Grieving the Narcissist

I am often asked how long it will take to get over a narcissist. Grieving the loss of a relationship with a narcissist is not the same as one with a healthy well-adjusted adult. The process has many stages and can only be understood by those who have been through it.

In a typical breakup, we grieve the loss of love, the pain of saying goodbye, the sadness of something wonderful ending, broken promises and halted dreams.

When grieving a narcissist, this pain is compounded by the reality that this person never loved you. He targeted you. He put on an act and hypnotized, brainwashed & manipulated you for a deliberate purpose: to seduce and control you. And it was for a specific reason: to ensure you would be present to stroke HIS ego and cater to HIS needs.

You realize he is not who you thought he was at all. Not even close. Not even real. There is no resemblance between this selfish, controlling man and the man you fell in love with years ago. You remember, that caring and compassionate man you thought understood you like no one else. Unfortunately, that man does not exist. He never did. And no matter what you do - never will again.

You must also try to understand how you went from being idealized and put on a pedestal to being completely devalued and discarded. You can't do anything right and nothing you do is good enough. You must accept the fact that you were not an object of love to this person, but an object, a mere source of Narcissistic Supply to feed his ego; nothing more, but certainly nothing less.

The only closure you can possibly hope for in a relationship with a narcissist is the knowledge that this person is permanently disordered and disturbed. You must accept him for what he is and all his limitations, must move on and create a new life for yourself.

I believe we must create a new life for ourselves. We owe it to ourselves. Life is short and this is it. This is not a dress rehearsal. This is life. Live it and embrace it. We must live in the moment and be honest with ourselves at all times. We deserve real, genuine love. Believe it or not, there are people out there who are capable of it.

It takes a very, very long time to get over a narcissist. Please be patient with yourself, and by all means, allow yourself to mourn him. Get into therapy. Read all you can. Do not rush into a new relationship in an attempt to avoid the pain. Deal with it now so you can truly move forward.

I grieved more over my divorce six months after it actually happened than I did when I went through it. That's because when you go through a breakup or divorce, you are numb, in survival mode. You are dealing with intense emotions and feelings, while at the same time, trying to create a new life for yourself. It takes incredible strength, courage and determination. All your energy is focused on getting through the transition. You don't grieve until later. Much later. It's all a process.

But you must grieve. You must allow yourself to mourn him. When you do, it is gut-wrenching and painful. This may be where you're at right now. If so, I know it feels like the pain will never end, but trust me, it takes as long as it takes. It will take time, but you have to get it out. Don't be afraid to cry as often as you need. It's cathartic and necessary in order for you to move on. Don't be afraid to get angry... that's your self-esteem returning and you can channel it into doing things for yourself to help yourself heal.

If you repress your feelings, you will remain stuck. We must feel our feelings to move on. Be gentle with yourself and proud that you have the courage to feel. When you feel, you know you're alive, right?

I'd rather feel pain and know I'm alive than feel nothing. The one thing a narcissist can never take away from us is our ability to feel. A narcissist cannot feel at all. A narcissist will never feel, which is precisely why he is so jealous, envious and covetous of those who can.

Be grateful you have the emotional capacity to feel and love again in the future. A narcissist does not have that and will never have that. A narcissist will simply go on preying on people to get his/her needs met - over and over and over. Embrace your life and your ability to feel the joy of love again. It will come to you if you stay true to yourself.

(Note: Women can be just as Narcissistic and damaging as men. This blog post is in no way an indictment of all men as Narcissists.)

Mar 16 - 2PM
Raysthedead's picture

Is it ok to say goodbye

Mar 17 - 6PM (Reply to #14)
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture

Yes, you must establish NC

May 7 - 11PM
Susan32's picture

Totally understand

Reading this, I've finally come to terms with the traumatic events of a decade ago. THIS was what I was mourning. I had been told that I had "consummated the relationship" in my imagination, that I was merely delusional and imaginative... when I had been USED. By a predator. I had been told that I was the one with unrealistic expectations for the relationship, that my heartbreak was MY fault (a friend told me this--but so did my ex-N) I remember crying,"I'm grieving BECAUSE this relationship wasn't real." The breakup of a real relationship is devastating--even far more a false one. (This SAME friend finally came to terms with what was going on, and deprogammed me with "it was an abusive relationship"--yes,she saw the light) When I was D&D'd a decade ago, it was profoundly traumatizing, topped with the death of a longtime friend from cancer. I thought my ex-N was handsome, smart, an expert in Wittgenstein, talented, a gentleman--when he had taken advantage of my kindness, patience, compassion, and happiness. I listened to him drub himself, always there to encourage him--and yet he didn't care about humiliating me in public. And when he revealed he already had a girlfriend... (or it was FOUND OUT)... he fled like a vampire flees the sunlight.
Apr 26 - 4AM
porcelainheart's picture

