Lies Narcissists Want You To Believe – An empath friend of mine, let’s call her Jane, was in a relationship a guy – we’ll call him John – and while they didn’t seem to be an ideal couple to the average eye, they managed to stay together almost 10 years. If we’re being honest, this was all thanks to Jane and how good she was to John (even though, if you like me, he didn’t deserve it!). John had many narcissistic qualities, but he was also a good-looking guy who, while he had kind of a weird personality, was okay to be around most of the time.
Anyhoo. A few years into the relationship, John started acting weird. He would disappear for hours at a time, or he’d say he was going to work late, but when Jane would call his office, he wouldn’t be there. But Jane would always say he had a good reason and apparently whatever he told her made sense.
Fast-forward a few years, and something weird happens. I get a call from Jane, and she wants me to help her figure out who is stalking John. She says someone has been sending both of them really scary and cryptic messages. The mysterious person has been texting Jane that John is cheating on her and pushing her to leave John. The person also insults her personally on a number of other shocking levels.
John swears that he has no idea who would do this. He says they must be crazy! Jane is very concerned, she tells me, and knowing that I have a gift for finding out information on the internet, she wants me to dig around and see what I can find out. She sends me the phone number of the person sending the texts and we dig into her and John’s Facebook friends lists. Before long, we have a name.
We ask John if he knows this person, and he says they work together, and that he’s “been there for her as a friend.” He claims she’s been talking to him about her husband and how he is abusive. He even says he’s been referring her to my videos and websites. But he has no idea why she’d say this stuff.
Jane confides in me around this time, letting me know that while John has cheated on her in the past, she really believes that this time, it’s different – she knows he loves her. And they’re living together now, so she can’t imagine he’d do it again. I want to believe it too.
A few weeks later, Jane has a dinner party, and sure enough, the stalker happens to send a message during the party. Only this time, she describes Jane’s house. She’s literally sitting outside, it turns out. Jane and John go to the police and the incident the next day.
Jane and John later figure out where the stalker lives, and they go together to confront her. There, they meet her husband, who defends the stalker. They have a really difficult interaction, and they leave. Jane tries really hard to continue to believe John, but she’s finding it increasingly difficult.
A few weeks later, it all comes out. John has in fact been cheating on Jane with the so-called stalker, and in fact, he tells Jane, they are now in a relationship. But, he says, he’s going to continue to live in Jane’s house since he can’t afford to move out just yet. (Side note – that didn’t last long. Jane came to my house a few weeks later complaining that he wouldn’t leave. But you know me. I helped her figure out a plan and he ended up leaving the same day).
Anyway. Here’s the thing. The truth is best seen in a person’s actions, and if you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, you already know words don’t mean much. After all, most toxic narcissists are pathological liars who can, at times, be so convincing that they even believe their own lies. (No, I’m not kidding!) And it can be hard to catch a narcissist in a lie since they’re so very skilled at gaslighting and manipulation in general. It doesn’t hurt that they are also able to say anything, whether it’s the gospel truth or a blatantly invented lie with total conviction. And, their complete lack of concern for you and other people kind of rounds out the idea that when it comes right down to it, you can’t really trust a narcissist any further than you can throw them.
Literally anything that serves them. Oh, and sometimes, they lie just for the sake of lying. But today, I’m going to share a dozen of the most commonly uttered lies narcissists want you to believe – as well as the truth behind each one – read on or watch this video on YouTube.
12 Lies The Narcissist Wants You To Believe
1. “Everyone else agrees with me on this.”
Narcissists will tell you this when you question or argue with them for any reason, or anytime you offer anything that feels like criticism – as in, anything that doesn’t sound like “you are so amazing!” They’ll say things like, “What do you mean the sky is blue? You are clearly color-blind! Everyone agrees with me that it’s really green and yellow striped!” or “How DARE you question my judgment or choices? You are clearly not very smart. Everyone knows I’m the only expert in the world on this stuff – and they all agree with everything I say, literally all the time!” But what that really means is, “I don’t actually know what I’m talking about and I realize that you are well-aware of it, but maybe if I tell you about all these pretend people who agree with everything I think, say and believe, you’ll doubt yourself enough to think I might be right. And my self-esteem can’t handle a hit right now, so…” In other words, for narcissists, saying it out loud is an attempt at self-validation, as well as a way to gaslight you into believing that you are the problem and that everyone else must be right. Yeah, they’re lying to you – but they’re also lying to themselves. Deep down they are often really insecure, which is why they have the need to say this phrase. This brings me to my next point.
2. “Everyone says you’re (lazy/no good/insert other insult here)
Despite the fact that you are a decent person with good intentions, the narcissist is always finding reasons to have you believe that they regularly poll the general public about you. They say things like, “Everyone says you’re difficult to get along with,” or “Everyone agrees that I’m too good-looking to be with you,” or “Everyone says you’re a gold digger,” or “Everyone knows you’re a bad parent.” Anything to hurt you. Now, you can test this one pretty easily – just ask for names. Who, specifically, said that? Sure, they might say that “everyone” is their friends, family, or even coworkers. But 9 times out of 10, if you ask them specifically WHO said whatever they’re claiming, they either won’t give you any specific name, or they’ll give you the name of someone you don’t know or can’t contact. That’s because this is another big fat lie narcissists tell you.
