It can be extremely hurtful to be discarded by a narcissist. It almost always comes when you least expect it and it is common for them to have a replacement for you almost immediately which can be just as traumatizing as the abuse. It’s for this reason that understanding the reason why narcissists are able to discard so easily is so important for victims of narcissistic abuse.

Narcissists can discard so easily because they have an anxious attachment style, because they don’t care about you or the relationship that you had, and because discarding you helps them manage their negative emotions.

This article is going to take you step-by-step through the different reasons that a narcissist can discard so easily and we’ve created a short video below that summarizes our article What Do Narcissists Feel After the Discard to give you a better understanding of discarding in narcissistic relationships. 

A Short Video About What Narcissists Feel After Discarding You

Narcissists Can Discard You Easily Because They Have An Anxious Attachment Style

The term “attachment style” is used to describe the manner in which we emotionally and physically interact with other people. The term originates from the Attachment Theory, a theory that focuses on the relationships we form with our primary caregivers as infants, specifically how infants respond when they are separated from their primary caregiver.

There’s a ton of really fascinating and important information about the Attachment Theory and the relationship it has with narcissistic personality disorder in our article How Are Narcissists Made but this section is going to dive deeper into the different attachment styles as they are to blame for a narcissist’s ability to discard so easily. 

Infants who have a secure attachment style will be sad when physically or emotionally separated from their primary caregiver and happy when their primary caregiver returns. 

Infants who possess an anxious attachment style will be upset when physically or emotionally separated from their primary caregiver and will struggle with their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs upon their return. They will be caught between being happy that their primary caregiver is back and wanting to punish the primary caregiver for leaving. 

An infant with an avoidant attachment style doesn’t get visibly upset when they are separated from their primary caregiver but they actively try to avoid them upon their return. For example, a primary caregiver leaves their child who has an avoidant attachment with a babysitter for a day and when they return, their child gives them the silent treatment, locks themselves in their room, or pretends that they don’t exist some other way.

A child with an avoidant attachment style

In recent years the work of Cindy Hazan has revealed that these attachment styles that we develop as children follow us into adolescenthood and adulthood and it is thanks to her work that it is now common knowledge that narcissists have anxious attachment styles.

Adults with anxious attachment styles are constantly worrying about if people love them or not, they get really frustrated when their needs aren’t met, they constantly need reassurance, they often have poor boundaries, they portray themselves as independent and someone who doesn’t need others, and they are ​​afraid of emotions, intimacy, and emotional closeness.

To test this theory that narcissists have anxious attachment styles, we conducted a study among 200 survivors of narcissistic abuse to determine which attachment style they felt like the narcissist in their lives had.

It is common knowledge that narcissists have a fear of rejection and abandonment, they have an incessant need for validation, admiration, and reassurance, they are terrified of thoughts, feelings, and emotions, they have poor boundaries, and they portray themselves as independent, superior, and successful.

So the purpose of this survey was to determine the behavior of the narcissist in our participants’ lives when the two were reunited after being emotionally or physically separated from each other for an extended period of time. We created a short video below that outlines the survey and the results!

A Short Video About a Study We Conducted With 200 Survivor of Narcissistic Abuse About the Attachment Styles the Narcissist in Their Life Has

To sum up everything that has been written about in this section and to reiterate the important parts, narcissists can discard easily because they have anxious attachment styles. They portray themselves as independent and someone who doesn’t need others, they are ​​afraid of emotions, intimacy, and emotional closeness, and they get frustrated when their needs aren’t met. 

All of this allows them to discard people they’ve been connected with for months, years, even decades effortlessly. If you’re interested in learning more about the reasons that narcissists discard we highly recommend that you read our article Why Do Narcissists Discard You because it will also give you even more insight into the reason that they can discard so easily.

Narcissists Can Discard You Easily Because They Don’t Care About You or the Relationship That You Had Together

Narcissists do not seek out relationships because they desire to be close with someone else. A relationship symbolizes everything that a narcissist is terrified of. Healthy relationships require a lot of trust, mutuality, vulnerability, honesty, emotional closeness, sacrifices, and respect. 

