Why do narcissists destroy their families?If you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, then you know how damaging it can really become. And if you have or had a narcissist in the family, then you know how distressing their presence really is to everyone involved. If you dealt with a narcissistic ex, whether you got married to them or not, you might also be well-aware of the way they treat their families. If you had a narcissistic parent, you saw that they were not capable of giving you love and care as you needed to grow up healthy and secure.
So my guess is that if you do or did have a toxic family member, you are probably well-aware of the fact that your average narcissist isn’t capable of being consistently kind to their family. And, in so many cases, they will even be worse to certain members of the family, for various reasons.
The Toxic Family Structure
There’s something weird that happens when you’re dealing with toxic parents: a sort of a different kind of family structure evolves – one that is way outside of what you might consider the spectrum of normal healthy families. I call it “toxic family structure.” What that means is that in most cases, a family led by a narcissist will involve a certain cast of players.
This will include, of course, the Narcissist (or the toxic person the family revolves around), Enabler (often the other parent who may willingly or unwillingly support the narcissist), Golden Child (the child who gets all the positive attention and who often lives with extreme pressure from both the parents who want them to succeed or be perfect as well as the siblings who feel jealous or slighted by this attention that is so opposite of the attention they get), Scapegoat (the problem child/the one everyone blames for everything) and Lost Child (the invisible one who doesn’t get in much trouble or who is largely ignored due to attention to the golden child and the direct abuse of the scapegoat).
5 Ways Narcissists Abuse and Neglect Their Families
Yes, narcissists treat their family members terribly. Let’s break down why they do.
1. A Family Member Is Always Scapegoated By The Narcissist
As you know, narcissists do not treat their family members well at all, and if they do have a favorite, it is not for legitimate reasons. They see their favorite as an endless source of narcissistic supply. Even their favorite family member is used and taken advantage of in cruel ways.
With that being said, there is always a family member that is scapegoated by the narcissist. This often happens among narcissistic parents, for example. There is one child that is their favorite, and there is the other child that is their scapegoat. They will not hesitate to blame the scapegoated child for anything and everything and ends up dealing with abuse.
Also known as the black sheep, the scapegoat is the person in the toxic family structure who always gets blamed for everything that goes wrong for everyone, a member of a family, or a group. The black sheep is usually considered the outcast, the “bad kid” or a straight-up disgrace to the family. A scapegoat may have the following traits:
Internalizes blame easily
Protective, or overprotective of friends, strangers, etc.
The scapegoat often becomes the caregiver of the family and they’re likely to question everything – including authority (which adds to their pain in the family). And of course, they seem to be different or to stick out from the rest of the family in some way.
But the “golden” child or the “favored” one has a different cross to bear. The golden child might seem to have a sweet deal, but they live in fear of letting their narcissistic parent down because they could end up with the same type of abuse as well. And it could happen. In fact, in many families, the roles are interchangeable and dependent on the narcissist’s perception of each family member in any given moment.
2. Narcissists Don’t Hesitate To Blame Their Family Members For Things Going Wrong
If a narcissist runs into a problem, they will not hesitate to blame the scapegoated family member for the problem they face even if it had nothing to do with them. And they could also lash out at other family members, but the scapegoated one would take the brunt of it. They deflect, blame-shift, and refuse to take responsibility. It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak.
3. Narcissists Don’t Treat Their Families With Any Respect
Narcissist family members will speak rudely and will speak in any manner they choose to their family members which undoubtedly is in a way that lacks respect. They can appear charming, generous, and kind to those outside of their family who they are trying to impress so they gain something from them which is praise and recognition. And if these individuals ever spoke to the narcissist’s family members, they would not believe how badly they are treated by the individual who is so ‘charming and kind’.
4. The Narcissist Will Not Hesitate To Push Through Boundaries That Their Family Members Put Up
You already know that narcissists do not treat their families with kindness and respect. You know they will speak to them in very unkind and disrespectful ways. That also means that they will push through any boundaries that their family members put up. For instance, if one family member demands privacy while they are on the phone, the narcissist will ignore that request. They will barge into the room where the family member is making the phone call if they need to get something – or even just to prove a point. They will step on anyone and everyone they call family, without regard for the person or their feelings, in order to meet their own wants and needs. in other words, they do not care how you feel and you can tell by the way they treat you.
