Why Initiate a”No Contact” Rule When Leaving a Narcissistic Relationship
No contact is initiated as a way of breaking the psychic emotional bonds between you and a narcissistic partner, friend or family member. If you have been involved with a narcissistic person for any length of time you will undoubtedly have a strong attachment to that person. This attachment needs to be weakened which will happen much more quickly once you engage the rules of “no contact.”
I am referring to the rules of “no contact” as RULES but these are only enforced by you. These are your rules! If you break these rules you are the one who pays the consequences. And…there are most definitely consequences that come in the form of emotional pain and re-attachment.
No contact gives you the space and time to get your energy back into your life. It can be challenging at first as you may have to resist the urge to answer the phone, return an Email or make that call. You must get into the habit of policing yourself for your own good.
Imagine that you have two different aspects of yourself; a parent self and a child self. The parent self will have to police the child self to be sure she doesn’t do anything that will hurt her. You know intellectually that breaking the rules of “no contact” will hurt that child, so you stop her from doing so, even though she is throwing a tantrum.
Making a decision to cut off contact with a narcissistic personality when leaving the relationship is an important part of your recovery process. The decision to initiate “NO Contact” is a decision for your health and sanity.
When you remain in contact you continue to engage in the relationship on some level and are still affected by its craziness and dysfunction. You will normally continue to be affected by the hot and cold behavior of the narcissist, be pulled in and pushed away, confused and hurt. You will continue to be drained energetically which results in depression and lethargy.
The best remedy for getting yourself back is to stop giving your energy to the relationship in any way. You can only dry off when you take your feet out of the water. Don’t allow the narcissist access to you and your energy!
Of course there are cases where ‘no contact” is not possible due to the involvement of children or when the narcissistic personality is a direct family member. However even in these cases contact can be greatly limited and sometimes all contact can be through a third party mediator. See my article “When No Contact Can’t Work” for more info.
Here are the rules of No Contact:
1) Once you have made the decision to end the relationship get your business taken care of immediately, if possible. If you are married and going through a divorce you will need to initiate the divorce right away or make the decision to put it on hold for six months to a year while you take care of yourself and your family. During that time you can initiate “no contact” and then initiate the divorce paperwork, through an attorney when you are stronger. Let the narcissist in your life know that you are ending the relationship and won’t be in communication with him for a while. Ask him to please refrain from calling, text messaging, emailing, instant chat or stopping by your home or workplace.
2) Taking care of business involves getting your possessions, giving him his possessions. Getting separate living quarters, separating bills and anything that would give you a reason to contact him or for him to contact you. If necessary use a third party mediator.
3) Clean out your home and get rid of any memorabilia having to do with your ex-narcissistic partner. If you are having issues throwing something away or burning it, put it in a big box, tape it up and store it somewhere where you won’t see it. If you are comfortable burning sage or incense this can help clear the energy of your home. Also burning candles is a good way to shift the energy.
4) Make no arrangements for personal meetings. If he stops by, don’t answer the door. If you see him in public, put your sunglasses on, avoid eye contact and move past him as quickly as possible.
5) Make or accept no phone calls. If he calls, don’t answer the phone. If he calls from an unidentified number and you hear his voice on the other end, hang up without saying a word. He’ll get the message. If he leaves a voice mail message try and erase it without listening if you can. If he is persistent, consider having your phone number changed. This is your sanity we are talking about. It is priceless.
6) Make or accept no text messages, emails, or instant chat. It is best to block his emails and even consider having your own email address changed so he won’t have your information. This prevents him emailing you from an unknown address.
7) If you are on any mutual community Websites, you will want to stop visiting those sites. Do not access his Web pages, profiles, social media, or anything that will give you current info on him. What he is doing is none of your business. What you are doing is none of his.
8) If you have friends in common, you will want to let them know that you are avoiding any and all contact with him at this time so you can focus on your healing and you request that they NOT share any information about him with you nor any information about you with him. If you find mutual friends do not support your request you will want to avoid contact with them for a time. Do not allow anyone to tell you that what you are doing is crazy, silly, stupid, childish or invalidate your decision in any way. This is a time to surround yourself with people who support you and let go of people who don’t.
9) If you work with him, in the same office building, same company, etc.. Same rules apply. If you are forced to do business with him, keep all communication strictly business and don’t allow him to engage you in any other way. Remember: He no longer has access to you or your energy.
10) If you have children with him you are best to engage a mediator for all contact. Narcissistic people will often use the children as a way to get to you. You may consider asking a family member or good friend to act as the mediator for young children. If your kids are old enough to handle their own business, let them work out the details of any visits directly with the other parent and communicate with you to be sure you approve. Be careful not to use your children to punish the narcissistic parent. The kids will be the ones being affected. In some cases when the narcissistic parent realizes he has no control over you and using the kids doesn’t work, he may bow out altogether and you may rarely hear from him. So it is important that you don’t allow him access to you, even if you have kids. Keep it strictly business.
How Long Must No Contact Last?
No contact should remain in affect until you feel the bond has been completely severed. This can take several years so be prepared to continue “no contact” for a long time. Most will find once that bond is severed there is no need or desire to see that person, but the rules can soften a bit at this point so if you run into him on the street you may say “hello” and be kind, but not engage in any “real” conversation. If you have kids together you may be able to communicate directly at some point in the future, although there is absolutely no guarantee this will work well.
Once you have moved on, down the road, you will want to be careful not to make the mistake of believing maybe he/she has changed. The likelihood of any real change is very small. Always assume he or she is the same person as always. Even if change was possible, your trust in the narcissist has already been severely damaged and you would never likely be fully trusting again. This is no way to have a relationship. You deserve to have someone you can trust completely in your life.