A Narcissist Always Returns (The Hoovering)

why-narcissists-returnA narcissist will always return to an ex-lover to ensure that his narcissistic supply still pines for him and that she never moves on from the pain he has caused her. Referred to as the hoover (or, as I like to call it, The Hoovering, because, to me, it smacks of a scary movie!), this return is very deliberate and typically won’t occur until the narcissist has been gone just slightly longer than the time before. By timing these reappearances perfectly, the narcissist conditions his victim to not only expect him to come back but also to expect him to come back at a much later date, thus giving him more play time in the interim. All of this is part of the narcissist’s control/validate tactic which, in turn, is all a part of the process of managing down our expectations of the relationship so that we expect less and less and he gets away with more. It’s such a subtle conditioning that victims often don’t even know it’s happening…like a horror show coming soon whether you like it or not.

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As you know, a hoover usually follows a silent treatment (which is really a break-up in disguise, by the way) and comes long after the victim has been completely devastated by the silence. The narcissist may hoover in several different ways and for various reasons, with each hoovering event staged according to that pathological relationship agenda that all narcissists live by.

For example, a narcissist may 1) come back full-on by simply showing up and expecting to pick up right where he left off without a single repercussion, OR 2) not quite ready to return but still wanting you to prepare for the possibility, he’ll begin hoovering with a sporadic text or an email or he’ll ring your phone (hanging up before you answer) from either his number or one he knows you’ll recognize and associate with him. With the second type of hoover, any attempts on your part to return the text, call, or email will likely go unanswered because the intention here is not to actually communicate with you but rather to warm you up to the situation…to get you feeling anxious, confused, and maybe even quietly excited about his possible return.

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Whichever tactic he uses, the narcissist’s intention is to keep your mind spinning with “what-if’s” so that you never even get a chance to move on. Again, as part of his agenda, this manipulative behavior lays the groundwork for the next discard which, of course, will come faster (after his return) and with far more crippling intensity than all the discards before it. This agenda – which all victims of narcissist abuse are familiar with – is described in great detail in my book When Love Is a Lie. Nothing a narcissist ever does is random and that’s a fact.

For my narcissist ex, changing cell numbers before a return (and arming himself with a ridiculous excuse as to why he did it) became his preferred tactic for erasing his tracks. This tactic caused me a great deal of anxiety and sleepless nights and I even created a name it – The Cell Phone Game. It took many years to figure it out but I finally concluded that the timing of each number change and subsequent hoover was directly related to the condition of his relationships and the direction that he felt he had to run.  Of course he never admitted to this,  but I am confident to this day that my theory was spot-on. For 13-years, if he wanted to return, new numbers were not only part of the hoover with me but also a way to disappear from someone else. Like any good narcissist, he knew exactly how to do it and I’m sure you’ll find that it sounds familiar.

Anywhere from 2-weeks to 3-months after a deafening silence, the hoovering would begin. If my ex intended to return full-on, he’d simply text out-of-the-blue from his new cell number, asking to meet me for a drink (and, sadly, those were the only times he’d ever take me out). If he was just testing the waters and not quite ready for me to have his new number, he’d hoover by giving my phone just a single ring from odd numbers around town belonging to businesses and payphones – numbers that no one in the world except me would ever recognize on a Caller ID. In essence, he’d be counting on me to recall those numbers as the random numbers he used to call me from when we were together and he had no phone at all! And he was right… I always recognized them and felt instant anxiety. Again, nothing a narcissist does is ever random. Everything is a strategy. With my ex, I’m sure that the odd locations from where he’d call me when he had no phone (while we were together) became a way to set the the stage for future hoovering when he didn’t want me to know his new number. And I’m sure that his nonchalant disinterest in taking me out during the good times had much to do with his planning for future hoovers where just a single text (out-of-the-blue) requesting a “date” was all that was needed to grab my attention. Sound far-fetched...or does it sound familiar?

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If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this: a narcissist only hoovers and/or returns to ensure that you never move on from the pain he has caused you. No matter what he tells you, this is the only reason. A narcissist’s intention, after all, is to always keep you in the queue, ready and waiting alongside all the others (and there are always others). Hoovers are stuffed with lies and future-fakery and downright bullshit. It’s a sick game of cat and mouse that will steal years from your life if you allow it. At some point we have to simply say “That’s enough” and refuse to be there when the narcissist returns.

No Contact is the key to escaping The Hoovering and the narcissist’s life-long plan for you. It’s also the only opportunity you’ll ever have for breaking the codependency to hope that the narcissist counts on you to cling to while he’s gone. Remember, the narcissist is never worried about what you’re doing while he’s gone or that you’ve found a better love because he’s conditioned you to wait for him…to wait for the hoover.

