Stages of Leaving a Narcissist

12 Stages of Leaving a Narcissist (+ 9 Tips )

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To be straight up with you, the stages of leaving a narcissist can feel like a version of hell. The narcissist will not go down without a fight.

The ending of the relationship generates a massive narcissistic injury within them, which will cause them to explode and project their unhealed wounds all over you. If you haven’t yet truly seen the soulless monster that lies within the narcissist, hold onto your hat because you’re in for the ride of your life… and it’s not a fun one.

It’s one thing to be in a narcissistic relationship, but the real damage comes when leaving a narcissist and you have to run away to stay safe.

The difference between breaking up with someone whole and healthy is that they may feel sad, hurt and angry, but they will not seek to destroy you. A narcissist doesn’t show any empathy towards you unless it’s feigned purely as an attempt to get what they want.

So, let’s delve into what a narcissist truly is, what you can expect when going through the stages of leaving a narcissist, plus some tips to make the whole show run a bit smoother.

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The Truth Behind the Narcissist’s Mask

Behind the Narcissist's Mask

To accurately wrap your head around how the narcissist can be so incredibly callous with zero empathy or regard for how that affects you, it’s imperative to understand what a narcissist truly is.

Due to a significant childhood trauma the narc unconsciously made the decision to sever all connection with their True Self.

With this decision came many consequences, which the narcissist has no capacity or interest in exploring. However, we will go into it so that you have the power of understanding them better than they understand themselves.

With the disconnection of their True Self, they also cut off all of the things that make us inherently human. The True Self is responsible for empathy, kindness, compassion and most importantly, authenticity.

So, who are they without having access to their true self?

They are left being driven 100% by their ego.

The ego represents many of the negative aspects of the human experience, such as greed, manipulation, self-indulgence and competition. The ego needs validation from the outside world in the form of attention, admiration and power for it exist.

There is nothing authentic about the ego, in fact its very existence is based around creating and upholding a False Self, which it needs to survive. If that False Self comes under threat, the ego fears its own annihilation and will do anything to protect the fake image it has created.

The True Self is our direct connection to who we authentically are, without all of our wounding, fears and false programs. By being infinitely connected to our True Self, we have endless access to the abundant life force energy of all creation. By extension, this means we have a boundless amount of unconditional self-love, peace and happiness right at our fingertips, once we heal our wounds.

However, since the narcissist cut off their own connection to source via their True Self, they no longer have access to that divine life force. They have unwittingly left themselves with an incomplete and defective version of self.

Now, for them to get any sense of temporary relief from the broken, shame-filled and fractured existence that is at the very core of them, they need to seek life force energy from outside of themselves.

This is what we call ‘narcissistic supply.’ It is essentially the drug the narcissist is constantly craving and has zero access to within themselves. The only way they can continuously feed their addiction is to seek, steal and pillage the life force energy from others who are still whole and have access to their own life force.

READ: Narc Supply Explained

So, how does this all relate to leaving a narcissist?

Given that the ego is completely self-driven and does not have the capacity to take accountability for anything, the narcissist will immediately project any shortcomings straight onto you.

The ego can never be wrong and must always win. It cannot accept being perceived as being unsound or imperfect in any way and will not shoulder any of the blame.

You are now the perpetrator of everything that has gone wrong in the relationship and the narcissist is the poor victim. They will stop at nothing to make sure you are publicly shamed, punished and exterminated. It all serves the ego’s False Self, which needs to uphold the distorted reality that, “See, I am right and you are wrong!”

The ego cannot risk having you expose them or bring them down in any way, therefore you must be annihilated so as to eliminate that danger.

They do not see you as a good person who just wants to peacefully move on with your life. No, in their warped reality, everyone is out to get everyone else, so for them to avoid being taken down, they must annihilate you first.

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Stages of Leaving a Narcissist

Get ready for some (if not all) of these stages of leaving narcissist to play out. Educating yourself on what they might try to pull will help you to not be surprised so that you can detach from their games.

Attempt to Negotiate

One of the first stages of leaving a narcissist that you can expect is that they’ll try to negotiate with you. This is where they’ll future fake and offer false promises in exchange for you staying put.

“If you stay I’ll…

  • …go to therapy”
  • … be a better help around the house”
  • … stop drinking”
  • … stop working so much”
  • … take you on a holiday”

However, the overarching theme with narcissists is that their words and their actions never match up.

If it’s taken something so dramatic for them to “Offer to help around the house,” what makes you think they’ll actually follow through?

They won’t. They have no intention of changing, because they don’t self-reflect or think there’s anything wrong with them or what they’re doing (or not doing).

