Why Does it Take So Long to Get Over a Relationship with a Narcissistic Psychopath?

why does it take so long to break free from a psychopath

Relationships with narcissistic psychopaths take an unusually long time to recover from. Survivors often find themselves frustrated because they haven’t healed as fast as they’d like. They also end up dealing with friends & therapists who give them judgmental advice about how it’s “time to move on”.

Whether you were in a long-term marriage or a quick summer fling, the recovery process will be the same when it comes to a narcissistic psychopathic encounter. It takes 12-24 months to get your heart back in a good place, and even after that, you might have tough days. I certainly do!

The important thing here is to stop blaming yourself. Stop wishing it would go faster. Stop thinking that the narcissistic psychopath somehow “wins” if you’re still hurting. They are out of the picture now. This journey is about you. If you come to peace with the extended timeline, you’ll find this experience a lot more pleasant. You can settle in, make some friends, and get cozy with this whole recovery thing.

So why is it taking so long?

You were in love

Yes, it was manufactured love. Yes, your personality was mirrored and your dreams manipulated. But you were in love. It’s the strongest human emotion & bond in the world, and you felt it with all your heart. It is always painful to lose someone you loved – someone you planned to be with for the rest of your life.

The human spirit must heal from these love losses. Regardless of your abuser’s intentions, your love was still very real. It will take a great deal of time and hope to pull yourself out of the standard post-breakup depression.

You were in desperate love

Here’s where we branch off from regular breakups. Narcissistic psychopaths manufacture desperation & desire. You probably worked harder for this relationship than any other, right? You put more time, energy, and thought into it than ever before. And in turn, you were rewarded with the nastiest, most painful experience of your life.

In the idealization phase, they showered you with attention, gifts, letters, and compliments. Unlike most honeymoon phases, they actually pretended to be exactly like you in every way. Everything you did was perfect to them. This put you on Cloud 9, preparing you for the identity erosion.

You began to pick up on all sorts of hints that you might be replaced at any time. This encouraged your racing thoughts, ensuring that this person was on your mind every second of the day. This unhinged, unpredictable lifestyle is what narcissistic psychopaths hope to create with their lies, gas-lighting, and triangulation.

By keeping them on your mind at all times, you fall into a state of desperate love. This is unhealthy, and not a sign that the person you feel so strongly about is actually worthy of your love. Your mind convinces you that if you feel so powerfully, then they must be the only person who will ever make you feel that way. And when you lose that person, your world completely falls apart. You enter a state of panic & devastation.

The Chemical Reaction

Narcissistic Psychopaths have an intense emotional & sexual bond over their victims. This is due to their sexual magnetism, and the way they train your mind to become reliant upon their approval.

By first adoring you in every way, you let down your guard and began to place your self worth in this person. Your happiness started to rely on this person’s opinion on you. Happiness is a chemical reaction going off in your brain – dopamine and receptors firing off to make you feel good.

Like a drug, the narcissistic psychopath offers you this feeling in full force to begin with. But once you become reliant on it, they begin to pull back. Slowly, you need more and more to feel that same high. You do everything you can to hang onto it, while they are doing everything in their power to keep you just barely starved.


There are thousands of support groups for survivors of infidelity. It leaves long-lasting insecurities and feelings of never being good enough. It leaves you constantly comparing yourself to others. That pain alone takes many people out there years to recover from.

Now compare that to the narcissistic psychopath’s triangulation. Not only do they cheat on you – they happily wave it in your face. They brag about it, trying to prove how happy they are with your replacement. They carry none of the usual shame & guilt that comes with cheating. They are thrilled to be posting pictures and telling their friends how happy they are.

I cannot even begin to explain how emotionally damaging this is after once being the target of their idealization. The triangulation alone will take so much time to heal from.

You have encountered pure evil

Everything you once understood about people did not apply to this person. During the relationship, you tried to be compassionate, easy-going, and forgiving. You never could have known that the person you loved was actively using these things against you. It just doesn’t make any sense. No typical person is ready to expect that, and so we spend our time projecting a normal human conscience onto them, trying to explain away their inexplicable behavior.

But once we discover psychopathy, sociopathy, or narcissism, that’s when everything starts to change. We begin to feel disgusted – horrified that we let this darkness into our lives. Everything clicks and falls into place. All of the “accidental” or “insensitive” behavior finally makes sense.

You try to explain this to friends and family members – no one really seems to get it. This is why validation matters. When you come together with others who have experienced the same thing as you, you discover you were not crazy. You were not alone in this inhuman experience.

It takes a great deal of time to come to terms with this personality disorder. You end up having to let go of your past understanding of human nature, and building it back up from scratch. You realize that people are not always inherently good. You begin to feel paranoid, hyper-vigialant, and anxious. The healing process is about learning to balance this new state of awareness with your once trusting spirit.

