A romantic relationship with a Narcissist can be an exciting, whirlwind experience.
They are often charming and the life of the party. If they are interested in you, nothing will stop them from winning you over. They will flirt, entice, persuade and pursue until you give them a chance. They must win at all costs.
That of course, is in the beginning. But soon after they have conquered you, the days of being placed on a pedestal where you could do no wrong and every quirk of yours is endearing will often be short-lived.
A relationship with a true Narcissist will cycle. IDEALIZE, DEVALUE, DISCARD and possibly "HOOVER BACK". Rinse, lather, repeat.
Understand and wrap your head around the fact that if they are a true Narcissist, these stages are INEVITABLE. Though they are predictable, they will often come as a shock.
No matter how you react, what you do or don't do, it will not matter. A true Narcissist will introduce you to a painful script (after you have been placed on a pedestal of complete and utter adoration) - that script is known as DEVALUATION. Devaluation can be subtle and covert. At first, it can go undetected or rationalized away but after a time, you will begin to question your perceptions as all is not what seems. The Narcissist can appear to be two different personalities. Sweet, charming, gallant, loving and then switch to uncaring, unfeeling and entitled.
In the Devaluation phase, the proverbial rug will be pulled from under you and you will be feeling bereft, confused and suffer from cognitive dissonance from their "borderline type" dichotomies.
The Devaluation phase of the relationship can last a short time and go right to the grand finale breakup or it may rear its ugly head for a long time played out as a hot and cold cycle. This is where the true Narcissist will give you just enough to maintain the relationship, leaving you confused and questioning the sincerity or depth of what you thought you had.
Remember, no matter how you attempt to communicate, confront or even defer to the Narcissist, the devaluation stage will appear.
The stages and their length will depend on a number of factors.
~Your level of confidence and self-esteem.
~Where you are in your life
~Your understanding of pathological Narcissism
~Your ability to trust your intuition and judgment
~ Your boundaries and capacity for self-compassion
~How much Narcissistic supply they can still extract from you
The devaluation stage (when you wake-up to what it is and come out of the fog) is a painful, unsettling place to be. The relationship you thought you had has changed. The person you thought you loved is now showing signs of indifference, lack of compassion, boredom, entitlement, withholding and promises written in the wind. If they sense you are onto them, they may leave you or suddenly go back to being sweet and charming. It is a gamble.
With extreme Narcissists, their behavior can border on sadistic and cruel.
Suddenly without much warning, your quirks and vulnerabilities are turned against you, albeit covertly. Though there may still be moments of idealization and love-bombing, they become less frequent over time. The middle phase is now rearing its ugly head and the covert games have
Your intuition may flag you that something is amiss. You may wonder if the behavior is calculated and deliberate to bring you down and make you doubt your perceptions and sanity. (Gaslighting)
One element is clear. You and the relationship to the Narcissist are not as important as you were lead to believe. Your Narcissistic supply isn't as plentiful or perfect as it once was. Narcissists thrive on newness and the chase. Once you pass that phase, it is nearly impossible to retrieve it.
This is why no matter what you do, you will be met with disappointment and disdain.
Once the Narcissist has started the psychological mind games you have been crowned the recipient of his/her darkness. With the covert Narcissist, you may not know what has hit you, till it is too late and the emotional damage has been done.
Understand with pathology and Cluster B personality disorders, this phase is a natural progression. Whether it be the Narcissist's fear of intimacy, expectations, vulnerability, commitment or shame does not matter. They must be seen as perfect and untarnished. They are never at fault. They will project any and all cracks in the armor as your fault.
The transformation into Mr. Hyde may seem sudden or unexpected. The unfortunate reality is that this is who they are. The charming, loving and compassionate demeanor that attracted you in the first place is often quickly replaced by cold-heartedness, manipulation and intermittent "niceness".
It is very natural (and common) to want to "fix" the situation when it first arises. You may believe that this is a phase for the Narcissist that will pass.
This is where the danger lies. No matter what you say or do, you will never get back to the wonderful times. At best they will be intermittent.
Some partners (if the Narcissist is mild to moderate on the spectrum, may be able to enforce some boundaries to protect themselves) but don't bank on it if you are with an extreme, high-level Narcissist. Often their behaviors and skewed thinking are permanent.
A relationship with a Narcissist can range from challenging to abusive.
In the end, the ultimate choice remains with YOU.
Positive, sustained change is very difficult for the Narcissist. For many, it will never happen.
If you believe you are with a Narcissist, it is important to educate yourself about the disorder and if necessary, seek help.
Knowledge is power. Beware of the Covert Narcissist. They do not have your best interest at heart. Incorporate self-compassion. It will help you make smart heart choices.
Laney's books are available on Amazon.com:
Laney Zukerman is an author, Empowerment & Relationship Coach. Her books Lessons for an Urban Goddess and The Urban Goddess Lesson ~ How to Spot the Bad Boys are available on Amazon.com
Laney has been interviewed by Redbook, Brides, NextonScene, NBC Arizona Midday and OnTrend Magazine. She is a contributing writer fo the Huff Post and is a college instructor in NYC.