Why Is No Contact So Difficult?

One of the hardest things about narcissistic abuse and going no contact, is getting to that point in time where we cross the line from WANTING the narcissist to love us & being devastated by the feelings that they don’t, along with everything that means to us and ACCEPTING that they are entirely and forever incapable of it.

Whether or not we loved ourselves before we met a narcissist, is irrelevant. The fact is, we were sold on the idea that a narcissist did love us in a grandiose narc fashion, then they went about the business of abusing us. In that abuse, they also relentlessly verbally berated us, insidiously blamed us over and over again, sending us the message that somehow the abuse was our fault and that we were not worthy of anything more.

By the time we wise up and decide to put them behind us, the habit, obsession and addiction takes over and drives us to think, feel and behave in ways that don’t rationally make any sense to us.

Time and time again, I’ve heard survivors say that they “know” they should be happy the narcissist is out of their lives and not have any feelings of missing their abuser, but to their dismay, they DO miss them and have feelings of longing they don’t understand.  It’s difficult when your brain gets it, but your heart (and self worth) aren’t on the same page.

Let’s explore what makes NO CONTACT, the thing that’s going to free us, save us and get us clear is so difficult:

1) Brainwashing 

YES. IT’S REAL. The narcissist is a very insidious abuser. It took me 3 years to call my situation abusive and I had to be led to that label by 3 mental health professionals and a superior court judge. Their disorder is one that cannot accept ANY accountability – so imagine each 24 hours that you spend in a narcissist’s presence will be full of ways, reasons, and “evidence” of how things are YOUR fault. Targets are responsible, empathic people to begin with. If, day in and out, we are told that happiness would be ours if we could just DO WHAT THE NARC SAYS, or STOP what they tell us to stop. We begin to be so exhausted, we’ll buckle to the blame and try to fix it.

There are many false confessions on record, by innocent people who were so pressured by being told they were responsible and feared their accusers that they acquiesced just to get the pressure to stop. Same principle.

When we get free, we’ve got a brain that needs to decompress and get clear. That’s just not going to happen overnight, even if our brains tell us we “should”.

We need to be patient with ourselves, know that our brainwashed state did not happen overnight and will also not go away that quickly.

2) Our Focus is a Habit that is Dominated by the Narcissist

From Day 1, You are being taught to focus on the narcissist to the exclusion of yourself. You’re robbed of your time, your own thoughts and feelings, spirit, soul and existence in order to cater to a stingy, selfish, entitled, mentally disordered control freak. If you do what is expected of you, you will be rewarded (kind of). If you buck the control system of the narcissist, you will be punished. It’s very easy to see how your attention is conditioned and reinforced to favor the narcissist.

When you’ve decided to go your own way, you are NOT USE to putting yourself first, thinking for yourself, and not having the obsessive focus on the narcissist. Even though the monster is gone, everything else remains. All the free time on our hands is like a vacuum of loneliness and learned helplessness.  It’s a well known fact that any behavior you try to quit, is best conquered by REPLACING it with a more positive habit.

A panacea for all this time on our hands is to turn the attention to ourselves. One trick that I used to use was everytime that the abuser came into my thoughts, I’d say “STOP!” inside my head. Then I’d repeat the words “ME ME ME ME ME ME ME” until my focus came back to myself. Once I was aware that I was self focused, I asked myself questions, “What do you need? What do you feel?” Then I’d go about meeting my own needs. Whatever it was, even if I answered “I need a hug”, then I’d put my arms around myself, stroke my back and say “I love you”. While this sounds completely hokey, when you’re clinging to any bit of hope in the aftermath of narcissistic abuse, this doesn’t appear so hokey. Try it. 🙂

3) We Doubt Our Own Worth 

Whether we loved ourselves before we met the narcissist or not, we certainly do NOT feel self loving when it is over, so let’s just focus on that. If the narcissist has discarded us, despite all the loving, giving, and sacrificing for them, this is such a blow to our egos that it’s very hard to accept.  We feel rejected, dejected and completely unworthy. Yes, rationally, we KNOW that we shouldn’t give others the power to hurt us this badly, but the fact is, those boundaries were busted the moment we let a narcissist into our hearts. There’s no room for ourselves in our own hearts when a narcissist is in the picture. Now they’ve left us? Without any warning? AND replaced us so quickly!!??

