Going no contact with a narcissist is one of the best things that you can do for your healing journey. However, it can be an incredibly difficult technique to use.

Going no contact with a narcissist is hard because it creates a tremendous amount of psychological tension, narcissists try extremely hard to get you to break no contact, and because not everyone in your life will support your decision to go no contact with the narcissist.

This article is going to help you grasp a comprehensive understanding of the different reasons that going no contact with a narcissist can be so challenging.

Recommended Video:

How to Go No Contact With a Narcissist When You Have Low Self-Esteem by Lucianne Gerrard (Registered Counselor Specializing in Narcissistic Abuse)

For the best experience, please rotate your mobile device sideways.

It Creates a Tremendous Amount of Psychological Tension

Have you heard of something called cognitive dissonance?

The term “cognitive dissonance” refers to a theory developed by ​​Leon Festinger that suggests when we experience an inconsistency among information, behavior, and belief we experience a tremendous amount of psychological tension. 

To ease this tension, we will change one or more of the elements that are causing the inconsistency to make everything consistent.

In narcissistic environments, cognitive dissonance manifests in the form of the justification, rationalization, and normalization of abuse. 

A woman speaking about cognitive dissonance.

Going no contact with a narcissist creates a tremendous amount of psychological tension that encourages you to slip into a state of cognitive dissonance.

How?

Well, throughout your entire relationship with the narcissist, they were using manipulation tactics to destroy your sense of self.

The narcissist replaced the collection of characteristics that once defined you with all of their negative projections.

What this did was give you the information that suggested that you were worthless, inadequate, weak, unlovable, and unwanted.

A narcissist projecting his painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto someone else.

The narcissistic behavior that you experience supports the information that the narcissist’s projections have given you.

And subsequently, you develop a belief that you don’t deserve anything more than the abuse that you are experiencing.

When you go no contact with a narcissist, you change the information that you have and the behavior that you experience, but it can take a while to change the belief that you have about yourself because healing from narcissistic abuse is a long process.

This causes an inconsistency among the information, behavior, and belief, creates a tremendous amount of psychological tension, and encourages you to slip into a state of cognitive dissonance.

A teacher talking about cognitive dissonance.

Your natural instinct is most likely to find some way to justify, rationalize, and normalize the abuse, but by going no contact, you are battling this urge on a daily basis and that is why going no contact with a narcissist can be so hard.

A very common manifestation of this urge is going no contact, feeling the psychological tensions, and then wanting to ease that tension by reaching out to the narcissist for closure.

Recommended Video:

Small Boundaries That You Can Set to Help You Go No Contact by Lucianne Gerrard (Registered Counselor Specializing in Narcissistic Abuse)

For the best experience, please rotate your mobile device sideways.

The Narcissist Tries Extremely Hard to Get You to Break No Contact

One of the most disturbing aspects of a narcissist’s personality is their sense of entitlement.

Specifically, their sense of entitlement to maintain power and control over you for as long as they see fit.

You see, the narcissist in your life doesn’t view you as an individual with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs of your own.

They see you as an object that they are entitled to using to get narcissistic supply.

A narcissist searching for narcissistic supply.

Narcissistic supply is the validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control that narcissists get from their external environment.

This supply plays a crucial role in the emotional stability of a narcissist.

You see, narcissists have many painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

But because of their low emotional intelligence, they can’t manage them on their own.

One of the ways that they make up for this is with narcissistic supply.

They use the supply that they get from their surrounding environment to build a falsified identity that suppresses their true identity and all of the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are attached to it.

A narcissist building himself.

So, instead of feeling unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak, the narcissistic supply allows narcissists to feel special, unique, important, powerful, and wanted.

In order to keep their true identity suppressed, narcissists need a consistent flow of narcissistic supply.

Now, the most consistent sources of narcissistic supply that narcissists have access to are the people that they abuse.

When you go no contact with a narcissist, you cut off this supply and put the narcissist in a very uncomfortable position.

A narcissist thinking about narcissistic supply.

In a desperate attempt to keep their true identity suppressed, it is very common for narcissists to do everything in their power to regain power and control over you.

Unfortunately, this almost always means abusing and manipulating you.

