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Home » The Endless Cycle: Understanding Why a Narcissist Keeps Coming Back

The Endless Cycle: Understanding Why a Narcissist Keeps Coming Back

    Narcissism is a term that is often thrown around casually, but it is important to understand its true meaning. Narcissism refers to a personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) often have a grandiose sense of self and believe they are superior to others.

    One of the most challenging aspects of narcissism is the cycle of relationships that individuals with NPD tend to engage in. This cycle typically involves idealization, devaluation, and discard. At the beginning of the relationship, the narcissist idealizes their partner, showering them with attention, affection, and compliments. However, as time goes on, the narcissist’s true colors begin to show. They may become critical, controlling, and emotionally abusive. Eventually, they discard their partner and move on to someone new.

    Understanding the Narcissist’s Need for Control and Power

    One of the driving forces behind the cycle of narcissistic relationships is the narcissist’s need for control and power. Narcissists have an insatiable desire to be in control of every aspect of their lives, including their relationships. They often manipulate and exploit others to maintain this control.

    In relationships, narcissists may exert control by making all the decisions, isolating their partner from friends and family, and constantly monitoring their activities. They may also use emotional manipulation tactics such as guilt-tripping, gaslighting, and emotional blackmail to maintain control over their partner.

    The Role of Trauma Bonding in the Narcissist’s Return

    Trauma bonding is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a victim develops an intense emotional bond with their abuser. This bond is often formed as a result of the intermittent reinforcement that occurs in narcissistic relationships. The narcissist alternates between periods of idealization and devaluation, creating a sense of uncertainty and unpredictability.

    This cycle of idealization and devaluation creates a powerful emotional rollercoaster for the victim. The victim becomes addicted to the highs of the idealization phase and desperately seeks to regain that feeling. This creates a strong bond with the narcissist, making it difficult for the victim to leave the relationship.

    The Narcissist’s Manipulative Tactics and Gaslighting Techniques

    Narcissists are masters of manipulation and often use gaslighting techniques to control their victims. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the narcissist makes their victim doubt their own reality, memory, and sanity.

    Examples of manipulative tactics used by narcissists include lying, withholding information, projecting their own flaws onto their partner, and playing mind games. Gaslighting techniques may involve denying events that occurred, rewriting history, or making the victim question their own perceptions.

    These manipulative tactics are designed to keep the victim under the narcissist’s control by making them doubt themselves and rely on the narcissist for validation and guidance.

    The Impact of Low Self-Esteem on the Victim’s Vulnerability

    Low self-esteem is often a common characteristic among victims of narcissistic abuse. Narcissists prey on individuals with low self-esteem because they are more vulnerable to manipulation and control.

    Victims with low self-esteem may have a distorted self-image and believe they are unworthy of love and respect. The narcissist takes advantage of this vulnerability by constantly criticizing and belittling their partner, further eroding their self-esteem.

    The narcissist may also engage in love bombing during the idealization phase of the relationship, showering their partner with compliments and affection to temporarily boost their self-esteem. However, this is often followed by devaluation, which reinforces the victim’s negative self-image.

    The Narcissist’s Fear of Abandonment and Rejection

    Underneath their grandiose exterior, narcissists often have a deep-seated fear of abandonment and rejection. This fear drives the cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discard in narcissistic relationships.

    At the beginning of the relationship, the narcissist idealizes their partner to ensure their continued admiration and attention. However, as time goes on, they begin to fear that their partner will see through their facade and abandon them. This fear triggers the devaluation phase, where the narcissist begins to criticize and devalue their partner in an attempt to regain control and protect themselves from rejection.

    The discard phase occurs when the narcissist feels that their partner is no longer serving their needs or providing them with the attention and admiration they crave. They may abruptly end the relationship or move on to someone new without any regard for their partner’s feelings.

