The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

Introduction

The narcissistic abuse cycle is a vicious and damaging pattern of behavior that is all too common in relationships where one partner is a narcissist.

This cycle can be difficult to break free from, but it is possible with the right help and support.

It's important to recognize the signs of the narcissistic abuse cycle so that you can understand what is happening in your relationship and take steps to protect yourself.

Understanding the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle is crucial as it provides insight into the patterns of an abusive relationship marked by emotional and psychological abuse.

By recognizing these patterns, individuals are better equipped to seek help and navigate their path towards narcissistic abuse recovery. 

Let's take a closer look at the narcissistic abuse cycle and try to understand further. 

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What is the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle?

The narcissistic abuse cycle is a pattern of behavior that is common in relationships where one partner is a narcissist. 

This cycle can be difficult to break free from, but it is possible with the right help and support.

It typically consists of phases: idealization, devaluation, discarding and hoovering. 

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Idealization

In the idealization phase, the narcissist puts their partner on a pedestal and worships them.

They will make them feel like they are the most special and important person in the world.

This can be a very intoxicating feeling, and it is often what keeps people in the relationship despite the red flags that may be present.

Devaluation

However, the idealization phase will not last forever. 

Eventually, the narcissist will begin to devalue their partner.

They may start to nitpick at them and find fault in everything they do.

Some examples are:

  • You're never good enough
  • You're not pretty/smart/successful enough
  • You're not doing things the right way
  • You're not meeting their needs


They may also begin to withdraw their affection and love.

This can be a very confusing and painful experience for the victim as they try to figure out what they did wrong.

Discarding

The final phase of the narcissistic abuse cycle is discarding. 

This is when the narcissist completely breaks off the relationship and leaves their partner feeling worthless and abandoned.

Examples of how this can look are:

  • The narcissist will abruptly break up with their partner and leave them without any explanation
  • The narcissist will cheat on their partner and then blame them for it
  • The narcissist will ghost their partner and completely disappear from their life


They may do this abruptly or they may gradually withdraw over time. 

Either way, the victim is left feeling confused, hurt, and alone.

Hoovering

After the relationship has ended, the narcissist may try to hover their victim back into the relationship.

They may do this by reaching out and being overly charming or loving. 

This can be a very confusing and difficult experience for the victim, as they may still have feelings for the narcissist.

Some examples of how this looks are:

  • "I'm sorry for everything, I miss you so much. I promise to change, just please come back."
  • "I know we had some problems but I can't stop thinking about you. I still love you."
  • "You're the only one who really understands me. I need you."


It is important to remember that the narcissist is only doing this because they want something from you, and they will eventually move on to someone else once they have what they want.

Examples of Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic abuse occurs when a person with narcissistic traits engages in abusive behavior within a relationship, often leading to a toxic dynamic that can be harmful to the victim's self-esteem and overall well-being.

This form of abuse can manifest in various ways but are not limited to the following.

  • Emotional Manipulation - Narcissists tend to manipulate their partners for personal gain or narcissistic supply. They may use tactics like love bombing, where they shower their intimate partner with favorable treatment to gain control, followed by periods of being completely indifferent.
  • Verbal Abuse - A common form of narcissistic abuse, this can include constant reassurance-seeking, belittling comments, threats, and other forms of demeaning communication that aim to undermine the victim's sense of self-worth.
  • Silent Treatment - Narcissistic abusers may use the silent treatment as a form of punishment, leaving the victim feeling neglected and desperate for attention.
  • Physical Abuse - Although not as common as other forms of narcissistic abuse, some narcissists may resort to physical harm as part of their abusive behaviors.
  • Cycle of Abuse - Narcissistic relationships often involve a cycle of abuse, where periods of calm are followed by escalating tension and incidents of abuse.

Recognizing these warning signs is crucial in identifying a narcissistic relationship.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these signs, consider reaching out to a licensed therapist or contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline - 800-799-7233.

A healthy relationship should never involve abusive behaviors, and everyone deserves respect and kindness. 

What are the Effects of the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle?

This can have a devastating effect on the victim. It can cause them to doubt themselves, their worthiness, and their sanity.

They may feel like they are never good enough and that they will never be loved.

Some examples of how this looks are:

  • believing you are the reason for all of the narcissist's problems
  • feeling like you can never do anything right
  • feeling like you are not good enough or worthy of love
  • doubting your own sanity
  • feeling isolated and alone
  • feeling confused and unable to think clearly

This can lead to a spiraling of negative emotions such as shame, guilt, and self-loathing.

The victim may also develop anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

How Can I Break Free From the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle?

The first step to breaking free from the cycle is to recognize that you are in one.

This can be difficult, as the narcissist will have gaslighted you into thinking that it is all your fault. 

However, once you realize what is happening, you can begin to take steps to change the dynamic of the relationship.

One Step is to Establish Boundaries With the Narcissist

One step is to establish boundaries with the narcissist. 

This means setting clear limits on what you will and will not tolerate from them.

It is important to be assertive in this, as the narcissist will try to push your boundaries. 

You may need to get help from a friend or family member to do this.

Seek Professional Help to Learn the Best Methods

You may need to seek professional help to break free.

This is because it can be difficult to do on your own.

A therapist can help you to understand what is happening and why, and they can provide you with the support and tools you need to change the dynamic of the relationship.

You can find great help online in telehealth therapy options with narcissistic abuse counselors.

FAQs

What is the narcissistic abuse cycle?

It is a pattern of behavior that is often seen in relationships where one person has a narcissistic personality disorder. It typically consists of four phases: idealization, devaluation, discarding, and hoovering.

What are the effects?

It can have a devastating effect on the victim. It can cause them to doubt themselves, their worthiness, and their sanity. They may feel like they are never good enough and that they will never be loved. This can lead to a spiraling of negative emotions such as shame, guilt, and self-loathing. The victim may also develop anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Disclaimer

This information in this article should be used only for informational purposes. 

This content should not be a substitute for official medical advice. 

If you need help please talk to a licensed professional, such as a therapist or doctor. 

They can help you get the tools you need to navigate your mental health journey.

Conclusion

The narcissistic abuse cycle is a destructive pattern of behavior that can have a devastating effect on the victim.

If you think you may be in a relationship with a narcissist, it is important to seek professional help to learn how to best protect yourself and break free from the cycle.

Awareness about this cycle is vital for mental health professionals in providing appropriate support and therapeutic interventions.

In addition, learning about the narcissistic abuse cycle can contribute to broader societal understanding of mental health issues, thereby reducing stigma and promoting empathetic responses towards victims.

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Comments 2

Guest - anonymous mother on Dec 31st, 2023

How do I tell a fellow mother I never met that she allows a pedophile around her children? I fear he will harm other young ladies. He raped my 15 year old daughter on base. The only reason he isn't rotting in prison is because he out ranks my husband.

How do I tell a fellow mother I never met that she allows a pedophile around her children? I fear he will harm other young ladies. He raped my 15 year old daughter on base. The only reason he isn't rotting in prison is because he out ranks my husband.
Guest - Denise on Oct 31st, 2023

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