It's quite a common thing for a coaching client to say casually to me that their ex has "narcissistic tendencies."
Often times this is said as though they are simply describing the kind of fast food their ex likes.
"Oh by the way, she/he has narcissistic tendencies."
Some heart-broken people do a lot of research online after they've been broken up with and there's a lot of people out there throwing the word "narcissist" around like it's a pet name or an easy diagnosis.
Often I'll hear, "My ex is a covert narcissist."
The reality of that is, you don't know that unless it's psychologically determined.
Unless your ex actually goes to an expert and is psychologically evaluated, you can't know that your ex is a narcissist.
I can tell you that it's not likely that they are, since less than 1% of the population actually could be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)(source).
According to the Mayo Clinic:
I'm not saying your ex is not a narcissist, but just because they broke up with you does not mean that they are.
There's no way that I can say definitively that your ex is not a narcissist.
They could be since there certainly are people who could be diagnosed with that disorder.
If you truly believe your ex has NPD, do not try to get your ex back.
Run and move on with your life. You are certainly better off without them!
That being said, there are certainly people who are selfish and entitled to the point that they behave like a narcissist sometimes.
Maybe they believe that you are supposed to pay for everything.
Or that you are supposed to constantly compliment them but they rarely provide you with the same.
Maybe it's always about what they want to do or about making them feel desired and wanted but never about you.
We used to call that selfishness and/or immaturity.
Your ex doesn't have to be a narcissist to display those traits and if they do, trust me, you don't want them back.
I've spoken with people who believe that their ex is, indeed, a narcissist and they are looking for information on how to re-attract someone who has that disorder.
In my opinion, this is a case of someone being so hurt and caught up in the loss that is commonly felt after a breakup that they can no longer see their ex clearly or as they truly are.
At this point, the so-called primitive part of his/her brain is only focused on retrieving what has been lost.
The focus is on "winning."
Your mind has determined a problem and is trying to find the answer.
The goal and desire, then, becomes getting this person to want to be together with you again or to convince him/her that they should do so.
The person is unable to connect with the idea that this person might not be good for them at all and that the breakup itself might be a blessing.
We all act like narcissists from time to time.
Children, for instance, often seem to believe that their parents' income is their's even though it was one or more of their parents who actually earned it.
Sometimes we don't realize that we are behaving with such immaturity and selfishness.
Most of us - at least those of us who are emotionally healthy - can look back at our behavior and see where we were mistaken, inappropriate, or inconsiderate.
I understand the hurt behind that statement, but it's simply not true.
Sometimes when people no longer feel attraction to someone, don't see a future with them, and want something else, they feel they have to end the relationship.
They can't simply choose to want to be with you so that they don't hurt you emotionally.
Most people stay in a relationship longer than they want to because they do care about the other person and don't want to hurt them.
At some point, however, if they are convinced that they want a different future, it makes sense for them to leave.
I realize that it hurts to hear that and I'm very sorry for that.
Were they lying to you or manipulating you by telling you that they loved you and wanted to be with you forever?
They probably meant it and felt it in that time.
Even most married couples, when surveyed, admit that if they weren't married, they probably would've broken up several times.
Marriage has built in "chords of commitment," that encourage a couple to stick it out, work on the relationship, and hope for better times.
Those things are often children, shared property, shared finances, the social stigma around divorce, hurting their children, going against their religion, breaking up their family, and the expense of divorce.
A couple who is not married usually doesn't have all of those things.
So the odd reality is that a couple might have actually stayed together if they had gotten married instead of continuing as though they had peaked where they were.
That can lead to questions like, "Is this all there is for us?" and a general since of the relationship not having anywhere left to go.
I've certainly talked to people who feel that way and broke up with someone they cared about because of it.
A slight majority of people who lose contentedness with a relationship because of that concept are women but it certainly happens with men.
I'm not suggesting that anyone get married so that their relationship will last.
I'm just sharing with you some things that can cause a breakup.
Here's the bottom line:
Sometimes an ex can seem cruel during a breakup.
This is often when they stayed much longer than they wanted to because they didn't want to hurt you.
It is also often after you have begged, pleaded, and constantly wanted to try to talk them into getting back together.
I also talk about this some in my article and video, "What is your ex thinking during no contact?"
If you don't go into no contact and leave your ex alone after the breakup, they often respond with anger because they don't want to see you hurting anymore.
So you actually become the enemy, in some ways, in that you are seemingly forcing your ex to see your pain and that is a negative for them.
I realize that can seem quite immature and I'm certainly not taking sides here.
I just want you to understand some of your ex's actions and why it might seem like they are a cold, heartless, selfish narcissist.
If you believe that your ex is not a narcissist and you want to get them back, get my Emergency Breakup Kit to have nearly two decades of professional observation and strategy development on your side so that you will have the best chance of getting them back!