We go this question from the community: “What happens when you ignore a narcissist?” I got curious and looked into it. Here’s what I figured out.

If you ignore a narcissist’s discard, expect them to increase their efforts to get your attention, resort to playing the victim, get angry and seek revenge, give you the silent treatment, launch a smear campaign against you, or move on to a new target. 

In this article, I’ll break down each of these responses so that you can know what to expect if you ever find yourself ignoring a narcissist’s discard.

1.) They Might Increase Their Efforts to Get Your Attention

When you ignore a narcissist after they’ve discarded you, they may initially ramp up their efforts to get your attention.1

Generally speaking, this is because they view your lack of response as a challenge to their grandiose self-image.

So, they might use various tactics to regain your attention, such as texting, calling, or even showing up to your work and hanging out spots.

A narcissist trying to get someone's attention.

For example, imagine that after being discarded, you’ve decided to stop responding to any communication from the narcissist in your life.

In response, they start to flood your phone with texts and voicemails. Each message varies in tone, from apologetic to angry and demeaning.

They even send flowers to your workplace or leave notes on your car, all in an attempt to get you to engage with them again.

2.) They Might Resort to Playing the Victim

If you ignore the narcissist for an extended period of time, they might shift tactics and start victimizing themselves.

When they do this, they are often trying to prey on your emotions, hoping you’ll break the silence out of concern or guilt.2

For instance, let’s say you’re in the middle of a narcissistic discard right now and decided to go no contact so you can focus on your well-being.

But all of a sudden, you hear from mutual friends that the narcissist is telling everyone how devastated they are since you’ve stopped talking to them.

They post vague, melancholic statuses on social media, hinting at a personal crisis, making it seem like they’re spiraling without your support.

This is self-victimization at its finest. Their goal is to paint themselves as the victim of the situation, hoping it will be enough to pull you back in.

Related: Why Do Narcissists Go Into a Depression?

3.) They Might Get Angry and Seek Revenge

Another possible reaction is anger and retaliation.

This is because narcissists often see themselves as superior to others and, as a result, don’t take kindly to being ignored.

When combined with their other traits, their frustration at being unable to control or affect you anymore can lead to hostile behaviors.3

A narcissist getting angry because they are being ignored.

For example, suppose you’ve decided to ignore the narcissist in your life after being discarded by them.

Once they realize your stance, they get angry, lash out, and begin spreading lies about you to mutual friends or engage in online trolling.

Their goal here is to provoke a reaction from you, any reaction, so they can validate their sense of superiority and regain power and control over you.

Related: Will a Narcissist Try to Get Revenge?

4.) They Might Move On to a New Target

If you decide to ignore the narcissist’s discard and stay consistent with it, they will likely move on to a new target.

This is because their need for admiration and validation is constant, and if they realize they can’t get it from you, they’ll seek it elsewhere.

Of course, this doesn’t mean they’ve changed or will leave you alone for good; they’re simply repeating their pattern with someone else.

For example, let’s say months have gone by, and you’ve remained steadfast in ignoring the narcissist.

Then, one day, you notice they’ve started posting pictures and updates with someone new, showering them with the same affection and attention they once showed you.

This is an example of a narcissist realizing their tactics aren’t helping them regain your attention and shifting their focus to a new target instead.

Related: 6 Reasons a Narcissist Will Come Back After Discarding You

5.) They Might Give You the Silent Treatment

When you ignore a narcissist during the discard phase, they might give you the silent treatment in return.

This means refusing to verbally communicate with you, often as a means of punishment, manipulation, or control.4

As a general rule, the reason a narcissist would do this is because they hope that by ignoring you, they’ll regain the upper hand.


Well, in a perfect world for them, ignoring you will cause you to miss their attention and seek to re-establish contact.

For example, say you decide to cut off all communication with the narcissist after they discard you.

A person deciding to ignore a narcissist.

In response, they completely stop all attempts to contact you, even going as far as to ignore your presence in social settings.

This could cause you to cause you to spend a lot of time and energy trying to get their attention because being ignored by them feels unbearable.

Related: Why Do I Still Love the Narcissist?

6.) They Might Launch a Smear Campaign

In response to being ignored, the narcissist might launch a smear campaign to protect their “perfect” image and control the narrative.

A narcissistic smear campaign is a narcissist’s attempt to tarnish their target’s image, reputation, credibility, or character.5

For example, after a few weeks of ignoring the narcissist, imagine you start to hear from friends about rumors being spread about you.

The narcissist is telling anyone who will listen that you were the reason for the breakup, portraying themselves as the victim of your supposed unreasonable behavior.

This campaign is designed not just to hurt you but to win the sympathy and support of your shared social circle.

For more helpful information like this, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

If you ignore a narcissist’s discard, expect them to do one ore more of the following:

  • Increase their efforts to get your attention.
  • Resort to playing the victim.
  • Get angry and seek revenge.
  • Give you the silent treatment.
  • Launch a smear campaign against you.
  • Move on to a new target. 

Thanks for sticking with me to the end! Do you have any thoughts or questions? I’d love to hear them in the comments. It’s always great getting to connect with readers.

And if you want to learn more about the narcissism and narcissistic abuse, our latest articles are full of the information you’re seeking.

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Hawk, Skyler T., et al. “Narcissistic adolescents’ attention-seeking following social rejection: Links with social media disclosure, problematic social media use, and smartphone stress.” Computers in Human Behavior 92 (2019): 65-75. ↩︎
  2. Geldenhuys, Kotie. “The pathological narcissist.” Servamus Community-based Safety and Security Magazine 113.7 (2020): 28-31. ↩︎
  3. Rasmussen, Kyler. “Entitled vengeance: A meta‐analysis relating narcissism to provoked aggression.” Aggressive behavior 42.4 (2016): 362-379. ↩︎
  4. Cleveland Clinic. (2024. January, 14). The Silent Treatment: Causes and Coping. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/silent-treatment ↩︎
  5. Anna Drescher. (2024. January, 28). What Is A Narcissistic Smear Campaign? SimplyPsychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/narcissistic-smear-campaign.html ↩︎

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