She’s calling again, and you’re at your wits’ end.
How do you get your husband’s narcissistic ex-wife to leave the two of you alone?
Exes are tricky, ex-spouses trickier, and narcissistic ex-spouses even more so. It’s a frustrating situation to be in, and what’s worse, now she wants your man back.
In this article, we’ll help you understand why your husband’s narcissistic ex-wife wants him back and what you can do about it.
What’s a narcissist?
Have you ever met someone who seemed self-absorbed and didn’t care for other people?
Those are two of several traits of highly narcissistic people. Psychology Today lists the following characteristics as those that narcissists often have:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance
- A lack of empathy for others
- A need for excessive admiration
- The belief that one is unique and deserving of special treatment
Narcissists in relationships
In relationships, narcissists tend to favor people who are easy to control. This empowers them and allows them to demand the admiration they believe that they deserve.
They’re not very empathetic as well and tend to emotionally neglect their partners as well as give only to get something in return. They can even be gaslighters, manipulating their partners into believing the narrative of the narcissist to suit their own interests.
They tend to treat their partners as their own narcissist-supply, expecting to be showered with admiration and constantly be the star of the show.
Why narcissists end relationships
If they’ve got a good thing going with their current partner, having them under their thumb the whole time, why would they end relationships?
If it’s the partner who ended things, there could be a few (or a hundred) reasons for them to call it quits.
On the other hand, if it’s the narcissist’s decision, it’s possible that they simply got bored. They may have found a new narcissist source that they’re more interested in and since they don’t feel empathy for their partner, can easily discard that relationship in favor of a new one.
The question now is: if she’s a narcissist who doesn’t care about him, why does your husband’s narcissistic ex-wife want him back?
Why she wants him back
1) She doesn’t want to lose
Not to be confused with “she doesn’t want to lose him” — she really just doesn’t want to lose, period.
One reason why your husband’s narcissistic ex-wife wants him back is that narcissists hate to lose. To her, she’s not participating in a competition; she’s the prize and everyone else is competing for her attention.
Things can go downhill for her when the illusion shatters and she’s left thinking that she lost because she lost her husband.
Contrary to what you might think, narcissists have a fragile ego. They hate to be humiliated and to lose face, so their self-esteem can be easily threatened when there’s a chance that they’ll look bad.
This is why narcissists are sore losers and she’s no exception; her ego took a devastating blow when the person who was supposed to admire her the most (her husband) suddenly wasn’t available to her anymore.
More than just losing, it’s a loss of control over someone she was used to manipulating. She believes that if she gets her husband back, the sense of control will follow, so she’ll do everything she can to make it happen.
2) She wants her codependent back
If narcissists take and take, codependents give and give — making for a toxic tango.
It’s common for these two types of people to be attracted to each other because they want what the other person can give; the narcissist wants attention and the codependent wants someone to pour their attention onto. It’s a match made in unhealthy-relationship-heaven.
If this was their dynamic during their marriage, she may be wanting her codependent back for him to shower her with praise and inflate her ego again.
You might be wondering what the codependent get in a relationship like this. The thing with narcissists is that they’re deceptively charming…at first.
Marriage and family therapist Darlene Lancer says that this is why codependents are attracted to narcissists; they fall for the narcissist during the early stages of the relationship because of the love that the narcissist shows them.
This can be why she wants your husband back. She knows she had a good thing going when they were together because it suited her at the time and she might be feeling the loss now.
3) She’s a trophy hunter
Imagine a hunter going after their prey. Do they give up just because the prey strayed a few feet away?
If your husband’s narcissistic ex-wife wants him back, it could be because she’s a trophy hunter or someone who loves a challenge for the sake of being challenged and knowing they can win (not necessarily for the sake of the prize because to them, the prize is winning).
Does she get more persistent every time he tells her to leave him alone? Does she seem to never feel dejected about being rejected?
Your husband is the prize and she just wants to win.
Something important to remember here is that this doesn’t always mean that she actually cares for him. Remember, everything is all about her in her head. Winning your husband back would only be to prove a point, proving that she can get him back and that he was wrong to ever leave her.
4) She wants to be with someone predictable
Master manipulators don’t care who they hurt; they just care that they get their way.
That being said, she might not want to go through the hassle of finding a whole new person to start over with. That can only mean that she wants your husband back because it’s convenient and she’d rather be with someone predictable.
She was married to him, so she knows him by now. She knows what works and what doesn’t with him, and at this point, it might be easy for her to manipulate him. He validated her narcissism and she misses it.
