Why narcissists come back

Why Do Narcissists Come Back to Old Relationships?

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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?

  • They Don’t Possess object Constancy
  • lack of Empathy
  • Confident You will take them back
  • Hoovering Strategy
  • You Over-Thinking

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.

Reading Suggestion: Do Narcissists Enjoy Kissing?

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:

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. 

Love Bombing

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. 

Can a Relationship Coach Help You?

Are you looking for more specific advice? Maybe it can help if you speak to a relationship coach.

Relationship coaches can help you with all kinds of specific situations like breakups, ghosting, or how to get your ex back.

As a licensed psychologist I can highly recommend Relationship Hero. This is a website with highly trained professionals who can help you with every love situation.

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30+ Reasons Why Narcissists Come Back to Old Relationships

It’s confusing enough trying to make sense of why narcissists behave the way they do, but it can be downright baffling when they return to an ex-partner.

Is there a reason why they keep returning to past relationships? Is it because they’re truly repentant and want to make things right this time around? Or is it because they just want something — someone —familiar?

If you find yourself asking the same questions, this article is for you.

According to experts, here are common reasons why narcissists come back to old relationships:

Dr. Carissa Coulston

Clinical Psychologist | Relationship Expert, The Eternity Rose

They prefer to be with somebody predictable and familiar

For anyone who’s been in a relationship with a narcissist, one of the many problems they encounter is that their former partner returns time and again. They seek to renew the romantic connection, even if they were the ones to call it quits in the first place.

Related: 35+ Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist

Not all narcissists do this, but there is one kind that will almost certainly seek to return—the recycler.  

A recycler may be of any gender, but all of them have something in common—they’ll cycle through a familiar set of partners time and again. 

Somewhat unusually, this kind of narcissist prefers to avoid confrontation. Thus they prefer to be with somebody predictable and familiar rather than seeking the excitement of making a fresh conquest. While a recycler is in a relationship, they’ll be faithful to that person. 

However, once they’ve become bored or felt that they’d been wounded in some way by that partner, they rapidly move on to other former lovers to begin the cycle again. 

Eventually, they gather a set of lovers who will accept them back time and again, and if nobody drops out of the group, the pattern may go on ad infinitum.

So why do recycler narcissists take this course of action? Here are just a few of the reasons why:

Narcissists don’t have “object constancy”

The term object constancy refers to our ability to perceive the good side of somebody, even if they believe that that person has in some way offended them.  

Object constancy also involves maintaining emotional connections with partners even if they aren’t together. While a typical person will still be thinking about their loved one while apart, narcissists rapidly forget their partner the moment they are separated from them. 

As a recycling narcissist lacks any object constancy, as soon as they experience a problem with one partner, they immediately lose all of their positive opinion of them. 

Instead of trying to stay and work things out, they’ll simply cut all ties and move on to another lover within their group. As each one inevitably angers or disappoints the recycler, they’ll continue moving on through their previous partners one by one.

Narcissists view partners as being interchangeable

Often, a narcissist will view people, including their partner who they’re supposed to love and want to be with, as being interchangeable with anyone else. 

Their mindset is often “if this person can’t give me everything I want, then I’ll find somebody else who can. ” 

All too often, a narcissist will view love as simply convenience. Therefore, returning to an ex-partner is second nature to a recycling narcissist, and it doesn’t really matter which one of those ex-lovers it is.

They believe they are doing their former partner a favor by coming back

All narcissists lack empathy. If they leave a relationship, their feelings for that partner immediately vanish. 

They can rapidly move to someone else because they have convinced themselves their partner was the one at fault for the breakup, never themselves. 

They feel no regret or guilt about ending the relationship. That, of course, means that they’ll have absolutely no qualms about coming back for more at a later date. 

Most people would think twice about hopping a former partner would take them back after a split. They would feel very uncomfortable about even approaching a one-time lover to see if they’d be interested in trying again.  

For a narcissist, though, there is a strong belief that they are actually doing their former partner a favor by deigning to take them back.

