Toxic narcissists have a way of trying to control and manipulate everyone in their life. If you have ever been involved with a narcissist, you’ve probably found yourself wondering about all the weird things they do and whether any of it is your fault. As it turns out, narcissists are so predictable that many people wonder if there is a narcissist playbook.
In other words, you’re not alone – and it isn’t your fault. To prove it, I polled our narcissistic abuse recovery support group with a single question: What is the weirdest thing your narcissist ever did during your relationship?
After polling more than 10,000 survivors of narcissistic abuse, I have compiled this list of 55 weird things narcissists do to manipulate and control you.
Not considered to be a “mental illness,” narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder that manifests in an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.
Just FYI – Here is the Diagnostic Criteria for NPD
A victim of narcissistic personality disorder will exhibit at least five of the following traits
1. A grandiose sense of self-importance
2. A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. A belief that he or she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
4. A requirement for excessive admiration
5. A sense of entitlement – unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
6. Interpersonal exploitativeness – taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
7. A lack of empathy and an unwillingness to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others
8. Enviousness of others – along with the belief that others are envious of him or her
9. A tendency to arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes
Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV
Video: Weird Things Narcissists Do
In this video, I’m sharing the list of 55 weird things narcissists do to manipulate and control you.
Narcissists and Their Weird Attempts to Manipulate, Gain Control and/or Get Attention
- Maniacal Laughter – Does unexplained maniacal laughing count? Like, he would pass behind me as I helped my son with homework…then maniacal laughter…left me like “did I say something?”
- Silent Treatment – Whenever he punished me with silent treatment since he did not want to talk about what I had to discuss. But for me it was sometimes too important what I had to talk about, so I went to him after a few hours and wanted to continue the talk.
- Narcissistic Rage – Sometimes he was raging & beat himself constantly with his fists against the head .. what I find is very weird and scared me.
- Hating on You – Saying they hate (Fill in the blank) but you are that. And they always pick that in a partner just to say I hate.
- Saying You’re Too Old – Telling me I’m old and nobody wants an old washed out hag. (I’m 41) He was doing me this grand favor by just being with me at all. I honestly think I look a little younger than I actually am but getting old frightens me… especially after being told for years that my only good quality was being somewhat attractive.
- Projecting Their Bad Qualities on to You – Mine would also make it a favor by being with me cause “no one else was trying as hard as him” blah blah, I had to tell him that I’m not the one who can’t stand to be alone, I don’t NEED anyone. That was him projecting on me since he couldn’t stand to be alone and needs a constant supply of people.
- Feeling Overly Entitled – Complaining about people who forgot their birthday and didn’t donate for so and so race etc., getting pissed and saying I did this so I should get this and if I don’t you don’t get anything. I found that weird and strange a person can be that rude.
- Gaslighting – Would say XYZ to me and when I would call him out on it, he’d legit straight face say, “I never said that”.
- Pressuring for an Abortion – When he found out I was pregnant he told me I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone but he then went and consulted with this guy to find out what herbs he could sneak into my tea to induce miscarriage and tried to bribe me into having an abortion by saying he’d pay to have me fly to visit my friends in the USA to “get over it.”
- Blaming You for Everything – Somebody hit the car from behind and he blamed me for the accident. I was at the light sitting perfectly still when a car crossed the lane from a gas station and scrapped the back of my car.
- Making Fun of You/Taking Things Out of Context – When I was married to this narc … our last year together I started to have nervous breakdowns … I start crying a lot … can’t breathe after screaming (I thought I was losing my mind and I doubted my sanity) …. you’ll ask me now where the weird thing is … well… he used to record videos when I’m having these breaking downs… he filmed the 5 times I had them … without trying to help me … and the second day he comes and shows me the videos … (look at yourself how funny u were yesterday) ….
- Humiliating You or Threatening to Humiliate You for Control – When I asked for a divorce, he said I don’t want to leave you but if you’ll ask for divorce I will show the videos of you to the judge.
- Keeping You Uncomfortable – Locking the room the thermostat is in. Freezing and/or overheating everyone in the house.
- Pathological Lying for NO Reason – Claim to have been offered commercials because she’s so good at driving right down the middle of lanes.
- Double Standards and Isolation – He wanted me to be friends with all his old girlfriends, but I wasn’t “allowed” to have male friends – even the ones I’ve known since 4th grade!
- Making You Feel Second-Best – The weirdest thing my narcissistic ex ever did was to tell me that me her pastor said to stay in contact with those you don’t talk to anymore. She then tells me she been reaching this one guy she went to high school with (a guy who wanted to go out with her, but she denied him due to distance). Ever since we got back together, I had to find out she been making fake accounts trying to reach him, and as of a result, he blocked her EVERY TIME. So, he may know something I didn’t or knew who she was. That or hated rejection and moved on. But the fact, she told me she been doing that, made me feel like I’m getting dumped. Not like I care, but the fact she wanted to do that made me feel like “Second Choice”. So he went no contact, and now I am 100 percent.
