If you had the chance to study the way a narcissist behaves in a relationship, you might recognise a distinct pattern. A three stage whirlwind of a relationship that will leave a victim emotionally, physically and maybe also financially destroyed. The first stage, adulation, I dealt with in my last post. The second phase begins when the “mask” starts to drop off and the real person is revealed.
This is the phase when the narcissist starts to show their true self. Once they are confident that the victim’s love and devotion has been secured, the narcissist’s false self portrayed in the first phase starts to disappear and the true self starts to emerge. Many victims start to wonder at this stage what is going wrong as the narcissist starts to emotionally and physically withdraw from the victim. The truth is that the narcissist has become bored and the void is starting to open up again. The narcissist starts to question the victims worthiness, constantly criticising and blaming them for the moods and agitation the narcissist displays. The narcissist starts to emotionally abuse their victim, leaving them an emotional wreck and it often results in the narcissist leaving.
The victim usually tries all they can to hold onto the narcissist, giving them the benefit of the doubt, hoping the illusion will reappear. Unknown to the victim, the narcissist feeds off the victim’s misery as much as admiration, either emotion keeps the victim hooked. The cruel, uncaring individual emerges from behind the mask as a true reflection of the narcissist. They will take no responsibility for their actions and have no compassion for their victim..they simply do not care how their victim is or how they are feeling. Victims are often at a loss at this stage to understand what happened and even more confusing is when the narcissist reappears occasionally with the false self in view, hoping to tap into the supply once again. This will continue until it suits them to stop it. The victim was never anything but an object, to be discarded and thrown away at the convenience of the narcissist. At this stage, the narcissist is probably already targeting their next victim, ignoring the previous victim completely or the victim has started to place healthy boundaries around themselves. Either way , the result is the same.
It is in this stage that a codependent will start to blame themselves for the the drastic change in the relationship and take on all responsibility for the dysfunction as the narcissist absolves himself of any and all. I have often heard such statements as ” Perhaps it really was me”, “If I had done something differently”, “This has happened before, so it must be me”.
The codependent will be in a confused state. “Why has this happened? Everything was so great”, they will proclaim. They will also resist all ideas that the relationship is going badly or will resist the idea of narcissism. They will come into therapy saying they need fixing, there is something wrong with them or they are messing up a good relationship. As a therapist and a person who deals in reality and common sense in my own life, it is hard to see some of the decisions that other people make in the name of love and devotion. What happens to the human brain that cannot see the plainly obvious in front of them? Where intelligent, common-sense people are stuck in relationships with people who are abusive, cheating, insulting and care very little for them! What they do not yet realise and are yet to find out is that their relationship was doomed at the precise moment the narcissist first cast an eye on them.