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“First [the Flying Monkeys] took my legs off and they threw them over there! Then they took my chest out and they threw it over there!” ~The Scarecrow, The Wizard of Oz

Flying monkeys are used by narcissists

For as much as I’ve discussed narcissism and how it affects relationships, both on this site and in several of my books, I have never fully covered the topic of flying monkeys. And I’m not talking about the kind from the movie. I’m talking about the kind that are real people who are so often used as pawns in the gaslighting and manipulation game of a narcissist.

While I’ve mentioned the phenomenon in a few posts, I have yet to fully define it. So let’s just start there.

What is a flying monkey?

It might be a funny comparison, calling them flying monkeys, but the reality of it is anything but funny.

A quick and dirty definition of a narcissist’s “flying monkey” is a person who does the narcissist’s bidding for them. Sometimes, these flying monkeys are unaware of their role in the narcissist’s puppet show – you know, the stage they set for their gaslighting manipulation and preferred state of drama. Other times, they’re “in on it” with them.

The Unwitting Flying Monkey

Often, flying monkeys come in the form of well-meaning friends and loved ones. They show up, trying to gently convince you to go along with what the narcissist wants – and it’s generally a direct result of their own manipulation by the narc.

See, a toxic narcissist will do anything to get or her way, including telling lies about you and/or others in order to make things go their way.

A Real-Life Example of How a Narcissist Uses a Flying Monkey

For example, let’s say that you have gone no-contact with your narcissistic and abusive father. Life has never been better.

Meanwhile, Joe has recently married into your family, and your narcissistic father has convinced him that you’re a tyrant who has victimized him since you could speak.

Joe, trying to make everything better between you, comes to you and pleads your father’s “case,” begging you to let your father back into your life, for the sake of your family.

You don’t want to hurt Joe, but you also know that allowing the narcissist back into your life would be toxic for you. You try to express this to Joe, but he’s already been warned that “you might say that,” so he continues on his mission to “fix” your relationship with your father.

Eventually, you might have to be very direct to get him to lay off. And of course, this causes you to once again look like “the bad guy” in the situation – and your father keeps playing the victim, manipulating and pulling strings all the while.

The Co-Narcissist Flying Monkey: Rare But Real

Wizard04The unwitting flying monkey is difficult and can really complicate your life – but the co-narcissist kind is much more sinister. And not many people really talk about this kind of monkey.

Every now and then, two or narcissists join forces – and this is when things can get really ugly.

When one is willingly doing the other’s bidding, you’ve got two relentless, abusive manipulators against you – and then you’ve really got a problem.

This often happens in couples, between parents and children or even just among friends. The only thing you an do is either go no-contact (ideal) or, if you must be in the person’s life, get really good at taking control of the situation.

How do you release the flying monkeys?

So, what’s the best way to deal with a flying monkey situation? Should you try to convince them that you’re right, or should you just keep quiet to maintain your sanity?

That depends on the person. But often, trying to convince them of the narcissist’s true intention might be pointless, and in those cases, the best thing I think you can do is to smile, nod and then go ahead and do what’s best for you.

What if a narcissist is using you as a flying monkey?

There is also a chance that a narcissist is using YOU to be a flying monkey in order to victimize someone else. That might be the case if you:

  1. Are hearing a lot of negativity from one side of an argument you’re trying to help resolve but not hearing much from the other.
  2. Have taken sides with someone in your life who has taken sides against you before.
  3. Are trying to get someone to change their mind in order to make a third person happy/satisfied or otherwise pleased.
  4. Are trying to help solve a decades-old problem that you just became aware of and might not know all the details that are involved.

How can you avoid being used as a flying monkey?

  1. Avoid taking sides unless you are a personal witness to a situation and have a valid opinion on the topic because of what you witness.
  2. If you choose to try to help someone who might be a narcissist try to cause another person to do something, be sure you know all the facts first. For example, if someone accuses another person of neglecting or abusing their children, make sure you have seen real proof of the accusations or made against them – such as verbal confirmation, or physical or psychological signs in the children themselves – or failing that, police reports, recordings or other actual proof.
  3. Refuse to get involved in situations that don’t directly affect you personally when it comes to arguing or trying to help someone else get their way.

Let’s talk about this. Do you know any flying monkeys? Is there a chance that you’ve been used as one? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. 


