your partner’s addiction going.
- Control: A narcissist feeds off the control he/she holds over others. She may use non-verbal tactics or belittle you to coerce you to behave in the ways she wants. When living with a narcissist, there are two important rules to remember: 1) You can’t control a narcissist, and 2) You don’t have to believe things she says to you. When you believe the belittling and respond accordingly, you are handing control over on a silver platter. Each time this happens, she is emboldened and will do it again and again.
When it’s time to end things, this loss of excitement and control paired with the narcissistic injury you inflict leads to your partner pulling out all the stops to get you back. This is why you need to prepare yourself in advance.
Your partner probably wants excitement, so make that go away. The “Gray Rock” approach is described for situations when you can’t go “no contact,” but it can be useful in having things calm down. If you become someone who doesn’t stand out, blends in basically are boring; you are like a gray rock among the vast amount of others by a lake. This applies to what you bring to the relationship, and how you respond to your partner. A narcissist is drawn to drama, so take the thrill out of things. When that’s gone, (s), he may want to leave you. Of course, life isn’t always as simple as we’d like it, so read on for other steps to take.
Know Your Buttons
In the time you’ve been involved with a narcissist, she has been learning what’s important to you. She knows what leads you to feel happy, fearful, sad, and remorseful. There’s nothing wrong with your partner knowing you that well, we all want that. Unfortunately, when faced with rejection, the person suffering from this will use this knowledge to try to convince you to come back. When planning to end the relationship, take a mental inventory of shared bonding experiences, things you may have said, fears you may have revealed. This is not to reminisce or torture yourself, but to know what memories or fears may be brought up that will trigger your emotions and pull you back in.
Identify Your Support Network
This may be difficult if you’ve gotten away from friendships or ties with family, but reaching out to them is a necessary step. Be sure these are people that you did not meet through your partner, but people who were in your life apart from that relationship. You will need these people to validate your decision and keep you focused. You will probably find they were relationships you miss, so it will be satisfying to reconnect.
What to Expect When You Say Goodbye
This part is when the challenge begins. Telling someone you want to end a relationship is hard enough, but with someone with NPD, it is that much harder. One of the first things you may hear is “But…”, requiring justification and explanation on your part. Your partner will not accept anything you say and will persist. Just expect it. There is no need to try to explain yourself in a new way after each protest, once you’ve made your point, you are no longer required to explain yourself.
Walk Away and Close the Door Behind You
In some cases, you may need to use the “broken record” approach. A “broken record” refers to an old vinyl album with a scratch – when it’s playing, when the needle hits the scratch, the same spot will play over and over without end. In this approach, you simply repeat your message calmly, in the same tone of voice over and over. This is effective when someone is trying to convince you of something, throw in a distraction to knock your thinking off balance, or get you rattled.
After you’ve made your point, end the discussion with kindness, and move on to something else. You may even have to use the broken record method to say goodbye as you leave. Then, hold on and be ready. The conversation may be over, but the issue isn’t, in the narcissist’s mind. This is where “no contact” becomes most important.
Consider Yourself “In Recovery”
As in recovery from alcohol or drugs, abstinence is best. If you allow yourself continued contact, you will remain in the cycle of reuniting – brief honeymoon – old patterns – break up – repeat. This will go on as long as you allow it. If you tell yourself you will be “just friends” you may delay the start of the cycle picking back up, but in most cases, it’s ahead. As long as that door is left open even a crack, it will gradually widen until you find yourself right back where you were.
Steps to Take to Close the Door for Good:
- Ignore all Attempts at Communication – No matter what form the attempt is, ignore, ignore, ignore. Reopening that door even a little will put you right back into the cycle. Remember how people are with slot machines: A little reward now and then will keep you coming back. No reward ever again will make the user give up once and for all.
- Delete your former from all your contacts – Phone numbers, email addresses, everywhere you have her listed. This will remove the temptation to reach out when you’re feeling down.
- Block her number – You may want to answer calls or messages that come in, so just remove the possibility altogether.
- Unfollow and Block on Social Media – She will be posting things that will tug at your heartstrings, make you jealous or think “aw, she wasn’t that bad.” Remember, everyone posts their best selves on social media, so of course, you’ll only see the good side.
- Detach from mutual friends, including on social media – Saying goodbye to friends you met through your partner may be hard, but they will probably be loyal to her anyway, and your connection will still be alive through them.
Going “No Contact” may seem harsh, but you will find the freedom is worth it. You will be able to move forward with your life without chains from your past coming back to grab you.