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When Valentine’s Day Stings: For Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

“The narcissist identifies being loved with being possessed, encroached upon, shackled, transformed, reduced, exploited, weakened, engulfed, digested and excreted.” Sam Vaknin, self-proclaimed narcissist and author of Malignant Self-Love 


Valentine’s Day in the U.S. for many is replete with chocolates, sweets, teddy bears, love notes and cards, flowers, sexy lingerie, and romantic dinners out. And for a significant number of people, Valentine’s Day is a hurtful reminder of the betrayal experienced from a love relationship with a narcissist. Reeling in the aftermath of relational trauma from a psychological abuser, this holiday can be a day for survivors of emotional abuse to become their own Valentine and practice the art of self-compassion.

Dr Kristin Neff, PhD, and author of Self-Compassion (2015), states that “rather than harshly judging oneself for personal shortcomings, the self is offered warmth and unconditional acceptance, ” (Neff, 2015). She goes on to describe this important construct of self-compassion as comprising three components:

1) Self-kindness versus self-judgment:  Essentially, the idea is to embrace one’s imperfections and acknowledge one’s human blemishes.

2) Common humanity versus isolation: We are all human beings, and we all go through periods of suffering. We share this experience universally as fellow human beings.

3) Mindfulness versus over-identification: The notion that  being in a state of mindfulness allows us as humans to connect with our thoughts and feelings from a receptive angle, versus being reactive with emotion or action which results in negativity.

Survivors of narcissistic abuse often encounter a “hoovering” incident from their psychological abusers during the holiday time spanning between Halloween and Valentine’s Day. It is therefore of vital importance that survivors of this form of abuse ramp up their efforts to refrain from contact from the force field of toxicity that will occur should the emotional abuse survivor re-engage with a prior narcissistic paramour. Feelings of wistfulness and remembering the idealization stage of the relationship with the narcissist often flood the survivor. It becomes essential to remain No Contact during this period of vulnerability, or the trauma survivor will revisit the typical cycle of idealize-devalue-discard-hoover- and sustain even more emotional trauma as a result of exposure to her abusive romantic partner (Louis de Canonville, 2015).

What can you do to protect your emotional health if you are a survivor of narcissistic abuse and feeling particularly vulnerable this Valentine’s Day?

  1. Pick up a copy of Kristin Neff’s Self Compassion, and explore these concepts mentioned above, rooted originally in Buddhist philosophy but now considered mainstream as part of positive psychology.
  2. Turn off social media. You don’t need to be seeing the propaganda posts of happy couples broadcasting their love for each other like a Hallmark card. It just rubs salt into wounds.
  3. Spend time with friends and have a potluck dinner celebrating your friendship.
  4. Go to the gym or hike with fitness buddies.
  5. Order your favorite take out and binge watch your favorite Netflix movie.
  6. Go to a meditation or yoga class.
  7. Stay busy on the actual holiday. Take the opportunity to check off some of the items on your to-do list.
  8. Stay No Contact. Do NOT feel tempted to make contact with prior romantic partners who have caused you emotional harm. Being in contact with such individuals will only make your healing worse and set you back all the work you’ve done to move through recovery.
  9. Avoid alcohol and other substances that alter mood. It’s hard enough to get through the holiday if you are an emotional abuse survivor, you don’t need a hangover to make it more difficult.
  10. Connect with your spirituality- pray, meditate, read an affirmations book or spiritual guide book that helps anchor you with moving forward and connecting positively with healthy others.
  11. Know that this is only one day. There is hope for future Valentine’s Days to be shared with healthy others.
  12. Make yourself your own Valentine and send yourself all the love and indulgence in the world. Schedule a much needed massage, facial , day off from work, etc.

Begin to cultivate the practice of self-compassion, and you will come a long way to healing your heart during an emotionally loaded and command performance holiday. Heal your heart. Love yourself.


Retrived on February 13, 2018 from :

Louis de Canonville (2015). The three faces of evil: unmasking the full spectrum of narcissism, Blue Card Books.

Neff, Kristin (2015). Self compassion; the proven power of being kind to yourself, William Morrow Publications.

Vaknin, Sam (2015). Malignant self-love: narcissism revisited, Narcissus Publications.

Photo by mae.noelle

When Valentine’s Day Stings: For Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

Andrea Schneider, MSW, LCSW

Andrea Schneider, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently the Lead Counselor at Cal State Maritime Academy, where she counsels college students and leads Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at the integrated Student Health Center. In her private practice, Andrea provides psychotherapy for individuals experiencing trauma and loss. She is also a writer, educator, and podcaster. Website:

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APA Reference
Schneider, A. (2018). When Valentine’s Day Stings: For Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Feb 2018
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