What a blow! In hindsight we can look back and understand why the discard happened knowing full well it says nothing about our worth, but in the moment? This is a devastating blow. These strong emotions of rejection and unworthiness can lead us to do odd things: apologize for things we didn’t do, bargain and promise to change, or run the new supply down in an effort to feel better by comparison.

This is one of those bitter pill realities of narcissistic abuse that we need to swallow yet again. It hurts. It sucks. It ISN’T FAIR. It looks like the narc has moved on (and they have, but they did LONG before they found someone else – they were NEVER invested in you in the first place) and here we are: STRUGGLING.

To make matters worse, we remember who we were when we were accosted by a narcissist, remembering a happy, confident, independent, wise person. The realization of how much damage we’ve suffered and then being tasked with the SOLE ROLE of fixing ourselves alone, is a tough, sad, prospect.

Feel these feelings. The sadness, the injustice, the fear, the anger, the grief.  All of those feelings, get them out for as long as you need to, because this cycle of grief is the first wave of grieving.

Work on building your self worth. Read up on the topic and “how to” rebuild your self worth and then use your boundaries to protect your worth from human predators.

Stay away from indulging in self-flagellating and criticizing statements. You are NOT to blame. You are NOT unlovable. and you did NOT deserve this.  Instead, take these statements as REMINDERS to tell yourself the truth. You are WORTHY. You are LOVABLE. You have RIGHTS. You are NOT crazy, and you are NOT narcissistic.

4) Our boundaries have been trampled 

When you’ve been so trangressed, you don’t know who’s who anymore. The things you were are now being worn like they belong to the narcissist, and you are bearing the burden of all the shameful behaviors a narcissist espouses: Cheating, lying, using and abusing. They skate off looking like a good person, while you are left behind (even if you left them) being the person they smear campaigned and brainwashed into believing are the worthless, horrible, unlovable person they’ve said you are.

When you finally get free, sorting back out all this boundary stuff is a HUGE TASK!

Using the serenity prayer or any form of separating yourself from the narcissist is a good strategic tool at this point to rebuild your boundaries. Imagine two buckets before you. All the things the narc accused you of, (projected onto you) can be tossed in the NARC bucket. The traits or identity that YOU decide really DO belong to you, can be placed in YOUR bucket. If you repeat this exercise over and over again, especially as you learn about the disorder and the defense mechanisms and schemas the narcissist uses, you begin to get clearer and clearer about what belongs to whom. It’s the reason we post so much about what narcissists do on the page; it’s not that we’re just hate bashing, but rather that the more you learn about the disorder, the more able you are to separate yourself from it and understand why all the boundary transgressions were happening and who was responsible for busting them.

5) We feel the need to be validated and it is not forthcoming from the narcissist 

With all the confusion, crossed boundaries and self doubt, a target is so beaten down, having looked to the narcissist for such a long period of time, we haven’t yet learned that narcissists purposefully withhold closure, and of course will never validate our feelings because to do so would involve taking responsibility and being accountable.

We’re full of emotion, want answers and don’t yet understand that a narcissist’s lack of empathy is the driving force behind their lack of validation. It’s on full display when we’re hurting and they’re refusing to validate our pain, our suspicions, and our feelings. It’s an awful place to be in, because we don’t yet realize that the only validation we really need is our own. Each time we seek validation from the narcissist, we only validate THEM; that they’re special and desired, while we kick ourselves for wanting something from them that we once again didn’t get. This is a horrible cycle of defeat but it can be broken with the help of other survivors.

It  is an enormous help to receive the validation of other survivors, therapists, friends and family so that we can begin to rely on and validate ourselves once again. We get to the point where we accept the validation and apologies we’ll never get. We realize how self defeating it is to want something from someone who we come to understand, isn’t capable of giving it, so we let go of our desire to have it and in doing so, free ourselves from the vicious web of wanting validation from a narcissist.

