The Phases of a Narcissist’s “Love”
Love bombing – occurs when the narcissist initially meets a (potential) new source of narcissistic supply and begins showering them with love and attention that the new source has probably never before experienced in any relationship. The whole experience is so ineffably overwhelming that the new supply feels they’ve found their soulmate, that this person is the one person they’ve been waiting for their entire life. The narcissist will use this initial phase to “set the hook,” thus increasing the likelihood that the new supply will become wholly and completely dependent on the narcissist with time.
Devalue Phase – when the kinder, more loving, and compassionate one is to their narcissist, the more cruel and punishing the narcissist seems to become. No amount of the empath’s love seems to be enough to placate the narcissist. This is most likely due to the fact that narcissists possess no genuine sense of empathy. There will come a point where the narcissist will, sometimes, consciously and, other times, subconsciously emotionally wound those who s/he professes to love.
Discard Phase – occurs when the narcissist ends the relationship (usually temporarily, but not always – see final discard phase), generally for some ill-imagined and exaggerated slight. In essence, the narcissist gets angry at their source of primary narcissistic supply (that’s you) and takes their ball, storming off, so no one can play. Their favorite, tried-and-true form of punishment is the silent treatment. (See Discard Chronologies)
Hoovering Phase – occurs after a discard phase when enough time has passed, and generally when the narcissist finds their other sources of narcissistic supply aren’t able to feed their insatiable hunger for external validation and reinforcement. The hoovering phase can occur a day, week, 6 months later, or sometimes longer. In the hoovering phase, the narcissist behaves in much the same fashion as when you and they started the relationship – the love bombing phase – saying a number of the same things they initially did when you and they first started dating. This is done in an attempt to elicit a stronger bond by triggering those wonderfully warm and loving feelings you and they initially shared before they began testing the waters, pushing you to become more reliant on them via manipulation, gaslighting, and triangulation, thus losing yourself and your identity in the relationship.
Idealize Phase – occurs as the initial phase of the narcissist/empath relationship paradigm. In this particular phase, the narcissist is evaluating their potential empath, learning as much as they can about them – likes, dislikes, hobbies, and preferred past times, in an effort to mirror their empath’s passions and pursuits to present the illusion that the narcissist, too, enjoys as many of the same things as their empath. The idea is to lull the empath into a false sense of security and manipulate into letting their guard down, thus making them an easier target.
Final Discard Phase – is the most painful phase of all in that it may well feel just like one of the many previous discard phases, leaving you hoping that, after your narcissist calms down, s/he’ll reach out to you just as they did all those times before and agree to start seeing you again. However, unlike all of the previous discard phases, this is (most likely) the end between you and your narcissist. At this point, they have more than likely found someone else to take your place as their primary source of narcissistic supply. While it’s not uncommon for a narcissist to reach out to a previous form of supply months or even years later, it’s not something you can rely on happening with any degree of certainty.
(See Discard Chronologies)
Discard Chrolonogies – Generally, when the relationship between the narcissist and their primary source begins to falter or fails, the narcissist will execute a discard phase and “promote” a secondary source, most usually from within their [reverse-]harem, to the position of primary source of supply; however, many times, the narcissist will promote a secondary source of supply to a primary source before the discard phase to “test the waters” with the new supply in an effort to ascertain whether or not a “relationship” with the new supply holds potential. If there is no perceived potential, the narcissist will simply return to the original primary supply who is oblivious to the narcissist’s most recent surreptitious escapades. However, if the new relationship does hold promise, the narcissist will then execute a final discard phase with the previous primary source and begin pursuing a relationship with the new source of supply. In other words, they leave you for someone else.
Terms & Definitions:
C-PTSD – Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the result of repeated traumatic events versus a single traumatic event (PTSD). (Think of a PTSD event, only it’s repeated over and over again – e.g. a prisoner of war or a citizen of a war-torn area, child abuse, someone who is involved in a psychologically, sexually, emotionally, and or physically abusive relationship spanning months, years, or even decades.) As a result of the repetition of trauma, the psychological damage is far more engrained and intense and, therefore, much more difficult, though not impossible, to treat.
Cognitive Dissonance – occurs when a person holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values, or participates in an action that goes against one of these three concepts, and experiences psychological stress because of that contradiction. When two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people will do everything within their power to change (warp) those ideas or concepts until they become consistent. Cognitive dissonance is triggered by the person’s belief/s clashing with new evidence (facts) perceived, wherein they will try to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.
Emotionally Bankrupt – occurs when someone emotionally invests far more of themselves into a relationship than their partner gives in return. This is generally seen when someone is always available for an otherwise emotionally and or physically absent partner. It is akin to spending more money than you make; however, in this instance, its resultant emptiness can take years, and a great deal of healing, before one can even begin recovering from the emotional imbalance.
