What Happens When You Abandon The Narcissist?

What Happens When You Abandon The Narcissist?

If you’ve decided that the narcissist in your life is not healthy for you, there will come the moment when you realize that it’s time to walk away. But, unfortunately, no matter how much you try, nothing changes, and the abuse continues.

Are you planning to abandon a narcissist?

If you plan to abandon the narcissist in your life, you should know first that you’re most certainly not alone. Unfortunately, the unfortunate truth is that thousands of men and women experience emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of a malignant narcissist. While this is terrible news for humanity, it’s good news for you today because our research and experience allow you a glimpse into the psychology of the narcissist and a play-by-play guide for exactly what to expect when you leave a narcissist.

It’s a painful realization to reach that point of giving up, but this is what is necessary if things aren’t going to change. This is when you have the greatest risk of narcissist retaliation if the narcissist thinks you’re planning on leaving them. Once you decide that it’s time, the final stage of implementing this can take place. Deciding to abandon a narcissist is scary, especially since a part of you misses the person you signed up for and how they used to be so kind and caring before everything changed.

Discovering That You’re Dealing With a Narcissist

Maybe there was a specific incident (or several) that you feel caused them to become disillusioned with you, and so you spent months or years trying to make up for whatever damage they claimed you caused.

And you might have found yourself Googling about how you could become more like what the narcissist in your life really seemed to want, right? But then you ran across something that blew your mind – you found out about narcissism, or more specifically, narcissistic personality disorder.

As you read through the checklist or article you found or watched the video you clicked on, and a lightbulb went on in your head. Your brain almost hurt from the heavy realization you had at that moment: after all the months or years you’ve been blaming yourself, it turned out that it wasn’t you after all.

You suddenly understood that this person matched up to the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. And that even if they weren’t diagnosed, they clearly demonstrated the trademark behaviors. You didn’t know if you were happy or super angry that you’d been unfairly beating yourself up for all this time. You weren’t sure whether to be upset that you had bent over backward to prove yourself to someone who would never see you. You struggled with the idea that you wasted so much of your life trying to make them happy when it would turn out that even if you were literally perfect, they would never be satisfied.

In other words, you recognized that this person who you now know as the narcissist in your life has actually done nothing but abuse and devalue you as they see fit and at any given moment for almost as long as you can remember. Are you worried you might be wrong, and this person isn’t a narcissist? If so, take our free toxic relationship test or look at this video, which offers signs that you’re in love with a narcissist. 

Making the Decision to Leave the Narcissist

Maybe you thought something was wrong with you at first. You couldn’t understand how someone could treat you the way this person has treated you, so you assumed you must be the problem. Maybe you thought that if only you could somehow “fix” whatever the narcissist claimed was wrong with you, and things would finally change.

But now, you’re over it, and you want out. You crave (and deserve) freedom, and you have taken the time to create your escape plan to go no contact or low contact.

You would love to abandon the narcissist completely. But you want to know what to expect. And if you’re honest, you are understandably concerned about what consequences you could face if you take off and leave the narcissist.

Why is it so difficult to abandon the narcissist? 

Let’s face it – the reasons you might be hesitant to leave the narcissist are many. Not only are you highly likely to be trauma bonded to them, thanks to years or even decades of abuse, but you might be dealing with a fear of abandonment and some attachment issues of your own.

And, quite honestly, you’re at least a little bit afraid of them.

You have seen the narcissist fly into an unreasonable narcissistic rage for the smallest of reasons. And anytime the rage didn’t give them the results they wanted, you’ve witnessed them using narcissistic injury, also known as the “poor me” act, as a way to manipulate you into doing what they want. Unfortunately, this has been a problem in your life more often than you care to admit.

But now that you’re finally done and you’re ready to get the heck out of dodge, you are fully expecting all hell to break loose. You know that it won’t go easily, and you suspect that the narcissist will do anything literally in their power to stop you, especially because you leaving means them losing the one thing they cannot do without – narcissistic supply.

And, if you’re like most survivors, you’re worried about what they will do if you leave.

What can you expect when you abandon the narcissist?

The early part of the no contact journey is no picnic, so when you abandon the narcissist, you can expect to deal with various manipulation tactics, including the following.

