narcissists take and don't give

When a Narcissist Leaves You Alone

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When a narcissist leaves you alone, the feeling of longing becomes unpleasantly familiar to those who have been involved in a relationship with a narcissist or a similarly emotionally unavailable individual. Longing for your feelings to be reciprocated, your talents to be recognized, time to be allotted for you, gratitude for energy invested, that small ‘loan’ to be returned, approval, disapproval, or… just a message on your phone would be a start…. there are never-ending ways that interactions with a narcissist leave us… wanting.

The problem is that we misinterpret this longing for love.

Longing is a powerful emotion that seems to emanate directly from the heart and reach out for something that it can’t connect with, and each time that it cannot connect with what it is searching for, the pain becomes more intense.  

Although narcissists are aware that they bring about this feeling in others through their actions and use it to manipulate them, they can’t relate to it on a personal level. They have other emotions to manage that we don’t identify with, such as extreme entitlement and disdain and a never satisfied hunger for the next ego boost.

The feeling of longing has been represented as unrequited love in the theme of love poems for centuries, but no one is more familiar with this pain than those who didn’t see the red flags of a narcissist and fell in love, only to be left with feelings of longing and nothing substantial to hold on to. 

It is a debilitating feeling and doesn’t allow you to see the worth in anything else until the feeling is reciprocated or settled in some way. When it is reciprocated, the sky is blue again, the birds are singing again, life stops being black and white and returns once again to glorious technicolor and you can move once more, at least for a short amount of time. Those who have studied narcissists note that the periods of reciprocation or recognition become strategically further and further apart to increase the suffering and to lower the expectation placed on the narcissist.

This longing can lead us to partake in addiction-type behaviors in order to replace the feeling of a reciprocated connection, such as heavy smoking or drinking, under-eating, overeating, and any way possible to try to satisfy a longing that can’t be satiated by a narcissist. This is just one of the reasons that people generally leave a relationship with a NPD person in worse conditions than when they started.  

The refusal of narcissists to give healthy closure does nothing to improve this situation.

The profound feeling of longing that emerges isn’t only based upon emotional damage that we have sustained at some point.  It also takes place on an energetic level. Energy in the form of love, time, effort, money.  Energy cannot continue to flow in one direction over large periods of time, without negative consequences for the giver.  Energy needs to be grounded, to find a healthy source to grow, to flow and to ebb or to be reciprocated. With a narcissist, it just disappears into a black hole, and such nutritious valuable energy is consumed without gratitude and with no appreciation of its value.

The continuous expenditure of energy that is not healthily received or used causes longing. We are proffering our energy for a purpose, for a reply, for a conclusion. When we reach out to a narcissist it does not connect correctly, it is wasted, which leads us into a cycle of sending out more energy looking for the ‘metaphysical’ plug socket, but when unable to find it, it increases the feeling of longing.  It’s why we can’t let go – we just can’t – until the energy is dealt with constructively, until it is retrieved and sent into the direction it should go in.

Many people describe narcissists as black holes, who take people’s energy and give nothing in return.  Then, they simply move to the next source with no idea of the value of what they were honored to receive. Food is food to a narcissist, whether it is junk food or caviar, it’s all the same to them. Get what you can, move on, rinse and repeat.

This is why closure, and the refusal of those with NPD to give healthy closure to relationships plays such a destructive force in NPD relationships, because at least with some form of closure, you begin to cease the energy being sent out, allowing you to recover.

Narcissist have a 6th sense to know when you are finding some sort of closure and are starting to recover.  This is exactly the moment that they contact you, trigger your feelings of longing and the hope and joy that the misplaced energy will now be recognized or returned.

It also forms part of the problem of why others cannot understand why a person continues to want to be in a relationship with this person, and will go back time and time again…as once the energy has been invested, we need a return on it.   

I don’t think narcissists have a choice, they are what they are. But you do.

You have a choice to recall your energy, without their permission or closure, and put it into a different direction starting today.

Giving something up is notoriously harder than starting something, so it is important to transmit the energy into another direction.

