Last Updated on July 4, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester
What happens when you reject a narcissist? Do you think that nothing can bruise the narcissist’s inflated ego? Do you assume the narcissist in your life is immune to feeling hurt or weak? Think again. Although they will never tell you explicitly, the narcissist fears, dreads, and hates rejection more than nearly anything else.
Nobody likes feeling rejected. It’s a vulnerable and painful experience, and it can trigger profound emotions of insecurity and incompetence. But to a narcissist, even the slightest rejection often represents the ultimate form of betrayal.
So what happens if you start to reject and ignore a narcissist? let’s dive in.
Does Rejection Hurt a Narcissist?
In a short answer, yes.
In a longer and more nuanced answer, it hurts them in ways they will never outright reveal.
So, how do narcissists react to rejection? They react using their typical responses, including variants of rage, defensiveness, denial, and projection. They become mean and spiteful. In other words, they don’t try to understand why someone might reject them. They only know to retaliate.
This is why it’s essential to understand the complex paradox of narcissism. Narcissists are undoubtedly self-absorbed and believe they are superior to other people. They consider themselves above the rules, and they assume they are entitled to whatever they want.
At the same time, despite pretending like they don’t care about other people, they are highly sensitive to any judgments or criticism- to the point where it can be downright debilitating.
Does a Narcissist Like Being Rejected?
You might be saying to yourself, but it seems like they love the negative attention! They don’t seem to care if other people don’t like them!
We all know how much narcissists enjoy arguing and proving their point. We also know that they often act like they don’t even consider other people.
This behavior often represents a shield. Narcissists like attention, but they hate feeling demeaned, controlled, or criticized. That’s why they often react in such intense ways. They cannot tolerate the notion of someone attacking their ego.
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Even a cool, nonchalant demeanor is often a facade. It’s a desperate attempt of trying to pretend the issue isn’t getting to them. However, there is a good chance they are struggling immensely on the inside and plotting their next move for revenge.
How Does a Narcissist Handle Rejection?
When there is any kind of threat to their self-esteem, 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).
Narcissists invariably react with Narcissistic Rage to 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.
Narcissists respond in various ways, but nearly every reaction includes some form of manipulation or abuse. Let’s have a look at 5 ways how the Narcissist handle rejection.
I never saw us getting serious either. This was just us having a good time.
You’re crazy- I never said that. Why would you even accuse me of something like that?
Oh, I don’t really care what we do. I just thought that’s what you wanted.
Gaslighting happens when a narcissist attempts to make you question your own reality. They may achieve this by downplaying, lying, or twisting specific stories. At times, it can be incredibly obvious, but many narcissists also know how to be sly and subtle.
In many ways, gaslighting is the narcissist’s most reliable weapon. They can use it anytime they feel ashamed, embarrassed, or caught off-guard.
When a narcissist feels rejected, they may gaslight you to pretend like they don’t care about the rejection at all. Or, they might insist that you’re overreacting to focus the attention on you and your feelings. In some cases, they might deny doing any of the things that caused the rejection.
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“She doesn’t want to keep trying. I guess she gave up on our relationship.”
“He’s drinking more than usual. I should have said something to you guys earlier.”
“I’m pretty sure she was cheating on me. My heart is completely broken.”
Some narcissists will try to damage your reputation after a real or perceived rejection. They may smear you by trying to convince others that they are the real victims in the dynamic. Often, they elicit this empathy by blatantly lying about your behavior.
Narcissists may smear you to friends or family, but they may also try to destroy your credibility at work, in court, with future partners, or in the community.
Smearing is an act of revenge. When a narcissist feels rejected, they feel vulnerable and humiliated. To cope with these painful emotions, they act out in a way that feels comfortable: by lashing out and hurting others.
3. Fake Apologies
I didn’t mean to do that. It’ll never happen again!
I am so sorry. Please give me another chance.
I’m sorry you’re so sensitive.
