The narcissist’s discard and silent treatment: What you need to know

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Do you wonder if you have a narcissist in your life?

The term ‘narcissist’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but that doesn’t make it any less harmful! 

Narcissists are a breed of people who inflict harm on others with their behavior tactics and ways of being.

Truth is, we all have narcissistic traits to one degree or another, but there are some people who are full blown narcissists. 

Now, you can spot one by looking at their behavior patterns. Their behaviors are, well, predictable! 

This is what you need to know about narcissists’ nasty tricks… 

The narcissistic pattern 

Narcissists follow the same pattern with people that they prey on.

It goes: 

  • Idealize
  • Devalue 
  • Discard 

By this, it means they first lovebomb people, then they slowly devalue and discard them.

Narcissists cause people on the receiving end to feel as though they don’t have a good grasp on reality, and as though they’re doing something wrong.

They play mind games with people and prey on their kindness. 

You could say that people who are in narcissistic relationships – be it platonic or romantic – can often feel like they’re losing their minds because of the behavior tactics they’re being exposed to. 

If you feel like you’re in a narcissistic relationship, you might have had times where you’ve wondered if you’re a good person or if you make good decisions.

How do I know this? My mum was married to a narcissist who tried to destroy her.

She tells me that in her relationship, she was idealized, devalued and discarded… 

…And I know from all of the stories that it was literally a living nightmare. 

As if that’s not enough, she’s become an expert on all things narcissism-related to try and understand the personality disorder.

There’s a lot you need to know in order to navigate this complex type of person!

So, what did it look like for her?

Well, it started with love bombing when they first met.

This is one of the most well-known and classic narcissistic tactics.

When they first met, he would lovebomb her with love letters and texts, telling her that she was the best thing since sliced bread.

He would tell her how beautiful she was, and how he worshiped the ground she walked on.

He even said that he had felt her presence his entire life, and he knew it was her.

This is exactly what Miss Date Doctor says happens with narcissists. 

In an article about narcissism, they explain:

“After falling in love with a narcissist, it feels like your long-awaited fairy tale has come true. Everything seems perfect, and a narcissist makes sure that you feel special. He will make you feel like you are his only destination. But you don’t know that you have fallen for a narcissist and when you do realize it is too late. You either have fallen hard or are just married to them, which is not easy to break. You may start noticing red flags, but everything is just confusing. If you are the kind of person who likes to please others, you might question yourself before you think wrong of your partner.”

So what happened to my mum?

As a result of all of the adoration and because my mum was at a vulnerable place in her life, they married within six months. 

She fell head over heels for the bulls**t, and walked straight into his trap.

But in a short period of time, things started to feel ‘off’ about him.

He started behaving in a way that made her feel uneasy and concerned.

You see, he started with his silent treatment, which is a temporary discard according to the Counselling Directory.

What is the silent treatment?

The clue is in the name with the ‘silent treatment’…

…It’s simply a tactic where communication is withheld.

As in, a person might suddenly go silent on you, which means not receiving any more texts, phone calls or they’ll deliberately not talk to you in person.

They’ll basically be mute and continue doing it to make a point.

It’s a tactic that punishes the person on the receiving end. 

It causes the person who’s a victim of the silent treatment to feel vulnerable, confused and unsettled. 

Queen Beeing explains:

“The silent treatment can feel like psychological torture, and it can cause you to feel like you’re going crazy. This is why learning the truth about narcissists and their manipulative behavior is vital for those of us who are enmeshed with them.”

In other words, it causes a lot of energy to be burned in trying to work out what’s happened and why they’re receiving radio silence from the other person.

The worst part is that the silent treatment could go on for hours, days and even weeks at time. 

It’s likely that if you ask “what’s wrong?”, they’ll say “oh, nothing” as though things are fine while behaving in a clearly strange way and ignoring you.

Why narcissists go silent and discard

First things first, narcissists lack empathy.

They use people and feed off of their energy, and don’t feel anything for it.

Yep, they’re literally the worst kind of people! 

Think of narcissists as needing a supply from another person to feel good because they can’t feel good themselves. 

These people fundamentally are not happy so they try to steal it from others!

Now, this may work for a while… But eventually the person on the receiving end is likely to catch on to what’s happening to them.

They’ll feel like something isn’t quite right and start to feel unsettled.

This is what happened to my mum.

Just six months after their marriage, she wrote in her journal that she felt as though she’d made the biggest mistake of her life.

She started to pull back, which meant she was no longer giving him what he wanted and ‘needed’ from the relationship. 