It’s time to ignore the subtle signs of hoovering  and get on with your life. No one has a right to manipulate our emotions and it should never be acceptable to any of us. By enabling the narcissist’s behaviors, we set ourselves up to fail each and every time and we deserve better. Say “no more” and mean it! Remain committed to No Contact and to creating your happiness.  I, for one, know you can do it!

Stay strong and I’m here to support you….






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  • guthriej

    January 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm Reply

    You keep saying he, I don’t do men so I only know about the NAR crazy bitches.

    • Zari Ballard

      January 20, 2017 at 4:49 pm Reply

      Hi Guthriej,

      I’ve written plenty about the NARC crazy bitches. In my opinion, females narcs are worse than the guys. Here’s an article to start with that I wrote for male victims and here’s a link to my book about female narcs. The reason I use “he” is because I write from my own experience and I DO do men. Sorry about that:)

      Zari xo

  • Natalie

    December 28, 2016 at 12:24 pm Reply

    Hi. Im trying to figure out if I have a narc or ex narc in my life. From day 1 the guy approached me in a business atmospher, dropping names of who he all knew. I didnt care and he seemed over board on his ego. I was later hired by him and he was suddenly a charmer with words and compliments. The good of usblasted maybe 3 months but we were together a good 2 1/2 yrs. Over that time period it was a roller coaster and not the normal relationship. He was very sensitive and complained how bad his life is. In one fight yelled at me because I liked my life…weird. i always felt like i was walking on egg shells with him. Alot of the fights I apologized just to cool his temper or to move on. The gifts were weird. I gave to him but he gave me nothing or something of his “to remind me of him” so he says. He always would always become a charmer when he wanted me to buy for him. Promised commitments that never followed thru. Anyway, in the end it came to a very bad head. He changed jobs then dumped the blame of us in my lap. Now for the past 6months i have noticed him driving by my home, work, and 1 other place. These times have been sporadic with me so i have no idea how many other times it has happened. I have also noticed he views my biz fb page (by my notifications) i cant c by who it is but the times r always super early (5/6am) or late (1am). And always viewed on the same exact days. Not sure if he knows i can c this or not. He has not communicated with me. Just seems he is watching. It really doesnt make sense to me at all. Does this seem anything to be concerned about? I have kept no cantact so far but like i said he hasnt contacted me. Just 1 time he stood outside my work and stared at me…trying to make eye contact but i acted like i didnt see him.

    • Zari Ballard

      January 3, 2017 at 2:49 am Reply

      Hi Natalie,

      Well, whether he’s a narc or not, he sure doesn’t seem like anyone worth your time. It sure sounds like he has the behaviors…the hoovering…the “no-gifts-for-you-but-where-are-mine” attitude…you having to apologize just for the sake of apologizing. Why even bother? Don’t look out the window and don’t check the notifications on FB. They don’t much care if they are WITH you as long as they are giving you something to think about. It’s a good thing that you don’t work together anymore. Block him at every turn and start the new year right. It’s absolutely the right thing to do:)

      Zari xo

  • dang

    December 22, 2016 at 8:55 pm Reply

    Hi I am not sure if my ex boyfriend is a narcissist. May be you can give me your thoughts/advice on this. So I met my guy at workplace when we worked together. We started getting close. I told him I am getting attracted to you and I knew he was married but his wife did not live with him. So one day I asked him if he is separated. he said yes he is. so we started dating. after 1.5 yrs he broke up with me. We used to fight etc. I begged/cried not to leave and that I will change (well he also used to get angry) as I loved him so much. Still he left backhome to visit his family (he sued to go every summer to visit his kids and of course wife was there too. but he told me he does not sleep with her).

    So we stayed together for 7yrs (on and off). Every time he used to break up and then come back to me. When one of his daughter visited him, I asked him to introduce me to her. He never did. I was hurt. Still I said thats ok. In these 7 yrs, I dreamed of marrying him. he told me he does not want to marry again as he sees marriage as just a badge. it took me a long time to get out of marriage mode and i thought ok he loves me. Even if we don’t get married at least we are still together (stupid me). Then he told me does not want to have kids as he already has kids and he does not want kids when he is already so old (I was 32 and he was 47 that time). Once again I accepted to his terms. He told me that I should be happy that he loves me more than what the husbands do now a days. But then we both were happy, no fights. He started saying that now we don’t fight. I sued to tell him that we have reached that stage where we know and deeply love each other.

