If you’ve ever been hooked and reeled in by a narcissist, don’t blame yourself or feel like a fool.
In the beginning, narcissists always appear to be the partner of your dreams – until one day you wake up to find that you are sleeping next to Dr. Jekyll instead of Mr. Hyde.
It’s hard to identify a narcissist unless you have a Ph.D. in psychology or prior experience with narcissistic abuse. But there are some warning signs that you can watch out for.
Narcissistic abuse always begins with the honeymoon stage or love bombing – as some people prefer to call it – due to the intensity.
Maybe you suspect that your Prince Charming could be a narcissist, only the love bombing stage still hasn’t ended.
Could he be the real deal? Or is the honeymoon about to turn into a living nightmare?
The honeymoon or love-bombing stage of narcissistic abuse lasts until the relationship has been secured, and you seem to be in it for the long haul.
Usually, this happens in a matter of weeks or months, but it could possibly take years. Occasionally, the honeymoon stage lasts until after the wedding vows.
If you’re lucky, you’ll start to see a narcissist’s true colors a few weeks into the relationship.
But they never move on to devaluing and discarding until the relationship becomes serious – unless it never gets that far. Then, you’ve dodged a bullet.
But sometimes a narcissist will continue to be the partner of your dreams until after you say, “I do.” And then it’s too late.
If you meet a really nice guy, they may do some of the same things that a narcissist does, which is why it’s so easy for a woman to be tricked into believing that a narcissist is the man of their dreams.
But the key word here is excess. When it comes to narcissists – or anyone with a cluster B personality disorder for that matter – it’s all or nothing.
While gifts, compliments, and quality time are also a part of normal healthy relationships, narcissists will shower you with these things and more in excessive doses.
Sure, you love that diamond necklace from Tiffany’s that you received four weeks into the relationship.
But this doesn’t mean that Mr. Right has fallen head over heels in love with you. On the contrary, you may be dating a narcissist.
Now, some narcissists are broke and live a parasitic lifestyle. But they’ll usually pretend to be more successful than they really are until they have you hooked.
Even if they can’t afford expensive gifts, they’ll compliment you on every single thing you do.
If you’ve ever spent time watching your cell phone every second as you wait for a call back after a first or second date, it may be a relief to find a partner who always calls and texts you with plans for the next date.
And if you really like them, you’ll probably be more than happy to meet them for brunch and again for dinner.
But once you begin spending all your time with your new partner and canceling other obligations, you cross the line into a possible relationship with a narcissist.
Narcissists will tell you they love you very early in the relationship – and they’ll say it often.
If you’re one of those hopeless romantics who believe in love at first sight, you’ll probably assume that it’s meant to be. But it’s not.
They’ll also be quick to introduce you to their family and friends and may even suggest moving in together.
And you may receive a marriage proposal early on in the relationship, too.
While it may seem like a dream come true, the honeymoon stage will end before the ink is dry on the marriage certificate.
If you try to set boundaries by telling them to not call you at work or declining a dinner invitation because of a prior obligation with your mom, they’ll express anger and hurt and will probably put you on a guilt trip.
They also don’t like to take no for an answer, so if you say that you want to wait a while before deciding to move in together or need time to think about the marriage proposal, they won’t take it very well.
If you reject a narcissist and break up with them before the honeymoon ends, it will be a major blow to their ego, and they’ll either hover and continue to pursue you or ghost you and probably start a smear campaign.
Then, you’ll see their true colors and realize that you dodged a bullet. But what girl would dump a partner who’s showering them with attention?
Most of the time, the honeymoon stage (or love bombing) continues, and you’ll eventually decide to commit to the relationship.
That’s when the mask comes off. It can happen at any relationship milestone from cohabitating to pregnancy to marriage. But it always happens.
After the honeymoon stage comes devaluation. They’ll begin to identify your flaws –regardless of whether they’re real or imagined – while continuously praising themselves.
You’ll slowly start to go from feeling like a princess to feeling like a worthless failure.
But it’s harder to leave after you’ve already invested in the relationship. Most women desperately hope that they could reignite the spark that was there in the beginning.
Unfortunately, the emotional and psychological abuse will continue and may even escalate into physical abuse.
The narcissist will become jealous and controlling and blame everything on their partner.
Victims of narcissistic abuse can tell that something has changed, but they don’t know what.
And they usually believe that the narcissist is truly a good person and blame themselves for the relationship going south. But it isn’t their fault.
The truth is that the person they fell in love with never existed.
Occasionally, narcissists will end up in lifelong marriages, but even if that is the case, it will be far from happy ever after.
Instead, their partner will always feel like they’re walking on eggshells, begin to lose their sense of self-worth, and spend a lot of time apologizing for things that aren’t their fault.
It can be hard to imagine that any woman in her right mind would tolerate being treated like this long-term, but it’s hard to leave a narcissist, especially if there are children involved.
While there could very well be physical abuse, often the abuse is verbal and emotional – which leaves no physical evidence.
And the narcissist continues to portray themselves as the good guy.
Fortunately, it usually doesn’t get this far. Narcissists are infamous for cheating and often move on to a new supply. Discarding is the final stage of narcissistic abuse.
The discard can happen weeks into a relationship or twenty years into a marriage. But it happens often enough for it to be identified as the final stage.
Sometimes a relationship with a narcissist will last forever, but you’ll never be happy. After the honeymoon stage ends, it’s all downhill from there.
And you won’t just walk away with a broken heart – you’ll have a broken spirit.