They are fully confident that their former partners will happily accept them back into their lives because, after all, they’re an amazing person, and surely everyone would want to be with someone so perfect.

Narcissists don’t understand love in any traditional sense

Narcissists have their own way of viewing love, and it isn’t how most people traditionally see it. 

When they begin a new relationship, they lovebomb their new partner, showering them with compliments and gifts to make them feel special and important. 

Once they are tired of them, or once they have “dared” to offend them, they cut all ties instantly and move on, leaving their former partner confused and distressed about what has happened. 

Often, the former partner is also, by this point, hopelessly in love with the narcissist and so is more than willing to take them back when the cycle repeats itself. The narcissist returns, seeking to rekindle the relationship with more love bombing.

They view everybody with no strong feelings about anybody

For most people, when a relationship ends, there is a period of adjustment during which both partners learn to cope without the other around. While sometimes, they may get in touch with each other to discuss unresolved issues.

They both understand that the relationship has ended and is unlikely to start again. 

For narcissists, however, no adjustment period is needed. They move on immediately from relationships without a second thought. 

Related: When Should You Date Again After a Breakup

However, they’ll usually try to remain on friendly terms with them to keep them on their list of potential lovers to return to after breaking up with somebody else in the future. 

For the ex-partner, the fact that their narcissistic former lover stays in touch with them gives them false hope that they may have a future together.  It keeps them on the hook waiting for the next time they return to rekindle the romance. 

The way that they stay in touch is well-thought-out and strategically planned. They often send nostalgic messages or get in touch on dates that hold significance, such as birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. 

They do this not because they care but because they want to trigger their former partner into thinking about them once more and rekindling those romantic feelings so that they are primed and ready to take them back at a moment’s notice.

Narcissists like to upgrade and get attention

Narcissists become bored very quickly, so eventually, they will get tired of the person they’re with and move on to the next lover on their list. Often, that lover will be viewed as an upgrade for one reason or another. 

For example, if a former partner has just been promoted to a well-paid job or has lost weight and looks fantastic, they can expect their narcissistic ex to pay attention to them again.

Essentially, narcissists will return to old relationships repeatedly until that former partner no longer gives them what they desire—attention

As long as former partners are prepared to take them back, they will remain on the list of willing ex-lovers who will be cycled through time and again. 

The moment they stop responding to the narcissist’s tactics, they will be dropped from the list and won’t hear from their narcissist ex again. 

Related: What Happens When You Ignore a Narcissist?

Sara Macke

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Coming back to old relationships would be proving their power is still in existence

People suffering from the trait of narcissism believe that they are the super villain of the human race. 

  • They do no wrong
  • They are seen as no wrong
  • They are more powerful than everyone else

Related: 60+ Signs You’re Dealing With a Narcissist (According to Experts)

There is an incredible amount of effort that goes into creating their shields against outsiders seeing inside.  

Those with narcissistic traits work overtime and pick up extra hours when they find someone they believe to be an option of their primary focus for:

  • Manipulation
  • Persuasion
  • Control

Finding victims is a constant motivating factor for these folks — both in new and existing relationships. As soon as they identify somebody as a quality potential victim, there is no stopping the wrath of their behavior. 

They find it as a challenge, and it’s a challenge to be won. They can, and will, get their way. 

Related: Things Narcissists Say to Get You Back

It is a challenge to regain control

They see rejection as a personal insult, and they will use this challenge to change their behavior to regain control. 

The cycle of abuse is a primary example of why their victims may stay longer than intended, sometimes without even realizing how long they tolerate (or suffer in) this relationship.  

  • Tensions build, 
  • an incident occurs, 
  • reconciliation happens (where the manipulation continues), 
  • and the environment becomes calm. 

Related: What Is Narcissistic Abuse? (Including the Warning Signs of Narcissistic Abuse in a Relationship)

Tension builds once again around the corner. The narcissistic person remembers, especially if you challenge them.

