Low contact is the alternative to no contact and is usually done if a person wants or needs to keep communication open with a narcissist or other type of difficult person. For instance, a person might want to stay in minimal contact with a family member who is a narcissist, or they may need to keep in minimal contact if a person has a child with a narcissist.
Low contact is whatever amount of contact that you want it to be. You may decide that you can only handle seeing this person for three days over the holidays, or you may decide that you can’t do three days, but you could do one day. Or, perhaps, one day is too much, but meeting for dinner works better. If that’s too much, perhaps limiting contact to a phone call on holidays or a couple of times a year is your limit.
A great way to tell how much contact to have with a person is to examine how you feel during and after spending time with them. If you feel angry, resentful, hurt, annoyed, or that you need to decompress after being around them, then these are all signals that something needs to change. Some boundaries need to be set for how you expect to be treated, the length of time you are spending with them might need to decrease, or you might need to increase your self-care when you are around them or after you are around them, or some combination of all three.
If you have to keep in contact with an emotional manipulator, you might consider combining the low contact method with going gray rock. So if and when you have to see them, you're able to stay as emotionally neutral and unreactive as possible.
Examples of Low Contact with a Narcissist
Bob’s mother has consistently ruined every holiday since he was a child. She creates a scene, starts a fight, or criticizes his life choices. Bob has only kept a relationship with his mother out of a sense of obligation. He has come to the point where he is tired of her behavior and has decided that he won’t fly home to spend time with her this Christmas. He will call her instead.
Chad and Sue are divorced. Initially, Sue thought they could divorce and be on decent terms. This has not been the case. Chad continues to text and call her with demanding, obsessive messages and accusing her of being a whore and seeing other men. Chad stops by the house at all hours day and night, claiming that he wants to talk to her or see their daughter without regard to her or their daughter’s schedule. Sue decides she doesn’t want or need to speak with Chad about anything other than their daughter. She arranges with her attorney that all communication from him needs to go through the court, and a parenting plan needs to be developed. So while Sue’s daughter may have a relationship with Chad, Sue realized that she didn’t need to continue to be exposed to his abuse and went as low contact with him as possible.