Due to the fact that narcissists are so controlling, it is very common for survivors of narcissistic abuse who are beginning their healing journey to wonder whether or not the narcissist in their life will let them move on without a fight.
As a general rule, narcissists will not let you move on. They will try to hoover you back into the relationship, they will try to confuse you with flying monkeys, they will try to destroy your self-esteem, and they will try to control you with financial abuse.
This article is going to guide you through the different ways that narcissists try to prevent you from moving on so you know what you should be on the lookout for during your healing journey.
They Will Try to Hoover You Back Into the Relationship
One of the most common manipulation tactics that narcissists use to prevent you from moving on is called hoovering.
Hoovering is when a narcissist says or does exactly what you need to hear or see to give them another chance.
Hoovering is powerful because it plays on your wish for things to be different and gives you hope.
You see, narcissists know exactly what you need to hear or see to give them another chance.
This is because throughout the entirety of the relationship, they were mirroring you.
In this context, mirroring is when a narcissist absorbs information about your identity and uses that information to create a falsified identity that makes you feel heard, understood, and valued.
For example, imagine that the narcissist in your life knew that growing up in a single parent household affected you deeply and told you this, “I want to find someone that I can spend my life with because I don’t want to put my future kids through a single parent household like I had to experience.”
This is an example of mirroring.
In all honesty, the narcissist could be lying about having to grow up in a single parent household. They only said it to make you feel heard, understood, and valued.
Over time, this mirroring dynamic is going to manipulate you into opening yourself up completely to the narcissist because they make you feel safe.
Now, as you probably know, the entire relationship won’t be like that. But in the beginning stages of a narcissistic relationship it is very common for narcissists to present themselves as “perfect” to you.
Once you open up to them and give them the information that they need to gain power and control over you, they will switch up and begin to be incredibly abusive.
When the relationship has, or is about to, end, the narcissist will use all of the information that they gathered about you to hoover you.
They say “I thought a lot about what you said and you are right, I do have a problem. I didn’t want to tell you because I thought I had more time but I have been going to therapy to try to be the person you deserve. I’m begging you, please don’t give up on me yet.”
This is hoovering. If you haven’t had time to process all the abuse that you experienced, it can play on your wish for things to be different, give you hope, and stop you from moving on.
There are five different types of hoovering that narcissists use to prevent you from moving on. To learn more about them, click here to download our free guide.
After a narcissist hoovers you, they will continue to trick you into believing that they changed with the honeymoon phase. You can learn more about this in our article “The Difference Between the Love Bombing and Honeymoon Phase“
They Will Try to Confuse You With Flying Monkeys
Another very common manipulation tactic that narcissists use to prevent you from moving on are flying monkeys.
A flying monkey is someone a narcissist manipulates into helping them isolate, discredit, and silence the person that they are abusing.
You see, in many cases, the person being abused by the narcissist is the only one who knows how abusive the narcissist really is.
Everyone else sees the narcissist’s falsified public persona that typically portrays them as charming, charismatic, articulate, intelligent, and relatively pleasant.
Preserving this public persona is crucial for the emotional stability of a narcissist because it helps them get a consistent flow of narcissistic supply.
When the relationship between you and the narcissist ends, they are terrified that you will expose their abusive tendencies and manipulation tactics to others.
If this were to happen, they wouldn’t get the validation, admiration, and reassurance, also known as narcissistic supply, that they desperately need to maintain emotional stability.
It is for this reason that narcissists use flying monkeys to stop you from moving on.
For example, one way that a flying monkey could stop you from moving on is by gaslighting you.
Imagine that you have met up with someone who you considered to be a friend, but was really a flying monkey.
One thing leads to another and you start talking about the reason that you left the narcissist, “I just needed to get out of that relationship, he/she is so narcissistic.”
Instead of supporting you, they respond with, “I think you are the narcissist. I mean you are literally giving him the silent treatment and stonewalling him/her. It is just so weird because he/she loves you so much. You need to snap out whatever this is.”
