Why are narcissists and codependents attracted to one another?
There IS a toxic and magnetic attraction between narcissists and codependents – but WHY? Ross Rosenberg, the author of The Human Magnet Syndrome, explains the truth about why narcissists and codependents are so attracted to each other and why, if you don’t take the time to heal before getting into another relationship, you’ll end up with another narcissist.
Plus, we’ll talk about the chemical attraction between SLDs and narcissists and why we are so likely to want to stick around, as well as why the words codependent and empath are not synonymous.
How does attachment theory relate to the Human Magnet Syndrome?
“I rely on attachment theory in order to explain the process,” he said. “(To put it) simply, attachment theory explains that our psychological health or ill health is caused by the manner in which we were loved, respected, and cared for during our critical ages of development, between birth and up to eight years old.”
“And if we endure psychological harm. abuse, neglect, mental manipulation – or we are deprived or neglected or abandoned, we don’t get to attach to a nurturing parent figure,” Rosenberg continued. “Without that attachment, we don’t develop the potential to be healthy high functioning adults. So if you were raised by a narcissist and loved conditionally and had to mold yourself into the type of trophy the narcissist needed in order to get anything, you will not have experienced positive and nurturing attachment.”
That, he said, will impact your psychological health, while your adulthood experiences would also have an impact on your adult relationship choices.
“So attachment theory explains through my Human Magnet Syndrome book why SLDs or codependents always choose narcissists – because they only experience that type of love,” Rosenberg said, adding that SLDs or codependents tend to respond to and are attracted to people that fit what he calls the relationship template that they experience in their childhood.
“That’s how chemistry is,” he said. “If a child who was brought up by the pathological narcissist and who did not attach in a way that would be healthy is going to find the narcissist as familiar and paradoxically safe because they know and have experienced their whole life living with that person and they know what to do.”
Why did Ross Rosenberg create the term human magnet syndrome?
The book cover on Rosenberg’s The Human Magnet Syndrome is symbolic, he told me, as it features hearts coming together and trapped within barbed wire.
“I came up with the term to explain why codependents or SLDs predictably reflexively fall in love with narcissists,” he said. “Talking about attachment, there it is the matching of relationship templates.”
What is the narcissist/codependent relationship template?
Rosenberg explained that most codependents or SLDs would have an intrinsic understanding that to love someone and to be loved, “you have to be silent, acquiescent, constantly vulnerable, and moldable.”
“You also need to be constantly interested in a person who’s not interested in you,” he said. “That’s just the way you understand relationships.”
“And then a narcissist understands relationships (will believe that) that people want to hear what they have to say. (People want) to enjoy their accomplishments; that they want to be told how great a person is – which of course is not true – but that’s what narcissists think.”
“So when the two people meet their opposites, one gives away love, respect, and caring. And (the other) one needs all the love, respect, and caring, these two opposites, through this unconscious process – chemistry – come together almost all the time,” Rosenberg said.
Codependents, Pathological Narcissists and Chemistry
“Codependents, SLDs, will almost always be attracted to through chemistry to a narcissist and narcissist to a codependent,” Rosenberg explained.
“That pull is the attraction process of two people feeling so comfortable,” he said. “Like a dance partnership, the leader needs a follower, the follower needs a leader, and the recognition of that on unconscious levels brings them together like two magnets.”
Rosenberg explained that he chose to reconceptualize and then rename codependency in a way that actually makes sense to people who are suffering from it. He wanted to identify the problem (of codependency) so that people could intuitively connect with and understand and offer them direction on what to do to deal with it.
Are codependents (SLDs) blameless victims of pathological narcissists?
“One of the things that sets me apart from most of my contemporaries talking about the subject is (that) I hold SLDs or codependents responsible,” Rosenberg, a former SLD himself, explained, adding that, “You cannot solve a problem if you share the responsibility, don’t know it or are in denial about it, and want to just blame the perpetrator.”
He said that focusing on being a victim is not helpful in recovery, so taking responsibility for your part in the relationship is key.