A narcissist doesn’t naturally possess any of those qualities. They have a very transactional view of relationships because they only care about the validation, admiration, and reassurance, also known as narcissistic supply, that they can get from it.

The reason for this is because it is believed that narcissism originates from an unhealthy/abusive upbringing with primary caregivers who are unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent. 

These types of primary caregivers are unable to mirror their child’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs, which means that the child doesn’t get the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need to develop a realistic sense of self.

This causes the child to develop a belief that their true identity isn’t good enough and forces them to search their external environment for the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need to develop a realistic sense of self which often manifests in the form of the child excelling at something in their external environment that can bring them validation, admiration, and reassurance. 

a narcissistic child getting a lot of narcissistic supply

When the child receives the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they were looking for, it reinforces their belief that their true identity isn’t good enough which causes them to develop a deeply rooted hatred for their true identity because they believe that it makes them unloveable, abandonable, inadequate, and disgusting.  

Sadly, the unhealthy, abusive upbringing that narcissists had destroyed their cognitive development  which left them so emotionally immature that they’re incapable of regulating their own negative emotions, especially the hate that they have for themselves. 

Instead, they create a sense of self out of the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they receive from their external environment and use it to suppress their true identity and all of their negative emotions.

This means that their internal environment and emotional stability is incredibly unstable. But again, they don’t have the emotional maturity to be able to manage their own instability. It is for this reason that they need a constant flow of validation, admiration, and reassurance. They use it to maintain their falsified sense of self and to further suppress their negative emotions. 

When it comes to relationships, narcissists view them as sources of validation, admiration, and reassurance. They don’t have any emotional investment in you or the relationship at all. You are just a source of validation, admiration, and reassurance and that is the reason that they can discard you so easily. 

If for some reason you don’t fulfill their need for validation, admiration, and reassurance, they are going to discard you for someone or something that can. For narcissists, relationships are purely transactional, nothing more and nothing less.

Narcissists Can Discard You So Easily Because It Helps Them Regulate Their Suppressed Negative Emotions

One of the most common ways that a narcissist will keep their negative emotions suppressed is by feeding their sense of superiority. A narcissist is so emotionally inadequate and immature that they need a tangible representation of the destruction to feel good about themselves.

By seeing someone “worse off” than them or “below” them, they are feeding their sense of superiority which in turn feeds their grandiose sense of self, specialness, and uniqueness, allowing them to further suppress their negative emotions.  

There are a ton of different ways that a narcissist can actually do this like narcissistic rage, projection, invalidation, devaluation, and dehumanization. But from a narcissistic perspective discarding is one of the most fulfilling techniques that a narcissist will use to feed their sense of superiority. 

When a narcissist discards you it gives them a tremendous amount of power and control regardless of your response. What we mean by this is that if you were to not fully understand narcissism/narcissistic abuse and you felt really sad and tried to get the narcissist back after they discarded you, you’d be fulfilling their incessant need to be wanted, admired, validated, cherished, and reassured.

A narcissist discarding his victim

If you did know a lot about narcissism and narcissistic abuse when the narcissist discarded you so you just focused on rebuilding yourself instead of looking for closure, the narcissist still gets a tremendous amount of power and control because in their mind they are the ones who rejected you which makes you the one who is abandonable, unloveable, unwanted, and disgusting. 

In a sick and twisted way, when a narcissist is able to discard their victim first, they are able to project all of their negative emotions about themselves onto the victim and control the narrative so that they can continue to maintain their grandiose sense of self to themselves and others because public image is everything for a narcissist. 

In more ways than one, narcissists are able to effortlessly discard you because it helps them regulate all of their suppressed negative emotions. It feeds their sense of superiority and gives them a tangible representation of their grandiose sense of self through the destruction that they cause. 

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

The discard phase is a very common phase to see in narcissistic relationship and it never feels good. It is important that you learn how to use the discarding phase to your advantage. With the right approach, being discarded by a narcissist will allow you to prioritize your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs, it will give you time to develop healthy trauma responses, it will prevent you from justifying, rationalizing, and normalizing abuse, and it will allow you to become the best version of yourself.


This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

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