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We all know the standard toxic relationship pattern that narcissists use. First, they love bomb and idealize you. Then they devalue and discard you. Then they hoover you back in – right?

This happens in varying iterations and it happens often inside the same relationship over and over for decades sometimes. But outside of that basic skeleton, are narcissists all the same? Are there other identifiable relationship patterns with narcissists?

That’s what we’re discussing today – do narcissists follow the same relationship patterns in every relationship?  Narcissists and people with NPD tend to develop their favorite strategies for getting what they want from other people – and yeah, they do tend to repeat them over and over again, especially if the other person cooperates on any level.

What do I mean? Let’s look at some different narcissistic relationship patterns.

Rom-Com Narcissist: They love a good romance flick, and the way they see it, their lives should look just like one! These narcissists are so wrapped up in the “pretty” part of the relationship that they believe the whole thing should look that way. See, just like anyone else, narcissists can have some pretty big romantic fantasies.

  • The Rom-Com romantic type will do the candlelight dinner and flowers thing early in the relationship.
  • Note about these types – they often repeat the same romantic gestures in each relationship. They may even use the same pet names, frequent the same restaurants and repeat the same experiences with each supply. It’s like for them, the romantic comedy of it all is that the story doesn’t change while the source of supply (aka the “significant other”) is interchangeable.

Controlling Narcissist: They need to be in control and gradually they will start to take over in all kinds of areas of your life.

  • During love bombing/idealization, they pretend that they are doing it to be nice to you or to protect or take care of you.
  • During devalue and discard, they tell you it’s because you aren’t capable of doing it yourself. In reality, it’s because they want to be in control of every single aspect of your life. This is true no matter your actual level of competency.

The Emotional Bullies: They manage their fragile egos by devaluing other people. This is true for anyone they are in a relationship with – parents, children, significant others, colleague, neighbors and even friends.

  • They do it by projecting their own issues onto you and they, they try and convince you that you are the one who has the problem, not them.
  • They never praise you, preferring to only point out your flaws. But since no one is perfect and everyone has flaws, you could find yourself reluctantly seeing a bit of truth in their opinion, which can lead to more self-doubt on your part. You start to wonder: maybe you are a bit clumsy or thoughtless or….whatever.  
  • They chip away your self-esteem and, like a bloodsucking vampire, as you grow weaker, they get stronger.

Always ISO The Perfect Supply: All they want to do is have you to put on a pedestal and worship. This narcissist needs to know that you are far too good for them, a God or Goddess worthy of their awe.

  • Of course, the first time they discover that you are only human and not some perfect and special being, they quickly lose their enthusiasm for you and go in search of a newer and shinier model, which of course launches the same process all over again.
  • The only way to keep their attention is to play hard to get and maintain a certain amount of emotional distance.

The Long-Haul Narcissist: This is the narcissist you end up spending a lifetime with, with or without your consent at times.

  • They will marry you (or at least long-term commit to you) pretty quickly, and unless you leave them, they’ll stick with you forever. Of course, you must have low standards and not require them to be emotionally and/or sexually faithful to them, and you must be prepared to accept whatever crumbs they can offer you.
  • The indifference that will become part of the rotating cycle is alternated with mild to extreme contempt and occasionally, love bombing and hoovering.

Question of the day: do you recognize your narcissist in any of these patterns, or a combination of the toxic relationship patterns I described here, maybe? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below if so – if not, what would you add to this list?

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One Response to 5 narcissistic relationship patterns

  1. I can see a little of each type in my narc, but I feel his primary role was the victim. He had terrible stories of past girlfriends and an ex-wife that cheated on him. 

      These circumstances gave him leeway to be overly watchful and controlling of me because he was cheated on and can’t help but to mistrust, ya know because of his PTSD. But I was different, I was fated to be with him, it was our destiny. I was the angel sent to him that was going to heal him and restore his faith in women and relationships. And he felt he was my knight in shining armor, sent to rescue me from my so called terrible life. The love bombing theme was all about how we were fated to be together and was centered around magic and romance. He even nicknamed me after a Greek goddess.
        Until one day about 3 months later, when I wasn’t so perfect. When according to him, I showed myself to actually be mean when I purposely embarrassed him at a party with all his friends when I remembered the name of a man I was introduced to, obviously because I was attracted to him. That I was not this angel sent to heal and care for him, but just another terrible woman sent to hurt and destroy him. I was part of the cursed chain of terrible women that would injure his soul. He would argue relentlessly until I admitted that I indeed was, intentionally or not, injurious to him. He often wondered what he did to deserve this. Why he is hurt by yet another woman and has to be alone again. 
        Or not? Maybe he could change me? Maybe he could make me a nicer person and we could be happy. But I’d have to do everything he said to bring about this change and make him happy instead of constantly hurting him. And since I was now a “bad” person, of course I’d have to be monitored to make sure I wasn’t cheating. This meant my emails, text messages, phone logs and voice mails had to be randomly checked and if I refused, it was proof that I was hiding something. I suddenly became this mean deceitful person that I never knew I was.
    That’s why I had relationships that never worked out, I just wasn’t a nice person. Lucky for me, he really loved me, who else would stay with me this long? There must be an awful reason why he broke up with me 7 times. He told me all the time what he needed from me; telling him every day why I loved him, be completely transparent about who I talk to and what I say to them, speak to him every night for at least 15 minutes before bed if we were not together, never refuse sex no matter how tired I was, and not ever embarrass him in public by looking like I didn’t adore him every second I was with him. Why couldn’t I just follow these simple rules? He was so sensitive and had been so terribly hurt in the past. Doing these things would just put his mind to rest. So why couldn’t I do them? Because I was a bad person that takes delight in hurting him, that was evident.
      He began to falsely accuse me of infractions against him and of cheating. When I told him he was delusional he said I was gaslighting him. He made me take a lie detector test to prove my innocence. Every day I was walking on eggshells with him, fearing his false accusations or any reason for him to argue with me. He constantly brought up previous accusations and he knew they infuriated me. I would yell and sometimes curse at him out of frustration because there was no reasoning or getting through to him.  This of course was proof that I was indeed this awful person that he was accusing me of being and I had a terrible temper too. 
      He didn’t know what kind of person I was used to being with, probably a hurtful abusive clod, who contributed to forming me into this mean bad person that I was, not the sensitive nice guy like him who was unable to put up with my hurtfulness towards him. If I didn’t change quick, I’d lose the one nice guy that ever came into my life- forever. 
         He constantly told his best girlfriend what a horribly mean and emasculating girlfriend I was.  And when he made the final discard because I didn’t take his side in an argument between him and my friend, he moved her up in the ranks to primary supply and into his apartment a week later. He gave me more chances than I deserved and he deserved to be with a nice girl who would treat him right. 

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