Narcissists will do anything and will go to any length to get you back.
So before you get stuck into a narcissist’s web once again, here are the things they’ll say to get you back.
Clinical Psychologist | Professor of Psychology | Author, “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”
“Nobody will ever love you the way I do, I see something in you that no one will ever see.”
This is a seduction wrapped in gaslighting. It’s actually a bit of an insult too. Obviously, someone else would love you as you are lovable.
This is actually a statement of control and isolation. It’s clever because the narcissist is trying to make it sound as though your love story is “so special” and they see your “specialness” and if you have never felt special or came from a family where you didn’t feel special – this can be very seductive.
“How could you leave me at such a difficult time, when I’m down?”
This is the narcissist playing victim. Narcissists are at the core very vulnerable and get triggered when there is any threat in their environment – including abandonment. It leaves them feeling vulnerable which feels shameful to them.
This statement casts them as a victim and plays upon your guilt. And if you have a co-dependent bone in your body – then you will likely fall for this and stay around to try and “do the right thing” or “fix them.”
“I will get therapy. I know what I did and I didn’t treat you well, I will be better and work on myself.”
This is future faking. The narcissist promises a scenario down the road and you go back in assuming they will follow through.
“I am sorry I have been such a commitment-phobe. You are right, let’s move in together/get married and have a child.”
This is also future faking and giving you a promise of something you want to get you back (Maya Angelou often cites a wonderful African proverb: “Be careful when a naked man offers you a shirt”).
This is not only a future fake meets love bomb/hoovering to get you sucked back in, but it can also suck you into something more difficult to get out of.
Dr. Nancy Irwin
Clinical Psychologist and Trauma Recovery Expert |Primary Therapist & Certified Hypnotherapist, Seasons in Malibu
Narcissists typically only show up in a psychologist’s office under a court order or for custodial reasons. The reason being, they believe they are smarter than any therapist (and the public at large), and will challenge a therapist to prove they themselves are “right.”
When challenged back, many will walk out of the office with a dramatic flair, saying in words or in tone and body language:
“I don’t need this crap. Who do you think you are to tell me what to do? Don’t you know who I am? What I have? I could buy and sell you.”
Narcissists, if they do stay in a therapist’s office, will try to find some vulnerable spot in the therapist, or demean the décor of the office or waiting room or the bottled water you offer. They are attempting to trigger some insecurity in you.
In intimate relationships, they constantly are gaslighting, underscoring insecurities, or vulnerabilities in their partners in an attempt to keep the upper hand. If that partner attempts to end the relationship, the narcissist will “up his game.”
A narcissist may say anything, do anything to keep you, not because he truly treasures you, but to save face
It is always about how he appears to others. It is many times more what narcissists will do vs. what they will say to win you back.
Grandiose gestures are a common ploy, not because he is generous, but because it reflects on him. Expensive, over-the-top gifts are a common tool because it is “proof” to your friends and family that he is really such a generous guy…how bad could he be if he sends you a new Mercedes topped with an enormous bow? Or an exquisite 16-carat diamond necklace?
NPDs (Narcissist Personality Disorders) are all about the presentation. If his significant other is driving a new Porsche or carrying a Hermes bag, it is a reflection on him, his success, brilliance, importance, power.
Even if you say to him: “Don’t buy me stuff and just treat me with respect,” he won’t comprehend it. He is incapable of showing true intimacy, respect, compassion for others. He may something like: “Honey, YOU are a Porsche or YOU are a Birkin…” He really can’t see the internal …only the external and how it reflects on HIM.
Disclaimer: I have used masculine pronouns here simply for ease. There are plenty of female NDPs.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist | Author, What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew
Narcissists make things about them. They will do or say anything they can to get their needs met. If you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist and they want you back but you don’t want that, prepare yourself for guilt, manipulation, and bargaining.
You’ll be told that you are hurting them and you’ve done something wrong by either ending the relationship or not reuniting with them. They’ll ask if they don’t matter to you anymore.
Don’t buy into the ways that they blame you for their feelings.
You can say: “I care about you but I just don’t think we work well together any more.”
They will try to change your mind by any means. Whether it’s guilt, shame, tears, anger, or pleading, they do their best to convince you to change your mind.
You can say: “I know you want us to get back together but I’m not going to feel bad about my decision no matter what you say.”
They will promise that they can change or tell you how they have changed. They will talk in generalizations about how you can be a couple again but do it better.