However, sometimes we escape (with the emotional luggage behind us). Then what happens? The healing journey can begin, but with one caveat—you need to build your shield.

Here’s why: Coming back to old relationships would be proving their power is still in existence. They want to enforce their ability to ensure that their victim is still under their narcissistic behavior wave. 

They need to know they are still winning

Losing is a failure, and failure is unacceptable. Quite frankly, not even in their allowed vocabulary.  

If they have identified that their power still exists, they’ll keep the victim close to periodically re-victimize. Remember, that’s how they’re driven.

  • Regardless of your strength, they may return. 
  • Regardless of what you said, they may try again. 
  • Regardless of your plan, they might try to steer you back. 

Find your support network. Make sure they’re nonjudgmental. Build that shield. You don’t have to feel defeated anymore.

Kimberly Perlin, MSW, LCSW-C

Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Psychotherapist

Narcissists pursue ex-partners because it works for them

An ex is a known entity—the narcissist knows what needs they can get met and how this ex can be manipulated to align with the narcissist’s agenda. 

Dating an ex can be more efficient for the narcissist as they do not have to waste time studying someone new or love bombing—their groundwork in the past relationship.  

Those that suffer from narcissism can expect more from their ex based on a past shared history. 

Dating an ex-partner can ward off loneliness and insecurities

Narcissists hate being alone—dating an ex-partner who is attracted to them can ward off loneliness and insecurities. 

An ex-partner can become a “blue blanket” for a narcissist (think Linus and his blue blanket in the Peanuts cartoon). A narcissist can soothe themselves with thoughts that they can always go back to the ex and never be alone. 

They hold past sins against a partner to maintain their superior position

Narcissists often need to play out the pattern of putting someone on a pedestal and knocking them down. Creating that pattern with someone whose typical responses are known can be less emotionally risky. 

Also, narcissists must be superior in a relationship and often hold past sins against a partner to maintain their superior position.

A past love interest has already accumulated “sins” according to the narcissist that they can call on to create:

  • obligation, 
  • shame,
  • and guilt in the ex-partner. 

Narcissists also struggle with endings as it equals their worst fear— abandonment. Keeping a relationship going with an ex keeps the narcissist from experiencing abandonment.  

Rich Heller, MSW, CPC, ELI MP

Relationship Coach, Rich in Relationship

They are recreating the environment they know best

You need to understand how narcissists are formed to understand the question.

Your basic narcissist is formed when another narcissist grooms them, or they have a super traumatic childhood experience. Often these two situations are actually happening at the same time; the child is being groomed and traumatized all in the same moment.

Related: 8 Best Trauma Responsive Books for Children

Narcissists raise their children to either be a narcissist or scapegoats. If there’s one child, they’ll raise that one to be a narcissist. If there are two children or more, they’ll usually raise the oldest to be a narcissist and the youngest to be the scapegoat. 

The scapegoat takes on the role of the other parent. They carry all the blame and wrongness that the narcissist and the golden child refused to. They love repetition and safe environments. A safe environment is familiar, one that doesn’t challenge their beliefs. 

Related: How a Narcissistic Parent Affects a Child

The other way narcissists are formed is in trauma. I had a very young client who was forced to choose between his parents. He chose his father over his mother.

He spent the rest of his life repeating that pattern with every woman he was with. 

  • Choosing the woman
  • Cheating on her
  • Begging her to take him back
  • Starting all over again with the same woman

He would do that until the woman would not take him back. And then he’d find another one and start all over again. 

It’s not that narcissists are evil; they are recreating the environment they know best. 

They do this because there is an emotional structure that they’re maintaining in themselves. The structure is basically: “I’m perfect; I’m always right. Everyone around me either agrees with me; they’re to be made to agree with me or to be crushed.”

Like my client, they will go back to the same partner again and again and again in the hope that they can create the psychological environment in which they are most comfortable.

Is it healthy? No. It’s actually sad when you think about it this way. It may be that they’re hoping that by recreating the scene of the crime, they can finally erase the damage. 

