Psychological and Emotional Invalidation

I think one of the most covertly abusive aspects of the narcissistic relationship is psychological and emotional invalidation. When the narcissist has NO reaction to us at all, it denies our humanity. Makes us feel like were worthless, invisible, unimportant, irrelevant. Its so dispiriting we cant believe its happening and so, we try one more time to see if we can get them to respond. If they dont respond, their silence reinforces the belief that were worthless. This is very similar to what a child feels when a parent neglects them and does not meet their emotional needs.

If the N responds though, we perceive it as validation that were living, breathing, human beings. That we do have impact on others even if it hurts us. Even if the N is angry, at least we feel seen and heard and validated. This is the Hook we feel when ending an abusive relationship. If the N had never acknowledged our existence, we wouldnt get hooked emotionally. The hook is called Intermittent Reinforcement. We had ALL the Ns attention, dedication and admiration at one point, so we KNOW its there. If we can just do things RIGHT, well be rewarded with a response of some kind.

The Ns acknowledgment of our existence temporarily fills an inner void that everyone experiences when an important relationship ends.
The problem with thinking we can earn validation (reward) is that were blaming ourselves for doing something WRONG when were NOT validated. We falsely believe that their invalidation is and was our fault.

Invalidation is one of the most painful cruelties human beings can experience. Going No Contact is all about healing yourself. Its not about making the narcissist miss you so much that he acknowledges your existence with a reply. Wondering why or if hell respond is still giving him too much power to validate your existence!

I know this isnt easy and we all do similar things until we get through this painful grieving period. Ending a relationship is excruciating for n-survivors because we think we found the answers to our self-doubt and self-worth when we met the N. Then suddenly, we find out they didnt even see us as human beings. They loved us like people love KitchenAids.

If we had any esteem issues or doubts about our worth and value, the D&D (devalue and discard) intensifies those feelings. It may take years to overcome a dysfunctional childhood after the N awakens fears we may not have known were there. The first step towards healthy self-reclamation is to let the N go his or her merry way and begin a long journey of self-discovery, initiated by our grief. It sounds like youre feeling the loss right now and its probably overwhelming…

Even years later, its unfathomable to me how Ns can pick up and move on as if we never even existed. I will never understand it and I dont have to understand it. All I have to do is ACCEPT it.

Remember, the narcissists lack of attachment says NOTHING about you. All it says is that Ns are incapable of emotional attachment to anyone. They are NOT suffering, though. We are. So even in the darkest of times when you dont think you can tolerate another moment of pain, remind yourself how marvelous it is to Feel and Feel Deeply. Even sorrow.

Every second of their lives they are searching and searching and searching. For something to make the pain and hate they feel about themselves go away. But it aint happening. So they go through woman after woman looking for the perfect love. Find it for the first month or so and then discover this woman has feelings of her own, is not perfect, does not think everything they say and do is right, and ooops, time to move on to the next victim.

I also think narcissists are intent on creating the Image of love and desirability for themselves. As long as they can prove they are sexy or attractive or desirable, they can project fault and blame for the failed relationship on their prior partner(s). Your X probably views those photos more than anyone else. Anytime he feels some doubt about being rejected because you arent reminding him how much you love and need and pine for his sorry arse, he logs-in to his posted photos and reassures his stud-ly-ness as in, See how HOT I am? Two women vie for my attention!

Keep the faith. Be good to yourself. Thank the lord you got out of that relationship. And remember Karma.

  1. Great post!

    It’s true we prefer anger to silence because at least it shows a hint of passion towards the fake relationship. It can be mistaken for the narc caring but in reality, you’re right, he can’t stand the real-life woman with feelings and opinions, so he is no longer interested.

    Thank you for sharing!



  2. WOW, just WOW!!! This really describes a relationship I had been in SPOT ON!! It hurts, but at least now I can see & understand his reactions or should I say lack of. Unfortunately I had a child with this person & he’s never had any interest in his child & my sweet kid is almost 5 years old. Sad very sad, but at least I know understand it was not all me.