The narcissist will beg you to stay.

The narcissist might beg you to stay – or even try to talk you out of leaving. You may even hear things like, “You’ll never find anyone who loves you as much as I do,” or “You’re going to regret this in the long run.” But, then, they will start love-bombing you again and suddenly become the “perfect partner,” and they’ll seem so sincere. Naturally, you will want to believe them, and you will find it nearly impossible to leave if you indulge in this little fantasy at all. Just remember that once they’ve got you firmly back in their grip, they’ll quickly return to their old ways.

The narcissist will guilt-trip you.

The narcissist will try to make you feel guilty for abandoning them. Then, they will suddenly forget that they ever treated you anything but like royalty. In general, narcissists are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions, and the narcissistic guilt trip takes things to a whole new level. Not only is the narcissist well-aware of your “buttons” (which they will happily push at any given moment to get what they want), but they have literally no limits to the levels to which they will stoop. This video offers insight into managing your guilt when you abandon the narcissist.

The narcissist will threaten you.

In many cases, the narcissist will (at least threaten to) stoop to any level to get revenge. You may even hear things like, “If you leave, I’ll tell everyone what a bad person you are” or “If you walk out that door, don’t ever expect me to let you back in!” Remember that even if you choose to stay, they’ll start a smear campaign about you if they haven’t already. So don’t try to reason with them, and don’t make excuses. If you’re afraid they will physically hurt you or your kids, be really intentional in your planning and do your best to avoid confrontation as you exit. If possible, leave and don’t say anything to the narcissist until you’re safely away. This video offers insight into what to do if the narcissist snaps on you. 

The narcissist will stalk and harass you. 

Expect to be stalked and harassed by the narcissist after you abandon them, especially if they have no other sources of narcissistic supply. If they have other sources of supply, they may still stalk you, but it might be less intense or not at all, depending on the situation. Still, it’s important to remember that for the narcissist, this supply can literally feel like a requirement for them – like air or water. So, whether it’s immediately or later down the line, you should be aware that abandoning a narcissist can lead to stalking. If you’re concerned about an existing stalker or you already know that the narcissist in your own life will become a stalker, be sure to grab my free stalker safety kit, right here, so you can take precautions and keep yourself safe. This video also offers insight into how to keep yourself safe from a stalker. 

The narcissist will hoover you.

If the narcissist in your life is not already engaging with a replacement for you, then you can expect to be hoovered. Named after the famous vacuum cleaner company, “hoovering” happens when the narcissist tries to “suck you back in” after the discard. This can be drama-related or an attempt to reconcile the relationship – or, in some cases, an attempt to get you to break no contact once you do get away.

You can expect the narcissist to hoover since you are one of their primary sources of narcissistic supply – and sometimes, the only one. When you unexpectedly cut off that source of supply, the narcissist will be like a vampire who goes without blood for too long. They’ll do anything to get a little taste of it – if they’re in need anyway. They will send you texts such as “Can we please talk?” or “I miss you, please come back.”

Now listen – this next part is hard and will take a ton of willpower, but you’ve got to hold your ground here. Don’t answer their texts. Please don’t respond to their repeated efforts to contact you on social media. Block them and their usual flying monkeys – and if they show up at your door? You don’t answer it. If they won’t leave and are causing a scene? Call the police and have them removed. 

This video offers insight into why narcissists hoover and how to prevent yourself from falling back into that toxic, abusive mess they claim is a relationship.

And speaking of flying monkeys, this brings me to my next point.

The narcissist will engage their flying monkeys in triangulation.

Here’s where the narcissist will employ these so-called flying monkeys. Flying monkeys are just people who willingly or otherwise do the narcissist’s bidding and support their agenda. In other words, they enable the narcissist’s games and manipulation, whether they do it willingly or the narcissist manipulates them into helping.  If the hoover doesn’t work, and sometimes even before they try the hoover, the narcissist will pull out the triangulation card.

Triangulation is, unfortunately, a prevalent manipulation tactic often employed by narcissists; this is when the narcissist communicates as a third party between two people but prevents the two from communicating directly through either manipulating or controlling at least one of them.

