Do narcissists feel heartbroken? It’s complicated. What to know about narcissism, breakups.

If you’ve been discarded by a narcissist, you likely know the pain and rumination that follows a sudden breakup.

But how do narcissists feel when relationships ends? Do they experience heartbreak?

It’s a complicated question − and mental health experts say the answer hinges on several factors, including what type of narcissist they are, if there’s another person they’re interested in who’s readily available and if they had a say in ending the relationship.

“Do they have a broken heart? I mean, it’s not fair for me to say they don’t,” says Ramani Durvasula, a psychologist and author of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist.” “They experience their broken heart though as very shameful, because it feels weak and vulnerable to them.”

What does love mean to a narcissist?

Narcissists − in addition to their grandiosity and need for attention and validation − lack empathy. In other words, they care about themselves and not others.

It’s a common myth, however, that narcissists don’t have feelings.

“They actually do have feelings. They have very big feelings. They just have feelings for themselves and not for you,” says Chelsey Cole, a psychotherapist and author of “If Only I’d Known: How to Outsmart Narcissists, Set Guilt-Free Boundaries, and Create Unshakeable Self-Worth.”

Narcissists don’t feel love in the same way non-narcissists do, explains Stephanie Sarkis, a psychotherapist and author of “Healing from Toxic Relationships: 10 Essential Steps to Recover from Gaslighting, Narcissism, and Emotional Abuse.” They don’t love their partner; they love the narcissistic supply, or the attention and validation, that person brings them.

Therefore, if a narcissist feels heartbreak, it’s mainly about the loss of supply, rather than the loss of the person.

“They’re sad to lose something that worked for them,” Cole says. “If you lost your favorite purse or lost your favorite possession or something that meant a lot to you, you would be sad about losing that thing that was important, because of what it did for you or how it made you feel.”

Plus, telling a narcissist “no” − which essentially is what breaking up with them does − wounds their ego, resulting in what’s called narcissistic injury. This serves as a stark reminder that their grandiose sense of self is merely an illusion.

“They work very hard to maintain this view of themselves, that they are the best, that they’re the most attractive, that they’re the smartest, that everyone would want to be with them,” Cole says. “When you break up with them, you’re essentially saying, ‘Actually, that’s not true, and you’re not this grandiose person that you want to believe you are.’ “

How the narcissist feels depends on how the relationship ended

When a narcissist’s fragile ego gets hurt, all hell can break loose, and it’s not uncommon for them to lash out by stalking or launching smear campaigns against their exes.

They also might try showering their exes with displays of affection in order to win them back, Durvasula says.

On the flip side, narcissists can also move on quite callously if they’re the ones who initiated the breakup. Durvasula says narcissists discard partners once they grow bored of their supply and start craving a new source.

“It’s often another person, or it’s another opportunity, but whatever it is, it’s shinier than that person they were with,” Durvasula says.

Cole says narcissists also initiate breakups when their partners become “too difficult to manipulate or control.”

“A lot of times, if you get healthier, the narcissist will start getting more frustrated with you,” she says. “The better you get at setting boundaries and knowing your truth and not engaging with them, the more frustrated they get.”

Heartbroken over a narcissist? Keep this in mind:

Sarkis encourages people who have been discarded by narcissists to focus on themselves. This, she says, in an important step in healing your own heartbreak.

“When you’re in a narcissistic relationship, the narcissist makes the focus so much about them that when you leave the relationship − whether that’s voluntary, involuntary − you’re very focused on them,” she says. “It’s time to take that power back.”

Plus, prioritizing your health and happiness also happens to be the best revenge.

“Narcissists don’t like to see you happy,” Cole says. “And so, the best way to really get revenge against the narcissist after a breakup is to be happy, is to fully invest in your life knowing that, yes, they are upset that you’re happy, because you’re showing them that you can be happy without them. You can survive without them.”

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