    After 7yrs, after he came from back home, he started distancing himself. never wanted to sleep together, spend time together etc). We started having fights as I was asking him why is he behaving like this. Then I asked him if he is breaking up with me. He said yes. He was so happy when I was not with him and so on. I felt very hurt to listen all this. There was no fights when he left for backhome. He was sending me love emails. He also mentioned that he has asked wife for divorce and that his condition at hime is not going good. I told him that I will support him with this situation. but after he came back he just broke up with me and said that he knows we got back together many times. But not this time. He does not want to give me any hopes. I cried/begged again. But nothing worked. I asked him if there is other woman. he got mad at me denied. he also said that his wife does not want to divorce but he wants to and will get divorce. its been 1.5 yrs now since he broke up with me. we have gone for few dinners together (but no romantic relationship). during our dinners he used to say he knows that I will meet some other guy and that will him hurt him a lot. I still love him to death. how can he even think like this or may be he was testing waters. but at the same time he used to say he does not want to give me any hope and we should never go to each other place now. Apart from dinner whenever I used to call him or meet him, he was always angry with me and used to say that I destroyed his life. he cannot progress when I am with him. This february we went for dinner and he was making sexual jokes and was very comfortable talking to me about sex. I got very confused at times. Then he invited me once again for dinner and this time I refused. I told him that I don’t want to go for dinner and he can go with people who makes him happy and with who he progress. He got verist upset at this and said your email was so conflicting. This was in June. I told him that I don’t know how to communicate with him anymore. For dinners he is al fine but other times he was always rude. Made me confused. His birthday was in September. I wised him and asked if he will be at home as I wanted to cook something and will just hang it on his door. He told me that he would like to go for dinners like we used to. I wanted to say no again but thought it his birthday time. OS I agreed for dinner. We went for dinner in October 2nd week. He was very different this time. was in hurry to get home. he lives by himself here. I came to know from office then he is off work due to his immigration problem. I felt very and and told him that I can help me and if he wants we can even get married so that he does not have to leave the country (he never told me whats going on his life as he thought we are not in a relationship anymore). then in november, I saw him with a girl. I felt restless. Asked him who she is and he told me to go far away from him. I felt very hurt the way he talked to me. He said my email (about immigration help destroyed everything). I don;t know what I did wrong or may be he is making that as an excuse so that he can now be with this girl. No idea. The girl to visit him from europe for 2 weeks. I felt very betrayed/hurt. I sent him message that how could his true love for me was over so soon. He told me does not go from woman to woman (or he made feel like that) and now he is with other woman and I am still hurt with our relationship and now this new girl. The new girl is 20yrs younger than him. She is around 30 and he is 51. He never responded. He gone pin drop silent now. I stopped contacting him s well. Now he backhome where the girl is also there. It kills me that he will meet her again but I cannot do anything. I am not even sure if he divorced or still going through divorced. Even if he divorced he is just recently divorced (as uni end of last year thing happened in their divorce proceedings).

    What do you think my ex boyfreind nature is. Is he a narcissist or going through mid life crisis or stressed because of his divorce ? Also now he has new girl not sure if it work with the girl as she is so young and I think at some point she wants kids. And this guy will never go for that. He has experienced all this already.

    Thank you for your response in advance.

    • Zari Ballard

      January 3, 2017 at 12:13 am Reply

      Hi Dang,

      I’m sorry that you have endured this for so long but let me tell you, this guy has and always will be a player. Be grateful that he did not say okay to your marriage proposal (even though he is obviously still married) and that he has disappeared. He is a liar and I have no doubt he has been stringing you a long the whole time. You did nothing wrong so ignore that shifting of the blame game. All those periodic dinners were nothing more than to keep you in the queue just in case whatever he was up to didn’t work out. His wife is being strung along as well and I guarantee there is NO divorce happening nor has there ever been. There were probably many times that he still DID live with her and lied to you about it. There is no doubt in my mind that he is pulling the wool over this new girl’s eyes as well (and she probably isn’t even that new!).

      Please read through the articles on this site, girl, so you can see this guy for what he is. He is a complete jerk and – yes – he is absolutely a narcissist of the worst kind. Block him so that he can’t call you ever again. Let him go be someone else’s problem forever. He will only reappear to waste your time and we only get one shot at this life. He is not – nor has he EVER been – worth a second of your time. You deserve to be happy in this new year, sister!

      Stay strong!