Your spirit is deeply wounded

After the eventual abandonment, most survivors end up feeling a kind of emptiness that cannot even be described as depression. It’s like your spirit has completely gone away. You feel numb to everything and everyone around you. The things that once made you happy now make you feel absolutely nothing at all. You worry that your encounter with this monster has destroyed your ability to empathize, feel and care.

I believe this is what takes the longest time to recover from. It feels hopeless at first, but your spirit is always with you. Damaged, for sure, but never gone. As you begin to discover self-respect & boundaries, it slowly starts to find its voice again. It feels safe opening up, peeking out randomly to say hello. You will find yourself grateful to be crying again, happy that your emotions seem to be returning. This is great, and it will start to become more and more consistent.

Ultimately, you will leave this experience with an unexpected wisdom about the people around you. Your spirit will return stronger than ever before, refusing to be treated that way again. You may encounter toxic people throughout your life, but you won’t let them stay for very long. You don’t have time for mind games & manipulation. You seek out kind, honest, and compassionate individuals. You know you deserve nothing less.

This new found strength is the greatest gift of the psychopathic experience. And it is worth every second of the recovery process, because it will serve you for the rest of your life.

If you’re worried that your recovery process is taking too long, please stop worrying. You’ve been through hell and back – there is no quick fix for that. And what’s more, when all is said and done, these few years will be some of the most important years of your life.

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I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse.

My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.

Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.

It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
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About Dana 412 Articles
I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse. My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life. Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics. It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.


  1. This post was very helpful. I’m just filing divorce from the narcissist I was married to for 13 years. Although I’ve been trying to detach from him for the last almost 3 years. I can’t seem to stop my emotions – I cry over almost everything. I left him and felt great about it. Thought I was “resolved” and over him. Now that he’s told me about that special someone he’s found (although the papers have not been filed yet) I almost feel like I made a mistake – didn’t try hard enough, should have given him the famous “one last chance”. I’m watching all the videos I can find to help keep me focused on how abusive he was and how much better it is that I’m finally free. I’ve never feared being alone – but like you said, when they are wooing you or things are good…. they are really really great. It’s like the fairytale you always wished for. But you wake up to realize you’ve become a victim, allowed it to continue and try to figure out how/when/why things got so bad and feed into the guilt….all because of my HOPE!!! In all the videos and research I’ve done over the last year and a half, I had never heard triangulation explained. This is really help to me come to terms with what he was doing with his daughter and myself. Thank you.

  2. Hi there,

    Divorce is an emotional time, and I think a lot of people think things are emotionally over multiple times before they really are–even though he was a Narcissist, and even though you knew you needed to leave. There’s a grieving process that we all still go through. After all, it’s the death of not only a relationship, but of the hope of them changing. …It’s a lot to process, and it takes time. …And it’s that much harder if they are the first to move on–but realize that his relationship with her will be the same as the relationship he had with you. Even though he will most likely pretend to be SO happy with her, and plaster his artifical happiness all over Facebook, and tell all his friends and family so that you know just how happy he is. Don’t let this rattle your self confidence, or your decision that you needed to leave.

    One tip I mention often that really helped me to see things as they were, was to write myself a list called, “For when you miss him” and in that list write down every dirtbag thing he’s ever done, and why you are leaving him. When you have those down moments where you second guess yourself, read that list–then pat yourself on the back for being strong enough to leave. (((hugs))) to you. <3

  3. Hi…I just cried my eyes out reading this…im going through it at the moment but reading that really makes sense to me…and what exactly my relationship was like. ..I cant understand how some people can be so evil…my heart already goes out to hes next victim….im just gonna focus on me now and I will get there its extremely hard tho but what I just read gave me hope. ..dont like the fact that might take me 2 yrs to fully get over him haha but im most certainly gonna try my hardest….x

  4. Excellent article and spot on. Describes our experience to a T. About to publish a book on my experience with a female narcissist, My Waffles are Cold – A Man’s Guide to Narcissistic Abuse. It’s people like you whose wisdom on this matter got me out of the relationship and into voicing it through my writing. Good job, love to see more.

  5. I’m really glad that you are writing a book about Narcissistic Abuse from a man’s perspective–there is a big need for it. Let me know when it comes out, and I’d be more than happy to review it here. 🙂

  6. Thank you for the insightful article! It’s comforting to read explanations of this situation and know that we aren’t alone in dealing with a narcissist. My narcissistic ex-husband of 16 years also happens to be a clincal PhD psychologist. I find a lot of irony in that situation and sometimes dealing with him has been extremely difficult because of his psychological manipulation tactics. He fell in love with a co-worker (that he supervised) left me, flaunted his new relationship in my face and ultimately married her. I’ve often thought that I could have written a blog about the situation because it was unbelievable and at times like a soap opera…

    We’ve been divorced for two years and although I still sometimes have tough days, I’ve realized that every day without him is better than it was with him.

