the dangers of staying in a relationship with a narcissist

The Dangers of Staying in a Relationship with a Narcissist

Recovering from an abusive relationship is a process which takes time to navigate as it involves breaking complex ingrained beliefs, habits, thoughts, and emotions on a subconscious level. 

This process is as unique as each individual’s life.

While it is important to move through each phase and not to get stuck, there are unfortunately no shortcuts in the recovery process, just as there are no shortcuts in the grieving process. However, you will certainly save a lot of very valuable time by going no contact and starting the journey sooner rather than later.

Accept that you’re being abused

The first important step in the healing process is the realization and acceptance that the relationship is, in fact, abusive and the awareness of the dangers of staying in the relationship.

For those who have not experienced the type of manipulation involved in a relationship with someone who suffers from this type of personality disorder, it is truly difficult to explain the psychological and emotional complexities involved in how a person gets hooked into a narcissistic relationship.

Those who grew up in a healthy and emotionally strong and supportive environment – resulting in the development of strong boundaries – are of little interest to a lazy narcissist and so they are unlikely to have experienced being systematically broken down in a manner similar to Chinese Water Torture during a relationship. Those who have dealt with a covert narcissist will be particularly experienced in this area.

Narcissists and JealousyFor the more cunning narcissists with some free time on their hands, they may choose to use their technique on people with strong boundaries in order to fine tune their manipulation methods, while continuing, of course, to have a string of other more malleable subjects that they can benefit from.

For any normal, intelligent person, devising a way of manipulating someone would take a great deal of intellectual effort to do.  This is not the case with narcissists. Narcissists do it naturally, it takes no effort on their part, they know no other way, and they are experts at doing so with a vast amount of personal experience to draw upon.

I believe that anyone who stays near a narcissist, no matter how strong their boundaries, will experience some form of manipulation with negative consequences. Those with more seasoned internal boundaries are simply more likely to abandon that person a lot sooner and waste no further time on the matter.

As strange as it may seem to some people on the outside, it is fairly common for targets of narcissistic abuse to initially not recognize that they are being abused and to give their partner the benefit of the doubt – time and time again – turning a blind eye because of the other qualities or other areas they believe they are benefiting from.

Our good natures have a blind spot, we are taught to be patient with people, to try to bring out the best in others and believe that someone who behaves in such a manipulative and destructive way is doing so because they are suffering from their own traumas and need our help.

We may believe everybody deserves a chance, and certainly a second chance…after all who doesn’t make mistakes?

Sometimes our own pride won’t let us admit we are being abused, and we make up excuses rather than face the difficult truth of the situation – that we also need to address our own problems. This being said, it is often those of us who have experienced trauma without assistance who are particularly vulnerable to narcissists as we can relate the injustices they speak of. But, there could be nothing further from our own experiences. While everybody does make mistakes, the fundamental difference between a non-narcissist and a narcissist is that we recognize the mistakes and learn from them, growing into a better person for it.

This is not a process that a narcissist can experience deeply or for any sustained amount of time…and they have no interest in self-improvement!

There are many reasons why we are vulnerable to narcissistic abuse, and figuring out the “why” forms just one important part of the healing process.

The primary signs which indicate you’re being abused

If you are googling and searching for reasons why your partner behaves in certain ways that you find painful, then you are susceptible to being in an abusive relationship.  A person with healthy boundaries would recognize unacceptable behavior sooner and would have cut them from their lives quickly before reaching this point and would be concentrating on their own life. Which brings me to explain why it is fundamentally important to leave an abusive relationship. It comes down to loss, the loss of your important time and place in this world, the loss of giving yourself the opportunity to recognize your worth.

When in a relationship with a narcissist you will come to learn that everything is about them and whether it was your original plan or not, you will be hijacked into gradually dedicating more time, energy, money, thoughts, etc. to this person and less and less on yourself until your valuable place in this world is in danger.

