How Do Narcissists End Relationships? 5 Dirty Ways They Use

Last Updated on July 4, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester

It starts with a whirlwind romance – flowers every day, a level of intimacy that feels like you’re soulmates, and a partner that seems to worship the ground you walk on. The early stages of dating a narcissist are intoxicating, but in a few weeks or a few months, the mask begins to slip and your partner reveals their true self.

Gaslighting, arrogance and a complete lack of empathy are the hallmark signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, leaving you feeling trapped in a toxic relationship. Then it all comes to a screeching halt; the narcissist has no further use for you. 

How do narcissists end relationships? While the first and second stages of a narcissistic relationship play out in a familiar way, the third and final one, the breakup, isn’t quite so textbook.

Sometimes the narcissist will drag things out, scraping together every last crumb of Narcissistic supply that they can, but others make a clean break as if you never even mattered. As with all relationships involving narcissists, it’s all about what they need.

What Does a Narcissistic Relationship Look Like?

What Does a Narcissistic Relationship Look Like?

Narcissists follow a familiar pattern with their relationships; usually, it’s a three-step process.

Initiation Phase

the narcissist is completely in love with you, wanting you and the rest of the world to know about it. This is when you’ll be showered in gifts and compliments(Love Bombing), often being told that the narcissist has “never felt like this before”. This initial phase is what the narcissist’s partner is chasing for the rest of the relationship.

Reading Suggestions:

Devalue Phase

When the love bombing stops, the devalue phase starts. A complete 180 from the initiation phase, the devaluing period is filled with criticism, gaslighting, and withdrawal of intimacy and affection. The narcissist is making you question where you went wrong and why they’re not treating you the way they used to.

Discard Phase

following a long period of devaluation, the narcissist has no further use for you, casting you aside as if they never loved you in the first place. It’s true, the narcissist never really feels love or affection for their partner, just for how their partner makes them feel. Once that feeling wears off, it’s time to move on to the next possible partner. 

how do narcissists end relationships

5 Dirty Ways How Narcissists End Relationships

5 Dirty Ways How Narcissists End Relationships

So how do narcissists end relationships? If the narcissist is the one ending a relationship, it’ll more than likely be a sudden and perhaps unexpected affair. Unfortunately, it rarely involves a mature conversation, one that would provide closure and a bittersweet ending.

You’ll more than likely encounter bizarre events that make you question your worth as a partner and your sanity.

1. Find a New Partner, New Supply:

Plenty of non-narcissistic people start affairs at the end of a relationship, but a narcissist will gladly reveal it to you. Narcissists consider themselves quite the catch and will try to make you jealous by flaunting how attractive other people find them.

Narcissists will openly flirt with others and then tell you it never happened or that your jealousy is clouding your judgment. This type of gaslighting is also a classic sign of being in a relationship with a narcissist

Reading Suggestion: How to Make a Narcissist Come Crawling Back?

2. Moves On to Someone Else, With You in Tow

Slightly different from the first option, the narcissist will openly flirt and entertain an affair, but without the courtesy of breaking up with you. They’re planting the seed for a backup relationship should anything go wrong with you, but they’re also letting you know what they’re capable of.

Reading Suggestion: Do Narcissists Enjoy Kissing?

3. Start a Fight To End a Relationship

Narcissists love conflict when they’re in control of it. At the end of a relationship when they’ve grown tired, they’ll find the most dramatic way to end it. Often they’ll use the fight to force your hand into breaking up with them.

Since you’re seen as the aggressor, they have no qualms about exacting revenge on you (trashing you to mutual friends, keeping your personal property, or running up a bill under your name). All is fair since it looks like you broke their heart. 

4. Blames It On You:

Similar to the above fight, this version makes the narcissist out to be the victim in the relationship. They will tell you how much love and effort they put into the partnership, without getting anything back. While this is patently untrue, narcissists groom their victims to question what they could have done wrong at every turn. 

5. Stalking:

For a narcissist, just because you broke up doesn’t mean it’s over. Narcissists sometimes stalk their ex-partner to check on how their new life compares to life with the narcissist.

Most of the time this behavior doesn’t lead to violence or even confrontation. The intent is to intimidate you and make you feel afraid of moving on from them.