Some naturally redirect the energy, in time, into another healthier relationship.  Others find the answer in sport and taking care of themselves, and others find it in work or study or pursuing their unique gift, which has been neglected while tending to the narcissist.

While at first it seems very difficult to refocus your heartfelt energy into a different area, once healthy reciprocation for energy spent in a worthwhile area starts to come back to you, the healing process progresses at a much faster rate, with a stronger ground to build upon – on an energetic level – and restores shaken confidence that was suffered during the course of the relationship.

Call your energy back in and channel it into another area, which will benefit you. You deserve to focus it onto your goals.  Narcissists cannot change, but you can.

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Anonymous says September 3, 2023

I’m in a 19 year relationship that has been emotionally mentally abusive only to just learn now that he is a severe narsis. Now I’m trying to educate myself he lives w me he sucks me dry financially and we have a 15 yr old daughter who says she hates him…he makes us both miserable..HeS all I know I’m tired of being lonely and miserable I need help..

Anonymous says October 14, 2022

I cannot believe I found this post feeling very low. I needed to read these words, agree in my heart to move on from this devastation. I have not received closure as described here. Tomorrow I will start with self care !! Thank-you !!

Jasinta says May 15, 2022

What to do when it’s your only daughter & now she has babies of her own & she’s holding them against you?!

    Kim Saeed says May 18, 2022

    Hi Jasinta,

    Sadly, there’s not much you can do unless you suspect physical abuse. Otherwise, the best thing to do is lay low until she decides you can see your grandchildren again. Some folks have gone no contact with their narcissistic adult children, but we understand that not everyone wants to do that.

annonymous says July 14, 2021

My mom’s a narcisst and I married a narcisst, but now, I managed to get out of it becos I do not wish to have another narcisst in my life. Mom’s old now and not many years to live, but a partner being a narcisst and having to face him for another 20-30yrs, I don’t think I would like that. I have agreed to divorce since he threatened me X times about it.Life is starting new soon and I look forward. Sorry, can’t have another narcisst in my life 😉

Liz gutmar says December 10, 2020

Im going through that black hole he just left for “work” for 10 days n dont even text me or respond to any but i been reading alot about narcissistic n i knew this was coming he found another supply he knows that i know his ways n can blind me anymore it hurts cuz i got divorced n i got in this cancer relationship that i just waist 2 years more in nothing i hate myself for that

Julie says October 24, 2019

Thank you so much. I know tgis rings truth and i so need this more than you know. Ya after 3rd narcissist I’m SO DONE

Barbara says August 16, 2019

What if this is your only daughter?

‘Narcissists are Fragile Beings’ and Other Fallacies - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says May 22, 2019

[…] needs to be grounded, to find a healthy source to grow, to flow and to ebb or to be reciprocated. With a narcissist, it just disappears into a black hole, and such nutritious valuable energy is consumed without gratitude and with no appreciation of its […]

Lisa says June 28, 2018

Thank you so much for this! I needed it so desperately. Your stuff is so good!

How to Get a Narcissist Back (and the danger of nostalgia) - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says January 2, 2018

[…] When we approach the situation based off of facts (which is difficult to do), we then come to realize we’ve replaced critical thinking with emotional longing. […]

‘Narcissists are Fragile Beings’ and Other Dubious Data - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says June 6, 2017

[…] needs to be grounded, to find a healthy source to grow, to flow and to ebb or to be reciprocated. With a narcissist, it just disappears into a black hole, and such nutritious valuable energy is consumed without gratitude and with no appreciation of its […]

