If you’ve been involved with a narcissist, you might have wondered if they ever loved you at all. It’s also normal to wonder if your leaving them will make them feel sad. You might even wonder if they will even notice you’re gone. Of course, narcissists are humans too, and they have emotions, but they are particularly adept at hiding them. This is especially true when those emotions make them feel vulnerable.
Though a narcissist might feel sad when you leave them, their sole focus is on re-establishing a secure source of narcissistic supply. They have spent a lifetime suppressing emotions and hiding vulnerability, so no matter what they might truly be feeling, they will hide it from you as they move on.
It’s critical to really understand what will happen when you leave a narcissist so you can be prepared and make the best decisions for your own health and wellbeing. While their emotions might be discernible, there are many things they might do. You need to know just how they are affected when you leave so you can move on with your own life.
How Do Narcissists Feel When You Leave Them?
There are a complex set of emotions a narcissist typically feels when someone leaves them. Perhaps the first is panic at the thought of losing a principal source of narcissistic supply. An intimate partner represents an almost constant flow of adoration that a narcissist can depend on.
When that partner leaves, it opens up a big hole in their supply which threatens their carefully constructed false image. This is part of the reason that many narcissists cultivate other sources of narcissistic supply often in the form of affairs.
They are, essentially, hedging their bets so that if you do leave, they won’t be left without a source. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t love you or won’t feel sad when you’re gone, but they have been avoiding those kinds of emotions over the course of their lifetime.
Love and attachment make you vulnerable, and narcissists hate vulnerability. No matter what they feel, they will try to bury those emotions, and they try very hard not to show them to you. This is particularly true for what they perceive as negative emotions like sadness.
Moreover, there’s a complex mix of emotions involved. They might feel sad at losing you, but that’s mixed with fear of exposure and loss of image. It’s also coupled with their own internal shame and self-loathing.
Moreover, they think in binary terms. You’re either completely with them or you’re against them and need to be destroyed. This further complicates any emotional reaction.
Though they can feel sadness, as author Tom Ewall notes, “Narcissists can feel sadness when you leave them, but not in a way resembling in any way what a mature adult would expect.” It’s more like how a child might feel when they lose a favorite toy.
How Will a Narcissist React When You Leave?
Narcissists will react in several ways when you leave. Initially, they may try to convince you to come back. While you might think this shows how much they truly love you, it’s really more about the loss of that narcissistic supply.
They also fear that their flawed true self will be revealed for the world to see, and they certainly don’t want to look inward to try to resolve any problematic behaviors. That can motivate them to try to turn back on the charm and get you back.
This is called hoovering after the Hoover vacuum. Like a vacuum, they are trying to suck you back in. If that doesn’t work, they may next feel like they have to discredit you to prevent other people from believing any bad things you might say about them.
This is driven by the desire to discredit you, but there’s also another reason they do this. Narcissists think in binary terms – good or bad, black or white. When they decide that you’re bad, they feel a deep sense of betrayal.
In the narcissist’s mind, you were an extension of their own identity, and when you leave, it’s like a part of their own identity is leaving. This drives their rage to the point where they want to crush you. You see this in some of the more famous narcissists, like Donald Trump.
He doesn’t just disagree with his opponents, he labels them as stupid or weak. This is the same kind of smear campaign a jilted narcissist might engage in to discredit anything you might say about them to family and friends.
Will a Narcissist Try to Come Back into Your Life?
After they’ve given you a period of time to cool off, and after they’ve exhausted other sources of narcissistic supply, they often try to get back into your life. This can be precipitated by attempts to test the water, as it were.
For example, they might send an email or text and see if you will respond. They might also send in people referred to as ‘flying monkeys.’ The name comes from the movie, The Wizard of Oz. You might remember that the wicked witch had flying monkeys who helped her do her evil deeds.
You might unexpectedly run into a mutual friend who then begins to inquire about your current status. Whatever you tell them will find its way back to the narcissist, so be prepared for that.
It’s worth knowing that if you allow a narcissist back into your life, the cycle of abuse will likely begin all over again. You shouldn’t expect that they have changed, particularly if they haven’t sought professional help to do so.
Did the Narcissist Ever Love You?
Again, any emotions you might have genuinely felt for you are obscured by their personality disorder. Whatever they truly feel, they don’t have a sense of internal security that will allow them to show it in a mature way.
They tend to bury those intense emotions, and instead, they concentrate on manipulating and controlling your behavior so that they can get their own needs met. Their personality disorder doesn’t allow them to show any vulnerability, which is part of why they avoid intimacy.
For that reason, it’s unlikely you feel loved, at least not as mature adults experience it. Given that, what they truly feel is of little consequence. Their inability to express any genuine emotion makes it difficult for them to maintain an intimate relationship.
How Can You Make Them Leave You Alone?
As with any relationship in which you felt a genuine sense of connection, it can also be difficult for you to let go. With a narcissist, however, you really need to make it clear that you have decided it’s better to go your own way.
You might have to take extreme measures to get that message across to them. This may mean blocking them from any platforms on which they might contact you – social media, your phone, and any other forms of communication.
You might also need to let everyone in your life know that you have no wish to be contacted by them in the future. They will sometimes attempt to get in contact with your friends or family to get back into your life. Make it clear that if that happens, they should not give the narcissist any information about you and they should let you know immediately.
If you have to continue to be in contact with them – if you share children, for example – then do it through a third party like a lawyer and/or with another person present. It may take a while, but if you take these strict measures, they will eventually get the message.
Leaving a narcissist is always complicated. They don’t have empathy for how their actions have impacted you, and so, they don’t understand why you’re choosing to leave. Any genuine emotions they feel, they bury because those make them vulnerable. That makes it difficult for you to feel like you were ever loved.
While you might have sympathy for any ex who feels pain after losing you, you must understand that, with a narcissist, their personality disorder obscures genuine emotion. This article about why they fear intimacy is a must-see for understanding the complexity of their emotional experiences.
If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel