Common Relationship Cycle of Pathological Narcissists
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The well-known cycle of idealize, devalue, and discard has been experienced by many abuse victims. The cycle takes an abuser from intense interest to total disdain of their partner. And if you’ve fallen in love with someone within the Cluster B Personality Disorder group, you’ve likely experienced this first hand.
The beginning of these relationships are 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.
This next point is very important: Psychologically attachment and bonding problems are at the core of pathological narcissism. This is the reason they demonstrate a predictable relationship cycle. The same ‘story’ and patterns are repeated again and again in each new relationship.
Neurobiologically, there are a host of brain systems, regions, neuropathways, and chemistry that hinder emotions and cognition.
The person with psychopathy will experience the excitement of the arousing chemistry, but will not move forward toward the deeper, lasting bond. And those with narcissistic personality disorder have attachment problems that will hinder their closest relationships.
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 filled with disrespect, impatience, irritability, secrecy, meanness, and control.
You’re in love with a stranger by the end of the cycle
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 survivors get blamed for the demise of the relationship. Sadly, many partners accepted that blame and began to work on themselves. They 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 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 were left to struggle with psychological distress. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, or complex PTSD are not uncommon.
There will be no sincere apology. No amends. No contrition.
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.
© 2015 All Rights Reserved (Reviewed 2019)