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What narcissists do when a relationship ends?

How to Know If a Narcissist Is Finished with You

If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, it can be hard to assess their volatile emotions. One minute you’re together, and then suddenly they discard you for some unknown reason.

You may start to wonder if they’ve really ended the relationship or if it’s just temporary.

So, how do you know if a narcissist is finally done with you?

Table of Contents

  • For starters, narcissists are finished with you once your narcissistic supply gets stale
  • When they show more interest in those outsides of your relationship as they seek validation, your opinion is becoming less valuable to them
  • They start to devalue you
  • They finally ignore you for good
  • You will know when a narcissist is finished with you because they suddenly go no contact
  • Narcissists leave relationships when their needs aren’t being met
  • Frequently Asked Questions
    • Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with a narcissist?
    • How should I handle being rejected by a narcissist?
    • Can a narcissist really change for the better?
    • What is the difference between a narcissist losing interest and a regular relationship ending?
    • How can I help a friend or family member who may be in a relationship with a narcissist?
    • What are the long-term effects of a relationship with a narcissist?
    • How can I recognize if I am in a relationship with a covert narcissist?

    Ramani Durvasula

    Licensed Clinical Psychologist | Professor of Psychology, California State University | Author, Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist

    For starters, narcissists are finished with you once your narcissistic supply gets stale

    At some level, I do believe that the inherent insecurity of a narcissist means that once you actually love them, because they are incapable of loving themselves, they actually have some contempt for people who do love them (it’s twisted but true).

    The architecture of a narcissistic relationship: love bombing –> devaluation –> discard –> hoovering (sucking you back in) means that it can take a few turns at-bat for them to really be done. Some signs are:

    • They no longer even have the energy to hold you in contempt or anger or lust. They just look right through you and don’t show you any strong emotion.
    • Complete loss of interest in sex (with them it’s sex – it’s never about intimacy).
    • Ghosting. This relates to my first point, they just can’t even muster up the energy to keep you around for a little bit of narcissistic supply.
    • True replacement. If they find a partner they really deem more superficially better than you (younger, more attractive, wealthier, more powerful, more famous), then the excitement of such a sparkly new source of supply and the validation that comes with it means that they will be done (though once the new supply rejects them, they may come around again – hopefully, you are nowhere to be found).
    • Your validation and supply don’t get you anywhere. Usually, narcissists can be relatively easy to manipulate through empty and inane compliments and flattery, but if even that isn’t working, they may really have run through you.

    05/07/2023 05:40 pm GMT

    Laurie Hollman

    Adult Psychotherapist

    The narcissist may be a male or female, a boss, a spouse, a partner, or a co-worker. I hesitate to say a friend because narcissists have trouble making friends because they don’t dialogue or empathize, but expect to be listened to extensively and with admiration.

    There are early sometimes subtle signs the narcissist may be finished with you and more obvious absolute signals.

    Early signs the narcissist is finished with you

    • The narcissist often ignores what you say almost as if you never spoke.
    • The narcissist stops texting back to you or delays for days.
    • The narcissist does not make eye contact with you.
    • If it is a group setting, the narcissist never acknowledges you although he or she may acknowledge others.
    • The narcissist broods or scowls and pouts most of the time when with you.
    • The narcissist starts accusing you of being envious of him or her when the reverse is probably true.
    • They start accusing you of lying or being disloyal.
    • They feel easily slighted or criticized even if it’s constructive.
    • They act vengeful for no apparent reason but if you look a bit deeper it is probably because they feel rebuked, slighted, or denied and aren’t getting their way.
    • Their frequent silent treatment gets more often.

    Absolute signals the narcissist is finished with you

    • The silent treatment is daily until you are totally ignored like you are a piece of furniture.
    • You are accused of lying, cheating, being disloyal frequently with no clear explanation or reason.
    • A spouse or partner is unfaithful to you and has frequent sexual affairs that are kept secret until by chance you learn of this and the narcissist denies it or is clearly caught and can’t hide the truth any longer. This could go on for decades before you know but when you do know, he or she blatantly says he or she is through.
    • The narcissist has affairs and says he feels ashamed, but continues doing so.
    • The narcissist fires you if you are under his or her employ with barely an explanation and absolutely no empathy for your reactions or
      resulting plight.
    • There is never an answer to any of your texts, emails, calls, or letters with perhaps one initial explanation and then never again.
    • The narcissist continuously takes advantage of you and exploits you with no let-up.
    • No admiration is ever enough. The narcissist is always in a rage at you
    • You receive notification that you are being sued for a divorce unexpectedly (maybe because you didn’t pick up subtle signs, but it is not your fault that you are surprised.

