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Seven Reasons Why Narcissists Won’t Give You Closure

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Closure in a relationship with a a narcissist is challenging regardless of whether we decide to finally go no-contact with them, or they leave abruptly (which is always the way they leave if they decide to do so).

There are multiple ways that a “break-up” with a narcissist may occur.

A partner may cut off contact completely without letting the narcissist know that he or she is doing so out of concerns for safety or to avoid narcissistic rage or intense attempts getting the partner to stay that it might cause (or even some combination of all three).

The narcissist may also cut off contact without a word once securing a new source of primary narcissistic supply, after the original partner has fallen off the pedestal.

This may happen if partner has begun to see through the cracks in the narcissist’s facade. The narcissist then realizes that the partner has seen these cracks and therefore sees the partner is flawed (hence, both are no longer “idealized”), and the narcissist seeks someone new to start over with.

Breakups can also occur if the narcissist seeks revenge after a narcissistic injury and discards the partner in a humiliating or cruel manner.

Sometimes, during a breakup, a narcissist may even give a faux sort of “closure” that feels open-ended and leaves many unanswered questions and no real resolution. Yet it is the same mismatching and deflection that happens throughout the rest of the relationship where words don’t match actions.

For example, it is common for narcissists to take up other partners within days of leaving a primary partner. They may then return to the original primary and vacillate between them.

If the narcissist or partner decides to break up the relationship but the partner seeks answers about narcissist’s ability to move on so quickly, the narcissist may respond with answers, yet they feel nonsensical answers or don’t add up. You feel they are trying to provide closure, but there is a lingering feeling of dissatisfaction. This is not closure.

What on earth is going on?

Narcissists cannot provide closure for many of the same reasons that they cannot engage in constructive conversations with us.

I am of the opinion, however, that with closure, the reasons can be even more complex because, in addition to the same things they might be seeking from normal conversations with us, there are additional reasons why they don’t give us closure.

Closure, as what we think of as a final conversation, has a symbolic meaning that gives a narcissist many more ways to both potentially manipulate, remain in control, and also, to render him or her powerless if we handle it properly.

So let’s pick apart reasons why closure with a narcissist is not possible.

 

Seven Reasons Why We Should Give Up Trying to Get Closure With a Narcissist

The reasons why they don’t provide closure in the short-term can depend upon who is doing the breaking up, however, in the long-run, they work out to be the same. If they are angry at you, they don’t want to give you the satisfaction of providing you with closure because they don’t feel

1. They can only care about how they feel and can’t put themselves in our shoes.

Whatever is causing them to leave or you to leave, they don’t care if we have closure or not. Narcissists and their partners have always had different narratives of the relationship and that’s no different at the end. We’re attached to the relationship; they’re not. They have been attached to the way we make them feel. If they’re angry that the relationship is ending, they will only be concerned with the fact that they’re losing a source of narcissistic supply, not the demise of the relationship itself. If they are leaving for some reason related to their own lives, they already have new things going on in their lives. Either way, our “closure” is a concept that isn’t even on their radar because the relationship itself is one that was always designed to serve their interests. They didn’t care enough to stop hurting us, why should they care enough to provide us with closure? Closure is for people who are attached to others and need to “disengage” themselves from the lives of others when relationships are coming to an end.

2. Not providing you with closure makes it harder for you to go and stay no-contact.

To us, by definition, “closure” means relationships are ending. To narcissists, exes are fair game forever. Closure means whatever they want it to mean at the time a relationships ends. Leaving without what we consider to be closure (whether on bad terms or not) leaves open the possibility that they can manipulate their way back into our lives because they realize that there will be “unfinished business.” It sets the stage for a hoover to take place at a later time.

Whether they fall silent or their answers are unsatisfactory, if they know you are unsatisfied with the way things ended, there is “unfinished business” that they can capitalize on. They may promise to answer questions at a later time. They may intentionally say they want to continue a conversation later or that they will think about our questions because they want to give us serious answers. What they want is not to answer at all.

3. They can’t or won’t answer your questions satisfactorily in a way that makes any sense.

Many times, part of closure involves trying to understand why the relationship unfolded the way it did and we attempt to seek answers from the narcissist. If you claimed to love me so much, why did you hurt me like that? If you wanted to be with that person, why can’t you just leave me alone? What is really going on? What is it you’re really trying to accomplish?

