The Narcissist and Rejection

When we are rejected from someone we care about, we tend to take the rejection particularly hard. What tears us apart is the blow that this rejection leaves on our ego. We tend to, perhaps subconsciously, value ourselves through our partner’s ‘acceptance’ or ‘non-acceptance’ of us. So if he or she rejected you for another, we take it personally – believing that somehow we, ourselves, are flawed. The narcissist has that kind of enormous reaction to even the slightest (perceived or real) criticism or disagreement as if it were outright rejection. The narcissist is constantly on the lookout for slights. He is hyper-vigilant. He perceives every disagreement as criticism and every critical remark as complete and humiliating rejection: nothing short of a threat.

‘Narcissism’ includes a person’s idea that he or she is superior to others. A narcissist believes that he has attained perfection and has strong feelings of entitlement. Narcissists seek attention by whatever means possible in order to boost their self-perception. The term for this attention seeking is Narcissistic Supply because the compliments, fear, and admiration are supplying the ego.

Narcissistic Injury

When there is any kind of threat to his belief about self, a defensive stance is taken. Narcissistic Injury is any threat, real or imagined, to the narcissist’s grandiose self-perception (known as the False Self) as perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, and entitled to special treatment and recognition, regardless of his actual accomplishments (or lack thereof). Narcissists invariably react with Narcissistic Rage to Narcissistic Injury. Contrary to common opinion, Narcissistic Rage is not a reaction to stress – it is a reaction to a perceived slight, insult, criticism, or disagreement-all considered acts of rejection in the mind of a narcissist.

Facing Narcissistic Injury can cause people with narcissism to act aggressively. Narcissistic Rage is the term used to describe this aggression which can include violence. The anger that comes out as a response to criticism can be directed toward others or to the self.

Self-directed Narcissistic Rage is a common reaction to Narcissistic Injury. The narcissist turns the rejection and criticism inward. Shame, anxiety, and sudden depression occur with the merest slight or criticism. Outward rage is usually directed specifically toward the people who criticized the narcissist. In extreme cases, a narcissist singles out anyone who resembles the critical person.

The narcissist actively solicits Narcissistic Supply – compliments, admiration, subservience, attention, being feared – from others in order to sustain his fragile and dysfunctional ego. Thus, he constantly courts possible rejection, criticism, and disagreement. The narcissist is, therefore, dependent on other people. He is aware of the risks associated with such all-pervasive and essential dependence. He resents his weakness yet dreads possible disruptions to the flow of his drug: Narcissistic Supply. He is caught between the rock of his ‘habit’ and the hard place of his frustration. No wonder he is prone to raging, lashing and acting out, and to pathological, all-consuming envy (all expressions of pent-up aggression).

Narcissists perceive every disagreement – let alone criticism – as nothing short of a threat. Most narcissists react defensively to this. They become indignant, aggressive, and cold. They detach emotionally for fear of yet another Narcissistic Injury. They devalue the person who made the disparaging remark, the critical comment, the unflattering observation, the innocuous joke at the narcissist’s expense. By holding the critic in contempt, by diminishing the stature of the harsh conversant – the narcissist minimizes the impact of the disagreement or criticism on himself.

Like a trapped animal, the narcissist is forever on the lookout… Was this comment meant to demean him? Was this utterance a deliberate attack? Gradually, his mind turns into a chaotic battlefield of paranoia and ideas of reference until he loses touch with reality and retreats to his own world of fantasized and unchallenged grandiosity.

Interestingly, when the disagreement or criticism or disapproval is public, the narcissist tends to regard it as Narcissistic Supply! (“Any publicity is good publicity”). Only when they are expressed in private – does the narcissist rage against them.

Types of Narcissistic Rage

Narcissistic Rage is a reaction to Narcissistic Injury. Rage has two forms:
I. Explosive – The narcissist erupts, attacks everyone in his immediate vicinity, causes damage to objects or people, and is verbally and psychologically abusive.

II. Pernicious or Passive-Aggressive – the narcissist sulks, gives the silent treatment, and is plotting how to punish the transgressor and put her in her proper place. These narcissists are vindictive and often become stalkers. They harass and haunt the objects of their frustration. They sabotage and damage the work and possessions of people whom they regard to be the sources of their mounting frustration.

Anxiety and Rejection

The narcissist has a limited and underdeveloped spectrum of emotional reactions. Anxiety characterizes all his interactions with the opposite sex and any situation in which there is a remote possibility that he would be rejected or abandoned. Anxiety is an adaptive mechanism; it is the internal reaction to conflict. The anxiety is because he needs the relationship more than others do.