    Catherine Varga

    Personal Power Coach | Author, The Soul Child Within | Founder, Sound Reiki Institute

    Often people who are in a relationship with a narcissist are what I call “People Pleasers”. I know because I was a People Pleaser. In his book, Complex PTSD, Pete Walker quoted a client, “Narcissists don’t have relationships, they take prisoners.”

    Narcissists are charming bullies who are often motivated by a deep fear of abandonment, something they experienced in childhood. Now they punish the rest of the world for it, especially with their close personal relationships because emotional support was something they were often denied during childhood.

    To make it even trickier, their behavior in front of others can be very different than when they are at home with their partner. It can be tough for others to validate that you were being abused by them at all because others experience them as charming and invested. Narcissists tend to attract those they perceive as weaker and they use shame to intimidate, controlling them through anger and disgust.

    Their partners are often co-dependent “people pleasers” or those emotionally frozen. They tie their happiness to the happiness of their partner and are willing to self sacrifice for Love. That’s a lot of power to give someone over your own happiness.

    Narcissists will take full advantage of the over-giving of their partner while giving back 20%. In my coaching experience, people pleasers and those who are emotionally frozen are the most common types of personalities that are attracted to narcissists.

    When are narcissists done with you? Narcissists thrive on validation.

    When they show more interest in those outsides of your relationship as they seek validation, your opinion is becoming less valuable to them

    They get more critical and demanding because they know your triggers and what will get them the reaction they seek. Nothing fully pleases them and they continuously look for opportunities to criticize and diminish you.

    Get ready for a lot of fights, obvious lies, mysterious calls, and meetings as they draw further away from you.

    Narcissists always look outside of their relationships for validation and can be charming for a short period of time, which is why they are usually quite popular with their friends.

    It’s interesting, I’ve had clients whose husbands went out and had an affair because they were competitive and so afraid of abandonment, they convinced themselves that their spouse was the one having an affair when this was the furthest thing from the truth.

    For me, the biggest question is why did the narcissist show up in your life? What about you attracted to this?

    To heal from a relationship with a narcissist is to first heal your insecurities about being good enough and shifting your attitude about relationships.

    It’s the big reason why the attraction to each other happens in the first place – you both resonate with the same low vibrational frequency of low self-esteem. In the world of energy, like attracts like, opposites do not attract. Our relationships are mirrors of how we feel about ourselves.

    Often, I see co-dependent people trying to create the love they missed from a parent in childhood by attracting partners that create similar situations to those they experienced in their home life. More times than not, they will attract a similar personality to the parent that denied them, Love.

    They often think that “if I couldn’t win the love of my mother/father, then I will with my partner so I know that I am OK.” Hence the continuous over-giving. The challenge is that narcissists lack empathy because they are so self-absorbed. It’s always all about them so any expectation for them to relate to how you are feeling got shut down before they met you.

    And hey, they love personal slaves, why would they ever ask you to stop hand and footing them? This can become a depressing cycle of unfulfilling relationships for everyone.

    What needs to change to attract more loving relationships?

    Shift your vibration and your world will shift with it.

    How do you shift your vibration? Vibration is affected by the way you think and more importantly how you feel. The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we are not good enough. The truth is we are enough for anything we want to manifest.

    Switch to love-based thinking and let go of fear-based thinking.

    One thing an over-giver knows is that nothing changes if you stay the same. Over-giving does not develop a healthy relationship. All healthy relationships are 50/50 and are based on mutual respect and equality in how much each gives to the other.

    Happy people decide to be happy, it is not something that just happens. Know that your safety comes from love, not the fear of not being good enough and the incredible energy wasted on trying to prove it to someone who doesn’t want you to be strong and independent.

    The narcissist and their partners, the people pleasers and those emotionally frozen have one thing in common that connects them….low self-esteem. The behavior that is born of this limiting belief along with the vibration is sent out magnetically attracts someone with a different version of the same feeling of “I am not good enough” and the cycle begins again. This is the biggest lie we tell ourselves and it gets us into all kinds of messes.

    Find new ways to feel safe because trying to change others or accepting bad behavior from them because you are used to it, is not good enough for you. Set the bar high, love yourself more and so will everyone else that deserves your magnificence.

    Dr. Sherrie Campbell

    Sherrie Campbell

    It’s really impossible to predict when a narcissist is done with you because in most cases a narcissist never considers them done with you.

    They may discard you for years but they often reappear. To anyone that they’ve been able to manipulate, they may view you as someone that they still own. They will come back at any time that they want and manipulate you again.