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12 Responses to Narcissists and Flying Monkeys Will Get You and Your Little Dog Too

  1. I was once the “other” woman.
    Dear Wife # 1, mother of 3 beautiful beings, I ,wife #2 ,
    and XStep Mom to your 3 kids, I am so sorry to being a flying monkey to his abuse to you and your kids,.
    I was deceived to believe you had kidnapped them (2x) from their ever so loving & dedicated Father.
    Now I know, I was just a pawn, a meal ticket.
    I am so sorry I was naive and weak.
    I had no idea he abandoned you and the 3 kids for multiple times leaving you destitute.
    I was led to believe that You were the on to cancel on his weekend visitations. He cried every time he said you bailed.
    I now know he bailed on YOU and your KIDS.
    I now know he never paid a dime to you for child support.
    I am forever regretful for taking your kids from you, in court, full custody, and bringing them right back into the hands of the true abuser, their father.
    You, Wife 1 are an amazing woman! You fought hard to protect them. We all lost. I now know that. I am forever guilty.

    • Connie, I can feel your pain – but please stop beating yourself up. The important thing is you figured it out and you aren’t doing it now. We are all lied to and manipulated by narcissists at one time or another – and you were just a pawn in the game. Hugs and love.

  2. it has taken me a very long time to discover i have to go nc with my eldest daughter.Her father left years ago ,but never lost his grip manipulating all 6 of our children.He is now incarcerated for having a relationship with his 15 yr old step daughter. Sadly how ever my eldest daughter has picked up and carried on right where her father left off. This includes reporting back to him on a weekly basis.She manipulates her younger brothers and sisters and if they do not tow her line she threatens them. i have always called this doing her fathers bidding but flying monkey is so much more fitting

    • I can totally understand why you wouldn’t want to give up on your own child, but at some point (especially when they become adults) your own mental and physical health needs to take priority over a narcissist’s – even when they’re your child. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this situation as I can imagine how painful it must be for a mom. Hugs and love to you.

  3. I think my ex whose a narcissit is wiv a new gf who is also one and they hav been realy horrible to me. Your right when you say that this is a realy ugly situ. What shud I do when theres 2 of them against me?

    • I’m in the same situation and you have to ignore them both make them invisible. If kids are involved make EVERYTHING about the kids don’t join in on any other conversation with them.

  4. What’s amazing to me, is that the traits of narcissists are absolutely the same across life situations. For me, that begs the question of whether there’s something specifically neurological going on as a result of childhood abuse and trauma? My related question is whether any amount of kindness, concern, and caring can alter the narcissist’s behavior?

    • These are both excellent questions. I’ll have to research the first one. As to the second one, I believe that a certain amount of attention can mildly ease the symptoms of narcissism, but I do not believe that any amount would ever be enough to satisfy and fully resolve the issue; unless, maybe, the narcissist could admit to himself or herself that there is an issue and be willing to learn new behaviors. Then again, even if that happened, the narcissist is likely to change only on the surface – at least in my experience.

  5. My boyfriend’s soon-to-be ex-wife has used their mutual friends (the wives) as her flying monkeys. One even created a false identity so she could snoop around MY Facebook page (because I blocked her months ago). Her husband who remains friends w/my boyfriend actually warned him about his wife’s deception.

  6. Do flying monkeys include someone who comes around after you go no contact with your ex. My ex’s brother showed up in the parking lot of my gym with their long time friend riding passenger. So the minute I walked out the door he raced his truck up to the curb in front of me and stopped. He made small talk and the told me I should go see my ex and his mom and play games with them on game night *we used to play this game almost every night. I blew it off, smiled and left. Could he be a flying monkey

  7. I had the whole narcissist and flying monkeys! 21 years married to a cheater who hit me once in awhile. He was nice half the time. Sure most can relate to forgiving. well I was a young girl then and got out finally. Been single for 27 years now . I am 63. I started to “date” 4 years ago and wouldn’t you know it both men, very religious, I caught cheating! lol I say this to all the lonely women to be careful because if there are GOOD men, their wife kept them. In fact even if the man was halfway decent, their women kept them. I believe that dating and trying to make a life with these losers is a sad road. I have friends who suggest online! I didn’t but I will tell you women should stop fantasies about love so much with the leftovers. I am sad I tried again. All it did was depress the daylights out of me.

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