“You could be a really great and fabulous person, but if your method of communication with a woman doesn’t trigger her physical attraction by “pushing the right buttons,” you will only ever be “just a friend” in her eyes.” ~Sahara Sanders
And if you’re dealing with a narcissistic partner or close friend, this person became aware of the “buttons” or the triggers you had initially and then exploited them.
By doing so, they also learned the “layout” of your buttons; by now, they can push them in their sleep.
Why Narcissists Push Your Buttons
Narcissists become very knowledgeable about who we are and what makes us tick. They also know what to do when seeking a reaction from us – and perhaps more frustrating, they get narcissistic supply from driving you crazy.
For the record, emotional vampires are incredibly toxic people who drain us of our energy. Not all emotional vampires are narcissists, but they’ll all leave you feeling empty and emotionally exhausted.
They are like parasites who intentionally provoke our emotional reactions, allowing themselves to feed off our emotions, energy, and resources.
So, until you can finally go no contact and end the relationship with the malignant narcissist in your life, you’ve got to learn some new techniques to deal with it.
What to Do When the Narcissist is Pushing Your Buttons
So, how does a person with a reasonable amount of emotional intelligence deal with a narcissist?
Start with these tips on what you can do to remain cool, calm, and collected when the narcissist pushes your buttons and is waiting for a reaction.
Please note: These techniques are meant to be temporary measures to get along – and most survivors can only tolerate this behavior for so long before it causes longer-term damage.
On the plus side, when you regain control of your feelings, something else happens: you’re no longer being manipulated by the narcissist. Instead, it’s as if those buttons now activate themselves—you’ve re-wired them!
Have you ever found yourself Googling stuff someone has done to you and running into something that led you to suspect someone in your life is a narcissist?
Is someone close to you generally cruel, unfair, manipulative, and painfully clear to you or others in ways that don’t make sense?
Identifying Narcissistic Behaviors and Characteristics
While other unifying characteristics aren’t as obvious, the way that narcissists affect your life almost appears to be from some kind of ‘narcissist playbook.’ no different in how they will impact your life.
A narcissist’s behavior can be difficult to deal with because it can be very irrational and manipulative. Sometimes it can be very subtle, especially when dealing with a covert narcissist. This, of course, confuses their victims.
For example, you know if someone is arrogant, demanding, has an inflated sense of self-importance, and a lack of empathy, they’re demonstrating narcissistic traits.
Has someone in your life caused you to start Googling things that led you to suspect you’re dealing with a narcissist? Are you the target of cruelty, unfairness, and manipulation by someone you suspect could be narcissistic?
Do you keep repeating the same mistakes in relationships that hurt you but don’t seem to teach you anything?
You’re not alone in feeling frustrated by a lack of change in your relationships, even though you try to fix everything and make amends.
Narcissists may try and drive their partners into denying the truth that the relationship is over, and many do whatever they can to thwart and hurt their former partners, including things like stalking, intentionally shaming you threatening your safety and actively gaslighting you.
They may engage in hoovering through love bombing to try to suck you back in.
Hoovering can be any behavior that draws you back into the narcissist’s web – positive or negative.
In the case of some ‘lower level’ narcissists, they don’t even mean to hurt you as much as they do. They cannot feel in ways other than how they want others to feel, so they will cling and try anything else to get what they need.
The PLAN ensures a safe departure and leaves you no room for failure.
Each video is designed to both support and validate you as you’re preparing to leave, each video covers a different aspect of what you need to consider before, during, and after you’ve left the narcissist.
Plus, you’ll get a printable plan to leave, including a planning guide workbook and a planning timeline.
Also included are a to-do list, and checklists of must-have items and important paperwork you need to gather up and make copies of before you go, if possible.
Recently, someone asked me what I considered to be a sort of confusing question, but one that I think a lot of us have asked ourselves at one point or another.
“Can a narcissist be a good parent who doesn’t cause any damage to their children?”
Is this even possible? I have to be honest with you. I have met a LOT of narcissists and even more victims of narcissists doing what I do.
However, I cannot say that I’ve ever met a malignant narcissist who didn’t directly or indirectly cause significant psychological harm to their children.
Often, the harm was also physical and emotional. Sometimes, it was direct and intentional. It was also just a lack of interest or presence or pure neglect.
Considering all of that, how could it be possible for a malignant narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder to be a good parent to raise emotionally healthy, self-actualized, and well-rounded children who become adults without many trauma issues?
Can narcissists be good parents?
While you might initially think it’s utterly impossible for a narcissist to be a good parent, there are a few particular circumstances under which it could theoretically happen.
My Theory: With a Little Friendly Competition, Maybe
Maybe we all have a little trauma in the cards. But I have not seen or heard about a narcissist who didn’t leave severe psychological scars on their children.
