When you first encounter a narcissist, you will likely be sucked into a toxic whirlwind. You will be seduced by their charm and believe that you’ve met your soulmate, someone who possesses the same beliefs, values, and standards as you do.
They’ve listened very carefully to you when you’ve talked about yourself, your hopes and your dreams and now you’ve found someone who wants exactly what you want in life. That old saying, ‘If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t,’ will never be more apt than it is in this scenario.
In the beginning, the narcissist will have high hopes for their new found love. Maybe this person will be the one who will fulfill their needs, someone who can put right all that is wrong and has gone wrong in their life, someone who will adore them the way that they deserve to be adored and someone who will be different from all their past ‘loves.’ (I use that term lightly.)
The narcissist is looking for perfection and soon boredom will set in when they realize that their new darling is not perfect.
You are not who you pretended to be at first and you’ve disappointed them. Of course, you will be to blame for everything that has gone wrong within this fairy-tale romance. Self-reflection is not a skill that the narcissistic personality has learned or wishes to acquire. In their sick and distorted mind, they will never be at fault. Their frustration at your shortcomings (you’re a normal human being with needs and wants) will be enough for them to think that you deserve to be pulled down a peg or two. How dare you put your needs above theirs! They won’t accept anything less than being your number one priority. Your devaluation will commence.
This person who once made you feel special and feel loved more than any other will take every opportunity to demean and belittle you and you will have absolutely no idea what you’ve done to deserve it. You will likely try harder to please and if you manage to succeed this time, they may decide to keep you around for a little longer.
In this case, they will return to the person who they once pretended to be. You will likely be so glad to see that everything is rosy again and not question what just happened. This idealization/devaluing phase may continue for quite some time, possibly months or years. With each episode of devaluation, whether it be verbal put downs or passive-aggressive behavior, your feelings of self-worth are liable to take a nose dive. You are never sure how this so easily offended person is going to react so you find yourself walking on eggshells so that you never upset them again. How do you avoid offending someone who appears to be on the lookout for something to be offended by? The short answer is, you can’t.
The narcissist will put into practice the devaluation phase. They will likely have done this before in every relationship in their shady past. This process can take many forms such as gaslighting, shaming, belittling, smear campaigns, ghosting, abuse both verbal and physical, to name but a few.
If you find yourself in a relationship such as this, do yourself a favor and get away as soon as you possibly can for your own sanity and well-being.
The devaluation phase will often be followed by a callous discard with no regard for your feelings. It doesn’t matter whether this relationship has lasted a year or twenty years. They owe you nothing. The narcissist will often abandon you and walk away without warning and without explanation. You’ll be left crushed and traumatized by what’s just happened and you’ve no idea why.