Cycle of Narcissistic Relationships

cycle of narcissistic abuse

Narcissism is a buzzword and for good reason. As we begin to step into a season where we finally accept that we deserve boundaries and respect, the narc, and narcissistic tendencies, become less covert.

This is a very simplified overview of the cycle of narcissistic abuse, but it is still incredibly powerful.

When it comes to abuse recovery, when you can recognize and put a name to what you went through, it’s a lot easier to take a step back and see it from an objective perspective.

The cycle is as follows:

Post-Cycle Smear Campaign

We’re going to be diving deep into each of these below.

Let’s get into it.


Love bombing is the main focus right now.

Love Bombing – Definition: At the beginning of the relationship, very intense emotions. Generally say I love you very early, shower you with compliments and gifts. It’s very intense very fast. Hooks you in.

This is the part that feels too good to be true. The narc will spend a lot of time getting to know you and what you like. They also use this time to pinpoint what you don’t like. Think of this like “stocking up for later.”

They spend time putting you on a pedestal and making you feel like you’re the most important person in the world.

The trust you feel for them is unsettled but you can’t think of a reason why. Slowly but surely they pull you in.


Definition: They put you down and cause you to doubt your own worth. They attack your confidence and sense of self worth in order to pull you in and force you to rely on them.

After the build up, they knock you out at the knees. Because you’ve been built up so high, you feel a connection with them. This makes it easier for them to gaslight you into thinking you’re not capable of getting out and finding better.

Phrases like “you’re so lucky I put up with you” and “oh my God seriously? You’re so dramatic. Let it go.” become part of the daily vocabulary.

You begin to get confused and you don’t understand what’s happening. Because they’ve been so kind to you in the past, because they lifted you up so high, there’s no way that they could truly be that awful… right?

This is where your brain becomes permanently affected. Your friends begin to tell you that you should leave and ask you why you’re staying. You don’t have a solid answer because you know they’re right, but your brain isn’t thinking logically.

If you’ve ever wondered why you stayed so long, the combination of idealization and devaluation is why. For more info on how it affects the brain, check out this post.


Definition: They’re no longer getting what they need out of you, so they “throw you away” and go after something that provides what they want.

This is the point that they’ve decided they’re done. It’s often said that this is when they go after “new supply.” The narc needs constant attention, affection, and reminders of their greatness. It’s like a drug to them.

And just like your body will eventually become used to the high so you need more and more, the narc needs new supply. Whether you become so strong they can’t control you anymore or they become bored, the important thing to remember about the discard is that it’s not about you. It’s about them.

The discard is incredibly painful for the victim. They’ve become trauma bonded to the narc and they don’t understand why they feel the way they do. The amount of conflicting emotions becomes too much for the brain to handle at once.

The discard may happen out of nowhere or it can be a slow process.

How the discard looks is different for every situation. Sometimes the narc will straight up walk away. There may also be times where they push and push until you decide to end it so they can say it was your fault.

Post-Cycle Smear Campaign

Definition: After you break up with them, they will tell everyone that they’re the victim and put you down. 

This is what happens after you’re no longer with the narc.

This can take different forms. The one I personally experienced is when they do everything they can to destroy your reputation and isolate you.

They will reach out to friends, family, coworkers. They make themselves out to be the victim and tell everyone just how awful you are.

The other form of the smear campaign is when they go radio silent and they let you tear yourself down. By the time the cycle has played out, you’re exhausted. You’re tired. You don’t have much left in you and you just want someone, anyone to believe you.

So you go around telling your story, telling your experience. But the difference here is that because the narc isn’t retaliating and they’re keeping to themselves, it looks like you’re the one trying to cause drama. They’ll let you spiral down all on your own.

I go deeper into the smear campaign here in this podcast episode. Click here to listen.

The reason I’m so passionate about sharing this information is because once you become aware, you can not only get out of the situation but you can prevent it from happening again. If you don’t realize the road you’re on, you have no idea where you’re going to end up. When you turn your headlights on and see the chaos ahead of you, you can make the decision to stop the car.

So as you’re processing this information, I want you to know that you’re not alone.

You’re not stupid. You’re not broken.

You were manipulated. And you survived. You’re freaking amazing.

If this resonated with you and you want to start but you’re not sure how, then jump into my free Confidence Course. This five day course gives you the exact framework you need in order to build confidence and step into the life that you deserve.

The best part? Each lesson is less than 15 minutes long. So for five days, if you commit to 15 minutes a day, you’ll change your life.

Ready to jump in? Click here!

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