    We have two great teenage kids, which I’m thankful for, but unfortunately this also means that I can’t totally cut off contact because we have to co-parent. Co-parenting with a narcissist has been by far the biggest challenge for me. I have no interest in any romantic relationship with him, but I know that our kids need both parents to work together for their benefit. I’ve spent years trying to reason with him and figure out what was wrong with him. Why is my ex still so angry with and cruel to me? After all, he left me. He got what he wanted, didn’t he? How could a parent not want what’s best for their children? Shouldn’t we be able to put our differences aside and co-parent for their sake? These are just a few of the questions I’ve struggled with.

    I recently figured out that the answer is that he is a classic narcissist. He’s sick and will never change. There’s no reasoning with them or talking common sense to them. There’s no hope of a successful co-parenting relationship. The best thing that I can do is to minimize contact with the narcissist, focus on being a good parent to my kids and set a good example for them. Sometimes I feel sad for my ex and a loss for what could have been, but the truth is that it never was going to last because he didn’t have the capacity. The person I married and vowed to spend the rest of my life with was a fake.

    I’ve learned that life’s not fair, but we can still move on and find happiness. I’m still a work in progress but even a bad day without him is better than a good day with a narcissist. I have hope for my future. My advice to any others in this situation is to hang in there because it does get better. Tough situations make us stronger and more insightful. That’s how we conquer the narcissist; we survive.

  7. Thank you so much for this post! It made me feel a lot better and helps with my understanding of what happened.
    Although my ex was not psychopath, she absolutely obliterated my soul. Having learnt so much about people, human behavior and alike, I was devastated by this relationship.
    Being someone with a pure soul, I couldn’t believe what was happening to me and have since been diagnosed with severe depression. It destroyed me emotionally, mentally and financially.
    My healing has begun and I have a long road back but I will get there. I will also be documenting my journey for an upcoming book in time.
    Once again, thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  8. Oh my what a great piece for me to happen upon. I am described perfectly as are my feelings of self disgust, my incredible grief while knowing it must be done. Ive suffered this man for 25yrs and I am seriously doubting my ability to heal at my age. Im 54 so its almost half my life. I have degree in social work and know a little of psychology, which makes me my worst critic and least helpful allie. My best years are done, my children don’t or cant understand They couldn’t because I am just finding answers myself. I was a sexually abused child, would that have made me more vulnerable to a narcissist ? Any answers or perspectives I would very much appreciate.Im a computer virgin as well so Im learning to e-mail and stuff. Thankyou so much Dana. I will look forward to reading more of your pages. Again I do thankyou for insight I so badly needed.

  9. This article helped me, I just wish I can get over it but I just keep going back, he is cheating on her with me and I know I am allowing it. Some days are better

  10. I would say “you have no idea” how much these words helped me, but I think you probably do understand what nobody else really does. Some days I feel like I’m barely hanging on to my will to live. Despite understanding the evil that I lived with for over 30 years I still find myself in excruciating pain. Feeling like “she won” is so accurate. I hope to feel well again…but have felt like it will never happen. Thank you.

  11. It sounds as though you have a lot of insight, and have come to find the clarity and understanding you need in order to move forward. All the questions you have asked, I think are probably questions every person who is in a co-parenting dynamic with a Narcissist asks. I hope others can find some hope and healing they need in your reponse. Thank you for posting this. <3

  12. Hi Phil,

    Thank you for writing. …Yes, the emotional fall out from a relationship with a highly manipulative and destructive person can be huge. But please keep the faith and hope that you can rebuild–because you can. It takes time, and effort, but it can be done. I’m glad you are on the path to healing, and I’m excited as to this next chapter in your journey for you. I love that you will be writing a book about your experiences, as I think there is a real need for information out there–especially from the male perspective. Let me know when your book is published, and I’d be more than happy to help you promote here on my site.

  13. Since you describe feeling in “excruciating pain” on a regular basis, I would strongly encourage you to make an appointment with either your medical doctor, or with a psychiatrist, and discuss getting on an anti-depressant. Relationships with these people can (and often are) devastating, but medications (and a good therapist) can help to soften the blow and get us out of overwhelm. (Please don’t think I’m pushing meds on you–I just think there is a time and place for them, and if they will help, and if you are feeling this low, then they might be worth exploring.) You are not alone in feeling this way, and thirty years is a long time to spend with an emotionally destructive person. You can heal, and you can go on to have a great life. You really can. If you are open to more suggestions, I’d strongly encourage you to also watch some Tony Robbins videos, as well as Eckhart Tolle. I found a lot of peace from both of them. I sincerely wish you all the healthy and healing you so greatly deserve. <3

  14. Great compilation of facts and experience. You have done your work -or has the work been done ON you-rhetorical don’t have to answer. I like the way you put so much together.. example-that you may be getting hints that you might be replaced…and the real playbook of these guys. Yes I think mainly guys. They love to see the angst and it is important to know that. Keep going , you write well .no beating around to get yourself attention and you do not lose me. Just the facts . I know you mean that hugs thing too . You are for real and so is your heart.

