Narcissists are well known in a general sense to be exploitative and self absorbed individuals, only out for themselves. It’s pretty well understood on a casual level that they often use others for their own ends, but what about when they DON’T have any use for them anymore? What happens when you don’t serve any useful purpose to a narcissist anymore? What about when you’re not worshiping and propping them up anymore? Or when they can’t control and dominate you anymore?
This is what we’re going to delve into in this post, examining the what and the why – what happens when a narcissist has no use for someone anymore, and why it happens. It fundamentally boils down to the narcissist’s constant need for “supply” or reinforcement of their grandiose self to find use in anyone or anything, and what happens when this supply fades or dries up.
As soon as a person is not feeding a narcissist the “supply” they need, or not subservient to them anymore, they will quickly be discarded by the narcissist, who will then swiftly replace them with someone else who will provide this “supply”. Narcissists do not see other people as separate human beings, but as objects to be used for their own ends and thrown away when no longer of any use.
In other words, despite appearances at times, a narcissist’s relationship with those around them is solely exploitative and transactional, even those they’ve been “with” for years or decades. The moment you’re not propping up their false, fragile sense of self, you’ll find yourself “fired” from your job as a “prop” in the self-aggrandizing play that is their life.
This can be hard to face for people who’ve been caught up with them for years, but is the sad truth. Let’s look in more detail why.
How A Narcissist Sees You (And Why They Now Have No Use For You)
As hard as it can be to see for people caught up with narcissists, they only ever see people as objects and sources of “narcissistic supply“, not as real people with their own feelings, needs, emotions etc.
Narcissistic supply refers to a kind of psychological “food” or “fuel” that narcissist needs to keep their false, fragile but grandiose sense of themselves afloat. Narcissists have from a very early age been denying reality, and part of this denial involves the creation of a false or “shell” self that needs constant external validation and “propping up” to sustain it. Anything that serves this purpose can be classed as narcissistic supply.
This “supply” can take many different forms, here are some examples:
- Love (but they never really love you back)
- Being feared
- Control or power over others.
- Constantly being validated and affirmed in their twisted worldview 100% of the time.
- Fame (and the “VIP/celebrity status” that often comes with it)
- Social proof
- Sexual attention.
- A sense of special-ness, uniqueness and perfection.
- A sense of being the best/number 1/top dog in some field or environment
- A sense of being the smart, enlightened one, while everyone around them is a stupid, inferior servant.
- Constant silly-ness and back and forth humor, jokes, memes, and being fed constant entertainment, as long as they’re the center of attention.
- A back and forth implicit arrangement where you’ll always agree on stuff and never disagree or challenge any of his/her obvious character deficits or lack of self growth.
- Control – Although control and power is more often considered a psychopathic trait, it can also be present in narcissists. They get off on being able to control victims psychologically and sometimes physically, and often discard when they find they can’t control people anymore.
How A Narcissist Sees You As Supply (Explained in 2 minutes)
Whatever forms of “supply” you are feeding to a narcissist in a relationship, you can be sure that as soon as you are NOT feeding them this supply any more, either intentionally or unintentionally, they have no use for you and will quickly get rid of you.
In other words, the moment you are not doing what they see as “your job” in feeding them this supply, they have no use for you, and you’ll find yourself swiftly “fired” symbolically from that job, or discarded, as it’s sometimes known in the narcissistic abuse space online.
Personality disorder expert Richard Grannon summed this aspect of narcissists up superbly in a recent live stream:
“(Narcissist’s speak the language of) power and exploitation. They speak adulation, narcissistic supply, and worship of the ‘deity’ that they are. That’s it.
(With a narcissist) you’re either doing your job, or you’re not. It’s pretty simple.
And I think we all know that in our hearts, but it’s important to face that reality. You are either doing your job of worshiping them, of facilitating their lives, or you are not.
How sad, how lonely…(But) we can grieve. You can have a bad afternoon. You’ll survive 3 months of grieving. But if you stay (with the narcissist), and you keep trying to make it work for 10, 15, 20 years. …..That is hard to live with. Good years of your life given to someone else’s theatre performance”
This might be hard to hear for people currently or recently tangled up with a narcissist, but it’s ultimately something that needs to be accepted to fully move on. You were unfortunately just a “prop” in the narcissist’s play, of which the sole actor and star is them. The moment you didn’t serve that purpose, you were discarded.
“Think about what my relationship is with this cup I’m holding now. At the moment, I really like it because it serves me a purpose. It’s holding my drink so it doesn’t spill everywhere. But once I’m done with it and I put it down in about 10 minutes I’m not gonna care about it anymore. That’s how a narcissist sees other people.”
Dr Ramani Durvasula
The Discard From A Narcissist (Explained & Examples)
What we covered above is more the WHY of what really drives and motivates a narcissist to behave the way they do towards others, using them as objects rather than valuing them as people.
