Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist, Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D
You have decided to leave your narcissistic partner. Not an easy decision. As Ramani Durvasula Ph.D. in the book Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist has pointed out, you have been dealing with being ignored and your trust being betrayed for months, years, or even decades. Your life with your partner has been empty, you carve a connection, but it has never materialized. You have loved this person, investing your time, emotions, and resources into this relationship and there is always a fear of the unknown.
You think to yourself, “Why am I afraid of leaving and why have I never left before?” The answer is the illusion of the relationship, the relationship you have branded to the world because it helped you to deal with it. You have had to believe in the illusion because it helped you to stay in the relationship. For many years you may have kept the illusion that they were going to change, not be so reactive, and were enough for you, but you have realized that they are never going to change, and this is never going to happen.
How will your narcissistic partner take this? Most probably not well. Remember that narcissistic rage and the fact that narcissists do not like being inconvenienced. They do not like to feel that they are “being played” or abandoned at all. If you are deciding to leave then according to the book Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist “your partner’s strong emotions may overpower you with rage, sorrow, withdrawal, retaliation and pettiness.” Remember, a narcissist has a fragile sense of self, because, underneath all of that power and charismatic bluster, they are extremely vulnerable and dependent.
Ramani Durvasula Ph.D. provides some tips on preparing to leave. First of all, make sure that you document everything. Narcissists are skilled liars and deflectors and will turn things around on you. Make sure you put everything in writing, save the e-mails and texts, journal facts and why you are leaving the relationship in case your partner attempts to charm you back into the relationship.
Keep your friends and family in the loop letting them know what is happening, as you most probably have kept things about your relationship quiet. Go to therapy so that you are able to work through your emotions and how to deal with your narcissistic partner. If you have children, make sure they receive therapy too. It is also important to get legal advice because your narcissistic partner is going to be angry, and revengeful and will want things to go their way.
Next make structural changes such as changing your bank accounts, changing the locks on the door and informing your employers if needed. It is important to consult an attorney to help you with these changes. If you have a shared phone account, make sure you establish your own mobile account immediately and do not allow access to your location on any devices they may have.
You also need to be prepared to move out quickly. Your partner’s rage could find that they have changed the locks or left your belongings in the front garden. If damage has been done, make sure that you document everything.
Preparing yourself psychologically is equally important, such as ignoring the blame and accusations that your partner will be hurling at you. Accordion to Ramani Durvasula Ph.D., narcissists not only lie but they also project, which means they project what they are feeling onto someone else, and because they do not take responsibility for anything they have done, they blame others.
Also, remember narcissists do not change, even though there may be the rage at the beginning, your partner may also try and draw you back into the relationship. In the early days of your relationship, they had charm, and confidence and could be seductive, which they may turn to now so that the relationship does not end. A few good mantras to say to yourself is always helpful such as “they will never change, I no longer have to live in disappointment, I can speak my mind and be heard, I no longer have to second-guess myself, I no longer have to doubt myself, I got my life back.”
Lastly, self-care is so important. It is going to be an emotional time for you, full of doubt, possible guilt, shame, sadness, regret and nostalgia. Start with simple tools such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising and being around healthy people. Process your feelings of relief, anger, sadness, fear, grief and mourning and allow yourself to feel and be seen.