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Narcissistic ghosting refers to when a person with narcissistic traits abruptly ends a relationship or cuts off contact with another person without any explanation or closure.
Narcissistic ghosting is often employed as a form of emotional manipulation and a power play by individuals with narcissistic tendencies. The narcissist might use ghosting to punish, control, or disorient another person. This behavior can be especially hurtful because it often leaves the other person feeling confused, abandoned, and emotionally devastated.
Narcissistic individuals often prioritize their own needs, desires, and sense of self-importance above those of others. Ghosting is often a manifestation of the narcissist’s lack of empathy and their tendency to view relationships as tools for their own validation and control.
Distinguishing between regular ghosting and narcissistic ghosting can be challenging, especially when you’ve noticed narcissistic traits in the person exhibiting the behavior. Some signs that may help you recognize narcissistic ghosting include: consistent patterns of self-centered behavior, lack of accountability for their actions, or an intentional infliction of emotional harm.
It’s important to remember that not everyone who engages in ghosting behavior is necessarily a narcissist. Some individuals may ghost for other reasons, such as fear, immaturity, or personal issues.
However, if you consistently observe narcissistic traits in the person and the ghosting behavior aligns with patterns of manipulation and control, it may indeed be narcissistic ghosting.
Is It Common for Narcissists to Ghost?
It is not uncommon for individuals with narcissistic traits or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) to engage in ghosting behavior. This is because narcissists often prioritize their own needs, desires, and sense of self-importance above those of others.
Ghosting allows them to exert control, avoid accountability, and maintain a sense of power and superiority in the relationship.
Interestingly, however, Jonason et al. (2021) found that while narcissistic individuals may endorse ghosting as an acceptable way to terminate a relationship, they may not necessarily be more likely to engage in ghosting behavior compared to non-narcissists.
This finding highlights the complexity of human behavior and the fact that individual differences, context, and various other factors can influence whether someone with narcissistic traits chooses to ghost or not.
It’s important to remember that research can provide valuable insights into general trends and tendencies, but individual behavior can vary widely.
Why Do Narcissists Ghost?
Narcissists may engage in ghosting for various reasons, which are often rooted in their personality traits and desire for control and validation.
Narcissists often seek to have their needs met through relationships with others, using them as sources of admiration, validation, and control. This can lead to dysfunctional and one-sided relationships where the narcissist’s needs consistently take precedence.
Here are some common reasons why narcissists may choose to ghost:
Manipulation and Control
Narcissists seek to maintain control in their relationships, and ghosting allows them to assert dominance.
Highly narcissistic people are motivated by their need for attention, admiration, and control. Ghosting can be a manipulative tactic employed by narcissists to keep the other person emotionally entangled, positioning the narcissist as the one who has control over the dynamic.
The sudden withdrawal of attention and affection can leave the person feeling insecure and eager to please the narcissist, thereby boosting the narcissist’s ego and sense of self-importance.
Narcissists often avoid uncomfortable conversations, criticism, or accountability for their actions. Ghosting allows them to sidestep these difficult discussions and avoid taking any responsibility for the consequences of their behavior.
Narcissists may discard people from their lives when they no longer serve their needs or provide the desired level of admiration, attention, or control.
Discarding refers to the abrupt and often callous abandonment or ending of a relationship by a narcissist. This abandonment can happen suddenly, leaving the other person feeling confused and hurt.
Narcissists might even discard a partner when they identify a new source of admiration or validation. This cycle of discarding and seeking new “supply” is characteristic of many narcissistic individuals.
Do Narcissists Come Back After Ghosting?
It is possible for narcissists to come back after ghosting, especially if they believe that doing so will serve their needs or provide them with narcissistic supply.
Narcissists thrive on attention, admiration, and validation from others. If they feel they can obtain these things from a past relationship, they may come back to regain their source of supply.
They might return to a past partner with the intent to manipulate or exploit them further, using promises of change or love as a way to gain leverage or meet their own needs.
Additionally, returning to a previous relationship allows narcissists to reassert control and dominance over the other person. They may use the reconciliation as a way to reinforce their power.
Because narcissists often have fragile self-esteem, they may return to a previous relationship to boost their ego, especially if they believe the person they ghosted still cares about them.
Or, they may cycle through relationships out of boredom or convenience. They might return to a previous partner if they find themselves in need of companionship or attention at a particular time.
It’s important to note that if a narcissist does return after ghosting, it may not necessarily be because they genuinely care about the other person’s feelings or well-being. Their motivations are typically self-centered, and they may not have the capacity for a healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship.
How to Respond to Narcissistic Ghosting
Responding to narcissistic ghosting can be challenging, as it involves dealing with someone who is often manipulative, lacks empathy, and prioritizes their own needs above yours.
First, you must acknowledge that you are dealing with a narcissist. Understanding that the person’s actions are driven by narcissistic traits can help you depersonalize the experience and avoid self-blame.
Here are more steps to consider when responding to narcissistic ghosting:
Stop All Contact
Once it is clear the narcissistic individual has ghosted you, do not contact them again. Recognize that narcissists will use contact as an opportunity to manipulate or exploit you further.
If you reach out, this will only give them the attention they need to make them feel like they are in control of you and your emotions.
If the narcissist attempts to reestablish contact, you should be clear about your boundaries. Be prepared to enforce those boundaries if the narcissist doesn’t respect them.
