Christine Regan Lake

Devalue and Discard Phase of Narcissist

You Matter
Christine Bio Photo

Christine Regan Lake

I know if you googled; devaluation phase narcissist, it probably means you’re trying to figure out if your current partner, spouse, friend, or boss is a narcissist, and whether you’ve reached the devaluation phase of your connection. 

In this article, we will be discussing the devaluation and discard phase of a narcissistic relationship, as well as some of the signs that a covert narcissist is devaluing you, stages of a narcissistic relationship, and how to cope when you are being devalued, or have been discarded from a narcissistic partner. 

Narcissism is a borderline personality disorder (BPD) whereby someone struggles with their emotions and behavior[1] when the person feels threatened by the idea they are about to be abandoned, which results in them abusing their partners in order to manipulate them to stay. These are coping mechanisms that they learned in childhood from one of their parents as a way survive a narcissistic relationship.

Overgivers and empaths can become caretakers[2] who continually put their needs last and carry the relationship. Science now proves that victims of long-term narcissistic abuse will induce autoimmune diseases and brain damage.

Symptoms you may be dealing with a narcissist include: 

  • Manipulative behavior to keep people from abandoning them
  • There identity shifts with each person they meet
  • A strong history of unstable and unhealthy relationships
  • Anger and impulse control issue when they are triggered
  • Stress-induced paranoia
  • Self sabotaging behavior and addictions such as gambling, sexual addictions, binge-eating, spending, or substance misuse
  • Chronic feelings of depression, worthlessness, and emptiness
  • The habit of dissociating when they are under undue stress
  • They guilt and shame people to feel bad about themselves

What is the Devaluation Phase in a Narcissistic Relationship?

A narcissist will enter the devalue and discard phase once he/she believes that they truly have you hooked, once you have settled into the relationship. Having just bombarded you with their lovebombing for several weeks or months making you feel as if you are perfect, now they will turn the tables on you completely.

Now, you’ll find that they are constantly picking at you, making fun of you, insulting you, and putting you down. Their goal is to demoralize you so that you will never speak up when they violate your boundaries, which they will now start to do often. Their psychological attacks can be verbal, emotional, sexual, physical, financial, or spiritual.

This is to destroy your sense of self-worth and self-esteem. The narcissist’s greatest fear is that you will leave them, so they need to destroy your self-worth so you never have the confidence and courage to leave them. 

They will project their flaws, fears, and insecurities onto you because Narcissists don’t know how to face and process their negative emotions. This projecting is their means to deflect these uncomfortable feelings. And, they will never own their behavior in the relationship. Whenever you bring up something that upsets you, they’ll tell you you are overreacting. 

The devaluation stage can send you into a negative downward spiral. You might become depressed, anxious, confused, filled with self-doubt, and paranoid of them leaving you. At this stage many empaths and overgivers tend to start really working overtime to hold the relationship together. Or, if you have avoidant attachment you might find that you will start pulling back from them which will send them over the edge as it triggers their abandonment wounds. 

You may find that if you start pulling back they may revert back to lovebombing you to real you back in, and then after a period of time when they believe you feel secure again they’ll launch back into more devaluing. 

A 2017 study[3] revealed that the greatest appeal in the beginning of the relationship is associated with feelings of admiration for the partner, but as the relationship progresses it devolves into a competitive rivalry. The narcissist starts competing with you and becoming envious of your skills, strengths, and experiences. You are no longer on the same team, now everything is competition and record keeping.  

Photo by Afif Ramdhasuma on Unsplash

Covert Narcissist Devalue Tactics - Signs of Devaluation

What specifically is a covert narcissist? Coverts are a sub-category of narcissists whose personality tends to hide their narcissistic behavior unlike the overt narcissist who is very bombastic and a braggard, a covert comes off very likeable. People tend to be shocked to later learn they are a narcissist.  

Signs and Behaviours a Covert Narcissist is in the devalue and discard phase: 

  • Blame Shifting – they blame you for their mistakes and problems
  • Withholding sex as punishment   
  • Constantly undermining your decisions to make you doubt yourself
  • Sarcastic put downs and insults about your body or intelligence 
  • Lying and gaslighting you to make you think you are crazy  
  • Going out of their way to put you down in front of your friends or family
  • Pulling the victim card to get you to pity them

How can you protect yourself during the devaluation?

  • The first thing you need to do is start retraining them on how to treat you by establishing healthy boundaries
  • Learn to speak up and communicate what does and doesn’t work for you because they are not mind readers and you are responsible for communicating your needs
  • Learn the grey rock technique when they start becoming argumentative
  • Listen to your gut when they are gaslighting you 
  • Speak to a counselor or healer who can support you through this process
  • Spend more time with friends and family who support you
  • Make sure to always embrace self-care routines to nourish yourself

Why does the Narcissist Devalue You?

In the devalue and discard phase a narcissist will say and do things to show that they no longer hold you on the pedestal you used to be on. They will endeavor to undercut your confidence in yourself. The narcissist is a deeply insecure person and as a way to deflect their own discomfort for their emotions of worthlessness they will project their fears and insecurities on you. This is their coping mechanism and it is extremely toxic. They are adept at observing you to discover your insecurities so that they can use them against you at a later time. 

