4 Ways to Break Up with a Narcissist


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Empaths Survival GuideIn my psychiatric practice I’ve seen how hard it is for my patients to break up with a narcissist, a kind of energy vampire. Narcissists can make you fall in love with them so hard that it feels like you’re giving up a part of your heart to leave them. And they use every manipulation in the book to get you to stay.

On the surface narcissists can seem charming, intelligent, caring—knowing how to entice and lure their way back into your life. But once they reel you back then they revert to their egotistical selves. Their motto will always be “Me First!” Everything’s all about them. They have a grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement, crave admiration and attention. They can also be highly intuitive, but use their intuition for self-interest and manipulation.

Narcissists are so dangerous because they lack empathy, have a limited capacity for unconditional love. Sadly, their hearts either haven’t developed or have been shut down due to early psychic trauma, such as being raised by narcissistic parents, a crippling handicap both emotionally and spiritually. (The damage of narcissistic parenting is outstandingly detailed in Alice Miller’s book “Drama of the Gifted Child.”) Hard as it may be to comprehend, these people have little insight into their actions, nor do they regret them.

To find out if you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist, ask yourself the following questions from The Empath’s Survival Guide.


  • Does the person act as if life revolves around them?
  • Do I have to compliment them to get their attention or approval?
  • Do they constantly steer the conversation back to themselves?
  • Do they downplay my feelings or interests?
  • If I disagree, do they become cold or withholding?
  • If you answer “yes” to one or two questions, it’s likely you’re dealing with a narcissist. Responding “yes” to three or more questions suggests that a narcissist is violating your emotional freedom.

    Narcissists are hard nuts to crack. With these patients, the best I can do is align with their positive aspects and focus on behaviors that they agree aren’t working. Still, even if one wants to change, progress is limited, with meager gains. My professional advice: Don’t fall in love with a narcissist or entertain illusions they’re capable of the give and take necessary for intimacy. In such relationships you’ll always be emotionally alone to some degree. If you have a withholding narcissist spouse, beware of trying to win the nurturing you never got from your parents; it’s not going to happen. Also, don’t expect to have your sensitivity honored. These people sour love with all the hoops you must jump through to please them.

    If you’re trying to break up with a narcissist, use these methods from my book “Emotional Freedom” to get your power back.

    Don’t Fall For Their Manipulations
    They will use every trick in the book to get you back so be prepared. Narcissists are really convincing. When you are ready to leave, stick to your convictions and move on to a more positive future filled with real love.

    Set Limits
    Since narcissists have no empathy, nor can they really love, you must leave them cold turkey and endure the pain. Set limits and say “no” to them and in your heart. Then gather all your strength and keep walking into the unknown towards something better.

    Focus on the Future
    Once detached from a narcissist it is extremely important than you focus all your positive energy and thoughts on doing good things for yourself and the world. Don’t let your mind wander to the past or to what they are doing.

    Be Kind to Yourself
    Treasure yourself. Be very kind to yourself and know that you deserve a loving relationship with someone who can reciprocate that love.

    My view on life is that every person we meet along the way, loving or not, is meant to help us grow. Do not beat yourself up for getting involved with a narcissist. But please learn what you can from it, including setting healthy boundaries and saying “no” to abuse, so you don’t repeat this lesson again. It is very emotionally freeing to heal any attraction to abusive people so you can have more true love in your life.

    Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s book The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People (Sounds True, 2017)

    Judith Orloff, MD is a New York Times bestselling author with the upcoming book The Genius of Empathy: Practical Skills to Heal Yourself, Your Relationships and the World (Foreword by the Dalai Lama). She has also written The Empath’s Survival Guide and Thriving as an Empath, which offers daily self-care tools for sensitive people. She integrates the pearls of conventional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, empathy, energy medicine, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice and online internationally. Her work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today. Dr. Orloff has spoken at Google-LA, TEDx U.S. and TEDx Asia. More information about Dr. Orloff’s Empathy Training Programs for businesses, The Empath Survival Guide Online Course and speaking schedule at www.drjudithorloff.com.

    Connect with Judith on  FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

    15 thoughts on “4 Ways to Break Up with a Narcissist

    1. What if you think that oneself is a narcissist? How to heal that inner wound? Is it possible to overcome that early trauma?
      kind regarfs

    2. I’m finding it so hard to leave because I love him. It hurts me to hurt him, but it doesn’t hurt him to hurt me, physically and emotionally, so I guess the best way is to leave. Although he’s told me multiple times, “go ahead and leave, I don’t care either way.” He will care, I promise you that. No one else is going to put up with his shit the way I do, and cater to his every want and need.

    3. my boyfriend and I are always arguing. He always ends up kicking me out. I have no financial ties or children with this man, I know I am better off without him. I don’t feel love for him but rather pity. I know he can’t hurt me anymore. But I keep running back every time the boot happens. The more it happens the stronger I get. It is getting dangerously close to walking away forever. I try telling him this, but he won’t listen. One day, I will be gone forever. I just don’t understand why I keep going back.

    4. I have read it is natural for some women to be narcississtic, more so than men?
      I suppose that is best understood in the lover-beloved relationship, in which adoration
      plays a big part. Women tend to have a different psychic constellation-what I have learned is a ‘narcissistic wound’ being more co-dependent by nature. The ‘new woman’-
      and there are many who chose not to have children and become independent-
      often become very demanding, critical, and competitive. In maturity with some success
      they may become spiritually connected with better boundaries.

    5. I broke of with a very long term relationship-friendship over time
      for a number of reasons. He has been extremely supportive especially
      during a time a crisis. However I am now in another relationship w much older
      n wiser, less able or interested to want to spend a few days w him. He actually
      started ‘gas-lighting’ me. I am a meditator, yoga teacher, caregiver. I just
      dont have time for this kind of need.

    6. Much of this is true. My dad was a narcissist and so was my last bf. Yes, they think the world revolves around them and work to impress others. It’s a very extreme personality disorder. Almost like bipolar or schizophrenia, showing different sides of themselves in public versus private. It is draining to be involved with them so boundaries are a must.

    7. How do you reconcile the fact that you may very well be with a narcissist, but it is impossible to wrap your head around and accept that it may be malicious and/or intentional? I simply can’t let myself think that he is hurting me on purpose. Not that that somehow excuses it, but it makes it very hard to leave when you still think this is a good person at heart.

    8. I wish there was more information geared towards us guys that are in relationships with female narcissists.
      I feel so trapped.

    9. I broke off with one but now he’s charming a very nice lady in our community I’m on friendly terms with. Should I feel guilty about not warning her. She has been hearing him say he had to break up with me because of my anger issues when it was really his.

    10. I broke up with a narcissist today. He never empathised when I hurt especially if he hurt me he would ignore my words and feelings. He could never say sorry when he said something hurtful and abandoned me to feel my emotional pain alone. I feel scared he supported me in financial situations. But I am emotionally free now never to have feelings abandoned again.

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