Their whole survival strategy is based around telling people what they want to hear, then kicking back and claiming the goods without having to lift a finger.

READ: Examples of Narcissistic Texting

Lay on the Guilt Trips

Narcissist Playing the Victim, Guilt Trip

When the negotiations fail to work, the next stage of leaving a narcissist to prepare yourself for are the guilt trips. This is where they become the total victim in the whole situation.

“How dare you leave me, after everything I’ve done for you!”

They can use anything to pull at your heartstrings, and they will know exactly what to say in order to use your empathy against you. Maybe they’ve got an illness or physical ailment they can use, or it could be their financial situation.

None of it matters. If they try to hold you in an abusive relationship against your better judgement, it’s emotional blackmail, pure and simple.

Threaten Suicide

Speaking of emotional blackmail, another common stage when leaving a narcissist is that they will threaten suicide.

“What’s the point in even living? I’ll end myself if you leave.”

This is a big one, which can hook people back into the relationship even though they do not want to be there.

Any compassionate and empathetic person would not want to be the cause of someone else ending their life and the narcissist knows that about you.

This tactic is all about controlling you through your fears.

If the narcissist truly did end things because of the break up (which I can almost bet my life savings they won’t), that is not on you. No one is responsible for anyone else’s actions, that responsibility falls squarely on their own shoulders.

Their inability to acknowledge their own destructive behaviours is their lesson to learn. Although they spend their lives trying to dump all of their misgivings and karma on other people, it’s actually no one else’s burden to carry.

Hoover You

Narcissist Hoover

If you ever decide to leave a narcissist, they will do everything they can to hoover you back in.

Not because they love you and will do anything to fix the relationship, but because they want to hook you back into the abuse cycle for their own self-serving needs.

They see you as their toy to be played with and discarded whenever they see fit. They do not see you as an autonomous person who is allowed to make their own decisions. This loss of power of you is not acceptable to them, therefore they will try and manipulate you back into their web.

READ: Cycle of Abuse Explained

If you do happen to fall for any of their tactics, you can be sure that the levels of abuse will end up increasing for two reasons:

  1. The fact that you defied them means you need to be punished and put back into your rightful place (in their mind).
  2. By taking them back, you’ve just ‘okayed’ their disrespectful behaviours and they know that you will continue to take more of it.

Here are some hoovering tactics to watch out for:

  • Randomly reach out
  • Act like they’re remorseful
  • Make false promises to you
  • Pretend like nothing’s happened
  • Contact you on important dates (e.g. birthday)
  • Offer gifts or money
  • Profess how much the ‘love’ you
  • Play the victim
  • Use guilt tactics
  • Trigger you through other people
  • Start the love bombing process again
  • Need your urgent help
  • Falsely accuse you of things
READ: Common Hoovering Tactics

Devalue You

Narcissists love to put other people down, it makes their fragile little ego feel better about itself. And let’s be honest, they don’t have the capacity to rise up and meet you up at your level – that’s never going to happen.

“No one else will ever love you.”

They may try and get to you in person, or they can invalidate you through others, especially if you’ve got kids together.

This is where you need to stand strong and realise that their words mean nothing. They’re intentionally trying to attack you where it hurts, simply to get a reaction and have you feeling the need to defend yourself.

Any reaction = narcissistic supply for them.

This is a really great way to practice full detachment and not even bat an eyelid at their snide remarks and comments. You have the power to not feed them the life force energy that they’re so desperately seeking.

If they are invalidating you to the kids, demonstrating that you are choosing not to speak ill of the other parent, is something which will stick with them as they grow. The kids will remember the other parent talking badly and will instinctively have less respect for them and feel less safe around them.

Let the narcissist be their own downfall.

Threaten & Harass You

Father, Narcissist, Arms crossed

Depending on how things go down and what type of narcissist you’re dealing with, you may find yourself being stalked, threatened and harassed by the narc.

This includes having them show up unannounced at your house or work, ringing your phone, sending threatening messages and even getting to you through social media.

If the narcissist you’re dealing with is a malignant narcissist or is violent in any way, don’t leave things to chance. Alert the authorities and get a restraining order put on them to help protect yourself.

Make sure you’ve got some close support around you who know what’s going on.

Pretend to be Nice

Yep, a narcissist can go from threatening you to acting as though they’re the nicest person in the room with the click of a finger. The next stage in leaving a narcissist is where they pretend to be super nice to you.

This is the kind of behaviour that caused cognitive dissonance within the relationship in the first place and probably held you there longer than you wish to admit. I know that’s definitely the case for me.

