Have you ever wondered what happens when a narcissist knows that you’re onto them? When you know that they’re a narcissist or you’re wise to their games? Narcissists are horrible, they actually completely mess with your brain chemistry by creating new neuronal patterns that make it really, really hard for you to go on with your life and feel whole.
There was actually a study done by psychologist Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University that was done on monkeys and their brains. Specifically, on what would happen if the monkeys got rewarded for “good” behavior. Sapolsky found that when the monkeys were rewarded every single time for good behaviors, nothing happened in their brains at all. However, when they were rewarded intermittently and with variation, to the point where they had no idea when or how they were going to be rewarded, the dopamine levels in their brains rose to a level similar to when people’s brains are on cocaine. This variation and inconsistency produced such a high. This resulted in the monkeys scrambling constantly to get another dopamine hit.
This is what happens to us when we’re dealing with narcissists. They can be love bombing you while they’re discarding you. They can be love bombing you while they’re devaluing you. The negative and positive rewards are all happening at once. Narcissistic relationships always start with love bombing and end with discarding, but there’s a constant toxic stew occurring in-between. You find yourself constantly getting drawn back into the relationship. You tell yourself that the relationship can actually be really good sometimes which is how you end up justifying sticking in the relationship a lot longer than you really should have.
When the narcissist knows that you know, it’s not necessarily going to be a pretty sight. Narcissists always get worse before they get better and when that mask comes off and they realize that you know who they are, they’re not going to really want to have much to do with you anymore unless they can feel like they can get more narcissistic supply out of you. That’s all they want. The key to creating leverage and negotiating with them is going to be in the mitigation of that narcissistic supply. To do that, you must anticipate what will happen when the narcissist knows that you know. It will usually surface in one or more of these three ways.
The Love Bombing
When the narcissist I was dealing with discovered that I was onto them, they began to love bomb me again. That’s one of the things that they start to do when they become aware of your discovery. This is how they get you into their web in the first place: by love bombing you, by promising they will do things for you, by making you think that they’re so wonderful and perfect. When they find out that you’re onto them, they try to remind you of this false person that you thought that they were by doing little things for you again. You will naturally start to go, “Well oh, okay, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’re not as bad as I thought that they were.” I want to remind you of what this does to your brain. When you encounter love bombing, do not fall for it. Understand that love bombing is the narcissist’s manipulation tactic –what they use in order to gain back control over you.
The Flying Monkeys.
When they know that you know, the narcissist will try to get in with the people around you. They will start to triangulate with your inner circle and line up their flying monkeys. In my own experience, I have encountered particular narcissists who would try to get super close to other people in my family and do really lovely, wonderful things for them so that everybody else in the world think that they were nice. This is what empowers them to be able to turn around and say to you that “You’re the only one that thinks that there’s something wrong with me. You’re the only one that thinks that there is a problem. No one else thinks that. Everybody else thinks that I’m wonderful.” They start doing all kinds of wonderful things to look good and line up those flying monkeys so that if there’s a discard coming, you’re going to be alone. You’re going to feel alone, you’re going to feel like it’s you against the world.
As difficult as it might be to disengage, it is important not to going back to those flying monkeys and try to change them, or try to turn them against the other person. It doesn’t necessarily work and it’s pretty much a waste of time- in my experience. The best thing to do is to put strict boundaries in place and try to accept that the narcissist will hopefully get their karmic justice.
The Smear Campaign
The next thing that happens when a narcissist knows that you are wise to their games is the smear campaign. This is when they begin to bad mouth you. It’s a part of the flying monkeys tactic, where they triangulate and line people up against you. Covert narcissists are especially good at this. They present themselves as the victim. They will say things like, “I don’t know why she doesn’t like me,” or “He’s done these things to me.” When in reality, they are the one who is the cheater or the addict or the abusive alcoholic. It’s a smear campaign in an effort to frame you as the bad one in the relationship so if you try and expose them for who they really are, they get away with a clean reputation.
It’s important to try and learn to accept the smear campaign for what it is and try to not let it get the best of you. You’ll have to tell yourself that you can’t fight every battle and that you can only do your best and be your best. Your reputation will follow you if you act with integrity.