3. “I Promise You!”
Someone who is a good person will say this phrase and mean it. A narcissist says this with literally no actual intention of living up to their promise. So why do they say it if they don’t mean it? To shut you up, of course – basically get you off of their back for anything you happen to be upset about. The narcissist will say, “I promise I’ll never cheat on you again!” or “I promise to stop yelling at you every time I hear you breathing the wrong way,” but what they really mean is, “I see that you have needs, but I don’t want to deal with this right now. So I’m saying what I think you need to hear so that you will keep thinking things are okay, and I can keep controlling you.” In other words, they’ll promise to do whatever it is you’re hoping they’ll do in order to get you to behave in a way that they like – whether that means they promise you they’ll be better so you won’t leave or so you’ll come back once you’ve already left – hoovering – or it means they promise you they’ll change/grow/do better in some way. But they will only follow through if it’s convenient for them – or for only a short time (or as long as it takes for them to know they’ve got you fully enmeshed with them again).
4. “I’m Just Better Than You…and Everyone Else, Too”
Sometimes, the narcissist will literally say those words, but most of the time, it comes in the form of actively insulting your morals, ethics and behavior. They’ll say things like, “I can’t stand to look at you – you’re just disgusting,” or “You are clearly clueless and you never have anything of value to say.” But they mean, “You are making me feel less than or unattractive or in some way inferior, and I don’t like that. So, I’m going to make you feel like your feelings and thoughts aren’t as real or relevant as mine.” Oh, and don’t try to prove them wrong! Even if you show up with documented proof of your claim, they’ll blatantly deny it. in fact, they’ll also insult anyone else who offers advice or information that is contrary to what they want you to believe. This is even true if that person is an expert, such as a doctor or lawyer, or even someone like me – a subject matter expert. Just remember that this is less about YOU or even the other people they insult – it’s really more about the narcissist and their inability to see outside their own head. They are so sure they’re right about everything that to be open-minded enough to even consider that any opinion outside their own is valid would be nearly impossible. Remember too that anyone who goes out of their way to say that they are ‘better’ than you or anyone else has a need to say it due to deep, often hidden insecurity.
5. “Don’t Worry, I Got You, Boo”
When a narcissist says this phrase, then you really do have every reason to worry. Are they going to cause trouble for you? Will they fail to follow through on whatever it is that they’re saying they’ll do? Should you be worried? Yes, yes you should. They’ll say things like, “Of course I paid the mortgage! Don’t worry about it!” and “Yes, I will absolutely pick up our kid/your life-sustaining prescription/insert important thing here. I gotchu, Boo!” But what they really mean is, “I’d like you to stop talking about this now, so please shut up and let me get back to whatever else I’d prefer to be doing right now.” In other words, they’ll say whatever they need to say to get you to be quiet or stop bothering them with your silly questions. Just remember that narcissists don’t care about boundaries and rules. They are well-known to lack morality and credibility – so just be aware and double-check them when they utter this line – especially when whatever they say they’ll do could affect you in a big way if they skip it.
6. “I’ll be there for you.”
When the great Jon Bon Jovi serenaded the world with these words back when I was a pre-teen, I want to believe him so badly. I mean, who could look into those bedroom eyes and doubt anything he said? Yeah, I know. But can you blame me? I really wanted to believe that whoever I ended up with would actually be there for me. Unfortunately, I ended up with a toxic man who stereotypically proved to me that for a narcissist, this is the ultimate lie. They say things like, “I’ve got your back,” or “you can count on me!” But what they really mean is, “I only care about my own feelings and issues, unless it’s convenient for me to pretend to care about yours. And I want you to be there for me, so sometimes, I’ll pretend to be there for you. But when the chips are down, you’re on your own, boo.” Remember that narcissists have no empathy – so they don’t care how you feel, and they show you this with their actions. So don’t believe their words.
7. “No one else will love you.”
Narcissists want you to feel REALLY bad about yourself. They want you to believe that you’re so flawed, bad or damaged that you are literally unloveable. They’ll say things like, “Go ahead and leave! Good luck finding anyone to take care of you,” or “You are a total piece of poop. I must be crazy love you – no sane person would,” or “of course I don’t love you anymore, you’ve gotten so old/ugly/fat/skinny/rude/dumb that no one would love you!” What they really mean is, “I want you to think I’m doing you a HUGE favor by being in a relationship with you, but the truth is that I’m not good enough for you and I’m afraid you’ll figure it out, so I am just emotionally and psychologically abusing you into believing this BS.” Yeah, they want you to think that they are doing you a huge favor by tolerating you in their lives. The truth? You’re freaking amazing and they KNOW IT! But if you know it too, then you’ll know that they aren’t good enough for you. In other words, they only say this to keep you around, firmly under their thumb, and under their control. And speaking of love…
8. “I love you.”
This one, for me, was the ultimate insult. Don’t get me wrong. I think they believe they love you in the moments they say it – at least in the early stages of the relationship. But what they really mean at that time is “I’m infatuated with you at this moment,” or “You’re super hot and I wanna get with you,” or “I think you could prove to be of value to me in some way, so I’m going to attach myself to your heart if at all possible.” It could even mean, “I want the validation of knowing that you love me, so I’ll tell you I love you and you can say it back.” Later in the relationship, it means something more like “I know that love matters to you, so I’ll pretend to love you in order to keep you around or control you in some way.” Narcissistic love isn’t the same as other kinds of love. It’s more like the love you have for your smartphone. You dig it when you first get it because it’s new and shiny and runs so fast. But later, when newer, shinier, faster models with better features come out, you kind of start loving it less, and before you know it, you’re finding reasons to dump your old phone for a new one. And that’s okay – when we’re talking about objects. Not so much for people.
9. You’re my soulmate.
I used to actually believe in soulmates and I still want to. But narcissists have a way of ruining everything, and for me, the concept of soulmates is one of them. They’ll say things like, “I’ve been searching for you forever,” or, “I knew I loved you before I met you. I think I dreamed you into life!!” (Yep, that WAS a Savage Garden song lyric from 2012, thank you for asking!) or “OMG! We have so much in common,” or “I know we’ve only known each other for a few hours/days/weeks, but I feel like I’ve known you forever!” What they really mean when they say this is “I am going to mirror you and pretend to be everything you’ve been looking for in a partner, but in reality, all of this is fake and once I’ve got you hooked, I’ll begin the devalue and discard phases. But until I’m there, I’m going to do my best to keep you in the dark about who I really am – because if you knew, you’d totally dump my sorry ass.” Or something like that.
10. My ex is crazy…or amazing.
Nearly every narcissist I have ever met has told me something about how crazy or bad their exes were early in the relationship And many times, later in the relationship, I’d be told that their ex was so much better than me – and/or regularly compared with the ex in a negative way. Stuff like, “Wow, you’re just like my ex,” which really meant, “How dare you try to have an independent thought, a backbone or disagree with me in any way ever!” Or, “You’re starting to make me miss my ex – I thought she was crazy until I met you!” And then there was the old, “I should’ve never left my ex.” In reality, their ex was probably not a terrible person and in many cases, they are actually projecting their own bad qualities and behaviors on to the ex. For example, if they say the ex cheated on them, chances are the opposite is true. On a similarly upsetting note…
11. This person is stalking me!
This one’s a fun one. The narcissist will claim that someone has become absolutely OBSESSED with them and in some cases, say they’re being stalked. But often, this is used as a manipulation tactic. And I’ve seen this work in a couple of ways. The narcissist might say something like, “I had no idea that the attractive, younger person I’m interested in cheating on you with would be at the party. They are TOTALLY obsessed with me!” That really means, “I totally knew they’d be there, but I didn’t tell you because I knew it would cause confrontation, and honestly, I just don’t have the time for that right now or I don’t want to deal with your emotions.” Or, the narcissist might say something like, “Those super-intimate pics and texts you found on my phone were TOTALLY not my fault! That person is literally stalking me and I’m scared! Save me!” And what THAT really means is, “I am SO already cheating on you with that person but they aren’t following the rules, so rather than own up to it when they try to reach out or connect with me, I am going to go ahead and tell you they’re a crazy stalker who has imagined this whole relationship with me. That way, you won’t believe anything they tell you, even though it’ll probably all be true!”
12. I Would, But…
Narcissists use this kind of lie to kind of keep you hooked. In order to make you THINK they care and to also point out how important they are at work, or how popular they are socially, they say things like, “OMG, that sounds SO fun! I really wish I could help you or attend your event! But I’m just so busy right now…maybe next time, okay?” And of course, what that really means is, “I am just not interested in supporting you or showing any concern for you at all unless I feel like it can somehow benefit me or give me a good dose of supply. It sounds like whatever it is you want me to attend is going to be boring or too ‘you-focused,’ so I’m going to just sit around at home and watch old Price is Right reruns or go out with my friends in hopes of meeting someone to cheat on you with, or whatever. Because you don’t matter to me unless I need something from you – and btw, go ahead and ask me again next time because I just realized I get a big boost of narcissistic supply whenever I see the disappointed look on your face after I tell you no.”
After you go through narcissistic abuse and you finally get yourself free, you might find yourself looking for love through a dating app or an online dating website. And you wouldn’t be alone!
In fact, according to an October 2019 study, 30 percent of US adults say they’ve used a dating app. Of course, this varies by age and sexual orientation. For example, 48 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds say they’ve used a dating app, as opposed to 39 percent of those between 30 to 49 and 16 percent of those over 50.
The study also found that people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community are, on average, roughly twice as likely to have used such an app or site.
