A narcissist is a complex, manipulative individual, so naturally being in a relationship with one is mentally exhausting.
It feels as though you’ve been running in circles, accomplishing nothing, except an occasional bathroom trip to vomit from incessant, dizzying bullshit. It could be sunny outside, but a cloud of confusion rests above your head, and depending what phase you’re at in his dizzying cycle, it may be a thunderstorm.
A narcissist uses a three phase tactic, referred to as “the dizzying cycle,” to keep their partner engaged. Using the term “partner,” in such a context feels morally irresponsible, so instead I’ll use the word “target.”
Throughout the relationship, a narcissists target will experience three phases: idealization, devaluation, and discard.
The lovely idealization phase occurs at the beginning of the relationship. A narcissist identifies a new target they’re keen on procuring. When they look at you they see profit, and of course, they want it.
To be trappable, a narcissist understands he must put his best face forward, making sure interactions are flawless. To do this, he wears a mask, careful it doesn’t slip and reveal his true colors.
In the idealization phase, he love bombs the shit out of you, saying what he thinks you want to hear, throwing compliments, giving gifts, and showering you with attention, intent on making you feel special. Before revealing his true identity, it’s imperative you fall for him, otherwise, he has no legs to stand on.
When successful, he initiates the devaluation phase. Depending on the narcissist, this may occur overnight. Suddenly, they’re behaving like a different person. Naturally, issues arise due to this character change and any conversation is unproductive, leaving you confused and overwhelmed.
He offers no explanation for his behavior, and if he does, he’ll flip the blame on you. After a period of behaving callously and cold, he sometimes follows up with a sob story, plucking at your heart strings.
Eventually, after a period of benefiting from your supply, he decides you’re not worth the headache- too many emotions to deal with. You were poking holes, not only through his logic, but his mask as well, so he discards you.
It’s like being tossed in the trash, displaying no emotion or care while doing so. You won’t get an explanation, and because he lacks empathy and truly doesn’t care, he smiles while doing it.
Whatever action is taken afterwards, in attempt to establish closure, is denied via silent treatment. You reaching out, calling, and sending texts, expressing your emotions, only serves at feeding his insatiable ego. It makes him feel important and special.
The alarming thing about this cycle, is how parasitic a narcissist can be. Just because he discarded you, doesn’t mean it remains that way. A narcissist will come back, repeating the three cycles for as long as you allow it.
Each cycle becomes worse. The idealization phase will have a shorter duration and his method of discard will become increasingly cruel. The process is selfish and undeniably heartbreaking.
A target could spend years trying to maintain the idealization phase, riding the highs and lows in hope that one day he’ll remain the person they fell in love with.
Hopefully, after enough abuse, a dawning realization transpires: he was never the man you fell in love with.
-Jessica Bruno LMHC