Is It Worth It? 5 Hidden Costs of STAYING in Contact with a Narcissist

Find out if you are a Good Daughter!

Should you go or should you stay?

That’s the question that keeps many daughters of narcissistic mothers up at night.  

Tossing and turning at 3:00 a.m., you tally all the reasons for staying in contact with your difficult mother.

There’s always another upcoming event- a family holiday, wedding, baby shower, or a birthday that you feel you should attend.

Not attending would speak volumes.

If you don’t show- it won’t go over well. You will be called into account and asked questions- Why do you feel “the need” to go no contact?” You are hurting the whole family. What has she done that’s so unforgivable? Besides, you only have one mother. 

Great! Apparently, Mom can insult, control, manipulate… and all should be forgiven. The slate wiped clean!

And speaking up doesn’t work either. It just gets you in more hot water.

Sometimes, it just feels easier to stay, but is it worth it in the long run? 

To be actively involved with someone who suffers from a personality disorder, such as narcissism, will cost you and cost you dearly.
Like Sisyphus, when you stay in contact with a narcissist, you are condemned to roll a boulder uphill repeatedly, only to have it roll over and crush you.

Remaining involved with a narcissist is demoralizing and exhausting, and, at the end of the day, you might not know the true cost of staying.

Here 5 Hidden Costs of STAYING in Contact with a Narcissist


1)  You are forever working to prove yourself to someone invested in your defeat.

Because a narcissist needs to put you down to lift themselves up, working for their approval is a needless and futile task. They need you to fail, and they will endeavor to make sure that you do.

When you stay in contact with a narcissist -Over time, your self-esteem suffers under the weight of their judgment and insults.


2) While your default is peace and harmony, they thrive on conflict.

If they can bait you and get you into their arena of chaos and discord, they feel they have a fighting chance to defeat you. It is no skin off their nose, but it destroys your peace.

When you stay in contact with a narcissist, Over time, you stop expressing your opinion. You tell yourself, what’s the point? It isn’t worth it.


3) You give them material to use against you.

As long as you remain engaged with them, they will use whatever they gather about you as fodder for their campaign to discredit you. Nothing is private, and nothing is sacred.

When you stay in contact with a narcissist, Sharing yourself isn’t safe. Over time, you begin to withdraw.


4) If they aren’t using you for supply, they see you as their enemy.

Because of this dynamic, you end up either feeling used and going along with them (even when you don’t agree) to keep the peace, or you risk being a target of their wrath. There is no neutral ground.

When you stay in contact with a narcissist, Over time, you become afraid to rock the boat, so you stuff your thoughts and feelings.


5) In their world, you are either for them or against them.

There is no room for independent thought and action. You aren’t valued as a person in your own right who can come to your own conclusions and direct your own life. You are treated as an object.

When you stay in contact with a narcissist, over time, you can stop seeing yourself as having worth.


The cost of remaining in contact with a narcissist

 When you stay in a relationship with a narcissist, you risk losing hope.

That’s for a good reason. Relationally speaking, there is no hope. While you have been hopeful, hope against hope that your kindness and reasonableness will win them over.

But the truth is… they have never had hope, and through their treatment of you, they destroy yours.

Sadly, the relationship is hope-less. But you are the only one who feels the pain of it in the present moment.

Here’s what I mean-

The narcissist is like a zombie- the living dead- who only appears as if they are (relationally) alive. They are still living, but their hope, their humanity, died a long time ago, and with it, their capacity for empathy or kindness.

That’s a big statement but one that you need to embrace if you are going to save yourself.

The problem, now… is that there is no bringing them back from the dead.

But you don’t know that. You keep trying to breathe life into a (relational) corpse.

What you can’t see is that the narcissist gave up on relationships a long time ago.

Their early relationships were not good enough to give them the hope that every child needs to connect with others in a healthy way.

Yet, they are all too willing to drag you into the darkness with them. It gives them supply, but not (relational) life.

They are just bidding their time… in this limbo state- neither alive and hopeful -nor dead and inactive.

Remaining in contact with the narcissist is costing you. And it costs you in ways you can’t see but can feel.

At first, confusion, then fatigue, and eventually exhaustion set in

Your hope starts to die. And, when your hope dies, you can feel numb and dead inside.

When that feeling state takes hold, it becomes depression.

If you don’t get out…you toggle between depression and anxiety- hopelessness and fear- lost in a maze with no healthy path forward.


Is this sad? YES. Is this tragic? Yes. But it is also dangerous, very dangerous to you.

Make no mistake: staying in contact with a narcissist will cost you.

As long as they have access to you, they will suck the lifeblood out of you. They can’t help but do so. It is a matter of psychological survival for them.

Do you become narcissistic in response? No, you don’t become narcissistic, but you do become miserable.

After suffering years of narcissistic abuse, it is common for people to become a shell of themselves. My psychotherapy clients frequently
tell me they don’t know what they think or feel.

If you decide it costs you too much, it isn’t worth it- you can get free.

Breaking free is not easy, but it is possible.

You aren’t alone, and you aren’t crazy- there is a way out.




Do you relate?

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  1. Vinciane

    First of all, happy new year to you.
    Reading you has been a real blessing. Thanks for that.
    I am writing from France (I’m French) and my mother has tried to ruin another Christmas. She initiated arguments a few days before and she declared she didn’t want to come. Hurrah ! We had a happy Christmas day without her. But now she sends text messages saying she is not eating anymore and that she has lost a lot of weight. She is trying to manipulate us all over again and we are the monster and she is the victim. As usual.
    The trouble I have with that is that she is suffering from dementia and she can’t even remember her name when we leave her alone for months. Then we have to hopsitalize her and she comes back home and the cycle repeats itself all over again. Her own mother was the same and my aunts had to pay 1,000 euros a month for 15 years for an old people’s home. I am furious I will have to spend half my salary to put her into the same sort of establishment and maybe cut down on my youngest daughter’s money. She has just started college and I don’t want her to be collateral damage of my mother’s mental health.
    As you describe, I toss and turn at time trying to figure out what I can do. Let her die of starvation in her flat ? Sending her right away into an institution and working more to earn more to pay for her to have her last years well-cared for ? I feel so angry.
    I have tried getting help from a psychiatrist years ago but she only told me to forget about her and let her lead her own life. But now she has dementia how can I leave her on her own ? I woul love to do that but how can I leave someone die ? I am sure you understand what I am going through. Thank you for reading me.
    Vinciane, from the center of France

    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Ah Vinciane- I hear you and feel for your situation.

      Although I wish there were an easy or obvious answer, I’m afraid it is multilayered and nuanced. Plus you can’t totally be sure- what’s the dementia and what’s manipulation.

      I can help you with an approach which others in your situation have found helpful.

      1) as dispassionately as you can write down the cycle as you have observed it. Expect your mother’s behavior to follow a similar pattern going forward. Plan on how you are going to respond to each situation rather than be taken off-guard by it.
      2) bring in your siblings if possible and strive to get everyone on the same page.
      3) Have a serious talk with a sympathetic counselor, or a trusted objective friend to help you with the planning.

      All this is to take you out of the hot seat so that you can respond rather than react from an emotional place.

      I can’t tell you ( or anyone else for that matter) what you owe your mom. However, I’m pretty sure you don;t owe her your sanity, all of your energy and all of your monetary resources.

      Since all of the above are limited- you need to protect yourself and make some hard choices. Know that there isn’t a perfect formula but you need to factor in your needs into the equation.

      I wish you the best.


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