what a narcissist does at the end of a relationship

What a Narcissist Does at the End of a Relationship: When the End Isn’t The End

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The end of the relationship is finally here. At least, you thought it was finally here.

Maybe you’ve been in the narcissistic cycle for many years, but you’re finally ready to move on. You’re tired of the same drama and abuse and turmoil. You’ve decided that you deserve better.

So, what happens next? Is the chaos finally over? Is it as easy as cutting your losses and leaving? Chances are, you probably know it won’t be the smoothest transition, but what should you expect?

Let’s dive right in with seven things you should anticipate …


1 – Drowning You With Love Bombs

But we’re perfect together!

You are the most amazing person I’ve ever met. I don’t know what I’d do without you.

I am such a better person because of you. 

At a fundamental level, love bombs feel good. Everyone likes feeling adored and special. Receiving compliments feels good, which is why narcissists can and will exploit them when they need to restore their sense of power and control. 

Unfortunately, they’re not bringing home roses or chocolate because they want to work on the relationship. They’re not telling you that you’re beautiful because they want you to feel special and loved. 

Instead, love bombs are all about reeling you back into their world. The compliments are contrived, and the “loving acts of kindness” are all about showing you why you can’t live without them.

2 – Inducing Guilt 

I’m going to kill myself.

You made a promise when you married me!

Why would you do this to our children?

After the love bombing attempts, most narcissists turn quickly to the guilt-tripping technique. Of course, they already know your trigger points. They know the areas that inherently provoke sadness, shame, or fear for you.

Most of the time, these threats are hollow. But they can still be frightening, especially if the narcissist has a history of impulsive behavior. They might also try to drag other people into guilting you, like your mutual friends, family, or even your children.

Even though narcissists don’t feel guilt themselves, they know that you feel it. Therefore, at the end of the relationship, they’ll try to harness that emotion to make you rethink your decision. 

3 – Trying To Convince You That You’re Wrong 

At the end of the relationship, the narcissist will make many efforts to try to gaslight your reality. They will spend a great deal of energy talking about all the wonderful memories you two shared. Sometimes, this technique will trigger a euphoric recall about the good times you two had. 

They might also try to convince you that you’re unlovable or damaged without them. Sometimes, this manipulation is blatant. Other times, it’s more subtle and can sound like, do you really want to start dating again at this age? 

It’s easy to feel confused when this happens. On the one hand, you know that it’s time to move on. On the other hand, narcissists can do an excellent job convincing you that you’re overreacting.  

4 – Making Many, Many Empty Promises 

I promise I’m going to get help this time. You’ve been right all along.

I think we just need therapy. Let’s try it out.

I know you want to have a baby. I think I’m ready.

At first, you will want to believe these promises. Maybe you’ve been hoping for this change for a long time. If so, you will want to give the narcissist the benefit of the doubt.

Be careful. Most narcissists have no interest in actually changing. They aren’t concerned about honoring your needs. They’re focused on self-preservation. 

They know what you want from them. And they will dangle this empty promise like a carrot, waiting for you to grab it. In some cases, they may even spend a few weeks or months working towards making a change. 

Don’t expect these results to last forever. The moment the narcissist no longer needs to prove their worth to you, they will return to their old ways.

5 – Punishing You

If you ignore the love bombs, discount the promises, and continue on with your plan, prepare for a brutal attack. At this point, you have threatened the narcissist’s ego. To them, that’s an invitation for combat. 

Narcissists can punish you in many different ways, including:

  • Smearing you to your friends and family.
  • Drawing out long legal battles, particularly if children are involved.
  • Going after every cent or asset the two of you shared.
  • Calling you names or criticizing you.
  • Threatening your physical safety (if this is the case, reach out for support immediately).
  • Ignoring you completely.

These efforts to punish you come from the narcissist’s self-absorbed perception. They can’t fathom why anyone would leave them. They also can’t understand why you won’t give them another chance. For a narcissist, confusion tends to result in feelings of rage. And rage tends to lead to the desire to harm other people.

As a result, they will punish you instead of looking inward. The message they send is clear: You’re the reason this relationship failed. You’re the one who gave up. You’re the issue. 

Their efforts to punish you serve a few purposes. They want to maintain their power. That’s always the top priority. But they also want to “show you who’s boss” and seemingly remind you that they could destroy you if they want. 

These punishments are usually the worst narcissistic behavior. Many times, partners stay in their unhappy relationships just to avoid being punished for leaving. This fear is one of the main reasons people often find it impossible to leave the narcissist.  

