When Idealization turns to Devaluation

When you first meet a narcissist it can be quite a heady trip. He has decided that you have the potential to be his leading lady and he will go all out in the stakes to win you over for that role. You can find yourself in a full blown romantic fairytale – this is called the ‘Idealization phase’, where you can literally do no wrong. When a narcissist wants to be charming he can be the most romantic, warm and loving person you have ever met in your life. But underneath this romantic facade he suffers from several deep-seated issues, not only a fear of commitment but a repressed hatred towards the opposite sex. This is generally because of something that happened to him as a small child, a wounding to his psyche that caused him to split off and lose touch with his true self and instead develop a false self – one that is amazing, incredible and perfect. When he first meets you, you will mirror that perfection back to him but it will not take long before you say or do something that causes him to doubt you. As soon as he is comfortable in your feelings for him, the first cracks will appear in the relationship. His commitment phobia will kick in, making him panic and feel vulnerable (what if you really are that amazing when deep down he knows he’s not?) and in order to regain control of the situation he will need to start finding fault with you. One moment you can do no wrong; the next moment you can do nothing right. You have entered the ‘Devaluation phase.’ This can literally happen overnight and the partner of a narcissist can be left reeling at the sudden switch in mood and attitude. Yesterday you had a warm, loving partner telling you how much he loved you and how wonderful you are, now you have a critical, cold person who seems like a completely different person entirely. Dr Jeckyll/Mr Hyde. Taken by surprise at this switch and thrown completely off balance, the partner will often scramble to reassure the narcissist that all is OK, trying harder and harder to prove that she really is the amazing person he fell for. This only makes the narcissist feel more panicked and start to find even more fault. At this point you might experience raging or the silent treatment where he disappears suddenly from your life in order to get you and the relationship back under control again. And then he will show up as if nothing is out of the ordinary. When he returns the idealization phase will begin all over again. A cycle of emotional abuse is being set up that is much like a rollercoaster – idealization, devaluation, discard, reconciliation. If you allow this to happen you will find that it will continue to happen throughout your relationship and it is important to understand that this cycle will not change. Many partners have thrown away years of their lives thinking that if they could just say or do something differently that this time they will break the pattern, but it is so entrenched in the narcissist’s psyche that you are wasting your time. All it will do is make you miserable. My advice to you – when he starts to devalue you, tell him you will not stand for it and if he continues, get off at the next turn of the merry-go-round and don’t get back on.


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