The Come-back narcissist

Updated from the original post on 6 August 2014

If you have read about narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder you will have read that one way to deal with narcissism in your life is with no contact or low contact.  In some cases this can be simple (natural fading of a relationship/friendship) but in other cases it may not work out that way.  If you have decided to NOT have contact with this person then the next question becomes do they come back into your life?

If they come-back after a significant¹ about of time of no contact, then, how they try and re-enter is telling of whether or not they are up to their old narcissistic tricks.  I believe people can change and I have seen changes in people’s behaviors.  The manner in which the person deals with the significant time apart and how he/she re-surfaces may reveal whether or not the person is searching for his/her narcissistic supply² or if he/she is trying to make amends (and has understood and changed their unhealthy behaviors).

I have gone no contact with a few friends and they have tried to re-enter four months later, a year later and even eight years later.  Based on my experiences, I have compiled a list of signs that reentry may be unhealthy or for ulterior motives (like narcissistic supply²).  Please note this list is not inclusive nor should be taken as advice, it is a set of guidelines I have in place for myself and I share my learnings.

SIGNS RE-ENTRY MAY BE UNHEALTHY

1. No acknowledgement that time has passed

This is actually a boundary violation.  The not acknowledging something that should be acknowledged (the not what is said is equally as important as what is said) is crossing a relationship boundary.  The other person should show signs that he/she views the same reality as you – significant time has passed without contact (Katherine 2000, p. 122).

2. Picking up where the relationship left off

This is linked to #1.  If upon contacting/interacting you, he/she jumps into normal conversation that you two used to have without discussing that something was wrong in the first place is a HUGE sign that this person is not concerned with respecting your feelings about the relationship.

3. Indirectly trying to make contact with you through a third party

When a former friend/co-worker contacted me after four months of no contact, she did so with another friend.  This is odd behavior considering she didn’t do this often during the course of our friendship.  She repeatedly did this a few times with the mutual friend.  It felt odd to start speaking to me again with someone else present (on e-mail, face to face).  I believe she did this as a way of control, to bully me to be silent about the events of our failed friendship.

4. Knows information about your life where you haven’t personally communicated it to them

A former friend contacted me after finding out I was moving.  Yet, I never told her and she came up to me and started asking me about it.  With mutual friends, this is tricky because mutual friends may pass on information about you when they don’t know that you have ended the friendship.  However, this friend came up and started talking to me about it without mentioning where she had heard this information.  This is also linked to guideline #2.

5.  Reaches out to you upon hearing bad news about you

A few friends of mine where I had faded out our friendship, contacted me when they heard I was leaving my job.  In fact, during the few months I was jobless (searching for a new one) they were really attentive.  However, once I found a new job and I communicated that, I never heard from them again.  I was their narcissistic supply for that brief period.

6.  If you engage but no real concern follows about you

I lapsed one time and went out with friends where I knew the former friend would be.  When I spoke to the former friend, she didn’t ask anything about what is going on in my life.  There was no concern or curiosity at all in my life – something that had ended our friendship in the first place.

Footnotes

¹Please note that a significant amount of time is dependent on the amount of contact I had with the person during the course of the relationship.  With one friend/co-worker, for example, I spoke to her and saw her every day (for one and half years).  More than a couple of weeks of not talking/seeing her is a significant amount of time (I stopped car pooling with her to work, taking my lunch breaks with her and stopped e-mailing/talking to her).

²Narcissistic supply: another person that fulfills the narcissist’s exaggerated needs for attention, admiration and adulation

Further Reading & References

Katherine, Anne, M.A.: Where to Draw the Line – How to set healthy boundaries every day; Simon & Schuster, 2000.

The Narcissitic Continuum: The Appropriation of “No Contact”: When Narcissists Use “No Contact” Against You

In Bad Company: Frenemies (narcissists) and mutual friends

 

 

9 thoughts on “The Come-back narcissist

  1. Oh my goodness. Looks like I am not the only person in this world who had a frenemy (a former flatmate from hell) that my close friend and I to this day suspect she may have NPD. I want you to know that you’re not alone.

    From what you listed about the three attempts, they all rang a bell back to few years ago ( I won’t go in detail but maybe next time). Lastly, be strong okay? Don’t let Marian get to you by all means. There may come a time that Marian will get her comeuppance when she least expects it in life (maybe a co-worker she rubs the wrong way or better, making another enemy out of a good person in her own backyard)

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  2. Thank you for the support. NPD is a difficult thing…I think much of the academic literature is vague…each person if they have the disorder express it in different ways but in the end the people around them feel the same.

    I hope that your flatmate does not make those attempts in the future. Stay strong as well.

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    • Thanks but just to clarify the matter by the way, I no longer have a flatmate from hell (who made flatting unglamourous for the first and last time for me) and it has been nearly six years since I got myself free and told her that I won’t take her nonsense anymore. But rumour has it that she got her comeuppance, which is quite minor, but I get the feeling now and then that a bigger comeuppance may come and bite her when she least expects it.

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      • My apologies. It is very strong that you got rid of a flatmate. Thank you for sharing…you actually inspired my next post…when is a frenemy a narcissist…gave me some reflection. Thanks!

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    • Hi Carmen,

      I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with someone with NPD. Confrontation…That choice is personal and it is difficult to give advice…I think you should in the end do what is best for you. If confronting the narcissist may lead you to question your safety then that may not be in one’s best interest and health to do so.

      I, personally, have never confronted the person with NPD with regard to telling them about the disorder. I have confronted them on their narcissistic behavior. I believe that confronting a behavior when it happens is an indicator of their
      temperament. But I have only done this when I didn’t fear that I would be physically attacked. My mother with NPD beat me and I would never confront her for fear of my life. Instead it was healthier for me to get out and never talk / see her again.

      I think deciding what is best for you is something each person answers on their own. I hope you find the right answers for you and your situation.

      T Reddy

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    • Carmen, my experience with my narc was that when I told him that I knew the truth of who he was I was blocked on fb and skype–he lives in Australia and I in the US so I ahve not seen him since..and i have sent a link to him about NPD–my guess is that if he and I were face to face and alone I would get some of the rage that is associated with NPD and he does have a temper……

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  3. The having to show off her house thing reminded me of my narc GC sister. A few years back, family came out to surprise & celebrate my NM’s 80th b-day. They were only going to be here a few days and it really irritated my GC that they contacted me instead of her about the trip(no surprise). I told her that I was going to have a dinner at my house so they could surprise my mom. Well, she shouts out on the phone, “well, they are going to come to my house too while they are here!” I stated that we’d have to wait and see because they were only to be here like 3 days. She then stated “well, I think they should see my house too!”. It was all about showing off and not about having them over for a meal. Her house is much bigger than mine and I could care less about it. It was all about getting her narc supply to feel important because she is so insecure and feels so insignificant. I didn’t realize this till my cousin who came on this trip pointed it out to me. Anyway, your blog helps to reveal more to me about my situation…thank you!

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    • Showing off, instead of sharing, is so difficult to deal with. It is something you feel, not so tangible. If your GC sister wanted to have them over, there are so many ways she could have chosen to go about it. And the words she choose were evident of something deeper in her wanting them to come over to her place.

      I’m glad it has been helpful, you’re welcome! xxTR

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