5. You Can’t Trust Your Toxic Narcissistic Family Member.
While the narcissist in your family will require absolute loyalty and confidentiality from you, you won’t get the same from them. There are several reasons you cannot trust your narcissistic family member.
If you were to go against your narcissistic family member’s wishes, then they won’t hesitate to go out of their way to ruin your reputation. They will share private information about you that can be damaging through their social media platforms and they will even contact your boss and tell them reasons why they should fire you. You cannot trust a narcissistic family member in that way as they will definitely share anything damaging about you.
And don’t share your secrets with them!
You can never confide in a narcissistic family member whatsoever. Even if you did not let them down and they aren’t going to conduct a smear campaign, they will still leak out your secrets. Especially if those secrets are the key to giving them the supply they need. They have no integrity.
You have to remember that narcissists are master liars and will never be truthful about anything unless it suits them in the moment – and sometimes, they lie just for the sake of lying. That’s why you should pretty much always assume whatever they tell you is questionable, at the very least. You cannot consistently expect honesty from a narcissistic family member.
From here on out, just be very careful if you’re dealing with a narcissist in the family. They are bound to hurt you in one way or another, and never think they won’t. Even if they say they won’t and have your best interest at heart, they have no idea what that even means.
(Prefer to watch/listen rather than read? See video here)I have to be honest. In all the years I’ve been researching, writing about, and producing videos on narcissistic abuse recovery and narcissism in toxic relationships, I’ve seen the amount of “experts” go from single digits to probably thousands. In fact, the topic has become an official “niche,” which means that people who teach others how to make money online are recommending it as an option for people who don’t know what topic they want to focus on.
And while this should be a good thing because it could raise awareness of narcissistic abuse, you would be shocked at how often I see my own content repeated and rewritten on sites that appear quite professional. Though I am certain that many of these new experts are actual survivors of narcissistic abuse who are doing what they do for good reasons, there’s one particular bunch I need to complain about for just a minute: all of these so-called coaches who think there’s only one way to go when it comes to dealing with narcissists in your life. They don’t consider any individual person’s situation, and they refuse to imagine any possibility in which it’s not possible to completely cut someone out of your life. And that’s because they just don’t get it – but they also don’t realize (or don’t care) how painfully invalidating this can be for victims and survivors of toxic relationships.
Because I’m here to tell you, it is not always possible, at least not immediately. And quite honestly, I have repeatedly found that people who have not experienced truly toxic relationships don’t really understand the depth of trauma bonding, not to mention the isolation factor and the financial abuse and control that comes along with them. And anyone who hasn’t been there really cannot understand the complicated nature of a narcissist’s manipulation and control tactics, which, in my opinion and experience, means they should not be coaching anyone on this topic and they shouldn’t be creating content that is meant for people who are dealing with it.
So, let’s talk about it. Here is what happened.
Today, after hearing from yet another survivor that a particular coach (with whom she paid for a session) berated and belittled her for not being able to just go no contact with her narcissistic partner, I felt like I was going to lose it. That coach and anyone else who are die-hard no contact pushers are doing survivors a disservice, and to be perfectly honest, I think these people just need to stop it, to put it politely.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The fact is that going no contact works remarkably well for healing after a toxic relationship. And of COURSE, I recommend it – we all know that no contact is the ideal solution to dealing with and healing from a toxic relationship with a narcissist. But the truth is that it isn’t always an option for everyone who has to deal with narcissists for a bunch of different reasons.
For example, maybe you have to live with a narcissistic parent for financial reasons, or you’re unwilling to go no contact with your entire extended family, and you know they won’t or can’t choose you over the toxic family member you’re dealing with. Or you’re working on leaving your narcissistic partner, but haven’t figured out all the logistics yet. There’s also a possibility that you’re dealing with a narcissist at work, and you are not in a position where you can change jobs so easily which means you will have to keep dealing with the narcissistic co-worker or worse, manager. Maybe the narcissist lives next door and you aren’t able to just sell your home and move right away – if at all. Or, and this is probably what I hear more than anything else, you might have to co-parent with a narcissistic ex.
Those are really tough situations as it is, and it frustrates me how often coaches and therapists will tell people in these situations they’re wrong for not going no contact because I get it from a personal perspective. The truth is that it took me a while to figure out how to leave my own ex for with a baby for both financial and logistical reasons. It makes me so angry because quite honestly, anyone who has to deal with a toxic narcissist is already dealing with enough self-doubt and invalidation on a daily basis. They just don’t need any added stress and they don’t need anyone else telling them they’re wrong for something they really can’t control.
