So today I thought I would show you some of the games Narcissists play in order to control, manipulate, confuse and overwhelm you.
After the initial shock of realising, I was a victim of narcissistic abuse myself – I began to do a lot of research and discovered that my ex-partner had used all of the typical tactics that narcissists use, in order to manipulate and control me. I knew on every level of being that something was seriously wrong – and when I finally (after extensive searching) discovered what was really going on inside my relationship – the truth & the reality of what I had experienced was very overwhelming.
So here is a list of the general tactics used by narcissists in order to control and manipulate their victims. Like most people, a lot of these tactics where well underway, before I even realised there was something seriously wrong with my relationship. If you are in a relationship with a Narcissist, then chances are once you hear these tactics, you will certainly recognise some of them too.
So flattery from the narcissist always comes with a hidden agenda. For example, they may tell you how amazing you are. Or how great you are – followed closely by a request. You may find this happens as soon as they have discovered how your services may be of benefit to them, they begin to flatter you. It’s almost like they have set the stage, and then the agenda automatically follows. So start to listen in very closely the next time someone is trying to use flattery in order to get you to comply with their wishes. The Narcissist may have even used flattery in order to get into a relationship with you in the beginning and used this in order to love bomb you.
Compared to Narcissistic flattery, a genuine compliment has its own legs, it stands alone, there are no follow-on requests, and it doesn’t feel over exaggerated.
Your narcissist will go all the way with the flattery in order to get you into a relationship with them. This might be because they want you to give the flattery back to them, or because they have set their eye on you as their next target, and they want you as a new source of Narcissistic supply.
Love bombing is the practice of overwhelming someone with signs of adoration and attraction — think flattering comments, tokens of affection, or love notes on the mirror. It’s the flowers delivered at work. It is texts that increase in frequency. It is surprise appearances designed to manipulate you into spending more time with the love bomber — and, not coincidentally, less time with others, or on your own.
It’s normal to feel a rush of excitement at the start of a new romantic relationship, but when someone’s trying to move it along too fast, it can be a more than a little disconcerting. Narcissists are going to do whatever it takes to get close enough to a romantic interest as quickly as they can before their target bolts.
When a relationship moves too fast — or one partner tries to push it too forcefully — it’s essential that you call your partner on it and let him or her know how you feel. If he or she is willing to listen, and dial it back a notch, there may be reason to give them, and the relationship, more time to develop. However, if your new partner won’t listen to your concerns right at the beginning, and just tries to excuse away their own smothering behaviour, that can be a sure sign that there’s likely to be less freedom, and more manipulation in the future if you decide to stay together.
A compliment delivered with a back handed insult – oh that dress look nice – on someone as big as you
You may find the Narcissist in your life will tend to play on emotions such as fear, obligation, guilt, and loyalty rather than using logic and reasoning.
Since many narcissists tend to be exceptionally dramatic, you may find they use their emotional appeals to disguise their false or outrageous claims – Their emotional response is generally way over the top, in terms of the current situation, and they behave in this way, in order to control those around them.
So, for an example this could be a statement such as, “I have done so much for you – how can you have the outright nerve, and audacity – to even question me about what I do.”
This statement could be said to make the victim of narcissistic abuse feel guilty (as though they owe their partner something that they can’t possibly repay) or obligated to give into their outrageous request, and fearful to question the narcissist any further.
A very useful acronym to remind yourself of this, when listening to your Narcissists emotional appeals is the word FOG. F-O -G As they will always attempt to use fear, obligation and guilt in order to control and emotionally manipulate you.
Smoke & Mirrors
Everything a narcissist/sociopath says or does is a trick of smoke and mirrors – this is a narcissistic ploy, intended to distract you from the reality of what he/she is really up to.
Quoting out of context
This does exactly what is says on the tin. The Narcissists may repeat only PART of what another parson said (leaving out the necessary information that proves there was no malice intended within the said conversation).
Or another way in which the Narcissist may use your words completely out of context, is by twisting and distorting what it was you actually said, so much so, it totally alters the listeners perception of your character.