How Do You Know if the Relationship is Over?

How Do You Know if the Relationship is Over?

Narcissists have a nasty habit of returning to their previous relationships, even when it seems like they’ve burned that bridge with a fight or affair. This cycle of breakup and makeup is referred to as hoovering – one they’ve got you, they can suck you back in at will. Narcissists hoover to boost their ego, getting a massive self-esteem boost whenever they persuade you to take them back. 

If you leave things up to the narcissist, they’ll probably hoover for quite a while. It’s hard for them to give up a source of supply until they’ve got another one fully committed. A better option is to take action and cut the narcissist out of your life.

If you don’t answer their calls and you avoid them in-person, they’ll move onto their next source of supply. It’s not a comforting fact, knowing that your ex will treat their partner the same way they treated you. But at the very least, they’re out of your life. 

Breakup Styles of Vulnerable Narcissists vs. Grandiose

Breakup Styles of Vulnerable Narcissists vs. Grandiose

The grandiose style is typically what we think of when imagining a narcissist: big personality, big ego, and an unending supply of self-esteem. Vulnerable narcissists are much more introverted, neurotic, and contemplative.

A vulnerable narcissist is more likely to want you to break up with them. They’re used to feeling sorry for themselves and aren’t fans of confrontation.

Grandiose narcissists love the spotlight and are happy to jump in for a good fight. They’re also more likely to flirt with potential partners in your presence. 

Knowing which type of narcissists you’re with can help to understand their actions and predict where they’ll go next.

How to End a Relationship With a Narcissist?

How to End a Relationship With a Narcissist?

Ending a relationship with a narcissist is almost the complete opposite compared to when they’re the one breaking it off.

If they see it coming, they’ll do everything in their power to demean you, and if it’s a surprise, they’ll almost certainly lash out in anger.

There are a few techniques though that can help to smooth out the last stage of a narcissistic relationship.

1. Don’t give second chances

Narcissists turn on the charm or wrench sympathy from your heart as you break up with them. At the end of a relationship, they want to end it on their terms and will do anything to get back in your good graces.

Know that it won’t last – they just don’t like the feeling of being dumped.

2. Don’t drag it out

If you tell a narcissist you’re thinking about leaving them, there’s a good chance they’ll do something to ensure you stick around.

This might be through threats, loving gestures, or pleading, but none of it is actually sincere. 

Reading Suggestion: How Dating a Narcissist Changes You

3. Write down their transgressions

Narcissists are experts at gaslighting; they can convince you of an alternative past where everything was your fault and they have been a perfect partner.

Keep a diary of everything you’ve endured and turn to it whenever you’re unsure of your emotions.

4. Strengthen ties with friends and family

Narcissists prey on the vulnerable and attempt to isolate their partners. This leaves the victim feeling desperate for love and validation from their abuser.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people that you’ve been cut off from during the relationship.

5. Don’t check up on them

Whether it’s because you’re genuinely concerned or because you want to know if they’ve moved on, checking up on your narcissistic partner is a bad idea.

Narcissists can flit in and out of people’s lives with ease, they just need another source of new supply to hold onto.

To prevent yourself from falling back into a relationship with the narcissist, it’s better to go no-contact after the break up.

How Long Do Narcissistic Relationships Last?

How Long Do Narcissistic Relationships Last?

Narcissists typically end their relationships once they get bored with a partner. They’re much more concerned with the chase and later the conquest that comes with controlling a partner.

Once they have that, the relationship doesn’t provide them with anything, since a narcissist is almost wholly incapable of forming an intimate relationship based on trust, love, and mutual respect.

As such, you’re unlikely to find a narcissist in a relationship for more than six months, and almost never more than a couple of years.

There’s always a new supply of partners who will shower them in admiration without requiring the intimacy that a long-term relationship would.

What Does a Narcissist Want in a Relationship?

What Does a Narcissist Want in a Relationship?

Perhaps you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist or are hoping to avoid one.

Maybe you’ve wondered what could have drawn them in, and at least for a brief moment, made them love you.

These are a few of the traits narcissists value most in their partners.

