7 Reasons Why Leaving A Narcissist Feels Impossible

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You know the relationship is toxic. Maybe you’ve continued to make plans to leave. Maybe you’ve even left the relationship a few times, but you keep finding yourself coming back. 

There’s no doubt that leaving a narcissist isn’t easy. They always seem to know exactly what to say or do to keep you under their spell. 

As it turns out, many variables impact that feeling of “stuckness” you may feel. Let’s explore what they are and how you can overcome them. 

1 – You Keep Falling For Betrayal Bonds

Narcissists rely on betrayal trauma to manipulate your emotions. They’ll engage in controversial material that they know triggers you- past fights, your deepest insecurities, your fears. They understand your buttons, and they know exactly how and when to push them.

Betrayal bonds often keep people feeling insecure. You doubt yourself and your capabilities. The narcissist knows how to make you feel guilty or ashamed of yourself. They exploit your perceived flaws, and they make it seem like you’re damaged goods. 

But just like they know how to trigger you, they also know how to tempt you. Using gratitude and kindness, they rely on giving you small hits of love to keep you coming back for more. Being with a narcissist is like being addicted to drugs. You glamorize the “hit” they give you- you keep coming back for me because the withdrawals feel so intense.

But their love isn’t genuine- it’s just a bargaining chip to keep you in the vicious cycle. They know that they can convince you they’re “good” and “loving” whenever they need you to stick around. They also know how to convince you that you’re worthless without them. 

2 – You’re Stuck In A Cycle of Cognitive Empathy

Genuine empathy happens when we imagine ourselves in someone else’s position. For example, if a loved one’s dog dies, we feel that pain. If a friend is feeling anxious, we relate to their worry.

Empathy is the foundation of healthy relationships. It’s how people feel safe and connected by others. During difficult times, we rely on empathy to feel understood.  

Narcissists absolutely understand the concept of empathy, and they use it to their advantage. The difference lies in the fact that they use cognitive empathy. Cognitive empathy refers to the manipulative and intentional use of feigned rapport designed to meet the narcissist’s needs. 

In other words, they give you the impression of caring. But their caring is crafted. It’s intended to foster a sense of dependency and learned helplessness. In other words, they feign connection to groom you into becoming trapped.  

Unfortunately, cognitive empathy isn’t always easy to detect. Many victims mistake their narcissistic loved one as misunderstood or even kindhearted. They don’t realize that their empathy isn’t about sharing compassion- it’s about getting power and control.

3 – You’re Crashing On A Pink Cloud

In the realm of addiction recovery, the ‘pink cloud’ refers to the euphoria one feels when first getting sober. There’s a high sense of confidence- a belief that you’ve got it! Subsequently, you tend to minimize risk and downplay the potential for relapse. 

Unfortunately, the pink cloud is often short-lived. It usually bursts just as reality starts to sink in. Just like a newly sober individual may not adequately prepare for relapse triggers, someone leaving a relationship with a narcissist may not be equipped, either. 

The rationalization often starts quickly. What’s one text? What’s hanging out one last time? Do I really have to do the no-contact approach? I have better boundaries now! 

To solidify the rationalization, the narcissist knows exactly what to say and do to convince you that you’re making the right decision. They might bombard you with gifts. They may tell you how much you mean to them, how they will never hurt you again. They promise things will be different this time.

The pink cloud keeps you optimistic, but it also keeps you trapped in a fantasy-based delusion. The narcissist isn’t interested in changing. They’re only interested in keeping you under their convincing spell.

4 – You Believe You Can Rescue Or Cure The Narcissist

There’s a reason empaths and narcissists tend to attract one another. Where the empath wants to give and give, the narcissist seeks to take and take. Where the empath seems to have a constant supply of forgiveness, the narcissist seems to have a constant supply of mistakes that demand forgiveness.

The idea of leaving a narcissist will always feel troubling so long as you believe you can rescue or save them. Unfortunately, this is a common phase many abuse victims experience. Often, the narcissist feeds into this fantasy. They’ll share their stories of abuse or neglect. They’ll talk about feeling misunderstood and underappreciated. They’ll convince you that you’re the only one who truly cares about them.

Sometimes, they’ll even resort to more dangerous emotional abuse to keep you trapped. They might make idle comments about hurting themselves if you leave. They may threaten to “ruin your reputation” to your family or friends. 

At times, you will absolutely feel sorry for the narcissist. However, they will often use this feeling against you to keep you in the relationship. 

Narcissists often see themselves as victims of the world. They believe other people are the problem. They depend on you to lift them and reassure them that they are perfect just the way they are. 

5 – You’re Struggling With Financial PTSD

Narcissistic abuse can lead to financial PTSD, a phenomenon that can seriously disrupt your relationship with money. Some narcissists mooch on their victims for money. Others tend to swindle or scam others for a few cents. High-earners may convince their partner to quit their job because they “can take care of things.”

Naturally, many partners hesitate to leave narcissistic relationships because of financial fears related to:

  • Accrued debt
  • Perceived financial dependency on the narcissist
  • Distrust that they’ll withhold money from you
  • Denial in believing that the narcissist is better equipped to handle the money

Recovering from financial abuse takes time and conscious effort. The process of recovery can be painful. However, failing to take this necessary step often keeps victims chained to their abusers.  

