4 Reasons Why Narcissists Often "Recycle" Their Partners

January 23, 2018

 

Why do recyclers move on?

 

If recyclers value predictability and monogamy, you may wonder why they move on at all. The answer is that they suffer from the same issues as other people with narcissistic personality adaptations (I prefer the word “adaptation” to “disorder”):

 

1. Narcissists lack “object constancy.”

 

“Object constancy” is a psychological term for the ability to maintain your positive feelings for a person, including yourself, while you are feeling frustrated, hurt, angry, or disappointed by that person. It also includes the ability to maintain your emotional connection to a person when they are not physically present. A lack of object constancy is considered to be one of the hallmarks of a personality disorder.

 

Because recyclers lack object constancy, when they become narcissistically wounded by their current lover, they lose all their positive feelings towards the person. Rather than staying and trying to work out the issue, they simply leave and move on to one of the other lovers in their group. And as each lover, in turn, disappoints or angers them, they move on again and again.

 

2. People are interchangeable.

 

Narcissists often see people, even those whom they profess to love, as interchangeable. As one beautiful narcissistic woman once told me, “If he doesn’t give me what I want, I can always find another who will.”

 

Another man told me very frankly that “people are like hamburgers or tissues to me. I need them for what they can do for me. Most of what people call 'love,' I see as convenience.”

 

3. They are low on empathy.

 

The reason recyclers can move on so easily is that they are not concerned about the feelings of the other people involved. They do not imagine anyone’s pain but their own. If they give the issue a thought, they simply tell themselves one of the following, "If they cared about me staying, they wouldn’t do (fill in the blank)," or "They deserved it." And if the partner made an emotional display after the recycler announced he or she was moving on, they might tell themselves, "What was all that fuss about?"

 

​​4. If their status rises, they may decide to “upgrade” partners.

 

Since people are interchangeable to narcissists, and they are low on empathy, some choose a new group of lovers when their status changes for the better. They want someone on their arm who reflects their new, higher status. Think of rock stars who seem to marry ever younger versions of the same blond woman.

Please reload

© 2017-2020 by Natalie D'Annibale, PsyD, LMFT