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 my ex 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 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 and every one who knows you knows 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 my ex 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. The victim often times gives up a perfectly good marriage, moves to be with the narcissist leaving their support network, friends and family behind. They give up an excellent job, invest with the narcissist and are blinded by love; willing to do anything to be with the “love of their life” believing what the narcissist is telling them, that they are soul mates and they have the kind of love fantasies and movies are made of.

Unfortunately this “honeymoon” period never lasts for long. Once the narcissist feels the victim is fully committed they 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. This is when the victim begins to think that if they just love the narcissist well enough he will go back to the loving attentive man they met. What no one seems to realize is; the narcissist doesn’t get off on your love and admiration, he feeds off of your pain.



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, (my ex 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 and worse.

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 firmly 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.

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. (my ex 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.

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.

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 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 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.


2,820 thoughts on “The 3 Phases of a Relationship With a Narcissist

  1. Corey

    My name is Corey, I replied last year on this site when I was heartbroken and confused! I really never knew what narcissistic personality disorder was or really a sociopath. I figured sociopath someone like Charles Manson or a Hitler for that matter. But I have learned a lot from the victims on here as I am a victim. I am truly sorry for the hurt that they cause, but at the end of the day, We are better people then they are! The only thing is I am disappointed in, not much on any sites on the female narcissist or sociopath. As a man when I read about he all the time, it makes us guys look like we are all bad guys. But their are female narcissist as well, they are just as cruel as the male narcissist! My ex girlfriend is both a narcissist and a sociopath. But at the end of the day, I learned that I am not the crazy one. I was blamed for everything, the most awful feeling in the world. Especially when you give you’re all in the relationship. I have been single for over a year now, things have been so much better since the fog has lifted. She discarded me like trash! Never had anyone do that to me ever! The cheating and the lies that’s what gets me, she left me for her ex boyfriend who is a drug addict. Matter of fact she said he was better than me. I laugh about that now! But knowing that she is mentally ill, I do feel sorry for her and her kids! I have forgiven her for what she did and now I have indifference torwards her! I know it’s been over a year since I spoken to her, but I have a feeling in the future she will try to establish contact with me. Me and her share a mutual friend. But I really do not want to cut off my friend. I lost friends because of my ex girlfriend, I know I can make new friends no problem. But that would be hard to break off a friendship with someone! Thank you for the blog!


  2. Domo

    I never knew about narcissism and never thought someone can manipulate you to a degree that after everything is over you always blame yourself even when the red flags were always in your face… I started dating someone from work last year after she started to pursue me… she is gorgeous and she is incredibly vain, she is also separated from her husband and had an ex boyfriend who she dumped 2 weeks prior to chasing me. After a couple of months she gave me a sob story on how her ex boyfriend always insulted her after she left and about her husband who would beat her (even though I never saw bruises) so I told her and her daughter to move in with me… Red flags were there, love bombing, certain comments she would make would make me feel uneasy and it felt too good to be true. It last only a few months and even though I ended things she hoovered, got me back then she dumped me… it’s been over 2 weeks of no contact but she is in my head 27/7 and I even feel “sick” for not being able to move on faster and get past this, I was in a marriage for 8 years and even though this time the relationship only lasted a total of 6 months I still feel incredible pain as my divorce, I have been in plenty of relationships but it never felt like this. Thank you for this post and for people that share their experiences, it does help to know that I am not alone in this… so much I want to share here but my post would be too long lol My heart goes out to everyone who went or is going thru it right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Knina

    I am in incredible pain right now. Last week my BF, the narcissist, was loving, caring, generous, sweet and tender. It was Valentine’s Day and my birthday. I thought things were great. This week the idealization phase is over. He went on a trip to South America to see his best friend and I knew the good times would be tossed away like trash; I dreaded the trip. I know him too well. Every time this guy goes on a trip, the same thing happens. We’ve been together 4 years. He said we would keep in contact like we always do, “business as usual” when he had the ability to text me. The first day was fine. The second day he distanced from me like he always does. Last night he texted me to say he was going to dinner and would text at 8:30 or so. He never did. I texted him upset and questioning why he never keeps his word especially when he goes on a trip; he does this same thing every single time. He answered in a hostile way, of course blaming me for not being understanding, being controlling, ruining his trip as usual, etc. This guy lies to me over and over and only keeps his word if there’s something in it for him….like you guys, if I elaborated on all the hurtful and cruel things he’s done to me, it would take pages. I’ve been kicked out of his place numerous times for asking questions, forced to plead to not end the relationship, apologize for things I never did or that never happened, he forgets things he told me and pretends that I’m nuts when I point it out, he has made insensitive comments or things to make me feel uneasy. He is way too attached to his 2nd ex wife, and uses the excuse that it’s for his kids, who I’ve never been allowed to meet because of my supposed horrible behavior which he caused. He is also an alcoholic. He will be gone for 7 more days. I think it’s time for me to end this thing. This relationship is making me miserable. I thought I loved this guy and he loved me….I feel that it was all a lie. I feel like my heart has been stomped on. I really don’t get it. Is this how everyone with a narcissist feels?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tessa

      Yes, this is how everyone with a narcissist feels. Just keep in mind that someone actually decided that they wanted you to feel that way. Your feelings were engineered and manipulated so someone could get their kicks. Decide that it must stop. Take back your power.


