While there is still a lot that you can learn about narcissists, certain signs of the final discard are common among narcissists and people with narcissistic personality disorder (as well as other abusers with narcissistic traits who haven’t been diagnosed). And while there does seem to be sort of a playbook for narcissistic abuse, narcissists each still have their own patterns and behaviors separate from their personality disorder.
Still, certain signs of the final discard are common among narcissists and people with narcissistic personality disorder (as well as other abusers with narcissistic traits who haven’t been diagnosed) – and they are likely to stand out if you’re looking for them. Even so, if you’re paying attention to the signs of the final discard, you will probably spot them in most cases.
What is the discard in narcissistic abuse?
The discard is part of the cycle of abuse, and it follows the devaluation period. The narcissist will start picking you apart, and if this is the first time it happens, it can feel devastating and confusing. On the other hand, if you’ve been in the relationship long enough to know the cycle, you might be prepared to hunker down and get through it as you wait for the next “good” part.
What are signs the narcissist is about to discard you?
The Narcissist’s Intermittent Reinforcement Patterns Will Change
Narcissistic abuse involves trauma bonding, which is maintained through intermittent reinforcement. That means that the narcissist is kind and cruel to you in alternating patterns. As a result, you essentially become addicted to them, much like you would any other addictive substance or behavior. This is why it’s so difficult for most survivors to walk away and leave a narcissist.
When the discard is on the way, these abusive patterns will change. The intermittent periods of devaluation will be longer and more intense than usual. In addition, the narcissist may reach new levels of disrespect, or stop being kind to you altogether before the discard. In other words, the narcissist will be making you miserable, and you’ll never or seldom have a moment of feeling loved or accepted as the discard approaches.
The Narcissist Will Go Dark
You might get the silent treatment. Or, the narcissist might get super quiet, only replying to you when it benefits them to do so. Whether the narcissist cuts off communication completely or cuts way back, you might hear from them far less often, if at all, before the discard. This might be because they are working on securing a new source of narcissistic supply or for literally any other reason. It just means they are beginning to reduce their dependence on you and could be placing it on someone else.
The Narcissist Will Betray You in New and More Painful Ways
The narcissist might cross a line they never have before. For example, they might become physically aggressive when they haven’t before. As always, they will blame you for their behavior – but please note: no matter how “terrible” they claim you’ve been, there is never an excuse for physical abuse or aggression in any relationship.
The Narcissist Will Discard You When You Stop Giving Them Narcissistic Supply
When the narcissist realizes and accepts that they cannot own you, that they can no longer dominate you, and that you will not allow them to drain you any longer, they will walk away and stay away. But truthfully, that kind of awareness is quite rare for someone who has NPD.
Remember that narcissists need your time, attention, acts of service, and several other kinds of energy from you – this is what we call narcissistic supply. So, if you stop doing things for the narcissist and stop being useful to them, the discard is sure to follow before long. That’s because the most obvious sign that you’re about to be discarded is when the narcissist starts to show you that they no longer need you.
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If you know what it’s like to experience narcissistic abuse, then you might understand the level of damage that narcissists can do. It is profound and life-altering – and not in a good way. Narcissists destroy you, but if you want to put yourself together again, you can absolutely do it – starting with focusing on understanding what happened to you. Your next (and most important step) is then moving forward into intentionally healing and embracing your true self. Let’s talk about it.
How do narcissists destroy you?
Narcissists are masters of manipulation and control, but the effects of being in a toxic relationship with someone affected by narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are life-changing. The narcissist’s form of psychological and emotional abuse is so harmful that most survivors find it impossible to go back to the way things used to be after recovering from narcissistic abuse. Their trademark lack of empathy and compassion spills into every interaction with you.
If you’ve decided that the narcissist in your life is not healthy for you, there will come the moment when you realize that it’s time to walk away. But, unfortunately, no matter how much you try, nothing changes, and the abuse continues.
Are you planning to abandon a narcissist?
If you plan to abandon the narcissist in your life, you should know first that you’re most certainly not alone. Unfortunately, the unfortunate truth is that thousands of men and women experience emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of a malignant narcissist. While this is terrible news for humanity, it’s good news for you today because our research and experience allow you a glimpse into the psychology of the narcissist and a play-by-play guide for exactly what to expect when you leave a narcissist.