What do these apologies have in common? They are fake apologies, and they certainly don’t include any real sense of personal accountability.
That’s because narcissists lack empathy for other people. They don’t care about how their actions might be hurtful or even egregious. They are motivated by their own self-interests and they only apologize to restore a semblance of power and control.
4. Abruptly Moving On
Some narcissists respond to rejection by cutting you off altogether. In doing this, they often jump into a new relationship very quickly. They usually try to flaunt this exciting new life, and they may suddenly become very active on social media as a result.
Their portrayal of moving on doesn’t mean they’ve actually moved on. Most of the time, this is their way of trying to make you feel jealous. Additionally, they’re trying to convince themselves that they never needed you.
Them “moving on” is also a form of punishment. They think they’re hurting you by refusing to speak to you. In some ways, this is the best-case scenario. They’re making a no contact approach simpler for you.
5. Giving You What You Want
I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to ask. Will you marry me?
You’re right- we just need a better home. Let’s look at houses this weekend.
I’m going to start therapy. Do you want to go with me to the first session?
Some narcissists react to rejection by appearing to recognize their wrongdoings in the relationship. Using this strategy, they attempt to make things right by giving in to your desires.
Unfortunately, their motives often work. Of course, you want to believe that the narcissist can change. You try to give them the benefit of the doubt. So when they make a genuine attempt to improve the relationship with a narcissist, you may start feeling incredibly optimistic.
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Unfortunately, their changes are not altruistic or generous. They don’t necessarily care about making you feel better- they care about maintaining your usual status quo. Narcissists aren’t stupid. They know how to charm people, and they know exactly how to delight you!
If the narcissist suddenly makes grandiose promises about the future, be careful. They are probably feeling desperate. Even if a small part of them does want to change for the better, personality disorders tend to be extremely inflexible and rigid over time.
Ultimately, giving them another chance tends to lead to more disappointment. You’ll probably feel frustrated and resentful when they don’t commit to their promise. At the same time, you’ll also feel ashamed or embarrassed that you believed in them in the first place.
What Are The Consequences of Rejecting A Narcissist Sexually?
The narcissist can have extreme attitudes when it comes to sex.
Hyperactive or somatic narcissists rely on their external appearance and charm to win people over. Men in this category may be hyperfocused on their bodies or athletic abilities. Women in this category might undergo multiple plastic surgeries to obtain the perfect look.
Hypoactive or cerebral narcissists focus on attracting people with their intelligence and personality. They may flaunt their successful business or impressive accolades to win over someone’s desire.
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At the same time, they may find sex demoralizing or even beneath them. They may judge people for acting so primitive or impulsive. Therefore, they may turn the rejection back onto you by insisting they never wanted sex in the first place.
When a narcissist initiates sex, it isn’t because they want to feel intimate with someone else. Usually, they’re just focused on maximizing their own pleasure. In that moment, you are the person who can evoke that pleasure. If they are trying to attract new a narcissistic supply, sex may represent a “win,” as if they accomplished their mission.
Sex can also represent an act of power. Seduction can be an act of control and manipulation- this is why so many narcissists feel drawn to chase after potential mates or engage in extramarital affairs. In this way, sex becomes an alluring game, a way for them to prove their worth and superiority.
How does a narcissist deal with rejection in the bedroom? Not well. They may engage in any or all of these abuse tactics:
- Blaming their partner for being prudish, selfish, or cruel.
- Downplaying or completely denying they wanted to have sex in the first place.
- Withholding sex from their partner in the future.
- Cheating on their partner.
- Blaming their partner for causing problems in the relationship.
- Guilt-tripping their partner by lamenting about how rejected or abandoned they feel.
- Shutting down and ignoring their partner for several hours or days.
- Threatening to blackmail or otherwise harm their partner.
- Physically forcing themselves on their partner and sexually assaulting them.
What Are The Main Consequences of Rejecting a Narcissist?
