breakup mistakes

5 Post-Discard Mistakes to Avoid Like the Plague

Whether it’s the first time you’ve been discarded – or you go through the discard and hoover cycle like the earth orbiting the sun – one thing’s for sure… 

It sucks.

When I was discarded the first time, I made all the mistakes you can possibly make.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I sent emails with pictures of me and our son.  I sent religiously-toned messages about saving our marriage.  I tried to remain friends with his sister who hated my guts, hoping there was a lifeline there…

And I continued making all the humiliating, self-defeating mistakes most of us make when trying to salvage a relationship with someone who exploits our emotions with the same indifference as blowing hot air into a pinwheel.

You see, I didn’t realize back then that discards are generally nothing more than a ploy to instill abandonment triggers which, in turn, fosters compliance.

I was blind to the fact that narcissists’ new relationships are part of a unique system of manipulation.

Had I known back then what I know today, I wouldn’t have stayed in the dysfunction so long.  I would’ve been able to take control of my life much earlier.

And as a result, I would’ve been doing what I am doing now much sooner, instead of playing small and searching for true love on online dating sites…which only plunged me right back into a swirling eddy of despair. 

I’ve since learned that having your own back and taking control of your life is the true key to happiness.

Somehow, I missed that memo when I was younger.

When readers write in sharing stories they haven’t told anyone else…I try to help them see that ninety-five percent of us have made the same mistakes, as well.

But, the crippling reality of making these mistakes is that it only makes us appear low value to the narcissist – a mere puppet to be played at the narcissist’s whim – which leads to the progressive destruction of our self-esteem.

So, what’s a would-be survivor to do?

Develop empowering habits of self-worth

Let’s be honest, if your best friend, co-worker, or child were throwing themselves at the feet of someone who was hell-bent on hurting and humiliating them, what advice would you give them?

You’d tell them they deserve better, of course.

You’d try to get them to see their worth and encourage them to let go of the toxic relationship.

You’d go down the list of all the ways they are better than their toxic partner (or friend, co-worker, etc.)

And so it should be with you and your own situation.

Following are five post-discard mistakes to avoid like the plague if you’ve recently been “discarded”, thus allowing you to maintain your dignity and self-worth and stop throwing your life away:

#1 Trying to “stay friends”

You and the narcissist have agreed things aren’t working out between the two of you.  You’ve heard all the reasons why you could never be an ideal partner for them. 

In the middle of the discussion, he or she turns, gives you a pensive look and says, “I know we can’t be together, but I care about you a lot and don’t want to lose you completely.  Can we just be friends?”

If you hear this statement from the narcissist, take a deep breath, clear your head and remember these words…

How can someone who’s mistreating you in such brutal ways ever make a good friend?  More importantly, are you willing to keep someone like that in your life?  Sure, they may have given you the impression they cared at some point in your history together, but would you treat your friends like they treat you?  Would you want your son or daughter dating someone like that?

I doubt it.

And if you’re the one wondering if you can remain friends, think back to the lies, betrayal, and sucker-punches and then reanalyze what you believe being friends looks like.

#2 Believing things might improve if you hang in there longer

Do you think these thoughts to yourself?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Love conquers all.  Everyone has some good in them and deserves the benefit of the doubt.  If you want to be forgiven, you must forgive.  They don’t have any family or friends, and now I’m thinking of “abandoning” them, too.  I’m not perfect, either.  Maybe it IS me after all.

These nuggets of insight might apply to other areas of life, but not to toxic relationships.  Why? Because it gives targets of abuse another way to torture themselves. 

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been with the narcissist for two, ten, or thirty years, it’s time to accept that you’ve done everything within your power to salvage the relationship. 

Trust me on this.  I work with people who stuck it out for 20 and 30 years.  They tried couple’s therapy, forgiveness, compromise (including tolerating infidelity).  Guess what?  Many of them lost everything and developed crippling physical conditions and diseases!  But the one thing that did NOT happen was the narcissist changing into a better person.

