The 3 Phases of a Relationship With a Narcissist

 

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Welcome!

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

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Idealization

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.

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Devaluation

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.

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Discarding

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.

https://ladywithatruck.com/2014/01/30/search-terms-on-narcissists/

https://ladywithatruck.com/xmlrpc.php

https://ladywithatruck.com/abuse-can-be-subtle-and-deadly/

https://ladywithatruck.com/2013/08/15/whats-in-a-name/

https://ladywithatruck.com/2013/11/01/did-heshe-ever-love-me-2/

2,777 thoughts on “The 3 Phases of a Relationship With a Narcissist

  1. Suzy

    Wow, I am going through this right now. He is with another woman but I want him back. I txt /call multiple times a day. He doesn’t answer for hours or even days at times. Why do I sound so needy of him. I know this is toxic relationship but I just can’t let go. This was a very good read. Thanks

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    1. Barbara

      It is very odd Suzie, how we humans get caught up in the dramatic whirlwind. I have been there myself decades ago so can understand a little. I seem to remember that my view of the world became narrow and just evolved around him. Yet, at the same time I felt as if it WAS the whole world. It enveloped me.

      Younger people I can understand being a bit hooked on the intoxicating drama, but even older ones seem trapped. Yet the truth is that all of our lives are better without narcs in them. It is a pity they do not come with a Government Health Warning stamped on their foreheads.

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    2. Dolores

      You have to eventually accept that it is over. This is the only way you will ever begin to feel better. I know the temptation to text, email, call is there & that it’s so hard to say no to yourself but that is exactly what you need to do. The knowledge that my ex was already sleeping with someone less than a month after the end of a 3 year relationship was enough for me to block his phone number and email. It was liberating, you should try it. The fact is if they move on that quickly they probably were cheating on you the entire time, like my ex. He had a gold membership on a casual hookup site for almost the entire relationship which I discovered recently. We accept the love we think we deserve. You deserve better!!!

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  2. Dolores

    Three years with a narcissist who threw me and my son out on the street with 3 days notice and haven’t spoken to him since. In retrospect all the signs were there but I was suffering from some kind of denial. I’m an empath. My father is a clinically diagnosed narcissist so it makes sense that this would be my pattern of attraction to men. As grievous as the loss felt when it happened, I realize now how toxic the whole thing was, & I’m lucky he’s gone. He can’t abuse me anymore and he certainly won’t be welcomed back when he inevitably tries to return (they always do). Can a narcissist change? Only if they hit emotional bottom and sincerely want to change, & are willing to seek counseling and put in the work. It’s incredibly rare. They aren’t necessarily bad people, your love may have been legitimate in some ways, but I am here to tell you YOU ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT THEM. You cannot fix them. Don’t even try because it will hurt immeasurably. Be grateful to have gotten away, learn your lesson, seek counseling, and put them in your past where they belong. Namasté

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  3. Anonymous

    I just found out my ex (who I had still been seeing periodically) was sleeping with 10+ girls. One of the girls waited for him to pass out and hacked into his phone, text all of us a picture of all of our text messages and a note stating who she was and the fact that she did this because they had stopped using condoms after two weeks of sleeping together. I feel at fault because I couldn’t let him go and part of my is destroyed now (not that I wasn’t before), but we allow these things to happen. These are sick human beings and they do not care about anyone but themselves. I also found out that he had been cheating on me the entire 18 months that we were together.

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  4. Dolores

    My ex has a penchant for older women. I am 40 he is 30. (Mommy issues) He quit a promising job to go work with another 40 something at her job and they are sleeping together. In 10 years from now when he is my age he will be a mostly bald lonely man sitting in a condo somewhere with his right hand and his pc with his Crohn’s disease, frequent diarrhea, no kids, and his memories. He did nothing but throw some occasional money at me and say things like, “I wish your economic value was as high as your domestic value.” Frankly I wish the depth of his psyche matched the size of his ego. These men are pathetic excuses for human beings, they do nothing but emotionally abuse and manipulate and lie, and karma will come to them all.

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