The 3 Phases of a Relationship With a Narcissist




So, you are wondering what the hell happened aren’t you? You thought you had met your soul mate and you were the luckiest person in the world. Of course in phase 1 you weren’t questioning your relationship, but like a switch going off everything changed, even if you can’t put your finger on it, something is very wrong. You entered phase 2, for a while you just chalked it up to him/her having a bad day, or maybe they are sick, maybe they have a brain tumor, or they’re having a nervous breakdown, it took a while before you started searching for answers about why the love of your life had turned on you.

I was into the relationship for over 5 years before I went looking for answers and even then, once I found Narcissist and JC fit the description almost to a T and our relationship followed the same stages described on various websites, I still didn’t believe he could be unfaithful or would discard me so callously. I believed everyone has good in them and I had seen the good side and if I loved him well enough I could bring that good side out again.

It is almost impossible to get your head around the notion they could ever just toss you aside with nothing and not even look back. If anything; while you are reeling in pain from the relationship ending he’ll take the opportunity to give you a kick in the guts a few times for good measure and make sure you know it is all your fault.

If you are in phase 2 and think you are hurt and confused please believe me it is nothing compared to the excruciating pain of phase 3. You would be doing yourself a HUGE favor to get out now.

I tend to talk in terms of the narcissist being a male but female narcissists exist and are just as destructive and ……. well………evil. The phases of the relationship are the same whether the narcissist is male or female.

The Phases of Loving a Narcissist



During this phase a narcissist is very loving and is on his/ her best behavior. A narcissist can be extremely charming and loving, which often makes a person fall head over heels in love with them or feel they would be crazy to not love them. In the beginning I felt JC cared for me more than I cared for him but I had never been loved like that in my life and that is very hard to walk away from. I was perfect in his eyes, to quote him, “Don’t ever change, I love you just the way you are.”

If a narcissist is cheating on his or her present partner with a new lover, it is often more due to the actions of the narcissist than the lover that the relationship started in a first place. While pursuing a new lover, a narcissist is often claiming that he is very unhappy in his/her current relationship, the woman takes him for granted, abuses his good nature and he is carrying the load financially, in the home and emotionally. He will say he has tried and tried and done his grieving of the relationship long ago. He has had to stay because he’s afraid she’ll try to kill herself if he leaves, or she just won’t accept that its over. He is about to get a divorce/separate, has never felt as strongly towards anyone else as he or she is now feeling towards the new lover, etc. If you are the married one he will become your best friend and perhaps even befriend your husband, he will point out how your husband takes you for granted, tell you he wishes he had a woman like you, he will be your perfect match, totally into you, always so happy to see you, wanting to know all about you, your hopes and dreams, you will feel attractive, appreciated, it will be exciting, his romantic gestures will take your breath away, the love-making like nothing you have ever experienced before, you will feel like the sexiest most desirable woman on earth. You will feel you must have this man in your life, you can face anything as long as he has you in his arms. It is intoxicating, you can not believe your good fortune to meet this wonderful man and he loves YOU. A narcissist knows how to say all the right things to make the other person fall hard.

Unfortunately this “honeymoon” period never lasts for long. A narcissist soon grows bored and restless and starts to look for another provider of a narcissistic supply. This is when a narcissist enters the devaluation phase.



During this phase the behavior of a narcissist changes, he becomes cold and uncaring almost overnight. this is when the “mask drops” and you see the real person. The narcissist no longer tells you how much he or she loves you, but instead becomes increasingly critical towards you. Suddenly he/she finds all sorts of flaws in your behavior and possibly also in the way you look. You start to feel increasingly unhappy and depressed, because you have no idea what you have done to deserve to be treated this way. You try to “make him or her love you again”, however nothing you do seems to be good enough and what they want seems to change with the wind. He accuses you of things you aren’t thinking or doing, is controlling, twists your words, where once you could talk about anything calmly and rationally, now every thing turns into a fight. He accuses you of being paranoid,  yet they are snooping through your phone and computer, (James even had a tracking device somewhere on my vehicle, I found a hidden camera and his sister found a wire running from the trailer to the barn that had a speaker on the end). They know they are out to destroy you, so assume you must be doing the same thing and want to make sure they get you before you get them.Whatever the narcissist accuses the victim of doing is more than likely what they are doing. A rule to remember; If their lips are moving, they are lying. They can look you right in the eye and tell you a lie, they can cry real tears and could get an academy award for their acting abilities.