Minor traumas may be overblown, for sure. But just as often. the more significant, intense traumas – the kind that gives you that deep, dull ache in your heart when you recall them – are brushed under the rug like they’re nothing.
In general, my opinion has always been that it was, at best, highly unlikely that a narcissistic parent could do enough good in a child’s life to combat the bad.
And that, despite our best efforts, even some well-meaning parents cause some unintentional traumas along the way – or at least miss the opportunity to prevent them.
Most narcissistic parents have a shining moment here and there – or at least a few not-terrible memories are made along the way. There may even be certain parts of parenting in which they shine naturally.
For example, a client recently shared with me that her narcissistic ex had one good point in this area: he was the “fun” parent, and while this also meant he dragged the kids into activities they would end up hating (due to his gung ho, never slow down attitude), it was something that can be healthy and positive in a child’s life.
But, inevitably, such a parent will fail in other areas: genuine connection, structure, discipline, and proper attention, for example. So as sweet as the fun parent is, this is tempered with extreme emotions that can alienate the children and make them feel afraid, resentful, and unseen.
And that’s on the very mild end of the spectrum – it gets far worse.
So in the end, the best I believe it could get with a narcissist is not terrible, or tolerable. Their intermittent style of loving and validating alternating with ignoring, abusing, neglecting, and controlling their children simply doesn’t give their children a “normal” launch into life.
This is especially when that parent is controlling the other parent. You know, the one who should be the child’s advocate when the narcissist goes overboard.
The one who is most easily and often alienated by the narcissist? Yep.
After I thought about it for a while, I concluded that there might be one way a narcissist could be the perfect parent.
They would need to be competing in a Who’s the Best, Healthiest, Least Damaging, Most Selflessly Loving Parent contest. That contest would have to have some rock-solid guidelines and would need to offer regularly scheduled praise and adoration that came at the perfect time
Plus, it would need to have plenty of accountability and unscheduled home visits with secret kid interviews and assessments, to ensure a way to measure and track their progress. And, it would need to go for the whole life of the child or parent, whoever happens to live the longest.
Finally, it might help to give the narcissist something that helps keep their ego in check, depending on what their doctors (or budtenders) have to offer. But we also have to remember that narcissistic personality disorder is not a mental health disease; it is a personality disorder.
Technically, narcissistic personality disorder with malignant traits.
You cannot treat NPD with medicine, but some doctors choose to treat narcissists for co-morbid issues or even side effects of the drugs or treatments. In those cases, treating symptoms could in theory, be possible, but I still do not believe we could ever undo or even permanently stall their behaviors with medicine.
What Psychologists Say It Would Take to Make a Narcissist a Good Parent
The more I thought about it, I decided it would be a good idea to get the opinions of our team’s medical and educational psychologists, just to be safe and offer a full-spectrum answer. Here’s what they had to say when I asked them if there’s any chance that narcissists can be good parents.
Dr. Robin Bryman: Under Specific Circumstances, Maybe
“I believe a narcissist can absolutely be a good parent if the moon and stars are aligned,” Dr. Robin Bryman said, smiling.
“What I mean is that if the narcissist is intelligent, doesn’t have an addiction that impacts their lives, and they set their lives up in a way that their kids succeed, it is possible,” she added, noting that as long as the parent feels successful in their life, it’s not completely impossible.
“They’d need to have a beautiful, handsome, and/or successful spouse or partner, and they would have to be at the top of what they consider a successful life.”
“In this type of situation, the addiction, especially if it’s about control and power, can inadvertently allow a narcissist to effectively parent,” she said.
And since a narcissist often views their children as extensions of themselves, they will want that extension to be as well-adjusted as possible.
Dr. Zamecia McCorvey: Maybe, for Devoted Golden Child
When I asked Dr. Zamecia McCorvey if she believed a narcissist could be a decent parent, she was immediately taken aback.
“I automatically thought Hell No!,” Dr. McCorvey Said, “Considering my life experience being raised by parents who I believe were narcissistic.”
She said that being raised this way has seriously impacted aspects of her life, both growing up and even now, well into adulthood.
“However, as I think past my experience and rely on my understanding of narcissism, I’d say it really depends,” she said.
“They can be a great parent, depending on what role their child plays within the family dynamic,” she continued. “If the child is the golden child and does not deviate from the narcissistic parent’s control are reign, they will experience a better parent than a child who is not easily controlled by the narcissistic parent, or is the scapegoat.”
Maybe, says Dr. Judy Rosenberg, but there’s a catch. We know that there are plenty of malignant, toxic narcissistic parents who completely neglect their kids’ needs, ignore them, control them, physically or sexually abuse them, or otherwise make them miserable.
But there are also many narcissists who appear to be great parents. They take care of their kids’ physical needs and ensure they’ve got the latest and greatest in fashion, gadgets, and everything else. They have beautiful, expensive homes that are perfectly decorated and always spotless.