- Different Personalities for Different People – With me he was strong and seductive… but the minute he was with his friends he became this little boy trying to impress them. With them, I don’t think he feels powerful?
- Threatening You to Prevent You From Leaving – He told me if I didn’t make him number one he would destroy me.
- Preventing You From Sleep – He liked to argue and fight in the bed. Then he told me to get out of bed. And when I wouldn’t, he would roll me off the mattress into the floor. Literally pick up the mattress enroll me off into the floor. That’s What I call weird!
- Sleep Abuse – Keep me up all night arguing.
- Making It Impossible to Please Them – Mine once told me to take off my ring, and when I did he started shouting for.me to put it back or else. All of this is the middle of the night.
- Blaming/Inflating and Exaggerating – My narcissist used to take pictures of damage to the house that either he caused himself, or small things like me throwing a picture frame on the floor after he abused me and called me crazy and told me to throw it. He would take pictures then called the police and tell them, “See, look what she did.”
- Treating You Like a Dog – He was eating Cheetos while we were watching a movie. I was hungry and watching him eat, and every 15 minutes or so, he would give me one Cheeto. Like I was a puppy.
- Refusing to Allow You to Have Boundaries – When I refused to engage him at our Airbnb the last “big fight” (the one where he argued with himself for hours), he started unplugging the whole outlet that the tv was hooked up to because I was being “rude” and not making eye contact…even though I told him NUMEROUS times before that, that I wasn’t engaging with him and it’s rude of him to keep trying when I’ve clearly set my boundary.
- Hiding Your Stuff (More Gaslighting) – He would hide my medications, money, jewelry from me, and say I must have lost them. Then in a week, he would let me have them back, laughing at the thought that he was making me crazy.
- Intentionally Making You Feel Crazy – I thought I was really losing my mind how often I would lose things I JUST HAD. I finally realized HE was doing this on purpose when I pulled out my driver’s license to go renew it, walked to get my purse to leave, and the license wasn’t on the table where I had JUST LEFT IT. He was sitting next to that table and I asked him if he saw it…of course not, I’d “never left anything there.” After several frantic minutes, tears and crying I was “losing my mind” (during which time he in no way tried to comfort or help his wife who he could see/hear was on the edge of a nervous breakdown, even wondering if I should renew my license, I was so mental); I walked back to the table…and there it was. Of course, when asked he said “it was there all the time, I don’t know why you were carrying on. Are you crazy or something?” When I asked, “WHY didn’t you HELP ME?!” I was ignored. That’s when I realized the answer wasn’t that I was crazy, but that something was wrong with a man who could hear his wife having a breakdown. And not try to help her. No empathy.
- Denying Their Abuse – Would slap me across the face, and when I asked why he did that, he would say “what are you talking about??!”
- Controlling the TV, Even When Not Watching – I would come home from work. Get in bed and try to turn the TV to something I wanted to watch. He would be pretending to be asleep. As soon as I turned the channel he would yell at me and say he was listening to that. Sometimes he would actually be asleep and wake up as soon as I turned the channel he’d wake up screaming to turn the channel back.
- Body Shaming You – Saying you are fat but they have the issue with weight and body image. Same with acne or other health issues.
- Ghosting You – Just leaving. Not telling you a damn thing. Showing up days later like nothing happened.
- Being Blind to Their Faults (And Justifying It) – Mine is well over 400 pounds but calls everyone fat and gross. Tells me that I’m health-obsessed and that’s worse than being overweight.
- Lying About Money and Future-Faking – Looked me in the eyes and told me that we would never have to worry about money ever again because he had piles of cash stashed everywhere around the house…. the mattress… the shed… buried outback… said he had it hidden in places I would never think of.
- Destroying Your Property – Threw everything that was in our freezer and fridge on the front lawn. That was what we came home to after going to the police station because she threw a brick through the back windshield of the car. We told the police we aren’t going back till you pick her up and that was what we found…a front lawn full of frozen TV dinners and groceries.
- Smear Campaigning to Turn People Against You – Call his mother on his cell phone in the middle of giving me two black eyes. “MOM!” He says frantically, “She’s hysterical! I can’t get her to shut up!” (I was screaming because he had his booted foot on my head with all his weight on it)….do you want to know what his mother said to him after he put his cell on speaker so I could hear? “Take that bitch to the nearest bus stop and DROP HER OFF!!”
