From Idealisation to Discard: Exploring the Phases of a Relationship with a Narcissist.

The topic of narcissism and the desire for attention is a complex one, as it involves understanding the psychology of individuals with narcissistic traits. Narcissists often seek attention and validation from others, and they may go to great lengths to achieve this, even to the point of pursuing negative attention if they cannot obtain positive attention. This article will explore the seven stages that most people go through during a relationship with a narcissist, all while the narcissist aims to gain their attention.

The first stage is idealisation. In the initial phase of the relationship, everything seems perfect. The narcissist appears loving, kind, considerate, and generous with their time and money. They make you laugh, and you feel a strong connection to them. This intensity can be overwhelming, but it also effectively captures your attention. However, it is important to recognise that the narcissist is simply mirroring your own qualities and projecting them back at you. They are future faking, creating an illusion of admiration and love in order to feed off the positive attention you provide in return for their manipulation.

“Nobody falls in love faster than a narcissist who needs somewhere to live.”


The second stage is devaluation. At some point, the narcissist decides that your positive attention is no longer enough, and they shift their tactics. They blame you for the perceived decline in the quality of the attention they receive, and as a result, they begin mistreating you. This mistreatment can take various forms, such as provoking you, shouting at you, giving you silent treatments, or gaslighting you. Their intention is to elicit negative attention from you. By doing so, they aim to create chaos, confusion, and doubt within the relationship. They want you to question your own reality and feel as though you are going crazy, ultimately blaming yourself for their toxic behaviour.

“A narcissist will provoke you, to get a reaction out of you so that they can blame it all on you.”


The third stage is intermittent reinforcement. Narcissists do not want to continue devaluing their partners for extended periods, as they fear abandonment. They engage in intermittent play-nice behaviour, alternating between the idealisation and devaluation stages. This intermittent reinforcement is designed to confuse you and keep you emotionally hooked to them. When they switch back to the idealisation stage, you experience relief and joy, as the person you initially fell in love with seems to have returned. Your doubts disappear, and you attribute the rough patches in the relationship to temporary ups and downs that all relationships experience. You may even start to believe that the problem lies with you and work harder to please the narcissist, gradually losing yourself in the process. This continuous back-and-forth can last for years, causing heightened negative and positive emotions towards the narcissist, as well as significant stress.

The fourth stage is the preventive stage. This is the point of no return, where you begin to realise that something is not right and start researching the narcissist’s behaviour or seek professional help. You may contemplate leaving the narcissist, but before doing so, you may feel compelled to warn them. At this stage, the narcissist may intensify their idealisation efforts, appealing to your pity and promising to change. However, this is all an act to prevent you from leaving. They may appear to be working on the relationship, while they secretly seek a replacement for you behind your back, potentially leading to infidelity and further confusion on your part.

“An Apology without changed behaviour is just further manipulation.”


The fifth stage is the discard. The narcissist abruptly ends the relationship, leaving you completely bewildered. You may discover that they have already found someone new, exacerbating your sense of confusion and betrayal. They may try to control the narrative by telling the new person their version of events, making you appear bitter, jealous, obsessed and, crazy and desperate in their eyes.

The sixth stage is the hoover. When the new relationship does not work out for the narcissist, they may attempt to approach you again. They may seek forgiveness, claim that they were not thinking clearly, and ask for your help. This is a manipulative tactic used to draw you back into the relationship and gain your attention once more.

“The narcissist doesn’t want you back. They want control back.”


The final stage is when they return again. This occurs when you have successfully moved on and established no contact with the narcissist. They may try to provoke you through threats or smearing your name in order to elicit a reaction, even after many years have passed.

“A narcissist is a con artist, and they sell you a dream to deliver you a living nightmare.”


In conclusion, understanding the desire for attention that narcissists possess sheds light on their destructive behaviour patterns within relationships. Recognising the stages that individuals typically experience when involved with a narcissist is crucial for breaking free from their cycle of manipulation. It is important to remember that you deserve better, and with self-reflection, strength, and positive mindset, you can move forward and create a healthier and more fulfilling future for yourself.

Click on the links below to join, Elizabeth Shaw – Life Coach on social media for more information on Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse.

On Facebook. 

On YouTube.

On Twitter.

On Instagram. 

On Pinterest. 

On LinkedIn.

The online courses are available by Elizabeth Shaw.

For the full course.

Click here to sign up for the full, Break Free From Narcissistic Abuse, with a link in the course to a free, hidden online support group with fellow survivors. 

For the free course.

Click here to sign up for the free online starter course. 

To help with overcoming the trauma bond and anxiety course.

Click here for the online course to help you break the trauma bond, and those anxiety triggers. 

All about the narcissist Online course.

Click here to learn more about the narcissist personality disorder.

The narcissists counter-parenting.

Click here for more information on recovery from narcissistic abuse, and information on co-parenting with a narcissist.

Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.

Click here for Elizabeth Shaw’s Recommended reading list for more information on recovery from narcissistic abuse.

Leave a Reply