      Zari xox

  • Ashwarya

    December 22, 2016 at 12:17 am Reply

    Hey. I’m dealing with my narc bf from last 2 years. Recently he was replying to my texts after 5 or 6 hrs in a day which usually makes me feel very . I asked him many times about it but he always used to give me one or another excuses. I confronted him about this after a month when I thought that it’s enough and I can’t handle this. I said I’m dealing with this for last 1 year I can’t do thos I need to break up with you. He didn’t replied to me even after the msg was seen. Next day I messages him again that we need to talk . he still didn’t responded to my text . it’s been a week he is giving me a silent treatment . will he come back or he is just busy with another target ?
    I’ll be very glad if u can answer this . please ☺

    • Zari Ballard

      December 26, 2016 at 7:54 pm Reply

      Hi Ashwarya,

      Please read through my website and you will find articles about the cell phone game. This is a tactic used for controlling you in the relationship and – surprise – it works! BLOCK HIM so that he can’t call you even if he wants to. Why should he be allowed to do that – it’s NOT normal and it’s downright RUDE. Put a stop to it today and let his ass go. He will never ever change, nor does he want to and why waste another second of your time on his narcissism?

      Zari xo

  • Linda

    December 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm Reply

    Hi Zari!

    Thank you so much for your blog. Sheds a lot of light on a mess of a relationship I’ve had in my life for the past months.

    II met a man abroad who I now strongly believe is a narcissistic person. We live in different countries and are of different nationalities.
    I met him for the first time years ago by accident while I was traveling. He was everything I could dream of: charming, intelligent, handsome, had the same interests in life as me. It felt as if fate had put him in front of me. Nothing romantic happened between us back then but we stayed in contact every now and then until we met again this summer. My feelings for him hadn’t disappeared and they came on even stronger. I believed the guy sitting in front of me by a restaurant table was the man of my dreams. We both appeared to be fond of each other and started a fling. We had sex that night. The next morning the charming and caring man was gone and replaced with a cold and emotionally distant man who, heartbreaking to say, abandoned me at a metro station without any explanations. We were closely embracing and kissing each other, when he heard his metro train come and ran away without a word. (Reader, if you recognize yourself from this text: fuck you.) I was shocked by his cold-hearted behavior. Actually, I was so shocked that I started believing I had done something wrong to make him disappear like that. Typical for a victim of a narcissistic person, right…

    Some days passed, I was already back in my home country and tried to sort out the situation with him. He bluntly said he didn’t see any sense in developing our relationship any further because of the distance. I was heartbroken, but after some weeks I was done with him… until after a couple of months of complete silence he came back. He messaged me to ask me if I wanted to travel somewhere with him, just like that. I was certain he was emotionally unstable and refused his idea. A week of silence passed, and he started sending me messages about how he misses me, how he wants to come to my country to see me again, and how he’s had feelings for me since we first met on the road years before. He brought up the idea of a long-distance relationship. This lead into endless chaotic conversations, on-off games and the typical hot-cold thing from his side, and many many sleepless nights and a lot of hopeless cry on my side. He kept disappearing and coming back with no explanations. I kept giving him chances because I believed he had feelings for me. Whenever I felt like I could start trusting him, he would betray me in “subtle” ways: promising to answer me “tomorrow” but doing it days afterwards, being late by many hours from our Skype talks, and so on. Eventually I was being really hard on him and said he would either come and visit me or I would cut all contact with him. The idea of not having me in his life visibly shocked him. Some days passed, he booked the tickets and came to see me.

    We spent a great time together. However, too many things were bugging me all along. There were just too many hints of an emotionally unavailable personality. He gave no rational explanation for his bad behavior towards me in the past (he apologized many times, however). He didn’t remember even the simplest details about me (I guess he never listened). He was asking me a lot about my previous sex partners and romantic relationships and mentioning his ones rather often. He avoided eye contact. I craved way more physical affection than he could give. He would embrace me, kiss me, hold my hand in public, but in limited amounts. We discussed it and he claimed it was because he wasn’t used to things developing so fast. He “needed time”. I would openly cry in front of him at times. Most of the time he showed empathy, however I could see he wasn’t feeling the same. We discussed it and he admitted not being as much into me as I was into him, adding “he might get there one day”, thus trying to feed me with empty promises about the future. During the whole stay he kept telling me how he really liked me but how the distance frightened him: in his words, he has had several serious long distance relationships in the past and they have never worked out; hence the fear.

    After his visit I had had enough. I decided for myself that it was over between us. I had wasted enough of my energy into this black hole. We Skyped and agreed to not develop our relationship further. I cried. He seemed very empathetic towards me. He apologized for all the pain he now knew he had caused me. He said he hated to see me cry. We mutually agreed that we quit contact and that one day, if I feel like it, I will contact him, but he won’t disturb me anymore. It felt as if he had finally understood how much his disappearing and reappearing hurts me. It’s been a while since and I have this fear of him contacting me again despite our deal. He did this “hoovering” so many times during the past months that I’m certain it’ll happen again.