6) We Romanticize the relationship 

And why wouldn’t we? In the first 90 days after leaving, we haven’t yet learned that narcissists faked the whole relationship. We remember the beginning, the idealization period, the proclamations of soul mate love, the promises, the declarations of  being the only, the first, the best, the most, the narcissist perfectly mirroring our ideal love, our soul’s mate. We try to reconcile that with all the abuse. We don’t yet know this is the abuse cycle of idealization and devaluation, so we assume it was a love that we can’t quite comprehend why it went horribly wrong. The only answers we can come up with is that we were so bad that we couldn’t do anything right to hold it together.

While we’re busy hating ourselves for being so flawed and losing this great partner, we have a hard time remembering all the soul wrenching pain they put us through and without names and labels for their disordered behavior, we keep assigning ourselves the blame and the narcissist gets all the benefit of our doubt.

If we catch wind or get a glimpse of the narcissist in the valuation stage of a new target, we’ll convince ourselves even more that the prince charming we lost, is so capable of sweeping declarations of love for the new target and “looks” so happy and free in their new life with the new person that the only answer could be that We suck and they don’t.

This is NOTHING but a product of smoke and mirrors, brainwashing, poor boundaries, low self worth and witnessing the disorder for the first time from the OUTSIDE.

Whenever you start to romanticize the relationship as anything other than the abuse that happened to you, it’s a sign to STOP and remember the abuse that really did take place. The arguments that were never resolved, all the discounting of your emotions, the name calling, the cheating, the hitting, the threats, the stalking, the harassment, the lies, the smear campaign, the blame, the toxicity, the hurt, the tears and the lack of empathy. NOTHING the narcissist could EVER do or say will be greater than the fact that they have an incurable, permanent personality DISORDER and the only thing that can come from them is ABUSE.

By the time you cycle through this first wave of grief, you’ll have alleviated the brainwashing, you’ll have begun focusing on yourself again, you’ll be building your self worth, redeveloping and asserting your boundaries, validating yourself and will have accepted the realities of this abusive relationship. Then you’ll be ready when the second wave of grief comes and you have to mourn a relationship that was never real in the first place.

For the most part, NO Contact is only a struggle for the first 90 days. Looking at it from this vantage point, you can see that these are formidable tasks and it’s no wonder the amount of time it takes. We don’t use this word often, but let’s face it: we were victims of domestic abuse. We aren’t going to just walk away unscathed, like we do from other non abusive relationships.

Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself the emotions and luxury of time to be your WHOLE self again. Accept rather than judge your emotions. Let them have their day. We don’t want to hold these things in because the outcome is not good for us when we do, as this results in depression and disease. Get your feelings OUT where they won’t hurt you anymore.  Give yourself the gift of No Contact.


Posted on September 1, 2014, in Narcissism. Bookmark the permalink. 161 Comments.

  1. Brenda Lennox

    This article is best I have read on Narc ex. I am 11 months out of near 2 year relationship with a narc. I am a counsellor and feel I should have known better but mental health isn’t my field. I do feel he must really be laughing to have fooled a counsellor though. So it can happen to anyone that these evil people who draw us in with their false self that is based on exactly what they pick up on what we want in a soul mate.

    I was previously in an abusive marriage and so he seemed like the answer to my prayers at the start, I definitely thought I had met my soul mate. After a few months the devaluing began and I somehow made excuses for it and blamed myself as did he. After he saw he could get away with it it got worse and worse over time, even to him even doing it in front of my young children ( I am a single mum). I stayed in the hope he would return to being like he was at the start but he only got meaner and nastier as time went on and I felt I had invested so much time and effort into the relationship that it had to work out eventually and he would be the man I fell for at the start. I tried to go no contact after the discard but felt drawn to keep in contact and even wanted him back for some time. I have only truly stopped all contact about 6 weeks ago, nearly 10 months after the break up or being discarded by the narc. It is still hard and I am still tempted to text him or email him still but I know from the contact we did have he has no remorse and still blames me for the discard. The contact has led to more hurt and has prevented me from moving on.