It’s a painful realization to reach that point of giving up, but this is what is necessary if things aren’t going to change. This is when you have the greatest risk of narcissist retaliation if the narcissist thinks you’re planning on leaving them. Once you decide that it’s time, the final stage of implementing this can take place. Deciding to abandon a narcissist is scary, especially since a part of you misses the person you signed up for and how they used to be so kind and caring before everything changed.
Discovering That You’re Dealing With a Narcissist
Maybe there was a specific incident (or several) that you feel caused them to become disillusioned with you, and so you spent months or years trying to make up for whatever damage they claimed you caused.
And you might have found yourself Googling about how you could become more like what the narcissist in your life really seemed to want, right? But then you ran across something that blew your mind – you found out about narcissism, or more specifically, narcissistic personality disorder.
As you read through the checklist or article you found or watched the video you clicked on, and a lightbulb went on in your head. Your brain almost hurt from the heavy realization you had at that moment: after all the months or years you’ve been blaming yourself, it turned out that it wasn’t you after all.
You suddenly understood that this person matched up to the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. And that even if they weren’t diagnosed, they clearly demonstrated the trademark behaviors. You didn’t know if you were happy or super angry that you’d been unfairly beating yourself up for all this time. You weren’t sure whether to be upset that you had bent over backward to prove yourself to someone who would never see you. You struggled with the idea that you wasted so much of your life trying to make them happy when it would turn out that even if you were literally perfect, they would never be satisfied.
Maybe you thought something was wrong with you at first. You couldn’t understand how someone could treat you the way this person has treated you, so you assumed you must be the problem. Maybe you thought that if only you could somehow “fix” whatever the narcissist claimed was wrong with you, and things would finally change.
You would love to abandon the narcissist completely. But you want to know what to expect. And if you’re honest, you are understandably concerned about what consequences you could face if you take off and leave the narcissist.
Why is it so difficult to abandon the narcissist?
Let’s face it – the reasons you might be hesitant to leave the narcissist are many. Not only are you highly likely to be trauma bonded to them, thanks to years or even decades of abuse, but you might be dealing with a fear of abandonment and some attachment issues of your own.
And, quite honestly, you’re at least a little bit afraid of them.
You have seen the narcissist fly into an unreasonable narcissistic rage for the smallest of reasons. And anytime the rage didn’t give them the results they wanted, you’ve witnessed them using narcissistic injury, also known as the “poor me” act, as a way to manipulate you into doing what they want. Unfortunately, this has been a problem in your life more often than you care to admit.
But now that you’re finally done and you’re ready to get the heck out of dodge, you are fully expecting all hell to break loose. You know that it won’t go easily, and you suspect that the narcissist will do anything literally in their power to stop you, especially because you leaving means them losing the one thing they cannot do without – narcissistic supply.
And, if you’re like most survivors, you’re worried about what they will do if you leave.
What can you expect when you abandon the narcissist?
The early part of the no contact journey is no picnic, so when you abandon the narcissist, you can expect to deal with various manipulation tactics, including the following.
The narcissist will beg you to stay.
The narcissist might beg you to stay – or even try to talk you out of leaving. You may even hear things like, “You’ll never find anyone who loves you as much as I do,” or “You’re going to regret this in the long run.” But, then, they will start love-bombing you again and suddenly become the “perfect partner,” and they’ll seem so sincere. Naturally, you will want to believe them, and you will find it nearly impossible to leave if you indulge in this little fantasy at all. Just remember that once they’ve got you firmly back in their grip, they’ll quickly return to their old ways.
In many cases, the narcissist will (at least threaten to) stoop to any level to get revenge. You may even hear things like, “If you leave, I’ll tell everyone what a bad person you are” or “If you walk out that door, don’t ever expect me to let you back in!” Remember that even if you choose to stay, they’ll start a smear campaign about you if they haven’t already. So don’t try to reason with them, and don’t make excuses. If you’re afraid they will physically hurt you or your kids, be really intentional in your planning and do your best to avoid confrontation as you exit. If possible, leave and don’t say anything to the narcissist until you’re safely away. This video offers insight into what to do if the narcissist snaps on you.