But even those who do take care of the physical needs may barely even know their children, and the rest are sort of like live-in bullies until the kids move out – and even then, often continue to abuse and control their adult children.
“A narcissist can be a good parent if they are ethical and moral and fulfill their obligations to their children,” Dr. Judy said. “But they will never be a great parent because they just don’t have the wherewithal to show empathy.”
That trademark lack of empathy would effectively leave the child feeling unseen, at the very least. If we were talking about a malignant narcissist, the effects on the child would be more profound.
But, Dr. Judy said, “If they choose an empathic partner it can buffer the effects.”
So, if a narcissist chose a good partner with decent empathy skills, any potential damage to the child’s psyche could be mitigated.
While Dr. Judy’s thoughts are clearly sound, I’d add that, since we know that narcissists are notorious for emotionally and psychologically abusing anyone who gets close enough to see behind their false self (the mask they show the world), we can safely assume that this abuse would also, directly or indirectly, affect the child.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
You’ve probably wondered what a narcissist thinks about – and, if you’re anything like me, who told them they could TREAT PEOPLE THIS WAY! You might wonder if it hurts their feelings when someone corrects them or “bests” them.
They will take extreme measures to tell you exactly what they want you to hear without any regard for the truth. Their main concern is only getting their desperate need for narcissistic supply met.
What is Narcissistic Abuse?
Narcissistic abuse is a way of relating to others involving the exploitation, blatant manipulation, and control of others in order to meet the abuser’s own needs. It can exist in a relationship between any two people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or type of relationship.
Narcissistic abusers are often difficult to spot and even harder to leave. Whether or not they have been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder isn’t as important as whether or not they have narcissistic traits and behaviors.
For example, a narcissistic abuser can be charming, charismatic, and fun at times – and they can turn on a dime and become your worst nightmare. However, thanks to their powerful ability to project, deflect and play the victim, narcissists are rarely confronted about their behavior.
Of course, this is possibly due to the fact that they frequently surround themselves with enablers (AKA flying monkeys) who don’t want to believe that anything is wrong.
The effects of narcissistic abuse can last for years after the relationship has ended and may lead the survivor to develop complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). C-PTSD from narcissistic abuse differs from PTSD caused by experiences such as car accidents or military combat in that it involves re-living or re-experiencing rather than avoidance or numbing of memories.
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic narcissists use to control someone and make them feel crazy. It doesn’t matter how great a relationship you have with your partner or spouse; as long as there’s abuse and manipulation, your relationship isn’t healthy.
Gaslighting occurs when someone tells you that what you’re experiencing isn’t authentic or not genuine, in other words causing the victim to question their feelings, instincts, and sanity.
First and foremost, you need to know that nothing you do will force the narcissist to change. They will only change if it benefits them.
You must understand that this person does not have the same morals, emotions, or feelings as ordinary people. These people cannot be around a good and decent person or have friends who care about them.
They are only after one thing in life, and that is control. They can never be satisfied with what they have accomplished because there will always be someone out there that they think has more than whatever they have at the moment.
Listen, if you were ever to feel like you want revenge on the narcissist in your life, trust me when I tell you that you are FAR from alone. But is it worth the trouble?
The truth is that whether or not you’re a narcissist’s target, interacting with them can be exhausting (to put it mildly). That’s why it’s essential to keep the upper hand and ensure that they are the ones chasing you – not the other way around.
It doesn’t even have to be anything drastic – act interested in their lives, but not to the extent that they think they can manipulate you.
Toxic relationships have a huge effect on survivors’ lives. They affect every aspect of the survivor’s life and can destroy the survivor’s self-esteem, sense of self-worth, confidence, and trust in their own judgment – as well as their ability to relate to other people.
Trust Your Gut
Trust your instincts, always. When it comes to the narcissist, you, unfortunately, need to be on guard at all times. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it probably is.
Take action: confront the narcissist (if safe to do so), call the authorities, alert family members, tell other people about what’s going on – do whatever it takes to get out.
Do you feel like you’re never able to win over your narcissistic husband, wife, or partner? Or maybe it’s your narcissistic parent, friend, or neighbor? Do you find that they always seem to be a step ahead of you?
Somehow, narcissists have this intrinsic ability to “know” what buttons to push that will hurt you the most. This is because narcissists are expert mind game players.
The narcissist is a master of manipulation. They can get you to do things you don’t want to do and think thoughts you don’t want to think…all under the guise of “love.”
What are narcissist mind games?
There are so many kinds of narcissist mind games, but in this case, we’re talking about different types of emotional manipulation. The manipulation of emotions can be so subtle, smooth, and insidious that you hardly notice it happening.
These games are designed to make you feel insecure and relatively inferior to them, encouraging you to compete with them or put your energy into earning their approval.