Anonymous says May 6, 2017

Sorry…hit post 🙂

I left everything behind and moved to another state with N so he could finish his parole. After living there for 2 years and being married for 8 months, he came home and said he wasn’t in love with me anymore and left (June 2010). I filed for divorce and moved back to the NW and started NC and fled to a safe place. In May of 2013, he went to my employer (I had transferred to another state) and he was given my contact information. I picked up the phone and that was the near fatal blow. I was sucked in again. THIS time, he had left me for someone, she was 7 months pregnant and he wanted out. The stupid me, “We’ll get through this together” shit happened. The financial support and mothering (he was 12 years my junior) started immediately. We remarried in August 2013 and our life started again. We moved to a farm (his dream, not mine) and we were really happy (but now that I look back it wasn’t happy). It was all about him. HIM HIM HIM. We had our furbabies from 2010 and they loved our life. I’m a city girl, not country but I made an attempt to be all of that and more. I had a great job with incredible pay and he had a great job with benefits. Our life seemed to be on track. We were financially doing well. Then we had a friend die who had Hep C and N decided to go get tested and it proved Hep C was positive and active AND he was in Stage II of cirrhosis from the disease that was from his former life of drug lord or whatever. I was totally supportive and by his side at every hospital stay and visit. HE was in the hospital for 2 weeks and I balanced work, furbabies, him in the hospital, staying right there with him.

He took up a hobby of dog sledding in November with a guy that I’m not a fan of. And soon he was dog handling and using all of this PTO for this hobby. In February he was on the road with this guy and I received flowers at my work on V-day. I said to the girls at work, something was up because he had never sent flowers.

When he would call, he would always talk about this Miriam girl who ran the Iditerod and she was this and that and oh I got a text from Miriam. I told him I didn’t think it was appropriate for a single woman to be texting a married man. He blew up and said, “Why would i want a gypsy who lives out of the back of her truck with her boyfriend?” My gut was in knots.

So when he came home, it was different. He was ALWAYS ON HIS PHONE. Taking calls in the “barn” saying he was working. He was distant and aloof. He came to my office on Mar 3 to tell me he was out of love with me and it was over. TO MY OFFICE. I was devastated and then on Mar 4 he back peddled a bit. We made up and made love and I thought all was well. FAST FORWARD to Mar 11. I see a text on his phone, while he as in the bathroom, it lit up the room from HER..Miriam. “I wish you were here in bed next to me.” This was at 3:15am. I didn’t touch the phone but left the bed, threw up in the other bathroom and decided to log into his FB Messenger. I uncovered the affair in detail on his phone. From Feb 12 to March 11. They had met up a couple of times. He was lovebombing but could never give me a compliment. I screenshotted all the message and sent them to him saying GAME OVER.

Somehow it got turned around on me. I had “CSI’d” him and he was now relieved it was out and blah blah blah. THEN starts telling me that I was old and I wasn’t outdoorsy and I didn’t do this or that (like her) and she is an “Iditerod” star. WTF?

I filed for divorce on March 17, it was final on March 28. I took on way more debt, quit my job, moved into my daughters home in a different state and am in a really dark place. I feel so used. So ugly, yet I know I’m not. I feel so stupid. He is / was my addiction. No contact has been horrible. I set up all of his automatic withdrawals for him and I have to pay him $300 a month until 2019. Yea..that’s right. I’m unemployed – but I pay. OH wait, and he made me POA of everything if he “dies” because I”m the only one he trusts. LOL AND “I want you to have the opportunity to say goodbye when I die.” He’s effing not dying yet but the dramatic way he puts it worked.

Today I looked at their FBs. There are my puppies hugging on their new momma in the mountains, hiking, etc. There is her, loving on my puppies and my former husband = N. I got sick. WTF??? Why is this so hard? 9 years of toxicity and not feeling good enough, coupled with vile comments made about me drinking, etc. Horrible comments that made him feel superior. WHY can’t I let go??? Help and advise would be greatly appreciate. I’m at a low point. AND I’m part of the course. I have to restart again. 🙁

    Anonymous says August 2, 2019

    I went No Contact on my own.
    Do not answer their calls, texts. Do not interact with them.
    O r you will be sucked into it again.

I'm the crazy one? says April 13, 2017

The last time I went back to my toxic relationship, I physically got sick when spending time w the narc. I was nauseous and just very, very anxious. I know that these feelings were appearing because my intuition was telling me it was not a good situation for me to be in and that the damage he was going to deal out was only going to be worse…….so, knowing all this, why can’t I move on, accept who he is and that things will never change? It is crazy but I feel loyal to him and feel bad for pursuing friendships with men. I can’t get interested in anyone else. I don’t want this any more and have finally implemented no contact, again, but my loyalty is w him. This has been going on for 8 years now, off and on. Am I the one who is the crazy one?