It was then that things got really nasty and the cheating started.

You see, as I explained: narcissists need to feed off others and they’re going to seek it out if their supply runs dry from one source.

He needed to find another source of adoration… And he started being so nasty because he knew that she’d sussed out what he was really like. 

Simply put, he became cruel and a living nightmare.

In their article about understanding and recovering from the silent treatment, Counselling Directory says:

“People with narcissistic tendencies tend to see others as objects to meet their needs and will discard them when it is no longer met or the person adds no value.”

What being discarded looks like

Narcissists do not discard just the once. 

They do it again and again, as they deliberately try to make a point and attempt to harm the person on the receiving end. 

Along with not feeling any empathy, narcissists do not feel any sense of accountability or remorse for their own behaviors.

In other words, they feel no shame or guilt for how they’ve treated you.

Given that my mum was married to a narcissist for almost five years, she has plenty of examples about what being discarded looks like.

The silent treatment is one she is incredibly familiar with. During the relationship, she was made to feel bad for things she did and then was given the silent treatment as a big, fat slap in the face.

I’ll give you some examples of what it actually looks like. 

For example, when she wanted to look for a new car but that she couldn’t afford one at the moment. 

He took it upon himself to go and find her a new car. He came back with the car, and she was naturally surprised that he had gone and bought one! 

He presented it to her like a gift, yet he gave her a piece of paper with it: a credit agreement. 

Yep, that really happened. 

She was shocked by his action and expressed that she did not have the money for it.

BUT he took this as an insult. He thought that she was ungrateful for his kind gesture… when all he had done was pick her out a car that she couldn’t afford, before giving her a credit agreement for her to pay it off. 

As a result, he got in a huff for a week and wouldn’t speak to her. 

He was silent other than the nasty remarks he made to her.

What’s more, he was visibly nice to everyone else while he was horrible to her.

While he would smile and laugh with others, he would look at her with a stare that said ‘I hate you’ in so many words.

She also told me that he once didn’t speak to her for an entire holiday!

Again, yep, you read that right.

He took her skiing and as she’d never skied before, she was rubbish. 

He forced her out of her comfort zone and got frustrated that she wasn’t able to glide down the mountain like him. 

Because she wouldn’t listen to his ‘instructions’ and play ball, he skied off and left her terrified at the top of the mountain. 

When she finally got to the bottom of the mountain, he didn’t want to speak to her. 

He said that she had embarrassed him and he was annoyed that she didn’t listen. 

In other words, he was angry at her because she didn’t play the role he wanted her to play.

Can you guess what happened next?

He deployed the silent treatment – he literally didn’t say anything more to her for the rest of the holiday, and he did his own thing. 

At the same time, he was friendly with other people as he deliberately tried to make her feel bad about herself. 

The resolution only came after she was forced to apologize for offending him. 

That said, he continued to hold it against her. 

Truth is, narcissists never really forgive others

How it feels being given the discard and silent treatment

Miss Date Doctor calls it ‘emotionally exhausting’ being in a narcissistic relationship, and inflicted by their discard and silent treatment.

“It also makes you feel that you are worthless, and you will feel like you are losing your mind slowly,” reads their article.

My mum tells me that she lost all of her sense of confidence during the relationship, and she regularly felt like she was a little girl being told off.

In my opinion, she shrunk into a shell of her former self and didn’t speak for herself in the relationship.

In other words, being in a relationship with a narcissist causes people to live in a state of feeling unsettled and as though they are not of sound mind.

If you’re feeling as though you’re second guessing yourself all of the time in a relationship – whether it’s a friend, family member or a romantic partner – it could be that they have narcissistic tendencies. 

How to cope with the silent treatment from narcissists

It’s necessary to remember that narcissists are going silent because they want the attention from you.

Simply put, they want to be chased and for you to apologize to them…

…They want you to admit to wrongdoing and to feel bad.

So how can you cope with this complex situation?

Having no contact with a narcissist is what narcissism experts often suggest when it comes to managing their behaviors.

Of course, this is easier said than done and it can often be the case that people live in the same house as their narcissistic abuser.

What’s more, Queen Beeing have a series of techniques they suggest to use to cope with the treatment – without losing your mind.

They explain:

  • “If you’re staying in the relationship because you have no choice, you can play the game. In order to do this, make sure you take care of yourself and that you don’t allow yourself to become overly isolated.
  • Keep in mind that one of the narcissist’s playbook moves is to isolate you from others in your life – the silent treatment will make you want to oblige in some cases, and you might even end up isolating yourself.
  • Find something that you enjoy to engage you, and don’t be afraid to sort of enjoy the break from their drama, if at all possible.”

