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.

2,245 thoughts on “The 3 Phases of a Relationship With a Narcissist

  1. Rob, run for the hills. It may seem when your together there is this bliss, a rare closeness that you have never felt before…when he goes your mind is all over wondering where he is or what he is doing. Eating away at your core, leaving you feeling bad about yourself. You question your every thought, wonder if its your fault. You try hide your doubts, he backs off…you threat and bother more. He as you firmly in his web. The emotional wreck he can then have an excuse to leave, nothing you will do will be right. He mocks you to make you stay down, he tells you your too sensitive, lost your sense of humour…I could go on and on….we find ways to make excuses for them, we continue for months, years…it goes on and on….each day we stay longer is a day away from recovery……time we wont get back. I have gone through hell and more and for the 19mths apart but am so grateful I put myself through the healing phase and kept strong as the game would have gone on and on. I have a chance for a future and I tend to keep reading to make sure my mind stays strong and when I doubt myself I read everything and know am moving forward. Keep a diary, write down ur feelings, write him emails but don’t send them…save them to draft….go NO CONTACT it honestly is the only way. Manipulation is the way this breed of narcs work on us…the charm…the excuses…your not crazy…but he will make you feel that way. I lost it on one occasion and he filmed me doing so and showed everyone the crazy ex….he kept quiet about locking me up, breaking my things, driving us off the motorway, the list is endless….he as standards for me, am not to do things…but he can do as he pleases….honestly leave him. I loved mine more than anything and then I found out I was pregnant…the easiest thing at the time would have been to go back, but I stood strong and went to bits, I honestly haven’t felt pain like it, the shame…I never left the house, am slowly fixing myself and my son is 8 mths. It will be a challenge but honestly its one worth taking. I could have, if not pregnant dated others but for me I want to rid the need to be loved and never fall for it all again.
    Stay strong, don’t show him your pain…he got enough boosting from your love…just don’t reply, give him the silent treatment, don’t read his emails…better still block them…or read them and then write one but send it to drafts…when u doubt urself… ur words of pain while with him….love doesn’t break us daily. x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Adele, thanks for your post! and these people give therapy to other people, mine is even a certified couples counselor! I know since this Weekend that it will end in the termination of the whatever this is either from my side or his and it will come soon, I feel it in my gut. I voiced my needs and my bounderies to him, also addressed the shifts in his behavior. He has now until this Weekend to clarify this all with me and if nothing is adressed to my liking I will end it. In the end I gave it all and I know I am a great partner for someone when the time is right and with somebody can genuinely love and is ready to give and take in a healthy relationship. This is a learning lesson for me never again selling myself short again. In the end they chose us because we were special otherwise they would not try to latch on to us, but we didn’t know ourself and stick to who are! To everybody in here thanks and true love is outthere for all of us and we just need to learn to give it also to ourselves and stay in control of our lives. We deserve to be treated well, with respect and we have the right to have our needs met. Live is too short to settle for less. Lots of Energy to all of you, let’s keep supporting eachother so no one feels lonely manipulated by such people, thanks to Carrie to have created this space for us! Cheers Rob


  3. Hello Fee, also thanks for your message ans insights! This will help me tremendeously on my way forward and keeping me level headed! Cheers Rob


    • Rob, mine was a Lisenced Social Worker who consults troubled teens…not them only though, he has other clients and his own thriving practice:-) Let me warn you – he may finish the relationship first, just cutting you off. Mine told me he needs 1 night to think and dumped me next morning (I described the process in my initial post)
      So be prepared that he can ask you to remove yourself from his life immediately and don’t question the insanity that is making itself apparent. It’s true but they will never acknowledge it. That’s part of the sickness. They can’t even begin to believe they are sick and need help. They try to convince you that it’s you and everyone around them.

      I sent him a text that I know of his disorder and he got furious. He sent me 2 e-mails trying to convince me that I was also responsible for the degradation of our realtionship. He wrote that he felt it in advance that I was not a gentle person and I am not Ok in a mental health area myself since I screamed so loudly in bed when we had sex….no comments,right


  4. hello Adele! thanks for your comments and advise, i am prepared mentally and emotionally for whatever will be coming my way, or whatever I have to do to protect myself, thanks to blogs and sites like these and people who take the time to write their stories in blogs like these! How are you currently doing and dealing with all of this? Hugs Remo


    • Take one day at a time and you will be fine….sometimes, it is miunte by minute, but that is ok. You will heal from this. I ma not sure of your faith, but I wanted to share something with you which may help you. The Holy Bible addresses what wwe now know in modern day Psychology as Narcassism. It tells us how we are to deal with NARCS. I truely hope this helps you:
      2 TIM 3:5-6

      1You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

      6They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence ofa vulnerable women…..

      Stay strong. Remember that you are a VICTOR, not a victim…… Your are courageous because that is what you are demostrating!


  5. Rob, you are welcome. I am currently back home. Feeling not really OK now, even worse than right after the break up. I mean at nights I am just laying in my bed and think all this over and over again and can’t wrap my mind around it. I read that those who suffered break ups with narcissists or BPD, we need a therapy to restore. I wish I could tell you anything encouraging but I can’t. though reading about this on the Internet helps…it convey the message to your mind that the one you loved was insane bs you see exactly same paterns in others stories…so it helps to understand that the degradation was imminent and it is not your fault…by the way mine was not a pure narcissist…he actually has a borderline personality disorder…very functional as a professional but a disaster in personal realtionship.


