Toxic/Narcissistic Relationship.. How do I let go?

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    I’ve recently ended my toxic relationship with my boyfriend of 3 years.
    I feel completely lost and insecure. I used to be confident and happy but over the last 3 years all of that has disappeared.
    He is a very manipulative person who constantly makes me question myself.
    Our relationship started 3 years ago when he was separated from his ex wife. After his divorce, we became serious and a year into our relationship, I found out he was cheating on me throughout our whole relationship. I broke up with him but he came back begging me to give him another chance.. which I did. He then cheated on me again and I broke up with him a second time. We recently broke up because I want a family in the future and since he already has kids, he doesn’t want another one. I completely understand and respect that – which is why I thought that this would be the last time. This has become a vicious cycle of breaking up and making up. Every time we break up, I tell myself this will be the last time but he keeps coming back telling me he promises things will change. I’ve never had a chance to grieve because every time he breaks up with me he always tries to come back into my life and it’s so hard to let go. I just don’t understand why he keeps coming back.

    I’ve realized he’s a very manipulative person. Today I had dinner with him and we got into a fight about how I can’t trust him. Apparently, I ruined his night and I belittled him. I’ve never been able to fully heal from the cheating and he makes me feel bad for it. He gets’s very angry every time I bring it up. I always seem to be the one apologizing for everything.

    It’s almost like he won’t allow me to let go and move on. I just don’t know how to move on. I feel guilty for moving on because he tells me that I won’t find the same love and intimacy with someone else. Apparently, no one will love me like he dies. I want to move on so badly but it seems so difficult. I feel very insecure.

    How do I move on and let go and why is it so difficult? I feel like I’ve lost myself and I don’t know what to do.


    Hi Christiebae,

    I’ve worked with a couple of women who has been in your situation and it’s a difficult experience. Just posting here shows that even though he spent years chipping away your confidence and maintained this practice in regular intervals, there is a little voice inside you that knows something is not right. Reaching out for help is a good first step to make that change.

    After years of being told how you should feel, a way to get back in touch with yourself is to remove yourself from the immediate environment where he can’t contact you. Go on a holiday or if you can’t afford it, spend a couple of days with friends/family and make sure you turn off the phone in the interim. Personally, I find hiking helps to promote the healing process as it lets you forget about your troubles and focus on getting through your journey. Nature also have a way to enrich our spirits and just the feeling of the sun on your skin, the wind on your face and grass on your feet will make you feel a million times better than being in the city. Take a journal with you to jot down your thoughts and feelings during breaks and you will be amazed at how much your heart fills up afterwards.

    The reason I recommend this is that it is because you understand the logic and perhaps even have ideas on how to get out of it. What is missing at the moment is the conviction to leave and deal with his persistence once you’ve made your mind up. Trying to move on with an empty heart will probably just be a repeat of the previous pattern so it’s better to arm yourself before the battle.


    Hi Christiebea,

    Everything Yue said above, yes, yes, a hundred times yes!! A cell phone less break, hiking in nature!

    I must warn you that what I’ve noticed is let’s say you go three weeks without contact… At a certain point they go crazy and will practically stalk you until you are found and then they become the most abusive. But if you can stay strong, the tsunami will pass and he will move on to other victims…

    And let’s say he was a perfectly lovely person ~ You want kids. He doesn’t. Future real live children trump someone who’s just a boyfriend. This bears repeating. Don’t let someone who’s just a boyfriend make your children become fantasies. No. Your kids trump someone who’s just the boyfriend. Especially an emotionally abusive ex.

    Date other people.

    To Your Children,



    Life is too short to allow this kind of bullshit to happen to you – what will you get from believing a cheater anyway? You want kids and he doesnt. Someday this cycle cummulates into marriage and a kid does happen, can you ever be sure he will be the kind of person who wont lie to you again and you have to keep saying sorry? Yes people can change but he has done this repeatedly and his ideals dont match with yours. And jeez. This whole no one can love you more shit is typical of exes who want to get you back in your weak, post break up state. I heard the exact same lines and guess what, he was flirting with my friend that whole time. Dont allow such bad treatment just because you want to be in love and want a family – its worth waiting for the right partner any day! Sure you are going to cry, feel angry and lost but that is not how life will be forever – you have your own self-respect too and someday you will find that wonderful guy you actually deserve, this one doesnt and its time you accept that.

    Ashley Arcel

    Hi Christiebea,

    First of all, I am so sorry to hear about your situation here. I know from personal experience that this is a very difficult place to be and to have a relationship with someone that manipulative is a really difficult thing to recover from. Not only do you have the infidelity and all of the harm that brings upon your ego and self-worth, but you also have a man who has made you believe that you will not find anyone else who will love you. We’re all here to tell you that that is false. The fact that you know there is an issue here is the first step towards healing and, I agree with Yue, a great next move would be to separate yourself completely from him. You need to get back in touch with yourself and that can’t happen (as you acknowledged in your post) until he is out of the picture. It will sting at first but you need to grieve. Allow yourself space to be angry and sad but make sure to also make positive efforts to recover – join a new community to meet new people, read inspirational books, pursue a spiritual practice if that’s your thing. So many women (myself included) have stories like yours and my heart bleeds for you. But trust me, beautiful, you WILL recover! It’s just a matter of time and patience. All of the best to you.


    Jim McCarthy

    Hey Christiebae,

    There is a lot of wisdom and caring in the previous replies. I suggest when you are feeling low you refer back to them to remind you that this guy is not healthy and not healthy for you. You wrote, “He’s a very manipulative person who constantly makes me question myself.”
    and you wrote it further down. You are giving him power over your thoughts and feelings. Reclaim that confidence and happiness you had.
    Don’t believe his lies about ‘not finding love and intimacy’ The way he is treating you is the exact opposite of love and intimacy.
    I hope you focus on learning to value yourself. Don’t believe his twisted lies and selfish motives. Be with people who respect you, truly love you and want what is best for you. This sounds like the type of guy whose behavior will only escalate and become more abusive.
    Give yourself permission to let go. Give yourself permission to be happy and to heal. And ask yourself, How many times am I going to touch the hot stove before I realize I get burned each time? Or How many times am I going to put my hand in scalding hot water…?


    “I feel guilty for moving on because he tells me that I won’t find the same love and intimacy with someone else. Apparently, no one will love me like he [does].”

    Sheesh, I should hope not. Can he give you that in a written guarantee? He has very twisted ideas about what ‘love’ means.

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