The Real Reasons Your Toxic Ex Keeps Crawling Back According to Research

Ioana Casapu

Ever wonder why the person who mistreated you seemed to pursue you relentlessly after the relationship was over? Why your emotionally unavailable ex-partners seemed to be the most “available” after you left them?

Although people stay friends with their exes for a variety of reasons, when a toxic ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend reaches out, there’s usually something deeper going on than just “missing” their former partners. One of the biggest fallacies people have is that if their ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend reached out, it because they truly love and miss them. They urgently want to believe in the illusion that a friendship with their ex-partner or some other dubious arrangement will fulfill their needs long-term. They may hope that this second opportunity provides a pathway for their ex to ultimately morph into the ideal partner.

While there people who be friends with their ex-partners( usually after they’ve taken the time to heal ), when it comes to a toxic relationship where a person has continually demeaned you, the fantasy of establishing an idyllic friendship after a break-up is far from the harsh reality. After all, when someone has been a toxic relationship partner, it’s doubtful that he or she lies in the fact that great of a friend.

Reality check: Toxic ex-partners may not miss you, but they sure do miss what you provided for them.

Researchers Mogilski and Welling( 2017) discovered that those who had darker personality traits( such as narcissism, deception and psychopathy) tended to stay friends with their exes out of convenience, sex and access to resources .

If you’re dealing with a toxic narcissistic ex, the decision to reach out is usually one drive for the need to regain control over their former partners. According to a narcissism expert 😛 TAGEND

” Narcissists loathe to fail or lose, so they will do what they can to maintain some connect if they didn’t stimulate the choice to aim it…They can experience narcissistic injury when was denied by a partner and face difficulties letting it run or healing from it … they may remain connected[ to exes in order to] have access to valuable resources. They also have inside information about their exes’ vulnerabilities and weaknesses that they can exploit and manipulate which devotes them a sense of power and control.” Dr.Tony Ferretti,

When a toxic and/ or abusive ex-partner reaches out or asks to stay friends, they’re most likely looking to ensnare you back into the unhealthy dynamic that made the relationship lethal in the first place. In the abuse survivor community, this type of behaviour is known as “hoovering.” Named after the Hoover vacuum, it aptly describes the way a malignant partner tries to “suck you back” into the traumatic vortex of the relationship long after its expiration date.

Why Do We Reconnect With Toxic Exes ?

Now that we know why toxic ex-partners reach out, why do let them back into our lives? It’s seducing to reestablish contact with an ex-partner because during breakups, our brains process the psychological pain of a breakup in a similar way that they register physical pain( Kross et. al, 2011 ).

Staying friends with our exes can be one of the coping mechanisms we use to immediately tackle the threat of emotional obliteration because we still get to “keep” our exes in our lives, albeit at a distance. We get to use a faux friendship with a toxic ex or a “friends with benefits” deal as a stopgap- a style to deter the inevitable outpour of heartache that would follow a total loss of that person.

Unhealthy relationships also cause stronger trauma bonds( intense bonds resulting from shared emotional experiences) and an unwavering biochemical attachment. Research has shown that rejection by a romantic partner affects brain activity that is associated with craving cravings, rewards and motivation; adversity-ridden relationships can also cause similar activity in the brain as cocaine( Fisher et. al, 2010; Earp et. al, 2017 ).

When we’re pulled “towards” a toxic partner once more, it’s because our bodies have grown accustomed to the highs and lows we receive from the relationship on a biochemical level through chemicals like oxytocin, dopamine, cortisol and serotonin( Carnell 2012; Fisher, 2016 ).

Toxic love, is quite literally, a drug addiction. Rehab requires that we cut the cord with our toxic ex-partners so we can detox from the relationship- regrettably, it’s rarely that simple .

Studies show that we tend to link the ending of a relationship with our self-image, which tends to hinder our recovery( Howe and Dweck, 2016 ). The objective of a relationship can bring about feelings of self-doubt with regards to our desirability. Reconnecting with an ex , no matter how toxic or abusive such person or persons might be, may offer temporary relief because we think it will somehow offer reassurance of our self-worth.

Not to mention that we consider the reunion in itself as an indication that our ex-partner can “redeem” himself or herself. We “hope” for a better relationship the second period around on the crazymaking carousel, and this false hope maintains us entrenched in this chaotic dynamic despite the fact that we’re likely much better off without them.

Reasons Why Narcissistic Exes Reach Out

If you’re dealing with a toxic ex-partner who also happens to be a malignant narcissist, watch out. Our reasons for permitting narcissistic ex-partners back into our lives can be even deeper and darker- they go beyond everyday dysfunction and have to do with the effects of abuse. Toxic exes who are also narcissistic tend to hoover for the following reasons 😛 TAGEND

For mind-blowing sex that will cause you to stay attached .

