The honeymoon phase happens before life’s reality takes over, typically between six months and two years. Yet there isn’t a typical relationship; each person brings in their own past and a unique collection of experiences. A narcissistic relationship will have a series of honeymoons. They use these to keep their partners with them, an incident, and then to shower gifts and attention. We expect the ordinary things when we first start dating someone, namely compatibility, romance, and a sense of elation that becomes the groundwork for falling in love. Yet, when you fall for a narcissist, it’s inevitable everything will seem amplified. A narcissist will come across much more robust than someone who does not exhibit these characteristics. Besides flowers and other things like dinner and a movie and other typical dates, they will shower you with attention and more adoration than you could ever hope to experience. More than likely, everything will seem too perfect to be true. Thereby, you overlook minor signs that there are many things wrong.
Amy Grant said, “every good relationship, especially a marriage, is based on respect. If it is not based on respect, nothing appears to be good will last very long.” There will be a big event that makes you realize you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, undoubtedly be predated by many slight hints that you choose to ignore. Once the narcissist is unveiled, they will start a cycle with you that will either be accepted or broken.
The first mention of narcissism is in the Greek Myth about Narcissus. Worldhistory.org describes him as “someone who was so impossibly handsome that he fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.” Much like the myth, a narcissist is so obsessed with himself that what you might first perceive as self-assurance is only a mask for a poor self-image and a fragile ego. Mayo Clinic states, “a narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school, or financial affairs. People with a narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.” Unfortunately, they will project these inadequacies on the people around them, never recognizing that they are the ones who are at fault. There could be a different reason. Yet, this reason is not you.
Ellen DeGeneres quipped, “So many people prefer to live in drama because it’s comfortable. It’s like someone staying in a bad marriage or relationship-it’s actually easier to stay because they know what to expect every day, versus leaving and not knowing what to expect.” The explosion cycle and the elation of a makeup-up honeymoon phase can become what you equate to love. This is much like if you’ve always been told that 2+2=5, you’ll ignore everyone who says it’s really 4.
Once you’ve experienced one of these honeymoons, explosion, honeymoon phases, you may be asking some questions and starting to realize that the rose-colored glasses have come off. It’s easy to put a great spin on everything. No doubt much was revealed on the first date. There are many things you want to ask a person when you first start dating them. However, if you suspect you are dating a narcissist, it is doubly important to look even more closely at red flags and things that seem amiss. The honeymoon stage that you are sharing may be fantastic. Yet, it’s not healthy to repeat it and get into a cycle where you are waiting for the next one. If you start to question whether or not he is too perfect, ask yourself these crucial questions:
• Are you mistaking his arrogance for confidence?
• Is it less about sharing about himself and more about making you feel sorry for him?
Family and friends are more essential topics. If you are in the honeymoon phase with a narcissist, you may be overlooking things that your friends and family are “acutely aware of. As you begin to discuss the people closet to you and ask about his, make sure you don’t ignore signs:
• When he speaks about his family, especially his mother, does he have a close relationship, or is he overly critical of them?
• If he mentions his past relationship, does he make it seem like the other person was the one at fault?
• What was his childhood like?
The honeymoon phase will make you want to spend a lot of time with that person. If the relationship is fast-moving, it’s a sign the first honeymoon phase may be about to take a big crash. If you see this start to happen and you need a little more space and time to decide the next phase ask yourself:
• How are the boundaries you’re setting being received?
• Is he eliciting more pity from you so that you change them?
• Are you negating the things you want to acquiesce to his need?
If you stay in the honeymoon phase for that initial six months and don’t see any or have overlooked the red flags, you may decide to move in with them. This is a time when narcissism may genuinely show itself. Hopefully, you’ve waited at least six months, although a true narcissist moving in may have happened two or three months into the relationship.
• Has the confidence you fell for, starting to turn into a brutal arrogance?
• If you offer advice, does he take it gracefully?
• Feel that you are beneath him?
A year down the road, you might forgo any red flags and belief that this is your soulmate. You were told that you had equated their emotional abuse with an everlasting love so many times by the narcissist. Once you begin to question whether or not you are living with a narcissist, don’t hesitate to wonder:
• Do they make you feel like you are always wrong?
• Is it you they want to be with or the illusion both of you create together?
• Have you become less yourself and more what they want you to be?
Although there may not have been a deciding red flag, there could be many ebbs and flows. There might be times when they have made you feel worthless and that they are so much better. It’s time to question whether or not the honeymoon phase has really ended. Don’t overlook your gut instincts. Ask yourself:
• Do they behave differently in public?
• Are they saying they love you or showing it?
• Have you become an extension of them?
When you finally realize that Prince Charming has become Prince Alarming, it’s time to accept the honeymoon period is over. There isn’t a definitive end to this period. However, it’s excepted that it will last at least six months. Or maybe, you’re lucky, and it continues well into the first year. A narcissist can make that honeymoon period feel like it never ends. Yet, this is also because it never does. Because of their fragile ego, they may bring you to the point of leaving and then give you more than you could ever hope possible. Many different things go on with the narcissist and equally as many reasons for their traits. There is a quote by Jay Parini that states, “one thing a narcissist doesn’t like is to look in a mirror that is in any way genuinely reflective of what’s on the other side of it.” Accepting the honeymoon is over is one of the most challenging things. Yet, that mirror is not one the narcissist is going to look into. They have become a warped perception of their own reality. Although they may think they really love you and you’ve spent several incredible years together, when you see the honeymoon is over, don’t hesitate.
None of these questions are easy to answer. Yet, when you are honest with what you are seeing, feeling and know that you’ve never been respected, it’s time to let go and see who they are. A honeymoon doesn’t last forever. Life is complicated and messy. Yet, when you see repeats of honeymoon and more emotional hurt, it can be exhausting. Don’t live for the honeymoon phase with a narcissist when they are in the middle of tearing you down. Six months to a year can be a fantastic period to feel the emotions of new love. Yet, if there are periods when you know you should leave followed by the way they were before they lifted the veil, it’s a cycle and not a true romance. The release of breath can be freeing, although letting go not so much. A narcissist will woo and try to create the honeymoon again. But, there will be a next time and a next when they can’t hold the image anymore. When they swear, you’ve changed. You haven’t, and the elation of the start of your relationship will not return. And, if it does, it will be fleeting. Embrace the honeymoon, may it last years. Although, if you realize the person is a narcissist, love yourself and let it end.