The path to who you can become and what you should be contributing to in life will seem to fade away. The path to re-finding it becomes a distant one…with poisonous plants and thorny shrubs along the way. Navigating your way through this lonely path is possibly one of the most spiritually difficult and important things you can do. And each painful step brings you closer to yourself and your purpose.

Each of us has our own story, we grow and develop, we sometimes go backward, but the ideal outcome is what every parent hopes for in their children, to come to recognize our individual uniqueness and to value it. This becomes an impossible task whilst under the influence of a narcissist. There is no room for anybody else’s destiny in their world. We start to value ourselves through their eyes, instead of our own, they who value nothing! A good litmus test for a relationship is to ask the question, would you want that for your child or a friend or family member whom you love dearly? If not, why is it good enough for you?


Leaving an abusive relationship with a narcissist is more than what it appears initially and much more than it appears to those who will never have to walk that path. It is the beginning of self-discovery and the beginning of true healing, most often from a lifetime of wounding.

Self-discovery is not instant and it requires each of the painful steps to get there, but it is worth it.

In addition to this form of emotional healing, it is also important to leave the relationship for purely physiological health benefits. Because our emotions and thoughts are closely tied towards our physical health, narcissists do have a negative effect on our physical health.  Anyone who has experience with narcissists will testify to this and the longer we stay in a relationship with them, the longer it takes to recover.

The constant strain of a narcissist on our nervous system can cause a great deal of damage to us neurologically and physically and unfortunately, this is often the final reason why people do decide to leave the relationship.  Yes, it can take being seriously physically ill (or having our children to become narcissists, or worse, commit suicide) to recognize how damaging they are and to make the decision to leave, because we simply do not have the ability to detect through the magician-like haze of the narcissist that we are being significantly damaged unless it becomes very visible in front of our eyes and by the time this happens we often feel we have lost the will to make a change.  

For anyone who wants to escape the dangers of staying with a naricissist, the very real outcomes are impossible to ignore.  

You do not need the narcissist’s permission, validation, or recognition to leave the relationship.  You do not need to submit proof that you are being hurt. You do not need closure from the narcissist, who will withhold it anyway. You do not need to prove to yourself you know how to handle the narcissist, you simply need to get far away from them so that healing can begin. 

Like all new beginnings, it starts with the first step and the first step is recognition.

If you are at the point where you have started to realize that you are tolerating abuse, that you have handed your power to another, it’s time to honor yourself with the first step towards healing. Have faith that you can leave the relationship and trust that the pain will pass. Celebrate this lonely time, because it is the first step in taking back control of your destiny. It’s time to begin the journey to discovering the joys and the life that is waiting for you just out of sight.

And take hope from those that have succeeded because you have the opportunity and potential to be next.

Begin your journey of healing.  Grab your spot in the free workshop, “7 Proven Strategies to Defeat Narcissistic Abuse”!


  1. Anonymous anonymous

    I’m so sorry you had this as a child. My heart breaks for all the children who have to live through this at a time of innocence and when there’s no defense

  2. Michele

    I was with my narcissist for 30 years. We have 2 beautiful adult children. I was cheated, on, abused & controlled for 3 decades. I wanted to keep my family together. My family is everything to me. My mother tried to get out of her marriage & was killed because of that! I stayed because I never wanted my children motherless! And 2 1/2 years ago my husband left me for his 14 years younger than us gf! She’s oppposite of me! He lied the entire time saying he was not with her. He wouldn’t tell me or our children where he was for 2 Years. He only said he was in our motorhome, which is still MIA! I found his truck in May parked across the apartment complex where she lives! He lied! We went to marriage counseling for 11 months! He even got baptized saying he wanted to make better decisions! He’s destroyed/shredded our family! 30 Years was a complete lie! Still contacting me by email because I blocked his phone number! He still wants to control me! He picked his 32 Year old gf over our daughter & he’s manipulated our son! I filed for legal separation 3 months ago. He still sends emails! I have read 1000 hours on narcissism & have learned so much yet I want him to leave me alone so I can heal! I have not responded to his emails in 1 full month now, but now he’s reaching out to my sister to get to me! He’s a control freak, delusion & con artist & needs serous help! Master Manipulator for sure! He told after one of our counseling sessions last year that he can manipulate any woman to do or think anything he wants them to!
    I think I’ve bern married to the King Narcissist! I’m a lucky girll, especially since he left for the gf, who I know is a victim too, but I wonder if she knows he still tries to contact me!