    I need to move on for my mental health as he was really driving me nuts with his circular arguments and endless false accusations of my wrong doing in situations that were actually good. Only much later on, did he re-write the stories making me out to be the villain and turn positive memories into bad memories. I have nothing now that was really consistently happy in the relationship other than the first 3 months, the time before he took down his mask and that was all a lie I now know, so really feels the I have wasted 2 years on this man.

    We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and have our voices heard and not be controlled by being told what to think and when by these people, that is abuse and destroys our sense of self. He only wanted me to agree with everything he said and did no matter how offensive it was to me.

    I am now trying to work out who I am after spending so much time trying to please him to no avail, it feels like I have somehow lost myself in the process.

    I hope you can all maintain no contact to give yourselves the time to heal and find your selves again and hope you find a you that is more aware of how deserving of happiness and respect you are, things that these people could never give us. We are worth so much more and I hope you all find someone who is deserving of your love in your future.


  2. Thanks for writing this. Because I discovered his two-year (that I know of) infidelity almost one year ago, I finally realized after 25 years of “happy marriage” that I’ve actually been in a codependent nightmare with an emotionally abusive narcissist. And apparently there are dozens of us. I actually tried to reconcile after I found out about cheating, but was met with nothing but cold defensiveness again and again. Yo-yo “love”. Articles like this have helped me realize the truth. What an awakening. Went low contact (grey rock because of kids) 10 days ago. Now he wants to read The Five Love Languages together. 🙄 Ridiculousncrap like that makes this a little easier. I can’t completely regret the relationship since I have two amazing daughters. I just can’t believe how difficult it is to break away from such a cruel and incredibly selfish person. Gets easier after 90 days, huh? People like you writing articles like this makes all of this more manageable. It’s so necessary—the only healthy thing to do at this point. And I’m a better mother for it already. So thank you.


  3. I can only begin to understand what you have gone through and I’m Very Sorry for being a selfish friend. Forgive Me Please.


  4. Hello. I was married to a woman for almost 9 years and these are some the things I experienced from her. I actually changed so much, lost 3 houses and a lot of money trying to meet her needs and do I remember only maybe twice were my needs met, after the honeymoon period ended. She then broke up a 18 yr marriage (adultey with another man) after I begin to stand up for myself. She filed for divorce and 7 weeks of no contact by me she sends me a ‘hi’. I didn’t respond until two hours after her 2nd message, which was about how she was sorry to bother me, checking to see how I doing and she praying for me. I ignored her for total 9 hours finally saying I’m working on becoming me again and if she didn’t mind letting me know when divorce final. At this point its been a week no contact so gonna see if she does move on and leave me alone. Thing is I get no listening, understanding, or acknowledging anything I say. Our convo almost always ended in hanging up, blaming me, and threatening. Then sometimes minutes after she acts like everything okay


  5. I hope nick u know what ur doing


  6. I understand. I felt the same way. Sexually abused. Had he been Honest with me, HE MOVED BACK IN WITH AN OLD FLAME FOR THE SAKE IF THE POOR KIDS,YET OMITTED TELLING ME THIS TIL AFTER TELLING ME GE HAD SOLUTIONS AND WE HAD SEX. DUH, U THINK I WOULD HAVE had sex with him, had I known. Not .

    I am sorry he hurt you, lied to you, u deserve better.


  7. I now see him as a Coward. Hiding behind Lies, guilt trip’s, Yes it hurts to think of all the things I believed, and greiving over that was a farce. But now I know I still want those dreams, just not with a Gutless fraud. He has issues, they are not mine to fix or suffer from


  8. My narc is a pro at charming, compliments, flattery TO SHOW HE IS A CONSIDERATE THOUGHTFUL GUY, forget he lied, betrayed me, kept secrets….blah…
    Omg he manipulated me for yrs, guilt tripped me… no more…
    Liar, liars words or worthless. Including flattery….its Always for them. To relieve their guilt, or whatever.


  9. Anne-marie Duffy

    I have been in a marriage for 35 years with my narcissistic husband I left to weeks ago , and still I think of him I never realised he was one untill I had trama therepy. I have lived a nightmare he says I was crazy , because I seen messages to other women I came back from holiday with an STD infection ,again it wasn’t him that’s when decided to leave it was a painful decision to to make but if I stayed it would have been another boundary crossed i have found this article very helpful and I hope to get my old self back Thank you for listening .


