Does a Narcissist Want You to Chase Them?

The idea of chasing a narcissist can be dreadful. But then again, would a narcissist want you to chase them, or would they want the opposite?

Here are some helpful insights from experts:

Avigail Lev, PsyD

Avigail Lev

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Bay Area CBT Center | Co-Author, “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Interpersonal Problems

They don’t always want you to chase them

Narcissists always want control. They don’t always want you to chase them. It depends on what they want at the moment, but they always want to control you and to get you to do whatever they want at any given moment.

If they’re feeling lonely and insecure, they may want you to chase them. If they need space so that they can cheat, triangulate, smear you, or find their next target, then they will want you to leave them alone.

What a narcissist wants shifts rapidly from moment to moment, but what they always want is control, and they have ways to test out how much control they still have over you.

Narcissists use classical and operant conditioning and intermittent reinforcement to train you to behave the way they want. In the same way that we use a remote control to change the channel, narcissists condition your responses.

  • If they press the guilt button, they want you to apologize
  • If they press the anger button, they want you to concede
  • If they press the blame button, they want you to take responsibility
  • If they press the humiliation button, they want you to submit

Throughout their relationship with you, they are testing out these buttons and making sure that you respond accordingly.

Ike Kalson

Ike Kalson

Co-founder, Live Narcissist Free

They need you to chase them to satisfy their internal insecurity

Narcissists are adults stuck in the mind of a toddler. They’re insecure, desperate for attention, and focused on getting what they need. Unlike innocent kids, however, narcissists manipulate with intent, irrespective of the consequences it will have on others.

Once you’ve been identified as a source of narcissistic supply, they’ll do everything in their power to make you dependent on them.

They need you to chase them to satisfy their internal insecurity. The rush of grandiosity they feel when being glorified is enough to distract them from reality.

How it all starts

From the outside in, it’s pretty easy to spot a narcissist, but when you’re the victim, the red flags are all in disguise. One of the reasons it’s so hard to know in the midst of everything is because relationships with a narcissist seem perfect at first.

A narcissist will shower you with love, gifts, and all your desires. They want you to feel safe, committed for life, and deeply connected to them. It’s called love bombing, and like everything else a narcissist does, it’s a scam (and the first step to get a victim to chase the narcissist).

Once you let your guard down, the narcissist strikes

For most people, they realize this far too late. Once the initial love-bombing happens, victims fall for the narcissist deeply.

Thinking the narcissist could never do anything hurtful, they let their guard down, and then, the narcissist strikes.

  • They’ll start pulling away from the relationship to test your reaction.
  • They’ll start twisting the truth and blaming you for their problems.
  • They’ll invalidate your emotions over and over again until you doubt your own thoughts.

How they solidify the victim’s dependence

With all the gaslighting, the victim thinks they’re the problem. They’ll try to make amends by following the narcissist’s increasingly demanding requests, to no avail.

The narcissist loves the free attention and the impression that they’re needed, and they’ll continue to cycle between love-bombing the victim, devaluing them, and abandoning them.

The victim is in an extremely vulnerable state. They need support, though all they do is give their emotional energy to the narcissist. Whatever “love” they get is fleeting and followed by devaluation. If the victim tries to leave, the narcissist might threaten to harm themselves, trapping the victim.

What it takes to leave

It’s highly unlikely that the narcissist will ever change. There’s a possibility that the narcissist gets bored of the victim and finds someone else to traumatize, though it’s difficult to bank on that. Often, the victim needs to leave and go no-contact.

Related: How Does a Narcissist Handle Rejection and No Contact

This in itself can be difficult, but the narcissist makes it ten times worse by constantly coming back to “fix things,” “make amends,” or claim self-harm when they’re really trying to trap the victim yet again.

Some victims may find that they need a support group of people who’re going through the same thing to leave (as the narcissist will often brainwash the victim’s family and friends).

Warning signs that a narcissist is trying to lure you in:

  • They idolize you at the start of the relationship
  • They flip their own problems onto you
  • They ask for emotional support but never give you any
  • They don’t like it when you spend time with anyone else
  • They don’t trust your stories
  • They often feel insecure or need attention
  • They hide their history or smear previous partners

Related: Things Narcissists Say to Get You Back

Patti Wood, MA

patti wood

Body Language Expert | Speaker

They like pursuing and being pursued

They like both pursuing and being pursued; ultimately, they want to control. Narc’s feel good when they control the happiness of others. They get Narcissistic supply from controlling their target’s happiness.

