We have all come across them – those borderline sociopathic individuals who make it their life’s purpose to suck every ounce of happiness, emotion, and spirit out of you – leaving you as nothing more than a quivering wreck of self-doubt and despair.

As you may have gathered, I have recently experienced such an individual – a charmer who kept me on a string and used me for the sole purpose of making himself feel good. Most people encounter these people at some point in their life, and knowing how to recover and fix yourself after a battle with a narcissistic relationship piranha is an important part of making sure you do not fall victim to one again. Whilst a stake to their (non-existent) heart may be a little extreme, these are the rules I followed to help me come out the other side relatively unscathed.

Block and Delete

First things first, get your phone and block and delete that fucker. Remove all traces of them from your photo albums, email accounts, house, social media, and life. Delete their number, erase all messages, and ensure that there is no way you can contact them, or they can contact you. This is the only way you are ever going to get your sanity back and by cutting the negativity and life-draining energy off at the source, you immediately sever their power over you. Remember, this type of individual thrives on your attention – be it negative or positive – and by making it pretty much impossible to communicate, they become powerless and you can begin to move on. Whist cutting the cord may be difficult to do, trust me that this is the only way you are going to sort yourself out. Do it. Now.

Remember Your Worth

The chances are this person made you feel like shit. They probably also told you that you are oversensitive, overreacting, and making things up. They gaslighted you, made you doubt yourself, and made you feel like you were in the wrong for being hurt or upset by their behavior. This type of manipulation takes an incredible toll on a person and knowing how to get your sense of self back should be one of your main priorities. This is easier said that done, but you need to remember that although no one is by any means perfect, this is not your fault. There is nothing wrong with you; you are a human being whose only crime has been having feelings and this is not a bad thing. You are special, individual, wonderful, flawed, smart, beautiful, and you can do much better than someone who doesn’t quite “get” that. You are worth so much more than feeling anything less than amazing. Remember – don’t settle for less ever again.

Get Laid

Okay, so you may not feel like doing this straight away, but trust me – it helps. You might think that your ex was the best lover you will ever have in your life, or you might be so emotionally drained that the thought of being intimate with someone else terrifies you. In my case, I felt so utterly shit and unlovable that I thought that every other person out there thought or would think the same. Then I met someone else who through a chance encounter and an unexpected attraction has completely turned my self-esteem on its head. Whilst he may not be marriage material (not that I am inclined that way anyway), he has helped me to see that actually I am not a complete love-dud, and that having someone make you feel like a queen, a goddess, a whore, and a lady all rolled into one is possible. There is saying, “The best way to get over someone, is to get under someone else” and I personally can vouch for this.

Don’t Fall for It Again

If you have experienced this type of relationship once, there is absolutely no excuse for falling for the same type of person again. You know the warning signs – the person who needs saving, who wants your help and support, who is broken and only you can fix them. They will crave you, adore you and make you think that they cannot live without you. The relationship will progress at breakneck speed and you will find yourself giving every ounce of your being to them, until you wake up one day, you need some support or a shoulder to cry on, and they disappear into thin air. This is their modus operandi and they are creatures of habit. Trust me, you will not be the only person they have chewed up and spat out. Recognize the warning signs and be careful before you give your heart to someone quickly. While this may sound cynical, chances are that if the fairy-tale seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Recovering from an attack by an emotional vampire can take a lot of time, but based on my experience, this is the best way to suck it up and get your blood pumping again.