If you’re dealing with a narcissist, it’s likely you’ve been told to run away as fast as you can. Going no contact has to always be an option, even if the narcissist is someone you are very close to, like your mother or father. It’s a difficult decision to make, but if you decide to go no contact, it’s important that you understand how the narcissist might react.
I went no contact for a brief period of time with my narcissistic mother while I did some self-healing. I experienced many of the same reactions from her as I detail below. It helps to know what you might experience as a result of this kind of decision. That way, you can develop the best strategy for dealing with the narcissist’s reaction.
To really make the no contact strategy work, you want to have a plan for dealing with each of the following 15 common reactions.
1. Narcissistic Rage
One of the first things a narcissist will likely do when you tell them you’re going no contact is to erupt in rage. It’s their way of trying to manipulate you into not doing something they don’t like. It’s a distraction technique that is designed to ‘shock and awe’ you into doing what they want.
It’s vital that you do not allow this work. If it does work for them, they will use it all the time going forward. Rage is abusive, plain and simple. If they erupt in a rage at you, simply leave.
Leaving cuts their abusive rage off at the knees. They can’t shock and awe you if you’re not there. It also makes a strong statement about what you will and will not accept.
Of course, if violence is a genuine possibility, and it is with some narcissists, then you need to make sure you do this in a safe way. You don’t have to tell a narcissist you’re going no contact in person. In fact, you don’t have to tell them at all.
If there is a chance they might harm you physically, it’s fine to simply cut off all contact without any explanation. Don’t tell them where you’re going, alert friends and family to what you’ve done so they won’t give you away, block them on social media and your phone, and take legal action to protect yourself and any family members.
It’s also a good idea to get a restraining order and let your workplace know that they could come there looking for you. Narcissistic rage is abusive, and there is never any reason to put up with it.
2. Enter the State of Denial
Another thing a narcissist will commonly do when you let them know you’re going no contact is to simply deny the reality of it. They just don’t accept what you’re saying. This happened initially with my mother.
The first thing she said when I told her was, “No, you’re not.” When I assured her that I was, she still didn’t believe me. In fact, it wasn’t until more than a month had passed with no contact that she started to see I was serious about it.
When a narcissist is in denial about the fact you’re going no contact, they will try to act as if nothing has changed. That means you’re going to have to reiterate that boundary. You have to stay strong in your commitment to this strategy because the narcissist will test it.
My mother tried to call me and act as if nothing had happened. I knew I didn’t want to go no contact permanently with her, so it was a challenge to maintain that boundary for the time I needed to do so.
The narcissist will test your resolve in this way, so you have to be certain this is the path you want to take. If you are, do whatever you can to stop the narcissist from contacting you, particularly if you feel like you might give in if they do.
3. Begin Hoovering
The next thing a narcissist will do is something called hoovering. Hoovering is named after the Hoover vacuum because the narcissist, like the vacuum, will try to suck you back into their life.
You might remember the early days of your relationship with the narcissist when they were so charming and wonderful. You likely thought you had met someone who was your soulmate. They are really effective at being charming, and it can cause you to wonder if you made the right decision.
Don’t underestimate their charm. You need to prepare yourself for their hoovering tactics. The best way to do that is to be sure to cut off all possibility of contact with you, but they sometimes find a way to get through.
If that happens, just tell them firmly that you don’t want to talk to them anymore and hang up or leave. Don’t wait for them to finish their sentence or thought, and don’t give them the opportunity to try to change your mind.
4. Send Gifts
Another thing a narcissist will do when you go no contact is sending gifts to try to elicit a response from you. Our sociocultural norms tell us that we must acknowledge a gift when we get one. The narcissist will use those kinds of values to stay in contact.
This is why you will have to ignore those norms in this particular circumstance. They are trying to get you to break your own rule of no contact, and if you do that, it’s their way of getting back in. If you receive a gift from them, simply refuse to accept it or return it.
If you don’t want to even do that much, simply donate it to the charitable organization of your choice. Don’t contact the narcissist to tell them you’ve done that or that you don’t want any more gifts. Any kind of contact will just feed their delusion.
The whole idea behind this kind of manipulation is to try to control you. If you let them manipulate you into contacting them, they have exercised control over your behavior. Don’t fall for it because it isn’t genuine affection or an acknowledgment that they’ve done anything wrong.
5. Employ Flying Monkeys
Flying monkeys refer to people the narcissist uses to try to find out what you’re up to now. These are mutual friends or friends you got to know when you were around them.
The name comes from the flying monkeys in the movie, The Wizard of Oz. The wicked witch in that movie used flying monkeys to do her bidding, and the narcissist in your life will use them for much the same purpose.
They send them out to find out anything they can about how you’re doing, what you’re doing, and how your life is going since you cut them out of it. Typically, these people will show up in places you’ve never seen them before, but where the narcissist you left behind might know that you normally go.
You don’t have to be rude to these people. After all, they might not even realize how the narcissist is trying to use them. Just don’t give them any information about how or what you’re doing. If they ask how you’ve been, simply tell them you’re doing fine, but unfortunately, you have to run. The less they know, the less the narcissist knows.