They may be loving in public and then treat the soon-to-be-ex with disdain when they get home, yet expect the victim to stay loving and giving until the narcissist is firmed enmeshed in their new relationship. It is a very confusing time for the victim, one minute they are treated with disgust and the next the narcissist is loving, they are blamed for the problems in the relationship but anything they do to  mend the fences is never good enough. (I went years not knowing if we were broken up or a couple, he could tear me to shreds in the morning before he left for work and come home from work like nothing ever happened). The victim is accused of causing conflict, yet if they give in to the narcissist they are treated even worse.

Once the narcissist drains his supply, the supply refuses to comply with his demands or the N finds better supply he is ready to move on and if they don’t have new supply lined up they set out to find a new source of NS. At this point he is obvious in his infidelity, short tempered and generally acts as if he hates sharing his air with you. The narcissist picks their love interest by what they have to offer, it might have been a roof over their head, the reputation of the victim, perhaps to advance their career, a parent for their child, status in the community, or something as simply as sex.

You find yourself walking on eggshells for fear of sending him into a rage. Everything is your fault, you are paranoid, too sensitive, causing drama and you should know he hates drama. More than likely some addiction like obsessively watching porn has surfaced or he forces you to perform sex acts you aren’t comfortable with, the great sex you once had is a distant memory unless he is trying to win you over after a really bad fight. Female narcissist often use sex as a weapon, withholding or seducing to manipulate the man. Speaking of which they have an uncanny ability to sense when you have had enough and are ready to leave and will turn back into the sweet, appreciative, loving partner you fell in love with just long enough to reel you back in.

During this phase a narcissist may start to look for another provider of a narcissistic supply and may end up cheating or having an affair, however still keeping the current spouse hooked, just in case the new relationship does not work out the way the narcissist is hoping. The narcissist gets a huge ego boost from thinking that two people (the current spouse and the secret lover) are “madly in love” with them.  Plus they get off on being able to pull something off right under the victim’s nose. The narcissist will fly into a rage that you could possibly think he would ever cheat on you and turn the tables so you end up apologizing for accusing them or for some other crime you committed months or years ago. Their crimes are brushed under the carpet while yours are always brought up and never forgiven, even crimes you didn’t commit or even think about committing. (James said he screwed around because I could have taken a different man home every night. I said, Key word is “could” have, I didn’t)

They often play one against the other creating triangulation, and then sit back and watch the show. Nothing feeds the ego like having two lovers vying for your affections; doing the “pick me” dance.  Often times they will leave evidence of their cheating around for you to find because your pain serves up such delicious narcissistic supply.

level headed


During the discarding phase the narcissist becomes totally indifferent to the needs or pain of the victim.  Once the victim is no longer useful to the N they discard them like yesterday’s garbage. When a narcissist reaches this phase, there is no chance to reason with a narcissist.

Many victims will say that the discard “came out of the blue” everything was fine and then the narcissist sent an email saying it was over, or the victim is thrown out of the house with nothing, and the narcissist is immediately involved with “the love of their life” and the victim is a psycho bitch or abusive asshole. But when you talk to the victim it comes out that there were signs but the narcissist denied their suspicions, accused them of not loving them enough, made them feel if they only did this……… or that………… things would go back to the way they were. There had been abuse but the victim had just gotten so used to the N being hot and cold, the discord had just become “the way they were” and they believed the narcissist would never truly leave them. Then the victim discovers the narcissist was planning their exit for a long time, has been slandering the victim behind their back, hiding money, and has the victim’s replacement lined up.

If you try to beg a narcissist to get back together with you, you are only feeding their ego and providing him or her with a transient source of a narcissistic supply. The narcissist wants you devastated at the thought of losing them and most victims ends up drained, confused, with their confidence and self-esteem in shreds. A feeling of doom pervades everything in their life and many suffer from PTSD. There is no way to have an amicable split from a narcissist. When a narcissist is done with you he is not happy to just walk away, he wants to destroy you and your reputation. He will turn your friends and your own family against you. If you have children he will turn them against you, he will even go so far as to try to get you fired, arrested on trumped-up charges, victims have even been committed to mental institutions because of the vicious actions of a narcissist.

Out of loyalty the victim didn’t talk behind the narcissist’s back so no one believes them when they try to explain what went on in the relationship. The narcissist has already told everyone who will listen that the victim is a paranoid psychopath who has made their life hell, so anything the victim says is taken as being vindictive and they are the psycho liar the N claims them to be. The narcissist must win, and that means they must take everything from the victim, leaving them with nothing to rebuild their lives. In their minds if you are of no use to them you are worthless. It is at this point the narcissist will have no qualms about killing you and the victim should be very careful (there is a free safety plan download at the top of the blog).

