The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
By now, everyone knows that pathologically narcissistic people don't usually behave the way that everyone else does. They don't experience feelings the way that other people do, either and they don't relate to others the same way at all. Basically, narcissistic people view others as objects and their value is what they can be used for. The value the narcissistic person places on you is usually directly related to what they can get from you.
For example, if you give the narcissistic person in your life money, that is likely the extent of your value to them. Which means if you somehow lost your money or were unable to give it to them anymore, your value would probably drop drastically in their eyes. This is how pathologically narcissistic people are able to discard people the way that they do. When something has outlived it's usefulness or it breaks, you no longer need it. So you throw it away. That's what discarding something is: throwing it away. Most of us don't discard people. We discard objects. To the pathologically narcissistic person, you are an object and when you no longer have any value, you will likely be thrown away.
This applies to all types of narcissistic relationships. People are discarded by family members just as often and just as easily as they are by romantic partners. Narcissists are generally not capable of true intimacy and often they are even phobic of it, therefore it is easy for them to walk away when they no longer feel that they are being served by the relationship. There is not usually the guilt or lingering attachment that is felt by non-narcissistic people when they end a relationship, and their decisions are unencumbered by concern for other people. It really is all about what they want, and if they are no longer feeling satisfied by the relationship, they can move on without looking back.
This is your value to the pathologically narcissistic person, and the value of everyone in their life. This is why it's so easy for them to discard others and why they treat people the way that they do. Your job is to fulfill a role and if you fail to do that, you will be replaced. Maybe for a while, maybe forever. The narcissist's needs are many and varied, and they will try to surround themselves with those who fulfill these needs at any given time. If they cannot, they will try to force those around them into these roles, even if it is inappropriate or unrealistic. For example, a narcissistic father who loses a girlfriend may attempt to force his daughter into this role and require her to do things he would expect from a girlfriend, such as preparing his food, doing his laundry or listening to his problems. Pathologically narcissistic romantic partners often expect their partners to take on the role of caretakers or parents, as well.
Sometimes people try to counteract this by making themselves indispensible to the narcissist. The problem with this is that what they are getting from you, they can get from anybody. Therefore, nobody is indispensible. This is how they see it. A very good friend of mine was dealing with a particularly nasty overt narcissist years ago and if she wouldn't do what he wanted, he would say, "If it's not you, it'll be somebody else." If they can find someone who is willing to do what you do for them but that person does it better or without complaining or is in a better situation, they have no problem walking away. To them it is no different than upgrading to a better car and there is no more or less emotion involved. Your feelings don't matter. Neither do your plans, your dreams, your goals or anything else.
When you trade your car in, you don't worry that it will miss you or that it will feel abandoned. It isn't even accurate to say you don't care about these things because you would have to be aware of them in order to dismiss them as unimportant, but they don't even cross your mind. This is similar to how the pathologically narcissistic person operates. It's not really accurate to say they don't care. It's more accurate to say that they don't even know and likely never will because they are incapable of seeing it any other way. There are some narcissists who are aware on an intellecual level that they are being hurtful but even they have no true emotional connection to this information, so it has no real meaning for them.
It's very difficult for a decent, caring human being to understand this. From our point of view, the narcissist must know they are being hurtful and must be doing it on purpose. How can they not understand other people's feelings and their impact on these? But upon closer examination, we find that the majority of the time, they don't. They don't know, they don't see and they don't care anyway. This is where it's important not to misunderstand, because many times people think if the narcissist doesn't know, they can be told about it and things will change. "If they don't know they are hurting others, I will make them understand and then they will stop." This may be true of other people, but it is not true for narcissistic people. There is no way to inform them of these things so that it will matter or make a difference to them. You might as well be speaking a foreign language.
The reason the idea of hurting others bothers most of us is because we have empathy. Narcissists generally do not, so there is no emotional meaning attached to the feelings of other people. That's one of the reasons they don't realize or recognize that they are hurting others a lot of the time. The very fact that you would have to inform them in the first place should tell you everything you need to know. There's a reason why they don't already know that, and it is almost guaranteed that you are not the first person to try to tell them. You probably won't be the last, either.
The plain truth is that you can't force anyone to have feelings that they don't have. They just don't and that's the way it is. Narcissists have no other way to relate to people and no other understanding of relationships. Expecting different of them is pointless. You might as well expect them to be a foot taller. You can't change the narcissist and they usually have no interest in changing themselves, or ability to do so. If you want things to change, you are going to have to change them.