Gina says March 31, 2017

Most of us here are very empathetic people who feel closure is a normal thing to encounter. But, when we come across a narcissist and dealing with the discard phase, it baffles us as to why they won’t provide closure. In my case, my issue with my narcissistic friend turned lover is that he was married (lied naturally and said he was separated). I went through two full cycles of narcissistic abuse in a matter of three months. I’m spent and hurt. But, this time it’s different because not only am I dealing with discard and the silent treatment, I’m also dealing with smearing and triangulation. He’s never smeared my reputation or tried to triangulate me with another woman. But, because I caused him great narcissistic injury which triggered a full blown narcissistic rage in him, I’m not being punished. Like many of us, we walk on eggshells because we know he’s up to no good but we allow it to happen because we don’t want to lose him or upset him. This time, I didn’t give a shit. I wanted to call him out on his behavior and I went straight to his wife and sent her detailed messages. She completely disagreed and said their marriage is good until I showed her very detailed time stamped messages that told her otherwise. All the messages stating how miserable he is and how psychotic and controlling and how ABUSED he was. That was is hook with me. He knew I would do anything to protect him and this was his tool to secure me as a supply. He even joked about me spying on her and beating her up. The awful things he said to her and what she so called did to him broke me heart while he was laughing on what a pathetic person I was to fall for it. During the most recent devalue phase, I started to educate myself on NPD and realized that no contact was the ONLY way to break free. I would usually send him good morning messages but started to not do that and he would come fishing for his supply “Hi. No love today.” But, whenever I saw his messages, I would always respond and get sucked in. But, because I was finally getting over the constant mind games, I started to just let my anger out and be honest with everything. Narcissists HATE it when you go against their game or call them out on it. Now, I’m the one being punished in two ways and this has really triggered feelings of longing along with hate. It’s like the finally of the fireworks show. Not only do I have no closure, hurt, disbelief, confusion and the silent treatment, I also have him triangulating his wife with me. He even went all out by having his friend that was with us the last time we hung out and video recording us getting drunk together and showing his wife the video. This was his magnificent tool, the wild card that would get him to win the game (or try). For the last two weeks, he swore up and down that I’m crazy and that I wasn’t with him this month on that day and begged like a loser for his so called bitchy wife to take him back. She still hasn’t and now this video comes out and I guess it’s suppose to threaten me. No sex or foul paly was on the video but it was just me acting drunk. The wife attempted to slut shame me and called me a drunk. I didn’t fight back and simply said I like to have a good time. Nothing wrong with that. But, she clearly was hurt by the video because that is how arrogant a narcissist can be. To later show his wife a video of us confirming our night together. It was calculated and it worked. It pissed her off which prompted her to contact me and piss me off about it. Now, we are both fighting over this dumb bastard. I immediately went straight to revenge thinking. I wanted them both dead. But, that’s not how to win this game. Eventually, she will take him back again…and he knows this. I, on the other hand, won’t and he doesn’t know this or doesn’t care. I will never get involved in that shit show ever again. The key to win is the live your life and allow the narcissistic to suffer and scramble trying to find his next supply. Because he went complete silent treatment this time and blocked me on social media, I have created a fake account and based on his history, he was already fishing for his next supply a month ago and liking stripper pictures and half naked young girls. Because his wife is an introvert and rarely on FB and is actually blocked by him (lol), she can’t see what he likes. I know and it makes me feel good to know, I wasn’t going crazy. But, when you are longing for someone or something that never really existed, it really does make you crazy and that is exactly what the narcissists wants the outcome to be. My words of advice would be to move on peacefully and follow the no contact rule intensely. Nothing pisses off a narcissist more than knowing you lost interest and they mean nothing to your life now.

D says March 30, 2017

I am so happy that I found you Kim S. I first submitted my story & you replied with the
Longing response. I work with this person, though our interactions are less frequent, I
still struggle. I have good days where I don’t even think of her & then days when that is all I do.

