Leaving a narcissist is more difficult than leaving a healthy relationship that just wasn’t working out.
Because of the way narcissists work, by the time you are ready to leave the relationship you may be questioning your own sanity and self-worth. You may have become financially entangled with the narcissist. And given that narcissists are master manipulators, it can feel almost impossible to leave and stay gone and to recover after you’ve left.
Read on for 8 things to think about and steps to take when you are figuring out how to leave a narcissist
1. Don’t tell the narcissist you’re planning on leaving
This is perhaps the most important step.
While in most relationships you’d want to be transparent and upfront, when you are figuring out how to leave a narcissist, you need to keep your partner in the dark.
Not telling the narcissist your plans deprives them of a plan to sabotage them or turn on the love-bombing and other manipulative behaviors that they’ll undoubtedly use to try to get you to stay.
You might tell a trusted friend or family member of your plans, but ensure that these will not get back to your narcissistic partner.
2. Make a plan
You will need a plan for leaving a narcissist, especially if you are married to or living with your narcissistic partner.
Spend some time figuring out the fundamentals:
- Where will you go, if you need to leave a shared home?
- What will you do about any shared finances?
- How much money do you have access to?
- Can you take any shared pets with you, or otherwise ensure their safety?
Reach out to family and friends who can help you assemble resources and develop an exit strategy.
Make copies of all your important documents. You may need several weeks or even months to make this plan.
If your physical safety is at risk, however, don’t take any more time than is strictly necessary to get out.
3. Set aside some spare cash
This is easier if your money is not mixed with the narcissist’s, but given the tendency of narcissists to financially control their partners, you have likely mingled finances.
Credit and debit cards are useful, but if you are on a shared account, the chances are that the narcissist will cut your access to the cards once you leave or overdraw the checking account on purpose so you can’t have access to money.
Have as much cash on hand as you can set aside.
4. Check your digital trail
Make sure you are signed out of any and all of your narcissist ex’s devices.
- Change your passwords.
- Check your devices for tracking software and turn off GPS on your phone.
- Clear your browser history on any shared computers or other devices.
5. When you leave, just leave
If you can leave a shared home when the narcissist is not there, this is ideal. If you are not sharing a home, it’s easier to leave since you don’t need to deal with the logistics of moving house.
Don’t have one last argument in which the narcissist will either verbally abuse you or try to guilt you into staying.
Don’t announce your departure. Just go.
6.Go no-contact, and do it cold turkey
Keeping contact with your narcissist ex leaves the door open for manipulation, guilt, and gaslighting.
Go no contact the moment you leave. Block your ex’s number, set up filters in your email to send any email from them directly into spam, and unfriend and block them on all social media.
If you have to keep some level of contact with your ex because you have children, figure out the best way to set limits on the contact.
7. Don’t let them back in
Part of why it’s so hard to leave a narcissist is that they can be incredibly charming much of the time.
Your ex will likely turn on a full-court press of manipulation when you leave. If your ex manages to contact you, refuse to listen to their guilt trips, pleas for forgiveness, or other attempts to manipulate.
If your ex starts showing up at your work or home or following you in public places, also make a police report.
You do not need to give your ex any further time or emotion that is just supply for them and a drain for you.
8. Give yourself time
Being in a relationship with a narcissist can mess with your whole world.
After figuring out how to leave a narcissist, you will need to figure out who you are without that relationship, too. Give yourself time to heal. Know that there will be days you’ll miss your ex and might even be tempted to reach out.
Resist this impulse.
Instead, reconnect with family and friends that the ex may have isolated you from. Practice good self-care with your diet, exercise or regular movement, spiritual practice, and anything else that helps you feel grounded.