What Happens When a Narcissist Discards You
We talk a lot about leaving the narcissist before they can discard you, and this should be done if at all possible. Sometimes it isn't possible though, and discarded partners are often left devastated, both financially and emotionally.
Why do narcissists discard people? Narcissists get bored very easily. Initially, they are intoxicated by the chase and the conquest of a new partner, and they are prone to magical thinking and idealization, which means they often believe all of their problems can be solved by "the right person." It has nothing to do with you or how great you are, though. Their goals are all selfish. They aren't looking for a partnership or trying to build a life with someone or anything of the sort. They are looking for a person who will do things - solely for them. This is, of course, not reasonable, or possible, or realistic in any way. No one can fix another person. Dating or marrying someone does not make a psychological disorder go away. It does not magically erase the past or turn a person into someone else. Of course, the narcissist is in total denial of any of these problems in the first place. They simply believe that the problem has always been the other person or people in their lives. Indeed, the "line" they often use to hook a new victim is baited with story after story of themselves as victims of horrible cruelty, indifference and malice at the hands of previous significant others.
Idealization & Devaluation
When narcissists meet this "new soulmate," their hopes are very high that this new person is "The One." This is the person who will be the perfect accessory, the perfect glue to hold the narcissist together, the perfect soft place to fall, the perfect servant, the perfect reflection of how wonderful the narcissist is, the perfect fit for the narcissist's yawning empty space inside... whatever the narcissist is looking for. This person is themselves seen, at first, as perfect.
Unfortunately, no one actually is perfect, and the narcissist's expectations and goals are totally irrational and completely unreasonable, besides. When this new soulmate reveals that they are nothing more than a regular person with flaws and problems and shortcomings and -- worst of all -- needs, the narcissist often becomes disillusioned and disappointed. This person is not the perfect soulmate the narcissist thought they were, and obviously, that's because the person is a failure and a liar and a fraud. How dare you misrepresent yourself as perfect?! You tricked the narcissist! This is where the devaluation starts.
You've betrayed the narcissist by not being perfect, by being nothing but a regular human being and make no mistake about it, that is exactly how they feel: betrayed. As far as they can see it, you lied and manipulated and tricked them, so they are within their rights to tear you down about that - and everything else. And they will. You were supposed to tend and cater to every one of the narcissist's needs and wants but you didn't because you are obviously an evil, selfish, inconsiderate monster who does not care about others.
Narcissists see other people's needs -- even basic needs, as a direct threat to their own. How can such a self-centered, scheming individual be their perfect partner? Worse, you actually expect things from them!? How selfish can you possibly be?? This is not the relationship the narcissist thought it was, you are not who they thought you were, and rather than realizing that their perception of people as well as their ideas about what relationships are all totally wrong and warped beyond recognition, they blame you. You lied. You tricked them. You are a fake and a manipulator. On and on and on. Until of course, you do something that suddenly wins their admiration again (like winning an award they can vicariously receive some praise or recognition for by being associated with you). Or until they want something from you. Then the seduction campaign begins anew, until they again tire of it and decide you're a lying evil manipulator once more.
This idealization/devaluation cycle can go on for a very long time; in some instances, it goes on for years. Empaths in particular have a seemingly inexhaustible well of emotion the narcissist can sponge off of, thus keeping the narcissist engaged for quite a while. It's a match made in hell.
Narcissists don't actually want a relationship. They don't want to build anything with anybody and they do not desire to share anything. They don't want a partner. It is not a relationship when one person exists solely to cater to the other person with no needs, wants or expectations of their own. It's slavery. That's not a partner. It's a slave. More correctly, it's an object. We do not have a reciprocal relationship with objects. We use objects and we discard then replace them when they are no longer useful. This is how narcissists deal with other human beings, except that generally when we use an object, the object is not harmed by the usage. The narcissistic relationship would therefore be more parasitic than anything, because the narcissist uses other human beings to that human being's detriment. They cause harm, in other words. Like a tapeworm. No matter how much you eat when you have a tapeworm, you are still always depleted because the tapeworm is getting most of it. When the tapeworm becomes too powerful, you begin literally to starve. This is the relationship with a narcissist. They take everything and there is nothing left for you.
