Why Healing from a Narcissist is So Damn Hard

Why Healing from a Narcissist is So Damn HardExplore the challenges of healing from a narcissist and recovering from narcissistic abuse in a relationship. Understand the emotional roller coaster, gaslighting, and erosion of self-worth that make recovery uniquely difficult.


If it were a sport, most of us would have at least a participation trophy. And breaking up with your average Joe or Jane is like running a 5K — it’s sweaty, it’s uncomfortable, and you might need a few recovery beers afterwards.

But ending things with a narcissist?

It’s like running a marathon barefoot, in the desert, with someone intermittently shouting, “Are you sure you’re running correctly?”

Alright, now that we’ve set the slightly sarcastic stage, let’s get serious.

Coming up I’m going to dig deep into research and studies on narcissists. I’ll be explaining the underlying reasons why it’s so hard to heal and recover from a narcissist. Plus I will share some strategies to help you to finally heal.

I’m writing this article because I am a bestselling relationship author with about 2 million books sold globally.

I wrote the bestselling book Prince Harming Syndrome – which was recommended on Oprah.

Plus I also founded the therapist recommended self-paced course: Broken Heart Recovery.

I love sharing tools to help people heal and move on – from even the toughest break ups.

So let’s get started!

6 Reasons Why Healing From a Narcissist Is So Damn Hard

1. The Emotional Roller Coaster Ride Effect

Narcissists seem to have taken a crash course in emotional engineering. When they shower love, it’s like winning the emotional lottery. When they pull back, it’s a bankrupt jackpot. Post-breakup, you’re not just missing them; you’re also wrestling with the remnants of those turbulent ups and downs.

healing from a narcissist2. The Erosion of Self-Worth

Bit by bit, a narcissist can make you question your worth. And no, not in a profound existential way, but in a “Did I ever really matter?” kind of way. As you emerge from the relationship, you’re tasked with putting together a puzzle of self-worth, but it feels like some pieces are from a different set.

3. Gaslighting: The World’s Worst Magic Trick

When someone is gaslighting you – it is less of a “rabbit out of the hat” trick – and more about “making your sanity vanish.” With a narcissist’s talent for distorting reality, you’re left wondering if your memories came with a faulty switch. Unraveling their web of deceptions can feel like trying to read a novel in a language you don’t speak.

4. Isolation or the Unplanned Solo Retreat

Narcissists tend to corner their market — that market being you. It’s ironic how someone who craves admiration convinces you to cut ties with those who genuinely care. As the fog lifts, you’re basically sending out reunion invitations to your own life.

5. The Complexity of Empathy (Blessing, Curse, or Both?)

Your big heart, that once beautiful safe haven, now feels like a double-edged sword. You oscillate between justifiable anger and wondering if, in some twisted way, the narcissist was struggling too. It’s a mental tug-of-war, and there’s no referee.

6. Distrust in Authenticity (Is Genuine the New Rare?)

healing from narcissistic abuseAfter being with someone who could win awards for their act, it’s hard not to view genuine gestures from others with a side-eye.

What once felt heartwarming now comes with a tiny label reading, “Terms and conditions may apply.”

In the grand scheme, moving on from a narcissist isn’t just about letting go of a person.

It’s about disentangling yourself from a psychological maze.

And if anyone claims it’s easy, well, they probably haven’t been to this particular Narcissist Amusement Park.

Understanding the Narcissist’s Types and Tactics

Narcissists come in various flavors, like ice cream, but with a bitter aftertaste. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of narcissistic abuse – to help you spot which scoop you might’ve had the misfortune of tasting.

1. The Overt Narcissist:

The one most people think of — arrogant, attention-seeking, and openly manipulative. They’re grandiose and always crave the spotlight, making sure everyone knows how amazing they think they are.

The Covert Narcissist (or Vulnerable Narcissist):

The silent but deadly type. Instead of shouting about their greatness, they whisper, “Woe is me,” while sneakily expecting the world to revolve around them.

The Seductive Narcissist:

A real charmer. They make you feel on top of the world, just so they can enjoy the view when they push you off later.

The Vindictive Narcissist:

Cross them, and you’ll be added to their revenge bucket list. They hold onto grudges like it’s a limited-edition collector’s item.

The Cerebral Narcissist:

Book smart, people stupid. They’ve probably read all the classics and won’t hesitate to remind you of that, especially if they sense you’re intellectually threatening them.

Each type of narcissist has specific tactics to manipulate and control. Recognizing these can be a step towards healing — understanding that their behaviors were not reflections of your worth, but rather their strategic tools of control.

Who’s Vulnerable and Why?

narcissists suck quoteLet’s play a game of “Who’s Most Likely to Attract a Narcissist?”

But first, a preface: Narcissists aren’t randomly selecting victims while blindfolded.

No, they’re a bit savvier than that.

They’ve got a sixth sense for sniffing out certain folks – usually the ones with generous hearts or a few unresolved issues in their back pocket.