  3. Anonymous

    Thanks I was just being re-valued by my soon to be ex ,your information brought me back to my senses,very timely,you are right it can’t get better,too much to try to recover it is best to move forward than to look behind,thanks again ??????

  4. Freed Mom

    Great article. When my kids were 1 and 2, I left him. He filed for divorce and said he was going to wage war on me. Which he did. $40,000 later, I was divorced but forced to share 50/50 custody and “coparent” with this monster. 2 months after the divorce, he was engaged and started filing numerous motions to modify the divorce settlement. It led to trial. $80,000 more lost. His psych eval said he was just under full blown NPD. We’re awaiting the trial results.

    I said all this just to say, yes, it’s far better to leave the Narc relationship. But prepare to go thru hell, as they seek vengeance.

  5. Free

    My comment is for Frances. I too am 60. I filed for divorce from the psychopath narcissist about a year and a half ago, and had the same fears. I still have some fears but also a peace I hadn’t experienced in too many years. I want to encourage you to think hard about Kim’s wise advice. “It will hurt to leave, it will hurt to stay. But when you leave, you can start to heal. If you stay you will continue to hurt and it will grow worst and worse.” (I’m paraphrasing Kim’s quote). I know from all my wasted years this sick man stole from me. No contact is no problem for me. In fact the thought of contact makes me physically ill. In my time alone, I have drawn closer to God, and He has provided all I need including good people to help me along the way, including Kim’s website. Thank you Kim. Frances, you will be further damaged in ways you don’t even realize yet. Not just emotionally, but physically if you stay. It’s not a stretch to say staying will kill you eventually though illness caused by unrelenting stress and anxiety.

  6. Shirley Akpelu

    Yes, I have accepted this marriage was not real. It was abusive. There will never be an apology. There will never be closure. There will never be mutual love. There will be no change on the narc’s part. I have to go forward which is Yah’s Way and not backward which is satan’s way. I have to stop the cycle of abuse NOW! With my last breath, I will fight to stay no contact and heal and recover and restore everything that was stolen from me. I will be the example to my son to not take abuse or become an abuser ever. Thank you for this outlet Kim. My joy and health are being stored as we speak ever so slowly.

  7. bewareofjoanie

    What if you can’t leave because you don’t have a job/money? How are you supposed to get on with your life then, huh? I also filed for disability because I can’t see (going blind)…

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi bewareofjane,

      I was once in that boat and worked hard to get myself a job. I wasn’t able to leave right away, but I made a plan, stuck with it, and was able to eventually leave. I would not recommend leaving yourself in a position where you depend on someone else financially. I’ve also worked with many clients who were on disability, but they were able to find side-gigs that put them in a place where they made enough to make it on their own.

      One of the most successful people I know can’t move anything but his face. He’s in a wheelchair and uses a voice-activated computer. He’s a huge success in the blogging world…


  8. Kimberly

    I have left my narcissistic husband 3 times, and I have gone back to him 3 times. Each time, I feel better, but only for a short period of time. Then he is back to his nasty, manipulative ways. And each time, he comes up with new ways to hurt me. It’s like he’s telling himself that this tactic no longer works, so I’m going to try this one. Is this normal?

    1. Kim Saeed

      It’s absolutely a normal part of narcissistic abuse. I hope you gather the strength to leave him and make it stick. You deserve much better.

      Kim XoXo

  9. I know that I am dealing with a narcissist without a doubt. I know I need to get out…..but I dread the pain so much that it keeps me in the relationship.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Michelle,

      It’s definitely not easy, but here’s how I was able to leave. It hurts to stay and it hurts to leave. You’re going to hurt either way…but the pain of leaving can be healed. If you stay, the pain will be everlasting.