Are all codependents empaths?
Rosenberg strongly stated that not all codependents are empaths. And that, in fact, there’s no true connection between the two. So to understand the difference between empaths and codependents; first, we need to define empathy and codependency.
What is empathy?
There are three different types of empathy: cognitive, emotional, and compassionate. Emotional and compassionate empathy seem to be intrinsic for most people, and anyone can learn cognitive empathy. So an adult empath would be able to logically understand what a person feels and be emotionally affected by what they feel. That person’s emotions would also move them to take action to help them deal with what they feel.
What is codependency?
Codependency is when you are dependent on another person in unhealthy ways. In most cases, it seems to be affected by some form of trauma that often occurred in childhood; it is considered a behavioral condition as it inhibits your ability to have a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship. A good synonym for codependency might actually be relationship addiction because codependents tend to be perpetually involved in one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive relationships.
Rosenberg on Codependency vs. Empathy
“I completely do not support the term empaths (in relation to codependency) because it’s a candy-coated term that makes the SLD or codependent feel good about themselves, when in fact SLDs have significant psychological problems. Significant!” Rosenberg said. “Without the resolution of that. they will always choose the narcissist – and they will over and over again.”
“They will almost always stay with the narcissist despite the fact that they’re not happy and they’re being hurt,” he said. “And then if they should leave or should be left, they will then choose another narcissist,” he said.
This is why it is so important to understand that self-love deficit disorder or codependency is a psychological disorder that is motivated through volition, he explained, adding that while there’s absolutely no excuse for abuse, as long as people play the victim card and look to books and videos that focus on demonizing narcissists and glorifying “the sacrificing poor SLD or codependent, no one gets better.”
“It holds them accountable in a non-judgmental empathetic, and compassionate way,” he said. “In my book, I explained this is why you are an SLD or codependent. You were hurt badly, and until you saw that trauma that happened when you were a child, you’re going to play out that script for the rest of your life.”
How can you learn more about healing after narcissistic abuse from Ross Rosenberg?
If you’re interested in hearing more about what Ross Rosenberg has to say about healing after narcissistic abuse, please subscribe to this channel and stay tuned for the rest of this series. Of course, you can also visit the Self-Love Institute, get his book, The Human Magnet Syndrome, on Amazon, and attend his upcoming 50 Shades of Pathological Narcissism event.
Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. It offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery and some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Have you been discarded by a narcissist, only to learn that they’ve already moved on to another partner days, weeks, or even hours after your relationship ended? Or, have you learned the hard way that your ex (or soon-to-be-ex) is already involved with someone else even before your relationship ended? Sadly, it’s all about narcissistic supply. Let me explain.
What is narcissistic supply?
Narcissistic supply is what makes the narcissist sort of an “energy vampire.” In other words, they get a certain amount of attention, validation, admiration – basically your energy, from people in their lives. While a narcissist’s main source of narcissistic supply usually comes from one or more people, it can also involve pets, groups of people, and more. The so-called “supply” is the food for the narcissist’s ego. Many narcissists have a whole circle of supply or “narcissistic harem.”
Why do narcissists move on so quickly after they discard you?
Why does it always seem like narcissists need a new source of narcissistic supply almost immediately when your relationship ends – and that’s assuming they haven’t secured it ahead of time? The narcissist most often moves on quickly after a relationship. Many narcissists will be already involved with new supply before discarding you and so the new supply is well in place before they lose your supply.
This is one really devastating part of the narcissistic pattern that hurts and leaves survivors with no sense of closure.
Many survivors deeply internalize the final blow from this as if they have no worth, and never meant anything to the narcissist. They worry they must be at fault, that they are not good enough. They wonder if they should have done more, if they are less beautiful/handsome, that they are inadequate…are you feeling me here?
I’m hoping that by seeing this is a toxic pattern of the narcissistic person and some reasons they do this you may feel validation or even a sense of relief that you are indeed not the problem and never were.
