Why Do Narcissists Come Back

Have you ever wondered, why do narcissists come back? It can be perplexing and frustrating, but understanding their motives may help shed some light on this perplexing behavior.

In this article, we will explore the reasons why narcissists come back, delving into their underlying desires and the psychological patterns that drive their actions. Unlock the secrets behind these puzzling encounters and gain insight into the complex world of narcissism and its impact on personal relationships.

Why Do Narcissists Come Back

Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Definition of narcissistic personality disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy towards others.

Individuals with NPD possess an inflated sense of self-importance and believe that they are entitled to special treatment and recognition. This disorder affects their ability to form healthy relationships and often leads to manipulative and controlling behaviors.

Characteristics of narcissists

Narcissists exhibit several distinctive characteristics that set them apart from others. These traits can manifest in a variety of ways, but some common features include:

  • Grandiosity: They have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and believe they are superior to others.
  • Lack of empathy: They struggle to understand and relate to the emotions and experiences of others.
  • Manipulation: They use various tactics to control and exploit those around them for their own gain.
  • Need for admiration: They constantly seek praise, validation, and attention from others.
  • Sense of entitlement: They believe they are special and deserving of special treatment.
  • Fragile self-esteem: Their self-worth is dependent on external factors and can easily be threatened.

Understanding these characteristics is crucial in comprehending the reasons behind narcissists’ behaviors and why they often return to their previous relationships.

Why Do Narcissists Come Back

The Cycle of Narcissistic Relationships

Idealization phase

During the idealization phase, a narcissist portrays themselves as perfect and idealizes their partner. They shower their target with love, affection, and compliments, making them feel like the center of the narcissist’s world. This phase creates an intense emotional bond and can be incredibly captivating for the partner.

Devaluation phase

Once the narcissist feels they have gained control and secured the partner’s devotion, the devaluation phase begins. The narcissist’s attitude towards their partner suddenly shifts, as they start criticizing, belittling, and devaluing them. This emotional abuse erodes the partner’s self-esteem and leaves them confused and full of self-doubt.

Discard phase

After the devaluation phase, the narcissist may abruptly end the relationship without any explanation or warning. They discard their partner as if they were disposable, leaving the partner devastated and emotionally shattered.

The narcissist may move on to seek a new victim and repeat the cycle.Understanding this cycle is vital in comprehending why narcissists often come back to their previous partners.

Reasons Behind Narcissists Returning

Ego boost and narcissistic supply

Narcissists thrive on receiving attention, admiration, and validation from others. When they return to a previous partner, it serves as a significant ego boost. By re-establishing a connection, they can fulfill their insatiable need for narcissistic supply.

The attention and admiration they receive from a familiar source reinforces their belief in their superiority and feeds their inflated sense of self-importance.

Reestablishing control and power

Narcissists have a strong desire for control and power over their partners. Returning to a previous relationship provides them with an opportunity to regain control and manipulate the situation to their advantage.

By exploiting any lingering emotional attachment their partner may still have, they can reassert their dominance and ensure that their needs and wants are prioritized.

Manipulation and gaslighting

Narcissists are skilled manipulators and gaslighters, using psychological tactics to distort their partner’s perception of reality. When they return to a previous relationship, they may use manipulative tactics to make their partner doubt their own memories, beliefs, and experiences.

By distorting the truth and manipulating emotions, they regain a sense of power and control over their partner.

Fear of abandonment

Despite their seemingly confident demeanor, narcissists often struggle with deep-rooted insecurities and fear of abandonment. Returning to a previous partner may stem from a fear of being alone or facing rejection.

By reestablishing a connection, they can alleviate their fear of abandonment and temporarily soothe their anxiety.Understanding these reasons can help those affected by narcissists recognize the underlying motivations behind their partner’s return and develop strategies to protect themselves.

Why Do Narcissists Come Back


Seeking Forgiveness and Validation

Narcissistic injuries and shame

Under their grandiose facade, narcissists are plagued by deep-rooted feelings of shame and insecurity. When their actions or behavior result in negative consequences or criticism, they may experience what is known as a narcissistic injury.

These injuries bruise their fragile self-esteem and can trigger a desperate need for validation and forgiveness.

Desire for forgiveness and redemption

Narcissists often struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy, despite their outward display of superiority. Returning to a previous relationship may stem from their desire for redemption and forgiveness.

They hope that by reestablishing a connection, they can prove their worth, earn forgiveness, and alleviate their inner feelings of shame.

Validation-seeking behavior

The need for validation is a fundamental characteristic of narcissistic individuals. They constantly seek recognition, admiration, and validation from others to reinforce their fragile self-esteem.

Returning to a previous relationship allows them to seek validation from a familiar source, as they hope to regain a sense of worthiness and importance through their partner’s forgiveness and validation.

Understanding these underlying motives can help both the narcissist and their partner navigate the complexities of seeking forgiveness and validation within the context of their relationship.

Lack of Empathy and Emotional Connection

Inability to form deep emotional bonds

Narcissists struggle to form deep, meaningful emotional bonds with others due to their lack of empathy and self-centered nature. Their preoccupation with their own needs and desires makes it difficult for them to genuinely connect with their partners on an emotional level.

