Narcissistic Behavior 4: Blowing Hot and Cold

Another common pattern of behavior among narcissists is their tendency to blow hot and cold. One day, they shower you with their attention and passionate affirmations of their affection and care, only to later on completely withdraw their attention for several days in a row. This strategy allows them to kill two birds with one stone: They make you hold on to them, while at the same time they manage to keep their distance. Being treated so inconsistently is extremely nerve-racking, frustrating and exhausting for those people involved with the narcissist. It creates a strong feeling of insecurity, as we never really know why we are treated that way and where the relationship is headed. When treated affectionately we dare to hope, only to have those hopes crushed later on when they start to withhold their attention again. It is a seemingly endless rollercoaster ride with no opportunity to get off.

Another reason why this strategy of blowing hot and cold is so damaging for those involved is that it makes us hold on to toxic relationships for far too long. Instead of realizing that we will never get what we want from the narcissist we are dating, we cling to their occasional signs of affection. Our need and wish to be loved and respected leads us to blind out all the clear signs for their cold indifference and we focus on the sparse signs of their supposed affection instead. Whenever we finally muster the determination to opt out, they manage to keep us hooked through their fake affirmations of how wonderful we are and of how much they care about us.

The narcissist I dated was a master at blowing hot and cold, and he turned me into an emotional wreck through his inconsistency and ambiguity. During our entire relationship, I was always in doubt, I never knew were the relatioship was headed, and I always questioned the sincerity of his feelings towards me (and rightly so, as it later turned out). On some days, I was convinced that he really cared about me, that he respected me an genuinely enjoyed being around me. On other days, his cold indifference led me to assume that he was probably not that interested in me, and that I was just a nice distraction, a way to pass some time.

His ambiguous way of treating me already started right at the beginning of our interaction. Just as so many other narcissists, he used a strategy called “love bombing”, which means that he made a huge effort to get my attention and affection. On our first date, he was funny, smart, entertaining, affectionate and I felt like I had just won the lottery. Things moved ahead quite fast and so we already kissed on our first date (he initiated it, of course…). On my way back home, I was convinced that he was genuinely interested in me, and that this was the beginning of something wonderful and exciting. However, my dreams were already shattered the next day: He completely ignored me at work, and didn’t even say goodbye before he left. It was a slap in the face and the first indicator of all the pain and disappointments that were still awaiting me.

His inconsistency would turn into a fixed part of our relationship: He would tell me to come with him to visit his sister, and then never mention the idea again. He would assure me he intended to move out of his exgirlfriend’s apartment, only to say a few days later that he had no intention to do so. He would express the wish to call me on skype, and then I just wouldn’t hear from him (he didn’t even take the time to tell me he changed his plans). Sometimes I didn’t hear from him in days, and then he sent several texts all at once. On some days, he sent me the loveliest emails, full of signs of affection. On other days I got cold and indifferent sounding emails consisting of no more than two sentences.

His inconsistency became particularly evident on two different occasions: One time, I was already sitting on the train to meet him, when I got a message in which he told me that he was all of a sudden not feeling well and had to cancel our date. He didn’t even apologize for the fact that I just wasted hours on a train for nothing. He ended his message by telling me how smart and pretty he thought I was. It was a typical example of blowing hot and cold: He blew me off in the last minute, and at the same time used sweet-talk to keep me from getting frustrated and mad. It worked: Sure I was extremely frustrated because I had just wasted two hours on a train without getting to see him, and because he waited until the last minute to cancel on me. At the same time, I was soothed by his nice words. This is why their strategy of blowing hot and cold is so harmful: They trample all over us, disrespect us and play us like puppets on a string, and we allow them to do so due to their occasional assurances of how perfect we are, and of how much we mean to them.

