They tantalize us with the promise of a brighter future, a relationship where we are deeply validated and taken care of. We get used to the daily praise and laser-focused attention. Sex with the narcissist during the idealization phase is explosive — filled with just the right amount of tenderness and aggression — the narcissist knows exactly how to bring us to greater heights.
Little do we know, sex will later be used as ammunition. During idealization and love-bombing, our place on the pedestal is secure and complete. Really, they become the center of ours as we strive to measure up to the ideal image they have of us.
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They make us feel like God, only to cater to their own God complex. Along the way, we deepen our investment because the bond feels so special and unique. This connection is heightened in a way that demands our attention on a physical, spiritual and even biochemical level — and before we know it, we begin to rely on this new person for survival.
And that is when the danger begins. Within even the most perfect period of idealization, there are tiny moments of recognition and fleeting red flags. There will always be slippings of the mask where we get a terrifying view of the true self. They are able to depart with their savings and sanity intact — they are able to leave, still whole. The rest move onto the devaluation phase, to be tattered and broken.
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In fact, it can be like a gunshot in the dark or a quiet murmur in the corner. Your lover stops taking your calls. They withdraw without an explanation.
You see them interacting with others in a playful, flirtatious way — in the same way they used to act with you. They praise others the way they used to praise you. The once coveted partnership you two used to share seems to have been displaced onto another replacement target or multiple targets — someone who is now on the receiving end of the flattery and attention you once cherished.
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Meanwhile, you seem to be on the receiving end of their criticism, their harsh insults, their never-ending rage attacks. The number of disappearances, discrepancies and marked evidence of infidelity start to climb.
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When they pull away, they pull away with full force — and they enjoy seeing your humiliation when you pine for them. They enjoy actively provoking you to respond, making you out to be the crazy one. And they love bringing in others into the dynamic of the relationship — whether they be friend, foe, ex, or stranger. Then there is the stone-cold silence after stonewalling you during arguments. You ache for the person you had constructed in your mind — a person he or she was all too happy to portray for a short period of time. But the man or woman you love does not exist.
And this is a painful reality for anyone — let alone someone who has a high level of investment in the relationship — to swallow. Targets who are devalued are torn to shreds by the verbal and emotional battery inflicted by their narcissistic partners. Their psyche is infiltrated with disempowering belief systems and messages about their worthiness. They live day-to-day in a perpetual battle — a power struggle that never seems to end. They try not to internalize the criticism and blame, but they feel ashamed about being treated so viciously. This is not a shame that is theirs to carry — it belongs to their perpetrators.
Yet they feel it deep down to their bones. It burdens them on sleepless nights and through countless weary days. But he is so adept at projecting and leading us to believe whatever happened is our fault. Simply questioning the narcissist will cause him to push further away and punish us with the silent treatment.
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Being ignored feels so horrid that we will forget why we were upset with him and apologize emphatically to try and win his forgiveness. He preys on this kind of attention, and is incapable of recognizing any personal fault. Our self-esteem has plummeted and our self-respect has diminished. We assume the downfall was our fault. We have become so intertwined in making this person happy that we will exhaust and lose ourselves in the process.
We start to question our own morals, wondering if we deserve this abusive treatment. This relationship is bound to end when we are no longer a conquest and cannot fill the emptiness he is constantly seeking. The ending feels so awful because we put all our energy and effort into pleasing someone who was never going to genuinely reciprocate, and is too self-absorbed to acknowledge our pain. The partner we once trusted has completed the narcissistic cycle of abuse and needs to draw the energy and innocence from a new victim.
He will end the relationship just as quickly and smoothly as it began, and the coldness and apathy leaves us feeling worthless.
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He will cut off contact so callously that we feel so defeated and want to curl into ball and disappear. But this experience has not been in vein, and regardless of how painful the ending feels, it is a gift.
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We need rebuild and empower ourselves from this experience. Solicit support from trusted loved ones and make a plan for when there is temptation to reach out to him. Making this commitment will bring relief as the poison is released from our body, mind, and soul. The air will feel fresher and we will welcome healthy people and kindness into our life, slowly beginning to feel like ourselves again.
Overcoming this emotionally torturous experience will produce a stronger self and allow us to feel more attuned, perceptive, and emotionally intelligent. This guest article originally appeared on YourTango. Find help or get online counseling now. By Kristina Belle for YourTango.
Being in a relationship with a narcissist robs you of a piece of your soul. The 7 Startling Phases of Loving a Narcissist. Retrieved on January 18, , from https: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul Published on Psych Central.