The terms narcissism and narcissistic are commonly used in ordinary discourse to describe someone who is very self-absorbed. When narcissists and empaths get together in partnerships, they may be quite strong. However, the connection will unavoidably grow with time. The idealization stage fades fast when the empath realizes that the narcissist’s great promises are hollow. What follows frequently resembles a typical power struggle and can cause significant psychological harm to both parties. This article discusses the 21 stages of a narcissistic relationship.
It is crucial to note that not all relationships between a narcissist and an empath will definitely go through each stage, nor will they necessarily go through them in this precise order. Nonetheless, recognizing these frequent processes can be useful since they can often be warning indicators that something isn’t quite right in the relationship.
What Is An Empath?
Empaths and narcissists are two very different kinds of individuals, yet empaths are all too often drawn into relationships with narcissists.
An empath is someone who was born with the capacity to sense other people’s emotions and energies as if they were their own. What they go through goes beyond merely understanding how someone else feels or feeling pity for others. Empaths genuinely sense other people’s emotions within their own bodies, via their nervous systems.
The Empath And The Narcissist
The narcissist is attracted to empaths because they are everything they are not. An empath is a person who is steady, gentle, supportive, and loving. The empath understands and listens to the narcissist. As a result, someone like this is an ideal target for the narcissist. The empath wants to give, give, and give again, but the narcissist wants to take, take, and take some more.
The empath is attracted to the narcissist because they are initially witty, engaging, and appealing. Their energy is so strong and captivating that the empath can’t believe they discovered someone like that. The narcissist is passionate, which draws the empath, who is obsessed with the depth of everything.
21 Stages of a Narcissist Relationship
A narcissist’s relationship with an empath is believed to go through 21 phases. Let’s take a look at the 21 stages of a narcissistic relationship.
Stage 1: Attraction
A relationship begins when the narcissist attracts the empath. The empath feels affirmed and needed by someone who looks to be in need of their care and values that attention. They will begin to acquire a strong feeling of unconditional love for the narcissist, but the narcissist has no intention of returning that love while appearing to do so.
Stage 2: Illusion
The narcissist is attentively observing their victim, attempting to determine what they require and desire. They would convince their victim that they share similar interests and that they can provide them with whatever they desire, basically portraying themselves as their soul mate. The truth is that the narcissist is incapable of loving. They don’t perceive others for who they truly are. They either idealize or depreciate them. Whatever the narcissist offers at this point is not real and is only transitory.
Stage 3: The Manipulation
The narcissist’s long-term goal will be to undermine the empath’s self-esteem. They will never openly attack the empath, but they will say and do things that call the empath’s choices and talents into question, to the point that the empath begins to doubt himself/herself. At that moment, the empath will begin to feel weak, and the narcissist will make them feel fortunate to have them, developing an unhealthy reliance and allowing the narcissist to take control.
Stage 4: Control
The victim has gotten “addicted” to the narcissist’s approval by this point. The narcissist would exploit this bond to manipulate the victim and force them to do whatever they wanted. They may take up all of their victim’s time and energy, isolating them from other people in their lives. In exchange for pseudo-love, the victim becomes the narcissist’s caregiver.
Stage 5: Failure
Because they don’t perceive how the narcissist’s traumas vary from their own, the empath will have pure intentions of loving the narcissist and will want to do all they can to assist the narcissist’s recovery. The truth is that the narcissist does not feel they are damaged or impervious to love, and hence cannot be cured by the empath’s sincere and pure attempts.
Stage 6: Trapped
On a conscious and subconscious level, it becomes evident that the relationship is all about the narcissist. Everything revolves around what the narcissist requires, desires, and selects. Because everything must ultimately be about them, the narcissist will use shame, guilt, and devaluation to minimize the empath’s worries (the narc). They are teaching the empath to put their own needs ahead of the narcissist’s demands in every situation.
Stage 7: The Cycle
The empath offers more to the narcissist, and the narcissist feels more in control. They will continue their cycle of manipulation and exhaust the empath, perceiving no problem with the connection because nothing has changed until the empath reaches their breaking point.
Stage 8: The Shift
Because they can no longer endure the narcissist’s depreciating behaviors, the empath will eventually raise their voice and speak up. Because of how the narcissist treats them, the empath will be saddened, fatigued, and drained, and will also recognize that their own emotional needs are not being satisfied. The relationship’s illusion will fade, and the empath will begin to reject the manipulative loop. This alteration in the relationship irritates the narcissist.
Stage 9: Never Enough
Narcissists are persons who want constant attention and will go to any length to satisfy that demand, particularly in relationships. They only feel satisfied when people fuss over them and validate their inflated egos. They will constantly require more, which the empath frequently fails to see.
Stage 10: Gaslighting
When the victim attempts to speak out, the narcissist will attempt to transfer all of their defects onto their victim and gaslight them into believing that “it’s all in their brains.” They will downplay and discredit the victim’s experience. The narcissist really feels that everything is how it should be and that the victim has changed.
