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Give Your New Relationship a Fighting Chance After Narcissistic Abuse

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Love is a powerful force that can mend even the deepest wounds, but toxic exes can leave scars that linger long after the relationship has ended. For those who have endured narcissistic abuse, the journey toward healing and finding love again can be especially daunting. The aftermath of such a toxic connection can leave individuals feeling broken, distrustful, and uncertain about their ability to engage in a healthy relationship.  Most survivors wonder how to handle a new relationship after narcissistic abuse.

In this article, we’ll delve into the courageous voyage of how to handle a narcissistic ex when you’re in a new relationship, and suggestions for how to navigate the first weeks and months of getting to know someone.

So, grab your notebook, and let’s dive right in.

Understanding Narcissistic Motives When You’re in a New Relationship With Someone Else

Before we talk about how to handle a narcissistic ex when starting a new relationship, it’s essential to recognize the signs of narcissistic behavior in this context. Narcissists crave attention and control, using manipulation, gaslighting, and emotional abuse to maintain their power over others.

This behavior often persists even after the relationship has ended. If you haven’t blocked them, they might continue to call and text you as though your breakup didn’t happen or pretend they didn’t discard you with utter disdain.  

They may try to talk you into “remaining friends”, which to them means they will still control you through emotional manipulation and inserting themselves into your life whenever they please.  No one who has agreed to remain “friends with a narcissist has ever been happy with this decision, unless they’re still holding onto vain hope that the relationship can be reconstituted. 

The narcissist may ramp up their smear campaign in an effort to destroy what remaining self-esteem you might have. They may even go so far as to approach your new partner and try to get them to listen to the narcissist’s side of things. In the narcissist’s mind, if you have no self-esteem and they are able to run off your new partner, they can get you back under their thumb so you can be their emotional punching bag again. 

They will often try their best to sabotage your new relationship. In their mind, they don’t want what they believe is their narcissistic supply going to someone else. This is why it’s up to YOU to set impenetrable boundaries when you start a new relationship. 

Remaining connected to a toxic ex can prevent you from fully healing and moving on from the past trauma. Unresolved emotions and trauma can surface in the new relationship, causing you to be hypervigilant and triggered, even though there are no actual red flags in the new relationship. 

This can cause you to act in ways that are unappealing to someone who hasn’t had a narcissistic partner or any experience with toxic relationships. Most healthy people won’t have a lot of patience for this sort of thing, because part of a healthy lifestyle is cutting ties with toxic people. So, if you care about your new relationship’s success, you must ensure your narcissistic ex cannot breach your security.

How to Handle a New Relationship After Narcissistic Abuse

Let’s address how to handle a new relationship after narcissistic abuse. The emotional baggage from a toxic past can create trust issues, self-doubt, and anxiety. The narcissist might also try to interfere or cause discord in your new relationship, jeopardizing your chances of finding happiness.   

If your breakup was fairly recent, you may still have an active trauma bond. This is why I always recommend waiting at least a year, with consistent healing work, before starting a new relationship. Not doing so usually results in one of two things: 1) you’ll find yourself smack-dab in the middle of another toxic relationship, or 2) you will sabotage your new relationship. 

Abuse survivors often struggle with trust in new relationships due to past experiences. If your toxic ex is still in the picture, it can amplify these trust issues and lead to feelings of jealousy, suspicion, or insecurity in the new relationship. You might find it challenging to believe that your new partner won’t hurt you in the same way your ex did. You might find yourself chasing or monitoring your new partner without having reason to do so.   

Of course, you want to properly vet someone if you’re dating them. But proper pacing and letting people show you who they are shouldn’t make them feel like they’re under a microscope. Pay attention to red flags when they pop up, but don’t invest yourself too hard in a new relationship until someone has earned your trust. This generally won’t happen during the honeymoon phase…it happens after the fast chemistry burns down and you’re able to see them for who they really are.

Setting Boundaries 

The first step in dealing with a narcissistic ex is to set clear boundaries. Remember, boundaries are not meant to punish or control the narcissist but to protect yourself and your new relationship. And they’re not always boundaries you need to verbalize to the narcissist…because they are for you. They’re a roadmap to how you want things to be. So, you need to clearly understand what that looks like for you.   

These boundaries will generally look like blocking the narcissist from your phone, email, and social media accounts unless you have one of the big 3 situations like shared custody, a shared business, or shared employment. However, that doesn’t mean you must let them run loose like a rabid dog tearing up the neighborhood.

In any of these three situations, you’ll want to use extreme modified contact or let your attorney handle things. I always recommend letting them contact you via email instead of your cell phone, as cell phone conversations don’t provide proof of anything, and text messages are often not admissible in court if the need to modify presents itself. But, since this isn’t legal advice, you should ask your attorney. 

Limiting Contact

Reduce or eliminate contact with the narcissist to minimize their influence on your life. Again, there are only a few cases where you even need to maintain contact with a narcissistic ex – shared custody, owning a business together, or shared employment. 