He/she will take great pleasure in rubbing your nose in his new relationship and blame you for the relationship failing. He will say how he has met the love of his life, she is calm and rational, they are soul mates and the new man or woman will be smug about how special they are. They will taunt you to kill yourself, accuse you to your face of doing exactly what they did to you, twist the facts to make themselves look the victim, they will never admit to any fault in the relationship and the victim ends up friendless with no support system because the narcissist carefully planned his/her exit and will just deny deny deny any of the victim’s claims of abuse. It is the victim’s worst nightmare, like they stepped into the twilight zone and are helpless against the vindictiveness of the narc. After all who can believe anyone can be that cruel and conniving. That is why only someone who has been there can understand and will believe the victim.

THEN, just when you are starting to heal and get your legs under you he will pop back into your life, professing his love, tears and all, apologizing for everything he ever did and you believe your prayers have been answered, the man you fell in love with is back and you fall lovingly into his arms. The arms of the devil. As he holds you telling you how much he loves you and how sorry he is, he is secretly laughing and giving himself a pat on the back for being so clever and irresistible, and planning how he will punish you for being so stupid as to believe him. In his mind you deserve to be punished for your gullibility and he feels so superior to have that kind of control over you. The cycle begins again only much worse this time.

If you found this article helpful you will probably find the following posts of interest also.

2,445 thoughts on “The 3 Phases of a Relationship With a Narcissist

  1. Carlo

    Having a lot of trouble viewing the site for some reason. Anyway, I’ve just made a donation, as promised. Since my last post, I have been put on Quetiapine (Seroquel) to help with the intrusive and obsessive thoughts and rumination. Add that to the Effexor and propranolol, I feel like a zombie. Hard to believe that one person can reduce somebody to this. I have also been diagnosed with C-PTSD and have some counselling booked. Just getting through each day is a struggle at the moment.


    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Carlo thank you so much for the donation! I am sorry you are having such a horrible time. I am not surprised that you have been diagnosed with C-PTSD, most victims of narcs have PTSD. I don’t want to discourage taking something to help you cope but if you find that you feel like a zombie and the combination of drugs, I know nothing about how they interact. Just be careful please and maybe get s second opinion to make sure they are making things worse. Some times a combo of drugs can actually do more harm than good.


  2. Nemo

    Hey Carrie, seeing some people mention a “horror movie” it has already been made…it was called 9 1/2 Weeks and was a very powerful study of a narc. If anyone here hasn’t seen it they should! If only because Mickey Rourke was gorgeous then!


  3. Natalia

    Hello Carrie, I’m new to this website, I found it via googling “getting over a narcissist.” I am personally going through a breakup. The thing is, I am not sure he is a narcissist. My shrink thinks J (my ex) is one and that’s how I ended up googling the term. I am devastated, to say the least. This May I found out J had cheating on me for 4 months (according to him he wasn’t cheating because we were “broken up” and yes, we had a fight and I told him we were over but anyway we continued to see each other and spend time together and kiss and make love during those months as if nothing had happened, so nothing really changed). Stupidly I continued to see him because I was/am so much in love and I forgave everything. And he continued to see his women on the side anyway. He would say that he loved me and that those women didn’t mean anything to him, that he just wanted to go to the theater with someone when I couldn’t go out (I travel for work so I’m not home a lot). We never really lived together. He would make plans for next year when we would live together while he would go out on weekend trips with the other women and spend money on them that he never spent on me (I used to pay for everything every time we went out because he said he didn’t have money). In the beginning of our relationship he was wonderful, tender and caring. He seemed to understand me so well and we would have such a good time. I never loved anyone the way I love him. Then something switched, we had a fight once, I was childish and he verbally lashed me and he never seemed to forgive me for that. After that he just verbally lashed me over and over only to apologize and come back and start the cycle again. The thing is, I still think he is a good person. He does a lot of things for charity, he is honest, hardworking and respected at work and a good Christian. I just don’t get it. How can someone be a narc if all other aspects of his life are so great and honest? Unfortunately we cannot go “no contact” because J’s son (J is divorced) has suffered abandonment from his mother and relatives and he really likes spending time with me and considers me a good friend (J never told his 18-year old son we were dating, he introduced me as a friend because he didn’t think his son was ready). Ironically J would ask me to take care of his son when he would go out on his dates and I don’t have the heart to tell his son that I cannot see him anymore. Even if the son is 18, he is very fragile and has the emotional maturity of a 12-year old and he is a good kid. The kid’s mother is not on his life because she hates them both (in the beginning I used to think the exwife was awful but now I’m starting to think that she was also hurt badly by J). I don’t see his son very often, maybe once a month, but that’s the time that J talks to me. I am so hurt and angry and I keep crying and I wish J would come back. I don’t get my feelings. It’s as if I have a hole in my chest that only J can fill, but my brain knows that if he comes back there will be more hurt. Nothing fills this void. Plus I feel horribly jealous of the new girlfriend(s) who fit his bill because they have money and are thinner than me (he is into thin and fit women). I just feel haggard and old and ugly. and my puffy eyes from crying don’t help.


