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Does a Narcissist Realize What They’ve Lost?

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC,   November 10, 2023

More often than not, the narcissist will discard their victims when they are done in the most brutal of ways.  They will usually be in a hurry to destroy you before you unmask what they have been hiding their whole lives.  But, in the event that the narcissist’s supply walks away, does a narcissist realize what they’ve lost?

As a general rule, yes, the narcissist realizes what they’ve lost.  But they don’t see it the way the rest of the world does.  What they see is that they have lost what you did for them, how you made them look, the prosperity that you contributed to them, the money you had, or whatever else it was that they lost because you left.  They don’t really care that YOU left.  Because it was never about you.  It was about everything you gave to them and did for them.  But what does this look like when played out in day-to-day life? 

Let’s take a closer look.

What Happens When a Narcissist Realizes They are Losing You?

A narcissist’s first instinct when they feel they are losing their supply (especially if it is their main supply like a spouse)  is to hoover them back in.  Yes, the word is hoover, as in the vacuum cleaner brand, because that is what the narcissist is attempting to do.  They are trying to suck you back in.

This tactic is the narcissist’s first line of attack because it is largely successful early on in most of his relationships.  It is normal for us as humans to do something wrong and then follow it up with an apology.  Then the involved parties can move on, knowing there has been resolution.  However, in the narcissist’s world, it isn’t about resolution.  It is about sucking the other party(ies) in so they can continue to gaslight, lie, deceive, and all of the other things they do.

At some point, most emotionally healthy (at least to some degree) people will see the narcissist’s patterns of behavior and decide that they no longer want to be dragged along on the carousel.  So they choose to get off.  But the narcissist doesn’t want to give up that supply so easily.  Once they realize no amount of hoovering will work, the narcissist will likely realize it is no longer worth trying to obtain that supply anymore.

Their next step is to simultaneously start to destroy their original source of supply for “making their life difficult” while also trying to find a new, hopefully better source of supply.  And out comes their best charm techniques.  The narcissist is also so good at keeping their life compartmentalized that they can usually hook the new supply in without them even realizing that the other side of their life and relationships could very well be falling apart.

*Note:  For the best resources on understanding, dealing with, and healing narcissism, click here!

Can a Narcissist Feel Regret?

Narcissists feel regret in the sense of they no longer have their ready-made sources of supply and accolades.  They will never miss the actual people they are attached to.  And they will also never publicly (or privately, for that matter) admit that they have any regrets about anything.

Narcissists will never feel remorse for how they treated you.  And they will never feel empathy for what you are going through.  In fact, they won’t even see what you are going through.  They will only see that they are no longer getting what they want from you.  And at that point, they may see that acting as though they regret what is going on may just get them back in the other person’s good graces and their supply will return.

It will always be about them.  It will never be about you.

I remember getting in a fight with my then-husband about something regarding our relationship.  It was toward the end of our 31-year marriage.  I was trying to argue that we would be better together if we ____.  I have no idea what the details were now.  But in the middle of my argument, I stopped midsentence because for the first time it dawned on me that we weren’t both fighting for us.  I was fighting for our marriage.  He was fighting for him totally exclusive of the marriage.  I felt both elation and devastation at the same time.  Elation that I finally figured out the missing element in our arguments.  And devastation that there really was never an us.

Another thing I remember from even before we were married was that he would always say he never felt regret.  I thought maybe because he had been dealt a pretty easy hand at life.  I could not have been more wrong.  He had been dealt the worst childhood and it ruined his ability to be a kind and loving adult.  And he would never be able to take off the mask he wore to hide that childhood.

Does it Bother a Narcissist When You Don’t Care?

When you decide that you have had enough and are moving on, the narcissist is not only bothered–they are enraged.  How dare you just walk away!  They aren’t done with you until they tell you they are.  And then they will do the discarding, not you!

So, while it certainly does bother the narcissist when you don’t care anymore and choose to leave, it doesn’t bother them in the sense that they want the relationship back or want to improve or repair the relationship in any way.  Instead, they are bothered that you aren’t still looking at them as your number one.  Often they will do outrageous things to try to get your attention and force you to care.  Unfortunately, they don’t always care if the attention you give them is good or bad.  They just need to know they can still make waves when you’re around.

