After a relationship with a person who has shown you to struggle with narcissism, it’s essential to go no contact to heal.
Why Committing to No Contact is Necessary When Your Partner Struggles with Narcissism
It’s natural to miss your partner after you have separated no matter how unhealthy the relationship may have been for you. This is not weakness nor a sign that you need to be together.
Despite these natural emotions though, it’s important to go no contact when your ex has traits of narcissism. This is a necessary boundary to protect yourself because a narcissist, by their very nature, will try to confuse you and manipulate you.
Empty Promises and the Narcissist
A narcissist will work hard to get what they want by saying whatever is necessary. If they want you back, or want your attention, they will give you the words and/or attention you crave from them.
Sadly, once a person with narcissism gets what they want, they will quickly revert back to old behaviors. They aren’t able to have genuine accountability and follow through with whatever they promised you. If you have ever broken up and gotten back together with a narcissistic partner in the past, you have likely experienced this disappointment already.
Related: 7 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist
It’s Natural to Want to Believe the Narcissist
It’s crucial to go no contact precisely because an ex with narcissism is incredibly charming and can be very persistent to get what they want. During this period of trying to get back with you, they may seem like the person you always wanted them to be – kind, caring, thoughtful, attentive, and respectful.
There is no weakness in falling for this – it’s human nature to want to be close to someone we love yet these promises, and actions, are acts of manipulation. Therefore, you must protect yourself with the boundary of going no contact.
Going No Contact Takes Skill
It is natural to believe that going no contact is simply about willpower. Yet this isn’t true. You can set yourself up for success by using therapy skills and tools to help protect yourself and heal.
Here are 5 strategies to help you heal derived from therapy skills.
Related: What to look for in a therapist: 3 Tips from a licensed therapist
Tip #1 for How to Go No Contact with a Narcissist and Heal: Be Aware of What’s Wise
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an effective therapy model for helping you manage your emotions to feel truly stable. The fundamental theory of DBT is called States of Mind theory. This theory explains that at any given time you are in one of three states of mind: reasonable, wise, or emotional.
Living in Emotional Mind is typically what brings people to therapy because this State of Mind always makes emotions, and problems worse. In Emotional Mind, you act out of your emotions despite negative potential consequences. For example, in Emotional Mind you may reach out to your narcissistic ex despite knowing, deep down, that you are risking entering another period of manipulation and disappointment. The goal state of mind is Wise Mind.
How to Enter Wise Mind
In Wise Mind, you mindfully notice your emotions and honor them (suppressing them isn’t the goal) yet you do this logically pulling in Reasonable Mind thinking. Here you will still want to speak to your ex sometimes, yet you know you must stay no contact. You remind yourself that being no contact with your ex is the only way you will heal. Instead, you may journal, call a friend, or take a walk to cope with your urge to contact your narcissistic ex in a healthy way.
Tip #2 for How to Go No Contact with a Narcissist and Heal: Write Down the Facts
A DBT skill to help you get into Wise Mind is checking the facts. This is when you pull yourself out of your Emotional Mind by remembering what’s true. This allows you to move from Emotional Mind to Reasonable Mind to ultimately enter Wise Mind.
In this case, you check the facts by reminding yourself exactly why you went no contact. You may list all the pros/cons of this relationship or write down all the reasons you ended the relationship. Honor why this relationship hurt so much. Honor why this person ultimately isn’t right or healthy for you despite how much you love them.
Tip #3 for How to Go No Contact with a Narcissist and Heal: Radical Acceptance
Radical Acceptance is a Wise Mind skill which you honor reality for what it is. This is because denying reality never changes reality. Instead, you only feel worse when you deny reality.
You may, for example, feel deeply sad and miss your narcissistic ex. Yet this doesn’t mean that they are healthy for you. Here you want to accept the truth that you may still want or love your ex and that you left for valid reasons. Refusing to honor your need to go no contact is to deny reality and to get stuck in Emotional Mind.
Practicing Radical Acceptance
Radical Acceptance is an important Wise Mind skill yet it’s not easy to practice. Sometimes, you will need to keep Turning the Mind back to accepting reality. Turning the Mind is another DBT skill. When natural thoughts such as “Was the relationship really that bad?” or “Maybe I didn’t try hard enough?” arise you remind yourself of the facts. You remind yourself of the reality that no matter how much you wish it wasn’t true, this relationship ended for valid reasons.
Tip #4 for How to Go No Contact with a Narcissist and Heal: Distract Yourself
When you are in Emotional Mind, it can be hard to get out of it sometimes. For example, you may find that sometimes you keep fantasizing about getting back with your ex. Or you may get lost in your feelings of missing them after a breakup. When this happens, sometimes the Wisest thing you can do is distract yourself.
A DBT skill which helps with this is called ACCEPTS. The “A” stands for activities.
Distracting Yourself to Stay No Contact
Using ACCEPTS you do any healthy activity you can think of to distract yourself from urges to speak to your ex. This, of course, includes getting off your phone (which can be a trigger for breaking “no contact”). You may also clean your place or doing yoga.
Any activity which doesn’t cause you more harm for ACCEPTS. You want to avoid activities, like getting drunk, which may make you more likely to speak to your ex.
For support in identifying self-soothing distracting activities, you may download a free therapy handout here:
Tip #5 for How to Go No Contact with a Narcissist and Heal: Set Boundaries with Yourself
Having healthy boundaries is an essential skill to cultivate to stay no contact. Your boundaries protect you from potential manipulation or gaslighting.
Part of healthy boundaries is to also set limits on yourself. Here you will need to set limits on fantasy thinking. You do this by reminding yourself that you left for a reason. Check the facts and practice Radical Acceptance.
You also need to set boundaries on your urges to reach out to your ex or respond to them. You do this by staying mindful of your urges, managing unhelpful thoughts, and distracting yourself – as often as needed.
Healthy Boundaries Help You Stay No Contact and Heal
When you strengthen your boundaries, you are protecting yourself from getting sucked back into a painful cycle with your narcissistic ex.
You are also allowing yourself to cultivate greater self-love when you practice healthy boundaries. This self-love protects you from ever wanting to get back with your narcissistic ex in the long run.
Related: The Meaning of “Codependency” and How to Find Healing
Staying No Contact is Possible
You are doing an incredible job working to stay no contact. Here you allow yourself to truly heal by taking the space necessary to stop believing a narcissist’s manipulation. Yet despite how important this is it’s truly difficult to go and stay no contact but it’s possible.
Keep committing to these tips for no contact and trying to stay in Wise Mind. And remember that with any healing journey it’s about progress, not perfection. If you “slip up” and talk to your ex, forgive yourself. And then work to remember that they will try to manipulate you. Come back to your commitment to stay no contact and you will allow yourself to heal as quickly as possible.
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
She is currently working on her book, Self-Love Made Possible: The 5-Step Guide to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy and Become Your Own Best Friend. To be notified of its release, please join the waitlist here.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to email@example.com or DM her on Instagram.
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