The termination of a relationship represents rejection and abandonment, which the narcissist fears most. The narcissist would rather pretend that a relationship is still valid than admit to the demise of it. He doesn’t violate the relationship “contract” because he is afraid of the reprisals and of the emotional consequences. But this is not to be confused with developed morals. When confronted with better alternatives – which more efficiently cater to his needs – the narcissist annuls or violates his contracts without thinking twice.

Moreover, not all contracts were created equal in the narcissistic twilight zone. It is the narcissist who retains the power to decide which contracts are to be scrupulously observed and which offhandedly ignored. The narcissist determines which laws (social contracts) to obey and which to break.

The narcissist regards abandonment or rejection by his emotional-sexual partners as a final verdict concerning his very ability to have such relationships in the future. He is assured that his partner was uniquely equipped to succeed in their relationship and he becomes frightened.

Why the fear? Because if this partner, as qualified as she was, as desirous of him as she was, failed to sustain the relationship – surely, no one else is likely to succeed. The narcissist believes that he is doomed to an existence of loneliness and destitution. He stands no chance of ever having a resilient, healthy relationship with another partner.

The narcissist would do anything to avoid this conclusion. He begs his partner to return and re-establish the relationship, no matter what transpired. Her very return proves to him that he is worthy, the preferred alternative, someone with whom maintaining a relationship is possible.

The narcissist is mortally terrified of being abandoned by his partner. This fear drives him to minimize his interactions with his partner to avoid the inevitable pain of rejection. This, in turn, leads exactly to the feared abandonment. The narcissist knows that his behavior instigates that which he is so afraid of. In a way he is happy about it, because it gives him the illusion that he is in exclusive control of the relationship and of his own fate.

Ultimately, the narcissist loses his partners in all his relationships. He hates himself for it and is enraged. This constant inner turmoil generates unremitting fear manifested in the form of anxiety attacks, or an anxiety disorder. In the course of such life crises, the narcissist briefly believes that he is intrinsically defective and dysfunctional when it comes to establishing and to maintaining relationships (which is true!)

Disclaimer: In this article I chose the Narc to be Male but of course this can also be the other way around. Narcissism is not gender specific.

References:

http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/faq73.html
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-narcissistic-injury.htm#didyouknowout
http://samvak.tripod.com/narcissistoppositesex.html

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About Alexander Burgemeester

21 Responses to “The Narcissist and Rejection”

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  1. Jan says:

    I recently left a Narcissist after a 5 month relationship. He had been cheating on me with several women.
    What should I be prepared for regarding any reaction from him?

    • louise says:

      Lots and lots and lots and lots etc. of lies, to you and to the other women. Don’t believe he has ‘let go’ of any of them, he has simply left them ‘hanging’ in case it doesn’t work out with you. Get rid of him NOW! Good luck!

  2. Scotty says:

    I just want to point out that not all narcissists are men! My estranged wife is definitely a narcissist. To Jan above be prepared for lots of made up lies to be spoke of you by your ex.

  3. Allison says:

    I’m divorcing my narcissist husband after 23 years of marriage and three children. After just turning 50 I choose not to live out my later years walking on eggshells, being bullied, which lead to an unhappy life. He only gets gratification when he brags about his family, while bullying us behind the scenes and anyone else who he thinks is below him in public (waitresses, cashiers, receptionists service workers). He is very controlling as well. Is there any chance he may get dangerous? I have had concerns occasional behavior that seems unbalanced. He also has anxiety for which he has treated with Valium for about 18 years.

  4. Donna says:

    My mother is a Narcissist and I left her after my dad died. 13 years later we are talking again but nothing has changed, if anything she got worse. Can you believe she is jealous of the relationship my brother and I have amazing! She has now become scary in the way she talks and threats she makes I don’t know what to do has anyone else gone through this? Please help cause I feel like I’m going crazy with the her tantrums then the next day she acts like nothing ever happened… Help

    • Viviane de Almeida Alecrim says:

      Read about daughters of narcissistic mothers. It will define your pain as of the author of the website knew you. I’m am also a daughter of narcisist mother. Be aware that we tend to welcome a lot of people that are toxic to our lives because of that relationship.

  5. Vibeke says:

    Thank U for a great website.

