The narcissistic lover’s playbook.


It looks like today is “Narcissistic Lovers and Spouses Day,” because this is the third article about that subject I’m posting today. But it occurred to me that narcissistic men (and probably women too, even though I have no personal experience with my own gender) follow the same rulebook when pursuing narcissistic supply and use all these ploys in pretty much the order I’m posting here.

I thought it might help those of you still in abusive relationships to be able to identify the telltale pattern of narcissistic abuse–which they ALL seem to follow. It’s a pattern of progressing abuse, and if you pass one “test”, they up the ante for the next “test.” In other words, if you tolerate a low level of abuse (such as verbal insults), the narcissist is empowered to move on to the next level of abuse, which could be triangulating against you or eventually, physical abuse.

They may not even be aware they are following this pattern because it’s such a core part of their personality they truly can’t stop themselves. You can stop them by ending the relationship at the first sign of abuse, but never try to fix a narcissist yourself. You won’t help them and will only hurt yourself.

First, a word about commitment-phobes.
It’s important to remember that this pattern does NOT apply to the commitment phobe type of narcissist, which some narcissists are. (They get their supply from other sources–relationships are too scary to them). A commitment-phobe will never love-bomb you or tell you they love you. Instead, they’ll run like hell if you try to get one to further commit or if you tell them you love them. But this article does not apply to that type of narcissist.

Stages of a relationship with a narcissist.


1. Lovebombing/idealization.
During this heady phase that follows meeting your narcissist lover (who chose you because they see you as an easy “mark” to get narcissistic supply), you feel swept off your feet by their ardor and the speed at which they seem to want to get to know you and then take things to “the next level.” This phase includes idealization of you, intense, almost constant sex and the most romantic things you could imagine hearing anyone say. You feel beautiful, sexy and your self esteem soars. Life seems perfect. This is how they get you to fall under their spell so they can continue to “work” on you as a primary source of narcissistic supply. It will not last.

2. Declarations of permanency.
Your narcissistic lover will declare their undying love for you or even propose marriage or talk about having a family with you within weeks or a few months of meeting you. (This is a test to find out how committed you are and helps them guage how much abuse you will tolerate/supply you can provide).

If they actually follow through on their commitment (some will), it’s because they have decided you are perfect source of supply (you make them look good) they can keep tapping into on a permanent basis like a backyard well. Only unlike the well, you won’t keep refilling with water, but will eventually be sucked dry emotionally, mentally or even spiritually. A narcissist’s desire to marry or commit permanently to you has nothing to do with “love.”

3. Boredom and irritation.
Suddenly, for no explainable reason, your narcissist starts acting bored, distracted or vaguely annoyed. If you try to ask them about it, they will deny it, insist nothing is wrong, or act annoyed that you asked.

4. Badmouthing others.
At around the same time you start to notice their boredom and irritation, you will notice your narcissist seems easily annoyed in general, and starts badmouthing other people–his (or her) boss or employees, family members, other drivers on the road, but they save the worst badmouthing for their ex lovers or spouses, who were ALWAYS at fault for whatever went wrong.

5. Decrease or changes in sexual desire.
If your lover is a cerebral narc, they suddenly stop wanting to have sex with you and may resort to pornography or masturbation instead. If a somatic, the sex may become less personal and romantic and more “kinky”–for example they may say they want to try new things in bed to “spice things up” but being more romantic or tender isn’t one of them. They will no longer look at you when you make love.

6. Stinginess.
This formerly generous person who showered you with gifts of candy, roses and clothing suddenly stops buying you gifts or telling you they cost too much, or starts to complain about how much you are costing them in general.

7. Emotional/verbal abuse.
The verbal and emotional abuse starts. We all know the many forms that can take, since this whole blog is about that.

Some narcissists will, at this point, Devalue and Discard. This simply means they no longer need you as a source of narcissistic supply (they may have found a replacement) so they completely devalue and leave you. If they don’t leave, their abuse will keep growing worse. But whether they leave or not, they are still devaluing you.

8. Physical abuse.
Eventually, some malignant narcissists may begin the physical abuse, and again this can start with something as innocuous as a “push” or a single slap. If this happens, expect the abuse to increase in intensity if you stay in the relationship. Even if your narcissist never touches you physically, the emotional abuse will continue to increase until your self esteem is destroyed. In some ways it can be even worse, because there are no telltale bruises or scars, and your narcissist can easily tell others who could be of help to you that you are crazy or making it all up.

What if you decide to call their bluff and leave?

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If you decide to call their bluff and leave, there are four ways a narcissist will react:

1. They will try to “hoover” you back in through lovebombing similar to what they showed when you first met, make fake but sincere-sounding apologies and promises to change. Don’t fall for it.

