Anyone who has ever had the misfortune to get involved with a narcissist knows that narcissists are experts at stringing people along, especially their exes. They love the attention and the drama that comes with having someone who is always there, waiting in the wings.
Narcissists know that they can always count on their exes to be there for them, whether they need a shoulder to cry on, someone to vent to, or even just a physical body to fill their bed. They enjoy the power and control that comes with knowing that they can always go back to their ex when they need them.
This is why many narcissists string along their exes for months or even years. The goal is to keep them on the hook to prevent them from moving on. They do this to keep a steady supply of admiration and attention coming their way. They also do it to keep their options open in case they want to return to the relationship.
The narcissist often keeps his exes close by as a backup in case their current relationship doesn’t work out. They also want their ex around to continually feed their ego with the attention and admiration they so crave. No matter what the reason, if you’re the one being strung along, it can be a frustrating and heart-wrenching experience.
Understanding the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle
Narcissists might think that they are exceptional, but in truth they are quite predicable. This is particularly the case when it come to their intimate relationships, which usually go through a three-stage cycle.
First idealisation, then devaluation, and finally discard.
When a narcissist wants to ensnare a new victim, they will enter into what is known as the ‘love-bombing’ phase. This is when they will shower their target with excessive praise, attention, gifts, and promises of a future together.
Once the victim falls head over heels in love, the narcissist moves on to the next stage of the cycle – devaluation. This is when they start to nit-pick and criticise their partner, often in front of other people, in order to make them feel small and insignificant.
The final stage is when the narcissist casts their victim aside, often without any warning or explanation. They are known to break up via text, or even to ghost their partners completely. And they will move on to the next person without any second thoughts or regrets, leaving their ex heartbroken and traumatized.
However, this is where it gets interesting, because even though the narcissist has discarded their ex, they still want to retain a hold on them. This is where the cycle starts over, once again going through exactly the same stages and manipulation.
The Narcissistic Harem
This is why it is often said that narcissists maintainsa harem of exes. They need to keep them all on the backburner, so that they always have a ready supply of adoration, attention and validation should their current relationship start to dwindle.
The harem becomes a source of endless entertainment for the narcissist, as he (or she) plays off different exes against each other, luring them back into the web of manipulation and abuse.
Victims often find themselves caught up in a never-ending cycle of heartache and pain, always hoping that the narcissist will finally change and give them the love and attention they so desperately crave.
It’s a sick and twisted game, but unfortunately it is one that many people find themselves unwittingly caught up in.
Why do Narcissists behave this way?
If you’re wondering why the narcissist in your life won’t let go, here are some possible explanations
They need you to fill a void in their life.
Narcissists often have deep-seated insecurities and low self-esteem. As a result, they need constant validation and admiration from others to feel good about themselves. When you’re no longer in a relationship with them, they may try to keep you around as a source of that validation.
They enjoy the power and control they have over you.
Narcissists love to feel in control of those around them. By stringing you along, they know they have a hold on you and can manipulate you to do things their way. This sense of control gives them a boost to their ego.
They don’t want you to move on before they do.
Narcissists often have a fear of abandonment. By keeping you on the hook, they know they have a place in your life and you’re not moving on without them. This helps to ease their anxiety and gives them a false sense of security.
They want to keep their options open.
Narcissists are often afraid of commitment. By stringing you along, they can have the best of both worlds – the attention and admiration they crave from you, and the freedom to pursue other relationships.
They enjoy playing with your emotions.
Narcissists get a thrill out of playing mind games and toying with your emotions. They may string you along just to see how long they can keep you attached to them.
The Takeaway about Narcissists and their Exes
If you’re being strung along by a narcissist, it’s important to remember that you have a say in the matter. You can choose to walk away and cut ties with the narcissist, or you can stay and try to work things out. Either way, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you want and what you’re willing to tolerate.
If you decide to stay in the relationship, it’s important to set boundaries with the narcissist. Make it clear that you’re not going to put up with their games anymore and that you expect to be treated with respect. If they’re unwilling to change, then it may be time to move on.
If you’ve been the victim of narcissistic abuse, it’s important to seek professional help to heal the wounds that have been inflicted. You deserve to live a life free from manipulation and control.
For Further Reading
Check out the following posts about getting involved in an intimate relationship with a narcissist.
- Dark Triad Personalities in Romantic Relationships: Are You in Love with a Narcissist?
- Are you dating a narcissist? Do not ignore these signs!
- Can a Narcissist Love Their Partner? How Narcissism Impacts Relationships
- Warning Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist: How to Tell if He’s a Monster Behind Closed Doors
- Red Flag Alert – are you dating a narcissist? What to look out for before falling in love
- Can Two Narcissists Love Each Other and Have a Healthy Relationship?
- What type of people are narcissists attracted to?
- 12 Warning Signs You Are Marrying a Narcissist
- The Narcissist and the Enabler – a match made in hell
- 12 Traits of a Narcissist – A Guide to Recognizing Narcissists
- Understanding the Narcissist in Relationships – What You Need to Know
- Gaslighting Defined – How Can You Tell If Your Partner Is Gaslighting You?
- Why Narcissists String Along their Exes and Never Cut Them Loose
- The Aftermath of Loving a Narcissist: How to Heal and Move On
- The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle: How to Recognize It and Break Free
- Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: Challenges, Strategies and How to Support Your Children
- Understanding the Cycle of Emotional Abuse – The Red Flags of a Toxic Relationship
- What is a Codependent Relationship – Signs, Symptoms and Solutions
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