Choose email as the primary means of communication to keep a documented record. Again, ask your attorney about specifics. 

Aside from these three scenarios, there’s no real reason why you need to talk to or interact with a narcissistic ex. Unless you are collecting documentation for an upcoming court hearing, any other reason you tell yourself is usually self-sabotage. And your new partner probably won’t be too happy if they find out you haven’t cut ties with your ex.

No Reactivity 

Narcissists feed off emotional reactions, whether good, bad, or sad. If you need to interact with them because of the big three, stay calm and composed when communicating with them, maintaining your dignity. You don’t want to start screaming like a banshee in front of a new partner, because they will think that this behavior is what THEY have to look forward to. However, narcissists will like this because they’ll know the deal, so if your new partner leans towards the narcissistic side, they might even join in with you…but a healthy person will be looking to sneak out the back door while you’re having a shouting match with your narcissistic ex.

Keep Your New Partner Informed 

Be open and honest with your new partner about your past experiences, so they understand the situation and can support you. 

This can be tricky, though…especially if your narcissistic ex is stalking you. If this is the case, you probably want to take care of that situation as much as possible before bringing another person into the fray. This isn’t the kind of energy you want for a new relationship. 

Avoid the Blame Game

It’s crucial not to blame yourself for the narcissist’s actions. Understand that their behavior is a reflection of their issues and lack of values, not your worth or value as a person. However, you want to ensure that you have placed a seal around your life so that the narcissist cannot contact you. This is like hitting a “destroy” button on your new relationship if you don’t. 

You might still be biochemically addicted to the drama, but most healthy dating partners will consider this a huge turnoff. They’re going to be wondering why you’re still engaging with your toxic ex when there’s no need to (unless you have one of the three scenarios I mentioned before).

Focus on Growth

Instead of dwelling on the past, focus on personal growth. Work on building your self-esteem and assertiveness. Learn from your experiences and commit to healthier relationships in the future. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into narcissistic drama because you’re not going to rewire your neural pathways like this. In the same vein, instead of researching narcissism 24/7, you might want to consider researching healthy relationships…but, as a personal aside, I wouldn’t put attachment styles on your curriculum unless you believe you’re anxious/insecure and want to learn how to overcome that.  But, don’t take it further than that.  In other words, do not try to figure out how to show up in a new relationship with someone you believe could be dismissive or avoidant. If you believe this to be the case, this signals a severe lack of compatibility.  If you want healthy love, don’t focus on catering to someone who is going to enhance your abandonment wounds or keep you in a heightened state of anxiety.

Seek Professional Help

If you find it challenging to cope with the impact of the narcissistic ex, consider seeking professional help. When I say professional help, I’m not necessarily talking about therapy. I mean, seeking professional help through an attorney, a private investigator, or a local domestic violence center. Of course, therapy CAN be helpful if you find the right therapist, but the wrong therapist will only worsen matters for you. Sometimes you won’t know until you’ve been to a few sessions, but once they start invalidating you or seem to know nothing about abusive relationships, it’s time to find a new therapist.

Don’t Rush into New Relationships

Take your time before entering a new relationship. Ensure you have done a fair amount of healing and are ready to embrace a healthy connection. Again, I generally recommend taking a year off from dating before trying to make new connections, and this is WITH doing consistent inner work. Keep in mind that the inner work does NOT include watching tik tok videos or reading the thousandth article about narcissists. 

If these things worked, we wouldn’t be seeing the uptick in toxic relationships that we’re seeing, and we wouldn’t see people who’ve been out of their toxic relationships for years but still haven’t healed.  They might help you know how to handle a new relationship after narcissistic abuse, but that’s only a start.  The real work is the work that helps you learn, and get comfortable with, ways to protect yourself going forward.

Inner work is not about abusers and what makes them tick. Inner work is working through your trauma and learning emotional resilience. It’s learning to trust yourself. It’s being your own best advocate and having your back when someone acts sketchy. Reading the 20th book about narcissists probably won’t show you how to do this.

In Conclusion

Dealing with a narcissistic ex while starting a new relationship can be challenging, but remember, you’re not alone. You’ve got this, and there’s a lot of help for you here. If you are still reeling from the outcome of a toxic relationship, try to heal the soul-level exhaustion and gently befriend yourself once again.  Align with your true, authentic self so you can call in joy and fulfillment that have eluded you…until now.

Check out my groundbreaking video course, THRIVE!

The THRIVE program can help you get to a place of self-empowerment, self-love, and finally feeling comfortable in your own skin. 

…and rediscover the joy and simplicity of the way your life was naturally meant to be.

…and feel confident that you’ll never fall for fake or exploitative ‘love’ again.

…and if these words are speaking to you, then feel free to consider joining THRIVE.

You will get video training (in digestible bursts) to help you create better boundaries, stop betraying yourself, and stop acting out of alignment with your own integrity. You’ll even be able to prepare yourself for true and authentic love, if that is your personal goal.