    • 30 years for my girlfriend I hear you left when I was 57 years old holy s*** doing better now but it’s a struggle but it is worth it to get out


      • Hi Pam. Yeah, I still can’t believe my naïveté. Especially since my father was a narcissist. I always figured I’d know one from a mile away and avoid them like the plague. The problem is, until this happened, I thought narcissists were one size fits all. I didn’t know about the covert narcissist, and that they’re so much worse because you just don’t see them coming. I found all the information I’ve since acquired by accident. I was searching “emotionally unavailable”, as she definitely was that, and stumbled upon this wealth of info on all the various subtypes of narcissists. AND kept going back for more even after I knew. Yes, I understand that a physical addiction develops due to the way they condition us, but I still feel like slapping myself upside the head for crawling back more than once after I knew what I was dealing with. In my defense though, as I’ve said to others, this covert Narc didn’t just read the manual; I think she wrote it.

        I hope things are getting a little easier for you now. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work, but it’s the only way to go and it’s so worth it.


  10. Thank you. I’m almost seven weeks No Contact, and it’s only getting more difficult. I understand the grieving process to well, as the relationship with my Narc was long-distance, as well as other factors that made it more convoluted than average.

    The breaking point for me – and this is important for anyone who’s currently in a nightmare of a relationship like this – was the way the discard happened. The when and the why and the manner. It happened just five days after we’d spent three days together. Three days so wonderful that it almost felt like it did in the beginning. Problem was, I forgot there was a serious ulterior motive on the part of my Narc. It’s a long story, but let’s just say it was for them nothing but revenge sex. While I was fully aware that’s what my Narc wanted before we spent that time together, somehow I managed to forget that very important factoid in the moment. Why? Because even though I knew for some time that I was dealing with a covert Narc, my Love was real, genuine, 100%, and of course the addiction had long since set in.

    The bottom line here is, after the discard is when I remembered why those three days had been so much like going back to the beginning. My Narc was not only getting supply, but fulfilling the need for revenge, if only in their mind. Remembering that, realizing what I’d allowed to happen, was nauseating. For the first time in my 58 years, I felt I’d been sexually abused. Emotional rape for sure, but more and so much worse. Yes, I had indeed been consenting. However, I’d forgotten what I was consenting to. Sort of like I’d met up with my Narc, but in reality the sex was with someone else, and I most definitely didn’t consent to that. And it was someone else, wasn’t it? It was the Narc sans mask, and I was once again too enamored to notice until after the discard. What a coup de grace that was for the Narc, right?

    Don’t let this happen to you. It’s not a good feeling.


    • Diane thank you for telling your story. I have been in a ‘relationship’ with a narc for 9 months. I know him 20 years. Past two months no contact. After verbal abuse etc. Your story has kept me strong enough to stay no contact and not under any circumstances meet him at hotel etc as he now is hoovering to do. I am staying away. I have severe trauma after mind games etc. Thank you for sharing as no contact is hard but I deserve better. Hope you heal too and god bless. We all deserve better than abuse


      • No, thank you Rach. Knowing that sharing my story helped someone else stay strong is the best thing that has come out of this. I see your post was from just a day ago. I’m glad I opted for email notifications of any additional comments or replies.

        I’m over 15 weeks No Contact now. I still have bad days, but they’re fewer and farther between. I leaned that when the cognitive dissonance finally abates, and you’re forced to accept that the entire relationship was a lie from day one, a whole new grieving process begins, as stated in this extremely helpful article. I still find myself asking “why?” Why do these monsters seek out unsuspecting and vulnerable targets for the express purpose of using them until there’s nothing left, knowing full well they’re going to discard when they’ve used us up? I can see doing something like that to someone who’s hurt you or wronged you, but to do that to the unsuspecting and vulnerable? It’s a damn shame they can’t be held accountable in some way. In another article I read, someone said we should be able to prosecute the Narc. I couldn’t agree more.

