After the Discard: Is the Narcissist Waiting to Hear from You?
Navigating a relationship with a narcissist can often feel like a whirlwind of emotions, leaving you dazed, confused, and often profoundly hurt. One of the defining features of this relationship is what is known as the discard phase, a point at which the narcissist may abruptly cut off the relationship, leaving you to pick up the pieces.
But what happens after the discard phase? Does the narcissist wait to hear from you, or have they moved on entirely? Understanding the dynamics of narcissistic behavior is crucial in comprehending this complex puzzle and beginning the healing process.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the mind of the narcissist post-discard, explore whether they’re waiting for contact, and discuss how to respond if you’ve been discarded. We’ll also guide moving forward, setting boundaries, and initiating the healing process. Let’s begin by exploring the concept of narcissism and its associated behavior.
Understanding Narcissistic Behavior
At the core of narcissism lies an inflated sense of self-importance and a deep need for excessive attention and admiration. People with narcissistic tendencies tend to lack empathy for others, despite their often superficial charm and engaging presence. Narcissists often have difficulty recognizing or validating others’ feelings, as they’re primarily preoccupied with their own needs and desires.
One typical pattern in relationships with narcissists is the cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discard.
Idealization is often the first phase, where the narcissist may shower their partner with attention and admiration. They might place them on a pedestal, making them feel exceptional and loved. This phase is often characterized by intense romance and a seemingly perfect partner.
However, the devaluation phase soon follows, where the narcissist starts to belittle, criticize, or demean their partner. The shift can be abrupt and disorienting as the once-admiring partner becomes cruel or indifferent.
The discard phase is often the end point of the cycle, where the narcissist may suddenly cut off contact or leave the relationship without an apparent reason or closure. That can leave their partner feeling bewildered, hurt, and often blamed for the relationship’s demise.
Understanding this cycle is crucial to recognizing the patterns of narcissistic behavior and making sense of the experiences within a narcissistic relationship. Let’s look at the discard phase and what it might mean for the narcissist and their partner.
The Discard Phase
The discard phase is a distinctive aspect of a relationship with a narcissist. This phase signifies a point where the narcissist abruptly ends or withdraws from the relationship, often without a clear explanation or closure. That can be particularly hurtful and disorienting, as it might come off as a sudden shift from intense engagement to complete disinterest.
Narcissists engage in the discard phase for several reasons. One of the primary reasons is that they may feel the relationship no longer serves their needs or fuels their sense of self-importance. Narcissists thrive on attention and admiration, and once they perceive that these are dwindling, or if they encounter criticism or perceived slight, they might choose to discard their partner.
Additionally, the discard phase is a form of manipulation and control. The narcissist ends the relationship abruptly, leaving their partner confused and in emotional turmoil. That can create a situation where the discarded person may seek to win back the narcissist’s approval or affection, thus feeding the narcissist’s need for control and validation.
The emotional impact of the discard phase on the individual who was discarded can be profound. Feelings of rejection, confusion, self-blame, and loss are common. The abrupt end of the relationship may leave them questioning the authenticity of their experiences and struggling to make sense of what happened. At this stage, understanding the narcissist’s mindset post-discard becomes vital.
Is the Narcissist Waiting to Hear from You?
Understanding a narcissist’s mindset after the discard phase can be complex. While everyone is unique, and not all narcissists will behave the same way, some common patterns often emerge.
After discarding a partner, a narcissist might anticipate or even expect to be contacted by the person they’ve discarded. This expectation isn’t usually driven by a desire for reconciliation or genuine concern for the other person’s feelings. Instead, it is often tied to the narcissist’s need for attention, validation, and control.
A narcissist might relish the thought of being pursued or missed by the person they discarded. It reinforces their self-importance, making them feel powerful and in control.
It’s also important to note the concept of ‘hoovering.’ Named after the Hoover vacuum, narcissists (and others with similar personality types) often use it to suck their victims back into the relationship or extract emotional reactions from them.