Dr. Shazmin Rafaqat

Clinical Psychology and Speech Therapist, Healthwire

They are inclined towards things they are accustomed to

One of the primary factors that allow a narcissist to welcome old bonds rather than embrace new relationships is the sense of security and familiarity they feel with the previous ones.  

To understand the internal mind mechanism of why narcissists do so, you have to understand the type of narcissist you are dealing with. 

If you are dealing with a recycler, then they are okay with the comfort and predictability of the old bonds. They are not comfortable with the factor of surprise and accountability and thus tend to incline towards things they are accustomed to. 

Below are some main reasons which tend to fuel the whole process of embracing an old form of love that invokes familiarity:

They are confident about their charms 

This is the main headline of the entire query. The primary reason a narcissist thinks that you are going to accept them is because of their confidence. 

People who have experienced narcissist abuse in the past are highly dependent on them for their emotional stability, which calls for the continuation of a loop that will not end well for both parties involved.  

The reason why people are often welcoming to their abusive partners is that they have never experienced the safer and softer side of love.

Related: How Dating a Narcissist Changes You

They do not feel empathy for others

As narcissists do not feel empathy for others, they are often null and void about the feeling and passions of others. This is a prime reason why they tend to move on so quickly. This is also why they will leave for something that is old and their comfort zone like an old lover. 

They completely disregard your feelings in such situations and will not even think about how much anguish they are causing you. 

The ex is on the narcissist’s recycling list

A narcissist never wants you to believe they have moved on from you. On the contrary, what they will do is they will try to keep a list of all the potential loved ones that they can click on in their hour of need. 

It’s not about you; it’s about them, it will always be about them, and it will never be about you for them.

Understand the difference and break the cycle if you can.

Dr. Bryan Bruno

Founder and Medical Director, Mid City TMS

These traits often manifest themselves in toxic ways within their relationships, leading them to behave in a way that serves these personality traits. 

Some reasons that narcissists may repeatedly return to old relationships:

They’re bored in their current relationships

Narcissistic people may find themselves getting bored in their new relationships or not finding the emotional stimulus they seek with their current partner. 

In cases like these, a narcissist may seek out their ex to get the attention they crave.

The need for validation often leads them to old relationships

Most often, narcissistic people lack confidence and aren’t solid in their sense of self. Narcissism is the negative manifestation of these emotions and leads narcissistic people to seek validation.  

Unfortunately, this need for validation often leads them to old relationships. Narcissists often claim that they have evolved past the issue that ended their old relationship, hoping their previous partner will give them the validation they seek. 

Old relationships often offer a sense of security

Old relationships often offer a sense of security for a narcissist that lacks confidence in other areas of their life. 

Victims of narcissistic abuse are often left emotionally attached to their abuser, even if that abuser seems to have moved on. Narcissistic people may take advantage of these feelings and go back to old relationships in times of hardship.

Related: How to Stop Being Emotionally Attached to Someone

It’s important to note that many of the feelings and emotions that narcissists experience are entirely normal to everyday people: 

  • lack of confidence, 
  • the need for validation, 
  • and missing old relationships.  

A person can be described as narcissistic, primarily based on how these emotions manifest in their relationships and behavior. 

Dr. Marisa T. Cohen, PhD, MFT

Relationship Scientist and Coach, Hily

They come back knowing that their partner is likely to be in a vulnerable state

A narcissist may have been in a relationship in which their partner was dependent on them (as in the case of narcissistic abuse). 

In this situation, the narcissist may come back knowing that their partner is likely to be in a vulnerable state and, as such likely to take them back. This confidence takes the guessing work out of re-initiating the relationship.

A narcissist focuses on the self. When in a relationship, this can present a problem as this individual sees their partner in terms of what they can provide. 

The narcissist fails to consider the partner’s needs or how they can meet them. This can lead to an unbalanced and potentially toxic relationship.

Set personal boundaries and protect yourself from repetitive relationships

A narcissist often doesn’t consider how their behaviors affect others, so setting boundaries can be challenging. 