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S says December 6, 2023

Four, nearly 5 years ago my 15 yr marriage to my narcissistic ex ended. Six months after my separation from him I met a man and we began a relationship 3 days before my divorce was finalized. I had just discovered via much research that my ex was a narcissist and I was quite literally a huge mess inside. I was traumatized and trauma bonded. I was up and down with emotions and so my new relationship felt refreshing yet terrifying all at once. I kept finding fault in everything he said and did. I saw red flags in things he said and did. I broke up with him at least 10 times in a 5 month period. I kept asking for time alone, that I didn’t need to be in a relationship, yet he was very persistent and intrusive, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He kept showing up at my house even after I said I wanted time apart. The thing about him was that though he was like that, he was kind, gentle, caring, loving, listened to me, etc. So something about him kept drawing me back in. I questioned if he was a narcissist too. I didn’t trust myself to know if I was in a healthy relationship or not. I wanted space yet craved closeness with someone. I pushed him away just to pull him back in again. This was the cycle of our first year together. We got married after 8 months together. And now, 4 years later, I am still struggling to heal after my relationship with my ex. I still don’t trust my current husband. I overthink everything. I am hyper vigilant of every single word he says. During a few arguments he has gaslit me and invalidated my feelings, which has caused me to further spiral in my distrust. But just because someone gaslights you or invalidates you doesn’t make them a full blown narcissist….and I have to keep reminding myself that he isn’t perfect either and has a few toxic traits himself. Yet it doesn’t necessarily mean this man is going to betray me or hurt me in the ways my ex did. My current husband is 90% of the time understanding, loving, extremely patient, and listens to me when I am triggered and go off on him for something he said or did. But there’s that tiny 10% that makes me question. The point is, I am so tired of analyzing every word he speaks, every action, etc. He tends to be critical and doesn’t think before he speaks, so sometimes he says things that are offensive and then will get mad at me for reacting…and say I’m mistreating him for blowing up on him because of what he said/did. This is the cycle our marriage has been in this entire time.
I don’t allow myself to trust him. We have little to no emotional connection….well I should say, I don’t have an emotional connection to him. I hesitate. I can’t stand physical affection from him. I can’t stand intimacy with him. I don’t really think I actually love him…or if I’m just emotionally numb. I feel stuck in self loathing, self sabotage, and always looking for a way out. I find myself not wanting to be married anymore. Because I think I would be happier if I was alone. Because a relationship feels too exhausting to me. He knows all of this and will say he’s not going anywhere and that we will work it out. But at the same time, things are stuck. We haven’t grown deeper in love, our relationship feels like we are roommates and not actual lovers. Our conversations are still stuck on our last relationship and what was done to us….but there’s nothing deeper or better to discuss….apparently. i just feel lost. I don’t know who I am and what my purpose is. I have no family and friends (some have since passed a way and the others my narc ex turned against me). My current husband’s family is nice and all….but they don’t understand me and actually dismiss my feelings on the occasion I do say something. They just don’t get where I’ve come from. Thats ok…I don’t expect them to but it doesn’t help me either. I feel so alone and misunderstood. I go from feeling secure in my life to one little trigger making me want to throw in the towel and run away and be alone. I thought about therapy but I’m afraid of the therapist overlooking my issues just to make a buck and not really helping me heal. I am just finding it difficult to cope. And I fear people are growing tired of me and my issues. I know I should have waited to get into another relationship, and had no business remarrying so soon, and now I suffer the consequences of that…because my healing is delayed AND the aftermath of my narc ex. I just want to feel ok. And normal. And not so crazy inside. I am tired of feeling confused. If anyone has any advice please email me! This post has helped me a lot though. My problem is to actually apply these things to myself. Healing on my own is proving to be nearly impossible.

Barbara says October 18, 2023

I was desperate to leave my narcissistic husband. I met a man who offered me the full upper floor of his house, to come and go as I please. He helped me buy a small car and does not charge rent as he told me he wants me to become financially independent. He reassured me that he will not ask me to leave even if we can only be friends.

He has developed romantic feelings for me and tells me he needs me to be there for him. He becomes upset when I spend a night with a friend, and tells me he feels he is unimportant.
I made it very clear that I would need to have privacy, a safe environment where I could live without expectations.
After three months he wants me to be at his home as much as possible. I explained that this is not my house and I feel I have no home. He tells me this is my home but all I have is clothing, no personal pictures, or my own furniture.
He has helped me begin to start a business but now nags me to stay home and work on my business when I need to see friends and family.
He accused me of drinking too much, being unpredictable and not being there for him.
This is only a part of the problem. I I need to know if he is trying to control me or working through his grief since his wife died. I feel anxious going out, staying out too late, meeting up with friends. He can be extremely kind and thoughtful but I feel he is trying bro manipulate me with sad stories about being home alone and missing me. It is a complicated situation.

Olivia says July 29, 2023

Is there any content on your blog about narcissistic friends? I keep attracting them, they do all the love bombing, then suddenly BOOM! they’ve disappeared and I wonder where my friend went. Well they weren’t my friends were they. But I’d like to know how to spot non-narcissist friends.

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