After the discard phase, the narcissist may engage in hoovering behaviors, including making contact, offering false apologies, or even attempting to reignite the relationship. Remember, these behaviors are typically not about the narcissist missing their ex-partner or feeling remorseful. Instead, they are about maintaining control, creating confusion, and perhaps starting the cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discarding once again.
Why the Narcissist Worries After Discarding You
A narcissist’s worry or concern after discarding someone is typically not grounded in empathy or regret for the pain they’ve caused. Instead, these concerns tend to be more self-serving. Here are some reasons why a narcissist might “worry” after discarding you:
1. Fear of Exposure
Narcissists worry about being exposed. Suppose the discarded person starts understanding the dynamics of narcissistic abuse and begins sharing their experiences with others. In that case, it may threaten the narcissist’s carefully crafted image.
2. Loss of Control
Narcissists thrive on control. Discarding a person is often an act of control. However, once the person is discarded, the narcissist might worry about losing control over them, especially if the discarded person moves on and breaks free from their influence.
3. Loss of Narcissistic Supply
Narcissists need what is referred to as ‘narcissistic supply’ – the attention, admiration, and emotional reactions they elicit from others to validate their self-worth. After discarding someone, a narcissist might worry about losing this source of narcissistic supply.
4. Fear of Abandonment
Ironically, even though narcissists are often the ones to discard, they also carry a deep fear of abandonment and rejection. They might worry if they see the discarded person thriving without them, as it confronts them with a reality they don’t want to admit – that they are not the center of others’ lives.
What does a narcissist expect after discarding?
After discarding someone, a narcissist typically has certain expectations or desires primarily driven by their need for control, validation, and attention. Some common expectations of a narcissist after discarding someone include the following:
1. Hoovering Attempts: Hoovering is a tactic used by narcissists to try to draw their former partner back into the relationship. They may expect the discarded person to respond positively to their hoovering attempts, seeking validation that they still have control over them.
2. Emotional Reactivity: Narcissists thrive on eliciting emotional reactions from others. After discarding someone, they might expect the person to react emotionally, such as pleading, begging, or expressing hurt and sadness. This emotional reaction feeds the narcissist’s need for a narcissistic supply.
3. Validation of Their Decision: Narcissists often believe they are superior and entitled to make decisions without question. They may expect the discarded person to accept their decision without resistance, reinforcing the narcissist’s belief in their infallibility.
4. Pursuit and Chasing: Narcissists often enjoy the chase and the feeling of being pursued. After discarding someone, they might expect the person to chase after them, seeking their approval and affection, which validates their sense of superiority.
5. Maintaining a Connection: Narcissists may expect the discarded person to continue maintaining contact or to be available whenever they want, even if it’s just to keep them as a backup option.
Do narcissists watch you after discard?
Yes, narcissists may continue to “watch” or monitor their former partners even after the discard. This monitoring can take various forms, including:
1. Social Media Stalking: Narcissists might keep tabs on their ex-partner’s social media profiles, often using fake accounts or enlisting flying monkeys (friends or acquaintances who serve as narcissists’ allies) to gather information about their ex’s life.
2. Mutual Friends or Acquaintances: Narcissists might inquire about their ex-partner’s activities and well-being through mutual friends or acquaintances, seeking updates on their life.
3. Drive-By or Physical Surveillance: In extreme cases, narcissists might physically observe or drive by their ex-partner’s home or workplace to keep track of their activities.
4. Hoovering: As mentioned earlier, narcissists may attempt to “hoover” their former partners back into the relationship. That involves sudden contact, seemingly heartfelt messages, or gestures to draw the person back in.
5. Digital Spying: In some cases, narcissists may use technology to spy on their ex-partner, such as hacking into their emails, tracking their location, or using spyware on their devices.
This monitoring behavior is driven by the narcissist’s need for control and validation. They might feel a sense of ownership over their former partner or want to ensure they still have an emotional hold on them. Additionally, narcissists may want to maintain the ability to reinsert themselves into their ex-partner’s life if they perceive a potential for obtaining a more narcissistic supply.
What happens if you discard a narcissist first?
