The manipulative techniques that narcissists use trick you into equating their abusive behavior with love, which leads to you connecting your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations with their existence. It makes you believe that you have to have them in your life to have the life that you desire and it is for this reason that you have to learn how to let go of the love that you have for the narcissist.
If you want to stop loving a narcissist you have to reconstruct your perception of love. With a new and improved perspective, you can develop the skills needed to emotionally detach yourself from the narcissist in your life and regain control of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations.
This article has all of the information that you need to make well-informed decisions when emotionally detaching yourself from the narcissist in your life. We’ve also created a short video (see below) with eight characteristics of a healthy relationship so you can differentiate the love that you have for the narcissist in your life from the true love that you deserve.
A Short Video With 8 Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship
You Have to Reconstruct Your Perception of Love
The love that you deserve to have is called consummate love. It occurs when a relationship has all three elements of the triangular theory of love: intimacy, passion, and commitment. It makes you feel like you have a connection with someone who is also your best friend, the commitment, compromises, and sacrifices made are mutual, the relationship feels secure, and there is no manipulation.
Narcissists are really good at manipulating you into believing that the love you have for them is consummate love but the truth is that it is infatuated love. The only element of the triangular theory of love that infatuated love has is passion. It is intoxicating, irrational, associated with bad decision making, and usually short lived.
In our article Why Is It So Hard to Stop Loving a Narcissist you can learn about the manipulative techniques that narcissists use to trick you into equating infatuated love with consummate love but the fact of the matter is that narcissists are incapable of the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs that come with having a real connection with another human being, such as consummate love.
Reconstructing your perception of love begins from within. You have to have enough love, respect, and commitment for yourself before you can safely and confidently search for someone else who can love you the way that you deserve to be loved. This is true for all relationships, not just romantic ones.
Learn About Narcissism and Narcissistic Abuse
You can begin this process by learning about the narcissistic abuse that you experienced to grasp a clear understanding that the abuse you experienced says nothing about you and your worth. The invalidation, devaluation, dehumanization, humiliation, and degradation that you experienced from the narcissist in your life often manipulates you into constructing a sense of self out of their negative projections.
You can read more about this in our article What Do Narcissists Want In a Relationship but they are constantly projecting their own negative projections onto you. After months, years, and even decades of manipulation and abuse, you probably adopted some of those negative projections as your own.
The more you learn about narcissism and narcissistic abuse, the easier it is going to be to refuse to let the narcissist in your life define who you are and/or aspire to be. Another really good thing that you should do to reconstruct your perception of love is to learn how to set healthy boundaries.
Set Healthy Boundaries With Yourself
The most effective boundaries that you can learn how to set that will help you reconstruct your perception of love and prevent it from being corrupted by the narcissist’s manipulation are ones that you set with yourself.
We created a very thorough guide to the best boundaries that you can set with yourself in our article How to Respond to Future Faking, which is one of the most powerful techniques that narcissists use to corrupt your perception of love, but the boundaries outlined in that article are the following:
- Have Realistic Expectations for Your Relationships
- Focus on People’s Behavior, Not Their Words
- Have a Clear Understanding of the Reason That You Are In the Relationship
- Be Honest and Direct About Your Thoughts, Feelings, Emotions, and Needs
With these boundaries in place, you are going to be in a position from which you can quickly realize that the “love” you have for the narcissist in your life has been built on a foundation of lies, manipulation, and abuse.
The importance of this realization is immeasurable because many people who have suffered narcissistic abuse remain trauma bonded to the narcissist because they believe that the love that they have for them is real.
Learn About Trauma Bonding
A trauma bond is a deeply rooted emotional attachment between an abuser and the person that they are abusing. They are created by a cycle of mirroring, manipulation, devaluation, invalidation, dehumanization, and intermittent reinforcement.
They are to blame for the continuation of a large majority of narcissistic relationships because they manipulate victims of narcissistic abuse into justifying, rationalizing, and normalizing the abuse that they are experiencing.
After months, years, and even decades of experiencing the intensity of a trauma bond and the abusive behaviors that come with it, it is very common for victims of abuse to lose sight of their sense of self, perception of love and healthy relationships, and the ability to conceptualize their own perception of reality.