Don’t fall for it. Unless they are willing to go to couples’ therapy for a minimum of three months with someone who understands narcissist personality disorder, don’t negotiate to get back together.
You can say: “I appreciate your comments about change and how you will be different but I’m just not comfortable being in an intimate relationship with you.”
Ann Dypiangco, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Psychotherapist | Co-Founder, Resilient Rebound
Narcissists know when to make moves after your anger has waned
Narcissists have some go-to moves that we see across the board. A typical get-you-back-text a narcissist sends after a breakup looks like:
“I listened to (insert a song or musician that was important in the relationship) the other day and thought of you.”
Whether or not this even happened, this text is meant to get you thinking about the good times you had together.
Mind you, what is written in the text isn’t as important as when the text comes.
Narcissistic exes know to ping your phone on a weekend evening when you are alone or during the middle of a busy workday where you need to be super focused.
Their timing is impeccable. They make these moves after enough time has passed from your last blowout and your initial anger from the breakup has waned. It’s like they have a 6th sense for knowing the most inconvenient or vulnerable time to make your insides feel upside down.
Narcissists will try to get you to respond and engage
Their next go-to moves via text are usually along the lines of:
“Did I leave (insert one of your ex’s belongings) at your place? I need it for (insert an event with a pending deadline with inflated importance, like a work meeting or birthday party for one of their nephews that you adore).”
They set it up around a seemingly innocent request so that if you don’t respond you would look like a terrible, unreasonable person. Dang they’re good, aren’t they?
Narcissists will try talking about the relationship
Now that you’re conversing about that thing your ex needs for the event with the deadline, the door to talking about the relationship is open. This leads us to a fork in the road.
If your ex is a Grandiose Narcissist, the conversation will go somewhere along the lines of reminiscing about the great times you had together and then:
“Why would you give up on us?”
If your ex is a Vulnerable Narcissist, they will bring up the hardship they are facing and how desperate they feel dealing with it all alone. No one understands them or makes them feel like you do. And then,
“Why would you give up on us/me?“
And that’s where the paths reconverge. You start to find yourself sliding back into some of those familiar feelings, second-guessing yourself, and tongue-tied on how to answer. Because it has been lonely and there were good times. And yeah, it got bad but maybe it wasn’t that bad.
If these tactics sound familiar – then you’ve definitely tried to break-up with a narcissist.
Jessica Ortiz, LCSW
Licensed Psychotherapist | Owner, Catalyst Therapy and Consulting
There are a few ways narcissists reel people back into their life but the key is to get you talking to them again. They may play the victim, play the hero and they may even say they are sorry.
It doesn’t matter if they believe what they say to be true, what matters to them is that you are listening and it is even better if you’re engaging, arguing, explaining, or defending (participation points). Once you engage, they’re controlling the conversation, and maybe you too.
Playing the victim
Regardless of what they may have done to push you away (physical aggression, intimidation, harassment, name-calling, belittling, mocking, or more), narcissists can find a way to distract from the real issue of their behavior and paint themselves as a victim.
They may say they only called you names/lost control/called a million times because they are so worried/so stressed out/work so hard. They may say if you really cared about them, you’d be working harder/calling more/spending more money on them to maintain the relationship. They may say you are ungrateful or unappreciative or get moved to tears about how hard they try to be good enough for you.
Playing the hero
Narcissists may excuse bizarre or unreasonable behavior as being done out of concern for you. They may say their actions are because they care about you so much or that they want what is best for you.
They may try to highlight their generosity and point out how much they do for you. They may try to take credit for fixing a problem they created, inserted themselves in, or had nothing to do with.
Don’t take the bait
Do you find yourself starting to question how you could’ve tried harder/made more of an effort or better demonstrated your appreciation? Do you feel pressure to show up at another event to show your “loyalty”?
Would you point out that they were wrong, or correct them? Are you afraid of their reaction or feel the need to explain something so they understand where you are coming from or what you meant (or that you’ll look bad/be misunderstood/judged)?
In wanting to be understood, accepted, or seem reasonable, you may fall into a trap. Pointing out their bad behavior, inconsistencies, explaining, or defending yourself is you trying to convince the narcissist of your perspective.
Proving yourself, atoning, arguing, or explaining gives the narcissist the power, attention, and control. It is okay to not take the bait.
Adult Psychotherapist | Author, “Are You Living with a Narcissist?”
Narcissists are easily disappointed when things are not about them or don’t go their way. Some might be those who shout and complain but more likely it’s not what they say but what they do. Actions do speak louder than words.
