While being in a relationship with a narcissist is difficult, ending it can be a bigger challenge. A narcissist may initially be as normal as anyone else. However, their passive aggression, sense of superiority, lack of empathy, and other characteristics reveal their true nature over time. A narcissist may act very differently when it comes to breaking a relationship.
Understanding how a narcissist may react to a breakup can help you deal with it better. Read to know what a narcissist does at the end of a relationship. We also will discuss the signs and what you can do to avoid a painful breakup.
In This Article
What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental condition where an individual exhibits the following characteristics (1):
- Extremely high sense of self-importance (1)
- Continuous preoccupation with themselves (1)
- Lack of empathy for anyone else (1)
- Exploitative nature of taking advantage of others to achieve their own goals (2)
- A notion that others are jealous of them (2)
- Haughtiness and an arrogant attitude (2)
It is a complex personality disorder that reveals a consistent pattern of grandiosity. An individual with this mental condition feels the need for special treatment and admiration at all times (2).
Are you wondering what may happen if you enter a relationship with a narcissist? Read to know more.
What Happens In Relationships With Narcissists
A relationship involving a narcissist typically goes through three phases:
- Initial Phase
The narcissist exhibits a charismatic and charming personality. They are totally in love with you and make you feel special. They flood you with compliments and pamper you with gifts. They let you and the rest of the world know how special you are to them.
- Devalue Phase
The narcissist exhibits a complete shift in their behavior. They criticize and gaslight you. There is no warmth, affection, or intimacy. You begin to question your own behavior and wonder if you deserve all the bad treatment.
- Discard Phase
This is the final stage of the relationship. The narcissist makes it clear through their words and deeds that they have no further use for you. They behave as if they were never in love with you. This is true, as a narcissist does not feel the emotion of love for their partner. They only know to love themselves.
What happens after these three phases? What does a narcissist do at the end of a relationship? The next section has the answers.
What Does A Narcissist Do When A Relationship Ends?
Ending a relationship with a narcissist is never easy. Trying to break up with them can only make them more rigid and manipulative. But irrespective of who decides to break up, you can expect the following behavioral traits from a narcissist:
- They Shift The Blame
They hold you responsible for the relationship to end. They place the entire blame on you. They may even label you as selfish and demanding, and consider you as someone who had ruined the relationship single-handedly.
- They Insist You Are Committing A Mistake
Having devalued you for long, they are prone to telling you that it is all your fault. If you are the one walking out of the relationship, they try to convince you that you are committing a mistake. They may even say that you are overreacting and can never get someone better than them.
- They Try To Guilt-Trip You To Stay Back
A narcissist can go to great lengths to hold you back in a relationship. They may use guilt as a tool to break your resolve to leave. They may remind you of all that they have done for you and accuse you of being ungrateful and self-centered.
- They Seek Attention Even After Breaking Up
A narcissistic partner would feel rejected when you break up with them. This can trigger them to seek more attention. They may demand attention from you even after the relationship has ended.
- They Promise To Make Things Right
They can go as far as promising to change themselves for you in an attempt to keep you in the relationship. They will tell you that they have realized their mistakes and are ready to make changes if you give them just another chance.
- They Use Social Media To Spread Misinformation
When a narcissist realizes that you have finally walked out of the relationship, they may take to social media platforms to spread gossip and misinformation about you. They may try gathering sympathy from people by making you the villain of the story.
- They Expect You To Fulfill Their Needs
They refuse to accept the change even after you have walked out of the relationship. They still expect you to address their random needs. For instance, they may ask you to make an appointment with the dentist on their behalf or request you to continue handling the accounting work that you used to do for them.
Now that you know how narcissists end relationships, it is time to focus on their break-up styles. Explore the details in the next section.
Break-up Styles: Vulnerable Narcissists Vs. Grandiose Narcissists
A grandiose narcissist is someone who fosters and exhibits overt feelings of superiority. Such people carry a big ego and limitless self-esteem. On the other hand, a vulnerable narcissist is much more introverted. They are contemplative, self-absorbed, anxious, and reflect hypersensitivity (3).
A vulnerable narcissist will prefer you breaking up with them. They avoid being in confrontations and are used to feeling self-pity.
However, grandiose narcissists love being the center of all attention. They will be ready to fight it out with you. They may even start looking for a new partner in front of you.
If you know which type of narcissist you are involved with, you can get an idea about how the breakup may turn out to be.
How Can You Tell If The Relationship Is Over?
A narcissist is likely to come back to you even after the relationship is over. They will continue to try making up without considering how they make you feel. They will try to get you back in their life to boost their ego and self-esteem.
If you do not pay much attention to the whole matter, they will continue with this behavior until they find a new partner. Then they will abruptly detach from you.
If you have broken up with them, know that it is the end. It is not a good idea to indulge a narcissist after breaking up. Try to stay away from them and resist all attempts of communication, such as phone calls, messages, emails, and in-person meetings.
Are you wondering if a narcissist will end up alone? Read on to know the answer.
Do Narcissists End Up Alone?
There is no denying that narcissists mistreat their partners. As a result, they usually end up alone. Although they can easily make friends and attract new partners, the same cycle continues, and after a while, they are back to square one.
Narcissists have unstable interpersonal relationships (4). Even though their partners and friends shower them with attention and empathy, they are incapable of reciprocating. As such, they often end up alone.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you must be interested to know how to steer clear of a painful breakup. Read the next section.
Avoiding A Painful Breakup With A Narcissist
It is never a good feeling when a narcissist walks out of a relationship. They can break up so abruptly that you may be left behind wondering why things had moved to the point of no return. Rather than drowning yourself in self-pity, you need to take proper action.
When you are dealing with a breakup that involves a narcissist, avoid hurting their ego. Also, ensure not to respond to any communication from them after the breakup.
If you have been in a relationship for many years, you can reach out to your family and friends to seek help and support. Move out of the relationship without looking back.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist can have a damaging impact on your life. It can cause you a lot of pain and eventually result in a breakup. If you want to have a loving and caring relationship, it is better not to depend on a narcissist. Regardless of who makes the first move, do not look back once you break up. Put an end to this chapter of your life and move ahead.
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- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- The Relationship between Grandiose and Vulnerable (Hypersensitive) Narcissism
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Clinical Health Psychology Practice: Case Studies of Comorbid Psychological Distress and Life-Limiting Illness