So, in this case, because the narcissist may be desperate to get in touch with you for a bit of supply or to cause you more stress and pain (which, if we are honest, is also supply), they’re going to start reaching out to people who will help them by telling you “how worried they are” or “how sad the narcissist seems” since you left, or whatever. This video offers insight into dealing with flying monkeys and the smear campaign. 

The narcissist will flaunt their new source of supply in your face.

Alternatively, the narcissist may quickly scoop up a new person to be their source of narcissistic supply. And, once they’ve got that poor unsuspecting soul in place, you know what they’ll do, right? They will try to use this to hurt you. So, they will try to contact you to fill you in on their “good fortune.” They’ll want you to know how much better they get along with the new supply – and how that person “gets them” in ways you never could.

Of course, they’ll take all the supply they can get, right? So you know they’ll be posting all over their social accounts, telling the world about this new and amazing person they have finally found. They’ll proclaim that this person is their new soulmate and even insult you indirectly in the process by either not acknowledging that you ever existed or by directly pointing out how much better they are with the new person. They will conveniently forget how a similar thing happened when they met you – that they once thought you were their amazing soulmate who could do no wrong and who just “got them” in ways their ex never could. Ahem. Yep, it’s a typical narcissistic cycle of abuse. Anyhoo…

They will try to call you or send you messages to brag about them, hoping that they will get a rise out of you. Of course, the best thing to do is ignore the messages and block their number and social media profiles. If you get any strange friend requests or follows from new accounts that look suspicious, then you will want to block those as well. This video offers insight into how to deal with the narcissist getting a new supply.

The narcissist will run smear campaigns.

Remember how I mentioned smear campaigns before? Well, not only is the narcissist is worried that you will expose who they are, but they’re also going to need a replacement supply and fast! So, they’re going to tell everyone a big sob story, and they’re going to try to tell everyone what a terrible person you are.  They will attempt to ruin your reputation among your family and friends, and if possible, they’ll even try to get you fired from your job. The narcissist can also threaten you by leaking your personal and private information in public. Be careful to avoid engaging with their rumors and lies. Instead, if someone you feel deserves an explanation asks you, then you can explain yourself just one time. If the person appears not to believe you or continues to act as a flying monkey on the narcissist’s behalf, you can step away emotionally until you’re feeling more healed – and at that time, you can decide whether you’d like to keep that person in your life. This video offers insight into dealing with the narcissist’s smear campaign.

Should you abandon the narcissist? 

Given all of the information shared here, you might feel a little doubtful about your decision to leave the narcissist. Worse, you might find that things are still not resolved, and more damage is done by separating from the narcissist. But while it won’t necessarily be easy, it will certainly be worth your time and trouble. And now that you know what to expect when you abandon a narcissist, you can be prepared and protect yourself along the way. This video offers insight into creating your exit plan safely.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

 

The Narcissist’s Final Discard: How do you know it’s REALLY over?

The Narcissist’s Final Discard: How do you know it’s REALLY over?

Narcissists are notorious for “recycling” their relationships. So, how can you tell when a relationship with a narcissist is really over? WHEN do you know for sure that you’re experiencing the “final discard” at the hands of a narcissist?

What is it like to be in a relationship with a narcissist? 

If you’ve been in a relationship with a pathological narcissist, you know what it feels like to feel crazy. You’ve found yourself riddled with anxiety, emotionally destroyed. While you might not like to admit it, you’ve probably doubted your sanity as you attempted to figure out what was going on. Maybe you even felt like the relationship was doomed but didn’t know why or what the narcissist would do next.

Unfortunately, the most confusing part of becoming enmeshed in a toxic relationship like this is that not only can narcissists seem to be exciting and delightful, but they are also highly confusing, incredibly superficial, and they can be outrageously deceptive. Worse, regardless of its nature, nearly any long-term relationship with a narcissist can lead to long-term traumatic effects.

What is the narcissistic abuse cycle?

Most malignant narcissists have a particular cycle of abuse that they repeat throughout their lives with every relationship they experience, regardless of the type of relationship. The cycle includes an initial period of idealization, or love bombing, followed by a process of devaluing and emotionally destroying you. After that, you’ll experience a discard phase, which could be the actual end of the relationship, or just a temporary breakup or even a period of passive-aggression, emotional abuse, and/or silent treatment within the relationship. After that, there’s a common thing that happens – and it’s the very reason it’s so difficult to know for sure when the narcissist is done with you and your relationship.