In truth, there are no answers they could provide to us that we could accept until we are ready to accept that our partner did not view our relationship the same way that we did and never had the same goals. They don’t enter any of their relationships with the same goals as any of their partners.

The questions we want to know the answers to come from the place of someone who can’t understand why someone who loves and is attached to someone else would do the things that the narcissist has done. However, once we come to understand that the narcissist did not come from the same place– that is, does not view the world as we do–we can realize it is pointless to ask these questions of the narcissist, because the narcissist cannot provide answers to questions that do not pertain to a narcissist’s point of view.

What kind of answers are we likely to get? Answers that don’t match with the actions that we see. Vague answers. “I don’t know.” Answers that blame others. Excuses, such as blaming actions on alcohol or youth or stress or something that happened to the narcissist in the past. “Because I felt like it at the time.”

Yet it never adds up, because the sum total of any answers they provide never add up to a coherent picture of someone who regrets what they did, took actions to stop it

Narcissists act in their own self-interest. This is the answer to the majority of our questions that we seek during closure. Self-aware narcissists know that they do this but they won’t tell you that this is why they did what they did. Narcissists who are not self-aware do not know

That understanding will likely require a lot of reading about narcissistic abuse and perhaps talking to others who have experienced the same type of relationship. It may require an extended period of time away from the relationship. Yet, ironically, once we do come to accept this, we will no longer require answers from the narcissist.

4. Not providing closure is a form of punishment.

If the breakup is a negative one, whether you are leaving them or they are leaving you, denying you anything you need to make the breakup go smoothly is one way for them to either get revenge or to try to demonstrate your unimportance. If you are the one leaving them, they may try at first a multitude of things to get you to stay, however, ultimately, if they do not work, their demeanor will likely turn to rage at their loss of control over you. If they are the ones leaving, they may want to send the message that you are unimportant and they don’t owe you any answers. Either way, they may want to send the message that you don’t deserve closure.

5. They get narcissistic supply out of believing that you’re still thinking about them.

Again, it doesn’t matter who left first or how the breakup occurred. As long as it was abrupt and didn’t provide you with the satisfaction that you needed, they will gain satisfaction knowing that you’re left with questions and a lack of understanding of why the relationship unfolded as it did or ended as it did.

If they ended things out of anger or there was a painful discard, they will gain narcissistic supply out of knowing that you are suffering. Their narcissistic supply may come from knowing you have to maintain vigilance and gain your own closure without them (which still means thinking about them) even if you were the one to end things.

If they believe you are not moving on, even if, by working on gaining your own closure you are moving on, this is satisfying to their egos.

6. If they have been running a smear campaign, it may fit with the narrative they’ve already been telling everyone else.

If they have been setting up a breakup for a while, which can happen when they have stopped idealizing you and have your replacement ready, they can use your need for closure as part of that narrative, even though it’s perfectly rational.

For example, once a narcissist begins to see the flaws of the current partner and devalues him or her and seeks out others (or the current partner learns of the others the narcissist has kept in the wings all along), the current partner, who has no idea what is happening, reacts to the narcissist’s blatant cheating.

The narcissist sets the stage to leave the current partner for one of the others by using the partner’s reactions to play the victim so that when he or she leaves, it is seen as the rational thing to do and not surprising.

cycle of triangulation

As the narcisst makes an exit, the bewildered partner may contact the narcissist asking questions and wanting to know what happened. The more the narcissist refuses to provide it, the more the partner reacts.

The narcissist can sit back and use the partner’s reactions fake reality based on half-truths. The narcissist has first deceived the partner and is now deceiving everyone else.

7. In every scenario except one, they have their “closure.”

Narcissists have a different idea of what closure means: control. Throughout the relationship, they have sought control and they seek to maintain it when the relationship ends as well. They will do everything in their power to maintain it. That control is control over you and consists of one or more of the following: control over how you feel, control over your lack of knowledge about their own goals and motivations, and control over their ability to come and go as they please.

By not giving you what they know is your definition of closure, they maintain these things and their own definition of closure.

Except in one case and one case only.

And that is if we choose to go no-contact with them.

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Kristen Milstead

Kristen Milstead is a narcissistic abuse survivor who has become a strong advocate for finding your unique voice and using it to help others find theirs.

19 Comments

  1. Excellent article, Kristen. Trying to get closure with the narcissist I had the misfortune of being involved with was torture. He sadistically delighted in my suffering, and I learned what kind of sick, twisted individual he was in the process. The silver lining of my efforts to get closure is that I unmasked him. It’s been 6 months since the last time I was in contact with him, and he hasn’t attempted to hoover me (knock on wood it stays that way!).

