How to Stop Obsessing Over a Narcissistic Relationship

Love_wheelObsessing over a narcissistic relationship is stressful and tiring; leading you to feel down, frustrated or hopeless.  Fixating over your painful experience can interfere with your life by keeping you from doing the things you want to do.  A particularly helpful skill to stop compulsive thoughts of the abuse is learning to control your attention, the degree to which you are focused on the mistreatment, the more you are aware of it.  This is not about denying your pain; it is attending to something else.  Negative thoughts are ideas that we tell ourselves and are not always accurate reflections of reality.

When we take feelings to seriously, we let how we feel control all our decisions.  While learning to focus on the things you have control over, you will empower yourself to end the destructive attachment. Letting go of your resentments (desire to hurt your partner) happens when you believe in your right to happiness.  Sometimes we need time to ready ourselves to cope. Change your thinking about the abuse, and about yourself, so that you don’t blame yourself, or believe things are hopeless.  The following steps are ways to stop your obsessions.

I believe the first step below requires us to give up our desire for vengeance and letting go of a victim mentality.  If you want revenge let it be your own success at creating a decent manageable life.  Allowing your abuser to rent space in your head means they get to continue punishing you.  Narcissists feel all-powerful when they think your life is miserable with them, and especially without them.  Feel your anger and use your emotional pain to motivate change in your life.

  1. Take responsibility in part for having chosen your abusive partner and/or for staying in purgatory.  Accept the lesson and learn from the relationship pain so you don’t repeat it. Ask yourself, “what is the gift” from this relationship?
  2. Stop talking about your ex-partner to others; refuse to establish a victim identity. Create a state of well-being within you.
  3. Spend time each morning focused on forgiving the narcissist for not being able to love you, so you can free your ego from the desire to hurt them. Move on to a new freedom.
  4. Care enough about your well-being to stop the self-punishing thoughts. Refuse to build drama stories in your mind.
  5. Practice hearing and feeling the critical voice in your head. Banish fear and guilt from your mind. Acknowledge and observe the destructiveness of your compulsive thoughts and emotions.
  6. Keep your thinking and feeling centered on good things, care about how you feel. Lower your dark curtain and emerge from darkness.
  7. Work as hard on accepting what is good in your life as you have the painful and the difficult. Learn to trust yourself by finding out what is right for you.

Thank you for reading this article. I have dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-love by teaching from my own experience. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about abusive relationships and what it takes to put an end to victimization.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

27 thoughts on “How to Stop Obsessing Over a Narcissistic Relationship

  1. I cannot tell how how much I needed to be sitting here at this moment reading your articles . Thank you for the information . I am struggling greatly to accept what my five year addiction to a narcissist has done to my life and well being .

    • Dear Andrea,

      You can deal with this “addiction.” Keep investing in yourself by learning about what has happen to you. Get support to help you stay strong. You are not alone. I am sending you much courage to show up for your self.


  2. I have finally left a borderline (bpd) relationship after 3 years. The 3 years were mostly negative. I’ve accepted behaviors that have literally stripped me of my self esteem, self worth, self respect, and my boundaries. Everyday is a struggle and I question why. I often feel serious guilt and ask myself what could I have done different even though my rational mind knows I did the best I could during those circumstances. Everyday is a struggle. I’m trying.

    • Dear Justin,
      The recovery from personality disordered partners is the toughest pain. I believe many ex-partners look for an intellectual explanation for the emotional insanity. This just keeps painful compulsive dialogue going on in your head. Don’t give up you deserve better. Force yourself to get out with friends you trust and take breaks from discussing the trauma. I encourage you to see a therapist to help you stay strong and fully grieve the ending. Learning all you can about what has happen to you is worth the investment. Thank you for writing to me. I am wishing you a quick recovery.

  3. I Made my ex narcisstic boyfriend move out last weekend and for the whole week I’ve been obsessing over the relationship But I have been googling narcissistic, This is all I think about 24/7 I’m trying to move on from it but he has threatened my safety so now I’m scared to let my guards down and move on from this, He was clean for over a year now he’s back on drugs and I owe him $200 That he will never see I’m getting the silent treatment now but I’m scared that he’s just ruins something up to get me How do I move on from this

    • Dear Robin,

      You have moved on. Now you need to force yourself to not go back for more pain. You might find the reader comments in my post “How Codependents Leave Abusive Narcissistic Relationships helpful. I have given writers advice on how to stick to “NO Contact” and heal. Please show up for yourself; you deserve better. I am wishing you much strength.


