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Idealise, devalue, discard - anyone had experience of this? I think I have.

(106 Posts)
JudithTaverner Mon 12-Dec-16 06:41:15

I'm trying to make sense of being dumped pretty much out of the blue by someone who only last week was proclaiming undying love and planning to move in with me.

Stupidly I took him back after he dumped me a few months ago - came back to me sobbing asking if I'd take him back and I stupidly believed all of his promises. Both times he's gone back to a previous girlfriend, who he's broken up with in a similar way at least 5 times over the last few years. I thought from his vitriolic stories about her that she was nothing.

Anyway, they're irrelevant to me, but I'm struggling with the shock of the sudden dumping, the complete lack of communication and the complete switch from love to hate pretty much over night.

I've gone NC, but he lives near me and I dread bumping into him. I'm a nervous wreck every time I go to my local shops. How quickly will this get better?

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 12-Dec-16 07:03:04

You were dating a narcissist; this is their dating pattern to a tee.

You are right in going NC.

Thisjustinno Mon 12-Dec-16 07:23:02

Or he just needed somewhere to stay/fancied a shag for a few days and knew you'd fall for it.

Either way, consider it a lucky escape. He sounds like an absolute twat.

Suburbopolis Mon 12-Dec-16 07:26:51

It's himself he hates. He has to work hard at hating you (and her) to take his mind off the fact that he hates himself.
No doubt she's hearing vitriolic stories about you now and she's smoothing his feathers glad she's 'won' this round and making him feel like he's the prize.

JudithTaverner Mon 12-Dec-16 07:38:47

I was with him 3 months this time and 5 the last time, so not just a quick shag I don't think.

Yes, I know he told her complete untruths about me last time. I don't really place any value on what he's told me about her - because if I believed it all there's no way he would have gone back to her. I can't see how he can love her though if he keeps treating her like that and has the ability to say such horrible stuff about her. (and same for me of course - I'm not under any illusion he's being any different about me).

He really doesn't seem to hate himself!

I'm struggling with the physical side effects of this - breathing, sleeping, eating etc. I'm struggling with understanding why he could treat me like this.

Anonymoususer1938 Mon 12-Dec-16 08:20:08

If you find the answers let me know. I've been struggling with this same situation for 6 years !
I too have tried to work out they're behaviour, and indeed mine for tolerating it. I still do.
With regards to them I've come to the simple conclusion that hurt people hurt people.

JudithTaverner Mon 12-Dec-16 09:23:34

Do you keel going back to the sane person anonymouse? What's the pattern for you?

I am determined not to go back to mine but his exg has done it several times after the most dreadful treatment

Anonymoususer1938 Mon 12-Dec-16 10:02:45

Yes I have. I'm bemused by it myself. I always go no contact but I'm beginning to think part of 'no contact' is staying away from this forum and reading stuff on the internet to try to work out the behaviour of my ex. I'm no psychologist but I think all it does is keep it fresh in my mind. I also look on an internet dating site to see if they are on it. I don't know why? Maybe if I see my ex on it it will force me to move on? I think it's ultimately unhealthy though.

SilkThreads Mon 12-Dec-16 10:41:25

I have just had this experience too.

I made contact with an ex. (from 25 years ago).
We were both involved in something 'big' at the time which made the papers.
Neither of us was emotionally able to deal with it very well.
I made a new life, a long way away. Changed my name.
He moved to the US.
But neither of us forgot it, so - lots of unfinished business.
So, we discussed it.
And how we'd (not) dealt with it.
Then we discussed 'us' from back then.
Then we talked about our current lives.
I am in a vulnerable position right now and I shared that with him.
He said he felt guilty for how he had treated me, back in the day.
He started to talk about how he wants to care for me (in an appropriate way) now. How he believes God brought me back into his life to give him a 2nd chance. I responded (also appropriately).
He then moved onto telling me how much he loved me, needed me, wanted me. 11pm calls. 6am calls.
Then it got sexual (by email/phone).
Initiated by him. But with lots of 'could we /should we' stuff too.
Then, 2 mins later a text in explicit detail.
Then God and cherishing again.
I was bombarded with so much emotional stuff from him.
So many promises.
We'd arranged to meet. (complicated, 350 miles apart).
I'd arranged time.
Then, a text - he is 'busy, and will be for the foreseeable future'.
And has not replied to my emails.
I am on the FLOOR.

