If you’ve ever threatened to go no contact with a narcissist, you probably noticed that they seemed genuinely upset at the idea and may even have managed to improve their behavior to try and convince you to stay in their life. You might have thought that indicates they really do love you and would miss you if you were no longer in their life. Would they really miss you? The answer, like everything else related to narcissism, is complicated.
Narcissists do feel loss — they’re human after all — but the problem with any of their feelings is that they are directed inwardly at their agenda. They are never directed toward the people they claim to care about. In this way, what they really miss is the idea of you rather than the actual you.
It’s a complex answer that requires explanation. Let’s explore how narcissists process their feelings, including loss, so that you can gain more insight into the reasons behind their actions. You need to have a better understanding of this, particularly if you’re thinking of going no contact with the narcissist in your life.
Narcissistic Love or Narcissistic Supply?
While a narcissist may seem as though they love themselves too much, the reality is that they are full of self-loathing. They learned in their childhood that they are incapable or unworthy of love, and they carry that wound into every relationship they have over the course of their lifetime.
Like anyone else, they want love, they want to believe they can love, and they want to connect with people in a caring way. The problem for the narcissist is that they don’t know how to love in part because they’ve never loved themselves, and many times, they have never truly been loved by anyone.
Because the narcissist has never developed a healthy sense of self, they don’t have good self-esteem. Unless you’re able to love yourself, you’re going to have difficulty really loving someone else. What the narcissist perceives as love is what people commonly refer to as narcissistic supply.
What Does Narcissistic Supply Mean and Why Do Narcissists Need It?
Narcissistic supply is defined as the steady and consistent flow of adoring comments and loving admiration that narcissists require to prop up their self-esteem. Because of trauma in their childhood, the narcissist constructed a false self which they use to interact with the people around them.
The false self, however, cannot do the work of an actual ego; it can’t prop up the narcissist’s self-esteem. For that, the narcissist needs external validation, and without it, they fear they will have to face their own internal sense of self-loathing, something they’ve buried with their true self long ago.
To get their narcissistic supply, the narcissist will manipulate the people in their life. They will point out the flaws of other people to make themselves look better by comparison, they will lie about anything and everything, they will gaslight those they claim to love to make them feel uncertain about their own sanity, and they will use triangulation to play one person in their life against another.
All of this manipulation has the same goal — to show everyone how great the narcissist is and get them to express those sentiments. When people get tired of this manipulation and leave the narcissist behind, it creates a psychological crisis since it threatens that narcissistic supply.
What Happens When You Leave a Narcissist?
If you get tired of the narcissistic abuse that a narcissist heaps on their family and friends and you decide to leave them behind, there are a number of things that might happen. Initially, the narcissist may explode in a fit of narcissistic rage.
Narcissistic rage is often nothing more than a distraction technique to get you to stop focusing on what you were planning on doing or what you were saying. It’s often very intense and usually filled with incoherent and illogical statements.
Once the rage has passed, if you are still determined to leave, that’s when the narcissist will likely start trying other manipulation tactics to get you to change your mind. These include things like love-bombing where they try to charm you into changing your mind or even more dangerous behaviors like stalking.
If that doesn’t work, the narcissist will often start trying to undermine any shared relationships the two of you have or they might try to sabotage areas of your life, like your job. These are vengeful tactics, but they keep the narcissist at the forefront of your thoughts.
If all else fails, the narcissist may cruelly reject you or ignore you. If you try to remain friends, you’ll likely find that rarely works with a narcissist. You should not, however, be surprised if they show back up in your life after a period of time.
Do They Really Miss You When You’re Gone?
No one can ever really know what’s in someone else’s heart, but narcissists can’t empathize with other people. They don’t have an ability to really understand how their actions have hurt someone else, and so, in their eyes, if you’ve left them behind, it’s because you want to hurt them.
They might genuinely miss you, but their feelings in that regard are not like someone who isn’t a narcissist. When you miss someone, it’s usually because you like or love them and enjoy their company.
When a narcissist misses someone, it has less to do with the personality of that person and more to do with how the other person expressed love and admiration for the narcissist. As former doctor Katelyn Jarvis notes, “Narcissists suffer from an attachment disorder so in a breakup, especially if they are discarding someone they would have no real feelings.”
In other words, they miss the narcissistic supply that person provided to them, and even if they have a preference for that person’s personality and the particular way they might have delivered that supply, it’s not the same as missing them because of who they are and the value they add to their life.
Why Would You Miss the Narcissist?
You might also be surprised to find that you miss the narcissist after you leave. It’s not uncommon for people who have been subjected to narcissistic abuse to themselves become somewhat addicted to the cycle of the toxic relationship.
As humans, we want to get a return on our investment in any relationship, and if you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist, you’ve likely poured a lot of love into it to try to make it better. Additionally, the cycle of narcissistic abuse has trained you to seek the narcissist’s validation.
The narcissist will typically love-bomb you then become increasingly distant until they reach the stage of devaluation. That usually happens when an argument ensues, and once resolved, the love-bombing starts anew. You’ve learned that cycle, and it’s natural that you would look for their validation even though intellectually you no longer want to be in this relationship.
This is particularly true if you’re an empath. Empaths strongly desire to help others, and that’s one main reason why narcissists find them attractive. The empath is also attracted to the narcissist because they can see their need for help. When the relationship ends, it’s not unusual for the empath to miss the narcissist despite the abusive nature of the relationship.
It’s not unusual for a narcissist to feel as though they miss someone who has cut them out of their life, and it’s not unusual for the narcissist to try to re-enter your life, even after years of being apart. What they really miss, however, is not so much the person you are, but what you were giving them, their narcissistic supply.
It’s also not unusual that, despite the narcissistic abuse, you can miss the narcissist you left behind. It’s normal to grieve the loss of something you might have wanted to make work or feel should have been better. The key is to remember your own value and don’t compromise by accepting inappropriate behavior.
One of the favorite manipulation techniques a narcissist might use is to use your emotional triggers to make you feel guilty about your decision to leave them behind. They will constantly push your buttons to get you to do what they want, but you don’t have to play along. I’ve created this 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers to help you defuse and heal those old wounds so the narcissist can’t use them against you anymore.
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