Also of note: sadly, only about 12 percent of Americans say they’ve been in a long-term, committed relationship as a result of these dating apps and sites.
Catfishing is officially defined as a deceptive activity in which someone creates a fake social media identity in order to target a victim for abuse, fraud or attention. The term was popularized by documentarian Nev Schulman in his 2010 documentary called Catfish, in which Schulman describes his own catfishing experience. Catfishing is sadly too often experienced by unsuspecting victims who are looking for love on dating sites and dating apps.
Experts say that the motivations for people who catfish include some form of revenge, loneliness, curiosity and even boredom. Others may catfish in order to financially abuse their victims. Your average catfish is not only a compulsive liar, but may also have the intention of hurting you in some way. They might also have really low self-esteem, feel alone and/or unloved and have a history of abuse. And in some cases, they might even feel like they are somehow “outside of society,” as in they’re not accepted.
About one in 10 dating profiles are fake, studies say, and women are twice as likely to provide false information about themselves than men (though men aren’t underrepresented among catfish of the malicious nature). The motivations of women in many cases may be less about hurting someone and more about feeling insecure, but not always.
And of the people who have used dating sites, more than half said that someone they dealt with seemed to provide false information about themselves, while 28 percent said they have been harassed or at least made to feel uncomfortable, but someone they talked with through an online dating site or app.
So, how do you know if you’re dealing with a catfish on an online dating site or app?
Take this “are you being catfished?” quiz and find out right now.
When I first met my ex-husband, I actually tried to hook him up with a friend of mine. He wasn’t my type, but he was charming and seemed like a nice guy. I kept talking to him, pointing him at my friend and trying to get the two of them talking. But by the end of our lunch (where he was our server), he’d asked me for my number. I didn’t give it to him, but I agreed to take his.
Then I didn’t call him. In fact, I threw his number in the trash.
But a week or two later, my friend called me from a local bar. She told me she’d run into him and he’d begged her to call me. Reluctantly, I went up to meet them. Over the next couple of weeks, I got the love-bombing of my life. And while things were moving fast, I kind of wondered if this guy could be the soulmate he claimed to be.
Fast-forward several months, and my company decided to move me to a different town several hours away. Though he had been charming and sweet, I intended to move and leave him behind. But when my mother accidentally met him, thanks to the same friend I had tried to hook him up with (long story), she instantly claimed to like him.
It’s almost funny to me now, since they seemed so different but were in fact two sides of the same coin. Anyway, she ended up suggesting that he move to the new city with me, and while we’d only been dating a few months, I invited him to do exactly that. In hindsight, I realize that I did this because I just wanted to please my mother, who was never happy with me anyway. That’s a story for another day.
Anyhoo, once we lived together, everything changed and his true toxic face came out.
Still, I thought I loved him and we snuck around and got married two months after the move. Long story short, I regretted it. His charm was lost for me very quickly, but one thing kept bugging me: he was so kind to people who weren’t me – so nice and charming and awesome. Everyone loved him when they met him – at least until they got to know him.
But for me, he was cruel and plain-old mean. I actually remember asking him questions like: Why do you treat strangers better than you treat me? Why can’t you just be nice to me?
In fact, it got so bad that when it would come to the holidays or my birthday, I’d always tell him I didn’t want a physical gift (not that he’d get me one anyway!), but I’d ask for him to just be nice to me for the day. It rarely worked out in my favor.
I couldn’t quite understand what was going on – but when I later realized that he seemed to be a toxic narcissist, I finally figured out why he was so cruel to me and so kind to others.
Why Narcissists Are So Cruel to You But So Kind to Others
Why does the narcissist show their charming side to strangers, while you are stuck with having to put up with their cruel true colors? Let’s talk about it.
1. Familiarity Breeds Contempt for Narcissists.
It is plain and simple, really. People who don’t know the narcissist well will see their nice and charming side because the narcissist can’t trust that they’ll feed their ego otherwise. But you’ve proven yourself to be a reliable source of narcissistic supply. And let’s not forget that fact you have, on occasion, had the nerve to attempt to get your own wants and needs met. Obviously, this would anger the narcissist and create resentment since they see you as an extension of themselves rather than a whole person. So, if your needs and wants aren’t in line with what they believe they should be, the resentment soars. And if there is so much resentment, then they no longer have a reason to share their charming side to you. In fact, they are abusive and cruel as a way to punish you for no longer feeding their ego by expressing that you have wants and needs as well. Remember that the narcissist is extremely egotistical, entitled, and will do what they can to get what they want at the expense of you. This leads to their devaluing you (and in many cases, it can also lead to permanent or temporary discard – but we’ll get to that in a minute). In any case, it isn’t quite that simple. There are so many other factors to consider – which brings me to number two,
2. They Have No Empathy.
The most obvious reason narcissists are cruel to you is their lack of empathy. But why are they then able to be kind to other people? It shouldn’t make sense, but for narcissists, it’s all about the attention and supply they can get from others. You may have become “old news” or too available to them. They see you regularly and they know that you’ve seen behind the mask, so they can’t fool you anymore. Others are still enamored with their false selves, so it makes it far more exciting to the narcissist to get supply from these people. We will dig into this a bit deeper in a minute, but for now, let’s talk about the psychological component that everyone forgets.
