Can narcissists handle rejection and “no contact” rule?
We asked experts to share their knowledge to help us understand. Here are their insights:
Table of Contents
- They might try hard to pull us back into their life by becoming obsessed with us
- Narcissists might become very upset or angry with us and will use ugly language to hurt us
- They will try to put the blame on us
- Narcissists may become socially extremely active in order to seek additional attention
- Narcissists might try the tactic of “no contact” themselves and will pull back and almost “disappear”
- They will do efforts to feel superior again
- They’ll use their charm and appear as too good to be true
- If a narcissist is being ignored, they will reach out excessively
- A narcissist experiences cognitive dissonance
- Narcissists spend their lives looking for ways to make their victims feel as angry and insignificant as they do
- They can be moody, angry and irritable
- They will try to make your life miserable
- A narcissist often uses remorse and self pity to sway the decision
- They’ll go to friends and family of the person/woman that they can enlist to their side
- They will go to your job, your family, even the neighbors to bid for their alliance against you
- They will become intensely angry, and blame everything on you
- Going no contact angers the narcissist and pushes more for communication
- Cat and mouse game
- On social media, narcissists are the people most concerned with getting a lot of “likes” on posts and positive comments
- They become overly nice, love bomb you, get apologetic and say they will do “anything to get you back”
- They can become so angry, they get destructive to your career, friendships and they seek allies against you
- They post tons of pictures of themselves with a new love interest
- They will state that your reason for leaving is unacceptable and unreasonable
- A narcissist responds to rejection with rage
Krisztina Petho-Robertson, M.Ed., LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor | Relationship Coach, Grief Recovery Center
Being engaged with a close family member or being in a romantic relationship with a narcissist can be quite challenging. We might find ourselves in a situation that we experience as hurtful.
A person who is a narcissist typically seems self-centered and would only focus on his/her needs being met; they constantly think and talk about themselves, and would rarely take others’ feelings and needs into consideration. They often act as if they were entitled to everything and have a constant need to be the best at everything.
In addition, narcissists cover up their insecurities by striving to obtain the best of everything and it is important for them to be admired at all times. They have a grandiose sense of self and would typically look for an audience that provides the attention they need.
In order for them to maintain their feeling of superiority to others and due to their insecurities, narcissists often try to manipulate others.
However, given that narcissists are, typically, not aware of their own insecurities and in order for them to feel more secure, they usually search for a person they can manipulate and control such as a close family member or a romantic partner.
If we frequently and closely engage with a narcissist, after a while, we will start feeling like we have lost our power. In order to protect ourselves and regain our power, it is important to look for a way to say “no” to them and possibly go “no contact” with them.
Narcissists are afraid of rejection and they might get very upset if we leave them or take a break from their manipulation.
If we say “no” to a narcissist, they will feel disappointed by us not being available to them at all times. They might not express their disappointment at first or in a direct way, but will, instead, wait for a perfect moment to punish us.
Quite often, they will try to make us feel guilty for not being available and might provide us with a passive-aggressive attack.
Rejection is hard for everyone and many of us might be sad, upset, or even angry at times. However, when it comes to a narcissist, their reaction will be much stronger since they live with the idea that they are superior to others.
Since narcissists are very focused on themselves yet do not have a real picture of themselves, if we do not provide them with constant attention, they will feel injured by us rejecting them.
It is important to mention that narcissists live on “supply”. In order for them to function, they surround themselves with individuals who will focus on them and admire them at all times. It is crucial for them to be the center of attention whenever possible.
We can look at narcissists’ supply as control; their supply is, typically, someone who will be available to them whenever needed, will not point out their flaws, and will not hold them accountable for their actions. Narcissists have a need to control so that individuals around them do not see their flaws.
With narcissists, almost everything is well thought out and calculated. If we do not reach out to them or reject them, they are going to realize that we are standing up for ourselves. Thus, given their addiction to the feeling of power, narcissists will then feel threatened and will go into desperate mode.
It is crucial for a narcissist to have a primary supply, and in this situation, they might even get worried they will lose us as their primary supply.
Given that narcissists do not have a healthy sense of themselves, they constantly need external validation and supply. However, since they do not know how to stay connected with themselves, they might backlash if we distance ourselves from them.
They are addicted to their supply and there will also be a withdrawal if they feel ignored or are not at the center of attention.