Now, the no contact method involves ending all physical and psychological forms of contact that you have with the abusive person in your life. 

This may look like:

  • Not responding to their text messages or phone calls
  • Not agreeing/promising to meetup with them or “stay in touch”
  • Not checking up on their social media or keeping tabs on their posts 
  • Not gathering information about their lives through your friends or spending all your time talking about them
  • Not accepting gifts or favors (no matter how tempting) from them
  • Not listening to music that you associate with them
  • Not digging up old photographic memories of them (with or without you in them)
  • Taking proactive steps to heal yourself from intrusive, unwanted, traumatic. and painful memories

If you are truly going no contact with the narcissist in your life, they typically won’t be able to abuse or manipulate you directly.

However, one of the ways that they can get to you is through flying monkeys.

A flying monkey is a person that a narcissist gets to help them abuse other people.

A narcissist training his flying monkey to disrupt someone's no contact.

It is very common for narcissists to use flying monkeys to get you to break no contact so that they can regain power and control over the narcissistic supply that you once gave them.

Experiencing flying monkeys while you’re trying to go no contact with a narcissist can make going no contact extremely difficult to manage.

Suggested Reading:

Our article How Do Narcissists Use Flying Monkeys? has a ton of helpful information that you can use to grasp a better understanding of how narcissists use flying monkeys.

Not Everyone In Your Life Will Support Your Decision to Go No Contact

One of the “superpowers” that narcissists have is being able to subject someone to an unfathomable level of abuse by simultaneously maintaining a positive public persona.

Because of this, the people that narcissists abuse are often the only ones who know just how abusive the narcissist really is.

Everyone else only sees the narcissist’s charming, charismatic, articulate, and relatively pleasant public persona.

A narcissist getting a lot of attention in public.

Unfortunately, this often makes going no contact with a narcissist incredibly difficult because not everyone in your life will understand your reason for going no contact.

In fact, it is very common for people opting to go no contact to receive pushback in the form of name calling, minimizing, guilting, shaming, disapproval, poorly placed judgment, etc., from the world around them.

A Quote From One of Our Community Members

“When I used the no contact method on my narcissistic ex-wife my family turned their backs on me. They thought that I was being abusive and refused to hear my side of the story. It is insane how narcissists can turn people who have known you your entire life against you with the snap of their fingers.” – Robby

As you can imagine, receiving pushback for going no contact from the people you thought that you could trust makes going no contact with a narcissist feel impossible.

If you experience any type of pushback for going no contact, it is important to remember why you’re going no contact and reminding others that this particular boundary that you are setting is not up for debate.

A woman setting a boundary with someone.

The gaslighting, disapproval, and judgment that you will likely experience from other people while using the no contact method is a terrible feeling.

There’s no doubt about it.

But if you allow it to, this terrible feeling can serve as a constant reminder of a forgotten aspect of the no contact method: when you go no contact with an abuser, you need to go no contact with their flying monkeys and enablers as well.

We mentioned earlier what flying monkeys are, but in the narcissistic realm enablers are people who gaslight those experiencing narcissistic abuse because they themselves don’t understand narcissistic abuse.

If you allow it to, their pushback can derail your no contact campaign and push you right back into the narcissistic abuse cycle.

A narcissist taunting someone that he is abusing.

Remember, the no contact method is about completely removing yourself from the narcissistic abuse cycle so you can rebuild, heal, and become the best version of yourself.

It is important that you surround yourself with people who are supportive of your healing journey or you could find yourself back in the narcissistic abuse cycle for months, years, and even decades to come.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

Despite being the best defense against narcissistic abuse, going no contact with a narcissist is incredibly difficult.

If you plan on going no contact with the narcissist in your life, you should be prepared to experience a lot of psychological tension, pushback from the narcissist, and negative response from those who wrongfully support the narcissist.

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References:

Strube, Michael J., and Linda S. Barbour. “Factors related to the decision to leave an abusive relationship.” Journal of Marriage and the Family (1984): 837-844.

Landenburger, Kären M. “The dynamics of leaving and recovering from an abusive relationship.” Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing 27.6 (1998): 700-706.