  4. Dear Roberta,

    OMG I feel I am reading about myself when I read your articles. I am married to a man that has been telling me for years that he hates me, he stopped having a sexual relationship with me 3years ago. He does not support me financially, except to pay the mortgage to the house, that he claims is his. He does not help around the house, nor with the majority of child rearing or discipline. He is concerned with having fun and focusses only on taking his favoured son and daughter to fun places (there are four kids and two like to do things with him while the other two feel a sense of fear of him and loyalty to me). I feel I am going crazy. When I read your articles I see that I am responsible for a lot of this. I have just come to believe that I may be Co-dependent. Despite 20 years (on and off) of therapy I believe this might be why I have felt underlying sadness most of my life, and that there is something wrong with me. I had a very strained and cold relationship with both my parents growing up and my father was very violent man. Then I married a very controlling and violent man. He has hit me with a plank of wood, pulled my hair, punched me in the back, burst my ear drum twice, given me bruises on my back and breasts, given me a bleeding nose, shoved me into the wall, dragged me on the floor by my hair, hit my head so hard that I couldn’t sleep from the swelling, cut me with a razor on my elbow, called me all sorts of names in front of people, put me down in front of people and withheld money from me when I had access to none. While my husbands physical violence toward me has stopped (after criminal conviction and an apprehended violence order) he still does not allow me to lead a life that makes me feel happy. I still must hide going to visit my parents or taking the kids to church from him otherwise he gets angry and starts threatening divorce again. It is this threat of divorce which scares me and then I back down again. The biggest factor for me is that because he is no longer violent towards me and he is often nice to (two of the four kids) is that I start wondering that it is me that has the problem, that I should just let go of his previous attacks. Do I need to just do what he wants and then we can all be happy families again, do I just forgive him for his past violence and move on with trying to have peace in the house for the sake of the kids. I doubt myself all the time and end up believing that I am blowing things out of proportion that he is a good man deep down and if I did the things he wants then things would be okay for all of us. I am sorry if this is a bit confusing but it actually shows that my thinking gets very muddled and that I doubt myself over and over again. If you could shed some light I would be very appreciative.

    • Rita,
      The husband you describe is not a good man “deep down.” He is a sick dangerous man that is not going to wake up some day and say he is sorry for being cruel and take responsibility for his actions. My heart goes out to you and I understand the purgatory you and the children survive in. I have treated thousands of men like your husband and they are never going to be well nor do they care to be. He knows exactly what he is doing and takes pleasure in destroying your soul. I want to encourage you to learn as much as you can about codependency and narcissistic abuse. “The Battered Women’s Syndrome” written by Lenore Walker is a book I recommend you read. I am concerned for your safety and advise that you be very careful to protect your privacy. You might contact a local Battered Women’s Shelter for group therapy, advice and/or a referral to a therapist familiar with violent narcissists. My post “How Codependents Leave Abusive Narcissistic Relationships” has many comments from women in your position that might be beneficial for you to read. It is imperative that you find a therapist that really knows the nightmare you and your children are living in and to get support from victims that have walked away from the abuse. You are not crazy and likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. You are the one being made sick by the abuse and the only one capable of change. My respect to you for surviving the pain, I am wishing you the best.

      • Thank you Roberta for your warm words. I am definitely learning more about myself. One thing I wanted to have you understand is that since last year when my husband was convicted he has not hit me. He is usually calm and infact I am the one that says things to him. I usually complain about things that he has previously said to me (I guess it is like payback). I do this because I feel safe to say these things to him and I want to highlight to him that he does the same things he is complaining about. It is a very draining thing I do and I actually feel that it is harmful to the kids because they are often subjected to bickering. Also every so often I myself will explode and yell at him and the kids. This is often due to the fact that I have so much work to do and the house is messy and the kids are fighting and he is just sitting there watching TV or playing with his phone. When I have these meltdows he usually starts laughing and then gets the kids to help pick up a few things, I feel when I have these meltdowns that I have control over him for a short time. I know that this is linked to my anger. I guess I am saying to you that I may be the problem, maybe he is right that if I was a different kind of person or if I didn’t yell things would be different, or that I just don’t know how to communicate with him. Sometimes he says things like ‘we can’t go on living like this, this is no good for the kids’, and I say to him ‘well just go then’ and then nothing comes of it. I don’t know for sure but he has been using this kind of line for years, maybe to keep me on edge. Ultimately I know I am a emotional mess.
        Also when it comes to the children I know I have to act for their sake. One other fact maybe I am wrong about him maybe he is not a narcissist maybe all the problems are me after all I do yell at the children a lot and I have at times hit them. Like I said I really do need help and your articles hit home so much to me. Thank you so much for listening.

