By Dana Morningstar
“No contact” means cutting off all contact with a narcissist and not responding to them if they try to reopen contact. For many people, going no-contact also means avoiding the narcissist on social media. This may mean blocking them on Facebook or Instagram, or it may mean creating new accounts under a fake name in order to avoid their messages. Going no-contact may also involve cutting off contact with friends and family of the narcissist—especially those who are trying to get information about what’s going on, or who are trying to push the target back into the relationship.
Going no-contact is often the best way to set yourself free from a narcissist, because the odds are that they will continue to abuse and use you as long as you let them have access to your life. The only way to get them to leave you alone is to cut off their “supply” of attention that they get from provoking a reaction in you.Often, when a person goes “no-contact” with a narcissist, they find that they also need to go no-contact with a handful of other people who have become “flying monkeys” and who seek information from them, or who are seeking to abuse, harass, and be rude and hurtful about their relationship. This is because these flying monkeys have been manipulated into thinking the narcissist is the victim and that their target is the manipulative one.
While no contact is seen as the ideal for most people and what many targets of abuse are encouraged to do, this approach may not always be doable or safe. The target may need to formulate a safety plan of escape so that the narcissist doesn’t become enraged once they realize that they are losing control over their target and over the situation.
Leaving a narcissist is a lot like kicking a bees’ nest. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place before you do it. At a minimum, you should err on the side of caution and do what you need to do in order to stay safe and sane, regardless of whether anyone else agrees with you. There will be no shortage of people who will have a problem with you going no-contact. They may think you are selfish, immature, or mean, especially if the abusive person is a family member. Cutting off contact is a healthy and normal response to abusive behavior, and you don’t need to justify yourself to anyone.
Example: Bill and Quinn dated for a little over a year. While Bill felt an intense connection and attraction to Quinn, he couldn’t stand her controlling, manipulative, and dramatic ways. He had tried to break up with her before, but she’d threaten to commit suicide. She even overdosed on baby Aspirin while they were at a party because she claimed she didn’t want to live anymore. Bill suspected she did that because she wanted attention. This last time, when he told her they needed to break up, she then told him she thought she was pregnant with his child. When she said this, Bill saw just how manipulative she was. He realized that if he stayed with her, she would get pregnant on purpose just to trap him. He broke up with her that night and decided to go “no-contact.” It didn’t go over well with Quinn, and over the next few weeks she emailed, called, and texted him hundreds of times, professing her love for him, threatening suicide, and promising to get into therapy. Bill didn’t respond. He did however call 911 and told them that she was threatening to kill herself and to please go check on her. He decided to block her phone number, as well as block her on all his social media so she couldn’t contact him. He also set up all her emails to go directly to his spam folder. He felt this was the best way to stay no-contact, as well as to not get upset or sucked back into the relationship.
Example: Rachel was only dating Scott for about two months, but that’s all it took for her to recognize that there was something really off about him. Even though she couldn’t point to anything specific or majorly wrong in his behavior, there were a bunch of little things, e.g. the time he checked out the waitress, or the way he badgered her to have sex, even though she told him she wanted to wait. Perhaps the strangest thing was his Facebook profile, and how in every picture he looked like a different man. It was like he was a social chameleon and changed into being a different person depending on who he was around.
Rachel had been in an abusive relationship when she was in college, and while that was close to thirty years ago, she found herself having night terrors and feeling that impending sense of doom that she hadn’t felt since that relationship in college. She was confused because Scott seemed nothing like Seth, her boyfriend in college, but still she couldn’t shake the feeling. She realized over the years that she needed to listen to her gut instincts about people, and since the only other time she’d felt this way before was with the guy she’d dated in college, she knew she needed to call things off with Scott. But she also couldn’t shake the feeling that Scott could be really dangerous or even deadly. She knew she needed to proceed with caution and not do anything that would send him over the edge. She decided the best approach was to call things off with him in a way that would make everything her fault. That way he wouldn’t get upset, and he couldn’t argue with her reasons. She called him that night and told him that she’d done a lot of thinking and that she realized she wasn’t ready to date anyone. She said that he was an amazing guy, but she just had too many issues. Scott began screaming at her over the phone, calling her names and telling her she was a tease. Rachel realized immediately that she’d made the right decision by ending the relationship. She blocked his number and blocked him on all of her social media accounts. She also went to the store the next day and bought some mace, some motion sensor lights for her house, and a security camera, just in case he appeared.
Dana Morningstar is a former psychiatric nurse turned domestic violence educator who specializes in abuse awareness and prevention. Her passion is working with survivors of abuse to reclaim and rebuild their self-esteem, boundaries, confidence, and identity. She is an author of multiple books on the subject, and also has a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel, as well as several online support groups, all of which you can find under the name “Thrive After Abuse.”