The 8 Confusing Stages Of Falling In Love With A Narcissist

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woman blissfully unaware she's now twirling with her partner in rough seas

By Savannah Grey 

If you had some kind of forewarning that you were about to enter into a relationship that would consume you to the point of your virtual destruction, would you still go through with it?

Unless you’re a masochist, the answer is probably no. Once you’ve been through a relationship with an emotional manipulator, like someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it’s not something you will ever wish to repeat.

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In emotionally healthy relationships you have both partners encouraging each other to stay through consistent acts of kindness, love, and respect. They are dependable, responsible and maintain their own individuality and growth while encouraging the same for their partners.

Emotional manipulators operate on different levels. Because they themselves are emotionally damaged, they believe that they have to trick and manipulate their partners into staying with them and they do that through control. In the early stages of a relationship, a campaign of destruction is launched, meant to quash your autonomy and your self-esteem while isolating you from family and friends.

That’s why it’s important to identify these relationship patterns early. Early detection will help you spot a narcissist from afar, allow you to know what you’re dealing with, and extricate yourself without investing so much time, effort, emotion, and resources.

I’ve compiled a pattern of behavior used by most narcissists. When you recognize it, end it and get out as quickly as you can. Pass it on so others are aware of the patterns.

Here are the 8 confusing stages of falling in love with a narcissist:

1. They appear larger than life

There is something special and unique about them, something that stands out. Even if they don’t have much going for them, you’re convinced it’s only temporary, and with your help, they could really be something. They reveal a little vulnerability, a slight character flaw, that you find incredibly appealing. They dazzle you so much that you’re left thinking, why would a guy or girl like this want me?

They all seem to have at least one special feature that they display prominently (the "bait"). If it’s intelligence, they astound you with their superior intellect. If it’s beauty you’re overwhelmed that they’d pick lil’ ole you, when they can have anyone they want.

What you don’t realize is that this is act one of a very well-rehearsed play.

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2. They seem laser-focused on you

In the early going, you don’t have to guess what they’re doing or thinking, because they are calling and texting you all the time. It seems as though they cannot get enough of you and you’re thinking, “Finally, here is someone that can give me the love I need and deserve.” They want to know everything about you. Even though you may have some self-esteem issues, you really like the you that they see.

They like you so much that they’ve convinced you to start liking yourself and it all feels like a dream. You’ve got butterflies, you’re fantasizing about your future together. It’s like they’ve put you on a pedestal and that liking you is the in thing to do. You are feeling really happy and hopeful for the future.

3. They lovebomb you

“I’ve never felt this way about anyone. I’ve never felt this connection to anyone before. I can’t believe what you’re doing to me, what you make me feel. I only want you. You’re the one.” Phrases like this allow them to deepen the connection and move really fast. This pretense is necessary to hook you and cement the relationship.

What they want most is to hook you, that’s their end game. They will say whatever is necessary to have you thoroughly convinced that you will never meet anyone as wonderful as they are and that no one could ever make you feel this way.

4. They seek sympathy and show vulnerability

This is another deepening technique they use and if you’re codependent, with a huge heart and a lot of empathy, then this one’s for you. They’ve got a story for why they’re fed up. Someone did them wrong. It’s never their fault and they are always the victims of another person’s cruelty.

When you share something painful and traumatic with an empath, that’s their sweet spot. It triggers their fixer button and it encourages them to listen closely, open up and share their own stories. This further deepens the connection, builds trust and it inspires, in the fixer, a need to care for, tend, and heal the wounded soul they’ve become enamored with. A fixer takes on the added responsibility of helping to heal this hurt. It is also an excellent kind of future alibi for someone with bad intentions. (“I told you I was messed up.”)

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5. They start to give you subtle warnings

“You’re too good for me. You can do better than me. I’m not good enough for you. You deserve better.” All of these may sound sweet, even a little humble, but this is as close as a narcissist will ever get to telling you the truth.

You’ll brush it off as a cute little endearment, but the reality is that these statements are warnings. They know who they are and what they’re up to and they know they’re keeping secrets from you. Don’t ignore this.

6. They start to play the pull-away game

After spending a lot of time convincing you that you are perfect, they start to pull away. They may disappear for hours, or days at first, and you start to think that you’ve done something wrong to evoke this kind of change in them. It’s sudden and severe and comes out of nowhere. The fall from the pedestal they placed you on is earth-shattering and you’re scrambling trying to make everything okay again.

The more you try to communicate and smooth things over, the further they distance themselves from you. You are heartbroken and reactive and you’re desperate to right the ship and you’re doing things you wouldn’t normally do, in order to bask in their spotlight again and nothing seems to be working. You’re in full panic mode, desperate for someone to throw you a lifeline.

7. They’re in and they're out

This is a dangerous stage and it’s how addiction forms. Any good drug pusher will tell you the best way to get someone addicted to something is to give them a taste, get them hooked, and then threaten to take it away. That’s exactly what’s happening here. You’re soaring when they come back, with promises of love and change and then you’re crashing when they abandon you again. This cycle could go on indefinitely until one party decides to end it. They can and often do put one source of supply on a shelf while they pursue another and then come back when their new endeavor fizzles out.

The psychological warfare that they have perpetrated against you has rendered you addicted, dependent, and broken, and robbed you of your sense of self and your self-esteem. You’re a mess inside and you’re barely functioning and keeping things together. All you want is for them to come back. You’ll forgive everything they’ve done to you, just as long as they come back and give you another fix.

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8. They blame you and deflect responsibility

After they’ve played their hand and you’re still trying to get them to be the person you fell in love with, you’re catching them in a ton of lies. They’re acting strange and you can’t count on them for anything. They’re making you act nuts with their behavior and they point back at you and say, “See that’s why I’m doing this because you’re crazy.” They will convince you that your reaction to the abuse is the problem and not the abuse itself.

It’s exhausting for them to keep the smoke and mirrors going to keep you in a perpetual state of confusion. Once they’ve been discovered, you both know it will never be the same again. The game may continue, but it will never have the same intensity because they can no longer keep pulling the wool over your eyes. The fact that you’re still around, wanting them back, surprises them and they believe that that gives them license to treat you any old way they want. You’ve shown them that you don’t respect yourself enough to walk away, so their treatment only gets worse from here on out.

Not every type of narcissistic relationship follows this pattern, but this is how it looks in the majority of cases. It’s important to get the word out so that we can all be aware that this pattern exists and so we don’t get caught in the emotional trap.

Anyone that’s been through it will tell you it very nearly destroyed them and that they are still feeling its effect in some way. Know the patterns, call people on their stuff, and walk away the moment you notice your needs aren’t being met. When someone starts to pull away from you, never chase after them, let them go. Recognize that their behavior is about them and not you.

It’s not necessary for you to understand why someone does what they do. You don’t need to analyze it to death. All you have to recognize is that it’s not what you want and that you’re not happy. That’s all you need to walk away.

Remember that when you give someone the keys to your power and make them the sole provider of your happiness the outcome is never going to end up in your favor. Keep those keys firmly in your own pocket, learn the signs, and never tolerate abuse or disrespect.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissist, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474, or log onto thehotline.org.

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Savannah Grey is a freelance writer, hypnotherapist, and the founder of Esteemology, a website dedicated to educating and healing survivors of abusive relationships.

This article was originally published at The Mind's Journal. Reprinted with permission from the author.