15 Reactions to Expect When a Narcissist Sees You Have Moved On

Like a horror movie scene when the victim thinks she’s free, only to find out the monster isn’t dead after all, you’ve got another round of narcissistic nuances to deal with after the relationship (finally) ends.

When a narcissist realizes you have moved on, don’t be lulled into a false sense of emotional safety.

It might be a hard conversation with a new partner, so let’s educate you on yet another phase of the narcissistic cycle.

Why Do Narcissists Get Jealous If You Date Someone Else?

When a narcissist sees you happy, he isn’t jealous you’re dating someone else—he’s possessive and envious.

You endured jealousy when he didn’t want you talking to your male colleague.

Envy is when a person doesn’t have something (or doesn’t have it any longer) and wants it.

The real kicker? He’s not envious that someone else has you or envious that he didn’t treat you better.

He’s concerned this could make him look bad or make your new beau look better.

Here’s why:

  • Supply – You provided a narcissistic supply of emotions (good and bad) to fuel his ego. When you are no longer in contact, he loses part of his power.
  • Control – He knows he can’t control you to his every whim when you’re with someone else. This is another important reason to stay no-contact even when you have healed from the initial abuse.
  • Peacocking – When he’s staring at your social media couple posts, he’s not even looking at you. The narcissist is categorically picking apart your partner and examining all the ways he’s superior to the new guy.

Need more of an eye-opener? To a narcissist, you’re never really out of his picture. You’re always a potential supply in his medicine cabinet of cruelness.

15 Reactions When A Narcissist Sees You’ve Moved On

Subtle, sinister, or surprisingly celebratory, a narcissist’s baffling and unpredictable actions of a narcissist last well into your next relationship. Prepare yourself for the breakup barrage of narcissistic rage.

1. He Acts Like He Doesn't Care

You thought it would make his jaw drop and his eyes narrow when you made the first appearance with your new partner.

He looked through you like he didn’t know you and might even act like he doesn’t see you if you try to wave.

His cold-heartedness makes you realize how little he cared about you, and he knows that bothers you.

2. He Offers Sarcastic Remarks 

The narcissist will take things you’ve said in the past and turn them around now, making it seem like he’s offering support when he’s really picking you or him apart.

Examples:

  • “It’s good to see she’s okay with dating bald men now. She must’ve matured since our breakup.”
  • “You look so happy! I’m glad you got the help you needed after I broke up with you.” 
  • “Nice to meet you! It looks like you’re back to eating carbs again on your dinner dates.” 

3. He Starts Love Bombing Again

Dating after narcissistic abuse is tough, but you must keep your guard up. He won’t reignite the love bombing when you’re on the dating app.

He’ll wait until you’re past the third date and have actually started to have feelings for someone else. He may profess his undying love and how much he misses you. If you give an inch, his perceived victory will be that much sweeter.

4. He Uses Your Past Wounds to Hurt You

You’ll live in a constant state of suspense if you let it consume you. Alfred Hitchcock is well known for breaking this down.

“Mystery is when the spectator knows less than the characters in the movie. Suspense is when the spectator knows more than the characters in the movie.” – Alfred Hitchcock, Director

The narcissist knows everything about you—what you wear when you’re trying to impress people, when you fall for a person you’re dating, and all those intimate details about your childhood.

He will use that against you at some point, and you can’t do anything to stop it. His thrill is pouring salt in your wounds.

5. He Flaunts His Superiority

This is one reason it’s important to let your new beau know about the narcissist. Since the toxic ex believes he’s the best thing you’ll ever have, he’ll look for all the ways to put down your new partner.

He might see your new guy does CrossFit, and the ex will post his most amazing workout photos (with plenty of Photoshopping). He wants everyone (including your new guy) to know that he is superior and you were an idiot to let him go.

6. He Will Devalue and Diminish You

Your ex will look for any way to diminish what you meant to him. He might call you by your full name or even act like he forgot your name.

The man who once said you were his soulmate will now tell people he wasn’t sure why you acted like it was a real relationship when he thought it was just sex. He uses devaluation of you to make himself feel in control again.

7. He Plays the Victim

Any attention is good attention, and the narcissist will go to extreme lengths to play the victim to get some of yours. It might be his sick dog that “needs you” to come to see him, or else he might not make it through the night. Any sympathy you offer feeds his supply needs.

He could feign an illness or exaggerate a health scan because “you were the only one who understood” him. He uses these manipulative tactics to reel you back in or make you feel guilty for daring to leave him.

8. He Shows Off a New Partner

You’ve moved on in a healthy manner, but the truth is, your ex was grooming his new narcissistic supply stash while you were still hanging on his every word.

He will show that new person off in extravagant ways, like posting intimate social media photos or mentioning how he has “never been happier” than the past six months with her, even though he only broke up with you three months ago. It's likely she has no idea she's involved with a narcissistic partner.

9. He'll Smear and Shame You

When the narcissist discarded you, it was likely a time you were emotionally rattled and begged for closure. His silent treatment for months helped you move on.

Now he’ll act like he’s offended you moved on so quickly, and accuse you of being a manipulative liar. He’ll smear your name and gossip about you while sending his flying monkeys after you to ask, “Why didn’t you tell John you were breaking up with him before you dated someone else?” Having your good name tainted is his best revenge.


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10. He Acts Like You're Still Together

This creep will actually be surprised you’ve moved on, claiming you two are still dating. Since the narcissist rarely gives a closure conversation, many loose ends were left hanging.