    It’s wise to always know that the narcissist just might be lurking around the corner and to be aware of it so that you’re ready if they come back and try to start manipulating their way back into your life, if only so that they can discard you again.

    Here’s what happens when you break up with a narcissist

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    • Breaking up with a narcissist is likely to be a draining experience.
    • Either they won’t let you go without a fight, or they will discard you without looking back.
    • Both experiences are extremely hurtful.
    • Narcissists are highly skilled at making you feel as though you were the most important person in the world, only to tear it all away.
    • It’s important to remember that however much it hurts right now, you’re better off without the toxic person in your life.

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    It is challenging and exhausting being romantically involved with a narcissist, but they can also cause havoc when they leave. Breakups are always hard, but when you’ve been in a relationship with someone who uses others and is obsessed with themselves, it can be even harder.

    On the surface, narcissists can seem charming, engaging and charismatic, which can make them difficult to leave in the first place.

    Dr Judith Orloff, a clinical psychiatrist at the University of California Los Angeles, wrote in a blog post on Psychology Today that narcissists can make you «fall in love with them so hard that it feels like you’re giving up a part of your heart to leave them,» because they’re very good at becoming the centre of your universe while you’re with them.

    Here’s what to expect if you break up with a narcissist.

    It can feel brutal and sudden

    One minute you may feel like everything your partner has ever wanted, and the next you’re left wondering what on Earth went wrong. This is because narcissists are great at playing a part while they’re getting something from their source, according to Orloff. But when they’re done using you, they have no difficulty in casting you aside like a used tissue.

    There will be no apologies or remorse, and you may well never hear from them again, regardless of how long your relationship was. If they do return, it will be because they’ve realized they can get something from you.

    Be prepared for begging, pleading or bargaining

    If you’re the one who chose to leave, good for you because Orloff says that’s hard to do. They are likely to give you the fight of your life because they’re not done with you yet. Narcissists hate losing their supply, so they won’t let you go easily.

    Prepare for them to promise «to change.» They might suddenly start doing things for you that you’d been complaining about. They may say «you’ll be lost without me,» or «you’ll never find someone like me.»

    Don’t listen, Orloff advises. It’s just a trick to get you to come back to them out of fear.

    What next? Establish no contact

    No contact is exactly what it sounds like: no contact whatsoever. That means blocking their number, making sure any emails from their address go into your spam folder, and deleting them off social media. This is tough, but mental health counselor Dr Stephanie Sarkis explains in a blog post on Psychology today that it’s the best option because sooner or later the narcissist will find a way to return.

    The narcissist will try to contact you if you cut off their supply, and they know just what to say to make you come back. So you have to be brutal, and fast. It may be best to break up with them over text also, so they can’t manipulate you any further.

    If you left something at the narcissist’s house, Sarkis adds, you should just leave it and let it go. Consider it a very small price to pay for your own sanity and well-being.

    Remove people you have in common from social media

    It might seem harsh, but sometimes it’s just better to start completely fresh and remove any association of the narcissist from you life, psychologists advise. This includes their friends and family, from all social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn.

    The more connections you still have to each other, the more opportunities the narcissist has to slide back into your life somehow. They could also use their friends to try and make you jealous.

    So unless you’re very good friends with them, and you trust them completely, you should probably wipe the social media slate clean.

    Remind yourself of why it ended

    When you break up with someone, a few selective good memories can come flooding back, prompting confusing feelings of regret. These feelings are usually false and unrepresentative of the relationship, psychiatrists say.

    You might remember a time when your partner was sending you loads of messages every day and continually complimenting you. Compliments are great when they’re sincere, but when a narcissist uses them it may be part of a technique called «love-bombing» in which the person bombards you with affection but has an ulterior motive.

    As a reminder to yourself, jot down the reasons you split up. Did your partner frequently put you down? Call you names? Make you feel guilty or like you were crazy?

    They will ‘move on’ quickly — and tell you about it.

    Most true narcissists don’t need time to heal from a break up as their initial feelings about the relationship were likely insincere or absent. It’s not unheard of for a narcissist to have someone already waiting in the wings as a new source of support, or have their exit strategy carefully planned out.

    This is one of the reasons removing them from social media can be helpful — there’s likely to be a lot of loved up selfies.

    In reality, they may simply be love-bombing a new target. On the bright side, it isn’t you anymore.

    Expect grief and embrace it

    Grieving will be an important part of your recovery, so embrace it when it comes, advises Sarkis. After all, you have a lot to grieve over: the end of a relationship, and the person you thought your partner was. They love-bombed you when they first met you, and these feelings are still there, and they are strong and intense.

