This can happens sometimes when you’ve broken off with a narcissist. With a normal breakup, many people still stay in contact and are somewhat amicable, but some narcissists will literally cut you off altogether and completely ignore you.
They might stop responding to any texts or emails, or completely blank and ignore you if you are sometimes at the same social events. If we don’t fully understand narcissism, if can be upsetting, because it’s literally like we never existed to them. Why are they doing this, and is there anything we can do about it?
They will often ignore former partners after breakups because of their addictive need for supply, combined with their lack of ability to pair-bond and exploitative personality. Once narcissists have found a better source of supply, they often see no need to pay attention to former sources of supply, and can move on from partners very coldly and abruptly.
In short, if you know someone is a narcissist, but are still wondering why they are ignoring you after a breakup, then you need to upgrade your understanding of the narcissistic personality. Once you understand more how a narcissist’s mind works, then them ignoring you becomes quite a predictable response in many cases, and you won’t take it so personally.
Let’s look at some specific aspects of the narcissistic personality that can lead to them ignoring you after a breakup.
Understanding A Narcissist’s Relationship With Supply
There’s several different angles we can address this issue from, but the main one that must be emphasized is the broken and fragile nature of the narcissistic personality, which means they have an addictive relationship with so called “supply“, which is basically some form of reassurance that confirms one of two things:
- How they’re so beautiful, clever, bright, funny, exceptional and special. Some kind of admiration/adoration/attention.
- How other people (or one target scapegoat individual or group in particular) is stupid and dumb, which makes them feel superior and “full” by comparison
This can take many different forms; here are just some of them (list is not exhaustive):
- Love (but they never really love you back)
- Being feared
- Control or power over others.
- Constantly being validated and affirmed in their twisted worldview 100% of the time.
- Sexual attention.
- A sense of special-ness, uniqueness and perfection.
- A sense of being the best/number 1/top dog in some field or environment
- A sense of being the smart, enlightened one, while everyone around them is a stupid, inferior servant.
- Constant silly-ness and back and forth humor, jokes, memes, and being fed constant entertainment, as long as they’re the center of attention.
- A back and forth implicit arrangement where you’ll always agree on stuff and never disagree or challenge any of his obvious character deficits.
All this comes from the fact that the narcissistic personality is a fundamentally broken type of personality, in that the person is malignantly in love with their own false self image. There is a break with reality there, but to keep this mental break intact, they need constant reassurance (supply) that their false view of themselves and the world is actually true.
Narcissists & Supply (in 2 minutes)
So using the supply model, here are some bottom line answers as to why the narcissist broke off with you in the first place, and why they’re now ignoring you after the breakup:
- You intentionally or unintentionally stopped feeding them the supply they were getting off you, OR:
- They found someone else who was a better source of supply (or a combination of both #1 and #2).
- Narcissists can’t pair bond with anyone, and only value people for the supply they can get off them, not as real human beings with wants, needs and feelings. Therefore, once they find a new/better source of supply, they will happily discard the old source without any sense of guilt or remorse.
- As long as this new supply stays stable, they have no reason to pay attention or come back to you. They’re only interested in the latest supply (person) they’ve found (this new person is often also quickly discarded, and so on). Hence why they will often ignore ex-partners, since they only value supply, not people.
The cup metaphor used in the short video above is brilliant, and essential viewing for anyone who is confused by the narcissist’s behavior after a breakup. It might be tough watching for some, but it needs to be emphasized how regardless of superficial charm and saying all the right things, narcissists cannot pair bond authentically with anyone, and so will discard people on a whim to move onto new sources of supply. Whatever relationship you thought you had with them was unfortunately a charade.
Occasionally they might try to come back (see the section below), but often they will not see any further need to contact or pay attention to you after breaking up with you, because in the exploitative narcissistic mindset, they have no use for you anymore.
Let’s break down some specific aspects of this in a bit more detail.
Narcissists Are Capable Of Cold & Cruel Discards
The first thing to realize is that narcissists are not capable of normal emotions like empathy and compassion, and so are very capable of coldly and abruptly breaking off from relationships and literally never looking back.
It’s often a bitter pill for victims of narcissists to swallow, but the reality is they never really loved you; they only loved what they could get out of you. When this dries up, or they find someone they prefer, they’ll be gone and they won’t be sorry if this hurts you.
It’s hard to take, but your entire relationship with them was largely a facade. Narcissist’s don’t have any sense of values, loyalty or principles, and didn’t feel any special sense of attachment to you, like you probably felt for them.
See our article on the psychopathic bond for more on this, since the same thing applies to how narcissists get you hooked on them.
So besides the supply model covered above, this is another way of understanding why they are ignoring you after a breakup – they were never really attached to you in the way you might have been attached to them.