So, please hear me on this one, my friend. The truth is, whether we like to admit it or not, there are some situations where it just plain is not an option – at least not immediately.
And while I’ll admit that it is very difficult, if not completely impossible, to fully heal while you’re still dealing with a narcissist on a daily basis, there are certain things you can do to make life a little less difficult while you’re there, and there are things you can do to begin to work toward healing in the process. Let me fill you in.
How to Deal with a Narcissist When No Contact is Not an Option
When you find yourself enmeshed in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, even though you realize your best option would be to leave or go no-contact, it isn’t always a real possibility in every situation. Sometimes, you just want things to go smoothly – you’re not in the mood for a narcissist’s usual games, gaslighting, and emotional manipulation. And there are plenty of times when you’re certainly not feeling like fending off any narcissistic rage, or narcissistic injury.
Let’s talk about five ways to manage the narcissist even if you are unable to go no contact. And if you stick with me through the end, I’ll share one more – a little bonus for you. It’s my own personal secret technique that will help you manage any narcissist you can’t go no contact with. In fact, this technique will work on literally almost any difficult person you come across.
Respond To The Narcissist Without Reacting
You already know how much the narcissist enjoys controlling and manipulating you by triggering your emotions. And, I’m sure you’re well aware that they deliberately say hurtful or dishonest things to evoke emotional outbursts from you. And you might even know that they do this intentionally to make you feel crazy – and to make you look crazy to others – because they want to keep you isolated and under their control. But as frustrating and overwhelming as this can be, if you want to manage a narcissist’s abusive behavior, what you need to do is to be as cool as a cucumber – no matter how hurtful the narcissist is to you. This will be challenging because they will always do what they can to provoke you into blowing up. But if you give them logical, calm, and relatively cordial answers that lack emotion, they will get bored and eventually move on to a different tactic. You can also use the grey rock method, which is both proven and highly recommended. This is where you give really boring one-word answers without reacting and without emotion to push them away.
Keep Your Boundaries Firm
If you are unsure of how to create firm boundaries, then you must learn to do that first. To do that, take a few minutes and decide what is and what is not acceptable to you. Then, you’ll want to make it clear which behaviors you will tolerate and which ones you will not. For instance, if you are co-parenting and you don’t want the narcissistic ex to keep calling you every time your kid farts during their visit, then you make it firm that you will only want to communicate through email or a court-approved app, unless it’s an absolute emergency. And, take steps toward being independent of the narcissist’s help as much as possible – or at least do what you can to limit your dependency on any narcissist. The more independent you are, the less you will have to deal with them.
Make Sure You Have A Solid Support System
When you are unable to go no contact with a narcissist, you will be stressed enough as it is. Make sure you build yourself a solid support system of friends who will understand what you are going through. Now, I’m well-aware that many of us have very few people in real life who really get it, and that’s why I recommend that you get involved with a narcissistic abuse recovery support group. In addition to various local groups you can find at meetup.com, there are also many online support groups, including our top-rated and absolutely free QueenBeeing SPANily groups. In any case, you need access to people who really get it – and you want to make sure you are not all alone in this so that when something upsetting happens caused by the narcissist, you have someone to vent to who will listen and support you.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
This is difficult, but you’ve got to remember who you are dealing with here. You must remind yourself as difficult as it is having to deal with a narcissist that you cannot kick out of your life that they will not change. They are ridiculously limited, so recognize those limitations. See them for who they are, and use this awareness to help you see that you really aren’t the problem. The fact is that narcissists have so many shocking similarities among them, regardless of age, financial status, culture, religion, sex, or location, that it almost feels like there’s a narcissist playbook. Just remember, you don’t have to like it, but you do need to remember that they will not change and despite what they might pretend, they will always keep doing what they do. In other words, and I’m sorry to have to tell you this, never have hope that the narcissist will all of a sudden treat you with love and respect, because sadly they won’t.
You must take good care of yourself such as getting the sleep you need, get some exercise, eat healthily, and engage in your hobbies, your spiritual beliefs, and anything else that makes you happy. Never allow the narcissist to take that away from you. Never allow them to have that kind of power over you. Self-care is critical when you are dealing with a narcissist.