    However, you figured out enough reason to get out of there, so remind yourself that many of these feelings were likely built on something false. The narcissist may have appeared to sweep you off your feet, but did they really deliver on their promises? Probably not.

    Nevertheless, you probably had, and still have, a strong emotional bond to the narcissist, and only time can heal that wound. Sarkis says be glad you ended things when you did, because otherwise you’d still be in that toxic environment, losing more of yourself every day. The pain is only temporary.

    Focus on yourself and do things that make you happy

    Most importantly, you’re going to need to focus on yourself, Orloff says. Take this time to try a new hobby or gym class, or go out and meet new people. This may sound daunting — being with a narcissist can use up a lot of energy and make you timid around new people.

    But you’re out of that situation now. It’s time to reconnect with people that make you happy.

    Sarkis and psychologist Dr Guy Winch recommend writing an «emotional first aid» list of things you can do as a distraction when you find yourself thinking about your former partner. You were pushed aside when you were with the narcissist, because your needs weren’t important. Now it’s time to look after you.

    You’ll realise relationships aren’t supposed to be that way

    When the time is right, you’ll find someone new. Dating is an important part of recovery. Still, you shouldn’t expect to find «the one» right away. Just go out and have fun. Maybe you’ll meet someone amazing, or maybe you’ll make some great friends. Either way, these people will be a breath of fresh air.

    Plus, you’ll likely have a deeper understand of your own boundaries than you did previously, so give yourself more respect if someone isn’t treating you the way you want.

    When you finally develop your first crush after a relationship with a narcissist, it feels really great. It might not work out, but you’ll be reminded of all the reasons someone actually likes you — and there are a lot!

    If you think you may be involved in an abusive relationship, or would just like to talk to someone, there are helplines you can call, such as The National Domestic Violence Hotline, RAINN, and Love is Respect. Emotional, psychological, and mental abuse can be extremely difficult to recognize and hard to report; these support networks exist to help.

    Narcissist Break up Games: Reasons, Types & What to Do

    Rachael Pace

    Gathering up the courage to let go of a toxic and abusive relationship is easier said than done.

    In fact, a narcissist will trap their victims in a nightmare. One day, they will shower their partners with love, and then the next day, they make them feel worthless and ugly.

    Why do people find it hard to let-go or break up with a narcissist?

    Have you ever heard of narcissist break-up games? When this master manipulator plays his cards, the poor victim will find themselves absorbed in a life of lies, abuse, and unhappiness.

    Why do narcissists play games and is there still hope that a victim would finally learn the break up game and ultimately, break free?

    What are narcissist break-up games?

    “Don’t you see what he’s doing?”

    “Just pack your bags and leave!”

    Breaking up with a narcissistic person is difficult, and even after the break-up, their abusive past still haunts many victims.

    Many people think you can just pack your bags and leave without knowing how a master manipulator can play with your mind, emotions, and even your thoughts.

    How do you define narcissist break-up games?

    Narcissist break-up games are manipulation techniques that a narcissist used to control their partners or victims.

    If a person realizes how toxic their relationship is and lets go, a narcissist will start playing games to instill confusion, doubt, and even guilt to their partners.

    It’s their way to get back at their partner and if it would work, even turn things around in their favor.

    Why do narcissists play breakup games?

    Couple holding paper shape heart

    A master manipulator, often charming, and someone who can get away with what they want. These are just some descriptions fit for a narcissist, but did you know that their biggest fear is being alone?

    They thrive when someone loves them, when someone gives them praise, attention, and admiration . Unfortunately, they cannot share the same feelings or emotions.

    Once a person with NPD realizes their partner wants to leave them, they opt for narcissistic mind games. They aim to confuse, cause guilt and change the mind of their partners to make things work for them.

    They also want to get the upper hand and get back at their ex for leaving them. Narcissist doesn’t want their ex to realize that they can live a good life without them.

    Sometimes, it might look like the victim becomes the bad person, and the narcissist becomes the one who’s right.

    These narcissist games or manipulation techniques will only make things worse for the victim.

    Is it possible to recognize narcissistic games?

    Types of narcissist break-up games

    Young couple having an argument

    Narcissist mind games after a breakup are their last straw to control the situation, but it’s the most toxic phase that a victim will experience.

    1. Silent treatment

    A narcissist’s silent treatment after a break up is a way to punish them. If they know that their partner can’t stand silent treatment, then a narcissist will use this so they can manipulate their ex-partner.

    2. Gaslighting

    Anxiety after a breakup with a narcissist is common, especially when you experience gaslighting.

    Psychopaths and people with NPD use this ‘game’ to torture the people who love them. Gaslighting works by making its victims feel confused about the things they have done or said.