We highly recommend that you read through our Trauma Bonding Content Hub to learn everything that you need to know to make well-informed decisions when attempting to stop loving the narcissist in your life.
How to Regain Control Over Your Thoughts, Feelings, Emotions, Needs, Wishes, Goals, and Aspirations
As we mentioned before, one of the biggest reasons that the love that you have for the narcissist in your life is hard to let go of is because your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations are connected to them.
It often makes you feel like it is impossible to live a happy, healthy, and secure life without them. This can make it really hard to stop loving, or at the very least, feeling a deep connection for the narcissist in your life.
Before you attempt to regain control, there’s a really good passage in a book named The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy that you should memorize. In the book, the boy is leading his horse through the woods and says, “I can’t see my way through.” The horse replies, “Can you see to take the next step?” The boy says, “Yes” and the horse says, “Just take that.”
It is such an important passage to memorize because detaching yourself from a narcissist is never going to be an easy task and it is always going to be a long journey. The reason for this is because narcissistic abuse manipulates you into neglecting your own well-being and destroys your sense of self.
Your well-being includes your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations and your sense of self is your perception of the collection of characteristics that define you. We briefly mentioned this earlier but when a narcissist destroys your sense of self, they “help” you rebuild it by projecting all of their negative emotions onto you.
Over time, a narcissist will bully and manipulate you into adopting their negative projections as your own view of yourself. When it comes time to regain control of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations, you’ll likely feel like you don’t have the right to try to do so. The abuse that you experienced will make you feel selfish for even thinking about prioritizing your well-being over the narcissist’s selfish agenda.
Use Journaling to Regain Control Over Your Thoughts, Feelings, Emotions, and Needs
Journaling is a reliable technique that you can use to manage the anxiety, stress, depression, mal-adaptive behaviors, negative thoughts, and other negative emotions/feelings that come from narcissistic abuse. When your inner-world feels chaotic, you can use journaling to help you create order.
When journaling to help you regain control of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations after narcissistic abuse you should try to take it one step at a time and keep it simple.
The reason for this is that journaling can be very helpful, but it can also be very triggering. You have to find a balance between learning as much information about narcissistic abuse as possible, which is very important, and remaining present/living your life.
You don’t want to have ruminating thoughts (e.g. keeping a detailed journal of the abuse that you experienced so you can hold onto your reality) holding you back from a happier, healthier, and more secure life. It is all about balance.
A really good approach that you could have to journaling is to track your behaviors, feelings, emotions, etc., on a daily basis so you can identify negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with positive affirmations and behaviors.
With enough practice, journaling is going to help you be comfortable and proud of your perception of yourself. With a healthy and happy perception of yourself, regaining control of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations will come naturally.
Journal to Regain Control Over Your Wishes, Goals, and Aspirations
When you are journaling to regain control over your wishes, goals, and aspirations, you should try to set achievable goals that you could complete on a daily basis.
A simple example of this would be setting an achievable goal of spending 20-30 minutes every single day doing something that makes you happy (e.g. yoga, drawing, reading, exercising, etc.) instead of setting a goal to heal within the next six months.
It would be amazing if you could heal within the next six months, but it isn’t realistic. Using journaling to set unrealistic goals is dangerous because when you don’t achieve them, it could remind you of all the negative emotions that the narcissist projected onto you, making you feel inadequate, worthless, and weak.
You can set huge goals for yourself, but you have to understand that healing is a journey and requires you to complete many different “smaller” goals along the way.
When you set achievable goals, you’re going to slowly realize that your wishes and aspirations are coming true (e.g. one of your wishes were to manage your triggers better and because you set a “small” goal of spending 5 minutes a day practicing on working on your triggers, when you are in a real situation where you feel triggers, you manage them perfectly!).
What Should You Take Away From This Article
The best approach that you can have if you want to stop loving the narcissist in your life is to reconstruct your perception of love. With a healthy perception of what love is, you are going to be able to detach your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations from the narcissist in your life.
Once this happens you are going to realize that the love that you had for the narcissist in your life, isn’t necessarily the love that you were looking for and that you can have the happier and healthier life that you deserve by taking things one step at a time.
All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.
Sternberg, Robert J. “A triangular theory of love.” Psychological review 93.2 (1986): 119.