    1. Lee

      I am new to this site and have taken time to read other peoples plight and wanted to add my own. It is not complete with detail but I am hoping it helps others to find firm ground to stand on.

      I spent 20 years with a narcissist and left the relationship damaged. Sometime during the relationship I ended up being diagnosed with sever depression and even at one point strongly fantasized putting a gun to my head and I could literally see a large glare of light as I pulled the trigger. However, as I came out of the twilight zone all I could do was cry. He started out making me feel more loved and important then I had ever felt before and it was a very nice feeling and before I knew it he began to change gradually while telling me that he was going to torture me so very sweetly. I thought it was his way of joking around. I was his working narcissist supply while he looked for women who were better models as he called them. I stayed because when he was sweet I could not compare it to anything I had in my life ever. He insinuated I follow his lead in doing bad things but I never did. Police were coming to my door saying he stole things and they wanted it back, he sold every stitch of furniture that I bought for comfort for the two of us, returned a television that I just bought for our bedroom to the store and took the money out to buy two bit hookers and drink. After a week of fun he would act as if he had done nothing and blame me for not meeting his needs or totally expecting me to forgive him because he asked and if I did not he wanted to torture me some more. The type of women he liked was 19 and 20 year olds while he constantly told me I was old, and that he believed in trading up. In 2007, I decided to leave him after having a mental break down, elevated blood pressure that threatened to send me to the hospital for a long stay. He showed no remorse and I cried like a baby because he threw 20 years down the toilet and flushed. He had the nerve to marry his young girl and then ask me to be his chick on the side. I prayed and cried to God everyday for over a month to take this taste of addiction from my mouth that I had for him and give me peace. This was when I finally knew my soul was indeed tortured. Eventually, peace did happen but between having a narcissist mother, and another relationship where it is all about other peoples wants and desires while mine remained lacking. I am 8 years free of my narcissist with withdrawal symptoms from time to time, and a strong need to be angry for such bad treatment that I did not deserve. He went as far as to go through my family to try to bring me back into his fold but I refuse. In all the years he was working me over he was very charming about it. I refuse to take a person back that lie, steal, cheat, and manipulate his way to destroy peoples lives. He is 7 years younger then I am but he looks older and wore out then I do but he feels he is the catch of the century. I have never been one to go along with his wicked off the wall schemes. But I will never forget the residual effect and the carnage he left with me while he walk away into the sunset. I feel victimized but I am not a victim as long as I able to be free to make better choices.


      1. Natalia

        Lee, I’m so sorry to hear all what you went through. I know EXACTLY how you feel, exactly. When I found out that J was cheating on me, I considered jumping in front of upcoming traffic. I was so sad and hopeless. I just cried and cried multiple times a day and wanted him to hug me and tell me he was just kidding. He was very cynical about the things he was doing. He wasn’t shy about telling me that he wanted to see me at a certain time of the day because he was going to go out on a date with his new girlfriend later that night. I was downgraded from “girlfriend” to “woman to have sex on the side” so fast that I didn’t see it coming. Then he would tell me he wasn’t sure about his feelings for me, just to turn around and tell me the next day that he loved me, and then change his mind the week after. The thing is, I never felt so loved and happy as when things were good. When thing were good they were soo good and when things were bad I felt desperate and hopeless. The horrible part is that I still miss him. I miss the good J, the one that would make me laugh and was tender and made me feel special, not the one that made me feel like disposable trash. I am very sorry for all you had to go through. I cannot imagine spending 20 years like that. My dad was a narcissist so that would explain why I ended up with another one. I hope you are happy now and found someone who deserves you


