How Narcissists Treat Their Exes

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By Oluwaseun Bamisile


Have you recently ended a relationship with a narcissist and found yourself curious about how they treat their exes? This article should be an exciting read.

To kick off this article, I will explain who a narcissist is. Then, we will discuss several signs to know if your ex is a narcissist.

Following that, we will explore various ways such individuals treat their ex-partners.

Meanwhile, our FAQ section will answer common questions related to this article’s topic.

Who Is A Narcissist

Who Is A Narcissist

A narcissist is a person who exhibits narcissistic personality traits or has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Furthermore, narcissism is a term that originates from Greek mythology,

This Greek mythology involves Narcissus, a young man who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water and became obsessed with his beauty. suggests narcissism refers to a pattern of self-centeredness, a lack of empathy for others, and an excessive need for attention.

Meanwhile, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, as hinted by People with NPD often believe they are special and have a strong desire for admiration.

Additionally, they may manipulate others to achieve their goals and desires. Also, they often have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships because they tend to exploit and take advantage of others.

However, it’s important to note that not everyone who exhibits some narcissistic traits necessarily has NPD. Narcissistic traits can exist on a spectrum, and some degree of narcissism is considered normal, as said by

Nevertheless, when these traits significantly affect a person’s ability to function in relationships and society, it may indicate NPD.

Signs Your Ex Is A Narcissist

Identifying whether your ex-partner is a narcissist can be challenging. However, there are some common signs and behaviors associated with narcissistic individuals.

Here are some signs that your ex may be a narcissist.

1. Constant Need For Attention And Admiration

Narcissists have an uncontrollable hunger for attention and admiration, as stated on In a relationship, this might manifest as an overwhelming desire for compliments, gifts, or constant affirmation.

Your ex-partner may have frequently sought validation from you and others. They could even become upset or angry when they don’t receive it.

They often believe that they are unique and deserving of special treatment. This can lead to an expectation that their needs and desires should be the center of attention.

2. Idealization And Devaluation

Narcissists often engage in a cycle of idealization and devaluation, according to In the beginning stages of your relationship, they might have idealized you.

By doing this, they place you on a pedestal and make you feel incredibly special. However, as the relationship progressed, they may have started to devalue you, becoming critical and dismissive.

This fluctuation can be emotionally destabilizing and confusing.

3. Manipulative Behavior

Narcissists are skilled manipulators, as established by They may employ tactics such as gaslighting, where they distort reality to make you doubt your perceptions, feelings, or memories.

Also, they might use guilt-tripping to make you feel responsible for their problems or emotional state. Emotional blackmail could also be part of their repertoire, using threats or emotional leverage to get what they want.

4. Sense Of Entitlement

According to, narcissists often believe they are entitled to special treatment and that the rules don’t apply to them. In your relationship, this might have meant that your ex expected you to cater to their needs and desires without reciprocity.

They may have acted as if they deserved preferential treatment in all aspects of the relationship, from decision-making to emotional support.

5. Difficulty With Criticism

Narcissists often react strongly to criticism or perceived threats to their self-esteem, as hinted by During your relationship, you might have noticed that your ex-partner responded to criticism with anger, defensiveness, or withdrawal.

This sensitivity to criticism can create an environment where open communication and conflict resolution are nearly impossible.

How Narcissistic Individuals Treat Their Ex-Partners

How Narcissistic Individuals Treat Their Ex-Partners

Narcissists can treat their ex-partners in various ways, depending on the individual and the specific dynamics of the relationship. However, it’s important to note that not all narcissists will exhibit the same behaviors.

Therefore, the severity of their actions can vary. Nonetheless, here is a detailed explanation of how narcissists may treat their exes.

1. Blame-Shifting

According to, narcissists often struggle to take responsibility for their actions. When conflicts arise in the relationship or when it ends, they may shift blame onto their ex-partner.

This can involve making the ex feel responsible for the problems in the relationship or the breakup itself. In fact, states that “Look what you made me do” is a common phrase for narcissists.

Their refusal to acknowledge their role in the issues can be frustrating and emotionally distressing for the ex-partner.

2. Triangulation

Narcissists might involve a third party in interactions with their ex-partner, as hinted by The third party could be a new romantic interest or their latest fling.

This is often done to incite jealousy, gain power and control, or make the ex-partner feel replaced. They might even go as far as comparing their ex with the third party to make them feel inadequate.

This can be emotionally distressing for the ex.