The narcissist will stalk and harass you.
Expect to be stalked and harassed by the narcissist after you abandon them, especially if they have no other sources of narcissistic supply. If they have other sources of supply, they may still stalk you, but it might be less intense or not at all, depending on the situation. Still, it’s important to remember that for the narcissist, this supply can literally feel like a requirement for them – like air or water. So, whether it’s immediately or later down the line, you should be aware that abandoning a narcissist can lead to stalking. If you’re concerned about an existing stalker or you already know that the narcissist in your own life will become a stalker, be sure to grab my free stalker safety kit, right here, so you can take precautions and keep yourself safe. This video also offers insight into how to keep yourself safe from a stalker.
The narcissist will hoover you.
If the narcissist in your life is not already engaging with a replacement for you, then you can expect to be hoovered. Named after the famous vacuum cleaner company, “hoovering” happens when the narcissist tries to “suck you back in” after the discard. This can be drama-related or an attempt to reconcile the relationship – or, in some cases, an attempt to get you to break no contact once you do get away.
You can expect the narcissist to hoover since you are one of their primary sources of narcissistic supply – and sometimes, the only one. When you unexpectedly cut off that source of supply, the narcissist will be like a vampire who goes without blood for too long. They’ll do anything to get a little taste of it – if they’re in need anyway. They will send you texts such as “Can we please talk?” or “I miss you, please come back.”
Now listen – this next part is hard and will take a ton of willpower, but you’ve got to hold your ground here. Don’t answer their texts. Please don’t respond to their repeated efforts to contact you on social media. Block them and their usual flying monkeys – and if they show up at your door? You don’t answer it. If they won’t leave and are causing a scene? Call the police and have them removed.
And speaking of flying monkeys, this brings me to my next point.
The narcissist will engage their flying monkeys in triangulation.
Here’s where the narcissist will employ these so-called flying monkeys. Flying monkeys are just people who willingly or otherwise do the narcissist’s bidding and support their agenda. In other words, they enable the narcissist’s games and manipulation, whether they do it willingly or the narcissist manipulates them into helping. If the hoover doesn’t work, and sometimes even before they try the hoover, the narcissist will pull out the triangulation card.
Triangulation is, unfortunately, a prevalent manipulation tactic often employed by narcissists; this is when the narcissist communicates as a third party between two people but prevents the two from communicating directly through either manipulating or controlling at least one of them.
So, in this case, because the narcissist may be desperate to get in touch with you for a bit of supply or to cause you more stress and pain (which, if we are honest, is also supply), they’re going to start reaching out to people who will help them by telling you “how worried they are” or “how sad the narcissist seems” since you left, or whatever. This video offers insight into dealing with flying monkeys and the smear campaign.
The narcissist will flaunt their new source of supply in your face.
Alternatively, the narcissist may quickly scoop up a new person to be their source of narcissistic supply. And, once they’ve got that poor unsuspecting soul in place, you know what they’ll do, right? They will try to use this to hurt you. So, they will try to contact you to fill you in on their “good fortune.” They’ll want you to know how much better they get along with the new supply – and how that person “gets them” in ways you never could.
Of course, they’ll take all the supply they can get, right? So you know they’ll be posting all over their social accounts, telling the world about this new and amazing person they have finally found. They’ll proclaim that this person is their new soulmate and even insult you indirectly in the process by either not acknowledging that you ever existed or by directly pointing out how much better they are with the new person. They will conveniently forget how a similar thing happened when they met you – that they once thought you were their amazing soulmate who could do no wrong and who just “got them” in ways their ex never could. Ahem. Yep, it’s a typical narcissistic cycle of abuse. Anyhoo…
They will try to call you or send you messages to brag about them, hoping that they will get a rise out of you. Of course, the best thing to do is ignore the messages and block their number and social media profiles. If you get any strange friend requests or follows from new accounts that look suspicious, then you will want to block those as well. This video offers insight into how to deal with the narcissist getting a new supply.
The narcissist will run smear campaigns.