He’ll weave those together to assert you are cheating on him with the new guy and that any problems are your fault. This gaslighting behavior undermines your sanity and continues the cycle of abuse even though you've left him.

11. He Terrorizes You Emotionally

It will serve you well to avoid posting things on any social media platform that will happen in the future. If you say you’re excited to try out the new restaurant downtown with VIP reservations, he’ll be sure to cancel that reservation.

He might even sit across the street to watch you squirm. Narcs don't care if they undermine your sanity or self-esteem if it makes them feel better.

12. He Sends Gifts to Make You Crazy

He’ll either send you a bouquet with obtuse notes like “Thinking of You,” sparking a debate with your new guy, or slowly mail back your stuff one by one.

He could even stop by with your collection of panties you left behind (or he bought them to claim they were yours) when he knows you aren’t alone.

13. He Hoovers You on Steriods

When he really thinks he’s lost control of you, he’ll tap into all that data you shared about your perfect life. Then he'll pull out all the stops to lure you back into your toxic relationship.

He’ll suddenly make a Hollywood romance movie entrance with a boombox over his head or ride in on a literal white horse to sweep you off your feet. He'll offer as many praises and false promises as he can think of to reel you in and trap you.

14. He Punishes His New Partner

A narcissist will be filled with rage when any supply tool moves on, and while he’s taking it out on you in many of these ways, his new supply is feeling the brunt.

She’s being pressured to be more attentive and submissive since he no longer controls you. He will use the same manipulation, lack of empathy, and gaslighting on her to feel more in control.  Take care of your tribe by sharing articles like this with them to be aware.

15. He Waits for Any Sign of Weakness or Vulnerability

Like a lion waiting in the jungle to pounce on its prey, he’ll wait until he hears of the first fight with your new lover and swoop in with that kind, charming mask of compassion he once wore for you.

This plays on the emotional vulnerability he knows you’re experiencing.

Does My Narcissist Ex Think about Me?

Narcissists lack object constancy, meaning they can’t form a bond with a person, place, or memory for any length of time. They get bored, which is a reflection of their own emptiness, not a mirror of your intrigue.

If a narcissist happens to stumble upon this article, he’s surged with supply because a topic like this exists.

The fact that you want to know how narcissists feel when you move on means he still controls a certain part of your brain. He’s hoping you post things that are aimed at him.

Do narcissists care if you move on? No. They truly only care if you’ll come back when they beckon or give them any kind of reaction.

Remember, in his mind, you never get to move on. You’re just put away in a toy box until he’s ready to play again.

Moving on from a Narcissist: 7 Ways to Deal with Their Reactions

You’re likely wondering why you’re back to worrying about his feeling when he never cared about yours.

The final step to finding happiness comes from the strength you show when you move on from a narcissistic once and for all. 

Don’t Make Excuses

He hasn’t changed. He never will. You likely learned this fact in the turnstile relationship you had.

When he suddenly promises you the world and all the things he would never do before, it’s going to pull on some deep strings of trauma bonding.

Every time he tries, picture him as the wolf in grandma’s clothing, ready for Little Red Riding Hood. Set boundaries for yourself and him.

Don’t Obsess About It

The fact that you can’t stop thinking about how much he “cares” about your happiness can lead you down yet another spiral of emotions.

Yes, it might make you rethink if you should be dating. You should not consider that you should go back to dating him.

Don’t Blame Yourself

Stop beating yourself up about anything you did while dealing with narcissistic rage. Some of your actions or reactions were likely not pretty, but you were coping with an extreme level of trauma that isn’t visible to anyone else.

You were never going to love him enough to get real love back. He’s incapable of love. Try to get water from a rock to visualize this affirmation. If your mental health starts to suffer, don't hesitate to find therapists to support you.

Don’t Isolate

Highly sensitive people experience emotions on a deeper level than others and are prone to withdraw when faced with another emotional upheaval.

If you hide away, you’ll beat up your self-worth and feel like you don’t deserve any better than that monster. You could ruin good things you have going on by looking to the past instead of the future. You're well-being and happiness are on the line, so prioritize self-care and socializing.

Don’t Talk to Him

Not even once. Not even for closure. Not even for that sick dog. Everything he says or does at this point is a lure. The harder it is for the narcissist to get you to communicate with him, the sweeter his victory is.

You should avoid the normal temptation to make your ex jealous. You should go “gray rock” and be as interesting as the rock you just tried to squeeze water from, even if you’re privately having the best sex of your life with a worthy partner.

Don’t Play His Game

He spilled secrets? Well, you’ve got his secrets too. Those secrets were probably lies designed to make you open up and tell your truth.

You’re going to lose when you try to go head-to-head with someone who lacks a soul or conscience.

On top of that, you’re now playing at his dirty level. Even if you try to show him pity, say it with me: you are still showing him attention.

Don’t Fake Moving On

Prisoners don’t try to break back into prison after being released, so don’t try to fake happiness and a new relationship to lure the narcissist back.

If they find out you’re doing it to get them back, you’re providing a feast of narcissistic supply and setting yourself up for unprecedented abuse.

Final Thoughts

It’s so easy to read the concepts of moving on after a narcissistic relationship, but it’s incredibly hard to put them to practice. We write this with input from people who have been there.

Every step of moving on after a narcissistic should be for you, about you, and beneficial to you.

Put in the work on self-worth, self-awareness, and self-love, so you don’t end up with another narcissist, as empathic people pleasers tend to attract them.

If you’re really intent on hurting him, say nothing, don’t react, and move on (for real). That will gut him worse than anything. Sorry, not sorry.