Dealing with the Emotional Hangover from Leaving a Narcissistic Relationship

Unchain-My-Heart Courtesy of Wikipedia

Unchain-My-Heart Courtesy of Wikipedia

The emotional hangover when we’re undergoing recovery from a narcissistic relationship is typically profound sadness and secondary to this feeling is rage.  Rage that someone who professed to love you could suddenly turn around and treat you so entirely without empathy.  The rage quite often is disguised as depression.  The grief heals slowly and leaves scars.  When the numbness has worn off there is deep pain and then there are attacks of emotional distress.  Feeling desperate for the pain to stop, panic about never ending loneliness and doubt about leaving are common.  You might find yourself caught in the compulsive mental replay of the injustice you endured.  The grief stages can last for several weeks gradually becoming less frequent for up to a year or more.  The pain and fear that has been bottled up inside from a restrictive, growth-inhibiting relationship comes to the surface.  Anger, blame, and helplessness, feels unmanageable and depressing.   You might be asking yourself. “Where do I go from here?”  “Will I ever find real love?”  Confronting the pain and fear from two, ten, twenty years or more can tempt you to run for cover, withdraw into darkness, jump into a new relationship (unwise choice) or decide to do the serious emotional work of completing yourself.

It is important that you mourn the ending of your relationship because grieving is essential to healing.  No matter how intense the painful emotions become you can endure them.  You have to break away in as healthy a manner as possible so that you are no longer emotionally available.   If you don’t make a clean emotional break you are likely to go back for more abuse.  This can happen because codependent love has an addictive emotional character which results in withdrawal symptoms.  The withdrawal is similar to symptoms from stopping substance abuse. After the break-up, people will experience an obsessive longing for their abusive partner (drug), debilitating emotional pain, and often engage in self-destructive behavior. This emotional response is why some people feel incapacitated by the hurt and obsess about hooking up with an ex-partner for more abuse. In order to accept years of rejection the “victim” develops an insane tolerance for emotional pain. The high tolerance for abusive behavior is a coping strategy to protect the psyche and is often learned in childhood. This obsession can be changed when we learn to love ourselves. When you accept that the way you treat yourself is the problem, the temptation to go back to purgatory will end.

Staying in a destructive relationship is more painful than the temporary pain of healing from the abuse. The emotional hangover will end and you will feel the immense relief of no longer walking on egg shells, needing to justify, explain, or apologize to anyone.  An abusive partner sucks the energy and joy out of your life.  The tension and conflict is exhausting.  Making a commitment to be kind to yourself through this process is life affirming and energizing.  It is also protection against tolerating abuse in future relationships.  Your grief will change when you understand your needs and how to get them met while learning to have fun without an intimate relationship.

Research tells us that long-term happy marriages/partnerships are formed by people that were already happy before the relationship started. When you complete the grieving process and learn to love yourself you will find a new partner who is capable of love.

Tips for healing the emotional hangover from Narcissistic Abuse

● Show up for yourself by repeating over and over: “I am worthy,” “Sad feelings won’t last forever,” “I will make it out of this,” “I’m doing the best I can do”

● Feel good about your decision to leave

● Invest in yourself by learning about narcissistic abuse and codependency

● Give yourself a break from intimate relationships until you have healed and are comfortable being alone

● Invest in your self-acceptance, protection, and emotional growth

● Know you will survive the abuse, learn from the experience, and have deeper self-knowledge

● Force yourself to develop new interests and social outlets

● Give yourself permission to seek the help of a therapist familiar with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

● Acknowledge the anger that you feel so you don’t accept behaviors that hurt you

● If you are feeling depressed ask yourself what you might be angry about

● Examine your fears and insecurity with compassion, not terrorizing yourself with shame

● Make a commitment to take care of yourself even though you may fear in your ability to do so

● Believe in the ability to competently deal with feelings, solve problems, and take responsibility for your life

● Be open to what you are doing to create your life situation instead of being a victim

● Spend time each morning focused on forgiving your partner for not being able to love

● Let go of resentments so you can be free from obsessive thoughts

● Learn to trust yourself by finding out what is right for you

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Thank you for reading my post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes put an end to relationship abuse.  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.

Roberta

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81 thoughts on “Dealing with the Emotional Hangover from Leaving a Narcissistic Relationship

  1. I cannot express how much this is helping me. I am lucky…he threw me out. I just happened to google sadistic emotional abuse and this blew me away. I am an extreme codependent but also smart, attractive funny etc and after almost 2 yrs I have no more life energy. I know where my work is – healing and moving forward. Bless you

  2. Roberta, I can’t express how much these words have helped me understand my current situation. I’m so pretty on the outside (outside of the black eye) and so broken inside. Actually started to see the sadness in my eyes and in my face. Daily, I am asking who are you and what have you become.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing!! Ive had damaging and abusive partners my entire adult life and now I have been alone since July of this year. I am in a good bible study and church practicing quitting smoking and not in an intimate relationship. I journal and I am good to myself. Sometimes I have to forgive my most recent abuser several times a day (with gods help) to look past that and move on to a better life. I am very guarded now and aware of my codependent behaviors and self-abuse and negative self-esteem and self-worth. I have also learned to forgive myself and seek god for comfort and asked him to show me how he sees me in order to love myself. I am finding that I have peace when I choose peace and that unless I allow my past hurts to torment me, they cannot hurt me; it’s uncomfortable at times but endurable as god has taught me so much through others experiences and looking at myself! Forgiveness has been a powerful key and self-examination without judgement as no one is perfect but gods grace is sufficient! Thank you again, hugs and prayers! God Bless.
    Love, Fran