If the victim pursues them, the Narc can control the flow of joy by being out of reach and unattainable, just out of reach, seemingly won, and then out of reach again, in a continuing cycle.

They can get a supply hit from seeing their target’s efforts to pursue. When they appear “gotten,” they can get a hit of supply from knowing that it is all a ruse, a game, and then they can get a bit hit supply from dropping the victim, disconnecting, ghosting, and then another by reappearing.

By controlling and creating more pleasure in their targets, they can also get hits of narcissistic supply by withdrawing that source.

So while a typical relationship on an extreme narcissistic abuse generally follows three stages:

  • Pursuing and idealizing their target
  • Devaluing their target
  • Discarding their target

Related: 25+ Signs You Are in a Narcissistic Relationship

They like it when their target is discarded and still wants them and pursues them, and that is one way the cycle can repeat numerous times, spinning a merry-go-round where the narcissist and get the golden ring again and again.

Dr. Cali Estes, PhD, MCAP, MAC, ICADC

Cali Estes

Psychologist | Cognitive Behavioral Therapist | Founder, The Addictions Coach

The thrill of the chase is like a drug to a narcissist

The thrill of the chase for the narcissist is like a drug to them. It peaks their dopamine in their brain as cocaine would, and they cannot seem to get enough of it.

In fact, the narcissists love the chase and will create new chases with individuals they are grooming or even new individuals they just met. Therefore, they ‘love bomb’ you. The showering of love and affections creates the chase when they pull back and ghost you.

Now you want more of the love and affection, so you chase them to get it. They withhold this love and affection and even verbally abuse you until you are about to walk away, and then BAM! Love bombing again, which re-creates the chase.

How to cripple a narcissist

If you want to cripple a narcissist from the love bomb and chase routine that they have grown accustomed to, don’t chase them. Ignore them. It is the equivalent of not giving them any happy pills.

Dopamine is the brain’s happy chemical, and if you restrict it from them, they will have a meltdown, like a 5-year-old in Target that couldn’t get the new toy. What happens next is actually interesting to watch.

After the meltdown, they will ignore you and then triple love bomb you, they need you more than you need them, and the fact that they cannot get you to chase them confuses and intimates them. At this point, even a negative chase will light up their dopamine pathways.

Resist the urge to text or call, and you will cripple their superpowers.

Katie Ziskind, LMFT

Katie Ziskind

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Wisdom Within Counseling

It is important to know that narcissistic personality disorder is something that needs to be diagnosed by a licensed therapist after meeting with someone for a period of one year.

With that said, a lot of people like to go generally and loosely label others as narcissists because they just don’t like how they’re being treated. Well, some people may fall into this category, but not everyone who is called a narcissist actually has a narcissistic personality disorder.

People who have narcissistic personality disorder struggle to connect to other people’s emotions and often have shut out their own emotions so much that they don’t know how to empathize with others.

They often had a parent who was narcissistic to them and taught them that their feelings were invalid and did not matter when they were a child. In adulthood, someone with narcissistic personality disorder likes to feel powerful and likes to feel like they are the hero.

Related: How a Narcissistic Parent Affects a Child

This might mean that they like to buy things for their significant other and be seen as a hero in this way. This might also mean that they like to support their partner in other ways.

However, someone with narcissistic personality disorder gets highly triggered when they feel a sense of rejection or lack of appreciation and often get very critical because they don’t know how to express these feelings.

They will often blame someone else, and it will be very hard for them to take accountability for a mistake.

They may deeply crave the connection that an empathetic person provides. An empathetic person is highly in tune with her emotions, sensitive to the needs of others, and is a really great caretaker. An empathetic person may also be called an indigo child or an empath.

An empath likes to care for a narcissist because they see a narcissist as needing someone emotional, nurturing in their lives, so this is supportive for both at first. However, a narcissist and empath can easily end up in what we like to call a “trauma bond.” This is the negative cycle of verbal abuse.

Chasing is a form of domestic violence — domestic violence is very common in a trauma bond.

