Given their confrontational and arrogant personality, you might think that many narcissists would easily discard the people in their life who don’t give them what they want in the way of narcissistic supply. It’s more complex though, given that narcissists don’t really consider the people in their lives other than in the sense of what they can do for the narcissist themselves. They see others as an extension of themselves, and as such, they believe they can treat them badly and use them as they please.
Most narcissists prefer to recycle loved ones rather than discard them permanently, but when they do discard you, it is usually done in a brutal fashion. While you might be glad to be rid of them, the ‘discard’ may not be permanent, and the damage done can be long-lasting and extremely hurtful.
To understand this better, it’s helpful to examine the narcissistic cycle of abuse and their reasons for ‘recycling’ romantic partners and friends. We’ll also explore the reasons why it’s usually more common for the loved ones of narcissists to discard them rather than the other way around.
The Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse
At the beginning of a relationship with a narcissist, you usually enjoy a period of love-bombing where the narcissist will shower you with adoration. This is how they get you to fall for them. Even if you’re just developing a friendship with a narcissist, they’ll shower you with praise and admiration.
As the relationship progresses, however, the narcissist begins to show their true colors. As they become accustomed to the relationship, they can often become bored, or they just come to expect that you will continue to do what they want. If you don’t, or as usually happens, if you push back at them about their behavior, you will likely be on the receiving end of the classic narcissistic rage.
This is usually shocking to the person who has developed a relationship with a narcissist, because they are used to them being so supportive and loving. They often convince themselves that the narcissist just had a bad day or that they’re just in a bad mood. They can’t believe this is actually their personality.
As time goes on and the loved one of the narcissist figures out that their nasty behavior wasn’t just a one-time thing, they may start to distance themselves or attempt to talk to the narcissist about changing their behavior. It’s at this point in the relationship that most people will discard the narcissist because they just can’t get through to them.
If, however, it gets to the point where the narcissist believes they might actually lose this person and the person has left the narcissist yet, they can turn on the charm again. That can convince their loved one to give it another go, but it won’t last.
When a Narcissist Discards You
There are many reasons a narcissist might decide to discard you but the discard might not be permanent. As psychology major Jeffrey Holland notes, “Yes you can be discarded permanently, but chances are you’re just not the primary source of narcissistic supply anymore and you are being shelved as a tasty snack later.”
Usually, a narcissist won’t discard you if you’re the primary source of their narcissistic supply. They need that constantly, and so, before they permanently discard someone, they make sure they have another source to supply their needs.
When they do decide to discard you, they often shift the blame onto you for any problems in the relationship. They will also project their bad behavior onto you and gaslight you into believing you’re the reason for the problems the two of you had. This is just a continuation of the pattern they likely started once the ‘honeymoon phase’ was over, and it will likely leave you with low self-esteem and feeling confused and not good enough.
While you might be happy and relieved the relationship is over, you might still long for those wonderful early days when everything seemed perfect. That might make you wonder if this breakup will be permanent.
How to Know if the Narcissistic Discard is Permanent
When a narcissist realizes that you’ve finally got them all figured out, that’s when they’re more likely to permanently discard you. Once you’ve figured out their game, you become a liability to them.
You’re not as willing to supply them with the adoration and admiration they need to boost their ego, and you might even become someone who challenges them in front of other people. This usually causes them to try and shift the blame for everything onto them. That puts their fragile false sense of self in jeopardy.
Once you take control of the interactions, you’re forcing the narcissist into self-preservation mode to protect their fragile self-esteem. The narcissist becomes exhausted from having to defend themselves and constantly project their flaws onto you.
If this is happening in your relationship with a narcissist, when they discard you, it will likely be a permanent situation. As long as you maintain strong boundaries and refuse to accept their manipulative behavior, this discard will stick.
How to Know if the Narcissist will Come Back
Some narcissists will recycle partners or friends after discarding them. They will leave them behind when they realize that the person is getting wise to them. In this case, they won’t necessarily wait until their victim has had enough. Instead, they leave before it gets to that point which may make it easier for them to come back into your life.
These are the narcissistic recyclers. They lack object constancy which means they can’t maintain positive feelings for other people. This also results in them being unable to maintain emotional connections to people they love when they are not around. Thus, they build up a stable of suppliers of their vital narcissistic supply.
As they realize they’re exhausting your ability to continue loving them, they may discard you and move onto another person in their collection. This can leave you confused and feeling insecure. You can’t help but think of the loving early days of your relationship, and you might even find yourself longing for that person you thought you knew.
This is usually when — as if they could sense it telepathically — the narcissist reappears in your life. They love-bomb you and promise that this time things will be different. If you haven’t reached a place where you can set and maintain strong boundaries, you’re likely to be sucked right back into their dysfunctional world.
By the time you’re discarded by a narcissist, you’ll probably feel a sense of relief. If this happens to you, the best thing you can do for yourself is to try to treat the narcissistic abuse you’ve undoubtedly endured. That can help you heal your wounded self-esteem and learn to set and maintain strong boundaries.
If you don’t do this, you might find that the narcissist comes slinking back into your life trying to hook you back into a relationship with them where they can once again abuse you.
If you’re dealing with the pain of a narcissistic discard and hoping to avoid being recycled, a free copy of my “Narcissistic Rejection Guide” can help. It will help you learn to say no and push back against their abusive tactics. Just click on the link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox for free!
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