    • Dear Fran,

      What a lovely interpretation of spiritual struggles through your belief. What we intellectually and courageously know as truth doesn’t necessarily soothe our grief. I truly believe the trauma from narcissistic abuses affects the soul. Survivors have deep, deep sorrow to transmute. Grace is our break and often drives us to surrender to something greater than our obsession. Self-compassion is our discipline and healing. I am wishing you an abundance of love. Thank you for commenting.

      Regards,
      Roberta

  4. This came at a great time. Been away from my abuser for over a year. Recovering also from the brink of committing suicide. I saw him at an event and spoke to him as there was a group of us. He said lovely to see me…I said thanks..he said you could say it’s nice to see me…U said why would I say that when I don’t think that (narc supply not given and no lie from me told to feed his ego). He tried to pm me but blocked everywhere. The thing is I have been recovering to the point of loving myself at last. Then a blip seeing him makes me realise that I could be sucked back in as felt awful for 24hrs following it kind of wanting him although when I saw him I thought he was not nice looking or even someone who attracts me and his smell was yuck. So the question is why did i so want to make contact again? Thankfully I kept my level head and felt awful for 24hrs. Today I am strong again and realise this is another lesson to learn. I cannot be near him as he is so toxic. Brainwashing. So onwards and upwards. I see him for what he is and unfortunately will see him at some events but I know I will always put myself first. Now I see how no contact is the answer to get rid of the toxicity. Keep strong everyone. Let them get on with what they do and learn from it and go be that lovely person you are 😆

    • Dear Smiler,
      I can tell you are a lovely woman. The pull from familiar pain can be mind boggling. It’s emotional and not intellectually explained. Resisting the pull to go back is a measure of self-love and courageous growth. I am sending you an abundance of self-love. Keep showing up for yourself. Everyone benefits.

      Best Regards,
      Roberta

  5. My ‘abuser’ was (is) not matching the typical narcissistic perverse portrait but he used to be (still is) a manipulator who found a codependent (me) to get his ends met. I knew that long before I broke up (it took me 20 odd years!), but like in the song Use Me, “it feels so good being used you can keep on using me until you use me up”.

    Nevertheless, even if he was not belittling me nor being nasty, most of the dynamic you describe is pretty much the same so your posts shed more light on my experience and helps me out of that trap. Thank you so much for your dedication and your willingness to share your insights.

  6. Your posts hit the nail on the head for me. I am just out of a 5 year relationship with a narcissist and am currently desperate for advice on coping with the emotional pain. I am angry at him for his callous behavior and treatment of me and angry that I care so much about someone who treated me so awfully. I obsess about ‘why’ all the time and try to figure him out when in my head I know he is not capable of love and our relationship was a lie.
    I am working on building my own self love and growth but the forgiveness and the letting go of resentments was especially helpful as I do obsess over him all the time and have a lot of anger and resentment I am struggling letting go of ..
    It’s so very hard

    • Dear Becky,

      I hope you have used your anger to heal. Attaining sanity after soul murder is very hard and also totally worth it. Living in constant emotional pain is not okay and the quiet desperation is so empty. Thank you for commenting. I am wishing you much peace in the new year.

      Best Regards,
      Roberta

  7. I found this post while trying to help a friend process her breakup from an abusive relationship. I wish I had read this 3 years ago when I was emotionally hung over from my own narcissistic breakup. Thank you for describing the “emotional hangover” so vividly and giving pointers on processing and healing. This is truly a great article! Many thanks!

  8. I can say that I dated a Narc for 2 years. He loved bombed me, like it was all about me, so much love and affection, to the point, I felt like he was the man of my dreams. I am a personal trainer and have an 8 to 5 job also. Well, he approached me in the gym, and I thought dang he is so hot. Well it was love bombing, and it started to change after 3 months. He was following me, calling me 10x a day, wondering where I was, well in that time, he moved in with me, and of course he would apologize, and I would accept his apology. This maybe TMI, but the sex was amazing, it was all about me. He started going back n forth, thought he showed empathy, my dad died and my brother died when we were together, so I was very vulnerable. I didn’t really see what he was doing, until I was so wrapped up in him. We broke up 7x within 2 years, wasn’t a healthy relationship. He started telling me I was to skinny and my hair stank. I took a shower everyday and took pride in myself. I body build, did shows. He downed me so much, I finally had to make myself, tell myself you are so much more worth it. I was married for 13 years, divorced for 3 years, and then he came along.
    We have been broken up for 6 months, and I am dating, but still have anxiety attacks, and panic attacks. I have found myself being very very codependent. I have always, always been a strong independent woman. I am only 37, I would never in a million years have thought I would feel this way, or allow someone to treat me the way he did. I am slowly getting over it, it is a slow process. I believe you really have to find yourself, and your worth. I am still trying to find me. It was so bad that I almost committed suicide. He got right into another relationship 1 month after we broke up. That was extremely hard, but only with God’s help have I come this far. I still struggle daily with dating. I am going out with a guy that I know is so good to me, but I struggle sometimes missing the crazy feeling. I mean, who wants to feel a knot in their stomach all the time and walking on egg shells. It was like a bad addiction was him. Anyway, thanks for listening to me. Hang in there and stay away, no contact is the best way, its the hardest, but its even harder if you go back, they never ever, ever, ever change.