  15. I loved this article. It’s nice to know it’s ok that even 15 years after getting out of this type of relationship, I still have some of these feelings. Unfortunately, his narcissism and abuse damaged our children horribly. Not knowing what to do or what I was experiencing, I dealt with it in the best way I could. The effects of his physical and emotional abuse had a rippling effect which impacted my extended family as well. I’m still angry that he had such power and I did not to protect those I love. His hate became so inflamed, I was subjected to public insults from his new wife. I had to leave my small community to escape and feel safe. Even the local police did not believe me and could or would not help. He is still spreading his hate of me through our children, and anyone who will listen.
    I am healing, and it is slow, but I’m in a better place than I was with him. Thank you for writing this!
    (I also accidentally clicked on “dislike” to Chris’s post. I meant to “like” it!)

  16. Dee Ann,

    I think part of why it may be upsetting you more that your ex has moved on is that you know he’s grooming his next victim.

    My ex has a new girlfriend and every single one of the early relationship things he did with me that were big red flags after the fact are exactly what he’s doing with the new girl. Moved in together after two months of dating? Check Moving 30 miles away? Check Picking a girl that has a good job and money to mooch off of? Check

    I see me in her and if I could do anything to warn her against what’s to come, I would.

  17. @james Burke I meant to like your comment. Yes I too felt that hurt and pain. For eight years he was in and out of my life. When my daughter was @18 months he reunited with an old flame. She was and is a bigger N THAN HIM. Six months later it was the love triangle. Ugh I became that crazy psycho bitch much to my shame. That man hurt me in ways I can’t describe. Fast forward eight years later. He again went back to old flame. She makes more money and thinks he walks on water. After eight years I finally saw through the BS and found these articles and realized I’m not crazy! These articles and blogs have helped me beyond belief. I finally realized that man never existed he never cared he just loved my bank card! Never helps with his daughter but is raising his GF daughter.

  18. Hi Dana you don’t know how blessed i was to come across your article today about how long this recovery should take it will be 1 year in august that i got rid of my ex and i am still struggling with things i know i won’t go back though and you are so right after the 8th time i’d had it and NOW know what the hell was wrong. I have been cleaning out old wounds and realizing why i attracted this person in the first place and boy it’s a journey. again though thanks for the insight

  19. I’m so glad I could help. I wish you all the health and healing possible. Best wishes on this next chapter in your journey! <3

  20. I’m glad you are liking my info, and that it’s easy to follow. …And I actually laughed out loud when I read your “you have done your work, or has the work been done on you” part! The answer is yes and yes! 🙂 I’m a huge believer in the saying that sometimes we win and sometimes we learn. …And I’ve learned a lot over the years. I really do love that I am able to share everything I’ve learned with others, it gives my pain a purpose. (And yes, I really do mean “that hugs thing too”.) (((hugs))) 🙂

  21. I love that you are now planning on moving forward and focusing on healing. …”They” say that time heals all wounds. It doesn’t. It’s what you do with that time that makes all the difference. Now that you have a better grip on what you are dealing with, there’s a very solid chance it won’t take you two years to heal! Either way, (((hugs))) to you, and I wish you all the best on this next chapter in your life. <3

  22. Thx for great article. You write well. I never knew what the problem was in my marriage until I left after 17 yrs. I needed depression medication and weekly counselling for a yr and in the second yr dropped back to fortnightly. Having such regular counselling was one of the best things I did. At about 1 yr post breakup I was able to control my emotions and choose to be happy or thankful but I still had some bad days. My case was harder because he also took my son and brainwashed him. I no longer have any contact with my boy- he is 16. Sometimes, I think about clever Narcs are and I worry but also give thx that I got away with my life. I got a tattoo, my first at about 2 yrs free which says Glad. It reminds me every day how lucky I am. In the early days of my break up I was taken to ER at the hospital as a suicide risk, I wasn’t and was sent home. Before I left I had an hr assessment with a psychologist who said ‘I present as one having escaped a narcissist’. I thought narcissists were crazy people and disagreed, how ironic to later discover the craziness that comes with NPD. She said healing would take 18-24 months and to remember I have the skills to get through it. It took me a yr to be well enough to google- narcissist. I often wonder where I would be without the Internet and the wonderful bloggers like yourself.

  23. I really glad you were able to get out of a toxic situation, and I’m sorry that your son was brainwashed–you are not alone in this. The vast majority of former partners (friends, family, etc.) of Narcissists have a similar experience. I hope that in the future he will be able to see the truth of who you really are. <3

    It sounds like you had the good fortune to come across a really skilled therapist and psychologist who were able to give you the clarity and skills you needed at a really critical time in your life.

    ...I was confused like you when I first came across the terms "Narcissist" and "Antisocial". I thought a Narcissist was someone who was vain, and an Antisocial was someone who was a recluse and didn't like people. The men I was tangled up with weren't vain, and were very charming and likable. It's taken me years to piece everything together to the point where I understand what I was dealing with.

    I love that you have the word "Glad" tattooed on you. What an awesome reminder of the mindset that you want to always be cultivating.