If you discard a narcissist first, the reaction and subsequent behavior of the narcissist can vary widely based on their personality traits and relationship dynamics. Here are some typical responses a narcissist might exhibit after being discarded:
1. Narcissistic Injury: Being discarded by someone can be a severe blow to a narcissist’s ego. They might experience what is known as a “narcissistic injury,” which is a bruise to their self-esteem and self-image. In response, they may feel intense anger, hurt, or even humiliation.
2. Hoovering Attempts: Just like when a narcissist discards someone, they may attempt to hoover you back into the relationship after being discarded. They might use tactics such as showering you with attention, promising to change, or expressing remorse to draw you back in and regain control.
3. Retaliation or Smear Campaign: Some narcissists may react vindictively and attempt to retaliate against you for discarding them. That involves spreading false rumors, engaging in character assassination, or attempting to damage your reputation.
4. Seeking a New Source of Supply: If the narcissist cannot win you back, they might quickly move on to find a new source of narcissistic supply. They may seek new partners to fulfill their need for attention, admiration, and validation.
5. Idealization of a New Target: Once the narcissist finds a new source of supply, they may engage in the idealization phase, where they portray the new partner as perfect and shower them with attention and affection.
It’s important to remember that while discarding a narcissist might be necessary for your well-being, it can also trigger significant reactions from them. Narcissists are deeply invested in maintaining control and gaining validation, so the act of being discarded challenges their sense of superiority and control.
Will a narcissist ever regret a discard?
While it’s possible for a narcissist to feel a sense of regret after discarding someone, it’s essential to understand the motivations behind any potential regret. Unlike genuine remorse driven by empathy and concern for the other person’s feelings, a narcissist’s regret is typically self-serving and ego-driven.
A narcissist might regret discarding someone if:
1. Loss of Narcissistic Supply: If the discarded person was a significant source of narcissistic supply (attention, admiration, validation), the narcissist might regret losing this source and seek to reestablish contact to regain that supply.
2. Fear of Abandonment: Despite their grandiose demeanor, narcissists often have deep-seated fears of abandonment. Regret might stem from their fear of abandonment or realizing they no longer control the discarded person.
3. Ego Bruising: If the discarded person moves on and thrives without the narcissist, it might bruise the narcissist’s ego. They might regret the discard because it challenges their perceived superiority and specialness.
4. Loneliness or Need for Backup Supply: If the narcissist hasn’t secured a new supply source, they might feel lonely or seek to reestablish contact with the discarded person as a backup option.
Why do narcissists come back when you’re strong again?
Narcissists may return when you are strong again for various reasons. All centered around their need for control, validation, and narcissistic supply. A narcissist’s desire to return is not based on genuine love, care, or concern for you. Instead, it stems from their self-serving motives and needs for control and validation. Falling back into a relationship with a narcissist can be emotionally damaging and may restart the cycle of abuse.
If a narcissist attempts to come back into your life, it’s crucial to prioritize your well-being and set firm boundaries. Maintain no contact whenever possible and seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to help you navigate this challenging situation. Remember that your strength lies in prioritizing your emotional health and making choices in your best interest.
How long does it take for a narcissist to come back?
The timing of when a narcissist might attempt to come back can vary widely depending on the individual narcissist and the specific circumstances of the relationship. There is no fixed timeline for when a narcissist may try to reestablish contact after discarding someone.
In some cases, a narcissist might attempt to come back relatively quickly after discarding, especially if they experience a lack of narcissistic supply or feel a loss of control. It could be within weeks or even days of the discard.
On the other hand, some narcissists may take longer to return, especially if they find a new source of narcissistic supply or believe that the discarded person has moved on and is no longer receptive to their attempts to return.
It’s important to remember that the timing of a narcissist’s return is driven by their self-serving motives and their need for control and validation rather than any genuine change or care for the discarded person’s well-being.
Regardless of when or if a narcissist attempts to return, the discarded person needs to prioritize their emotional well-being and focus on their healing and growth. Maintaining no contact and setting firm boundaries is crucial in regaining control and protecting oneself from further manipulation and abuse. Seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist can also help navigate the challenges of dealing with a narcissistic ex-partner.