  9. wow this is what i was looking for. i have been experiencing the emotional hangover but i didnt know about it untill i read ur post. i really thought i was going crazy and cold towards other people who tried to court me.i thought i didnt have a heart but now i understand thank u s much

  10. I just left a narcissistic – co-dependent relationship, and I must say this article is right on the money. This problem of codependency stems from a childhood of authoritarian upbringing. I had a very strict mother and a limited allowable relationship with my father due to my mothers inability to leave the hurt of their break up depressed from her child rearing ability. I have never been in a healthy relationship my entire life and keep falling into the same traps with heartless people.

    I’m exhausted, depleted and looking to move on from this. I have very minimal hope in men overall as I am weary that I will only end up in the same situation over and over again. Thank you for this article you confirmed what I already knew deep down inside

    • Dear Heart of Gold,

      I feel for you. It looks like you need to heal in a way that your mom has not been able to. I understand your situation well and I’m sure there is a real depth in you from your painful childhood. Allow yourself to fully grieve your lost. You can love; it is time to give it to yourself. I am sending you much grace and courage.

      Best Regards,
      Roberta

  11. I am in a world of pain and I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. 6 years with a man who exhibits all the signs. He left his previous partner on the basis she was “crazy” but I witnessed his silent treatment to her and now I am on the receiving end. I can’t comprehend he didn’t love me yet all the signs are staring me in the face. Ended a month ago due to his detachment and refusal to behave normally and I threw him out. Typical cycle of our relationship. But this time he gave me the silent treatment and then wanted us to be friends and go from there. Saw him last Sunday and he wanted to try again, fast forward to Thursday and he’s making plans for the weekend with me but clearly his mates (supply) were more important and he started silent treatment again and I haven’t tried. I was so proud today as I drove past him and didn’t stop but tonight I miss him terribly and have broken my NC I was applying. Im stuck in this terrible trap of desperately wanting a man back who is selfish, vile, ignorant, cruel, argumentative, an addict, and I can’t get out of it. I need some help before I go insane because no one in my life understands. It’s set me back seeing him again. I can’t move on. I have to find the strength from somewhere to put this into perspective and remember why we argued every day for 3 months but all I can remember is the rare good times.

    • Dear Clara,
      The withdrawal and recycling of narcissistic/abusive relationships is part of the detox. In other words, relapse is common. I suspect a core belief that you are unlovable drives the obsession and why you stayed in the relationship for 6 years. I commented about this to a recent writer and share this from an understanding of how hurt you are. Feeling unlovable can cause a person to choose, stay in or go back to relationships that are less than they deserve because they don’t believe they deserve better. He is not what your soul wants and not your last chance at finding love. Fully grieve this loss and don’t give up on showing up for yourself. You will be forever grateful. I am sending you much strength.

      Regards,
      Roberta

  12. Most spot on article on getting over the narcissist that I have ever read…and I’ve read a lot! Lol

    Many thanks and blessings to you Roberta!!!

      • Thank you. I’m goin thru this bad hangover. When ur around these kind it’s high drama. I started out great and by the end I wasn’t good enough. From June-Aug I endured my 2nd round with him after meeting him and going through hell last year. He came back 8 months later and thus the fake love bombing.

        I form such an unhealthy attachment to him during the devalue period. I would call him out and he wont talk to me for a few weeks. Then come back begging. I started having a distinct feeling that he was with another, or even others.

        Everything came to a head a cpl weeks ago an I have been banished. Silent treatment is in full swing. His method is to block ur #. Smh. So over the sick painful roller caster ride.

        In a word they r MADDENING! Lol I’m getting over it. I know I’m better off. But it still hurts. A lot. I found a spiritual healler that I adore recently. Has helped big time. Also, I’ve learned that healthy boundaries are EVERYTHING!

        It’s a process. I just simply refuse to get in any more toxic relationships. I DESERVE the good stuff. The real stuff. It’s made me really start to do the inner work in stopping the nonsense that is their crazy world.

        I’m seeing my healwr on 9/21 and TOTALLY bringing your article for him to see. He revealed to me that he deals with a narcissistic mother, so understands where I’m coming from.

        Thank u again Roberta…u r a true BLESSING!!