1. The Empaths

Ah, the tender-hearted souls. Empaths feel emotions in high-definition and surround sound. Think of them as walking, talking emotional sponges. To a narcissist? They’re a four-course meal served on a silver platter. Empaths’ compassion often gets turned inside out, weaponized by those who should cherish it.

For instance: Emily, ever the empath, was convinced her love could fix her partner. But her partner? He used her heart as an emotional Swiss Army knife, twisting it for every little whim.

2. People with Past Traumas

Did you have childhood trauma? Maybe you endured childhood neglect or other emotional traumas. If so, those who’ve danced with dark shadows in the past might, sadly, find comfort in the familiarity of a narcissistic waltz.

Case in point: Jake, conditioned by a childhood of emotional breadcrumbs, found himself going after partners who kept the bread basket just out of reach.

3. The Pleasers

These folks would rather swallow a cactus than face confrontation. They fear being left so much that they tolerate anything, even at their detriment. Narcissists, ever the opportunists, know this and treat boundaries like mere suggestions.

Example: Lisa despised conflict. Any hint of tension and she’d wave the white flag, even when she wasn’t in the wrong. Her boyfriend? He saw this not as compromise, but as a chance to get away with murder (figuratively, of course).

4. The Low Self-Esteem Battlers

For those already on shaky self-worth grounds, narcissists have a knack for turning cracks into chasms. They toggle between superficial flattery and subtle jabs, keeping their partner always on uneven footing.

Take Alex: Never the poster boy for self-confidence, his partner would say things like, “You’re looking good, but maybe skip dessert tonight?” That’s not love; that’s a psychological diet.

Recognizing your vulnerabilities isn’t an exercise in self-flagellation. It’s a roadmap. If you’ve been ensnared by a narcissist, it doesn’t highlight your deficiencies but your depth. Time to reroute that vast well of love and understanding inward. Because while narcissists might enjoy games, healing isn’t one of them.

How To Truly, Finally Heal from a Narcissist

Before diving into a “how-to”, it’s essential to underscore a point: Healing from a narcissist isn’t just about getting over a past relationship. It’s about recovering from an insidious, invisible form of emotional trauma. You’re grappling with understanding your phantom ex — who is a confusing blend of charm, love, cruelty, and manipulation.

This isn’t the same as a standard love breakup. It’s far more profound and challenging.

1. Accept Their Reality, But Not At The Expense of Your Own

Navigating a relationship with a narcissist is akin to attempting to read a novel with chapters ripped out. Their perspective might always feel incomprehensible, and that’s okay. However, don’t let their skewed version of events overshadow your own truths and emotions.

For instance: If they accused you of being “overly emotional,” consider it a testament to your depth and capacity to feel. Their limited emotional understanding shouldn’t be the yardstick to measure your reactions.

2. Seek Professional Therapy

Seeking therapy isn’t an admission of weakness; rather, it’s a bold step toward reclaiming your narrative. A trained professional can help navigate the murky waters post-narcissistic relationship, providing clarity when everything feels overwhelming.

Consider this: Often, the void left by the narcissist isn’t truly about them. It’s mourning the loss of who you were, or the version of you that got lost in their shadow.

3. Establish Boundaries — Not Walls

Protection is paramount, but there’s a balance to strike. While walls can shield you from pain, they also block out love and connection. Your goal is to set healthy boundaries – so you let in the good – while keeping the bad at bay.

For instance: If a future partner dismisses your past experiences, ensure they understand that respect is non-negotiable.

4. Dive into Self-Care

Self-care extends beyond the occasional bubble bath. It’s a deep dive into reacquainting yourself with passions, interests, and hobbies that nourish your soul.

Remember: Maybe there was an activity, like painting, that once felt like an escape. Revisiting such passions can be healing and transformative.

5. Educate and Equip

Understanding narcissistic tendencies doesn’t mean obsessing over the past. Instead, it’s arming yourself with knowledge to avoid future entanglements.

Think about it: Recognizing tactics like ‘gaslighting’ means you’re better equipped to trust your instincts in future relationships.

6. Nurture Other Relationships

It’s crucial to rebuild and fortify the connections that may have frayed or been neglected. True, empathetic relationships can be a mirror, reflecting back your worth and validating your experiences.

Consider: That friend who seemed wary of your ex? They may have seen things you missed and can offer valuable insights.

7. Rediscovery, Not Just Recovery

Emerging from the clutches of a narcissist offers a unique opportunity. It’s not just about healing; it’s about discovering aspects of yourself you never knew or had forgotten.

Perhaps: Embracing activities or experiences you’d previously shied away from can be immensely liberating.

8. The Bittersweet Symphony of Moving On

Healing is an ongoing process. With every step, you’re not only moving away from the past but also forging a path that affirms your resilience and worth.

If you want a deeper exploration of how to heal your heart after a post-narcissistic relationship…


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