The Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic abuse is a cycle that you may be trapped in and not even realise. The cycle goes in four stages and will continue around and around for as long as you let it.

Idealise

The idealise phase is where the love bombing and future faking begin. Love bombing is the act of showering someone with love and affection in an attempt to manipulate. Narcs will make you feel as though you’re the only person alive and you’ll start to truly believe in the idea of a soul mate. They will listen intently to everything you have to say. You’ll feel like you’ve met your perfect match but they are not the sweet sensitive people they seem. They are not listening to you because they care what you have to say. They are listening to you in order to gain as much information about you as possible to use against you later.

When I first met my Narc, I remember thinking how he never looked at other women. He only had eyes for me. I felt so special. His ‘love’ was intense and I thought that this was what all those romance novels had been on about. We seemed to have so much in common. I now know that we had very little in common at all. He was just telling me what I wanted to hear and using information he had gleaned from me to make it appear he had the same interests. And once he had me hooked, he never stopped gawking at other women (or flirting with them, having sex with them or constantly trying to get their attention everywhere we went….but that’s for another post).

Narcs have a knack for preying on the most vulnerable. At the time I was going through a divorce and was looking at being alone for the first time in my life. I was the perfect target.

Future faking is when the narc makes statements or promises about your future together. They might talk about marriage, kids or whisking you away to some exotic place. They use the information you give to determine which lie would be the most effective. I don’t remember what I told my Narc but on our very first date we ended up sitting on a bench opposite an empty shop. He pointed out the ‘For Lease’ sign and said to me, ‘Every time I see an empty store I think, what can I put in there?’ Ambitious? I spent the next ten years paying for everything.

Devalue

The next phase is the devalue stage. Once they have you hooked, the abuse begins. Narcissists are forever hiding behind a mask. They are generally insecure unhappy people but they have an image they like to portray to the world. They want people to see them as confident, strong, wonderful people when in fact they are the complete opposite. The mask will slip. They can’t maintain it forever. This happens in the devalue stage.

In this stage, they will abuse you in every possible way; physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally, verbally, and financially. They will gaslight you, criticise you, manipulate you, and cheat on you with anything that has a pulse. The silent treatment will also occur whenever you are not ‘doing as you are told’. We will discuss all of these things in future posts.

Discard

The discard phase is exactly what it sounds like…they will discard you. They idealised you at the start. They put you on a pedestal. But you fell off because you are not perfect. The narcissist expected you to be able to meet all of their needs when they wanted them to be met. Since this is not possible for any person, they now believe that you have conned them and they hate you. You have seen how much they hate you in the devalue stage. They have not been shy about expressing their hatred for you but because of the continuous gaslighting, you have convinced yourself that it is all your fault. Now they will step out of your life and forget all about you. They will cut off all contact and totally ghost you as if you never existed. You might as well not have existed to the Narc. They don’t miss you because you were never more than an object to them anyway.

I have found that there are two reasons why a Narc will discard you. The first is if they have lined up some fresh supply. If you think that your Narc is not lining someone else up right now, think again. They always have something ready to go.

The second reason is to manipulate you into giving them what they want. My Narc would make demands and if I didn’t give him what he wanted right then and there, he would walk out. A couple of days later he would come back and say he really loved me but he just can’t live without (whatever demand it was) in his life and he would come back to me if I just did it. I’m ashamed to say that I always gave him what he wanted.

Hoovering

Hoovering is when the Narc makes contact out of the blue with the goal of weasling their way back into your life. It might start with a simple ‘hey’ text and go from there. They’ll say that they love you and they just need this, this and this from you in order to make a great relationship. They’ll say they missed you (total BS). They’ll only apologise if they absolutely have to. The Narc will only say sorry for what they’ve done if it doesn’t seem like anything else is working. They are never wrong after all. They’ll bring up shared experiences that were fun or loving and make you think you can’t live without them. Even worse, they may even be able to get YOU to beg THEM for another chance. My Narc was very good at this.

Don’t be fooled. If they left you for the first reason, that they had new supply, they are only back now because the new supply has either dumped them or is not giving them what they need. They could move on to yet another new supply but it’s easier to come back to one they’ve already conditioned.

If they discarded you for the second reason, that they wanted something from you, they are only there for that reason. If you stick to you guns and say no, they’ll be out of there so fast they’ll leave a trail of dust in their wake.

Sidenote: You might be thinking that they have only been with somebody else while they’ve been away if they discarded you for the first reason. This would be a mistake. If they left you to get what they wanted, they have still been with somebody else during that time. My Narc left me so many times I lost count. Always to get me to do something but he always slept with someone else while I was ‘coming to my senses’.

And the Dance Goes On

After the hoovering the cycle rages on. Each time the love bombing will get less intense. They don’t need to up their game as much anymore. You’ve proven that they can abuse you as much as they want and discard you as much as they want and you’ll still take them back so they don’t need to waste too much time on you anymore. And round and round it goes until they are done with you and move on to their next supply or until you realise what’s going on and pull the pin for good, whereby they will move on to their next supply.

If you feel as though you may be in a relationship with someone who has these traits, please consider subscribing to my newsletter so you’ll be notified of new posts. We will go on a journey to narcissistic abuse recovery together.