Furthermore, a person who engages in a romantic relationship with a narcissist typically experiences some form of narcissistic abuse. When we say “no” or go “no contact” with them, there are several marks that typically fit their agenda.
Since they have a need to win at all costs, they will either try to get us back or will quickly look for attention elsewhere and a search for a new supply:
They might try hard to pull us back into their life by becoming obsessed with us
While being afraid of losing us, narcissists might start “love bombing” us. For example, narcissists might be bombarding us with very long and loving text messages, emails, or buy very special gifts in order to get us back into their web.
At this moment, we might feel loved and very special to them. However, once we are back in the relationship and they feel comfortable with us, they will quickly snap back to some form of abuse.
Narcissists might become very upset or angry with us and will use ugly language to hurt us
It often happens that they call their romantic partner a “loser” or treats us like we were a failure. In this situation, narcissists will disrespect us openly.
Once they belittle us, it will help them stop feeling like we just rejected them and will, instead, feel superior to us. They will assume that we are not good enough for them given their traits of feeling entitled to the best of everything.
They will try to put the blame on us
If we are very important to the narcissist, they might work on hurting us even more by trying to convince people around them about how negative we are. It is quite typical for narcissists to describe us as the “crazy” person in the relationship while projecting their negative traits on to us.
In addition, they would seek sympathy, play the victim in front of others, and would tell them how we ruined their life. Again, this will help the narcissists feel “better than” and superior to us.
For example, they might go from 1000 friends on social media to 5000 connections within a short period of time.
Since they feel threatened and are fearful about losing us, or their secure supply, they will continue seeking attention. However, narcissists are typically not aware of that type of behavior, and they feel like it is, actually, “normal” for almost everyone to pay attention to them.
Narcissists might try the tactic of “no contact” themselves and will pull back and almost “disappear”
If we also keep “no contact” with them at the same time, they might not return as they will feel they have lost their primary supply. In this case, narcissists will move on to the next romantic relationship quickly, who will provide them with the needed supply.
Most times, narcissists have already secured a new supply while ending their relationship with us. We might be shocked at this behavior and will not understand how they were able to move on to the next person so quickly.
Narcissists are typically not hurting because they are truly missing us. Instead, they feel like they have lost control and would not be able to manipulate us anymore.
Regardless of the way they react from the above-listed agenda, unfortunately, many of us might be interchangeable for a narcissist. They will move on or will engage in adultery once they do not benefit any longer from engaging with us.
However, if we decide to contact them again, narcissists might come back thinking that we are their “safe supply.” Given that silent treatment by a narcissist is torturous for us and we want it to end, we would typically reach out to them hoping that things will get better the next time around.
In this situation, narcissists welcome us back to their vicious cycle. At this moment, they might seem like they care about our feelings, but they are actually in fear of losing us, the person who provides them with constant attention.
If we are closely engaged with a narcissist, it is important to understand their game.
Since narcissists are most likely not aware of their own very deep wounds, they are hurting others while trying to heal. Even if they seem honest and sincere, the changes within a narcissist are temporary. Certain types of changes will last only for a short period of time in order for them to regain their supply.
Once again, when narcissists feel threatened in a conversation with us, they tend to flip the conversation around and would, typically, start pointing things out that might be wrong with us. With this strategy, narcissists move the light on us so they do not need to feel guilty about mistreating us.
Related: How to Talk to a Narcissist
Narcissists will typically try to make the situation look like it is our fault. It is very rare for narcissists to apologize since they do not have a real picture of themselves. Even if they do apologize, they do not mean it, it is only part of their manipulation tactic.
If we ignore them again by saying “no” or going “no contact” with them, narcissists might go into a complete rage.
This rage is a coping mechanism in order for them to deal with us keeping our distance from them or saying “no” to them. A rejection of narcissists means that we think they are not perfect.
Narcissists quite often abuse their partners or a close family member verbally, emotionally and psychologically in the form of bullying, yelling, belittling, and, at times, it might lead to physical abuse.
Since they constantly look for validation and cannot stand criticism, they need to think they are right at all times. If we say “no” to them and hurt them, they will try hard to prove us wrong.
Narcissists do not take responsibility for the mistake they make and will try to make us feel like “everything is always our fault.”