    I believe the guy is a narcissistic person. Everything always revolves around him. He’s extraordinarily charming. He gives empty promises, his words and actions don’t match. He has grandiose and unrealistic plans for the future and he brags about them all the time. He’s very opportunistic. He keeps coming and going. Status and money are important for him. Besides all this, the biggest red flag for me was the most intimate of things: sex. We first had the real deal, penetrative sex, when he visited me in my country. We only did it a couple of times. I was shocked by the complete lack of emotion and intimacy from his side. I felt like he was masturbating into my body. He was obsessed with making me orgasm, as if it was his personal achievement to make a woman reach the peak. He was rough. He asked me what I liked, though (at least he did something right…) Right after sex there was not a single gesture of affection. He ran off to the shower and avoided physical contact. Once he even pushed me off his chest after sex. I was openly very insulted and he didn’t seem to understand why. After I had explained it to him he simply said he doesn’t enjoy cuddling right after sex. I only found out long afterwards that all of this summed up together is typical narcissistic behavior.

    For months the thoughts in my head were these: “We are the dream couple to be. The timing just isn’t right, the distance scares him, but one day fate will come knocking and reunite us, we will get married and have children and live happy ever after. He’s the love of my life. I need to keep the door open for him.” Now I can see that I fell for a narcissistic person. Distance is an excuse he keeps using to justify his push away – pull back behavior. I don’t want him in my life anymore. Yet there’s one thing that bothers me: why would a narcissistic person travel thousands of kilometers to a foreign country just because of a woman? Is it a sign that he couldn’t get his narcissistic supply anywhere closer? Or is the fact that there’s a woman adoring him in another country in itself a huge fix for him? I’m certain there were other women in the game all along, even though he claims the opposite. Nothing else explains the months long silences there was from his side between our messaging. His behavior almost drove me crazy. I became into a ghost. My friends and family were telling me to quit it all along. Actually, many of them were pointing out narcissistic aspects in this guy’s behavior, but time after time I found myself defending his actions. I only allowed myself to see his real colors weeks after he visited. I’m still in shock, but it’s getting easier by the day. At times I have these stupid thoughts that go: “What if he’s not narcissistic after all? What if he is just temporarily emotionally unavailable and one day he’ll be there for me? What if he is JUST a Mr.Big (as if it made things any better on my part)?” I can’t decide whether to block him on social media or just let him hang there. I can’t decide whether I should delete his contact details and destroy the photos I have of me and him. Even after all the pain he caused me it feels just too… final.

    • Zari Ballard

      December 31, 2016 at 7:51 pm Reply

      Hi Linda,

      Sorry for the delay in responding…it’s been a crazy end of the year. I’ll try to answer your questions…He sure does appear to be narcissistic (no doubt about that). The silences and disappearances and reappearances are the biggest sign for me since my ex LOVED to do that to me and make me feel hurt and insane. He did it for 13 years. And he was an after-sex cuddler after great sex (so they come in all forms, to be sure). I’m sorry to say that your guy will never ever change. This is what and who he is. The reason he traveled thousands of miles is because – yes – 1) you wanted him there, and 2) he needed to do this in order for the blow-off to have the most impact. Seriously. If he hadn’t of traveled all those miles, the blow-offs wouldn’t be nearly as crazy-making, right?

      You do bring up the one question that always concerns me when people ask Is He/She or Isn’t He/She a Narcissist? To me, even if you took the label out of the equation, he is still a very lame person. An unavailable man who runs to the shower after mediocre sex, who withholds affection, and who disappears is NO ONE you should ever want to wait around for AT ANY TIME. He’s simply not worth the wait. You would be settling for crumbs instead of looking for someone that deserves and respects you. Now, that being said, he surely is narcissistic so that should make you feel better but please consider why, if you were told that he wasn’t, what on earth would make you want to wait that kind of bullshit out? No, no no!!

      Now, to stop the hoovering, he should be immediately blocked on the phone and all social media. Why allow him to pop in and out whenever he pleases…and he WILL until the end of time if you allow it. Start the new year off right and cut all avenues of communication off with him so that you can move forward. It will hurt for awhile but this will pass, I promise! Please, if you can, please read my book When Love Is a Lie because you will recognize the narcissist behaviors that I describe and it will only serve to validate you further.

      You made the right decision! Have no worries:) Stay strong and Happy New Year!!