Why is it so hard to tell when it’s over with a narcissist? 

The problem for most survivors of narcissistic abuse is the fourth phase of a narcissist’s abuse cycle – the part where they try to suck you back into the relationship. We call that the “hoover maneuver,” which can involve repeating the love-bombing phase, but not always. Sometimes, the narcissist will create drama or feign illness or injury to get your attention. Other times, the hoover can begin with a simple “butt-dial” or “accidental text.” Anything it takes to get your attention back. And since this is such a common occurrence in toxic relationships, you often feel like you can never be entirely free of the narcissist – even when you don’t want them to come back.

How do you know when you’ve experienced the narcissist’s final discard? 

How can you tell it’s over with a narcissist? There is no way to hide the fact that a narcissist discards people in their life. The warning signs are unmistakable. What is so difficult is that the final discard often happens after a period during which you think everything will be okay. It might even appear to be a reconciliation between the two of you. This is why, so often, when a narcissist has discarded you, you’re left confused and reeling.

So what are the criteria for a relationship with a narcissist to end? How do you know it’s really over?

Consider your position in the ‘circle of narcissistic supply.’

You aren’t the primary source of narcissistic supply.

While this is not always a sign that the narcissist won’t come back, there’s a greater chance that the narcissist will permanently move on if you aren’t the “primary” source of narcissistic supply. In other words, you’re someone they’re not married to or someone with whom they do not have a public relationship. If you’ve had an affair with the narcissist, they’re more likely, though not entirely guaranteed, to walk away permanently.

You are the primary source of narcissistic supply, but another supply has stepped into your place. 

Remember: once the novelty of the relationship has passed, the narcissist only cares about what you can do for them. So, if another person has started taking care of the things that you used to do for the narcissist, there is a far greater chance that they will stay away, at least for a while.

Consider the narcissist’s behavior and patterns.

While there does seem to be a playbook for narcissistic abuse, every narcissist is still an individual who may have their own patterns and behaviors separate from their personality disorder. Still, certain signs of the final discard are common among narcissists and people with narcissistic personality disorder (as well as other abusers with narcissistic traits who haven’t been diagnosed) – and they are likely to stand out if you’re looking for them.

Typically, the discard is part of the cycle of abuse, and it follows the devaluation period. The narcissist will start picking you apart, and if this is the first time it happens, it can feel devastating and confusing. On the other hand, if you’ve been in the relationship long enough to know the cycle, you might be prepared to hunker down and get through it as you wait for the next “good” part.

  • The narcissist will stop being nice to you altogether before the final discard. While they will repeatedly abandon you throughout the relationship with little discards, the final discard will feel slightly different. The narcissist might cross a line they never have before. For example, they might become physically aggressive when they haven’t before. As always, they will blame you for their behavior – but please note: no matter how “terrible” they claim you’ve been, there is never an excuse for physical abuse or aggression in any relationship.
  • When the narcissist realizes and accepts that they cannot own you, that they can no longer dominate you, and that you will not allow them to drain you any longer, they will walk away and stay away. But truthfully, that kind of awareness is quite rare for someone who has NPD.

The bottom line? A narcissist is finished with a relationship when they no longer need you. Still, while the final discard is a reality in many situations, there’s never a guarantee the narcissist won’t return to hoover you back into the relationship on some level or to secure you as a backup form of narcissistic supply at the very least.

With all of that being said, there’s only really one way to ensure that you’re done with the narcissist for good.

How can I be sure that the narcissist will leave me alone?

If you want to end it once and for all, you’ve got to take your power back and fast! The truth is that the discard is final when you decide that you are done with the toxic relationship and done with the narcissist.

If you want the narcissist out and want it to be over, you have to be the one to put an end to it. You can go no contact with them and never consider going back. Of course, you’ll need to go low contact and use the gray rock method when you must communicate with them. This is only applicable if you have children or other legal reasons, you must remain in contact. Otherwise, don’t bother! Now, you can block them on social media and block their calls to safeguard yourself from feeling triggered to return to the abusive relationship.

