You would think that being discarded by a narcissist is something that should be celebrated but it is actually one of the most confusing, and oftentimes painful, experiences that victims of abuse go through. After what felt like an eternity of exhausting themselves to meet the narcissist’s unreasonably high expectations, the discarding phase often leaves victims of narcissistic abuse wondering why they’ve been discarded by the narcissist.
Narcissists will discard their victims to punish them for setting a boundary, because they need to reassure their fragile sense of self by proving that they’re still in power and control of the relationship, or because they’ve found a new source of narcissistic supply.
It’s important to notice that none of those reasons had anything to do with the victim. They all revolve around the narcissist’s deeply rooted vulnerabilities and insecurities. It’s important to remember this because discarding feels personal and causes victims of abuse to ruminate about the discard which keeps them trapped within the narcissistic abuse cycle. Understanding the reasoning behind a narcissist’s incessant need to discard others is an important milestone in one’s healing journey.
Narcissists Discard You to Punish You For Setting a Boundary
There’s nothing that a narcissist hates more than healthy boundaries. Not only do they limit the amount of narcissistic supply that the narcissist can get, but they also contradict the narcissist’s falsified identity by challenging their grandiose sense of self and belief that they’re special/unique.
For a narcissist, a contradiction to their falsified identity is extremely dangerous because it triggers all of their suppressed negative emotions. These negative emotions are shame, an overwhelming sense of inadequacy, a fear of abandonment, a sense of being unlovable, insecure, and vulnerable, and an intense hatred for themselves.
They’ve developed these negative emotions from an unhealthy/abusive upbringing with primary caregivers who were unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent. We strongly recommend that you read our article How Are Narcissists Made for a complete guide through this important topic but the upbringing that narcissists had left them so emotionally inadequate that they’re incapable of managing their own suppressed negative emotions.
To prevent these unmanageable negative emotions from completely destroying their emotional stability, narcissists will create a falsified identity that is designed to accumulate the validation, admiration, and reassurance of others while simultaneously compartmentalizing and suppressing all of the negative emotions that their true identity makes them feel deep within their psyche.
When the falsified identity of a narcissist gets contradicted, all of their suppressed negative emotions get freed from the psychological box that the narcissist confined them to which jeopardizes their emotional stability and their inability to regulate their own emotions causes them to have an extreme reaction. So, they either clam up and go into a silent treatment or explode into a terrifying rage.
If you were to set and maintain a healthy boundary with a narcissist, it’s very possible that they could decide that they want to discard you in an attempt to manipulate and bully you into abandoning the boundary that you’ve set. If you haven’t had the time to sit down with a support group or qualified professional to unpack through the narcissistic abuse cycle, this tactic might work on you.
But once you start to learn about the narcissistic abuse cycle it becomes clear that this discarding tactic is arguably one of the clearest manifestations of their grandiose sense of self because they honestly believe that they’re so important, special, and unique that you rather endure their abuse than spend a second without them.
Narcissists Discard You to Prove to Themselves That They’re Still In Power and Control of the Relationship
There comes a time in every narcissistic relationship where the victim either intentionally or unintentionally uses the gray rock method, a technique designed to limit the amount of supply that the victim gives the narcissist by reducing the amount of significant interactions victims of abuse have with the narcissist in their lives.
This means that when the narcissist uses their vulnerabilities against them, they won’t engage. When they criticize them, they won’t defend or explain themselves. The victim’s demeanor will always be very neutral around them like a boring gray rock.
When a victim of narcissistic abuse makes a conscious decision to use this technique, it is extremely powerful and effective. But when the usage of the gray rock method originates from a place of helplessness or hopelessness, it is incredibly dangerous.
What we mean by this is that a conscious decision to not engage with the narcissist shows a level of awareness and knowledge about narcissistic abuse that places the victim in a very powerful position. But when the gray rock method is motivated by a sense of helplessness and hopelessness it shows that the narcissist has simply worn the victim down to the point of exhaustion.
