Why Won’t the Narcissist Move On?

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Have you been ruminating on this question for weeks? Perhaps mistaking the Narcissist’s repeated reappearances for love or caring; forgiving your disordered partner for “being human”…the old “broken wing” rescue and restore mission, as illustrated below…

There’s something wrong with this person and I’m going to do my best to fix them and our relationship. Once they finally realize how caring and forgiving I am, they’ll stop this back and forth and we’ll finally experience true love”.

In my post, 7 Things Your Narcissist Won’t Tell You, I explain why the Narcissist keeps coming back. The question, then, isn’t really why the Narcissist can’t move on. It’s “Why can’t you move on?”

Let’s examine some of the reasons a Narcissist leaves, only to come back:

 1 – They were unfaithful and you found out or they openly admitted to an affair and left, saying they were in love with someone else. Months, weeks, or even mere days later, they came back with a sob story of how they cannot choose and don’t want to live without you in their life.

Reality – The new supply is likely still being love-bombed. Therefore, the Narcissist can’t show their true colors to them yet. They’re about to blow like Mt. Pinatubo and they need a reliable receptacle. That’s why you experience a “loving reconciliation”, followed by days of darkness after the Narc’s volcanic eruption. After that’s out of their system, they return to the new supply, yet keep you hanging in the balance with volcanic ash on your face.

2 – You expressed your discontentment at something they said or did and their response was a 2-week silent treatment. How dare you mention that they hurt your feelings? Just when you resign yourself to the fact that the relationship is over…BAM! They waltz back in as if nothing happened, perhaps inviting you to lunch, which you accept without batting an eyelash.  

Reality – In spite of what it may seem, the Narcissist hasn’t had a life-changing epiphany.  What with this likely being the 37th time they’ve ignored you in this hostile way. The silent treatment is a form of emotional abuse designed to (1) place the Narcissist in a position of power; (2) silence your attempts at setting a boundary; (3) avoid conflict resolution or personal responsibility; and (4) punish you for a slight against their ego. It’s literally their way or the highway.

3 – After violating your soul and leaving for the umpteenth time, the Narcissist comes back with an apology and even agrees to counseling. After all, if you can get your “craziness, jealousy, sensitivity, and paranoia” taken care of, they might just give you another chance.

Reality – Almost all Narcissists pull the counseling card. It’s nothing more than a new way to buy time. They have no intention of being honest in the therapist’s chair and, in fact, will use the opportunity to make you look unhinged, using their trip to the Dr.’s office as a way of learning the lingo to further make you look like the unstable one, which causes you to further believe you’re the one with problems and feel lucky the Narcissist “has agreed to stay with you”.

So maybe you’re feeling a little off-kilter and have become suspicious and hypersensitive. Guess what, all victims of Narcissists do. It’s a symptom of narcissistic abuse syndrome after having been deceived, lied to, and mistreated. Don’t let your abusive partner fool you into thinking you are the weak link.

It’s not you, it’s them…

Being involved with a Narcissist results in your being deprived so profoundly that your reactions to your own emotional needs eventually result in your believing that they’re unwarranted. You convince yourself that the reason your needs aren’t met is because maybe you expect too much, so you stop yourself from believing you should be treated with respect.

You’ve done everything you can. It’s time to surrender. Surrender and let go. The more impossible it feels to let go, the more important it is to do it. You’ve crossed the line between taking responsible actions to solve the problems in the relationship to wanting to control it. The more you try to control the Narcissist, the more they will use that as an excuse to abuse you more. Moreover, they’ll never give you the validation you’re holding out for.

The Narcissist doesn’t love anyone. Not even the new supply. The more we keep accepting the Narcissist back into our lives, the more we enhance and validate the sense of entitlement they have for themselves. We prove to them that they are idols, which is all they need from life. Our repeated forgiveness and “yielding to their charm” IS the narcissistic supply they seek. That’s why they don’t move on.

It’s up to you to move on.  Become your own idol.

