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.
Have you ever wondered why some narcissists always want to seem to stay friends with their exes? Have you personally dealt with a narcissistic ex who insisted on being friends? It makes any sane person wonder why someone who clearly did not care about you during your relationship would be interested in maintaining your friendship, right?
It seems a little ridiculous. Whether it’s a full-on hoover maneuver or it’s just a misguided attempt to secure you as a backup source of narcissistic supply, you’re probably feeling a little confused on whether it’s even safe to be friendly with someone like this – that is, if the idea doesn’t make you feel absolutely disgusted.
What is the hoover maneuver?
The hoover maneuver, also known as hoovering is what we call it when the narcissist tries to sort of gain your attention again, or to “suck you back in” after the discard. The hoover maneuver isn’t always just about getting back together, but it can be drama-related or it can be an attempt to reconcile the relationship. In many cases, the hoover is used when you go no contact as an attempt to reconnect with you. (Side note: Yes, the “hoover” is named after the famous vacuum cleaner company).
What is narcissistic supply?
Narcissistic supply is basically your energy and attention and the narcissist requires it to feel like a whole person. You and anyone else in the narcissist’s life will be used as a source of narcissistic supply to get attention, validation, admiration. Sometimes, narcissistic supply includes sex, but not always. The narcissist uses this “supply” to feed their ever-fragile ego and to maintain their false self. The narcissist may also have a circle of supply or “narcissistic harem,” which can include intimate partners, children, parents, other family members, friends, employees and coworkers, and even acquaintances.
How can you tell a narcissist is hoovering you?
When the narcissist has discarded you (or even if you’ve discarded them), they will sometimes tell you they’d like to stay friends, or they’ll say they’d like to continue your intimate relationship.
Any situation like this is a narcissist who is hoovering. But here’s the thing. Hoovering is not wanting to sincerely rekindle a relationship that went bad. It is a manipulative tactic that the narcissist uses to get you back into their control, whether or not they want to continue the actual relationship. As always, narcissists seem to have a playbook, and there are some common behaviors that narcissists might demonstrate when they’re using this particular manipulation tactic.
1. The Sentimental Out-of-Nowhere Call
You may not have heard from your narcissistic ex for six months and then all of a sudden they call you to say they saw a movie or heard a song that reminded them of you. They do this on purpose. In their minds, they’ve given you time to get over their abuse, so they’re hoping you’ve forgotten who they really are (and that you’ll allow yourself to be reeled back in by your own sentimental feelings). Don’t fall for it.
2. The Fake Apology
Narcissists only apologize for anything if they believe it will benefit them to do so. They don’t feel remorse for things they’ve done unless they’re being punished for their behavior – and even then, they are only sorry they got caught. But when the fake apology comes, it’s all about getting what they want from you. So, they will pretend to believe that they were wrong in the relationship and will pretend to take responsibility for it. Just remember that they don’t believe they did anything wrong, and they’re only saying this because they know that is what you want to hear.
3. The Special Day Call
A lot of narcissists will call you on your birthday or your anniversary with them, or during the holidays. They do this because they want you to believe that they actually care – but the truth is that as always, this is all an act and they’re really just looking to get a little narcissistic supply from you. They may also be feeling lonely. You’d do best to block them and go no contact – or at the very least, to ignore the “special day call.”
4. The Soulmate Claim
Narcissists are well-known for their little soulmate scams. One of the most effective ways they can hoover you is through reintroducing idealization, or love bombing, into their arsenal. That means they might get a little sappy with you. They’ll claim you were their “one” and that you’ve ALWAYS been the one. The ONLY one, they swear! They’ll claim to be sad that your relationship ended because you are their soulmate. They’ll say they can’t live without you and claim that no one else makes them feel the way you make them feel. They will shower you with sweet words, begging you to get back together. But whatever you do, don’t fall for this one, no matter how difficult it is to resist. They’re only playing this game so they can get you back into their control and continue their abuse. The narcissist will not change, no matter how hard they claim otherwise.
5. The Unsolicited Gift
If you find yourself holding a beautiful bouquet or a delicious box of chocolates sent to you by your narcissistic ex, with a love note attached, you’ve got yourself an unsolicited gift, and its only purpose is to get your attention so they can start the conversation with you again. This is yet another hoover, and your best bet is to get rid of it (or keep it, but do not respond to the gesture).
If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, you might already know how adept they can be at making you feel completely worthless. If that rings true for you, you’re definitely not alone. In fact, one of the most underrated ways a narcissist can devastate you is by making you feel inferior, or like you’re just not good enough.
How does this kind of long-term narcissistic abuse affect you?
The impact of this kind of ongoing psychological abuse is so significant that most victims of long-term narcissistic abuse find themselves struggling with symptoms of C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder). We become so damaged that we end up becoming codependent. This ongoing invalidation of a person’s self leads to a lack of self-esteem and self worth, and it can lead us to becoming ideal prey for other narcissists.
Does psychological abuse at the hands of a narcissist change you permanently?