      Zari xo

  • Nimo

    December 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm Reply

    Hi Zari,

    My story is pretty much like yours. I met this guy while i was in college – and he pestered me a lot but I never gave in. I finished college and started and we were not in contact for several years. One day when I was 30 I found a friend request from him on facebook. It was just Hi – and his number. I took about three months and I was kind of bored and remembered him and called him. He told me he was happy to hear from me that it was his birthday and that he was far away. I could tell he was drunk and disgusted with it – I made a resolve not to call him back. Then I experienced something I had never before. He would call me at midnight or 1am – he started to pester me and send lewd texts. He started to tell me things like I was the love of his life and so much nonsense (looking back) and I believed it all – as even though the things he said sounded ridiculous – it was hard for me to believe anyone in this world could be so good at lying. I chose to believe. I never questioned him. I listened to him and not myself. He played with me, he lied to me, he abused me called me names, he brainwashed me – he bullied me, violated me in every way. We have kids. We are not married – and I went mad 3 weeks ago. I have never been so enraged before. I threw him out of my house. It is my house. I screamed and shouted – he wouldn’t leave and the security guards came and got him out. If it wasn’t for them – he would never have left. I don’t know where that anger came from – I was livid – I don’t regret it – I am thankful for it. Being the coward I had become in that relationship – I would never have dared. He is also an alcoholic. He has been emotionally abusive. During one of those episodes he broke all my stuff – with no provocation from me. I am so angry at him. I am scared and sometimes I am lonely. I am willing to go through any and every emotion just to get better and grow. My only problem is that even though I have custody of our kids – he demands to see them every Sunday. My youngest is still nursing. He can’t come to my house – but whatever the location I have to meet him and endure him as my kids are still really young. How do I work around this and not compromise myself or get entangled again. The last time we met – as we needed to get the baby to hospital – it wasn’t deliberate but I forgot he was with me. I really did. I didn’t talk – at the waiting place I just took a magazine and read it. I was like spaced out. when he talks to me – I have never been like this I get enraged I have to control myself and just answer – but deep down I want to take a rolling pin and hit his head till its just a pulp. Where am I in this journey to recovery? Is this normal?

    • Zari Ballard

      December 26, 2016 at 7:17 pm Reply

      Hi Nimo,

      You do NOT have to let him take those children…especially if one is still nursing! Does he have visitation through the courts? Now that he is out of YOUR house, if he wants to see the kids, make him go to court to get it in writing. This will also make sure that you get some money. That’s all there is to it. Your “flip out” was like a straw that breaks the camel’s back. We can only take so much BULLSHIT before we snap. I hope and pray he is still out…write back and let me know. If he is out, you can actually begin the new year correctly…get his money and get everything on the books. What an asshole.

      I wish you the best, sister, and please write back…I will look for it:)

      Zari xo

  • Hope

    December 6, 2016 at 5:06 pm Reply

    Hi Zari,

    Thank you for your posts and for sharing your knowledge and experience.

    Yet right now I really am confused. I don’t know what to think and I hope you can help me. Apparently after years and years my N has acknowledged something was wrong with him at the time we were together; after working it out (by himself, not with a psychologist… I asked) he is a “brand new person now, whom I don’t know”. His objective analysis quite shocked me and really put me in doubt… Please tell me what you think.

    I’ve known my N for 10 years (first time together was really short, just 5-6 months or so then I decided I’d had enough) we were 17 and 18 yo at the time… It was a true roller coaster, after just a few months I already literally couldn’t take anymore and didn’t want any more of him. He managed to convince me that he wanted me in his life and could not do and he was so persistent that, finally, we became friends. He then told me he was in love with a girl, clearly it hurt but I never showed, then got used to it and there were no problems. For 4-5 years we were friends, so he was not a problem of mine I would say. Sometimes he was strange with me, but nothing alarming. Then when he split up with his gf (poor girl. He complained she was getting mad at every little thing, but I even remember telling him I thought it was his fault if she had come to that point) we started to see each other even more often. I didn’t find it weird since I really considered him a friend. Soon he started to hit on me and I even told him I really thought he should get back to his gf. I pushed him back. Finally, after weeks like this, flirting, calls in the middle of the night, texts (or, should I just say, love bombing?), not to mention the goddamn extraordinary attraction that there has always been between us and I had been resisting to, I fell for him. He made me feel so special (I know you can understand me) but still, I knew him. I knew how he was with girls, especially in that period when I was always pushing him back and he was seeing other girls just because, just to lie with them, BUT one thing I was damn sure of, is that he could never throw away 5 years of friendship and affection just for something like that, something he could easily get anywhere. It was not because I was better than the other girls, of course. It was because I was so sure he would never treat me like shit because of all the affection and respect and everything between us since we were (at least) longtime friends. My, I was SO fucking wrong.

