It is common for narcissists to reject people. In this context, rejection means declining an offer, request, proposal, expression of affection, or expression of interest from someone else.
Generally speaking, narcissists reject you because they are trying to punish you, protect their grandiose sense of self-importance, manipulate you into giving them more attention, or because they are trying to prevent themselves from experiencing a narcissistic injury.
Rejection is a very sneaky tactic that narcissists use and this article is going to guide you through each reason that a narcissist would reject you so that you can grasp a better understanding of it.
They Are Trying to Punish You
It is common for narcissists to use rejection as a punishment when they feel like you have wronged them.
What exactly does this mean?
Well, to punish someone means to make them suffer in some way because they have done something wrong.
The most common way that narcissists use rejection to punish you is discarding.
In this context, discarding refers to the act of abruptly ending the relationship without explanation or justification.
As a general rule, narcissists discard the people that they abuse as soon as they no longer serve a purpose or provide any further narcissistic supply.
You see, narcissists don’t view you as an individual with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs of your own.
They view you as a source of narcissistic supply that they are entitled to having.
If you didn’t know already, narcissistic supply is validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control.
Narcissists use narcissistic supply to suppress their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions so that they can construct a positive self-perception.
If the narcissist in your life were to feel like they could no longer get enough narcissistic supply out of you, it wouldn’t be uncommon for them to try to punish you by discarding you.
Now, if you have been discarded by the narcissist in your life, it is important to keep in mind that being discarded says nothing about who you are as a person.
The narcissist may try to manipulate you into feeling like you aren’t “worthy” of them and that is why they discarded you, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Our article “6 Ways to Respond After Being Discarded By a Narcissist” has a ton of information that will help you manage being discarded by a narcissist.
They Are Trying to Protect Their Grandiose Sense of Self-Importance
A defining characteristic of narcissism is a grandiose sense of self-importance.
This is an unrealistic sense of specialness and superiority that causes an individual to truly believe that they are unique and better than others.
Now, one of the reasons that a narcissist might reject you is to protect their grandiose sense of self-importance.
What does this mean?
Well, for a narcissist to be able to maintain a grandiose sense of self-importance, they must find a way to manage their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
One of the ways that they do this is by using narcissistic supply to construct a positive self-perception.
But another way that they maintain a grandiose sense of self-importance that often leaves the people they abuse feeling rejected is by using projection.
Projection is a defense mechanism that occurs when someone takes parts of their own identity that they find unacceptable and places it onto someone else.
For example, a cheating husband accusing his wife of cheating instead of taking responsibility for his own actions.
The painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that narcissists have are the parts of their identity that they find unacceptable.
They project them onto the person that they are abusing through abuse and manipulation because they are trying to destroy their self-esteem.
What this does is it allows them to figuratively point their finger at the person that they are abusing and think to themselves, “I’m not the one who is unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak, they are.”
What this means is that when a narcissist rejects you, they could be doing is so that they can think to themselves, “I’m not the one who is unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak, they are.”
When this is combined with the other manipulation tactics that narcissists use, this type of environment can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, low self-worth, and subsequently, feelings of rejection.
They Want You to Give Them More Attention
It is common for narcissists to reject you simply because they are trying to manipulate you into giving them more attention.
The most common way that a narcissist will do this is through a manipulation tactic called breadcrumbing.
Breadcrumbing is a dating term that refers to the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal messages in order to keep someone interested in the possibility of a relationship without actually committing to one.
Even though this is a term that is associated with romantic relationships, it can also happen in family relationships when one family member may keep another in a state of uncertainty or false hope about the status of their relationship.
A simple example of breadcrumbing in a romantic relationship could be a narcissist occasionally sending flirty messages or expressing interest, but never following through with plans or efforts to move the relationship forward.
This keeps the other partner interested and hopeful even though the narcissist hasn’t made any real commitment.
In a family relationship breadcrumbing could look like a narcissistic parent consistently making empty promises to spend time with their child, but canceling the plans that they make at the last minute.
This keeps the child interested and invested in the relationship, while the narcissistic parent hasn’t made any real effort to maintain it.
If a narcissist were to breadcrumb you for an extended period of time and then reject you by discarding or ghosting you, it will most likely trigger your deepest insecurities and manipulate you into giving them more attention.
Well, after being ghosted for an extended period of time, it wouldn’t be uncommon for you to want to get back in touch with the narcissist after they rejected you so that you can get validation.
What do we mean by this?
Well, it is common for those experiencing narcissistic abuse to seek validation from the narcissist because of how much they’ve been invalidated, dismissed, or hurt by the narcissist’s behavior.
This can lead to low self-esteem and a need to feel valued and important to the narcissist.
When this happens, reaching out for validation from the narcissist may be a way to try and regain some control or stability in the relationship.
But unfortunately, narcissists are never going to give you the validation that you are searching for because they want you to continue to search for it.
This is because the attention you give them while searching for validation gives them narcissistic supply.
It is a harsh reality to face, but again, narcissists don’t view you as a person with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs of your own.
They view you as an object that they are entitled to using to get narcissistic supply.
Because of this, it is common for a narcissist to reject you so that you give them more attention, and subsequently, more narcissistic supply.
They Are Trying to Protect Themselves from a Narcissistic Injury
A narcissistic injury is a perceived threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or self-worth.
The most common causes of narcissistic injuries are real or imagined criticism, disrespect, or rejection. However, emotional closeness can cause them as well.
Emotional closeness refers to the deep connection and trust between two individuals, characterized by intimacy and vulnerability.
It involves sharing personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences and feeling understood and accepted by the other person.
Why would emotional closeness cause a narcissistic injury?
Well, as we mentioned before, narcissists have many painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions suppressed within themselves.
Deep down they feel unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak.
Unfortunately, they have such low emotional intelligence that they are incapable of managing these painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions on their own.
We mentioned this earlier but what they do instead is construct a positive self-perception out of narcissistic supply so that they can suppress the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that they have.
When they experience any type of emotional closeness, it contradicts the painful core beliefs that narcissists have about themselves and challenges their self-perception.
As you can imagine, this causes a massive narcissistic injury.
When a narcissist experiences a narcissistic injury, all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions bubble to their surface and trigger their need to defend or restore their positive self-perception.
One of the ways that they can do this is by simply rejecting you.
This allows them to project all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto you and it allows them to restore their positive self-perception.
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.
Besser, Avi, and Beatriz Priel. “Grandiose narcissism versus vulnerable narcissism in threatening situations: Emotional reactions to achievement failure and interpersonal rejection.” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 29.8 (2010): 874.