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.

2,728 thoughts on “The 3 Phases of a Relationship With a Narcissist

  1. Amy

    I just realized after reading all the posts I too have been married to a narcissist .. He got caught having an affair earlier this year .. And now is trying to come back into my life..I found out that he has had 2 other affairs during our 11 year marriage including while I was pregnant … And lied about it and made me feel like I was crazy .. We have a young daughter who adores him… I am afraid to leave him… I still feel I can change him … But after reading I know I can not .. He’s wired differently than me… I need to figure out how to do this without my daughter suffering as she did when he moved out the first time this year … Will I ever be able to find a normal person to be with when I am healed from my 13 years of living a total
    Lie and not knowing it ?


  2. Nate

    How do any of you know that Mary is the victim? I didn’t read anything in her posting that talks about her actions or wrong doings. After reading her post it seems to me that she may be the narcisstic one. When you’re self diagnosing relationship issues and question weather or not your partner is narcisstic, you have to honestly evaluate yourself and your own actions as well. I do believe that these type of psychological issues exist however, when I was going through my research phase trying to prove my partner of being a narcissist the more I questioned my actions the more I believed that maybe I’m the narcissist one. Talk about confusing. The reality is nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes in relationships. If you are eventually concluding your partner was narcisstic and they they were the problem then you’re ultimately denying any wrong doing on your part, shifting blame and moving forward as the victim which is no different than the narcissist. Which could suggest that maybe they were the victim and you’re the narcissist. You cannot take or give out advice on this topic (except maybe a therapist, which isn’t saying much) because everyone has narcisstic tendencies.


    1. Barbara

      Most victims get sucked in because they are intoxicated by the passion and undying love the narc seems to offer. They are swept off their feet and believe themselves to be the narcs one true love. They think they are special. I suppose you could say the victims are also showing narcissistic signs by believing they are so special.

      However, they are different from the true narc in that they believe they are building a lasting, loving forever relationship. They are duped. You can call them silly fools, unrealistic or whatever, but what they are most definitely not, are true, evil narcs.

      These evil narcs feed off destroying people. They think they are so clever and enjoy treating people so badly to virtually push them over the edge and then ‘cleverly’ suck them back in. Mary describes in her treatment exactly the behaviour of an evil narc. The narc themselves would NEVER describe themselves in that way. They regard themselves as superior, clever puppet masters. Only when they are very down, with nobody left who wants a bar of them, do they cry and display a vulnerable side. Then the victim thinks this is a breakthrough and feels compassion. The narc is finally being honest, perhaps there is some hope to work things out after all. No. The minute you let them back in you are on the roller coaster to hell again.

      By the way Nate, I do not think you are a narc. You would not honestly examine your own motives if you were. The massive ego of the narc thinking they were so ultra important would kick in before you would get far down the road of self analysis. Don’t mistake the natural ego and self worth that we all have to survive, with the massively overinflated, destructive sense of entitlement that a true evil narc has.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jak

    Is my sister’s husband a changed man or not?
    My sister has been married for about 15 years. About three years ago he cheated on her. She forgave him and he became ill last year with advanced prostrate cancer. He can not work now with his illness.
    She allows him now on face book as he is ill. I am wary as I believe he is only acting like he is a changed man now as he has this serious illness.
    He wrote a post saying this …
    Wishing my wife happy anniversary 15 years and I love her more now than ever. A true partner friend and lover she knows me more than I know myself supports me more than anyone would ever know and puts up with all my problems and pains bless her what would I do without her. We have had ups and downs but she is truly special and I love her dearly.
    I will explain more in depth about this story so you all know everything about my worries and concerns.
    He has been married twice before he married my sister. The first wife he was married to for 15 years and he cheated on her with his brother’s wife. The wife left him after finding out for another woman. I don’t know of any other occasions he may have cheated more than once on that wife?
    He then got married for a second time to a first cousin. She was much younger than him. He cheated on her he said as she never gave him much love and attention, he cheated on her with a close friend. She then later left him and yet again I do not know if this was the only occasion he cheated on her.

