The relationship with a narcissist is always complicated and torturous. A few red flags are frequently apparent from the beginning, though you're apt to overlook them. When asked what kind of relationship the narcissist is looking for, the answer is typically evasive. Something like: "oh, I don't know......I like to take things day by day." Or they say "same thing you want," never giving you a direct answer.
What you tend to find on an ongoing basis is that narcissists want to keep you guessing, and insecure about where the relationship is going. They have very limited blocks of time available for you, which makes an honest discussion almost impossible as is their intension. Most of your time is just spent on entertainment, and while they are with you, your time with them is intense: they literally shower you with attention, charm and passion. Everything seems so idyllic, and you are smitten. Still, they hardly mention you when they are around their friends......like you aren't really part of their lives. In their talk about the future, you are conspicuously absent. Or they may have a lot of plans of trips they'd like to take with you, but none of them ever materialize. You figure that the relationship is relatively new, and that with time the relationship will grow. By reassuring yourself this way, you continue to live in the hope and promise of an exciting relationship.
Because narcissists are master manipulators and great at creating an illusion, you haven't quite caught on to the many inconsistencies of their behavior. You simply have that gut feeling that something is off. Once you are sufficiently attached to your narcissist and you want to move the relationship forward, you'll find them actually pushing you away. Thus starts the rollercoaster ride of the hot/cold phase in the relationship......further confounding your experience. That's because intimacy scares a narcissist, as it makes them feel controlled. When you speak up about this, they start to engage in all kinds of cruel behaviors that are meant to hurt you, of which the silent treatment or disappearing acts and the triangulation are the most devastating. Gradually you realize you are consistently being devalued and you feel on edge most of the time. The mind games actively undermine the relationship and the development of any kind of trust.......the sense of safety and security in the relationship. The narcissist even appears amused at what he is doing to you.
Narcissists always seem to have an excuse for why they can't give themselves fully to the relationship. They may say they have hardships they have to resolve first, but you find they never resolve them. Often you see narcissists being better at long distance relationships, because a real relationship is perceived as an inconvenience to them.
All along they've been rather secretive about their past relationship history. As your relationship continues into a long term relationship, narcissists will start to make veiled threats, with statements like: "my relationships have never lasted more than two or three years." This is meant to intentionally heighten the insecurity you feel about your relationship with him. Narcissists like that sense of power and control it gives them. Instead of the relationship moving forward, it seems to actually be sliding backward. You will find yourself to be the only one making an effort to keep the relationship going. At this point you are starting to see that your relationship is only a side note to them, leaving you in perpetual waiting mode.
The narcissist uses you as an accessory, and you realize the relationship is a one-way street. They expect you to be there for them 100% to the point where you've become isolated from family and friends. The narcissist will exploit you to help them, but they are never there for you. Incredibly, the narcissist will start to become more and more secretive about their plans as time goes on. By now, it's become super confusing why you haven't been able to bond deeper, as would be the case in a healthy relationship. The relationship feels extremely shallow and superficial. With the narcissist being so wrapped up with himself, there simply is no room for you in their life. You repeatedly witness the narcissist callously sabotaging the relationship, and making it seem like a chore or inconvenience to them.
Then, you learn that narcissists cannot move beyond the infatuation phase, because they themselves are shallow and superficial and incapable of real love and healthy bonding. The hardest part for you to admit is that it all was just a game to them. The narcissist kept you around and strung you along under false pretenses, while investing the bare minimum. The entire relationship was a lie filled with a lot of deception on their part. The narcissist that you were in a relationship with, never had the intension of moving the relationship forward and never will, because they are incapable of doing so.
Once you have reached this realization, you can finally stop longing for what you never had, and you are ready to move on. Nothing about the relationship was real. It was all fake. They never really loved you.