    One more thing on the topic of closure: while it is true that very often normal human beings seek to understand why their relationships don’t work out and look to their former partners for answers, regardless of whether a partner is a narcissist or not, at the end of the day, closure is something we achieve on our own. No one can give it to us.

    Kind regards,

    Sara

    1. Excellent article Kristen. Sara, I cannot agree more with you. I have, very early in the breakup took the hard decision not to engage in any contact. Once I realised the incredible self-centeredness and emotional cruelty of my ex will never change (no matter how it was disguised behind the most attractive face and impeccable social behaviour, intelligence and eloquence) I started to regain my balance. It is now 6 months later and my healing and gratitude is increasing every day. My ex zoomed in the moment I broke off all contact as well as means of contact but she always found innovative ways trying to contact me. Hoovered. It is now 3 weeks since her last contact attempt. I have shifted my focus and it would not have been possible had I remained caught up in the humane desire for her to acknowledge the deep hurt she caused repeatedly and at least offered an apology. That insight or acknowledgement or apology was never forthcoming during our relationship. (not even after intense professional couple counselling). To the contrary, the disregard, lack of insight and lack of empathy was shocking. Why will it now be forthcoming or even sincere as it will only be born from the realisation that she lost me and her power over me. What meaning will it really have?
      Move inward and forward.
      Cara

      1. Excellent point Cara!!! And an eye opener!! I have been struggling with not getting closure for a very long time with my ex sociopath. And this article, especially the last sentence, has opened my eyes further on closure. What would it matter even if he spilled his guts and acknowledged and apologized for the pain he’s caused!! He’s already put me through hell over me trying to get closure!! If he really wanted to give me sincerity and closure then he would’ve done it the first time I asked him!! So you’re absolutely right, it wouldn’t mean a thing!! Thank you for commenting and opening my eyes further!!

    2. Wow!! Well said!! One of the best and most easy to relate to articles I have read. I recently became aware of my reality and went through exactly what you wrote. If I found this information sooner it might have helped jumpstart the painful yet mandatory things to live through. Thank you for letting me know I’m not crazy. It is textbook stuff that needs to be taught to us younger. So much mental illness in our world. Well Done!!

  2. Excellent article, Kristen. Trying to get closure with the narcissist I had the misfortune of being involved with was torture. He sadistically delighted in my suffering, and I learned what kind of sick, twisted individual he was in the process. The silver lining of my efforts to get closure is that I unmasked him. It’s been 6 months since the last time I was in contact with him, and he hasn’t attempted to hoover me (knock on wood it stays that way!).

    One more thing on the topic of closure: while it is true that very often normal human beings seek to understand why their relationships don’t work out and look to their former partners for answers, regardless of whether a partner is a narcissist or not, at the end of the day, closure is something we achieve on our own. No one can give it to us.

    Kind regards,

    Sara

    1. Excellent article Kristen. Sara, I cannot agree more with you. I have, very early in the breakup took the hard decision not to engage in any contact. Once I realised the incredible self-centeredness and emotional cruelty of my ex will never change (no matter how it was disguised behind the most attractive face and impeccable social behaviour, intelligence and eloquence) I started to regain my balance. It is now 6 months later and my healing and gratitude is increasing every day. My ex zoomed in the moment I broke off all contact as well as means of contact but she always found innovative ways trying to contact me. Hoovered. It is now 3 weeks since her last contact attempt. I have shifted my focus and it would not have been possible had I remained caught up in the humane desire for her to acknowledge the deep hurt she caused repeatedly and at least offered an apology. That insight or acknowledgement or apology was never forthcoming during our relationship. (not even after intense professional couple counselling). To the contrary, the disregard, lack of insight and lack of empathy was shocking. Why will it now be forthcoming or even sincere as it will only be born from the realisation that she lost me and her power over me. What meaning will it really have?
      Move inward and forward.
      Cara

      1. Excellent point Cara!!! And an eye opener!! I have been struggling with not getting closure for a very long time with my ex sociopath. And this article, especially the last sentence, has opened my eyes further on closure. What would it matter even if he spilled his guts and acknowledged and apologized for the pain he’s caused!! He’s already put me through hell over me trying to get closure!! If he really wanted to give me sincerity and closure then he would’ve done it the first time I asked him!! So you’re absolutely right, it wouldn’t mean a thing!! Thank you for commenting and opening my eyes further!!

