How to Leave a Narcissist

How to Leave a Narcissist

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

7 Steps to Leave a Narcissist

Being in a partnership with someone who’s always criticizing, belittling, and gaslighting you is exhausting. These behaviors are commonly used by narcissists and can pose an actual threat to your mental health. If you feel like you’ve finally had enough and you can’t take it anymore, you’re not alone.


Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) makes supporting a healthy relationship difficult unless the person is aware of their behavior, and has taken the necessary steps to change it. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. And while you may have tried everything you could to make it work, it’s become draining mentally and emotionally.


If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you’ve probably endured their narcissistic abuse1

Understanding narcissistic abuse

As a form of psychological abuse, narcissistic abuse includes a range of behaviors. Some examples can include the following:


  • Verbal abuse– including blame, criticism, shame, frequent interruptions, name-calling, and
  • Emotional abuse– constant threats, withholding things from you as “punishment”, warnings, or
  • Gaslighting– making you distrust your perceptions of reality or that you aren’t understanding a situation
  • Lack of boundaries-this can be physical, emotional, mental, or


If you’ve ever tried to address any of these behaviors with them, you know that they typically refrain from taking any responsibility.

How to leave a narcissist

It’s hard to leave any relationship. If you’ve been with someone for a long time or have children together, the decision to leave has many factors involved. Even if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you’ve probably shared good times.


However, you may have noticed the cons of staying with them outweigh the pros of leaving. Rather than allowing it to continue, it may be in your best interest to end the relationship once and for all.


It’s critical to note that leaving a narcissist is not like leaving another person. They’re great at guilt-tripping, twisting words around, and can be very persuasive in convincing you to stay. If you end up feeling like all of the problems in your relationship really are your fault, let it be a signal that their tactics are working. These feelings are most likely happening because you’ve been a victim of narcissistic abuse.


If you decide to leave a narcissist, you may find the following 7 tips useful:


1.Don’t try to have a conversation about it. When the time comes to leave, it can be helpful to make it as quick as Let them know that you’re leaving and any other details you need to share, but make that. You do not want to get into a conversation about the relationship because narcissists tend to be good at drawing people back in.


2. Find a support system. If you’re worried that you will have a hard time leaving quickly, have another person there to support you through the process. Your ex may be less likely to try to manipulate you when someone else is around to witness it. Also, you’ll need a support system to get you through this Consider joining a support group if you’ve been isolated from your friends and family by your narcissistic ex. No matter how isolated you may feel right now, you’re never alone.


3. Beware of Someone with a narcissistic personality will use every trick in the book to avoid losing you-and they’ll be persuasive. When you feel ready, stick to your boundaries and look towards a positive future.


4. Stick to no-contact. Once you have left, do your best to refrain from having unnecessary Have a friend hold you accountable. You may find it helpful to limit the number of ways they can communicate with you-emails, phone calls, social media, etc. If you need to stay in touch with them for whatever reason, try to have a third party involved in the conversations.


5. Prepare yourself mentally. As someone who’s been in a relationship with a narcissist, you have probably already experienced verbal abuse and emotional Out of anger and hurt, a narcissist doesn’t cope with this situation easily. They may retaliate out of anger and hurt or try to move on quicker than you. But, you know what their typical behaviors look like. If it would be helpful, take a second to think about what you can expect and prepare as needed.


6. Recognize that a narcissistic person may need professional help, even though they rarely recognize that they’re the issue. This can be helpful to keep in mind when you decide to leave. And while NPD is a mental health condition, it doesn’t excuse threatening or abusive


7. Go to therapy. When you leave, it can be beneficial to talk to a therapist. Narcissists tend to make their partners feel unconfident about themselves, and you may find it difficult to trust Or, you’re feeling a million different emotions. Even if you’re doing the right thing for yourself, it’s never easy.

Give yourself permission to heal after leaving a narcissist

Learn what you can from your relationship, and be kind to yourself in your healing after you leave a narcissist. Take the time you need to recover and build yourself back up again. You may find some parts of you that got lost along the way.

References: Leave a Narcissist


  1. Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Clinical Health Psychology Practice: Case Studies of Comorbid Psychological Distress and Life-Limiting Illness [NCBI]
  2. Worlds best Rehab 2020 []
  3. American Psychiatric A, American Psychiatric A, Force DSMT. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. []

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