#1 They Want Someone who’s accommodating

Narcissists are nothing if not controlling. They have their own rules for life and the best partner is someone that will follow along and stay out of their way.

While a narcissist expects you to be on time for every date, they expect forgiveness when they’re an hour late.

#2 They Want Someone with a favorable view of them

They love to be reminded of their positive traits and have their negative ones overlooked. The worst partner to them is someone that’s critical. 

#3 They Want Someone who will take the blame

A narcissist will never take responsibility when they’ve done something wrong. Thus they appreciate a partner who is conscientious, cleaning up their mistakes and shouldering the blame whenever possible. 

#4 They Want Someone who puts them first

Narcissists have no time for other people’s wants and needs. The whole reason for entering a relationship is to reap the benefits of an adoring partner.

If their partner has needs of their own, they’ll be called selfish and demanding.

#5 They WantSomeone who looks to them for happiness

It’s much more difficult to keep a partner if they can find happiness outside of this toxic relationship.

Narcissists look for people to control, divvying out love and affection when it’s beneficial to them. 

Do Narcissists End Up Alone?

Do Narcissists End Up Alone?

Given that narcissists are prone to ignoring or mistreating their partners, it’s only logical that they would end up alone.

Though they’re able to make friends quickly and attract fresh romantic partners, the charm of a narcissist wears off within a few months.

Most find that they can’t sustain a friendship or long-term relationship; usually, they don’t particularly want to either. 

Friends of Narcissists and partners serve a purpose – providing an initial burst of narcissistic supply, but in return, those same people ask for intimacy, vulnerability, and compassion that the narcissist isn’t capable of.

So to those who have endured a relationship with a narcissist, know that they get their comeuppance in the form of loneliness – an emotion they do not tolerate well

Avoiding a Painful Breakup With The Narcissist

Avoiding a Painful Breakup With The Narcissist
Avoiding a Painful Breakup With The Narcissist

Being left by a narcissist is never a pleasant experience. Sometimes theres name calling, other times it’s an abrupt end with no explanation. Either way, the non-narcissist always walks away feeling worse.

If you’ve just realized that you might be in a toxic relationship, exit as quickly as possible without bruising the narcissist’s ego enough to retaliate. 

If you’ve been in a relationship with one for a long time, it’s best to enlist a group of support first, as the narcissist’s first move will be to separate you from friends and family. Then calmly extricate yourself from the relationship as quickly as possible. 

Photo of author

Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

13 thoughts on “How Do Narcissists End Relationships? 5 Dirty Ways They Use”

  1. Why do nacissist be in a relationship for five years and with a blink of an eye tell you they don’t have feelings for you just be there friend

    Reply
    • They look at us as objects that provide a need. Like what Dr Ramani said, we are like a cup, if they are thirsty the cup can provide that need and once that need is quenched you no longer matter. When the devaluation starts, you are now disposable and inter changeable to them. Try not to take it personal, there is something majorly wrong with them. Check out Dr Ramani and Elizabeth Shaw on youtube. Hope this helps.

      Reply
    • Elizabeth… I was in a relationship with a narcissist for 26 years 11 months… 3 days ago I was given a 30 day eviction notice. Yes my world is in major confusion since she is stonewalling me and will absolutely not communicate with me. Apparently I am now a ‘tenant’ living in her house with her as the ‘landlord’.
      I don’t know why but I do know non of this is my doing. She has mental issues and refuses to acknowledge them. I have seen the reg flags, had numerous broken hearts but thought I could triumph in the long run..
      however, I have learned valuable lessons over the years.. to keep my mental state strong, to know who I am without anyone around and to know what I will and will not tollerate in the future.

      Reply
  2. I dated a man who seemed to adore me and put me on a pedestal. He told me he was so lucky to meet a girl like me and he said the moment he met me he knew I was the one he was going to marry. We dated for three years and he gave me a pre-engagement ring. He talked about marrying me all the time. He introduced me as his fiance to all his friends and family. When I landed my first job I moved to a town closer to him at his request. One night we went out to the movies. He was holding hands with me like he always did. He seemed happy and normal. After the movie he dropped me off at my apartment and blurted out “I don’t love you anymore” and walked out the door to my apartment . His behavior was so opposite what I experienced with him that I called him weekly for many months to ask what happened, what went wrong – but he never once picked up the phone or returned my phone call. Looking back, it takes a huge narcissistic jerk to do something like that.

