Devaluation is the second of three stages in a relationship with a narcissist. After the honeymoon period and the best bits of a relationship with a narcissist, they will have likely gained your trust and unwavering support since they have made you feel special after all. They will begin subtly and covertly putting you down to devalue you.
The motivation of the narcissist is to make you feel weak and powerless – so as to gain control over you. They are deeply insecure people and here they will be projecting the devaluation of and feelings about themselves onto you. They will find your areas of vulnerability and will use those against you so that you feel just as bad about yourself as they do.
They are so good at reading others and what they need to hear, or not. From our previous article about the first stage of narcissism – “love bombing” – you will have read that they will tell you what you want to hear to hook you in, and yet here they are telling you otherwise to make you feel worthless.
The switch from stage 1 to stage 2 can take any amount of time – from days to weeks to months. You might find this switch happens just as you are starting to feel settled in the relationship. The shift is nuanced and you might not realise when it happened.
This is the stage where the abuse lies, it can be any form of abuse – verbal, emotional, sexual, physical, financial, spiritual or other.
Cycle of Abuse in a Relationship with a Narcissist:
Signs and Behaviours:
• Gaslighting (making you think you are crazy, paranoid or sensitive when you are having perfectly normal reactions)
• Insults about your appearance, character, profession, interests or family (“You like that? It’s terrible”, "Your family doesn't like me. You probably shouldn't see them as much.", “You can’t wear that”)
• Ridicule and embarrass you in front of others
• Withdrawing affection
• Seductive withholding
• Emotional appeals (will make you feel sorry for them whenever you raise something that is bothering you)
• Making you feel bad for how you feel and think
• Make you doubt who you are until you have no confidence left (“What’s wrong with you?”, “No wonder nobody else likes you”)
• Passive aggression
When the narcissist sees that you have no boundaries and seemingly need them (in your role as a co-dependent), it will perpetuate their behaviour. You will get stuck in a cycle where you will put up with the abuse to the point where you devalue yourself so much, but still cling onto the hope that they might return to being who they were during the love-bombing phase.
You might be incredibly confused by what is happening and even think that you are to blame because the narcissist is behaving like this. You must know, that it’s not your fault that they are treating you this way and you did nothing to deserve this behaviour.
A few pointers:
• Listen to your gut instincts. If something feels wrong with the relationship, notice the behaviour and seek support
• Asking for an explanation as to why they are behaving like this is likely to do more harm than good, since they will only end up denying it and it will likely exacerbate the situation
• Turn inward to work on yourself and deal with the insecurities that you have about yourself that have always made you appease the unavailable, anxious, angry or abusive people in order to earn love and approval. You will start to realise that you are a special person who deserves to be treated with respect. By doing this you will realise that you need to change things
• You might feel ashamed to share your feelings about your partner’s behaviour with people you love and or/trust but it is important to know that no one will judge you for the behaviour that someone else has inflicted on you
Does it sound like you are in a relationship with a narcissist? Do you need help with understanding the patterns of behaviour? Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our Certified Divorce Coaches. We're here to help you every step of the way.