        • Sorry Roberta please know that the most important people in my life are my children and I REALLY want to do what is best for them…..I never want to hurt them which is why I never seem to make any decision.

          • Rita,
            I believe you are committed to understanding your needs and love your children. You have a right to a life that works. Keep investing in yourself by learning about your relationship and be kind to yourself in the process.

  5. Roberta and all, I have looked through your entire website and it is like reading about my life. I was married for 20 years and had 3 beautiful kids and that man was a very good man and took good care of me and my kids. I made the mistake of having an affair with my current husband Joe and this all has been a nightmare since May of 2010. Joe was obsessed with me promised me a wonderful life and then when I moved in with him with my girls he became distant and mean. He had a serious need for pornography and had the desire to call me his slave and treat me like a possession. I quickly learned that I needed to leave and it was a very hard time. After several months of not being around him he came back crying and begging and so I gave him another chance and told him to be tested for being bipolar, so he did. He was diagnosed and he has a history of sexual and physical abuse as a child. He convinced me to marry him in November of 2011 and I told him we couldn’t live together because my kids would not like that I have older kids. He said ok then that year things were hard so we thought now that the kids know lets get a big house and all move in. Well it was hard because my kids didn’t like him or what they blamed him for. I also found out that his ex wife and himself had sent the email and made the phone call to my first husband to tell him about the affair. I have never been able to get past the fact that he hurt my kids or my first husband. So we moved into a nice home in December 2012 and things were rough. He had a temper and broke a lot of things in the house and even before we lived together. He would bruise me and throw me around and scream at me and me emotionally unavailable. I had to go to the emergency room and he never answered his phone or came to help me. We fought all the time because I wouldn’t understand why he didn’t want me sexually or look at me or talk to me. We couldn’t talk about day to day finances or things that needed to be decided. I felt unloved and unwanted and he hated it when I would ask him if he loved me. He has such a temper. Then on August 3, 2013 he punched me twice leaving very large bruises on my legs and after years of manipulation, lies and abuse I finally called the police. They came out and arrested him and later that night his ex wife (mother of his 2 kids) posted bail for him. Then 3 days later he came crying to me uncontrollably to stay married and work it out and I was moving my girls and I out so CPS wouldn’t take my girls. I was devastated and he was vulnerable and probably wanted me to drop the charges, they ended up doing that because he is a nurse and he can still practice as one. But, for a short while he was nice and then he became mean again. We are still married he hasn’t filed and neither have I and I am in this limbo. The sexual stuff is so true about him though I didn’t realize he could be a narcissist I just thought he was borderline or bipolar. I am trying to finish a double masters, I live now on my own with my girls and have a great job but bills I worry about. He still reaches out and I think it is to have sex once a week and I still go. It kills me because he doesn’t treat me well and keeps saying well let’s stay married and then we will see. Thank you for your articles on this and it gives me hope and strength. I need to file for divorce and close this chapter and door in my life but it hurts so bad because he had said he loved me but his actions don’t say that at all.

    • Lisa,
      Thank you for writing to me. Please invest in yourself by learning as much as you can about relationship abuse. The borderline and narcissist can share similar personality features. I hope you are getting support from safe people. I believe it takes a village to recover and heal your life from this type of abuse. No contact is your only escape from purgatory. You can hire an attorney that can communicate with him through the divorce. It will be necessary to get support while you build endurance to sit in the bad feelings without going back for more abuse. I recommend you get the help of a therapist familiar with narcissistic personality disorder. You might also contact your local women’s batterer’s shelter. Many offer low cost individual therapy and group therapy. I am wishing you the best. Please show up for yourself and children. Your life is worth it.