Are you still with me? Okay, this is where I’m going to share my own secret narcissist management technique with you. It is only two steps, and it is both ethical and repeatable.
Use This Technique to Manage Any Narcissist in Any Situation
You want to know how to make a narcissist be nice to you, right? Isn’t that what we all want? Well, I’m going to tell you how to do that right now, because sometimes, you just want first aid – a quick and simple way to make life easier for a while – to make the narcissist just BE NICE TO YOU.
PLEASE NOTE: This ONLY works if you ARE NOT IN ANY DANGER OF A PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE REACTION!
Step One: Do not reward “bad” behavior with the narcissist’s desired reaction. So: Your only response to negative behavior is “GRAY ROCK.” Now, you’re going to want to be super careful here and stay calm, even when the inevitable happens – because this can and may induce narcissistic rage, narcissistic injury, and extreme gaslighting. You may feel angry or upset -but DO NOT show it, no matter what. Stay positive and polite.
Step Two: Reward “good” behavior with what the narcissist needs from you: love, admiration, and his or her proper place on the pedestal. When the narc behaves him or herself, even if you recognize it as love bombing or idealization, bestow all the love and admiration you can on him/her — tell him/her how amazing and wonderful and perfect they are – and do it as sincerely if you can. AND: This can even work if you’re dealing with an ex in a co-parenting situation or a boss or co-worker – just adjust to make it appropriate for the situation.
Using this technique will cause the narcissist to indirectly realize that you’re not going to give them your emotional energy unless they are kind to you. Your emotional energy and focus on the narcissist is pure narcissistic supply – and they need that. So what will happen is that most of the time, if you stick it out, they’ll try to be at least polite if not go into the love-bombing mode. That means that you’ll essentially be training them to be nice to you by only giving them narcissistic supply when they treat you nicely.
Bottom line? Don’t expect miracles – narcissists don’t change, even if it is theoretically possible. So make sure you understand that this will be your new way of life if you do stick around forever.
Worth noting: You’ll have to be consistent if you want this to work. You can NEVER stop these practices if you hope to keep this thing going. The narc will absolutely and repeatedly try the various “bad” behaviors – aka manipulation and abuse tactics – and you will need to be very in control of your emotions to make this happen. BUT you CAN do it, if you choose to.
With all of that being said, I hope you’ll take comfort in knowing that as difficult as things are right now, it won’t last forever. One day you will be able to go no contact, one way or another, should you choose that. Eventually, you will have a well-enough paying job that will allow you to leave home if you are dealing with a narcissistic parent or partner. Eventually, you will be able to find another opportunity for the right job if you are dealing with a narcissistic coworker or boss. And eventually, your kids will reach 18 which means you will no longer have to deal with the narcissistic ex.
If you’ve tried to end a relationship with a narcissist, or a narcissist has ended a relationship with you, there are several things you could expect to happen. They might just ghost you and appear to have fallen off the planet for a while. They might be moving forward with a new source of narcissistic supply, and that might mean they don’t bother you for a while. They might even try to hoover you back into the relationship with some made-up or exaggerated drama, or even a somewhat expected declaration of undying love.
After all, all you want is peace. And in order to get that, you need that narcissist to leave you alone – whether it is an ex, a parent, a sibling, or a co-worker. They won’t leave you alone because you are either be a great source of supply for them or because something in them feels the need to perpetually torment you.
I think we can all agree that dealing with a narcissist is always emotionally and even physically exhausting, especially since you have to deal with their little fits of narcissistic rage if something doesn’t go their way. They can be verbally, emotionally, and psychologically controlling and abusive, and once you’ve seen them for what they are, you cannot unsee them.
Even if a part of you wishes they’d become the person they promised you in the first place, or if a part of you feels guilty, the biggest part of you knows that this person is toxic in your life and that if you’re ever going to heal and begin to create the life you truly want and deserve, you have to extricate them in no uncertain terms.
How to Get a Narcissist to Leave You Alone
Now, obviously, learning to set strong boundaries and going no contact with a narcissist is the ideal thing to do. As uncommon as it feels and difficult as this can be, no contact can and will work with a parent or a sibling, or an ex if you don’t have to co-parent with them. It’ll work if you are dealing with a narcissistic coworker, friend, or acquaintance. In case you’re unfamiliar with no contact, it is when you literally block the narcissist from contacting you at all, you stop seeing, speaking to, and otherwise communicating with them. This, done successfully, will prevent them from harassing you.
