November 15, 2020

The 4 Stages of the Narcissistic Discard.

What is a narcissistic discard?

Simply put, when you’ve served your purpose for a certain person, you’re discarded by them. That’s it.

You had little interest to this person as a living, breathing entity in your own right. Your feelings, or personal battles, were of zero concern to them. You were of use to them; now you’re not.

So you’re discarded. Goodbye.

What you may think about that, or what you have to say about it, is irrelevant. If your views weren’t validated before, they’re not going to be now. You’re gone.

To be honest, you always were; you just never knew it.

What purpose did you serve? It could be anything—money, support, perhaps you took the edge off their loneliness, maybe you even just made them feel better about themselves—it could take almost any shape.

All that matters is, the moment you’re not needed to provide those things, or you can’t, you’re shown the door.

That discard is callous, cold, and self-absorbed; it’s brutal.

However, what amplifies the hurt is that the discard isn’t a “onetime” thing. It’s not like the end of a normal relationship (professional or personal) where you simply need to grieve and process the parting; the actual ending is only one stage. And the ones that follow the discard itself are often just as painful.

Stage One: The Discard. Or, more accurately, the timing of the discard.

So, you’ve served your purpose, and you’ve been shown the door.

That hurts; of course, it does.

But, there’s an added element of pain when the discard is narcissistic.

The timing.

Oh, boy—the timing.

That’s the real kicker.

Because a narcissistic discard will occur at the worst possible moment. For you, that is. Not them. Remember, they don’t need you—they’re okay.

But you? Well, let’s say that this is probably the very moment you need them most of all. What’s the worst thing you can imagine happening to you? Got it? That’s when you’ll be discarded. Yes—then.

This is not a person for whom the saying, “No man gets left behind” means anything at all. People do get left behind, trapped behind those psychological enemy lines. If it involves any heavy-lifting (physical or emotional), it’s too much effort. The casualties just get abandoned there, discarded.

Love doesn’t always find you at your best. But it never leaves you at your worst. Only a narcissistic discard does that.

You can drown yourself in a sea of hypocrisy—the kind of person who does that, is also the kind of person who will throw their toys out of the pram if you even entertained the thought of doing the same. In fact, if you’ve ever been discarded by someone, the chances are—before this—they’ve already previously pontificated about your levels of support toward them.

One day, you’ll find the irony of someone highlighting your perceived lack of support when they walked away from you during the worst time(s) of life quite humorous. I mean, it is.

But, in the short-term, here’s a hint: Don’t go there. Double standards are really the least of your problems. Let. It. Go.

In addition to the irony, over time, you’ll also see that the discard was inevitable.

Looking back, you’ll see you ignored those “red flags.” Because there would have been some. Come on, be honest—there were hints, weren’t there? It wasn’t the first time, was it? They ran before, didn’t they? Whether it was with you, or someone else, they’ve proven themselves to be a “runner,” haven’t they?

In hindsight, you’ll see it wasn’t a surprise they ran at that moment. The discard was destined to happen. That thought will comfort you, later. It will—trust me.

But, for now…

The worst time in your life = narcissistic discard.

Now, you’re not only having to deal with something massive in your own life, you’ve got the confusion of the discard to try and process on top of that.

Why? Why did they walk away then? Actually, how could they walk away then? Who does that? Did I really matter so little to them?

Later on, another inevitable truth will blaze its way into the forefront of your mind: Yes—you did really matter so little to them. Truthfully, you didn’t matter at all. They never cared about you. You were a source. That’s it.

This was never about mutual love and support; it was about one person getting something from you and then running when that either dried up, or you were unable to give it.

They had no problem leaving you to fight that fire on your own because—

They. Never. Cared. About. You.

However, that will hit you later; in addition to floundering in the ocean of confusion, hurt, and hypocrisy brought about by the timing of the discard, straight afterward you’ve got something else to try and manage.

Stage Two: Toxic Loneliness.

When you are abandoned by someone who says they love you at the exact moment you were in need, you’ll shut down, emotionally. Walls suddenly barricade your heart—no-one’s getting in. No-one. After all, look at what happened the last time they did? A discard. The last time you were hurting and vulnerable, someone chose that moment to flee.

Why would you ever trust anyone ever again?

You retreat so far socially that your friends need a telescope just to find you.

You, my dear, are out of sight.


But, there’s a secondary emotion to manage—worthlessness. If you weren’t worthy of support at that moment, how much of an awful person must you be? Maybe, thinking about it, you deserved the discard. Your self-worth is already on the floor—the discard stamps all over it.

Now, you’ve not only retreated into your shell, but you also don’t have the self-confidence to poke your meaningless head out. You stew, ruminating, nursing your tattered self-esteem—utterly alone.

So, what do you do? You do what anyone would do—you contact the discard-er. They caused the pain; they’re the only ones who can take it away, right?


If you’re about to do this, don’t. Just don’t.

I’m not sure if I’ve made this clear, but they don’t care about you. If they did, they wouldn’t have discarded you at that moment. If you contact the person who discarded you seeking answers, or closure, or even just comfort, you’re not going to get it.

But, it’s an innate human response, that desire for closure, for explanations. It’s only natural to seek them. You won’t get it, but you try anyway.

And the response you do get? If the discard was cold, what follows is sub-Antarctica.

Stage Three: Projected and Reactive Blame.

One of two things will happen—perhaps even both.

