The Three Stages of Narcissist Relationships: A Roller-Coaster Ride

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Narcissists are the archetypal Jekyll and Hyde characters, one way one moment, one way the next. A roller-coaster ride for anyone involved with them. When we become involved in a new relationship, a need to bond and connect with others is usually the main reason, leading hopefully to love. However, narcissists have their own reasons for connecting with others that has nothing to do with love. The simple reason being they are incapable of love and normal connection with others. The paradox is that narcissists need others more than anyone. Their sole source of self-esteem and self-worth comes from the admiration of their victims but they walk the constant tightrope between needing others and needing to be left alone. They have a massive void within them that can only be filled by sucking their victims dry. They enter into relationships being completely self-absorbed and not caring about the needs of others. They do need to make sure, however that someone is always available for them (on their terms) for sex, admiration or whatever they need before they disappear again, emotionally or physically. Anyone who has had the misfortune to be involved with a narcissist can probably define three clear phases that repeat themselves over and over, sometimes in the same relationship and sometimes with new victims.

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Stage One: Over Evaluation – The Illusion is Created

Narcissists are very choosy. They choose their victims carefully and their choice is usually based on such things as status, wealth, influence or ability. The victims are usually attractive and popular. The more of this the victim has, the greater the value of the supply for the narcissist. Narcissists are great observers at this stage. They place their victims on a pedestal and make sure that they get everything they need in the way of care, loving and attention. They idolize, worship them and make the victim feel that they have been waiting all their life for this person to appear. The victim might actually believe that the narcissist is in love with them, but this is infatuation. The relationship moves quickly based on the promises that the narcissist makes. The victim, being so wrapped up in all the attention coming their way, happily moves along with it, not believing their luck that this person is in their life. They have fallen for the illusion created by the narcissist and it leaves them totally unprepared for what is to follow.

However, narcissists have their own reasons for connecting with others that has nothing to do with love.

Stage Two:  Devaluation – True Colors

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, 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.

Stage Three: Discard

Being involved with a narcissist is like having a tornado blow its way through your life. Once it has died down, you are left with a mess. Emotionally, financially and sometimes physically, the victim has suffered greatly. It is incredible how quickly a narcissist can leave their victim and pull away, airbrushing the victim out of their lives completely, separating anything that held them together and completely ignoring the victim. At this stage, victims are asking “did he or she really love me?” The answer is no. Victims are only a means of narcissistic supply, a resource to be discarded when spent. Once this happens, the victim is quickly thrown away, abruptly, without warning and with surgical precision. This is a traumatic phase for the victim who has likely had their self-esteem shot to pieces, been made to carry all responsibility for the narcissist and usually has to watch the scenario playing itself over again with the new victim. It is important for victims to realize that they were initially targeted by a con-artist and could not have done anything differently. The narcissist that breezed in and out of your life will do this with everyone they meet. They usually have a past full of similar victims and the future will be the same. The one thing that is essential is to close all doors because the narcissist will always reserve the right to revisit an old source of supply, when it suits them.

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Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner's approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients' internal "parts," or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Yes and people also along the Cluster B spectrum, with Borderline Personality Disorder also exhibit many of the same behaviours and also have a deep void within them.

    We also idealise, and devalue. We also have similar type polarized thinking and can split on you, which makes us Jekyll and Hyde like.
    We can be very needy, and feel you are our absolute world. But then hate you too, and be manipulative and cruel.

    But luckily, anyone can walk away from us toxic people and close all doors to us. This is what “healthy” people should do.

    It is also known to be one of the most psychologically and emotionally painful disorder there is.

    Many of us consistently self harm and/or end our lives because of this.

    If I was to describe what it’s like….it is like being tortured every day and night from your own mind and self.