How to Leave a Narcissist Partner: 7 Proven Strategies

How To Leave A Narcissist Partner
how to leave a narcissist partner

The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Narcissistic abuse is not a defined medical concept. However, when used by professionals or in conversation, it generally refers to a form of psychological manipulation. All types of psychological abuse can have profound and lasting effects on those who experience them.

Psychological abuse or manipulation may occur in a variety of types of relationships, including those where one partner exhibits narcissistic personality traits.

People experiencing abuse may find themselves trapped in a cycle of emotional manipulation, gaslighting, and control, which can erode their sense of self-worth and lead to significant psychological distress.

What’s the safest way to leave an abusive relationship? There are some general guidelines to consider.

What is Narcissistic Abuse?

While not a clinical term, narcissistic abuse encompasses a range of behaviors that impact other individuals. These behaviors may include verbal insults, frequent criticisms, threats of physical harm, and manipulation tactics. People experiencing these behaviors may feel that their sense of reality is being undermined.

Abuse survivors often experience profound feelings of shame, guilt, and self-doubt as a result of these negative and harmful occurrences.

Defining Narcissism And NPD

There is a difference between narcissistic traits and clinical narcissism, called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

To receive a diagnosis of NPD, people must have at least 5 of the following criteria:

  • An exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Fantasies of great success, power, attractiveness, beauty or ideal love
  • Believing themselves to be special, and only able to be understood by others who are also special
  • An increased sense of entitlement
  • A need for constant admiration or attention
  • Taking advantage of others, envying others, or believing others envy them
  • Arrogance or haughtiness
  • A lack of empathy
  • Envy towards others, or believing others are envious of them

People who exhibit many of these traits can sometimes experience difficulties in relationships. How can related behavior affect others?

How Can NPD Affect Others?

Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) often exhibit a sense of entitlement and a lack of empathy for others. A 2020 study involving diagnosed narcissists found that while narcissistic individuals may project an image of grandiosity and self-assurance, many also harbor deep-seated insecurities and vulnerabilities.

This reliance on external validation can lead narcissists to engage in behaviors that appear manipulative and controlling to preserve their self-esteem.

When the partner of an abusive person decides to leave, strategy can be an asset.

How to Leave an Abusive Partner

The following concepts and strategies may help individuals prepare to leave an abusive relationship.

Create A Safety Plan

When things are uncertain or tensions run high, it may help to have a plan. Planning for safety in advance can help provide guidance during stressful interactions.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline:

“A safety plan is a set of actions that can help lower your risk of being hurt by your partner. It includes information specific to you and your life that will increase your safety at school, home, and other places that you go on a daily basis.”

  • Secure a separate bank account using a safe address like a P.O. box or work address.
  • Leave a spare set of keys, important documents, and some money with a trusted person so these are available after leaving.
  • Find people who can be supportive and provide temporary housing if necessary.
  • Keep numbers for shelters and law enforcement on hand, secreting them if necessary.

Minimize Conversation

Limiting communication with an abusive partner can help reduce opportunities for manipulation and emotional distress. Set boundaries around when and how interactions occur, and avoid engaging in conversations that may escalate into conflict.

Avoid Further Contact

In some cases, cutting off all contact with an abusive partner may be necessary to stop ongoing abuse.

This may involve blocking phone numbers, email, and social media accounts, and avoiding places they frequent.

Plan For Challenges

It’s essential to anticipate potential retaliation from abusive partners. Protective steps should be put into place if possible.

This may involve informing trusted friends or family members about the present situation, installing security measures in the new home, and documenting any instances of harassment or threats.

Tell Others & Create A Support System

Breaking the silence surrounding narcissistic abuse can be empowering and validating. Share experiences with trusted friends, family members, or support groups who can offer understanding and encouragement.

Building a strong support system can survivors feel less isolated and provide practical assistance as they navigate the challenges of leaving an abusive relationship.

Establish Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries with abusive partners is crucial for survivors’ mental and emotional well-being. Communicate limits and expectations clearly if it is safe to do so.

Consequences may need to be enforced. The authorities can assist in a variety of ways and it can be helpful to reach out beforehand to explore those options.

Survivors have a right to prioritize their own needs and safety above all else.

Seek Professional Guidance

Seeking support from a qualified therapist or counselor can be instrumental in healing from narcissistic abuse. A trained professional can provide validation, support, and practical strategies for coping with the aftermath of abuse.

Therapy can also help survivors rebuild their self-esteem, identify unhealthy patterns in relationships, and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Finding a successful therapeutic modality may take some trial and error. The right treatment and therapist for one person may not feel right to another.

Changing therapists is normal. Online therapy options from organizations like BetterHelp understand this and help match professionals with clients. In-person therapy practices may have more than one partner or associate to choose from as well.

Sometimes changing practices may be necessary in pursuit of the ideal therapeutic conditions.

Contact Authorities

If there is immediate danger or threat of violence from an abusive partner, law enforcement or emergency services should be contacted.

Safety is paramount, and there are resources available to help survivors escape from a dangerous situation and access the support they need.

Abuse is Unacceptable

Partner abuse is a complex and insidious form of psychological manipulation that can have devastating consequences. People experiencing any form of abuse or manipulation have a right to help. By understanding the dynamics of harmful relationships and implementing effective strategies for self-protection, individuals can empower themselves to break free from abuse and reclaim their sense of agency and autonomy.