The other prime example for his inconsistency occurred towards the end of our relationship. Before I went on a weekend trip to Hamburg with a friend, he sent me a long email, telling me he wanted to make things work in Germany and he wanted our relationship to finally be fun, easy-going and relaxed, instead of dramatic and inconsistent. Once I got home again, I didn’t hear from him in days. When I finally got an answer, he told me bluntly, that he would leave Germany in only a few weeks, that he had already booked his flight, and that he would until then be very busy preparing everything for his departure. I was completely paralysed: Only a few days ago he fueled my hopes by talking so positively about the future. All of a sudden he presented me with a fait accompli, telling me he would leave without giving any reasons for his sudden change of mind. It was the perfect example for his indifference towards my feelings. He just did whatever he wanted to do without a care for other people’s feelings or opinions, and he didn’t even show enough respect to be honest and straightforward, or to give an explanation for his sudden decisions. He completely changed his mind within only a few days, and I just had to deal with it: He sure as hell didn’t care about the fact that he had ripped my heart apart. The only thing he ever cared about was himself and that is also why he was able to toy with other people’s feelings without feeling remorse or shame.

The narcissist’s tendency to blow hot and cold is a very powerful tool of manipulation: It allows them to keep their distance, without having to fear that we might lose interest in them. We nearly go insane trying to make sense of their inconsistency and having to live with the insecurity of not knowing where the relationship is headed. Their fake signs of affection fuel our hopes and keep us from leaving them and saving ourselves. It only prolongs the inevitable and causes us to stay in toxic relationships for far longer than is healthy for us. In the end, the inevitable will happen nevertheless: They will suck the life out of us through their ambiguity and leave us heartbroken. They only care about themselves and are indifferent about our feelings. They will hold on to us for as long as it is convenient for them, and for as long as we are still a nice source of distraction. When they no longer have the need for us, they will just blow us off without feeling any regret or remorse. The fact that they just ripped our hearts apart and left us depressed, frustrated and emotionally exhausted is of no interest to them. Their cold indifference will add a lot to our pain and make our journey to recovery very difficult and long. More often than not narcissists will completely break our spirits and the longer we hold on to them, the more painful it will turn out to be in the end. The inevitable will happen despite all our efforts to make things work. The reasonable strategy is to always be skeptical about their sweet-talk and try to opt out as soon as possible!

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34 thoughts on “Narcissistic Behavior 4: Blowing Hot and Cold

  1. Another good one that sheds more light on my relationship with my narc cousin. Very good! It’s like little bits and pieces of a puzzle coming together. Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you 🙂 That’s exactly how it feels to write my blog: It’s as if writing about it helps me fit the pieces of a big and confusing puzzle together. And the more of the puzzle you have, the better you feel about it 😉

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      • This is exactly like a guy I loved and decided to give up on because I finally realised he would never change, he treats everyone the same

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  2. i completely understand your emotions .
    first thing we need to do is relax a bit than reacting suddenly when your partner pulls back
    think what is our role when he/she pulls back suddenly .
    keep talking to your partner to understand if there is anything which is bothering him/her .
    Listen to what they have to say
    i think there is lack of empathy from both the end
    think what negative emotions are causing this? jealousy?insecurity?over possessiveness? might be many other which we never realise at that point of time
    and then think of a solution when its clear to u both about the cause and effect

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely thought a lot about what might be the cause for his inconsistent behavior. Thinking about it nearly drove me insane because there never seemed to be a real explanation for it. That’s the problem with being with a narcissist: It’s very hard to figure them out and to find the rationality behind their behavior.

      Liked by 1 person

      • they never tell you the rationale behind that but yeah u got to give them a little space ..
        i felt good that you have shared so much . yeah also too much attachment and expectation can also lead to this feeling . i cannot say dont get too much attached . of course when u r in love its human tendency to be attached.. but somewhere we also start expecting a lot

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are definitely right: too much attachment and too high expectations can put a lot of pressure on a relationship. However, when you are with a narcissist you learn to lower your expectations to the bare minimum. At least that’s what I did. You soon realize that they won’t give you what you need and you match your expectations accordingly to keep the relationship going. So in my case I wouldn’t necessarily say that I pressured him with high expectations or too much attachment. I gave him all the space he needed

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      • The only rationality that you need to know is, they’re in control when you’re out of it or have no control over the situation. Like sociopaths and psychopaths, they have no inner control and fear the inside of themselves being ousted and shown to the world for what they are on a constant basis. That is why they “must” control the outside world and people within it. It’s pretty sad when you finally come this conclusion and there is literally nothing you can do for them. They see even help as a threat, so they must either destroy it and/or the person it comes from or subdue them in some fashion.

        Narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths are rule makers for people but the same time they feel they don’t need to follow the same rules and that includes the laws of country you’re in.

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  3. Too too good, I mean the way you write. Well, about the feelings? We feel almost the same. I encountered him as someone precious to me. We stayed together during the whole day at school; exchanged love you’s miss you’s everything. We separated during the periods at the school, and it got difficult for us to stay and we started to write letters. It was perfect! And now, everything ended suddenly. I begged for his love and he left. Started to ignore me. And now, it’s been 5 months, I am waiting. Well, he? He says, nothing can be the way it used to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is very painful if after a breakup your (ex)partner seems to recover so quickly and seems to do just fine, while we are crying our heart out and are racking our brains about what went wrong. To realize that we are the only ones who are suffering is like a slap in the face 😦 I’m sorry to hear that you’ve made/are still making such a painful experience. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it so much ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes that’s true. Codependent people often end up in relationships with narcissists, because they are the perfect victims for their emotional abuse.

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  4. I think the best way to avoid people like this is , keep high standards. If you get the hot cold treatment, practice zero tolerance. That guy should have been dumped after giving the cold shoulder at work right after the date. No explanation necessary, he’s not a gentleman. Also, dont get overly giddy about someone too soon. Often we dont know someone like we think we know someone. I totally sympathize and have been there done that. We have to watch out for ourselves.

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    • I totally agree with you! It has been a year since my relationship with the narcissist and I am still single. And I’m fine with it because I know that it is what I need right now. Thank you very much for your comment ☺

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  5. My relationship with my narcissist is like everyone elses…..I feel hypnotised and paralysed to get out…however spent another hour sobbing after cold treatment….feel I need now to be kind to myself..I’m grieving for my knight in shining armour that never existed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, that’s not shining armor, it’s just aluminum foil, Diana. What it appears is that you’re not grieving for the knight that never existed but grieving for how he fooled you. You need to stop thinking this way because you’ll be easy to gaslight in the future. While it is good to grieve and it’s human to do so, if you dwell on it, he’s winning the battle even when you’ve gone No Contact (N.C.) because he’ll be back to pull a big ‘ole hoover on you sooner or later. Being forewarned is forearmed.

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  6. I feel like this is my life right now. Only I’m living with my narcissist! Need to get out of this disfunctional relationship.

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  7. Oh so enlightening, I have poured my heart and soul into a woman, gave up everything to be with her.
    5 years in she still blows hot cold, any man who shows her a shred of interest becomes her new best friend. Then the put downs begin, he is more successful he is more intelligent.. Anything I try she tells me will fail, the morning I left to take my driving test (because she needs transport) her last words to me were ‘you’re too old to pass, you will fail, I’m 45) I passed… So many things too much for here. My confidence once I believed was indestructible is now shattered.
    I feel trapped, she has an incurable cancer, she tells me if I left she would die.
    I got her into counselling In The vain hope of showing her she is abusing me, instead she has them convinced I’m emotionally abusive. Why? Because I was foolish enough to expect loyalty and emotional fidelity in a relationship she has twisted this into me being possessive. I was married for 20 yrs before her, not once was I ever accused of anything like this. Her stories grow bigger by the session, her lies more numerous. Now all I can do is close my heart off, deny my own happiness and do what is honourable.

