Most people have had at least one bad relationship. Often these toxic relationships end badly, with one person storming off and never being heard from or seen again by the other. In fact, in many of these types of difficult relationships, neither person wants to see the other.
However, in a relationship with a narcissist, the opposite dynamic is the norm. A narcissist seems unable or unwilling to provide closure, and may simply go dormant for a few weeks, months, or even years, and then suddenly they surface in your life again. The narcissist doesn’t even stay for the breakup discussion in many cases. He leaves the relationship or begins to ghost the partner, eliminating any chance of ending the relationship and getting closure.
There are many different reasons why a narcissist does not want to have the final breakup or provide closure to the other person. It is essential to understand that the narcissist has moved on and is most likely already in another relationship before the ghosting or the move out of the home occurred. At the same time, the narcissist keeps the emotional door open to contact you and even re-enter your life as they have never actually closed the door or ended the relationship.
Narcissistic Behaviors Around Relationship Closure
To help understand this trait or behavior of narcissists, here are some common reasons why closure is not an option for these individuals:
· Validation – the narcissist likes to be able to look over the list of phone contacts or social media friends and followers and see big numbers that validate how popular they are. By keeping exs on that list, the narcissist also has someone he can reach out to and typically get a response, even if it is not a positive one. This ability to reach out and get immediate attention validates their sense of being important and essential in the life of their partner.
· Backup plans – narcissists do not like to be alone or to feel abandoned. Having multiple exs to reach out to and bring back into a relationship, even if it is only temporary, allows them to have a ready supply of attention and interaction. Of course, as soon as something better is available, they will discard the partner and move into the new relationship where they can create their reality.
· Enjoyment of your emotional pain – narcissists feel better when everyone around them is miserable and not doing well on some level. By constantly tormenting and badgering an ex, the narcissist can see his or herself as superior and in control.
· Setting the rules – by not allowing the partner to have closure, the narcissist continues to control the terms of the relationship by playing on the partner’s willingness to engage and interact, even if it is just through text messages, phone calls, or social media. The narcissist is able to see their role as the puppet master, controlling the partner and setting the rules for how to play the relationship game.
· Supports their narrative of the breakup – the narcissist does not see his behavior had any role in the breakup. By refusing to provide closure, the narcissist can avoid any responsibility for the problem and continue to frame the partner as the cause of the relationship failure.
Therapists work with partners of narcissists to learn how to effectively get closure without the need to hear it from the narcissist. Through therapeutic exercises, the individual can let go of the need to hear the words they want to hear from the toxic partner.
There are also a few tips to keep in mind to help with this process:
· No contact – do not have any contact with the narcissist in any form. This includes ignoring or blocking texts, calls, social media posts, or any attempt to contact you through friends or family.
· Set boundaries – if you have to have contact with a narcissist due to children, set clear boundaries and honor those boundaries.
· Find support – create a network of trusted friends or a community such as my Wake Up Recovery Inner Circle for healing from toxic relationships, love addiction and codependency, family members, and professionals to help you to learn, grow, and thrive as a single person. Getting over the need to be with the narcissist starts with learning to love yourself again.
Your therapist will assist in developing customized strategies to help you end the relationship with the narcissist on your terms and in your best interests.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW and Transformation Coach
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