When the narcissist identifies a possible target to serve as their new source of supply, they begin idealizing their new “partner” and place them high on a pedestal.
As the (unfortunate) recipient of the narcissist’s attention, you are constantly showered with declaration of love and affection. You feel completely supported, understood, loved, & admired in ways no one else ever made you feel. You can’t help but feel you’ve finally found your soulmate and forever love.
EVERYTHING about you will fascinate the narcissist
…and they will love every little part of who you are, what you do, and how you do everything. You will be praised all day and marveled about how fortunate you both are for having so much in common. It’s like you’re the same person in two bodies. There is NO DOUBT you were born to find each other.
They will claim to see and and accept the REAL you… and they will tell you how perfect you are for them. It feels like you are the only two people who could possibly fit. It can never be anyone else because you’ve finally found your person.
This experience feels like a dream come true – only BETTER – and it truly feels like this person has been your soulmate and best friend from the very moment you were both born. So there’s no reason to suspect anything harmful is happening, because this is the most wonderful and romantic bond you’ve ever experienced in your entire life!
The cycle of abuse starts from DAY 1.
Idealization is the stage where an intense, one-way emotional bond (you to the narcissist) is created. You can’t help but quickly fall head-over-heels in love and become vulnerable to what will follow.
How fast did s/he confess their love for you? How quickly did they tell you that because of you, they finally know what love and happiness feels like? I became his saving angel, dream come true, and love of his life 2 weeks into JUST texting. His argument was – “When you know, you know.”
In most cases, Idealization is NOT calculated …
Narcissists usually do not spot a target and think “Wow! There’s someone I can abuse!” or “They’re so perfect, I’m going to destroy them!” They begin idealizing the target because they’re beyond ecstatic to have found someone to fill the role of THEIR IDEA of a perfect partner. And they’re counting on this partner to provide them with everything they need in order to “appear” special and successful.
* “Appear” because NPDs are unable to genuinely bond. They only care about how they’re perceived by others.
You are Perfect… Flawless! What it REALLY Means
The problem here is, the narcissist is not actually seeing you as a real, independent, and whole person – they see you playing a “role” in their perfect couple and life fantasy. They’re not admiring you for the wonderful person that you are… they’re getting off on the “idea” in their head about all they anticipate to get out of being with you!
That’s why they’re usually so accepting and forgiving of all your shortcomings, faults, and quirks at the very beginning. They believe that by making you feel like a million bucks, you’ll OWE THEM gratitude by stepping into that role of the PERFECT HUMAN… and that you’ll look past ALL the horrible and insensitive things they’re going to do to you after they drop their soulmate act.
The idealization phase may include these love-bombing behaviors:
- Target is showered with attention (they won’t give you a chance to think of anything BUT them… they want to be your EVERYTHING)
- They magically have SO MUCH in common with you (they are highly skilled at mirroring their targets… QUICKLY appearing as THE PERFECT MATCH.)
- Constantly connecting via text, phone, etc., because they just can’t get enough of you.
- Quickly confessing their deep love for you.
- Elaborate gifts and dates
- Lack of boundaries. You don’t get to have your own space anymore. You are enmeshed together.
- Attempts to isolate you
- Moving the relationship forward, incredibly fast
- Future faking by talking about marriage, kids, family, vacations, events, etc.
The diagnosed narcissists I’ve spoken to claimed that in the beginning of the relationship, they’re motivated by “genuine” attraction – based on how they can benefit. However, because they lack emotional empathy, they only idealize their target as objects to benefit from, and not as human beings they can grow WITH. And because they do not bond emotionally, their focus of attention & affection will shift elsewhere when you (their source of supply) see through their mask and begin to stand up for yourself… or their “needs” change, leading to the devaluation & discard stages.
Validation for survivors
The intense showering of love, affection, and appreciation during the love bombing HAPPENED. You are not imagining anything… you are not losing your mind.
Narcissists are unable to form a loving relationship like we can… their definition of “love” is completely different from ours. As intense as the relationship started, they did not bond with YOU at all.
And if the abuser begins waving their new “partner” around, keep in mind that they’re simply starting the abuse cycle all over again. They’re dragging the new person through the idealization stage… and I promise they will eventually end up where you are now.
It happened to me. It happened to the woman he cheated on me with. And it happened to the woman after her. This cycle will never end because this is the narcissists’ natural behavioral pattern.
Please practice NO CONTACT (or modified contact if you share children or business with the abuser).