        I’m so glad you’re on your way to healing. Stay on that path no matter what. At least you know what to look for next time, and chances are you won’t be fooled again. I wish all the best for you. 💕


        • Thank you SOO much for sharing your experience, Diane! You now have one more prayer warrior in your corner.

          My narcissist was able to scam me out of waiting for marriage. I was saving myself my whole life for my husband and I had absolutely no idea about “love bombing” when he hit me with it like a Kenworth! I was completely swept off my feet and I couldn’t be “officially” engaged to him because he hadn’t ask my father’s permission. When he promised to marry me though, he seemed so sincere & i fell for it completely. I gave him everything and anything that he wanted sexually & othetrwise. I was 36 and been around the world and a very independent woman my whole life, so I trusted my judgment of his seemingly impeccable character. His “mirroring” of my personality, faith, values, hopes, dreams was absolutely amazing!

          It was 3 months before the devaluation started, and it was so covert at first, I would find myself crying, knowing that he was hurting me somehow with his passive-aggressive comments about my food (I’m grain free, and he chided me about it constantly ) about my daily workout schedule (only vain people workout every day, and if I cared about him at all, I would put my mat & weights away &just cuddle up & watch TV with him) & accusing me of thinking I was perfect every single time I left for church.

          But he would just turn it around in these 25 minute monologues, and by the time he finished, I was crazy and paranoid and why would I be so selfish to think he was attacking me? Why would I not want to spend the time “with my future husband instead?”

          Long story shorter, a year more of my life was wasted before I realized that if I do marry him, I will be suicidal in a very short period of time. I still didn’t know about narcissism but I was (am) completely, utterly exhausted from the roller coaster ride of brutal attacks (he knows I’m not able to get pregnant due to a very bad rape I suffered at a very young age, and his favorite passive -aggressive attack is to wistfully and frequently go on and on and on and on about how much he wants a child from me, and how it’s too bad I can’t be a “real woman” and produce one) and the long , totally fake apology monologues where by the end, it’s my fault after all.

          I stumbled across the information about narcissist behavior on this site, by God’s grace, and it all started to make sense. I have been employing the gray rock for about two weeks now, and he actually started the discard today. He is completely freaking out! I was such a reliable source (who knew that all of our qualities that we’re always told are so good, would make us the perfect victim/target/supply of such brutal emotional & mental murderers!?)This is my chance to go no contact and I need prayer.

          I don’t have any gift left to offer a future husband, but I know it’s not wise to continue down this road nonetheless. I know God does not want that for me. It’s well crafted as lies go, but does not stand up to the truth written on my heart.

          Thank you again, all who have shared their stories and I’m praying for all who have suffered at the hands of these monsters.


  11. Holy Crap. BINGO#@$#!!!
    SO TRUE. I am Sorry to know there are clones of him out there. He can blatantly Look you in the eyes, make you feel crazy and guilty While The whole Time He is lying & Betraying You.
    If he is caught with the smoking gun, he still lies.
    I did 30 day No Contact, got superficial texts Good morning….Hi…. NEVER, EVER HAS HE ADDRESSED MY HURT NOR HIS PART. THAT DOESN’T CROSS HIS MIND OR HEART.


  12. Excellent article. No contact is very, very difficult and even more so for me because the narcissist in my life is my mother. But I press on – with my own mental health and allowing the distance between us to grow.


  13. Nancy Casolary

    This is one of the best posts I have read on Narcissism with an X.I suffered for 7 years push and pull.It was sheer torture but the thought of losing him made me want to die! I was in an abusive marriage when I met him.He swept me off my feet! After 7 years of seeing his true colors I walked away. I stayed away from him,moved out of state, but that Xmas I felt so alone.Moved back to California we got back together but I rejected him as a loverI moved 3 hours away from him.he started the love bombing and I feel for it.Then when my daughter was hopitalized and had major surgery he just disappeared I was devastated!! I am done I told him NEVER to try with me again.He did call left a stupid voicemail someone had stolen his phone I was so insulted! Now I live for me NOTHING will make me break NO CONTACT!!! Peace to you all….


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