Whether you’re thinking about finishing the relationship or have been discarded yourself, here are some practical pointers as to what to do.
Don’t tell your narc that you think that they might be narcissistic – there is no advantage (they won’t admit it, seek help, change – in fact they can’t change). Alerting the narc to your concerns has significant dangers – they launch a smear campaign against you (to discredit you just in case you start to expose them), they ramp up measures to isolate you, embezzle from you, transfer assets into their name, take out liabilities in joint names, physically assault you etc.
Upgrade your Online Security
Secure your online accounts. You may not think that they know your passwords – but you’d be surprised. Change your access codes to everything that you can think of – PIN codes to your devices, passwords to emails, messaging, social media, store accounts, app accounts etc. Be careful not to alert their suspicions that you may be on to something – so say, for example, that you’re worried that your computer has been hacked, and that you have changed all of your passwords as a precaution. Or even that you read an article / a friend had their identity stolen etc. Whatever sounds plausible.
Start Planning Your Exit
Start researching the legal implications of leaving / filing for divorce. Research and find a good lawyer – if it all possible, one that understands and is experienced in NPD and high-conflict divorce. Shore up your finances and assets.
The chances are that you are going to need plenty of support – moral, financial, legal, reputational, physical refuge etc. Start shoring it up. Be discreet – but you may have to divulge to a select few of your closest allies what it is that you are thinking of doing.
Narcissists are desperate for a reaction from you. They want to see you lose it – your doing so makes them feel important. They will triangulate you – thereby making feel that they are the victor, and compound your pain but being very overt with their new supply. Do your utmost best to remain calm and guarded. Anticipate the triangulation and the hoovering, and ignore both. Go No Contact if you can, and Grey Rock if you can’t.
Keep Physically Fit
Keep physically fit. Take lots of fresh air. Walks, bike rides etc. Getting plenty of exercise outside achieves a number of things – one looks up and out, you sleep better, you achieve a balance, it combats depression, etc. Eat healthily, try to maintain a healthy BMI (which makes you feel healthy, but also good about yourself). Keep well hydrated, but be very careful of how much alcohol you consume. Don’t do drugs, and if you are a smoker watch what you smoke (be patient with yourself though – now may not be the time to take on the challenge of giving up).
Mind your Mental Health
But more importantly keep a very close check on your mental health. Keep grounded. Meditate. Do yoga or equivalent. Be patient with yourself. Spend a reasonable amount time every week pursuing hobbies that you enjoy and boost morale. Surround yourself with uplifting people. Avoid negativity whenever you possibly can. Maintain your physical appearance and walk tall – this too will help you feel better about yourself.
Anticipate a very difficult legal battle coming your way. You will want to be able to present plenty of pertinent evidence that supports your case. Understand the sort of information that will be useful, and get evidence that proves those facts. Administrate your system of filing and information retrieval.
Sounds like an odd thing to say, I know. But the reality is that many of your joint friends will be taken in by the invariable smear campaign. Some will be flying monkeys, others enablers. It is vital to keep all toxicity out of your camp. What you are going through is so counter-intuitive, and so baffling to the uninitiated, that they will be trying to force conventional wisdom on you. A classic is compromise. Ordinarily, compromise is a good thing and fundamental in society if we are to all get along. But the reality is that you cannot compromise with a narcissist, and trying to do so often invites further abuse. Some of your friends, and indeed family, may get this – great. Others will not, and rather than battle them or justify your actions, you may have to let them go.