    Reply
  3. I lived with a narcissist for over 19 years. He told me many lies ( like you don’t know how much I want to put a ring on your hand) He was married, but had left her 2 years prior to the time I met him, so I believed his lies of ” I want to get a divorce so we can move on with our lives TOGETHER because I want to spend the rest of out lives together”. 17 years passed, and still no divorce , so I told him ” Our intimacy ( meaning sex) was over because he didn’t want to get a divorce so I didn’t want sex anymore.) ” About a half year later , his wife passed away from.vivid. Two weeks to the day after she passed away, he asked me ” Well, she is dead now, so can we get back to normal now, meaning ” can we get back to sex now! I laughed in his face and told him.nope …when I said it is over, I meant it was OVER, because of his constant lies about divorce. He applied for and received his dead wife’s Social Security check a few months later. Within 3 months after receiving her Social Security, he just suddenly packed his belonging and moved out. That was on April 27, 2021. On July 20, 2021, he was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia AND pancreatic cancer…both fairly advanced. Now, I feel guilty because he
    Texted me asking me to come to the hospital to sign papers
    Making me his Medical power of attorney, as he had lost his previous copy and I had thrown away my copy when he moved out. He is, understandably, very, very scared and begging me not to leave his side because his family doesn’t want anything to to with him…not even his 2 adult children.
    I feel torn between guilt because of anger over all the years of his narcissistic abuse, but pity for his fairly close to death state of being. Tears and prayers aplenty going on during the last few days. Now, he is back to the ” I love you’d”, and the many times a day texting. I don’t know how to walk away from a dying man.

    Reply
    • Do not get involved. He is still playing you. This is called Karma. Just walk away and get back to the business of living is what I would do. No more wasted time on vile creatures.

      Reply
  4. 34 years with a covert. Raised children and enjoyed grandbabies. Then all the sudden it all changed. But it didnt really he just stepped up his efforts to make me look feel and sound crazy. The family beleives it all me. Then he drives away abandoning me. After gaslighting me and by the time the end was near i was accommodating what every one already beleived. Ibsrarted becoming what he told them. I went crazy that last day. Maybe even a nervous breakdown. I gave him exactly what he needed to prove it was all me i suppose. That happened October 2021. It is now February 2022. I have my own place, i have a good job a car. But i am broken and anxiety and doubt and self worth is crushed and depression eats me. But he will never know that. We havent spoken since the day he left. In the beginning i begged and called and texted. Etc. Then i left the area and then came back and settled in. He only knows what i let my son know. Other than that i dont even mess with him. He text the first time to have me tell my son to call him. I did tell my son but i didnt respond to his text. I only told my son because he had gone off on my son and i figured he was trying to fix it with him and that was what my son needed. But he only did that to keep tabs on me. He raised him but not his bio. But my son needs his dad even as a grown man. So i obliged. Some day i hope to be friends with him for my kids and grandkids sake. I came from child abuse and he used it to his advantage. Im a born again christian so i forgive him. I will always be in love with him. But i also know now separation anxiety and trauma bonding healing might change that feeling to love they neighbor as Jesus loves. I wont ever again put my self in that life again. He was abused as well emotionally. I think it drew us together originally. He wanted to be a hero and i was nieve and needed a hero at 19 alone with a baby. Im 54 now. When i started fighting back is when he abandoned me again. He did it once early on. I ended up taking him back. He’s counting on that now. Nope, find a new supply. I am in love with Jesus now. The kids are seeing rhe truth now. Even his daughter can’t blame me any more. Secretly he blamed me for every thing so she did. Our daughter isnt so into him either. Which she convienced him to leave and she would help him because he told her i was the problem. Shes a daddys girl. But now shes backed off from him too. They are seeing who i seen on the daily.my daughter feels so guilty she cant face me now. So time hopefully corrects that. But the kids are all finally seeing him and who he really is. On top of that he has became a daily drunk, drunk by 3 pm daily. Im not around to be blamed any more and i keep completly out of the picture. So no one can blame me for any thing any more. I worship God and love from a far and working on healing me so im healthy for my kids and grandkids.