See also the video below from Abdul Saad which provides an excellent overview of the narcissist’s devalue-discard and then banish/ignore patterns in relationships (around 4-5 minute mark):
It is recommended to pay particular attention to the “Banish” term used in the video, as this often describes the coldness and brutal-ness with which narcissists can act, literally as though you never existed. It’s like the person is banished from their life, but also from their psyche, and treated with a condescention and contempt where they are not even acknowledged. This can often happen when the motive for the narcissist engaging with you was overtly exploitative, in the sense that they were seeking something very specific off you that you had (resources, money, contacts, a certain skill, etc), and discard and ignore you once they have that thing and no longer see you of any use.
Narcissists, Discards & Individuation (Cutting Edge Theory)
This is an update section I wanted to add to this article, taken from excellent insightful work from Richard Grannon and Sam Vaknin, that adds another perspective to the entire issue of narcissists taking people through this idealize-devalue-discard cycle, and then completely ignoring victims after the discard/breakup.
The “supply” model covered above is a good explanation, but a still deeper explanation revolves around the entire issue of individuation for the narcissist. They were never allowed to individuate in childhood, and the entire reason they take people on this IDD cycle is as a dysfunctional and even for them largely unconscious, attempt to complete the individuation steps never competed in childhood.
In short, they seek to merge and fuse (IDEALIZE) with their victims as a mother does with their child, only so they can then push them away (DISCARD) and symbolically separate/individuate.
It goes without saying that this method never actually truly works, hence why they chew through endless relationships repeating the same cycle (it’s largely an unconscious desperate drive even for them).
But this offers another explanation as to why a narcissist will ignore you, sometimes defiantly, after a breakup/discard. In their mind, they have to, to complete and sustain what they see as a necessary individuation process, though it’s mal-adaptive and dysfunction and never allows them to truly individuate.
See our article on the motives behind I-D-D behavior from narcissists for more on this cutting edge theory, including an excellent embedded summary video from Richard Grannon. This explanation runs deeper than the supply model, and it can offer some comfort to know that you are simply caught up a narcissist’s misguided and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to individuate. Once you see this, you won’t take their behavior so personally.
New E-Book Out Now – A-Z Glossary Guide on Cluster B abuse, designed for newcomers to the topic. Click here to check it out.
Ignoring You Can Be Part Of The Mind Games
It is also true however that some narcissists do like to inflict pain on their victims. It’s a backup way of getting their supply if their primary method of adulation/attention doesn’t work. They inflate themselves by making others feel bad instead. When you feel bad, it makes them feel “full” again. This is how sick the narcissist mindset is.
This is also why they can be so cruel on the discard, and also ignoring you afterwards. They will often try to project out the image that they’re having a great time with the new people they’re moved onto to make you feel bad, knowing that you’ll be checking them out.
It’s part of the mind games they like to play to keep you obsessing about them, because it you’re still ruminating about them, they still matter to you on some level, which keeps them “inflated”.
The coldness and suddenness of the discard, as well as ignoring you afterwards, also has the effect of everything feeling inconclusive and unfinished, which further increases your distress and rumination, which is what they want. The obsession and rumination keeps you corded to them, which is what they want.
Richard Grannon sums this up very well:
“If you choose to go and check them out on their social media, and look at what they are doing, they know very well that you do that. These are not stupid people; these are propaganda masters. These are psychological operations masters.
Even if they are not very bright, even if they have a very low IQ, they know very well at an instinctual level how to promote a certain image, and how to manage that image”
Richard Grannon, Spartan Life Coach
Psychopaths and narcissists also know very well that victims in this situation will feel the need to compulsively check on social media to see what they are up to. They will plant things there that are covert messages and digs deliberately designed to wind you up.
And sending these covert messages/digs to you whilst also ignoring you is part of the mind games of making you think everything is so much better for them now since they left you. Of course their personality is every bit as broken and disordered as it was before, but you checking up on them plays into their game.
This is why you need to go complete no contact and cut them off entirely, including on social media. Don’t leave any way for them to play these mind games on you. Drop them cold and move on.
Tips For Handling a Narcissist Ignoring You After a Breakup
We’ll also list some quick tips for handling this scenario of a narcissist ignoring you after a breakup. It’s mainly about getting to a place where you’re not interested that they’re ignoring you or why they’re doing this, since if you’re still bothered by this, you’re still likely corded to them psychologically in some way, and need to drop them and move on.
Here’s some tips for handling this issue:
- Stop chasing them. They are ignoring you because they no longer have any use for you in their ego-centric world. If this is how they view other people (as objects to be used for their own ends), then why would you want anything to do with this person?
- Delete their number, email, social media and everything else – go full on no contact as it’s the best way to move on from them.