And, remember that no matter what they say, you cannot be friends with a narcissistic ex. They will continue to use you as a source of narcissistic supply, and you’ll find yourself feeling even more miserable than you did when you were with them.

But when you take control, you won’t need to worry about what happens if the narcissist wants you back. If the narcissist discards you, my suggestion is to do whatever grieving you need to do (and you WILL need to grieve the relationship, regardless of how toxic it has been), and then consider the discard a blessing in disguise.  Then, when you can discover or rediscover your power and value, you can heal yourself and begin to choose what comes next in your life.

Are you dealing with being discarded by a narcissist?

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. But, first, you have to decide what to do from here – if you’re unsure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

 

When the Narcissist Wants to Stay Friends After the Discard

When the Narcissist Wants to Stay Friends After the Discard

Have you ever wondered why some narcissists always want to seem to stay friends with their exes? Have you personally dealt with a narcissistic ex who insisted on being friends? It makes any sane person wonder why someone who clearly did not care about you during your relationship would be interested in maintaining your friendship, right?

It seems a little ridiculous. Whether it’s a full-on hoover maneuver or it’s just a misguided attempt to secure you as a backup source of narcissistic supply, you’re probably feeling a little confused on whether it’s even safe to be friendly with someone like this – that is, if the idea doesn’t make you feel absolutely disgusted.

What is the hoover maneuver?

The hoover maneuver, also known as hoovering is what we call it when the narcissist tries to sort of gain your attention again, or to “suck you back in” after the discard. The hoover maneuver isn’t always just about getting back together, but it can be drama-related or it can be an attempt to reconcile the relationship. In many cases, the hoover is used when you go no contact as an attempt to reconnect with you. (Side note: Yes, the “hoover” is named after the famous vacuum cleaner company).

What is narcissistic supply?

Narcissistic supply is basically your energy and attention and the narcissist requires it to feel like a whole person.  You and anyone else in the narcissist’s life will be used as a source of narcissistic supply to get attention, validation, admiration. Sometimes, narcissistic supply includes sex, but not always. The narcissist uses this “supply” to feed their ever-fragile ego and to maintain their false self. The narcissist may also have a circle of supply or “narcissistic harem,” which can include intimate partners, children, parents, other family members, friends, employees and coworkers, and even acquaintances.

How can you tell a narcissist is hoovering you?

When the narcissist has discarded you (or even if you’ve discarded them), they will sometimes tell you they’d like to stay friends, or they’ll say they’d like to continue your intimate relationship.

Any situation like this is a narcissist who is hoovering. But here’s the thing. Hoovering is not wanting to sincerely rekindle a relationship that went bad. It is a manipulative tactic that the narcissist uses to get you back into their control, whether or not they want to continue the actual relationship. As always, narcissists seem to have a playbook, and there are some common behaviors that narcissists might demonstrate when they’re using this particular manipulation tactic.

1. The Sentimental Out-of-Nowhere Call

You may not have heard from your narcissistic ex for six months and then all of a sudden they call you to say they saw a movie or heard a song that reminded them of you. They do this on purpose. In their minds, they’ve given you time to get over their abuse, so they’re hoping you’ve forgotten who they really are (and that you’ll allow yourself to be reeled back in by your own sentimental feelings). Don’t fall for it.

2. The Fake Apology

Narcissists only apologize for anything if they believe it will benefit them to do so. They don’t feel remorse for things they’ve done unless they’re being punished for their behavior – and even then, they are only sorry they got caught. But when the fake apology comes, it’s all about getting what they want from you. So, they will pretend to believe that they were wrong in the relationship and will pretend to take responsibility for it. Just remember that they don’t believe they did anything wrong, and they’re only saying this because they know that is what you want to hear.

3. The Special Day Call

A lot of narcissists will call you on your birthday or your anniversary with them, or during the holidays. They do this because they want you to believe that they actually care – but the truth is that as always, this is all an act and they’re really just looking to get a little narcissistic supply from you. They may also be feeling lonely. You’d do best to block them and go no contact – or at the very least, to ignore the “special day call.”