6 – You’re Worried About The Children

If you have children with a narcissist, you might worry about the consequences associated with leaving. Of course, this fear is natural. You want to keep your children safe. You worry about their well-being. 

Narcissists will use your fears to their advantage. They might try and turn your children against you. They may threaten to take you to court and ensure they get full custody. 

As a parent, you are responsible for protecting your children. If they are minors, this philosophy applies no matter how old or young they are. They need you to nurture them. 

Narcissists create toxic home environments. They cannot meet the needs of their children. Because they feel so consumed by themselves, they don’t have the space to care about anyone else. As a result, children generally grow up feeling insecure, inept, or abandoned.

Yes, leaving a narcissist when you have children is hard. But keeping your children in an abusive household is significantly harder. You owe to them (and yourself) to keep everyone safe and secure. 

7 – You Aren’t Really Committing To No-Contact

Maybe you’ve heard about the no-contact approach, but you convince yourself that this method is too extreme. After all, you love this person! You can try and work it out, you tell yourself. You just need better boundaries. They just need therapy. You two can figure it out!

Maybe you even try the no-contact approach. You stick it out for a few days or weeks, and you feel proud of yourself for the effort. But any real narcissist will persist. They’ll reach out, and they’ll bombard you with reasons why they need you. The narcissist knows how to make you feel loved and special. They also know how to put on a good show to make you doubt yourself. 

Eventually, they wear you down. You surrender. Maybe you give in because you believe something might be different moving forward. Perhaps you give in just to shut them up. 

But either way, the narcissist thrives on the wishy-washy indecisiveness. Once they know they have you- even if you’re only partly there- they know how to keep you under their control.

Leaving a narcissist will continue to feel impossible if you maintain contact. No matter your relationship, they’ll do whatever they can to strongarm their way into your life. 

Often, their tricks are insidious. They’ll seemingly respect your boundaries for a while. You’ll convince yourself that things are different now. And just as soon as you let your guard down, they’ll resume their usual behaviors. 

Leaving A Narcissist Is Possible! You Can Break Free!

Committing to leaving a narcissist may be one of the most difficult decisions you ever make. It’s also one of the bravest. No matter your circumstances, you deserve a fulfilling life free from abuse and hostility. You also deserve meaningful relationships with people who respect you!

Recovery involves rewriting everything you thought you knew about yourself. It requires rebuilding your identity – or, in many cases, building an identity for the first time.

Like someone suffering from substance abuse, you need a narcissistic abuse recovery program that can help you avoid relapse by learning about yourself, habits, and triggers.

The Essential Break Free Bootcamp may be the missing piece of the puzzle. 

I know what you’re going through, and I’m here to help. Learn more about the course and see what my students and neuroscience experts have to say about it.

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Leave a Comment:

Kim says July 25, 2021

I did it! After 17 years of suffering, it finally found the strength to leave. I have never felt more relieved in my life. I read your articles for years, Kim, and can never thank you enough for the encouragement and helpful words. You have definitely been a Godsend for me. Thank you!!!!! ??

Gia says August 17, 2020

Your article is excellent. You’re correct, you can get stuck in relationships with narcissists for many reasons. What made me finally go no contact was that I could no longer accept the narcissist reflecting back to me the person I wasn’t. I wasn’t any of the things they said I was, I was actually the opposite. I wanted someone who reflected back the me that I was.

CC says July 30, 2020

Is it normal to go through rages after leaving Narcissist? I have done No Contact, I am happy I finally left the situation. But I go through these emotional rages because I didn’t get justice like a chance to say anything after I realize who he was. I know forgiveness is part of moving on, and I just need to accept I won’t get a apology or justice.

Linda Mitchell says July 7, 2020

Thank you thank you! I realized many of the narcs behaviuors over the years and understood he was one but did not know the nitty grittys of it and what I was doing or contributing to the abuse cycle, I have learned so much and feel so much better. It has been 6weeks with no contact leading to life!

CBD products says July 2, 2020

Good day to all! Actually, I myself was a daffodil, and here the most important thing is to work on myself. Only after a while I partly realized what the people who were next to me felt. As far as I did not care about them and all this happened thanks to one very unpleasant incident. Therefore, it is better to work on yourself, and not wait until a brick falls on you, etc. Try, turn to specialists for recommendations and do everything to ensure that not only you feel good!

Pam Iam says June 26, 2020

The saddest thing is when someone has been discarded by a narc and they refuse to accept it. Instead of moving on to a better healed life, they remain loosely attached, gobbling up the crumbs that are tossed to them from time to time. They righteously hold on to false beliefs and continue to make false accusations. Instead of focusing on improving their life and healing their wounds, they become obsessed with the new supply and feel vindicated in stalkIng them for years, perhaps for life. They point their finger in shame for every misfortune the new supply experiences and thump their doctrine that validates their vindictive jealousy. When they experience misfortune it’s not because of any blackhearted thing they’ve ever done. No, the new supply is always to blame for everything. Even a quarter of a century later.

What is that? Trauma bonding? Is there a possibility that the effects of their abuse and discard has caused actual brain damage? Is it too late for them or have they wasted their life and their children’s life with their petty behavior? Can they turn it around?

Blessings are justified, too.

Sneha says June 24, 2020

Hi Kim, I am really grateful to have found your website at the right time. It has really helped me. I read your ‘How to do No Contact like a boss’. It answered so many questions I had. Really thankful for all the work you are doing!

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