There are many confused people who do not understand why one day a person is wonderful and the next day the same person does something horrible to you. You end up justifying the abuse, saying “oh he has days, sometimes he gets angry, but he loves me so much…” even when he clearly shows that he doesn’t care about you at all. Wake up!
You see this very often: even on the same day, the narcissist flips sides. He idealizes and devalues you, he is loving and cruel, and you don’t quite understand why that happens.
This point is the one that is the hardest for you to reason about. You find it hard to leave him because you think that maybe this person is not so bad. This is the key to abuse: the constant change, from sweet to cruel, from climbing a pedestal to stomping on the floor.
There is nothing else, it’s just a cycle: the narcissistic cycle of abuse. There are not two people, one good and one bad. No, they are two sides of the same coin. It’s a cycle that repeats itself over and over again, eternally, until you end the game by getting out of the relationship.
That’s the complicated part: realizing that it’s not worth staying in the relationship because of how good it is sometimes. You need to evaluate the situation as a whole and see that you don’t just have the good part of the person, whether it’s real or prefabricated. You have the whole package, which means the good and the horrible.
Phases of the narcissistic cycle of abuse
The goal of the narcissistic cycle is to have you confused, to make you doubt. Get it into your head: that’s abuse. And these are its phases:
Phase 1: love bombing or honeymoon
He will treat you like a queen in a quick and exaggerated way. He will flatter you in every possible way so that you think he loves you more than anyone else and that he is the man of your dreams. He will seduce you as no one else has ever done before.
He will adapt to you, copy your tastes and your ways of doing things so that you think you have found your soul mate. You don’t realize it, but the narcissist is copying you.
He will tell you very intimate things too soon in the relationship. He does this so that you do the same, and so that he can have “material” to attack you later in the next phase: devaluation.
Phase 2: Devaluation
This is the longest phase of the four. We could say that it is the relationship itself. In the end, the narcissist is interested in having a useful “prey”: to hook it as soon as possible (love bombing) and get rid of it when it is no longer useful (discard).
Once he has you in his net, the narcissist will start taking off his mask. Since he already knows about your personal issues, this is what he will use against you. Because everything you say to a narcissist will be used against you.
Do you feel a little chubby? He’ll say something like, “Look at those nice pants. Oh, but they won’t fit.” Have you achieved anything in your job? “Well, it’s not that bad, the other day John did something similar, or even better.” That kind of thing.
He will undermine your self-esteem directly or indirectly. And always attacking your weakest point, which he will know perfectly.
In this phase, he will apply the different types of manipulation, submission, and psychological abuse. The most common and cruel ones used by narcissists are gaslighting and silent treatment.
When you are subjected to the gaslight you feel that you would need to record all your conversations in order to be able to defend yourself in the next one when he begins to deny what he said in the previous conversation. You doubt about everything, even your own judgment: the narcissist makes you feel great anxiety and insecurity.
You feel you’re walking on eggshells because you never know what is going to be next. You even get scared when it comes to addressing him because anything you say to him can lead to a huge fight. This is known as narcissistic rage.
After the rage explosion, he may “punish” you by ignoring you. This would be the silent treatment. He may go for days without talking to you, only to suddenly return to normal as if nothing had happened. In this way, he has you trapped waiting for a few crumbs of attention (they will never be of love) to ease your suffering.
When you finally manage to “communicate” with him, you find yourself arguing about obvious things. You must justify your every action to him, and this wears you down. You have just spoken and you can’t believe that you have argued about it, you come out of the discussion completely dazed.
The narcissist parasitizes the victim: it drains your energy, and also your bank account.
They lie about everything and everyone. They are compulsive liars. And, in the meantime, they will project onto you what they are doing: they will accuse you of lying to them, cheating on them, or whatever else they are doing to you. “You made me do it,” a recurring phrase among narcissists and other abusers.
You don’t know what to think, you question his behavior as much as yours: is it good or bad? is he the problem? am I the problem? am I an exaggeration? what have I done wrong? You feel guilty about everything.
You end up thinking that maybe you are really crazy, you see it as a possibility when instead it is he who should be in a mental institution.
The continuous attack makes you finally stop standing up or trying to ask for explanations or to fix things. You feel depressed, powerless, and unwilling to do anything. This would be the learned helplessness. You have disappeared from your life.
I leave you here a short video that shows what learned helplessness is about, in our case as a result of a toxic relationship.
Phase 3: Discard
He just leaves you. When in the previous phase you have ceased to be useful to him, the narcissist will begin to discredit you in front of others to prepare for discard: that’s the smear campaign. He must always take care of his image, so he has to justify leaving you as abruptly as he will do in the discard phase.
That’s why they pose as the victim’s victims while convincing everyone that the victim is crazy. That way, no matter how much you explain the truth, no one will believe you and his facade will be safe.
Some of the people who have accepted the narcissist’s version will become his flying monkeys. They are on his side, and he will use them for his own purposes, which may be to keep him informed of your movements or to make you feel guilty. The narcissist has made it clear to them, before discarding you, that you are to blame for all the problems in the relationship.
He will immediately be with someone else. Yes, he will have cheated on you while you were with him. This is because narcissists always have an ace up their sleeve for when they are going to leave you at this stage. They can’t help but having someone who pays attention to them, who admires them.
Meanwhile, you will be suffering from trauma bonding. The more abused and neglected you have been, the more dependent you have become on your abuser, and the more you identify with him.
You will find more information about this emotional attachment in the book Trauma Bonding: Understanding and Overcoming the Trauma Bond in a Narcissistic Relationship. You can get it for free with your Audible trial and listening to it with ease in your car while you go to work or doing errands. It is truly a shocking concept which is important to understand.
Trauma bonding makes it really hard for you when he leaves you (because he leaves you with no explanation or remorse) and you are susceptible to moving into phase 4.
Phase 4: Hoovering
Although he has no remorse about leaving you, nor does he have feelings (nor has he ever had them) for you, to the narcissist you are a source of energy. They never quite separate themselves from their ex-partners. They always try to get you back with them. Whether as a couple, as a friend, or whatever.
No matter how much time has passed, weeks, months, years… the narcissists come back. And then, back to phase 1 of love bombing.
He’ll try to get you back with him. He’ll make all the excuses in the world, he’ll ask you for forgiveness, he’ll give you flowers… all fake. Don’t believe him. He is pretending to get you back on track. That’s hoovering. And he’ll use the flying monkeys I was talking about before to keep you under his control.
That’s why it’s important that after you leave the relationship, either because you’ve discarded it or because you’ve left it voluntarily, you cut off all contact with him. Block him on social networks too, because he will start posting pictures with his new partner. That’s the no contact rule that you need to follow.
Here’s a video about the narcissistic cycle. It comes highly recommended, as all of Meredith Miller‘s channel, Inner Integration.
And for him, everything starts again.
With this, you have reached the end of the narcissistic cycle of emotional abuse. For the narcissist, however, it is an endless wheel that will occupy his whole life. With one couple after another.
Most likely, in record time (even days) he will be out living with/marrying! his next trophy. Remember that he needs attention more than anything else in the world.
He doesn’t need love, nor does he give it: having someone by his side is simply something that comes in handy. For him it is like changing cars: one breaks down, he buys another one.
You need to realize that his new partner is actually his new victim: don’t rack your brain thinking about how good he is now with her, or why he didn’t do something with you but he’s doing it with her, etc. Any picture he shares on social networks is just a facade of happiness. You more than anyone know what is hidden behind that fake smile.