    I hope that this next chapter in your life is full of all the health and healing you deserve. (((hugs)))

  24. Hi Dianne,

    Yes you can not only heal, but you can go on to start new hobbies, and do great things–at any age. You really, really can. <3

    - Hulda Crooks aka Grandma Whitney climbed Mt. Whitney 23 times between the ages of 65 and 91
    - Annabel Marsh - the oldest woman to run across the United States. A cross-country run from Boston to San Francisco in 1984 at the age of 61, with Caroline Merrill. This record still stands (2008). They ran 3,261 miles through 12 states in 113 running days.
    - Ruth Rothfarb - 1n 1987 at age 85, ran and completed the Boston Marathon in a time of 8 hours.
    - Grandma Moses didn't start "seriously" painting until the age of 78.
    - At 86, Katherine Pelton swam the 200-meter butterfly in 3 minutes, 1.14 seconds, beating the men’s world record for that age group by over 20 seconds.
    - At 91, Allan Stewart of New South Wales completed a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of New England.
    - At 99, Teiichi Igarashi climbed Mt. Fuji.
    (sources: Wikipedia and http://www.businessinsider.com/100-amazing-accomplishments-achieved-at-every-age-2014-3)

    You bring up a very good (and well-written) point, “I have degree in social work and know a little of psychology, which makes me my worst critic and least helpful allie.” I don’t think you are alone in feeling this way–although I think you are wrong about you being your least helpful ally. 🙂

    With a degree in social work, you have many tools in your emotional tool box to help you through this situation, and I’d encourage you to examine what you would have told one of your clients if they were in your situation right now. Odds are it’s probably some pretty good advice, that would most likely involve seeking out a therapist who is familiar with all forms of abuse.

    …There are many different things that make us vulnerable to abuse from Narcissists or others. The resulting effects of childhood abuse could make a person vulnerable to later abuse. But so can any number of factors: age, weight, height, social status, amount (or lack) of money, being recently divorced, being a single parent, being single with no kids. …There is no shortage of things that could make us vulnerable to manipulation and abuse. I hope this article helps: http://www.thriveafterabuse.com/how-to-avoid-a-relationship-with-a-narcissist/

    (((hugs))) to you. I sincerely wish you all the health and healing possible, and I hope you really blossom in this next chapter of your life!

  25. This perfectly explains what I went through and the healing I went through and am still going through. Perfectly said. Thank you for your website.

  26. Hey Dana:

    Thanks for your post, especially the bit about the time frame of recovery: 12-24 months. It really puts things into perspective. After I’ve realized that my ex was a narcissist (by the way she’s a she and I’m a guy), I felt this profound sense of emptiness. That feeling that she won’t have the capacity to love in the way that she should brought enormous amount of disappointment.

    And yes, the break up from a narcissistic personality was one of the most difficult yet. I feel used and cheated. And the last time I saw her she brought that feeling on, but I worked hard to fight it off. (She and I are in the same grad program and we have to see each other.) She did everything to make me feeling like I was doing something wrong: sulking when she saw me talking to another female person. Condemning me with her body language, overt ignoring when we run into each other. She won’t communicate but she will behave like I’ve done something wrong with her body language all the time. Only time she looks happy is when she is the center of attention or if I look miserable.

  27. Wow, this is me, my same story and everything I’ve been feeling. 100%…that validates that this is a traumatic experience for those subjected to it. I thought I was more aware of my surroundings and people that I let in than this, but human emotion is some crazy stuff. I truly sympathize with anyone on this site or forum that has gone through this…it is the worst thing I’ve ever been through.

  28. Hi and thanks. I am in recovery from a brutal de val/discard on an overseas holiday. Everything in the three phase process happened to me. After 90 days no contact I relapsed and contacted her after seeing her one day. When I saw her I melted and couldn,t talk. Just nod my head. The ‘relation ship’ lasted for 18 months. 12 good ones and then 6 torturous ones. To make matters worse, during the recent contact, (total of 6 hours on the phone) she wouldn,t even aknowlege that she had cruelly hurt me with her invective name calling and drunken rages. She even threw punches a coupla times. Flat out refused to apologise or empathise. And I think she’s lost her mind too. She’s under delusion about how she’vibrates’ in the 5th dimension and she’e on her way to the 12th dimension with the intergalactic council…. Not kidding!!!!
    I think Ive dodged a bullet but I just can’t get the idealisation period out of my head….

  29. Dear Dana
    Thank you once more!
    Reading this article really helps! Its so painful and its hard to find someone that really understands the situation.
    As you say, friends & therapists keep on saying “take the responsability for what happened: you choose it, you enjoyed it, you suffered it, now move on… and you are not a victim” “Change your thoughts, dont get obsessed, he did not dump you, people change and if you really loved him you should be happy for his happiness…” and that kind of things.
    I wish i could do that, but it seems that i cant take my mind out of the story… Its really frustrating. My head understands very well the narcissitic profile, but is not enough…

  30. I have recently ended a many year relationship with a classic narcissist, NPD. What I have seen is that it is much more difficult to break up with a NPD than a normal person, for many reasons. — I have sacrificed so much of myself; I did not want to give up. I worked so hard for success. AND… the NPD is so helpless in so many ways. I have felt guilt as if I were leaving a child in the woods. My breakups with normal women in the past have been clean and dignified: no BS and confusion. No so with this NPD woman. I still can feel sad for her. NPD seems to be very much a disability, as any brain disorder. Yet, I must preserve my own brain… lol.