You lose yourself, in so many ways, when you become enmeshed with a narcissist in any kind of relationship, and the closer the relationship, the more damage it can cause for you, psychologically, emotionally, and physically. The good news is that it does not have to be that way, as victims of narcissistic abuse can recover through intentional healing and learning how to avoid getting entangled with other toxic people in future relationships. Making yourself aware of the red flags to look for in new potential relationships can help as well.
Why do narcissists make you feel like you’re not enough?
Narcissists Lack Self-Esteem, And It Makes Them Feel Better To Put You Down
It is a known fact that many narcissists, despite appearing to be the opposite, have a major lack of self-esteem. This leads them to bolster their fragile egos with a façade of false confidence, and at the same time, they do anything they can to make you feel terrible about yourself. Covert narcissists are less likely to pretend to be confident, so they’ll act more self-hating, but they will also do anything possible to make you feel inferior. So, when a covert a narcissist begins to show their true colors; you immediately think how out of character it is for them since they initially showed you a vulnerable side.
Worse, narcissists will put you down in unimaginable ways – they dig deep to hurt you. They put you down regarding your appearance, intelligence, habits, and anything else that comes to their minds.
Narcissists Use Gaslighting to Make You Doubt Yourself
Narcissists need to find ways to bolster their fragile egos, and if their abuse towards you is making you doubt yourself, they are getting exactly what they want. Gaslighting is the ideal manipulation tactic for this outcome, and narcissists use it to push you further into submission. They find your weak points and exploit them. For instance, they will make you believe that you are losing your memory by telling you things that you did that you never did or vise versa. When they see you doubt yourself further because of their manipulation and gaslighting tactics, they feel good about themselves.
Narcissists Get a Thrill From Invalidating You
Narcissists are known to invalidate your feelings by saying things such as “you’re way too sensitive” when you react to their abusive behaviors, for example. They invalidate your feelings to make you doubt yourself so they can get you in control. When you believe you’re worthless or not enough, the narcissist figures you’re not going to go find out you can do better than them. The way they see it, their feelings are very important – but their marked lack of emotional and compassionate empathy means they literally do not care how you feel at all. This is a dangerous combination for anyone involved with a malignant narcissist.
Narcissists Feel Entitled
Narcissists live in a constant fear of missing out (FOMO!). This is often developed early in childhood, at the same time as the development of their trademark entitlement complex. Their sense of entitlement also means they feel compelled to do anything they want, and they will do it at your expense without concern for the impact it has on you, your feelings, or your life. They lie and cheat on you, too, because they feel entitled to do so. They feel that they need to have access to other sources of narcissistic supply as “backup” because they cannot stand the idea of ending up alone.
Remember that healthy, secure people will never tear you down to hurt you on purpose. This is a toxic, malignant behavior and it’s one you don’t deserve. Need help recovering from narcissistic abuse?
Have you been discarded by a narcissist, only to learn that they’ve already moved on to another partner days, weeks, or even hours after your relationship ended? Or, have you learned the hard way that your ex (or soon-to-be-ex) is already involved with someone else even before your relationship ended? Sadly, it’s all about narcissistic supply. Let me explain.
What is narcissistic supply?
Narcissistic supply is what makes the narcissist sort of an “energy vampire.” In other words, they get a certain amount of attention, validation, admiration – basically your energy, from people in their lives. While a narcissist’s main source of narcissistic supply usually comes from one or more people, it can also involve pets, groups of people, and more. The so-called “supply” is the food for the narcissist’s ego. Many narcissists have a whole circle of supply or “narcissistic harem.”
Why do narcissists move on so quickly after they discard you?
Why does it always seem like narcissists need a new source of narcissistic supply almost immediately when your relationship ends – and that’s assuming they haven’t secured it ahead of time? The narcissist most often moves on quickly after a relationship. Many narcissists will be already involved with new supply before discarding you and so the new supply is well in place before they lose your supply.
This is one really devastating part of the narcissistic pattern that hurts and leaves survivors with no sense of closure.
Many survivors deeply internalize the final blow from this as if they have no worth, and never meant anything to the narcissist. They worry they must be at fault, that they are not good enough. They wonder if they should have done more, if they are less beautiful/handsome, that they are inadequate…are you feeling me here?
I’m hoping that by seeing this is a toxic pattern of the narcissistic person and some reasons they do this you may feel validation or even a sense of relief that you are indeed not the problem and never were.
Narcissists Take No Accountability
One thing to understand and really, to me it’s one of the main indications of a toxic person, is that a narcissist will not accept accountability for their actions or emotions. They have a constant need to protect the delusional personality they set up.
What they think is who they are, they reason. So, when seeing any issue they may cause that does not align with the delusional belief of “self,” they push it away and start to blame shift or deny.