Firstly, you will be told, directly or indirectly, what you were going through didn’t matter. In fact, you know that horrid event you were dealing with when the discard took place? It won’t even be mentioned. Utter, and complete, invalidation.

Their response will be about them. You’ll get some nonsense about their journey, about their changing needs, and priorities. If you’re lucky, they might deign you with a 100-word email or text message. A message that a robot could have written. Emotionally, which is what this person is.

It will be full of “nothings.”

And it will hurt you. It will eat away at you. How could you have mattered so little to this person after everything? You will be angry—not just that this person executed the discard in the first place, but that they don’t seem to care. However…

In the long-term, that response will help you. It will. How they justify the discard will tell you a lot. If they don’t seem to care you were fighting an enormous fire at the time of the discard, if you’ve actually got to highlight that then—bingo! Their lack of empathy and self-absorption proves my earlier point: They didn’t care about you.

Hurtful, yes. But helpful? Most definitely.

As is the second response you could get: Projected blame. You know that discard? Turns out it was all your fault. Yours. Really, it wasn’t them at all. If you hadn’t done that or this they would’ve been there. You made them run.

Now, remember—they’ve run before. Either from you, someone else, or even themselves: they run—it’s a pattern for them. They’re also an adult; they don’t get to blame you for the actions they consciously decide to make.

But they will. Oh, yes—they will blame you.

Again, this response will comfort you later. It will.

However, in the immediate aftermath of the discard, this will burn away at you. They not only walked away from you, but they’re also now blaming you for it.

And you will respond.


Don’t do it. It’s a trap.

If you take the bait, we enter the realms of “reactive abuse.” This is when someone does something awful to you (such as a discard), but your response to that is seen as being the problem.

Don’t. Do. It.

You’ll end up the villain.

Someone who discards you is emotionally immature, self-absorbed. Really, pointing out their flaws, or how they hurt you, is only pouring oil onto the fire. They’re the kind of people who think, “It hurts my feelings to be reminded of something I did that hurt you.” They aren’t interested in your pain.

They’re looking for reasons to keep running after the discard; don’t give them one. Don’t give them the chance to say, “Look! He’s said this. I was right to leave.

Cause and effect only works in their favor; they won’t see that your hurt, your anger, was largely caused by their discard. These are people who hurt others and are oblivious to it. They’re incapable of seeing that it was their discard that inspires your response.

It’s just you, vindicating their discard.

Do what they did. And walk away.

Keep walking.

The person who discarded you didn’t care about you. They don’t care now. All you will get is more fuel to feed your anguish.

And you really, really, really shouldn’t look back. Don’t. Because…

Stage Four: Rewriting of History.

You know that reactive and projected blame? Yeah, that continues.

Once they’ve discarded you, that’s your chance to get away. Then. As hard as it might be to pull away yourself from this person, try. Please, try.

If you contact them wanting answers, or—Heaven forbid—point out how much their discard hurt you, or even that you’re a little bit upset they’ve blamed you for a pattern of behavior that is as much a part of them as the color of their hair, you’ve just prodded them into life.

Don’t look at their social media, don’t talk to them, or anyone connected to them—what you hear, see, or read will bewilder you. You remember that discard that lies at the very heart of this? You won’t recognize it. You certainly won’t recognize the person who discarded you; they’re now a saint.

And, you, my friend, are now the most worthless piece of scum to ever walk the Earth.

As tough as it is, now is definitely the time to get away.

They’ve discarded you; they didn’t care that it hurt you; they’ve blamed you, now they’re telling the world. Well, who cares what they’re saying. How many more hints do you need?

One of the saddest things about a discard is that other people will get pulled into it. Flying monkeysthey might even be people you used to care about deeply. Sorry to say, but—for now—they’re gone. They might come back in the future, but, whilst you’re healing, simply let them keep flying. The moment you have to start defending yourself to people who weren’t “there,” who weren’t even part of the actual discard, is the moment you really do have to leave the stage for good.

To heal.

And you will.

It will take you far longer than you think. But you will heal.

And, like any event of adversity, you’ll be immeasurably stronger for it.

You’ll be alone for a long time, too damaged and afraid to attempt a meaningful human relationship. But, that period of solitude will give you time to think and grow. A chance to find resilience and self-sufficiency. As long as you don’t leave it too long, and become too socially isolated, those lessons will be of huge benefit for the ones who enter your life later. And for you.

You’ll learn the importance of boundaries—to say, “No; you’re an adult—that’s a characteristic pattern of behavior: that’s on you.” You’ll discover how liberating it is to no longer be blamed for other’s actions, but to simply savor the growth to be found in being culpable for your own.

You’ll learn not to ignore red flags. Everyone deserves a second chance, but life’s too short to be giving people the same opportunity to hurt you, in the same way, over and over. You’ve got things to do. Walking away will be hard, but you’ll find it empowering.

You’ll learn that some battles will never be won. That some people will dislike you because of something that someone else has said. And you’ll realize that trying to counter that is a waste of your precious time.

You’ll learn that it’s not selfish to want to be treated as if you are important and worthy of love, support, and understanding. Because you are. And you always were.

And, most of all, you’ll learn how to never be discarded again.

And, once you’ve learned that lesson, you will never, ever, allow yourself to be so ever again.


Read 36 Comments and Reply

Read 36 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Christopher Donovan  |  Contribution: 29,155

author: Christopher Donovan

Image: Anais Gómez-C/flickr

Editor: Sukriti Chopra