  13. Thank you for this very helpful article. I disengaged from my narcissist about 5 months ago, after finally acknowledging that this relatively short relationship – 1.5 years – was becoming incredibly harmful to my emotional well-being. I’ve been working on understanding my own issues, and I have been recovering, thankfully from this experience. Recent lesson learned: Beware of the hoovering, which can emotionally set you back and will prolong the “hangover,” even if you do not respond or reengage. I’ve shored up my “No Contact'” as a result of recent hoovering attempts. I have no desire to reengage with the ex narcissist on any level . . . finally. I’m continuing to move on as best as I can.

    • Dear Claire,

      More power to you. You have what it takes to turn this traumatic lesson into a gift. The narcissist feels alive and all powerful when the victim keeps coming back no matter how cruel he or she is. Use your intelligence to save yourself and heal. It takes time to fully grieve the abuse. I am sending much endurance your way.

      Regards,
      Roberta

      • Thank you all for the advice. I have had a short relationship with a Narc.. knew something was wrong but the pull…oh my goodness the pull.. but it took me on 4th attempt to say it’s final.. waiting now to see if he materialises but I have put in place no contact. I will not give him the time of day because I have ” woken up”. He always said I was clever…Yes that I am…goodbye horrible man behind a mask…

  14. Thank you for this article. My toxic relationship with my narcissistic ex ended in January. I still obsess over the injustice, the double standards, the hypocrisy, the rages, the gaslighting, projection, provoking, goading, silent treatment, threats to leave me after every argument she caused etc etc etc. Six months down the line, I am still just as obsessive about it all, I just can’t seem to let go. I know it isn’t doing me any good but I am simply hooked to it. I stupidly broke no contact recently and was treated with monosyllabic, disinterest and contempt. It was a huge mistake and set my right back in my recovery. I would advise anyone not to do it, you WILL get hurt again.

    • Dear CR,
      Hang in there. The recovery takes time and you want to fully complete your grieving. Many people recycle bad relationships. So don’t be hard on yourself. You have met one of life’s great teachers in what love is not. You deserve better. I am sending you positive vibes.
      Regards,
      Roberta

  15. Roberta,

    Thank you so much for writing this. I was with my narcissist for two years and finally had to break things off with him because I was writhing in my own body. He took my life away from me, and I knew that I would never get out if I didn’t leave then. It’s been two weeks officially, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much pain in my entire life. Every second I am anxious because I am always trying to figure out what I did wrong. He always told me that I was the one who hurt him, and that I was the emotionally abusive one. For awhile, I started to believe him, but nothing I ever did was good enough. If I wanted to see my friends for one night, it was like he would punish me for wanting to do something without him. He would ignore me the whole next day and act like I was a terrible person and left him alone all the time. I walked on eggshells in fear of how he would act that day. How can I still think about him every single day? He literally took the joy, happiness and life out of me. Now, I don’t know how to move forward, and I really don’t know who I am as a person. It is also difficult because he is being very spiteful and he is acting like he never knew me at all. I just wish I could understand why I still care about someone who I let ruin my life.

    • Nicole,

      I believe we attract people into our lives to heal ourselves. I know the pain you are feeling is brutal. Let the pain move you into changing your life and learning to be compassionate with yourself. Invest in yourself by learning about what is happening to you. There are many people who understand the truth and pain of your nightmare. I am sending you much strength to show up for yourself.

      Regards,
      Roberta

    • Nicole. Your comment cuts me to my core because I was in your position eleven months ago. My relationship also lasted two years. I’m sending a big hug. I was absolutely lost and at the bottom of the downward spiral on the day which we ended our relationship. I came to realize that I had a nervous breakdown (I could not handle everyday life).
      The good news is that I survived and am a stronger person for it. In eleven months I reinvented myself, changed apartments, got a dog, changed work environments, started therapy, and overhauled my financial situation. (I incurred a lot of debt with the break up and break down which is fine. I needed to reset). I am so happy that you know that your ex is a narcissist as it took me a good six months to figure it out. I’m so proud of you just by reading your comment. I wish I had found this article two weeks after my breakup.

  16. This is very constructive advice. For some reason, I masochistically reinitiated a relationship with a former partner with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I did this even though I was fully cognizant of their condition. I believe this is at least partially due to a subconscious desire to work through my relationship with my NPD mother, who died in 2011. It was also due a desire for intimacy in my life, and the fact that, despite the unhealthy aspects of the relationship, I feel a greater sense of intimacy with this former NPD partner than anyone else in my life. However, their profound need to sadistically dominate and control do me great damage. The damage occurs even though I understand their behavior’s underlying motivation, and the fact that it isn’t really about me, but due to their own inner wounds. This page has very good advice for how to overcome that damage. Thanks.

    • Andrew,

      You deserve to be with a safe loving partner. Good for you to recognize your efforts to heal the relationship pain with your mother. I have learned that when I let my parent off the hook for not being able to love me my relationship choices got healthier. I suspect you have a kind heart. Be good to yourself. Thank you for writing to me.

      Regards,

      Roberta

        • I just read this again. The “drug addiction” analogy is very accurate; I have experienced repeatedly thinking my former NPD partner even as I clearly see their sickness and how damaging the abuse can be. It feels like the same mental mechanisms are involved as with the physical addition I had to cigarettes when I was young.