Accept you’ve done everything you could.  Even if you did or said things you aren’t proud of, they were in reaction to being mistreated. The misguided fear that you can do something more to save the relationship is based on your partner having changed the goal posts continuously– and yes, it was deliberate. 

This explains why every single abuse survivor believes there is something else they could have done.  It’s a result of conditioning — and overwriting this belief will be part of your healing journey.

#3 Trying to find another person to fill the hole in your heart

If you are still reeling from a recent breakup with a narcissist, the last thing you want to do is seek out another relationship.  Why?  Because it leads to ‘Same Person, Different Face’ syndrome. 

When you’re discarded by a narcissist, you are left in a vulnerable state.  Even with the best intentions, you will likely attract the same kind of individual because you haven’t done the inner work that’s crucial for showing up in the next relationship in a healthy way.

This typically manifests as having little to no boundaries, allowing a new date to maintain a questionable relationship with one or more of their exes, brushing aside inappropriate remarks, and complying with requests you’re uncomfortable with to keep the new person’s attention.

In other words, denying your own wants and needs to placate someone you barely know…and being treated like dirt in the process.

#4 Believing the Ex has changed for the new person

Have you read that Narcissists all learn from the same playbook?  Or, maybe you came up with this discovery on your own?

It’s ironic how we can clearly see that almost all narcissists engage in the same abusive and manipulative tactics, but we often fail to realize that abuse survivors generally engage in some self-defeating and self-sabotaging behaviors of their own.

An example would be stalking the ex around town to see what they’re up to, “casually and coincidentally” showing up at their usual spots.   Would-be abuse survivors often believe they’re justified in engaging in this behavior due to reasons such as:

“Oh, I need to know when he’s in town.” 

“I need to know she’s a cheater because that’s what keeps me strong.”

“I need to stay on top of their moves so I can be prepared.”

“I want to see what they’re saying about me.”

All of these are manifestations of self-sabotage. It’s also a form of clinging to something that needs to be released.

Did you know the subconscious mind literally cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality?  This is the reason why you feel emotional watching a romantic comedy or feel depressed after watching the news.

This same phenomenon goes for obsessively monitoring and cyber-snooping on your Ex.  It keeps your subconscious mind in an environment of abuse and abandonment.  It’s literally re-enacting the abuse over and over, which keeps you in a state of fight-or-flight.

Are you following your Ex’s actions, believing they’ve changed for the new person?  They haven’t.  What you see is love-bombing.  It’s an effective way for them to sweep the new person off their feet and encourage you to believe they’ve changed. 

Generally, no matter how many times a would-be survivor reads this, they still believe their Ex has really and truly changed for the new person and that somehow, their situation is different from everyone else’s…making themselves mentally and physically sick in the process. 

#5 Not working on your recovery

If you were recently discarded this bit may seem premature, but it should give you some good ideas about taking action regarding your recovery.

I frequently receive comments and emails from people telling me they’ve been out of their abusive relationship for five, ten, and twenty years, but still haven’t moved on.  While healing and recovery are different for everyone, this generally means they never left the “Acceptance” phase of their recovery to graduate to “Letting Go”.

Find out if you’ve reached the process of letting go by answering these questions with True or False:

  • I am still emotionally committed to my Ex, even though it’s been a long time since the breakup
  • I think there’s still a chance my Ex and I will get back together
  • I still do things to please my Ex, even though they’re in a relationship with someone else
  • I still harbor anger and resentment towards my Ex, though much time has passed
  • I still think about my Ex – a lot
  • I still reminisce about the things my Ex and I used to do together
  • I find excuses to talk to or “bump into” my Ex
  • I still talk about my Ex to others, even though it’s been months or years since the official discard/breakup

If you answered True to two or more of the above statements, then you haven’t let go of your Ex.  You are carrying around some emotional baggage that could prevent you from starting a new relationship and moving forward in a more affirming way.