  3. Dear Dawn, thank you for your comment. You are in a very hurtful situation. May you be guided with Love and Light ever closer to healing and release and the rediscovery of the Joy in your life. All of it is possible. Best of luck to you.

  4. Dear Dawn, thank you for your comment. You are in a very hurtful situation. May you be guided with Love and Light ever closer to healing and release and the rediscovery of the Joy in your life. All of it is possible. Best of luck to you.

  5. Seven Reasons Why Narcissists Won’t Give You Closure – Le Blog a Sofeee

  6. What a Narcissist Says About Break-Ups: They Never Let You Go | In the Shadows of the Fairy Tale

    […] Seven Reasons Why Narcissists Won’t Give You Closure […]

  7. for the lsst two years he has said the same things to me over and over again he never changes his script but sticks to it what is the reason for this

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hi Norma: I can’t say for sure, but it seems that whatever he is saying that that is what he wants for you to believe, even if his actions do not match it. -Kristen

  8. for the lsst two years he has said the same things to me over and over again he never changes his script but sticks to it what is the reason for this

  9. I know this is going to sound crazy and quite frankly I feel crazy. My partner and I split about five years ago. He literally moved in with someone else. This April we started up again. This time I have completely disregarded his privacy and read all his old emails social media stuff etc. I now realize every word from his mouth was a lie and I have the receipts to prove it. Not necessarily to him but to myself. I finally know the relationship was doomed from day one and that is my closure. Now I need to figure out how to disengage with him. I am amazed that I still have empathy for him however I know this is over or actually it never was… sorry so choppy but didn’t feel like writing a tome!

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hi Tyler: It doesn’t sound crazy at all. I can certainly relate to many of the things you said: going back to a relationship after it was already over, reading old emails and social media stuff, knowing the relationship was doomed from day one. I believe that for many of us who have been in a relationship like this one, this sounds all too familiar. I’m sorry you have had to go through this, but I’m glad you have received the closure you need. I wish you well as you begin to disengage from the relationship again and start recovering from all that happened. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. -Kristen

  10. This article is unbelievably helpful! I can relate to every part of it!!! My husband told me after 20 years of being together and three kids that he had to leave, no emotion, no regret, and he gave absolutely no closure. I fought for the last three years to get reasons to why (what seemed like a perfectly happy, normal relationship to me), he would bail on me and the kids so easily. Now, in retrospect it was happy and normal because our entire worlds revolved around his needs and his happiness. Once he found a 19 year younger version of me to feed his ego, I didn’t deserve the reasons to why he’d leave because in his mind, his “feelings” that I wasn’t giving him the attention he needed, was the absolute “truth.” As in most cases their feelings and opinions usurp all others on any topic. My opinions and feelings didn’t matter.
    What is extremely hard on me now is that I can’t go no contact with him. We have three kids. Being a coparent and divorcing him is 100% harder than being married to him and doing everything for him was. I haven’t been able to completely heal having to deal with him and his antics and his lack of empathy, remorse, or regret on a daily basis. He’s moved on yet again now to a new supply, and is disregarding our young kids’ feelings by bringing her around when they don’t want her around and didn’t take the proper steps to explain or introduce. Ugh thanks for the article and a place to hear others in a similar situation.

  11. Was in relationship with women for 7 years , flight attendant. After the first 4 years caught her communicating with a pilot who resided in different state . Found out later on after contacting her pilot friend, that she was doing more than just communicating her him. I was discarded me without closure and she brought ex husband back to court to try and get approved from judge to relocate with her two children ages 8 and 11 . This is after I helped support her emotionally and financially thru her highly contentious divorce. I’m talking thousands of dollars. I was called to testify in court as a character wisdom for the dad , that when I found out that after 4 months her and pilot had broken up and judge ultimately denied her request to relocate. While in court we talked, exchanged phone # , since she blocked me and changed her # . It was during the Xmas holiday and we started up our relationship, promising never to discard without closure against. That summer i gave her a diamond commitment ring in Mallorca Spain . Three years later and once again helping her financially, I caught her cheating with another man in the next town fm where we lived , apparently very wealthy with 4 homes . No closure once again and she ghosted me . Within 6 months , she moved her and her son now 15 into his home . This is clearly a pattern and was always in search of a better opportunity

  12. Sorry about the typos

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