6. Smear Campaigns
Narcissists are all about image management, and when you cut them out of your life, they fear that everyone will think it’s because they’re bad. That’s why they will often initiate a smear campaign to counteract anything negative you might say. Check out this video to learn how you can stop them from ruining your life.
They might start telling family members they know and mutual friends that it was all your fault. They might start talking about bad things you’ve done, whether they’re true or not. You have to decide how to handle this for your family and friends.
My strategy was simply to inform my family and friends of my decision to stop contact with my mother for a while. I told them this was something I needed to do without giving them any specifics as to why.
I didn’t worry after that about what my mother might have told them. I later found out she did tell them I was having difficulties and needed space. Of course, she made it sound like it was all me. I didn’t concern myself with whether they believed her or not.
I knew that my true friends and understanding family members would give me the benefit of the doubt. If they weren’t willing to do that, I knew we weren’t all that close after all. If you’re concerned about what your friends and family might think, you might come up with a plan to tell them your side of the story before the narcissist gets to them.
No matter how you handle it, however, make sure they know that you prefer that they not tell the narcissist any information about you. If you find out they have done that, then you might have to cut off contact with them as well.
7. Random Contact Attempts
Another tactic that a jilted narcissist will employ is to randomly attempt to contact you. For example, they might text you to say something like, “I just saw our favorite movie last night, and I thought of you,” or “My friend just got one of those little dogs you like so much, and I laughed about our conversation about that.”
These come out of the blue and are likely not based on reality. The narcissist will come up with several different things they might say to try to get a response from you. They will vary from bringing up memories of your time together to letting you know something important they think you would want to know.
They might even come up with some tragedy or illness that is happening to a mutual friend or someone in their family you like to get a response. The goal is just to get you to respond to them in some way.
They are not above lying either. For example, if you respond to their text about a mutual friend who is sick, they will often come back with something like, “Oh, it turned out not to be so serious, but I knew you would want to know. So how are you?”
It was all really just an attempt to get you to respond in any way. Once they’ve broken through the ice, they believe they can get you back in their life. If you’re not careful, it will work, too.
8. Insincere Apologies
If you are able to resist the other tactics a narcissist uses when you go no contact, they may actually offer an insincere apology. These are the kinds of apologies that you know aren’t genuine.
They often begin, “I’m sorry, but you…” Somehow, the narcissist always manages to find a way to blame you for whatever they might be apologizing for, and that’s not a real apology.
If you come to believe that you have really done something wrong and hurt someone, you will offer a sincere apology that acknowledges what you did and that it was hurtful. A narcissist can accept responsibility for what they have done.
That’s why they blame-shift, and even though they may be desperate to get back in contact with you, they will still find a way to lay the blame at your feet. One lady at a workshop I attended several years ago told the group the story of her unfaithful husband.
She said that when she confronted him with incontrovertible evidence of his infidelity, he responded by saying that he wouldn’t have been unfaithful had she not had dinner with an ex-boyfriend some 5 years early when she and the narcissist were first getting to know one another.
He acknowledged that what he did was wrong, but he still blamed her for his actions. It’s illogical and extremely frustrating. Even if you manage to get them to fully apologize, it’s likely they don’t really mean it.
9. Stalking and Harassment
Narcissists can sometimes become more dangerous than simply being annoying. If they become desperate enough to get back into contact with you, they may resort to stalking and harassment.
They could follow you or have their flying monkeys follow you. They might also call your workplace or your home at all hours of the day and night. They can be remarkably persistent in these efforts as well.
If this is happening to you, it’s important not to ignore the problem. You will want to get a restraining order and follow up with legal remedies if they continue to use these tactics.
You should also make your workplace aware of the problem, so they know not to allow the narcissist to call you or show up unexpectedly. You might be embarrassed to do this, but if you don’t and the narcissist does something violent, you will regret that you didn’t take these extra steps.
If a narcissist has reached this level of desperation, you just can’t easily predict what else they might do. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Additionally, it takes a strong, clear statement that you don’t want them around anymore to get through to some narcissists.
10. Guilt Trips
It’s also not surprising for a narcissist to use guilt to try to appeal to your kind nature so you’ll get back in contact with them. They may tell you that any consequences of no contact are causing great problems in their life.
They may tell you they’re considering suicide, and it’s all your fault. They may tell you that they just can’t get along with you in their life. All of this is more than likely an exaggeration to get you to feel bad for them and contact them again.
Even if a narcissist, or anyone else for that matter, were to ultimately follow through on a threat of self-harm, it still wouldn’t be your fault. If you’re like most victims of narcissistic abuse, you’ve probably tried many times to get them to change their behavior.
I can’t tell you how many times I talked to my mother to get her to change. Even after going through a period of no contact and through all of the personal growth work I’ve done, my mother still behaves in the same demanding, self-absorbed. The difference is that I don’t let it affect me like she hopes it will.
You can’t either. The narcissist in your life will throw everything they can think of at you to get you to fall in line with what they want. If you do, they will turn you into a codependent enabler. That’s not the kind of life you want for yourself.
