The stages of a relationship with a narcissist can be a roller coaster ride of emotions, confusion, and manipulation. It is important to note that while there may be some individual differences, these stages often hold true for many individuals who have experienced relationships with narcissists.
Stage one is characterised by the idealisation phase. At the beginning of the relationship, you feel like you have met the perfect person, your soulmate. The narcissist seems fantastic in every way, and you believe you have found the one. However, this initial bliss is short-lived.
Stage two marks the shift in the relationship dynamics. The narcissist begins to change towards you, exhibiting behaviours such as arguments, gaslighting, and giving the silent treatment. Despite these red flags, you may find yourself blaming yourself and working harder to please the narcissist. The manipulation tactics play a significant role here, making you believe that you are the problem.
In stage three, the narcissist leaves you for someone new. This can be a devastating blow to your self-esteem and further reinforces the narrative that it is your fault. The narcissist may even make you look crazy to the new person, enjoying the process of triangulation. However, it is important to recognise that the new person will likely face the same fate as you did.
Stage four sees the narcissist coming back into your life, often after realising the impact of the trauma bond and the love you had in the beginning. This can create a sense of hope and belief that they have changed. However, the reality sets in again, and you begin to see the familiar patterns emerge.
Stage five is characterised by the repetition of the previous stages. The narcissist changes towards you once more, yet you struggle to see it as them being the problem due to the deep manipulation they have subjected you to.
Stage six marks more departures of the narcissist. They may leave without offering any closure or explanation. Threats may be made, and you may finally decide to leave them, understanding that they will never fulfil the promises they once made.
In stage seven, you seek answers for yourself and turn to online resources to understand what you have been through. This newfound knowledge can be eye-opening and help to validate your experiences.
Stage eight is when the narcissist comes back, trying to make amends and exploiting any self-doubt they have instilled in you. This stage is characterised by internal battles, wondering if you are the narcissist or if you can be the one to change and help them.
Stage nine marks the final breakup. You realise that getting out of the relationship is essential for your own safety and well-being. Legal action, such as obtaining a restraining order, may be necessary to protect yourself and create a safe space to rebuild your life.
In stage ten, you continue to educate yourself about narcissism and its effects on relationships. This helps in the healing process and aids in discovering who you truly are.
Stage eleven sees the fear of the narcissist dissipate as knowledge and understanding grow. You begin to love and trust yourself once more and even experience empathy for the narcissist and their inevitable inability to change.
Stage twelve is marked by the recognition that warning the new person in the narcissist’s life is not your responsibility. You understand the complications involved and focus on your own healing and growth.
Stage thirteen is characterised by clarity and increased self-confidence. The games the narcissist tries to play affect you less and less, and you no longer doubt your own normal reactions in the relationship.
Stage fourteen represents closure and the beginning of moving on. You understand that the relationship was unhealthy for you and that the narcissist will always be trapped in their own warped mind.
Stage fifteen is marked by growing positivity and a bright outlook on the future. You begin to open new doors in your life, leaving the toxic relationship behind.
In stage sixteen, you reflect on the experience for what it truly was and recognise that you were never to blame. Your strength and wisdom have grown, allowing you to recognise the signs of energy-draining individuals in the future.
Stage seventeen represents inner peace and genuine happiness within yourself. You are no longer interested in the narcissist’s abuse and are in control of your own life.
Stage eighteen sees the complete liberation from the hold the narcissist had on you. While thoughts of the narcissist may still surface occasionally, you understand that you were not at fault. Healing has taken place within you, and you can confidently move forward while the narcissist remains trapped in their own destructive cycle.
In conclusion, understanding the stages of a relationship with a narcissist can help individuals navigate their healing journey while the experiences of individuals may vary slightly, and the stages, too. With self-education, support, and the belief in oneself, victims of narcissistic abuse can recover, rebuild, and create a fulfilling and healthy future.
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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.