A Common Relationship Cycle of Individuals with Psychopathy and Narcissistic Personality Disorder
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Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy tend to rotate through partners in a relatively predictable manner. The well-known idealize, devalue, and discard cycle has been reported by many abuse victims.
The beginning of these relationships are usually pleasant, romantic and intense. The neurochemistry of love (norepinephrine, oxytocin, dopamine, vasopressin, and endogenous opioids) flows in abundance making it an exciting time and a perfect setting for an eventual bond. However, the bonding stage will only take place for the non-personality-disordered mate. The individual with psychopathy will experience the excitement of the arousing chemistry, but will not move forward toward the bond.
Often unknown to both individuals – this initial stage of happiness and romantic bliss is temporary. It will soon be replaced by a completely unrecognizable relationship.
The new relationship is often filled with disrespect, impatience, irritability, meanness, and control.
What is the non-personality-disordered person to do when they are suddenly in love with a stranger?
As most normal human beings would – they try to figure out what’s happening. When we love and care about someone, we try to help the person. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a survivor to say that they tried to figure out what went wrong. They asked questions; they made accusations regarding the change in behavior, they went online, they may have become obsessed with fixing their relationship. Their goal was to help their disordered mate get back on track.
But most of the time, the person with psychopathy or narcissistic personality disorder is not on board with that agenda. Some found that the personality disordered individual blamed them for the demise of the relationship. Sadly, many partners accepted that blame and began to work on themselves and gave 110% to the relationship because they believed that perhaps it was their fault that they were having problems.
This is a painful burden to bear. Particularly when the survivor is still in the dark regarding what the true problem is – the presence of a personality disorder.
I’m not interested … Anymore
What is fairly consistent is that individuals with psychopathy often become bored and lose interest in their partners. This loss of interest is usually drastic. Their loving, safe and kind interactions become minimal in frequency or nonexistent.
This second phase of their romantic relationships is often dramatic, painful, riddled with secrets, psychological games, and instability. Before they leave their partners, many have caused significant damage to her/ his emotional and neurobiological state.
Many women and men have been traumatized by these relationships and left to struggle with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and/ or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD/ complex PTSD). It is rare for their mate to receive an apology or contrition, regardless of the magnitude of the past violations (e.g., sexual abuse, physical violence, theft, intimidation, cheating, lies).
For some survivors, narcissistic and psychopathic relationships can be dangerous, potentially life threatening and nearly always life changing. If you have been or presently within this situation, take steps to ensure your emotional or physical safety.