The good news is that we can work through the games and learn to break free once we know the games.
Why do narcissists play mind games with you?
To be able to play mind games, the narcissist has to ignore the feelings of others completely. They have no empathy and can’t see their pain or feel it. They cannot connect with others on any other level than a superficial one. They have no interest in others as people other than how they can use them, and they lie for no reason other than to avoid being honest.
In other words, narcissists play head games to control others and be in power. The main goal is to confuse, deceive and manipulate. They enjoy the ‘chase’ and the ‘hunt’ more than the actual ‘kill,’ so they want you to stay hooked at all times so they can keep playing this game. Whether consciously or otherwise, the narcissist’s goal is to keep you confused about and focused on figuring out how to navigate their behavior.
That way, they’ll have more control over you because you’ll be so focused on trying to figure them out that you might not recognize what’s happening. Plus, in most cases, the mind games involve tearing you down and making you feel worthless – so you won’t believe you can do any better than them. It may be hard to believe that a person who loves you would knowingly try to hurt you, but if they are a narcissist, that’s exactly what they do. But you’ve got to understand that a narcissist cannot love you in the same way you could love them.
What are the most common mind games played by the narcissist?
There are many narcissist mind games but these are the most common. They’re used often to play with your emotions, your intelligence, your sanity and they’re used often to confuse you. They don’t mean anything; it’s nothing personal (usually) It’s just for one reason or another they use these mind games to make you feel like you aren’t good enough… like you need to change something about yourself…
The cold shoulder. Ostracization. Social exclusion. Being actively, directly rudely ignored! It’s exhausting, It’s upsetting. And quite honestly, it’s abusive. So, let me ask you something.
Have you been there? Does someone in your life cut off contact, directly or indirectly, anytime you upset or annoy them? If so, you might be falling victim to a well-known manipulation tactic – the old silent treatment.
What is silent treatment?
The silent treatment is amanipulation tactic where someone will stop talking to you. This painful, uncomfortable silence can go on for days, hours, weeks, or even months in order to punish you for some perceived slight. It can cause serious emotional and psychological damage if you don’t realize what is happening. While people who aren’t narcissists may also use this tactic, it is commonly used among narcissists.
Narcissists and the Silent Treatment
Are you dealing with getting the silent treatment from a narcissist? If you are, then you already how upsetting and confusing this can be. When a narcissist is involved, it’s possible that you’re being discarded, either permanently or temporarily. You might be getting the silent treatment due to a breakup or the end of your relationship, or it could be one in a long line of discards during an ongoing relationship. It’s all part of the narcissist’s cycle of abuse. But the narcissist’s motivations are what you’re really interested in, so let’s discuss what they’re thinking when they give you the silent treatment.
What are the narcissist’s motivations for using the silent treatment?
When you think about the silent treatment and how cruel it can be, not only does it affirm that the narcissist lacks compassionate and emotional empathy, but you find yourself wondering how they could be so cruel? What motivates a narcissist to stop communicating with you?
The relationship is ending.
When a narcissistic ex gives you the silent treatment after a breakup, it is not that they are suffering and processing how your relationship ended. That is what you would expect a neurotypical non-narcissistic ex to do. But the narcissist deals with it by searching for a new source of narcissistic supply. You have to remember that this “supply,” for the narcissist, can feel as important as air might feel you or any living being. In other words, despite their claims of wanting to “be alone” or needing to “figure things out on their own,” the narcissist will feel as though they cannot be without it. So, they might have gone silent as they are engaging with others and attempting to get the supply they so desperately need. They can’t stand to be alone with their thoughts.
The narcissist controls you through gaslighting and confusion
Narcissists are known manipulators, and one of their most notorious tactics is to gaslight you through confusion emotional manipulation, and abuse. The silent treatment is the perfect vehicle to accomplish this, and this is especially true of covert narcissists – although their more grandiose counterparts are also skilled at this particular tactic. You know that narcissists enjoy manipulating and gaslighting you. The narcissist loves the idea of you lying awake all night wondering why they are giving you the silent treatment. It actually offers them a certain amount of supply in itself.
The narcissist lives to keep you in limbo
With a sudden change in behavior, the narcissist can throw you into limbo, that feeling where you’re lost and not sure what to do or what’s next. For example, when they go from being overly demanding to not saying anything at all, you might be left spinning. They love the idea of you being distracted all day, unable to focus on anything except for what they could be possibly thinking.
The narcissist feels powerful through silent treatment.`
Narcissists thrive on power, as you know. They envision you waiting by your phone waiting for a text, or even for an email. The fact that they will not send you a message or speak to you makes them feel powerful as they control your emotions and productivity.
If your narcissistic ex is giving you the silent treatment, the best thing to do is not even to acknowledge it at all. Please realize that this is a manipulative tactic to play around with their mind and emotions.