  6. It’s true that when you break up with the N you do need therapy. This is one of the only diseases where everyone else needs therapy but them. My ex was a N with a touch of BPD. We were together almost 2 years. It took everything I had in me to walk away. I was sick. I had to take a leave from work to get myself together. They steal your identity and feed you fantasies. I wasn’t in love with her I was in love with the idea of her. When you learn to accept it was all fake then it will be easier to move on. The best way to move on is No contact, therapist to build your own self esteem and identity and a lot of patience. You need to realize you deserve better. We are just another piece in their chess game. It hurts but you will move on and you will be ok. Remember these N cannot have any real personal relationships. They feed off the weak and good hearted. So you may think he/she has moved on and is happy. Truth is they are truly miserable and uncapable of love or emotion. It’s all pretend. Let him/her make someone else their victim. You my friend are a survivor. It’s a true blessing you are not with the N anymore. Surround yourself with positive energy and be well. Regards Mel

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you Mel. Very helpful. And yes you are right there is something in our own personalities that made it possible for us to be involved with them. I was pretty lonely and vulnerable when I met this handsome and caring individual. That was too good to be true…Now I know that in order to draw someday anyone real and worthy I need to became one myself. This is a journey to start…to restore my identity as you put it…


  8. It seems like this article is speaking directly towards me, especially the start of it. I was in a long distance relationship with my N. From afar, he was a GOD to me. Once we moved closer and it was time for all of the talk of what life would be to become reality, I started to notice his supply and felt that I was been devalued. I eventually received a phone call from the supply being molded as my replacement. I discarded him. Now, I work on me.


  9. My entire adult life I have gotten into relationships with narcissists., unwittingly. At first I am clueless, but the more I do it ….now the quicker I realize the ways of my errors. For instance, two evenings ago, met an online prospect in person after communicating for 6 months. I knew after 10 minutes this guy is way bad news…. after he was an hour late….. and all he did was talk about himself, all his stupid toys, all his money… name dropping (names to me, I know personally) no substance whatsoever, never even asked me a question…..ugly little short man, lying about his height, I figured he was embarrassed and especially so because he had a bad dye job on his silly little midlife crisis 59 y/o old goatee. Online, in all his pics he was salt and pepper then he shows up with dark hair and a beard…. and 5 inches shorter, wearing polyester…….ewwwwww …. yuk just go away! …..he was especially insistent on me seeing his ugly little BMW conv. as he kinda, walked me in the direction of my car…. if he only knew….. AH Big Time!


    • I give you credit for getting out there and trying again. I am one month out of an 8 year relationship with a narcisist and am scared to death to start dating again anytime soon !


    • Susan, it sounds like the last guy you met was a blatant narcissist and they are quite easy to detect; have you ever met a covert narcissist, who presents himself to be everything you ever wanted in a man who thinks the sun rises and set on you? wants to know all about you, can’t get enough of you, and then once he has you starts the devaluing? they are the hardest to detect (aside from the fact that they try to sweep you off you feet and push for early commitment).
      My ex came across as the most modest, almost naive sort of guy who hated to brag and who was so thrilled to have met a wonderful woman like me. The ugly narcissist side of him didn’t show until a couple of years into the relationship.


  10. Hello, I am one month out of an 8 year relationship with a narcisist. We lived together for 7 years and to make a long story short he underpaid me to live in my house and saved up a ton of money over the last 7 years so when he bought a house a few months ago (which we were both supposed to move into) he left me and moved into his house knowing that I am losing my house. I feel sick since I basically new this was going to happen but I refused to see the light. I knew that as soon as he realized that I was going to lose this house he wouldnt be able to live here for peanuts he would be out. He stayed here for a few months after he made settlement on his house only because he didn’t have appliances and I think he was waiting for me to start giving him money to do this. I was supposed to give him $24,000 total for half the downpayment and repairs etc but he wouldn’t sign a document that my lawyer drafted making us partners on the house. He just kept telling me to trust him. So here I am losing my house, I have children and pretty much supported him for 7 years while he was stashing away money and taking advantage of me. This on top of all the mental and physical abuse I suffered is making the healing process very difficult. I’m mad at myself for allowing this to happen and I’m paralyzed trying to work out things that happened in my head. I’ve been to therapy for years and can’t shell out the $150 per hour at the moment. I am hoping and praying that at some point I can heal from what this monster did to me.


    • Had enough, one month is not near long enough to start dating again. Of course you don’t have the desire, you have just had your feet kicked out from under you and now are having to start all over with nothing after you used, abused and tossed you aside. Hardly the kind of experience that makes a person want to run out and try again!
      Your relationship sounds very similar to what James and I had, he used me until there was nothing left to take, destroyed what he couldn’t take and then left for a widow who had more to give.
      You WILL heal, but it is going to take time, lots of time! Please do yourself the favor of reading as much as you can about them and how they operate, how they do not have a conscience which enables them to take what ever they want when ever they want it without ever losing a minute of sleep. In fact they feel totally justified in what they do, they deserve it and everyone is placed on this earth to provide them with their every whim and desire.
      Right now you have to concentrate on YOU, what makes you tick, who you are deep inside and learn how to set boundaries so this never happens to you again. It takes time but it is well worth the effort. Your value is not defined by any man and for some reason you felt you couldn’t say no to him, that you would lose his love if you did. When you learn to value yourself more than any man you will be able to love honestly and feel secure knowing you will never be taken advantage of again.
      But it all starts with baby steps. No contact is the first step, and the biggest step to healing.
      We are here for you, please come as often as you need to vent, cry or get support.


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