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Ugh! The narcissist discard— an emotionally abusive tactic, and something you’ll come to dread in your relationship with a narcissist. Not only is it painful, but you’re also usually put through multiple discards before the final and ultimate blow that can leave you utterly devastated for a long time.
It’s an unfortunate experience I’ve lived through. However, this is all part of the relationship with a narcissist who controls and psychologically manipulates others.
With that in mind, I’m here to empower you in a way that can help you avoid the emotional devastation of getting tossed aside. I’ll do that by going over key signs a discard is about to happen as you cycle through the stages of the abusive relationship with your partner.
But first, take a look at what narcissist discard means and some common narcissist traits you may see in your partner. I’ve also provided answers to why it’s hard to end the abusive relationship.
What Is a Narcissist?
A narcissist is someone who has developed a set of socially learned traits and behavior that causes dysfunction in close relationships. Their behavior is also abusive in some cases.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) outlined nine toxic traits or signs of narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder. These are grandiosity or superiority, lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement, excessive need for admiration, psychological manipulation, need for control, and envy.
The individual believes they are unique and deserve special treatment. Lastly, they are fixated on fantasies about infinite control, power, success, and fame.
Keep in mind that a person who shows these traits or behavior does not always have NPD. The disorder has to be diagnosed by a certified psychiatrist.
What Is the Narcissist Discard Phase?
Some narcissists build relationships in a way that involves behaviors that amount to abuse towards their partners. In fact, psychologists consider psychological manipulation, something narcissists do, as a form of emotional abuse. Their behaviors run along a timeline or phases that are part of a cycle of narcissistic abuse.
The discard phase of the relationship is the third and penultimate stage of the four-stage cycle of narcissistic abuse. The FOUR stages, or narcissistic relationship patterns, are as follows:
- Idealization (you’re getting lavished with love, gifts, compliments, and affection)
- Devaluation (you’re getting criticized, put down, dissed, and dismissed)
- Discard (you’re getting rejected or dumped in a process that looks like a breakup)
- Hoovering (you’re getting attention, apologies, and promises to change as an attempt to suck you back into the relationship)
Why Does a Narcissist Discard You?
I’m sure you’ve asked yourself why your partner does this. Here’s why. Narcissists tend to build superficial relationships. After all, romantic relationships are set up for the sole purpose of satisfying their needs.
Right away, being self-serving explains why there’s usually an end-stage in their mind even before the relationship begins. Discarding their partners normally marks the end of their attraction toward them. However, breaking up isn’t always final.
Let’s rewind to how it all began. Usually, the individual will use manipulative tactics to bring you into the relationship and exploit you. Eventually, they’ll make you feel as if you’re not good enough, by complaining and nagging about loving them or neglecting their needs.
Next, they’ll discard you as punishment or to get you to comply with their demands. What’s so painful about the behavior is that they make you think it’s over, only to hoover and draw you back into the abusive relationship.
If the hoover phase is successful, the narcissist abuse cycle will start back at the idealization or love bombing stage. Your partner will act totally kind and as if nothing happened.
You’ll feel as if you’re in a brand new relationship. Before you know it, you’re getting criticized and dumped all over again. The cycle will go on until one of you ends the relationship.
What Causes a Person to Become a Narcissist?
An individual can develop narcissism due to several factors that revolve around nature or genetics and upbringing. Healthline outlines the following environmental or social factors responsible for narcissism, as follows:
Trauma Bonding and Narcissistic Abuse
Despite having toxic traits and emotionally abusing their partners, studies show that partners of narcissists have a difficult time ending the relationship. In my research, I found that trauma bonding is a key reason why you may be hesitant to break up.
According to Well and Good, a “trauma bond” is an unhealthy emotional attachment to the person who is causing you emotional trauma or harm. The abuser makes you feel like you need them to survive. In some ways, the attachment looks like codependency, another kind of unhealthy emotional attachment between a couple.
Dealing with a narcissist can cause you emotional distress, anxiety, and loss of self-esteem. These mental effects tend to get worse the longer you stay in the relationship and repeatedly go through the manipulation and abuse cycle.