  17. Thank you so much Roberta. I’m a codependent and it’s been three days since I broke things off with my partner (for the third time). I don’t feel totally comfortable labeling him as a narcissist, but I’ve been doing family of origin therapy for over a year now and my therapist does feel comfortable labeling him as a narcissist. Anyways, what I do know is that this article as well as a few others of yours have really hit home and in a very positive way.
    At day three I am on an internal rollercoaster, questioning my intuition, replaying our relationship over and over, and fighting the overwhelming urge to take responsibility for his feelings. When I left he told me I’m the one with the problem, that I’m hurting him immensely and he’s devastated. I told him I need to take care of myself and figure out why I struggle so much in love, and that I can’t seem to do that while I’m with him.
    The hardest part about leaving him, every time, has been the guilt. My gut says he wasn’t good to me and that we weren’t good for each other and that I did the kindest thing. But the damaged part of me feels terrible for hurting him and continues to look for clues I missed; indicators that things were actually great and I’m simply too sensitive or messed up and couldn’t see it. I know that my main focus now should be forgiveness and self-love, and your article was positively reaffirming. Your words of encouragement and tips for healing were exactly what I needed to see, and they have undoubtedly helped others as well.

    Again, thank you. For showing up for those of us still learning to show up for ourselves.

    • Al,

      You are so welcome. My heart goes out to you. Keep showing up for yourself, the roller-coaster will end and you will be stronger. Keep learning about what has happen to you. You will find you are not crazy or alone. Sending much tenderness your way.

      Regards,
      Roberta

  18. I am glad I found this site! This has been the MOST HELPFUL thing I have read over the past 3 years, and I read Patricia Evans’ books and Lundy Bancroft’s. I just ended an 8-year relationship with a narc-y abuser and this is what I need to hear to keep me from going back or wasting more of my life with regrets. I let him come back once after having him sent to jail for assault. I know leaving was only half the battle. And believe me, it took years for me to get the courage to end it once I realized I was in an abusive relationship. I basically tricked him to get him out of my house and I’m living in a little bit of fear of having my lie exposed. But he would not leave! And I knew if I didn’t do something to make him leave, I was going to die spiritually and maybe physically. So now I’m going through the guilt of lying to him, sadness that the relationship is over, and anger at myself for letting it go on as long as it did. I’m going through it right now! But thanks to this site, I am focusing on healing myself and as Iyanla Vanzant says, “doing the work” that I need to do to learn how to love and accept myself so I don’t end up in another situation like this, whether it’s female friends, a love relationship, co-worker, etc.

    • Kay,

      More power to you. You will never regret showing up for yourself. The pain you are experiencing is a gift that can move you forward into a better life and a more loving “real” relationship with yourself. I love Iyania Vanzant and first heard her on HayHouse Radio. If you haven’t already discovered HayHouse Radio on the internet you might check out their website. They call their programs “Radio for the Soul.” I am sending you an abundance of grace and courage.

      Regards,
      Roberta

  19. I am so glad I have found your blog. I was married to a narcissist for 16 years and even though he was abusive, at times I find myself depressed that he could discard me so easily and is dating another woman and sleeping with her even though the divorce won’t be final until months from now. Within a few weeks of our separation he was already on match.com looking for his next girlfriend (victim). I have been struggling with how to heal. I have turned to blogging as well for catharsis.

    • Raven,
      Fully grieving your loss is how you heal. The process is not for light weights and you have begun your transformation. Life can be very bittersweet and the lessons tough. Make the deep commitment to do your best at loving and respecting yourself and keep learning. I have a saying that “I cannot be a victim and happy at the same time.” You have what it takes to make your pain valuable and to become more compassionate. I wish you the best.
      Regards,
      Roberta

  20. Thank you for this. I finally ended a nearly four-year relationship with an emotionally and verbally abusive narcissist about six weeks ago. The first few weeks I was fine. I felt free, relieved, no regrets. Now I’m feeling the pain. I found this page by googling “pain after ending emotionally abusive relationship” and it is spot-on to what I’m going through. One thing I can’t get past is the knowledge that he is telling his friends, and will certainly tell his next girlfriend, that I was the one with the problems (in his words, I am f—ed) and he was the long-suffering good boyfriend. He is handsome, charming, and funny – his friends don’t see the side of him he shows to people he is intimate with. (Me, and his family.) I was always aware that his friends would never have believed the things he said to me when we were alone. It was truly a Jekyll and Hyde situation. I wanted so much for him to be the person he was when we first met – the good side of him was so good. I was so in love. That’s why it took me so long to leave. But, how do I let go of the need to “set the record straight” and make people understand who he really is, and what I went through? I hate the idea that his friends think badly of me and that he will soon have a new girlfriend who thinks he’s the greatest.

    • Laura,
      My heart goes out to you. I know your situation well. To be straight, his opinion and those of his friends is none of your business. Worrying about what he is saying to people allows him to continue to victimize you and lower your self-esteem. As brutal as it is, your ex’s personality crucifixion is part of the narcissistic relationship casualty. You are working through painful and difficult emotions that are bringing up shame and grief. The kindest action you can do for yourself is stopping the flow of information from others about what he is doing. Letting go of the need to “set the record straight” is done by accepting that he is very sick and you are not a bad person. Acceptance will move you forward to take care of yourself, set the record straight about your goodness, and change in a way that brings peace. Thank you for writing to me. No matter what happens you can take care of yourself.
      Best Regards,
      Roberta

        • It staggers me how similar our stories are, on these pages – so that sometimes I wonder if I may be reading a post I made myself some time ago!

