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Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
February 23, 2024 ·  4 min read

5 Things Narcissists Say About Their Exes

Exhibiting traits such as “fragile self-esteem”, boastfulness, or depression, happens for everyone from time to time. Therefore, it’s difficult to know whether someone is exhibiting typical behaviors or if they’re actually narcissists. For example, it’s not uncommon for people to want to share, or boast about their accomplishments. It’s not uncommon for people have off or emotional days. Nor is it uncommon for people have days in which their confidence isn’t all it should be. Yet, many of these traits are also characteristics narcissistic personality disorder. Although life with a narcissist can be confusing, if not abusive, here are 5 things they often say about their exes and what they may actually mean instead.

Narcissists Might Mean this Instead

1. “They cheated on/betrayed me.”

In an effort to gain sympathy, narcissists will tell their new partner how their ex was entirely at fault for the breakup. However, in many cases, they’re the one who was dishonest or unfaithful. Either way, narcissists will use that sympathy as a tool to allow them the freedom to do whatever they want.

2. “They were the love of my life.” “I can’t get over them.”

Narcissists typically don’t have the capacity to have meaningful relationships. Therefore, making this and other similar statements is dishonest to say the least. However, by “idealizing” people from previous relationships, narcissists make others feel a sense of inferiority. As though they’re always in competition for love and affection.

3. “They were insecure/controlling.”

“I was jealous/possessive, making sure my partner was only focused on me in the beginning.” In many cases, narcissists will isolate their partner from the rest of their loved ones. As a result, the victim eventually feels as though they have no one else. Eventually, narcissists will withhold love and support, leading their partner to question whether or not they are the problem and simply imagining all the red flags.

4. “They were crazy”, They were obsessed with me” or “They just can’t let go.”

What they mean: I lost control over them then labeled them crazy so no one would believe anything they said about me. I gave them an abundance of love and affection in the beginning and slowly began to test boundaries, gaslit them, and provoked feelings of jealousy or doubt in order to maintain my control over them.

5. “I just want the best for them.”We’re just friends.”

What they mean: In reality, narcissists will remain in contact with as many of their exes as possible in order to keep tabs on them. They will also use their “friendships” as another opportunity to make their new partners feel a sense of doubt or insecurity, propelling them to work harder for love and approval.

Experts’ Warnings

According to Mayo Clinic, Narcissistic personality disorder is actually a “mental health condition” that impacts people’s “sense of their own importance“, in most cases making them “unreasonably high”. Narcissists often lack the capacity to empathize with others, yet their ego is so fragile that they become “upset by the slightest criticism.” They struggle to develop meaningful relationships yet feel entitled to favors and praise from others. Treatment is generally “talk therapy” also referred to as “psychotherapy“.

For many, life with narcissists includes things like gaslighting and mixed messages, often leaving those around them feeling confused and frustrated. However, in more extreme cases, narcissists have abusive tendencies that can overtime wear down the victim and leave them questioning their own sanity and self-worth. Leaving a narcissist can be terrifying for fear of witnessing their unpredictable behavior but will ultimately lead to road of healing and moving on to a brighter future. Alternatively, confronting them may seem even more daunting.

Escaping from Narcissists

It’s important to stand up for yourself but confronting them shouldn’t be combative, simply speak calmly and clearly. Set personal boundaries but expect there to be some form of “pushback”. Remember in these moments they will say whatever they can to hurt, control, or manipulate their victims. It’s important to disregard what they say.

On the other hand, if narcissists have a history of violence and abuse, it’s best not to confront them. Instead, subtly create an exit strategy. Find a temporary place to stay, preferably with someone who isn’t part of your everyday life. After all, the first place an angry narcissist will look is at your best friend’s house or your mom’s house. Instead reach out to a relative or friend that you trust, but don’t necessarily always have time to connect with.

Moreover, there are domestic violence shelters all across the U.S. and hotlines like the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) or LoveisResptect (866-331-9474 or text LOVEIS to 22522) for support or help escaping an abusive or violent situation. Other resources include books and blogs, YouTube, and social media platforms that are designed for victims to anonymously support other victims or visit NCADV for additional resources.

Most importantly, remember you are not alone, nor are you permanently stuck in an undesirable, or abusive situation. It’s possible to break free from narcissists, and knowing you deserve better is always the first step. Beware that it’s possible to be “hoovered” back into the toxic patterns so it’s best to make a clean break, cutting all ties.

Read More: Understanding Narcissism: The Why and How of Becoming a Narcissist


  1. NPD.” Mayo Clinic
  2. How to Confront a Narcissist.Psyche Central
  3. A Complete List of the Best Narcissism Forums and Resources Online.” ITR. Patricia. August 16, 2021.
  4. 5 Toxic Things Narcissists Say About Their Exes and What They REALLY Mean.” Thought Catalog. May 21, 2023.