Narcissists Take No Accountability
One thing to understand and really, to me it’s one of the main indications of a toxic person, is that a narcissist will not accept accountability for their actions or emotions. They have a constant need to protect the delusional personality they set up.
What they think is who they are, they reason. So, when seeing any issue they may cause that does not align with the delusional belief of “self,” they push it away and start to blame shift or deny.
One big way a narcissist uses denial is to use a new person to bolster the ego and delusional created self. After all, how hard is it to convince a stranger through love bombing and overt attention that you are an amazing person? This is the lie they are telling their new supply. They are shirking all responsibility both to the old relationship, yours, as well as to their own healing from a breakup. They need others to give and boost their sense of self so badly they do not care who they use to get there. It’s like if they have someone new to mirror back all the love-bombing they can prove to the world how astoundingly perfect they are and thus continue the delusion they live in. Couple all of this with zero empathy for others and you have a selfish drive for attention and the use of another to regain the sense of their own inflated ego.
You were once the new source of narcissistic supply.
If you find yourself asking why or doubting your worth because the narcissist has a new supply, remember that you too were a new supply once. Remember that narcissists use all others in their life to feed their egos in one way or another. While it can hurt a lot and it can seem like the person who is new supply is at fault, oftentimes they are as much a victim as you were.
Of course, there are cases where the new supply seems to be as toxic as the narcissist – but then you might ask yourself do you really want any attention or association going to those people? New supply is simply that, a new person to be used by the narcissist for supply and you, too, were in the position of being that new person once. You were told lies about their exes and were made to feel like you were different and needed by the narcissist.
The narcissist is the common denominator.
The most important thing to realize is this is not because of you. You are not the problem and you are certainly deserving of being treated way better than any narcissist will treat you. You are no less valid or important because a toxic narcissist has found a new supply. You deserve the healing and amazing things life outside of narcissistic abuse can give you. Moving on fast is a narcissist’s weakness not because of you or who/how you are. The narcissist is a perpetual liar with the most significant lie being who they present themselves as. They are seeking the supply they need and taking and using another person. You deserve a better life and to be loved for who you are. Love yourself, find the truth of your amazing truth, and do not compare yourself to the new supply. New supply is the new victim, you have survived and can move past the abuse into a thriving life.
Worried the narcissist will be better for the new source of narcissistic supply?
If you’ve ever met a malignant narcissist or someone who has the traits consistent with narcissistic personality disorder, chances are that you know someone who is addicted to narcissistic supply. Most malignant narcissists are addicted to admiration, at least on some level, and nearly all of them are addicted to having people “give themselves” to them!
If you are among the people the narcissist considers to be part of their inner circle, or if you’re the spouse, child, or another family member, you are most likely being used for narcissistic supply, or you were in the past. They demand your respect even though they don’t earn it. They demand your support, but they never return the favor, unless it benefits them to do so. They love being told that they are amazing – and they love it when you freak out and scream and act crazy. That’s especially true when they drive you to it. They want attention whether it is positive or negative. That also means they demand compliments, money, sex, and anything else that helps them keep their false self alive.
The continuous attention and admiration that the narcissist gets from you help to feed their over-blown, bloated, secretly non-existent sense of self-worth and esteem – that false self they project to the outside world. In many cases, narcissists are able to summon up a powerful kind of charm and charisma that seems to help them keep getting more and more attention, assuring a constant stream of narcissistic supply coming their way.
What is Narcissistic Supply?
Narcissistic supply means attention, admiration, emotional energy, and other kinds of “services” the narcissist requires in order to function and to maintain their ego. It can involve smile attention, or sex, money, caregiving (and caretaking), and more. The narcissist’s need for your emotional energy can be likened to the mythical vampire’s need for blood. They require it to survive. It nourishes them and keeps them feeling comfortable with their lives. They get their narcissistic supply from people, but in some cases, they might even get it from a pet or group of people.
What does it mean when you call someone “a narcissistic supply?”