2. They will act like splitting up was their idea all along because you were “too needy,” “too crazy,” “too high maintenance,” etc.

3. They will act like nothing happened and even have the chutzpah to keep calling you or texting you and act as if they’re your best friend. They may tell you all about their new lovers or dates, as if there was never anything between you at all. You can be sure that behind your back, they are trashing you to their new conquests–the same way they talked trash about their ex lovers to you.

4. Jilted malignant narcissists are likely to try to enact revenge, usually through badmouthing you to others, including possibly your friends, but their vindictiveness could take on more dangerous forms too.

19 thoughts on “The narcissistic lover’s playbook.

    • I think a lot of victims of these men especially those who were married or in long term relationships with them…are very wary of future relationships…and some of us opt to stay single, at least for a long time. I’m only now bginning to even consider dating again, but don’t think i will for awhile. Too triggering. I’ve become a sort of commitment-phobe in a sense. Some people with avoidant PD are.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was thinking one day I might want to get married again, but now I am afraid to even meet a man. And what makes me madder is that he told me that he didn’t have any mental problems, just I did. I knew he had some problems, rage was terrible, but I had no idea what he was doing to me. At least I am out now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • This is something that I hope will help others. It’s a powerful healer to my mind after experiencing narcissistic abuse when I was the prey of a narcissist in Navarre, FL. “Accept that mentally ill, predatory, deceptive and extremely manipulative people exist who seek out and TARGET individuals who they think they can con . . . and that’s most people in some way, shape or form, and I caught in their sights. The responsibility for the deception lies solely with the one who deceived. I now know how to protect myself better, and I won’t ever let it happen again.”

        This statement isn’t correct: “Accept that you allowed this energy permission to enter your space.” That is flawed logic. If that were true, then it would also be true that your car gets stolen because you let it. Or, that a person is raped because they allowed it. Or, that the banks allow a lot of inappropriate debt to occur and a country’s economy is ruined because the citizens gave them permission. So, I wrote the initial statement to replace the flawed one because it’s right and because targets/prey need to be empowered, not blamed. Can I get an Amen?

        In my mind, I said to the narc, “There is nothing good about you. I never cared about you. I cared about the fake you. I’m sorry that the real you is dead inside and what took over is a predatory, heartless, manipulative, narcissistic supply addicted being. It’s not your fault, and you can’t change (your biggest weakness). You’re like a snake who can’t help striking, and the best thing for a wise person to do is stay away from snakes. Don’t ever need or want anything from you but no contact.”

        Please let me know if this was helpful to anyone. Lucky Otter, you’re the best! Hope vacation was awesome!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, Kim, you made a very important point with this comment. The only thing you can (and should) do is get away from a narc. You can’t help them. You can’t appeal to them. You can’t reason with them. If they can and will ever change that is their choice and their responsibility, not yours.


  1. Before I broke it off with him… He flicked his fingers on my neck. He ex wife warned me that he is physically violent. When he did that I knew she was right. And out of no where he started to get mentally abusive. He started degrading me and then flicked his fingers on my neck.

    It comes out of nowhere on a bright sunny day. Its classic textbook abuse…

    Liked by 1 person

      • You get your indext finger and your second finger and you shove them on someone’s neck and you flick them back and forth roughly…

        Let’s see?? He strangled his ex wife and she was hospitalized. I think when a man is touching your neck and flicking with his fingers its a subtle hint that he’d strangle you next.

        I’m not making this stuff up. Call his ex up…she tell you his history…

        Liked by 1 person

        • I had to revisit the details of this and it disgusts me. This is why I left this crazy man. You’ll be having an OK day with him…then something you say sets off his insecurities and he goes off.

          Getting away from a Malignant Narc is more important than your ego. Getting away is guarding your life.

          And watch out…because people victim blame women. Your obsessed… Why did you date him… Etc etc….

          But its BS. Bottom line…women are always victim blamed…and it takes us time to get over that kind of Malignant abuse… And I’ll talk about it all I want…for as long as I want to….

          Liked by 1 person

          • I stayed with mine for YEARS because I was too afraid to leave and believed I had no other options and he also was threatening SUiCIDE-MURDER, and my own damn PARENTS blame me for not having left him years earlier. They hate him, but think I’m just as culpable. But my mother’s MN too, so no surprise there. :/

            Liked by 1 person

          • I’m sorry you went through that. I woke up upset today. I logged myself out of our 3 way conversation… because I felt ignored…but I’m sure its all in my head..

            Will talk to you later…or in the next few days privately….

            Love you ❤

            Liked by 1 person

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