    Reply
    • Been married to one for 34 years and have 2 boys. He suffered abuse as a kid that he denies. I’ve heard the truth from other family members. He was a raging alcoholic until a devastating fall that ended the drinking in 2015. I liked him better as a drunk!! He needed the booze to deal with his extreme insecurity and the abuse from his own father. Since being sober, he has seriously upped his game. After the accident I decided to not sit back and be passive and started pushing back on his abuse. Of course in typical narc fashion, this infuriated him and he distanced himself from me. He is having an emotional affair with a woman who is almost old enough to be his mother. I understand the attraction as Ive read texts and shes blowing smoke up his butt. He eats it up!! Ive toyed with confonting her but she can have him. My oldest (25) thinks im nuts, despite that he has been physically and emotionally abused by his father. I’m just so sick of feeling alone. Hes only sticking around because I pay the mortgage and most of the household bills. I’m on the edge of filing for divorce but am terrified because he will drag it out and make me even more miserable than I am currently. Ive lost it a few times – once calling police but it was me who was arrested. I pray I can get out of this horrible situation soon. He has moved out on more than one occasion and this would be the best scenario. Once he’s out I am never letting that maniac back in and will do what I have to to insure this.

      I admire your strength and applaud you for being able to do the right thing not even knowing where you would stay. Terrifying! Thank you for sharing some of what you’ve been through, it really helps to know I’m not alone. I’m so sorry for the suffering and know how you feel. Sending good karma and wishes your way.

      Reply
  5. I’m a single father of 2.i was single for more than 8 years after my kids mom left us.I met a woman 6 years ago at a job I started at. We clicked and she loved us.Tgings started taking a twist when we went to go let her parents know we dating. The mother didn’t approve of us because I had kids. Her mother and sisters did everything to break us up. After 4 years of constant fights between us she left me. I never knew about narcissism until a year ago. I asked her to do some reading on it but she was not happy about it instead scolded at me. I’m still in love with her. We still work together. She is a attorney today and I’m still just tge messanger at the office. I really worry about her aswell. Because this is not who I know she is

    Reply
  6. OMG
    IT was to late I never not once knew what he was doing to me or should I say what he has done. My whole world has been taken. It has been like a horror picture show with sequel’s. I don’t know how or what to do.
    Been broken and got by a piece of shit, Narcissist
    Plz help me

    Reply
  7. Wow it surprises me how many of there are and how similar our treatment was yep there all the same. My storys deep but ill share some. I was married seventeen years to a alcholic but not a Narc for sure but was still abusive and we were young and shared four children my oldest i recently lost.I left him and immediately met my first narc it lasted two years i got prenant at 40 he bailed telling others i was crazy etc because I found he was a dam scam evaded taxes changed identity the list goes on he worked as a supposedly kiniesiologist and healer self taught but charmed all and was almost a guru ha he learned it while sitting in prison eighteen months. After I had my daughter by him I swore no more dating but a year later comes narc two the worst ever and the one that hurt me more than all because I was fooled and he would become my partner no marriage for sixteen long years and also step dad and provider to my daughter but the end was him alienating me fromher while he groomed her and bought her everythng after discarding me for a new supply. The first time was hard enough I thoughts Id never get up but I did and through it all even though she was a minor at time she would not come to live with me because he bad mouthed me and said stay here shes broke crazy and you are close you can go visit. He gave her complete freedom and any teen would stay, I am now learning in therapy it was abuse alienation add narcassistic behavoirs and it was hell. I never had issusues with his grown kids I met him when he was just divorced from there mother and was told she was a crazy cat lady so Iam sure the new supply is hearing plenty of lies. My daughter is now in college he brought her home for all hollidays and summer and she pretty much ignores me and says well he did raise me even If I think he treated you like shit she sides with him and even puts his kids and grandkids before ours. The breakup seven months ago was my second you see after the first one left him he swears they mutually agreed he called me saying Iam in hawaii I miss you and all the fun we had and I never had dated again so I said ok and again we ended up here after at the hollidays this year he from no where said we arent together I havent seen you in about two years I assume his newby was present and he did not want her to know that we had plans for the hollidays. I lost my health for awhile he hacked all my accounts stole my cloud all my mail my photos i feel she helped and they left a trail of evidence as somehow his stuff was showing up on my iphone and tablet , I ended up loosing my phone etc as it was so tormentive and still he does some hacking I am sure Well if there is Karma he must be getting a bit because just before he left me this time he came over and actually said baby we can date afterall whos gonna want a man with chronic health heart disease failure and then got diabetes and glaucoma all at the same time. He still said iam fit bitch I will out live you and I believe the new supply is younger I am six years younger than him but I have heard she may be a freinds of his thirty year old daughter. I am so hurt still because he stole my daughter and she will not listen she knows he was horrible to me she recently said hes a douche and I think coming from school to visit she now sees she was even pushed aside for the new supply , he even said are you ready to meet her you will love her. Iam human she hurt me ok I spent all I had at Christmas she never came by she stayed with him. I recently said if iam not enough because i had to move to apartment and cant buy you and you dont call unless its for something please know I love you but while you honor that man I want no part and I am now divorcing all past so that at sixty I can have a little joy myself . I pray I can keep healing it gets lonely but I fear dating now I reallly honestly do not know if I can do it again.. Thankyou

