Last Updated on June 1, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester
Why do narcissists come back to old relationships? It is often the feeling of loss and despair that leads the jilted partner down this road of enquiry.
The answer to this question depends on the type of narcissist you are dealing with.
The type who is most likely to return is the recycler. The main difference between the recycler and your typical narcissist is they enjoy the predictability of the relationship.
They would rather stick with what they know then seek out something new.
Why Do Narcissists Come Back to old Relationships?
Additionally, they don’t like confrontation and would rather leave when things start going south.
With the recycler, you can guarantee that the moment they leave you, they run right back into the arms of a former lover.
Here are 5 reasons why narcissists go back to old relationships.
#1. Narcissists do Not Possess Object Constancy
In psychology, ‘object constancy’ refers to a person’s ability to see the good in someone despite the fact they feel the individual has offended them.
If you’ve ever felt completely disconnected from your narcissistic partner when you are away from them.
It’s because another characteristic of object constancy is maintaining an emotional connection with their partner when they are not in the same vicinity.
In other words, a narcissist will quickly forget about you the minute you leave the house.
Because the recycler is lacking in object constancy. Once they’ve been wounded by their partner, the positive feelings they had vanish and hatred and disdain quickly arise.
In a normal relationship, a minor disagreement is not going to lead to a breakup.
But with the recycler, their response is to move on to an ex-partner they know is waiting with abated breath to take them back.
#2. Narcissists Don’t Experience Empathy
Like all narcissists, recyclers lack empathy and when they walk out of a relationship, they have no regard for their feelings toward their partner.
Which is why they can move on so quickly. If necessary, they will convince themselves that the person deserved it, or that it was their actions that drove them away.
Since recyclers don’t like confrontation, it is not uncommon for them to just disappear.
They will do things like block you on social media, change their number, or pack their bags when their significant other is at work.
In such instances, they won’t even leave a note, like magic – they just vanish!
Even when you know you were in an unhealthy relationship, no one likes getting dumped.
When your narcissist partner walks out, you are going to ask yourself several questions such as:
Do narcissists miss their exes?
Does a narcissist ever regret losing you?
Does a narcissist always come back after dumping you?
Do narcissists think about their exes? Etc.
You will find yourself obsessing over these questions despite the fact that knowing the answer will do nothing to repair the damage.
Your partner isn’t going to come back because you are in mental turmoil over the breakup.
The sad reality is that narcissists lack empathy, so they are not going to feel any guilt or regret about the relationship coming to an end.
In fact, if their thoughts ever start moving in that direction, they will switch the narrative and remind themselves that you were in a privileged position to even share the same space as such a phenomenal human being.
To further answer such questions, if your narcissistic ex really did miss you or regret losing you.
They would be willing to compromise and would find a way to make things work. Instead, they are gone with the wind, and as you are reading this – probably shacked up with an ex-lover.
#3. Narcissists Are Confident You will Take Them Back
Why do narcissists come back to old relationships? Because Narcissists are confident you will take them back.
Unfortunately for the victims of narcissist abuse, once they have been discarded, they are still emotionally connected to their abuser.
You were madly and passionately in love with him/her, and now they’ve gone and left a big gaping hole in your heart.
The narcissist is very aware of this and will take full advantage of the fact that you are emotionally vulnerable.
However, once you understand the mind of the narcissist, and that the relationship was never about you in the first place, it will become a lot easier to move on. There are three points I want to make clear.
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1. The Narcissist Doesn’t Know How to Love in the Traditional Sense
The way you view love and romance and the way the narcissist views love and romance are from a completely different lens.
The narcissist loves in his/her own way. In the beginning stages of the relationship, the narcissist’s behavior is motivated by passion but with an ulterior motive. This stage is referred to as love bombing.
As you have probably experienced, they shower their partner with gifts, vacations and compliments.
During this time, you will feel like the most important person in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the narcissist doesn’t love you, they just love you in their own way. And this is completely different to how you love them.
2. The Narcissist Doesn’t Know What it Means to Miss Someone:
It’s not that the narcissist doesn’t miss you. They don’t miss anyone because they are emotionally unavailable. There is nothing wrong with you, if you were in a relationship with a normal person, they would miss you.
The problem is that narcissists don’t know how to miss people, it is one of the hallmarks of a personality disorder.