6 – Keep Hoovering You 

Many times, the narcissist doesn’t just leave you alone at the end of a relationship. Instead, they engage in whatever tricks they can to suck you back in. There are different kinds of hoovers, but their overarching goal is always about getting your attention.

For example, they might “accidentally” like your post on Facebook. They might then follow-up with a message insisting that it wasn’t intentional, but they’ll also ask about how you’re doing.

Or, they might enlist your mutual friends to reach out. This technique is more subtle. Instead of bothering you directly, they have someone else test the waters for them. You might be able to spot this hoovering if a friend becomes excessively curious about your life or continues to lament about “how great you and so-so were for each other.”

Finally, many narcissists love exaggerating or making up crises to get your attention. They will call you telling you their mother is in the hospital or that they recently lost their job or that their child got suspended from school. 

If you identify as an empath, the crisis technique can be especially brutal to navigate. The narcissist knows that you care about how other people feel, which is why they will continue baiting you with emotional problems.

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7 – Replacing You As Quickly As Possible

If the narcissist tried to convince you that you were their soulmate, you might feel surprised to see how fast they move on. But narcissists are intelligent and manipulative. They never put all their eggs in one basket. They do what they can to maintain a constant supply.

Narcissists need constant validation and approval. They depend on these traits for their survival. If you no longer provide them with that endless supply, they will find someone else who will. 

Additionally, many times, narcissists are unfaithful in their relationships. They may have other people on the sidelines or the back burner- just in case things didn’t work out between you two.

Don’t be surprised if you find out about their new partner immediately. Many narcissists take great pleasure in flaunting their relationships, especially if they want to make you jealous. They may even try to reach out just to tell you that they’ve moved on and found someone else!

Why These Techniques Don’t Just Happen At The End of A Relationship

If you’re reading this and telling yourself, but the narcissist does these things all the time, and we aren’t even broken up, congrats! You’ve recognized something very important- narcissists don’t just save their worst behavior for the end.

Narcissists use manipulation techniques throughout the entire relationship. They start right when they meet you, and they ramp up the intensity as they see fit. 

How To Actually End The Relationship

The end of the relationship is tough- the narcissist will do whatever they can to make you feel miserable. Remember that you don’t have to participate in their ridiculous gauntlet. If you’re ready to move on, you are allowed to move on.

But to truly move on, you can’t engage in their game. They make the rules, they keep the score, and they always win. So get out of the game. Stop trying to appease, apologize, or work things out. Narcissists rarely- if ever- change their behavior, and you don’t want to spend a lifetime hoping that things work out.

This is why the no-contact approach is the best solution for ending the relationship. This approach removes you from the chaos. No more getting sucked back in, no more wondering if things will change. Eliminating all contact is the only way for sustainable healing. 

How to Get Help

If you believe you’re experiencing narcissistic abuse, consider whether the relationship is doing you more harm than good.

A person’s choice to be abusive isn’t because of anything you’re doing or not doing. You’re not the cause for their behavior, no matter what they say.  Taking care of yourself is the biggest priority, which may include breaking off the relationship. 

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is much like loving someone who is an addict. You cannot control his or her actions or decisions.

You can’t control it.

What you can do:

I’ve often said that rock-bottom is your Choice Point. When you are on such a low level that you can’t go any further, you are forced to go up.

So I ask people who aren’t ready to leave…how bad does it have to get for you to realize that every minute spent with a narcissist is a minute wasted from your life?  In the end, you will not only be angry with the narcissist, but you will also be furious with yourself for hanging in there for so long – and all for nothing.  

This is why folks have such a difficult time with thoughts of revenge and feeling deep anger once the relationship inevitably comes to a fiery end…because they gave everything to the narcissist, only to receive nothing but lies, betrayals, and indifference in return.  But, you have the opportunity to take healing steps toward a better future.  You can learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before you.

Here are some helpful tips and resources:  

1 – The Beginner’s Healing Toolkit is a free resource that includes everything you need to get started on healing your life after narcissistic abuse.  This is useful whether the narcissist in your life is a partner, friend, or family member.

2 – The Essential Break Free Bootcamp – Explore techniques derived from behavioral therapy (vetted by the psychological and neuro-psychological communities) to finally heal your life.

3 – The THRIVE program – Rediscover your lost self after narcissistic abuse (and prepare yourself for true love).


The Bottom Line

Everyone has the innate capacity to heal themselves. But, it’s likely you will need external support to heal the traumas that get in the way of your ability to tune into this gift.⠀Helpful tools and resources can assist you in developing effective ways to break free from narcissistic abuse. 

Your healed life starts with one step...

