Why a Covert Narcissist Breaks Up With You First

Narcissists usually discard you as a coping mechanism when things become too much for them or if they are uncomfortable with their situation. Unlike overt narcissists, covert narcissists have extreme “fight or flight” reflexes, and when they choose flight, they run hard and fast. They jump straight into the car, and they are gone in a split second. 

A covert narcissist, while not necessarily diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), may still exhibit many or all of the diagnostic criteria symptoms. Covert narcissism, also called closet narcissism or introverted narcissism, is a “sensitive narcissism.”

Why do narcissists first avoid you for some time?

When they become terrified and want to leave a conversation while you are speaking, they will often do things, such as:

  • Walk out of the room.
  • Refuse to look at you (they will rarely look you straight in the eye).
  • Fail to answer anything when you ask them a question, even if you ask them repeatedly. In response or they may answer something like, “I don’t know.”
  • Turn to the side or completely turn their back to you.
  • Go to bed.
  • Intentionally move far away from you.
  • Focus on watching TV or engaging in activities involving their mobile devices (i.e., talk on the phone, look at social media, play video games, text, or answer e-mails).

Will the covert narcissists you loved ever apologize?

Covert narcissists never apologize since they consider their emotions of utmost importance. They view their victim’s needs, wants, and sentiments as highly questionable. They always ‌need to be right, to compete, to prove, to compare. A relationship with a covert narcissist resembles a courtroom

They will ignore you and make themselves inaccessible to you. They decide when and if you get their precious attention. They’ll ignore you until their ghosting has its desired effect — keeping you in a state of high anxiety until they finally respond. They want you to “lose your mind” because, unfortunately, they don’t care. 

You can cry them a river, and they would not care. 


They’re more likely to enjoy it. It’s a manifestation of their control over your mental health. Trust me, I’ve seen it, and it’s devastating. For them, it’s proof that their investment has paid off. They’ve caused you pain only because of your attachment to them and the relationship. You cling to it, and everything they do or say that attacks that idea causes you severe pain.

Meanwhile, they can calmly look on, with a poker face, shaved, good-looking, and shake their heads at your “weakness,” or roll their eyes at the “drama.” Their messaging is telling you that:  

  • You’re overreacting! 
  • You are crazy! 
  • You are a drama queen/king! 
  • You are a liar! 
  • You are such a “poor victim.”

They don’t want you to feel detached from them, but they don’t mind letting you see that your tears do not affect them. 

How To Heal After Break-Up

It’s hard. It’s painful. But you don’t have to suffer. Start being grateful because this person is gone. Who wants or needs a selfish, self-absorbed, ungrateful, thoughtless, back-stabbing, two-faced person in their life? 

Better to be alone than subject yourself to this type of person for any length of time.

The person you are missing is not a real person! They never existed. You are missing a fantasy of what you wanted the person to be. Better to live in reality than to spend your life treated poorly. 

Take care of yourself.

Good self-care practices can make a big difference in your recovery. You can start with these.

  • Get enough restful sleep.
  • Relax when you feel overwhelmed or stressed.
  • Connect with loved ones.
  • Stay physically active.

Your mind and body help support each other, so taking care of physical needs can help you feel stronger and more equipped to work through emotional distress.

Talk to others.

Opening up to supportive and healthy people can help you feel less isolated as you heal. The people who care about you can:

  • offer compassion,
  • validate the pain you experience, and 
  • remind you the abuse wasn’t your fault.

Get into therapy.

Talking to a therapist one-on-one can help you take a significant step toward improving your emotional well-being. A therapist can also offer guidance with:

  • building new coping skills,
  • telling people about the abuse,
  • fighting urges contacting the abusive person, and 
  • dealing with depression, anxiety, or other mental health symptoms

Also, therapists who specialize in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) can be an excellent resource. The goals of cognitive-behavioral therapy are 1) to help identify and change negative thought patterns, and 2) to encourage positive behavioral changes. DBT teaches people how to cope with and change unhealthy behaviors.

Additional support is available from our partners at the CPTSD Foundation.  Through the Resources page, you can join their Daily Recovery Support Program at a 50% discount off the monthly membership rate.

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