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  • Writer's pictureVikram Saggu

The Cycle of a Narcissist

Like many, you fell for someone you thought was so perfect you couldn’t let go. The first time you talked, you felt some connection, and the first time you kissed, you felt like you kissed the lips of an angel. You want to give this person your heart and are promised they will provide you with their heart. However, they consciously or unconsciously watch you give them your life for free. It is important to note that both men and women can be narcissists, both men and women can cheat on you, and both men and women can put you through a cycle of abuse.

The honeymoon phase is fantastic. The sex is so good, and you feel like you can tell this person anything.

Idealizing

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents bought you a new toy? This is the best toy ever, right? Similar things happen during the idealization stage of a toxic relationship. The idealization phase is just like that: you are the new toy for the narcissist. Here’ the narcissist will put you on a pedestal and give you all the affection you can handle. You will now feel like you are the only person who matters in your life. This situation feels so good and gives us such a good dopamine rush that we don’t even question it, and we feel like we have found our soulmate. But in reality, the abuser is now grooming you for their future purposes.

The narcissist wants to know everything about you at this stage. Our mind might think this is finally someone who wants to know and understand me. I’m sorry to tell you that this isn’t the case. Once they find out all about your family, friends, hobbies and life, they have ammunition. They now know what your insecurities are and where they can strike you when they want to exploit you. The worst thing is that you may not even care about how they treat you because it felt so good at the idealization phase. The constant phase, the great sex, the gift-giving, who wouldn’t want that?

Physically or emotionally, the narcissist will be overly attentive and romantic during this phase. Watch out for a line like “I know we’ve only talked for a little bit, but I feel a deep connection” or premature “I love you”. You will go on dates; you will get gifts, cute messages, and some of the best sex of your life. Whatever it is to make you fall in love with them and only think of them, they will do it.

The narcissist will make grandiose promises about the future during the idealization phase. They will promise you that they will never hurt you, that they will always be there for you, and that you will be together forever. They will make you feel like you are their one and only. They might even make grand plans for trips or living together. Don’t believe these lies; they will only hurt you. Rule of Thumb: If it feels too good to be true, it probably is.


Devaluing

What goes up must come down. Nothing exemplifies this more than the delving stage of the cycle. It starts slow, with the abuser dropping tiny hints that you have done something wrong or that you might be on thin ice. You might not have done anything wrong in reality, but in the narcissist reality, you questioned them or hit one of their triggers, and now you have to be punished. For example, they might stone wall you block your number or say they need a break from you. As they do this, you might start stressing over what you could have done to upset them. And because you don’t want to lose the high you are on from the idealization stage, you take the loss, start waiting for their call, and apologize until they take you back. As you read this, it may sound like you are begging, but remember, they are like a drug you need, and they are now starting to lower your self-worth. The narcissist drastically reduces your value, and you crave the person you knew during the idealization. The narcissist’s mask drops, but it's subtle enough to keep you hanging on and trying harder to return to the way things used to be. Suppose they have successfully isolated you from your friends. In that case, the narcissist will now practise behaviours such as blame shifting, constantly undermining your decisions, using sarcastic put-downs, lying and gaslighting, and playing the victim card. Some narcissists might withhold sex as punishment, but some might use sex as a punishment. It may seem strange to hear sex can be a punishment, so let me explain. Because the narcissist is now using you and doesn’t care about your feelings, they are looking for what they want out of you. Therefore, you may confuse so much physical attraction with emotional attraction. Ultimately, you both get a dopamine rush; the only difference is that you think it’s real love.

Furthermore, at some point, the victim might question the relationship and want a serious talk. A quick and easy fix, by the narcissist, is to get out of the situation, to turn you on and make you forget what you were mad about at the moment, but instead go back to why you are with them in the first place. I said to a client once that no sex is good enough if it means it will undermine your value.

Discard

The narcissist likes to be in control. They see you as a liability if they think you have caught on to them. You are no longer a source of supply to boost their ego. You have started to call them out over their behaviour, like blame-shifting, and ultimately have a voice. Because you now have a voice, the narcissist has gone into self-preservation mode to save their own opinion of themselves. Because you have pointed out their flaws and can no longer be used, the narcissist tends to lash out and use all the behaviours at once. Ideally, the narcissist would give up and be out of your life forever; however, that is not always the case.

Relapse

Once one has healed, they feel strong and feel like Superman or Superwoman, and the narcissist is your kryptonite. For instance, you may have done therapy, taken your time, and found the right support system. You may have seen the world through a dirty window, but now the window is clear. However, this may cause you to feel strong enough to connect with the narcissist again. Some people do this out of curiosity, anger, or regret. For example, “I wonder if they have changed enough or if they regret their actions? Or, “I’m just going to tell them off for ruining my life.” However, as stated, the narcissist is your kryptonite. Both our minds and bodies hold memories of trauma; therefore, seeing this person can cause a lot of triggering memories to the point that you feel frozen.


Furthermore, some people fall for the narcissist again. This isn’t because you are tricked but because you feel like you are a superhero and have this person figured out. When we are overconfident in knowing how the narcissist acts, we are more likely to fall for the gaslighting and manipulation that they used before.

Additionally, because we have so much history with this person, we may be vulnerable and lower our guard down. Although you may feel down and angry at yourself, remember you are human and made a mistake. Remember that you can’t heal in the same place that hurt you. Simultaneously, the narcissist doesn’t want you to heal because they have self-esteem issues. They hate that you have healed, grew out of them, and made them feel abandoned. If you feel recovered by the narcissist parent, ex-partner, or friend, stay grounded around their games.

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