The Narcissist Discard Phase: 3 Signs a Final Discard is Coming

What are the signs of the Narcissist’s final Discard? The Narcissist discard phase is often the final phase in the relationship. Relationships with narcissists follow a familiar pattern that begins the moment you meet them.

Most often they will attempt to charm you and shower you with flattery.

These traits make the narcissist popular, as they boost the ego of their target. This early stage is called the idealization phase, when they are deeply in love with you and how you make them feel. 

Don’t assume that praise will last though, as the narcissist slowly introduces slights and insults into the relationship that are intended to devalue you and your self-worth.

In this stage, the narcissist shows their true self, one which is no longer enamored with you but desires to control you.

This is a desperate attempt to boost their ego, to regain the feelings they felt earlier in the relationship.

Once the narcissist has completely broken you down and you can no longer fuel their ego, they will discard you.

This phase leaves the partner feeling worthless and confused, wondering what they could have done differently to salvage the relationship.

In reality, no amount of effort would have changed the relationship’s outcome, as the narcissist is always looking for new victims to pad their ego.

This kind of love, as Jungian analyst Robert Johnson once said, “is always directed at our own projections, our own expectations, our own fantasies . . . It is a love not of another person, but of ourselves.” 

what is the narcissist discard phase

What is the Narcissist Discard Phase?

Narcissist discard can take many forms and happens at varying times for different types of narcissists, but it is inevitable for those in a relationship with a narcissist. Let’s start from the beginning to see how we reach the discard phase.

As mentioned before, the initial phase of a relationship with a narcissist feels wonderful – some describe it as intoxicating.

You’re showered with praise, gifts, and affection (known as love-bombing); this is when the narcissist is at their best and they appear to be forming a genuine connection with you.

Unfortunately, the love-bombing has little to do with you and a lot to do with the exhilaration the narcissist is feeling about themselves. 

the narcissist love bombing

Joy never lasts for the narcissist though, and the only way for them to retain that initial pleasure is by exerting power over you.

They will belittle, criticize, and control you as a way to enhance their self-image. They can only feel good by putting others down. 

Like an addict that builds up a tolerance, even this level of control can no longer boost the narcissist’s ego in the way they so desperately need.

This is when the discard happens – you’re tossed aside in favor of someone new, someone who can provide that initial high they desperately need.

Signs of an Incoming Narcissistic Discard

For those unfamiliar with narcissists and their ways, the discard phase might seem like the inevitable end to a failed relationship.

After weeks, months, or even years of being devalued, victims of narcissistic abuse often believe that they deserve to be left.

In this emotional and mental state, the victim may not even notice that the discard is just over the horizon. These are some of the most common signs that a discard is in the near future.

Reading Suggestion: How To Make a Narcissist Miss You?

They Look for Someone New

Narcissists require praise and ego-boosting, so they’re not likely to discard you before finding a new person (Narcissistic Supply) that can provide those things.

If your partner is preoccupied with texts and calls from friends or coworkers you weren’t previously aware of, this is likely the first sign of an upcoming discard.

Affection Comes to a Screeching Halt

Even when the narcissist is belittling and controlling your every move, they’re sure to provide you with the occasional compliment or affectionate gesture just to keep you on the hook.

When they’re ready to discard you, these positive actions are completely absent. You no longer serve a purpose to them.

They Stop Trying

Narcissists are experts at controlling their world, but that control takes a serious amount of effort.

The lies they tell you about themselves and yourself need consistency to remain believable.

When the discard phase comes around they don’t even attempt to keep their lies straight. Time is short for this relationship and controlling you isn’t even worth the effort anymore. 

What does a narcissist do when he is ready to discard you?

The build-up to a discard can last weeks or even months as the narcissist preps you for the final phase.

The way this phase plays out is largely determined by how far along you are in your relationship with the narcissist.

If you’re not living together, there’s a good chance they’ll simply pick a fight, blame you for the relationship’s failure, and then say something to make you feel awful about yourself.

Then they’ll cut off all contact (if you’re lucky). 

Things get a lot more complicated if you share finances, children, or a home with the narcissist.

The discard phase will be a drawn-out process where you’re made to feel worthless and undeserving of any of the things you shared.

When they finally do leave, by moving out or divorcing you, they’ll be in a better position to take everything, leaving you with only feelings of self-doubt.

What Happens in the Discard Phase?

The narcissist’s final discard occurs when they finally have squeezed every last ounce of joy and self-worth from you. T

hey’ve grown bored of the relationship and you serve no further purpose.

One of the initial symptoms of an impending discard is the silent treatment. Narcissists thrive on attention and when someone goes silent on us, our first instinct is to ask them what’s wrong.