4. The Soulmate Claim

Narcissists are well-known for their little soulmate scams. One of the most effective ways they can hoover you is through reintroducing idealization, or love bombing, into their arsenal. That means they might get a little sappy with you. They’ll claim you were their “one” and that you’ve ALWAYS been the one. The ONLY one, they swear!  They’ll claim to be sad that your relationship ended because you are their soulmate. They’ll say they can’t live without you and claim that no one else makes them feel the way you make them feel. They will shower you with sweet words, begging you to get back together. But whatever you do, don’t fall for this one, no matter how difficult it is to resist. They’re only playing this game so they can get you back into their control and continue their abuse. The narcissist will not change, no matter how hard they claim otherwise.

5. The Unsolicited Gift

If you find yourself holding a beautiful bouquet or a delicious box of chocolates sent to you by your narcissistic ex, with a love note attached, you’ve got yourself an unsolicited gift, and its only purpose is to get your attention so they can start the conversation with you again. This is yet another hoover, and your best bet is to get rid of it (or keep it, but do not respond to the gesture).

This video offers additional insight into the narcissist’s motivations for wanting to stay friends with their exes after the discard.

Other Useful Videos for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Did you know? Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

Narcissists And Selective Memory

Narcissists And Selective Memory

(Prefer to watch or listen instead of reading? Here’s a video!) Is it selective memory? Or maybe it’s narcissistic selective amnesia? Is there any such thing?

Have you ever dealt with a narcissist who seems to conveniently forget things that are important to you, but who never seems to forget that time 10 years ago when you stepped on their toe or said something that hurt their feelings? Someone who would be very forgetful when they promised you they’d do something that mattered, but who would never forget if you even looked at them cross-eyed? How did that feel to you?

Maybe you worried that they were losing their memory or started Googling stuff like “early-onset dementia” or “convenient memory loss.” Or, if you are still in a relationship with a narcissist, whether they are a parent, spouse, partner, friend, or coworker, and you are noticing that their memory seems to be going south, then you might be wondering about this right now, at this moment.

If your toxic relationships look anything like mine did, you might find this to be especially poignant when you think back to incidents where the narcissist said they’d take care of something, but pretended to forget that they made such a promise.

Later, they’d end up blaming you for being irresponsible. For instance, the narcissist in your life may have told you that they were going to take care of the grocery shopping on Wednesday. But then when you go to cook dinner on Wednesday night, they’re offended when you ask what happened with the groceries. At that moment, rather than taking responsibility and acknowledging that they forgot or chose not to do the shopping for whatever reason, they might accuse you of forgetting to do the shopping. And when you remind them that they said they were going to take care of the shopping, they get angry and deny having said that.

Despite the fact that you know for sure they said it, they will insist that you’re mistaken, and narcissistic rage will ensue as they give you a good “dressing down,” reminding you how scatter-brained and flaky you tend to be. By the time this emotionally draining exchange is over, you’ll find yourself wishing you’d just done the shopping yourself – and you never ask them to do it again.

Of course, if we’re being honest, this was the narcissist’s desire all along – to avoid the responsibility of bringing home the proverbial bacon and then frying it up in a pan part – but as always, they’ll expect you to serve it up to them with a smile if and when they want it, regardless of your own state of wellbeing and ability to drop whatever you’re doing and take care of their many demands in any given moment.

But I digress. Now, here is the question you have really been wanting to ask.

Do Narcissists Really Have Memory Problems?

Yes, and no. It’s complicated – and there are a couple of different possibilities here. Let me explain.

First, it’s important to remember that, as much as they make us doubt it, narcissists are technically human. And all humans seem to have a certain amount of bias as well as selectiveness in both their perceptions and their memories.

For example, you know about confirmation bias, right? That is where someone will only notice or remember things that confirm what they already believe. And we all know how nostalgia can lead to a convenient “forgetting” of the bad parts of life – for example, when a woman has a baby, we don’t focus on the gross, painful parts of giving birth, but we do focus on how amazing it was that we managed to have a baby. The truth is that, in this case, humanity might be in serious danger of extinction if it was any other way.