Or they manage to get an emotional reaction out of you, by using your own words totally out of context back to you. For example, “I don’t know what your problem is to be honest, you have always said people have to take responsibility for themselves – so when I seen you being beaten with a stick by that gang, I knew it would hurt you more if I tried to help.”
This is a tactic the Narcissist uses in order to act as though what the victim has said is 100% unbelievable. They often use this tactic when they are unable to understand what the other person is saying. Rather than admit they are confused (because of their need to be right about everything) they pretend that what the other person is saying is simply beyond belief.
This is an attempt to dismiss the victim’s most valid concerns and threw them off balance.
An example of this would be “Do you seriously think you could EVER find a partner who treats you better than me?” Nobody could EVER give you MORE than I have – I do absolutely everything for you- you would be NOTHING without me. You are NOT living in the real word.
When you first meet, it will almost feel like the narcissist can’t get enough of you. They hold you so way up high on a pedestal – and they go above and beyond in order to please you. However, everything is black and white with the Narcissist. There are no grey areas. You are either the best thing since sliced bread (which happens at the beginning of the relationship) or a piece of dog mess on the end of their shoe – and they treat you accordingly.
Lack of empathy
Narcissists have a severe deficiency of empathy. The very purpose of a meaningful conversation is to be intimate or connected and close to another person.
Narcissists, on the other hand, tend to see these types of conversations as pathetic and totally beneath them.
Normal people are interested in these types of conversations (as gaining insight and wisdom helps to shine the light on any problems that may arise between the two of you, in order for you both to rectify it by creating a win/win outcome).
However, this, of course, has no relevance to the Narcissist – and why should it- Their aim is to start an argument (not have a conversation) win the argument (not resolve it) and to confuse, manipulate and control you in doing so.
An example of severe lack of empathy may be you have a debilitating pain in your chest and you fear you are having a heart attack- you are panicking, and have to ask your partner to take you to the hospital – and before your partner decides to take you – your partner spends half an hour or so, having a shower and getting him/herself ready to go – as that is what is most important to them – Its all about how they look & not about you & how you feel – and not about the fact that you could be dying..
Conversations with a narcissist
Here are several things you may find that happen within your conversation.
The first thing to notice is that the conversation is often shallow. They talk about themselves (how fantastic they are – or if they are ill- how no one is possibly worse than they are- or their history of when things went tragically wrong for them) – they will talk about topics such as the weather, Politics – current tragedies, they might discuss the latest rumours or gossip about people in their neighbourhood, and talk about who has died, and who deserves to be punished.
The theme within the conversation is that the conversation ALWAYS comes back to them, and to their bragging and boasting – or literally back to how victimised they are, and how others are out to get them.
In doing this, they will totally distort the facts – and paint a picture that only exists within their minds (as compared to reality) and this can be exceptionally dangerous to be on the end of. – if you are the victim being talked about.
What you will notice is the conversation with a narcissist is devoid of any compassion, or of any love or consideration for others.
Within the conversation you will never feel a genuine connection, because the Narcissists can only ever mimic emotions.
They will rationalise and intellectualise their emotions, and look towards you for reasons to be insulted, and if they don’t have any, they simply pluck reasons (that don’t exist in reality) clean out of the air.
Plucking these reasons out of the thin air, allows the Narcissist to occupy the victim position, and feel justified in their doing so, as nothing is ever their fault.
Sometimes you may even feel that conversations with the Narcissist feel like an examination where you are constantly being probed for information – as if you are being interrogated like a spy.
They have a habit of talking AT you, not to you. A conversation with the Narcissist entails them giving you a speech, a talk, a narrative or a lecture
They will talk over you- constantly interrupting your flow of speech (sometimes you may feel so lucky if you manage to get a word in edge ways)
As I said in my last podcast – my narcissistic partner would ask me a question, then he would answer the question for me – and then (after that) go right on ahead with arguing AT me about the answer he had given – without me even getting a chance to say a single saying a word. I remember saying to him at the time – do you realise you just asked me a question, answered it for me, and argued with me over the answer and I haven’t said a single word. As you can imagine – the answer he projected straight onto me – was- I was nuts.