Of course, in many cases, this leads to the inevitable hoovering stage, meaning they try to suck you back into the relationship (and that, if we’re being honest, means they’re trying to hook you back in for their own gain, usually for the narcissistic supply of some kind). Hoovers might come in the form of drama or pretending to need help with something only you can do, or even that declaration of undying love I mentioned a moment ago. When they use the hoover maneuver, the narcissist might say things such as ‘Oh I missed you’, or give fake apologies. You need to stay strong and keep your boundaries firm to not give in to them if they do that. However, if you cannot go no contact, there are other ways to get them to stop bothering you.
The first one I’m going to share with you might shock you a little. But when you’re struggling with getting a narcissist out of your life because you personally don’t want to let go, then you’ve got a big problem on your hands. While you logically know they are toxic for you, trauma bonding, abuse amnesia, and feeling lonely can be big deterrents to actually letting go of the narcissist. That brings me to number one.
1. Get Justifiably Angry
I don’t know about you, but for me, the effects of anger become very physical and if I allow myself to stay angry for long, it’s not good for me or anyone else. If I stay upset for long, I find that I get sick to my stomach, I clench my jaw and give myself headaches and I tense up every muscle in my body. It’s a miserable way to live. Have you experienced the physical effects of really strong emotions before?
But despite what some toxic gurus might tell you, anger isn’t a wasted emotion, if you use it to your advantage. And, as it turns out, it doesn’t negatively affect you physically when it is actively propelling you toward a goal that will make your life better in some way. In fact, it can definitely serve a purpose in your recovery from narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. How? Well, JUSTIFIED anger is sort of like fear with a little courage thrown in, in a way.
And if I’m being honest, ending my relationship with my narcissist was sparked by anger – I had to get angry before I could get away. Another time anger served me well was before I lost all that weight a few years ago. In order to make the long-term, difficult commitment necessary to take off 100 pounds, I had to get really mad at both myself and the world to get going.
There is such a thing as constructive anger, and it is this kind of anger that causes you to stand up and to create positive change in both yourself and your life circumstances. Sometimes, anger can help neutralize your fear and power up your gumption to get you through the hard transitions – the things you might just be afraid to conquer without that little push of emotion.
The psychology of justified anger is powerful. According to Harry Mills, Ph.D., “Anger can also be a substitute emotion. By this, we mean that sometimes people make themselves angry so that they don’t have to feel pain. People change their feelings of pain into anger because it feels better to be angry than it does to be in pain.”
You have to find a way to get angry at the narcissist for all of the horrible things they’ve done to you when you’re trying to get away from them. This will not only propel you forward and keep your eye on the goal – getting the toxic poison out of your life, but it may also shock the narcissist into realizing that you’re truly done with them. With this being said, your anger should be directed toward moving forward, not any sort of direct revenge on the narcissist. This is for two reasons: first, narcissists are dangerous and if you do anything to directly take revenge on them, you can rest assured they’ll come back at you twice as hard. And second, not only do you not need any more negative energy in your life, but the very best revenge against any narcissist is to live your life well without them, taking away the thing they need the very most: narcissistic supply – and giving yourself the peace, space and time you need to heal and live your best life.
2. Get Your Emotions in Check
Sometimes, you have to deal with the narcissist for some reason. For example, you cannot go no contact with a narcissist if you are co-parenting with one, or dealing with one at work. But what you can do is grey rock them which means you become so uninteresting that the narcissist has no other choice but to leave you alone. You literally almost “become” the gray rock itself: boring, uninteresting. The narcissist might look to pick a fight due to differences in opinion or they might just want to get a rise out of you for some reason. But if you don’t make eye contact, keep your body language under control, reply with ‘uh-huh’ or ‘hmm’ and vague one-word answers, then they will give up. Basically, you refuse to show them any emotion whatsoever. This is difficult when you first try it, but when you see it working, you’ll notice the narcissist will either be sort of shocked, or they’ll actually up their manipulation game a little at first. At this point, you should feel powerful, because you’ll know it’s working. Just hold out, and eventually, they’ll realize you’re no longer going to give them the reaction they want from you, and they’ll go bother someone else.