      Hope that helps!

      Kim XoXO

      1. Anonymous

        I’m so glad to find this place as a resource ! Thank you! Your articles are very informative and quite different from other resources on the web and its just great to read them and some of the blogs which have been critical for myself and I’m sure many others who have been involved with a narcissist and know that this is not what a healthy loving relationship should feel like. And suddenly are blindsided with the realization that they’re entrenched with someone who’s bad for them all along believing otherwise! It was so reassuring to me to understand that I was not crazy! I’m not alone! I’m divorced from my narcissist now 5 whole years and I’m finally getting my head wrapped around the insanity and pain I endured through out a 20 year marriage which produced 4 beautiful sons who are healing from this toxic environment that they too experienced through their early childhood. Unfortunately I am one of the probably many who did develop serious health problems from my full exposure to my toxic narcissist! Your article speaks the truth my truth about long term effects being in this kind of relationship can have on both body and mind it burrowed so deep down into my psyche and body that it literally almost killed me! I had a stroke in. U sleep one night over 4 years ago and woke up with paralysis on my left side of my body! I had to learn to walk again at 47 yrs old! And with 4 young sons at home! Im not trying to scare anyone i,m simply trying to testify to the truth! You should get out when you can !I just didn’t know soon enough so thanks again Kim for your resources you are a much needed source of information energy and hope for us survivors!!

  10. Carroll laneulie

    What an amazingly gifted insightful person you are!
    This is an incredible article on narcissism….
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you, Carroll. So glad to know my article resonated with you.

      Kim XoXo

  11. Anonymous

    to leave a narcissist do you have to move your home your city? how do u just walk away?

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Anon,

      The answer varies from person to person. As for myself, I left our shared home and moved into my own apartment on the other side of town. Once the stalking and harassment ensued, I filed a restraining order.

  12. Lesley

    My mother was a narcissist/borderline personality. She was never diagnosed because my father “protected” her. She became increasingly violent and abusive as I grew older – both physically and emotionally. Dealing with a child’s relationship to a narcissistic parent is different because a child is wholly dependent and can’t escape. Her behavior was the family secret and since I had no siblings, it was very isolating. It has taken me a lifetime to be able to sort out what happened and deal with it. Mother’s Day is still a very depressing holiday for me.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Lesley,

      Thank you for sharing and I’m sorry for your situation. Stories like yours are precisely why I advocate leaving toxic marriages, because children need to be protected instead of being raised to believe that love and life are painful and there’s nothing to be done about it…

      Kim XoXo

  13. Hi Kim,
    I really appreciate your website. I just stumbled upon it as it happened to be the first thing I saw when I opened Pinterest. I am living in a house (I almost said relationship but I realized there is none) with a narcissist, along with our 2-year-old baby girl. I have just come to a crossroads where I know I must get out of the situation. If not for me, then for my daughter. I have been reading your sight for a while today and I feel so enlightened, even though I had already been researching this. I can’t wait to be free from this person who has been trying to erase me for the past 5 years!
    Thank you again,

    1. Christina

      I have just left one with my 15 month old daughter. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I’m much less stressed in some areas but the sharing of custody is a whole new level of stress. I wish you all the best of luck.

  14. Pingback: Resources part 5 – rebuildingmylife2016

  15. Marcus Smith

    Hi Kim, I found the information helpful. However every place that I go to about this subject talks about dealing with a man. Is it only men that are allowed to have this personality disorder? Because the woman I’m involved with is one that suffers from NPD.I’m not physically abused but the verbal, ment and emotional abuse is there. I will say that dealing with her has become a lot easier and I’m very close to making a clean and total break from her because of what I have learned from your blogs and videos. However you have no idea how frustrating it is hearing every thing geared toward the NPD being geared towards men when there are plenty of men dealing with women that are narcissists.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Marcus, thank you for following my site and for commenting. Yes, females can have psychopathic traits and are often worse than men. In this particular article, I used a photo depicting a man, but the article itself is gender-neutral. Most of my older articles do revolve around the male narcissist because that was my experience and my expertise, but I’ve tried to make most of my more recent articles relatable to both genders and to any sexual orientation.