        1. Nemo

          Natalia, that was the exact way my J was with me after I went to university and he was able to see other girls without trying to hide it from me. He even said one how lucky I was he had turned up on time to meet me because “I’m always late for the other ones” . I was back every weekend and holidays and often did the three hour drive through the night during the week when he would make suicide threats if I didn’t….needless to say I made a right mess of my degree…and 30 years later after we had been back in touch for 8 years and the stars aligned (separated from spouses and in the same country for the first time in two years) and we had a fling two months ago and he cut me dead afterwards, I had to hear through the grapevine that he is now seeing one of the same ones he was seeing behind my back when I was at university! I have realised that I am feeling the same way as I did 30 years ago, the heartbreak is killing me and I have also lost his platonic friendship which I treasured. I know no-one will ever make me feel as good and as loved as he did. but on the other hand, nobody could plunge me into such unhappiness as he did. So I am trying really hard to put it behind me and mend my marriage but it’s actually getting harder every day, it’s been 2 months now.


          1. Lee

            Nemo…Remember this. People who do this to you is all about themselves and only give you enough inclusion time to keep their madness going. I have been away from my ex short of a year and it does get easier with time. I have no intentions of reviving our relationship because as he contacts me I know in the back of my mind he is pulling other unsuspecting victims in his web. When he asked me to be the chick on the side while he married a 20 year old and thought nothing of the 20 years I gave him I too felt crushed. I went to school while I was with him and received a degree but it was hard because he would leave home for weeks at a time and then come back home as it was his right. I cannot and will not live this way again. Whoever his next woman is will only endure the same thing you did. He will do her no better then he has done you…keep that in mind. His love will never be the same as your love for him.


        2. Lee

          Natalia thank you for your kind words….When I met CW mental illness was not a topic I knew much about. He brought his ex-wife to meet me and she told me about him but I was not sure how much of what she was saying was true and he would say horrible things about her as well. We lived in a town where he dissociated himself from family while I was shunned from family before the age 14. My mother did not help educate us children without a belt and controlled our every move. In doing a lot of reading it eased my mind after years of her confusing messages that her way of doing things was narcissist and hurtful. She would flip her messages to reflect poorly on whatever it was that her children wanted to do. Finally, I have realized that the people that I have chose to be in my life were severely dominating to the point of wanting to destroy my spirit. My mother use to tell me as a little girl growing up that people use to love my spirit but they did not know me as she do. She told my daughter that is now in her 40’s she was going to hell for having me as her mother when she was 13 years. I grew up separated with my siblings and still endure that because of how my mother herself was a bullied. Growing up this way made me strong and kept me running to have to not endure the unkindness. Then I run up on men with the same qualities; however, I never spoke to them about my childhood. When I walked out on CW all of the pain came crashing down on me at once and made me ill. My mother who is very old now still does not like me but she is old and need help. I am reluctant to help because of her manipulation tactics. She uses people as her narcissistic supply and it is no wonder why I am and attract these types of people in my life. At the age of 60 I picked up self help books that put me on the right track to see what exactly happened in my life and kept studying and researching until now I am at ease to finally put a name behind what has been done. My contact with my family is very limited and when I do conversate with them they can’t help but zoom in for the kill. My mother is the child and we learned to nurture her feelings while she had no intentions to nurture ours. We were told what to say, how to think, along with how not to feel about ourselves. Her spirit is not soothing unless it is to herself. My first marriage my mother had her hands all over it. I knew but was young and powerless to do anything and he sided with her against me. My second relationship with CW she wanted to meet him but I would not introduce him. I am saying this because I now know that I have to be careful with the people that come into my life and that I might attract these sorts of people. CW is thinking of a way to get me back but is failing in all his efforts. It is time to stand up and love that child in me and not succumb to people who are not happy with their lives. I will not support another man that lives off the support of women by telling, showing, or demanding that god only walks with them.

          Natalia, be kind to yourself..


  4. jake

    I think its dangerous to continue to call the targets of narcissists “victims”. As long as you feel like a victim, you will be. Part of recovering from narcissistic abuse is denying that victimhood and taking yourself back from them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Carlo

    Well, I thought I would post an update. I have documented enough about my past, abusive relationship so I thought I would post something positive. From what I have gleaned, it seems that you need to achieve indifference towards your ex, before you can truly move on. I’m nearly there now, although I am taking medication to help with the obsessive thoughts. I actually have a date on Friday with a beautiful woman who is six years younger than me. I hope it goes well, I feel ready for it now.



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