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One guess says July 17, 2020

How can someone move on when they keep finding you hundreds of miles away, and stopping you from working living etc? And yelling everyone you’re their partner and they own your house when they don’t, and befriend yiur neighbours in yiur then send the neighour ovdr yiur fence

Judith says March 7, 2018

I have thrown narrcisists partner out with her children 6 weeks ago up until today I have been bombarded with flowers calls txt etc has she gone now

Tina Marie Buckley says August 17, 2015

my narcissist thought it was ok to marry another woman because we were common law married.I was with him since 17 and have a insurance settlement paper that states we signed as married.We also married legally but he annulled that without serving me any paperwork.We have 3 children and he failed to tell the judge that.I know child support would have to be ordered before that annulment was granted.He continues to get away with things committed perjury i think and deserves prison for bigamy however i dont seem to know how to make him pay for crimes committed.It goes deeper but this is al li shall write

    Kim Saeed says August 25, 2015

    Hi Tina, have you contacted an attorney to see if they could help you?

cristianedawning says July 29, 2015

Thank you Kim <3
So well written. I tried too long, even engaged – but nothing changed. I got sick. In the finale Silent treatment after asking him about his another cruel "joke" on my behalf – I realized the week he was actually punishing me for mentioning that it was hurtful! WHAT a devil. I used the week to just breath and rest and -when I got instant diarrhea when he finally thought I should have forgotten the issue and sent a sms again -I knew it was even physical damaging to continue. I ended it even I also was in love and CD.. Very painful… But now the flying monkeys tells me how sad he is for the break up, he send sms every 3 week- about how "missed" I am and how fantastic what we had shared in the relationship and tells me -he tells others that Im a fantastic woman he lost..still after 4 moths have the engagement status up on fbook.
The thing is that I have this time quite desperately read and learned about N -and THIS time I see threw him! I study him and myself.
1.I know he dont miss me -he miss the countless massages I gave and the love I did give him, I did actually care deeply for this human – I thought he might be very insecure for a long time -to need the constant triangulation…etc.
2. When he sms me – "how fantastic it was what we shared" – it is just to try to manipulate and brainwash me -to tell something similar or think so..He is very scared now – that I might expose his behavior behind closed doors to his fan club.
Because it was absolutely not a fantastic relationship.. just relationshit. He didn't relate at all, nor was he even intimate in bed.
All the nightmares now tells me the truth -I dreamt today- we was in bed but instead of a penis he had a gun – that shot off constantly inside me. Everything inside got messed up like a soup -even to my brain – but didn't go out of my skin-so it was invisible outside.
No – it was a hurtful long period of my life – not very fantastic.
3. If he tell others how fantastic I was -it must be to reflect something of himself..
4. The reason he doesn't take off the engagement status -is only to smack to birds I guess.. Firstly to not emarrasly suddenly be lest after a so short engagement – like a game for the gallery, status of some kind -and maybe also -to make me wonder and so…But I dont care! I see it as very disrespectful even to continue like that -I begged him in a sincere and honest and calm way – with tears running -at the couples counselor -to pleace leave me alone -and explained I needed to not see or hear from him again to get over this..
He surely is a manipulator deluxe – but this time I am moving away. Im lucky to have a good counsellor – I understand this now, and also why I fell for him. Thank you for your wonderful and helpful site !

cristianedawning says July 29, 2015

Reblogged this on relationshitexit and commented:
Very well written!
“• You expressed your discontentment at something they said or did and their response was a 2-week silent treatment. How dare you mention that they hurt your feelings? Just when you resign yourself to the fact that the relationship is over…BAM! They waltz back in as if nothing happened, perhaps inviting you to lunch, which you accept without blinking.”

Zoos says June 25, 2015

I like your post Katie. Everything you mentioned were exactly what i gave seen past 25 yrs of my marriage to the narccist. Unfortunately not easy to just keave or divorce since we are both muslim. Yes, it was a one sided feeling of love, everyday cursing, name calling, manupulating and worst no respect at all. Problem is when he never felt any guilt at all!