Blocking their number, unfriending them on social media, and minimizing any avenues for communication can also help you move forward.
Focus on Yourself
Your emotional well-being should be your top priority.
Being ghosted can have a negative impact on your self-esteem and cause you to doubt yourself and your worth. Therefore, you should focus on self-care, self-compassion, and taking steps to heal from the emotional impact of the ghosting.
Remember that the narcissist’s behavior is a reflection of their issues and not your worth as a person. That is, people tend to ghost because of their own inner conflicts and not because the other person somehow deserves it.
Use the experience as an opportunity for personal growth. Reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself and your boundaries. Consider how you can strengthen your emotional resilience and avoid similar situations in the future.
Consider Professional Help
If you find it challenging to cope with the emotional aftermath of narcissistic ghosting, consider seeking the guidance of a therapist or counselor who can provide strategies for healing and moving forward.
If the situation involves legal issues or if you feel unsafe due to the narcissist’s behavior, consult with legal authorities or seek advice from professionals who specialize in domestic abuse or harassment.
How Do You Know If a Narcissist Is Done With You?
Determining if a narcissist is done with you can be challenging because their behavior can be unpredictable and manipulative. However, there are some tell-tale signs that suggest a narcissist is finished with a relationship.
The narcissist may abruptly cut off communication and disappear from your life without explanation or closure. This is a form of ghosting and can be a clear sign that they are done with the relationship.
You may notice a significant decline in their interest or involvement in your life. This is referred to as stonewalling. They may stop asking about your day and appear indifferent or apathetic toward your feelings and well-being.
In some cases, a narcissist may engage in devaluation before discarding you completely. They may criticize, belittle, or devalue you as a way of preparing for the end of the relationship.
They might become increasingly aggressive in their tone and language, blame you for everything that went wrong, and criticize your appearance and personality. This can be a way to rationalize their decision to end the relationship.
It’s essential to remember that when dealing with a narcissist, their actions are primarily driven by their own needs and desires. If you suspect a narcissist is done with you, you should prioritize your own well-being and consider whether it’s in your best interest to move on from the relationship.
Julia Simkus edited this article.
Is Ghosting Always Narcissistic?
No, ghosting is not always narcissistic. Ghosting is a behavior that can be exhibited by individuals for a variety of reasons, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate narcissism.
Some individuals ghost because they are conflict-averse and find it difficult to have difficult conversations or break up in person.
Others may ghost because they lack the emotional maturity or communication skills to handle a breakup properly.
Life circumstances or personal problems can also lead someone to withdraw from a relationship abruptly, even if they did not intend to ghost.
Therefore, if someone ghosts you, try to look at the whole person and not just their ghosting behavior. The motivations for ghosting can vary widely, and each situation is unique.
How Does It Feel When a Narcissist Ghosts You?
When a narcissist ghosts you, it can be an incredibly distressing and emotionally painful experience.
It can leave you feeling bewildered and unsure about what went wrong.
Being ghosted by someone you care about can result in feelings of deep hurt, rejection, and abandonment. You may question your self-worth and wonder why the narcissist would treat you this way.
Some individuals blame themselves for the ghosting, even though it is not their fault. Narcissists can be skilled at manipulating others into feeling responsible for their actions.
You may find yourself seeking validation from others, trying to understand what happened and why the narcissist treated you this way.
How Long Can Narcissists Go Without Talking to You?
The length of time a narcissist can go without talking to you can vary widely depending on individual circumstances and motivations. Some narcissists may go a long time without communication, while others may initiate contact sooner.
If they have found a new source of narcissistic supply (someone who provides admiration, validation, and attention), they may go without talking to you for an extended period – or even forever – because their immediate needs are being met elsewhere.
The length of time they go without talking to you may not necessarily reflect the health or viability of the relationship but rather their current priorities and motivations.
Is It Common for Narcissists to Love Bomb and Then Ghost?
Yes, it is relatively common for narcissists to engage in a pattern of love bombing followed by ghosting in relationships.
This behavior can be part of a manipulative and emotionally abusive cycle (idealization, devaluation, and discard) that is characteristic of some narcissists.
Initially, when a narcissist is pursuing someone or in the early stages of a relationship, they may engage in love bombing. This involves showering the other person with excessive affection, attention, compliments, and declarations of love. It can make the other person feel cherished and special.
After a period of love bombing, the narcissist’s behavior often shifts. They may begin to devalue the other person, finding fault with them, criticizing them, and withdrawing affection and attention.
Eventually, the narcissist may escalate their devaluation to the point of ghosting. They abruptly cut off all communication with the other person.
Some narcissists may reappear in the person’s life after a period of ghosting, repeating the cycle by returning with more love bombing and idealization.
- Dinić, B. & Jovanović, A. (2021). Shades of narcissistic love: Relations between narcissism dimensions and love styles. Personality and Individual Differences, 175.
- Durvasula, R. [Dr.Ramani] (2020, April 14). What is Narcissistic Ghosting? YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1zQrViVj3s
- Jonason, P. & Kaźmierczak, I. & Campos, A. & Davis, M. (2021). Leaving without a word: Ghosting and the Dark Triad traits. Acta Psychologica.
- Sherry, S., Hewitt, P., Besser, A., Flett, G. & Klein, C. (2005). Machiavellianism, trait perfectionism, and perfectionistic self-presentation. Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 829–839.
Sulymka, S. (2022). What Makes a Ghoster? University of Regina Thesis