- Do NOT go on their social media to see what they’re up to, as narcissists and sociopaths will often put stuff on there to wind you up.
- Drop them psychologically and carry on with your life, literally as though they never existed. See the section below for some resources to help you do this.
- If you are hurting from the relationship and the coldness of the discard, then enlist the help of a suitable therapist.
- Do more research to understand the nature of the narcissistic personality, and why they are capable of coldly discarding and ignoring others. Richard Grannon and Dr Ramani Durvasula both have excellent YouTube channels on this. But don’t dwell on it forever.
- Focus on self care and living well and gradually getting to the point where they are no longer on your mind. This is the best thing for you, but also the best way to annoy and irritate them.
- If they do eventually circle back months or years later, see our article which covers why this happens, plus how to handle it.
New E-Book Coming – A-Z Glossary Guide on Cluster B abuse, designed for newcomers to the topic. Click here join the list to be notified on release.
Some Resources On Recovering From Narcissistic Relationships
I’ve consumed a lot of different resources on toxic relationships and personality disorders, and by the far the best I’ve found on this topic is Richard Grannon. His knowledge and information on personality disorders, abusive relationships and recovery are second to none, and his courses are specifically geared with a strong emphasis towards moving on and not staying stuck on the narcissist or their abusive behavior towards you, including obsessing about what they’re doing now of why they’re ignoring you.
Click here to see his YouTube channel, which has everything many people need to recover for free over time.
For those who feel they need something more in depth, check out some of his linked courses on getting over narcissistic abuse and moving on with your life:
- Narcissistic Abuse Recovery – Detailed seminar with almost 10 hours of content from 2015. Great for fully understanding narcissism and NPD in detail (but don’t stay stuck obsessing on this).
- Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse – Another detailed course, but more focused towards recovery and healing if you’re stuck with the after-effects of a toxic relationship.
- Break The Trauma Bond – An essential course if you’re stuck obsessing about one person and can’t seem to let them go or break free. Brilliantly structure course aimed at integrating reality and breaking denial to finally let go of the person and move on.
- Unplug From The Matrix Of Narcissistic Abuse – A more expensive but more in depth course specifically designed to help identify and dissolve the Shared Fantasy which often keeps people “bound” to the narcissist psychologically, even long after the relationship has ended.
Again there’s lots of stuff out there, but Grannon’s is the best in my view, because of his emphasis on moving on and letting go. Too many recovery resources and communities stay stuck obsessing on the disorders or abuse itself (jargon), and this is counterproductive long term.
Grannon seeks to get you to a happy place where these people aren’t important to you and aren’t on your mind, which as well being the best thing for you, is also what annoys the narcissist the most
Will The Narcissist Ever Come Back?
This is an interesting question, since some people might be wondering whether they’ll stop ignoring you after a while, and possibly try to rekindle with you. If this is something you’re still hoping for, see the section above on recovery resources, because it’s not a healthy mindset to be stuck on. The narcissist will abuse you again just like they did the first time, since they cannot ever change their personality. You need to drop them mentally and move on.
However, it is true that sometimes narcissists will sometimes try to recontact you months or years after a breakup, trying to rekindle and reconnect. It varies – some narcissists you will never hear from again after the breakup. It’s like you never existed to them, and it’s also best to return the favor by also moving on with your life as though they never existed.
However, some narcissists will circle back months or years later.
Again, using the supply model, it’s not hard to figure out WHY they’ll be doing this:
- They’re re-idealizing their old source of supply they got from you. There was something about it that they liked, and they want to see if they can get it again.
- Their current source of supply from the people around them at the moment is low, or has gone. Perhaps someone else has seen through their BS and discarded them as well, so now they’re addicts again in need of a fix.
- A combination of the above two factors.
“The narcissist drank all your “milkshake” and then moved onto someone else to drink their “milkshake”. But after a while they remember what your “milkshake” was like and they want to come back and try it again”
Bottom line – Even if they do stop ignoring you and/or contact you again at some point, do not let the narcissist back in. There might be a small “hoovering” period where they idealize again, but after a while, the same abusive nonsense they pulled the first time, they’ll do again. Drop them cold and move on with your life, forming newer, healthier relationships with non-disordered people.
See our articles where we covered this issue of narcissist’s reappearing again out the blue (it’s very common):
- Tips if a narcissist ex recontacts after a while (weeks/months/years)
- How long does it take for a narcissist to come back (if they ever do)?
- Why do narcissists come back when you’re strong?
If you found this content useful, please consider sharing with other people who may benefit from it. Search engines continue to decimate grass-roots blogs and de-rank their content, all the while making their search results worse, not better. Please help by sharing where appropriate.
New E-Book Out Now – A-Z Glossary Guide on Cluster B abuse, designed for newcomers to the topic. Click here to check it out.