The Honeymoon is Over - The Toxic Relationship Timeline
You have met someone incredible who might just be the love of your life. Your first date was practically a proposal, a summary of what your life together will be like. This must be what all those uber successful couples experienced in the beginning. You are about to take the wild ride of seduction, and it’s everything you ever
read about in cheesy romance novels.
Welcome to the Idealization Phase.
The unhinged sexual ecstasy, the overabundance of praise, flattery and attention. Your new partner is love bombing you – making the right promises, and mirroring your desires and passions. Not only have you met your soulmate, you have met your twin.
“This is the perfect person I’ve been waiting for all my life!” you tell everyone. To secure the relationship, you work super hard to return at least as much attention to them as they are showering upon you. In your mind you can’t do enough to express your love and your gratitude for their love.
Very slowly, their expectations change, and it becomes a little challenging to meet them. But you keep at it. When you get discouraged, feel defeated, or criticized, they give you a dose of that Pavlovian love that keeps you focused, co-dependently
addicted to their approval. After all, this is “the one” for sure. They keep filling your glass with the Koolaid, and you are thirsty.
A rare few in toxic relationships might start to sense that something is off at this point, but most are still fully committed.
The perpetrator will test your boundaries, throw subtle insults, and question your loyalty. But you have that swirling wreath of animated hearts spinning around your head, so you won’t really notice.
Your relationship is governed by extremes. Either your new love is infatuated with your every move, or they are showing distaste for your choices and actions. The gaslighting begins, and you start to doubt yourself, wondering if you are worthy.
Now you will be pulled into the Devaluation Phase.
The little private digs will now start to happen publicly, so your partner can show friends and family what they are “dealing with”. Your strengths will be tested and your flaws magnified. Soon you won’t want to be with other people, and they won’t understand why you’re isolating yourself.
The perpetrator has been watching you from day one, calculating the best ways to manipulate you for their benefit.
This phase can come on with intense speed or slow and sneaky. Impressed with their own power, they gain confidence from watching you scramble to please them. Although you feel like you’re falling short, you notice your partner is sweet and kind, flirtatious even, with others, in the way they once were with you. Craving their attention, you now find yourself overcome with jealousy. While you wonder how you can make things like they once were, the perpetrator slowly pulls away looking for a new target.
Maybe they instigate arguments, blaming your erratic emotions. They serve up the silent treatment and you can’t stand it. Feeling helpless, you’re exhausted from the struggle. This vicious cycle has you jumping at any glimmer of attention, ridden with shame but no idea why.
Welcome to the finale: the Discard Phase.
If you can think clearly long enough to realize it’s time to cut your losses and leave, your predator will harass, badger and stalk you.
However, if the narcissist leaves you, the trauma of rebuilding your life will be an uphill journey. After all, they have dragged you down to the very bottom depths of self worth. The disbelief and humiliation of their desertion usually doesn’t happen until after they have secured their next victim.
You will have questions that never get answered, and a lack of self trust that can take years to heal. You may even deal with depression, anxiety, and/or PTSD. The cycle of narcissistic abuse has blind-sided you, and you will need time, selfcare, and support to recover and move on.
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