All breakups are difficult, but this one was one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with in my life.
It led me to start asking the question, at what point does the breakup with a narcissist occur? Breakups with narcissists, no matter how you define them, don’t end well. They often end abruptly with the two parties having completely different narratives for the same relationship, resulting in multiple episodes of making up, a lot of subsequent emotional damage to the partner of the narcissist, and no closure.
For a narcissist, once you enter into the relationship, it never ends. They may discard you temporarily. They may stop talking to you for weeks, months or years. You may cease to be their primary source of love and admiration. Yet in their eyes, you “belong” to them, and they will always feel entitled to reach out to you and try to re-enter your life, if only for a few minutes or perhaps for longer, depending on the situation. In story after story of narcissists returning after years or decades, and in explanations of their behavior provided by narcissists themselves, this appears to hold true.
That’s not the way healthy relationships work, obviously, which leaves it to the partner to put a true end to the relationship. Yet almost everyone in a relationship with a narcissist seesaws in and out of it multiple times. On average, it takes seven attempts to leave an emotionally abusive relationship before being successful. So what point should be the actual point of breaking up? Is it the first time the narcissist discards you? The first time you decide you’ve had enough and leave? Is it some point at which an arbitrary length of time has passed without interaction between the two of you?
A natural break-up point would seem to be when you use the words “no contact.”
But it’s not that simple.
Stating that you are going no-contact or being in a period of no-contact is necessary for having broken up with a narcissist, but it is not sufficient alone to state it as the true end of the relationship. No-contact is always one-sided since the narcissist believes the relationship never ends, and narcissists do not respect boundaries. The problem with stating that no-contact is always the end without qualifying it is that it stretches into an unknown future that requires the partner to be adamant that whatever they are instituting now will hold under conditions they cannot possibly foresee.
Therefore, there must be a strong conviction behind no-contact.
A true breakup occurs when you institute no-contact and consciously intend it with full implications and an awareness of all that that entails in the present and future. It is a deliberate act that contains a solemn vow that you can never go back.
“Intending it” means any unpredictable and unknown action the narcissist takes now or later is irrelevant. The narcissist could drop by your workplace, make a fake social media account, send flowers anonymously, hire a private investigator, or dispatch a carrier pigeon, and it wouldn’t matter.
You wouldn’t respond. You wouldn’t even be rattled.