Summoning up the courage to leave a narcissist can manifest in many different ways. Up until this point, we’ve only written about someone who is suffering narcissistic abuse initiating the breakup or divorce. 

But in this article, we are going to cover how to make a narcissist break up with you. 

Regardless of who initiates the separation, healing is a very difficult journey. It’s very common for a someone who has suffered narcissistic abuse to be plagued with self-doubt and self-blame.

When these types of emotions and feelings are combined with the pervasive environment of manipulation, breaking up or divorcing a narcissist can be excruciating.

So, this article is going to give you a handful of techniques you can use to reduce the amount of narcissistic supply you provide to the narcissist in your life. 

Narcissistic supply is the validation and admiration that narcissists receive from others. They spend their entire lives maintaining a falsified reality they created to neglect their own emotional instability. 

To be this superficial, they need narcissistic supply. By implementing the techniques below, you put yourself in a much better position to escape the narcissistic abuse cycle. 

Unfortunately, as with all techniques designed to manage narcissism, the ones below aren’t guaranteed to make a narcissist discard you. 

In addition to the techniques, we’ll explain why they won’t always work, along with everything you should expect when attempting to leave a narcissist. 

The Gray Rock Method

The gray rock method is a technique you can use to significantly reduce the narcissistic supply you provide to the narcissist. You can do this by keeping a very superficial relationship with the narcissist in your life. 

This means that you will not share good news with a narcissist, you won’t defend yourself when they use projection, and you won’t argue at all with the narcissist in your life.

Be careful because this infuriates a narcissist because it contradicts their sense of specialness. They’ll most likely respond with passive aggressive behavior and/or rage. 

When this happens, you’ll remain indifferent to their manipulative tactics and ensure that the conversations are as insignificant as possible.

The gray rock method is a fantastic technique to use to protect yourself however it does come with some consequences. 

As I hinted at before, using the gray rock method means that you’re not offering a sufficient amount of validation and admiration. You’re also activating all of their insecurities and vulnerabilities that they’ve suppressed within their psyche.

This is significant because their emotional inadequacy and immaturity makes them unable to process the emotional distress that comes from suppressing heavy negative emotions like insecurities, vulnerabilities, shame, a fear of inadequacy, and a fear of abandonment.

Keep in mind that narcissists spend their entire existence fabricating a reality that portrays themselves as perfect, to avoid addressing their emotional instability. 

So when their suppressed emotions are activated, their emotional immaturity causes them to lash out at those around them. 

Lashing out could manifest in manipulation, passive aggressive behavior, physical abuse, and many more behaviors that will be covered later in this article.

Setting Boundaries 

Setting boundaries in narcissistic relationships are the fundamentals to preserving your mental health.You could set a boundary that circulates around your refusal to let your reality be doubted, denied, and discarded. 

Or you could set a boundary by respectfully walking away from the conversation every time you feel attacked and/or uncomfortable.

Setting boundaries is really about you acknowledging your limitations, and respecting them enough to stand up for yourself when someone doesn’t acknowledge the boundaries that you’ve set. 

Much like the gray rock method, setting boundaries comes with some consequences as well. When you set a boundary with a narcissist you trigger their suppressed insecurities and vulnerabilities but you also contradict their sense of specialness. 

This is huge because their sense of specialness has a very strong correlation with the falsified reality that protects their vulnerable ego. 

By setting a boundary with a narcissist, you’re essentially telling them that they are not entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want. 

When a narcissist’s sense of specialness is contradicted they react as a child would. The comparison with a child originates from a narcissist’s emotional immaturity. 

When you tell a child they can’t do something that they really want to do, many of them throw temper tantrums, as do narcissists. The only difference being that narcissistic temper tantrums are much more malicious, destabilizing, bizarre, and sometimes physically violent. 

Why Won’t These Techniques Always Work? 

Narcissists are very possessive. After months, years, or even decades of power and control over you, they feel as if they are entitled to you for the foreseeable future. 

I mention this because we had the opportunity to interview 34 survivors of narcissistic abuse who escaped the abuse cycle after the narcissist in their life discarded them, not the other way around. 

Out of the 34 survivors, 28 of them reported that their abuser made a significant amount of attempts to hoover them back into the relationship. 

