Narcissists & the Sport of Seduce & Discard

narcfishingThe narcissistic tactic of seduce and discard is the solid foundation of the narcissist’s pathological relationship agenda. Everything else that the narcissist does – every manipulative ploy, behavior, and characteristic – is connected to this tactic and he counts on it to work for him every time, all the time, and for as long as his victim will allow it.

Seduce and discard, of course, is slang for the favored tactic used by narcissists and sociopaths to string us along for months and years without good intention. Seduce and discard is also the tactic that causes us the most grief because, even though it hurts, we keep coming back for more – and we don’t understand that! How does he do it and why do I keep taking him back? Why is it so hard to break up with the narcissist? The answer, my friends, is actually quite simple. To understand how the narcissist works and, more importantly, why we so willingly participate in his crime, simply imagine the narcissist as a recreational fisherman and us as his catch. In other words, we have to think like a fish.

Online Definition: The recreational fishermen catch fish for recreation or sports. The main purpose for recreational fishing is personal pleasure and it is totally opposite of professional fishing. The recreational is also known as sports fishing and sometimes there is a competition for recreational fishing. It is a common thing among the recreational fishermen to leave a fish back to the water before it dies. The most common technique used for recreational fishing is the angling, but other common techniques like hand gathering or spearing can also be used for this kind of fishing. Recreational fishing has nothing to do with business.

Simple translation: Think of the phrase…there’s plenty of other fish in the sea. Think of the “dating” website Plenty-of-Fish and why they refer to getting together as hooking up with someone.

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Sure, we can compare the pattern of seduce and discard to a game of cat and mouse but I find that comparing it to the sport of recreational fishing brings much more clarity. We, of course, are the fish and the narcissist, the fisherman, and for the duration of the relationship, he is either reeling us in or casting us out. That’s all he ever does! It’s a vicious cycle of cheating and hoovering and silent treatments and future-fakingand yet we still can’t seem to break free. And while the fisherman who allows his fish to live is maybe more compassionate than a fisherman who catches a fish and then fries it in a pan, the truth is that it’s the hook itself that fucking hurts.

Okay, so imagine what typically happens, say, a few weeks out after a Discard. Feeling that enough time has passed or perhaps sensing that you’re actually feeling better (can’t have that!), the narcissist fisherman ventures out for a relaxing day on his boat and casts out a few fishing lines. Being the experienced fisherman that he is, he knows exactly what type of bait to attach to each hook to get the fish that he wants. Most of the time, though, he’s trying to hook the easiest fish (that’s us) simply because the process is familiar and guarantees his supply. Why are we the easy fish, you ask? Well, because we have the shortest memories of all the other fish, that’s why! Casting out the line, he simply kicks back on the bow, enjoying the beautiful day and biding his time until we take the bait …because if there’s one characteristic that both a fisherman and a narcissist have in common, it’s patience. This is, of course, is the Seduce or what we know as the hoover maneuver.

As the easy fish, we swim nervously around near the bait, grappling with the fading memory of the prick of that hook. We’re thinking Maybe this time it won’t hurt so bad or Maybe this time it won’t hurt at all or Maybe he’s finally decided I’m his favorite fish in the sea. Either way, we inevitably go for it, chomping down on the baited hook and actually enjoying, for that split second, the familiarity of the pain. Feeling the tug, the narcissist fisherman is on it, carefully reeling us in with just the right amount of finesse so as not to lose his catch. He’s well aware that his easy fish – at the last minute – might try to wiggle away but by this time it’s too late. With a smirk and a smile, the narcissist holds up his squirming prize and admires his handy work.

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Sadly, even the easy fish knows that the narcissist’s devotion is directly related to how his other dangling lines are doing (because we all know that a fisherman often has several lines in the water). At some point, the narcissist will grab you by the waist and not so gently pry the hook loose before tossing you carelessly back into the water. This, of course, is the inevitable Discard. And only the fisherman knows how much time will pass before the game begins again.

The game of seduce and discard is how the narcissist or sociopath reels us in or casts us out – not unlike a fisherman who enjoys fishing for the sport alone. And we, unfortunately, tend to be in tune with that fish…the easy fish…the fish with the short-term memory. And what we allow will continue.

Although my comparison is obviously tongue-in-cheek, think about it. The scenario I describe is all there is! Even the differences between a high-level and low-level narcissist do not change this. One girl’s narcissist might have a fancier boat or a more expensive set of fishing poles or perhaps he baits his hook with caviar – who knows and who really cares? It’s all the fucking same every day all day and it will never ever change.

