How to Spring Clean Your Life from Narcissistic Abusers

It’s the time of year when we start our spring cleaning, but there’s no reason it should just be limited to the stuff in our closets and garage, especially if there is a narcissistic abuser in your life. You can (and should) kick them to the curb, too! Here are the signs of narcissistic abuse in a relationship and what you can do about it.

Signs of Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissism is an often-used term to describe self-absorbed or vain behavior, but there’s actually much more to it. In fact, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) may be diagnosed when a person displays characteristics that include an overinflated sense of self-importance, feelings of superiority, need for excessive admiration, sense of entitlement, lack of consideration for other people, and willingness to take advantage of others to achieve goals.

These characteristics can also create toxic relationship patterns that translate into abuse such as:

  • Your partner tries to control your life – They shrink your world and keep you from friends, family, and hobbies by accusing you of putting yourself and others before them.
  • Never accepting blame – Whenever anything goes wrong or something happens that your partner dislikes, it’s never their fault, and most often it’s blamed on you.
  • They project their qualities onto you – They manipulate you into believing that you’re the selfish or demanding one when your partner is the one with those traits.
  • Their rules only apply to you – Narcissists are notorious for double standards and will make rules for you that they don’t believe should apply to them. And they’re always making up new rules (or changing them) to suit their needs.
  • Making you think you’re crazy – Your partner regularly tries to make you doubt your perceptions and feelings to the point you think you’re the one that’s flawed and they are right to find fault with you.
  • Seeking revenge on you – When your partner feels challenged or wronged they set out to get even by lashing out at you, trying to turn others against you, and/or even punishing you financially.
  • Rejecting you only to pull you back – This pattern is repeated over and over in your relationship where your partner harshly rejects (or ends things entirely) with you, only to charm their way back into your heart keeping you in a constant state of emotional upheaval.

Leaving a Narcissistic Abuser

What’s particularly challenging when it comes to narcissistic abuse is that the pattern is difficult to change as the abuser doesn’t believe they are doing anything wrong. That’s why often the only thing you can do is to leave the relationship altogether, which to be honest, they won’t make easy either. These tips can help:

  • Don’t tell them you’re leaving – Remember, narcissists are master manipulators and they will do whatever it takes to sabotage your plan or get you to stay. That’s not to say don’t tell anyone, just make sure it’s a family member or friend you can trust to keep your confidence.
  • Make your plan – Think about where you’ll go if you share a home. Do you have your own car or other means of transportation? Do you share accounts with your soon-to-be-ex? If so, you may want to get cash out or open a new account ahead of time. 
  • Get your important documents – If you own any assets together, you’ll want to make copies of all your important documents before you leave. Also, make sure you take your social security card, your passport, driver’s license, insurance cards, etc. with you as well.
  • Minimize contact – You may not be able to go no-contact, but the best way to avoid your soon-to-be-ex’s traps (and they will bait you) is to maintain as minimal contact as necessary. And what contact you do have to have, keep it as to the point as possible if you have to speak with, text, or email them directly to avoid that communication being edited or misconstrued and then used against you.
  • Minimize your digital trail – Your soon-to-be-ex may try to track you down and to avoid any surprise confrontations it’s wise to turn off your GPS on your phone, your car, or any other device they may use to determine your location. Also, log out and change the passwords on any social media and financial accounts they may be able to access in addition to clearing browser history on any shared devices.
  • Enlist support – Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. You may also benefit from the services of a mental health professional to work through your emotions and cope in a healthy way. And don’t forget self-care. Make it a priority – you deserve it!

When Leaving Is Even More Complicated

If you’re married to your narcissistic abuser or have children with them, all the above still applies, but we recognize there are additional complications in leaving the relationship. You’ll want to find an attorney with experience in high-conflict divorces and make sure you’re open with them so they can be more proactive for you.

If children are involved, you’ll want to work out a legal parenting plan as soon as possible to limit your soon-to-be-ex’s ability to manipulate time-sharing, boundaries, and financial responsibilities.

We recommend going through an intermediary during this process as much as possible. For example, our experienced mediators and Certified Divorce Specialists™ can help with child custody and child support as well as divorce mediation. Not only is divorce mediation, where a neutral third party works with you both to negotiate a mutual settlement agreement, often less combative than court litigation, it can also save you time and money. What’s more, you and your ex don’t even have to be in the same room during mediation as our services are 100 percent virtual!

For more information on how our mediation services and coaching can help you leave a narcissistic abuser, contact us today.

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