  6. I am encouraged after reading this to become mindful of some of your allusions – I am guilty of letting the narc’ in my life be that – in my life – it is hard to disentangle from one – I have been somewhat successful but any time he and I interact I will note a subsequent episode of attack – I try to engage dispassionately and non personally with him but he will very often bring things into personal focus – my success is in disengaging at this stage and not venting emotion – but I will ruminate and feel stress within my self for a time – the ideas in this article are a very powerful path down which I will leave him behind me more… thank you so much…

  7. I was in a destructive relationship for far longer than I should have. I thought its what I deserved because of things I had done in my past. I was in love and was told I was loved(I believe both where true) but our actions contradicted feelings. I took time after it ended to “right myself”. I recently started a relationship with a truly amazing woman. She treats me how I’ve always wanted to be treated. Things where going great till I learned she was still talking to the guy before me. I confronted her about it and a few other lies came out. I talked to my closest friend and on her advise I decided to wipe the slate clean and start over. Things were going great for a few weeks but now I can’t seem to get past the lies. I love my gf and we’ve talked about moving in with each other this summer. I fear I’m sabotaging the relationship and do not want to. I don’t want to lose what I feel I’ve been searching for all this time. I’ve always had the “am I good enough” mentality. When I’m with her everything feels right, things make sense, I can think clearly ect. When we aren’t I obsess thinking “what is she doing?” “What’s taking so long to reply to a text?” Thoughts of this nature. She works full time and recently started back to school to finish off her masters(on my recommendation) and now the texting has gotten texts when she’s off work or random texting to say hi or she misses me(well not as much as before). She’s built a rather busy life and the first thing to go when life gets hectic is the guy(same as my last relationship). She says she’s opened up to me more than anyone else before me, even considering kids and marriage, unlike she’s done with any guy prior to me. Why can’t I just enjoy what I have and stop finding fault?

    • Jason,
      Sorry about the long response time. My computer modem had to be replaced. I don’t know the particulars about the “other lies” that came out of your conversation with your new girlfriend. It does sound like some of the fuel for your emotional reactions has to do with unresolved pain from your past. It’s important that you remain aware of your history and work on completing your emotional work. When you don’t do this personal work separate of a relationship, you are likely to overwhelm your partner with your emotional needs. We have to complete ourselves to have a decent manageable relationship. We are responsible for our own happiness. The habit of finding fault in another is a way of sabotaging true intimacy and protecting ourselves from being hurt. This learned behavior also stops us from feeling joy. You can learn new behavior. I suggest you give your girlfriend some space and find a therapist to advise you. It is not a sign of weakness to get support for our life challenges. I am wishing you a fulfilling and loving relationship.

  8. How to deal/move on with a relationship addiction via at work with a co-worker that you sit next to for 8 hours a day 5 days a week? Feel like I am drowning. Currently reading a book called, ”Leaving the Enchanted Forest’. Thanks!

    • Seth,
      It sounds like you are learning a unique lesson about yourself with your co-worker. It’s got to be challenging being so physically close to each other. Transferring to another department if that is possible would be a kind thing to do for yourself. I will check out the book you mentioned. Codependency is a type of relationship addiction. Thank you for reading my post.

  9. Pingback: How to Stop Obsessing Over a Narcissitic Relationship (Reblog from Roberta) | Vital Simplicity

  10. Roberta, I’m reblogging this one too. It’s an amazing post. I know people tell each other that they should write a book, but if you haven’t already and included this kind of information, please do. The world needs you and your wisdom. I believe what you have to offer could go a long way in reducing suffering and promoting light and peace. “I believe the first step below requires us to give up our desire for vengeance and letting go of a victim mentality. If you want revenge let it be your own success at creating a decent manageable life. Allowing your abuser to rent space in your head means they get to continue punishing you. Most abusers feel all powerful when they think your life is miserable with them, and especially without them. Feel your anger and use your emotional pain to change in your life.” This could not have been said more succinctly or perfectly.

    • Julie,

      Starting my blog has been a graceful instrument to connect with you and many others. I think you can relate to the feeling of usefulness that comes from sharing our experience with pain and regrets, especially when it helps others. You help me to believe in my purpose. Thank you.


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