With their wide smile and seemingly unshakable confidence, a narcissist can certainly appear charming. Once you learn what lies behind that intense stare, however, you’ll likely wish that you hadn’t.
Dealing with a narcissist ex is always a pain, mostly due to how difficult it is to leave them where they belong: in the past. Eventually, their refusal to stay out of your life will probably have you wondering how to know if a narcissist is finished with you.
A narcissist thinks, feels, and acts in a decidedly self-centered (and often emotionally abusive) way. Thus, before I can offer any advice on how to know if a narcissist is finished with you, I will need to get into their mindset. It certainly won’t be pretty, but you’ll come out the other end at least a little bit wiser.
Traits of a Typical Narcissist
Named after a character from Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection, narcissism is a set of particular character traits. A narcissist typically has an inflated sense of self-importance, a pronounced lack of empathy, a never-ending hunger for attention, and (in the more extreme cases) a particularly fragile ego.
Owing to the said ego, narcissists are often bullies who refuse to (or simply cannot) accept responsibility for their errors.
Of course, we all have degrees of self-obsession, and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as our love of ourselves doesn’t hurt anyone or sabotage our relationships, there’s nothing to worry about. A true narcissist, however, would never even consider themselves wrong, regardless of whom they trample over.
A narcissist will often be amazing at flattery because it will help them get what they want. If it doesn’t work, they often withdraw, right before taking their anger out on whoever happens to be nearby.
And many of us know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a narcissist’s rage. They will belittle and insult you without mercy or restraint, use emotional manipulation to lower your guard, and won’t hesitate to hit you where it hurts the most.
Of course, whenever you tell yourself that the two of you are done, the narcissist will pull every trick in the book to snag you right back into that vicious cycle (we call that hoovering). Ironically, that is one facet of their life where they’ll sink to any depth.
Yes, dealing with a narcissist is an unpredictable game of hot and cold. Wanting how to know if a narcissist is finished with you is only natural.
If They’re So Horrible, Why Do We Care?
In essence, our brain chemistry is working against us. Narcissists may be awful at dealing with their own emotions, but they are experts at playing with ours. They successfully rewire our brains to downplay our needs and prioritize theirs—whatever they may be at the time. That loss of identity, though relatively minor, can get debilitating once they leave us again.
It’s not uncommon to feel as if your life is on hold when your narcissist ex is away. By relentlessly pulling at our heartstrings over and over, they’ve created an addiction of sorts. We crave their presence despite the pain their actions have caused us.
It is a self-perpetuating feedback loop, and there is a mechanism behind it that involves the release of dopamine. By dragging us through extreme emotions, the narcissist has conditioned us to treasure the few scraps of affection they throw our way, and dread the prospect of losing them again.
They will still leave at some point, of course, which will only reinforce the faulty pathways in our brain. We will then return to that dreadful state from which only the narcissist can save us.
If your case is particularly extreme, you may even not feel like yourself without regular contact with your narcissist. It may seem as if they have hijacked your very personhood and replaced it with an unhealthy obsession. A light at the end of the tunnel does exist, though.
By refraining from contact with your narcissist, you can enter a sort of withdrawal. Here the question, How to know if a narcissist is finished with you? becomes vital.
Predictably, the narcissist will do everything in their power to steer you away from the answer.
A Narcissist Never Truly Leaves
Was your last breakup so nasty that you never expected to see them again? Did you say things that you couldn’t take back, and were those words so bad that you’d have trouble looking them in the eyes again? Did it surprise you at all when the narcissist returned with a fresh—and utterly divorced from reality—interpretation of said events?
The thing is, the narcissist will not truly accept your version of reality. They have their own vision—one that supports the size of their ego, and they won’t validate anyone else’s. In their eyes, there was no finality to your break-up. They won’t give you closure, because they won’t believe that you deserved it.
Of course, the narcissist’s complete rejection of our side of the story will let them justify any action. Once they feel like taking us back—if only to throw us away later, they will go to any lengths. They may use cutting words or even threaten us with self-harm — anything to make us take them back.
A particularly sneaky approach would have the narcissist claim that they have changed and learned from their mistakes. They may even apologize for their actions, or even promise to give us closure by answering our questions.
It goes without saying that the narcissist never delivers on their promise, but only repeats some variation of the same loop. They get that little kick that they wanted and move on, and we only end up reinforcing our addiction.
The harsh truth here is that the narcissist will never truly leave; at least not on their own. They will always linger, whether just out of sight or within the dark recesses of our mind. And once we extend our hand—out of sheer misery and desperation, they will gladly pull us back down into the gutter.
So, How To Know If a Narcissist Is Finished With You?
Given that a narcissist will readily change their own rules and so-called values on the fly, you can’t rely on them for any real feedback. There is one person, however, that you can place your trust in, yourself. The narcissist may keep knocking on your door, but letting them back in will entirely be your decision.
Only by telling yourself that it’s over, and enforcing that proclamation without bending or breaking, will you permanently bar the narcissist from your life.
As always, though, talking the talk and walking the walk will be two entirely different matters. Telling your narcissist that you no longer want anything to do with them will certainly be easier than you expect. Gritting your teeth and not going back on those words will be much, much more difficult.
Even worse, upholding that life-altering decision and not giving in to the desire to check up on them will be something that you will have to stick with for the rest of your life.
At some point, it may seem as if your ex has in fact moved on with their life. There are plenty of stories about the so-called “final discard,” where a narcissist, having realized that they will never again have power over someone, finally leaves them alone for good.
Sadly, nothing is ever that simple when dealing with a narcissist. Them not trying to hoover you at the moment doesn’t make you safe in the long run.
While all of this may be a bitter pill to swallow, you owe it yourself to keep that medicine down. As you should be well aware by now, your narcissist will not hesitate to exploit any opening that you may leave for them. Don’t give them the opportunity or satisfaction; we all know how it will end.
The Conclusion: You Hold The Cards
At the end of the day, your narcissist ex only wields as much power as you are willing to give them. By refusing to play their game and minimizing—or preferably, eliminating—further contact, you will leave them with even less to work with.
Delete their phone number and block them on all social networks. Do away with their pictures, videos, and personal items. Don’t waste time and energy replaying past events in your mind and reminiscing about the “good old days.” If those days were ever any good, they would not have led you to this point.
The saying that time heals everything may not always be true, but in this case, it certainly is. The more time you and your narcissist ex spend apart, the less you will yearn for their presence.
Furthermore, that horrifying and all-consuming void that their absence used to invoke will simply fade away. Eventually, the whole affair will seem like a dream; almost as if it happened to someone else.
You will never again wonder, How to know if a narcissist is finished with you? Because this time, you will be finished with them.