Remember, the biochemical bond we develop with toxic partners is inexplicably addictive. Sex only strengthens that bond by releasing oxytocin and maintaining the reward circuits in our brain tied to our ex-partner, creating a dopamine high like no other. A malignant narcissist knows this and will use sex to prevent you from “detoxing” properly from the relationship.

To induce you a backup source of supply .

Your toxic ex may have apparently moved onto a new source of supply( in other words, someone to stroke their ego, financially support them and tolerate their toxicity ), but that doesn’t entail he or she is does so with you just yet. You’re still valuable in the sense that you could be a good fallback person for whenever their new boyfriend or girlfriend “falls short” of their arbitrary standards and moving goal posts. If you do submit to their requests to remain friends, rest assured that they will exploit your compassion and feed off of your emotional labor whenever they need a breach from their new target.

To use their friendship with you as a sign of their normalcy.

The ability to stay friends with a toxic ex-partner may tempt you into believing that you’re both mature people capable of evolving, but the truth is that merely of you is truly capable of evolving and it’s not the narcissist. A malignant narcissist will use their friendship with you as a route to say to the world, “See how great I am? He/ she still wants to be my friend. There was never any dysfunction in the relationship after all! ” This allows your toxic ex to treat your breakup as a symptom of mere incompatibility rather than abuse.

To control you and prevent you from keep moving .

Many narcissists stalk and harass their ex-partners after the ending of an abusive relationship. This allows them to maintain control over your life and ensures that you do not move forward- whether that be moving forward in your own healing or onto a healthier relationship with a new partner.

After all, if you’re too busy agonizing over their mixed messages and ambivalent behaviour, you’re far too preoccupied to rebuild your life, seek healthier self-care or meet new potential mates .

To make love triangles and add you to their harem .

If you’ve ever been with a true malignant narcissist, you’ve also satisfied their “harem”- their shady social circle which often includes exes that never seem to fade-out from the picture, flirtatious “buddies” they call “just friends, ” and new people they groom to eventually serve as your replacing. Malignant narcissistic exes flourish off of the attention of having multiple lovers at their beck and call. Even after the break-up, they will attempt to add you to their harem so they can triangulate you with their various exes, current partners and potential targets.

To access your resources .

If you’re in any way wealthy, have a great social network, have a good reputation and a track record of success, the malignant narcissist will want to let you go. Access to you, after all, equals access to your resources. When you let a space in order to be allowed to re-enter your life, you make it convenient for them to drop by, sleep over at your beautiful apartment, ask for a loan, hang out with your friends, make use of your talents and ideas and is beneficial for being associated with you. They relish the fact that they have you on call for whenever they need something- whether it be your body or your bank account.

When assessing whether to be friends with a toxic ex or give them a second chance, remember that true friends do not maliciously harm, exploit or use you. Do not remain friends with someone who has tried to destroy you in the past; they most likely are planning to do more of the same in the current.

References
Carnell, S.( 2012, May 14 ). Bad Boys, Bad Brains .~ ATAGEND Psychology Today. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
Kross, E ., Berman, M. G ., Mischel, W ., Smith, E. E .,& Wager, T. D.( 2011 ). Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical ache.( 15 ), 6270 -6 275. doi: 10.1073/ pnas. 11026931 08
Earp, B. D ., Wudarczyk, O. A ., Foddy, B .,& Savulescu, J.( 2017 ). Addicted to Love: What Is Love Addiction and When Should It Be Treated?( 1 ), 77 -9 2. doi: 10.1353/ ppp. 2017.0011
Fisher, H. E ., Brown, L. L ., Aron, A ., Strong, G .,& Mashek, D.( 2010 ). Reward, Addiction, and Emotion Regulation Systems Associated With Rejection in Love.( 1 ), 51 -6 0. doi: 10.1152/ jn. 00784.2009
Fisher, H.( 2016, February 04 ). Love Is Like Cocaine- Issue 33: Attraction .~ ATAGEND Retrieved November 16, 2017.
Howe, L. C .,& Dweck, C. S.( 2015 ). Changes in Self-Definition Impede Recovery From Rejection.( 1 ), 54 -7 1. doi: 10.1177/ 01461672156 12743
Mogilski, J. K .,& Welling, L. L.( 2017 ). Biding friends with an ex: Sex and dark personality traits predict motives for post-relationship friendship., 114 -1 19. doi: 10.1016/ j.paid. 2016.04.016
Sarkis, S.( 2015, December 28 ). 8 More Signs You’re With a Narcissist. Psychology Today. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
Tourjee, D.( 2016, May 10 ). Narcissists and Psychopaths Love to Remain Friends with Their Exes. VICE. Retrieved November 18, 2017.

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