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  8. Wow, I can relate to so much of what you have shared. It’s been 3 months since I’ve seen the narcissist that I’ve been with, yet he has continued to contact me. Though to even stop actually seeing him was hard enough, so many failed attempts before that. Then after yet again, another dose of cold, indifferent treatment I had to just say no more. Unless I see huge change I just cannot allow myself to be around him. I’m still very hurt, even when he gets in touch, promising to change and do things differently, he ends up just perpetuating the same pattern of behaviour. It’s so painful, I miss him so much too, I can’t even try really working things out with him because disappearing, shutting down and being uncommunicative are all things that he does too…I guess as a previous commenter said, after the first time they show you their harsh, cold, indifferent behaviour just walk away then and there from that point.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, it helps to know others are going through it too.

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  9. I am married to a narcissist and have decided to tell the marriage go, and when the time is Right for me, pack up and leave he is at work and serve him separation papers at least. I have dealt with pure hell from him. 17 years of bring made to always follow him, being atone walled if I evenengine his emotionally neglect, ditched at parties and hum showing up at the very end trying to be sweet so I would get I’m bed with him. Only times I get any real tenderness or courtship is if I complain and leave for a few second days, which I do always after he has thought of other things to do after work but me.
    He gets off work at at 5 and only sees me at 8 pm bed time. He considers just sitting in a room with me courting me. He has got massages, shaves, pedicures from me. Yet in 17 years he never did me once, and yet people say I have nice skin and feet. He doesn’t like i when I talk to friends on cell phone yet he doesn’t talk to me. It tool weeks of fights just to get him to even talk more than 1 min to me. There is no way I can have a marriage with a man who always has an excuse as to why he doesn’t mental bone with me or make a sexual move. I got to make all the sexual moves. I got so tired of doing all the four play mostly and seducing, I just quit.

    He surrounds himself with people who cater to his ego. He will say he will stop neglecting our marriage and blow cold after hot yet he turns and do the same thing, stone wall, ditching, insulting, talking down to me, words not matching actions, and emotional abandonment
    I am blow up doll, maid, escort. I don’t love him anymore and I just want more on my feet so I can move out the house we live in. The last straw was hum asking me to go in half on a new bed and new furniture that I didn’t even want and told him I didnt, Just for him to never once make a sexual move on me in our new bed even I expressed several times that I am tired of making all the moves. I told him weeks before that I was not happy with the marriage and fed up. He blew hot for a week, til he got my money then back to the cold, silent treatment, waiting til only bed time when he wants my body near his
    I’m suppose to let him hold me in bed when he feels like it but never know sex unless I seduce him in ways that cater to his egom

    He keeps asking me to let it go how he treats me and that he sorry but then he does it agaon

    And I quit, I expect to be gone within a year. I pray for you all
    17 years was long enough for me

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  10. The real take away from this article is to look at people in a more analytical way. If things seem too good to be true, they’re most likely are. Ask to slow down, if they don’t slow down; just speed up, get more intense and/.or violent; get the hell out of there.

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  11. Great article. I have been with a narcissist l0 yrs – off /on and then married the last 5. He is a master of hot / cold behavior. The hot is to keep you hooked as their adoring “source of supply”….. and then they get distracted – something better comes along to grab their attention ( ego driven) and you are left in the COLD. I guess it’s the cognitive dissonance that drives us crazy. NONE of it makes sense – we hear what they say – but then we watch what they do and nothing ever matches up. I am the classic co dependent and most likely attracted to this man/boy because of the drama – and what was familiar to me. I was raised by a narc Dad. They do keep us off balance on purpose — we are their puppets – and they love the power/control – especially when someone chases after them. (I do not chase. But he has done his silent treatment to me dozens of times — he thinks he’s punishing me.. and then comes back like nothing ever happened. THAT is an infuriating tactic of a narc. LET’S PRETEND. They are delusional. They lie – they rewrite history. They project. Make YOU the bad guy and you are left feeling like YOU should apologize? Sorry – I am rambling. Bottom line. I am getting out. Too long to get into the whys and how comes.. but I have had enough. I will NOT turn myself into a pretzel , lose myself, and destroy my spirit to make this robot love me. It will never happen. They are like snakes. Predators — and as soon as you don’t give them what they want — they are gone. In 3 minutes they will be over you — so… everyone crying their eyes out now? Don’t bother. You were taken in by a snake. We saw the signs we ignored them. Chalk it up to a life experience and vow never to repeat it again. WE will be fine.. THEY will not. Release them to the Universe and let them continue to live their miserable, lonely, pathetic lives……….. It’s all about power/control/ego. Throw in money — fame – glory.. and you got a narc.

