How To Lose a Narcissist In 10 Days
Yes, the title of this post is inspired by one of my favourite films. However, unlike the movie, being involved with a person who is high up on the narcissistic scale will likely not result in a happy ever after. And so it was that after watching it for the umpteenth time, the inspiration for this post was born. Dealing with narcissistic personalities is complex and breaking free from one will likely take more than ten days. However, I got to thinking about the most effective ways to begin that journey to end a relationship with a narcissist by becoming the type of person who is no longer of interest to them.
Please note, leaving a narcissistic relationship is complex and something that needs to be done safely and slowly. What follows is aimed at those relationships with the non-malignant types. For anyone in a relationship with features of physical and/or sexual abuse and violence, please do seek therapeutic support and resources before making any moves to leave.
Before we dive into our discussion on ‘narcissists’, a word to the wise: Individuals who truly have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are relatively rare. Moreover, they are not known for seeking help. In fact, if a client admitted that they were worried that they were a narcissist, I could be fairly certain that they are not because narcissist does not tend to worry about being a narcissist. Narcissism is often referred to in the context of relationship. However, a disorder such as NPD would present itself across a wide variety of contexts. You would not find that someone with NPD is popular, successful and healthy but just happens to store up all of their pathology for one person with whom they have their primary intimate relationship. With this in mind, it is worth holding that most times, we are dealing with those people don’t have a diagnosed personality disorder. Yes, they may behave in mean and awful ways, and they do so because they choose to and because on some level, it works for them. They may exhibit many negative traits, but traits alone do not a personality disorder or a proper narc make. There is a over-saturation of information about narcissists and toxic relationships on the internet because sometimes, we seek to diagnose rather than acknowledge that someone may just be selfish, arrogant, misogynistic and a bit of (or a lot of) a di@k. We may fall into the trap of trying to excuse the behaviour by labelling it a personality disorder, which may lead to feelings of responsibility, lack of action and ultimately, keep us stuck. When I refer to narcissists, what I am talking about are those with significant traits, but do not have the full blown disorder.
If you find yourself dealing with someone who feels less than healthy and loving, how can you successfully lose the need to fix them and begin to find yourself? When you enter the devaluation stage with a narcissist (which is usually their doing) how might you speed things along a little? Above all, how do you handle a situation that feels increasingly like you need a degree in psychology to figure out?
Acknowledge that there is no prize
When all is said and done, what are you trying to win? If you got what you think you want, what would that mean no more drama? When we are stuck in a dynamic that is a complex mix of pleasure and pain, the loop that we may get caught up in goes something like, ‘When I am happier/calmer/more playful/sexier/thinner/more accepting/more exciting (delete as appropriate) then they will choose me and we will live happily ever after. Time and again, I hear from individuals who, when asked what keeps them involved in such a toxic dynamic, explain that it is about showing the other person how worthy they are and showing them that they are the exception to the rule. The sad truth is, there is no exception and there is no prize. Decide what is more important; winning or being at peace?
Shift your attention to yourself
It is usually when we struggle with a sense of who we are that we end up in a relationship with a narcissist. We may lack that sense of self because we grew up in a home with one or more narcissistic caregivers. With this early patterning, it is not so unusual to seek out narcissistic partners with the hope of winning (see above) – if I can get them to love me or if I can get you to stay, then I am lovable. Unconsciously, we seek to repair earlier wounds and we seek them from the types of people who are incapable of giving them to us. If this resonates and you realise that you have become so disconnected from who you once were or even that you struggle to identify who you are, then you need to begin to find out who you are. How do we do this? Join a 12-Step group like Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), find support groups, therapy, join Al-Anon (if there are issues with alcohol). Find people that are sympathetic (not ones who judge you) to support you on your journey of beginning to uncover who you are when you are not in the mirror of the narcissist.
Cut off Supply
A supply means the attention and the energy that you give to them. Whilst you continue to provide a supply through your reactions, you remain in the cycle of abuse. A narcissistic personality feeds their self-beliefs by hoarding the attention and admiration from those who surround them. Quite literally, everything they do, is to secure supply. In other words, it is their addiction. Whether it is positive or negative attention doesn’t really matter so long as the spotlight is on them, they are being fed. If you are continuing to focus all of your attention on them, this is their proof that do have power over you. Why? Well, you probably wouldn’t bother to engage in negative and harmful situations with someone who is inconsequential to you. Therefore, the fact that they matter to you becomes a form of supply. So, begin to neutralise your emotional states by observing what you are feeling and connecting it to which tactic they may be employing to get a reaction. Once you know the game, you begin to undo the conditioning that you need to play it.
Don’t React to the triggers
Linked to the above, but essentially this is about not reacting. Losing a narcissist may take a little longer than 10 days and during the time it takes to lose them, you may still need to interact with them. When you do, you need become as emotionless as possible. When you realise the conversation is getting heated up, just become aware of the situation and get a hold of your emotions. You have to make sure that your feelings are not apparent to the narcissist. By remaining emotionally indifferent and stoic (this is sometimes called going Gray Rock because you essentially make yourself about as interesting as a rock), there is no way for them to escalate and gain some kind of relief from your emotional supply. Remove your emotional output.
This may sound counter intuitive, but maintain your sense of humour. To call their bluff no only means ignoring them, but it might also mean that you meet that bluff with a laugh and a smile. This can be done without being cruel. It will highlight the inappropriateness of egocentric behavior with a smile or joke. and it will let them know that you can see beyond the mask.
As an individual, it is your right to set boundaries when it comes to controlling and intrusive behaviours. Your personal space is something that should be valued and respected at the same time. Make them understand the gravity of it by strict adherence to your principles. Your personal freedom is non negotiable and you need to set concrete boundaries that prevent the narcissist from being able to do this in the first place. Ideally do not take calls, see them or have contact with them full stop. However, if you you have to maintain contact for other reasons (such as children), then do it on your terms. Set the time, place and length of the contact and tell them that it will end at the first sight of any belittling behaviour.
Losing the narcissist in your life means learning how to be kind to yourself. You may feel broken down and full of self doubt about your ability to function without them. Try to hold that you deserve more. Self kindness is a powerful thing; the more you practice it, the more it takes hold. You should be acting out of kindness towards yourself each and every day until it becomes natural once more.