One of the most highly researched things in the field of psychology is why and…
Narcissistic relationships rarely last. For a victim of this type of abuse, a narcissistic relationship pattern is one of pain and confusion.
It’s easy to fall for charm, it can be overwhelming and extremely flattering, but appearances are rarely all they appear to be. You may think you’ve found the perfect match, be it a lover or a friend. But what you don’t realize is that you’ve just stepped into the first stage of a narcissistic relationship pattern. And you’re only going to bind yourself more firmly in their web of games and deceit.
If you’ve ever been attracted to a narcissist, the chances are that you had no clue they were a narcissist when they first took your eye. They probably bombarded you with attention and made you feel like the center of the universe, only to then suddenly leave you hanging and not really knowing which way was up or down.
The narcissistic relationship pattern is a typical one and it rarely ends well.
Of course, we should judge every single person on their own merits, and realize that not everyone is going to behave in the same way, but the biggest trait of a narcissist is that they lack empathy. When you lack such a key attribute, you don’t love or feel in the same way. This makes it easy to detach and play games, manipulate and cause someone to feel pain, without it upsetting you at all.[Read: How to tell if some one is a narcissist and recognize them instantly]
My advice to you is this – if you are connected to a narcissist and you’re either very aware of it or you suspect it, break free now. You can’t save them, you can’t change them, and they’re never going to suddenly stop their manipulative ways. For a narcissist, this is simply how it is.
To help you understand whether this is your reality, we need to explore the typical narcissistic relationship pattern in greater detail.[Read: What causes narcissism? The facts and theories to understand a narcissist]
The 7 stages of a typical narcissistic relationship pattern
The stages I’m going to talk about can be in a different order occasionally, but for the most part, they will follow a very typical route.
#1 The charm offensive. At this point, it’s very likely that you will be made to feel like the most special person in the world. This is the most addictive stage of the game and it’s powerful. When you feel amazing, when someone is giving you attention and charming the life out of you, nothing else matters. The problem? That’s the aim.
The more charm they throw your way at this point in the narcissistic relationship pattern, the more unlikely you are to leave. Why? Because they will drag you back to this part whenever you think about leaving. When things get tough, they’ll remind you of their charm offensive and start acting in this way again. It’s powerful and it’s super-manipulative. [Read: What it really means to fall in love with a narcissist]
It’s also very likely that they will confide in you about something or make you feel sorry for them in some way. Again, this is a method of using your emotions against you and manipulating your reactions at some point in the future.
#2 The subtle put-downs begin. At the heart of every narcissistic is a lack of self-confidence. You see, a narcissist always has to be the best and have the best. And they might seem super-confident on the outside, but deep down they’re terrified you’re going to leave. So, in order to stop you from doing this, they start with small jibes at your expense, usually in public.
Counterproductive? Not really. The more they put you down and then continue charming you, the more you’re likely to become reliant upon them for the feel-good factor their charm brings you. When someone tells you something bad about yourself, you feel down, right?
Then, when they follow it up a short while later with compliments and generally acting like the most adorable person on the planet, you suddenly start to feel better again. That adrenaline rush of pain and relief is addictive and it keeps you by their side as a result. [Read: Narcissistic supply – How to stop giving them the attention they crave]
#3 Slowly isolating you from family and friends. The next stage of the narcissistic relationship pattern is a slow isolation from those closest to you. When you’re totally charmed by a narcissist, you’re likely to ignore the red flags, or not see them at all.
The problem is, your friends and family will see them very clearly and try to warn you off. You’re not going to do anything about it at this stage because you’re totally hooked on your narcissist, but the narcissist is going to panic that you will leave. As a result, they don’t want you associating with these people and they’ll slowly start to try and pull you away from them, using a range of different tactics.
It’s not unusual for a victim of narcissistic abuse to literally spend next to zero time with friends and family by the end of the pattern. [Read: The narcissistic victim syndrome and how to find your way out of this mess]
#4 A few signs start to materialize. At some point during the narcissistic relationship pattern, you’ll start to see a few red flags yourself. You ignored them before, but the put downs and the gaslighting to try and get you to doubt yourself clicks into place and you realize that something isn’t quite right.
At this point, you might start puling back, perhaps going out on your own a little, maybe starting to see friends a bit more, or doing something for yourself.
Your narcissistic partner or friend will notice this and panic. You’ll then find that they go back to the charm offensive, trying to get you to remember why you started seeing them in the first place. The likelihood is that this will be enough to remind you of the good times and, as a result, you’ll stay. [Read: What is hoovering? The games narcissists play to suck you back in]
#5 Gaslighting techniques worsen. Your narcissist had a close shave there, and had to revert back to charm offensive 101 in order to keep you from leaving. Now they need to step up the manipulation and gaslighting, to stop you from getting to that point again.
Gas lighting basically means making you question yourself or even doubt your own sanity. Perhaps they’ll deny knowledge of having said something or planned to meet you, when you know they arranged it or said it before. As a result, you’ll start to wonder whether you made it all up in your head. [Read: Are you being gaslighted? 14 signs someone’s messing with your head]
#6 They start to pull away and you’re not sure where you stand. When your narcissist is sure they’ve got you right where they want you, they’ll start to pull away, perhaps using passive-aggressive behavior or simply not calling you for a few days.
You’ll have no idea why they’ve suddenly gone cold and it will affect you more deeply than you realize. The reason is because you’ve become dependent upon your narcissist, and that’s exactly what they wanted. They wanted control. [Read: Blowing hot and cold – The 3 stages to explain why someone does this]
#7 They leave or you leave. The final stage in the narcissistic relationship pattern is that your narcissist leaves or you leave. There really isn’t much hope for a happy ending here, I’m sorry to say. Nobody deserves to stay in a relationship which causes them emotional pain and anguish, and you should never ever attempt to do so. [Read: How to know if a narcissist is finished with you and is bored already]
The narcissist is less likely to leave, and it’s normally the victim, however it takes a lot of strength and bravery in order to extract yourself from this type of relationship and actually stay away. The thing is, once you make the decision, you have to go through with it and stick to it. They might try the charm offensive once more, but do not listen to it![Read: How to make a narcissist regret ever leaving you]
These 7 stages of the narcissistic relationship pattern show just how hopeless this type of relationship can be. It also doesn’t even touch the iceberg on how painful it can be in terms of the abuse, manipulation and comments which will be thrown your way. My advice to you? Recognize it and get out of there, before you reach the point where you’re emotionally scarred for life.