Remember how I mentioned smear campaigns before? Well, not only is the narcissist is worried that you will expose who they are, but they’re also going to need a replacement supply and fast! So, they’re going to tell everyone a big sob story, and they’re going to try to tell everyone what a terrible person you are. They will attempt to ruin your reputation among your family and friends, and if possible, they’ll even try to get you fired from your job. The narcissist can also threaten you by leaking your personal and private information in public. Be careful to avoid engaging with their rumors and lies. Instead, if someone you feel deserves an explanation asks you, then you can explain yourself just one time. If the person appears not to believe you or continues to act as a flying monkey on the narcissist’s behalf, you can step away emotionally until you’re feeling more healed – and at that time, you can decide whether you’d like to keep that person in your life. This video offers insight into dealing with the narcissist’s smear campaign.
Should you abandon the narcissist?
Given all of the information shared here, you might feel a little doubtful about your decision to leave the narcissist. Worse, you might find that things are still not resolved, and more damage is done by separating from the narcissist. But while it won’t necessarily be easy, it will certainly be worth your time and trouble. And now that you know what to expect when you abandon a narcissist, you can be prepared and protect yourself along the way. This video offers insight into creating your exit plan safely.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
If you’ve been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, then you’re well aware of how invalidating and toxic the relationship cycle can be. But, you might also be hearing from people who seem to think it seems impossible that a narcissist could trick an intelligent person into staying in such an abusive relationship. It would be easy to worry if this has happened to you, but don’t doubt yourself. You aren’t stupid, and you’re not weak. Unfortunately, many people simply don’t understand the tremendous amount of manipulation involved in narcissistic abuse – not to mention that it doesn’t just start happening but is a sneaky, pervasive process.
Inside the Narcissist’s Idealize, Devalue, and Discard Cycle
From idealization (focusing on your strengths) to devaluation (zeroing in on your weaknesses and perceived threats) to discarding (the discovery that they are no longer needed or wanted), you may endure years of abuse from a single narcissist. That cycle of abuse is a perfect storm of intermittent reinforcement and psychological manipulation, the likes of which can affect almost anyone.
The narcissist uses switching tactics to “hook” you into falling in love with them, or at least into really liking them and wanting their approval. As a result, you’ll be idealized and put on a pedestal. You’ll be compared (positively) to former sources of narcissistic supply, and you’ll think you’ve found your true soulmate.
Phase 2: Devaluation
You’ll experience a period of “devaluation,” during which the narcissist will actively seek out and pick on any perceived flaws you have. They will be heartlessly vicious during this phase. You’ll spend a lot of time trying to figure out what you did wrong and desperately searching for a single glimpse of the person you thought was your soulmate. You might even blame yourself if the narcissist is effective in their gaslighting and manipulation.
Phase 3: Discard
Whether they choose to discard you permanently, or they choose to give you the silent treatment for a while, or even if they’re threatening you often that they’re going to leave, the discard phase is devastating. By this point, you’ve become fully enmeshed with the narcissist and formed a trauma bond.
Trauma bonding affects the same part of your brain as drug addiction. In other words, you are addicted to the narcissist just like you could be addicted to alcohol, drugs, or even gambling or sex. That’s why it’s difficult to leave the narcissist on your own.
Phase 4: Hoovering
After that, the narcissist will often try to bring you back into the relationship, or at least into their “circle of supply,” through a tactic we call the hoover maneuver. The hoover maneuver can involve several different manipulative behaviors designed to get your attention. This cycle will repeat throughout the relationship, whether or not it’s ever officially ended. In many cases, the “final discard” only happens when you choose to end it yourself. This is because the narcissist will continue to use you for narcissistic supply as long as you allow it in most cases. Otherwise, the cycle will inevitably continue, in one way or another.
What is it like to be in a relationship with a narcissist?
If you’ve been in a relationship with a pathological narcissist, you know what it feels like to feel crazy. You’ve found yourself riddled with anxiety, emotionally destroyed. While you might not like to admit it, you’ve probably doubted your sanity as you attempted to figure out what was going on. Maybe you even felt like the relationship was doomed but didn’t know why or what the narcissist would do next.