In the narcissistic abuse recovery community, we often refer to the victim of the abusive narcissist as “the narcissistic supply.” What we really mean is the “source of narcissistic supply,” and this is sometimes misunderstood. People might think by calling ourselves “supply” we are minimizing ourselves. But what we are doing is acknowledging that the abusers in our lives only saw us for what we could provide to them – not for what and who we actually are. In other words, we are reminding ourselves that, as a “narcissistic supply,” we are used by the narcissist to get attention, validation, admiration – all the “supply” they need to feed their ego.
What qualities do narcissists look for in a source of narcissistic supply?
Empathetic (especially when it means you react quickly to their extreme emotions).
Kind and compassionate (but they’ll call you abusive for setting a healthy boundary).
Willing to put others first (though they’ll always accuse you of being selfish).
Modest about your good qualities (so your ego won’t require much of them – they never validate you).
Attractive (even though they will tell you otherwise to hurt you).
Intelligent (even though they will constantly make you doubt it).
Independent and able to entertain yourself (so they can ignore you when they want to).
Willing to drop everything for them and do whatever they want, when they want, without question (because they need your attention when they need it, but they want you to leave them alone when they want that).
Flexible and willing to change for them (though they’ll literally never return the favor).
Loyal (because, obviously, they deserve loyalty, despite the fact that you don’t, according to them).
Low or reduced self-esteem (often due to having grown up in a toxic family or having previously have endured an abusive relationship of any kind (because it makes you more likely to accept abuse again and/or to have lower standards, along with a higher threshold for abuse, making you more tolerant and accepting of their abuse).
Socially brag-worthy (In other words, they’ll be proud to show you off and claim you as their property – even though they’ll do everything in your power to make you feel completely worthless behind closed doors. They do this because it keeps you from believing you can do any better. This, along with all of their other manipulations, is designed to keep you around if and when they want you).
What kind of people typically attract narcissists?
Whether you are a child of a narcissistic parent, a co-worker to a narcissist, or someone who has or had a narcissistic partner, you could be a source of narcissistic supply for them. Many have a whole circle of supply, which we sometimes call a narcissistic harem.
As a source of narcissistic supply, the narcissist sees you as someone who gives them something they need. This could be simply attention and admiration, or much more. In most cases, they may also get supply out of scaring you or making you cry, or out of making you chase them or worry about them.
While they may say otherwise, the narcissist sees you as a product and/or a service – or, in many cases, as an extension of themselves. And while they may claim to love you, what they really love is what you can do for them. They love that you are among the people who provide them what they “need,” and yet, sadly they can never love or feel any compassionate empathy for you.
What happens if you refuse to keep providing narcissistic supply?
The fact that they see you as a source of narcissistic supply leads the narcissist to, on so many levels, literally NEED you. And that is exactly why you’re likely to see a fit of narcissistic rage if they start doubting your devotion. FOr example, you might suddenly decide you’re going to start taking care of yourself because you’ve recognized that you have recently slipped in that area. As you do this, you might even start setting a few boundaries and feeling even better.
How does the narcissist feel when you cut off their source of narcissistic supply?
This will lead you to start questioning them and demanding the respect you’re due. They might notice that you’re not bending to their wishes anymore. And of course, being as self-focused as they are, they won’t be interested in your personal growth. All they see is that their source of narcissistic supply might suddenly be cut off. That scares them.
Just for reference, close your eyes for a second and imagine how you feel when you are facing a power outage. If you’re anything like me, you might get a little irritated (or more than a little), especially if you are busy on a particular day and need the power to work on your computer. The longer it is out, the angrier you become.
Or, imagine how you’d feel if you were suddenly forced to fast for 48 hours and you’re not prepared. You’re going to stay hungry (and if we’re being honest, maybe a little hangry, at the very least). And you’re going to be pretty cranky.
Both of these examples offer a bit of insight into how the narcissist feels when they are deprived of narcissistic supply.