There may be things you need to work on and ways you can improve, but the narcissist’s action and their personality disorder is not your responsibility. You don’t deserve to be abused by them no matter what.
11. Lie About How the Relationship Ended
One thing a narcissist with whom you’ve broken off all contact will likely do is lie about what happened. They can’t admit that you stopped contacting them because of their bad behavior.
That would destroy the grandiose image they’ve spent their life creating. They are likely to tell everyone around them, including mutual friends and family, that they ended the relationship, not you.
As part of their smear campaign, they will blame you for any problems in the relationship too. What you elect to do about that depends on how much you care about what those people think. If they are someone close to you, they will probably ask you about it and tell you what the narcissist said.
You may have even already told them what you were planning to do. That is something you can do to avert the problem; tell the people important to you about your plans to go no contact in advance, so they know it’s coming.
You can also warn them about some of the ways the narcissist might react. That way, they won’t be surprised when it happens.
12. Make Promises to Change
It’s one thing when someone who is relatively healthy realizes they’re doing something wrong and make promises to change. When a narcissist does it, however, it’s usually an empty promise.
The narcissist can’t admit they’ve done something wrong, so how can they ever promise to change? The answer is they can’t. Check out this video for more information on how narcissists react to a failure of any kind. They might promise they will because they are trying to manipulate you, but they have no intention of following through on that promise.
Whatever decision you might make, you have to base it on the idea that the narcissist will never change. For a narcissist to truly change, it usually takes years of intense therapy.
If they commit to something like that and genuinely follow through, therapy can reduce their narcissistic tendencies. If they only agree to therapy to assuage you, even if they go, they will likely spend the time blaming you for any mistakes they’ve made.
They also have a tendency to lie and even try to gaslight the therapist. It’s very difficult to treat someone who feels like they never do anything wrong because they believe they are superior to everyone else. That’s ultimately why their promises to change usually fall flat.
13. Play the Victim
Another part of blaming you for the demise of your relationship is playing the victim, something the narcissist does in any relationship. No matter what has happened in your relationship, they will blame you for everything and tell everyone they are your victim.
Narcissists use what psychologists call projection to distract and confuse you. As life coach and YouTuber Common Ego notes, “Freud believed that people use projection to protect themselves from things they can’t cope with.”
When you’ve finally had enough and elect to go no contact, this causes a massive narcissistic injury the narcissist in your life may not be able to cope with. They can’t accept that they’ve done anything wrong because that risks their entire, carefully constructed, fragile, and false self-image.
It’s simply too much for them to deal with, and so they project anything that might be their own bad behavior onto you. They may call you a narcissist or tell you you’re the one who’s self-absorbed.
Do they know on some level that they’re the one who is behaving that way? Maybe, but you’ll never get through to that part of them. They’ve hidden it too well, and they protect it from exposure too fiercely.
14. Immediately Find Someone Else
If you’ve recently gone no contact with a romantic partner who is a narcissist, don’t be surprised if they find someone else immediately. They need to have their narcissistic supply needs met and distract themselves from too much introspection.
They may have actually already had someone lined up. Many narcissists are unfaithful in their romantic relationships because they fear losing that rich source of supply. They want someone else who can step in immediately just in case they lose you.
When you finally do leave, even if they want you back, they will get more involved with anyone else they were already involved with. They may move them in quickly or even remarry very fast.
It doesn’t really reflect on the quality of your relationship with them. It says more about their need for narcissistic supply than it does about the relationship you had with them. Take the opportunity to heal and move on yourself if this happens.
15. Plot Their Revenge
Another thing a narcissist may do when you go no contact is to immediately begin plotting their revenge. They may try to sabotage your future relationships or even compromise your job.
You need to be ready for just about anything because the narcissist will want to get back at you. If they can cause you a problem in some way, they will delight in their superiority and power.
That’s really what it’s all about, given that the narcissist lacks empathy and the ability to self-reflect. When a relationship ends, most healthy people will take a long look at how they might have contributed to the failure.
A narcissist lacks the ability to understand or reflect on how their behavior might affect other people. They don’t have empathy because empathy makes them feel weak. They have built a false self-image of being powerful, intelligent, and superior to other people in every way.
If you go no contact with them, that makes them inferior in some way, and that’s not something they can accept. Moreover, you’re now their enemy, and because they think in binary terms, that means you’re against them.
They won’t be able to see anything positive about you anymore. For that reason, they will want to crush you. If they can get back at your effectively, it will restore their supremacy. That’s why you want to be aware that they will be out to get you.
When you go no contact with a narcissist, they may react in one or more of these ways. It’s important to remember that they will use anything and everything they can against you. They often use your own emotions against you. If they can trigger your old emotional wounds, they will try to use them to manipulate you into doing what they want.
To help, I’ve developed a 5-Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers. This free guide gives you step-by-step instructions about how to recognize, defuse, and even heal your emotional triggers so a narcissist can’t use them against you. If you click on this link, I’ll send it directly to your inbox so you can get started today on preventing narcissistic abuse.
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