          I am lucky in that the people my ex hangs around with are creepy men, and I couldn’t care what he’s told them about me. Also it was only a few years ago he was telling them tales of how vile his previous ex was, so I imagine they’re pretty sick of it. Of course, he can always get new pals. But he’s so paranoid, he soon starts believing they’ve got it in for him.

          You can never set the record straight. I bet, like many here (if not everyone) I was horrified, when he and I started, to hear how he had suffered at the hands of his vile ex – cheating on him, swindling him! Oh, that woman! Well, his next one will hear lots of made-up rubbish about me. And she, in her turn, will one day regret sympathising with him about how “all the women I go out with cheat on me”, etc.

          Luckily I haven’t seen him with some new woman – and luckily, again, I have no idea what his life is like now. I worry about seeing him with someone or hearing about it because I know it will hurt. There’s no way to get out of this pain.

          I realised today I have to face the pain full-on, or this will never release me. Going to be hard though.

    • oh gosh,they’re all the same. my ex called to see me 2/15. it was ten months after i saw him last, and he told me the woman he had been with was effed. he probably is saying that about me now. he is jekyll and hyde too. he also had a good side. he has people so fooled about him, there’s no way they would ever believe what type of guy he really is behind closed doors. i don’t think his friends are that great. i don’t care what they think. the new girlfriend he’s with already, will think he’s great until he shows her his true colors also. i wish there was a way we could expose these horrible men, so no women would go near them. don’t be surprised if he hoovers. it seems like it’s something most of them do.

      • Sally,
        Fortunate that those who have been there know exactly what you have experienced and you are not alone. One of the gifts of technology is that it allows us to expose our experience with purgatory and help each other. Thank you for sharing your pain and let success be your revenge. I am sending you much respect.
        Regards,
        Roberta

  21. Thank you so much, Roberta, for your empowering advice.
    I left my boyfriend of 18 years, who was diagnosed with NPD 3 years ago. I still have a hard time trying to come to terms with what happened to me. Your list of tips here are very helpful.

    • Donna,
      Thank you, the healing process can take a long time. Narcissistic abuse is truly evil. I suspect you might be experiencing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder after 18 years. I also suspect you have had enough pain. Don’t give up on your emotional work; he has already taken too much from you. I am wishing you an abundance of grace and self-compassion.
      Best Regards,
      Roberta

  22. I have a friend that keeps going back she can never seem to get through the hangover phase. She met with the narc last night after a month of no contact. Now they appear to be back in the “let’s talk stage” which means only one thing now… This has been going on for years and there are 2 broken engagements in between. I know they have to get through this themselves at some point, but nothing I say, or that she already knows to be true, ever sticks. I am at my wits end trying to be supportive and don’t know what, if anything, I can do to get her to listen to reason.

    • Donna,
      I hear your frustration. Your friend is not ready to let go. She likely has an exceptionally high tolerance for emotional pain and inappropriate behavior. You can love her and you cannot make her wake-up. She has to see there is a better life than victimization. This is an emotional problem. Trying to resolve the dilemma intellectually can make you feel powerless. It requires accepting “what is” and is not fun to witness. You can set a limit and not discuss this relationship with her. Thank you for commenting. I am wishing you the best.
      Regards,
      Roberta

      • My friends must think of me the same way. They are probably thinking in a few weeks I’ll come to them and say we’ve talked it over and we’ve decided to give it one more try, and I feel so happy, etc. And then a couple of months later, see me in tears and rages at being dumped again. All this depends on whether or not he has a crisis in which I would be useful to him. If he doesn’t, he’ll stay away. I am so scared I’ll be like the woman the person above speaks of. Every time we have this cycle, I get more mentally ill and I feel uglier (I have body dysmorphia, so this is no small thing). At some point, if this carries on, I will likely kill myself. I need the clarity I have now to last. No contact. None.

        • JeanX,
          My heart goes out to you. Recovery from narcissistic abuse is painful and won’t last forever. You are correct; “No Contact” is the only way to stop the insane cycle. You deserve the best life and love has to offer. Do not give up. You can refuse to allow him to manipulate and control you. I am wishing you the best.
          Regards,
          Roberta

  23. I am so glad I came upon this site! This emotional hangover is exactly what is happening with me. You described it perfectly! I am finally coming out of an 8 year marriage to a textbook narc. He has never been there for me when I needed him to be. We have three children together, the youngest is one. He never went to one doctor appointment. He never embraced family life. He is a workaholic and addicted to working out. He works for a network marketing company where everyone thinks he is a demi-god because they see him speak on stage. He fools people by the thousands. The crazy making, the three affairs (that I caught), the secret addiction to porn, his unempathetic ways, me having to solely care for children alone even when I am dog sick, his neglect with the children, his neglect with me, his neglect with the house, him living his dream and me being stuck at home with family states away, his narcissistic rages that led to physical violence and jail time (which of course he blames me for) enough is enough. He finally discarded me for the third time which was prompted by his third affair where I personally saw texts to her that read “I can’t want to be unmarried so I can be remarried.” He wants to marry her after knowing this girl for a month? Wow. That’s exactly what he did to me. He has a pattern and he is mentally sick. I hate him so much for wasting my time. Throughout our marriage, he blocked out very little time for me and the kids. I always tried to fix things even when he was the one cheating or doing wrong. I am done. I am meeting with yet another lawyer next week. I have gone no contact for two days and he has only text a few times “hello”. I know he is just trying to be connected to me so he feels he has the power. Through all of this, I am trying to keep it together for the kids even though I am a mental mess. My heart hurts so much, I don’t think I could ever find love again…I would have too much trust issues. I used to be a model before kids, and still have maintained my figure throughout, but I am still thinking nobody would want me with three kids. I am so lonely it hurts. I am taking care of all these kids, but nobody takes care of me. I try to cry away from the kids, but sometimes I can’t help but cry in front of them. I want to get over this feeling of rejection and sadness.

    • Natalia,
      Hang in there, things will get better if you stay away. Getting support from a therapist and people you can trust is imperative. Learning about narcissistic personality disorder will help you not go back for more abuse. You will find real love by taking the time to heal while pursuing interests that make life enjoyable. Recovery is a process of learning to build endurance to sit with painful feelings as they arise and eventually pass. You and your children deserve a life that works. I am wishing you the strength to not go back to purgatory. This is probably one of the toughest life lessons you will face. Please show up for yourself.
      Best Regards,
      Roberta

      • I read Natalia’s amazing post from June 2014 and I hope she is doing well. The story reminded me so much of my mother’s story and I am her third child. She felt unlovable and worried about finding love again with 3 children. She was 43 and so smart and beautiful. Because of her longstanding abuse from my father, she was unable to see her worth. Within a year, she met and married her second narcissist, my stepfather. Now, 25 years later, her 3 daughters have all dated at least 1 narcissist each and have struggled to form healthy relationships their whole lives. Your choices affect your children. The hangover that must be endured to withdraw from abuse is nothing compared to a mother’s regret and sadness that her daughters have had so much difficulty with self esteem (even though all were by accounts very smart, pretty and good). I hope Natalia was successful in standing up for herself and her kids. I hope all of the men and women who have posted such brave posts continue to stand up for themselves and believe in their future free from abuse. Much love to all of you.

  24. This article was extemely eye opening. I was in a 4 year codependent relationship. I had a cold, dysfunctional childhood I must have move 10 times- always the new girl I had no friends. My dad took off when I was 4 and my mom which I have recently learned was and still is an extreme narcissist who entered into a new relationship right after my father left and moved her new boyfriend into the house who then began to abuse me physically, mentally and sexually- with the physical and mental abuse from him, my mom just stood there and let it happen. I managed to stay to myself as a child and as I grew into an adult managed to stay financially independent working 2 jobs just to save to get away. In the process I was so desperate to have a normal life that I found myself always paying to have friends, I insisted on paying every time we went out or did anything- these same “friends” I have found just used me and were never really my friends (I allowed that to happen). I found myself turning to men since I couldn’t seem to find real female friends. I met a guy online and was so desperate to get away from my mom and he seemed so charming had a good job and lived in a city that would bring me more opportunity. About 4 times after meeting and only knowing eachother for 4 months, I put my notice in at my jobs and moved across the country to be with him. Everything soon began spiraling downhill within a month- the mental abuse began and my self esteem went downhill. Everytime I packed up to leave it was the normal abuser promises and I stayed. I didn’t believe in myself enough, I had the money to leave but as time went on it’s like I believed the things he would say about me. I had no family to turn to so it was basically me not wanting to return home and not believing in myself that I didn’t have to stay there or go home. I was 22 what did I know. Fastforward 3 years I finally managed to leave. This article explains exactly what I went through after I left. The relationship was a drug. I wanted to leave for so long, I finally built up the courage and moved, got a great job and then…I messed everything up because of withdrawal. I started to miss him, feel like I needed him, couldn’t live without him, not to mention my self esteem was nowhere to be found. I quit that job. I spiraled downhill into depression. That’s not the worse part. The worse part is while I spiraled into depression, I called my mom and moved back in with her because somewhere in my twisted mind I thought maybe she changed, she is my mom I should be able to lean on her shoulder. Worst decision of my life.
    I basically left this abusive narcissist just to mess up a good job opportunity because of the withdrawal just to move back in with another narcissist. I got stuck in a rut for an entire year. Being depressed and being around narcissists is beyond words. You can’t just snap out of it when all you’re exposed to his negativity with no good advice to be offered. I honestly feel like play dough. I let people mold me into whatever they want and need me to be. I let other peoples mood effect mine and be whatever they expect me to be, do what they do because I am just the “extension” of my mother. It’s hard to get out of depression on your own, move away somewhere when you don’t have adequate savings and the economy is a disaster. I really wonder how people do it?
    Sorry for ranting, your article was extremely helpful. In short it took me a year to get over the withdrawal symptoms, and yes hindsight is always right- if I would’ve gotten the help I needed right away after I ended the relationship I probably would’ve never left my job, been able to deal with my feelings, and would’ve never moved back with narcissistic mother thinking I could cry on her shoulder- people who lack empathy don’t change. Thank you again for your posts.