    Three years later he met my sister they dated for three years before getting married. I found out also when they were engaged he had cheated on my sister with his ex girlfriend. She forgave him for cheating when they were engaged. My sister writes all over face book that she is in love with her husband, most days. Even though my sister writes on facebook that she is in love with her husband, I know a different story as she tells me everything. She finds it hard to trust him even now.
    She had two daughters to previous man and he took them on at a young age. They think allot about him. They also write on facebook how much they love him. If you met him you would think that he could do no harm to anyone. As he is very quiet and he portrays he is a big softie.
    About three years ago I found out from my sister that he had cheated on her with a younger girl, that affair went on for about two and half years. Whilst that was going on she was still writing how much she loved her husband all over facebook and acting like the marriage was fine. And they still did everything like a normal married couple would do. Why I am saying this I don’t understand why he cheated on my sister when to me everything seemed like they had a good marriage? Anyways she found out he was having this affair with a younger girl and she told him to end it. He ended it but then he went back to his younger lover again, my sister found out about this and she threaten to leave him if he didn’t stop contact. So he said that he would stop contact. Then I found out off a friend of mine that he had been sending emails to his ex lover saying that he could not talk at the minute because his wife would not let him, and could he talk later when she was less suspicious? He then became redundant and my sister had to go find work. Then six months later he become ill. Now she allows him to use facebook as before she did not let him use it, as she was wary about him cheating on her again. Now since he became ill he writes how much he loves her and how amazing she is. I don’t know if he stopped cheating because he got sick and could no longer cheat, because he now has to rely on my sister, as he is too ill to cheat now. He is a very charming man he knows what to say on all occasions so how do you believe this man? He even blamed all of his ex wife’s and lovers for the reasons why he cheated. He blamed my sister for him cheating with the younger girl. My sister didn’t understand herself what she had done wrong because even whilst he was having his affair he kept up a normal marriage. I am sharing all of my sisters story as I still have doubts about him. I don’t understand why he cheated on my sister on both occasions, my sister did say that she has suspicious that he has done it more than the times she has caught him. She knows I am writing this post as we share everything.My sister’s children real father does not bother with them. So he took them on as his own. They always go to him for advice but he has said to me on many occasions that they are too needy. And they always check up on him. I believe they do this because of him cheating.
    My sister likes everyone to think they have a perfect marriage and a perfect little family. She could not bare to admit the truth to anyone else but me. I feel he is a deceitful man and this illness is the only thing that stops him from cheating.
    He is now renewing their wedding vow’s and he has wrote this post on facebook public.
    I wonder if he is doing this to show his lover?


    1. Barbara

      I don’t think this leopard will change his spots and I suspect your sister realises this too deep down. If he is totally housebound she probably thinks she can relax a little knowing where he is. Although, I have a friend who told me a tale of a couple she knew who had retired to Spain. Similar situation to your sister but this man was a drinker and had actually had his legs amputated. It didn’t stop him, he still conned a family friend who would come and pick him up and take him out whilst the wife was at work because she thought he loved her! He continued to drink and didn’t live long. The wife was able to make a joke and laugh about how it had been like being married to a randy tom cat. Have you ever seen the film, The Theory about Everything about Stephen Hawking?

      If he is house bound he has most likely joined some online dating websites. I imagine he thinks your nieces are too needy because they are taking away from him being centre of attention. I think you are right in your assessment of him, but your sister is possibly just riding it out to keep things more or less together. Unless people have an ‘out plan’ they often just stick with the status quo. It may cause her more distress at this juncture to split up.

      I am afraid that whilst he is still drawing breath he is cheating, albeit perhaps just online and mentally.