In the end, to a narcissist fisherman, the person who loves him the most is least important catch of the day. When we accept this as fact, we stop taking the bait and the vastness of the ocean looks a lot less scary.

Go No Contact. Swim away as fast as you can and don’t look back. Above all else, you deserve to be happy.

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  • Geri

    September 2, 2016 at 3:15 pm Reply

    Are you aware of the proverb, “To do evil is like sport to a fool, but a man of understanding has wisdom. “Prov. 10 :23
    Seems to be describing a narcissist well.

    • Zari Ballard

      September 2, 2016 at 10:01 pm Reply

      Hi Geri,

      No I’m not aware of it but would it be saying that the narc is a smart deceiver because he understands that which he deceives?


  • Pam

    June 9, 2016 at 8:39 am Reply


    I wish you were here with me right now. I need a shouider to cry on no i mean sob on after what my bf just did to me. Out of the blue after 8 years suddenly he changes his phone number, stops calling me and when I try to confront him to find out why he freaks out and accuses me of stalking him and tells me to quit bothering him so he doesnt have to change his phone number again. I am so beside myself . I am completely and utterly heartbroken beyond belief.

    • Zari Ballard

      June 9, 2016 at 10:57 am Reply

      Hi Pam,

      I’m sorry you are going through this. I know it all too well. The disappearances, the number changes, being accused of stalking when all I wanted to do is know WHY he disappeared! Silent treatments almost killed me. I do provide phone consultations if you want to talk about it. Talking with someone who’s been there, done that ALWAYS makes things better.

      Understand that your suffering changes nothing. He’s always going to do what he wants to do. You oughta turn his silent treatment into YOUR no contact and block HIM from being able to contact you even if he wanted to. This guy will do this until the end of time. Eight years is long enough. I did it for 13 and others have done it for way longer than that! Don’t suffer. In the end, the result is the same. When I realized that, I started to appreciate the silences and eventually I’d be hoping he’d stay away longer than he did. You can do it. I know you can. If you want to talk, you can click on the link to get more info. I’m here if you need me…

      Zari xo

  • Anne

    February 20, 2016 at 10:11 am Reply

    Your books have literally helped me get to the next level in recovery. It’s so true that people can’t understand what its like to go through life with a narcissist, unless you have personally experienced it. This article was again on the money. I still struggle everyday with who I became under the narcissistic curse. My narcissist was and is still in a long term relationship with her partner. I of course was also in a long term relationship when we met. I never thought I could cheat, deceive, lie etc.. Until I met her. By the time I was discarded for the first time, I thought what I was doing was ok. She had me convinced she was going to leave after her kids left for college and that she needed to stay for their sake. All the bells and whistles were going off but she always convinced me that I was her “soulmate”. And that this was the only option for a future. I hate myself for what I became and for what I continued to do. The problem for her was I came clean with my partner and I didn’t leave. She hated me for that and even worse hated my partner. I made so many poor decisions but I still struggle with my feelings for her. I still want to believe that she felt different for me and I wasn’t such an idiot. How can a human still obsess about a person who was so deceptive and mean? I finally went no contact about 2 months ago and didn’t reply to the last text. What angers me is she continues on like nothing ever happened and that life at home is perfect. I know this from news articles (she is in the public eye) and tweets (yes I still look). Her partner found out about us and does the public face of perfection as well. To top it off I found out I was one of many that went through the same treatment as me. They too fell for it and were for ever damaged by the relationship. Mind you this was a long distance relationship and so were others that I know of. I found out my life with her was a replication of previous relationship and the same promises were given, the same soulmate terms used, the same everything. The questions are, “How do you still care for this person when you also feel hatred? How do you resist the temptation not to write a letter just to say I know I was a pawn and there were so many others? How the hell does the partner stay knowing I was one of many? Of course she has been love bombed all over again. I want to completely move past and have no thoughts of her. When does this happen?

    • Zari Ballard

      March 15, 2016 at 1:24 pm Reply

      Hi Anne,

      I’m so sorry that it took me so long to get back to you…a lot could have happened since you wrote your post. The narcissist manages down our expectations of the relationship so that we accept less and less and they get away with more…it’s a very manipulative dynamic that catches us off-guard and when it’s too late. I have to say that when the relationship is girl/girl, the mental abuse and confusion is a whole lot more. Why? Because 1) female narcs are the absolute worst because society basically allows them – or has more sympathy for – their antics, and 2) because a girl narc obviously is “in tune” with how another girl feels and the narcissistic partner plays upon this, making the whole thing twice as difficult to wrap your head around. It’s a fairly evil scenario. This is my observation having spoken with the victim partners in many girl/girl relationships where the other one is a narcissist.