Even survivors of narcissistic abuse will find themselves dealing with what might be called nostalgia-based selective memory – but we call it “abuse amnesia.” That is what happens when we are away from the abuser in our lives for a while and we start to forget all the bad parts of being in a relationship with them. It’s when “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” on a toxic level. You literally sort of “forget” all of the bad stuff and begin to romanticize the reality of your toxic relationship. This is dangerous as it leads to reuniting with your abuser. Too many of us end up going back to the very people who made our lives feel miserable – simply because some part of us wants to believe them when they swear they’ve changed – and because on some level, we really sort of “forget” the depth of how they actually treated us in the relationship.

This is truly just how the human brain functions. Our memories function sort of like little databases, keeping records in realtime over the course of our lives. As our brain manages our physical bodies, it also grabs a few main details of each situation we deal with every day, or at least those situations that seem to matter to us in the moment – good or bad. It discards the stuff that doesn’t feel or seem important to us – and if we tap into that memory later to figure out what happened, our brains attempt to sort of reconstruct that situation, based on only those saved details.

C-PTSD and Selective Memory

If you’ve been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, then you might be experiencing C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder), which is a serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. This disorder can take years to treat and many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms or misdiagnose it. They may even victim-blame if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist. Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities.

With that being said, one of the most often-reported symptoms is short-term memory loss, along with longer-term loss in some especially traumatic cases where people might sort of blackout painful incidents of verbal or emotional abuse suffered at the hands of a narcissist.  This is a result of the way our brains function under the stress of being in a relationship with a narcissist.

This is partially related to the trauma, which has a tendency to cause us to sort of live instinctively – as in, a constant state of fight-or-flight and/or freeze mode. And you know when it’s really hard for the human brain to form and retain new memories, right?

When you’re in fight-or-flight and/or freeze mode. Yup.

So, in other words: YES, the narcissist has a selective memory or “selective amnesia.” And often, they use the premise of it as a way to gaslight you.

When Narcissists Use Selective Memory in Gaslighting

So, when it comes to a narcissist who hurts us emotionally, we obviously consider this important and significant. This is part of our survival instinct. It makes sense.

But when you consider that narcissists tend to have incredibly volatile emotions along with a lack of emotional and compassionate empathy – not to mention that when they are feeling upset or angry or embarrassed – or when they’re feeling anything other than being fully in control of the situation, and then you add in the fact that they don’t see you as real, relevant or important as they are…well, their “selective” memory might be understandable, in a way. Right?

Of course, with narcissists, nothing is so simple. And in many cases, if we’re being honest, it isn’t really about a naturally-occurring personality defect. In fact, for most narcissists, selective memory is used as a manipulation tactic, at least some of the time. It is one of the many ways they gaslight you – as in manipulating you by psychological means into questioning your own sanity.

They might claim they don’t remember doing something that hurt you so they can get out of taking responsibility, for example. Or, (and this is more common in my experience), they might even sort of attack you for EXPECTING them to remember – and they might even try to use this to justify their abuse (or to deny it completely).

The fact of the matter is that narcissists only care about what they want and what they need. And sadly, when it comes to you, they are mostly only concerned with the narcissistic supply you provide them.

The Conveniently Forgetful Narcissist

The truth is that, while human memory is fallible and while narcissists are technically human, most of the time, unless they are diagnosed with dementia or another memory-affecting disease, the narcissist’s memory is as good as anyone else’s.

In other words, narcissists will remember what they choose to remember.

They might selectively remember how much you love something. Here’s a hypothetical example to explain it a little more clearly. Let’s say that at one time, you told the narcissist you love white roses but that you’re allergic to yellow daisies to the point that it could endanger your life.

They will remember that when it is convenient for them – and forget when they feel like it.

So, during love bombing, you’ll get all kinds of white roses. And then, when they are in the devalue phase, where they’re noticing everything wrong with you and picking you apart, they will forget you like flowers at all. Or they’ll fill the house with yellow daisies and get mad at you when your throat closes up and you have to rush to the emergency room. They’ll say you are just being dramatic.

And once that incident is over and they decide they want some more of the narcissistic supply they can provide you, they might want to suck you back into the relationship with a good, solid hoover maneuver. That’s when they will suddenly recall that you love white roses, and they’ll expect you to be ever-so-grateful that they “thought about you” and that they brought you these beautiful roses. And, you might even fall for it, because they will seem so sincere and like they really mean it.