    We started to see each other, then I discovered he had seen his ex. He told me that in that period he was confused, and I have never been so mature and understanding as when I said “ok, let’s forget this, let’s get back and just be friends again then”. He was often drunk (he’s not an alcoholic, just a 24yo who wants to have fun) and we started a crazy period. Sometimes we went out and got drunk and he flirted like crazy, saying he could not resist me, and it was so hard for me too to resist him. I was the only one trying to, of course. He told me he had lost his head for me and I was the only one who could not see I was the reason he didn’t get back to his gf, as he got involved with me and everything. Fell for it again. For a period we used to be always together, then he started acting strange, again he was unsure and everything. I discovered he was seeing his ex gf again. This time I got mad. I told him I knew and even so it was my fault of course (“how could you expect something from me in this situation” except that he was the one insisting). I decided to stop seeing him at all. No friendship bullshit as apparently it couldn’t work. I ignored loads of texts and everything. He called me crying, he told me he was so bad and so sorry and ashamed and missed me so much and blah blah blah. His tears convinced me he really was sorry. I told him I didn’t trust him anymore tho. He managed to convince me to take him back anyway. Well, I wasn’t eager to do anything for him as I was not sure about him. Instead of taking responsibility since it was all a consequence of his behavior, he blamed me. He did some sort of triangulation with a girl he had seen the time when I didn’t want to hear from him, but I was (almost) clueless, plus she lived in another country.
    I really could not tell anymore whether I was wrong, or even crazy, or he was. Everything seemed normal, well of course it was not. It was in that period that I discovered who, or what, he was.
    Well, I refused to spend the night with him (since the day after I even had an exam) and he complained; the next day he left for the country where she lived. Still not sure but honestly I think he already had the plane ticket (even if it makes it even worse from him. Thank God he didn’t make it to convince me, just imagine). I didn’t know till I tried to call him the next day and he said he was there and I thought it was a f**king joke. It was none. Speechless. And when he came back he even tried to call me or text me as if nothing had happened. 5 years from now and still I remember his “Why don’t you answer”s.

    I ignored him for months, he got together with the other girl, I started going out with somebody. I still questioned myself about how could he have thrown away 5 years of friendship and affection. I really couldn’t get over it. It was almost incredible not having him in my life anymore. He showed up and we went having a drink. It was so natural to see him I can’t even remember how we ended up to go out. We just talked as friends and as if nothing had happened (incredible). He talked throughly about the girl he was with in a long distance relationship, that he was so in love but that was the reason he wanted to stay with her even though it was so hard etc etc. it hurt 100 times more than 5 years before, but again, I played it cool. Anyway, I left for a year of scholarship abroad. Then, I told him that after all I was so deceived that he could throw everything away and treat me like I was worth nothing that I didn’t want to see him or hear from him anymore. It was hard but I felt like it was the right thing for me.

    And here we are. 4 more years have passed during which he tried several times to get back in touch (as if nothing had happened) but I always shut him out. But here something changes.

    This summer he heard I had gone through a difficult situation and he sent me a message. From there we started to catch up a little. He wanted to see me, at first I said no, then I was convinced. After all, 4-5 years had passed. We saw each other. I was confident. Even overconfident. I kissed him, for no reason at all, probably to test myself. I felt nothing and was fully in control.
    We saw the next day too. He lost his head at the point that he even lost his first day of internship as we were together till 5 a.m. Although we did nothing. I was still in control.