      Let me know how your doing since so much time has passed and I can better help you. If you can, consider booking a consultation so that we can talk one-on-one. You’d be surprised how empowering a conversation can be when two people are on the same page with this. It’s all about changing your perspective and, like I said, with a female narc it can be a bit tricky. A female narc with a girlfriend is so much more conniving than a male narc simply because she knows EXACTLY what buttons to push all the time. Guy narcs have to basically guess at it and although they will usually eventually get it right, the girl narc is completely confident she’ll hit it the first time – and she does.

      Stay strong, sister!

      Zari xo

      • Anne

        March 15, 2016 at 3:50 pm Reply

        Hi again,
        I am progressing everyday but I still look at social media and I haven’t stopped. I can read when her partner, now wife is getting the terrible treatment and I guess I look for some sort of satisfaction. I know it’s not right. Believe me my narcissists comments on social media are all about herself or when she needs to she praises the wife.
        She tried to contact me again by praising me but I didn’t respond. She was terrible the last time we talked so I know it’s toxic and the friendship I wanted is impossible. I know no contact is the only way to go but it doesn’t stop my thoughts of how is she doing, does she even think me and I find my wanting that to be a sign of weakness. As I said a part of me wants to call her out but I know I would be the only one feeling bad in the end. She would turn it all on me. She has always said, “Get a mirror and look at the person at fault.” I just hate she is so successful and a good portion of the public thinks she walks on water. I want to pull the covers off.
        The what ifs are the worst. Thanks for your response.

  • Bradley

    November 23, 2015 at 8:05 pm Reply


    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Timing is everything. I just read your e-book ” When Evil is a Pretty Face”.. I am a male victim of a female N….no need to go into much detail, but I have seen and experienced it all. Two attempts at NC….finally a boundary was crossed once too often. I am now on Day 29 (or is it 30…how cool is THAT ?)…of serious NC. My eyes are being opened. My healing is under way. Back to your book….I have visited every N website and read every blog I believe. I have done my research….and find myself reading some blogs for the 3rd or 4th time. They all still help, though I know some of them by heart. Tonight I purchased your book. It was EXACTLY what I needed to read this evening. And today. What you outlined is the exact experience I had with my N. Everything. And I appreciated your focus on No Contact. And how it is both important and also the ONLY option to heal , grow and love. **NO CONTACT WORKS MY FRIENDS…..DO NOT CHEAT YOURSELF….DO IT…..BE COMMITTED TO IT….IT WORKS** I still have much work to do, much healing to go through…..but your book nailed it for me. Further reinforced what I was already thinking and knew…..and helped propel me forward even faster. Knowledge is power…..and your book and insights empowered me.
    Thank you so much… was nice to read from a perspective of a male freeing himself from a female N. Some of it hurts to read…..and admit…..but its the truth and we all need to face it.
    Closer to healing than I was yesterday…..and thanks to all of you for your contributions online.

  • Christine

    August 26, 2015 at 10:10 am Reply

    LOVE this analogy–this is a great reminder to us all to never get hooked by the narcissist ever again! Oh hell, I hope everyone here swims far, far away from the boat and finds better fish in the sea to swim with, as I did! There are plenty of other fish in the sea for US too, who are a far better use of our precious time…like our friends, family, loved ones, and even other love interests, if/when the time is right for that.

    I can’t believe it’s been a year of no contact for me now. Back when I first made my way here, I couldn’t imagine just months later, I’d have a great new life with a great new apartment, thriving career and a great new boyfriend who leaves me with no doubt that I’m his favorite fish. Living well really is the best revenge.

    Our revenge will be in knowing that gradually, over time, narcissists won’t be able to reel in as much “fish” as they used to, as they start losing their “hooks” (i.e. looks, youth, so-called “charm”, etc.–I can’t believe narcissists get better with age and I’m sure they get worse). In the meantime, we can swim out to more beautiful water and make beautiful lives for ourselves. Life is too short to stick around the narcissist’s rotting boat!

    • Zari Ballard

      September 2, 2015 at 6:22 am Reply

      Christine wrote...I can’t believe it’s been a year of no contact for me now. Back when I first made my way here, I couldn’t imagine just months later, I’d have a great new life with a great new apartment, thriving career and a great new boyfriend who leaves me with no doubt that I’m his favorite fish. Living well really is the best revenge. RIGHT ON!!!!

      OMG…it’s been a year already! Girl, you are an inspiration:) Honestly, it’s not as if you sat around during that year wallowing in self-pity. Rather than do that, you came here and offered advice and words of wisdom to others and I have been so grateful for that. You are living proof that the key is to KEEP MOVING FORWARD AND TO PUT OUR HAPPINESS FIRST. I am so proud of you and truly believe that you haven’t even touched the surface on how bright your future will shine.