3. They Won’t Take Responsibility.
In addition to the marked lack of empathy that narcissists display, they have a really hard time accepting emotional responsibility in a relationship. Therefore, they don’t see any reason to be nice to you, unless they can see a way that doing so benefits them directly. And while they don’t take responsibility for their hurtful behavior, they also lack the ability to become truly attached to you in a healthy way, which further distances them emotionally from you. So, when they are mean and cruel to you, rather than acknowledging and admitting it and doing what they can to make up for it, narcissists will ignore you – or worse, get even crueler and start to say things like, “Why can’t you ever be happy?” and “Oh, look, here comes the dark cloud.” And speaking of the inability to create healthy attachments…
4. They Lack Object Constancy.
Have you heard about the Freudian theory of Object Constancy? Freud’s theory basically means that most people have the ability to still have a positive emotional bond with someone when you are also feeling angry, hurt, or disappointed with them. In other words, your average person is capable of loving someone and still being angry with them at the same time. Narcissists don’t have this ability. So they literally aren’t able to love you and be angry in the same moment. So when they’re angry with you…they literally cannot love you.
5. The Pre-Conditioning Factor (Brainwashing).
You know the narcissist too well. The narcissist has spent months or years manipulating, controlling and conditioning you to accept their abuse. As a result, you know them better than most people and you’re sadly pretty used to dealing with their behavior. This, in healthier relationships, will Since you’re already in the position of being a narcissistic supply, the narcissist feels comfortable with you. Lucky you – that means you are among the privileged few who get to see the true face of the narcissist. Wearing their “mask” – or being their false self in public – is exhausting. So when they are behind closed doors with a pre-conditioned supply, their true selves can come out and play. That also means that you become their emotional dumpster – they take out all of their feelings of frustration and anger on you, even though, for the most part, it’s bottled up stuff from outside of you.
6. The Idealization Phase.
Narcissists have a typical relationship cycle: they first idealize you, where they love bomb and treat you like you are worth your weight in gold. But inevitably, something happens and they recognize that you are in fact a flawed human like everyone else. And this is about the time they begin to actively devalue you. At first, it’ll be little subtle insults and jabs, but before long, they will be directly mean, disrespectful and outright rude. This will lead to the discard phase, in which they abandon you – either emotionally or actually, or both. This can take the form of the silent treatment, ghosting or even actually ending the relationship. Worse, it can happen over and over for literally decades in the same relationship. So, this explains another reason that narcissists are so cruel to you and so kind to everyone else: because they are or could be in the idealization phase with anyone they don’t know very well. And in many cases, people who have the ability to set firm boundaries with the narcissist from the beginning are automatically going to walk away if the narcissist gets too rude or disrespectful, and the narcissist knows it.
So how do you deal with a narcissist who is cruel to you and kind to others?
You start by taking care of yourself and setting strong boundaries. See, when you are with a narcissist, they get upset with you for doing anything for yourself. So you just stop doing stuff for yourself. I did the same thing – it felt easier to NOT do what I needed to do, because it made the narcissist less angry with me if I could just do for him instead. Or at least to ignore my own needs. This, unfortunately, led to my becoming a shadow of myself. I didn’t even know who I was.
But the first step toward healing is to start recognizing that you matter, that your needs and even wants matter just as much as anyone else’s. And to remember that if you can’t take care of yourself, no one else is likely to do it for you – and I mean emotionally, physically and otherwise.
Narcissists don’t change, but you can. And if you allow yourself to begin by doing something nice for yourself every day, even something small, it’s a good jumping-off point. After that, start figuring out what your boundaries are, and little by little, you’ll be able to reclaim yourself and your life on a whole new level. Remember that you matter. Remember that you are as important as everyone else and remember to take care of your own needs. So what do you think?
When I first learned about narcissism and narcissistic personality order, it was like a lightbulb was switched on for me. Honestly, it felt like the whole world looked different – and while I had many unfortunate realizations about who I was and how I got that way, I also felt a sense of almost exhilaration that I could barely contain.
Maybe that was due to the simple fact that, after identifying the first toxic narcissist in my life, I realized that I wasn’t quite as crazy as I’d once believed. But I think it was because I had finally found answers – and because I was finally on my way to figuring out what had gone wrong in my life.
I had a new, more enlightened perspective. I had figured out that my whole life had been affected in a profound way by the toxic people in my life, and I wanted to share it with the world. Truthfully, this is part of what got me started researching, writing and talking about this stuff all those years ago.
But one question plagued me at the time: should I tell the narcissists that I’d figured them out? Should I let them know what I’d realized?
You might be surprised to hear that this question is quite common among my readers, viewers, listeners and clients. They all ask: should I tell the narcissist that I have figured them out?