Many take this time to apologize for perceived slights, anything to get the narcissist to open up and have a dialogue.

Unfortunately, those are things a narcissist can never do, and won’t even attempt to fake during a discard. The silent treatment is just the first step though. 

In the next step, the narcissist severs any bonds that might remain. They will pin blame on you, explaining in detail how you failed them as a partner.

At no point will they take any responsibility for their role in ending their relationship. Instead, they highlight how they were the victim and how you’ll fail in every subsequent relationship.

This last past is important as they need you to see yourself as unlovable.

This leaves the door open just a crack, so they might return at a later date once they’ve completely drained another partner or just need a momentary self-esteem boost.

narcissist discard and silent treatment

Will a Narcissist Return After a Discard?

The sad truth is they almost certainly will return. The discard, especially the first one, is just a way of devaluing you as a person and exerting further control.

Their hope is that once you realize how little you mean to them, you will work even harder to please them.

Recognizing the narcissist discard phase and its meaning allows you an opportunity to break the cycle before the relationship gets even worse.

You can call the narcissist’s bluff and accept the end of the relationship. When the narcissist comes back believing they can reel you in again, let them know they are no longer welcome in your life.

The negative words they devalued you with can be used to justify why the relationship is no longer viable. This will undoubtedly anger the narcissist, but in the long run, it will save you considerable heartache.

Why Does a Narcissist Discard?

To those who have experienced it, the discard feels incredibly cold and makes little sense. To the narcissist though, the discard is a necessary component of preserving their self-image.

This idealized version of themselves is only possible in the initial stages of the relationship when you’re only aware of the side of them that they’ve chosen to share.

Moving into a more intimate phase of the relationship is painful for narcissists as it requires them to reveal their faults and accept that their idealized self is a false perception. 

Narcissists devalue their partner as a short-term coping mechanism; their flaws feel less visible when they’re constantly reminding you of yours.

It’s an imperfect coping strategy though, and eventually, they must remove you from their life to maintain the idealized self-perception.

Now that you know some of their flaws though, they must discredit you and prevent you from informing others of their weaknesses.  

How the Narcissist Justifies Discard

Narcissists will often justify their departure from the relationship by saying that you have changed.

In all likelihood, this is untrue, but it may feel true to the narcissist as they aren’t feeling the same high they initially got from the relationship.

Narcissists are incapable of developing a deeper relationship through intimacy, a necessary component to a sustainable connection.

Every new relationship is a countdown to zero, at which point they become bored and unsatisfied, longing for a new partner to enhance their self-worth.

How to Cope with a Narcissist Discard?

Assuming the narcissist is actually done with you, the narcissist discard phase can be a blessing in disguise.

You can finally be free of their controlling behaviors and hurtful words, but in the moment, a discard feels pretty awful.

These are some of the most effective coping strategies for getting through this difficult time.

Feel Your Feelings

The narcissist discard phase is so painful and confusing because it seems easy for the narcissist to toss you aside; they appear totally lacking in emotion.

You don’t have to be though. Your pain is real and you have a right to experience your feelings. Just don’t dwell on why this discard occurred.

Recognize That It’s Not Your Fault 

Narcissists are experts at deflecting blame, making you feel like the failure of the relationship is entirely your fault.

You could do nothing to save it, though, as the failure comes from the narcissist’s inability to care about anyone besides themselves.

Learn from It 

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is a traumatic experience, one that you don’t want to repeat.

Fortunately, having known a narcissist, you should be better able to spot one in the future and avoid a similar experience.

What Happens When You Discard the Narcissist First?

Narcissists, by definition, have a need to control people, which means breaking it off with them before they’re ready will almost certainly turn out ugly.

As they haven’t reached the narcissist discard phase, your presence (and submission to them) is a major source of self-worth for them.

Discarding them first is a major blow to their self-esteem; to counteract this loss of face, they will do whatever they can to devalue you. This can take the form of:

  • Boasting about a new relationship and how well their life is going with the intent of showing how little you meant to them. However, this is also common when the narcissist discards first.
  • Gaslighting, which is where the narcissist twists the situation to make themselves look like the victim and you’re left confused about what is real and what isn’t.
  • Threats and insults that let the victim know they will suffer greatly by leaving the narcissist. Many victims of narcissistic abuse are afraid of losing friends and family members when the narcissist claims they can be turned against them.
  • Relaying messages through friends. While this might seem innocuous, such roundabout communication makes their victim feel like everyone around them is repeating the words of their abuser. This leaves them feeling lonely and disconnected.
the narcissist response to your discard

Leaving a narcissist is never easy, but in the long run, it’s probably for the best.

The narcissist will eventually leave you alone as they move on to their next victim who will provide them with a newfound well of ego-boosting attention.