Keisha says May 31, 2015

Over 15 years I have repeatedly put myself into a pattern of dating/living with/ been engaged to/ been raped and hit by / and most recently consistently verbally abused by narcissist boyfriends. I recognize that even that is a misnomer since they were and will never be my friends.
They were all instead manipulator -liars, junkies, alcoholics, thieves (borrowing money or taking my secret stashes, secretly promiscuous or gay individuals, with no concept of reality and whom I allowed to hurt me physically, mentally, financially and socially.
My last trip and fall came in the shape of my ex who I thought would be the one, as I’ve waited so long for marriage and children, and fear my opportunity for both are over at 45 -soon to be 46 years old without either. I know I should consider myself lucky he’s my ex–but along with the self doubt I’ve even chosen so called friends who I’ve come to realize were narcissists as well.
ive recently left him (and many of my belongings that I’m sure I’ll never get back) hopeful/ trying to change my life and avoiding being friends with anyone until I can get to a healthier me! It’s hard–putting my broken shell back together and leaving my pet turtle. Realizing that the fantasyland only existed for me and all the half/ lost souled narcissists are still just partying it up/ Facebook posing and smiling without so much as a genuine inkling of remorse or guilt. Yes, it seems like the floating (soul less) narcissists are just popping up each day with renewed energy- getting on with it, while I feel sad, angry and regretful.
My only comfort now is the knowledge that no matter how it appears they have moved on- they will never do the real work it takes to move on in a healthy manner. And that ultimately complete no contact (connecting that no contact with your brain and heart) will actually benefit me more. Because I eventually get to move on while they will stay fixated on who I was with them. And that’s the funny part after all/ because they’ll be holding on to a past me / an ungeniune me/ an incomplete me/ who actually they didn’t know and will never get to meet at all.
Who’s the loser now?

Adoree says May 27, 2015

Thank u that was so helpful .

Andrew says May 16, 2015

My pending ex wife is complete narcissist who became so sophisticated before we met (lots of therapy), there were no apparent signals. Her Mother was the epitome of narcissism, so I should have been more careful. We had kids right away, careers and were pretty busy that we almost had separate lives. Once the kids reached an age were they were exhibiting their mid teen independence and we were in a life place where I wanted to travel and slop working, the beast came out. I now realize her work was her identity and when our goals conflicted, there was no compromise. For a few years, I’ve been trying to amicably negotiate a divorce and she will participate and then drop it.

There’s was a lot of pain, but I came out in a very good place. We’re a couple thousand miles apart and she will call about some complaint. She does some very bizarre thing, like will call me “hun” or something else we called each other while together. I then realized that her game was trying to keep me from being happy. Two months ago, I hired an aggressive attorney, and told her not to contact me any more and that I can barely remember being married to her. She’s gone dead silent which is what I want. I’m working with my attorney for the final showdown adn set a goal of ending the marriage in the next 6 months. .

The only advice and my only regret is that I didn’t take a more aggressive stand earlier to end the marriage. I was caught up in my own emotions and reading on the internet that they might come back, it might be mental illness, menopause, bi-polar or whatever. In other words, I thought I could fix it. What I realized is that once you recognize it is a narcissist, they were and always will be that. Hire a good attorney, end communication if possible, and separate yourself from them and move on.

It was the most painful, profound and terrible experience I have been through. On the positive side, I found out a lot of who I am and made a concerted effort not to be a bitter person. Time does heal

Julie says February 20, 2015

All I have the energy to get out at this moment is, we’ve known eachother since we were children. He cut me out of his life for a year and a half and just came back in December. One time I mentioned I needed a little more effort on his part and he had me feeling crazy and apologizing. Valentines was odd because there was no contact except the texts I sent and his short replies. Which he said he was just with his eight yr old daughter at some lame movie but couldn’t even tell me what movie. I was home with my three children. We live in different states so I figure if he hooks up with some random female no biggie I guess. I have a gf who always tells people google your name and see what comes up so I was bored and googled mine and wasn’t surprised. My ex husbands came up and I wasn’t surprised. I thought I’ll google Joshua and see. Holy mother Mary of pearl! My heart dropped and I started crying. I never believed I could have a heartbreak like this again, or that us loving eachother since childhood could he ever do this, that I would ever allow this again. What popped up was his gf’s name and his for baby registry all over and the due date is March 28 th 2015. I didn’t freak out on him, nothing. I just told him I was hurt etc. he would not even address the issue and is telling me I need to tell him and show him more how much I want him because sometimes he wonders. Then he told me if this is how my behavior is going to be he has nothing to say, no thanks. So of course I begged and pathetically pleaded because I don’t want to lose him as a friend and now I’m getting the silent treatment. Glad I read this. He’s sick! And apparently I have alot of healing to do from my ex husband who is currently incarcerated for kidnapping our son and myself and trying to shoot me in the back of the head. Wow just wow

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[…] Why Doesn’t the Narcissist Move On? […]

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t n y says August 21, 2014

I threw mine out last night. (For the umpteenth time). Hes abused me n every way possible. Im now disabled. Penniless. Cant support my family. Have no refrigerator. Have no microwave. Dont have a penny to name bc he lost his 4th job in two years. He just cant seem to get it together since his affair with the town herpes queen. AND I looked at his genitals and he’s covered in warts! Hes been sleeping with me with warts from his who’re. Its got to get better. We were married ten years

ck says August 10, 2014

This is like reading about my ex entirely. If only I had known sooner. Left him but always worried. Had to get six injunctions to keep him away so far

PTSD Man says July 11, 2014

Spot on example of my 18 years with my ex wife! Every single tactic and behavior. It is damaging to endure so much for so long and be caught up in their fog and manipulation.