If we are in a close relationship with a narcissist yet we are not ready to leave, it is very important to set boundaries. However, although it is truly hard to get away from someone so abusive and manipulative, distance is key whenever possible.
A breakup with a narcissist is not like a typical ending of a relationship with other individuals. If we want to leave them, they might try to hurt us even more given that they feel terribly threatened by losing their primary supply.
However, if we then start feeling guilty and we don’t walk away, after their rage, they might go back to the manipulation phase and try different tricks to control us again.
They will start with the love-bombing phase in order to manipulate us again, and once they feel they have us under control, the vicious cycle of belittling continues.
It is important to understand that this type of treatment is not our fault and going no contact with a narcissist is the healthiest way for us to go.
We might be wondering about what we could have done differently in order to save the relationship, but narcissists have been dealing with a personality disorder and their way of approach is not going to change.
They are the ones who are struggling with very high levels of insecurity and with a very deep wound, they are unable to heal.
There are several important things we might want to consider when going “no contact” with a narcissist:
- Stop interacting with them.
- Do not respond to their text messages, phone calls, or emails.
- Block them on all social media.
Although it is very hard to end a relationship with narcissists, the healthiest thing for us to do is to go “no contact” with them forever.
Once narcissists feel like we uncovered them and we are no longer allowing their manipulation to take place, they will quickly look for another supply in order to eliminate their withdrawal.
Since they are unable to handle rejection and will no longer be able to behave in an abusive manner towards us, they will move on to the next person they can manipulate.
Realizing that our relationship has ended might be very painful, but once we understand we left an abusive connection behind, our healing may begin. We will be ready to regain our power in a much healthier environment and move on with our lives.
Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, High Conflict Institute | Author, “Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder“
Narcissists do not handle rejection and “no contact” very well.
For them, it is considered a “narcissistic injury.” This is all too common for them when someone points out that they are not the incredible fantasy person that they try to think that they are.
After all, narcissists are no more superior or better people than anyone else—they just think that they are! In relationships, they are often worse.
Years ago, psychiatrist James Masterson and others identified that narcissists create a “false self” image of themselves, often early in life sometimes even as young children.
Perhaps they were abused as a child and they overcompensate by trying to believe that they are special. Or perhaps they were raised to believe that they were superior from the start.
In either case, they spend the rest of their lives trying to fulfill this false self-image by convincing others (and themselves) that they are superior. They come to truly believe it.
But then reality strikes, as it always does—again and again. Then they experience the narcissistic injury that has to be healed by attacking the one(s) who have pointed out that they are not so hot after all. They have to diminish them. Demean them. Perhaps destroy them, to get back to a sense of being okay in their own mind. (“You’re wrong! It’s all your fault!”)
They will do efforts to feel superior again
If they are a vulnerable narcissist, they are likely to strike out with “hot anger” such as by yelling or hitting or breaking things.
If they are a grandiose narcissist, they are likely to respond with “cold anger” such as plotting to get back by trashing their target of blame in social media or secretly sabotaging their career advancement or publicly making false allegations against them in a calm and serious tone of voice.
All of these efforts are to make them seem superior again—to the world and especially to those who they feel have caused their narcissistic injuries. (“Admit that it was all your fault!”)
They’ll use their charm and appear as too good to be true
In relationships, they start out by presenting themselves as extremely superior beings. They may seem too good to be true. They can be very charming in the seduction phase, showering their partner with praise, gifts, and wonderful stories of their many accomplishments (which are usually an exaggeration).
But after they have persuaded their partner to commit to the relationship, then they will start to use their partner for their own sense of superiority by putting the partner down and pointing out their imperfections.
This is often a big surprise, coming from the person who treated their partner so special. But they may suddenly be charming again so that their partner stays committed.
In some cases, a narcissist will get bored with their committed partner but want to keep them securely committed. So they may have one or two affairs to enhance their sense of importance and superiority.
Sometimes they will let a dating partner know that there are one or two others, just to impress their partner or make them work harder at the relationship. But even in these circumstances, the narcissist may take it very badly if their partner has had enough and rejects them.
Even though the rejection may be based completely on the narcissist’s arrogant behavior toward the partner, he or she may go into their hot anger or cold anger to punish the partner. Even if the narcissist has one or two other people who want to be with them, he or she may still go into this sense of narcissistic injury and anger.