Last Updated on July 4, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester

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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

23 thoughts on “The Narcissist Discard Phase: 3 Signs a Final Discard is Coming”

  1. The narcissist I know has shown all the signs of discard but I, have decided to stop enjoying the drama and playing the victim. I realise if I was to pay attention to their antics I would be reeled in again. No contact almost impossible as they are my next door neighbour. My husband and I sit in the back garden in silence so the person cannot hear and then repeat what we say.

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    • I know what you mean. The narcissist in our lives is our daughter in law. I never met such a hurtful evil person in my life. Wow! No more drama or victimization.

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    • Oh my gosh, I just laughed out loud. The narcisist in my life was also my next door neighbour! We ended up moving house! The final discard for me was when our children, who were friends, had a minor fight. She dragged me into it and threw her rage at me!

      Reply
  2. Help!! I’m involved with a Narcissist,I found out that he was cheating,he in turn ran from the situation,wouldn’t talk about it,then act as though I did something wrong…wht do I do,up until the time he got caught he was totally different

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    • If there’s no kids involved consider yourself blessed.Shit I have kids so it’s gone be a very long as road.Also,we not having sex or anything so I’m sure there’s a new supply.Moreover;He’s nonchalant an in I don’t care mode.I have am open dss case and I’m finson to have to cut babydad loose he has substance abuse issues.An a convert narcissist!

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    • So very very true. I had to leave in the middle of the night to not get pulled back and I have lost all my belongings. The house is in my father’s name on top of it all! I can explain she is a narcissist, but nobody can even begin to understand the fear. I am 6’3″ and hid dozens of times under clothes in my closet. These people are capable of anything.

      Good luck to all.

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      • I can totally relate. I’ve been on the verge of total despair for years with my narcissist wife. I actually found these articles by googling “how to make a narcissist miserable” because she has me so far gone I was ready to just hurt her back right wrong whatever. Just reading this wisdom has made me feel a lot better about myself and given me hope. It’s good to know I am not alone.

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  3. I’m in discard phase, help he has my passwords my emails and unemployment access, bank card numbers hes stopped giving compliments long ago, hes online always on phone date night, date day, date hour, he dont c me when I walk by, hes stealing my clothes and more I have nowhere to go

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    • I thought I was the only one that was going through that. He either has been stealing my clothes or hiding them along with other things and than telling me I hid them on myself. The only thing he has stolen that can’t be replaced is my time.

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      • That’s one of the ways that they use gaslighting. They make you question your reality. It’s easier to manipulate someone that can’t believe their own thoughts. Sick.

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  4. The narc was on my life for 12 years. Last Dec. we lost our home. I have been living in a van along with my dog. Guess where I am at now? A homeless shelter waiting room! With just the clothes on my back! My storage is going to auction today and my dog is with him in van.

    See. This narcissistic likes to get physical and last night he got a taste of what it feels like, he called cops on me!

    Again! I explained to cops and dropped me off here. So I am a example of what a low down narcissistic will do!

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  5. As though I’m reading the last 1.5 years of my life with a female covert narcissist. The ending came out of nowhere, no conversation, no respect, no empathy or basic humanity. My mind swirled for two months attempting to reconcile. It was absolute torture; more especially given the close relationship I had with her children and the subsequent silent treatment/gaslighting. THE absolute best thing anyone experiencing this can do is immediately get out. Get out by any means necessary, block all contact with the N and anyone they associate with. It will not be easy, but your loss of sanity and lost self-worth can be mitigated the sooner you entirely remove yourself. I am still working through the recovery phase as a person sincerely questions how and why the red flags were not acted on. In any event, the N will never/ever change; therefore most like anything else that can’t be treated it MUST be immediately cut out. Good luck to any/all experiencing same.

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    • Well if only I had known after my first discard that really crushed me but at the time I was still battling just learning why and that I had been a codependent to this Narc for sixteen long years while raising my beautiful daughter from my first experience of a Narcissist sadly I fell a year after that one and ended up raising my daughter by him with the second Narc. She was two and I spent sixteen years with him sharing her or I thought instead he started grooming her as soon as she hit puberty by buying her things I could never even dream of and telling her I was a bad mom crazy you name it , he ended up giving more to my child while wrecking us than I ever had and I could not stop him even though my therapist said we have to get her away I could not she saw him as her dad she never had and a hero. I am now estranged from my beautiful daughter and was replaced again when I caught him again lying cheating etc it was the worse hell ever and I thought id never get up again as he had done this to me before and when I healed and the woman he left for dumped him then I was called back again. I have now started back to healing live alone and love it but I do not want to always feel I can never trust or date again so that is a constant battle but I feel in time I may be able to just know that there are honest and healthy men out there . Thanks for your post it is another one to reflect on and realize that although the trauma and pain hurt so much it also gave me my courage back and I am not giving up. I feel blessed to have escaped again and although i had believed in him so much I should have seen the flag when after sixteen years no marriage and many infidelities lies and much esteem wrecking I never ever really did feel loved and secure but I hid from my gut instincts and stayed . It is others that inspire me to never look back and that for all the good memories there are far more bad ones.

