Idealize, Devalue, Discard: The Exhausting Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse That Can Affect Emotional and Mental Health

Idealize, Devalue, Discard: The Exhausting Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse That Can Affect Emotional and Mental Health

A relationship with a person suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder can be toxic for the partner.

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 We always come across the term "love yourself," right? It requires a great deal of patience, understanding, and realizations to accept oneself entirely. But sometimes we come across people who're already aware of the term and enjoy their own company. Before we say anything more, a little question. Have you come across people who look like they love themselves way too much? Do you feel that they're almost obsessed with themselves? Well, those are the narcissists.


There is a simple difference between those who love themselves and those who love themselves too much. While a person who loves themselves admires both their strengths and flaws, on the other hand, a narcissist believes they're perfect. Let's talk a little more about them.

A narcissist can be described as a person who is full of themselves, according to Psychology Today. According to the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) developed by Robert Raskin and Calvin S. Hall in 1979, the traits of narcissism are scored on a range from 0 to 40 with the average people falling in low to mid-teens. Individuals who have a higher score are usually the healthy ones and perceived exceedingly charming, mostly during the first encounters. These charming individuals can sometimes go overboard in thinking they're perfect, that's when they enter the territory of a personality disorder called the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).


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It is a condition where individuals have a magnified opinion about themselves, as per Healthline. Those suffering from NPD usually require constant praise and favors from others which they think they deserve otherwise they get disappointed.


NPD can create a problem for individuals in their workplace, at school, or even relationships. But with proper treatment, talk therapy and lifestyle improvements can help manage the disorder.

Narcissistic people have high self-esteem compared to others and thus they react to criticism poorly. They believe that they are more powerful, successful, and attractive than the others so they tend to bring the others down with their actions. Their impulsive and toxic behavior can affect those close to them as well, especially the ones they really love. Since now we know how a narcissistic person is, let's talk about how it affects relationships.


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Establishing a bond with someone with a narcissistic personality disorder is not easy. They often tend to blame their partners and make them responsible for anything bad which happens to them. In fact, it can get manipulative and abusive. But there's a systematic way in which they do it. It happens in three steps.


Step 1. Idealize

When in a relationship with a person affected with NPD, they usually describe the relationship as "otherwordly," according to Good Therapy. They make their partners feel like it's the best relationship they've ever had and it's going to last forever, but it usually lasts only for a shorter while. Narcissistic abuse begins with the person making their partner believe that they're the soulmates they've been waiting for.


This gives rise to "love bombing," a phrase which describes the first stage where they shower their partners with praises, courting, promises, vacations that makes them feel special but it changes soon. That's when it goes to the second step.

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Step 2. Devalue

As soon as the relationship gets comfortable, red signs start flashing. A narcissistic person starts subtly but soon becomes aggressively disconnected with the same person they first made feel special. They start devaluing their partners with small remarks, gaslighting, reduced emotional and physical intimacy, or blaming their partners for their own mistakes. This leads to the third step.

Step 3. Discard

Once they're happy with the ego boost that their partners provided them with, they leave them. The compromise, honesty, empathy, and boundaries asked by the partners are completely ignored by a person with NPD. They make themselves believe that the partners who till now had been "perfect" are no longer qualified enough to boost their ego. They usually abandon their partners making them feel the worst they could've ever felt about themselves.

Being with a narcissistic person can affect the partners not just emotionally but mentally as well. The survivors of narcissistic abuse can heal with the help of psychotherapy. It helps in resolving the emotional trauma that they've suffered.

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Once the survivors understand what they've suffered, the knowledge also helps them understand the cycle of the abuse which helps them move forward with life, leaving their horrible past behind.