Taking steps to break up will require breaking that toxic emotional bond created by your partner. You’ll also need to ignore their fake romantic attempts to reconcile.
13 Warning Signs a Narcissist Is About to Breakup with You
Narcissists are control and manipulative freaks who always have to get their way. I’ve developed a strong dislike for these individuals who prey on the vulnerabilities of others. That said, a narcissist typically activates the discard phase once they start losing control over you.
Minimizing you becomes the easy way out once they realize you’re no longer providing them with narcissistic fuel/supply. Otherwise, it’s because you keep inflicting narcissistic wounds on their fragile ego. Honestly, you can’t even satisfy the endless needs they have. Ultimately, you will be thrown aside.
Since I now know how to turn the tables on a narcissist and make them miserable, I intentionally mess with their overly sensitive egos. It’s kind of satisfying to watch them crumble not knowing what else to do to successfully manipulate you. Keep those things in mind as you look closely at the following signs you’re about to be treated to a narcissist discard.
#1. Reduced Mirroring
After winning your trust and love, and when they’re ready to break up, your narcissist partner will stop mirroring or acting in sync with you. Mirroring is the behavior of copying what someone is doing to show interest. You’ll notice this happening in the early days of dating.
The individual may mirror you unconsciously by copying your speech, body language, facial expression, or actions. However, manipulative narcissists use mirroring to make you believe they have an emotional connection with you.
Remember that narcissists lack empathy and are unable to establish deep emotional bonds.
#2. Appearing Secretive
During the dating stage, your partner might have been a lot more forthcoming about personal information. They tried to appear open and “honest” as a way to gain your trust. That’s all part of the love bombing phase when they hold you in high regard.
Lately, you notice your significant other is acting sneaky and secretive. They stop telling you things they used to, for example, their life plans, where they’re going, or who they’re hanging out with. Take it as a sign of withdrawal before the discard.
#3. Acting Less Jealous Than Before
Strong and even irrational jealousy are characteristics displayed by narcissists. They’re always policing you and want to know your whereabouts out of fear you might become attracted to someone else.
Some may stalk their partners to keep tabs on where they are and who they’re with to stay in control. These creepy behaviors often grow less and less once the narcissistic discard phase begins.
#4. Wandering Eyes
You may notice your partner appears attracted to members of the opposite sex. In narcissist world, this is a common theme. Narcissists easily stray from their partners, since they aren’t usually able to establish strong emotional bonds in relationships.
Flirting is also part of the discard phase and may lead up to cheating the more your partner loses interest in you. Sometimes they cheat and want you to discover it. This works to create a kind of emotional trauma that ties you to them.
Not only that, but cheating is also intended to make you feel worthless. They reduce your self-esteem to make it easy for you to take them back
#5. Dramatic Personal Changes
A chameleon nature–that’s what narcissists have. There comes a time when they need to change characteristics to please someone else. Unfortunately, you’re no longer the person they aim to please.
Look out for changes in personality or appearance, such as a new accent, style of dress, haircut, and body scent. Heck, they’ll grow a beard if they are seeing someone new who says they like a man with a beard.
All this means they’re mirroring a new intimate partner and need to change into someone else to capture the person’s attention and love.
#6. Suddenly Appearing Happy
After all, she put you through, your narcissistic girlfriend has the nerve to show up gleefully. Meanwhile, you are sad and down in the dumps from going through the narcissist abuse cycle. While you’re struggling to figure out what the hell happened, she’s busy creating a new life.
Appearing happy all of a sudden is usually a sign your partner is getting love, attention, or another form of narcissistic supply from someone else. Their new demeanor, plus the dramatic change in personality and appearance, says it all!
#7. Excessive Devaluation
As pride comes before a fall, you’ll get devalued before the discard. Several discards may have happened before, depending on the length of the relationship. Only this time, you’re being subjected to excessive devaluing.