Cognitive Dissonance

Where the brain is in conflict about two opposing thoughts or beliefs on a topic at the same time. On one hand the narcissist can be abusive and threatening, then the next minute they’re a nice, calm individual.

Your mind has trouble seeing them as both, so it often chooses to believe that they’re a ‘good’ person who has bad ‘moments.’ This essentially nullifies the abuse and makes it harder to see the narcissist as they really are – a manipulative person who can pretend to be nice.

The tactic here is that they want you to forget about all of their awful behaviour and let them back into your world. But the only reason they actually want to be in your world is to extract narcissistic supply from you and get you back into their abusive cycle.

Fly into a Rage

Narcissist Rage, Explodes

Oh yes, when their other tactics fail to work, brace yourself for a narcissistic rage like you’ve never seen before.

The next stage of leaving a narcissist showcases that scared little child inside who’s completely lost control and not getting their own way. They will kick and scream and be verbally abusive in a big adult tantrum.

If you can find some quiet humour in the situation, I always find that helps to extinguish any need to react when it comes to their pathetic, rageful outbursts.

Just let them stand there spitting and seething all by themselves. This is the real narcissist that people need to see so they can realise who’s truly the unhinged one in the situation.

However, narcs are pretty good at keeping their rages behind closed doors. That ability to know when they can and can’t switch it on also demonstrates just how measured their behaviour really is.

Need to Control the Storyline

One of the reasons you are now a huge threat to the narcissist is because they can’t control what you tell other people. Their ego will be in overdrive, wanting to have full domination over what versions of reality people are privy to. And let me tell you, it won’t be the truth and it certainly won’t be your reality!

The ego will be on the warpath to make sure that there is no way it can be exposed.

To enact this, the narc will use flying monkeys (mutual friends, coworkers, family members etc.) to smear your name, gossip, spread false truths, spy on you and more.

READ: Do Flying Monkeys Know What They’re Doing?

As you know, that narc is a brilliant actor and an even better liar. They will have people believing their distorted version of events before you even have a chance to talk to anyone. By the time you do, their perspective has already been swayed to the narc’s viewpoint.

You will be publicly smeared and accused of doing many (if not all) of the things that the narcissist actually did. The most messed up thing is that when the narcissist projects their awful behaviour onto you, they genuinely believe that you did those things to them. The mental disorder keeps them stuck in a distorted reality where they cannot see the truth themselves.

Anyone who truly knows you, will not buy into it and will have your back. But for the fence-sitters and anyone who’s easily manipulated, they will become targets to help the narc with their insidious campaign to crush you.

As hard as it is, this is the fork in the road where you may lose people who you thought were on your team. Some may come back to you after figuring out the truth for themselves when the narc eventually turns against them as well, but others will fall away for good.

Just know that the right people will be in your life on the other side of all of this. Your circle will get smaller, but it be much more authentic.

Still Want to be ‘Friends’

Narcissist Smear Campaign

Next, in the stages of leaving a narcissist is when they will want to still remain ‘friends’ with you.

The narcissist wanting to stay ‘friends’ after you leave them serves multiple agendas:

  1. Keeps their positive public image in tact
  2. Easier for them to still control you since they still see you as their plaything
  3. Helps to control the storyline so that you don’t go telling people about their abusive behaviour
  4. They can still use you as back-up supply whenever they need
  5. Asserts that they still ‘own’ you so that no mutual friends try to get close to you

I thought I could still maintain a basic level of friendship with my narcissistic ex, purely to make life easier for the kids. How wrong was I.

His behaviour hadn’t changed at all and he thought he could still waltz in and continue with his gaslighting and manipulative tactics. Plus, he was being so overly familiar with me on social media, it made my skin crawl. I knew that he was using those moments to actively show the world that he still ‘owned’ me. I ended up restricting his profile so that he couldn’t even see my page.

Take Zero Accountability

After all of the different tactics they throw at you, maybe you’ll notice the same thing that I noticed. Not once do they take any accountability for the break-down of the relationship.

They’ll try making you feel like crap, emotional blackmail, fear-mongering and fake behaviour… but not once will they genuinely take any responsibility.

I remember two days after I’d separated from my narcissistic ex, he said, “When are you coming home? I’m soooo tired from all the work I have to do now.”

I almost burst out laughing as I said, “Never!”

There was no, “I’m so sorry, what can I do to fix this?”
But instead, “Poor me, you should feel guilty and come back to being my emotional punching bag.”

The very nature of narcissism means that they are emotionally stunted people who lack any ability or desire to self-reflect, evolve and take responsibility for themselves.

READ: Why Won’t Narcissists Give Closure?

Replace You

Narcissist New Supply

The final stage of leaving a narcissist is be replaced before you have time to even catch your breath.