A narcissist will always look for a source of supply even if you are no longer that source if you go no contact. And if they find a source of supply before you leave them, then they will discard you and will end up hoovering if their new source of supply ‘dries up’.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. Offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery, as well as some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist or a toxic person of any sort, you might have some experience with seeing the narcissist’s false self – and with being aware that there is a difference between the person the narcissist shows to the world at large and the one that lives at home behind closed doors.
But if you stick around long enough for them to become comfortable with you, a shocking and upsetting thing happens: their mask comes off and you see the true face of the narcissist. And believe me – it’s not pretty!
Today, let’s discuss the narcissist’s false self, how it develops and exactly what you are supposed to do with this information.
The Narcissist’s False Self Begins in Childhood
When you are born, you express yourself through instinct. On so many levels, that is your true self. Your instinct is to live which means you need to be fed, changed, and cuddled every few hours. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but if your parents did the best they could and cared for you properly, then you would be showing your true self or authentic self.
But narcissists never show their true selves. In fact, they are living through what I’d call their false self.
Now don’t get me wrong here – just like you, the narcissist was born expressing themselves through instinct as well. But if they were not nurtured properly and were denied the things they needed, then they’d develop their false self and that is how they show themselves.
That happens because when an infant is not given what they need and are not nurtured the way they need to be nurtured, they are on their way to not being authentic in any way at all.
It is possible that one of their parents was a narcissist and in that case, their needs would not be met. They would be given responses of disapproval over and over again. If the child attempted to show their authenticity, it would be shot down.
On the flip side, maybe they were too indulged and never had proper discipline and balance. That can be damaging as well. Either way, along the way, their authentic self was replaced by an artificial persona. As they grow up, they begin to build a false set of relationships that are all based on a facade they show.
The false self is a protective mechanism that protects narcissists as children from feeling their dependency needs that were unmet. So, the false self blocks feelings of shame that the narcissist had from only having conditional love from their parents. It is also a way to prevent them from remembering any trauma or shock that is associated with being abandoned, neglected, or abused.
What Are The False Self Characteristics?
Those who are living through their false self can appear charming, well-mannered, and polite. Some part of you may see through this as their facade does not reveal who they really are – but it is easy to fall for this facade, even for the most intelligent people. Their false self had stopped them from feeling any type of empathy at all as all they cared about was having their own needs met, which never happened during childhood. And you can see how narcissists show their false self. That is because their authentic self is dead, empty, and there is nothing to offer.
Now you have an understanding of why narcissists have an inflated ego and can be abusive if they don’t get what they want and need – as in if they don’t get narcissistic supply. Now you also can see how the narcissist goes into fits of narcissistic rage when they are threatened with having their supply taken away or are rubbed the wrong way. And now you understand why they are insecure and how they would never allow their true selves to come out because it puts them to shame otherwise.
Why There’s So Much Confusion in Toxic Relationships
Because the narcissist nearly always hides behind this sort of “armor” that is the “false self,” they manage to fool you from very early on.
Your first impression of the narcissist was likely a very good one; that’s because he or she showed you only the best parts of themselves when you met – they constructed a series of qualities and traits that are those they present to the outside world.
This, along with their grandiosity and need for attention, can make it very difficult to see who they truly are – you’re stuck deciding whether you’ve really got the sweet and charming love you signed up for, or whether the wool was pulled over your eyes and the real him or her is actually the toxic, abusive, insulting and manipulative narcissist you’re dealing with in real life.
Of course, this leads you to a serious kind of mental torture that causes you to literally be at odds with yourself – we call that cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive Dissonance in Narcissistic Abuse
Cognitive dissonance is form of psychological stress or discomfort that happens when you simultaneously hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. Often affects narcissists as well as their victims at different times and for very different reasons. So basically, when you’re dealing with cognitive dissonance, you are, for all intents and purposes, actively trying to reconcile the illusion you were initially presented with the person you have now got to deal with.