    2. Che66

      I discovered I was with a lying, narcissistic jerk just about two weeks ago. The only thing that has made the discovery bearable is that, by happenstance, I was able to speak with AND meet two women he had had relationships with over the past year. Once I was able to compare notes with them both, I filled in the blanks and discovered he even had three of us at once. We dated 3.5 years and everyone thought we were happy. I realize now that I’m apart from him that he is seriously sick and not fixable. I’ve been told so many lies, some of which are dumb, like where he went to college, and some of which are elaborate and detailed.

      Most of the elaborate lies had to do with the reason he had to bail on me when we had weekend plans for a trip somewhere, or a concert, or some night out. I rarely spent time with his family or his children. In fact, I discovered that he was married TWICE, not once as he had told me. And his son, whom I never met in 3.5 years, is from his first marriage.

      He even “filed” a fake restraining order against one of the woman to make it look like to me that he had gotten involved with a crazy woman. I have spoken to this woman and he had been in touch with her right up until the moment she found me and reached out to me. He is sick and twisted and discarded her like a piece of trash.

      If you can find a way to get some of the mystery cleared, it too will make it easier to end the relationship. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t imagine my life without him; I thought were would eventually get married. Today, I can’t imagine my life WITH him.

      He has also just closed the door on me. As much as I want him to know all I’ve figured out about him, I’m lucky. I got out with my soul and dignity intact. You, too, can do this.

      Let me know how you are doing. This is not easy to do on your own. If you can find a friend or family member to listen, or even a therapist, it will help.


  4. noniboots

    Great article, word for word its exactly what ive been put through by the hands of my N ex which i had the misfortune of having children with… lying, stealing, running up debts in my name, rubbishing me behind my back, cheating, caused rows between me & my family & friends, rubbished me to the kids, beat me up, blamed me for everything, constantly accusing me off cheating when i was just in work or the gym. made my life a living hell and when i finally finished it for good getting away from him he spies, stalks, monitors me, breaks into my house to rob me or abuse me. over for years now and i moved back to my home town to get away from him so now he’s moved down really close to me even thow he’s not from my town. I got myself an 8 stone bullmastiff so he has now stopped trying to break into my house but i let my dog out to do her business in the back yard and within a short space of time after letting her back in she was foaming at the mouth and having mad seizures and body jolting so we had to rush her to the vet and it turned out she’d been poisoned so he is the only person who has problem with me so now when i let her out at night i have to stand out with her paranoid he’ll do it again. I love going for long walks and only feel safe when she’s with me, i feel safe in the house now because of her but the constant feeling of being a prisoner in my own home and town never leaves me and its like my mother said “no point in trying to move again, if you move away from the town he’ll follow you and you’ll have no support system”. I don’t talk about him cause there is no point as he’s so charming to anyone he meets so feel no one would believe me. He’s had me sacked from jobs, he nearly had me kicked out of my house in the past.


  5. Tessa

    I just found this site and sure wish I had known of its existence when I was going through hell. Not only was I married to a narcissistic abuser but I had an affair with another narcissist to help me feel better about the abuse from the first one! The good news is that now, ten years later, I can actually laugh about that. Yes, it was incredibly painful at the time. But now the entire situation just seems ridiculous. One thing that seems to be conspicuously absent here is that narcissists are extremely insecure. That insecurity can be leveraged, trust me. You actually have more power than they do if you will just turn off the emotions and start thinking strategically. One day, after 12 years in hell, I decided that I truly hated the man I was married to and that changed everything for me. As women, we are expected to be nicey-sweetie about everything all the time. Well, I say BULLSH*T to that. I learned to use my husband’s own narcissism against him and I won in the end. When I divorced him, I got it all and he left the country. My advice is to stop crying and start calculating. Women give away their power every single day–they literally hand it over on a silver platter. Take it back! When you clear your mind of emotion, you begin to see reality. You cannot “love” an abusive human. That just makes no sense. Do you love him, or do you NEED him? Love and need are two very different things. We need oxygen, water, food, clothing, and shelter. If all you have is a bare-bones existence for a while and it allows you to get away from the life-sucking waste of time you are with, so be it. It is temporary. Things can only get better and the miracle is that THEY DO. You can still laugh and have fun when you have nothing. Not so when you have a relationship with one of these people. In fact, you may even end up dead. Which reminds me, I can say from personal experience that it is extremely important to call the police when things get physical. Without that record, you will be in serious trouble when you do finally end up in court. But better to leave before it reaches that level. As I mentioned, I stuck it out for 12 years when I knew after the first six months that there was a serious problem. And I will never get those years back. Don’t make the same mistake I did.



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