A narcissistic relationship can be one of the most damaging and exhausting experiences a person can go through. Narcissists are individuals who have an inflated sense of self-importance, lack empathy, and constantly seek validation and attention from others. Being in a relationship with a narcissist can be confusing, draining, and emotionally abusive. In this article, we will explore the 21 stages of a narcissistic relationship, from the initial attraction to the eventual breakdown.
Stage 1: Idealization
At the beginning of the relationship, the narcissist will put their partner on a pedestal, showering them with affection, compliments, and gifts. They will make their partner feel special and desired, and will go to great lengths to impress them.
Stage 2: Love bombing
Love bombing is a tactic that narcissists use to quickly gain the trust and affection of their partner. They will overwhelm their partner with attention and affection, making them feel like they are the most important person in the world.
Stage 3: Devaluation
As the relationship progresses, the narcissist will begin to devalue their partner. They may criticize them, belittle them, or ignore them, causing their partner to feel confused, hurt, and rejected.
Stage 4: Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a tactic that narcissists use to manipulate their partner’s perception of reality. They may deny things they said or did, twist the truth, or blame their partner for things they didn’t do.
Stage 5: Triangulation
Triangulation is a tactic that narcissists use to create tension and jealousy in their relationship. They may flirt with other people, compare their partner to others, or even cheat, causing their partner to feel insecure and anxious.
Stage 6: Isolation
Narcissists often isolate their partners from their friends and family, making them more dependent on the narcissist for emotional support and validation.
Stage 7: Emotional blackmail
Emotional blackmail is a tactic that narcissists use to control their partner’s behavior. They may threaten to leave, withhold affection, or use their partner’s vulnerabilities against them to get what they want.
Stage 8: Blame-shifting
Narcissists often refuse to take responsibility for their own actions and will blame their partner for everything that goes wrong in the relationship.
Stage 9: Passive-aggressiveness
Narcissists may use passive-aggressive behavior to express their anger or frustration. They may give their partner the silent treatment, make snide remarks, or use sarcasm to hurt their partner.
Stage 10: Control
Narcissists will often try to control every aspect of their partner’s life, from what they wear to who they spend time with. They may use threats or intimidation to get their way.
Stage 11: Discarding
When the narcissist no longer finds their partner useful or entertaining, they may discard them without warning or explanation, leaving their partner feeling devastated and confused.
Stage 12: Smear campaign
After the relationship ends, the narcissist may launch a smear campaign against their former partner, spreading lies and rumors to damage their reputation and social standing.
Stage 13: Hoovering
Hoovering is a tactic that narcissists use to try to draw their former partner back into the relationship. They may apologize, make promises, or use guilt to get their partner to return.
Stage 14: False reconciliation
Narcissists may pretend to have changed or apologize for their behavior, only to revert back to their old ways once their partner has let their guard down.
Stage 15: Triangulation with the new partner
When the narcissist moves on to a new partner, they may use triangulation tactics to make their former partner jealous or to maintain control over them. They may compare their former partner to their new partner or use their new partner to manipulate their former partner.
Stage 16: Obsession
After the relationship ends, the narcissist may become obsessed with their former partner. They may stalk them on social media, show up uninvited to their home or workplace, or try to rekindle the relationship.
Stage 17: False accusations
Narcissists may make false accusations against their former partner to gain sympathy or to make themselves look like the victim. They may accuse their former partner of cheating, stealing, or being emotionally unstable.
Stage 18: Intimidation
If their former partner tries to move on or speak out against them, narcissists may use intimidation tactics to scare them into silence. They may threaten physical harm or try to ruin their former partner’s career or personal life.
Stage 19: Gaslighting and denial
Narcissists may deny their abusive behavior or try to gaslight their former partner by saying they are overreacting or making things up. They may try to make their former partner doubt their own memories or perception of reality.
Stage 20: Trauma bonding
Despite the abuse and mistreatment, some victims of narcissistic relationships may feel a strong attachment to their abuser. This is known as trauma bonding, and it can make it difficult for victims to leave the relationship.
Stage 21: Healing and recovery
Healing and recovery from a narcissistic relationship can be a long and difficult process, but it is possible. It involves learning about narcissism and abuse, seeking support from friends and family, and working with a therapist to overcome the trauma and rebuild self-esteem.
A narcissistic relationship can be a devastating experience for anyone involved. It is important to recognize the signs of narcissistic abuse and to seek help if you or someone you know is in a narcissistic relationship. With time and support, healing and recovery are possible.