In a narcissistic relationship, one partner has a narcissistic personality disorder, and the other is emotionally and mentally manipulated and abused. The narcissistic partner is self-centred, lacks empathy, and has an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They only care bout his/herself, not anyone else. The other partner is left feeling drained, unimportant, and not valued.
There are some signs a narcissist is done with you may be in a narcissistic relationship, or how can you tell if someone is narcissistic? These include your partner:
- Continuously seeking attention and appreciation
- Taking credit for your achievements
- Accuse you of their problems
- Being extremely jealous and controlling
- Insulting you or making you feel inferior
- Refusing to take responsibility for their actions
- Creating self-doubt (manipulating you into doubting your thoughts and feelings)
- Showing a lack of empathy towards you or others
If you are in a narcissistic relationship, seeking help and support from a psychotherapist, trusted friend, or family member is essential.
The 21 Stages of a Narcissistic Relationship – A Step-by-Step Guide
A relationship with a narcissist generally involves a narcissist cycle of abuse that can be broken down into several stages. Understanding these stages can help you recognize the signs a narcissist is using you in a Narcissistic Relationship and take steps to protect yourself. Here are the first few stages of a narcissistic relationship:
At the beginning of a Narcissistic Relationship, you may feel a strong attraction to them. They may appear charming, confident, and exciting, and you may be dragged off your feet. You felt great interest in the narcissist.
During this stage, the narcissist will go out of their way to create an illusion of perfection. They may shower you with attention, gifts, and good wishes and make you feel like you are the centre of their universe. They act like you are critical of them.
This is the stage where the narcissist’s true colours start to show. They may become critical, dismissive, and even insulting, often for no apparent reason. This stage can be confusing, as the narcissist may move back and forth between being kind and cruel. In this stage, the victim doesn’t understand the nature of narcissism.
Trauma bonding occurs when the victim of abuse becomes emotionally connected to the abuser. This can happen during the devaluation stage when the victim still holds onto the illusion of the perfect partner they fell in love with. The narcissist may use strategies such as alternating between being kind and cruel.
In this stage, the narcissist gains control over their partner by making them feel like they need the narcissist’s permission for everything. The narcissist will use various schemes like handling, harassment, and gaslighting to make their partner feel powerless and dependent on them. They show that all the control is in the hand of a narcissist.
The narcissist will never be satisfied with their partner’s efforts, no matter how hard they try. The narcissist will always find fault in their partner and knock them for their observed shortcomings. They say that all failure is because of victims. This is because narcissists’ need for control and power is greedy and will always want more.
Defeat and Denial
In this stage, the narcissist will not accept defeat and will deny any misconduct. The partner may feel defeated and helpless as they cannot make the narcissist see reason.
In this stage, the partner may oppose the narcissist’s control and handling. They may stand up for themselves and set boundaries, which the narcissist will see as threatening their power. The narcissist may react with anger, aggressiveness, or penalty.
Gaslighting is a standard plan narcissists use to make their partner doubt their reality. They may turn the truth or lie downright to confuse and disorient their partner. This can cause the partner to question their reason and judgment.
Narcissists will often shift the blame onto their partners for their shortcomings or mistakes. They may make their partner feel guilty or responsible for the narcissist’s behaviour. This is a way for narcissists to avoid taking responsibility and maintain their image of excellence.
At this stage, the victim starts to take responsibility for the narcissist’s behaviour and blames himself for the problems in the Narcissistic Relationship. The victim may feel guilty or ashamed; the narcissist may enhance these feelings to maintain control. The answer of how does a narcissist act? At this stage, the narcissist acts the same. She wants the same power over everything.
The victim may feel confused and unsure about what happens in the Narcissistic Relationship. The narcissist may give mixed messages, creating a sense of uncertainty and confusion in the victim.
As the Narcissistic Relationship becomes increasingly toxic, the victim may enter a survival mode, doing whatever is necessary to avoid conflict and maintain the relationship. They may become more compliant, obedient, or isolated from friends and family.
Coming Out of Denial
At some point, the victim may start to recognize the reality of the situation and that they are in an unhealthy Narcissistic Relationship. They may begin to seek help, support, or information to understand better what is happening.
Acknowledgement of Abuse
This is a critical stage where the victim acknowledges that they are being abused and that the abuse is not their fault. It is a turning point where they regain control and work towards healing.
Taking the Power Back
In this stage, the victim begins to set limits, take responsibility for their well-being, and work towards recovering their power and autonomy. They may seek therapy or support groups to help them in this process.
The discard stage occurs when the narcissist ends the Narcissistic Relationship or moves on to another victim. The victim may feel shocked, hurt, or confused, but it can also be a relief to be free of the toxic relationship.
After the relationship ends, the victim begins the healing process. This may involve therapy, self-care, and reconnecting relationships with friends and family. It is a time to focus on personal growth and moving forward.
The hoovering stage occurs when the narcissist attempts to return to the victim’s life, often with promises to change or expressions of love. This can be dangerous, as the victim may be exposed and easily manipulated.
The final stage is moving on from the toxic relationship and building a new life. Victims may need time and support to heal fully, but they can regain their self-worth and find healthy relationships with time and effort.
What is the length of a narcissistic relationship?
The length of a narcissistic connection can vary widely, as it depends on many factors, such as the character of the narcissistic partner, the level of control and manipulation they exercise, and the willingness of the other partner to stay in the relationship. Some relationships with a narcissist may last a few months or years, while others can last for years or even decades. It depends upon the time at which the victim realizes that their control is gone.