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Narcissism Devaluation

Signs of Abuse Cycle, Stages, Impact, Coping

Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner constantly put you down, made you feel worthless, and manipulated you? Have you found yourself questioning your own sanity and worth because of their actions? If yes, then it is possible that you were in an abusive relationship with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Narcissistic devaluation is a common tactic used by individuals with NPD to maintain power and control over their partners. This form of emotional abuse can leave lasting scars on the victim and have a profound impact on their mental well-being.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the concept of narcissistic devaluation, its signs, stages, impact on victims, and we’ll provide you with valuable tips on how to cope with narcissistic abuse and break free from its grip.  

The Four Stages of the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

The narcissistic abuse cycle is a manipulation strategy employed by narcissists to control others. It consists of four stages: idealization, devaluation, discard, and hoover. These stages, commonly observed in relationships with individuals who have NPD, can occur repeatedly and are emotionally draining for the victim.

This post focuses on the devaluation phase in the abuse cycle, highlighting its significance. Exploring the four stages and their interconnectedness provides a comprehensive understanding of the topic. 

Let’s look  into how each stage affects the others.

1. Idealization Stage

The idealization stage is often referred to as the love-bombing phase, where the narcissist showers their victim with love, attention, and flattery. They will go above and beyond to make you feel special and wanted, using grand gestures and romantic overtures to win your heart.

During this stage, the victim may feel like they have found their perfect partner and fall deeply in love with the narcissist. However, this love often comes at a price as the narcissist is not genuinely interested in their victim’s well-being but instead sees them as an object to fulfill their own needs and desires. This is all part of the narcissist’s love-bombing strategy to draw you in and make you feel dependent on their love and validation.

2. Devaluation Stage

As the idealization stage begins to fade and progresses into the devaluation stage, the narcissistic traits start to become more apparent. The narcissist’s behavior changes, and they begin to criticize, belittle, and will start to devalue you and your worth, often in subtle ways at first. The once loving and adoring partner can quickly turn into a critical and judgmental one. This is because narcissists have a lack of empathy and are unable to see things from anyone else’s perspective but their own.

During this stage, the narcissist will use passive-aggressiveness, manipulation, and subtle criticism to make the victim feel inferior and unworthy. They may gaslight their victim by denying or twisting events to make them question their own reality.

This constant devaluation undermines the victim’s self-confidence, making them doubt themselves and become more dependent on the narcissist for validation.

3. Discard Stage

The next stage in the cycle is the discard phase, also known as “cold” phase where the narcissist no longer finds the victim useful or satisfyingthe narcissist and will suddenly and without warning discard their victim. They may do this through ghosting, blocking all communication, or finding a new source of narcissistic supply. This sudden abandonment can be devastating for the victim who may have become dependent on the narcissist’s validation.

The discard stage can also involve overt forms of abuse, such as physical or sexual violence. The narcissist may feel entitled to mistreat their victim because they no longer see them as a valuable source of supply.

4. Hoovering Stage

After the discard stage, the narcissist may come back and try to hoover their victim back into the relationship. This can be in the form of apologies, promises to change, love-bombing once again or, or using guilt and manipulation to make the victim feel responsible for the narcissist’s well-being. The narcissist is seeking a new source of supply and will use any means necessary to regain control over their victim.

However, this won’t last long. Once you get attracted to the narcissist again, they’ll start another devaluation phase. 

The hoovering phase is where the cycle of abuse starts again, with the narcissist drawing in their victim and then repeating the idealization, devaluation, and discard stages. That’s why this stage is called the repetition stage.This cycle can continue indefinitely unless the victim breaks free from the narcissist’s grasp.

Signs of the Abuse Cycle: Four Red Flags to Look For

It can be difficult for most people to determine whether they’re in a narcissistic abuse cycle at an early stage.

However, some red flags can confirm whether you’re in a relationship with a narcissist.

These red flags are a bunch of negative emotions the victims experience when in a narcissistic abuse cycle. 

Here are the common signs:


A narcissist usually tries to isolate their victim from their friends and support network. This makes the victim feel they have no one to turn to in times of need.


A victim of a narcissist usually feels confused about what’s going on in the relationship. This is due to the ongoing change in the abuser’s behavior.


The continuous manipulation a narcissist exerts on the victim leaves them in a situation of self-doubt. This might even lead victims to question their memories and perceptions.


The unpredicted nature of the relationship with the narcissist makes the victim live in continuous fear.

They fear the ambiguous future of continuing or leaving the relationship. After all, they can’t predict the abuser’s reactions.

Common Tactics Used by Narcissists in the Devaluation Stage

The manipulative tactics a narcissist can use in the devaluation phase are countless. However, there are some common mind games and patterns most narcissists prefer to use at this stage.

Here are some of these tactics:

Emotional Neglect

One of the highly impactful tactics narcissists use in the devaluation stage is emotional neglect. They suddenly start to pay the victim no emotional attention or validation.

As a result, the victim feels disconnected, unheard, and taken for granted. This unexpected withdrawal ultimately leaves the victim with devastated self-esteem.

Constant Criticism

The narcissist bombards the victim with an ongoing stream of negative feedback and judgmental comments.

The perpetrator’s criticisms can also extend to the victim’s friends and family in an attempt to make the victim experience a sense of shame.


The perpetrator refuses to take accountability for their poor behavior in the relationship.

Instead, they redirect the blame and responsibility for their behavior to the victim, other people, or external factors.


The narcissist might start to pit the victim against the surrounding people. Their goal is to create chaos, conflict, and division, leaving the victim insecure and destroying their confidence.


The perpetrator takes advantage of the victim and exploits them. This exploitation can take many forms. It can be intellectual, economic, social, emotional, or sexual.