So, your narcissistic ex doesn’t miss you because they are not mentally stable, don’t take it personally.
3. The Narcissist Lives a Compartmentalised Life
The narcissist views everyone on the same emotional level. They don’t have strong feelings for anyone, not even their own mother or children (if they have any).
As you will have experienced, what the narcissist says and does are two completely different things.
They never live up to their word unless it’s going to benefit them in some way.
According to experts, at the end of a normal relationship, an adjustment period is required.
This is where both parties need time to get used to the absence of the other. They may need to call each other to release certain emotions or meet up for a chat.
But they both know the relationship is over, and there is no chance of getting back together any time soon.
You will need this adjustment period, but your narcissist partner won’t. They can move on from a relationship without so much as a blink.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but as far as they are concerned, you no longer exist until they decide they want you back.
In case you were wondering why do narcissists stay friends with their exes?
It’s not that they stay friends with them, they just keep their exes on a list of potentials they could go back to when they break up with their current partner.
While you are having sleepless nights and wondering what their life is like without you, to the narcissist, it’s just another day, and life continues as normal.
#4. Narcissism and the Hoovering Strategy
After your narcissist partner walks out, they put you on their recycling list and keep it moving.
They literally go missing in action, and you won’t see or hear from your ex until they decide they need you again.
When they start trying to find an inroad into your life, there is a specific technique they use and it’s referred to as ‘hoovering.’
Here are some of the signs your narcissistic ex is trying to win you back:
- What is Narcissistic Hoovering?
- Reasons Why Narcissists come back to old relationships
- How to get over a Narcissist?
A Message of Nostalgia
A message of this nature will come in the form of a question, they are not concerned about the answer, what they want is to get you to start thinking about them again.
Getting in Touch on Significant Dates
Your narcissistic ex might send you a message on your birthday, the holidays, or the anniversary of your first date.
These dates mean nothing to them, but they know they mean something to you.
Their hope is that it triggers your emotions, so you pick up the phone for old times’ sake.
When they decide it’s time to win you back, they will start digging for information about you such as a new job, car, or house.
And then send you a message of congratulations. Don’t fall for it, your ex wants you to think they are interested in your accomplishments so you lower your guard.
You will have experienced this at the beginning of your relationship; but this time, it will be from a distance.
If you still live and work at the same location, expect your ex to bombard you with gifts and flowers.
They will also send you messages by text and email professing their undying love for you.
Love bombing is their way of reminding you of the good old days. Once you start thinking about the way your partner used to make you feel, there is a high chance you will take them back when they show up.
Make Grandiose Promises
When you are in a new relationship with a narcissist, one minute they are saying they want to settle down, get married and have kids.
The next minute they are claiming it’s not something they’ve ever thought about.
This is another tactic they use to check whether they’ve got you hooked, as your reaction will give the game away.
Now that you’ve broken up, your ex will use this against you and start making promises that if you get back together, they will never leave. They will marry you and have the kids you’ve always wanted.
Going Through Friends and Family
A narcissist will get in contact with your friends and family members and play the victim.
Your ex-partner is likely to say things like:
“I really regret losing Anna, I was such a fool to let her go.” “Anna was such an awesome person, I’ve never met anyone like her, and I don’t think I ever will.” “Gosh, I miss her so much.”
All of this is said with the intention that what they have said will get back to you.
#5. How Can I Get Over-Thinking Like This?
Rumination is a soul killer, you will spend hours, days and weeks turning these questions over and over in your head.
But no matter how many answers you think you’ve come up with; they will never satisfy that craving of knowing for sure whether your partner misses you the way you miss him or her.
When a healthy relationship comes to an end, you have something to work with, they’ll text, call, write and email or a letter explaining how they feel so you know where you stand.
You are not going to get this type of reassurance with a narcissist, they will leave you high and dry and you won’t know what’s hit you.
The good news is that you don’t have to remain this way. Once you change your perspective on the matter, you will find the strength to reclaim your mind.
And stop renting out space in it to someone who has no regard for your well-being.
And that’s the bottom line, your narcissist partner doesn’t care, and they never will care. Remember, they don’t choose to feel this way, narcissism is a mental disorder.
There is nothing you can say or do that’s going to change the way they feel so there is no point in trying.