I recently determined that I should be sympathetic with her since I still have to work with her. I wished it could truly be no contact. Today was a bad day as she had been giving me the silent treatment since Monday; we were to meet as she asked by upper management to mentor me.

I can’t do it! I even cried 3x this week. I read your blog re how detrimental the silent treatment is on emotions, the brain…..

I want to just run away! How do I move on when we work together? I was so pissed with the silent treatment that I reacted… I initiated the thought of not meeting and left the ball in her court so that it seems like it’s her idea. I can’t burn this bridge…I will pay for it if I do.

I know her deep dark secrets and the truth re her life outside of work. Obviously she doesn’t know I know. With her being inappropriate with me in the past I could have reported her at work but I didn’t because at that time she had head spinning
etc for @4 months…I had know idea, at that time, what I was dealing with. I saved every text email. But once again management does nothing about the abusive management at my job. She is gay but lies at work about it and is always pushing the gay issue with certain coworkers.

I have ptsd as a result. I try and block it out. I have tried to redirect my energy but I seem to have hit a road block…

    Kim Saeed says May 29, 2017

    Hi D, I am sorry to learn of your struggles and I can relate as I worked under a few similar bosses in the past. I wish I had a simple answer, but in my experience, the best thing to do is begin a job search.


Anonymous says March 25, 2017

My husband, soon to be ex, buried himself in work. The last six years I started noticing a major change in him. He was spending less and less time with me, stonewall me, twist and turn everything I said around and not participate in the marriage.

I’m upset with our therapist because he knew my husbands behavior, but always encouraged us to stay together.

It wasn’t until after he retired that I learned about narcissism. If I would have know about narcissism I would have left him sooner.

It’s been almost a year since we separated.
I m feeling less anxious and starting to get back into things I loved doing 7 years ago.
I feel like my old self again.

    Kim Saeed says March 27, 2017

    That’s wonderful news, Anon! I wish you all the best for your continued recovery!


Clo says March 8, 2017

You really described this accurately. Knowing someone is toxic, yet still engaging with them because of longing is such a destructive and addictive behaviour. Please keep writing insightful articles. You are an inspiration.

Much love

Cheryl says March 8, 2017

This article is so very much the feelings I have and feel like I do confuse longing with love. My problem is I work with the person I fell in love with and my heart is broken in so many ways. He even went so far as to tell me he had sex with someone else. Then would talk with me and I kept going back over by his desk for more. When he told me this I nearly crumbled to the ground, I went outside crying. I just leaped into his arms before I looked and am so sorry I did so.
How can I move forward and still work in the same building, same floor as this person?

Beatriz says March 7, 2017

Hi Kim,
I´m a single mom and I have been almost two years reading your texts. You have helped me immeasurably.
This text touched me a lot. Energy is something more and more present in my life. I feel it. I feel when is wasted by the black holes of psychopaths, It´s like a radar.
IN recent times it happens with me in the laboral environment. I have changed several times because I put all my kindness and energy in there but in a few time I feel sad, without energy, without vitality. It´s very similar to a depression. When I finished my work contract I begin to feel fine, happy and I´m more close to my son. I feel I don´t have any obligation to do or to be in places where I don´t feel good.
It´s extremely difficult for me to find the nice environment where I can earn enough money to live. Boring at work is also a waste of energy.

Mau says March 6, 2017

This is a very important post. I guess, a lot of times, there’s a part of us that knows exactly what is happening to us and how wrong it is, but yet we ignore the internal voice and we keep going thinking that our situation is “different” and that the person who is humiliating us is different than the rest and actual is capable of feeling empathy.
Personally, I thought I had left the situation. But of course due to longing, I was lured back, only to experience a very horrible, surreal and painful discard.

The humiliation was overwhelming and made more so because I knew I should have known better, but I didn’t and let my stupidity take me there again. I’ve been no contact for some months. I don’t think, I’ll ever let that happen again, but “longing” is something we have to be careful with.


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