Rejection in any form is the narcissist’s worst fear. Rejection triggers what they work each day to hide from others and from themselves: a sense of inferiority and unlovability. Narcissists experience any kind of rejection—personal, social, or professional—as intensely invalidating and destabilizing. While healthy people will pick themselves up and eventually try again after rejection, narcissists resort to all means of contorted rationalizing, hoovering, and bitter reprisal to regain a sense of control.
Typically, narcissists stage their lives to play the rejecting role and will attempt to discard others before they walk away first. But if rejected, they will utilize all their tactics, from guilt trips, to grand promises and seductions, to power maneuvers, to threats and revenge. The rejected narcissist spouse, for example, may fight for child custody not because they care about the kids but as a way to “win” and hurt their ex.