Going no contact with a narcissist is never easy, and that’s true whether you’re the one who left or you’re the one who got discarded. I remember when I finally got the nerve to leave my ex-husband, there was part of me that sort of wished I could make him realize exactly what he’d lost. I wanted him to regret what he’d done to me and how he’d affected my life. It was a little different when I went no contact with my mother. I wanted her to know I was doing better without her in my life, if that makes any sense. In either case, while I knew for sure that I didn’t want them in my life any longer, I guess a part of me kind of wanted them to miss me, or at least to regret losing me.
Can you relate? Maybe you finally found yourself free of a narcissist in your life who gaslit you, manipulated you like there was no tomorrow, and who seemed to live to bring you grief. And now that they are gone, you kind of hate to admit it, but there might be a tiny little part of you that misses them despite the fact that they took you for granted, minimized you, and made you feel like you were worthless.
You’ve done your research, and you recognize that you probably miss the narcissist because of the trauma bond which was the result of the ongoing cycles of a toxic relationship.
You might even already know that going through these cycles of intermittent reinforcement – ongoing punishment and reward, sprinkled with tiny crumbs of affection here to keep you hooked – will cause that trauma bond to make you feel like an addict who has gone cold-turkey on their drug of choice when the narcissist is no longer part of your daily life.
Have you ever found yourself wishing the narcissist would regret losing you? Or wanting them to miss you once you’re gone? If so, you’re going to want to stick around, because that’s exactly what we’re talking about today: how to make the narcissist regret losing you and/or miss you after the discard – what you can expect from the narcissist, how they think about you once you’re gone and exactly what you can do to make them realize exactly what they’ve lost when they lost you.
Listen, I totally get how you feel here – and who could blame you for feeling like you want them to suffer a little? After all, they were awful to you and you did everything in your power to make you happy. In many cases, you feel like they’ve ruined your life – and maybe even affected it in so many ways that you can’t undo. If nothing else, you spent far too long trying to fix the unfixable. And you’re rightfully angry.
What the Narcissist Will Miss About You
The first thing we need to recognize when it comes to narcissists is that what they miss isn’t so much you as an individual, but what you did for them. They miss you as a source of narcissistic supply, which, in case you’re new around here, means that you offered them attention, validation, and maybe even admiration – all the “supply” they needed to feed their ego. Plus, they might miss the things you did to help them take care of themselves and their lives: cooking, cleaning, taking care of their bills and business – stuff like that.
But is it even possible for them to miss you as an individual?
Sadly, the answer is no – at least not in the same way that a normal person might miss you. I mean, don’t get me wrong. They’ll definitely notice your absence because you’re not giving them all the things you did before. They will miss having you as their own personal emotional garbage dumpster. They will miss your money or your attention or your lovemaking. They will miss the status or social standing you offered them. They will miss the supply your family and friends may have given them, if they haven’t completely pushed them all away from you by now. But as much as at least a part of you wants the narcissist to miss you for you, it cannot happen.
How Narcissists ‘Love’ You
Rather than longing for you, they long for your services or for the benefits they get out of the relationship. Look at it like this:
For the average toxic narcissist, the discard leads to the “out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon. They don’t see you as a whole person but as an extension of themselves. Their perception of relationships isn’t the same as yours or mine – they see previous relationships sort of like normal people see their smartphones.
Sure, when we first get our smartphones, they are amazingly new and shiny and fast. They have new features. They do all this cool stuff. But over time, they get overloaded and they start glitching here and there. We notice some new app that we are DYING to try won’t work on our phone. Before long, we hear about a newer, faster, better model that recently came out. Before we can say boo, we’re at the Verizon store, casually joking with the cute salesperson as we sign the dotted line. We’re getting that new phone, by golly and we aren’t sad about the fact that we’re no longer going to use the old one. I mean, sure we might miss the sparkly case we bought for it, or we might miss the little clip-on stylus we paid extra for, but in general, we don’t sit around crying about our old phones. We just replace them without a second thought.
That’s how narcissists see relationships. And we all know that narcissists are infamous for revisiting old flames, for sure. But you’ve got to know that, for a narcissist, it is never about how amazing you might be – it is about what they can get from you in the form of narcissistic supply.
Understanding Narcissistic Supply
Don’t confuse that with the idea that they miss you or that they feel something real. Think of it like this: let’s say you’re a little bit addicted to ice cream. You’ve been trying to quit eating it, but one day you find yourself really needing a little ice cream fix. Just then, you hear the ice cream truck coming down the street.
“What luck,” you think. “I was just craving ice cream!”