The second the narcissist realises that you are no longer going to be their Grade A supply, a new supply will be on the scene. In fact, quite often cheating narcissists will already have someone else on the side, ready to go.

People are essentially dispensable items to the narc. Our sole purpose in their world is to validate them and hand over narcissistic supply. If we don’t serve that purpose, we are now deemed broken toys to be tossed back into the toy box.

They are no different to a drug addict who is constantly lining up their next hit to keep the medicine (relief) flowing.

A narcissist doesn’t share – much like a sullen 4-year-old.

Although to them, you serve no immediate purpose, they still expect you be around forever if they decide to pick you up again. No one else is allowed to play with you because you are ‘theirs.’

So, now after going through an abusive relationship, then being put through the ringer when separating from a narcissist, you have to sit back and watch them love bomb a new person.

Even knowing who the narc truly is and not wanting to be with them, seeing them move on to someone else so incredibly quickly is just heartbreaking. It really solidifies the fact that they never actually cared about you at all. That’s a bitter pill to swallow.

Bear in mind that despite what appearances are depicting, the narcissist’s new supply is not getting a better version of the narcissist. The narc doesn’t care about them any more than they cared about you. It’s all a facade to validate their ego and hook in the new supply.

Below are a few articles which will help you feel better about the existence of the new supply so that you can focus your energy on healing yourself.

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Tips for Safely Leaving a Narcissist

Separating or Divorcing a Narcissist

Stash Your Cash

If you’re planning on leaving a narcissist and don’t have your own money or source of income, I recommend stashing some cash aside for yourself.

Narcissist’s are known for controlling their spouse’s finances as a way of holding them there. This is especially common for stay-at-home parents.

Get out little bits of extra cash and hide it someplace where the narcissist won’t find it, so that you’ve got it for when you need it.

If you can, start up a separate bank account and deposit money into it whenever you can, without the narcissist noticing. Don’t get a bank card, it’s too risky. That’s why you need the stash of cash to get you through until you can get to the bank and withdraw money when the times comes. Make sure no statements will be going to your home address or any email addresses that the narcissist might see.

This money is your Exit Fund and is essential to help you start a new life when you’re ready and able to leave.

Secure Your Documents

Make sure you’ve got all of your personal documents together in one folder, so that when you leave the narcissist it’s all ready to go.

If you need to get copies of joint accounts, bills and other things, get that sorted and add those copies to your document folder in case they decide to withhold any information down the track.

Having everything saved electronically in an email address unknown to the narcissist is a better way to go than having to get your hands on the physical files.

Separate Your Bills & Accounts

If you’ve got joint bills and accounts, get anything separated that you can before you leave the narcissist.

If you have an income coming into a joint account, as soon as you leave, get that diverted to your new bank account. For your own personal bills and direct debits, swap all of those over to the new bank account as well.

Many of the joint accounts and bills will need to be handled once you’ve already left the narcissist, which I recommend getting onto as soon as possible.

Anything that your name came be removed from, do that as soon as you can.

Go No Contact

As soon as you leave the narcissist, go No Contact if you can. If you still have children, property or business with them, the next best thing is to go Low Contact.

In the case of No Contact, you will effectively cut them out, delete them and block them. If they try to contact you, which is almost guaranteed, then ignore all attempts to reply or respond.

If you do need to have minimal contact with them because you’ve got things together to sort out or shared custody of children, keep the contact to an absolute minimum. Only communicate regarding those matters and do not respond to anything off topic.

Keep all communication in the written form, so that there is a record of everything. This also serves to stop the narcissist from getting you caught in verbal word salads and further ensnaring yourself.

If you do have to see them on the odd occasion, I recommend practicing Grey Rock. This is where you be as bland and forgettable as a plain old grey rock. Soon enough, once the narcissist is getting absolutely nothing out of you, they’ll grow bored and move onto someone else.

Communication for the Kids

If you’ve got kids with the narcissist, you’ll need to figure out which is going to be the best method of communication around that. I highly recommend keeping all communication to the point and in the written form. Email or text messaging can work well.

If your kids have their own devices and you trust that the communication is safe, you may allow them to communicate with the narcissist that way. For younger children or volatile situations, a safer option might be for the kids to communicate with the narc through your phone (if need be) so that you can see and hear what’s going down.

Avoid getting caught up in verbal conversation as much as possible with the narcissist. No matter how innocent things may seem, they will be using every opportunity to get you caught up in word salads, gather information about you and catch you off guard.

Our Family Wizard is a great app for parallel parenting with a narcissist. The app keeps everything above board and more importantly, recorded for future reference if need be. Both parents can input information, making it available for both parties.