I am so sorry Anonymoususer that you are experiencing similar oddness.
My man did talk of 'the mess that is me' (ie him) and said he has caused 'emotional carnage' so perhaps he told me what he was and I didn't listen. sad

Deadsouls Mon 12-Dec-16 10:44:11

This man is a narcissist. One of the narcissistic red flags is the idealise/devalue/discard relational cycle. This cycle will continue as long as you continue to take him back.
I recommend as a recovery resource to help you with no contact and for general support.

SilkThreads Mon 12-Dec-16 10:46:14

shit, sorry that turned into a big blurt about ME blush

It was this bit:
" I'm struggling with the shock of the sudden dumping, the complete lack of communication and the complete switch from love to hate pretty much over night."

that resonated.

it is just so bloody ODD, isn't it?
Was any of it true? if so, which bit, the love bit or the hate bit?

I am sorry you are worried about bumping into him.
I don't have that issue and I can see that would make it harder.

I have a recent thread on here.
I got some v good support.
but also someone asked me (well meaning no doubt) whether I was 'prolonging it'. that made me feel I shouldn't be on here?

Like you I wonder if I should be trying to work out the behaviour of my ex?
I think working out my own RESPONSE is worthwhile though, as it might stop me making the same mistake twice (though the particular set of circs is never likely to repeat, so maybe I am safe?)

It's exhausting.

JudithTaverner Mon 12-Dec-16 11:07:51

I am struggling to breath today. I am struggling to stop the conversations in my head. I'm so full of anxiety.

How could he be so cruel? I really don't understand how he could change from such absolute devotion/love to such hate in one go.

Anonymoususer how long does each cycle usually last for you? Do you get over it each time. I just want to feel normal again. as soon as possible.

JudithTaverner Mon 12-Dec-16 11:09:05

yes silk I wonder if being on here is actually helpful or just making me dwell more on it.

I don't know.

LesisMiserable Mon 12-Dec-16 11:21:07

OP, it will be easier to understand (though brutal, I know) that it didn't turn from love and devotion to hate just like that. The fact is he doesn't love you. He fell back on you once for 12 weeks and once for 20 weeks, during breaks with his girlfriend.

If he loved you, you'd know not by what he says but his actions and his actions showed very clearly that he had no fear whatsoever of losing you and that he placed no value on you whatsoever.

That isn't because you are not worth value, it's because he didn't see it in you and probably even less so the second time you took him back.

So no, it didn't change overnight, you were convenient and he said what he had to. The fact is he'll probably stay with his girlfriend for a while now and when they split again (which they will) and you're not available (which please say you won't be) he'll saunter off into the sunset with someone else, much to the bemusement of both you and the gf who've invested so much in trying to believe in the guy you full on won't believe it when he drops you both for the one he ends up with (for however long).

Wake up call, this isn't love or hate, it's a lesson you've been given, make sure you learn it. Move on and up.

SilkThreads Mon 12-Dec-16 12:00:16


This was also HUGELY helpful to read and re read when I cant understand HOW/WHY it happened and how I will ever trust myself again?