They felt like this was a really difficult hurdle to overcome because the break up/divorce came out of the blue, and they didn’t have time to grasp a comprehensive understanding of their trauma.  

This led us to believe that trying to find a solution that is dependent on the narcissist in your life ending the relationship, may not give you the skills you need to manage narcissism.

Significantly reducing the amount of narcissistic supply you provide to them isn’t as simple as them realizing that you are no longer a sufficient source of narcissistic supply, discarding you, and leaving you alone forever. 

In fact you’re much more likely to be gaslighted and manipulated by the narcissist, flying monkeys, enablers, and experience the hoovering phase.

Another thing that you should be aware of is that you’re likely trauma bonded to your abuser if you haven’t been able to grasp a comprehensive understanding of narcissism in general.

There are so many different aspects of narcissism that play a role in the success or downfall of your healing journey that neglecting some of them could be detrimental to your well-being.

Circling back to How to Break a Trauma Bond With a Narcissist, they are very strong emotional attachments between two people that is formed through emotional and/or physical abuse. They’re to blame for the continuation for neatly every single abusive relationship.

For example, narcissists are very good at using intermittent reinforcement, the delivery of a reward at irregular intervals.

Narcissistic relationships are so emotionally starved that the smallest amounts of empathy and/or compassion that narcissists strategically deploy, activates your brain’s reward sector and floods your body with dopamine.

The feeling that you get from your brain’s reward sector being activated is incredibly addicting. In fact, it is similar to the addiction those who abuse substances have.

What ends up happening is that you remain in the relationship because the narcissist becomes your only known source of happiness. You chase the feeling you get from intermittent reinforcement and neglect your own thoughts, emotions, feelings, and needs.

What Can You Expect During a Break Up With a Narcissist?

When you break up with a narcissist, it triggers very deep and convoluted emotions that they have suppressed. Heavy emotions and feelings like shame, doubt, a fear of abandonment, fear of inadequacy, insecurities, vulnerabilities and so on.

This is significant because narcissists are so emotionally immature, they can’t regulate their own emotions. 

When you think about it, it is really strange that someone who is so emotionally inadequate and avoids intimacy would want a relationship in the first place, but narcissists use relationships to regulate their emotions.

In other words, you become a repository for their negative emotions. This dynamic is called scapegoating. A scapegoat is a person that a narcissist regulates their emotions though. Scapegoats get the absolute worst version of the narcissist.

A narcissist will project all of their negative emotions and shortcomings onto their scapegoat to regulate their emotions.

For example, imagine that the narcissist in your life got fired from his/her job because he/she wasn’t good enough. Instead of taking it on the chin and moving forward, they’ll project the shame and hatred they feel for themselves onto you instead. In a twisted way under these circumstances, it becomes your shame and self-loathing aura, not theirs.

Flying Monkeys & Enablers

Flying monkeys and narcissist enablers are some of the most psychologically damaging aspects of narcissistic abuse. They’re both people who have a lack of knowledge about narcissism yet what differentiates a flying monkey from an enabler is their intent. 

Because of their lack of knowledge about narcissism, when confided in, enablers tend to approach narcissistic abuse as they would a healthy relationship. This leads to them giving horrible advice, gaslighting and traumatizing you even more!

Things Enablers Say:

  • I’ve known Jimmy for a long time, he can be difficult sometimes but there’s no way he would ever really mean to hurt you.
  • That sounds crazy, are you sure it happened like that? 
  • Well maybe you two just need to work on your communication skills.
  • Don’t worry I’ll talk to them for you. 
  • Well, relationships aren’t meant to be easy.
  • You shouldn’t call them a narcissist. Putting people in a box like that is really unfair.

On the other hand, flying monkeys are far more malicious. Flying monkeys are a manifestation of a narcissist fear of inadequacy, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, and a self loathing auras. 

When the narcissist is on the verge of being exposed as the abuser that they really are, they’ll enlist flying monkeys by spreading lies and gossip about you. 

This is so malicious because narcissists target those who are close to you in order to cut you off from the ones who you confide in. 

This means that you’ll be cut off from the people who are most likely to hear, support and respect what you have to say. 

Flying monkeys could be family members, close friends or even authoritative figures like doctors, lawyers , law-enforcement and therapists.

The difference between flying monkeys and narcissist enablers is that flying monkeys believe that the narcissist is the victim instead of the perpetrator. 