Narcissists are patronising, condescending and judgmental. They don’t ask you about your feelings, or about your opinions, because they just don’t care – unless it’s to outsmart you, or to prove a point.
Narcissists will often demand an apology from you – you may find yourself apologising to the narcissist (just to keep the piece) possibly whilst knowing you have actually done nothing wrong – however, whilst you are trying to keep the piece – by insincerely apologising, this helps the narcissist in your life to keep the delusion going strong, that they really are always right & you are always wrong.
They don’t care if the apology isn’t sincere, that is irrelevant – all the narcissist wants is to win – to be right – to be superior.
They may often change the subject in order to derail you. This is a tactic the Narcissist employs in order to keep you off track, and to manipulate and confuse you. This is why you may find it extremely difficult to get a straight answer from the narcissist. Alongside this they may pretend they didn’t hear you – or completely ignore you altogether.
Conversations with a Narcissist are aims to disorientate you- and make you question your reality so that you become mistrustful of yourself, of other people, and basically of life in general. If you left feeling confused, frustrated and full of self-doubt (after having had a conversation with a Narcissist) they have achieved their goal.
Projection – No one projects more frequently than a narcissist. Your partner may have a tongue that can cut you in too. They may call you all sorts of horrible names – and label you as being a particular type of low life, shallow person.
At these times, if you find yourself shocked at the type of things that are being said about you (as the things being said don’t even sound remotely like you) it is highly likely the narcissist is projecting themselves onto you- and hating you for being that type of person (which in effect is them hating their disowned self).
Number 15 Infantilizing
Narcissists may treat others as children. They may talk down or use a tone of voice that a parent might use with a child. They may treat others as possessing lesser intelligence or having fewer rights. Demeaning others makes them feel superior. It also puts others on the defensive.
Number 16 Minimising
Narcissists systematically minimise anything that makes them look or feel bad. They find excuses for their bad behaviour, often blaming others. They may deny outright that they have done anything destructive. They have found that their minimising and stonewalling is hard for others to fight, much to the narcissist’s delight.
Hence, when a narcissist feels slighted, it can feel like the end of the world to them. But when they slight, insult or hurt others, they hardly give it a second thought.
Number 17 Shaming
Narcissists carry enormous shame, though their shame is generally outside their awareness. As a result, they tend to put shame on everyone else.
They may question others’ legitimacy. They may scold others for a less-than-perfect performance, or rub a failure in another’s face. They have a knack for knocking others down a peg. The result: they feel superior. In addition, the recipients of their shaming may feel they have to defend or explain themselves, which often gives narcissists additional ammunition to further shame others.
They will use your vulnerabilities and insecurities in their favour by shaming you publicly and privately. By shaming you about your biggest insecurity, they will manipulate you until you lose your sense of worth and self-esteem. They will often say it was a joke after making you feel weak and looking for validation from them.
So after looking at what happens inside of the conversation itself – here is number 10.
Emotional starvation is a lack of affection and sensitivity, or lack of depth. The Narcissist protects themselves behind the wall of narcissism – their lack of affection and sensitivity really doesn’t affect them at all, because they are not the ones emotionally starving – however their romantic partner will be left feeling the effects of severe emotional starvation.
People look within their relationships for the sensitivity, and for emotional connection and depth- but when you are with a narcissist, there is none. They may throw you the odd emotional crumb every now then to keep you interested, but even that will be very few and far between (if it all) Getting in a relationship with a Narcissist is almost like purchasing a fast car, you assume it has a good engine inside, then you discover, there is no engine. Without an engine- it isn’t going to be going forwards from there – in fact you know it isn’t going to be going anywhere. It’s stuck – it’s stagnant.
The narcissist will have started your relationship by praising you and placing you way up high on a pedestal idealising you in the very beginning. However, once you are addicted to their intoxicating charm, they change their personality in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, they will start insulting you, engage in name calling, and criticising your opinions, alongside picking holes in your beliefs and even the qualities about you that they once said they admired.
