Narcissists are well-known for four main things: lying, cheating, manipulating, and more lying. And even though it’s really painful to hear this, it probably comes as no surprise: they do all four of these things time, and time (and time) again.
The cycle of a Narcissistic relationship:
So let me back up a bit an explain the cycle of a Narcissistic relationship, because then I think what I’m going to say about the silent treatment, will make more sense. (Bear with me here.) A relationship with a Narcissist runs a very predictable course with three main components: idealize, devalue, discard. (My take on it is that there are five main stages, so I’m just gonna run with my theory on it all, which is: idealize, devalue, replace, discard, hoover. )
However, these five main components are not always easily seen. Sometimes the relationship is stronger in one area than another. Some relationships are really heavy on the Idealize stage, light on the devalue, and then heavy on the discard. Or light on the idealize stage, heavy on the devalue and medium on the discard. (My two main relationships with Narcissists didn’t have an obvious devalue stage, and went from idealize to discard–although, knowing what I know now, they probably were devaluing me, but just behind my back.) Just like with everything else it is a spectrum.
The “idealize” phase of a Narcissistic relationship (This stage often only last a few months at the most.):
– Love bombing. Love bombing in a nutshell is constant communication and complements. The most obvious love bombing techniques are done by online dating scammers. Love bombing is when the scammer/Narcissist (same damn thing) lays it on really thick, telling the victim how amazing, and beautiful they are. According to them, you have no flaws. If done right, this level comes across as very sincere, and the victim often thinks they’ve finally met someone who seems to appreciate them for who they really are.
– Mirroring. This is where the Narcissist “mirrors” everything you love, or that is important to you–back to you. They’ll have the same hopes and dreams, as well as the same insecurities.
– The “soul mate” connection. You are special and unique. The connection you have is special and unique. A soul mate. You are everything they ever hoped existed in a human being. You can’t deny this connection.
– Victim/hero stories. You feel sympathetic and caring towards them. Whatever happened wasn’t really their fault. They fell back into drugs or drinking. Other women seduced him. He had to steal money to make ends meet. He was just so depressed and missed you so much he didn’t know how to cope.
– Future faking. You can have this great life together. You want to get married and adopt ten children? So do they–and best of all, they want to do it with you. You want to sell everything you own and start a salmon spawning operation in the middle of BFE Alaska? So do they, but only with you. Whatever future you want, they want it too. If this is your second (or more) time around this cycle with them, then the future faking will include promises that everything will be different. Rehab, counseling, you name it, they’ll do it. After all, what you have is so special they are willing to fight for it and give it all they have…but they want this future with you. (In case my sarcasm wasn’t clear enough, they are dirty little liars, and they don’t want a future with you, or with anyone else really–they just want what they want right now, and they’ll say whatever they need to say to get it.)
– Guilt (if you don’t fall for steps 1-5). Aren’t you willing to fight for this relationship too? If you aren’t then commitment must mean more to them that it does to you. They took their vows seriously. No one is perfect. After all, you did x,y, and z, and they forgave you. Think of the kids. Think of your faith. Christmas/some other holiday is coming up, maybe you’ll let them stay until then. Just give them another chance. This time they really mean it. Or maybe you have trust issues. Issues with men? Issues with your mom? Issues with your dad? Issues with how perfect they seem to be? You’ve got to have some issues in there somewhere, because there’s no other damn good reason as to why you aren’t falling for their con! (Maybe your issue is that you just have a good BS detector!)
– Gotcha! Now you’ve told them you love them, or that you’ll give them that 5,346 chance to make things different. Now stage 2 (or 3) begins.
The “devalue” stage of a Narcissistic relationship (This stage often lasts months to years.):
– Lies become more clear.
– The mask begins to slip. Things don’t add up.
– Everything is your fault.
– Their attention stops or greatly diminishes.
– You are the one with the problems.
– Name calling, insults, put downs.
– Possible physical abuse.
The hidden “replace” stage of a Narcissistic relationship:
They have drained a lot of your supply, and are now becoming bored. Something shiny and new has crossed their path, and their ego is now wide awake and looking to feed. Maybe you caught them texting another woman, or maybe they didn’t even bother to come home. Odds are you’ve caught them doing something weird, and now you are getting the dreaded silent treatment. The silent treatment with a Narcissist can last days, if not weeks. It’s torture for anyone who is on the receiving end of it–especially if it feels like they are over-reacting by giving it to you in the first place. But here’s the real deal behind the silent treatment: they are love bombing their new supply. That shit takes energy and effort, and if they don’t have to worry about entertaining or interacting with you, then it’s that much easier for them.
The “discard” stage of a Narcissistic relationship:
You are left with a note, a text, an email or a brief conversation that informs you that they aren’t happy and want a divorce/are leaving. Your head is spinning. What happened? You had no idea that they were so unhappy. Why didn’t they talk to you about this sooner? They explain how maybe they just need time, or that because of all your behavior they need to end things. You feel terrible and like a failure that you let this great person (minus all the cheating, stealing and lies) go. Boy, you really have a lot to work on!
The obvious “replace” stage of a Narcissistic relationship:
You are quickly and seamlessly replaced by someone new. This happens at a jaw dropping speed, odds are you are devastated, and left wondering if the relationship you had meant anything at all to them.
The Hoovering stage of a Narcissistic relationship:
If that new person doesn’t work out for whatever reason, and they come back to you, with the excuse that the affair or relationship isn’t their fault. The other woman was a crazy addict who threw herself at him…and he couldn’t resist her because you guys had been fighting so much, and you never had enough time for him, and you, you, you or her, her, her. In order to win you back, stage one, love bombing, (although this time it’s more watered down and is called “dosing”) starts again…and on and on it goes until you decide to leave for good. This is the cycle, in all its dysfunctional glory, and it will continue until you leave and go no contact, or go gray rock. Keep in mind that on average it takes victims of abusive (not necessarily violent) relationships 7 times before they leave, or are killed.
So long story short, I highly recommend you get out of there. I know this is hard–especially if you are in a relationship with a “covert” narcissist, but anyone who lacks remorse and empathy should be treated as highly dangerous, because they friggin are! These people operate based on their whims, and if something, or someone stands in their way, then look out. If you are in a relationship with a Narcissist, the first step is to see the signs, then the second step is to work towards leaving. I would strongly encourage you to develop a safety plan, and then get the hell out of there. Need some support, or just want to vent? Chat us up on Facebook, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.
Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.
It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
Latest posts by Dana (see all)
- Episode 28: Gratitude Can Help Keep You Grounded - March 21, 2017
- Episode 27: Learning How to Tune Into Your Emotions - March 19, 2017
- Episode 26: Live Stream from March 8, 2017 - March 14, 2017