Being in a relationship with a narcissist is traumatic and destroys your self-esteem. Discarding a narcissist isn’t easy, but it is necessary to survive the trauma and reestablish your sense of worth.
If you’re thinking about discarding the narcissist in your life, you’re probably worried about how they’ll react, and rightly so.
Dumping a narcissist first will leave them feeling angry and rejected and upset the power dynamic they rely on to bolster their ego.
They will react to the rejection by blaming you for all the problems in the relationship to validate themselves.
In this article, I will give you an idea of the behavior you can expect when you discard the narcissist first and help you prepare yourself for the inevitable fallout.
What happens when you discard the narcissist first?
Let’s start with a list of 12 things that will or may happen when you discard a narcissist first.
#1 They’ll guilt you into staying
A narcissist can’t bear to lose their power or the victim they use as an emotional prop, so their first reaction will be to do anything they can to make you stay.
They aren’t afraid of losing you as much as they fear losing their power over you.
Some years ago, I met someone who’d survived a narcissistic relationship. When he dumped him, his narcissistic partner used every past trauma and difficult situations he could find, to make him feel guilty.
When he discarded his narcissistic ex, his partner responded angrily, saying, “Everyone else has left me, so you might as well go too.”
Other phrases narcissists may use to make you feel guilty include:
“How can you leave me after all I’ve done for you?”
“You know I get depressed when I’m alone – is that what you want?”
“If you leave me, I’ll have nothing left to live for, so I may as well die.”
“I paid for your car/studies/holiday, and this is how you repay me!”
Beware of such behavior. It’s a form of emotional blackmail and will only bring more abuse and unhappiness.
#2 They’ll shift all the blame onto you
If you discard a narcissist first, they will blame you for everything that’s gone wrong in the relationship, even though they’re the guilty party.
They will accuse you of being selfish, cold, and uncaring while claiming they were the ones working hard to keep the relationship afloat.
In addition to portraying you as unfeeling, they will rewrite the narrative to make themselves look perfect and blameless.
They will try and make you believe that no one else will ever love you as they do and that no one else could make a relationship work with someone as cold and callous as yourself.
Keep hold of your own truth, and don’t let their narrative undermine your own. Your experiences in the relationship are valid, and you have every right to protect yourself by discarding the narcissist first.
#3 They’ll refuse to take responsibility
Just as a narcissist will blame you for everything that’s gone wrong, they’ll also refuse to take responsibility for any issues that have arisen.
Whatever you say caused the relationship to break down, they will deny responsibility for it.
Their sense of entitlement makes it impossible for them to see their flaws and leads to the blame-shifting we explored above.
They will also deny any accountability, claiming they had no choice and that you drove them to behave in such a way.
We’ll discuss this more in the section on gaslighting, but in the meantime, you might benefit from reading my article on How to Ignore a Narcissist the Right Way?
#4 They’ll fly into a rage
Narcissists use rage to frighten, intimidate and provoke a reaction. Like children having a tantrum, they have no control over their anger, and their rage is often disproportionate to the situation.
Sometimes, a narcissist may rage quietly, sulking and ghosting until they trigger a reaction. I knew someone whose father would do this – sometimes for weeks or months.
The best way to respond to narc rage is to stay calm and try not to react. Remember, a narcissist only uses their anger to regain control.
If you fear the rage may become violent, ensure you have a safety net, whether that’s a support person or a phone to call emergency services.
#5 They’ll try gaslighting
Gaslighting is used a lot by narcissists. A client of mine recently discarded a narcissist she’d been living with for nearly a year. His first response was to tell her she was crazy and had imagined all the issues she’d listed when she ended the relationship.
When that didn’t work, he started telling her she was too high maintenance ever to find another partner and that her bitterness made her ugly.
He used every one of her insecurities against her, hoping to break her down, but she stood firm, reminding herself that the people who truly loved her would never say such hurtful things.
#6 They’ll threaten to hurt or kill themselves
When you dump a narcissist first, they’ll go to any lengths to win you back, including threatening to kill themselves. This can be very difficult to deal with as your natural response is to offer comfort and try to talk them out of their fatal intent.
Remember, you are the primary source of the narcissist’s power, and they use this tactic to hold onto that power.
Fortunately, most narcissists who threaten self-harm or suicide are making empty threats. Someone who’s suicidal won’t shout it from the rooftops.
Remember, you are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness and should not compromise your own well-being for the sake of theirs.
#7 They’ll love-bomb you
Narcissists swing from one extreme to another. If you discard a narcissist first, they will respond by devaluing you, then love-bombing you.
If your ex starts sending you gifts or inviting you for a meal at your favorite restaurant, remind yourself of everything they said when they devalued you.
Why would someone who thinks you’re cold, selfish, and unfeeling want a relationship
As I’ve said before, love bombing is designed to make you feel dependent on the other person. In many instances, such behavior is unconscious and will only last as long as it takes to win you back.
As soon as they’ve got you firmly in their grasp, they will quickly switch back to being the manipulative, controlling individual you’re so desperate to escape.
#8 They’ll devalue you
When you discard a narcissist first, you cut off their supply of love and admiration.
They will feel hurt by this and seek to undermine and devalue you to rekindle that supply and reassure themselves of their own importance and superiority.
No one finds devaluing easy to face, especially not as it involves undermining everything about you.
A narcissist will yank you off the pedestal they placed you on while love-bombing you and telling you you’re worthless, unlovable, or just plain crazy.
A qualified therapist like myself can help counter these accusations by reminding you that you are worthy of love and respect and that you do not need others, especially not narcissists, to define your self-worth.
