You’ve finally decided to go no contact with the narcissist in your life, and you’re thinking you’re free, right? Well, not so fast. It’s not at all uncommon for a narcissist to come back into your life. You were, for them, a source of narcissistic supply, and many narcissists are deeply afraid of being abandoned. But how long exactly will it take for them to make a reappearance?
The simple answer to this question is that it depends on the narcissist and the nature of your relationship with them. Some people believe a narcissist never leaves you while others note even after long periods of time, it’s not uncommon for the narcissist to re-emerge in your life.
It’s important to understand the nuances of a relationship involving a narcissist to truly gauge how long it might take for them to reappear in your life. Read on to discover how various factors affect the answer to the question, how long will it take a narcissist to come back?
The Nature of a Relationship with a Narcissist
One of the biggest reasons a narcissist will come back again and again is that their condition is actually masking a very fragile self-esteem. Long ago, they pushed their true self deep inside and created a false self that they use to interact with the people in their life.
This false self, however, is not able to prop up the narcissist’s self-esteem. For that, the narcissist needs other people in their life. The problem is that they are unable to empathize with those other people because their entire focus is on manipulating the people around them into giving them their narcissistic supply.
What is Narcissistic Supply?
Narcissistic supply refers to the almost constant flow of love and adoration that a narcissist needs to avoid having to deal with their own self-loathing. At the heart of their narcissistic condition is a deeply-rooted insecurity and sense of self-loathing that formed in their childhood from trauma inflicted by either abusive or overly protective parents.
The narcissist learned from those early experiences that they are not capable of doing things for themselves, they are not good enough, or they are not good people. There’s a part of them that believes these negative ideas about themselves, and they have pushed that deep inside.
To deflect from those beliefs, they formed grandiose ideas that contradict them. They came to believe they are omnipotent or omniscient, or at least, they pretend to believe they are those grandiose things. But they can’t keep propping up those beliefs without external support.
They have no internal ego or sense of self that can prop up their own self-esteem, and that’s why they need a steady stream of adoration and admiration from external sources.
What Do Narcissists Do to Get Their Narcissistic Supply?
To get people to provide them with narcissistic supply, narcissists will manipulate everyone around them. They will use several techniques to do that — here are a few of those tactics:
- Gaslighting: This is where the narcissist will try to convince you that you are crazy. They will tell you that you’re too sensitive or interpreting what they said incorrectly. They will try to get you to doubt your own understanding of reality.
- Projection: This is where the narcissists will project their bad behavior onto you. They may accuse you of lying, for example, when they are lying to you. They may accuse you of cheating if they are cheating. Whatever bad behavior they are doing, they will often project it onto you by accusing you of the same bad acts.
- Triangulation: This is where the narcissist will play two people against each other. A narcissistic parent, for example, will tell their child one thing and their spouse something entirely different. They will manipulate the situation so that each person thinks the other person the narcissist is talking about is doing or saying bad things about them.
The narcissist uses these manipulation techniques to keep everyone’s focus on them, and to try to point out how wonderful they are by comparison. This is why they will often put other people down as a way of propping themselves up.
What Happens When You Cut a Narcissist Off?
When you go no-contact with a narcissist, there are a number of things they feel that cause an emotional crisis. First, if you are a primary source of narcissistic supply, that is suddenly threatened. If they don’t have another source, they will feel a strong sense of panic. This can cause them to suffer an emotional decompensation which may make them unpredictable and even dangerous.
This can result in several types of behavior that range from attempts to convince you that you’ve made a mistake and love-bombing you to stalking behaviors. If they have other sources of narcissistic supply, those can sustain them for a while, but ultimately, the narcissist is still likely to come back into your life if for no other reason than they like playing the game.
The reality is that many narcissists like to feel they are in complete control of the people around them. That can cause them to want to get you back into their life. They will engage in what is commonly referred to as ‘hoovering,’ which is the process of trying to suck you back in and begin the narcissistic cycle all over again.
That cycle begins with idealization, moves on to devaluation, and often ends in the narcissist discarding you. But even if they cut you out of their life, they’re likely to come back because they love to win. It makes them feel powerful.
How Long Will It Take a Narcissist to Come Back?
It’s hard to put a precise timeline on it because several factors affect the behavior of a narcissist. As narcissistic abuse survivor and former emergency services and mental health worker, Gina Kelly, points out, however, the narcissist will, “almost always appear back in your life at some point.”
They are really extremely fragile people who need to know that even the people they have discarded or who have discarded them can be convinced to take the narcissist back into their life. The narcissist craves the sense of control and power that comes from convincing someone who left them to take them back in.
Should I Allow a Narcissist to Come Back?
This is a question only you can answer, but if you do choose to allow them back into your life, you should set strong boundaries and enforce them consistently. You should never put up with any kind of physical abuse, and you should prioritize self-care.
The narcissist will never prioritize your mental health or care over theirs, so you will have to do that for yourself. Make sure you have a strong support network that doesn’t consist of pathological narcissists so that you can think more clearly about the decisions you need to make to ensure you can live a happy, fulfilling life.
Despite their bluster, narcissists really have a very fragile self-esteem. They need external validation almost constantly to maintain their emotional state. Without that narcissistic supply, they can easily destabilize and become unpredictable. Even if you leave them, you shouldn’t believe that will be the last you’ll see of them.
While it’s not possible to specify a time when they will reappear in your life, you can be almost certain they will at some point in time. They need to feel as though they can convince you to let them back in, and if you do, you’ll need to prioritize your own self-care since they never will.
With this understanding of why a narcissist will almost always show up in your life again, you’ll definitely want to check out this post of what to expect when you go no-contact with your narcissistic mother. You’ll need to know what to expect so that you can make the best choices for your life going forward.
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