One of the most destabilizing parts of ending a romantic relationship with a narcissist is how little they seem to care. It is very common for narcissists to jump from relationship to relationship without giving themselves, or others, time to reflect and get closure.
Narcissists get over their exes very quickly. In a survey we conducted among 300 people who experienced narcissistic abuse in a romantic relationship, we discovered that the average amount of time it took for a narcissist to get over their ex was three-and-a-half weeks.
The phrase “get over their ex” refers to the amount of time between the end of the relationship that the narcissist had with our participants and the start of their relationship with their new partner. A narcissist’s ability to jump from relationship to relationship is an important part of narcissistic abuse that this article is going to focus on.
How Are Narcissists Able to Get Over Their Exes So Quickly?
When you’re trying to grasp a comprehensive understanding of a narcissist’s ability to jump from relationship to relationship you must keep in mind that narcissists do not value the relationship that they have the same way that emotionally healthy people do.
When an emotionally healthy person thinks about relationships, their thoughts, feelings, and emotions are usually centered around the concept of growth, mutuality, respect, honesty, passion, emotional closeness, and happiness.
When a narcissist thinks about relationships, their thoughts, feelings, and emotions are usually centered around their insecure need for narcissistic supply and emotional regulation.
When a narcissist is in a relationship, they feel entitled to having their needs met even if that means that their partners have to neglect their own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs to do so.
This blatant lack of mutuality, respect, emotional closeness, and empathy that narcissists have for their romantic partners plays a massive role in narcissists’ ability to get over their exes so quickly, so let’s dive into all of the important information.
Narcissists Need a Consistent Flow of Narcissistic Supply
We highly recommend that you read our article How Are Narcissists Made to learn about all of the different theories about this but it is believed that narcissism, and a narcissist’s need for a consistent flow of narcissistic supply, originates from an emotionally unhealthy childhood upbringing with primary caregivers who are emotionally unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent.
These primary caregivers were so neglectful that they weren’t able to mirror the narcissist’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs which means that the narcissist never got the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they needed to develop a realistic sense of self and have a healthy cognitive development.
The validation, admiration, and reassurance that we just mentioned gets labeled as “narcissistic supply” as the narcissist gets older because to develop a sense of self, narcissists turn to their external environment for the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they couldn’t get from their primary caregivers.
To ensure that you have a solid grasp of narcissistic supply, it is important to note that validation, admiration, and reassurance are crucial parts of a healthy childhood upbringing because it helps the child construct a realistic sense of self and have a healthy cognitive development.
Example of Healthy Validation, Admiration, and Reassurance
Jonny feels jealous because his brother is getting a lot of attention for being a really good artist. To mirror his thoughts, feeling, emotions, and needs, his mother tells him, “I know you wish you were as good of an artist as your brother but I want you to know that we are so proud of your own unique talents” .1
As we mentioned before, when a narcissist went without healthy forms of validation, admiration, and reassurance they turned to their external environment for it and this is where things became unhealthy, toxic, and emotionally stunted.
A simple example of this would be a narcissistic teenager constructing his/her sense of self out of the validation, admiration, and reassurance that he/she gets from their external environment for being really popular in school.
While a narcissist is constructing their sense of self out of the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they get from their external environment, they are also developing many painful emotions about themselves such as a sense of inadequacy and vulnerability, a belief that they are unlovable, unwanted, weak, and a fear of abandonment.
Sadly, the unhealthy cognitive development that narcissists had left them without the emotional skills needed to utilize healthy forms of emotional regulation to manage their painful emotions. This is dangerous because the painful emotions that they have could destroy their emotional stability.
To prevent this from happening, narcissists use the false sense of self that they’ve constructed out of the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they get from their external environment to suppress all of their painful emotions.
It goes without mentioning that this is a very emotionally stunted and immature approach to emotional regulation and is the reason why narcissists need a consistent flow of validation, admiration, and reassurance. There’s a lot more information about this in our article What Do Narcissists Want In a Relationship but one of the main reasons narcissists get into relationships is to secure a consistent flow of narcissistic supply.
That’s right, one of the biggest sources of narcissistic supply that narcissists have are their romantic partners. They don’t have any thoughts, feelings, or emotions connected to their romantic partners, they just view them as sources of narcissistic supply.