Most malignant narcissists have a particular cycle of abuse that they repeat throughout their lives with every relationship they experience, regardless of the type of relationship. The cycle includes an initial period of idealization, or love bombing, followed by a process of devaluing and emotionally destroying you. After that, you’ll experience a discard phase, which could be the actual end of the relationship, or just a temporary breakup or even a period of passive-aggression, emotional abuse, and/or silent treatment within the relationship. After that, there’s a common thing that happens – and it’s the very reason it’s so difficult to know for sure when the narcissist is done with you and your relationship.
Why is it so hard to tell when it’s over with a narcissist?
The problem for most survivors of narcissistic abuse is the fourth phase of a narcissist’s abuse cycle – the part where they try to suck you back into the relationship. We call that the “hoover maneuver,” which can involve repeating the love-bombing phase, but not always. Sometimes, the narcissist will create drama or feign illness or injury to get your attention. Other times, the hoover can begin with a simple “butt-dial” or “accidental text.” Anything it takes to get your attention back. And since this is such a common occurrence in toxic relationships, you often feel like you can never be entirely free of the narcissist – even when you don’t want them to come back.
How do you know when you’ve experienced the narcissist’s final discard?
How can you tell it’s over with a narcissist? There is no way to hide the fact that a narcissist discards people in their life. The warning signs are unmistakable. What is so difficult is that the final discard often happens after a period during which you think everything will be okay. It might even appear to be a reconciliation between the two of you. This is why, so often, when a narcissist has discarded you, you’re left confused and reeling.
So what are the criteria for a relationship with a narcissist to end? How do you know it’s really over?
Consider your position in the ‘circle of narcissistic supply.’
You aren’t the primary source of narcissistic supply.
While this is not always a sign that the narcissist won’t come back, there’s a greater chance that the narcissist will permanently move on if you aren’t the “primary” source of narcissistic supply. In other words, you’re someone they’re not married to or someone with whom they do not have a public relationship. If you’ve had an affair with the narcissist, they’re more likely, though not entirely guaranteed, to walk away permanently.
You are the primary source of narcissistic supply, but another supply has stepped into your place.
Remember: once the novelty of the relationship has passed, the narcissist only cares about what you can do for them. So, if another person has started taking care of the things that you used to do for the narcissist, there is a far greater chance that they will stay away, at least for a while.
Consider the narcissist’s behavior and patterns.
While there does seem to be a playbook for narcissistic abuse, every narcissist is still an individual who may have their own patterns and behaviors separate from their personality disorder. Still, certain signs of the final discard are common among narcissists and people with narcissistic personality disorder (as well as other abusers with narcissistic traits who haven’t been diagnosed) – and they are likely to stand out if you’re looking for them.
Typically, the discard is part of the cycle of abuse, and it follows the devaluation period. The narcissist will start picking you apart, and if this is the first time it happens, it can feel devastating and confusing. On the other hand, if you’ve been in the relationship long enough to know the cycle, you might be prepared to hunker down and get through it as you wait for the next “good” part.
The narcissist will stop being nice to you altogether before the final discard. While they will repeatedly abandon you throughout the relationship with little discards, the final discard will feel slightly different. The narcissist might cross a line they never have before. For example, they might become physically aggressive when they haven’t before. As always, they will blame you for their behavior – but please note: no matter how “terrible” they claim you’ve been, there is never an excuse for physical abuse or aggression in any relationship.
When the narcissist realizes and accepts that they cannot own you, that they can no longer dominate you, and that you will not allow them to drain you any longer, they will walk away and stay away. But truthfully, that kind of awareness is quite rare for someone who has NPD.
The bottom line? A narcissist is finished with a relationship when they no longer need you. Still, while the final discard is a reality in many situations, there’s never a guarantee the narcissist won’t return to hoover you back into the relationship on some level or to secure you as a backup form of narcissistic supply at the very least.
With all of that being said, there’s only really one way to ensure that you’re done with the narcissist for good.
How can I be sure that the narcissist will leave me alone?
If you want to end it once and for all, you’ve got to take your power back and fast! The truth is that the discard is final when you decide that you are done with the toxic relationship and done with the narcissist.