Failure to relinquish a past relationship is typically a sign that you might be reluctant to give up because it would force you to deal directly with your buried feelings. These feelings may comprise of loneliness, guilt, rejection, low self-worth, and so forth.

In this way, you abstain from feeling the sentiments by not letting go.

You will need to confront the emotions specifically before you will have the ability to let go. Maybe your hesitance to give up is really concealing your inability to confront the core wounding underneath. 

Get help letting go and moving on with your free ‘Beginner’s Healing Toolkit’ below! 

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  • My top resources for narcissistic abuse recovery
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  • Strategies to overpower your addiction to the narcissist
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  1. FREE

    I am not sure on who discarded who and at this minute, I don’t care anymore. I am almost 4 months into no contact and trust and believe it is the hardest thing to do. I took the test and I do know I am angry but not all the time and I do think about him also not all the time. In the beginning, I was depressed and thought about the early days which were fantastic. As time went on, I started thinking about the evil which came in flashbacks. It kept me sane to remember the bad. It did not keep me from sinking to the bottom but it kept me afloat. In my wildest dream, I wanted him to pay, …..not cool. This guy ended up on dialysis, his mother has Alzheimer and his sister is diabetic. I leave it to a greater power. I will say that instead of repenting he got worst. I paid the price. Right now, I still struggle. I just don’t struggle like I did the first day. I know at some point I will get there….it’s the getting there that I find exhausting. I have had to dig so far into my soul to keep me afloat. I still have a long uphill battle because one day I feel great and the next I feel like I am back tracking. The best thing is I can see progress…. some. For me, that’s more than day one. I also want to say that the days when I am sliding backwards, I go to my computer and there is an email from Kim talking about the very dark place I am at the time…..Thank you Kim.

  2. Shirley Akpelu

    I thought I had moved on, but according to the true/false test above, I answered true to two statements so I still have emotional baggage and still have not gotten over the abuser. This is hard work, but no one can do it for me but me. I still have anger and still talk about the abuser. I don’t mean to or want to but out it comes. Since this is a process, I have to gentle and forgiving of myself and keep going through hell on earth. Thanks Kim, I look forward one day not even talking about the user/abuser/confuser and not being angry or bitter but realizing this was the best thing that ever happened to me.

  3. Anonymous

    Let him “smear”. He knows Portland to you hence why he’s holding it over your head. You know calling a person a hundred times a day is harassment. You cons to get the police involved.

  4. John

    Hello Kim, thanks for all the clear advice on you blog, it is very helpful to know there are others going through this, it has helped me to rialise that it was not me after all, that I am not the deficient one. I am three months into being discarded and the more descriptions of narcissistic behaviour I am reading the more lightbulb moments I am having….. I rialise I should stop helping him to beat me up (emotionally) he needs no help with that. I just cannot help thinking ‘FOOL ! Why didn’t I listen to my gut, how did I miss all the signs ? ‘
    My ex-narc has a degree in psychology so imagine how hard it is to cope with that on top of the N. I can see so clearly now that he selected me, mirrored me, love bombed me, devalued me (but very, very subtly) and then a silent discard. This is hard ! I am becoming angry and vengeful. There was never any violence, of any kind in the ‘relationship’ no heated arguments (guess who always acquiesced early for the sake of peace) but the thoughts of taking radical physical revenge on him are starting to worry me, that is not who I am nor who I want him to turn me into. The thoughts just come, unbidden and persist which increases my anger. I don’t know where to turn so any helpful advice would be appreciated. Thanks, john.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi John,

      Thank you for your kind praise regarding my articles. I’m glad to know they are helping you in some way.

      I am sorry to learn of your struggles. I can remember feeling that way, too. I wish there were some brief, insightful advice I could give you, but really, the best thing to get started on your healing would be to consider enrollment in my home-study course. It helps with acceptance, letting go, and even what to do in your spare time as you heal. Perhaps the best part is the private group. It’s truly one of the best. Our members are so encouraging, helpful, and even funny. There have been friendships made and we are planning retreats next year…here is a link for your review:

      Either way, I truly wish you the best.