  4. Betsy

    This behavior is so confusing. I think this is the worst part. One moment you love them and the next you’re unsure of everything. You blame yourself. You try harder. You put yourself under a magnifying glass over and over looking for your own faults. I was with someone for two years that I allowed to completely destroy my life. He was married znd lied about it. When I found out he lied some more. He cried and threatened me when I broke it off. He then told me he had asked her for a divorce and told her he was in another relationship. Turns out that was a lie. He has a grown child from a lady he left during her pregnancy and two small children with the current wife. I helped him grow his business. I served as his sounding board. I gave and gave. The emotional abuse I received in the last two years has affected me in ways that I am still trying to figure out. These people are highly destructive and having one of them come into your life is the worst thing that could happen to anyone.


  5. Linda

    I’m a married women my husband friend chased me for a year sweet talking me everything as mentioned above ! He was such a charmer I know he already had 2 women in the go I was flattered bring in a long time marriage ! From Jan upto June I felt like thd luckies women alive ! Now he’s just dropped me kicked me to the curb like a piece shit X I’m so hurt angry of course u can’t tell anyone I’m married


    1. Barbara

      Hi Linda

      Your narc wants you to feel like a piece of worthless shit, he is getting a kick out if it. Start trying to think of the situation in a different way. You will have to force the feeling at first, but I think you will eventually start feeling different for real.

      Think. We all get duped sometimes and have to put it down to experience. You are not alone in that.
      Think. You have had a lucky escape. If the relationship had gone on longer you would have become both more invested and also more dragged down confidence wise. You could also have ended up pregnant (if you are of that age).
      Think. You must have felt alone in your marriage to have been sucked in to another relationship. (I have been there and done that too).
      Think. Perhaps your husband also feels the marriage has lost all spark. Can you reassess your marriage? After so many years most marriages get stale, but it doesn’t mean they should end. Try talking to your husband about making some changes, a date night, a new shared hobby, travel?
      Think. From now on concentrate on putting all your emotional energy into finding a way to make your own life better.
      Think. DO NOT allow the narc the smug satisfaction of knowing he has crushed you.
      Think. You have had a lucky escape and move forward into the rest of your life.

      Best wishes


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  7. Moira

    OMG this whole story just mirrored my situation exactly….thank you so much this has helped me more than you will ever know


  8. Moira

    now that you mention it my n had mommy issues…she kicked him out on the street at 11.
    I only found out that it wasnt me after reading this blog…I was so convinced that it must be me at fault until I put it all together…he was spiritual and religious and never saw evidence he was not faithful.He would always accuse me of playing around when I never did. He had several phones which he kept with passwords on and I always respected his privacy but when I questioned who he was talking to one day he smashed his phone to pieces with a hammer. He would call me bad names – called me a low life piece of shit and even the c word for something I never knew I did. Gave me the silent treatment, would stay up till late then wake me up for sex, used to ignore my son and when I tackled him would tell me my son meant nothing to him. I worked my ass off and he would laze around the house doing nothing all day and I would be expected to still cook a meal When he wanted sex I had no choice and he insulted me by asking if i was gonna call that rape – I never wanted to upset him by saying otherwise but I did eventually go along with the sex because I loved him…still do…and am struggling to reconcile that it was never real. Now am battling with the fact that because he was a lot younger than me and I used to ask him “why me when you could have any woman he wanted” he always said what i wanted to hear. Now hes gone and i have cut off all contact which wasnt difficult as he wasnted nothing to do with me anyway but my heart is still recovering


  9. winter3113

    I am 28 with 4 children and only recently i came across something about narcissism I am finally at the end of my rope He has made me feel worthless & like shit as if i dont deserve anything. Thru all 4 pregnancies he left me all alone he did t even come in the room when they were born he left immediatly after a dr told him boy or girl. He uses me as his joke in front of others he says he can get anyone he wants or he calls me names. He has a porn addiction & if I say anything about it then its my fault & the sex is just degrading He also ignores anything I say even if it would help the family I dont even have access to money im so tired & feel so alone. How come his parents or anyone didnt tell me what i was getting into? I dont even have friends or family anymore who will help me I feel so crazy some days.



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