A simple reason for a long period of silence from your narcissistic spouse it could be because they are too lazy to tell you what’s wrong with them and feel they are too special to have to explain anything to someone so inferior (meaning you). They may even justify this to themselves by thinking, “I am not his/her parent, and I shouldn’t have to tell them what they are doing is so wrong – they should already know that. Whilst they see themselves as really special, you on the other hand (on occasions like this) are meant to be a highly talented mind reader 😊
While stonewalling can happen occasionally even in healthy relationships as a defence mechanism or coping method for conflict, it has harmful implications when it is used chronically as an abuse tactic by a toxic partner, such as a narcissist, a sociopath or a psychopath.
Although stonewalling appears to place an end to communication, it actually speaks volumes and communicates something quite cruel to the person on the receiving end. Regardless of the intention of the person doing the stonewalling, this behaviour communicates to their partner the following: “You’re not worth responding to. Your thoughts and feelings don’t matter to me. You don’t matter to me”.
Here are 4 examples of stonewalling in a relationship.
- Your wife has done something that hurts your feelings or there is a problem in the marriage that you wish to discuss with her. Your attempts to communicate your feelings over the situation are met with silence. Her way of avoiding conflict is to refuse to participate in the conversation. This ensures the problem never gets resolved, the conflict remains ongoing, and the relationship itself remains stuck, and unable to progress forwards. Both partners lose out.
- Your husband spends all weekend playing computer games instead of participating in family activities. You sit with him, explain to him that you don’t have a problem with him playing computer games but would like for him to take a few hours of his weekend to spend with the family. He responds by folding his arms and muttering, “whatever.” Then he is back to playing his game. This indicates your husband is totally disconnected from the family and what the family needs from him.
- Your wife is a shopaholic, so much so that you begin to worry about the financial repercussions of her spending habits. You feel a need to discuss the problem with her and set some boundaries on her spending. Half way through the conversation she changes the subject; it is no longer about her shopping- but about how much time you spend at work whilst she is at home all alone (playing the poor little old me card – and using guilt as a tactic in order to manipulate you). Her taking the spotlight off of her own faults and shining it on yours is a display of smugness, “How dare you point out my flaws, when you have flaws of your own?”
- You are not happy with the lack of intimacy in your marriage. Your husband shows no interest in you, or in having sex with you, and you decide it is time to communicate the level of pain and rejection you are feeling.
You tell him you are worried about the lack of sex in the marriage, that you want to come up with some solutions to this problem and he walks away.
He removes himself from the conversation- and from the room altogether. He has already distanced himself from you intimately, now he is distancing himself from you physically. Not only does he not want to have sex with you, he doesn’t want to talk to you either. Leaving his wife feeling totally rejected, devalued and unloved.
Narcissists can either want sex with you all the time – or totally withhold sex from you- both ways are a form of controlling you.
So stonewalling is a dismissal of what is good for the relationship, and both spouses, in favour of what is good for just the one spouse. And in this case it’s certainly all about the narcissist – and the more they are upsetting you by stonewalling – the better they can feel – as this is feeding their sense of narcissistic supply. Remind yourself, their fix is to totally destroy you.
According to John Gottman, “A marriage succeeds to the extent that the husband can accept influence from his wife. If a woman says, ‘Do you have to work Thursday night? My mother is coming that weekend, and I need your help getting read,’ and her husband replies, ‘My plans are set, and I’m not changing them’.
This guy is in a shaky marriage. A husband’s ability to be influenced by his wife (rather than vice-versa) is crucial because research shows women are already well practiced at accepting influence from men, and a true partnership only occurs when as husband can do so as well.
This is typically what happens, the wife nags, the husband becomes defensive and stonewalls by refusing to engage in communication over what the wife views as a problem in the marriage.
The wife nags more and becomes angrier and more frustrated. As a result, you have a husband who is angry because his wife is constantly ‘nagging’ and a wife who is angry because her husband is constantly, ‘stonewalling’.”
Not that women don’t stonewall which results in just as much damage – but men, who are wired to withdraw and think about a problem, are more likely to use this avoidance tactic more often than women, who are more open to communicating feelings and needs.
However, with that being said, I highly doubt that would be the same for a narcissistic woman.
