By Chris Seiter

Published on July 8th, 2023

Today I’d like to really dive deep and take a look at if narcissists are likely to contact their exes.

Never mind the fact that I’ve actually answered this exact question in this article and this article.

I figured, why not REALLY hammer it home in an entire article dedicated to it.

What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment.

A narcissist is very likely to stay in touch with their ex because they will place that person on a type of “supply rolodex.” When their supply of validation runs out is when you’re most likely to hear from them.

But truthfully, the whole topic is a lot more nuanced than you’d believe.

So here’s what I’d like to talk about to:

  • Understanding how the narcissistic abuse cycle plays into this
  • Looking at the snapshot principle
  • Looking at how the supply rolodex fits together like a Russian nesting doll
  • How to get a narcissist to discard you forever

Let us begin!

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Understanding How The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle Plays Into This

You know where I’m going with this, right?

Let’s quickly break down the narcissistic abuse cycle.

It contains four main stages:

The idealization stage:

Akin to the honeymoon period. The narcissist places you on a pedestal, creating an intoxicating, consuming, and exciting atmosphere.

The devaluation stage

Here, the narcissist starts to lose interest in you. You are no longer their top priority. Essentially, you’ve been dethroned, often supplanted by others. This is also the phase where they start revealing glimpses of their true character.

The discard stage

This is the point at which they sever all connections with you. As they no longer find you useful, they simply cast you aside.

The Hoover stage:

Named after the vacuum cleaner.

Funny story:

When I first started learning about the narcissistic abuse cycle, I amusingly thought people creating graphics about the cycle had misspelled ‘Hoover’ as ‘Hover’.

But no, the stage is indeed named after the vacuum because the narcissist tries to ‘suck’ you back into their orbit.

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You may start seeing glimpses of the person who initially attracted you. At this stage, the narcissist is essentially looking to restart the entire abuse cycle, leading you through the stages of idealization, devaluation, discard, and Hoover, on a potentially endless loop.

Oh, one more rather important thing.

This is the stage at which a narcissistic ex is likely to reach out and contact you.

How Long The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle Typically Lasts

One aspect that can prove confusing, and which isn’t often discussed, is how this cycle can span a short-term or long-term duration.

Sometimes it happens over just three, four, or five months, creating an on-again, off-again relationship dynamic.

Yet, my team and I have often seen instances where it can last up to 10 years.

A narcissist could literally discard you and then, after a decade, reappear, behaving as though nothing ever occurred.

What’s particularly crazy though is what prompts a narcissist to reach out to an ex.

The Narcissistic Snapshot

During the idealize stage, the narcissist essentially takes a ‘snapshot’ of you—capturing your appearance, personality, and behavior—and starts idealizing that.

But as relationships progress, change is inevitable.

And when you begin to evolve and this change occurs, they don’t appreciate it. In fact, it’s the shift in that snapshot that typically kick-starts the below cycle.

As the idealize stage begins to fade and transition into “devalue”, they start realizing that you’re not the same as the “snapshot they took at the beginning of this stage.”

This then ultimately leads them to begin to devalue and discard you.

Understanding The Narcissistic Supply Rolodex Nesting Doll Concept

You’ve heard of these, right?

These are Russian nesting dolls.

They also happen to be essential to understanding how narcissistic supply plays into having them reach out to you.

What is supply?

Well, supply essentially refers to validation. It’s what a narcissist craves—it’s their lifeblood.

Here’s a handy dandy graphic depicting it:

Supply can take on many forms.

  • Sometimes it’s the fulfillment of emotional needs
  • At other times it’s catering to their physical needs.
  • It could be a gym partner
  • Awork colleague who helps resolve problems.

Narcissists don’t see people as individuals; they view them as sources of supply.

I once used a metaphor based on a character from one of my favorite TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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This character, being a vampire, referred to people as “happy meals with legs,” because he saw them as sources of supply, similar to how a narcissist would.

This really starts my metaphor of the ‘nesting doll.’

It starts with an understanding of supply, and once you have that, you can grasp the concept of the supply Rolodex.

Supply Rolodex (A smaller nesting doll)

So, you have the larger nesting doll, (Supply) and within that nesting doll lies the concept of the supply Rolodex.

Rolodex, in case you didn’t know, refers to this,

Before the advent of smart phones this was literally how you remembered someone’s number. You’d put it in there and have it alphabetized.

The supply Rolodex essentially represents a list of people that narcissists have identified as particular sources of supply, ones they will keep returning to time and again.

So, if they need a workout partner, they have a designated person for that.

If they face an issue at work, they have someone specific they call.

If they have sexual needs, there’s a person they reach out to.

And if they have emotional needs, they have a contact for that as well.

This is how the supply Rolodex functions. They have this roster of individuals whom they can call upon whenever a need for supply or validation arises in their life.

They simply refer to this Rolodex, find the appropriate person, and so on. But within the supply Rolodex, there exists an even more exclusive Rolodex.

The “Ex” Supply Rolodex (An even smaller nesting doll)

Narcissists also maintain a supply Rolodex solely dedicated to exes, indicating they have a myriad of exes they continuously cycle through.

Many times, we view the narcissistic abuse cycle as a process they put a single person through.

But often, you’ll find that they share this exact relationship with every person in the Rolodex.

Literally imagine this cycle,

But it’s happening HUNDREDS OF TIMES with hundreds of different individuals.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Your Ex Boyfriend Back?

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And given that narcissists excel at making you feel fantastic initially, saying all the right things at the outset, they know how to draw you back in.

(See hoover and idealize stages above)

So, in my opinion, this is actually one of the main reasons why narcissists contact their exes. You are part of the supply Rolodex of exes. You’re on the list of exes that the narcissist will incessantly cycle through.

The hardest truth for people to accept is that narcissists will indeed contact you, but you usually won’t be the only person they’re reaching out to solve whatever problem they face.

They have multiple people, sometimes all contacted simultaneously.

And the first person who responds might be the one who resolves their issue. This is one of the primary reasons why we don’t recommend reuniting with narcissistic exes.

It’s best to avoid them altogether.

Which leads us pretty seamlessly to the last question I’d like to dive into today.

How Do You Get A Narcissist To Discard You Forever

Clearly, not everyone is in the supply Rolodex of exes.

So, how do you erase your name from that list?

The most effective strategy is to eliminate them from your life completely (obviously.)

This involves reversing the narcissistic abuse cycle, but excluding the idealization stage.

In essence, you need to discard them and then devalue them. This blow to their ego will be so substantial, and they will be so offended by it, that they will actually remove you from their supply Rolodex.

This concept is challenging for many people to comprehend, primarily because many individuals whom narcissists attract are codependent.

These individuals are always ready to provide supply. In fact, codependents seek validation by improving the lives of others; they exist for others rather than for themselves. These are the people whom a narcissist will victimize.

Moreover, someone who is codependent will rarely, if ever, stand up for themselves. Therefore, setting a firm boundary can be enough to get you ejected from the Rolodex. Then, of course, they will simply continue to search for more people to fill that void.

So, yes, if your ex is a narcissist, they are very likely to contact you when their supply is depleted. The question you need to answer is, how do you get rid of them?

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