How do you know when to leave your abusive / addicted / narcissistic partner?


Many people will try to answer this question for you — well meaning friends, concerned family members, strangers on the Internet — but they can’t. Only you know the answer to this question. The trouble is when you’re stuck in an abusive situation with an addict or a narcissist you’re being gaslit and having your sense of self degraded on a daily basis. Some days you don’t even know what you want to eat, never mind how or when to make one of the biggest, most heart wrenching decisions of your life.

I know, because I was there. A marriage counsellor told me to get out as soon as I could. It took me another 18 months of figuring out what was happening, dancing around the situation, testing him, learning about abusive relationships, being in then out, then in again. I even left once for about 6 weeks. I packed my things while he was away at work, tucked my full-to-bursting car around the corner and drove to stay with a friend 300 miles away the next day — fur babies in tow. I came back though, on the promise of change, always the promise of change. But I think I knew that was the last time.

I’m happily divorced now, but I always say to people who ask that no one gets married because they want to get divorced. Certainly no one who is genuinely in love with their partner imagines that’s how their marriage will end. So before I could end my marriage, I had to know I had tried everything. I had to know I’d given it my best shot and it simply wasn’t going to work. I could only meet him half way, and if he wasn’t willing to (or couldn’t, in the case of a narcissist, it’s just not how they’re built) walk the other half, I was out.

So I cannot tell you the answer to your question but I can do these things:

a) Tell you my story. Check out my profile and read my stories of codependency and narcissistic abuse.

b) Give you a list of questions to ask yourself to try to help clarify some of the answers you are so desperately seeking when you want to know if it’s time to leave. That list is below…

Ask yourself these questions. The answers may not come straight away. You may need to ask them every day until you get clarity. You might want to write them down somewhere. But the answers must come from you. You are the only one who can know when it’s times to go, and you are the only one who can make that move.

  1. Is this what I want from my life?

  2. Do I honestly think he / she / they will ever change / love me as I want to be loved?

  3. If the answer is yes, how long will that take? Am I willing to give up that much of my life to find out?

  4. What will I do if they don’t change?

  5. How much more of myself do I want to give to this relationship?

  6. Am I more afraid of being alone / feeling untethered than I am of staying in an abusive / draining / unfulfilling situation?

  7. What else in my life suffers when I stay in this relationship? (My energy? My other relationships? My work? My body? My self worth? My finances?)

  8. Am I constantly looking for advice / someone to tell me to leave? Am I hoping the next person I ask will have the magic bullet that makes me trust them and take their word and give me the courage to go?

I hope this list helps. I hope you get the clarity you need to move into a happier and more fulfilling stage in your life.

You deserve real love and connection.


My online codependence recovery course: Loving Fierce is out now. Find out if it’s for you, here.