Flying monkeys – the narcissists tool for the smear campaigns
The narcissist gets other people to abuse you by proxy – this is how they manipulate their flying monkeys into believing things about you that are not true. In this way the narcissist gets to abuse both personally, and indirectly, through the form of his/ her flying monkeys.
The flying monkeys will set out to reject you, they’ll make you feel not good enough, they’ll shame you, maybe they’ll put you in a bad situation, they’ll tell you, and others that you’re crazy, and bad things like that.
Obviously, by getting the flying monkeys to do the Narcissists dirty work, by spreading the rumours and gossip they have been drip fed by the narcissist, whilst the narcissist sits back (outside of the situation) and looks appears to be squeaky clean. They appear to not be involved in the situation at all, although they have instigated the whole affair.
There are two types of flying monkeys, people who are exceptionally naïve, and those that are toxic.
These who are toxic have no boundaries. They love gossip and drama, they’re addicted to that stuff. They have an integrity problem, and usually they want something from the narcissist. They want status, they want flattery, they want favours. They’re generally getting something out of the narcissist which is why they’re willing to participate in the games the narcissist plays with their victims.
Abusers need other people to know you’re the abusive one – or the crazy one, before you can ever get a chance to discredited them in any way. They may even try turning your own family, your church, or your friends and colleagues against you.
Essentially the narcissist spins this web of a false reality and casts it out amongst a group of people. Other people then subscribe to that reality. It’s like they become engulfed into that web of a false reality that they think is very real. They believe it to be real because the narcissist appears so convincing with an enormous amount of energy and emotion about the topic- the narcissist will also portray themselves as the victim.
This can be for many reasons, essentially it could be your partner fears other people being romantically interested in you, and sees others individuals as a potential threat – they are unable to change you and your loving and kind hearted nature, so they set out to change other people’s perception of you.
This could also be an adult narcissistic child who resents you for one reason or another, so sets out to change other people’s opinions of you by making false allegations about you. Narcissists don’t like other people to like you.
When it’s one person against one person, gaslighting can be really challenging. However, once a Narcissist has a whole group of people who are subscribing to that reality, you’re going to feel alone. You’re also going to be tempted to doubt yourself and your perception of reality. Hence, the flying monkeys can be a very powerful ally for the narcissist. All the Narcissist needs is a podium and an audience for their story telling in order to create this whole upheaval
Smear campaigns (character assignation)
After all that has already happened to the victim (before the final discard of the narcissist come into play) the victim often questions how could this possibly be happening?
How can it be that on top of all you’ve suffered, you are now also facing losing family, friends, colleagues and/or community connections at the hands of the narcissist?
The narcissist comes at you, and they alter your whole perception of reality. They do this by changing the whole essence of who you are – by changing your identity, through changing how others view you – and also through doing so, begin to get you to question, or change how you view yourself, by getting you to doubt yourself – through the use of Narcissists flying monkeys, and through other tactics such as gaslighting – and before you know it (as the victim) your whole concept of your life has been destroyed, it is almost like the narcissist has smashed your identity into a smithereens- and you are now left with a shattered version of who you once were.
The smear campaign is just one more of the abusive narcissist’s tools -custom built to destroy you.
The smear campaign is intentional and designed to undermine, discredit, and further isolate you. The narcissist paints you in a misleading and toxic light, by the use of exaggeration, through their instigation of rumours, and by the use of slander, and lies.
Gaslighting is defined as a form of psychological manipulation where the perpetrator seeks out to sow plants of doubt in an individual that they have targeted. It typically occurs very gradually. The narcissists aim is to get you to question your memory, your perception and your sanity.
Once the Narcissist has you questioning your own sanity, you begin to feel as if you’re imagining things and you will eventually lose your sense of reality, as you begin to rely on the narcissist for the truth of what is really happening all around you (which obviously is not the truth at all). This prevents you from confronting the Narcissist about their misbehaviour and abuse. Gaslighting is so dangerous, as the victim has no way of proving what is reality with the Narcissist continually setting the stage in order to prove differently.