3. Get the Narcissist Out of Your System
This is the most difficult one of all. You can do what you can to grey rock and show no emotions but eventually, you might cave if the narcissist keeps triggering you. Part of the reason they are so good at pushing your buttons is that they installed some of them – as in, their abuse has created certain triggers in you and they are quite familiar with how to dig at you in order to get those trigger-moments flowing.
So, if you’re going to get the narcissist out of your life, you have to get them out of your head. In a way, you have to do a ‘detox’ of them so you can remove them from your thoughts, emotions, and state of being. This way, you will be unaffected by their behavior. This could require coaching or therapy as well in addition to meditation and journaling, but you can do it yourself if you’re willing to give it a shot.
It does not matter whether you have to deal with them or have gone no contact with them. You just want to get them out of your energy field. Because if you come across one even if you do so after going no contact, and they see they are no longer getting to you like they once did, then that will be powerful to you. They will see that you aren’t bothered by them genuinely. They will also leave you alone if they really do see you are not vulnerable to them.
To do your own narcissist detox, start with your personal space. Remove anything that reminds you of the narcissist. If you’re living in the same space you shared with the narcissist, consider replacing or rearranging the furniture and decor in a new way. Wash the curtains (or replace them, if you can) and change the comforter on your bed. Switch things up.
In a lot of cases, the narcissist will refuse to leave your home, even when the relationship has been officially declared to be over. This is often an issue of control – because the narcissist knows that leaving the home will mean a more permanent disconnection of narcissistic supply, and they want to remain in control as long and as much as possible. If this is the case for you, there are things you can do.
First, if you own the home and the narcissist has a job outside the home, or any other reason they leave at scheduled times, you could pack up everything they own, put it in a storage locker and pay one months’ rent on it. Then change the locks on your place and tape a note explaining where their stuff is, along with the storage locker key. Alternatively, you could go through the legal eviction process in your area.
If the narcissist owns the home, or you own the home together, you may need to either prepare to move, or to get your attorney involved in getting them out of the house. If physical abuse becomes an issue, you should contact the police after the incident and be sure to press charges. This could buy you a bit of time to get a restraining order and move their things out of the house into that storage locker we talked about. In any case, be aware of the eviction laws where you live in case the narcissist tries to get litigious with you.
In any case, getting a narcissist to leave you alone takes work and emotional discipline, but it can be done and you can be free of them, even if you are unable to go no contact. What do you think? Can you relate?
So, you went no contact with a narcissist, either because you left them or they left you. In any case, you decided that you’ve had just about enough of a toxic relationship and you finally decided to make the commitment to yourself: you have gone no contact, once and for all.
No Contactis a coping technique that is practically required to heal after narcissistic abuse. It involves removing yourself from the narcissist’s life. You stop seeing, speaking to, and interacting with the narcissist. This allows you to clear your life of the negative energy they bring into every room so that you have the space you need to heal without dealing with the toxic influence of your former personal tormentor.
Now, for the record, you might have gone no contact with a partner or former partner, or maybe it was a family member or a friend. In any case, initially, you might find yourself on the “pink cloud” that many people report they experience during narcissistic abuse recovery.
Pink Clouding in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
“Pink clouding” it is a term that is used to describe the feeling of elation that many addicts and alcoholics feel shortly after detoxing and moving into sobriety. I first heard it used in our community by Kim Saeed.
When you’re on the pink cloud, you will feel excited and hopeful in ways you didn’t before, and things in your life might seem to be moving in the right direction for the first time in a long time. Unfortunately, there’s one big problem with the “pink cloud” syndrome – and that is quite simply that it can make us dangerously overconfident in one way: we might think we’re fully recovered when we’re actually just beginning.
The worst part is that this overconfidence can sadly lead to what I call a sort of “relapse” where we fall back in with the narcissist. For example, when you first leave a narcissist, you can start to see the possibilities of a life without constant control and codependency.
The pink cloud is very common for survivors of narcissistic abuse who have just gone no contact. We are often so relieved that we aren’t dealing with the everyday stress of dealing with a narcissist’s drama and mind games that we don’t even consider the possibility that we’ve still got some work to do before we can say we’re truly healed and ready to move forward.
Unresolved Trauma in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
When you do go no contact, you might find yourself feeling totally liberated and free. This is an amazing feeling! But being in a relationship with a narcissist will leave you with a whole bunch of unresolved trauma that you’re going to need to work through if you’re going to create the life you really want and deserve for yourself.
