If you’ve broken things off with a narcissist, you probably know what happens when you don’t respond to a narcissist text.
They might even double down on the toxic behavior just to punish you for breaking free.
They’ll use texting (and other means) to either provoke you or draw you back in whenever possible.
So, it pays to know what to look out for and how to respond.
After reading this post, you’ll also know when not to.
Is It Worth Replying to a Narcissist?
Whatever role they still play in your life, you’re under no obligation to let the narcissist drag you into one pointless, agonizing argument after another.
Sometimes, the best response is none at all.
- When they criticize something about you or something you’ve done;
- When they use a passive-aggressive dig to get a reaction from you;
- When they try to love-bomb you back into the relationship.
That last one is especially pernicious. It’s easy enough to ignore petty barbs and critical comments. It’s another to steel yourself against the narcissist’s attempts at rekindling something with you—especially if part of you still yearns for the good times you had.
We get it. Maybe, at their best, the narcissist was the human incarnation of erotic love and romance. They knew what buttons to push. It’s tempting to let them have their way with you now and then.
Except now, you know the cost of letting them have their way. And your freedom is worth more to you than a moment’s bliss.
That said, in some situations, a few choice words will do you more good than silence:
- When they disregard your request to do something for your (shared) children;
- When they try to guilt you into doing something that’s not in your best interests;
- When they text you at all hours and need a (brief) reminder of your waking hours.
If blocking them isn’t an option (e.g., you share custody or parenting time with your kids), you can still make it more rewarding for the narcissist to respect your boundaries — and less rewarding to violate them.
How to Respond to a Narcissist Text: 11 of the Best Comebacks
So, what’s the best way to respond to a narcissist text message? By now, you’ve got some sense of their patterns, and you can use that to your advantage. Use the tips described below to guide you. And make a note of the ones you find most helpful.
1. Identify their reason for texting you.
The more aware you are of the narcissist’s motives for texting you, the easier it is to know whether and how to respond.
Get clear on why they’re texting you and what they’re after before deciding if you want to text them back. Use what you’ve learned from your time with them.
What are their usual tactics to get your attention? What do they typically want from you? And what has worked for them in the past?
2. Determine whether to reply at all.
It’s not always wise to reply to a narcissist text message.
Often enough, responding does more harm than good—even if you manage to keep your cool and deflect their petty arrows. It still drags you into a mental space that’s exhausting and contributes nothing to your well-being or anyone else’s.
Whenever possible, leave the narcissist to their own toxic musings. You’ve got better uses for your time, energy, and headspace.
3. When they’re looking for a fight, do not engage.
The narcissist may try to draw you into an argument using petty criticism, passive-aggressive digs, or blatant insults. Resist the pull.
Unless you need to respond, ignore their attempts to get your hackles up.
Lock those hackles down. The narcissist isn’t worth it. And you know they’ll do whatever it takes to win an argument or, at the very least, drag you down into their personal hellscape. Because how dare you have a good day unless they’re the ones responsible for it?
4. When necessary, respond—don’t react.
The narcissist will undoubtedly remember what’s worked in the past to get a reaction from you. And sometimes, silence only adds fuel to the fire. Or it emboldens them to do worse.
So, if you need to respond to their provocative texts, keep it simple and to the point. Don’t react in the way they (clearly) expect you to.
Keep your calm, and let them know you’re not the easy mark they still assume you are.
5. When possible, stick with “yes” or “no” answers.
Keep your answer short, clear, and concise. Get to the point quickly, and don’t let the narcissist drag you down any tangents that have no bearing on your answer.
Whenever possible, give a simple “yes” or “no” answer and leave it at that. Resist the urge to elaborate or launch into a tangent of your own.
That brings us to the next tip.
6. Resist the urge to explain everything.
No means no. You don’t have to justify every yes or no answer. And you gain nothing by trying to make them understand.
If the narcissist demands an explanation, and you know they’d only use it to pick apart or dismiss your reasoning, calmly decline. You’ve given your answer, and while they may want an explanation, they don’t need one.
When you let go of your need to explain yourself, they have one less lever to pull.
7. Don’t be fooled by the love bombs.
If love-bombing has worked in the past, the narcissist may try it again to see if they can get what they want from you—or if they can get you back under their control.
If they try luring you into a shared recollection of your best times together, calmly resist.
It helps to remember the moments that led to the break-up and the narcissistic traits that are still very much behind their behavior toward you.
8. Set and enforce firm boundaries.
Unless there’s an emergency, your ex has no business texting you during your sleeping hours or when you’re at work and expecting a prompt response.
Granted, when children are involved, and you’re navigating shared custody or visitation rights, there will be some scheduling adjustments on both sides.
But if your ex is expecting you to do most (or all) of the adjusting, it’s time to make your boundaries and expectations clearer.
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9. Use the leverage you have.
Simply asking your ex to pick up one of your kids or meet you for something you have to do together might not get the gratifying response you’re hoping for.
If you know your child enjoys their time with your ex, use that. Let the narcissist know how much your child looks forward to seeing them. Maybe you’re not keen on your ex’s company, but the child who loves you both certainly is.
And that may be just what the narcissist wants (or even needs) to hear.
10. Stay positive or neutral.
We’re not saying you should always be positive or spin everything into sunshine and rainbows. That’s not realistic, and you’ll just end up annoying everyone, including yourself.
When positivity feels inauthentic or forced, neutrality is your best option.
It is better to assess a situation with “It is what it is” than to force yourself to find a silver lining when there isn’t one. Sometimes, the best you can do is acknowledge the truth of the situation and describe it in neutral language.
11. Keep your emotions close.
I know it can be brutally difficult to stuff all those emotions into a little box and respond to your ex as if you’ve flipped a switch and feel nothing. It’s something we often wish we could do around people who hurt us. The less you feel, the less they can hurt you.
But when you’re texting (rather than talking face-to-face), it’s at least easier to keep emotion out of your response. Use that to your advantage.
Now that you know how to respond to a narcissist text message, what tips stood out for you? Your situation is unique, so some points are more likely to resonate than others.
Still, you’re not alone in what you’re going through or the hoops you have to jump to keep your sanity and to protect any children you might share with your narcissist ex.
What will you do differently today?