Are You Emotionally Spent From Living With a Narcissist? 13 Undeniable Signs You Are and What to Do About It

You’ve survived some trauma and drama in your day, but nothing compares to the aftermath of life with a narcissist.

A relationship with someone who suffers from NPD is its own depraved level of toxicity. 

Beyond being a jerk, these narcissistic masters of disguise are void of emotions and consequences while believing they are godly, superior beings among common people. 

Their partners exist to give them supply and pay the price when they don't. 

This is not a mutually respectable relationship, and it never will be.

Only one of you will be left emotionally bankrupt and traumatized, and it sure won’t be the narcissist. 

What Is Emotional Depletion?

Emotional depletion is one of the mangled branches of burnout.

Being in a narcissistic relationship has the trademarks of an ongoing rush of emotions, rumination, and anxiety.

You become emotionally depleted trying to salvage a relationship that was doomed to fail but you never saw coming.

It's not just the heartbreak you experience during and after a narcissistic relationship. It's the whiplash of love, rejection, and uncertainty that truly throws your nervous system out of whack.

Being emotionally worn down can change your mental state, physical health, and behavior patterns.

Depression after narcissistic abuse is not surprising, given everything you went through. There are also long-term effects of narcissistic abuse when trying to restore the emotional soul proves challenging.

This toxic relationship not only emotionally wrecks you while you're in it, but a whole new level of emotional turmoil happens when you try to leave and for years to come.

What Are Some Narcissistic Emotional Abuse Behaviors?

It helps to know the items on the menu of your narcissist to identify them as early as possible.

Very few people are skilled enough to notice a narcissist before the emotional scars have set in.

  • Gaslighting: A narcissist will range from telling you you're being dramatic to rewriting history. They are convincing enough to send your cortisone soaring as you wonder if you're going crazy. 
  • Discarding: Much of the emotional wreckage happens at this point, akin to the Titanic hitting the iceberg. With little or no rationale, the narcissist will break up with or disappear from their victims. No amount of begging and pleading for an explanation works.
  • Love Bombing: This is how they lure you in and set unrealistic expectations of the “love of my life.” Even when it's emotionally overwhelming, victims can't resist the attraction. This tactic is also used if the victim, uh, supply, is catching onto the narcissistic behavior. 
  • Verbal Abuse: From nitpicking everything you say, do, and wear to constantly putting you down to make themselves appear superior, there's no love other than love bombing that comes from a narcissist. The love bombing is as fake as the person dropping the bombs. 
  • Manipulation in All Forms: A narcissist resorts to passive-aggressive behaviors, guilt-tripping, self-victimization, and emotional threats to get you to do what they want. Manipulation is one of their favorite tools to control you.

13 Signs You Are Emotionally Depleted from Living with a Narcissist

Narcissistic rage and emotional torture burn slowly but deeply. Instead of those very helpful red flags that stand out with regular jerks, these are hidden, twisted, and manipulative.

1. You're Walking on Thin Ice

Since there isn't much rhyme or reason to why a narcissist gets upset, as they live in their own ideal definition of life, you never know what will trigger them. Everything you do is to avoid the narcissist getting upset with you. 

At first, the thin ice is to keep a grip on the perfect couple you were during the love bombing stage, but it morphs into just not wanting to be insulted or abused. 

2. You're Always Sick to Your Stomach

Something always feels off, whether it's ongoing nausea or a pit in your stomach. The relentless emotional cargo is far too much for one person to carry.

This is anxiety causing a literal gut reaction since you never know where you stand with this person who presented themselves as the perfect mate. 

The narcissist can even use your upset stomach to suggest it’s your way of not looking good, and he’ll mock you for always being sick.

3. You're Isolated from Loved Ones

A narcissist wants his supply (you) to be close and concentrated on them. They will slowly isolate you from friends and family, using lies or manipulation to convince you they aren't good for you.

They try to persuade you that the only happiness you'll find now is with them as you serve them. 

A narcissist will also isolate you by telling your friends lies and half-truths through triangulation, making them the controller of information between you and your friends or family. 

4. You're Unable to Set Boundaries

Narcissists can smell a person with weak boundaries a mile away and attract them to use that flaw.

Your caring, compassionate nature makes you want to please your “soulmate,” but it also prevents you from establishing boundaries where you know they should be. 

In addition, you'll notice you have to abide by a lot of boundaries. The narcissist is above and beyond reproach or accountability. 

5. You're Depressed and Desolate

The one-two punch of meeting Prince Charming and then realizing he's the monster under the bed can send victims into an emotional spiral. Can living with a narcissist make you mentally ill?

Yes.

Then you begin to rely on the narcissist to love bomb you so you can feel better. It's literally the same addiction cycle as someone on drugs or using alcohol to self-soothe. 

You can't talk about this with the one person who should be supporting you, and that pushes you deeper into a dark hole. If you do share your feelings, they know gaslighting will work wonderfully on you since “even you admit you have mental issues.” 

6. You've Shut Down

An often-used surviving mechanism is to shut down or disassociate. Those who are stuck in a narcissistic relationship are well-prepared for the particular brand of narcissistic rage that is inevitably coming. 

When the Kraken is released, victims will just shut down like they're bracing for a blow of dynamite. 

Victims lose the ability to fight back or defend themselves, opting just to wait for the rampage to end. 

7. You're Overanalyzing Everything

During the few minutes of space the narcissist gives you, or during a discard period, you lose precious time trying to figure out how to fix this, escape it, or make it stop. Your mind is trapped in a cycle of obsessing about the great person you met and the creep that now sleeps in your bed. 

