5 Dirty Ways Narcissists Treat Their Ex.

— Reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy.

Narcissists can treat their exes like toxic trash bags.

They can erase you and move on. They can hang on to threaten you to return. They can sacrifice their ego and need to win back your heart.

A narcissist can go to any length to bring their ex back into their life. You’ll see them in pitiful states, crying rivers, apologizing as none can, buying you expensive gifts, and chasing you relentlessly. Their manipulative tactics may even convince you to give in to them.

What they do to their exes originates from their basic nature. The basic traits of a narcissist are grandiosity, a lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement, a need for validation, and extreme self-centeredness.

Let’s dive in.

How do narcissists treat their ex-partners?

These are the five most common ways they treat their ex-partners:

1. Re-Love-Bombing (“Hoovering”)

Narcissists are known to love-bomb during the early phase of an affair, around a breakup, and after a breakup.

The very idea of love-bombing is to flood you with gestures of love and get you to fall for them. A love-bombing narcissist will take you to unnatural peaks of love, adulation, and care. They know their constant stream of gifts and attention is a great way to build trust and intimacy with you.

The restart of love-bombing after separating from their partners is commonly known as “hoovering.” That is, they try to hoover (vacuum-suction) their ex-partner into the relationship.

I believe it’s expert Dr. Ramani Durvasula (who co-authored A Brief Review of Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, 2015), who first called this second love-bombing phase “hoovering” to explain the narcissist is trying to siphon you back.

However, love-bombing or hoovering, neither rise above a level of pretense. It is always emotional abuse — because they make you fall for a fantasy version of love that they will never give you later. They just want to manipulate you into moral obligation and emotional debt.

It’s easy to see that a narcissist’s love feels too overpowering for comfort. Because it is a fake show, not real love.

2. Condemnation & Negative Publicity.

The narcissist will often take advantage of their position as your ex to damage your existing and future relationships.

Narcissists can use their dirtiest means to tarnish your public image. They may vilify your behavior, past, and character to everyone they know — both your common acquaintances and strangers.

They will leak your personal habits and professional behavior.

They will gossip to your friends about your despicable attitude and the horrible things you did while you were with them. Often, they pass information to your workplace colleagues and bosses about how unfair and untrustworthy you are.

This has two main motives:

  • to isolate you from supportive people, and
  • to tarnish your reputation and hamper your employability.

If other people in your life start looking down upon you, they feel they have succeeded in making you feel insecure and lowering your self-esteem.

Their ultimate plan is to assure you that they will make all that “bad press” go away if you are back with them.

2. Re-Discarding.

If you are kind to them after you declare the breakup, the narcissist can make it seem like they have cast you aside.

They can make a public show of this discard. This discarding phase of the narcissistic abuse cycle is what adds to their sense of upper hand. At this phase, they are cold, contemptuous, and entirely unpacifiable.

They may not be completely surprised when you announce the breakup. They might have sensed that you were about to leave them, and may have already had someone on their radar around that time.

After this very public “I walked away from her,” they can quickly move on to a new relationship. They may not even go through the mourning phase of a breakup.

If they suspect you are about to split up with them, they may abruptly ghost you and never give you closure. They will leave you hanging, to suffer the pain of ambiguity.

They may immediately open themselves up for partnership on social match-making apps. They may even resurrect an old relationship to replace you.

Their discarding behavior may be motivated by a sense that they have lost all control over you, or by a desire to make you feel like you are nothing more than garbage to them.

4. Manipulation.

Narcissists crave control, so they will continue to emotionally manipulate and control their ex.

They may persuade you to remain friends with them after the breakup. Their intention here is to linger around and pepper your life with their dominating acts and timely abuse.

The narcissist will likely accuse you of being the main reason for the breakup.

They may blame you for being ungrateful, self-obsessed, and “narcissistic” for abandoning them after receiving so much from them.

They may hold you responsible for their failures because “you were always giving your needs a priority over mine.”

Their mental manipulation may make you accept their accusations and stay back. You might even hope to make things right in the relationship. Of course, you’d be wrong to do any of those because they’ll never change their nefarious ways.

5. Intimidation.

Your narcissistic ex may stalk you, and try to coerce you back, to make you “realize” what a big mistake you made by breaking up with him.

They can try to intimidate you in any way they can, and even use their “flying monkeys” to do their dirty work of insulting and intimidating you.

They could threaten you with spilling your most intimate secrets, making public your compromising pictures, or posting your private videos on inappropriate websites.

Narcissists, particularly the malignant type, are highly revengeful and capable of erupting into a murderous rage. They may physically harm you irreparably if they perceive you will never return to the relationship.

All of their intimidating tactics are designed to tell you that if you want to feel safe and stay protected, you must retain your relationship with them.

The cruel narcissist is fully capable of terrorizing you with fatal threats like “Only I can shield you from my vengeance; no one else.”


  1. Why does the narcissist want you back?

    The narcissist’s desire to have you back stems from their sense of power over you. The narcissist wants you back because they want to feel powerful again.

    If you were ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, they will want you back if you break up. The reason is that narcissists score high on attention-seeking behaviors.

    Love is an addiction for them, not just feelings or beliefs in the other person. Narcissists are addicted to narcissistic supply, which is the attention you give them.

    After a breakup, they crave the narcissistic supply they were addicted to, so they want to woo you back to get your attention.

  2. How to handle a narcissistic ex?

    No Contact is the only way to protect yourself from your narcissist ex. Keep yourself out of their sight and mind to help them forget you.

    And it’s just not enough to make yourself unavailable in the same area, but you must also become inaccessible on social media.

    Realize clearly that a narcissist is willing to go to extreme lengths to obtain their narcissistic supply. Staying away from your narcissistic ex will minimize the main risk to your safety.

    It is a real danger being around this person, especially after you broke up. They are vengeful and readily violate boundaries, so you don’t need to offer closure to your controlling, abusive narcissistic ex.

Final Words

Relationships with narcissists go through the narcissistic abuse cycle:

Idealization ⇾ Devaluation ⇾ Discarding.

It may be hard to break free from a narcissist’s grip, but once you do, make a clean break. Do not keep any relationship with them, in any form.

If you think you might be feeling unsafe, having disturbing thoughts about your ex, or experiencing love-bombing tactics, you may contact your local police.

Talking with a therapist after breaking up a narcissistic relationship can be helpful.

√ Also Read: What Happens To A Narcissist In The End: Better or Worse

√ Please spread the word if you found this helpful.

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