So rejection and no contact are extremely painful to narcissists and they typically handle it by punishing the other person one way or another.
To avoid this, a person who wants to end a relationship with a narcissist should generally do it gently, in phased down steps (“I’m busy this weekend”), and without any negative feedback that could be construed as a narcissistic injury.
If a direct reason is needed, it’s usually best to explain that the relationship is not a good fit, without saying either person is at fault.
No contact will come easier as the end result of a gentle phasing out of the relationship rather than a direct rejection, which ultimately has more negative consequences than one would expect.
Dr. Abby Lev
Clinical Psychologist | Founder, CBT Online
Narcissists don’t handle rejection or no contact very well at all. Narcissists hate being ignored. It’s their worst fear. Nothing makes a narcissist angrier than being ignored.
If a narcissist is being ignored, they will reach out excessively
They will threaten, act out, stalk, triangulate others, spread misinformation, beg, make promises, pretend to make improvements, tell you whatever you want to hear, go to therapy, get others to contact you on their behalf, or even get violent.
Narcissists will beg, plead, agree, improve, yell, scream, and/or retaliate in whatever way they can in order to get a reaction from you.
Narcissists feed off of people’s emotional reactions. If they are ignored and they don’t get an emotional response, they feel helpless, powerless, and impotent. They don’t care what reaction they get as long as they get you to react.
Narcissists spend all their energy trying to control others and push their buttons. It’s like they have a remote control.
They want to believe that once they press the button, they could get a particular response from someone. They want to know if they press the guilt button, then you will apologize. If they press the threaten button, then you will concede. If they press the anger button, then you will surrender, and if they press the abandon button, then you will beg for their return.
When a narcissist feels like these buttons no longer work, it’s causing a huge narcissistic wound, and they will do whatever it takes to try to regain control and get their power back.
The higher they are on the narcissism spectrum, the longer they will persist and maintain their behaviors.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Some of the salient features of narcissism are a grandiose sense of self, belief that they are special, requiring excessive admiration, having a sense of entitlement, lacking empathy, and being interpersonally exploitive.
If you take all of this into consideration, having someone reject them or tell them “no contact” is the most egregious injury they can experience. They feel they are infallible and loved by all.
A narcissist experiences cognitive dissonance
When a narcissist enters into any kind of personal conflict such as rejection or requests for no contact, they immediately experience cognitive dissonance. Therefore, being rejected goes against everything they believe to be true about themselves.
The majority of people I have encountered, myself included, would respond to rejection somewhere along the spectrum between disappointment and rejection.
A narcissist would be, “You’re rejecting me? How could you?” and then likely go into a spiral of how you have wounded them so gravely and what an awful human being you are.
This diffuses their cognitive dissonance as the rejection then becomes a matter that has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you.
If a person requests no contact, this also causes extreme cognitive dissonance as why would you not want to have any contact with them?
They may go as far as to say that without them (the narcissist) in your life, you will be unable to achieve any of your deeply cherished dreams. You will be missing out on everything you want because the narcissist isn’t in your life.
This really has nothing to do with the other person, as the narcissist is exploiting whatever power they feel they have with the other person.
On the flip side, if they were the ones doing the rejecting and requesting the no contact, they would, in their mind, be extremely justified in doing so. They need to be in charge at all times so this will cause no cognitive dissonance.
Clinical Psychologist | Professor of Psychology | Author, “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”
It depends. There can be a range of reactions including rage, silent treatment, gaslighting, manipulation, and/or smear campaigns.
They may walk around and portray themselves as a victim with little consideration of how their behavior may have contributed to someone walking away from them.
They can’t stand losing and are deeply insecure so rejection is particularly triggering, and the reactions tend to be very antagonistic and unsettling.
In a romantic relationship in severe cases, it can escalate to stalking or other menacing and vindictive behavior.
The inability of a narcissistic personality to be able to regulate disappointment of any kind including rejection means that they will have a strong emotional reaction to this disappointment which is why any of the reactions above may be observed.
Remember, that a narcissist thrives on narcissistic supply, and if you go no contact, the supply goes with you – and that is also something that is experienced as an ego injury and subsequent acting out.