Working with a professional therapist in an individual format and in a couple therapy format (when appropriate) can allow you to:

  • Become aware of what a trauma bond is
  • Become aware of narcissistic personality disorder
  • Become aware of tendencies of over caretaking that empaths have
  • Start to build a healthier, more balanced relationship

Sara Sloan, LMFT

Sara Sloan

Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Austin Concierge Therapy

Most narcissists would love for you to chase them

Instead of love, Narcissists value attention, power, and control. By you chasing them, this gives them all of these at the same time.

If you are ending a relationship with a narcissist, the best thing you can do is to grey rock them. Grey rocking means that when they contact you, you want to remain flat, stoic, appearing to have no emotion.

This is the opposite of what they desire.

When you do this, Narcissists will often try to get a reaction to see if you still care. They may bring up hurtful stories from the past, or they may criticize you to see if you still care. Another way to think of Narcissists is that they are emotional vampires.

They feed off the energy you give them, whether it’s positive or negative, so chasing them gives them exactly what they want.

Pareen Sehat MC, RCC

Pareen Sehat

Registered Clinical Counselor, Well Beings Counselling

Narcissists do want you to chase them because it makes them feel more desired

Yes, narcissists do want you to chase them. It makes them feel more desired. For narcissists, relationships are more like a business transaction. They love to be the center of attention. And, if you chase them, that is all the attention they need. It also further fuels their ego.

Narcissists even tend to ghost you, which can leave people hanging. In such a case, individuals often go after the narcissist. It boosts their self-esteem, and they keep up this confusing behavior.

My advice would be to never chase a narcissistic person. If you do so, you encourage the sense of superiority they have and play right into their hands.

It does not matter to the narcissist who chases who as long as they get whatever it is they want

Being told yes is much more important to the narcissist than being chased by someone they have no interest in.

The ego of a narcissist requires constant feeding, which comes in the form of having others continuously praise and affirm how special they are. Narcissists see themselves as winners who are able to get whatever it is they truly want.

Rejection and failure are for losers in their eyes.

Whenever a narcissist does not get what they want, they simply reframe the situation in such a way that they claim it actually worked out to their advantage.

A narcissist’s inner circle is not simply made up of their mate, family, and close friends. These people are expected to behave as if they are also his or her biggest fans. Anyone who dares to speak truth to power or demands to be treated equally will likely find themselves removed from the inner circle.

The motto of the average narcissist is in line with the old adage: “It’s my way or the highway.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it healthy to chase after a narcissist?

No, it’s not healthy to chase after a narcissist. Chasing after someone who is emotionally unavailable and manipulative can drain you emotionally and harm your mental health.

Why is it important to break the cycle of chasing a narcissist?

Chasing a narcissist can be an endless cycle of emotional manipulation and abuse. It can be detrimental to your self-esteem, mental health, and overall well-being. Breaking the cycle of chasing a narcissist is important for your own healing and growth.

Why are some people attracted to narcissists?

Some people may be attracted to narcissists because they offer ‘instant gratification’—usually through the promise of seemingly uncomplicated fun or adventure. However, this attraction can quickly fade.

Although these types of relationships are fun at first, they rarely develop beyond a superficial exchange or are unsustainable in the long run.

Why is it important to educate yourself about narcissism?

Educating yourself about narcissism can be helpful in recognizing and addressing unhealthy behaviors in yourself and others. It can also help you develop healthy boundaries and relationships and avoid being taken advantage of by manipulative people.

Understanding narcissism can also help you recognize when someone may need professional help and can help reduce the stigma of mental health issues.

Is it possible to heal from the effects of a relationship with a narcissist?

Yes, it’s possible to recover from the effects of a relationship with a narcissist. It takes time, effort, and support from others, but it’s worth it for your own well-being. Some tips for healing from the effects of narcissistic abuse are:

• Seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who can help you process your feelings and develop healthy coping strategies.
• Practice self-care by pursuing activities that bring you pleasure and relaxation.
• Set boundaries and communicate your needs clearly with others.
• Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members who acknowledge your experiences and lift you up.
• Focus on your healing and growth, and don’t be afraid to seek help when needed.

Can a relationship with a narcissist cause long-term damage?

A relationship with a narcissist can cause long-term damage to your mental health and well-being. Some common long-term effects of narcissistic abuse include:

• Low self-esteem and self-worth
• Anxiety and depression
• Difficulty trusting others
• Difficulty forming healthy relationships

It’s important to seek professional help if you experience any of these symptoms, as they can be treated with therapy and support.

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