  31. NPD (any manipulative person really) exploits the feelings of love, hope, obligation, and guilt of others in order to keep them in the relationship. Trying to get out of a relationship with a person like this is like trying to scrape a big wad of gum off the bottom of your shoe: it’s next to impossible to get them/it off completely. I would encourage you to learn about hoovering, and what all that entails, as this is how they tend to keep their victims sucked in: http://www.thriveafterabuse.com/you-tube-video-on-hoovering/

    Once you see their manipulations for what they are, the easier it will be for you to close that door and nail it shut. You can’t save them, you can only save yourself. Trying to save someone who doesn’t want saving is like trying to carry (not just lead) a horse to water: you wind up breaking your back, frustrating yourself, and annoying the horse–but since the horse likes to be carried, it will encourage you to keep doing that until you can’t do it anymore–then it will just trot off, annoyed with you for not carrying it anymore and it will find someone new without even being thankful of all the time you spent carrying them.

  32. I read all of the articles about narcissist they all fit him besides the infidelity i have never known of him cheating he says he has never i need advice

  33. I am in no contact but has found out he has gotten married to the girl he left me for. I am devasted and feel abused all over again. I have chronic fatigue because when he got married and engaged he was calling me at that time. I feel addicted to him. Any suggests for help and how to let him go. Also my friends keep saying how nice looking he is. That does not help. He seems so happy with “her”.

  34. They always seem so happy with the new person–but their relationship will run the same course, unless he doesn’t something to dramatically change his personality/behavior. I know the heartache you feel. I felt that too. …I think many of us have. But the reality is that he has no moral fiber–he was trying to keep you around as plan b, while he was lining her up. This is what they do. All the sweet talk, and promises of change are all just more smoke and mirrors.

    Here are some articles about how I was able to move forward. I hope they help:



    Honestly, joining a support group is probably what helped me the most. It really helps to be around people who are on your side and who “get” it. …And when you are around your friends, tell them that you don’t want to hear about how good looking he is. (Your friends kinda sound really insensitive too!) And that’s the other big part of this puzzle (while I’m at it here), that if we tend to have flexible boundaries in one area of our life, we probably have them in multiple areas. When my head cleared and I looked around at my life, I realized that I had a lot of “friendships” that were pretty one-sided too–and that my problem was that my line in the sand for what deal breaker behavior was, was pretty extreme! I learned that I really needed to tighten up my boundaries across the board and to quit allowing crappy or hurtful behavior from others. I hope this helps. (((hugs)))

  35. D, I was so thankful to run across this article today. The timing couldn’t be better. I have recently, finally, walked away from a horribly toxic relationsip with a narcissist. Of course he had his next victim lined up before I broke. My heart is breaking in two, I am completely devastated, hurt, and feel confused about what just happened to me. Not only by the abuse he dished out, but by the fact that he has no feelings of remorse for the devastation and pain that he caused me and my heart.
    I am experiencing all of the things that you described. Until recently, I didn’t even know what NPD was. I am a nurse, a perfect victim for him, Narcs prey on women like me. Nuturing, kind and giving. Willing to do everything, love completely, and get basically nothing in return.
    I wondered if the woman who wrote about filing for divorce last summer was his soon to be Ex. Poor thing. She tolerated the abuse for almost 15 years. I only lasted in this relationship for 18 months, but the damage will take a lifetime to repair.
    I just want to say to others, that sharing, and reading these blogs is helping me beyond measure!!! It helps to know that I am not alone, I am not crazy, I was a victim, and I can survive this, and be far better for it in the end.
    Thank you. Peace be with all of you.

  36. I left the narcissistic sociopath a year ago. I have done so much work on myself re authentic transformation & self-love. I know so everything there is to know about the horrific disorder. The challenge I face is maintaining consistency with my feelings & believing in myself. I walked out on him April 2015. I knew there was a lot of work I needed to do for myself. I have no desire to ever acknowledge his past presence in my life. I started individual counseling 6 mths ago. I am a totally different person than I was when I started. The odd thing is I was always a self-motivated, driven individual. I feel I will never get that part of me back. I was laid off from my job in Dec 2015. I am still not working. I have to find a job within 2 mths. I have always been a fighter & a surviver. I want to thrive not survive. I feel embarrassed that I have not returned to original form & I won’t be able to manifest a good life for myself.

  37. Thank you for this article. I felt numb and most importantly I was scared that I shouldn’t turn out to be a narcissist.
    That’s the last thing I want. People often treat others the way they were treated. And it humiliates me to know that my experience may shape me to be like the one I was abused from.
    Now I know that that isn’t the case. I know this is taking time but it’s making me feel very good to know that I’m not headed for darkness.
    Thank you. Again.