How to Respond After Being Discarded
Being discarded by a narcissist can leave you feeling a whirlwind of emotions – confusion, hurt, anger, and often a strong desire to seek closure or understanding. However, how you respond during this period is critical to your healing process. Here are some strategies on how to handle this challenging situation:
1. Maintain No Contact
No contact means precisely what it sounds like – no calls, texts, emails, or communication with the narcissist. It can be difficult, especially when emotions are high, and you crave answers. But it’s important to remember that engaging with a narcissist after the discard phase often leads back to the same cycle of abuse.
2. Set Boundaries
Set firm boundaries if no contact is possible due to shared responsibilities like children or work. Limit your interaction to what’s necessary and keep it as impersonal as possible. Avoid getting drawn into discussions about the relationship or responding to provocations.
3. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is essential during this period. It’s normal to feel a range of negative emotions after being discarded, and taking care of your physical and emotional health is essential. That includes exercising, journaling, meditating, or talking to a trusted friend.
4. Seek Professional Help
Dealing with the aftermath of a relationship with a narcissist can be emotionally taxing. A mental health professional can provide you with tools to process your emotions, develop coping strategies, and begin to rebuild your self-esteem.
5. Engage in Self-Reflection
Use this time to reflect on the relationship. Understanding the dynamics of the relationship and acknowledging the hurtful behavior you endured is a critical step toward healing.
Remember, it’s important not to blame yourself for the narcissist’s actions. Their behavior reflects their issues, not a judgment of their worth. In the next section, we’ll discuss moving forward and healing after being discarded by a narcissist.
Moving Forward and Healing
Coming out of a relationship with a narcissist, especially after being discarded, can feel like emerging from a fog. Your emotions might feel raw and disoriented, and the road to recovery might seem daunting. Here are some steps to help you move forward and heal:
1. Understand the Reality of the Relationship
Acknowledging the nature of your relationship with the narcissist is a critical step toward healing. Understand that the narcissist’s actions and words were part of a manipulation cycle, not a reflection of your worth.
2. Practice Self-Compassion
Be gentle with yourself. Healing takes time, and feeling a range of emotions is okay. Allow yourself to grieve the relationship and the loss of what you thought it was. Practicing self-compassion means acknowledging your feelings and treating yourself with kindness and patience.
3. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences
Connect with supportive friends, family, or a community who understands what you’re going through. Sharing your experiences can help validate your feelings and reduce feelings of isolation.
4. Seek Therapy or Counseling
A therapist or counselor who is familiar with narcissistic abuse can provide you with the tools to process your experiences and guide your healing process. Therapy can be a safe space to express feelings and develop coping mechanisms.
5. Invest in Personal Growth and Self-Care
Take time to reconnect with yourself. Engage in activities that you enjoy and that contribute to your well-being. That includes hobbies, exercise, mindfulness practices, or pursuing personal goals.
6. Reestablish Trust in Your Perceptions
One of the effects of a relationship with a narcissist can be doubting your perceptions and feelings (gaslighting). Rebuilding this trust in yourself might take time, but it’s a crucial part of the healing process.
Healing from narcissistic abuse is not a linear journey, and it’s crucial to allow yourself the time and space you need to recover.
Navigating the stormy waters of a relationship with a narcissist, mainly surviving the discard phase, can be emotionally challenging. However, it’s essential to remember that the discard phase is not a reflection of your worth but rather a manifestation of the narcissist’s manipulation and control tactics.
While they may anticipate or even expect to hear from you after the discard, it’s crucial to protect your mental and emotional health by maintaining no contact or setting firm boundaries if a complete disconnection isn’t possible.
Healing from narcissistic abuse is a journey. It takes time, patience, and self-compassion. Remember, there’s no set timeline for healing, and everyone’s journey is unique. But with every step you take toward acknowledging the reality of the relationship, practicing self-care, seeking professional help, and investing in personal growth, you’re moving closer to a place of peace, self-confidence, and empowerment.
You are not alone in this journey, and help is available. Contact trusted friends, family, support groups, or mental health professionals who can guide you through this process. And remember, you are stronger than you think, and with time and support, you will heal and rebuild a life filled with respect, love, and genuine happiness.