Now let’s cover the WHAT of what actually happens when a narcissist discards someone, the different forms it can take when a narcissists coldly ejects a person from their life who they no longer have any use for. This normally actually follows a predictable cycle of idealize-devalue-discard.
There’s many hurtful ways they can do this.
This may include:
- Just suddenly breaking off all contact, with no explanation.
- Sometimes, they may just break off with an abrupt, hurtful text message or social media message instead. The way they do it will be designed to cause the maximum pain possible.
- If you’re living together, they might just take all their stuff and leave in the middle of the night, and you wake up to find them gone with no explanation
- They may start openly cheating, flirting, triangulating with others, almost provoking you into ending it with them with outrageous behavior right in your face. They’ll continue this even after the breakup, which is why no contact is essential, including blocking them on all platforms.
- They will often wave new partners, friends and work associates in your face, either in person or on social media, trying to portray how much fun they are having with these new people now they ditched you, as they begin the cycle all over again with someone else. It’s all about mind games.
- Other abusive behaviors like gas-lighting, verbal abuse, “sly digs”, mocking, invalidating, put downs etc, might also ramp up, again almost provoking you until you break up with them
- They may suddenly “explode” into a rage that shocks you, telling you to “get the F… out of here” or someone similar, that shocks and stuns you into leaving.
- They may provoke you into this “explosive” argument by doing something deliberately tone-deaf and inconsiderate that winds you up, and then using your (justifiably) annoyed reaction as fuel to “explode” back at you and discard you (in most cases, this will be planned – they’re “sticking their chin out”, waiting for you to get annoyed so they can explode back at you and complete the discard).
The time leading up to this discard can vary. Sometimes, it may be completely sudden and out of the blue. Other times, there may be a gradual ramping up of toxic behavior over the preceding weeks/months. It varies and depends on how suddenly you stopped serving their own fantasy self image and lifestyle. There may be a gradual drifting apart before the discard, or it may come very suddenly, in the form of an explosive argument or out-of-the-blue departure.
But make no doubt about it, a narcissist will ALWAYS discard you in some way when you are no longer serving their grandiose fantasy of themselves.
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My Own Experience With This
I’ve definitely had my own experience with this discarding process with a narcissist, in the case of a friendship that effectively ended when my own growth couldn’t withstand it and I couldn’t justify propping him up anymore in his pathetic lifestyle.
Remember the quote above from Richard Grannon – to a narcissist, you’re either doing your job, or you’re not.
And in my case, my job was to “prop him up”, by agreeing with, validating, and never questioning, his twisted worldview and his zero-growth, slobbish, entitled, “loser” lifestyle, clowning and joking around but with zero deeper growth or self reflection. And looking back, the entitlement needed to believe he deserved that lifestyle to be supported by his parents was off the charts.
He was actually a “loser”, but my job was to feed him the “supply” to make him believe he wasn’t a loser. No problem that you let your parents pay for your university board while you turned up to zero lectures and “dossed around” for 3 years letting them continue to pay for it without telling them, no problem you’re still living with those parents into your mid thirties, doing dead end part time jobs with zero drive to grow or change, coming home to drink beer and play video games. No problem that you’re rude and obnoxious with others, and have no social skills or discretion.
“It’s not your fault, it’s always everyone else at fault. You’re not really a loser, it’s the rest of the world that are losers. Your lifestyle is fine, you never need to grow or change or take your own responsibility”, was the reinforcement I needed to send to him to prop him up. As long as I did that, it was fine – a mutual, back and forth arrangement, where I fed him the validation of his false self (and entertainment as well), and he fed me validation and attention and entertainment as well (narcissistic supply is mutual and runs both ways as well, which is something that needs detoxing from after these relationships). He could still live in his perpetual adolescence and have me support him in it (incidentally, he apparently still does, many years later, although I’ve long since moved on – these people never grow or change)
The moment I started to develop my own assertiveness and boundaries, and grow myself, and no longer did that job for him, he started to slowly attack me, leading up to a final, sudden discard (for me, it was the explosive argument that he provoked on purpose). The discard didn’t come right away, but in hindsight I could see it building up over the previous months as I started to grow, and that growth was literally incompatible with continuing to prop up his false self image. Something had to give, and it did.
Thankfully, when the discard came, although it was shocking in the way it actually happened, I quickly moved on and realized I also needed to grow and change course, which led to me starting my career making money online, of which this blog is a part.
By contrast, narcissists will NEVER have these “insight” moments, and will continue to live the same entitled, rigid, controlled lifestyle, instead enlisting someone else to come in and prop them up in it (as hard as it is to hear, you are completely replaceable to the narcissist. They fired you, and hired someone else instead to feed them “supply“. It’s literally that cold, like a transactional business arrangement to them).