    I grew up with a narcissistic mother & I have just recently pinpointed this issue. Now I’m realizing that 2 of my oldest female friends also are serious narcissists! One of them I asked for a 6 months break, because I’m going through therapy & need peace to do this work/repair on myself. It’s very hard to come to terms with the fact my mother didn’t/wasn’t able to love me. When confronted with the “rejection” my friend freaked out on me in emails. She tried to keep the contact by saying she had a gift she wanted to send to me etc. In a sober language I refused the acceptance of a “gift” & told her that I will see her in 6 months.
    With the other friend it’s much easer, because if I don’t contact her, she doesn’t contact! Maybe except for X-mas where she likes to gather people & show of herself, her home, her family & those of her friends who are highly educated – just like herself – & praise/admire her for just about anything!!
    Here comes the HIGHLIGHT OF MY STORY: On & off I have suffered from bullimia for many years. Having the realization of understanding the dysfunctional dynamics I have accepted for so many years (I turned 50 in August), moving on to working in therapy with myself has made my bullimia slowly vanish! Hoooooorraaaayyyy! I don’t find myself constantly thinking about food/candy/chocolate/nuts/chips! A couple of times I’ve even forgotten to eat!? This has all happened within 2 months!?
    I know this is going to be an ongoing process for the rest of my life, but I embrace that fact. I look forward to really accepting what these women have done to me, move on without my old friends & try to maintain a relation with my parents for the sake of my beloved 8 yrs. old nephew. I can do it – U can do it!
    STAY AWAY, WALK AWAY – REFUSE TO PLAY!

  6. Jinny says:

    I was friends with a narcissistic person at my job for a short period of time until I started noticing how I bad I felt being around her, it was as though her very presence debilitated me. It was so strange because she was able to brainwash almost everyone around her, the managers, clients, literally everyone. When I showed any sign of rebellion, her “crew” and even some people closest to me would quickly shut me down and tell me that I was jealous of her. While this particular narcissist was highly attractive, I wasn’t in any way shape or form jealous of her, because thats just not who I am. She literally brainwashes everyone into making her the center of their world. It is honestly the weirdest creepiest thing. Anyways after a while of her toxic behavior I just stopped responding to her altogether and completely avoided her. I deleted her from facebook and she’d literally keep requesting me, it got to the point where I thought she was stalking me. I’d see her everywhere around the office holding up her facade. My best advice is to avoid these people at all costs… they will literally suck away your joy and happiness.

  7. Scott says:

    Don’t be scared, keep calm and ignore them. That’s all you really have to keep in mind. Then you simply watch them work their arses off trying to get your attention. They will find a multitude of ways to do this but keep your cool and eventually it becomes hilarious watching them get all worked up over the lack of attention. An insulting sarcastic comment also does the trick then back to the original state of ignoring. F**k these people and all their ways of subduing us. They are empty underneath.

    • Low Profile says:

      So true! That was very well said. These narcissistic individuals are literally draining and always want to have their way. Once you start ignoring them they do everything they can to get into your good graces.

    • marty says:

      I’ve been researching what the narc fears most. We, the ex abused need to learn all we can and fight them using our wealth of knowledge. Get to know how they operate. I’m going to a counselor to document all the abuse for the D-day event. It will be the greatest show on Earth. Starring my ex the dramatist. She is real good. She got in with the big money people. She gets bored quickly. I don’t expect her to last long and already signs of crumbling. I pray to God, go get her. She will be the cuckoo in the courtroom. I refuse to be belittled and raked over the coals after she left me and my son. I told her good riddance right in front of my pastor. Christians, don’t even tell me I need to be reconciled or that I don’t have grounds for divorce. You tell me that after living in Hell for the past 5 years.

  8. Beverley says:

    I am smack bang in the middle of a narcotic rage by an ex who kicked off just before xmas and because i blocked every avenue of contact has managed to get to my children and friends with awful vile cursing messages to hurt and scare me.. Had non stop texts of how hevwas going to hurt me and mine and damage our cars and priority etc etc ..posted my name photo and address on facebook. Have had to get police involved. PHEW. That was good getting that off my chest. Thankyou for this site. Happy new year everyone. :). Polo.

  9. Lynn says:

    Over the last three years I have realised that the behaviour of my mother and sister has a name. Narcissism. Mother lied, used money as a weapon, put me down, took my paintings and was totally self absorbed often losing her temper. My sister is even worse. She rages at me and terrifies me. She puts me down, thinks she is wonderful, in fact she ticks every one of the boxes. My ex. Was narcissistic too! Maybe after years of their behaviour I felt comfortablewith this? Who knows. But you can escape. I left my ex. He killed himself 5 years after. My mother died last weekend. Hurrah! My sister went on a rage and I threw her out of my car. No longer could she or my mother bully me. I used to call them the old bats and avoid them as much as possible. I just have to get through the funeral…and I will close the door to that terrifying chapter. I now have a lovely relationship with a normal man. I have three beautiful well balanced children and some truly supportive friends.

  10. William says:

    My Marist discarded me after I said I didn’t want to go out one night. I was suppose to be her puppet I suppose but she took up with another man right away. New , old I don’t know but called me twice with butt calls when she was out clubbing let me hear her in the background laughing having fun, band playing. Haven’t heard a peep for 5 weeks. Did run into her one night at a pub. I ignored her , she sat there looking at me like that’s right I dumped you. So I haven’t attempted to contact her and hopefully she will never need me again .she is attractive so doesn’t have a problem finding willing men which of course in known to me she was doing all along.

