Following the discard phase, whether they have discarded you or you have discarded them, the narcissist is going through pain and distress. They are experiencing a sense of instability and insecurity and some of them are even experiencing financial difficulties. They are struggling without their grade A source of supply. You were there for them to unload all of their emotional baggage, to use as their emotional punching bag. To let out all of their frustration and resentment. They may have used you for financial purposes as well.
Following the discard phase, the narcissist can often end up struggling. They can end up in a worse situation than they were with you. It's not so easy for them to find another grade A source of supply, it's not so easy for them to find another person who is willing to do the things that you were willing to do for them. Someone who is willing to put up with everything they do. But the narcissist is audacious and arrogant. They have an exaggerated sense of their own abilities and importance.
They believe that they can leave you and find someone better within a short amount of time. But of course it doesn't take long until they realize that it is not that simple. They find themselves in a situation which is far worse than when they were with you. But they can't let you see it, they can't let you know about it because they want you to see them as though they are superior to you. Even though they know that you are superior to them, they have to create the illusion that they are doing better without you. They have such weak, fragile egos they have low self-esteem and they have far too much pride to ever let you see or hear about what they are going through, but the reality is that they are struggling.
Many of them are having to work extra hard just to make a fraction of what they were making when they were with you. They feel very uncomfortable in their new environment, it's not stable or secure. They don't feel comfortable, they don't know if they can trust their new source of supply. Yet what they displayed to you is probably far different to the reality of what they are going through. They are probably posting pictures on social media, making you believe that they have the perfect life with the new supply and everything is so much better. They really like to exaggerate it in an attempt to hurt you, but it's that exaggeration that should really reveal to you that it's all a lie.
When the narcissist first met you, they gave you a false appearance and impression. They showed you what you wanted to see, they told you what you wanted to hear, knowing that they weren't really about any of that. It was just to appeal to you and to secure you as a source of supply. When you had an argument or disagreement with the narcissist and you stopped talking to them for a short period of time, they would go on social media or talk to you on the phone about how everything is going great. When in reality they were struggling to cope without you, without having the opportunity to unload their emotional baggage onto you or use you as their emotional punching bag. But they acted as though everything was going great.
They pretend, they live a lie, they do whatever they can to avoid reality. Reality is too painful for them to deal with, because they have avoided it for too long. If they tried to deal with it now, it would just be too overwhelming for them. So even after the relationship is over they are still living a lie, still trying to make you buy into their false appearance or impression. If they can get you to believe it, it makes it more believable for them and then they can live in their little fantasy world, denying the truth and reality. But the reality is that they are struggling, they just don't want you to see or hear about it because they're ashamed. They are shame-based individuals, doing everything they can to avoid reflecting on their shame.
Anytime that you try to confront them on something that might trigger them to reflect on their shame, it causes a narcissistic injury. Then they have to make you feel as though something is wrong with you or as though your life is not going right. They wish that they could come back to you, things were so much easier then. Especially if you've made use of the time apart to heal yourself and create a better life for yourself, believe me they would love to come back. But if you've seen through them, they know that they can't come back, they know that you're no longer going to be susceptible to their manipulation.
When they leave they end up in situations where they get married or they get pregnant. Which may be a deal breaker for many of you. They know that you're not going to want to deal with them after that, it's not going to be the same. So they stay hidden, they do what they have to do to make you believe that everything is going okay, when in reality they are struggling.