Our Family Wizard features:

  • CALENDAR – Track parenting schedules, share appointment details, submit requests to change parenting times
  • MESSAGE BOARD – Messages between parents, which cannot be edited, deleted or retracted
  • JOURNAL – Record observations, share the kids’ moments, ‘check-in’ to locations and for pick-ups/ drop offs
  • EXPENSE LOG – Track shared parenting expenses, attach receipts, inform of upcoming payments
  • INFO BANK – Store medical history, insurance info, emergency contacts, school schedules etc.

Get a Lawyer for Splitting Significant Assets

If you’ve got property and other assets to split that are of significant value, I’d highly recommend getting legal advice before settling out of court with the narcissist.

Even if they do agree to split everything 50/50, I’d still get a Separation Agreement with the narcissist drawn up and signed by both of you and a Justice of the Peace.

Narcissists are notorious for thinking they are entitled to more than 50% and will use anything to justify it.

My covert narcissist ex felt completely entitled to take more than 50% purely because he was a male and earned the money. Me being a stay-at-home mum counted for nothing in his warped world.

Then when some of his own unpaid debt came in down the track, he tried to claim that we should both have to pay it, even after walking away with more than his fair share.

Luckily that debt was not linked to me in any way and I did have Separation Agreement with the narcissist stating that all joint debts had been cleared.

Basically, when it comes to separating from a narcissist you want to legally cover yourself for all eventualities that they could try down the line! This may even include custody of pets.

READ: How do Narcs Treat Pets?

If you want to arm yourself with all of the tools and the most appropriate lawyer for leaving a narcissist, I recommend taking Rebecca Zung’s SLAY the Narcissist course. She’s an attorney sitting in the top 1% and is also an absolute expert with winning against narcs!

SLAY the Narcissist:

S – Super Strong Strategy
L – Invincible Leverage
A – Anticipate the narc’s moves and be two steps ahead at all times
Y – Focus on You and your case

Really educating yourself on how to tackle the process from the approach of going up against someone highly skilled at manipulation is essential. It will mean the difference between coming out on top and being dragged over the coals and being bled dry financially in the process.

Completely Detach

One of the most important things you can do for yourself when leaving a narcissist is to start practicing complete detachment.

I know how incredibly hard that is, especially if they’re shoving a new supply in your face, threatening you, smearing your name through the mud and maybe even trying to ruin your career.

But, just like a toddler throwing a tantrum, they’re just doing anything they can to get your attention. If you ignore the narcissist and focus on your own inner healing, you will begin to feel relief and not even actually care about what they’re doing.

READ: What Happens When You Ignore a Narcissist?

Heal Yourself

Narcissist Split, Fork in the Road

Although the final part of this journey is about healing yourself, it should actually be front and centre.

No matter what is going on in your outer world and what stage you’re at in the process of leaving a narcissist, healing needs to be your top priority.

The whole reason you were drawn to the narcissist in the first place was directly due to your inner wounding. It’s with these wounds that the narc was able to hook you in, keep you in place and trigger you to such lengths.

We all have inner traumas that need to be acknowledged and healed in order for us to stop repeating the same self-destructive patterns over and over.

Things like fear of abandonment, not feeling secure unless we’re in a relationship and needing someone else to love us, all place our own validation onto sources outside of ourselves.

That makes us codependent – as in, reliant on someone else to provide us with the unconditional love, acceptance and validation that we so crave.

People who are codependent have generally had childhoods where they felt like love was very conditional based on the actions and reactions of their caregivers.

To no longer be a match for narcissists, we need to heal all of the deep wounds, which the narc was easily able to trigger us with and become our own source of love and validation instead.


  • We will no longer seek those things outside of ourself and subsequently hand our power over to others
  • We will have so much love and respect for ourself that we will not tolerate anything less from other people
  • We will be so authentically aligned with our true self that the lower energy of the narcissist will not be able to exist in our frequency

How do we heal those wounds?

For me, the only way I’ve found to truly shift the wounds permanently is with metaphysical healing on an energetic level (see below). It’s a beautiful journey to take with yourself and one that has such great rewards of unconditional self-love and freedom.

Selina Hill Energetic Healing

Energetic Healing from
Narcissistic Abuse

If you’ve tried everything to heal but still can’t shift things, it might be time to call in the spiritual realm.

✭ Removal of stuck energy
✭ Removal of old traumas & memories
✭ Past Life Regression
✭ Understanding your journey & how it’s shaped you
✭ Loving & non-judgemental guidance
✭ Psychic mediumship
✭ Ask your guides questions & get direct answers

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