21 Stages of a Narcissistic Relationship

21 Stages of a Narcissistic Relationship

If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, you know just how challenging and emotionally draining it can be. From the initial love bombing to the eventual discard, navigating the stages of a narcissistic relationship is like riding an emotional rollercoaster.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the 21 stages of a narcissistic relationship, from the idealization phase to the ultimate realization that you deserve better. Whether you’re currently in a relationship with a narcissist or have recently escaped, understanding these 21 stages of a narcissistic relationship can help you heal and move forward. So grab a cup of tea, find a cozy spot, and let’s dive into this enlightening journey together.

What is a Narcissistic Relationship?

It is a tumultuous dance that begins with an intense whirlwind of love and adoration, only to morph into a sinister game of manipulation and control. The narcissist, with their grandiose sense of self-importance, seeks to feed off your emotions, leaving you feeling depleted and doubting your worth. In this toxic dynamic, the narcissist is the center of attention and everything revolves around them.

21 Stages of a Narcissistic Relationship

A narcissistic Relationship will take you on a wild ride, with each stage more treacherous than the last. Here are the most important 21 stages of a narcissistic relationship:

1. Love Bombing

At the start, the narcissist showers you with affection and admiration, making you feel like the most special person in the world. They charm you with their charisma and make promises of a blissful future together.

2. Idealization

During this stage, the narcissist puts you on a pedestal, idolizing your every move. They believe you are perfect and can do no wrong. Their love feels intoxicating and addictive.

3. Devaluation

But soon enough, the narcissist’s love turns cold. They start criticizing you, belittling your achievements, and highlighting your flaws. They no longer see you as perfect, but rather as someone who needs to be controlled and corrected.

4. Gaslighting


In this stage, the narcissist distorts your reality and makes you question your sanity. They manipulate and twist facts to make themselves look like the victim while painting you as the villain. Gaslighting becomes their weapon of choice to maintain control over you.

5. Triangulation

At this point, the narcissist starts to introduce a third party into the relationship. They do this to create a sense of competition and jealousy, keeping you on your toes and constantly seeking their approval. This manipulation tactic is designed to keep you under their control and unsure of your worth.

6. Discarding

During this stage, the narcissist suddenly discards you as if you never meant anything to them. They may disappear without any explanation or replace you with someone else. This abrupt withdrawal leaves you feeling shocked, confused and abandoned.

7. Hoovering

After discarding you, the narcissist may attempt to hoover you back into their life. They may reach out with messages of regret, apologies, or even promises of change. Their goal is to lure you back in and regain control over you. They know exactly how to manipulate your emotions and make you question whether their actions were truly malicious or if they deserve a second chance.

8. The Cycle Repeats

The Cycle Repeats

If you fall into the trap of the narcissist’s hoovering tactics, the cycle begins again. They will charm you, idealize you, and make you believe that things will be different this time. But eventually, they will revert to their manipulative and controlling ways. The cycle of abuse continues, with each stage becoming more intense and damaging than before.

Gaslighting is the initial stage where the narcissist distorts your reality. They play mind games, making you doubt your perception of events. Their goal is to make you question your sanity and keep you under their control.

Once gaslighting takes hold, the narcissist moves onto triangulation. They introduce a third party into the relationship to create competition and jealousy. This keeps you on edge, constantly seeking their approval and questioning your worth.

9. No Contact

The final stage is when you break free from the narcissist’s grasp and implement a strict no-contact rule. This means cutting off all communication and severing any ties with them. It may be painful and difficult at first, but it is crucial for your well-being and healing.

10. The Path to Healing

The Path to Healing

Implementing a strict no-contact rule with the narcissist is a crucial step towards healing and reclaiming your life. It’s not an easy path, but it will lead you to freedom and self-discovery.

During this time of no contact, you will begin to unravel the knots they tied around your heart and mind. You’ll start to see things clearly, without their manipulative influence clouding your judgment. You’ll remember who you are outside of their control.

11. Rediscovering Yourself

As you embark on your journey of healing and self-discovery, you’ll slowly begin to rediscover who you are beyond the grasp of the narcissist. You may have lost sight of your passions and dreams during the toxic relationship, but now is the time to reclaim them.

Take this opportunity to reconnect with your hobbies, interests, and values that were overshadowed by the narcissist’s demands. Explore new activities that bring you joy and allow you to express yourself freely. Whether it’s painting, writing, or joining a sports team, find outlets that ignite your soul.