Their relationships often revolve around meeting their own needs rather than fostering emotional intimacy.

Narcissistic tendencies hinder emotional connection

Narcissistic traits such as a lack of empathy, self-centeredness, and a constant need for admiration hinder the development of a genuine emotional connection.

Their inability to understand and relate to their partner’s emotions prevents them from truly connecting and providing the support and empathy that healthy relationships require. This emotional disconnect further perpetuates the cycle of narcissistic behavior.

Understanding the lack of empathy and emotional connection inherent in narcissistic individuals sheds light on the challenges faced by their partners and the emotional toll it takes on the relationship.

Idealization and Devaluation

Idealizing the partner

During the initial stages of a relationship, narcissists often put their partner on a pedestal and idealize them. This idealization serves to create a strong emotional bond and make the partner feel special and valued.

By showering their partner with compliments, affection, and attention, the narcissist can manipulate them into feeling dependent on their love and approval.

Devaluing and discarding the partner

Once the narcissist feels they have gained control and secured the partner’s devotion, their attitude towards the partner shifts dramatically. They start devaluing and criticizing their partner, eroding their self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

This emotional abuse serves to maintain the narcissist’s power and control over their partner. Eventually, they may discard the partner if they no longer serve their needs or if a new source of narcissistic supply becomes available.

Understanding the dynamics of idealization and devaluation within narcissistic relationships can help partners recognize and break free from the toxic cycle.

Needing a Constant Source of Narcissistic Supply

Craving attention and admiration

Narcissists have an insatiable need for attention, admiration, and validation from others. They rely on this external validation to boost their fragile self-esteem and maintain their grandiose self-image.

When involved in a relationship, narcissists crave their partner’s constant attention, praise, and admiration, using it as a primary source of narcissistic supply.

Using past relationships as a fallback

When narcissists come back to a previous relationship, it often stems from a desire to secure a familiar source of narcissistic supply. Past relationships may provide them with a fallback option when other sources become scarce or when they need an ego boost.

By reigniting a connection, they can tap into the emotions, attention, and admiration they once received, temporarily satisfying their insatiable need for validation.

Understanding the narcissist’s constant need for a source of narcissistic supply can help the partner recognize the manipulative nature of their behavior and protect themselves from further emotional harm.

Breakup as a Blow to Their Ego

Rejection and wounded pride

Narcissists possess a fragile and vulnerable self-image that can easily be shattered by rejection or criticism. A breakup can be a significant blow to their ego, leaving them feeling humiliated and wounded.

Their pride, fueled by their grandiose beliefs, drives them to seek revenge or prove their superiority by returning to a previous partner.

Returning for revenge or proving superiority

Narcissists often view a breakup as a challenge to their ego and sense of superiority. Returning to a previous partner can serve as a means of revenge, where they aim to regain control and hurt their former partner emotionally.

Additionally, by reestablishing a connection and demonstrating their superiority, they try to prove to themselves and others that they are indeed desirable, powerful, and in control.

Understanding the narcissist’s motivations for returning after a breakup can help the partner protect themselves from further manipulation and emotional harm.

Cycle of Control and Manipulation

Maintaining control over the partner

Narcissists have an inherent need for control and power in their relationships. By returning to a previous partner, they can regain control over the dynamics of the relationship and manipulate their partner to fulfill their desires and needs.

This control allows them to dictate the course of the relationship, ensuring that their partner remains submissive and compliant to their demands.

Manipulating emotions and perceptions

Narcissists are adept at manipulating their partner’s emotions and perceptions to their advantage. By gaslighting, distorting the truth, and invalidating their partner’s feelings, they gain further control and undermine their partner’s trust in their own reality.

This manipulation keeps their partner emotionally dependent and easily influenced, perpetuating the cycle of control and manipulation.

Understanding this cycle of control and manipulation is essential for partners to break free from the narcissist’s grasp and establish healthier and more balanced relationships.

Unresolved Dependency and Attachment

Inability to cope with loneliness

Underneath their grandiose facade, narcissists often struggle with deep-seated feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. They have an overwhelming fear of being alone and lack the internal resources necessary to cope with solitude.

Returning to a previous partner offers them a sense of familiarity, comfort, and security, shielding them from the harsh reality of loneliness.

Dependency on others for self-worth

Narcissists rely heavily on others for their self-worth and validation. They view their partners as extensions of themselves, seeking constant validation and praise to bolster their fragile self-esteem.

By returning to a previous relationship, they can recreate the dependency dynamic and manipulate their partner into fulfilling their insatiable need for external validation and emotional support.

Understanding the unresolved dependency and attachment issues that drive the narcissist’s behavior can help partners navigate their own emotions and make informed decisions about their future.


Understanding the complexities of narcissistic personality disorder and its impact on relationships is crucial for both narcissists and their partners.

Recognizing the cycle of narcissistic behaviors, the reasons behind their return, and the emotional dynamics at play enables individuals to protect themselves, heal, and establish healthier connections in the future.

It is essential for those affected by narcissistic relationships to seek professional support and guidance to navigate the challenges and regain their self-worth and well-being.

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