When you “Abandon” the narcissist


When we play out the usual narcissistic relationship cycle — idealization, devaluation, discarding, and hoovering — it can look like the narcissist is fully in control. It feels that the narcissistic person is the one pulling the strings, doing the love bombing, engaging in seduction, or doing the deep dive into pseudo-empathy. And once they have you, they start getting uninterested in you, right? They devalue you. It’s their contempt at the point they have you and their incapacity for intimacy. The chase is typically the most engaging part of a relationship for a narcissistic person, and then oftentimes, it’s them who decides to leave or at least threatens to leave.

But sometimes, and I would argue far more often than you would think, people leave narcissists. In fact, as we get more awareness of narcissism and narcissistic abuse, I think people are actually leaving narcissistic relationships more often than we think because people are recognizing that these patterns are probably not going to change.

When you leave a narcissistic relationship in general, the narcissist does not like it. It means that they have lost control of the narrative and, frankly, lost control in general. It means that they’re going to be losing validation, losing whatever conveniences you brought to their life, and losing power. Their responses to being left by you or being left by anyone will range from rage to mockery — ‘You really think you’re going to make it without me?’ — to seeming indifference.

But the piece that many people forget about is that people who are quite narcissistic or have narcissistic personality styles are very vulnerable to feelings of abandonment. We often view abandonment in line with more fragile or despairing personality patterns or mental health issues. We think that the narcissist is too cold for that. Abandonment, though, is also a bit of an interpretation issue.

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