She wants easy and your husband is easy.
5) She wants to hurt him
Not all narcissists are sadists, but your husband’s ex-wife might be, which could be why she’s chasing after him — to hurt him again.
Sadists get gratification from hurting others; they get off on it like a high. If she’s suddenly lost her steady narcissistic supply, she’ll naturally want it back at all cost.
Again, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she wants to hurt him because of some logical reason from their past (like any anger from the separation). If she’s a sadist, she’ll want to hurt him for the sake of hurting him.
This is particularly the type of narcissist to watch out for because they’re no ordinary narcissists. Pairing them with sadistic tendencies, they’re physically or emotionally dangerous to those around them.
These are the whys of your husband’s narcissistic ex-wife wanting him back. Let’s take a look at the hows.
Signs your husband’s narcissistic ex-wife wants him back
1) She’s contacting him out of the blue
Is your husband’s phone constantly pinging with notifications from her? Whether it’s actual text messages, Instagram likes, desperate phone calls, or long and dramatic emails, she could be trying to reach out to him again.
She wants to get his attention back, so she might go the predictable route of directly contacting him.
Sentimentality is also a tool she’s using if she contacts him on important dates, like anniversaries or birthdays.
She’s trying to show him that she still cares for him and still remembers these dates when really she’s just pulling on his heartstrings to get him to pay attention to her again.
The no contact rule? Unfamiliar to her.
The more your husband tries to ignore her, the more persistent she’ll become because the loss of control seems more permanent the longer it goes.
2) She’s pretending their relationship isn’t over
A particularly creepy way that she’s showing how she wants him back is pretending that their relationship isn’t over.
She might still be texting him with pet names they’ve used or has been telling their friends that they’re still in love — she might even seem almost delusional.
This could be a ploy to suck your husband back into their old patterns; if she acts like nothing happened and stays the way she was when they were married, she hopes he might fall back into their usual toxic dance and right into her not-so-loving arms.
3) She’s suddenly saying all the right things
It’s not like narcissists are clueless about their partner’s needs during the relationship. They probably know what they are but simply chose to ignore them if it didn’t suit the narcissist at the time.
Chances are she knows what your husband needed and she could use this info to try and win him back; she’ll know what his weak points are and it’s a sure thing that she’ll use everything at her disposal.
Everything he wishes he’d heard from her can be used against him because she could choose now to be the best time to employ these weapons in her arsenal.
4) She’s trying to make him jealous
Is she subtly letting your husband know that she’s dating now?
Did she “accidentally” send him a message meant for her new partner?
Making him jealous is a classic rebound play, but in the case of narcissists, it’s especially dangerous when paired up with triangulation.
Triangulation happens when someone pits two people against each other by aggravating the two people to the point where conflict springs up and the narcissist feels in control of the situation. It’s a common manipulation maneuver because narcissists like to have people fighting for attention and they can make that happen if they calculate their moves right with the two people.
She might not even care that you’re in the picture; if she wants to make him jealous, she’s going to try to make him jealous.
Narcissists don’t see things going any other way but their own.
5) She’s love bombing him
Speaking of manipulation maneuvers, a common tactic that narcissists use is love bombing.
This happens when they overwhelm their target with charm and affection to hook them in and then eventually, drop the illusion and go straight to their objective, which is manipulation.
If she’s sending him gifts, showering him with praise, and saying all the right things, it’s in the hopes that it’ll make him think that she cares about him. As always with narcissists, most of the time that isn’t the case and she’s thinking only of her benefit.
Narcissists are known for being charming and affectionate — in the beginning. This is why love bombing works for them.
They’ll be their best self at the start and once they have their prey, capture it for their trophy case before it even realizes what happened since everything was done quickly and all at once.
6) She fakes needing help
It’s hard to help a narcissist because they generally don’t believe that they need help.
Studies have found that they’re aware that they’re narcissists, but it doesn’t automatically follow that they think they should change that about themselves. They don’t care; they just want to achieve their goals.
That being said, if she asks your husband for help saying that she’s willing to change this time, be wary of her.
While it’s possible that she does want help, it’s not likely that she woke up one morning and just decided that something’s wrong with her.
Narcissists don’t believe anything is wrong with them. If she reaches out to your husband with this in mind, consider getting her help anyway, but pay attention to how she’ll act with your husband.
Is she playing the damsel in distress to get his attention and concern again?
This is especially likely to happen if your husband is an empath and she knows that. She’ll know that he can’t say no to her if she pretends to need help, so she’ll use that against him to regain control over him.