    • Karen French says:

      iv just left a narcissistic controlling manipulative patronising cheat he’s only just admitted it but I left him 3 and half months ago which he had no idea as I work away and told him I was staying with family to help out with somethings they needed help with as they lived along way from were I was living with him. In that time I got a flat of my own and once he went off on his selfish holiday on his own I went back to the house and got my belongings and told him iv left him and I know everything about you and a woman you was seeing when we lived in spain, then I blocked him on fb and what’sapp. A week and half later he sent me an email which I didn’t think he could send as thought I blocked him on that too but it was sent from his new email address, telling me yes something happened with me and this woman but was only the once and will never happen again and wanted me to try again and it’s cost me the woman I love so dear. I told him no don’t want you back and told him more and he knows I know more and he hasn’t messaged back since.

  11. Josh says:

    I notice that this essay is extremely sexist as you point the narcissist as being a male and the person dealing with the narcissist as being female . . . That’s not how it works. It is not gender specific. Also, to deliberately divide positive as being female and negative as being male is really telling about the ridiculous sexist garbage being put out in the MSM. SAD.

  12. Gee Gee says:

    I was in a relationship with a Narc for about three years. At first I didn’t quite notice it or at least it wasn’t often enough and later was in utter disbelief as to what was happening. I thought possibly he had a learning disability, I thought he had a complex, I thought he was hypersensitive then after a while I came to the conclusion that something just wasn’t right with him. He would say my facial expressions made him feel like I would attack him and accused me of being violent. I never touched him mind you. I always stood my ground with him though and I think that frustrated him to no end. Our last interaction resulted in him physically attacking ME. I needed ex-rays because I thought my jaw might have been dislocated. It actually wasn’t the first time he hit me but this time was scary! He gone now by order of protection. I have peace in my life now.

  13. djg3665 says:

    Very interesting article and hits the nail on the head. I just broke up with my Narc Girlfriend and it is one of the most difficult things to do after trying to break up with her for several months. I finally told her I can’t do this anymore, but she turned it around on me to make me feel like I was the one responsible for everything and that she broke up with me. Physically, she is the most beautiful woman that I have ever been with, she is not a mean person at all, she just only cares about herself. She is Colombian and without a visa, so over the last 2 years I visited her 10 times, well tried to visit her because the last 2 times she met with me for only 3 hours and that was to buy her clothes. Bought her a plane ticket to visit me in another city, had me go to the airport and wait for her to arrive for 4 hours and finally told me that she didn’t get on the plane because she didn’t feel like traveling. I supported her financially for 2 years, supported her family, but none of that mattered. I told her that birthday’s mean a lot to me and I would love to get something special from her, maybe a special message on facebook or something. She was too busy to do that, but promised to do something special for Christmas….not even a Merry Christmas, then promised me she had a surprise on New Years for me; nothing again. I had to tell her that I deserve to have my needs met, to be treated better, and receive absolutely nothing from the relationship. She promised to change, but actions were never congruent with her words. During weekends I wouldn’t hear from her, maybe a message early Friday morning, then she would ignore me until Monday or Tuesday. I told her that I am fine with not talking every day, but at least respect me to tell me that she won’t be available. Her response was that she is not my secretary. So this is what happened when I had to end things.

    She is the type Type II Narc listed above, passive aggressive. When I tried to confront her and discuss issues in the past, she would do one of three things when I ask her difficult questions. 1. Pick out one piece of what I said and turn that around into why she is a victim. 2. Answer only one question that is benign or respond with a different subject so I never had any resolution. 3. She would ignore me for days to punish me for her Narc Injury. When we broke up, there was no discussion about things, she first blocked me from all social media accounts and then changed her phone number, yes over the top, but that is what she did. She would tell me things like she is not going to work because she doesn’t feel well and get angry at me for contacting her later in the day because she was at work. In the past someone posted a snapchat of her drunk and kissing another man, when I confronted her about it she told me that I didn’t see what I saw and that is the way people dance in Colombia (plausible deniability). I would ask how her night was in the morning, she would tell me that she was at home, but a few minutes later tell me that she was going home. Confronting her about this, she said that she spent the night at her mothers home and that was what she was referring to. After 2 years I told her that my expectation was that she finally add me as her boyfriend on facebook and at least post a picture of us together since she has pictures posted with her and her male ‘friends’; she would promise and promise, but refuse to do that for me.

    I learned that it was all about control, when she knew that there was something that I really wanted, she would dangle the carrot in front of me, but never actually follow through with anything. She knew birthdays were important to me – by wishing me a happy birthday which is what I wanted she would give up control. Facebook was important to me – by adding me on facebook she would give up control. And the list goes on. For anyone in a relationship with an Narc, you need to get out of it if you ever want to be happy again.

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