A narcissist’s smear campaign usually begins prior to the discard stage of a narcissistic relationship. All narcissistic relationships end within the discard stage while they all start with the love bombing stage. Devaluing occurs throughout the relationship in lieu with intermittent love-bombing and discarding. A member of the community once said that “narcissistic relationships start with love bombing and end with discarding and are compiled with toxic stew in between.” This is so true.
Remember that when you’re dealing with a narcissist, you are either “for them” or you are “against them.” They will constantly test you to see if you’re on their side and a viable source of narcissistic supply for them. If they begin to sense that the discard phase is on the horizon, you will start to see the birth of the smear campaign. This often happens months if not years prior to the ending of a narcissistic relationship because the narcissist is going to want to get out in front of any consequences that might occur as a result of their behaviors. If a relationship ends, they are going to want to be the one that comes out of the relationship looking good and will want you to look bad. They will do whatever it takes to try and obtain this outcome.
As a divorce attorney, I smear campaigns happening all of the time. Often, a smear campaign begins long before a divorce is even filed. I have become able to notice the different signs that a narcissist might be beginning their smear campaign against another person. This often happens long before a divorce is even filed. These are some things to look out for to see if a narcissist in your life has begun planting seeds of their smear campaign.
You find out that they are emailing, texting, talking to others about you.
A narcissist might go to their flying monkeys, your friends, family members, mutual acquaintances and express a falsified sense of concern about you. They might say something along the lines of, “I’m really concerned about my husband/wife because she had too much to drink last night and has been drinking a lot more often lately.” They might also say that they are “concerned about their husband/wife because they seem to be struggling with depression.” Remember that narcissists don’t only want to make you look bad but want to make themselves look good. They will disguise their smear campaign in a way that looks like concern so that others see them in a positive light.
Narcissists will begin planting these seeds amongst the community so that when the discard phase is initiated, they can make claims to keep people on their side such as, “Remember when I expressed concern? Things have only gotten worse and now it’s clear that they are an alcoholic.”
They are usually covert about their smearing until they are sure that you are no longer an easy source of narcissistic supply for them.
Flying monkeys is another term for triangulation which is generally defined by narcissists lining up people to be on their side. They will love-bomb individuals in each of your lives so that they can manipulate a solid group of people into thinking that they can do no harm. This is beneficial for them in discard phases when notions of their abuse comes to the surface. They will turn to their flying monkeys to validate themselves in addition to having witnesses of their good behavior and your poor behavior. You will know that they have started to line up their flying monkeys if they start saying things like “You’re the only person that thinks this way of me” in response to your criticism or confrontation.
Triangulation is a way of controlling and isolating you so that they can continue to devalue and degrade you with few to no consequences. Flying monkeys are an integral part of the narcissist’s smear campaign.
You start getting left out of social gatherings.
If you are starting to get left out of social gatherings that you have normally been included in, it may be because a narcissist has begun their smear campaign against you. The narcissist may be turning the people in your life against you resulting in the decline in invitations you might normally receive to social gatherings. You’ll be left feeling isolated, once again, and with nobody to turn to.
Out of the blue check-ins.
When family members, friends, acquaintances, colleagues start checking in on you to make sure you are okay, this may be because the narcissist in your life is starting to spread rumors about you and your well being. These people are definitely those that the narcissist is lining up to become their flying monkeys. These people might start checking in and saying things such as “I’m not supposed to be asking you this but I just wanted to make sure you’re doing okay.” The narcissist most likely did not want this information to get back to you so as to not tick you off about the smear campaign that they have initiated against you.
Another sign of a smear campaign is finding out that people have been watching you. Narcissists might be using their flying monkeys as informants. The narcissist might start saying things that show you that they have people watching you. This is not only an intimidation tactic but also a way of knowing what you are up to so that they can stay ahead of everything and save face if need be.
Weaponizing the court system.
The last sign of a smear campaign is what we see in the court system all the time. Narcissists will start filing things within the court system that simply are not true. They will ask for sole custody and start saying that you are an unfit parent. They will say you are abusive or that you are an addict or alcoholic. They do this to gain an advantage within the court system so that they can leave the relationship looking good all while making you look bad.