    Now, why did I tell you I am confused? I was not impressed by none of it (even if wow. He really lost his first day??)
    Well, he took full responsibility. He told me he had been questioning himself. He even admitted that after years he has realized that at the time he had no empathy nor sensitivity at all. That he was completely empty inside, that with me it was a twisted game of control, that he didn’t even know what suffering meant, although he knew he made me suffer he didn’t even realize what it meant. He told me that he distinctively remembers telling me he was deeply in love with the other girl to make me hurt, to trigger a reaction, for some kind of challenge. He said that he had realized he wore some sort of mask since he was a kid, maybe to protect himself from the violence of the outside world. And by continuously wearing that mask he had started to be that mask. He said he realized that at the time he could not feel anything for anyone, gfs nor even friends. He was so indifferent to others that, to use his own words, “he realized that at the time if he came home and it happened that his parents were not there, maybe he wouldn’t even have noticed”. He was just blinded by the desire of living only instinctively. I remember telling him that he could not love, his outburst of rage was amazing of course. He told me anything he could to hurt me, the more the better. Now he’s here admitting it was true. “Was”, this startles me. He said now he is 28 and has realized plenty of things about himself and has reached full maturity as a person. That he doesn’t lie anymore and is a transparent person, as he realized that being true to oneself and others is the true strength. He said that his eyes are open now, that he is truly sorry for what he’s done to me, that I didn’t deserve it and that now he wouldn’t lie nor would he ever knowingly hurt me again. Of course I cannot believe him. A part of me would like to. I told me he can never regain my trust, he said it is desperate for it, that it’s frustrating yet he understands me. I told me that a person without a drop of empathy cannot change…he said its wrong and I am convinced of this just because I was born with it. In fact I cannot tell whether this is true or not.
    He told me he was now mature enough to see what he had lost, and he has thoroughly analyzed the things between us (and about him of course); I can see it.
    He said he thought about me several times since then and he’d like to begin something together for the very first time (since between us it was always a matter of months before I decided it was too much to take for me. Even if, of course, if came with a price and extreme pain). He was honest and told me that in this period he was seeing a girl, but just for fun, and he was honest with her from the start about it. No involvement from his nor her side. He showed me he told her about me and told her he wasn’t interested in continuing seeing her because he was involved with me.
    He wanted to start it over, I said no.
    Now, again, he insists he wants me in his life someway. I keep up telling him there’s no way we could be friends since the attraction between us is too strong, and any relationship is out of question because of the lack of confidence. He said he hopes he can prove me wrong even if he knows it is difficult.
    Unfortunately (for me), I do have started questioning myself : how could it be possible for him to tell me all of that (and even realizing it, most of all) if it wasn’t true?
    Yet I am afraid, because I have learned the hard way not to underestimate him. And even if I know that now I would be more self aware than ever, I don’t think I would suffer less in case I was wrong. (Of course I would feel stupid as hell.)
    I’m thinking about blocking him and return NC. I cannot forget that time 5 years ago when he was hopeless and crying on the phone and yet a few weeks later he stabbed me right in the back. Yet he seems fully conscious now, when back then he didn’t even have a conscience and I know I didn’t even give him a chance to prove me wrong.
    There will always be things of him that I like, miss, or even love. What do you think about it? Do you think there could be a chance that he really DID something about himself?
    Thank you for your help. Big hugs & keep up with the good work. Finding people sharing the same experience at the time really helped me knowing what was right for me… 🙂


    • Zari Ballard

      December 13, 2016 at 4:39 pm Reply

      Hi Hope,

      Okay…first, you must know that your intuition is never wrong. This gut feeling that you have…this non-trust…is correct. he is full of shit. What I think happened – and this is not uncommon – is that someone (or more than one) during the years you’ve been no contact called him out on being a narcissist – AND HE LOOKED IT UP. Everything he says could have come right out of my books and all the book out there about this topic. He’s got all the right buzzwords going on…the mask, twisted game of control, he can change, blah blah blah. Sometimes called him a narcissist and he claimed the label as a way to explain away all the behavior of his past – how convenient. He might as well have said …”I was a narcissist all my life but I’m not now! Let’s go for it!” No one just comes up with all that in his own head…he has done a lot of reading. My ex did the same thing…he became fascinated by his own disorder.

      You have always known that he was “off” and this is why you have held back. Continue doing what you are doing and live a happy life. Block him from contacting you. I could sit here and tell you to give it a chance to test him but why put yourself through the misery. Eventually, he will do it again and this time, the pain will be unbearable. He wants you because he has never been able to have you. I was friends with my ex for over ten years before we became a “couple”. Sure, he tried coming on to me but I just held back. Then, after a four year time, we ran into each other and – bang – I went for it. 13-years later I was writing this blog and my books sharing my sad and sorry tale. I, too, fell for the romantic notion of falling in love with my best friend but the truth was that he just wanted to make me give in and then he spent the next decade punishing me for it. It’s all so crazy. Learn from my mistakes and do not do it.

      A person does not “grow” a conscience. A person without empathy does not “grow” the ability to care. What narcissists do and they do it well is to look you in the eye and tell you what they know you need to hear in order to give them what they want. That’s all this is about. You have been right all along and the fact that you are even here on my website tells me that you know…and you have to be CONFIDENT in the truth that you know because he will always deny it.

      I will say it again…THIS GUY IS NOT THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE. So clever of him to try, though It’s all about what they can get away with. Sure, they know right from wrong…they just don’t give a shit!

      Block him and go NC. You don’t even owe him an explanation. Good luck and please keep in touch…I will want to know what happened:)

      Zari xo

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