I mean, it makes sense, right? Think about it. You’ve learned the signs of narcissism and you’ve done the research necessary to figure out that you’re dealing with someone who seems to be a toxic narcissist. And since you’ve taken the time to figure it out, you might think that if you could just tell them, they’d realize the error of their ways and stop being so toxic.
So here you are and now, all you can think about is telling this person exactly what and who they are – but you’re a little worried. Will they really change? How will they react? SHOULD you even tell them what you’ve learned? Will it help?
What should you expect from the narcissist when they learn that you’ve figured them out?
Narcissists have plenty of secrets. They keep their proverbial cards close to the chest, and they certainly won’t appreciate or respond well to being called out for what they are. When they know that you are on to them, they will step up their manipulation game. And they will do whatever they can – almost literally anything within their power to make sure that they keep control over you. What do narcissists do when you have figured them out?
Well, let’s talk about it.
1. They Get ANGRY.
You might not be surprised to know that a narcissist who knows you’ve figured them out will get angry. But we aren’t talking about typical anger, we’re talking about irrational, blind and unresolvable narcissistic rage. They will verbally and emotionally go on the defense and make any level of communication nearly impossible.
2. They Play the Victim
Just like any other situation where the narcissist doesn’t get what they want here, narcissistic injury is sure to follow narcissistic rage in this situation. Assuming you refuse to agree that you were wrong with your suggestion that they might be a narcissist, even when they get angry, they might slip into the “poor me” act. This means they will act like you telling them they’re a narcissist is actually you just being mean and name-calling. They might even call you abusive. No, I’m not kidding.
3. They Do Their Research and Use It Against You.
Once you tell a narcissist they’re a narcissist, they’re going to want to know what you mean. So they start googling. That’s when they find my articles and videos, along with the thousands of others who have popped up in the past couple of years. They’ll learn all the lingo and they’ll decide that it is YOU who is the narcissist. They will tell you that you are accusing them of the dark truth of yourself. And in some cases, despite all practical evidence, they’ll project their own negative qualities on to you and call YOU the narcissist. And then they twist everything around and if they’re really good at it, they’ll leave you spinning, wondering if maybe they’re right and you really are the narcissist in this situation.
4. They Will Diagnose You.
Speaking of diagnosable personality disorders, the narcissist’s next step might be to actually diagnose you with some kind of psychological problem. It’s a common occurrence when a narcissist is lying or manipulating a friend, coworker or loved one. When they don’t get their way, they often turn up the intensity by questioning your sanity. You might be called paranoid, stressed out—too sensitive or even hormonal. To turn up the pressure, they’ll tell you that you need therapy and/or meds to get through it. They’ll tell you you’re bipolar, schizophrenic or worse. Again, it’s all about being in control.
5. They Gaslight You.
Remember that part I mentioned where they twist everything around and leave you spinning? That might also be part of the gaslighting cycle. Gaslighting is the narcissist’s go-to manipulation tactic. Used by most narcissists, it is a pervasive and highly-effective tactic meant to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. In this case, they will say things to indicate that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or that you’re so small-minded that you believe anything you read on the internet. Or they might tear down your sources or even tell you that you didn’t experience what you did with them. Of course, their go-to insult tends to be an implication (or a direct statement) that you are flat-out crazy. (But don’t fall for it!)
6. They Tell You What You’re Thinking.
Narcissists often claim to know what you (or others) are thinking—and if you deny that your mind’s working the way they believe it is, they might just say you’re lying. They might make a face or a gesture to indicate it and even accuse you of lying to YOURSELF. Because of course, as narcissists, they can’t be wrong – and they certainly won’t acknowledge that there’s anything wrong with them on an intrinsic level – at least, not anything that they can’t benefit directly from. And when you tell them what they are, all they’ll hear is that your thinking must be flawed, because there’s nothing wrong with them, as far as they can tell.
7. They Will Claim to Be ‘Normal.’
Narcissists are always acting like you’re overreacting to their abuse, and this case is no different. Rather than acknowledging that there might be something a bit off about their personality (much less that they actually might have a diagnosable personality disorder), they will claim that their behavior is completely normal. And even though, deep down, you know for sure that it’s not, you might doubt yourself thanks to their ability to state complete lies with absolute confidence. Hint: their behavior is far from normal. Normal behavior isn’t generally diagnosable.
8. They Bait and Switch You.
Narcissists love the old bait and switch manipulation tactic. But let’s break it down a bit. Baiting is what happens when a narcissist pokes at you, intentionally trying to upset or anger you, or to somehow get an emotional “rise” from you. The narcissist might use this manipulation tactic in this situation in order to start an argument. They do this by flinging insults about your character and blatantly attacking you on sensitive or personal levels. For example, they might say that you’re just like the parent who abused you growing up They’ll dig deep and hit you with the most painful insults they can think of – and this is where the “switch” comes in. After all, they all of this for one single purpose: to deflect – as in, to throw the negative attention off of themselves and on to you.
