The Narcissist’s Playbook: When to Expect the Discard Phase

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The Narcissist’s Playbook: When to Expect the Discard Phase

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricate world of narcissistic behavior, focusing on the discard phase. Understanding the dynamics of this phase is crucial for anyone who has encountered a narcissist in their life. Whether it be in personal relationships, friendships, or professional settings, recognizing the signs of the discard phase can help you navigate through the complexities of narcissistic manipulation.

What is Narcissism?

Before we delve into the discard phase, it’s essential to understand what narcissism is. Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. Narcissists often exhibit manipulative and controlling behavior, using others for their own gain.

The Idealization Phase

The discard phase typically follows the idealization phase in a relationship with a narcissist. During the idealization phase, the narcissist puts their target on a pedestal, showering them with love, affection, and attention. They may seem too good to be true, making their target feel special and cherished.

Signs of the Idealization Phase

  • Love bombing: Excessive declarations of love and affection
  • Mirroring: Mimicking their target’s interests, values, and beliefs
  • Future faking: Making grand promises about the future

The Devaluation Phase

Once the narcissist has hooked their target during the idealization phase, they begin the devaluation phase. In this phase, the narcissist starts to reveal their true self, undermining their target’s self-esteem and confidence. They may engage in gaslighting, manipulation, and emotional abuse to maintain control.

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Red Flags of the Devaluation Phase

  • Criticism: Constantly belittling and criticizing their target
  • Gaslighting: Manipulating reality to make their target doubt their own perceptions
  • Silent treatment: Ignoring and withdrawing affection to instill fear and insecurity

The Discard Phase

The discard phase is the final stage in the narcissist’s playbook, where they discard their target once they no longer serve their needs. This phase can be devastating for the target, as the narcissist may discard them cruelly and abruptly, without any warning or explanation.

Characteristics of the Discard Phase

  • Abrupt ending: The narcissist may suddenly end the relationship without closure
  • Hoovering: The narcissist may try to rekindle the relationship after discarding their target
  • Smear campaign: The narcissist may spread lies and rumors about their target to discredit them

When to Expect the Discard Phase

Predicting when the discard phase will occur can be challenging, as narcissists are unpredictable and manipulative. However, there are certain signs that may indicate that the discard phase is imminent:

  1. Loss of interest: The narcissist may start to lose interest in their target, seeking out new sources of narcissistic supply.
  2. Devaluation: The narcissist’s treatment of their target may become increasingly degrading and hostile.
  3. Triangulation: The narcissist may bring in a third party to create jealousy and insecurity in their target.


Q: Can a narcissist change their behavior?

A: While it is possible for narcissists to seek therapy and change their behavior, it is rare for them to do so voluntarily.

Q: How can I protect myself from a narcissist?

A: Setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and seeking support from friends and family can help protect you from narcissistic abuse.

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Q: Why do narcissists discard their targets?

A: Narcissists discard their targets when they no longer serve their needs for admiration, validation, and control.

Q: Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with a narcissist?

A: Healthy relationships require mutual respect, empathy, and communication, which are often lacking in relationships with narcissists.

Q: How can I heal from the trauma of being discarded by a narcissist?

A: Seeking therapy, practicing self-love, and surrounding yourself with supportive people can aid in the healing process.


In conclusion, understanding the narcissist’s playbook and recognizing the signs of the discard phase is essential for protecting yourself from narcissistic abuse. By educating yourself about narcissistic behavior and setting boundaries, you can navigate through challenging relationships with confidence and resilience. Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and you have the power to break free from toxic cycles of abuse. Stay strong and prioritize your well-being above all else.