12. Embracing Your Worth

One of the most empowering aspects of breaking free from a narcissistic relationship is rediscovering your worth. Through self-reflection and healing, you’ll come to realize that your value is not dependent on the approval or validation of others.

As you rebuild your life, surround yourself with supportive and loving people who appreciate you for who you are. Cultivate healthy relationships that uplift and inspire you, reminding yourself that you deserve nothing less than respect and kindness.

13. Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries

In the process of reclaiming your life, it’s crucial to establish healthy boundaries. This means learning to say no when something doesn’t align with your values or makes you uncomfortable. It means prioritizing your needs and well-being above all else.

Communicate your boundaries clearly and assertively, without fearing the reaction of others. Remember that a narcissist thrives on control and manipulation, but by setting firm boundaries, you’re taking back your power.

14. Nurturing Self-Compassion

Healing from a narcissistic relationship can be emotionally draining, but it’s important to be kind to yourself throughout the process. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your pain, allowing yourself to grieve, and treating yourself with love and care.

Be patient with yourself as you heal and relearn how to trust and love again. Celebrate even the smallest victories and remind yourself that you are worthy of happiness and joy.

15. Seeking Professional Help

Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you find yourself struggling with the aftermath of a toxic relationship. A therapist or counselor can provide guidance, support, and tools to aid in your healing journey.

They can help you navigate through the complex emotions and trauma that may arise from a narcissistic relationship. A professional can offer specialized techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or trauma-focused therapy, to help you process your experiences and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

16. Embracing Self-Discovery

As you continue on your journey of healing from a narcissistic relationship, embrace the opportunity for self-discovery. Take the time to explore who you truly are and what brings you joy.

Engage in activities that nourish your soul and allow you to reconnect with your passions and interests. This could be pursuing a hobby, joining a support group, or embarking on a solo adventure.

17. Cultivating Healthy Relationships

After healing from a narcissistic relationship, it’s important to take the time to cultivate healthy relationships in your life. Surround yourself with people who uplift and support you, and who genuinely care about your well-being.

Focus on building strong connections based on trust, mutual respect, and open communication. Be mindful of red flags and set boundaries to protect yourself from toxic individuals.

18. Understanding the Role of Codependency

Understanding the role of codependency is crucial in your journey of healing from a narcissistic relationship. Codependency often goes hand in hand with toxic relationships and can hinder your ability to establish healthy boundaries and prioritize your own needs.

Educate yourself about codependent behaviors and patterns, and recognize any tendencies you may have developed as a result of the narcissistic relationship. Seek support and therapy to help break free from codependent patterns and develop healthier ways of relating to others.

19. Embracing Inner Strength and Resilience

As you continue to heal from a narcissistic relationship, it’s essential to embrace your inner strength and resilience. Recognize that you have already come a long way in your journey toward healing, and acknowledge the courage it takes to break free from toxic relationships.

Remind yourself of your worth and capabilities. Focus on building self-esteem and self-confidence through positive affirmations, self-care practices, and surrounding yourself with supportive individuals.

20. Practicing Self-Compassion

Practicing self-compassion is vital in your healing process. Understand that you are not to blame for the narcissistic relationship and any pain or harm caused. Be gentle and kind to yourself as you navigate through the healing journey.

Acknowledge your emotions and allow yourself to feel them without judgment. Give yourself permission to grieve, forgive, and let go of any lingering guilt or self-blame.

Treat yourself with love, care, and understanding. Practice self-care activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. Remember that you deserve happiness, peace, and a life free from toxic relationships.

21. Learning to Trust Yourself Again

After experiencing a narcissistic relationship, it’s common to lose trust in yourself and your judgment. However, it’s important to remember that you are resilient and capable of rebuilding that trust.

Start by reflecting on your past experiences and identifying any red flags or warning signs that you may have overlooked. Use these insights to establish new boundaries and criteria for future relationships. Trust your instincts and listen to your gut feelings when deciding who to allow into your life.

Take small steps towards rebuilding trust in yourself. Start by setting achievable goals and following through on them. Celebrate even the smallest victories, as they will help build your confidence and belief in your abilities.

Final Remarks

In conclusion, narcissistic relationships can leave deep emotional wounds, but with time and effort, healing is possible. Surrounding yourself with supportive individuals who understand your journey and practicing self-compassion are essential steps toward healing.

Hope these 21 stages of a narcissistic relationship help you on your path to self-discovery and trust. Rediscovering your worth and learning to trust yourself again will empower you to create a life filled with happiness, peace, and healthy relationships. Trust that you deserve nothing less.