    Kim Saeed says July 22, 2014

    I can relate completely! I hope you’ve started some healing work, PTSD Man.

    ARGates says August 17, 2014

    They actually call it a FOG – fear, obligation and guilt. Narcissists target the kind, generous, and empathetic – those most likely to fall into a FOG.

briana says July 5, 2014

Why do N’s men want so much to tell others what to do and be in charge because they think they are right and everyone else either is wrong or doesn’t know what their doing?

    Kim Saeed says July 9, 2014

    Briana, it’s because their only mission in life is to control, manipulate, and deceive. That’s how they derive their sense of worth…by how much they can control and manipulate others.

    Andy says August 18, 2014

    Everything Kim wrote above fits my ex narcissist girl friend to a T. So Briana, don’t feel it’s the nature of men. Narcissism is a psychological disorder that afflicts both women and men. Four (4) narcissists have negatively impacted my life in the last 15 years: 3 of them were female romantic interests and one was a (gay) male supervisor. Also narcissism goes much deeper than just being bossy.

Carrie Reimer says July 5, 2014

Reblogged this on Ladywithatruck's Blog and commented:
amen to this! I have said it myself many times but it always bears repeating.

    Kim Saeed says July 6, 2014

    Thank you, Carrie <3

      Mimi Pollier says July 7, 2014

      Hi Kim:
      I am still maintaining NO Contact but i notice when i come home the N has been there to mow the lawn… and help with the lawn. It is when i am work so i am never there. Why would he keep coming up to my property?? he left me for this ow making believe this is the way to go for him.. Why does he keep coming up to my house to mow my lawn???? We have not spoken in months.. it has me sad and confused… Please can you respond. Thank you Mimi

theinfiniterally says July 4, 2014

Become your own idol. Echos what my therapist wants for me. And important words, as there’s always another narcissist looking for worship lurking somewhere.

1smiles says July 4, 2014

I left the narcissist in my life. His first wife divorced him and then committed suicide. His second wife died of colon cancer. He destroys all that he touches. We started dating on Valentine’s Day and by Easter it was apparent that this wasn’t for me!

    Kim Saeed says July 4, 2014

    1smiles, thank you for sharing. It’s always good for people to be aware of what can happen if we stay in relationships with Narcissists. It’s my hope that people will see your comment and take heed.

    Julie says February 20, 2015

    My ex husband that is in prison has destroyed me so much that I should have been dead but God kept me around for our three kids. Sometimes life is just too painful even though he has been in prison close to five years. I have to stay strong for my children.

      Kim Saeed says February 21, 2015

      Julie, I’m sorry to hear that. What are you doing to take care of yourself?

katietcassidy says July 4, 2014

Great article. Small point, though… The Narcissist definitely does not love himself, and this would come out in seeming moments of clarity… He will say something in a weak moment that has us puzzling for days. Like how feelings make him feel ‘weird’.
Elisabeth, I am so sorry for what you are going through. I am 45, and my x is 52… He recently acquired a girlfriend of 62… It is not about love with them, it is about who they gather around them to admire them.
YOU will be fine. I am fine. THEY are fucked.

    Kim Saeed says July 9, 2014

    Katie, you’re right for the most part, but there is also a segment of Narcissists whose parents were overly-permissive, praising them for everything, and never taught them any accountability or sense of responsibility. Then, they grow up to think the world is at their disposal.

    Yes, they do not know anything about love whatsoever. It’s all about the supply they can extract from their targets.

    Elisabeth says July 11, 2014

    Dear Katietcassidy, thank you for your concern. I live in The Netherlands so my English is not so good. Yesterday I went to my doctor after a whole year of struggling. She now sends me to a therapist who uses EMDR. She says I have PTSD (PTSS). So that is how far it can come. But I also think, yes, maybe now someone understands what I mean and suffered from. Many people don’t understand and say go on with your live.
    That I did. I have an apartment, a car and a small job. But after 31 years a normal divorce would also traumatic and this is leaving a narcissist.