The discard and silent treatment by covert narcissists

Now, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for narcissism.

Some people are very clearly narcissistic and everyone can see it, while others are a little more covert.

Fittingly, these people are called ‘cover narcissists’.

They are much harder to spot than out-right narcissists, because they don’t seem like regular narcissists. 

For example, they might seem like they are sensitive to other people’s thinking and have a sense of humility…

…So you might think that it’s impossible for them to be narcissistic, but that’s not always the case! 

When it comes to the discard and silent treatment, it looks a little bit different if a covert narcissist is behind it. 

Miss Date Doctor explains that covert narcissist discard is like the regular narcissistic discard, but you can usually not recognize the pattern.

They write: 

“Covert narcissists are hard to spot; they are not expressive, so you can’t identify them easily. Covert narcissistic discard is just like that, but try to read the signs. I know it is not going to be easy for you but if you want the best for yourself you need to try at least. They can trick you into feeling everything is fine and then suddenly dump you out of nowhere.”

Do all relationships with narcissists end with discard?

Now, narcissists do not have your best interests at heart.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but the truth is that narcissists do not care about people in the ways that they express that they do.

Instead, narcissists want you to feel isolated.

What’s more, they isolate people on purpose. 

It’s never going to end pretty with a narcissist – whether the person on the receiving end decides to leave first or if they walk away.

As I’ve explained, the latter often happens when narcissists come to terms with the fact that the other person has discovered their true colors.

Either way, a narcissistic relationship won’t end amicably…

…These people don’t know how to be amicable!

Discarding will be part-and-parcel with the relationship end.

Miss Date Doctor explains:

“Every relationship with a narcissist ends with a narcissistic discard stage where he feels that the person is not fun anymore or can’t fulfill his needs, so they get rid and dump you.”

How to recover from the narcissistic discard and silent treatment 

First things first, it’s important to remember that many people have experienced narcissistic discard and silent treatment…

…And they’ve recovered! 

It’s a fact that men and women around the world will have experienced the emotional abuse from narcissists and they’ve made it through the other side.

Even though narcissistic abuse feels like it’s something you can’t recover from and it feels like it’s never-ending at the time, it is! 

If you’re going through narcissistic abuse, rest assured that it will end and recovery is in sight. 

Recovering from narcissism can take many forms. 

It includes finding a community of people who have also been through it. Maybe you can find this community online, or it can come about organically by sharing your story with people who will connect you with others they know who have experienced it. 

This happened for my mum. 

She connected with a woman through a mutual friend who has been such an important part of her recovery. 

You see, there’s so much solace in knowing that you’re not alone.

In other words, there’s power in community and power in finding those who understand you and the struggles you’ve been through.

It’s also a good idea to seek out professional counseling, where you can express your thoughts freely and receive any feedback to help you deal with the situation in the best way possible. 

This is something my mum has also done for the first time in her life. 

It takes courage to be brave and honest with a stranger, but you’ll realize it’s an empowered act and one that will give you strength!

Now, it’s also necessary to give yourself time to grieve. 

Just like we grieve when we lose a loved one, we also need to grieve the ‘death’ of a relationship.

Tears are natural, so let them out!

Miss Date Doctor adds:

“Do not try to ignore your emotions and try to accept them. The more you permit yourself to feel these emotions, the faster you will heal. Grieving is the way towards communicating your emotions that you are trying to hide. Talk about your loss and feelings surrounding this loss. Recall all good and bad memories, write down your emotions in the form of a letter and seek closure.”

When it comes to writing a letter, you can write out all of the things you want to say to that person and get it all off your chest…

…But you don’t need to send it to that person.

Instead, you can burn the letter and use it as an opportunity to let go of all of the feelings of resentment, upset and anger. 

This will free up some of your space energetically and allow you to work towards moving forward in your life.

Don’t be fooled into thinking letter writing isn’t significant!

What’s more, journaling in general is an excellent tool in helping you to get your thoughts out and to find more clarity.

I know that my mum filled up pages and pages with thoughts after her relationship ended.

She got all of the pain out on paper and allowed herself to not hold onto it so much.

Part of the healing process is allowing yourself to feel everything, get all of your thoughts out, and to be open and honest about what happened to you.

What’s more, don’t feel bad about what’s happened to you! 

Always remember that it’s not your fault. 

Read that again: it’s not your fault.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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