3 Stages of a Relationship with a Narcissist

Legal Lotus - Family and Trial Attorneys

If you suspect you are in a relationship with a narcissist, take some time to sit back and reflect on how your relationship started and where it is now. There are three stages of a narcissistic relationship and understanding each stage can help you identify if you are in one and if you need to get out of one.

Stage One: Idealization

When you first enter into a relationship with a narcissist, they “love bomb” you. Love-bombing is when the narcissist immediately starts adoring and complimenting you. The narc will show you tons of love and affection, and make you feel like you are both 100% in sync and meant to be. They idealize you with the intent to manipulate you later on.

Just know that all these things the narcissist is doing and making you feel is not real.

Stage Two: Devaluation

As you exit the idealization stage, the narcissist will start devaluing you. The narcissist will isolate you from your friends and family—stripping your support system—and begin to exert dominance over you.

Narcissists exert dominance by shaming, blaming, accusing, threatening and guilting you in an attempt to lower your self-esteem. The narcissists will even show fits of rage to shock you into compliance. You may not realize any of this manipulation is happening because the narcissist will sprinkle in some love bombing occasionally. For the most part, this just leaves you feeling confused about the relationship, and you will want to do whatever you can to “fix” it or get the relationship back to what it once was.

Stage Three: Discard

 Stage three of a narcissistic relationship is when the narcissist decides to discard or get rid of you without any notice. When the narcissist no longer finds use in you, they will not only break off the relationship, but also make you feel like you did something wrong or that you are the “crazy” one in the relationship. They’ll often get in a new relationship quickly with an “upgraded” version of you.

On the other hand, if you get out of the relationship before this stage, the narcissist has lost control and will then make you the “enemy.” I see this a lot in divorce cases. Because the narcissist has lost power and control over you, they will obsessively do anything they can to destroy your life.

And, if you have children together, the narcissist will have no problem using the kids against you.


If any of these stages sound familiar to you and you think that you are in a narcissistic marriage and want out, with a strong support system and legal strategy it is possible to come out on the other side stronger and free of this toxic relationship.

The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.

Have more questions? Let us know by sending an email to: questions@legallotus.legal and we will do our best to develop content to provide you with direction and insight!

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