Grieving the Narcissist

I am amazed. Lisa, do you secretly know me? You have described perfectly my life, my feelings, my grief. I am printing your post and tacking it to my bedroom wall right next to my pillow, so I can read it every night before I go to sleep. (It's entirely possible I may even soon sleep without Xanax...) My darling narcissist is a professional engineer in a high-ranking position. Five years ago I fell in love with his brain, his wit, his smile... and completely ignored the red flags that cautiously popped up from time to time. When I started to balk he reeled me in with his prestigous job; photos of him in his white hard-hat and dress shirt, visiting his billion dollar bridges under construction. Shortly after I moved in with him he began controlling, yelling, complaining about my every move, and yelling every obscenity in the book at me, only to apologize and beg for more chances. He broke our engagement three times in three years. I stayed, because I loved him, and we were finally married two years ago. Six months and two weeks ago we shared a delightful Saturday together, laughing and holding hands, and topping off the night with a cuddly bonfire in the woods. Two weeks later, on my birthday, my darling told me he wanted his independence back and dropped me off on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere, with no money and no cell phone, and simply drove away. I never saw him again. Today I still cry every day--not just because I grieve the loss of my husband and my home, but also because I can't believe I was conned; taken, had, duped. I spent six months asking myself daily how a man could 'love' his wife one day and completely erase her the next. Only today, after reading your post, did I finally realize the truth of my situation, and it is very empowering. Thank you for your insight. If anyone would like to read my story--it really is quite fascinating, and tragic-- please feel free to visit my journal at Thank you for opening our eyes. ~Tracy
Apr 27 - 11PM (Reply to #11)
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture

Porcelain Heart

I'm so glad you found our messageboard, Tracy! Your story is very powerful. I'm so sorry for the pain you endured being with this man, but I hope you know how much better off you are now that he is out of your life. You deserve to be with someone capable of real, genuine love and this man clearly is not capable of that. Please know you are not alone. We know what you're going through and we are here for you. Hang in there. Big Hugs, Lisa
Apr 27 - 6PM (Reply to #6)
Heart's picture

Tracy, I know how you feel.

Tracy, I know how you feel. I am just now divorced from NH #2. We were married for ten years. He wanted the divorce. He told me he was never the marrying kind ( married me, first time for him, when he was 53). He told me.for now, he just wants to date. He is extremely successful. My divorce settlement was not what it should have been, but we had a pre-nup, which I realize was his security so that he could get out of the marriage at anytime. We have been separated for two years. I was devastated at the beginning. Now I am numb. I am so angry at his deception and the circumstances in which he left. He knew he never wanted to marry. I ask myself WHEN will the pain stop, if ever? If anyone can offer me some soothing advice, please do!
May 4 - 3PM (Reply to #8)
gullablegull (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

Hi Heart and Tracy

Between you two, it sounds like you both had my soon to be ex~ Tracy, mine also builds bridges. The macho ruggedly handsome work boot cute butt jeans and hardhat.....all that sexy stuff. Heart, He's 53. AND he conned me into a prenup. Very fraudulently, I might add. He had been married twice before, but neither marriage lasted much more than one year. He told me it was because he hadn't met me yet! I'm so dumb!! Truly! Naieve, almost innocent, gullible, trusting, nurturing nitwit! We lasted 5 years married, 3 dating. I'm still in shock...Just absolutely in awe,that something that looks human, feels human, smells human, and sounds human, can be such an imposter....and to children too! He left us, and has never looked back......not even to the stepsons he spent 8 very important years with........ I am still numb and dumb. How can we not feel foolish, when we have been so badly conned and duped? Still have no idea how I'm going to take care of children...just kind of stumbling along, not really even wanting to be here most of the time. I'm sorry. This was not soothing advice Heart....but at least you know you're not alone.
May 4 - 5PM (Reply to #10)
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture


they target the BEST of us. The BEST - you were NOT foolish - these creatures fool professionals ~~~~~~~~~ Moving Forward: Coaching for Victims Pathologicals Feelings buried alive never die. - Alice Miller
May 4 - 5PM (Reply to #9)
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture


they target the BEST of us. The BEST - you were NOT foolish - these creatures fool professionals ~~~~~~~~~ Moving Forward: Coaching for Victims Pathologicals Feelings buried alive never die. - Alice Miller
Apr 27 - 11PM (Reply to #7)
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

trauma counseling time the

trauma counseling time the pain takes a long long time to go away ~~~~~~~~~ Moving Forward: Coaching for Victims Pathologicals Feelings buried alive never die. - Alice Miller
Aug 8 - 12PM
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

mourning the relationship

great post when I was in the PTSD clinic at least 3 doctors told me 18 months minimum - I have learned this is the gold standard. And things don't just STOP at 18 months, they calm down - but the victims MUST seek therapy and whatever help they need for the mind control & brainwashing because you can NOT deprogram by yourself. It will pop back up on you and the PTSD will become permanent. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Articles & information for abuse victims - Updated Daily Online Coaching for Victims of Narcissists/ Psychopaths
Aug 16 - 9PM (Reply to #1)
agilitysb (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