Some say that narcissists are intimidated by commitment, but this is really a sugar-coating of how they feel. They have a pathological phobia about it. It's life and death for them. Their existence literally depends on their needs being not just first but only. In their minds, caring about someone else's needs would be the same thing as saying their own don't matter. It would be emotional suicide. This can even lead to actual suicide. Narcissists are not just "selfish people." Their entire existence is predicated upon this point. This is why they are unable to understand that in a relationship, there are two equal partners: because to them, the only thing that matters is their own needs. The other person is simply seen as a way to get these needs met. There is really nothing more to it.
This cannot be changed and it cannot be fixed, because in order for the narcissist to change this, they would first have to understand and acknowledge that the other person's needs are equally as important as their own needs. Again, this would be the same as committing emotional suicide. They cannot do it. Their pathology initially formed out of a need to protect the narcissist against this exact thing, and it has grown to take over their entire life. Therefore, this realization is not happening.
After devaluing the partner, which can take many forms such as gaslighting, insulting, demeaning, humiliating, smear campaigning, disappearing and cutting off contact, cheating, physical abuse and much more, the narcissist will often simply discard their victim and walk away. This is usually because either:
A. The cycles (and the victim) have ultimately become so boring or pathetic or weak to the narcissist that they don't care to engage anymore
B. The victim is so burned out and emotionally bankrupt that they no longer react to the narcissist's endless provocations, which causes the narcissist to lose interest
c. The narcissist has found a new partner that isn't wise to their scam yet
Whatever the reason, victims are often left shattered and unable to understand what went wrong. Not only have they been put through the emotional wringer for no reason, they've been blamed and told that they are wrong, selfish and evil for just having feelings, needs and flaws. This can be very damaging. Narcissists put a negative connotation on everything the victim says, thinks and does, so consequently victims are left with the idea that even having normal feelings or engaging in normal, every-day activities is selfish and somehow abusive or wrong. Add to this the fact that the narcissist simply up and left, essentially abandoning the victim, and this leaves people in a very fragile state.
Which is of course, exactly where the narcissist wants them.
People who are in this state will be receptive should the narcissist need to come back if their new perfect victim does not work out. People often feel they've "won" in this situation if the narcissist returns, but in reality, the narcissist has come back only because they know their manipulations and fraudulent claims will be successful. This is not a prize you want to win.
People who are discarded feel very hurt and abandoned. You can help yourself by really trying to understand and realize that truthfully, you've have lost nothing but your own illusions. The person you fell in love with literally -- literally -- does not exist. They are not real, like being in love with a character from a TV show or a movie. This is painful but it should also be liberating, because it means you did nothing wrong, and because nothing was truly lost except for possibly time. There's nothing wrong with you. There's something very, very wrong with them. No matter what, narcissists are stuck with the person they truly hate the most: themselves. That is the worst punishment possible. This sounds trite and unsatisfying, but rest assured, it is not. These people are absolutely eaten up with pathological, delusional self-hatred. It's a painful cancer within them. They are not getting away with anything. They are miserable, envious people who will never know peace or happiness on any scale. This is not just lip service, either. It is the absolute truth. These are not happy people and they never will be. In many ways, narcissists suffer more than any person even should, to be perfectly honest. They're not suffering on their victims' behalf, but does that really matter if you've gotten away?
When The Narcissist Doesn't Discard
There are cases where the narcissist does not leave. These are usually relationships that seem to stay in the devaluation (abusive) part of the cycle most of the time, and the narcissist's reason for staying often seems to be to have a person to blame and/or abuse. It often seems to be either a constant power struggle, where the narcissist does not get bored because they have not conquered and defeated the partner yet, or a situation where the narcissist has so completely dominated and conquered the partner that they can now do whatever they want and the partner will put up with it with no question or comment. This person has usually ceased to be a person at all, for all intents and purposes, and is simply an accessory in the narcissist's life that does not cause trouble or problems in the narcissist's wholehearted pursuit of any- and everything they want.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
How do I stop potential suitors from manipulating me either into sex or a relationship, as I am going to be newly divorced. How do you turn down suitors who may be narcissistic, without triggering Narcissistic Injury?
The truth is, you can't. People are going to react the way they will based on their feelings about the situation and there isn't much you can do about that. You can't control other people. Just be careful, be polite and be firm. It's probably a good idea to work on improving your boundaries so that you can see toxic relationships for what they are.Helpful 35