Taylor Swift once said, “never trust a narcissist.” And she’s right—especially because trusting a narcissist might lead to a breakup with a narcissist. And that’s fun for no one. Ending any relationship, in any circumstance tends to fall somewhere between “unpleasant” and “downright horrible,” but when you’re contending with a narcissist, a unique set of challenges may emerge.

“Narcissists are very self-absorbed and selfish, so they talk about what they want and what they need from you, disregarding whatever you tell them about your own feelings and concerns about the relationship,” says relationship therapist Jane Greer, PhD. This is consistent with the telltale sign of a narcissist: that they put their feelings in front of everyone else’s—including their partner’s—which usually means ignoring what their partner wants.

So if you want to break up and they don’t, they’ll do everything in their power to keep the relationship going. “A narcissist will use every trick in the book to achieve their end goals: emotional manipulation, psychological manipulation, mind games, and emotional torment,” says relationship expert Susan Winter.

While there are certain hints that may open your eyes to the fact that you’re in a relationship with a narcissist (…the most obvious of which apparently being that they love to send you dick pics on the reg), the reality often becomes most evident when you’re trying to distance yourself from the situation. For instance, it took me a full year to break up with my own narcissistic ex, and according to the pros, that prolonged period of not being able to cut the cord of the relationship is common with this kind of person. “It’s challenging to break up with a narcissist because they’re so consumed with their own needs and what they want, they very often won’t listen to your needs or discount whatever you say,” says Dr. Greer. In other words, they’ll convince you that the breakup doesn’t work for them, and therefore shouldn’t work for you, either.

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