    It’s so cruel that it makes the victim question their reality and even their sanity. In severe cases, they leave their victims mentally destroyed to where they can no longer believe themselves.

    3. Triangulation

    One of the break up games played by a narcissist is when they bring a third person into the situation to hurt their partner even more.

    They use the third person to make their ex feel inadequate, ugly, insecure, and ultimately make them feel jealous . A narcissist aims to show off a ‘better’ replacement.

    4. Grand gesture

    Another narcissist after-break-up game you can expect is what we call the grand gesture. As the name suggests, the narcissist will plan and execute a big sweet and romantic gesture, preferably in front of family and friends, to woo their ex into reconciliation.

    From buying jewelry, singing for them, buying a new car, to buying their ex chocolates and flowers every day. Unfortunately, none of these are real.

    5. Hoovering

    Narcissists will also try hoovering techniques so they can manipulate their ex into giving in to their demands, such as sex, money, and even love.

    How would this be even possible? Emotional blackmail and threats are just some things you can expect from hoovering.

    “Hey, I’ll drop by, and we’ll have dinner, okay? I tried calling you, but you’re not answering. Hit me a message, or I’ll just drink this poison in front of me. Miss you!”

    6. Love bombing

    Young couple having fun

    A narcissist will know what ‘game’ to use. Another narcissist break-up games you can expect is love bombing. A trick used in the beginning of a relationship or marriage.

    The abuser would show their partner, their friends, and even the world through social media that they are the best.

    They would shower their partners with gifts, be caring and sweet, even doing the same to their family and friends. Once the narcissist sees that they have established what they want, they show their true colors.

    7. Ghosting

    Ghosting is when a person with NPD disappears like a ghost. With no reason and no explanation, they just disappear. They change numbers and don’t return calls or private messages.

    It’s their way to punish their partners or ex for doing something they don’t like. They could also do this when they are done, meaning you no longer interest them and they have found a new victim.

    8. Victimization

    Narcissists are outstanding actors! They love showing everyone that they are the victims, even though it’s the other way around.

    True enough, with their charm and how they presented themselves as the perfect spouse, many people, including the victim’s family, would often believe the abuser.

    They would make up stories that will eventually point to their partners being the one who caused them trauma and hurt.

    9. Baiting

    A narcissist will do their best to lure their exes back. Making them believe that they’ve changed and they are still in love.

    When they see that it’s working, then they would torture their ex by showing them they don’t intend to get back together. It’s a way to punish their ex and feed their ego.

    10. Bad mouthing

    Narcissist break-up games include bad-mouthing their ex to make it look like they are the victims. When people go to them and ask what happened, they would tell their side of the story while making sure to highlight their partner’s bad side.

    These manipulators will change the story to make it look like they are the martyr and loving spouse, while the actual victim becomes the evil one.

    11. Revenge

    A narcissist will depend on the people around them and their ex’s personality to come up with a scheming game to get revenge.

    Their goal isn’t to reconcile, but to get revenge. They will do their best to get all the family of their ex to side with them and then hurt their ex for leaving them.

    As a consolation and to save their face, a narcissist will do anything and everything just to hurt the person who left them.

    How does it feel to be on the other end of the narcissist break-up games?

    Young couple having an argument

    Breaking up with a narcissist is never easy. It’s a long road that needs planning, support, and lots of courage.

    Unfortunately, sometimes, even the victim’s family would side with the narcissist.

    There are many cases where the victim’s family would even convince them to get back together because they see the efforts of the narcissist. This makes the victim feel alone and hopeless.

    In some cases, the victim feels they are no longer capable of getting back the life that they had lost.

    If you feel like you need help, try this self-exercise by Julia Kristina Counseling. CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will help you especially when you’re in an overwhelming situation.

    What is it like to be on the other side of a narcissist’s games?

    It feels like you’re trapped in a long black tunnel and even if you scream, no one hears you. You endure and do your best to crawl out of that hell, and when you do, you’re still too weak to stand up.

    This becomes twice as hard when they have kids because the victim tries their best to protect the children while trying to stay strong.

    That is why victims may often need therapy, support of loved ones, and help to get back on their feet. Aside from that, they also need help to ensure that they will no longer fall victim to their ex’s games.


    When a victim finally has enough and leaves their narcissistic partners, the abuser will feel compelled to get revenge.

    This is where the narcissist break-up games follow, and true enough, these manipulative tactics can be devastating to the victim.

    So, if you are a victim or you know someone who is, help them and offer support. Speak up and don’t be afraid. Seek help, if you need it, and be hopeful that you can go back to your old self and live the best life.

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