Idealize, Devalue, Discard: The Dizzying Cycle of Narcissism

A person with these tendencies can suck you in and suck you under so fast that many times you may not even know what is going on until you are so far gone that it is too late to extricate yourself without getting hurt. They are masters at deception and finding a way to have their narcissism control you along with the unhealthy relationship. This is what they are good at- not letting you see the cunning and deception until it is too late. You will be really flattered with the dangerous seduction that will come your way. It will seem like no time at all before they want to spend every moment with you. They will tell you that you are their soul-mate, that you and they are exactly alike, and that you understand them like no other person does. They will want to commit incredibly fast, whether it is romantically, or some other way, like a partnership of one sort or another. They will want to shower you with gifts, flattery and all kinds of promises, and they will whip you up in frenzy. Of course all this behaviour is actually a clue to the shallowness of their emotional attachments, and the fact that you have something that they want (information, skills, knowledge, etc.), you are their next target of Narcissistic Supply for providing them with attention, approval, adoration, admiration etc. Healthy relationships take time to develop, and they are built on a foundation of respect and appreciation, and an ability to communicate honestly, and to have realistic expectations. Once you are hooked, the honeymoon period does not last long with a narcissist, and they are likely to detach from you as quickly as they attached, moving on to their next hot pursuit.
It won’t be long before you will become privy to your narcissists frightening temper. At first their rage will be indirect, aimed at someone else. This demonstration of their power functions in such a way that it serves to intimidate and control others, including you. You are also likely to witness physical outbursts, like demonstratively putting their fists through a solid wall, breaking or throwing things, hurling abuse; and it won’t be too long after that when you will be on the receiving end of the violence. All of these tactics, along with their scathing criticism of you are designed to erode your self-esteem, your confidence, and give them even more control over you. The more fearful you become, the more they will rule by fear, it is as if their power is an aphrodisiac to them. As a result of the fear you will be subjected to, you will find yourself becoming highly vigilant, nervous and overly sensitive to every threat, walking on eggshells around your captor. The more insecure you become, the more powerful your narcissist becomes.
Bit by bit you will become isolated from all your supports; your family, friends and colleagues. The isolation is likely to happen without your realizing it; it may be through covert and overt acts of criticism in an attempt to turn you against the people you are closest to. Truth is that your narcissist can feel threatened by outsiders influencing you to see through the illusion they have created, so they need to isolate you. Their behaviour will become so demanding that you will withdraw rather than go through this punishing and tortuous interrogation every time you want to meet up with anybody. Friends and family tend to become tired of all the excuses you make, and they step back from you. Before you know what has happened, you are isolated, and job done for the narcissist.
Throughout this crazy behaviour, just to confuse things more, your narcissist switches to being a sweetheart. You see the person you fell in love with suddenly emerge once again. You’re beautiful Dr. Jekyll returns, and the evil Mr.(s). Hyde disappears out of sight, and your heart begins to sing once again. Your guards come down; you move close to your beloved once again, this move towards them melts away all the hatred and frustration you were feeling. You are filled with hope and a renewed optimism for the future, and you cling on with all of your might. But this phase does not last for long, and very soon you are back to the downward spiral yet again, and along with the fear comes renewed criticism from an even more enraged Mr(s) Hyde. It is this duality in the human nature of the narcissist (the “pull and push” behaviour) that leads to the Trauma Bonding (Stockholm Syndrome) and co-dependency needs that is so damaging for the victim. Whatever caused the change to the narcissist’s behaviour, you can be sure it will be your fault, because your narcissist never ever takes responsibility for their behaviour. Ultimately you are the blame; somehow you provoked whatever “bad” happens.
When this madness eventually gets too much for the victim, and they summon up the courage to leave, the narcissists core wound of abandonment is torn open. Unless they want out themselves, your act of rejecting will most likely send them into a panic. They will manipulate everybody into getting you to return to them, they will plead and promise the sun, moon and stars if you will just give them one more chance and you can be sure that for now, the beautiful Dr. Jekyll returns. However, once you are back their grasp around you will become even tighter, and any further attempt to escape will become even more difficult.
The person you once were seems to be a distant memory, just as Echo became a mere “whisper of herself” in the Myth of Narcissus, you too are becoming a mere shadow of your former self with each day that passes. Your personality begins to change; the interests and activities you once pursued are cast aside in order for you to focus on your narcissist’s needs and wants. You start to avoid company, because the price you have to pay each time is too high a price on your moral. Your narcissist makes sure that they will embarrass you in front of company if you appear to be enjoying yourself too much. In time you find yourself with nothing to say, you are becoming something you despise, a doormat. The worst thing is that you know that your narcissist also hates who you have become, and shows that in their total lack of respect for you. No matter how high you jump, the bar keeps being raised, and you surrender to the fact that you can never be good enough. Your sense of worth and esteem is so eroded that you begin to believe that nobody else would want you, so you die inside. You are now at the mercy of the evil Mr.(s) Hyde. Your only goal in life now is to fulfill your narcissist’s sense of entitlement, to live by their rules and laws, and keep your head down to avoid being punished at a whim. You have been exposed to the psychological been truly gaslighted. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. In effect, being in a relationship with a narcissist is the equivalent of being in a cult.

