Can You Ever Rewind an Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

20 Oct 2020

Is there a way to rewind an emotionally abusive relationship? Have you ever wished that you could? By the time that you walk away so many things have been said and done that would have been better unsaid and done.  Plus, there are so many things that you as, victim and survivor, need to say but that your abusive ex will never truly hear and acknowledge.  But, still, there can be a longing to rewind the relationship and start over – even when a survivor knows that they need to go No Contact.

Why is it that for some survivors the longing to rewind an emotionally abusive relationship  is so powerful?

The other side of the coin

Let’s start from the other side of the coin with the issue of No Contact. One of the first things that you learn, after leaving the relationship, is that you need to go No Contact. I have written about it before, and I am certainly do not intend to go back on anything that I said, then. Going No Contact can, quite literally, make the difference between life and death for the abuse victim who walks away.

And yet so many survivors struggle with implementing No Contact.

Those who struggle will point out how hard it is to maintain No Contact.  Especially if they have young children in common.

In an ideal world, at the end of a toxic relationship, the abusive, Narcissistic partner would be strapped into a small, inexpensive spacecraft and delivered safely back to Planet Zog whence they came.  That would surely smooth the way for everybody’s Happy Ever After. (How that would affect the Narcissistic abuser in question is immaterial, here.  Abusers are incapable of experiencing true happiness. Plus, you don’t have to worry for them, they will find someone else to take good care of them.)

The obstacles to going No Contact

Sadly, here in the real world, the survivors have to figure out a way to put their lives back to together again. Often with their abusive ex forever on the sidelines. Or, worse, still, continuing to play a key role as The Other Parent.

how do you go No Contact in that scenario?

The answer to that conundrum lies, I believe, in approaching the problem with as much clarity as you possibly can.  You may be legally obliged to tolerate your ex playing a role in your joint children’s lives – even if your ex is an incompetent, uncaring parent. Unless and until you can change that in some ways, your hands are tied. However, in others they are not.

Even if you are stuck with a situation that is far from ideal, you always have the option of handling it the best way that you can.  Managing that is already really helpful to you in rebuilding your own self-worth.

What an abusive, Narcissist ex-partner wants from parenting 

The best way of handling the situation requires you to ask yourself what your ex wants out of exercising their parenting duty.  In the case of an abusive Narcissist, it is only fair to say that they are always looking for a pay-off.  The three most likely options are,

  1. They genuinely cares about his own offspring.
  2. They want to look like a Great Parent.
  3. They see the whole exercise as a means of continuing to assert their power and control over you and their offspring.

If the first option is true, that will make your life easier inasmuch as you can work together – albeit purely and simply on doing the best for the children.

If, as is  rather more likely, options 2 & 3 drive themm, then nothing much has changed – on their side – as regards the relationship with you.  They still want to get their good feelings at your expense.

Contact damage limitation 

That is where going No Contact comes in.  Even though you cannot banish them from your world, you can deny your narcissistic, abusive ex the satisfaction of turning your inner world upside down. You do that by limiting your interactions every which way. This includes,

  1. Limiting the means of communication to whatever involves the lowest emotional wear and tear on you. So, no texts, Whatsapps or phone calls – barring major emergencies – when you can get by with email.
  2. Working at emotional detachment. Information about his life now that you are no longer in it is, quite simply, not your business.  Even if, for some unfathomable reason, Madonna, Miranda Kerr or a Kardashian wants to take up with him, that is no business of yours.
  3. Learning how NOT to take the bait. The Narcissistic abuser’s game is as simple as it is toxic – they will do and say anything to trigger an emotional reaction from you. When you react emotionally you lose. Hence you have to think in terms of,

The Two-Part Response 

Since nobody is perfect, there will be times when a narcissistic ex gets through your first lines of defence.  That is just something that is almost guaranteed to happen. When it does, the two-part response goes like this:

  • “Really? I will have to think about that. I will get back to you.”
  • `Having done whatever you need to do to get yourself into the most resourceful state that you can, you then state, via email, what is and is not acceptable to you.

Will you win the individual point? That I can’t say.  However, you will start to teach your ex that they can’t get their desired pay-offs anymore.  Over time, that will make your life a lot easier.

 How NOT to rewind an emotionally abusive relationship

All of that brings us back to the whole question of rewinding an emotionally abusive relationship.

Social media provides an endless number of true horror stories of women and men who have been horrendously badly treated by a narcissistic partner. Nevertheless, they declare that they cannot implement No Contact, despite knowing full well that they should.   They cannot go No Contact, they say, because they “still love” their ex.

Clearly, what they desperately want is to rewind the relationship. They “just” want to get their ex’s attention in such a way that that ex finally embraces their reality. They “just” want to go back to the early lovebombing days when their Narcissist made that relatively big, shamelessly calculating and cynical attempt to get their buy-in.  That is the “relationship” to which they remain so attached. 

The real rewind

Sadly, that relationship is never coming back.  Actually, it never existed in the first place. Sure, your ex may still send out the odd message to suggest that they have had the mythical personality transplant and are now ACHING to lovebomb you for the rest of your days.  That is just another of their lies.

Your ex is congenitally incapable of lovebombing for a prolonged length of time. A Narcissist is a Narcissist, remember.  It really is all about them.  That is not going to change.

So, there will never be a future-proof reversion to that early, faux love-bombing persona.

On the other hand,  a genuine rewind is always possible – but only to the authentic, abusive self that you already know so well.  That rewind comes with a 100% guarantee.  You have a 100% unconditional, lifetime Unhappiness Guarantee. In an ideal world, that would be an easy notion to take on board. However, when you have spent enough time around an abusive Narcissist, it can feel close to impossible.  If you are struggling to do what you know you need to do, get in touch.  We can work together to remove those inner obstacles to your happiness and peace of mind.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

2 thoughts on “Can You Ever Rewind an Emotionally Abusive Relationship?”

  1. Even though I’m not tempted to go back or break the “no contact”, sometimes I have feelings of grief and nostalgia WELL, This blog was like a bucket of cold well water in my face !!! – Reminding me of his “buy in” trickery and then the other mistreatments that followed… ~ Thank you dr Annie

    • Hmm! I hadn’t really thought of myself as the kind of person to throw a bucket of cold water in someone’s face.

      However, I am glad that it worked to break those treacherous feelings of grief and nostalgia.

      Stay strong.

      Warm wishes for your healing and happiness.



Leave a comment

The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse.  Starting with the basics.

Connect with me on Instagram

Want daily reassurance and inspiration? Sign up to my Instagram account. @dr_anniephd