So what ends up happening is that the victim summons the courage to open up about the abuse they’ve endured, and they are immediately shut down and/or ignored by those close to them.

Flying Monkeys Skit

Jonathan, a grandiose narcissist, senses that he’s losing control over his girlfriend, Sammy. 

She has been really good at setting and maintaining boundaries, she has been using the gray rock method, and she even began to prepare herself for leaving the relationship and going no contact. 

This terrifies Jonathan because if he loses control over Sammy, she could, and should, expose who he really is to anyone and everyone who will listen. 

On a subconscious level, he’s scared that if he gets exposed people will see his vulnerabilities, insecurities, inadequacies and then reject him.

So he decides to enlist flying monkeys. He invites some mutual friends and family members of Sammy to a dinner behind her back. He begs everyone not to tell Sammy because what he has to say is really important and has to do with her safety. 

At dinner he tells everyone that Sammy has been abusing substances and hurting herself. He tells them that every time he tries to help her, she gets violent, then shows them his bruised hand. 

He tells them that Sammy smashed it with a hammer, when in reality, he bruised it by punching a hole through the door that Sammy had shut to protect herself from him. 

Horrified and deeply saddened, everyone at the table tries to soothe Jonathan, who is now sobbing uncontrollably. 

A few days later Sammy has finally summoned the courage to leave Jonathan and decided to tell her family that she’s going to stay at the summer cottage for a while. 

Instead of being met with support, Sammy is met with disapproval, and disgust. Her family regurgitates every single lie Johnathan had told them, which is incredibly destabilizing and isolating for Sammy. 

Rumination 

When someone obsessively overthinks the same thoughts it’s called rumination. Rumination is very common among those who have suffered narcissistic relationships. 

The reason being that narcissistic behavior patterns are designed to consume you with as much self-doubt and self-blame as possible.

Ruminating thoughts could manifest in the form of you blaming yourself for the downfall of the relationship, wondering what you could’ve done differently, seeking justice, or being extremely angry with the narcissist. 

Rumination is a narcissist’s secret weapon because it actually keeps you trapped within the narcissistic abuse cycle, even if you’ve physically left the abusive environment. 

The best way to squash ruminating thoughts is to use radical acceptance.

Radical acceptance is when you let go of the wish for things to be different by accepting the reality that the narcissist in your life isn’t going to change their behavior.

I’m not going to lie, this is a very, very hard skill to master. The reason being that at some point you may have believed that the narcissist in your life was the perfect person for you. 

It is very hard to write someone off as permanently damaged when they have such a significant role in your life. 

When it comes to radical acceptance, I would suggest that you start off with small things first, then work your way up to the big ones. 

 

Hoovering

Hoovering is a very complex aspect of narcissistic abuse. When you do something along the lines of setting a significant boundary or leaving the relationship and the narcissist tries to manipulate you back into the abuse cycle, this is called hoovering. 

This could manifest in them trying to future fake you back into the relationship, claiming they’ve changed their behavior, professing their love for you, or even temporarily going to therapy.

If you haven’t been able to get a comprehensive grasp of what you’ve experienced, you’ll fall for the hoovering technique every single time, especially if you’re still ruminating about the relationship. 

What Should You Take Away From This Article? 

One of the hardest parts about narcissistic abuse is that for you, the relationship was real. At one point you truly believed that they were meant to be in your life. 

You likely exhausted yourself trying to make the relationship work but no matter what you did, it was never good enough. 

Writing someone off as permanently damaged and discarding them from your life can be a terrifying experience, especially if you’re an empath. 

The fact of the matter is that escaping the narcissistic abuse cycle requires you to take action. Trying to make a narcissist break up with you is a good place to start but it’s far from the finish line. 

If you’re in a position where you’re trying to figure out how to break free from the narcissistic abuse cycle but are out of answers you should learn how to manage narcissism, specifically how to live with a narcissist when leaving isn’t an option.

Learning how to live with a narcissist when leaving isn’t an option lays an unbreakable foundation on which you can rebuild yourself. 

It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

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  • 1 Educational Video From a Mental Health Professional
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  • 7 Affirmations for the Upcoming Week
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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.

Suggested Readings

A Complete Guide to the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

How to Break a Trauma Bond With a Narcissist