    Reply
  8. My husband Tim has a habit of leaving after 5-8 months, then coming back a few weeks or a month or so later (with one exception). Three months after we married he left me for another woman, Jessica. He stayed away for 8 months, but during that time he was with three other women total, and even got the second one pregnant (and abandoned her as he wants no more kids and he has nothing to do with his son with her not even paying child support). He contacted my best friend asking him to have me unblock him so he could get a hold of me. Thinking it had something to do with the divorce I obliged, next thing I knew he was crying, begging me to let him come home. I still love my husband, and always have since I met him, so against my better judgement I let him come home. Then about 6 months later like clockwork he left me again. He came back home after a month and a half. Then four months later he left me again for another woman. This one is Cheryl. Both Jessica and Cheryl knew he was married, both knew he was living with his wife, and both knew that his wife loved him. Cheryl is “special needs” but high functioning. Her IQ is below the norm, and she does need a provider to handle her social security money. Honestly it sickens me that he’s taking advantage of her the way he did me. I met her twice (two days before he left for her, and the day before when we took her to the drive in with us) and I noticed right away she wasn’t “normal”. Honestly the woman’s first words to me were “I’m on my period.” Which she repeated several times. Then at the drive in she kept humming all through the movie, and when something was said about it (in a nice way of course) she blew up screaming obscenities and saying everyone hums with music. Sure, plenty of people do, but not when it’s at a drive in or movie! Most people have more courtesy than that. He had been talking to her on facebook messenger when he left the previous time, and suddenly when they met again two days before he left he realized she was better for him than I am. This is because that whole week I hadn’t been adoring him the way that he needs in order to be happy. When he was the center of my life and I allowed him to control me (even keeping me from my best friends) he was happy. That last week I dared to have lunch with a female friend. This hurt him of course, and hurt my marriage according to him. It was of course all my fault. The sad thing is before that last week he was making me feel loved, wanted, and appreciated. The Friday before he left I gave him his birthday present early, and he was telling me how he was taking me to the games with him. I had gotten him tickets to two Cleveland Browns games. Now I’m left reeling yet again. In 3 years (one year dating, two married) he’s left 5 times. The longest being the 8 months just after we married. I’ve never had a single birthday with him, or Christmas, or Thanksgiving. I’ve never had a New Year’s with him. I did have one Valentine’s day, and one Easter with him. I had him on his birthday last year, but not this year. I had him for one anniversary, the first anniversary he was with Laura and posted on our anniversary that she was the love of his life. That ripped my heart out when I saw it two weeks later when he came home. When he left he told me to just kill myself. He sat there lying to me with Cheryl right next to him, and yet she’s not smart enough to realize if he’ll lie to me he’ll lie to her as well. I’ve never experienced a person like him before, and hope to never experience a person like him again.

    Reply

Leave a Comment