Stages of a Narcissistic Relationship

  1. Idealize – make you feel cherished and adored and make you feel like you have never been loved like this before
  2. Devalue – a barrage of insults and put downs meant to destroy your sense of confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth
  3. Discard – they break up or divorce you suddenly without explanation
  4. Hoover – they circle back at some point in the future to get your attention, affection, love, or money

Examples of Devaluing Someone

Devaluing can come in many forms. A narcissist might focus on one specific area that you are vulnerable about, or attack you from multiple fronts including, your weight, intelligence, attractiveness, work ethic, parenting, etc. 

They might say things like;

“I don’t think that dress looks good on you. You have those big, thick legs. You should probably wear pants.

“Stop it already, you know you suck at math. Let me figure it out.” 

“Do you really think you should be eating that?”

“What did you do to your hair? It looks awful.” 

“I didn’t think you’d get that promotion. You’ve really been slacking off lately.”

“I’ll handle this. You clearly don’t know how to handle the kids.”

“I never said that.” 

“My exes are all nuts.”

“You’re overreacting.”

“What’s the matter with you, you have trust issues.”

“It’s not my fault, it’s your fault.” 

Angry Box
Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Devaluation and Discard: The Most Bitter Phase of the Abuse Cycle

The devaluation and discard phase of an abusive Narcissistic relationship can be the most painful. 

Suddenly, the person you thought loved you is going out of their way to insult you and make you feel bad about yourself. You go from having loving, playful, sensual interactions to curt, abrasive, and cold interactions. It definitely does a job on your emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. The flow of those amazing feel good chemicals in your brain; oxytocin and dopamine are a distant memory, now you’re left walking on eggshells stressing about the next time they’re going to blow up at you and start a fight.

The real challenge with a narcissistic relationship is the traumatic trauma bonding that happens when the narcissist flips back and forth between lovebombing and devaluing you. It creates a very powerful, emotional and chemical bond that is very difficult to escape. And, the longer you are exposed to this psychological manipulation and the chemical drugging of your body between positive oxytocin and dopamine and the adrenaline and cortisol the harder it is to find the courage to leave the relationship, job, or situation in 

How to Cope with being Devalued by the Narcissist?

When you have been devalued by a narcissistic or toxic person for a long period of time. It can have quite a destructive impact on your self confidence and fill you with tremendous feelings of self-doubt. It is important for you to understand how the relationship is impacting you and take steps to heal yourself emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially

10 Tips to Overcome Self-Doubt
10 Tips to Overcome Self-Doubt

Undergoing a Devalue and Discard Phase?

Healing after a toxic or narcissistic relationship can be very challenging. More than likely it has left you devastated in one or more of the following ways; emotionally, physically, mentally, spiriutally, and financially. We can help you with narcissistic abuse therapy if you are ready to take this healing journey

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long does the narcissist infatuation (idealize) phase last?

The phases of a narcissistic relationship fluctuates with each individual relationship based on the variables of each couple and their circumstances. The infatuation phase can last weeks or months. Generally speaking, four months has been noted by various professionals as a typical length for the idealize phase of a relationship with a  narcissist to last. 

What turns a narcissist off?

A narcissist will become turned off for several reasons. Some may simply get bored. Many narcissists are in love with the honeymoon stage of a relationship and grow tired of the relationship when that lovey-dovey phase wears off as you settle into your committed relationship. They need the constant adrenaline rush of ‘new love.’

Another reason they will lose interest is when you learn to start speaking up for yourself and having healthy boundaries. They do not like having their authority thwarted like that, so they lose interest when they can no longer manipulate you. And, if you are becoming more successful than they are, or getting more attention from friends, colleagues, etc that will trigger their insecurities and as a result will push you away to go find someone who they deem ‘less than them’ who will not steal their thunder, attention, and praise. 

How long does the honeymoon phase last with a narcissist?

The honeymoon phase also known as the idealize phase when one partner puts another on a pedestal is a very intoxicating experience for the one placed on the pedestal. It boosts their ego and makes them feel deeply loved and cherished. The challenge is that this phase is a fairytale. In this period, people ignore red flags and refuse to see anything they don’t want to see. The idealize phase can last for several weeks, or several months. As referenced above, some professionals suggest 4 months is a good average.

Sadly, this phase can end rather abruptly. When at some future point the partner who has idealized their other partner discovers they are not perfect, they feel betrayed and now they are angry. On some level feeling as though the other person betrayed them or painted themselves to be something they were not.

To be clear, NO ONE is perfect or flawless. We all have flaws, fears, insecurities, and bad habits. To pretend to yourself that someone doesn’t have those things is a lie. It is very important to keep your relationship grounded in reality so that you can see things and people for who they really are, instead of who you want them to be.  

How long before a narcissist shows true colors?

Some narcissists can reveal their true colors quite quickly. It depends on how strong their personality is. Again, on average 4 months is a good barometer to use.  

Why does a narcissist go quiet?

A narcissist will go quiet on you when they have decided to move on. For whatever reason they have decided that you are no longer worth their time. They could be using the distance to try and manipulate you to get you to come crawling back to them to boost their ego, or they could have moved on to another person who has caught their attention.

Even though this may hurt to hear, consider yourself lucky if they moved on and use the time and space to begin your healing journey so that you can heal from this toxic relationship so that you can make way for a healthy one to come into your life.


[1] BPD vs. NPD: Signs of an Abusive Partner

[2] Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How to End the Drama and Get on with Life

[3] Narcissism and romantic relationships: The differential impact of narcissistic admiration and rivalry – Journal of Personal and Social Psychology

Recent posts

Let me give you my free top 10 tips for physical, spiritual, and financial renewal after divorce.