    The Cycle of Idealization, Devaluation, and Discard

    The cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discard is a hallmark of narcissistic relationships. It is a pattern that repeats itself over and over again, keeping victims hooked on the narcissist.

    During the idealization phase, the narcissist puts their partner on a pedestal, showering them with love, attention, and compliments. This phase creates a sense of euphoria for the victim and makes them feel special and loved.

    However, as time goes on, the narcissist’s true colors begin to show. They may become critical, controlling, and emotionally abusive. This is the devaluation phase, where the victim is constantly put down and made to feel unworthy.

    Eventually, the narcissist discards their partner and moves on to someone new. This can be devastating for the victim who is left feeling rejected and abandoned. However, it is important to remember that this cycle is not a reflection of the victim’s worth or value as a person.

    The Narcissist’s Need for Narcissistic Supply and Attention

    Narcissists have an insatiable need for attention and admiration, which is often referred to as narcissistic supply. They rely on others to validate their sense of self-worth and boost their fragile ego.

    In relationships, the narcissist seeks out partners who can provide them with the attention and admiration they crave. They may use manipulation tactics, such as love bombing, to ensure their partner’s continued admiration and attention.

    However, as time goes on, the narcissist may become bored or dissatisfied with their partner’s level of attention. This can trigger the devaluation phase, where the narcissist begins to criticize and devalue their partner in an attempt to regain control and seek out new sources of narcissistic supply.

    The Role of Enablers and Flying Monkeys in the Cycle

    Enablers and flying monkeys play a significant role in perpetuating the cycle of narcissistic relationships. Enablers are individuals who support and enable the narcissist’s behavior, often turning a blind eye to their abusive actions.

    Flying monkeys are individuals who are manipulated by the narcissist into doing their bidding. They may be friends, family members, or even new partners who are recruited by the narcissist to further their agenda.

    Enablers and flying monkeys contribute to the cycle by reinforcing the narcissist’s behavior and providing them with additional sources of validation and support. They may gaslight the victim, make excuses for the narcissist’s abusive actions, or even participate in the abuse themselves.

    The Importance of No Contact and Boundaries for Recovery

    One of the most important steps in recovering from narcissistic abuse is establishing and maintaining no contact with the narcissist. No contact means cutting off all communication with the narcissist, including phone calls, texts, emails, and social media interactions.

    No contact is crucial because it allows the victim to break free from the cycle of abuse and begin the healing process. It also prevents the narcissist from continuing to manipulate and control the victim.

    In addition to no contact, setting and enforcing boundaries is essential for recovery. Boundaries are limits that individuals set to protect themselves and their well-being. This may involve establishing boundaries around communication, personal space, and emotional availability.

    Moving Forward: Healing from Narcissistic Abuse and Breaking the Cycle

    Healing from narcissistic abuse is a challenging process, but it is possible with time, support, and self-care. Here are some tips for healing from narcissistic abuse and breaking the cycle of narcissistic relationships:

    1. Seek therapy: Working with a therapist who specializes in trauma and narcissistic abuse can be incredibly helpful in navigating the healing process.

    2. Practice self-care: Prioritize self-care activities that bring you joy and help you reconnect with yourself. This may include exercise, meditation, journaling, or spending time with loved ones.

    3. Surround yourself with support: Seek out a support system of friends, family, or support groups who understand and validate your experiences.

    4. Educate yourself: Learn as much as you can about narcissism and narcissistic abuse to gain a better understanding of what you have been through.

    5. Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries with the narcissist and enforce them consistently. This may involve limiting or cutting off contact altogether.

    6. Focus on self-love and self-compassion: Remind yourself that you are worthy of love and respect. Practice self-love and self-compassion daily.

    7. Take your time: Healing from narcissistic abuse takes time, so be patient with yourself and allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship.

    Breaking the cycle of narcissistic relationships is not easy, but it is possible with dedication, support, and a commitment to your own well-being. Remember that you deserve to be treated with love, respect, and kindness, and that healing is possible.