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  12. For the past 19 months, I have been having sex with someone I’ve known my entire life. I never expected this to happen. He persued me for 2 years prior to the 1st sexual encounter. Starting off by complimenting me how beautiful I was, how he was fascinted with my body, specifically my ass. It’s like he was inflating my ego with his compliments building me up, leading me to believe our lifelong friendship was blossoming into true love . As long as I have known him up until the two years before we slept together, he had never given me the impression that he found me attractive or was interested in me at all. He was a friend of my older brothers.
    At first I was skeptical, I held back for the two years of his flirting and often dismissed it as if it meant nothing an not to be persued. But I must say he began to pique my curiosity as I always thought he was an attractive man. . Until one day I looked at him and I swear Cupid’s arrow hit me. I thought to myself, this can’t be happening!! Am I falling in love with my friend???. Are we falling for each other?
    I thought this was the real thing. Two lifelong friends Falling in Love. Or so I thought. It was at that moment, that I decided after 2 years of him pursuing me, that I trusted his feelings were genuine. So I decided to take our friendship to the next level and make love to him. I trusted him with my body. I let my guard down. I thought this was one of those stories where 2 life long friends fall into true love! The mask did not come off until literally after the 1st time we had slept together. What I thought was a lifelong friendship blossoming into true love, became my worst nightmare. The guy I knew my whole life since I was a little girl, who I swore I knew better than anyone and trusted and respected with my entire being, turned out to be somebody completely different. The minute his penis went in, me the mask came off and I met the monster!!! He is LITERALLY the man in the story that you have written. I slept with him 19 months ago and have not permanently stopped yet. I have tried many times to go no contact stayed away ignored only to find myself back in the sack with him. It’s as if I’m addicted to him it’s intoxicating electrifying. My brain knows better but my emotions fell in love with him two years ago. This by far has been the most challenging, confusing and heartbreaking dynamic, friendship, relationship I have ever encountered in my life. It’s one thing to meet a complete stranger and learn this about them. But to know someone your entire life & let your guard down fall in love with him and suddenly this narcissists comes out of nowhere. It is absolutely mind-blowing, devastating, and life altering. Until you go through this you do not and will not and cannot comprehend what they do to you on every level. I am praying for a way out. I love him. I cannot change him. I do not want this for my life. I pray that God sends me a good man and distract me from him as I have not been able to stay completely away from him and ended he has been the only man I’ve been with the past 3 years. I want no one else I see no one else and this is the scariest part. I was once a very strong independent woman I don’t know what happened to me. Thank you for letting me share my story. To be continued….

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    • Thank you for sharing your story! I also hope with all my heart that you will find the strength to get out of this mess…it often takes way too much time….it did so in my case as well…but once I was free I felt incredibly relieved. I hope the same will happen to you too!

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  13. Ah. I now finally understand the reason for my ex boyfriend’s abrupt break off with me. The hot and cold thing. And how I never felt completely sure he genuinely cared about me. Because he didn’t. Not if he could claim I was VERY important to him just before he left for a work trip, and could send loving texts to me during his stay, only to completely ignore me upon his return, eventually breaking up with me for good because he no longer felt anything for me. The “love” disappeared” overnight. I was devastated. Until I figured him out at last. THANK YOU!

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  14. I can’t bring myself to walk away from my “best friend”, It went from being more, and reduced to that. I guess I should be thankful I have that much from him.

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