This is why going grey rock is considered one of the best ways to keep a narcissist from manipulating you.  When a narcissist realizes they can no longer evoke a reaction out of you, they will move on to easier targets.  unfortunately, grey rocking is not considered the safest way to handle a narcissist.  That is because in many cases, when grey rocking a narcissist, they will become irate and irrational because they are not being taken as seriously as they expect you to.  For a more complete picture on the concept of grey rock, click on this link.

The best thing you can do if you think you are dealing with a narcissist is to get professional help.  Many counselors are well-versed in working through issues with narcissism.  If you feel that you may be dealing with a narcissist, you can take this test to get more information.

Will a Narcissist Try to Replace What They’ve Lost?

Once a narcissist realizes what they’ve lost, they will absolutely try to replace it.  Their sole need in life is to find narcissistic supply (unilateral praise and accolades from any and all people they associate with).  If they aren’t getting it from you, they can very easily move on to someone they can get it from more easily.

They generally don’t grow especially loyal to any one source of supply.  Of course, they would rather get that supply from someone they have been married to for 30 years than from someone that they haven’t yet learned how to manipulate.  But if it becomes too difficult or even impossible to obtain it from the marriage, they will very quickly move on to the next source of supply, even if that means marrying that person.  Interestingly, my ex married his next source of supply a mere 6 days after we received our divorce papers.  Unbelievably, he fooled his little church plant into supporting his bad choices.


So, at the end of the day, does a narcissist realize what they’ve lost?  Indeed they do, but they don’t see it the way empaths do.  They see it that they aren’t getting the praise and accolades that they so desperately need.  Initially, they will go to great lengths to get you to begin giving them what they need once again.  But if they can’t turn things around and get their supply from the people they are currently associating with, they can very easily go find a new group of people that will gladly and easily give them what they need.

They take great advantage of people who are kind, caring, and loving and will give freely to them expecting nothing in return.  Until they realize they are the only ones giving in the relationship.

If you are that person that has been feeding into the narcissist’s need to be seen as the greatest thing ever, and you finally realize they will never reciprocate their love or take your best interests to heart, there are ways for you to move on and heal.  Just know that while you are healing, they will be moving on to their next prey.  And realize that there was nothing more you could do to make them see you and love you.  You are so much better off once you decide you have had enough of the gaslighting and abuse!

What happened when the narcissist in your life realized you were no longer there to meet their every desire?  Did they try to hoover you?  Did they get angry and walk away?  Or maybe did they get angry and try to destroy you?  Feel free to share your experience below.  But if you don’t feel comfortable sharing publicly, feel free to contact me here.

Hugs and love,

If you found this article valuable, I think you will also find the following articles valuable:

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Will a Narcissist Hurt Their Child?

Can Narcissists be Good Parents?

Can Narcissists Love Their Children?

How Can You Tell if Someone is a Religious Narcissist?

Can Two Narcissists be in Relationship With Each Other?

Understanding the Tactics of a Religious Narcissistic Father 

Dealing With the Trauma of a Religious Narcissistic Mother

When Narcissism Becomes Pathological

Will God Punish a Narcissist?

What to do When Your Narcissist Threatens You

The Bible Used as a Weapon Against You:  You Can Overcome! 

What Does the Bible Say About Abusive Husbands?

The Link Between Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism

Why Narcissists Want to Apear Godly

What Healing From a Narcissist Looks Like

Why Narcissists Love Going to Church 

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Are Narcissists Evil?

Narcissistic Behavior:  What to Look Out For

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Religious Trauma Syndrome:  How to Preserve Your Spiritual Journey

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What Happens to the Soul of a Narcissist?

How to Heal From a Spiritual Narcissist

Can You Maintain a Relationship With a Spiritual Narcissist? 

Can Narcissists Have a Spiritual Awakening?

How Will God Judge a Narcissist?

When the Church Says to Move Back in With Your Narcissist

What Can we Say to a Christian Friend Who’s Divorcing?

Why Does God Hate Divorce? 

12 Ways the Church Helps Narcissists Abuse Their Victims

When Your Church Believes the Narcissist’s Lies

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What Does the Spiritual Narcissist do When You try to Leave?

When the Church Doesn’t Recognize Narcissistic Abuse

Will the Church Support Divorcing a Narcissist?

Are Narcissists Demon Possessed?

What Does the Bible say About Narcissism?

Can a Narcissist be a Christian?

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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