How Cognitive Dissonance Works Against You in a Toxic Relationship
In a lot of cases, in order to cope with this mess, you start trying to improve your SELF. Instead of recognizing that you’re dealing with a toxic person, you find yourself desperately trying to change yourself into something the narcissist seems to want and need. You blame yourself for their bad behavior – and that’s partly because they tell you it’s your fault. On the other side of the coin is the simple fact that some part of you KNOWS you can’t change the narcissist, but you care about them and you want to make it work. You DO know that you can change yourself, and so you go about the business of doing that.
Here’s the thing. In reality, some part of you must also recognize that you’re not the problem here. In fact, you’ve done nothing wrong and if you did, it was probably simply a reaction to the narcissist’s abuse. All you’re doing is trying to keep your relationship together, and on some level, you’re just subconsciously trying to uphold that initial impression you had of the narcissist – the image of his or her false self that is challenged during the inevitable devaluation phase.
Narcissistic Abuse and the Discard Phase
By the time you get to the discard phase (which, sadly is also inevitable with a narcissistic person – the cycle, like the beat, goes on), you’ll be treated to glimpses of the truly ugly face of the narcissist – the one that spews out the cruel and painful poison that causes you to lose all faith in yourself faster than you can say boo.
You become painfully aware of the coldness, the callous indifference that leads to what feels like absolute torture to you.
While your first reaction is that everyone has a bad moment and this can’t be who they really are, the truth is that this is probably the closest you’ll come to actually seeing the narcissist’s REAL self.
This is about the time you recognize that the amazingly charming or engaging or otherwise awesome person you got involved with in the first place is gone – and suddenly you see this horrible contempt that they seem to have developed for you. And when you realize they felt that way all along, your heart breaks a little more, if that’s possible.
But what you have to realize here is that none of this is your fault. In reality, narcissists are not capable of feeling genuine love or empathy for anyone else – they just use people to meet their own selfish needs. Once they exhaust one source of supply, it’s on to the next.
Don’t let yourself believe in the magical connection you once thought you had – it was just a part of the whole narcissistic abuse cycle – an illusion, just like the narcissist’s identity.
How to Deal with the Narcissist’s False Self
So now that you know all of this, what do you do with it? Well, you start picking up the pieces of yourself, and you begin the healing process.
In this video, you’ll also find a portion of a previous video attached to help you do exactly that. Remember this: You aren’t to blame – you were simply used as a pawn in the narcissist’s game. You are going to go forward, and when or if you can, you might want to go no contact (or low contact, if you’re forced to deal with them – say at work or as a co-parent).
Additional Resources for Understanding the Narcissist and the False Self
Question of the Day: What have your experiences been when it comes to the narcissist in your life and his or her identity? Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments section below this video. Let’s discuss it.
The discard has happened, the narcissist has erased you from their lives just like that. You are shocked, wondering what happened or how it came to be so fast. You are wondering whether to call them or text them, begging for an explanation. But no matter what you do, nothing works. They seem unable to get over what they believe you’ve done, or even what they have done to you – and you become convinced that the only way to get back into their favor is by making the narcissist miss you after the discard.
How do you make the narcissist miss you after the discard?
What should you expect when your relationship with a narcissist is over?
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.
Does this sound like you?
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.
Do you want the narcissist to regret losing you?
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 Will Narcissist 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?
Will a narcissist miss you for who you are?
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 Do 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.
The Smart Phone Comparison
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 apps that we are DYING to try won’t work on our phones. 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.
What is narcissistic supply?
Narcissistic supply is most often gained through attention-seeking from an individual, but it can also be gained from a pet or group of people. In the narcissistic abuse recovery community, we often refer to ourselves or other people who are being used for narcissistic supply as “the supply.” In general, the narcissistic supply is used by the narcissist to get attention, validation, admiration – all the “supply” they need to feed their ego. The narcissist often has a circle of supply or “narcissistic harem.”
Understanding Narcissistic Supply
Don’t confuse that with the idea that they miss you or that they feel something real. The truth is that the narcissist just wants someone – a body – to fill the space that you previously occupied in your life. Let me explain.
The Ice Cream Truck Illustration for Narcissistic Supply
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.
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