  38. If the last thing you want is to hurt others, then odds are you will go to great lengths to not hurt them. Narcissists are problematic because they don’t care about the impact of their actions on others–they are incredibly self absorbed and lack insight into their behavior or even that they have a problem. …Many target or victims of narcissists also came from abusive or toxic backgrounds, so you aren’t alone in this.

    If you haven’t already joined a support group and are interested in doing so, here is a link to mine: http://www.facebook.com/groups/healingafternarcissisticabuse

  39. Thank you so much for this. Every time I have a low moment or a day when I miss her so much that it is torture (which sadly is everyday right now) I re-read this and it puts it all back in perspective. I can’t believe how accurate your description is and how this goes on for so many people.

  40. This article is a repost from the website http://www.psychopathfree.com …If you haven’t already read the book by the same name, I highly recommend it. It’s nothing short of jaw-dropping with how accurate it really is. Here is a link to the book if you are interested: Psychopath Free It’s also our book club book for June, and I’ll be posting my notes on it here in the next few weeks. 🙂

  41. I met the narcissist 2 years ago and he swept me off my feet. He said the most amazing things “You are my soul mate”- “You complete me!” “I can’t stop thinking about you!”, “I’m falling in love with you,” and all after about a week. That lasted for a little over a month when the red flags started to appear. I knew something was wrong, but by this time I was already hooked. The contact remained regular, but not as extreme. He started to pull away, but still was there (if that makes sense). Over the course of our time together he left me multiple times (I truly have lost count… I think 8 or 9). I took him back each and every time- I longed for him and missed the sound of his voice- no matter how unhealthy the situation was. I knew he was a Narcissist and even gave him articles about it- he agreed. He was transparent with me and yet I still stayed. He didn’t even understand why I did. The hot/cold, mood swings, no interest in my hopes & dreams, and lack of consistency was our “normal.” I stayed. I even found on his computer a dating site he was on (he said he just liked to look at the pictures). He also remained in touch with old “flames” and said they were just friends, but felt the need to keep them “just in case.” I still stayed. I begged him to delete one person from his Facebook account that he had received texts from. He refused. He said if given the choice between deleting her and me leaving then I had to leave. I stayed and they remained “friends.” I always knew that if I shared too many concerns he would leave, but my emotions could barely take it some days and I would tell him. This last time I did that after he showed little to no interest in seeing me before a trip he was going on. A disagreement resulted in him leaving (again). I am heart broken and find myself having panic attacks. I wonder what else I could have done. Maybe if I had not continued on and on with my “feelings” talk he would have stayed. I know he has moved on quickly and is not suffering like I am. I cannot eat or sleep… I long for him to text, to call to tell me he misses me. I know he is not doing the same and this time I really am afraid this is the final discard and that scares me. I wonder if I was wrong.. maybe I was the problem. I am so sad in the thought of him picking up with someone new where I left off… in him finding happiness, and not with me. I tried everything to make him happy, but it was never enough. No matter what I did or how hard I tried it was not enough… and yet, he would say the same. I want to move on with my life, but I am so scared not to have him in it. Why is this hard?

  42. You are not the problem. What you are describing with his behavior is part of the “sweet/mean” cycle where they go from being really loving and attentive to cold and distance–at the flip of a switch. This is all part of the bigger cycle of a narcissistic relationship which runs the course of idealize, devalue, discard.

    It sounds like this man is (chronically) cheating, and when cheaters cheat they often have to justify their behavior to themselves, so they’ll either pick a fight or breakup with their current partner over something small–that way in their mind they are single, so their behavior is okay.

    Here is our book club book for June (Psychopath Free). This book does a GREAT job at explaining the emotions involved as well as their behavior: http://www.thriveafterabuse.com/forum/Thread-Book-Club-Book-for-June-2016-Psychopath-Free

    Here is a link to a series that I’m doing on codependency–the video on love bombing I think will answer a lot of your questions about why it’s hard to leave–and how you got here in the first place: http://www.thriveafterabuse.com/red-flags-of-a-codependent/


    P.S. If you are interested in joining a support group, we’d love to have you: http://www.facebook.com/groups/healingafternarcissisticabuse

  43. Wonderful article! I’ve been there and still healing. I use to see myself as a loser and the narc and mistress as a winner. Once I fully understood the evil I was involved with, I now say I’m a winner and I get so excited that I have a chance at true love. I stayed 5 yrs longer than I was suppose to. I filed in 2014, and it’s still going. Ice surrounded myself only with people who understands and supports me and this has helped tremendously. Married19.5 years and together for a total of 29.5. I now can accept it never was. Prayer and faith has seen me thru and staying positive, speaking positive even if you don’t feel it. I’m a firm believer that what you speak becomes how you act, who you are and your destiny. So my advice is every day choose to speak life!!