  3. Thank you, I found post this very illuminating. Often my N would refrain from replying, responding, saying anything. When I would pose a question asking for clarification or comment, she would simply decline to weigh in at all. Both in person and on the phone or via text. This helps me to give a name to what was going on.


  4. Cherie Safapou

    Natzis Marin family court give our children to rapiest child abusers fugitives criminals like themselves!!! Mayday !!


  5. Finally! Someone talks about invalidation! There isn’t much out there about the complete rejection of a narc. It was so much more than the silent treatment. I wasn’t even relevant or worth acknowledging. If we would go to lunch, he wouldn’t even speak to me. It was so humiliating and degrading. Now I have been discarded for another female and I really don’t exist! Amazing how these people do that. We are not even divorced and to him, it’s like that is not a reality to deal with either. I feel like I’m in middle school and we broke up. But, hey, we’re in our 50’s for goodness sake! And I’m sure I won’t get any closure, a goodbye, handshake, a hug? No. Dismissed. Ana, what have you to say about narcs who are sick all the time? Mine was constantly ill. Major big stuff. 5 years. Let me know!


    • Narcs DEFINITELY focus on their ailments with an obsessive quality. I would imagine with all that thinking about illness & their chaotic lifestyles, that illnesses probably visit them more than normal thinking people. They definitely play up small illnesses and turn them into them dying of malaria or cancer. They love the attention that being sick gets them. Just another form of supply. Their partners on the other hand, are shunned when sick & told not to exaggerate (projection).


  6. I too appreciate this article. Although my case was a little different. I was the one who ended the relationship due to his constant lying, never defending me to his crazy family, & inability to detach from his “friend” neighbor (who was a female & ex gf that was still in love with him but willing to accept whatever crumbs he through her). Despite all of this, I tried to end it on a nice note and wanted to remain friendly so if we passed on the street we could wave or say hello. At first he was a crazy stalker and begging me to take him back with all of the normal empty promises of the life we could have together etc.. then (and now for the last year & half) he’s turned it around on me with the “silent treatment.” He will run the other way if he sees me on the street, wont wave, wont email me back etc.. I emailed him venting about everything he did and asked for some closure, no response whatsoever. As strange as it sounds, now “I” feel like I’ve been rejected!?! He’s friends with all of his other “ex’s” why not me? I just don’t get it?? His life seems to have just went on without a scratch. And his posts on facebook talk about what a great guy he is, how he has so much love and respect for women and children, etc.. and everyone believes it! It’s so frustrating!


    • Angel,
      His exes have been conditioned into accepting his crumbs and being nice to him without question even Whilst watching him move on. That’s plain cruel, would you really want to be demoted to that position? You’re worth so much more than that, Remember who you were before him.
      I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but him staying away from you is best for your recovery. I hope you find the strength to heal.


  7. Thank you. This made me cry. How many times have I heard him say he doesnt have to put up with anything I say or do, he can just walk away. I mean nothing to him. Until I start to go on with my life and he gives me just enough encouragement to start over again. He mows my lawn, he does my laundry, or brings me lunch.


  8. Fellow Survivor

    Long story short. My now ex N wife kicked me in the nuts when I disengaged from the raging attack and then she threatened to call the cops on ME. The next weekend we were getting frisky when I told her we need to talk about that fight, and she is like “what fight?” I am like, “the one last week where you escalated the abuse up to physical abuse by kicking me in the nuts” I could not be intimate with her until she admitted that she kicked me, told me she was sorry, and promised it would never happen again. The next week she is out with her girlfriends getting drunk, comes home demanding sex. I told her I would love to but she needs to say she is sorry. She told me there were 5 guys at the party that would love to have sex with her. I just looked at her like she was crazy. She works very hard to make her body tight and firm through Yoga, 7 days a week. All I ever had to do to keep her happy was tell her how hot she was, and she is. Anyway, I could never be intimate with her again until she apologized. She could never apologize so she divorced me. Believe me after 10 years of the crazy making I just had had enough.