9. They Use Your Fears Against You
You already know the narcissist has been breaking you down for all of these years. In fact, they tell you that know so much about you, probably even more than you know yourself. But, remember how it was during the idealization stage? At the beginning of your relationship, they might have listened to you really closely and you thought it was because you’d met your soulmate. In reality, they did this to file away any vulnerabilities you revealed for later use. Now is the time they’ll bring them back out, if they haven’t already, and do anything within their power to make you afraid. They will tell you they’re the best you will ever do. They’ll lie to you and tell you how you will never find anyone else and you will end up all alone if you leave them. They’ll threaten to smear you by exposing your so-called flaws and bad habits to everyone in your life – and then, they’ll remind you, no one will love you anyway. They are playing on the most common fear we all have: the fear of abandonment and of being alone with no one to help you. Don’t fall for it.
10. They Will Call You a Bad Person.
As you’re likely painfully aware, narcissists have a way of refusing to validate you. In fact, they’re experts at invalidation – and that is a big part of what makes their behavior so difficult for us. Even when they’re not being accused of being a narcissist, they always want to tell you all about your imperfections in thorough, excruciating (and exaggerated) detail. They’ll make up lies about who you are and what you think and expect you to go along with it. They’ll straight up accuse you of being a bad person. I mean, as far as they see it, you’ve accused them of something, so they might as well point out all the things that are wrong with you, too. And, since you’ve dared to question their perfection and dominance by suggesting they might have a personality disorder, you’ll be treated to new and additional insults to your integrity and to the very core of who you are. Nothing is off-limits for the narcissist.
Are you getting where I’m going with this? The fact is that a narcissist will never admit that there could be something wrong or that they’re not perfect if they can avoid it – and this is especially true when there’s no benefit to them admitting it.
So, should you tell a narcissist that they are a narcissist?
You can try to tell the narcissist what they are if you like, now that you know what to expect. But before you do, please remember that it won’t do you much good. In fact, it might actually make your life harder. After all, narcissists are infamously incapable of true self-reflection, so they’ll only end up hurting you, emotionally, psychologically and in some unfortunate cases, even physically, if they know that you know. It just isn’t worth the momentary satisfaction that comes with it.
If you want my personal opinion, I say don’t bother trying. It’ll only set you back and leave you feeling confused, angry, and possibly a little crazy.
How do you deal with a narcissist, then?
If you have been involved with a narcissist, you probably found yourself struggling to even have a reasonable conversation with him or her on a regular basis. This is because, by nature, the narcissist is wired to instigate drama, manipulate, and generally do their best to make it all about themselves. This can be both exhausting and frustrating for anyone trying to deal with a narcissist. Ideally, you’d go no contact the moment you realize what you’ve been dealing with. But life is not always ideal, so you need to know how to manage these people in the moment.
We all know that the narcissist has a whole toolbox full of manipulative tactics. It is shocking when you really think about how many different ways they’ll try to get what they want (not to mention how “low” they’ll go).
There’s one simple rule when it comes to communicating effectively with a narcissist – and it’s so basic that you probably won’t believe me when I tell you what it is.
The rule is: do not engage the narcissist.
What do I mean by this? Well, it’s simple: keep emotion out of it. When the narcissist tries to manipulate and provoke you, which he or she inevitably will, you have to maintain an air of professional-type detachment. Try to see the narcissist as almost a stranger and communicate with him on that level.
This is what you might know as the “gray rock” rule in which you deal with the narcissist if you have to, but only give boring, monotonous responses. This deprives the narcissist of the narcissistic supply they get out of the emotional feedback you’d otherwise give them.
By sticking to the gray rock rule, you can bet that your narcissist will lose interest quickly. That’s because it’ll retrain their brain to consider you “boring” and to put it as simply as possible, it’ll mean that you’ll no longer be an effective source of narcissistic supply.
If it helps, look at it like this: by not telling the narcissist that you know what they are, you won’t be showing them all your cards. That will give you an advantage over them since you can then learn about their psychology and learn how to deal with them effectively if you must. Of course, going no contact is always the ideal option when it comes to dealing with toxic narcissists. But gray rock is the next best thing.
Since we are in the age of a pandemic, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what you can expect from the narcissist in your life if you do happen to come down with the virus. This reminded me of something that happened to me when I was 15 and came down with a serious case of mono.
And no, I didn’t get it in the way you might expect – I got it because I was physically exhausted and wasn’t sleeping like a normal human. Long story short, I ended up being alone at home for several days due to circumstances beyond my control – which, to be fair, were somewhat understandable (since my grandfather was in the hospital after a heart attack and my illness would be a danger to him). Still, in hindsight, it seems that some sort of arrangement could’ve been made to make sure I wasn’t alone.
But on the plus side, I was allowed to stay on the pull out couch in the living room, and I appreciated that because I needed to stay in bed and there was no TV in my bedroom. We didn’t have the internet back then – nor did we have our little handheld computers at our fingertips like we do today. So without the TV, I’d have been bored out of my skull.