Empath – someone who can instinctively and intuitively sense another person’s emotional and or psychological state, albeit pain, joy, anguish, elation, fear, anxiety, sadness – an empath shares in the emotional state of another person, especially when they are hurting.
Gaslighting – To manipulate someone by psychological means to the point they begin to question/doubt their own sanity and interpretation of reality and the events that transpire within reality. The term is taken from the 1938 play, Gas Light wherein a husband causes his wife to slowly question her sanity due to their apartment’s dimming natural gas lights and the footsteps she hears in the (supposedly) now vacant apartment above them.
Grey Rock – A method of interfacing with the narcissist wherein all of your replies and interactions are as dull and uninteresting as a plain, grey rock. The idea is to give the narcissist as little for them to feed on as possible by being as disinterested and uninteractive as possible – just like a boring grey rock. (Be aware, if you enact this tactic, the narcissist will accuse you of not trying, of the problems in the relationship being your fault, but this is merely them lashing out because you are slowly starving them to death by not “feeding” their fractured, childish psyche. If you elicit this reaction from them, that’s how you know you’re doing it right. Keep up the good work!)
Harem – a collection of many women, by one man, whose sole purpose is to provide any combination of emotional, physical, sexual, and or psychological reinforcement via external validation.
Harem, [Reverse] – a collection of many men, by one woman, whose sole purpose is to provide any combination of emotional, physical, sexual, and or psychological reinforcement via external validation.
Kobayashi Maru – a no-win scenario or situation. The term was coined from the 1982 Star Trek movie Wrath of Khan wherein it was a training exercise for Starfleet cadets. The simulation was designed as a test of a person’s character and their mettle, to see how they would handle an unwinnable crisis.
In the exercise, a civilian transport, the Kobayashi Maru, is stranded just inside the Klingon Neutral Zone and sends a distress signal. The cadet then has to make a choice: enter the Klingon Neutral Zone and attempt a rescue, thus violating the Klingon/Federation treaty and risk an incident that could be construed as an act of war, or do nothing and watch as all hands on the Kobayashi Maru perish – either choice results in a no-win outcome. This is the perfect metaphor for being involved with a narcissist. No matter what you do, you’re going to lose.
Narcissistic Supply (Primary/Secondary Sources) – a collection comprised of any number of individuals, usually, though not always, of the opposite sex who serve no other purpose than to feed the narcissist’s ever-eroding sense of self-worth and perceived value (external validation). Secondary sources of narcissistic supply (SSNS) are almost always referred to as, “friends,” while the primary source of narcissistic supply (PSNS) is generally a single person, most usually the narcissist’s romantic interest/partner.
No Contact – When the narcissist’s (usually romantic) partner/primary source of supply severs as many methods of contact between themselves and the narcissist – e.g. blocking the narcissist on social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), e-Mail, phone – in an effort to break free from the narcissist’s control.
PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, not to be confused with C-PTSD, is a very real mental affliction affecting untold millions of people globally. Mental health professionals initially identified PTSD as “shell shock” in soldiers returning home from war. Although, as time and a better understanding of the underlying cause/s of PTSD emerged, we grew to realize this was actually a result of severe mental distress manifesting in people subjected to a single traumatic incident such as one sexual or physical assault, a car wreck, natural disaster, or a crime.
Stockholm Syndrome – Feelings of trust and or affection that develop between abductor and abductee, kidnapper and kidnappee, enabled and enabler. The term is coined after the failed 1973 bank robbery by two men of Kreditbanken, one of Sweden’s largest banks at the time, located in Stockholm where the four hostages refused to testify against their hostage-takers once the crisis ended, having developed a close connection with the robbers. The hostages even went so far as to raise money for the two men’s legal defense.
Trauma bonding – A strong, almost unbreakable emotional bond that develops between an abuser and their abused as a result of repeated cycles of reward and punishment. The reward/punishment system generally includes elements of fear (threats to leave/end the relationship and or of bodily harm), excitement (sharing “good times together”), sexual feelings and sexual physiology (using sex to hormonally bond via oxytocin) in an effort to entangle and ensnare the other person in an emotionally and physically unhealthy/toxic relationship.
Triangulation – When the narcissist attempts to maintain control of the relationship/partner by manipulating their partner’s fears and emotions. This is generally done by “befriending” other people, most usually of the opposite sex, from whom attention and affection are sought after and fostered by the narcissist for the sole purpose of creating jealousy and insecurity in their partner about the stability of the relationship. These “friends” almost always become part of the narcissist’s [reverse-]harem and secondary forms of narcissistic supply.
Validation, External – when a person requires another person or people to reinforce their own sense of value and self-worth albeit to state that they are a good person, intelligent/smart, provide recognition of achievements and or accolades, etc. as opposed to internal validation where a person possesses a strong sense of self that is defined by their own awareness of value, worth, and worthiness.