A narcissist uses silent treatment for hours or even days
So you may more likely find the narcissist uses silent treatment for hours or even days depending on their belief in their righteousness in wanting something said or done as they prescribe.
Another tactic is a vengeful betrayal of what the other partner may have expected or asked of them that was indeed reasonable. They get back and express or show their disappointment and frustration with an abrupt exit from the room, maybe slamming a door too hard communicating with an overreaction as if they’ve been slighted, which is indeed how they feel.
Another strategy used by the narcissist to “get back” is to start blaming the other partner for incidentals but over and over again.
They might say, “You’re holding me back,” for example, when they seek constant activity with no downtime. Their constant pursuit of concerts, plays, movies, travel, and sports events that would ordinarily be fun is so overdone that the other partner feels worn out especially if they do not like being constantly on the go.
The narcissist has an urgency to keep busy to keep at bay any hidden, often unconscious, feelings of emptiness that he must keep in check.
His claim for superiority of knowledge about all these activities conceals or masks a sense of inferiority that would feel devastating. So, he blames the other person rather than ever feeling at fault or inconsiderate to keep such negative feelings about himself hidden from others and himself.
It’s the other person’s fault all the time. An empathic partner may too often feel insecure and dependent, so they take these complaints far too often as if they are deserved and try to rise to the narcissistic partner’s requests that are actually demands.
This need to be busy has been very self-defeating for the narcissist during the Pandemic when all his activities with crowds are closed. He may take this personally underplaying the risks the government is trying to protect us from.
His partner understands these risks and may out of fear protest more than would be her common reaction to his dismay as if the world is conspiring against him.
Narcissist can be considered master manipulators and will pull out all the stops to keep a partner in a relationship.
Narcissists deflect the relational issue and project it back into the partner rather than taking responsibility for it
There was once a narcissist who mistreated his wife and had a mistress on the side and rarely went home to be with family claiming he was working. After many denied pleas for the narcissist to go to therapy and work on the relationship, the wife finally filed for divorce.
The narcissist said he was shocked his wife left him and had no idea this was going to happen. He said he never knew she was unhappy as he was the perfect husband to her and he further stated he was devastated to have to live without his family and wife as they were his entire life.
This is an example of a narcissist not being honest about problems and their part in them. It is almost impossible for a narcissist to take responsibility and admit their part in relational issues and they often resort to blaming and gaslighting to avoid facing reality.
Related: How to Live with a Narcissist
Relationship Expert, Self Development Secrets
When narcissists desire to get you back into a relationship, they try to do it as soon as possible and as a rule, they point to pick up where they left off. They know what keys to use to get a response from you and they also know what words and actions to use to do this.
Here are narcissist’s favorite expressions to use to get you back.
“I’m sorry for hurting you and I promise to make it up to you.”
This is the main trick used globally by narcissists of all types. He/she may appear with flowers, chocolate, or nice presents in order to make his/her partner to forget all wrongdoings and create an illusion of a better future.
“I love only you.”
They usually try to make you believe that other people are only for “fun.” The only person they really love is you. Influence and attraction are the fundamental features of narcissists. There’s no doubt you are unique and special, but the Narcissist doesn’t appreciate those qualities in you.
The most important thing for them is to keep the number of his or her fans high. The more people adored them, the better. The reality is that they are telling their other partners the same.
Empathy Expert | Coach | Author, “El Arte de la Empatía (The Art of Empathy)“
For narcissists, it is a lot easier to get a known supply back than research for a new person to get narcissistic supply from. Narcissists are experts in human behavior, they pierce the surface and reach to the deepest weaknesses and fears of their victims.
They will use everything they know about you to get you back
From promising what you always wanted, a house, children, the life of your dreams, anything that will make you tick.
In the hoovering mode when they try to get you back, they will apologize, and they will make you feel understood that they are conscious of all their wrongdoings and will promise you that these won’t happen again.
They will take out for dinner, buy you flowers and take extra good care of you to make sure you will be pampered and loved. The typical love bombing phase when trying to hoover the victim to be in their inner circle again.
They will magnify all the good moments between you two and minimize the bad ones as if it was just a wrong perspective of reality you had (gas lightning technique).
They will use the soul mate line
Narcissists make you believe that you are made for one another, that what you have is so unique that it would be such a big mistake to let it go because of a misunderstanding (they change your perception of reality to their benefit).