SilkThreads Mon 12-Dec-16 12:02:20

Cripes, that was long.

I too am struggling to breathe. I just want to crawl under a duvet.

But, we cant. We cant let them win.

Sending you flowers

Anonymoususer1938 Mon 12-Dec-16 12:26:04

I have to be honest I don't really think you can always put this 'narcissist' label on these types of relationships. I think sometimes there could be some mild mental health issues at work, but I think these days it's more to do with the opportunities people have with regards online dating and such like. It's just so easy to move from one person to the next and a certain amount of bullshit to attract a partner is all part of the 'game'.

Deadsouls Mon 12-Dec-16 13:21:33

The reason the 'narcissist' label as being bought into this thread though, is because the OP used the term 'idealise/devalue/discard' which is one of the most well known narcissistic relationship patterns.

Anonymoususer1938 Mon 12-Dec-16 13:30:38

oh ok...good point.

SilkThreads Tue 13-Dec-16 11:28:51

Hope you are doing okay, Judith.x

CJCreggsGoldfish Tue 13-Dec-16 11:40:48

This is interesting - I've never heard of that cycle before, but it pretty much describes DSis's last relationship. He completely idolised her, so much so that DH and I worried about it at first (and we'd moved in together after 6 months!). Over the duration of the relationship everything was hunky dory as long as he was kept happy, the moment he didn't have his own way he became withdrawn and grumpy...DSis actually hid a lot from us and she genuinely believed what he said, but it was all talk and no actions! Anyway, to cut a long story short he just walked out of her life, no real reason given, he just fucked off leaving her devastated. 4 years on, whilst she's over him, she just can't trust anyone she meets enough to date them. It's very sad, and I feel such hatred towards him for doing this to my wonderful sister.

SilkThreads Tue 13-Dec-16 11:44:57

It also leaves you feeling you can't trust yourself (ie your own judgements), which is devastating.

Greypaw Tue 13-Dec-16 12:51:14

I've been in this situation too, and can maybe share what I've learned. I've been out of the relationship for around two years but I'm still affected by it. I saw a psychologist because I was seriously worried about the length of time I was struggling with it, but she put my mind at rest and I feel much better these days. Understanding why I struggled the way I did really helped. I did so much research on the whys and hows that along the way I decided to do a psychology degree, which I'm part way through. It's helped me heal and given me a future.

On reading a lot of our communications, my psychologist felt my ex had Narcissistic Personality Disorder (I felt he was more Borderline, but she's the pro). I was particularly susceptible to the Idealisation at the time as I'd just come out of an abusive marriage so my twat-radar was wonky (not her words), and the Idealisation felt like a relief. I'd even go so far as to say it felt necessary. She explained how the IDD cycles are literally addictive - you brain responds similarly to the intermittent reinforcement as it does to certain drugs, releasing dopamine in the Idealise cycles, and experiencing a dopamine drop in the DD stages. This is why it is so hard not to go back and experience the Idealisation again - your brain is craving that dopamine, and it's hard not to go after it. It's not uncommon to think "just one last time" after swearing off the relationship, and find yourself back in it just for a relief from the agony of the Discard. Every IDD cycle you go through makes this bond stronger (so get out early while you can!), and eventually any contact or reminder of the ex will result in a dopamine hit, even if it's just going to a place you used to know together, looking at their Facebook page or whatever - it all results in a little dopamine release which keeps that addiction alive. Apparently it's down to intermittent reinforcement, which results in trauma bonding (if you look those things up on google, you'll probably recognise the signs).