      I have worked with many male clients in my coaching practice, so I hear about female narcissists all the time…and I truly feel for you.


  16. Amy

    Hi Kim,

    I stumbled across your website today when I was googling about my relationship. I am in a very toxic and scary situation. I am engaged to what I now know is a narcissist and I’m being abused and I’m scared. I’m scared because I have a 5 month old baby with this person. I live with him, and we have other children as well. We are a “blended” family. I do not know what to do and how to leave this relationship. I feel like I’m stuck and I feel paralyzed. Help!

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Amy, the best advice I can give you is to visit your local domestic violence center and start working with a case manager. See if they have any transitional housing where you can stay with your children. Staying with family members is also an option, but only after you’ve opened a case and filed a restraining order, if necessary. I realize it won’t be easy, but if you are afraid, you should remove yourself and your children from the situation as safely as possible.

      You could also call a domestic violence hotline beforehand so you can get some pointers before filing with your local center.

      Hope that helps!


  17. Pingback: The Dangers of Staying in a Relationship with a Narcissist – Living By The Moonlight

  18. Ella

    Thanks for this …. Just yesterday I celebrated 1 year free from my ex and from the abuse I went through in the entire relationship … I was never aware that I was being abused (during the relationship) … I knew that this relationship was draining me,I never had a relationship like this … I literally understood the phrase “love & hate relationship” meaning now ….
    Obviously I knew deep down that this relationship is not normal … Love should flourish you … I was literally terrorized … I never felt any guilt or blamed myself regarding the failed relationship, even tho I was constantly blamed … but I knew that I loved him beyond control, I never ever did anything to hurt him, I used to bend backwards to please him so I knew deep down that I was surely not the problem.
    Obviously while I yesterday celebrated 1 year of having my life back, he celebrated his 1 year anniversary with his new supply earlier this month … Yeah no big deal, it was lined up.
    My problem is, I still think about him constantly, 24/7 … My life is stuck and dont know what to do in my life … I dont have friends, only few which are settled with their partners.
    I cant understand why in the world I’m still broken after a year.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Ella,

      Thank you for reading my post and for commenting. It took me a while to get over my relationship, too, though I didn’t know anything about narcissism and no contact back then. You must go through the grief cycle, which is different for everyone.

      However, if you are still feeling broken, I wonder what kind of healing program you’ve implemented for yourself. Regarding my own experience, I didn’t start healing – truly healing – until I implemented healing and self-care into my daily schedule. I wonder, too, if you are cyber-snooping on your Ex, because that can hamper healing, as well. No judgement, though. We all do it, but keeping tabs on the Ex is one of the main reasons people get stuck in the healing process, unable to move on.

      At any rate, in regards to getting through the pain, I have found that a proactive approach to healing is usually helpful. If you aren’t currently enrolled in any type of healing program, you might find enrollment in The Essential No Contact Bootcamp beneficial. It includes modules on healing and re-building self-confidence. You’re certainly under no obligation to purchase anything, but others in your shoes have found great benefit in the personal resources that I offer. Either way, I hope you find a way to move on because you deserve to be happy. Wishing you the best.


      1. Frances

        This is the best website I have come across. I have been in this abuse since 1989 I’m still here. I’m trying to get out this website is helping me do that. I’m shame that I have put up with this for so long. My daughter was 6 years old then from a previous marriage. She is 33 now the age I walked into the abuse. I’m always sad and always looking to get out but never leaving. I’m now 60 years old and don’t want to die here! I really hate this person and myself for allowing this to happen not only to be me but my daughter who still hates him to this day. I know a lot of the reasons why come from childhood. I feel I don’t want to sell the home I’m afraid of him. I hope by reading more I will have the courage to do so. I just hope woman in their youth don’t wait like me. Thank you Kim

        1. Kim Saeed

          Thank you for sharing, Frances. Wishing you all the very best.

          Kim XoXo

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