You go outside and you stand there with your money. Your excitement rises as you hear the trademark ice cream truck music getting closer and closer. As the ice cream truck approaches, you notice it’s not the same truck that usually comes through your neighborhood. Do you turn away and go back inside if it isn’t the truck you expected to see? Of course not! You get your ice cream! That’s because you are not thinking of that specific ice cream truck at all. You’re only thinking of the delicious ice cream you’re about to indulge in – so it’s what it can provide, not the truck itself. You can and would get your ice cream fix from any ice cream truck.
So, in this example, you’re the truck and the ice cream is the narcissistic supply.
They won’t miss you for you. What they do miss is your narcissistic supply. That is if they don’t end up getting it from somewhere else. If they are able to move on to get their narcissistic supply from elsewhere, then they most definitely will appear to forget you exist. I mean, they will certainly use you as a weapon against the new supply – so, if the new supply folds their laundry wrong in their opinion, for example, and you did it “right” – well, they will throw that in the new supply’s face. But again, that’s about what you were doing for them, not who you are.
How to Make the Narcissist Miss You After the Discard
So, how can you make the narcissist miss you? How can you make them regret losing you?
We’ve established that the only thing narcissists miss about you is the supply you gave them. And there is one thing that the narcissist regrets about losing you, and it is that they didn’t take even more from you before they did. They don’t regret the way they treated you. They don’t regret the way they discarded you, and even if you discarded them, they don’t regret what they did to cause you to do that.
But there is one way that you can cause a narcissist to think they’re missing out on you, after all. It’s just five steps and probably simpler than you might think.
1. Remove Yourself
First, you have to reduce or eliminate any contact you have with them following the discard. So just stop engaging with them on any level that isn’t absolutely necessary. If possible, go completely no contact and remove them from your life. If not, just deal with them as much as you need to – so, if you have kids together, only communicate with them about the kids and the business of raising them. No emotions, no kindness. Just black and white facts and information that is necessary to do your pickups and drop-offs, any medical information you’re required to share, and stuff like that.
2. Focus on You
Now, once you’ve started to do the low or no contact thing, you’re going to want to start focusing on taking care of yourself. During your relationship with the narcissist, chances are that you kind of lost yourself – if you ever fully understood yourself before you started. And now is a perfect time to start getting to know yourself, finally. Figure out what you like and what makes you happy. Find out what your passions are, if you don’t already know, and indulge in them. Throw yourself into a fun project or something that makes you want to get up out of bed in the morning. Imagine what your ideal life would look like, and start taking steps to create it now.
3. Fix What’s Broken
If there is something you don’t like about yourself that you are capable of changing, now is an ideal time to do this. Maybe you want to lose a few pounds or maybe you want to increase your self-esteem. Or, you want to get better at keeping up on your housework, or you want to start working out or reading or going to church more often. Whatever you’ve been meaning to do that will make you feel more complete and happy – start working on it, one tiny baby step at a time. Even just researching your desired result can be a great way to start moving in the right direction.
4. Get Clear on What You Deserve
You spent a long time feeling worthless, thanks to the narcissist and their abuse. Now, you need to really take a good, hard look at this whole situation. Be honest with yourself. Did you really deserve the way they treated you? Was any of it your fault? I can tell you with all certainty that you didn’t deserve that. How do I know? Well, because no one deserves to be treated the way a narcissist treas the people close to them. And chances are that you’re a kind, compassionate and giving person who loves hard – which the narcissist knew when they met you, and that’s part of the reason they have managed to keep you around as long as they did. Let me remind you that you deserve to be loved, to feel safe and to not be scared in your own home, at the very least. You deserve to be loved in the same way that you’d love. What you don’t deserve is to be taken advantage of, abused and treated like you don’t matter. Because my friend, you do matter. You are important and your thoughts and your feelings and your ideas are real and they are worth hearing. Please always remember that.
5. Live Like No One’s Watching
While you might be tempted to show off your newfound awesomeness once you get there, or to send the narcissist a little message letting them know how much better you’re doing, don’t bother. Their response, if any, will only annoy or frustrate you. Worse, they may try to hoover you – as in, suck you back in – so they can get more supply from you now that they can see you’re sort of “recharging” yourself. So rather than sitting around wondering if they’re missing you, try living like they don’t matter. Live as if they never existed at all. Find ways to make yourself happy and ways to make yourself feel amazing, and embrace them. Now is the time you can truly begin to create the life you’ve always wanted – or maybe the life you couldn’t have imagined before. Baby-step your way there and you can’t lose. Meanwhile, the narcissist will be fully aware of the fact that you no longer want or need them, because you’ll be too busy living. And the cherry on that little ice cream sundae will be the fact that you’ll be so busy living the sweet life that you might even forget you ever missed them, eventually.
Question of the day: Have you ever wished you could make a narcissist miss you after the discard? If so, how did it work out for you? Share your thoughts, share your ideas and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.