Annie Lane: Aftermath of dating a narcissist

Published 6:02 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Dear Annie: After dating a guy who turned out to be a narcissist, my question is, how can I heal? I’ve tried everything, and I’ve even felt like I’m over it and I’m OK, but then I have my days. It’s like grieving.

I fell in love with this man, and feel like I let my guard down way too soon, only to be disappointed. Yes, he pursued me heavily, and it’s like after supporting me through nursing school, by the time it was close to my graduating, he started to become distant. I am so depressed off and on. I feel like I lost my best friend. What would you suggest?

I’m no longer interested; plus, he has moved on. This is so not like me to let something like this get to me or have me feeling down. I feel like I lost myself just simply trying to understand, and then I tell myself that he served his purpose in my life, and if it was meant to be, it would have been. How do I heal, and how do I get over this heartbreak? I never in my life thought I would allow someone access to me and not see this coming or notice the red flags. Please help.

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— Brokenhearted

Dear Brokenhearted: You have no control over how your ex-boyfriend treated you, but you have total control over how you respond to it. If he was a true narcissist, he was not your best friend. He might have pretended to be your best friend, but that is not a true, authentic friend. He probably is incapable at this point in his life of being a true friend to anyone because he is not a friend to himself.

Allow yourself time to grieve your relationship. It is understandable. It is OK to get sad off and on. Keep doing things for yourself that made you happy before him. Stay close to family and friends, and lean on them for comfort. There is strength in vulnerability. The sooner you recognize that, the sooner you will be able to move through the sadness.

Once you have some distance and time away from the relationship, try to get curious and ask yourself what you liked and didn’t like in the relationship so that you can learn from the old relationship what you don’t want in your new relationship. And don’t rule out talking to a good therapist. At the very least, you will stop beating yourself up for not spotting this guy’s personality earlier.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to