      Thank you for contributing to my website. Recovery is and always will be a TEAM EFFORT:)

      Zari xo

      • Christine

        September 2, 2015 at 9:01 am Reply

        Absolutely Zari, thank YOU for all you do in bringing awareness to this. I may be over it, but still want to remember the lessons learned so I never go through it again. In hindsight, I put up with that crap simply from ignorance in not knowing what narcissism really is. We’ll get through it together!

        • Zari Ballard

          September 2, 2015 at 9:12 am Reply

          Together…step by step:) It truly is the ticket for all of us…:) You go, girl!

          Zari xo

  • Diane

    August 20, 2015 at 2:11 pm Reply


    The analogy to sports fishing is brilliant. The reference to a belief system that makes me think “I am his favorite fish in the sea” is perfect. Girl, I can practically feel my fins flapping along the coral reef, hoping the sun glistens on my scales in such a way to make me appear to be the most beautiful and perfect fish he has ever seen.

    All sport. Nothing but sport. Throw out that reel and see what he pulls in. He caught me. At first his bait was caviar. After a while, it was straight up baloney.

    October will mark a year since I came crawling my way to this site, seeking help in understanding his out of the blue silent treatment. Had I seen this particular posting during my earlier visits, I don’t think I could have handled it. The truth can hurt Zari. And in the piece you paint an exquisitely detailed and honest picture of who we are–not just the fisherman but the “easy fish.” – I don’t kno if i could have handled reading this a year ago. This was not the image I had of myself.

    In my very vivid imagination i imagine showing up at his door with a fake handgun and watching him, beg, squirm and beg for forgiveness and then pulling the fake trigger. Don’t worry I am not going to do that. I just wish ithat he could be the butt of the joke.

    Thanks again for helping me reclaim those parts of me that I had lost or just given away, no questions asked.



    • Zari Ballard

      August 22, 2015 at 12:13 pm Reply

      Diane wrote…Girl, I can practically feel my fins flapping along the coral reef, hoping the sun glistens on my scales in such a way to make me appear to be the most beautiful and perfect fish he has ever seen….All sport. Nothing but sport. Throw out that reel and see what he pulls in. He caught me. At first his bait was caviar. After a while, it was straight up baloney.

      Caviar indeed until the prick of the hook!

      Hi Diane!!

      OMG…it’s been a YEAR?? Boy, how time flies when we’re not having fun, right? LOL Seriously, you made it. You really did. A year ago, you would have NOT been able to do a lot of things let alone read this article and find the humor in it. And here you are and here WE are. Because you can smile and chuckle at the insanity, YOU are a success story all the way. I’m really proud of you, lady…makes me want to cry happy tears. You know that I’m always here for you.

      As for your imagination, how easily I can slip into it. Yes, I can picture it. I’d even join you with my own toy gun…we could make the rounds on behalf of everyone who ever got hurt by a narcissist…with a map (and a plan), going door to door, pulling the fake trigger at the perfect moment. It’d be all about the element of surprise. Oh but to see the look on their faces at the moment they imagine the party ending. Then, “JUST KIDDING! SEE YA!!” Yes, they all deserve to be the butt of the joke:)

      Stay strong & keep reading and writing! I love it!

      Zari xo

    • Deborah

      August 22, 2015 at 2:53 pm Reply

      I love this…it is has helped me so much. I thought I was so stupid for getting sucked into this kind of bulls..t. It helps to see I am not ! You’re Awesome!!!

      • Zari Ballard

        September 4, 2015 at 9:15 pm Reply

        Hi Deborah,

        No, you were not stupid to get sucked in. The fact is that narcissists are very good at what they do. It is a FACT!!! How can you really blame yourself for wanting to believe that the person that you love is telling you the truth? If you can, download my book When Love Is a Lie from Amazon because you will see exactly what I’m talking about. A narcissist will cross personal boundaries that we didn’t even know that we had. Time to re-create those boundaries and commit to keeping them so that it never happens to us again:)

        Stay strong and I’m here to support you!

        Zari xo

  • Bethd

    August 16, 2015 at 9:04 pm Reply

    Love this. The analogy really fits quite well. Yes Fishermen describes these little vultures and I can attest it happens just as you say. If you take the bait you will be in this sick game for way too many years. No contact!! Or as low as possible if you must because of circumstances. Can’t give them one nibble or you will stay in the web!

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The Narcissist’s Motivation to Deceive (Part 1/2)

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