When your narcissist is a romantic partner, you may have experienced the “love bombing” stage—that totally over-the-top romantic start of the relationship when you were bombarded with small and big gestures of love. This might include messages about being “soulmates,” that they were “waiting for you all my life” or that they “can’t imagine how I could have thought I was happy before I met you.” You may have been swept off your feet and couldn’t believe how happy you were.Are You Being Played to Stay in a Narcissistic Relationship? | Psychology Today
But that love bombing stage may have been followed by a continuous campaign, focused on diminishing and criticizing you. It may have started with small remarks but then built up to nasty accusations. The happiness disappeared, making a place for fear and walking on eggshells.
But many people stay even after this phase because their partner is playing a specific game. The narcissist is cleverly throwing in regular romantic elements to keep their partner interested—just enough to keep the hope going with glimpses of the romance and happiness they once experienced.