Breaking up is even sadder when you’re still in love with your soon-to-be-ex – whether they’re a narcissist or not. However, parting ways may sometimes be a sound decision – and that’s especially true when they are toxic. But how do you deal?

The harsh truth is that a healthy relationship requires more than love. You need to be compatible and respectful toward each other. And those of us who have experienced a toxic relationship with a narcissist know very well that this is not ever the case in these situations. The discard is painful.

Even if you are in a seemingly healthy relationship and you seem like a great match, you may be at different stages of life and pursuing conflicting goals. Maybe you want to settle down and start a family, but your partner wants to buy a boat and sail the world. But regardless of the reason you broke up, you might still be struggling with pain and loss – not to mention some pretty painful grief.

Try these ideas for helping you to deal with your breakup and build a brighter future.

Short-Term Steps:

  1. Seek support. Ask your family and friends for the help you need. Talk with them in advance about your plans so they can be there for you. Let them know when you’re looking for a shoulder to cry on or a pep talk to get you moving. If you’ve struggled with a toxic relationship, think about joining one of our free support groups – it can help to talk with people who really understand.
  2. Limit contact. You may eventually decide to be friends with your ex, but you’ll both benefit from keeping your distance for now. That includes offline and online communications. If you’re dealing with a toxic narcissist, consider going NO CONTACT or low-contact for good.
  3. Lighten your load. Give yourself an opportunity to vent your feelings and start recovering. Try to reschedule any demanding projects for later. You may even want to leave town for a few days.
  4. Clear away reminders. There will probably come a day when you’ll enjoy going through your mementos but put them aside for now. Box up vacation photos and love letters. Give back any clothing or personal items or donate them to charity.
  5. Practice self-care. You may be tempted to binge on chocolate cake and cable TV, but you need your strength. Eat a balanced diet, go to bed early, and exercise each day.

Long-Term Steps:

  1. Be realistic. It’s common to idealize your old flame, but that can create a false image of your relationship. More importantly, it can set up an impossibly high standard that will keep you from being open to new possibilities.
  2. Let go of regrets. If you’re blaming yourself, remember that you and your ex both played a role in how your relationship ended. Accept the facts and forgive both of you so you can move on.
  3. Enjoy your freedom. Learn how to be comfortable on your own. Spend more time with family and friends. Pursue your favorite interests or discover new ones.
  4. Meet and mingle. Take your time with dating – you’re going to need to heal from your toxic relationship first. But when you’re ready to date, explore your options. Think about what you’re really looking for in a partner. Go to places where you can meet singles who share your interests. Ask your friends for introductions and feedback.
  5. Don’t fall for the hoover. If a serious relationship starts to develop while you’re still missing your ex, be careful to avoid getting involved again. Really focus on self-care and don’t let yourself get hoovered.
  6. Address root issues. When the initial hurt has passed, evaluate your relationship to see what you can learn. You may want to talk with a professional counselor if you need another point of view. If you dealt with a toxic relationship, you can start here.
  7. Think positive. Keep in mind that you are worthy of love and happiness just the way you are. Projecting confidence will make you more attractive and make it easier to keep moving forward.

Saying goodbye to someone you love can break your heart, but it will mend. You have to know that you deserve better than a toxic narcissist. Treasure the positive aspects of your relationship and use them to inspire you to find a new love that will last. By Angela Atkinson