People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are often abusive and toxic in romantic relationships. Due to their sense of entitlement and superiority, they believe they have the right to behave poorly. What is worse, they have a lack of empathy which makes it impossible for them to feel any guilt or shame when hurting the ones who love them. As a result, their partners become subject to torment and trauma as they are manipulated, controlled, and bullied.
Often, there is a pattern to this abuse.
Christine Hammond explains that narcissists often verbally abuse their partners and then suddenly enter a calm phase for several weeks. During this time, they seem kind, charming, and caring. Subsequently, the victim forgives and forgets the abuse. However, this period inevitably comes to an end and the narcissist becomes abusive, aggressive, and violent once again. This period of calm is known as “the honeymoon phase of narcissistic abuse”.
How does the honeymoon phase feel to the abuser?
The abuser feels a sense of calm and peace after they have been aggressive and violent. Hammond writes: “For the narcissist, the release of emotional energy during a rant is therapeutic. Sometimes they are even completely unaware of what they have said or done.” Taking this further, the narcissist does not recall what they have said as, during their outbursts, they enter a type of angry dissociative state. In other words, it is due to their dissociation that they do not remember what they have said. After their outburst, they feel free.
During the honeymoon phase, victims forgive.
When their partners yell, bully, and threaten them, victims become afraid. Their adrenaline and “fight or flight” response kicks in as they feel like they are in danger. After the narcissist’s outburst, the victim will be in a state of shock for several days. They will struggle to accept the hurtful things their partner has said and they will demand an explanation or apology. Unfortunately, they will not receive this as the narcissist will not remember what they have said. It follows then that their partner will become defensive and they may even twist reality and say that they are making things up. However, once the shock and pain have subsided, the victim will begin to forgive. They will convince themselves that everything was one big misunderstanding. “They didn’t mean to hurt me”, “They just made a mistake”, and “Everybody argues sometimes”, they will tell themselves. Thus, they will forgive and stay in the relationship.
Eventually, the abuse will resume.
Once the honeymoon phase ends, the narcissist will resume their toxic behavior. This creates a never-ending cycle and pattern of abuse. Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase tricks victims into staying in destructive relationships. If you notice that you are a part of such a cycle, escape. Instead of convincing yourself that your partner is not abusive, write down everything they say during their outbursts, review this list when you begin to doubt yourself during the honeymoon phase. This list will serve as a reminder of who they really are and how detrimental their behavior is.
Although it is easier said than done, you must gather the strength to leave them. You deserve someone who shows you kindness, care, and compassion at all times. Do not settle for less.