7) She’s pretending that your husband is trying to get her back
If your husband’s narcissistic ex-wife wants him back, it’s only natural for her to want you out of the picture.
It doesn’t matter to her that he’s your husband now. All that matters to her is that he has an unwanted add-on called his new wife, so she’ll do her best to drive a wedge between you two.
One way she could do this is if she pretends that your husband is trying to get her back and not the other way around. She could send you “accidental” texts saying things like “leave me alone” or “it’ll never work out between us”.
Again, triangulation. She’s hoping to manipulate you and your husband into thinking that something’s wrong with your relationship (that is, apart from the problem that is her).
That being said, the situation could cause problems for you and your husband. Being in this situation can be frustrating, so here are some things the two of you can do to cope.
What your husband can do
1) See if she’s willing to get help
The most helpful (and least likely) solution to this problem would be to get her professional help.
Like we’ve already gone over, this could prove to be a big hurdle for you if you’re willing to try — how do you persuade someone who’s a superhero in their head that they’re not a superhero and they need to give up their powers?
If she says that she’s willing to get help, don’t ease up on watching her movements. Every little act could be a tactic to get your husband back and now’s the time to keep her from making her next move.
If she’s not willing to get help, talk to your husband about moving on and leaving her in the past. If this is what you decide to do, go on to the next step.
2) Cut off contact
It isn’t going to be easy to cut off a persistent narcissist but at some point it becomes necessary. It’s the healthiest thing to do for your long-term future.
Going no contact with a narcissist doesn’t give her the satisfaction of attention and the goal is for her to realize that she won’t get any of it out of the two of you anymore so that she’ll decide to move on to easier prey.
- Block her on all social media accounts and phone numbers.
- Avoid any places you’re likely to bump into her.
- Shut down the conversation ASAP if you do have to see her again.
- If there are any shared assets, get a professional to sort them out for you.
3) Make sure he doesn’t lose his sense of purpose
Having a narcissistic ex-wife wanting him back can be distracting if she constantly fights for his attention but he can’t let it derail his life.
He has to work on his future with you and focus on what’s important to him if he ever hopes to move on from his ex-wife.
What you can do
1) Don’t give in
She’s out to push your buttons and the best thing you can do for you and your husband is to swat her hands away from the controls.
It can be tempting to engage with her, especially if you reach a point when it’s taking everything out of you to be the bigger person but it’s the necessary route if you hope to deprive her of the attention she’s seeking from you.
Don’t take the bait and stay controlled and grounded with your husband.
2) Get on the same page with your husband
This can be a frustrating and exhausting situation for you, so don’t allow your feelings to be neglected.
Get reassurance from him that he won’t leave you and reassure him that you won’t leave him. It’s the two of you against her and it’s important that you show a united front during any times that you do have to interact with her.
More importantly, it’s good for your relationship if you’re both secure in the fact that she isn’t sabotaging your relationship like she wishes she could.
3) Understand if he can’t sever ties completely
If he still tries to get her help, understand that no matter how much of a narcissist she is, she’s still his ex-wife. He was married to her at one point and must have deeply cared for her. That kind of tie can’t be severed just because he wants it to be.
At the same time, maintain the boundary and make sure that he doesn’t still love her.
There’s a difference between wanting the best for someone and wanting them back and you need to make sure that your husband is firmly on your side of that line.
4) Be patient with him
Knowing your husband was married to a narcissist, he may have endured some hurt and carried it over to his life now because of his ex-wife. People who have been deeply hurt may not be comfortable opening up to people, so don’t take it too personally if he has trouble communicating with you sometimes.
This is especially true if you’re feeling frustrated that he isn’t doing enough to deal with the situation. It’s possible that for you, the solutions to your ex-wife-shaped problem are obvious, but to him, it may not be the case because of his connection to her.
Just be patient and remember that you’re meant to stick with him, for better or worse. This means allowing him room to deal with this at a pace that’s okay for both him and you.
5) Remind him of your (and his) priorities
This is his wife we’re talking about; he’s too close to the situation and might lose sight of what’s important to the two of you.
Even though you need to be patient with him, also make sure that he doesn’t neglect the rest of his life because of the distraction that is his ex-wife. He has his career, his hobbies, and you.
Be proactive about moving on with your life together despite her presence (and hopefully, in her absence).
Hope isn’t lost if your husband’s narcissistic ex-wife wants him back; just because she wants him doesn’t mean she’s getting him.
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