Your partner may do things such as frequently criticizing you without apologizing, openly cheating, or escalating the abuse. You’ll find it hard to coexist in the same space with them, fearing constant putdowns or getting unfairly compared to their past lovers. By the way, that’s an example of triangulation.
In total, devaluing comes once your partner no longer admires you or feels you have nothing left to offer.
#8. Launching a Smear Campaign
During the discard phase, especially when the narcissist decides she’s not coming back, she’ll launch what’s called a public smear campaign. The campaign involves spreading lies to people close to you to damage your reputation.
Your partner may also employ what are called “flying monkeys” or people she’ll use to help spread defamatory claims about you.
Usually, the fly monkeys are a group of people consisting of the narcissist’s own friends or family members. They’ll also manipulate vulnerable members of your family into joining the smear campaign against you.
#9. Indifference or Apathy
Your partner will appear bored, uninterested, apathetic, or aloof towards you once they’ve decided to discard you. Whatever emotional attachment they created to win you over has dwindled away.
Nine out of 10 times, it’s because of a vested romantic interest in someone new, also called the ‘new supply’. Breaking up is easy since the attachment was superficial and for the purpose of exploiting you. As such, your husband is able to walk away and move on very quickly with his new supply.
#10. The “Narcissist” Mask Falls Off
The narcissist’s mask is a term used for the fake personality a narcissist takes on to hide their evil intentions. They also act like chameleons, behaving one way in your presence and completely differently around someone else.
When the mask ‘slips’ or ‘drops’, that means they’re done hiding their true selves. At this point, you may discover the lies they told you, the cheating, and other nefarious things they’re involved in.
You’ll feel duped into marrying a completely different person than you thought. By this point of the discard phase, your husband doesn’t care how you feel.
#11. New Primary Intimate Partner
Someone who is a toxic narcissist will enter a new relationship before the old one ends. During a new relationship, they may continue sleeping with exes or establishing new intimate connections. The problem is that they are deeply insecure and need several sources of narcissistic supply to feel normal.
The supply could be attention, sex, admiration, money, etc. The main partner is usually the one supplying premium narcissistic fuel. If you’re the primary source of supply, they’ll discard you once they have exploited you enough or found someone who provides them with more than you offer.
Be aware that they may also openly rub the new relationship in your face to hurt you.
# 12. No Hoovering
“Hoovering” is a manipulative tactic narcissistic partners use to pull you back into their lives after devaluing and discarding you. They’ll act as if nothing happened and may blame you for the discard.
They’ll do whatever it takes to win you back, including offering insincere apologies and making empty promises, known as “future faking.’ Their only intention is to continue using you, especially if their secondary intimate partners aren’t satisfying their needs.
In some cases, your partner will do a final hoover before ghosting you.
#13. Disappearing Altogether
Initiating a breakup with a narcissist is absolutely difficult. They don’t back down and it’s only because they don’t like rejection or losing. They want to end the relationship on their own terms. Therefore, if your partner has vanished without a trace, chances are you’ve been discarded.
Narcissism experts call it the final discard, since the partner of a narc cycles through several idealize, devalue, discard, and hoover stages before getting ghosted. Dealing with the emotions of getting ghosted might be tough, especially if you had no clue what was about to happen.
Final Thoughts on Narcissist Discard
Nobody likes getting rejected and tossed aside in a relationship. However, the discard phase is an integral part of the narcissist abuse cycle. Being in tune with the narcissist in your life is key to spotting the signs they’re about to dump you and taking steps to shield yourself from the trauma and pain.
The psychological effects of narcissistic discard are similar to those experienced by the victims of narcissistic abuse. For example, lowered self-esteem, and PTSD. That’s in addition to new symptoms related to grief and loss- such as shock, confusion, denial, anger, increased anxiety, self-doubt, depression, and trust issues.
Because dealing with a narcissist is emotionally traumatic, I'm a big fan of discarding them first as soon as you recognize you're ‘in bed' with the manipulator.
On the bright side of things, you’ll be free to move on and can always seek the help of a therapist. Going over the 5 Stages of Healing and Recovery After Narcissistic Abuse may also be helpful.
Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.