It is for this reason that narcissists are able to get over their ex so quickly. They never truly cared about their ex, all they care about is how much and how quickly they can get more narcissistic supply.
Given their charming, special, successful, desirable, unique, charismatic, and virtuous public persona, narcissists are able to make it look like they can get over their exes very quickly by finding a new source of supply. A narcissist’s ability to get over their exes quickly is just a manifestation of their sense of entitlement to having their needs met at all times.
Narcissists Need a Repository For Their Painful Emotions
The false sense of self that narcissists construct out of the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they get from their external environment is their primary form of emotional regulation.
If a narcissist could control everything in his/her environment, this emotionally stunted and immature approach to regulating one’s emotions could work. But they can’t control everything so it rarely works. The information that you are about to learn is a huge part of a narcissist’s ability to get over their exes quickly so make sure to pay attention!
One of the many problems that narcissists face is that their false sense of self is extremely fragile because it lacks depth. This lack of depth is created because to attract the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they get from their external environment, they had to construct a falsified identity by mirroring society.
In the narcissistic realm, mirroring is a technique that narcissists use to absorb an extraordinary amount of information about their victim’s identity and use that information to create a falsified identity that is designed to fill a void in their life. In other words, mirroring is designed to make the narcissist appear to be “perfect” in the victim’s eyes.
You should read our article How Do Narcissists Use Mirroring to learn more about it but as we mentioned before narcissists use mirroring on society to create a falsified identity that is designed to get a lot of validation, admiration, and reassurance.
The only problem is that the emotional immaturity that narcissists possess prevent them from looking past society’s superficial exterior so they end up constructing a falsified identity out of the most superficial, materialistic, and trivial aspects of life. (e.g. social media followers, fancy jobs, big houses, etc.)
This is where a narcissist’s lack of depth originates from and it makes a very large contribution to the fragility of their false sense of self. As we mentioned before, the fragile false sense of self that narcissists have is their only form of emotional regulation but it is also the only thing protecting their emotional stability from their suppressed painful emotions.
When a narcissist’s false sense of self gets contradicted, all of their suppressed painful emotions get triggered and jeopardize their emotional stability. Contradictions prevent narcissists from getting the narcissistic supply that they need to manage their painful emotions so they turn to projection to protect their emotional stability from their painful emotions.
10 Things That Could Contradict a Narcissist’s False Sense of Self
- When people set boundaries with them.
- Being overlooked for a job opening.
- Being rejected by a romantic partner.
- Being told no.
- Being held accountable for their behavior.
- Being held to the same rules as everyone else (e.g. traffic laws, waiting in line, etc.)
- Not getting enough narcissistic supply (e.g. getting praised, but not a standing ovation after doing something.)
- Being ignored.
- Being in the presence of someone who is more successful.
Projection is a defense mechanism that occurs when we take parts of our identity that we find unacceptable and “project” them onto others (e.g. a wife who feels guilty for being attracted to a coworker but instead of acknowledging her feelings she accuses her husband of cheating on her).
Suggested Reading: Why Do Narcissists Use Projection
The painful emotions that narcissist’s have are the parts of their identity that they think are unacceptable. To project these painful emotions onto others, narcissists invalidate, devalue, degrade, humiliate, and dehumanize the people that they abuse until they are able to figuratively point their finger at them and think to themselves, “I’m not the weak, insecure, unlovable, inadequate, unwanted, stupid, and vulnerable one, they are.”
In other words, narcissists use their romantic partners, and the other people that they abuse, as repositories for all of their painful emotions. They want to project all of them onto the people that they abuse so they can protect their own emotional stability.
With that being said, one of the reasons that narcissists are able to get over their exes so quickly is because they have to! They need to find someone else that they can project all of their painful emotions onto as soon as possible. If they don’t, they will crumble under the pressure of all the painful emotions that they can’t manage on their own.
What Should You Take Away From This Article?
Narcissists get over their exes very quickly but that says nothing about their exes. Narcissists don’t value relationships or the people that they are in relationship with in the same way that an emotionally healthy person would. A narcissist’s ability to jump from relationship to relationship is a manifestation of their desperate need for narcissistic supply, lack of empathy, and shallowness.
About the Author
Hey, I’m Elijah.
I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years.
I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.
Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.
Petric, Domina, Psychiatrists Hotchkiss, and F. James. “Healthy vs. narcissistic self-love.” (2019).