The narcissist tries to manipulate the victim, leading them to start disconnecting from their friends and family members.

By doing so, the perpetrator gains more control and greater influence over the victim.

The narcissist also does so to ensure that the victim has no one to turn to when they 

treat them poorly.

Intermittent Reinforcements

There are times when the victim will feel the perpetrator is idealizing them. At other times, the victim may feel that the perpetrator looks at them indifferently.

This may drive the victim to try to revert to the idealization stage at any cost. So, they direct all their effort to regain the narcissist’s affection. This usually increases the callousness of the perpetrator.

Silent Treatment

In an attempt to exert greater power and control over the victim, the narcissist can use silent treatment. To do so, they refuse to acknowledge the other person and ignore them entirely.

When they withhold communication with the victim, this causes emotional distress and loneliness to the victim.


The narcissist uses gaslighting to make the victim doubt their thoughts and beliefs when confronting them.

The perpetrator even tries to manipulate the victim’s memories by denying some of the experiences they had together.

Ultimately, the narcissist leaves the victim in a state of confusion. That way, they ensure the victim will continue relying on them despite being treated poorly.

How Does Devaluation Impact You?

Being in a relationship with a narcissist has a significant negative impact on your mental and emotional health.

To understand this hazard, we must first recap what’s happening in such a relationship.

In these relationships, narcissists do a lot of unhealthy behaviors that make you act and feel unstable. They’ll then blame you for these unstable actions.

Using all their manipulation tactics, they considerably lower your sense of self-worth and increase your insecurity.

Worse still, they leave you feeling constantly guilty and make you doubt yourself most of the time.

Given all these facts, the devaluation phase of a narcissistic abuse cycle causes significant emotional turmoil for the victim. In addition, it causes endless psychological wounds.

As a result, the victim might start to experience serious mental health issues. This includes depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Worst of all, being a victim of a narcissist can even be fatal for some people, according to a 2019 study on narcissistic abuse.

This study also reported that narcissistic abuse can be devastating and might require months or even years of recovery.

How to Cope with Narcissistic Abuse?

There are tactics you can use to cope with narcissistic abuse and protect yourself from its adverse effects on your mental health. 

Here are some strategies that can help you out:

Getting Ready for the End of a Relationship

It’s essential to realize and accept that you are in an abusive relationship with a narcissist. This will help you seek support and take the necessary steps to end the toxic relationship. Ending the relationship may seem impossible and overwhelming at first, but it’s crucial for your well-being and mental health. 

However, when ending the relationship, it’s better to use phrases that don’t emphasize blame or criticism, such as “I’m not happy in this relationship” or “I need to focus on my own well-being.” This can help prevent further manipulation and gaslighting from the narcissist.

Set Clear Boundaries

This can be hard for people who don’t have an assertive personality, but it’s crucial if you want to have healthy relationships.

This is much more important if you suspect you’re in a relationship with a narcissist.

Establish your boundaries in the relationship and make them clear to the other party. Always be ready to remind them of your limits.

You should also be ready to walk away from anyone who might violate your boundaries.

Maintain a Record

If you suspect you’re in a relationship with a narcissist or manipulative person, you’ll need to keep a record of your communication with them.

Write down everything that happens between you and them. This is the only way to protect yourself from any gaslighting the other person might exert on you in the future.

Stay in Close Communication with a Trusted Friend

It’s always good to have someone to confide in when dealing with difficult situations. Let your close friend or loved ones know about your relationship and the behaviors that concern you. 

This way, they can provide support and an outside perspective on the situation. It also helps to keep them informed of any significant changes or events in the relationship so they can offer advice and support if necessary.

Additionally, if things escalate or turn dangerous, your close friend or family member can be a helpful ally in getting you out of the situation.

If, however, close friends can’t help, seek professional help. A trained therapist or counselor can spot what manipulative tactics a narcissist uses and guide you on how to deal with them. They can also help you work through any underlying issues that may 

have led to your involvement in a toxic relationship.

Avoid Being Financially Dependent

When in a relationship with a narcissist, they may often use money as a way to control and manipulate you. They may withhold financial resources or make you financially dependent on them, making it difficult for you to leave the relationship.

It is essential to maintain financial independence and have your own source of income. This way, you will not be reliant on the narcissist and will have the means to leave the relationship if necessary.

If you are currently financially dependent on a narcissistic partner, start planning your exit strategy and seek financial support from friends or family. Create a budget and stick to it, saving any extra money for your eventual independence.

Take Care of Yourself

One of the most important things to remember while dealing with a narcissistic relationship is to take care of yourself. It’s common for narcissists to try and control every aspect of their partner’s life, including their physical and emotional well-being. 

It’s crucial to prioritize your own health and well-being above everything else. This can include practicing self-care activities such as exercise, yoga, or meditation to keep your mind and body healthy. 

You must also recognize and address any put downs or negative self-talk that may have been instilled in you by the narcissist. This can help you regain your sense of self-worth and confidence.

Additionally, focusing on your strengths and vulnerabilities can help you build resilience and protect yourself from future abuse.

Key Takeaways

It’s important to understand that breaking free from a narcissistic relationship is not easy. It takes time, effort, and support from others.

If you are in a situation where you feel trapped and controlled by a covert narcissist, know that there is help available.

Consider reaching out to a therapist or support group for guidance and assistance in navigating the trauma bond and healing from the effects of narcissistic abuse.

Remember, you deserve to be in healthy and fulfilling relationships. It may not happen overnight, but with self-care, support, and determination, you can break free from the cycle of narcissistic abuse and find happiness and peace within yourself.