Mourning the relationship

I am on month 14 and it feels like yesterday. I have been going to therapy, I know that it is not healthy to even think about taking her back...something makes me forget about all of the bad times involved with living with a narcissist. It's like you love this person but you know that it is impossible to make the marriage work. I try to focus my energy on my children and work, but when she calls me once a month to tell me that she misses me, then disappears it makes it hard to break free. My therapist says that it is their "push Pull" technique that they use. She pulls me in to think that she had an "aha" moment, then pushes me away. My children from my previous marriage threaten to leave me if I took her back. They are more important to me, I really put them through hell, I remember tucking my 5 year old daughter in before bed and she (the N)called me a pedephile...I was so disgusted! she was jealous of a 5 year old! I endured the rage, jealousy, entitlement, paranoia for 5 years, I feel like I am an empty shell, she depleted me. I have never experienced being with someone like this before, I thought that in time she would see me for who I am and she would become a normal person and love me....but it didn't happen. I think she only comes back to me when her other relationships do not work out. I am trying to get my strength and identity back. I hope that it won't take 6 more months. Michael
Aug 16 - 9PM (Reply to #2)
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture


unfortunately - it takes as long as it takes... took me about 4 years... but I had cumulative PTSD on top of it all. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ CLICK HERE: Articles & information for abuse victims - Updated Daily "Some women can fake an orgasm. But some men can fake an entire relationship!" - Sharon Stone
May 4 - 3PM (Reply to #3)
Abby's picture

Some of Abby's Story

Through my very recent experience with a Narcissist, I have come to understand myself much better and, thus, be more forgiving of the path I chose with him but this time only did I walk it a short time. I now can see that through my role as a child with two narcisistic parents in a tortured marriage, I adopted the role of "pleaser" I feel that this has led me to be drawn to a few narcissists throughout my adult life and have wasted much time trying for the affection and loyalty of those who are unable to give it. That is probably why I purposely avoided the dating scene for a number of years. Unfortunatelyey, in my advancing years, I was drawn to yet another false image and one who turned out to be a pathological narcissist. Right now I have found the strength to seperate myself and can even, at times, feel immense relief to be rid of him. At other times, I feel very depressed and disappointed especially in myself. It is a deep, residing sadness which only took two months to develop in a heretofore, happy individual. As I look back at the "relationship" I realize that he really only wanted to have sex in motels, something I had only had upon few occasions when I was traveling with a serious boyfriend. There was absolutely no wife involved and at the time our relationship started, no other women. He simply preferred Motels despite my resistance and he lived only a few blocks from these motels. I am now wondering if perhaps this was part of his fantasy, that he had a "whore" for the evening. No one in my life had ever pursued me so relentlessly for sex. I found it unflattering and eventually after 4 dates acquiesced simply because of his petulance and sadness over his claiming he had to masturbate all the time to satisfy his needs. I reasoned I wasn't a virgin and I definitely had fallen for his sad story on which I now have a whole diffeent perspective. When after three dates of this nature I explained how the progression of our relationship was making me feel like a whore as it was totally sexually directed, he defended his position by pointing out the foolishness of my feelings and tturned it around to say that the whole problem was that I didn't understand his workload!, something I had never complained about and was fully aware of. He would buy me what he called "breakfast" after a night of sex (I purposely call it that although in my mind it was something else) and it was a cup of coffee at a shop and then send me away without even walking me to the car. (I'm shaking my head at my foolishness!!) He dismissed his actions when I hadn't even brought up the subject but was talking about my feelings about being a "whore" and said perhaps I was expecting brunch but he had a lot of work to do and, besides, I had been happy enough to just see him. When he once wrote to me to further dismiss my feelings, he refused to spell out the word "whore" which I found rather strange. Anyway, I have never seen him since voicing my feelings, once because I refused to accommodate his schedule and the other time because I flat out told him I was out of the relationship when he brought a proposed meeting around to sex once again. This guy was old enough to know better but a child in his emotional development. To fully grasp the sickness is to start to heal.
May 4 - 5PM (Reply to #4)
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture


Actually it draws Narcissists to YOU - not the other way 'round. ~~~~~~~~~ Moving Forward: Coaching for Victims Pathologicals Feelings buried alive never die. - Alice Miller