Being proactive and assertive in setting boundaries with a narcissistic partner is essential, as is consistently upholding their adherence to them. 

By waffling when it comes to setting boundaries, you may set the precedent that the boundaries aren’t important or don’t really matter. For each person, the boundaries may differ (depending on the relationship and the context surrounding it). 

Some important boundaries to consider may involve equity in the relationship and respect, which can manifest in the behaviors and forms of communication that you find acceptable/unacceptable. 

For the partner in the relationship, it is important not to be drawn into situations in which they are made to take the blame.  

It is okay to ask for space and time during disagreements so that you can process the situation and better understand your own emotional responses.

It is important to leave the relationship if there is any physical or emotional abuse. 

It is also imperative to leave if: 

  • Your boundaries are not being respected
  • You are being manipulated/gaslighted
  • You are feeling negatively impacted by being in the relationship

Related: How to Respond to Gaslighting 

Dr. Sanam Hafeez

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Comprehend The Mind

They will come back to old relationships simply for their selfish needs

A relationship with a narcissist entails emotional abuse and manipulation. They disregard the other person’s emotions and only empathize with what makes them content. 

A motivator that often reels a narcissist back is the need for validation. Unfortunately, victims of narcissistic abuse still have an emotional connection to the abuser, even after being abandoned. 

With that in mind, narcissists prey on that vulnerability and take advantage of it. They are confident their previous partner will take them back and give them the attention they want. 

Narcissists don’t come back because they love you; they come back because they need a fix. 

Narcissists don’t like to lose the battle. They are unable to have things not go their way. That being said, a narcissist will do anything to fix what was lost. If that means winning their previous partner as a “friend,” they will take measures to get that so-called win. 

Narcissists recycle and come back to old relationships because they feel people are interchangeable.

With this lack of empathy, a narcissist goes back to feeling a sense of comfort for some time. Once satisfied with what they received, the narcissist proceeds to move on.  

Ariella Grosse, LMSW

Psychotherapist, Prescott Psychotherapy + Wellness

Returning to old partners may guarantee an esteem boost

It’s important to remember that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) tend to have inflated self-views, which are inextricably linked to sources of external validation. 

They require the praise and admiration of others, primarily their romantic partners, to fuel their sense of self-worth and power. 

People with NPD often struggle with interpersonal relationships; they may have limited friendships, and those they maintain can be characterized by conflict. 

As a result, if they lack other sources of validation, individuals with NPD may return to old partners and relationships, which may guarantee an esteem boost. 

Moreover, if they notice a past partner’s admiration fading, they may desperately seek to re-establish a connection and receive praise.

Individuals with NPD also seek power and control. If another party ended their relationship, they might return to the old relationship to attempt to re-connect. 

As part of their grandiose view of self, they may actually see re-entering a relationship or returning to a partner as an act of service, only further contributing to their persona of excellence

Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Amethyst Counseling and Consulting

They believe the issue was with the other person, and they’ve done nothing wrong

Narcissists tend to return to rekindle a relationship for several reasons. 

First, they believe that the issue was with the other person and that they’ve done nothing wrong. 

Many times individuals leaving a relationship with a narcissist will go to therapy. This action can attract a narcissist back because they believe you’ve gotten the help you need.  

Second, a narcissist may return to a relationship because it’s familiar. It can be difficult to develop and maintain a relationship with a narcissist, and often they’ve alienated family and friends due to their actions. 

Approaching someone they’ve dated in the past can feel less daunting, and they may believe there’s a higher likelihood of rekindling the relationship. 

Rori Sassoon

Relationship Expert | Co-Founder, Platinum Poire

They seek validation to boost their confidence and ego 

Narcissists come back to old relationships because they seek validation, which they had clearly received previously. This validation boosts their confidence and ego and makes them feel like they’re king of the world again.

They also know they can control the relationship through manipulative tactics. Whether that is a compliment or service-based, the narcissist wants to continually feel like the cat’s meow.