      Kim XoXo

    2. Colette

      They operate out of the same playbook. We all miss tg flags and feel loathing afterwards. It sucks. Narcs are vampires and charlatans.

  5. Anonymous

    Wow. I answered yes to all but two. I know what I have to do. I’m trying so hard. I avoid him as much as I can. We were married for 24 years. High school sweethearts. I didn’t realize he was a narc until he met the OW. He changed so much. The discard was horrible. Then he would lure me back. He’s regretting being with her now. He had a baby with her. We have three sons. The youngest is 7. So we have baseball games and school functions. He always looks at me. Can’t keep his eyes off of me. Literally leaves her to load the baby while talking to me. It’s soo hard to keep cool and push forward. I only get hurt when I deal with him. We had a moment a month ago where we hugged and said that we miss and love each other. I had a vulnerable moment. But that’s ok. I will always love him but he’s a mess and I’m not setting myself up to be discarded again. The ow will always be in the picture and he’s her problem now.

  6. Anonymous

    My ex calls over 100 times on most day leaving voicemails insulting my kids, family, and I. I feel emotionally damaged. Will this ever stop? He has threatened to call my job and church to smear my name. I’m literally drained. How did I ever get in a relationship like this? I’ve never experienced this type of behavior before.

  7. Thank you so much. So helpful. There is no more contact since 5 months. I’ve stopped passing down his street. I’ve deactivated my fb so i don’t look at his profile anymore. Still I often get really emotionally worked up about everything. I still feel like a wreck. I don’t go out of my house often. So…not able to let go. Like you said i never confronted myself with my core emotions. Don’t know how I suppose. Would like to rise above those emotions more than anything and find my will to live and love again.

    1. Patti

      My ex couldn’t let go of the exes.every family get together 3 of them were there and you could tell they haven’t let go of him either.i always felt like the outcast.after we of his exes wrote him a love note telling him she always loved him. Too much baggage for it to ever work.

  8. Nancy

    Thank you Kim. It is tough even if I am not alone. Trying to find the balance between protecting myself and our kids and healing for all is delicate and unfortunately does involve contact with the ex. At least now I see it and disengage so I am not playing a losing game with a master of deception and mistruth. Your posts help me understand that I am not alone in dealing with the craziness of a narcissist as an ex and also keep me focused on my healing.

  9. Trish

    Hi Kim

    I have reading your blogs for 3 years. I found your website by searching for people that leave all the time. This is how I discovered how deeply evil he was and the term discarding.

    I’m going to finally be brave (as you once shared your darkest moment) I’m going to share my darkest moment after being discarded. He told me was in love with 3 women. His Ex, his wife, he was in the process of divorcing many times over several years, and me. He was going to stay with his wife again.

    I was at work and lost it. Completely had a break down. I decided that his life would be better without me. Left work and took 90 pills comprised of anxiety and depression. Before I went unconscious I texted a friend that I had a will and where it was located (but I don’t remember texting or talking to anyone). They figured out something was up but didn’t know where I was living. But some how reached me in time.

    During in patient therapy the therapist told me I am one of the bravest women based upon my past and I need to tell my story to inspire others.

    I found you, Kim, after this event and your words gave me the knowledge, strength and courage to go no contact. Without you I might be still in the evil cycle or maybe not still in this world.

    Thank you for sharing which saved me and allowing me to be brave and share my darkest moment.

  10. AlairaT.

    I’m at 50/50 on this test after one year … I’m so much better than a year ago ….still half to go, and I am working to be 100%. No contact for 7 months. Whew.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Alaira! 50% after one year is definitely good. You are making great progress! Make sure you are working self-care and healing activities into your daily routine. This will help you with your recovery goals.

      Wishing you all the best!