You're creating plots and plans for your next tactic like an outnumbered Army general. But the narcissist is always victorious, so your rumination begins again. 

8. You're Mad at Yourself

Instead of placing all that good blame and anger on the right person, you're too focused on blaming yourself for not being good enough. This reaction is especially notable if you were a strong, confident person before.

It's also one of the most hurtful parts because you believed you were smart enough to know better. 

I promise you, nobody can prepare you for a narcissistic onslaught. 

9. You're Doing Things out of Character

Once you realize you can only have a good day if the narcissist is happy, and his bar for happiness is always being elevated, you'll start to take extreme actions to keep them happy. 

You begin to praise basic things, like showing up (albeit 30 minutes late), and you learn never to try to outshine your partner. 

You might also notice you're overlooking newly waving red flags, like suspicions of cheating, because you just don't want to have the battle. 


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10. You're Unable to Make Decisions

Since everything you do is prosecuted, juried, and judged by the narcissist, you wouldn't dare make decisions on your own.

He can meet even well-meaning acts like booking a weekend vacation with ire because you didn’t ask permission to spend the money. 

You'll also find yourself relying on him to help plan the most basic things, like what to wear or pack for lunch. Victims know they are only one low-cut top away from a blow-up. 

11. You're Trying to Justify It

As our brain and heart battle for what's real versus what we thought was real, it can send us down a rabbit hole of internet articles looking for some kind of explanation or solution to this problem. 

Your desire to help fix this drew the narcissist to you in the first place. He knows you'll always keep trying to make it work; thus, you are always under his control. 

Worse? You'll begin making excuses as your friends and family feel the ick vibes long before you do.  

12. You're Unable to Move On

Every narcissistic victim gets to a breaking point, emotionally and mentally, where they have had enough.

Only, they haven't had enough. That love bomber comes back promising the moon and the stars this time and lures us back in. 

The break-up make-up cycle can be standard in some relationships, but with a narcissistic relationship, the devil always controls whether you're a couple. 

Even when you leave, you're still for an emotionally exhausting post-narcissistic abuse cycle.

You're smart enough to know what they're doing but unable to beat them at their own game because you have emotions and they don't. 

13. You're Sickened by the Sight of Them

Once reality sets in and you see the monster for who he is, that pit in your belly grows hair and thorns.

Hearing their name or a song related to your time together can make you sick to your stomach. 

Whether you dread them coming home from work or force a smile at a work gathering, narcissistic victims rarely can stomach the sight of their abuser.

This becomes exponentially worse because once you're ready to leave, they lay it on thick again. When they can't kill you with kindness, they'll slaughter you with scandalous secrets revealed publicly just to hurt you. 

What Happens to Your Brain After Narcissistic Abuse?

While it's called narcissistic abuse, it's really post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This abuse physically alters your brain with more damage the longer you endure it.

The hippocampus and amygdala are two core brain systems. 

  • The first is the center of learning and memory, guided by the autonomous nervous system. 
  • The second is our emotional control room. 
  • The release of stress hormones from narcissistic abuse can shrink the hippocampus, while the surge of stress hormones swells the amygdala, throwing our emotional base off center. 

Leaving a bad relationship still means you'll be caring for the brain after narcissistic abuse, as the learning and memory center is flooded with waking triggers and sleepy nightmares of the trauma.

Then a victim isn't emotionally stable enough to handle the rush of emotions, creating a more vicious cycle. 

This is why treatment for narcissistic abuse is as necessary as a soldier returning from war or a person who suffered sexual abuse. 

How to Emotionally Detach from a Narcissist

Be warned—detaching from a narcissistic relationship isn't easy, even when you see it for what it truly is.

Your beautiful self is still holding onto the fake form of love that didn't exist and craving the relationship for what you thought it was.

1. Be a Gray Rock

This is an often-used term to explain how to shake off a narcissist. Once you've separated, you have no contact with them or as little as possible if you share spaces like children or jobs.

You resist the urge to show them what they're missing and be as bland, indifferent, and distant as possible. 

2. Be Surrounded by Your Tribe

It's those dark moments alone where you start to question yourself. Build a support system of family and friends to help you when the temptation to text takes over, or you feel hopeless.

Schedule happy hours or yoga classes during the times of day you know you are most vulnerable. 

4. Be Forgiving

Yeah, you need to forgive him. You just shouldn't forget. More importantly, you need to forgive yourself. Some people spend years ruminating about how they got manipulated.

The more distance you have, the less you remember the good times and the more you recognize the deception. Forgive yourself, educate yourself, and rebuild yourself. 

5. Be Open to Therapy

Victims of narcissistic abuse likely had issues that needed therapy before the relationship started, like being a people please or having low self-esteem. You don't go to therapy to talk about that villain.

You go there to heal yourself and find how what patterns made you this way and how to break the generational cycle. 

6. Be Prepared for War

Loving a narcissist pales in comparison in some ways to leaving a narcissist. Since you were a reliable form of supply they could pick up and drop off anytime they wanted, they won't be happy.

They don't want you back. They want your emotions back, and they have no limits.

  • Get a security camera. 
  • Change your phone number. 
  • Sign off of social media for a few months. 
  • Don't go to your regular handouts. 

Remember, this person knows all the ways to push your buttons and how you react in every circumstance. Don't give them the chance. 

Final Thoughts

The triggers of an abusive narcissistic relationship are real and rotten. You are not broken. You are not unwanted. You survived an emotional nuclear war and walked away. 

Treat yourself like you'd treat your best friend if they went through the same thing. Give compassion, support, and a lot of grace.