Stages of the Psychopathic Bond — Idealize, Devalue, Discard
The predictable yet completely unexpected and devastating pattern of a relationship with a psychopath is broken down into three stages: Idealize, Devalue and Discard.
This relationship starts out like heaven on earth…but ends in a place worse than hell.
When you’re targeted by a psychopath and deemed a suitable victim for his or her or her game of power, control, and self-gratification, stage one — the idealization stage — begins. You think you’re entering an exciting, romantic relationship and that you’ve met the love of your life…but what you’re actually entering is a game that you’re guaranteed to lose. The object of the game: He or she will gain control, damage you emotionally and spiritually, take what he wants, and leave you an emotional wreck.
The psychopath lures you with charm, attention, flattery, and other covert emotional manipulation tactics. He will say anything to get what he wants because he’s a pathological liar, and what he wants at this point is to win your love and trust. His or her loving persona is a complete fabrication. Even so, you’ll believe that you’re “soul mates” because he’s able to present himself as your perfect partner.
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This stage is often called “Love Bombing.” The manipulator will saturate the target in as many ways possible with love and adoration, without a moment to come up for air. They’ll spend as much time as possible with the target, and keep in frequent contact. There will be many verbal declarations of appreciation and of their feelings about you and all your wonderful qualities, and amazement at all the things you have in common or at how lucky you both are to have found each other. You’ll believe it’s the best thing that ever happened to you, so you won’t even suspect you’re being played. The manipulator may tell you he or she believes you’re “soul mates” or say “isn’t this magical?” or tell you that you must have known each other in a past life.
The psychopath is not able to bond with another human, but he is good at getting another to bond to him. This is known as the psychopathic bond. The whole idealization stage is a sham the psychopath creates intentionally in order to create that bond, which makes you vulnerable to the manipulation and abuse that will follow.
He or she never idealized you as a person; you were only idealized as an object of desire, one to use, denigrate, and discard. He was never interested in you; he was only interested in gaining control over you, manipulating you, harming you and getting what he could from you. As such, his interest was shallow and short-lived, and he moves on to new sources of diversion and pleasure. It’s too bad that by the time this happens, you’ve already pinned your expectations, hopes and dreams onto him or her.
The perfect “honeymoon” stage lasts until the psychopath becomes bored with you (and he’ll get bored quickly once he knows you’re hooked). At this point, he has no incentive to hide his true nature any longer, so stage two — the devaluation stage — begins. You believed you were once the center of his life, but you sense he’s pulling away. The psychopath is skilled at what’s known as “dosing,” which is giving you just enough attention and validation to keep you on his hook. He begins to change the game to one of giving you just enough positive reinforcement to keep from losing you, while pushing your boundaries further, gradually and steadily devaluing you and taking you lower. You’ll find yourself tolerating continually worsening treatment, which diminishes your self-respect.
“The more infrequently the crumbs of love are offered, the more hooked you are. You become conditioned, like a rat in a cage.”
As you become less exciting to him, he devalues you even more. You stay because he or she has manipulated you into thinking less of yourself and to accept poor treatment, and you stay because you’re still holding onto the memory of your love from the idealization stage. Fearful of losing that completely, you go into denial and tolerate increasingly worse behavior. You’ll experience cognitive dissonance as the truth about him comes into your conscious mind, but is battled by your denial; your thoughts ping-pong back and forth relentlessly as you try to figure out what’s really going on.
During the devaluation stage, he will continue to use his arsenal of covert emotional manipulation tactics to keep you under his control, to keep you doubting yourself, to keep you putting up with his deplorable behavior and to keep you believing his lies. Learn about these tactics so you have a better chance of recognizing them. No one is immune, especially when a strong emotion like love is involved.
Because your self-esteem has been lowered so drastically, you blame yourself for not being enough for him or for having another woman in his life. He doesn’t take responsibility for his own behavior, and blames everything — including the demise of the relationship — on you.
And in your state of mind, you believe it.
“From beginning to end, all this phony relationship can offer you is a toxic combination of fake love and real abuse. He constructs the psychopathic bond through deception and manipulation. You maintain it through self-sacrifice and denial.” ~Claudia Moscovici, PsychopathyAwareness
Now comes stage three, when he or she discards you. He’s gotten everything he wanted from you — including your self-respect, your happiness, and your dignity. You may have also lost friends, family, and finances as the relationship took over your life.
“The psychopath discards his ex-lovers with a degree of vitriol and hatred that astonishes his victims and exceeds any boundaries of normality.”
~ Psychopathy Awareness
You may be the one who finally puts an end to it and walks away. Either way, you come to the realization the entire relationship was a fraud from day one. It was a betrayal in the purest sense of the word. Along with betrayal, the victimized person feels deep disappointment, profound loss, anger, bewilderment and incredulity.
You will likely experience each of the three stages many times over the course of your involvement with a psychopath. There is no set amount of time each stage–or the whole relationship–will last (that can be anywhere from hours to years).
The stages of the psychopathic bond are what describes emotional rape, which is devastating. Some people find little understanding or support from those who are close to them, because others often see it as a typical ‘love gone wrong’ situation. It is far more than that. Please make sure you get the help you need to recover from this experience.