It may also be that the narcissist has recently become single. The last fling or relationship has sizzled, and the egomaniac seeks that revival of showering adoration again. 

The narcissist is experiencing a wave of insecurity

Whatever the reason it may be: 

  • work woes
  • lack of exercise
  • financial stressors

The narcissist needs a cheerleader to make them feel infallible again. 

The last fix clearly ran its course, and they’re reverting to whatever had once solved the narcissist’s self-obsessed issues.

Carla Corelli

Narcissistic Abuse Survivor | Mental Health Blogger

They maintain people who they can tap for their narcissistic supply

Narcissists like to maintain a “harem” of people they can use for narcissistic supply, so they can pick and choose between who to turn to according to what they need in that present moment. 

This is why they are often drawn back to past relationships even after years of being apart. They know their previous partner was a good source of narcissistic supply, and they will try to tap into that again.

This is why we refer to the narcissistic abuse cycle because the narcissist repeats the same behavior in a loop:

  • Step 1 – Idealization: The narcissist idealizes their target and sweeps them off their feet with grand gestures of love. This stage is often referred to as the “love bombing” stage.
  • Step 2 – Devaluation: This is when the narcissist’s true nature is revealed, and behaviors such as gaslighting and manipulation emerge.
  • Step 3 – Discard: The narcissist is now bored and wants to move on, so they discard their partner.
  • Step 4 – Recycle: after some time, the narcissist will reach out to the victim again and return to step 1 for a repeat.

Ray‌ ‌Sadoun

Mental‌‌ ‌‌Health‌‌ ‌‌and‌‌ ‌‌Addiction‌‌ ‌‌Recovery‌‌ ‌‌Specialist | Medical Reviewer, OK Rehab

It’s easier to manipulate an ex than someone else

When a narcissist decides that they want you in their life, it may take them a long time to get you to trust them and to want to stick around.  

They try all sorts of tactics, including: 

  • love bombing, 
  • gaslighting, 
  • and plain bullying

to manipulate you into getting into a relationship with them. 

Often, they start with the love bombing and only begin to show the other tactics when you are already in an established relationship that it would be tricky to get out of.

If a narcissist wanted to find someone else, they’d have to start this game all over again, including hiding their manipulation until the other person trusted them enough. 

This would take a lot of time and effort, so sometimes narcissists would instead return to their old relationships where most of the work has already been done, and you are likely to feel a sense of obligation to them if they have manipulated you successfully.

They need you to validate their superiority complex

Though they want you to believe you need them and not the other way around, your narcissistic ex needs you to be their supply—in other words, to validate their superiority complex and give them constant praise.  

This is their coping mechanism in life, and when they are without a constant narcissistic supply, they may enter into a narcissistic rage. 

To prevent this, they return to their ex as they know this is where they can get their supply, whereas many other people won’t worship them in the way they desire.

What’s more, as narcissists tend to view their loved ones as possessions, they need you as they feel a desire to control you. They may feel empty and unable to tell you how to live your life, so they return to regain power and control over you. 

The image of the relationship also helps them in this department as they feel powerful when people view them as desirable, which is more likely to occur if they are in a seemingly happy relationship.

They can easily return without feeling the guilt 

Narcissists feel less empathy than average people, so they are less likely to consider how their actions will affect you. This means that when they leave the relationship, they won’t sit and reflect on how they hurt you and why they should apologize for that.

Consequently, when they decide they want you back, they can easily return without feeling the guilt and believing they need to change their ways.

Furthermore, the possibility that they will end up leaving you again doesn’t fill them with guilt like it would for the average person. 

So they aren’t against the idea of constantly leaving you and returning when they want you back as they don’t consider how this will make you feel.

Lovelia Horn

Physical Therapist and Animal Adoption Advocate, Every Creature Counts

Narcissists are certain you would welcome them back into your life 

In the end, narc abuse victims remain emotionally tied to their abusers even if they are no longer in contact with them. They do this during periods of low supply, and the objectives are utilized as fillers throughout the dry season — till something better is acquired.

