Last Updated on April 13, 2021 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.
Table of Contents:
- How a Narcissistic relationship looks like
- 5 Ways how Narcissists end relationships
- How do you know when it’s over?
- Breakup styles Vulnerable vs Grandiose Narcissist
- How to end a Relationship with a Narcissist
- How long do Narcissistic Relationships Last?
- What do narcissists want in a Relationship?
- Do narcissists end up alone?
- Avoiding a Painful Break-Up
What Does a Narcissistic Relationship Look Like?
Narcissists follow a familiar pattern with their relationships; usually, it’s a three-step process.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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
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.