#9 They’ll threaten you
By dumping a narcissist first, you’re declaring war on their self-esteem, causing them to lash out. They may threaten to withhold certain belongings or, in my friend’s case, block her out of a shared business.
They will try and make you believe that you deserve nothing because you’ve discarded them first and that they are entitled to the lion’s share because of the disservice you’ve done them.
They may threaten to destroy your reputation by spreading lies about you or even threatening to hurt you.
The best way to protect yourself against such narcissistic behavior is to surround yourself with friends and loved ones and remember that there’s nothing you can do to control another person’s behavior.
#10 They’ll hoover you
A discarded or rejected narcissist will try to hoover you back into the relationship. Devaluing and love bombing are both parts of this cycle of narcissistic behavior.
Narcissists may use your friends or family to suck you back into the relationship, inventing problems that will be best solved if the two of you work together.
They may use your belongings to contact you, or even use your religious beliefs to worm their way back into your life, saying things like, “God wants us to try again.”
As I mentioned in my article on 15 Deceptive Narcissist Hoovering Examples, the best way to combat hoovering is to recognize it for what it is and “break contact as quickly as possible.”
#11 They’ll try to control the narrative
When you dump a narcissist, you rip off their mask, revealing their true nature and leaving them exposed and insecure.
To undermine this, they will try to reframe the narrative to make you out to be the bad guy. That means convincing others that you were the abusive one whose behavior led to the relationship’s breakdown.
Some narcissists will publicize this story far and wide, even going as far as to launch a smear campaign against you.
While it might be tempting to launch a counter-campaign of your own, this is the worst thing you can do – it would just play into the narcissist’s hands.
The best response is no response at all and ignore them completely. Hopefully, your family and friends know you well enough that they won’t fall for this narcissistic narrative, but if they need proof – give it to them.
Any documentation you have, be it text messages or hand-written notes, can help, especially if you want to pursue the matter in court.
#12 They’ll replace you
A narcissist can’t survive long without a supply of attention, admiration, respect, or adoration. When you discard a narcissist first, you cut off that supply, making them seek to restore it or find another source.
The narcissistic partner of my friend wasted very little time finding a new source, quickly shifting his attention to the legal representative handling his case.
Even people who’ve survived 20 years in a relationship with a narcissist find themselves replaced within a few short months or weeks.
This illustrates that it wasn’t you that they loved in the first place – they were in love with the energy, admiration, and attention you gave them.
Although it might be tempting to act vengefully by seeking out a new partner of your own, this isn’t a good idea.
A narcissistic relationship is traumatic, and you need to give yourself some time to heal. Practice self-love instead, and find a therapist to help you work through your feelings before you embark on a new relationship.
How Does a Narcissist feel if you discard them first?
A narcissist always feels like a victim, and this will be their go-to response if you discard them first.
They will also feel exposed because you’ve seen through their narcissistic tactics and revealed the real person lurking underneath. They will feel insecure, abandoned, and humiliated.
How does a Narcissist react when you dump them?
No one likes being dumped, but for narcissists, it’s devastating. Not only have they lost their supply, but they’ve been exposed for the person they truly are.
Their reaction will be to use every manipulative tactic in the book to win you back. That includes threats, gaslighting, smear campaigns, and love bombing.
Dumping a narcissist is a long, exhausting journey during which you need to hold on tightly to your sense of self-worth and ignore their efforts to undermine it.
You might be interested in these articles:
Do Narcissists stalk you after the discard?
A narcissist will refuse to accept your rejection and will often turn to stalking as a way to win you back or at least maintain power over you.
Their low self-esteem means they need to be in control, and they’ll use every trick in the book to re-establish it.
Narcissist stalking signs
Look out for the following signs that your narcissistic ex is stalking you:
- They turn up unexpectedly at your favorite hang-outs, suddenly taking out a gym membership so they can bump into you or visit your local coffee shop for their daily caffeine fix.
- They post pictures of themselves with new friends or prospective partners, hoping to make you jealous.
- They call or text you frequently, asking for another chance or making up reasons for the two of you to meet.
- They claim that they want to stay friends and ask you to meet up so you can chat about what went wrong in your relationship.
- They start hanging out with members of your family.
- They message your friends, asking for updates on how you’re doing.
- They respond to all your social media posts.
- They start sending you gifts or popping loving notes through your letter box.
Will a Narcissist forget you if you discard them?
A narcissist will never forget a victim. They thrive on your energy and devotion and will have difficulty letting go.
They will never forget you, but not in the way you might hope. The chances of them remembering you as the love of their lives is extremely slight, and they’ll more probably remember you as the one who cut off their vital narcissistic supply.
They still want the attention and power they had in the relationship and will be unwilling to let that go, even after they’ve replaced you with another victim.
Will a Narcissist let you move on?
A narcissist may move on after you’ve discarded them, but they’ll be reluctant to let you do the same simply because they still want to control you. They will try to stay in your life to maintain control and use manipulative tactics to stop you from moving on.
Do narcissists care if you move on?
Even though they have low self-esteem, narcissists believe they are superior and may have a hard time believing that you’ve found anyone else you could want to be with, even if you ended the relationship.
How do you know a narcissist is done with you?
When a narcissist finally stops using manipulative tactics against you, you know the relationship is over.
A narcissist that ignores you and stops love bombing and devaluing you has finally recognized that they can no longer control you.
Congratulations – your abusive relationship has ended, and hopefully, your self-esteem is still intact!
Even at this stage, it’s vital to stay away from your narcissistic ex and focus on giving yourself the love and respect you never got from them.