But don’t let your soft heart fool you here, my friend. The fact is that those white roses you love so much are being used as a tool to reel you in once again. That is the only reason they decide to remember that single fact about you in any given moment (and it is the same reason they forget when it is convenient for them).

Especially during the devalue and discard phases, the narcissist might suddenly recall something embarrassing that you did years ago at a party or among friends, and they might intentionally humiliate you with the story. And you can bet that they will certainly never manage to forget that one time you had let them down 20 years ago – but they won’t recall that you failed to do whatever they expected because you were in the hospital having surgery – they’ll just remember that you forgot to pay the water bill or that you didn’t make their lunch for work that day. Seriously.

Let me be clear here. The narcissist remembers and forgets things that matter to you at different times because they instinctively recognize that you will have emotional reactions to them in either case. In other words, they use this “selective memory” thing as a way to control and manipulate you.

Ultimately, while the narcissist most certainly can and does occasionally have moments of forgetfulness or things that really slip their minds, in many cases, it can be a smokescreen for the gaslighting techniques they use to control you and manipulate you into doing what they want.

Question of the day: Do you know a narcissist who used selective memory as a gaslighting and manipulation tactic? Do you believe that they are just having the same issues as other humans? What do you think? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, and share your experiences in the comments section below this video – and let’s talk about it!

You might also enjoy these videos:

Don’t Fall for These Sneaky Things Narcissists Do to Get You Back

Don’t Fall for These Sneaky Things Narcissists Do to Get You Back

Doing what I do, I get to talk to a lot of interesting people – and I hear some really revealing stories. For example, I was talking to a client the other day and she mentioned to me that her ex had unfriended their son on a certain social media platform. This caused her to reach out to him and ask why he’d done it – it upset her son and she had to know why he would do such a thing. He admitted that he was childish and the two had an hours-long conversation afterward, leaving my client more confused than ever.

Another client told me about how her father kept sending her strange boxes of things that belonged to her deceased father, despite the fact that they’d been no contact for years. Luckily, she didn’t react, but it definitely messed with her head.

A male client shared with me that his ex had been giving him the silent treatment for weeks. In fact, it had gone on for so long that he assumed the relationship was over. Then, one day, she contacted him to let him know she was pregnant and that the baby would be coming in a few months. He instantly forgot about all of the drama that had gone down between them and rushed to her side. A year later, after he’d helped name the baby and had fallen madly in love with him, he learned that he wasn’t the father – and worse, that the mother had known it all along, but did not tell him because the real father had gone to prison. But now that he was out, she said, he wanted his baby and she wanted him.

And then there was the client who told me a story about how after she’d struggled to end a relationship with a particularly difficult ex, she heard a knock on the door one day, and there he stood, holding his dog. She said he told her the dog was sick and he didn’t know what to do or to whom else he could turn. Of course, she helped him get the dog to the vet and made sure he was okay afterward. They ended up dating for three more months after that.

Sneaky Things Narcissists Do to Get You Back

All of these stories sound different, right? But they all have one thing in common – they are sneaky things that narcissists did to get people back in their lives. And these are just a few of probably thousands of examples of this phenomenon. If you’ve been pulled back into a relationship with a narcissist, or you’re worried that you might be, stick with me, because that’s exactly what we’re talking about today  – sneaky things narcissists do to get you back, plus: how to recognize them and what to do if it happens to you. See the video on YouTube for more, or read more here.

This is Hoovering

When you end a toxic relationship with a narcissist, you might think that it’s over – but very often, the narcissist has other ideas. in fact, more often than not, the narcissist will do something to suck you back into their drama – or even fully back into the relationship – using a technique called hoovering.

Hoovering, named after the famous vacuum cleaner company, is what we call it when the narcissist tries to “suck you back in” after you’ve left them or ended the relationship, or after they have discarded you. They may use some kind of personal problem or dramatic issue to pull you back in, or they may use love-bombing. Hoovering is always an attempt to obtain more narcissistic supply from you, and in many cases, it can be an attempt to reconcile the relationship. It can also just be a manipulation tactic used to get you to break no contact.

Question of the day: Have you ever had a narcissist do sneaky things to get you back, and if so, how did you deal with it? Did you fall for it, or not? Share your thoughts, share your ideas and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

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