      Petra says July 22, 2014

      Hi Elisabeth, I live in the Netherlands too. Was married for 27 years. NC and divorced for over 2 years now. Life is okay. It can be done. Keep reading all you can on the subject. There is not much in dutch on the internet. I might be changing that soon, though.

Elisabeth says July 4, 2014

Dear Kim, I read your posts every day. I was in such relationship for 31 years. I didn’t notice what was going on. Just thinking am I crazy or what. Last year I began to read about narcissism. And I was astonished about what I read and everything I read was about him.
I left in one month time. I think, that was very traumatic to do. And also realizing I invest so much time in the relationship. I got in full no contact about half year ago. Before that time we did meet, but every time he did the same thing. He could not believe I left him. And was very angry so when we got together he was very nice, but in one hour all that changes.
I am very sick about everything I had to live through. Now I’ve heard he has a new girlfriend of 40 years old. I’m 62 now. In three weeks time, they are in love and on a great vacation to a lovely island. Everything I’ve tried to feel better is now zero again.
I really understand everything you write about recovering from the hell of living with a narcissist, but I’m stuck in such a negative spiral, I can’t come out of it.
So everyone who read this blog and is still living with a narcissist partner: leave!!
If you stay as long as I did, you won’t get over it very soon.

    theinfiniterally says July 4, 2014

    Thanks for sharing that, Elisabeth. I take heed and am definitely working on it!

    Anonymous says March 10, 2015

    I understand how you feel! It’s been 8 years with my narc! And right now I’m currently pushed to the side for the new supply. We have always been on and off for years..and when I finally took him back this time I ended up getting pregnant, now with a beautiful baby girl. Once I found out I was pregnant he went back into his old ways again. Guess he feels I won’t be going anywhere with a baby huh? Well once I found out about the new supply I completely stopped messing with him nor has he tried to be with me either. This time I’m officially going full no contact..if he wants to see our daughter it has to be once a week. I can no longer speak to him or talk to him as if were friends but more so co parents. I tell you this has been by far the hardest thing to do because my heart is crushed :/ I’m still in the grieving phase and accepting our relationship will never be anything more than what it is now.

Anonymous says July 3, 2014

Actually narcissists do not love themselves! That is the reason they need constant validation and filling of their emotional voids. They are full of self loathing and insecurity which is projected as abuse to the partner.

    Kim Saeed says November 6, 2014

    Hi Anon, this is typically true, although there are some Narcissists whose parents were overly permissive and never taught them boundaries or accountability. Talk about a sense of entitlement!

      The Dating Pool Needs Chlorine says January 22, 2016

      I had one who had both types of parents- a selfish, self absorbed, manipulative serial cheating father, and an overly indulgent, over praising mother. Between the 2 of them they created a monster.

Teresa says July 3, 2014

~ Thank you for such good advice. I love all your posts. Everything you write about is spot on. Thanks again.

    Kim Saeed says August 9, 2014

    Thank you so much, Teresa.

    I’m glad to know my articles are helpful to you <3


      Elsie Hughes says March 23, 2015

      I want to leave so badly. I’ve been married to a narc for 30 years. I dread every day. His entire family are the same. I am so afraid to leave that I stay and grow weaker. How do I get past the fear to just go. He will go so crazy I know he will track me down.

betternotbroken says July 3, 2014

Great post, I do not read too much about narcissism anymore and it feels wonderful. Thank you for you help Kim. Nevertheless I had a false “reconciliation” and this helps illuminate why.

    Minderz says December 24, 2015

    I read this post because I was feeling sad and a little lost. I was missing my narcissistic ex. Almost yearning for him, but after reading this I have a sense of strength. I literally can not believe how much truth is actually in it. Constantly while I was with him I was mistreated and after so long he started to make me think that my issues or problems with him were not a big deal, so I started to question myself. Maybe I’m being dramatic, maybe I was just being emotional, I’m always picking things apart and putting too much thought into them. I had zero respect for myself or my morals, thoughts, and/or beliefs. I made me believe I was the crazy one, I was the one overreacting. I caused him to get so mad, I did this, me. But it wasnt me…this whole time there was some going wrong with him. I was too blind to see it. I finally woke up, I finally took the blinders off, but the damage he has done is so immense. What are we if we can’t even find respect for ourselves? I feel bad for him, he will never get the chance to experience real true love. That’s so sad.

      Anonymous says October 28, 2016

      Well that’s his damn problem that he will never experience true love. He had a good woman but he didn’t value you. The heck with . I hope you are feeling better.

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