How long does it take to heal from a relationship with a narcissist?

I’ve been married to a narcissist for over ten years. I’ve had it with all his manipulations and hurtful behavior. If I leave, will I ever heal? How long will it take?

Thank you,
Ellen in Dallas, Texas
Answer:  First of all, know that no matter what pain you’ve been through it will get better. The longer you were in the relationship the more challenging getting out may feel. In answer to, “How long does that take?” here are some healing patterns I’ve observed. When you first leave, it is common to feel a huge rush of relief. Then a crash occurs when your fears and doubts creep in. But the further away you get from the narcissist, the faster these feelings will transform and heal. In the first days and months after separating, I’ve watched patients experience initially fleeting moments of relief, then hours. But taking a firm stand and creating boundaries helps it last longer and longer. You will have to go through pain, as is true of withdrawal from a heavy drug. To help you get through this reach out for support, show a lot of self-empathy and set firm, clear limits as you complete your exit. For more information, please check out The Empath’s Survival Guide and go right to the chapter on “The Toxic Attraction Between Empaths and Narcissists.”

Hope this helps.

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

Connect with Judith on  FacebookTwitter and Instagram.