It was helpful for me to understand this, because before I had it all explained I didn't get why I didn't respond to the end of this relationship like I had to all the others, and thought maybe I had lost "The One". It wasn't him I was missing though - I ended the relationship as I knew it was toxic, but my brain has taken time to recover. The extreme highs followed by the extreme lows created a problem that was difficult to move past. As for how long it lasts - I was convinced when I walked away that I'd be over the relationship within six months, but I've now accepted that it was so deeply messed up that although I've made massive improvements, I still need to take one day at a time and perhaps I always will.

For me, the crazy-making was in trying to work out whether the love or the hate was real. If he'd really not loved me, he wouldn't have done all the things he'd done during the Idealise phase. But how could he do those things and Discard me overnight? People who love don't do that. This is what sends your brain running at a million miles a minute, rehashing it, trying to work it all out so it makes sense and you have your answer.

What I learned from my psychologist is that when you are dealing with a disordered individual, you can't use logic to solve the problem. They experience dysregulation of their emotions and so both their love and hate states can feel real to you because in a way they are. Yes, he did love with that intensity. But he also hated with that same intensity the next day. And the conclusion I came to is that he did love, but he didn't love me. He was unable to see me as a whole person - I was either an angel on a pedestal, or the devil incarnate. I got to realise that the Idealise phase is just as abusive (and offensive) as the DD phase, because in none of those situations was I being accepted for who I am. I was always a caricature and it was always about who he needed me to be at any given time.

For me, peace came when I stopped trying to ease the cognitive dissonance and accept that, yes, he could feel both emotions that rapidly. The big question was not "did he love me / did I mean nothing to him?", but "is that the kind of love I want in my life". Which I already knew the answer to when I ended the relationship all that time ago, even if I couldn't define it all back then.

I spent a lot of time on a BPD support forum back then, and one theory they had was that "nons" fall so hard for people with BPD/NPD because in the Idealise phase they see us as the person we want to be seen as. They pick out our good points and magnify them. Being with them can feel like looking into a mirror and seeing the version of us that we want the world to see and understand. So in a way, you aren't really falling for them, you're falling with that idealised version of you, and the idea that someone finally understands you. Sometimes it can be helpful to understand what it was about yourself that the relationship reflected back to you and that was so necessary for you to hang on to. Odds are your feeling of loss aren't about your ex, but about something closer to home.

Anonymoususer1938 Tue 13-Dec-16 14:21:46

What a brilliant and informative post. Thank you. I found it really helpful. Makes sense of quite a lot on both mine and my ex's part.

mickyblueyes Tue 13-Dec-16 14:38:52

I believe my STBXW has some pretty strong Narcissistic traits,whether a full blown disorder IDK.

Idealisation - fell head over heals in love almost within a couple of weeks, it was fantastic. She seemed to be into me and understood me. I've later found out this is called 'Mirroring'. I've seen her do it with her latest victim partner. It's where they pretend to be into you and your interests, make out you are soul mates etc...

Devalue this process took place over the next 10 years, I slowly had the life sucked out of me, nothing I could do was right, I was manipulated, Passive aggressive behaviour etc...

Discard She was/Is a cheating bitch. I was tossed aside when I discovered and exposed her cheating. No mention of reconciliation she just vanished with her new piece of narcissistic supply.

5 months and 8 months relationships with this piece of shit..sounds like you well and truly dodged a bullet!

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