The short answer: it’s because they’re done with themselves.
Persons with NPD and Cluster-B disorders are often sado-masochistic. They want to punish and emotionally destroy those closest to them because they feel they were somehow wronged by that person. Their injury was “triggered”. The closer you are to them, the more likely a bigger punishment will be doled out. The more you “chase” them trying to salvage the relationship, the worse the risk of punishment. So today’s namecalling becomes the next four days of ignoring, followed by the next 3 weeks of blocking. But they may send a random text when “they’re” ready. All games; all based on power and control, because they’re afraid to lose control.
Their ultimate goal is to hurt themselves because at the root of their existence is often emptiness and shame. They do things to hurt their target (through verbal abuse, devaluation, cheating, ignoring, blocking, discard, etc.) to get back at that person for the perceived injustice received from them. They often feel ashamed for hurting others, which reinforces their feelings of shame and self-sabotage. It’s a merry-go-round.
So what’s the biggest way to reinforce everything they loathe about themselves? By upping the ante in hurting you. So, they may call you hurtful names. And if you stay, tomorrow you’re likely to be called more hurtful names. And in a few days, they may start making fun of your body, your smile, your intelligence, or otherwise invalidating the parts of you they once claimed to love. And if you stay, they’ll start worse devaluation while possibly gaslighting you that it’s all in your head. They may start threatening you along with more devaluation. I had someone In my past tell me all they needed from me was to “be there” for them. I was. And stayed longer than I should have. It’s part of their game.
When you finally leave, they’ll likely begin a smear campaign about how you “left them” in order to perpetuate their “victim” status while villainizing you. If you stay, the abuse escalates; now they’re trolling for your replacement while “punishing” you and not seeing you. They may miss holidays or your birthday to “punish” you. Everything is an opportunity to hurt you deeper, and deeper. They can’t get off the merry-go-round, and staying on it with them is only making you sick.
At the center is self-preservation; but also self-destruction. It becomes a constant battle between hurting others to save themselves, or becoming masochistic and sabotaging themselves. The person they love the most poses the greatest risk of loss/abandonment, so that triggers their “run” survival skill, where the devaluation starts – and continues – with increasing intensity. Their moves are calculated. The more co-dependent the target, the bigger the chance of them staying in the relationship through this choreographed devaluation.
So, the questions become:
“How much betrayal are you going to allow yourself before leaving?”
“When will you be completely done with them?’
You need to call the shots for yourself and to take back your life. Narcissists will continue their abuse in larger doses each time until you finally walk away. Then, they’ll likely feel sorry for themselves that “you left them” while villainizing you to others. They will likely play a victim to their replacement rebound they trolled for (or cheated on you with) during the devaluation phase. As long as you’re willing to play, they’ll continue devaluation and upping the ante each time until you decide you’ve had enough. Whether or not they’re done with you shouldn’t be your concern. They’ll keep playing as long as you engage.
They are always betraying you.
I think most people, when they start a relationship, think that the other person is there with them because they like them and want to spend time with them. This is not the case with a narcissist. They are never ‘in’ a relationship like the partner is. They are not with you because they love or like you. They are with you, because you have something they want or because they think associating with you will get them things or people or access. At the very least, you are more entertaining than their awful depressing thoughts, you are a distraction.
They are with you, but have their eye on the door, always.
They do this consciously and unconscionably. Some are more self-aware, some less. They are not down for simple human companionship, that is not what they are interested in.
I think there are some Narcissists who may ‘feel like’ they are ‘in love’ at the beginning of the relationship, but they just feel good and are excited about being in a new relationship, that’s all. It does not come with the consideration, kindness or reciprocity that we should expect from adult, loving, relationships.
Defects in self-awareness and self-esteem cause them to not be able to critically examine their behaviors. They may be able to say ‘Yes, I did a bad thing’, but they have a ‘good reason’ for that.
They are constantly fooling themselves to assuage their damaged selves. They are unable to be honest with themselves or anyone else about their behaviors and refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
As the relationship goes along, small infractions and betrayals lead to bigger ones. When you stay with them despite the problems you are not holding them accountable. You ‘take them back’. They raise the stakes. you take them back again.
They do not know if there is ‘a way that you would never take them back’.
That is up to you.