  9. Good for you….your dignity comes before any woman who treats you like, no matter how hot she is. Stay strong.


  10. Thanks for this article… it is really difficult to recognize these uncanny characteristics at first but once I put it together… it so explained the many detached and conflicting reactions I realized the narc that I knew would do… indeed, initially they are too good to be true…you would think you mean the world to them…but then you realize in the end… it was really all about them… they will not be able and are not capable to sustain a long term relationship with someone else… because they are so in love with themselves…


  11. Why do people say the N is not capable of long term relationships? My ex N has been with his wife for 19 years. We were together nearly 5 of those years (Don’t judge me. By the time I knew he was married I was all in. Then, of course, he began telling me the bad things about her). Now that I know better, that she is a decent woman, someone I could have been friends with, my heart goes out to


    • …my heart goes out to her. I saw where she once referred to him as her “best friend and partner.” Is he able to turn off the narcissism at home. Doesn’t she have an inkling after 19 years who, or should I say what, she married? I feel like I want to tell her…protect her somehow. But, I doubt that would go over well. I just pray for her and their 3 boys.


    • I wont judge you Diane. I had the same situation with the narcissist that abused me. The wives stay this long for the same reason we did. The narcissist ropes (manipulates) people in with the things they do to compensate for the lack of genuine love. Maybe it’s the money or financial stability. Who knows? What’s important is that we SAVED ourselves. I told the wife of my x-narc. Nothing matters. He told her I was a crazy stalker. She probably believed him like everyone else.

      Because they hold their sham marriages together with whatever lies they need to tell to someone who’s obviously codependant (staying with a narc a long time is evidence of such) – does NOT make this union a healthy one.


      • co dependence is the reason why we were targeted by a Narc. I found out My husband would share his story of abuse with women who had this characteristic. The sick thing is he would offer compassion and understanding at first, but then instill the exact same abuse her parents perpetrated on her. I did meet with some of my late husbands girlfriends and he abused all of us in a slightly different way. The covert narc was so skilled at deception, most did not even realize they were being abused.


    • It is sad how many women, and men, get involved with married narcs. just because a relationship lasts a long time does not indicate anything. I’m sure for 5 years you were one of many. When his wife found out he probably called you a worthless whore, and a sex object. All married narcs. do this. his wife was probably just a pawn in his game.


  12. after my discard id call mine and he’d answer the phone pretending he couldnt hear me. He’d say ‘hello?? hello??’ into the phone and then hang up, id text and he wouldnt reply, id email and he wouldnt reply.
    During the relationship even id have moments of feeling utterly invisible and ignored, even lonely, and id be sitting right next to him


  13. Like a struck of fate, I was led to this site. I have been fighting the urge to make contact with my ex (who also happens to be the father of my 2 kids)…it has been 2 days since our last “talk,” when he accused me of flirting with his friend and calling me a slut and all the nasty names you can think of. I ended it but since he hasn’t contacted me since then I have a yearning to call/go to him just to feel that he still acknowledges my existence and the pain he’s causing. But this post has opened my eyes…I hope it instills in my brain so I won’t act on my moments of weakness…I feel so stupid and pathetic but so glad to know that I’m not alone.


  14. Well, it is hard to leave a narcissit. The divorce is over but the destroying my life partseems to be now. She left me with several diagnosis that led to supervised visits and two failed custody evals. I have three months to show the courts that I can at least be a competent enough father for at least unsupervised day visits. But, I can’t hope but to think of the worst. Seeing my therapist soon. She is the only one that thinks that I am misdiagnosed. My ex is an LMFT and seems to have everybody on her side. Sometimes I feel people understand what she is, but I’m not sure. I’ve healed a lot but when I see her to drop off the kids, it wants to come back. I’m even preparing for the worst. But, even at the very worst outcome, I’ll never have to see her again.