Body and Mind Expert | Women’s Narcissism Recovery Coach, Inspire Massage
Narcissists handle rejection and no contact like most people do. Hurt, anger, depression, anxiety. But in a narcissist’s nervous system, they are drowning. They are fighting their personal Armageddon every day.
Because Narcissists are emotionally unstable, they find and treat personal relationships like prey, frightening, and gaslighting them. Trying to grasp the slippery slope of their own, usually undiagnosed, personality disorder.
Narcissists spend their lives looking for ways to make their victims feel as angry and insignificant as they do
Narcissists are professional bullies.
Narcissist abuse means they lie about paying the mortgage so you have to move. Scary fights in the car when they call you a useless piece of trash. They demand all your retirement savings and your great-grandmother’s diamond ring, and you agree.
Narcissist abuse also looks like flowers sent to your office so everyone sees what a great partner you have. Birthday trips to Maui to show how generous they are. Narcissists look exactly like an average, nice guy who buys a Prius. Or a Lamborghini. It’s all about image.
And, narcissist abuse means helplessly watching your sweet children turn into abusive, narcissistic parents that keep the cycle of abuse going.
When you’ve been a victim of a narcissist, sometimes the seduction and abuse cycle is so bad your only option is to totally reject them and go “No Contact”.
But there are other options.
Most Narcissists are our mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children, lovers, bosses, co-workers and friends. It feels overwhelming to care about them, even love them and be tortured by them at the same time.
The way out is to heal yourself first. If you need to escape a Narcissist, the first thing is to dismantle the trauma triggers in your brain and collect a trusted support system that looks out for you. This looks like psychologists, energy healers, chiropractors, coaches, support groups, lawyers, psychics, massage therapists…
Sometimes a victim has to use rejection and “No Contact” to survive the abuse first.
As an adult, you need to save yourself.
After you feel stable and have healed your own wounds, you get to decide if your narcissist is worth your time or you’re ready to move on.
In African cultures, the tribe gathers around a Narcissist to remind them who they really are. The remind the Narcissist they are an intertwined and important part of the tribe.
Like professional hostage negotiators, the tribe uses trust-based influence and tactical empathy to turn a Narcissist into a healthier, more loving human being.
There are better options than rejection and “No Contact”. It’s time to raise the bar on mental health.
Dr. Cali Estes, Ph.D.
Psychologist | Cognitive Behavioral Therapist | Celebrity Addiction Specialist | Founder, The Addictions Coach
They can be moody, angry and irritable
A narcissist struggles with no in-person contact because they utilize body language to communicate, get their needs met, and maintain control. They have low self-esteem, and without validation, they can come become moody, angry, and irritable.
In-person, a narcissist will touch your arm, check, or neck/back areas generally to show they care and need you. This light touch conveys a sense of compassion and understanding and love.
As the recipient, you feel loved, needed, wanted, and appreciated and you miss the sign that it is pure manipulation to get you to do what they need at that moment.
With no contact, a narcissist is left to use text and phone calls, which can be impersonal and nonchalant. It is very difficult to send a text that conveys the depth of the manipulation they need to feel validated and that they are ‘winning’ the conversation, the relationship, or the stance.
For them, life is a game and you are a player. They decided if you can pass to the next round and when you fail. In-person, they can read your body language as well to see how they are doing in the game.
Divorce Attorney | Author, “Negotiate Like YOU M.A.T.T.E.R.”
How does a narcissist handle rejection and no contact? In short, not well. And that’s an understatement.
They will try to make your life miserable
Narcissists have no sense of inner value which means that they have to suck all of their sense of value from external sources. This is what we call narcissistic supply. Supply can be in the form of more positive things such as a big house, a prestigious job, or lots of compliments.
They will also take their supply in the form of things that are much more insidious such as devaluing, judging, or debasing their target.
When a narcissist chooses a target, the choice is made very deliberately. The narcissist is looking for supply and believes that the target/victim they have chosen will give it to them. It really is like a wild animal looking for prey. The wild animal sees it as survival – and so does the narcissist.
So when the target rejects the narcissist and decides to go “no contact”, the target is in effect ripping away that narcissist’s form of supply.
From a narcissist’s perspective, it is almost like ripping a fresh kill from a lion’s mouth. In this case, however, taking away a narcissist’s supply also exposes their narcissistic injury – that fragile, scared little ego that lives inside the narcissist.