If you want the narcissist out and want it to be over, you have to be the one to put an end to it. You can go no contact with them and never consider going back. Of course, you’ll need to go low contact and use the gray rock method when you must communicate with them. This is only applicable if you have children or other legal reasons, you must remain in contact. Otherwise, don’t bother! Now, you can block them on social media and block their calls to safeguard yourself from feeling triggered to return to the abusive relationship.
And, remember that no matter what they say, you cannot be friends with a narcissistic ex. They will continue to use you as a source of narcissistic supply, and you’ll find yourself feeling even more miserable than you did when you were with them.
But when you take control, you won’t need to worry about what happens if the narcissist wants you back. If the narcissist discards you, my suggestion is to do whatever grieving you need to do (and you WILL need to grieve the relationship, regardless of how toxic it has been), and then consider the discard a blessing in disguise. Then, when you can discover or rediscover your power and value, you can heal yourself and begin to choose what comes next in your life.
Are you dealing with being discarded by a narcissist?
The cold shoulder. Ostracization. Social exclusion. Being actively, directly rudely ignored! It’s exhausting, It’s upsetting. And quite honestly, it’s abusive. So, let me ask you something.
Have you been there? Does someone in your life cut off contact, directly or indirectly, anytime you upset or annoy them? If so, you might be falling victim to a well-known manipulation tactic – the old silent treatment.
What is silent treatment?
The silent treatment is amanipulation tactic where someone will stop talking to you. This painful, uncomfortable silence can go on for days, hours, weeks, or even months in order to punish you for some perceived slight. It can cause serious emotional and psychological damage if you don’t realize what is happening. While people who aren’t narcissists may also use this tactic, it is commonly used among narcissists.
Narcissists and the Silent Treatment
Are you dealing with getting the silent treatment from a narcissist? If you are, then you already how upsetting and confusing this can be. When a narcissist is involved, it’s possible that you’re being discarded, either permanently or temporarily. You might be getting the silent treatment due to a breakup or the end of your relationship, or it could be one in a long line of discards during an ongoing relationship. It’s all part of the narcissist’s cycle of abuse. But the narcissist’s motivations are what you’re really interested in, so let’s discuss what they’re thinking when they give you the silent treatment.
What are the narcissist’s motivations for using the silent treatment?
When you think about the silent treatment and how cruel it can be, not only does it affirm that the narcissist lacks compassionate and emotional empathy, but you find yourself wondering how they could be so cruel? What motivates a narcissist to stop communicating with you?
The relationship is ending.
When a narcissistic ex gives you the silent treatment after a breakup, it is not that they are suffering and processing how your relationship ended. That is what you would expect a neurotypical non-narcissistic ex to do. But the narcissist deals with it by searching for a new source of narcissistic supply. You have to remember that this “supply,” for the narcissist, can feel as important as air might feel you or any living being. In other words, despite their claims of wanting to “be alone” or needing to “figure things out on their own,” the narcissist will feel as though they cannot be without it. So, they might have gone silent as they are engaging with others and attempting to get the supply they so desperately need. They can’t stand to be alone with their thoughts.
The narcissist controls you through gaslighting and confusion
Narcissists are known manipulators, and one of their most notorious tactics is to gaslight you through confusion emotional manipulation, and abuse. The silent treatment is the perfect vehicle to accomplish this, and this is especially true of covert narcissists – although their more grandiose counterparts are also skilled at this particular tactic. You know that narcissists enjoy manipulating and gaslighting you. The narcissist loves the idea of you lying awake all night wondering why they are giving you the silent treatment. It actually offers them a certain amount of supply in itself.
The narcissist lives to keep you in limbo
With a sudden change in behavior, the narcissist can throw you into limbo, that feeling where you’re lost and not sure what to do or what’s next. For example, when they go from being overly demanding to not saying anything at all, you might be left spinning. They love the idea of you being distracted all day, unable to focus on anything except for what they could be possibly thinking.
The narcissist feels powerful through silent treatment.`
Narcissists thrive on power, as you know. They envision you waiting by your phone waiting for a text, or even for an email. The fact that they will not send you a message or speak to you makes them feel powerful as they control your emotions and productivity.
If your narcissistic ex is giving you the silent treatment, the best thing to do is not even to acknowledge it at all. Please realize that this is a manipulative tactic to play around with their mind and emotions.