People with narcissistic personality disorder believe they are entitled to special treatment. They think others should adapt and even concede to their needs.
Moreover, they expect ongoing admiration and validation. Although they may present with high self-esteem, their egos are incredibly fragile. Therefore, if someone or something challenges those needs, they may automatically assume they are being rejected.
Narcissistic rage tends to be the most common reaction to rejection. This rage includes an extreme outburst of anger, paranoia, passive-aggression, and avoidance. It’s a response to narcissistic injury, which refers to the narcissist’s experience of feeling challenged, ridiculed, or insecure.
Rejecting A Narcissist Hoover- Now What?
You’ve stayed strong despite the pain and anguish. You’re doing your best to move on and heal from the narcissistic abuse. But they still won’t leave you alone. They’re still doing everything they can to lure you back into their lives.
So, what happens when you reject a narcissist and their hoovering?
At first, they tend to escalate their antics. If they called you once a week, don’t be shocked if they’re now calling you multiple times a week. If they sent you flowers one time, you may get flowers with a box of chocolates next month.
They use hoovering to try to convince you that you’re wrong for rejecting them. All hoovering is designed to win you back. Remember that the next time you feel convinced they’re being genuine or sincere. They want to prove that this time will be different. They want you to second-guess your reasons for leaving or rejecting them.
Keep in mind that any response to their hoovering gives them attention. Most narcissists don’t delineate between positive and negative attention. Just like a toddler, they take what they can get.
How Does A Narcissist Handle Rejection and No Contact?
If being rejected is the ultimate form of betrayal for a narcissist, the concept of no contact almost feels foreign and inconceivable. When you truly walk away from the relationship, you choose to walk away from their abuse.
This often feels jarring to the narcissist. After all, they believe you’re fortunate to have them. They can’t understand why you would ever want to turn your back on the relationship.
Can a narcissist handle rejection and no contact? At first, they will throw a temper tantrum. They may try every manipulation strategy in the book. Expect the smearing and gaslighting and constant hoovering. Expect them to suddenly move onto a new partner and new life.
This is part of their personality, and it’s how they cope with being rejected. But if you continue to stay in the relationship, your mental health with continue to suffer.
Loving a narcissist often entails sacrificing your happiness, safety, and overall identity. Over time, it can take everything out of you. You deserve to feel respected and loved in your relationships. If the narcissist can’t meet these needs, it’s worth reconsidering your options.
4 thoughts on “What Happens When You Reject a Narcissist?”
Thank you for your article! It has been insightful and a relief to pin point what I have been married to for 30 years. My struggle is: how to leave. The guilt is overwhelming, and the fear of initiating World War 3 is ever present. I do need an exit plan. I have discussed the plan in great lengths to family, but once I am around him I am unable to go through with it. Help!
You are right for one thing- you need an exit plan! Do it! You will feel good and will gain the power to make the step! Talk only to people who can understand what you are going through and stop thinking what will the other people think of me. You do not give up on anything you just choose what is right for you! To be present, to be happy, to enjoy life, to be you! I am one step before you and it feels good! But still a long road ahead of us!
I had the unfortunate experiences of setting off Narcissistic rage 2 times, in 2 different people.
The best advice that I can pass along from my experiences is to always assume that you don’t really know someone, even if you have been around them for a very long time. People can be very skilled at concealing their dark traits, that is, until you set them off and make enemies for life. Always be polite but keep interactions shallow and realize that co-workers and family are not friends, but acquaintances by chance.
Thank you for the wise, kind wisdom. This was and hopefully the last person with that attitude. An Empath. I’ve experienced the worst kind of a boyfriend. He’s lied, cheated, stolen, broke my most personal things. He’s robbed my house. Cut up my cloths. Emptied out my storage. All to say. ” It’s not me”! What a way to answer a question, not even regarding him. He’s also stolen my Android phones. Tablets, jewelry, etc. My question is. Why does he steal so much from and of me, to later break up with me? All before I found out. It was him all along?