  44. Thank u 4 this article!!! I am amazed how capable u truly discribed my feelings & that SUM 1 can seemly read my mind!!!

  45. Hi Dana,
    Like so many others I now read about, I’m the victim of a narcissistic relationship. After two years of going through what now seem to be the three “textbook” stages I was literally obliterated within days. I’m no fool and certainly not naive and so I can’t seem to deal with what has happened to me. I cannot get her out of my mind and her presence and the memories are tormenting me 24/7. She already has a new lover 2 months after throwing me away in the cruelest way she could. I am numb with pain, loss, and feel like I was thrown of a cliff and 3 months later still haven’t hit the ground. How in Gods name do I begin to heal? she was my life and now only a dark vacuum with no light. Please advise me

  46. Shaun,

    I’m going to bring up your question on the live stream tomorrow, as it’s one that I think pretty much everyone struggles with.

    In short, a big first step is us healing to see them for what they really are–instead of seeing them for what we want them to be (or what we hope they could be). Write out a list of all the painful things she’s done, so when you start missing her, you can go back and reread that list which will help to snap you out of that fog of rationalization.

    The fantasy they sell is intoxicating–but it’s a fantasy. Much like with online dating scammers, and how they tell their targets everything they want to hear in order to get into their wallet. None of the fantasy was real. It’s all smoke and mirrors. They promise a fairy tale, but deliver a nightmare. This woman molded herself into your perfect partner in order to “get supply” from you. The feeling that she was a perfect partner comes from her intentionally becoming that for you. I know you are in tremendous amounts of pain right now, but you dodged a bullet big time. People like this only bring about pain.

    Support groups are also VERY helpful as far as healing. …This black hole that you are in doesn’t last forever. Many of your best days are still ahead of you. And it can help to remind yourself of that on a regular basis.

    You will get through this.

  47. Your doing a great thing empowering people. lisa i ended things like a coward.. it was childish and i was selfish.. after all this time i still have regrets and i didnt look at how it would have affected ur kids be me just disappearing like i did.. im a deadbeat dirtbag and deserved to go to prison and i did.

  48. Time well spent reading these posts. I left my narcisstic…”situation” (it was an orchestra of many) in the spring of 2016. I’m in the self-isolation phase, and I am EMBRACING IT. I’m ‘GLAD’😉 and grateful to all of you for sharing. I just wanted to suggest to those who are writing books that you proceed with caution. I don’t know it all. What I do know is that it one day I realized i had to stop leaving photos on my narcs’ legacy page. he’s deceased. In his sleep. Likely bc of Drinking. I surmise he loved me juuust enough to do himself in bc of the conflict within him; he didn’t want to (continue to!) pursue me legally with the mounting (all) false allegations (yes, they were successful & I’m still reeling) as his mother was insisting upon…agsin, this is what I surmise as I went no contact… I had to stop leaving ANY TRACE of my presence at his grave because I realized I WAS STILL FEEDING HIS SUPPLY-STARVED NARCISSISTIC FAMILY MEMBERS. Especially his mother. These invalids THRIVE and FEED off of your simple act of acknowledging that they EXIST.
    Please. Proceed with caution. TELL A NEW STORY. Not EVERYONE afflicted by these dementors HAS to become an NPD poster child & relive their horror over & over! WE ARE STRONGER THAN WE KNOW, GOD TOLD ME SO.

  49. P.S. Ms. Dana, I see my above post is still pending, and I am hopeful this is exactly the case…because as I re-read it now – EVEN AFTER READING IT SEVERAL TIMES OVER prior to posting, I’m seeing my comment as something that may offend a follower of yours: something I’d NEVER want to do because we are ALL hurting! I posted MY OPINION; in part bc I struggle with wondering if “becoming a poster child for NPD” is MY purpose..bc I don’t want it to be! I feel I need that Old Testament of my life should remain CLOSED. All the folks who are strong enough to tell their story over and over, I’m envious.Feel FREE to delete or edit it if my post(s) if you feel what I’ve shared has any relevance or ability to help others. I’m still working on writing “FACT NOT FEELNG”. It’s tough. I didn’t mean to sound shaming of others’ decisions to reshape their own personal (in the past & LEFT THERE) mess of carnage into a work of art to inspire others. I am one of those who will take no less than 5 years at my estimation to be truly healed enough to (hypothetically) heal and/or advocate for others like you do soooo well. I wouldn’t be able to start working again (8 days til I start training!) were it not for people like you who choose to help others in this arena online…making resources we each desperately need available to us. I’ve been seeing the same team of psychiatr. for 4 years now – they experienced this with me in a sense – and without you & the other brave NPD online informants, I would Absolutely STILL be wondering what the heck is wrong with ME bc to DATE no doc of mine has ever uttered ‘narcissist’ (maybe they are, too?) nor PSTD syndrome… so thank you for just being you. I’ve bookmatjed this pagrvso I will check out your links & all the goodies you’ve offered up for reference material as time allows for sure! Xxxooo

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