Once their narcissistic injury is exposed, their narcissistic rage is triggered. Then the fury is unleashed, the magnitude of which may be unstoppable (depending upon the type of narcissist you’re dealing with – covert, grandiose or malignant).
The more covert narcissists might twist and use the system or others to try to make your life miserable. The malignant narcissists might turn to stalking, threats of violence, or real violence.
All that being said, it is absolutely essential to go “no-contact”. While they will have a tantrum that would put a 2-year-old to shame, they will eventually find another form of supply. It is the only way to preserve your life, your sanity, and your soul.
Registered Psychotherapist | Founder, Creative Pathways Counseling
Narcissistic people don’t handle anyone’s boundaries very well.
I counsel and coach women on how to be firm and stand their ground when they can’t tolerate the relationship with a narcissist any longer.
When a narcissist is faced with rejection, they immediately try to override that decision by either playing victim, slandering, or using power and control.
A narcissist often uses remorse and self pity to sway the decision
They plead, cry, and promise to “do better.” They will ladle on false promises and false sincerity to get the person/woman to question their decision and confuse them. They will call incessantly and stop by unannounced with gifts.
They’ll go to friends and family of the person/woman that they can enlist to their side
These use gullible people who have believed the false-front they portray and have never seen how hateful and cruel they can be.
Then they start playing hardball when the person/woman doesn’t respond to their lies of innocence or new commitment. They will continue the campaign of going to others, but now to embarrass and slander you. This is when they assassinate your character. They stalk and harass you, and use humiliation.
They will go to your job, your family, even the neighbors to bid for their alliance against you
Narcissists are notorious for straining and blowing up relationships. They are self-centered and never reciprocate.
At their core, they don’t value people; but they will use people to get what they want to comfort their fractured ego. They are broken and emotionally immature, with severe attachment issues.
Rejection and abandonment are their Kryptonite. The narcissist can leave you, but they can’t deal with being left.
When their supply or target goes no contact, the person/woman may need their village and law enforcement to send a strong message that the train has left the station without them and they are now persona non grata.
Certified Health and Wellness Coach | Behavior Change Specialist | Founder and Managing Editor, Zivadream
The short answer is not well.
The reason narcissists behave the way they do is that they have an internal lack and low self-esteem on the subconscious level.
On the surface, they act grandiose, entitled and lack empathy, but inside they are dysregulated, and when they feel like someone has insulted them in even the slightest way, they can go off like a bomb.
They will become intensely angry, and blame everything on you
Narcissists fear rejection above all else. When you dare to tell them no, or walk away, they can’t handle it.
They will make sure everyone knows what a terrible person you are, and will use any personal information you have shared with them in confidence against you. Narcissists care about winning above all else.
Going no contact angers the narcissist and pushes more for communication
If you are able to go “No Contact”, and stop answering their phone calls, texts and emails, get ready to be barraged by more calls, texts, more emails and them showing up at your door, even when you have made it clear you want to be left alone.
They can’t handle the perceived humiliation and will either do everything they can, say anything, even apologize ( which most likely isn’t a real apology) to win you back, or if they can’t reach you, they will trash your name and reputation to anyone who will listen.
Going no contact makes a narcissist beyond angry because they can no longer control you.
It is difficult to go no contact without support. Make sure you find a therapist who understands how to deal with narcissists, or a good support group to help you focus on setting boundaries and protecting yourself.
Jennifer Tomko, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Owner, Clarity Health Solutions
A narcissist feeds off of positive reinforcement, although, they define this differently than those without Narcissistic tendencies.
Positive reinforcement for them is when they can witness how their behaviors/words affect the other person. So, if they are trying to get you to forgive them, they will send a heartfelt text message with the things that they believe you want to hear, ie. “don’t leave me, I will change” or “we are meant to be together.” When your heart melts and you break down and call them, that is the positive reinforcement.
They are looking at the situation as a cause and effect, game-like maneuver, while you are left feeling needed. But this only lasts for a while, then the cycle begins again. They do something “unforgivable” and then they are able to get you to stay in your life.
They need to be the center of attention. This applies to them being in a group setting. They crave situations where they believe to be the best and know-it-all. They cannot tolerate being challenged or upstaged.
Related: How to Deal With Know It Alls
Now that group settings have pretty much been temporarily eliminated from most of our lives, narcissists are feeling a larger void than people who have more humble and reserved personalities.