Don’t forget that narcs can’t tolerate being alone for any time, which is why they ought to put anything (that is, someone) in the hole with them.

Using the term “human being” is a misnomer since Narcs do not see other people as humans but as things to be used. 

When it comes to love bombing, the victim is generally already ‘hooked‘ to the narc and simply “gives in” again, saving: 

  • time, 
  • money, 
  • effort, 
  • devotion, 
  • grooming, and so on. 

Because of this, the narc may quickly get to the sex stage with the former lover. That’s the entire point, isn’t it?

They’re looking for a get ahead of the game card that they can employ to their own advantage. 

Usually, the victim is someone the narc has already dumped, but it may also be the one the narc just can’t let go of. The narcissist needs one more chance to win the heart of the triple-A grade supply.  

Joel Jackson

Co-Founder, Lifeforce

They get satisfaction from knowing they can get back with their ex

Narcissists keep coming back to those they’ve successfully manipulated. If they hit a roadblock trying to cast someone new under their spell, they’ll turn to those they previously knew. 

They get satisfaction from knowing they can turn on the charm anytime and get back into someone else’s good graces. It boosts their self-confidence. It helps them overcome their insecurities.

Often the person or persons the narcissist has manipulated will agree to welcome them back—even when they know they’ve been wronged before. 

They still have that emotional connection. They still recall those moments of joy or euphoria that come with being in a relationship with someone who gave them those feelings.

Maybe the victims of narcissists still cling to the belief that they can change that person’s behavior. They have a nurturing instinct that they can’t set aside for certain people. That’s often why victims of emotional abuse often leave a window open.

Related: Can Narcissists Change if They Want To?

Narcissists crave attention. They want it all to themselves and don’t like competing for it. They’ll return to an old flame if they think they can recapture that person’s attention and affection.

Be leery of someone who comes back to you again and again.

Sameera Sullivan

Relationship Expert, Sameera Sullivan Matchmakers

It makes them feel good

Narcissists tend to be very unaware of their actions and the repercussions those actions might have. They believe that you will take them back if they keep returning to you. 

Initially, they might act as an ideal partner, but at the end of the day, it’s no use because they take advantage of your emotional vulnerability to make themselves feel good.

They are entirely emotionally unavailable individuals. All they require from backing back to you is validation.

Unfortunately, the people don’t hold value. For them, people are a “means to an end.” If their partner is providing them with the things they need, they will stay with them; if they aren’t, they can also discard them.

Hannah Dworkin

Recruiter | Leader, USScrapYard

It’s an attempt to feed off their vanity

I’ve had the unfortunate experience dating a narcissist back in my twenties. She was extremely self-absorbed in everything to the point that it made me feel bad about myself most of my days throughout that relationship. 

After finally taking the step to end it, I noticed that she tried to contact me again after a while, trying to rekindle what we had without her saying that she wanted to get back together. 

The thing about a narcissist is that they’d try to stir up their ex-partner’s emotions so that the latter would end up asking for another chance.  

Thinking back on how those conversations went after the break-up, I think that a narcissist would always come back to an old relationship in an attempt to feed off their vanity. 

They try to go back to feel validated, wanted, and still desired by their ex-partner. The worst decision the partner can make is to be weakened by the attempt and dive right back into this toxic relationship. 

The narcissist would be only using them for their own benefit, as they would be going back to that safe place where they had successfully dominated the partner. 

I think this is why they try to go back to old relationships, which is something everyone needs to be aware of if they have dated a narcissist.

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Narcissists: why they always come back

“I see the goal, I believe in myself, I don’t notice any obstacles” – this is about narcissists. They won't rest until they get what they want from you. Even if for this you need to sit in ambush or return for what you want again and again. Why is this happening?

You hurt his ego

Once you have managed to get rid of his or her control, your life is no longer in his power. He has lost his influence over you and cannot leave it like that. And so he returns, taking his entire arsenal of manipulation tools. Flattery, criticism, praise, cold detachment - narcissists are sure that what worked on you before will work this time.

