Narcissists are famous for getting what they want—and that often involves treating the people around them poorly. The trouble is, many narcissists are so good at what they do that you may not even realize what they’re up to. Read on to learn more so that you don’t fall for their tactics.
Tiffany Schneider Raff
Table of Contents
The hallmark of a narcissist is their intelligence. The narcissist does their homework on you before manipulating you because they are in a constant mode of self-protection. Specifically, they assess your weak points and vulnerabilities in order to sell themselves to your needs. They are an excellent salesperson. If you don’t speak to your family, are a single parent, or think you’re overweight, they will begin by filling that void by becoming your family, your co-parent, or the one that tells you how beautiful you are. They “hook” you into trusting them by being the perfect partner. They will drive you, pay for you, and listen to you. They are always freshly showered and well dressed. They will slowly build your trust so you co-mingle your resources. Once you are co-mingled and you can no longer leave easily, then their true colors come out.
Now that you are deeply intertwined, they will begin to show their selfishness by doing what’s convenient for them. They will disappear, talk down to you, and flirt with others in front of you. Once you begin complaining or expressing your reaction to this change, they will punish you with harsh prolonged silent treatments, the pulling away of original affections, giving attention to members of the opposite sex, put-downs, or made-up scenarios of their grandiosity (stunts at the FBI, covert work, pretend to be a surgeon or even a pilot). They will begin eating away at your self-worth by telling you you’re the problem because of your jealousy, anger, or depression.
Conclusion: The narcissist has no qualms about lying, dressing up, and even using social media or a fake ID to make you believe their make-believe identity. Their name, age, and history are all up for play in their inflated world. So trust your gut when it feels like something is very wrong. And if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Controlling and manipulative
He was the most polite young man my daughter had ever dated. Both my husband and I were impressed with his manners, respectful behavior, and conversation skills – especially for an 18-year old.
But, his claims of being a world champion Tae Kwon Do fighter and running his own catering business raised red flags for me.
When he bragged to my daughter that he had over $100,000 in the bank from his world champion winnings (which, he was paid in part every month), but refused to pay for dinner or fill up her tank, I did a little digging. Not surprisingly, his claims turned out to be false.
But, the biggest red flag was how he would turn depression into a contest, as he insisted his mood disorders were “so much worse” than the struggles my daughter experiences. She often felt guilty for confessing her own depressive thoughts to him, because he would then respond with his own bigger and worse demons.
Thankfully, the veil lifted from her eyes and she could see him for who he was. A controlling and manipulative narcissist.
Well-versed in emotional manipulation
Having had narcissists in my life, I did a lot of research to find out how to better handle them. In some cases, you can’t just cut these people out of your life, so you have to recognize their behavior for what it is.
Narcissists are excellent gaslighters. They often project, and they’ll thrust everything they do or have done onto you. A narcissist who is extremely aggressive when they’re feeling defensive will likely tell you you’re being unreasonable and picking fights for no reason. Someone with a narcissistic personality is more likely to accuse a partner of cheating to deflect from their own infidelity.
They’re very well-versed in emotional manipulation. Narcissists may not respect the emotions of others, but they can definitely play into them. A big one narcissistic parents like to use is “after everything I’ve done for you.” This is the ultimate way for them to deflect when they’re being challenged, by appealing to the love you have for them and a sense of guilt or responsibility, when they feel none.
While they can be downright mean, they’re usually big on flattery. A narcissist knows how to tell you what you want to hear, but there’s always an ulterior motive. They’re buttering you up so you’ll do something for them.
They see you as an object
The first thing to recognize about a narcissist is that they do not see you as a fellow human being. They see you as an object to use to get their needs met. They are very good at understanding what they need to do to manipulate you to get what they want.
When what you are doing is serving them well, they will compliment you, flatter you, praise you and generally make you feel like you’re fabulous and that they’ll always support you. However, when you decide to do something that serves your own needs and doesn’t serve them, they will punish you for taking your attention off of their needs.
In other words, as a “tool” you’ve become useless to them and they will take their frustration out on you in order to get you to go back to allowing yourself to be used for their fulfillment. That punishment can include giving you the silent treatment, degrading and insulting you, withholding something that you need from them as a form of emotional blackmail, among other manipulative tactics.
Often this treatment is so painful for people in personal or professional relationships with narcissists that the person will revert to fulfilling the needs of the narcissist. However, once this pattern is established it just reinforces with the narcissist that this works and they’ll keep doing it in the future when you try to exert your own will or put your own needs above theirs. Often people will describe this attempt to avoid the narcissist’s wrath as “walking on eggshells.”
If a person maintains good boundaries and doesn’t allow themselves to be used by a narcissist they may notice that the narcissist will actually seem not to see them. For all intents and purposes, in the mind of a narcissist, someone who will not allow themselves to be used by the narcissist is useless to them and therefore does not deserve their attention. Before you understand this, it can feel lonely and even isolating not to be “noticed” by the narcissists, but in many ways it’s a compliment because you have adequate boundaries to keep yourself from being sucked into their drama.
Terry Boyle McDougall
Dr. Patricia Celan
Love to play the victim
Narcissists love to play the victim card in order to manipulate and control others. This can occur as projecting their bad behaviour on someone else, or twisting what they did to blame the true victim. They don’t express remorse and instead refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
Lying is common from a narcissist. They may claim that they were the true victim and make up events or exaggerate/twist what actually happened. They may claim that the person they are targeting is a bad person who has said or done bad things outside of victimizing the narcissist. Or the lying can occur as gaslighting the target by directly denying that any mistreatment has occurred – making them question their perception of reality or their ability to remember correctly, which is serious mental abuse.
Narcissistic rage can be used to intimidate people who will not comply with the narcissist’s expectations; anger, lying, and playing victim can all have a serious impact and may lead the victim to be silent and accept the abuse.
Narcissists are one of the most dangerous people you’ll ever meet. They’re expert manipulators. And more often than not, you don’t realize you’ve been victimized until it’s too late.
It can be quite difficult to pinpoint the signs of a narcissist early on. But there’s one particular tactic you need to watch out for: love bombing.
Narcissists are good at “showing” love on the surface. They’ll flatter you and shower you with affection. They’ll be exactly who you need, giving you exactly what you want. They’ll deliberately put themselves in a position where you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with them. And once they’ve won you over, they’ll begin to subtly control you.
Love bombing doesn’t seem problematic at first. But you need to be particularly careful in this stage of narcissistic abuse.
So how exactly can you differentiate love bombing from genuine affection?
If it seems too hard, too fast, run the other way.
Watch out for the coworker that seems so intent on becoming your best friend overnight. Be wary of the boss that makes you feel too important, without bothering to build a relationship with you. Don’t fall for the guy who talks about “forever” only after a couple of dates.
Your intuition is probably your best friend when it comes to dealing with a narcissist. It may initially feel good to be with one, but sooner or later, you’ll get that prickling feeling that something just isn’t right. Trust that instinct.
3 tactics they use
People with narcissistic personalities need constant attention or validation to cover for their deep-seated inadequacies, usually at the expense of others.
Here are 3 tactics they use.
Pointing out negatives in others. By drawing attention to others’ flaws, they elevate themselves by default. In terms of numbers, zero is still greater than negative.
Exploiting boundaries. Narcissists have a high opinion of themselves and view themselves as the exception to the rule. They believe that they can always get their way, be it by charm or coercion.
Showing off. There are many forms, such as status boasting, name-dropping, humble-bragging, to name a few. This is where they communicate how great they and/or their life is, in hopes of receiving admiration or attention.
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