Once you fully accept this reality, you will stop asking questions such as do narcissists miss their exes, and does a narcissist ever regret losing you? Because the answer is plain and simple, no they don’t!
Why do narcissists come back to old relationships? Final Thought
Now you are familiar with the type of narcissist who comes grovelling back to their ex, my hope is that you won’t fall victim to this trap. And once the door has been shut,
you don’t open it again. You are now aware of the strategies the narcissist typically uses to win back his partners.
So don’t fall for any of it when he/she comes sniffing around. If there is one thing you don’t want in life, it’s to become a member of the narcissists recycling camp.
Each time he/she comes and goes, they take another piece of you until there is nothing left, and you suffer a total emotional meltdown.
To avoid this, once the relationship ends, seek professional help. Use your energy to heal instead of hindering yourself in trying to fix something that can never be repaired.
11 thoughts on “Why Do Narcissists Come Back to Old Relationships?”
How do u know its the final discard?
How many do you need?
Thank you for this is. I have spent hours, days, weeks, and many sleepless nights trying to understand. This has been the most transparent article I have come across. Thank you for the help.
Thank You 🙂
He called today after eight months with a question just like this article said. Why is your mail coming to my mom’s house? He called four times but I had my ringer off because I use it at work. I answered his text and said,” I don’t know, just throw it away”. Just like this article says my mind is spinning. I started listening to our old songs. Omg this man almost killed me, literally. He also took my mind for seven years. I’m still a mess not as bad I’m getting better but one call from him like today and I’m not feeling so good inside. He hasn’t contacted me since I told him to throw the mail away. He’s set his air and is waiting for me to call him.
Thank you so much for this article. 5 years in a relationship and almost to the alter and he walked out.. he has gone missing , cold hearted. New girl already. It’s only been 5 months since wedding was called off. Finally I can let this man go because now I know what he is. A Narrcasist!!
Good for you Cindy! I was with mine for 7 years and he had been lying and cheating for most of it. He moved out of the house on 2/25, from our bed to Her’s!
Honestly, I feel sorry for her because I’m sure she has no clue that he has a mental health issue.
Good luck !
So sad .. the life they live .. will never really understand what really goes through their mind .. very sick people!
Very evil people they are, everything ive read above is 101% accurate explains everything, I thought I could change her with my love, but instead my love meant nothing, and I got blamed for things she did, it just never made sense until I read this, I was still questioning my self where did I go wrong why did she just walk away what could I have done better etc…and just recently I heard shes back with her ex from 5 years ago lol
Hi and thank you for helping me understand
My narcissist has been doing this to me for the last 8 years and I have taken him back over 10 times
I feel like the biggest idiot and a gluten for punishment
He left me again last week and I don’t want to take him back again
I already dislike myself because of my weekness
And am tired of this emotional roller-coaster
I am so angry that it was him that ended it and not me…once again….m
I was with my possible narc for 3 years. he treated me so wonderful and then would sprinkle a little crazy/toxic/mistreatment throughout. i could see it but was never sure enough bc he also had “mommy issues” that i considered. So, it made me more understanding and willing to help him grow emotionally…even down inside i was losing my mind because what he said he wanted/needed-id give it and he would get upset. Nothing i did was ever right/enough. he made me “better”(be calm during arguments vs argue) only to better deal with his foolishness without consequences/accountability. He ruined every holiday in 3yrs(excusing 1). He left(took breaks or broke up w/me more than i can count). arguments were every 7-10days(google calendars reflects that). it was extremely draining and confusing bc i see this but i loved him soooo much and i was overly understanding bc of his “upbringing” (mommy issues, male role models etc). He monopolized the window to discuss his wrongs/shortcomings by telling me his ex always talked down on him/made him not want to talk bc she argued against him etc. he projected A LOT. i could never tell him about him without “tearing him down” but he could tell me about me almost daily and it was ok. its been months, we broke up in aug and hes been calling/texting off and on since then. i never responded. (we broke up a lot but never longer than 3-5wks). he really seemed like my perfectly imperfect person bc of how wonderful the good times were, we were synced and finishing each others thoughts many times a day…. its hard to believe we’re not going into forever together. but again….we broke up 8/21 and i have no plans of going back to him at all….i finally accept that if hes truly a narc(his mom said bipolar runs in family too)..if hes a narc, he’ll never love me and he never did love me.