    • Marisa,
      You are a very strong person with a life path that is not for wimp’s. Your wounds will not heal overnight and I believe you have what it takes to make the conscious journey into wholeness. If you do this your victimization will become your empowerment. This cannot be done easily and can’t be done alone. Please learn about what happen to you so you are clear on what you are letting go. You will no longer be stuck living in your past or a victim for abusive relationships. You might find the comments to my post, “How Codependents Leave Abusive Narcissistic Relationships helpful. I am sending you positive energy to stay strong even when you are afraid.
      Regards,
      Roberta

  25. Thank you for this, i did realize a few months ago that i was,in effect, going ‘cold turkey’ since withdrawing from my narc relationship 12 months ago. It has been very problematic due to the fact that the narc in my life is my mother (my adoptive mother at that) i was given up at birth. 2 moms = no love!
    These articles are a life saver and give us the strength to carry on.

    • Trish,
      Thank you for commenting. You have had powerful lessons about love. The challenge is to not reject yourself or feel guilty about finding happiness. Your birth mother and adopted mom had issues that are not about you. Your goal is to love yourself and live a healthy life despite what your adopted mom does or doesn’t do. Not an easy path. You have a right to find a life that works without feeling shame. I am wishing you an abundance of strength and love.
      Roberta

    • Hi Trish….all I can say to you…is to keep strong and live life ..narissistic always puts you down and makes you feel not worthy and your not you must be a beautiful strong women to realize that you now are dealing with a Emotional Vampire…they try and change who you really are….my heart goes out to you…coz I have been there too…since I walked away from a narcisisstic my life is coming together ….he still won’t leave me alone ….I just dont answer…they are emotionally draining people that take all your good enegry away from you…I agree with you these articles are a life saver….I wish you all the best and move forward, to a better life all my blessings….xxx

  26. I will check the blog out too………I was in a long distance relationship for 12 months which I also met on a online dating site…I thought I had met the man of my dreams…but instead I met a emotional vampire….extreme narcissistic…it was always about him…he wanted me to sell up everything and move in with him…He lied about everything…and was always accusing me of seeing other men…which I wasn’t… If I was late home from work and wasn’t on Skype at the time he wanted me to be…. he would call my mobile and abusing me…and accuse me of all sorts of nasty things…he had a very violent temper…he then would calm down…I knew after 2 months that I wasn’t dealing with a normal person…he would blame me for everything and turn the story around and make me look like the bad one….I then did some research and found that he was still on dating sites….I asked him about it….his reply was I know nothing about it…. someone must be using my profile…so I continues to let it go…One day I made up a profile on one of these dating sites…and waited till he made contacted ….he had no idea…it was me…it took one day and he start the chat thing…I was beside myself…at the end of the chat I told him it was me….he went totally off…..he then told me he knew it was me and played along….It was one lie after another…I then decide to end it….but he wouldn’t give up on me, kept calling and abusing me calling me names…So I blocked him from everything..he then opened up another email account to contact me and just abused me….and told me that there are plenty of better women out there that want him and that I was told insane and out of my mind and that I needed help…He has no friends has been married 3 times and has had heaps of relationships….hurting women mentally….I just thank god that I am miles away ….I haven’t heard from him in 2 days…and hopefully I wont…My heart goes out to victims of a narcissist….they are so cruel…and show ponies….I only wish I could warn women on this sites of this man…he has all different names and makes out he is a Native American Cherokee….and he is not….he is still on all these sites and even sex sites he get off on it….. I am 50 years of age and never have I met a narcisisst….there is no way you can reason with these sorts of people…..I can say I am so lucky that he did not destroyed my life..and me….but he did bring out the worst in me…..

    • Shelby,
      Good for you ending the victimization. My heart goes out to the victims of narcissists too. You make a good point that sometimes a situation brings out the worst behavior in a person and it is not a demonstration of their character. I had a similar experience with a narcissist on a top rated dating site. I reported this person to the online site and they banned him. You might report your experience; it’s possible that there have already been some complaints. Stopping all contact is the only way to deal with a narcissist. When he realizes there is no more narcissistic supply coming from you he will find another source. I am wishing you an abundance of love. Thank you for writing to me.
      Roberta

      • Thanks Roberta….this Experience with an Emotional Vampires has made me more aware…I didnt know these sort of people existed until now….

  27. What an interesting topic! I was in a long-term relationship with someone who was extremely narcissistic and I find myself often wondering why I let it go on for so long when I knew at the start that it wasn’t going to work out. It’s fascinating to look into what leads us to these relationships. I recently read a very interesting blog that discussed both sides of the narcissistic relationship, why people are narcissistic and why people choose narcissistic partners. I highly recommend it!

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