  15. The invalidation is the worst part. I’m a male who has been subjected to this for 4 years or so. I was a confident, secure individual – now I doubt myself over the smallest things and my confidence is non existent. I’m constantly angry and confused. I’ve spent a long time blaming myself for the problems in the relationship, I’ve constantly been told it is all my fault. I’ve spent years trying to change and do things “right” only for the goal posts to be moved again. I thought I was going crazy. I found the answer while I was searching for an answer to what was wrong with me – it’s taken some months to realise that the answer is that there is a problem with my ex partner. It’s a struggle but I’m coming through with the help & support of friends who I had stopped contacting because of my partner. I now realise that my friends were aware that there was a problem but in their words “you would only blame yourself so we’ve waited to help pick you up when you could see it”. Reading the information and comments on this site have helped me realise that I’m not alone and life does get better. Thank you to all who have contributed, it helps me to see that I too can come through this.


    • Wouldn’t you know, those are the very first words I was able to articulate as well, “What is wrong with me????” Its harrowing, Paul. Im so sorry that you’ve had to experience this. I would like to say, I’ve got an immediate ‘cure’ for these realizations, but I don’t. What I do have is a long journey of personal recovery that I can show you has helped 45,000 of my closest friends.

      I believe that support from other survivors, helps us make sense of things. Along with knowledge about this disorder, how text book it is, really helps us begin to draw boundaries between a disordered person and ourselves so that we don’t try to spin our wheels solving things that are not ours to solve, and never were.

      These parasitic humans, spread damage to their hosts like a wildfire. It rips through our fabric and spirit taking everything near and dear to us without one thought or concern for the destruction.

      Validation is key, with the support of other survivors, your experience of baffling confusion will begin to make sense in light of the fact that we all went through the very same methods of abuse. After some time has passed, you will begin to validate your own perceptions of events and use that knowledge to arm yourself for any of their kind in the future.

      Keep persevering, fight the good fight, and soldier on, with all your dignity and emotions IN TACT.

      You did NOT deserve this and it most certainly was NOT YOUR FAULT!!!


  16. Thank you thank you thank you. For your sharing and factual insight. I feel like there’s hope again and also support. God bless.


  17. Please note, that there are girls that do this to vulnerable boys. I can replace him with her in this article and it’s dead on balls accurate.

    It’s just as excruciating and permanently damaging when a girl does it to a boy.

    I don’t think I will ever be capable of an intimate relationship again after a ten year on/off nightmare with an N.

    Just saying.


  18. If we had any esteem issues or doubts about our worth and value, the D&D (devalue and discard) intensifies those feelings. It may take years to overcome a dysfunctional childhood after the N awakens fears we may not have known were there. The first step towards healthy self-reclamation is to let the N go his or her merry way and begin a long journey of self-discovery, initiated by our grief. It sounds like youre feeling the loss right now and its probably overwhelming…

    Thank you so much for this. I have in the last six months been exploring all I can about invalidation abuse as I recognise it is what I suffered when young and it was the hole the made me vulnerable to the narcissist. Sadly it also turned me sometimes into someone who would doubt others were telling the truth, If I could not believe my own, how could I believe theirs? ‘

    The devalue and discard leaves us in the most painful hurting place but then the deep work begins of learning to love and accept ourselves and throw off others devaluations of us, as well as the mother load of devaluation the narc imprints in our brain that still runs on a tape loop from time to time distorting our lives. This is just an excellent clear site for healing. Thank you so much. :)


  19. I guess it doesn’t come as a surprise that I came from a background of childhood trauma and abuse and already had an eroded sense of self. I was the perfect victim who “adored” him. I had been conditioned from early on to accept abusive behaviour and to blame myself, so readily took onboard all his projections. He had found the perfect partner in me and it’s taken over 20 years for me to finally see the light. I wish I could speak about this in a past tense, but unfortunately I can’t. At least I’m heading in the right direction now.


  1. Pingback: Psychological and Emotional Invalidation | Grace seeks sanctuary

  2. Pingback: Psychological and Emotional Invalidation | AmyLynn73


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