The trauma you experienced manifests itself in trauma bonding, which is a condition that causes you to develop a psychological dependence on the narcissist while you’re in the relationship with them. It is sort of a survival strategy that many survivors develop during these toxic relationships, but it also makes recovering much more difficult afterward as you’re literally addicted to the narcissist and the toxic relationship in the same way as an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol or a drug addict is addicted to their drug of choice.
That means that even if you logically know you aren’t interested in having the narcissist in your life anymore, there is some part of you that will have a hard time saying no if the narcissist is able to contact you once the relationship ends. This is exactly WHY we recommend that you go no contact if possible when you end a relationship with a narcissist. (Of course, if you have kids together, you might need to just go low-contact, where you use the gray rock method to avoid drama, and where you only communicate about the business of raising your child, without emotion – and only as absolutely necessary).
The trauma bonding factor means that you’re going to need to be careful to avoid the narcissist as often as you can so you can avoid the dreaded “relapse.” But what if you happen to run into the narcissist in public after you go no contact? What happens if you see the narcissist?
Because unless you move to a different city, that’s a really serious possibility. And sadly, more common than you’d expect.
How Does the Narcissist Perceive You After No Contact?
You will wonder how they could potentially perceive you – and that all depends on how long it has been since you went no contact, and how much you have healed since that time. Let’s talk about it.
What Happens If You Have Not Yet Healed After Going No Contact And You See The Narcissist?
I’m going to tell you something that I would never tell you in any other case. If you haven’t healed and you happen to see the narcissist after going no contact, I want you to take a page from the narcissist’s book and put on a sort of mask. Why? Because if the narcissist sees that you have not healed after the damage they caused you in this toxic, unhealthy relationship, they will absolutely RELISH the idea that they’ve somehow won the relationship. They will definitely think of you as weak and they will even attempt to reinforce the idea they probably spent a lot of years putting into your head – that you’re worthless or at least somehow inferior to them.
So, rather than giving them the narcissistic supply they’d inevitably get from seeing you feeling miserable and alone without them, I want you to totally fake it. PRETEND you’re doing great, no matter how you feel in the moment. Don’t give them the satisfaction of knowing they’ve hurt you. In general, if the narcissist thinks they’ve sort of “won” the relationship, they might pretend to ignore you or just look at you with contempt – acting as if you are clearly beneath them.
So, what can you do to appear healed even when you’re not? Well, consider what telltale signs you might be showing if you’re feeling miserable. Chances are that the narcissist would recognize that you’re hurting by the way you carry yourself, the way you dress, and by your body language if you don’t speak to them. So, for now, just tidy yourself up and keep yourself looking as fresh as you can when you go out in public. Maybe put some good music in your ears as you get ready and in the car or on the walk to wherever you’re going – that’ll help to at least temporarily boost your spirits.
What Happens If You Are Healing When The Narcissist Who You Went No Contact With Sees You?
If the narcissist sees you after you go no contact with them and you seem confident, you are dressed well, and you appear to be healthy, then they may begin to idolize you again. This will be especially true if you have moved on with another partner, and even if they are with another partner – or source of supply. They might indicate the desire to connect with you on some level – and there might be a tiny part of you that secretly hopes that will happen. That’s your trauma bonding coming back to bite you in the proverbial butt.
But always remember that the narcissist’s idea of a relationship is ugly, to put it mildly – and they really don’t want to have a real relationship with you. They will, as always, just hurt you over and over again. You know you’re better off without them.
If the narcissist sees you after years of you going no contact with them and they have seen that you have healed on some level, they could try to trap you again. They may think you would have forgotten about what they did to you and would try to reel you in. They may even tell you they have changed, but their intentions would not be any different.
On the flip side, if you have healed yourself and you seem to be quite well to the narcissist, they may actually ignore and avoid you due to their sense of pride. They actually could see you as superior to them which would dig into their insecurities. That is the level of healing you want to attain.
Just remember your reasons: You had enough of the narcissistic abuse and once and for all you went no contact with the narcissist who made your life a living hell.
What else should you do if you see the narcissist after no contact?
Not that you’re out for revenge or anything, but if you were it would serve you well to remember that the best revenge is served cold.
