Can a Narcissist Move On?
These are search terms that come up on my stats page quite frequently. Readers want to know if a Narcissist can move on from their relationships.
Honestly, it depends on the depth of their Narcissism and typically depends on one factor:
Whether they left you or you left them.
Narcissists are all about power and control. If they leave you after devaluing and discarding you, they’ve retained the power in their mind, so they can leave the relationship without a second thought. But more commonly, overt narcissists will often keep you strung along for years while they start a life with a new partner, leaving you in a state of limbo if you don’t go No Contact.
However, if you leave them first, they will go on a revenge campaign that will make you question your very reason for existence. If you happen to have children with them, it’s best to prepare yourself for Dante’s circles of Hell, circa 4-9.
In fact, their hatred for you will seem as fresh five years down the road as when you first left. There are generally three modes of operation that the Narcissist will engage in after you end the relationship.
1. Stalking and Harassing – The Narcissist will use every tool available to them in an attempt to get you back under their control. There are two main reasons for this. The first being that they want you back because you’ve been excellent supply and they don’t want to lose that. Secondly, it’s quite possible that they want to enact the devalue and discard phase so you will be left feeling like the most worthless waste of a human being…ever. To them, revenge is the ultimate victory… especially if your self-esteem is left in scraps in the process.
When it comes to the pathology of a Narcissist, expect anything. They will, and often do, hire Private Investigators in addition to monitoring you themselves. They may attempt to plant spyware on your phone and computer, install a tracking device on your vehicle, or install hidden cameras in your home. That’s why it’s important that you don’t let them into your new house or apartment after initiating No Contact…well, that and the fact that you don’t want to give them the opportunity to break your resolve by allowing them to resume their brainwashing techniques.
2. The Smear Campaign – The manifestation of this revenge tactic depends on your circumstances at the time you leave. If you share a wide circle of mutual friends, expect your reputation to be destroyed. You will certainly find out who your true friends are during this phase. But don’t be discouraged. The Narcissist has been fooling people for years. In fact, consider yourself enlightened as you are able to peel away people from your life that aren’t as genuine and loyal as they once seemed.
If you don’t share friends at the time you leave, that doesn’t matter to the Narcissist. They will find ways to casually infiltrate into your new social circle in an attempt to plant seeds of doubt. Be on the lookout for the Narcissist being added to the “friends list” of people you have on your own social networking sites. If that happens, delete those people from your list.
3. Harassment through the Court System – If you have children with the Narcissist, expect an ambush. Lies and drama will be the agenda and they will do whatever necessary in an attempt to take away what means the most to you, your children. Not because they care about them, but because it’s the ultimate way to cut you off at the knees.
Their New “Love”
Regardless of how your relationship ended, they will have no qualms about starting a new one with someone else (and may have started one BEFORE your relationship ended).
They will give the appearance that they’ve moved on, but if you left them first, you can bet they are plotting ways to make you pay. This will come across as innocent banter to anyone who listens to them. They have a sneaky way of discussing the relationship they had with you while making it seem they couldn’t care less about you or your new life, but inside their own mind they are seething with hatred and dreams of revenge.
The reason they can acquire a new partner in such a short amount of time is because 1) they have an innate inability to develop normal attachments and bonding with others, and 2) the Narcissist cannot survive without supply.
Regardless of what it looks like, they are not in love with the new partner. Narcissists are quite skilled in acquiring fresh targets who will become the new punching bag (emotional and otherwise). As such, there’s no need to be jealous of the new love in the Narcissist’s life.
Their “Change of Heart”
Commonly, even when the Narcissist has acquired a new source of supply, they will still come around from time-to-time. The reasons for this vary depending on the Narcissists’ pathology. However, it’s important to remember that if your Narcissist has a new partner, yet returns to your door, it has nothing to do with love, but can include the following:
- They want to ascertain that they still have control over you. This assures them that you are still in the queue in case you can benefit them later.
- They want to make you feel badly about yourself, so they convince you to let them back in, only to tear you down even more. An example of this would be their getting you to be intimate with them, only to call you “slut” and “whore” and leave you in tears afterwards.
- They consider you their property and will do whatever necessary to sabotage any new relationships you may begin with someone else.
As you can see, the Narcissist typically doesn’t move on. If someone is out of their life for good, it’s because the other person chose that, not the Narcissist. Granted, there are cases where the Narcissist leaves permanently, but it’s typically when they were the one to leave a relationship first, they’re a cerebral narcissist, or they no longer want to put in effort for damage control .
It means they have found other sources of sufficient supply, which generally include the new partner and new side-supply.
The real question here is…can you move on? Can you let go of the abuse; of the toxic relationship and rise above it all? Can you choose your own happiness over someone that will never love you? Can you overcome any codependency issues you might have and realize your own worth? Can you let go of the fear? Can you close the door to heartache and open a new door to your authentic self?
I believe you can. But you have to start by making the choice. After that, everything else will fall into place.
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