1, 2, 3, 4 – it goes as follows:
1. Lure in
To obtain narcissistic supply, a narcissist creates a container for their target to enter into. This is often a social group i.e a business, a spiritual movement, a friendship circle, even a family.
The container can be psychological, in that the narcissist verbally engages you to gather how susceptible you are to lower your boundaries and enter their world.
It can also be romantic, where the narcissist may seduce you to lure you in.
In any case, the narcissist needs you in their ‘territory’.
The narcissist has your time and attention. Now they need your investment of Self. To soften you up, they will shower you with attention, care, interest and compliments.
Meanwhile, they gauge what your needs are, and provide them to you unconditionally. The initial phase is friction free, dream-like, a fantastical world of possibility. It is designed to help you feel safe, loved, and above all, special. In time, you lower your guard and grow attached to the narcissist and invested in their world.
In time, the narcissist will feel their power over you grow. When they sense that you have surrendered sufficiently, they will test how far they can push your loyalty, and how much supply they can extract. If you resist, they will shame you, ridicule you, question you, judge you, withdraw love, or give you the silent treatment.
You will feel the energetic shift, and it will rock you to the core. However, by now you are in too deep. You are attached, and breaking that attachment is going to be painful. Instead, you double down on trying to find a way to keep the narcissist happy with you.
The deeper you go into the narcissist’s world, the more your willpower is compromised. This process may drag out for years, even a lifetime.
Many people reach a point where enough is enough. They may not be ready to leave, but they find themselves unable to tolerate being treated this way.
The narcissist, sensing that you have reached this point, will promise change and alter their behaviour. Seeing that your resistance has made an impact, you re-invest in the narcissist, and hope fills your heart. Soon enough, the narcissist reverts back to their old behaviour, squeezing every drop of narcissistic supply out of you, and the cycle begins again.
As the relationship grinds you down, you might grow resentful or dead inside. In the case of resentment, you will become so resistant and constantly angry that the narcissist eventually walks away due to the difficulty of gaining narcissistic supply. In the case where your heart gives up, your inner deadness means narcissistic supply is no longer available, and the narcissist too will likely walk away. The resilient ones can be sucked dry over many, many years.
No matter how it happens, almost all relationships with narcissists end with a discard, leaving you feeling abandoned, angry, heart-broken and needing to pick up the pieces, with a long recovery process ahead.