Get immediate access to this FREE recovery series to receive:

  • My top resources for narcissistic abuse recovery
  • Tips to detox from painful relationships
  • Strategies to overpower your addiction to the narcissist
  • and More!

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13 comments
Jody says December 17, 2020

Great advise I wish I heard it sooner!!! BUT YOU gave me HOPE I can fix me after him!!

Reply
Anonymous says December 12, 2020

I told my narcissist husband, “I don’t want to live like this any more.” It was easy, because he had a girlfriend lined up. Then I got tunnel vision after the nasty divorce, and I wouldn’t see him or talk to him or have any contact with him at all. I did have counseling.

Reply
Lisa says December 4, 2020

Hi I am currently trying to go no contact as all I’m getting is constant calls and if I answer we always argue with him calling me names and put me down and threats of coming to my house…
I have a daughter with him who is 7 and he is constantly using her as a reason to need to be in contact. I don’t know what to do or where to turn and he scares me with his aggression.
How can I still allow him to have the contact with his daughter if I do the no contact?

Reply
    Kim Saeed says December 18, 2020

    I have been using extreme modified contact for years as I share custody of my youngest son with my ex. Basically, my ex has no access to contact me by cell phone. I have a land line for him to call our son. Any parental communications are done through email. This not only creates a great deal of mental peace, email is also a way to collect documentation in case you ever need to go back to court.

    Reply
D,d says December 2, 2020

Im just now learning all this narcissit abuse. I just read my life as it has been since febuary 27 2019 word for word to the T- its scary crazy . But good that people or humans are aware that this is real and help is out there for all of us. Ive always wondered where he came from ? What planet did he step off. Cause humans have hearts feelings we love we share unconditionaly were thoughtful of others. And well all that is good he wasnt just so cold hearted, but this is what he is and i just dont know how one becomes such a evil soul like this, ? Please can anyone explain how or why

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Ashley says November 29, 2020

Hi Kim,

I’m so thankful for you blog and the courses you offer (currently working through the bootcamp now). I’ve recently walked away from a 4 year on/off relationship and was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to heal with Covid-19 still being such an issue. Some of the things suggested (spend time with friends, go to new places, etc) aren’t really possible given all the restrictions. Would love to hear if you have any thoughts on how to get through the first painful weeks (not the first time I’ve gone through this, but determined not to let the hoover win again)

Reply
    Kim Saeed says December 1, 2020

    Hi Ashley,

    Welcome to the Bootcamp! I made some guided meditations exclusively for the course. I would recommend listening to those every night at bedtime or even in the middle of the day while you rest. The releasing activity might help, too, as well as the energy healing module. Once you’ve completed the first few modules, you can also join our private group. It’s like having a personal cheerleader 🙂

    Hope that helps!

    Kim

    Reply
April says November 26, 2020

I made mine think the break up was his decision. Which left him with his ego in tack. He still tried to hoover a few times after that, and I went no contact. In order for his ego to stay in tack he could not hoocer me very long. And sure enough its been over 1 1/2 years and I have not heard from him since. I new if I broke things up he was going to put up a fight to win me back just so he could break up with me and be on top and the winner. So I orcastrated it to let him think he won.

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Virginia says November 26, 2020

It is very hard when they are around a lot of the time.

Reply
Chris says November 24, 2020

Thanks for the many helpful articles. I feel stronger & have more control. I am no longer a victim of toxic, narcissist abuse.

Reply
Anonymous says November 24, 2020

Your advice applies to a very current situation. He is ignoring me because I would not give him supply, mostly due to a deep anger inside me I cannot shake. I see who he is now after 4+ years and hold his relationship crimes against him personally as I finally realize he is a lost cause.

Reply
    Anonymous says November 25, 2020

    Please know that when we get upset & punish the narcissist for their crimes, it’s a HUGE high five to them. Their only purpose in life is to make their targets miserable. Smiling, laughing & anything other than being reduced to a pile of trash is the worst thing I got caught doing. I literally saw the true evil in his face whenever I was happy with something other than him. I felt like I was being caught committing a crime. They only pretend to feel guilty or bad. In reality, they are so thrilled to know that they have the power to hurt us so terribly. The worse the better. They have no remorse. Just think about the people that murder the other parent of their children while the children are in the home. Imagine if these people have absolutely no feeling or compassion for their own children. Please just get your things & escaped. Get the cops & order of protection involved. Let him know you mean business. Don’t bad mouth. Don’t do anything but focus on healing yourself. All the best.

    Reply
      Alva says December 25, 2020

      good advice. I am focusing on myself and this keeps me sane!

      Reply
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