Now, when he diagnosed me, my doctor had warned my parents that I needed to be careful not to fall as it could cause significant damage in my fragile state – something to do with my spleen exploding, or something like that. The doctor also told my parents that the illness would make me dizzy and might need a little help getting around – I assume because the dizziness might make me fall, increasing the danger of the exploding spleen, or whatever he’d said. But rather than giving me access to the only downstairs bathroom available in the house during the time they were gone, which was in their bedroom, the parent locked their bedroom door as they left.
This meant I did end up falling a couple of times as I had to go up and down the stairs alone to use the bathroom. At one point, I laid on the floor for several hours, feeling unable to move. I mean, maybe I was being dramatic like someone would later imply. But it didn’t feel that way at the time. On the plus side, my spleen didn’t explode and I’m here to tell the tale.
Anyhoo, as you might imagine, remembering this story, along with these questions from clients, viewers, listeners and readers got me to thinking. What would happen if I got the coronavirus and was still married to my toxic ex?
I mean think about it. Say the worst has happened and you’ve been diagnosed with the coronavirus. To complicate things, the only person available to take care of you is your narcissistic spouse, partner or parent. Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today – what you can expect from the narcissist if you get sick with COVID-19 or any other illness. Plus, tips on how to deal if you do. So, let’s get started.
What can you expect from the narcissist when you have COVID-19?
Narcissists always look out for themselves first so of course, they might take care of you if it would in some way benefit them. But in general, what could you expect from a narcissistic spouse, partner, parent or caregiver if you ended up with COVID-19 (or any other ailment for that matter)?
You probably already know that it doesn’t bode well for you. But let’s break down as to why a narcissist would likely make your life miserable if you happened to come down with COVID-19.
1. Narcissists Clearly Aren’t Caregivers
Not everyone is good with caregiving, and not being a good caregiver doesn’t mean someone is a narcissist. Being a caregiver requires an extreme amount of patience, not to mention the ability to be nurturing and empathetic. You already know that narcissists don’t have those qualities. And let’s not forget that the defining quality of a toxic narcissist is the lack of empathy – and that means it would not occur to them to get their sick spouse a cup of tea or some tissues when they need it. Non-caregivers who aren’t narcissists would still be able to do that simple task. Narcissists would imagine they were being treated like servants if you’re sick, which is why they will avoid helping you if at all possible.
2. Narcissists Want Nothing To Do With Responsibility
Narcissists may be responsible at work because they want to protect their image, or because they like money. But behind closed doors at home, they tend to avoid responsibility – especially emotional responsibility and personal responsibility. They don’t want you to expect too much of them, and since they don’t see you as a whole person (but as an extension of themselves), part of them thinks you’re faking it anyway. This idea, subconscious or otherwise, can be how they justify treating you badly when you’re sick. And don’t expect them to do your chores or handle any of your regular responsibilities during your illness. They’ll let stuff pile up and become unmanageable, all the while complaining at you for not doing it. Instead, they’re far more likely to be focused on the fact that they worked hard all day, which will justify their own need to rest and not take care of you.
3. Narcissists Need to Be the Center of Attention
Not only does the narcissist not care about you when you’re sick with COVID-19, but might even actually feel slighted by the fact that you “caught” the virus. Just like they’ll be jealous and offended by the attention you give your kids or your work, they’ll feel like you’re asking for (and maybe getting) too much attention for your illness. On top of that, you may not be able to deliver your usual levels of service and narcissistic supply. This will annoy and frustrate them. So, like the emotional toddlers they are, the narcissist will do something to grab the spotlight back – whether they pretend to be sicker than you, or they cause some other kind of unnecessary drama, before you know it, your own illness will be placed on the back burner in favor of whatever the narcissist is hooting and hollering about.
All this does is leave you feeling abandoned, alone, and unloved. Even though your illness, you’ll start to blame yourself for it. Even though you’re sick, you end up having to take care of yourself.
So what can you do if you are sick with COVID-19 or any other illness and you’re dealing with a narcissist? Outside of staying healthy (or leaving while you’re healthy and connecting with more caring people), here are a few tips that can help.
Prepare as far in advance as possible. Set yourself up with a little sort of “survival kit.” Stock up on cold medicine, immune support help, tissues and anything else you like to have around the house when you’re not feeling good.
Plan to order your groceries to be delivered and consider getting some frozen or prepared meals to keep the family fed.
Do your research and find out what you can do to stay healthy and what to do if you do get sick.
Talk to your kids, if they’re old enough, or a friend, extended family member or neighbor about helping you in the case that you do become ill.
Take your vitamins, get enough sleep and take care of yourself. Don’t forget to stay home as much as you can (or at least avoid unnecessary social situations) for now, and if you do go out, be careful: always practice social distancing and wear your mask.
The question of the day is: have you ever been sick and only had the narcissist to care for you? How did it work out, and what suggestions could you offer to our fellow survivors to help get through it if they do become infected with COVID-19 or any other ailment? Share your thoughts, share your ideas and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’ s talk about it.