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6 tips to help you cope when leaving a narcissist

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be difficult due to their excessive need for admiration and attention, their deep insecurities and lack of empathy. If your partner is not willing to work on their narcissistic traits, then leaving may be the best way to protect your mental health. Having a plan in place to leave a narcissist and seeking the right support can help, can help give you the confidence to take the first steps towards a happier future.

Louisa Hope from Therapy Knutsford, shares her simple yet effective tips on how to leave a narcissist.

1. Build a strong support network  

Narcissists are controllers, they try to alienate their victims from their support network. They don’t like their victims to be strong and supported as this threatens their hold over them.

To counteract this, consciously build a trusted supportive community around yourself. Ensure they really understand what you are going through, whether it be a friend, a therapist, a specialist lawyer, a Women’s Aid advocate or family member; the more supportive the network you have the more empowered you become.

2. Educate yourself about narcissism

Knowledge is power. Build up your understanding of narcissistic personalities, what their triggers are and what makes them tick. Once you know what you are actually dealing with you can predict the next move of the narcissist.

Narcissists don’t like being discovered, they lose their edge. Knowing how to take control away from a narcissist means you can better prepare yourself. When you understand the tools narcissists use to control their victims, you gain the upper hand.

3. Minimise contact with your ex

The less contact you have with a narcissist the better. You can recover and heal much quicker when you have distance from their toxic traits.

If you can work with a mediator or family member who can buffer the exchange of contact whilst you separate, it can reduce anxiety and ensure the narcissist behaves better.

Use the written word for contact if and when you need to, and save copies of all communication.

If you share children with a narcissist, co-parenting is likely to be incredibly difficult.

Instead, parallel parenting might be better. It is a post-separation parenting method that keeps contact to a bare minimum, while ensuring your children have equal contact with both parents.

4. Get therapy 

Victims of narcissistic abuse are often in denial, overlooking their abuse as a coping strategy. However, leaving a narcissist is extremely stressful. As a result, victims often suffer from very low confidence, extreme anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

This kind of abuse can even become addictive as the brain secretes chemicals when in this heightened state of fight or flight, leading to a cycle that enables abuse to continue.

Healing these wounds is a superpower. Narcissists lose their power when their victim starts to heal, becomes self-assured and develops coping skills. They are no longer a host for toxic emotional destruction. Narcissists can lose their interest when their manipulative behaviours no longer work. Meaning you can thrive and move forward.

5. Harness your self-talk 

If your mental health is suffering as a result of being in a relationship with a narcissist, you may be using critical self-talk. Start to use mantra’s that affirm positive self-talk like ‘I’m good enough’, ‘I’m resilient’,’ ‘I have all the skills and support to get through this’.

The aim is to focus your thoughts and serve a mental anchor when doubt creeps in. By doing this you turn your attention away from your ex and the past and can begin nurturing yourself so that you can move forward with renewed strength.

6. Spend time looking after yourself

It sounds simple, but taking care of the foundations for wellbeing such as diet, exercise, sleep and emotional health, can make a big difference. While it would be easy to comfort eat or drinking too much, taking a holistic approach and creating good habits now will pay dividends further down the line.

When you take care of yourself, you create a safe and strong platform for your future.

Contact Louisa Hope at Therapy Knutsford for a free, confidential discovery call on 07510 714447 or visit or email: [email protected]

Useful links

Seven signs you are in a relationship with a narcissist

5 Tips for Parallel Parenting

Supporting victims of domestic violence through legal proceedings

Get in touch

If you’d like to speak to a lawyer about leaving a narcissist, or any other family law matters, contact our Client Care Team.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Stitchedup says:

    Is there really such a thing as a “Narcissist”?? Many psychologists say not. They argue narcissism is on a continuum, there is no threshold that defines a person (man or woman by the way) as a narcissist and many narcissistic traits can be considered healthy and normal. Even if you argue there is such a thing as a narcissist, it’s estimated that only about 1% of the general are affected by Narcissistic Personality Disorder and it is not gendered, so on the balance of probability, roughly half of that 1% will be women. I guess the only reason it’s considered gendered is because the term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with “his” own image. The term has simply become a favorite of feminists for encouraging family separation, enforcing the “all men are bastards” message, and convincing women they’re victims of domestic abuse when in all probability they’re just dealing with differences of opinion, incompatibility, and/or unshared life goals/dreams.

    Cut and Paste from Wikipedia
    Narcissistic personality disorder affects an estimated 1% of the general population.[10][11] Although most individuals have some narcissistic traits, high levels of narcissism can manifest themselves in a pathological form as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), whereby the individual overestimates his or her abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation. NPD was revised in the DSM-5. The general move towards a dimensional (personality trait-based) view of the Personality Disorders has been maintained. Some narcissists may have a limited or minimal capability to experience emotions.[12]

    Healthy narcissism might exist in all individuals.

    Freud said that narcissism was an original state from which the individual develops the love object.[19][qualify evidence] He argued that healthy narcissism is an essential part of normal development.[5] According to Freud, the love of the parents for their child and their attitude toward their child could be seen as a revival and reproduction of their own narcissism.[5] The child has a megalomaniac omnipotence of thought;[19] the parents stimulate that feeling because in their child they see the things that they have never reached themselves. Compared to neutral observers, parents tend to overvalue the qualities of their child. When parents act in an extreme opposite style and the child is rejected or inconsistently reinforced depending on the mood of the parent, the self-needs of the child are not met.

    • Jon Rhodes says:

      I assure you that most psychologists don’t say there’s no such thing as narcissistic personality disorder. I work in the mental health field and have met many sufferers. And their diagnosis is taken very seriously by all the mental health professionals.

      Yes, it is accepted that narcissism is on a spectrum. And there’s a healthy amount one can have. But the disordered person is far too preoccupied with themselves. And it detrimentally affects their relationships. Hence the term Narcissistic Personality “Disorder” (NPD).

      And I’ve seen it with my own eyes how destructive people with NPD can be. Especially to their romantic partners.

      You’re correct in saying that around 1% of the population is diagnosed with NPD. But many academics believe the true figure of sufferers is around 4-6% (This is one study that shows a 4% prevalence

      Most people aren’t really aware of NPD, including the narcissists themselves. So they don’t know what’s wrong with them. So many don’t seek diagnosis. And how many narcissists are going to visit a mental health practitioner and admit there’s something wrong with them?

      Yes I’m sure some people will falsely claim that their ex is a narcissist. But this doesn’t mean that narcissists don’t exist. And it doesn’t mean no one needs support after being in a close relationship with them.

  2. L Hill says:

    You would think a supposedly reputable organisation involved in Family Law, would recognise that both Women and Men can be victims, and that both women and men can be the perpetrators.
    It is extremely disappointing to see the mythical stereotype being reinforced by Stowe Family Law, that Men are always the abusers and Women always the victims.
    An outdated opinion that does nothing to serve genuine victims of both genders.

    • Michelle says:

      I see only they/them pronoun being used? Mostly referred to as “the narcissist” but no gender assumptions were made my the author? Show me what I missed?

  3. Queen says:

    If you read correctly the author clearly states that most narcissists are male, while there are female narcissists as well. And for the purpose of the article the author uses “he”as the narcissist.

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