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  6. I’m partly to blame for my situation as I was involved in an affair with a married male narcissist. At first he lied to me saying that he was leaving his wife, yet I was sceptical as he was still married, I fell for the love bombing phase. I met this narc at a place where I worked. Our affair lasted exactly about 3 years. It was more of a stress and nightmare than good memories. He even went as far as making a restraining order against me at the police when I exposed all the juicy bits of our affair to his wife. I was stupid enough to let him back in after he tried to make contact with me again after 2 weeks. As of yet his foolish wife has however not left his side although he is a serial cheater, he is a good father to their son and has a high earning job so I suppose that’s why she still hasn’t divorced him. I know he has lined up a new source of supply, hopefully the wife finds out again and makes his life a living hell. Karma eventually catches up to these horrible narc male womanisers. I know he wants to end things in person with me because he said he wants to have a serious talk in person and not via text. I told him to write it via text. He has acted cold and aloof the last couple weeks and I know it’s because he has found a new supply. Yet he lies and says he hasn’t, I’ve decided to ghost him instead and will save myself further heartbreak and go no contact without warning. He will surely try to Hoover again asking when can we have The Talk and I will not respond. I’m going to save myself and work on my healing and let this be a lesson to other women having affairs with married men. It won’t end pretty and the sooner you leave them before they completely discard you, the better for your healing. You are simply a new shiny object within the first 6 months to a year into the affair, after that you won’t be all that anymore, the devalue and discard phase follows. Ghost them and go NC. Save your sanity before it’s too late.

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    • Not a good idea to reveal details to his wife. If he has that protection order, don’t contact him. He can have you arrested. Never date married men.

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  7. I have allowed myself to be completely isolated.I saw all the signs like loving can’t be that deep at all!!Loving Him has caused me much damn child.An they now know he has a substance issue.Nov 9th.2021!I was found outside in a tent with my 1 year old daughter!I hate this shit….It’s bad enough I have kids by a narcissist.Now my damn child in the system.

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  8. I have left him 4 times in 5 years! But the only way to stay gone is absolutely no contact. I was doing well. Waiting in a homeless shelter for my housing to kick in. I got my 1st apartment in 8 years. Scared and excited for this next chapter in my life without him. I had a plan to get settled, get help for gambling, get back on my own two feet and then help my teenage daughter who seems to be a mini me on steroids. i want so much more for her than this!! about 3 weeks into my new apt. a knock on the door, without looking i opened it and there he stood. pushing past me and now in my new apartment, he needed a couple of days for the V.A. to help get him his own housing. I owe him that much. o.k. the police had brought him here while evicting him from his last residence. Thank you police! He never left. He wore my clothes for months, He has now gotten me evicted from my residence as there have been 29 police calls for noise disturbance and the apartments got a citation form the city for the police calls.
    He blames my daughter and her boyfriend. He stoled my fresh start. He took it right out from under me! He took my chance at saving her from herself. He got me kicked out AGAIN!!! Last night, he came here to my new place and rang the doorbell and POUNDED on the door all night long until I went outside and took him away from the house. But not before trying to push his way past me again like before. I stopped him from entering and locked the door on my way out!!

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    • This sounds more like typical domestic violence to me. More than narcissism. You read the lease. You knew the terms of that lease. Twenty-nine phone calls is excessive to one apartment. I am sorry this happened to you. Probably best you stay single since you struggle with gambling addiction and domestic violence. I hope you can move to a location where he cannot find you at all.

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  9. I’m going through the last discard phase now. She has a supply she’s been using for close to 3 years and is ready to move over. She realised I know because I useda dna test on the baby and she’s being nice now as in she feels better knowing it will be over soon. She has tormented me for years and this was her final blow. I’m doing everything to help myself right now and she keeps playing her on off game trying to get under my skin while disappearing all night to his house without any regard for her baby. This is hard, hurtful and exhausting. It really hurts. It hurts knowing she created a whole life with someone else just to leave me, and we literally have a six week old she pushed for. I’m besides myself with all this narcissistic abuse I’ve been learning about but have some level of relief knowing this was not my fault, even though I continue to revert to it may just be my fault. I hope to get out of this feeling soon and don’t ever want experience this again. GL to everyone.

    Reply

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