Stage 11: Emotional Abuse
All of the narcissist’s statements are like knives to the heart of the empath. While a narcissist is incapable of holding themselves accountable, an empath thrives in this area. They assume that there must be something really wrong with them to be so miserable. They will take on all of the relationship issues and blame themselves for everything. The empath will believe that they are not good enough or even loveable.
Stage 12: Make you Villain
The empath is unaware that they are being duped by the narcissist once more. They are unable to understand that the way the narcissist makes them feel is merely the narcissist tearing the empath down so that they can keep power. At this stage, the narcissist has made the empath feel like the villain in the relationship, causing them to doubt their sanity to the point where the empath cannot see the truth of the situation.
Stage 13: Blame-shifting
The empath may make additional attempts to express their worries. But their efforts become weaker over time as they are shut down and invalidated by the narcissist over and again. The narcissist will continue to blame the empath in order to explain themselves and maintain control of the relationship.
Stage 14: Survival Mode
Nothing is ever the narcissist’s fault, and the empath has learned that going there or discussing any of it is dangerous. Because they are so deeply unhappy, lonely, and wounded, empaths will retreat even farther inside themselves. Confusion is the most prominent feature of this stage of a narcissistic relationship.
The empath is on high alert and walking on eggshells because they never know when the narcissist will punish them with fury, belittling guilt trips, and silent treatments. Because they don’t comprehend what’s going on in the relationship, the empath may even rationalize it as normal. Their compassionate, open-hearted character is unable to understand the narcissist’s hot/cold behavior.
Stage 15: Recognition
The empath will eventually learn the truth about the narcissist. The knowledge that the entire empath-narcissist connection was a total deception all along is utterly terrible for the empath. Recognizing the fact that the narcissist never actually loved them is the most soul-crushing event for the empath.
They were solely interested in controlling and using the empath for their energy and resources. The empath must realize that the narcissist has no conscience but is a brilliant manipulator and actor who has had them fooled for a long time.
Stage 16: Healing
It is now time for the empath to go on their actual healing journey. There are many levels of trauma to go through, and the empath must ultimately learn to put themselves first, rather than constantly putting everyone else first. As an empath progresses through the last phases of a narcissistic relationship, self-care and self-love become critical for survival.
Stage 17: Acknowledgement of Abuse
As the empath strives to repair themselves, they will come to recognize the harsh reality of what the narcissist has done to them, and that the narcissist does not deserve their love, care, devotion, or healing talents. They realize that not everyone who puts on a sorrowful look is being genuine and is in need of their loving touch. The empath must confront the reality that not everyone who says “I love you” genuinely means it or knows what it means.
Stage 18: Regaining Control
It produces a key time in the empath and narcissist relationship for the empath to have a complete understanding of who the narcissist actually is. The empath must reluctantly accept that the narcissist cannot and will never change. No amount of love or care the empath could have given the narcissist could have cured them.
The only thing that can alter in this circumstance is the empath’s relationship with the narcissist. But it is via this reality, which can feel totally awful to the empath, that strength is gained. The empath can finally begin to reclaim their power from the narcissist.
Stage 19: Discard
A narcissistic relationship is on the verge of being discarded at this point. Either the narcissist or the empath will reject the other, but the results are comparable. If the narcissist sees that the empath is strengthening and awakening them, they will reject the empath first in order to maintain dominance.
Alternatively, if the narcissist wants to keep the empath in the cycle of abuse, the empath must leave the narcissist in order to break free. Being dumped by or leaving a narcissist will be one of the most difficult experiences an empath will ever have. Quite times, the repercussions are more difficult than the violent relationship itself.
Stage 20: Hoovering
In relationships, the phrase hoovering refers to the sucking up of any enjoyment or positivity that the other person may be experiencing. The narcissist will reach out unexpectedly and without warning, say they know their poisonous conduct and will change, and may even threaten suicide or self-harm. The purpose is to prevent their victim from going on and restore control over them. It is critical for the victim to establish solid boundaries.
Stage 21: Moving On
This is the point at which the victim understands they are no longer a victim. They reconnect with themselves, having learned the hard way how crucial it is to prioritize oneself. They understand that the only true source of love and validation is inside.
The Ending Note
The emotional roller coaster that is the 21 stages of a narcissistic relationship can have far-reaching implications. This is critical to detect narcissistic behavior and get professional therapy as soon as possible to avoid future hurt and damage. It is possible to recover from abusive relationships and learn how to prioritize your happiness with the right help and guidance.
Additionally, It is critical to focus on yourself and obtain the aid you need to recuperate from this sort of trauma. Also, It is never too late to go out, no matter what stage you are in. You may break out from the cycle of abuse and begin the road toward freedom if you have compassion and understanding.