Remember what narcissists need more than anything? Attention. Narcissistic supply. In other words, narcissists hate to be ignored. So one way to deal with them is to give them exactly what they deserve – NOTHING. None of your attention and none of your energy. You can just walk away.
Now, you have to know that the narcissist will need to pretend that there’s something wrong with you when you do this. They will never be able to admit to themselves (or to anyone else) that they mistreated or abused you in any way. In fact, they’ve probably already told everyone how crazy or terrible YOU are and most likely portrayed themselves as the victim.
But what if ignoring them isn’t an option? Then what are you supposed to do? Well, you can just nod or smile in acknowledgment and keep on walking. It’s really all about keeping your composure and maintaining your dignity.
This next part is really important. Despite the fact that you would probably rather be poked in the eye with a sharp stick than see this person, you’re going to have to put your feelings on the back burner for a minute. Why? Because under no circumstances should you allow the narcissist or anyone nearby to see that you’re in any way bothered by the narcissist’s presence.
Pay attention to the little details here – be very aware of your facial expression and avoid showing any signs of disgust. (If you’re anything like me, your face has a way of telling all your secrets – so you might want to practice your poker face in the mirror ahead of time to be safe.)
And if you want to avoid giving the narcissist that little zing of satisfaction they will inevitably feel if they think you look or seem anything less than amazing, you want to appear indifferent. Act like they’re any acquaintance you’ve ever met – like they’re just somebody you don’t really know very well almost.
Even if it absolutely tortures you to see them, never let them see you sweat – even if you need to go cry in your car afterward.
Regardless of how much or how little you’ve healed if or when you happen to see the narcissist after going no contact, just be sure you don’t react to them at all – or if you do, keep it brief, polite, and business-like. Remember that the narcissist will be watching closely, looking for any reaction at all. They will get a little “hit” of narcissistic supply if they think you miss them or you’re having a hard time without them. So just be sure to avoid giving them even a slight hint that you are affected by not having them in your life – unless the effects you display are positive.
What if the narcissist approaches you and attempts to hoover you?
Play it cool, like ice. Just don’t give them the chance to trap you again. Remember that no matter how hard they swear they’ve changed, or they will change, they absolutely will not. As always, they’d continue to be the person they’ve always been. You went no contact for a reason, so don’t give up on yourself.
Question of the Day: Have you found yourself running into a narcissist after going no contact, and if so, how’d that work out for you? In hindsight, what tips would you offer for your fellow survivors? If not, are you concerned you might? Share your thoughts, share your experiences, share your ideas in the comments section below this video and let’s talk about it.
Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. It offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery and some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
Let’s dig into the psychology of what happens between a narcissist and a codependent in a toxic relationship. The typical toxic relationship involves trauma bonding. Learn why and how trauma bonding happens in a toxic relationship, plus the psychology of the narcissist as well as the psychology of the codependent during the relationship. And finally, we’ll touch on what it takes to heal after such a relationship.
Trauma bonding is a common condition among narcissistic abuse survivors and their abusers. Thanks to an ongoing cycle of intermittent reinforcement, many survivors of toxic relationships go through this, much like kidnapping victims and hostages do. Trauma bonding is often a bigger issue for people who also grew up in toxic and abusive homes, partially just because it feels like “normal” to them.
A narcissist, in general, is someone with a high opinion of him/herself, but when we’re talking about narcissistic abuse, we’re talking about the type of person who is toxic, verbally (and sometimes physically) abusive. They may or may not also be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. For the record, while it is not considered to be a “mental illness,” but a personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder manifests in an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.
What is Codependency?
Codependency is complex, but a general definition is that it is a toxic emotional and behavioral condition that makes it nearly impossible to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form and stay in relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive. The term originates from Alcoholics Anonymous but fits toxic relationships surprisingly well.
How do you let go of the narcissist when you’re dealing with trauma bonding?
How can you make recovering from narcissistic abuse less painful?
I always say that when you “think like a scientist,” you can significantly reduce the pain – that’s how it worked for me! In this video, I’ll fill you in on exactly what I mean, as well as how you can do it too!
What stage of narcissistic abuse recovery healing are you in?
Do you think you’re being abused by a narcissist in a toxic relationship? Have you dealt with narcissistic abuse in the past? Are you working on narcissistic abuse recovery? If so, you’ll want to know about these resources.