Perhaps you broke up with a narcissist a long time ago and no longer communicate. You met someone, and he or she, according to rumors, did too. And suddenly you get a message with a simple: "Hello." Or, for example, a link to an article on a topic of interest to you. You're flattered: this person still remembers what you're into!

But be careful - this is not an innocent gesture at all. The narcissist wants you to re-like him, open up and become more vulnerable. And when your defenses fall, it will take effect.

He needs you

A narcissist needs enthusiastic admirers as much as a vampire needs blood. So, if you managed to leave his "fan club", such a person will try to return you - otherwise his ego will suffer.


The narcissist does not come back into your life immediately after a breakup. No, he patiently waits until you forget what happened between you and how he behaved. If you're dating someone else after that, the narcissist will most likely wait until your new relationship falls apart so he can be right there and lend a shoulder. Maybe then you will go limp and decide to give him a second chance.

Such people know how to instinctively choose the right moment. Narcissists always have a plan. And every gesture they make is part of that plan. So, for example, a small gift from them is not a sign of attention and care, but a way to get to you and remind you of yourself.

How dangerous is the narcissist's repeated intrusion into your life? First of all, it poses a real threat to your emotional state and well-being. Even if such a person pretends to have returned to support you, he is always driven by his own interest.

Narcissus at the door: what to do?

Try not to react at all. Of course, the narcissist prefers praise and admiration, but at worst, your negative emotions will do - he will have something to cling to. So do not lose your temper and do not enter into an open confrontation.

Do not open fire, because in the end it will turn against you. Even if it seems to you that you have tightly closed the door behind the narcissist, do not lose vigilance: he can return at any moment.

But by understanding how he works, what techniques he uses, what sore points he is likely to press, you can protect yourself and show the manipulator that you are no longer a victim.

news, reasons, relationships, return, psychology

Russian News / Psychology


Narcissistic people are always very charming and attractive. They are a pleasure to talk to and interact with.

But this continues exactly until the narcissists begin to manipulate, with the help of which they get everything they want. When the individual understands who he is dealing with, he breaks off relations with the narcissist, tries to forget him.

An individual of a narcissist can forget, but for a short period of time. The fact is that narcissists never leave the victim alone, they always strive to return to her, to re-establish relations. Why is this happening? Why are narcissists coming back? There are several reasons for this.

The narcissist's ego was hurt

And he won't be able to survive this. The ego of a narcissist is hurt when a relationship is broken off with him. At such moments, he realizes that he is losing power, that he is not in control of what is happening. The narcissist, if he wants to restore the relationship, will use those methods that are sure to work on a particular victim.

Photo: Pixabay

For example, he can send an article on a topic of interest to a person, showing him that he remembers his hobbies. This will definitely affect the individual, because he will be pleased that an old acquaintance knows him well. He definitely wants to reconnect.

The narcissist needs a victim

He feeds on the energy of the person who allows it. It is important for him to have a donor in order to feel inner strength in himself, in order to be active.

That is why an individual, when he communicates with a narcissist, feels a breakdown, apathy.

Predator in ambush

It should be noted that immediately after parting, daffodils do not return. Such a person will patiently wait for the right moment to increase the chances of being forgiven for their past actions. For example, he will come into a person’s life when another relationship ends, when he has problems at work.

The narcissist in this case will lend a shoulder and provide moral support. The individual will naturally be grateful to him. He will immediately forget about the reasons why he interrupted communication with the narcissist, forgive him, let him into his life. He will not even think about the fact that his old friend is driven by self-interest.

Universal advice: if a narcissist appears on the doorstep, then you should not let him into your life under any pretext. A person can be in any emotional state, but he should not lose his composure. It is important for him to keep in mind why he broke off relations with the narcissist, it is important to remember how much pain he caused him. This will allow him not to fall for the tricks of the narcissist, thereby maintaining his psychological health.

Author: Yana Lysova

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