You aren’t giving them the silent treatment or stonewalling the narcissist, you are simply using the Gray Rock Method.
Now, if you knew what a flying monkey was, you would most likely be able to see that this person that you thought was a friend was actually a flying monkey and that they were gaslighting you.
But unfortunately, many survivors don’t learn about flying monkeys until it is too late. So, interactions like this feel incredibly destabilizing and stop them from moving on.
There are three different types of flying monkeys that narcissists use to stop you from moving on. If you would like to learn more about them, click here to download our free guide.
It can be really hard to spot a flying monkey. Our article “How to Spot a Flying Monkey“ can help you spot all the flying monkeys in your life.
They Will Try to Destroy You Self-Esteem
One of the reasons that narcissists don’t want you to move on is because they use you as a repository for all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
You see, narcissists struggle with overwhelming feelings of being inadequate, unlovable, unwanted, worthless, and weak.
Because of their low emotional intelligence, one of the only ways that narcissists can manage these thoughts, feelings, and emotions is by projecting them onto others.
If you didn’t know already, projection is when someone takes the parts of their identity that they find unacceptable and places them onto someone else.
Narcissists project their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto you by destroying your self-esteem.
After subjecting you to an unfathomable amount of abuse and manipulation, the low self-esteem that it causes you to develop allows a narcissist to think to themselves, “They are unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, weak, and worthless, not me.”
Now, if you were to move on, they wouldn’t be able to use you as a repository for their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
So, they do everything in their power to destroy your self-esteem and stop you from moving on.
They will try to blame you for the problems in the relationship, they will spread lies about you to mutual friends and family, they will even get into a new relationship and pretend like they are incredibly happy.
Over time, this dynamic can cause you to doubt yourself, stop you from growing as a person, prevent you from trusting and loving yourself, destroy your self-esteem, and stop you from moving on.
Our article “10 Ways to Build Self-Esteem After Narcissistic Abuse“ is a great resource that you can use to build self-esteem after experiencing narcissistic abuse.
They Will Try to Control You With Financial Abuse
It is very common for narcissists to try to prevent you from moving on by financially abusing you.
In fact, research shows that financial abuse occurs in 99% of domestic violence cases.1
There are three types of financial abuse: economic exploitation, employment sabotage, and controlling the finances.
Economic exploitation is when an abuser intentionally destroys your financial resources and/or credit.
Employment sabotage is when an abuser uses abuse and/or manipulation to get you to quit your job or to prevent you from finding a job.
Controlling the finances is when an abuser uses abuse and/or manipulation to control your financial stability.
To stop you from moving on, the narcissist could financially abuse you by doing one or more of the following:
- Force you to pay them back for gifts that they have given you.
- Refuse to pay child support.
- Drag out a divorce to cause financial suffering.
- Get you in trouble at work by calling, texting, and showing up too much.
- Destroy the materials that you need for work.
- Use the funds from your children’s savings without consulting you.
- Sell your belongings without consulting you.
A Quote From One of Our Community Members
“When I tried to leave I experienced a lot of financial abuse. He knew that I barely had any money and would pop my car tires, he would drag me in and out of court, and refused to help out with the kids.” – Isabelle
Our article “Do Narcissists Use Money to Control Others?” has a lot of information that will help you grasp a better understanding of how narcissists use financial abuse to stop you from moving on.
What Should You Take Away From This Article?
If you are trying to move on from the narcissistic abuse that you experienced, you should expect them to do everything in their power to stop you from doing so.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t move on.
Our article “How Do I Stop Loving a Narcissist?“ has a lot of helpful information that will help you move on from the narcissist in your life.
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.
Harrison, Jean, and Melody Dixon. Narcissist Abuse Recovery: The Ultimate Guide for How to Understand, Cope, and Move on from Narcissism in Toxic Relationships. Vol. 1. Bernard Pardieu, 2019.