How Do I Leave a Narcissist?

Posted by in breaking up with grace, communication skills in dating, dating a dangerous man, dating a narcissist | 0 comments

walk awayDear Sandy, 

First of all, thanks for your great website! 

I consider myself an intelligent person, but got involved with a man I now see has histrionic/antisocial/narcissistic qualities.   I tried to leave him a few months ago, but he said all the right things, and I moved back in with him.  All the concessions and promises he made at that time have gone by the wayside, and I am practically back to where I was before I left the first time.  It has become very clear to me that he has precious little empathy and is unwilling to accept accountability.  Everything I’ve read lately about narcissists leads me to the understanding that I cannot heal this man, and that I will experience trauma without end if I stay.   

I am less worried about my recovery once I’ve taken the step, than taking the actual step.  I have thought of doing as you suggested and simply saying that “This is not working for me.”  A friend of mine who knows this man well, thinks that I should explain more, because “It will come as a complete surprise to S” that I intend to leave for good. Yes, like me, my friend is compassionate, and I do care about doing the best I can.   I guess if I were going to explain more, it would be to say exactly what I’ve told you:  that I sense little empathy in him for my feelings, that I see him retracting accountability, and that he and I have obviously different moral standards. 

Now that I’ve made this decision, can you help with the “how” to leave a narcissist?

At least, having gone through this earlier, I will be fine with the aftermath once I am on my own again.  

With profound gratitude for your wisdom,


Dear Ella,

I’m so glad you are able to recognize the limitations of this man you’ve been dating. It’s not always easy to use your logical brain to say, “…I cannot heal this man, and I will experience trauma without end if I stay.”

That is one of the most important first steps in leaving a narcisssist- recognizing what a person is and is not capable of changing. So, a pat on your back for noticing and understanding.

You’re asking me how to break up with him in the most compassionate way.

I appreciate that you are kind and compassionate. Without knowing much about your relationship, you say that your friend thinks you need to explain more as it will come as a complete surprise to him that you are breaking up.

Based on what you shared, I am assuming that you’ve already tried to work out the issues of his lack of empathy and unwillingness to accept responsibility. You mention that he didn’t keep his promises, which means that you must have tried to work things out.

Why do you feel the need to rehash what you’ve already said? He obviously didn’t uphold his end of the relationship. If you had never shared your concerns with him, I’d say by all means, express your feelings and come up with a plan for resolution.

However, it seems that he’s shown what he’s made of. How do you think he’d react if you brought it all up again? Let’s turn it around: how would you feel if he said that you had very little empathy, you didn’t keep your promises, and that your moral standards are different from his? You’d probably get defensive and feel attacked. I’m guessing he’d react in the same way.

The best way to leave a narcissist is to cut ties and say as little as possible.

I still think that your best bet is to say something like,

“This relationship is not working for me. I wish you well. Good luck to you”.

And walk away, never to return. Make sure that the next man you allow into your life passes muster before you sleep with him/become exclusive. That’s when your logical brain is still highly functional.

You deserve much better.



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