Breaking Free: How to Love Again after a Narcissist


Cindy met Jake and was instantly attracted to his charm and good looks. On their first date, Jake was attentive and confident. He ordered Cindy’s dinner and her wine. She was impressed by the famous, interesting people he knew. Although Jake didn’t ask Cindy much about herself, she figured he was just nervous.

Underneath his charming exterior, Jake had a deep need for admiration and control. Cindy’s self-worth suffered as she tried to meet his unrealistic expectations. His constant need for validation and the eroding of her sense of self left Cindy feeling lost and diminished.

About three months after they started dating, Cindy started to suspect that Jake was seeing someone else. Cindy confronted him, but he denied it. Eventually, Jake confessed.

Cindy tried to end the relationship, but Jake was persistent. He pleaded and promised things would be different. Months later, she realized he was not going to change and finally ended their relationship.

Cindy wondered why she continued to see Jake after how much he’d hurt her. Why did she let him treat her so poorly?

Have you ever fallen for a narcissist? You’re not alone. Our crazy culture encourages, and even glamorizes narcissistic behavior by telling us that we need more beauty, more wealth, and more power. They tell us that we aren’t confident enough, and we can’t find love unless we are confident – which is not true. It’s no wonder that narcissists are so appealing. When you focus on wanting someone confident, beautiful, wealthy, and powerful, you can easily miss or outright ignore the warning signs that you’re headed for trouble. Focusing on the superficial distracts you from the most important qualities to look for in a man and a relationship.  When you love a narcissist, something is missing.

Cindy needed time and space to get past this toxic relationship. If you’re in a similar situation, you may need the same. Give yourself a chance to process your feelings and detox from the narcissist.

If you’ve endured the tumultuous whirlwind of love with a narcissist, the path to finding a healthier relationship is possible. Here are the 7 steps:

1-  Shatter the Illusion.

Recognizing the narcissist’s dance is the first step to breaking free. When you understand his patterns and recognize the red flags and manipulation tactics, you’ll be better able to see things for what they are. Healing starts with acknowledging the emotional toll this relationship has taken on you. There’s strength in facing the truth.

2-  Reach out for support.

Talk to trusted friends, family members, support groups, or see a therapist one-on-one who is trained to help people move on from toxic relationships. It might also help if you keep a journal so you can process the painful experience of dating a narcissist.  The better your support system, the easier your journey will be.

3-  Say “No.”

This is a time to prioritize self-love. That usually means shifting your focus inward and prioritizing self-care. It’s not about ego; it’s about building resilience. Breaking up with a narcissist you love is difficult, but standing up to someone who has treated you poorly can be a very empowering experience. Even if you miss him and want to see him, you must realize that he isn’t right for you and act on that knowledge. It’s vital that you put your needs first. This might mean not returning calls or texts, blocking his number, or blocking him from social media. If he’s dangerous, don’t hesitate to protect yourself with a restraining order.

4-  Forgive Yourself.

You were deceived, misled, led astray, and expertly played by a master manipulator. It’s crucial to recognize that, in part, you unwittingly allowed the mistreatment to persist. Consider it a valuable learning experience, one that can help you understand the reasons behind your vulnerability to someone of this nature and the factors that led you down this path. It’s important that you forgive yourself because the mistreatment wasn’t your fault. But you need to learn why you allowed it to happen so you can protect yourself and avoid toxic people in the future.

5-  Explore and heal your motivations. 

Did this person’s appeal have something to do with a lack of nurturing, security, or appreciation in your past? Understanding and healing the roots of your attraction to narcissistic and toxic relationships can free you from their spell.

6-  Listen to your inner voice. 

Develop your inner guide to avoid narcissists, cheaters, and abusers so you can find a good man. You can develop the part of yourself that will help you figure out what dating processes work for you, and how to get what you want in love. Your inner, intuitive voice can be honed to help you spot a narcissist before he does any damage.

7-  Choose healthy partnerships.

Think of love as a partnership, not a power struggle. Nurture relationships that are mutually supportive. Finding love after a narcissist involves a deliberate and thoughtful process. It requires self-awareness, effective communication, shared values, and a commitment to mutual growth. By prioritizing these elements, you set the stage for a lasting and fulfilling love.

Bottom Line:

After a narcissistic relationship, the path to lasting love involves practical steps and self-discovery. It’s about facing reality, empowering yourself, and making conscious choices in your relationships. As you move forward, remember that the journey to love again is a process. With resilience, you can embrace a new and fulfilling chapter in your life.

Although recovering from a narcissist can be difficult, it’s a critical turning point in your life. Learning from painful experiences can dramatically improve your future relationships. Once you’ve truly healed, you’ll never tolerate such behavior and mistreatment again.

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  • Crystal says:

    Thank you Dr. Susan for helping me realize that I know I can do much better, for opening my eyes to not accepting dishonesty in such a toxic situation… What I know now was something I’ve always known deep down and I’m on my road of recovery.

  • Crystal says:

    Thank you Dr. Susan for helping me realize that I know I can do much better, for opening my eyes to not accepting dishonesty in such a toxic situation… What I know now was something I’ve always known deep down and I’m on my road of recovery.

    • Dr. Susan says:

      Hi Crystal,

      So nice to hear from you.

      Congratulations for taking steps to extricate yourself from that toxic situation.

      I’m glad I could help you get started on your road of recovery.

      Please keep us posted. We want to hear from you.

      Dr. Susan

  • Janice says:

    Excellent article. I agree that our roots affect our preent relationships, be it personal or work-related.

  • Janice says:

    Excellent article. I agree that our roots affect our preent relationships, be it personal or work-related.

    • Dr. Susan says:

      Hi Janice,

      Very nice to hear from you.

      That’s a very important comment.

      People don’t always realize that work relationships can be affected too.

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Dr. Susan

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