However I think it’s important to point out gaslighting doesn’t just happen in romantic relationships, it can happen in the workplace, within politics, spiritual or religious organisations, and often within families.
For example at work a narcissist may decide to gaslight you by taking credit for your achievements – they may start spreading rumours about you – pointing out that you are stealing work from them, and in doing so seek to turn your colleges against you (by the use of their smear campaign and posing as the victim).
Within families a narcissistic parent may intentionally cause rifts between their children- Or (again within families) it may be an adult narcissistic child who seeks to undermine all relationships within the family unit by seeking to conquer and divide the family by gossiping about another family member / members – their goal is to conquer and divide the family psychologically.
Narcissists seek to provoke discord and enjoy getting people within the family to fight with each other. In a nutshell, they instigate the conflict, and sit smugly on the side-lines, and has the family members are too busy arguing, no one has even noticed the narcissist has instigated the whole situation.
The narcissist generally will create this divide by generating an atmosphere of anxiety, hostility and uncertainty.
Not telling the whole truth (re writing history) deliberately taking things out of context, changing the facts of conversations you have had, or changing the facts about events that have occurred.
Alongside this, Narcissists also have a tendency to omit important things in order to discredit their victim. Their aim is to get you to both look and look file like the crazy one, to others.
When one of these tactics is used by the narcissist at a time – it is brutal – but when the victim has been subjected to a multitude of tactics – it is literally is crazy making. And this is the very reason why most victims suffer with CPTSD – complex post traumatic stress disorder. This is why I have so many clients turn up for counselling – however the victims are not the ones who are mentally ill – and yet are the ones who are often suicidal.
I can’t remember the exact words, or which book I read it in – but I remember reading somewhere that being in a relationship with a narcissist is a bit like being a frog in a pond of water, the temperature in the pond just gets turned up a slight notch, each and every single day, so you don’t realise your literally getting cooked alive – not right up until its too late – and your literally scrambling for your life to get out of there.
For me personally, that is definitely a good description of how things ended up feeling for me when I was in my relationship with a narcissist.
Speaking from the heart, I know I was subjected to some horrific experiences, and my Narcissistic partner put me in such a position that I felt no one would ever believe me. It sounds crazy that people could actually act this way, and I felt that by saying what happened, it actually made me look like the crazy one.
- Photos on the wall
- Friend recorded him – after his money.
- Tape recorder – gaslighting
I don’t share this to show my ex narc as a villain, there where some good times, I share this in order to help you reflect and recognise what may have been going on in your relationship
However, what I couldn’t explain at the time – was why I kept going back to back to him & why I had a history of attracting these types of toxic people in my life. Finally, I now have an in depth understanding of all of this & hopefully will share that with you on another podcast at some point.
I know being a counsellor myself if I hadn’t of been subjected to narcissistic abuse personally – then I wouldn’t have been able to recognise this form of abuse so quickly with my clients. As mad as it may sound now – and I never thought I would EVER say this before – but now im actually glad I had that horrific experience – because through that – Im now able to help so many other people not only just recognise it – but also recover from it.
However, without this personal knowledge myself, working as a life coach and counsellor, if I had a client come in and communicate all of this to me, I would have probably found myself questioning if it was paranoia.
I might then have asked questions that would have the potential to further traumatise my client – by asking them questions such as was there another way to look at this situation as so forth.
Making them doubt their sanity further. This is why, if you think you are a victim of narcissistic abuse, it is essential you find a Counsellor or life coach who has in depth knowledge of this subject.
I have decided to make it my mission in life to help create awareness out there – to help as many people as possible recognise this type of emotional predator (whether it be your partner – your parent – your adult child – or your boss) helping others to recognise the psychological games these Narcissists play in order to emotionally abuse and psychologically terrorise us. Knowledge is power, once you know what is really going on, you can begin to learn how to protect yourself, how to heal, and how to move forward – if that is your choice to do so. Info
And finally, please remember there really is hope & there really is help out there, and you really can (although you may find it hard to believe right now) recover from Narcissistic Abuse.
I hope you have found this information useful today. Thank you so much for being a part of my day and a part of my life & thanks for allowing me to be a part of yours.