It is important to understand the difference between the two because when a victim of narcissistic abuse intentionally or unintentionally uses the gray rock method it is very common for narcissists to discard the victim to reassure their fragile sense of self by proving that they’re still in power and control of the relationship.
If this is done to a victim of narcissistic abuse who is accidentally “gray rocking” the narcissist in their life because the exhaustion has caused them to checkout out of the relationship, discarding could manipulate them into obsessing over the narcissist in their life which is exactly what the narcissist wants.
The reason that narcissists often discard victims who use the gray rock method is because they are heavily dependent on the narcissistic supply, the validation, admiration, and reassurance of others, that the gray rock method takes away from them.
Narcissists aren’t stupid. They are going to notice when their victim begins to check out of the relationship. When they don’t get enough narcissistic supply, all of their negative emotions get triggered, especially their fear of abandonment.
So, to regain control of the supply, their position of power in the relationship, and to tame their crippling fear of abandonment, it’s common for a narcissist to use discarding to reassure their fragile sense of self.
We highly recommend that you familiarize yourself with How to Use the Gray Rock Method on a Narcissist, Does the Gray Rock Method Work, and How Do Narcissists React to the Gray Rock Method to grasp a comprehensive understanding of this awesome technique to protect yourself from narcissistic abuse and to understand why it is so important to use the technique from a place of awareness and understanding of narcissism and not from a place of helplessness and hopelessness.
Narcissists Discard You Because They’ve Found a New Source of Narcissistic Supply
The negative emotions that narcissists suppress deep within their psyche are insanely powerful and are constantly eating away at the emotional stability of a narcissist. It is for this reason that a narcissist can never have “enough” narcissistic supply.
Meaning that even if you were to remain a very viable source of narcissistic supply month after month, year after year, you are never going to be good enough for the narcissist. On top of all of that, narcissistic abuse destroys your mental and physical health so even if you try your hardest to remain a viable source of narcissistic supply, it will never be good enough.
It can be really difficult to come to terms with the concept of never being good enough but you have to remember that it has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with the narcissist’s emotional instability.
A helpful way to think about narcissistic supply and the role you play in a narcissist’s life is to imagine that you’re having an asthma attack. Your chest is getting tight, you’re coughing and wheezing, you can barely breathe and the moment you think you’re about to pass out, you take one or two puffs of your inhaler and the symptoms begin to fade away.
As thankful as you are for having a tool to manage your asthma attack, are you going to continue to use it once it has expired or are you going to go find a new one so that you can manage your asthma properly? The relationship someone who is having an asthma attack has with their inhaler is the same relationship that a narcissist has with you and their narcissistic supply except their “asthma attack” is a daily occurrence.
It’s for this reason that narcissists are constantly looking for better sources of narcissistic supply. When the day comes where you are no longer a viable source of supply, they will not hesitate to discard you for another source of supply.
Being discarded for another source of supply can be extremely painful because it often happens when you are at your lowest point in life. The narcissist has taken as much narcissistic supply from you as humanly possible and then just discards you like nothing ever happened.
If you are in this type of situation, seek out the guidance of a qualified professional because the negative emotions that come from being replaced by a new supply are confusing and devastating.
You’ll likely have to witness the narcissist begin a “happy” life with the new source of supply which will give you a seemingly uncontrollable urge to warn the narcissist’s new supply about what he/she is getting themselves into.
There’s also a chance that they don’t find a viable source of supply so they try to hoover their way back into your life so a qualified professional is going to be crucial if you are to survive the discarding phase with a narcissist because allowing the narcissist back in your life could trap you within the abuse cycle for years.
What Should You Take Away From This Article?
We want to stress the importance of understanding that being discarded by a narcissist has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Discarding can be an extremely challenging phase to go through so don’t go through it alone.
Suggested Reading: What Do Narcissists Feel After the Discard?
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.