- Being Enabled by Their Parents – My mother-in-law. She “loved me like her own daughter” but was proud of him for not killing me long ago.
- Holding Weird Grudges – He was angry his mother didn’t breastfeed him.
- Literally Stealing Your Breath – He would breathe in my breath. It felt like he was stealing my soul.
- Acting Crazy – Argue with themselves for hours on end.
- Using Law Enforcement as Flying Monkeys – When narcissists try to smear campaign via law enforcement and portraying themselves as a victim
- Moving Your Stuff to Drive You Crazy (More Gaslighting) – Steal jewelry from me over the course of weeks and then slowly put it back.
- Competing with Children – When his dad remarried and had children with her, he (30 years old) lost it saying his dad is a better dad to those kids and he’ll never accept them as his brothers because they’re “halfies” (half-brothers, half Hispanic, etc.). A grown man talking about babies in such a way. Very disturbing.
- Abandoning You and Blaming You for Everything – As we were driving on the freeway, he took my cell phone and threw it out of the car, pushed the door open, then pushed me out and left me there along the highway in another state. He eventually can back but it was my fault that I made him do that.
- Financially Abusing You – Wants me to pay for any and everything he wants from books, my gifts, the million-dollar home we only live in during summer, hotels when he goes alone, shares in his ‘business’ worthless, pay half his rent when I visit, pay the deposit on a flat for us, pay for transfers to the airport because he decided to go home, pay for airport parking when I waited 7 hours at arrivals bc he was refused entry to the country, accuse me of trespassing if I stayed later in the morning and didn’t leave the hotel room at the same time as him, never has rung me long distance to talk and one time I answered his long-distance call gave me a bollocking for answering the call, thousands of weird examples.
- Constantly Discarding You for Silly Reasons – Breaking up with me because I didn’t give him a hug.
- Being Ridiculously Vain – He thinks he’s so gorgeous – he’s 40 and prides himself on how well he fits in with 20-year-olds (his own daughter’s age).
- Taking Revenge and Having Extreme Double Standards – She got mad that I had my bicycle in the shared space of the apartment for a few days (so did she with her bicycle, but we all know what’s okay for them isn’t okay for us.) So she took all of her items out of her bedroom and closet and piled them in front of my door since “it’s shared space”.
- Hiding Stuff Without Concern for Life – We had 2 fish aquariums. One huge one for our Oscars and one for my Parrotfish that I had to rescue from the tank with the Oscars because they were trying to kill her. He saw me use the water test strips to test the water in my aquarium one day, so he hid them, so I couldn’t use them without asking him.
- Being Stingy and Controlling – He hid all of the batteries from me and doled them out as he saw fit. Weirdo!
- Blatant Cheating – He took his mistress with him to events for our business while I stayed home looking after our baby and pets. We are pretty well known in our industry so it was very risky for him so I am surprised he risked my finding out he was cheating. I guess he thought he had me so fooled I wouldn’t believe it even if I did find out.
- Being Overly Paranoid and Threatening You – Run outside with his stupid handgun every time anyone passed by the house or a tire would backfire. Weird. Said he was going to call the police when he was leaving me and I grabbed for his arm. Weird.
- Trying to Make You Doubt Your Reality (Gaslighting Tactic) – When I called because I was sick at work he deleted all of my calls (missed one because a call came through in between) and tried to convince me that I had not called him. When I confronted him with his online cheating he tried to tell me someone had stolen his identity, then erased history from his laptop as I was finding it.
- Being a Hypochondriac – Went to the hospital over NOTHING.
- Constantly Talking About Self and Being Paranoid – Talk about himself constantly around my family. Told his kids things about me and his ex they shouldn’t know. Packed his son’s room up when I went away one weekend and took everything over to his ex’s house. He said he thought I was going to leave. Flipped out because someone posted a pic of Colin Firth on my FB wall and blasted me saying that people would think he’s (the narc) isn’t good enough for me. This was right before a trip I was taking with my family without him.
- Being Reckless and Overreacting – He jumped out of the car at a red light and not answer the phone when I asked him how he wanted me to make his food.
- Never Defending You and Playing the Victim When You Call Them Out – He allowed his friend to verbally abuse me and when he did absolutely nothing to defend me and told his friend he’s sorry I always cause problems, I started crying so he instantly played the victim and curled up in a ball on the floor and started to cry himself and pretended I was going to hit him.
More Weird Things Narcissists Do
- 5 Weird Things Narcissists Do
- 11 Strange Things to Expect When You Ignore a Narcissist
- 24 Strange Things Narcissist Parents Do
- 35 Weird Narcissist Behaviors Related to Money, Sex and Addiction in Toxic Relationships
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.