• The narcissist may have manipulated and brainwashed the person into feeling responsible for their happiness.
– Narcissists are masters of manipulation, often using tactics like gaslighting to make their partner question reality. They can convince you that everything is your fault, even if they’re the ones causing all the problems. This can lead to a sense of responsibility for their well-being, making it hard to leave without feeling guilty.
• Leaving a narcissist can trigger feelings of abandonment, even if they were emotionally abusive.
– It’s natural to feel attached to someone you’ve spent so much time with, but leaving an abusive relationship takes courage. Unfortunately, when dealing with a narcissist who has made themselves the center of your universe, it’s easy to believe that no one else will ever love or understand you in quite the same way.
• Guilt may stem from fear of retaliation or punishment from the narcissist.
– Narcissists don’t take kindly to being rejected or abandoned – after all, how could anyone not want them? If there’s any chance that they might lash out at you (emotionally or physically) once you leave them behind – and let’s be honest here: there probably is – then it makes perfect sense why guilt would follow close on its heels.
• Narcissists often play the victim role, making it difficult to leave without feeling guilty.
– You know what they say about playing chess with pigeons: no matter how good you are at winning strategy games against birds who poop everywhere indiscriminately… wait where was I going with this? Oh right! When dealing with a narcissistic ex-partner who always seems like he/she/they got dealt an unfair hand in life despite having every advantage handed over on silver platters since birth (or so they’d have us believe), trying not feel bad about walking away becomes nearly impossible.
• Codependency is common in relationships with narcissists, leading to guilt when trying to break free.
– Codependency is like being stuck in a spider web of emotions and obligations that you can’t escape. It’s not your fault if you’ve fallen into this trap – many people do, especially those who have been with a narcissist for an extended period. When the time comes to leave, it feels like ripping off one of your limbs.
• The person may feel like they failed at fixing or saving the relationship with the narcissist.
– You tried so hard! You gave everything you had (and then some), but nothing seemed to work. If only he/she/they would listen… maybe things could be different? Unfortunately, as much as we’d all love our exes to change their ways overnight because we asked them nicely enough times over coffee dates where no one actually drank any coffee… well let’s just say that doesn’t happen often.
• Gaslighting by the narcissist can make one doubt their own perceptions and decisions about leaving.
– “Are they really that bad?” “Maybe I’m exaggerating…” “What if I’m making a huge mistake?” These are all questions that might pop up when dealing with someone who has made it their mission in life to convince us that black is white and up is down. Remember: trust yourself above anyone else!
• Societal pressures and stigma around divorce or ending a long-term relationship can contribute to guilt.
– Society loves telling us what we should do (or shouldn’t). There’s pressure from family members (“But he was such a catch!”) friends (“You guys were perfect together!”) even strangers on social media (“Why don’t you try couples therapy first before giving up?”). Don’t let these voices drown out your own inner wisdom!
• The person may have invested a lot of time and effort into the relationship, causing guilt when leaving.
– Time flies when you’re having fun… or when you’re trying to make a relationship work with someone who’s impossible to please. Either way, it’s easy to feel like all those years of your life were for nothing if you walk away now.
• Narcissists often use love bombing tactics at the beginning of a relationship, making it hard to let go of those initial feelings.
– Ah yes, remember that time when he/she/they sent flowers every day and wrote poetry in his/her/their spare time? It was magical! Unfortunately, as we’ve learned by now: narcissists are really good at pretending they care about us until they don’t anymore.
• The narcissist may have made promises or commitments that are difficult to break without feeling guilty.
– “I’ll change!” “Things will be different this time…” Sound familiar? Promises can be powerful motivators – especially when we want so badly for them to come true. But sometimes breaking free from toxic relationships means letting go of these hopes and dreams (and also maybe throwing out some old photos).
• Leaving a narcissist can trigger feelings of shame for allowing oneself to be in an abusive situation for so long.
– Shame is one sneaky emotion; it likes hiding under rocks and jumping out just when you think everything’s going well again. When leaving an abuser behind after months (or even years) together feels like admitting defeat somehow… well let’s just say shame has found its perfect breeding ground.
• Fear of being alone or not finding someone else after leaving the narcissist can cause guilt and hesitation about ending the relationship.
– What if no one ever loves me again?! What if I’m destined to die alone surrounded by cats named Mr. Fluffykins forevermore?? These thoughts might cross our minds more than once while contemplating whether or not staying with our ex-partner is worth another minute of our precious lives.
• Emotional manipulation by the narcissist can make one feel responsible for their actions and emotions, leading to guilt when trying to leave.
– “You’re the only one who understands me.” “I can’t live without you!” These are just a couple of examples of how emotional manipulation works. It’s not your fault if you’ve been sucked into this vortex – but it is up to you (and maybe some supportive friends/family) to get out.
• Guilt may stem from feeling like they are abandoning or hurting someone who is already struggling with mental health issues.
– Mental health struggles are no joke; we all know that. But staying in an abusive relationship because we don’t want our partner to spiral out of control doesn’t help anyone – least of all ourselves.
• Childhood experiences such as growing up with emotionally unavailable parents can contribute to codependency and guilt when leaving a toxic partner.
– Sometimes the roots of our problems go way back… like waaayyy back. If your childhood was marked by absent or neglectful caregivers, it makes sense why forming healthy relationships might be difficult now. The good news? You’re not alone! And there’s always hope for healing (even if it takes time).