      Kim XoXo

  11. Lori

    Hi. My situation is a little different. My narc won’t accept that it’s over. This has been going on for ten years! He intimidates me and makes threats. When I finally give in, and I’m at his house, he starts digging at me again. Then I’m the one who takes off for months at a time, while he hovers like crazy. I have told him that we are done. I have blocked my phone. He calls from different phones. Or he shows up at my work or my home. I have taken him to court for a final restraining order but chickened out. I realize the communication lines are somewhat open still. But since I’m the one who takes off after being verbally abused, am I a narc? I’m the one who abandons – he doesn’t and I wish he would. He curses at me, calls me names you can only imagine and then is shocked when I leave and “take off” as he puts it. He’s always yelling at me and at this point I don’t want his approval for anything. He will never give it anyway. He’s just like my mother. He mocks me, intimidates me, harasses me, belittles me, and so much more. I just want to make sure I’m not the narc since I’m the one who takes off.

    1. John

      Dear Lori, I hope things have gotten better for you. I see your comments were a while ago but I had to comment. I too started to think that maybe I was the narcissist, that freaked me out, I know and knew that it was not me with the problem. I realised that I was thinking like that because he had projected so many of his own faults onto me, in order to confuse me and relieve/amuse himself. What better way for them to hide in plain sight ?
      Anyway, the point is , it is easy to find out your personality type, simple tests will tell you.
      Turns out I am a empath/protagonistic personality, the very type which is most sought by the covert cerebral narcissist, so I had no chance of spotting him early on and was doomed from the outset, but we live and learn. I really hope your situation has improved and remember…. ITS NOT YOU, ITS HIM !

  12. Andrea

    Kim I read your comments always. My therapist informed me of my ex being a covert nar after i was disgarded and couples counseling ended but I continued. Becoming informed was a real eye opener. It was all there, but I didn’t c it until the wolf in sheep’s clothing showed ALL the sickness though of course there were signs throughout the years. You know that feeling something is wrong u just can’t place what or why because it’s outside the realm of your norm. Who knew these people existed especially the covert ones… hard to discern. Anyway , thanks for your blog…..

  13. Rebecca

    Thank you Kim,

    You’re blog is so comforting and so TRUE with wonderful, practical advice! It has saved my life and my sanity more times than you can imagine!

    Keep it up, we need you!

  14. Great post Kim! No contact truly is the only way to heal. I know I didn’t believe it and wasted over a year. There is no way around it. It is the only way!!

  15. ClamDeFacto

    Hi Kim! Thanks for getting me though it all! I have a healthy response to all your true & false questions! I eliminated relationships with Toxics and their flying monkeys.
    Now I can see them coming a mile away!
    Those love-bombing flatterers can’t catch me now!
    A whole new idea of who I am and what my life should be has opened up for me! Folks, Kim’s got the key! Thank You!

    1. stephanie

      Kim, I am 3 1/2 months into the discard. This whole nightmare started with an old ex boyfriend (I use that work loosely) pursing me in late 2013. I knew he was a womanizer and I knew that I could be hurt by him easily so for an entire year I ignored his advances. Almost exactly a year after the pursing began, I gave in and went on a date with him. I fell instantly in love with him that night. He was charismatic, fun, exciting, a man’s man, and he said all the right things. For the first few months I was in heaven. I was proud to be seen with him because he’s so good looking and had such a cool disposition. After about six months the text messages, morning phone calls, date nights and everything else seemed to get fewer and fewer. I would find him flirting with other women on Facebook. Sometimes actually asking them out on dates. To make a very very long story short. After over three years of trying to get him to marry me, he finally agreed to move in with me on June 2nd, 2017, he totally abandoned me exactly three months later in the cruelest, most vicious way. I am broken. I think of him constantly. I get no peace of mind. I can’t even take a nap on the weekends. Memories of him flood my brain. I am living in a virtual reality hell. Can you suggest anything?

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