3. Smear Campaigns

To protect their image and reputation, narcissists may engage in smear campaigns against their ex-partners. Specifically, they may spread false information, gossip, or negative stories about their exes, as stated by

This can be an attempt to discredit the ex-partner and damage their social standing and reputation. Besides, they may begin to belittle their ex, undermine their self-esteem, and make them feel worthless.

This devaluation can affect the ex’s self-worth and emotional well-being, leading to feelings of inadequacy.

4. Hoovering And Continued Control

After a breakup, narcissists may engage in hoovering, as hinted by This involves attempts to “suck” their ex-partner back into the relationship.

They may send mixed signals, alternating between affection and emotional distance, to confuse and manipulate their ex-partner. Additionally, they might make promises of change or profess their love, only to later revert to their previous behavior.

Furthermore, some narcissists may try to maintain control over their ex-partner even after the relationship has ended. This can involve stalking, both online and offline, monitoring their ex’s activities, and engaging in harassment.

Such actions can be not only emotionally distressing but also legally problematic.

5. Blackmail

Blackmailing is one of the manipulative tactics that some narcissists use when dealing with their exes. Blackmail involves using threats, coercion, or the exposure of sensitive information to gain control or advantage over someone.

Moreover, narcissists often crave control and power in their relationships. Therefore, when a relationship ends, they may feel a loss of control over their ex-partner’s emotions, decisions, or actions.

As a result, blackmail becomes a tool to regain this sense of control. Besides, blackmail is a form of emotional manipulation that exploits the ex-partner’s vulnerabilities and fears.

Narcissists may use personal information or secrets shared during the relationship against their ex. This can include threatening to reveal embarrassing, damaging, or deeply personal details about the ex’s life to others, as hinted by

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do Narcissists Care About Their Ex?

Narcissists are known for their extreme self-centeredness. During a relationship, their primary focus is typically on themselves, their needs, and their desires.

This self-centeredness often leads them to view others, including their ex-partners, as extensions of themselves. Consequently, they may not genuinely care about their ex’s well-being or feelings.

2. Do Narcissists Get Over Their Exes Quickly?

Narcissists can appear to move on from their exes quickly. However, it’s important to understand that their need for attention and validation often drives their behavior.

This means it is not genuine emotional healing. Moreover, states that a narcissist gets over their ex in three-and-a-half weeks based on a survey.

3. Do Narcissists Regret Breakup?

Narcissists typically do not experience genuine regret for breakups in the same way that individuals with healthy emotional empathy do. Instead, their regret is often shaped by their narcissistic motivations, as hinted by

4. Who Is A Narcissist?

A narcissist is a person who exhibits narcissistic personality traits or has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Furthermore, narcissism refers to a pattern of self-centeredness, a lack of empathy for others, and an excessive need for attention.

5. Do Narcissists Feel Jealous Over Ex?

According to, narcissists often see their partners as possessions. Therefore, they may feel jealous when they spot their ex with someone else, feeling their possession has been taken away.


How narcissists treat their exes is a complex and often distressing dynamic. Narcissists typically exhibit self-centered and manipulative behaviors throughout and after a relationship.

Furthermore, they often struggle with genuine empathy and may lack the capacity to honestly care about their ex-partners’ well-being. Their primary focus tends to be on their own needs, desires, and the preservation of their self-image.

Due to this, their treatment of their exes may include blackmail, smear campaigns, and blame-shifting.

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For more articles with similar topics, kindly explore our Relationship page.

References And Further Reading

  1. – How Do Narcissists Treat Their Exes? (What They Do & How to Handle It)
  2. – You’re Sure To Recognize These 9 Ways Narcissists Treat Their Exes
  3. – 11 Ways Narcissists Treat Their Exes (and How to React)
  4. – How Narcissists Treat Their Exes – 6 Shocking Things They Do
  5. – How Do Narcissists Treat Their Exes (According to Experts)
  6. – 8 Ways How Narcissists Treat Their Exes
  7. – How Narcissists Treat Their Exes: 12 Shameless Ways
  8. – Narcissistic personality disorder
  9. – 9 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist — and How to Get Out
  10. – Narcissism: Symptoms and Signs
  11. – Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  12. – Narcissism

About the Author

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Oluwaseun Bamisile

Oluwaseun is the Lead Content Editor at He holds a National Diploma in Computer Science (currently studying part-time for his Higher National Diploma). An internet geek with a love for automobiles, he writes relationship articles, travel guides, and general life hacks on the site.

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