Cat and mouse game
However, narcissists will continue to seek ways to fill that void. The narcissistic behaviors may become more apparent. I think of these like a cat and mouse game.
The narcissist (cat) will torment those in the home (mouse) by gaslighting, manipulating, blaming, verbally/physically abusing, or neglecting others.
Once the affected person (mouse) gets intolerant of these behaviors, they often choose to leave. This is perceived as abandonment and losing control to the narcissistic person and they will respond by telling the person affectionate, kind, and engaging things to win them back.
To the victim, this is confusing and painful, to the narcissist, it is just part of their entertainment. They may be genuine in the things they are saying to win you back, but it isn’t coming from a place of love, it is coming from a place of fear of being alone or fear of losing the game.
They do not handle rejection well because this contradicts the reputation they believe they have and hurts their inflated ego. In some cases, narcissists actually brush off rejection because they are in denial that they could possibly be wrong about something or disliked by someone. They will dismiss the contradiction and consider the source to have no credibility assuming that person is ridiculous.
The narcissist is never wrong, they will justify their thoughts and behaviors to protect this belief. They may even talk down or blatantly reject the opinions of others if it doesn’t fit into their beliefs/statements. It becomes more of a bullying response if it is unwanted feedback.
Mary Joye, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Winter Haven Counseling
There are there major ways narcissists react when you go no contact. Each one has a twist.
They become overly nice, love bomb you, get apologetic and say they will do “anything to get you back”
The twist: Once they have you back they begin the intermittent reinforcement all over again such as being nice and then being mean. The worst-case scenario is they are getting you back, to get revenge.
They often are nice or “good” for a while but then they premeditate a discard and it is intentional. It’s nothing you did, you just fell prey to their plan to reject the rejector for vengeance.
They can become so angry, they get destructive to your career, friendships and they seek allies against you
The twist: If you engage with them at this time, it could get rough. Better to remain composed and less exposed. Hang out only with your allies and the truth will rise to the surface.
They post tons of pictures of themselves with a new love interest
The twist: They lack the capacity to love. No one likes to be alone but narcissists refuse to be alone and find a new “victim” quickly.
They usually keep a supply chain of potential connections you may not have been aware of and it’s important you don’t become one of them.
Stephanie Wijkstrom MS, LPC, NBCC
Psychotherapist | Founder, The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
For anyone who has attempted to escape the grip of a narcissist, you will know that going no contact is often the only way to ensure that you are conveying the message in the clearest and safe way possible. Yet, this is often the time that is most dangerous when escaping a narcissist.
Narcissists perceive slights and criticism everywhere, even when none exists, but few things are more difficult for even the most whole and healthy person as losing a relationship.
They will state that your reason for leaving is unacceptable and unreasonable
For a truly narcissistic person, this pain will rupture their deepest wounds and can even result in them perpetrating violent behavior. If you are leaving a narcissist, you likely served as the narcissistic supply for their fragile ego.
They will try to blame, criticize, and make you feel that any reason you state for wanting to end the relationship is not reasonable. When these tactics fail, they may assault and batter the person trying to escape.
To leave a truly narcissistic person, it can be dangerous, it is recommended to enact your departure while the person is not home if possible to avoid anything that could be unsafe.
Carrie C. Mead, MS, LCPC
Psychotherapist, Maryland Therapy | Life Coach | Reiki Practitioner
A narcissist responds to rejection with rage
The narcissist has a false image of him or herself. Simply put, they believe that they are superior to others and perfectly made in all aspects. Because of this false perception of self, the narcissist responds to rejection with rage.
Under the surface rage, in the psyche, the rage is fueled by unseen fears of abandonment, anxiety, and shame.
The rage that consumes the narcissist will either lead to him or her to pursue his or her beloved with outward physical or psychological or emotional abuse, or, the rage will fuel a passive-aggressive approach in which the silent treatment is given.
The passive-aggressive approach is used while the narcissist plots ways to undermine the success of those who rejected him or her.
The truth is, despite the external show of power and confidence, the narcissist fears being rejected, abandoned, and unloved, and they are always going to be hypervigilant to the slightest hint of rejection.
The reaction will always be disproportionate to the incident, revenge will be plotted, and psychological abuse will ensue.