If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being involved with a narcissistic ex, you know that running into them can be an uncomfortable and overwhelming experience. Whether you’re trying to stay cordial and keep things amicable or avoid contact altogether, it can be difficult to know what to do and how to handle the situation. It can also trigger past trauma of experiencing self-doubt, questioning yourself, questioning your reality, and reminders of the abuse you experienced that were possibly followed by love-bombing, which has made your experience even more confusing. All of it can hit you all at once and trigger your fight, flight, or freeze response. That’s why it is important to know and rehearse how you will respond before you see them so that you are prepared. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the dos and don’ts of encountering your narcissistic ex so that you can stay safe and make it through the encounter with your dignity intact. Remember, every relationship and situation is different and may require a unique approach, but prioritizing your physical, mental, and emotional safety is key. If you feel unsafe call a friend who can stay on the phone with you until you’re in a safe location or ask someone or security to walk you to your car, especially at night.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Encountering Your Narcissistic Ex
Do: Keep calm and carry on
It can be hard to stay level-headed when you’re surprised by seeing your ex, but it’s important to remain as calm as possible. Take a few deep breaths and remember that although it can be uncomfortable, you are in control of how you react. Make sure your body language is not open and inviting. Depending on the situation and environment you can face away from them, change your paths if you’re walking, look away, look at your phone, step away and call a friend, etc. If you are going somewhere where you think you might run into them such as familiar restaurants, the gym, or while running errands, you can be prepared with sunglasses so you don’t have to make eye contact or you can also bring your headphones, which signals you are not open to discussions. Keep calm and carry on!
Don’t: Get drawn in
When you encounter a narcissist, it can be tempting to engage with them and get drawn into their manipulations and lies. This is a big no-no! While it may be difficult to resist their charm and charisma, keep in mind that they are only trying to manipulate you into getting what they want. Avoiding any kind of interaction or conversation with them is the best way to go. You don’t have to give them the time of day and you don’t have to pretend that you’re ok with them being in your presence. It’s best to just walk away if possible, or just ignore them altogether.
Do: Be assertive
If they put you in a situation where you have to interact with them, be assertive. This doesn’t mean you should be confrontational, but it does mean that you should stand up for yourself and express how you feel in a confident, direct manner.
Express your feelings calmly but firmly. If they attempt to engage in conversation with you be cordial, but let them know you don’t have time to talk. If they persist you can put your palm up to signal “stop,” let them know you’re not interested and keep moving. Narcissists care a lot about their image, so if in public this trick might work. If necessary, reiterate calmly that you will not tolerate any attempts to manipulate or control you.
Most importantly, stick to your boundaries. Once you’ve established that your ex will respect them, keep them in place. Don’t let yourself be drawn back into the same toxic situation.
Finally, remember that you don’t owe your narcissistic ex anything. You have the right to walk away from any conversation if it starts to become too uncomfortable.
Don’t: Let them see you sweat
When you run into your narcissistic ex, you may be tempted to let them see how uncomfortable they make you, or worse yet, to give in to their demands or expectations. Your narcissistic ex will take any opportunity to make themselves look better, smarter, and more powerful than you. So, no matter how difficult it might be, it’s important to keep your cool when you encounter them.
Try your best to not give them the satisfaction of knowing they have control over you. If they try to provoke you, try to change the topic or leave the conversation altogether. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into an argument or power struggle. Stay in control of your emotions, and remember that no matter what they do or say, their behavior is a reflection of them and not of you.
Do: Move on
Focus on yourself and all of the positive things that are happening in your life. Do not let them bring you down and remind yourself that they are no longer part of your life. Refrain from talking about the past as this will only bring up feelings of sadness and confusion. Be confident in your decisions and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for moving on.
Take the time to practice self-care and do something that makes you happy. Find activities that bring you joy and peace of mind and remind yourself that you don’t need them in your life to be happy.
Be sure to surround yourself with people who make you feel safe and accepted. This is a great way to heal and feel more empowered in the situation. Lastly, be damn proud of yourself for not allowing this harmful person access to you.
Head over to “Appointment Request” at inwardhealingtherapy.com to request an initial consultation and get started with a therapist who understands.