Terry B. McDougall, PCC, MBA
Narcissists are extremely common in the workplace and are often able to ascend to positions of power to make the lives of many workers miserable. I’ve worked with dozens of people to help them recognize and cope with a narcissistic boss.
Narcissists will say anything to maintain control over people
Think of them as predators. They have no boundaries and treat other people as objects rather than human beings. They will try to keep their “prey” off-balance by sometimes idealizing them and being extremely complimentary.
They might say, “You’re the best employee I’ve ever managed” or “No one is better or smarter than you.”
They are extremely good at seeing just what you want to hear. This feeds the ego and naturally, you want more so you’ll do what they ask of you.
The narcissist tightens the hold they have but devaluing you
They do this by putting you down, bullying, insulting, and generally trying to undermine your confidence.
They may say things like, “You’re so stupid,” “You’re lucky I don’t fire you,” or “If my boss finds out about this, he’ll go ballistic and you’ll be gone.”
The alternating idealization and devaluation are what keep you bonded to the narcissist. It’s called “gaslighting” when your version of reality differs greatly from the “reality” of the narcissist and you start to think you’re crazy.
When you stop listening to your own internal wisdom and begin believing what the narcissist says to you, it can be very difficult to break away because even though you’re miserable when you’re abused, it feels good when they idealize you.
You begin to hope that they will stay “nice” and you begin to think that if you’re “good enough” and do what they say that the abusive behavior won’t come back. That’s actually how they get you under their control.
To break away you need to recognize that they actually see you as an object to control and they don’t really mean the sweet things they say. They say those things to maintain control over you.
Relationship Consultant and Breakup Specialist, Ex-Boyfriend Recovery
A narcissist is going to be focusing on words that are going to change that person’s mind about the past relationship
They will romanticize the good times and give the impression that they were the happiest couple. However, while their words are right, they usually are not followed by actions.
“I’ve started counseling.”
Hoping that this would be enough to change their exes mind about being with them and seeing that they have taken a positive step to change.
“I am sorry for hurting you, I will make it up to you. No one has ever made me feel the way you did”.
While their attempts to get you back are going to be full of promise and loving gestures, giving you everything you ever wanted from them and creating this perfect person for you to see how much they have changed.
A narcissist will pass on the blame if they fail to get you back
When this fails, and their attempts of being the perfect person their focus moves onto looking at how to make you feel that the relationship break down was your fault, making you feel guilt and shame, as if it is you who needed to gain their forgiveness.
“You’re being so manipulative, no wonder no one else likes you.”
Belittling their ex making them feel that they are less than they are, that no one else would consider loving them and being in a relationship with them. Making them question their self-worth, questioning if there is actually something wrong with themselves.
With a narcissist having a grand sense of self-importance, they don’t seem to understand how someone does not want to be in a relationship with them, living in their fantasy world where they are the center of everything, then they get rejected they start to manipulate people into doing what they want.
Chief Burnout Officer, Breakfast Leadership Network
Narcissistic people have a huge impact on people in their lives, and this influence isn’t a positive impact. Narcissists want control over their lovers, and when a lover leaves the relationship, the narcissist will do anything in their power to get the individual back.
There are several stages that a narcissist will use, to try and get their lover back.
Stage one: You’re still with them
Narcissists that are at fault over an issue or disagreement will often say “I’m sorry, but…” which is their fake apology because they aren’t truly taking responsibility for their actions.
Narcissists will also use the “It’s all your fault” phrase when often the other person has no responsibility in the situation.
Another classic narcissist phrase is “Why would you do something like this to me when you know it hurts me?”, which keeps the victim on the narcissist’s carousel of control.
Stage two: You’re going to leave them
When narcissists know that you’re one foot out the door, and they’re losing control of you, they will step up their affection and admiration towards you, which mimics when you first started dating.
Common phrases that narcissists use in stage two are:
“I love you.”
“We like the same things.”
“Look how great we are together.”
Stage three: You’ve left them
This stage is when the narcissist is at their most angry and potentially dangerous state. This stage often creates opportunities for domestic violence, because the narcissist realizes they no longer have you under their control.
Common phrases used by narcissists in stage three include:
“You can’t live without me.”
“You’ve done all of this to hurt me.”
“I can’t live without you.”
“If I can’t have you, then no one can have you.”
They will do whatever they can to attempt to get control over you.
Unfortunately, narcissists rarely change their behavior and most often blame others for their issues. Once you decide to end a relationship with a narcissistic person, you should truly end it. Don’t engage in any conversations, texts, meetups, etc. with a narcissist.