One big way a narcissist uses denial is to use a new person to bolster the ego and delusional created self. After all, how hard is it to convince a stranger through love bombing and overt attention that you are an amazing person? This is the lie they are telling their new supply. They are shirking all responsibility both to the old relationship, yours, as well as to their own healing from a breakup. They need others to give and boost their sense of self so badly they do not care who they use to get there. It’s like if they have someone new to mirror back all the love-bombing they can prove to the world how astoundingly perfect they are and thus continue the delusion they live in. Couple all of this with zero empathy for others and you have a selfish drive for attention and the use of another to regain the sense of their own inflated ego.
You were once the new source of narcissistic supply.
If you find yourself asking why or doubting your worth because the narcissist has a new supply, remember that you too were a new supply once. Remember that narcissists use all others in their life to feed their egos in one way or another. While it can hurt a lot and it can seem like the person who is new supply is at fault, oftentimes they are as much a victim as you were.
Of course, there are cases where the new supply seems to be as toxic as the narcissist – but then you might ask yourself do you really want any attention or association going to those people? New supply is simply that, a new person to be used by the narcissist for supply and you, too, were in the position of being that new person once. You were told lies about their exes and were made to feel like you were different and needed by the narcissist.
The narcissist is the common denominator.
The most important thing to realize is this is not because of you. You are not the problem and you are certainly deserving of being treated way better than any narcissist will treat you. You are no less valid or important because a toxic narcissist has found a new supply. You deserve the healing and amazing things life outside of narcissistic abuse can give you. Moving on fast is a narcissist’s weakness not because of you or who/how you are. The narcissist is a perpetual liar with the most significant lie being who they present themselves as. They are seeking the supply they need and taking and using another person. You deserve a better life and to be loved for who you are. Love yourself, find the truth of your amazing truth, and do not compare yourself to the new supply. New supply is the new victim, you have survived and can move past the abuse into a thriving life.
Worried the narcissist will be better for the new source of narcissistic supply?
There was probably a time when you believed that the narcissist in your life actually respected you, right? I mean, why else would they have treated you so well? During the love-bombing (idealization) phase, the narcissist is head-over-heels, without a doubt absolutely infatuated with you! So, of course, they’re on their best behavior. They treat you like you’re really important and special – even put you on a pedestal. You don’t treat someone this way unless you respect them. Right?
But then, the devalue phase hit for the first time. And it all fell down around you. You were left spinning, wondering what the heck just happened. If you’re anything like me, you needed to figure it out. That probably led you to research the situation, which led you here, eventually.
Recognizing the Narcissist’s Cycle of Abuse
If that sounds familiar, then I would guess that, since then, you’ve learned the unfortunate truth about this toxic person in the most difficult way possible. If that’s the case, then the following should resonate with you, at least on some level.
In other words, if the narcissist was not a family member, when you met them, they were in acquisition mode and you were the target. Once they were sure they had you in their clutches, they started treating you…well, a little different. And if the narcissist was a part of your family, they’d be running a similar cycle with you for your whole life.
But in either case, there was a time when you found yourself in the devalue phase, and this is where you first started to realize what was going on. You immediately became aware of the fact that the narcissist didn’t respect you even a little bit. In fact, with every word that came out of their mouth and with every passing moment, they became increasingly abusive, dragging your self-worth into the dirt, making you feel like you didn’t matter at all.
As devastating as this realization was, part of you felt some relief when you realized it wasn’t you – that you weren’t, in fact, the problem in the relationship, as you’d been led to believe.
As your relationship progressed, you may have even forgotten what it felt like to be respected at all. Speaking of respect, does the narcissist really respect anyone at all? Like, ever? Well, yes, and no. It’s complicated. See, we know that your average narcissist seems to think that they are the only ones in the world who are important and everyone else is beneath them. In other words, they feel special and entitled to special privileges and gifts that not everyone gets.
First, we should agree on what we mean by ‘respect,’ exactly.
Respect can be defined as someone feeling positively toward you as a person. It might also mean being considered important by someone else, and it means that the person respecting you clearly sees and admires your good qualities. It means that they hold you in high regard and are obviously aware of your individual value as a person and a unique, separate entity from themselves (as opposed to an extension of self). It means they treat you in a way that makes you feel good, or at least comfortable.
Is it possible for a narcissist to respect anyone, based on that definition of respect? Maybe. But they generally don’t. Instead, they’ll see you as an object or an extension of themselves. Or, if you’re an authority figure, they’ll be kinder to you and may even appear to respect you, but secretly, they’ll be calculating how they can benefit from knowing you – or worse, depending on the relationship you have, how quickly they can take your place. The truth is that your average narcissist really respects no one at all, with the exception of MAYBE themselves – but even then, their understanding of the concept of respect is skewed and twisted, thanks to their incredibly low EQ.
Some people will advise you that learning to respect yourself is the key to making a narcissist respect you. And listen – I want that to be true, too. But it just isn’t – at least not when you’re talking about functional respect. What I mean is that when you combine the narcissist’s lack of compassion and emotional empathy with their inability to see you as a whole person, you get someone who doesn’t care how you feel and who thinks you don’t matter. Those ingredients do not add up to respect in any form.
What if you leave the narcissist? Won’t they respect you then?
A lot of people think and will advise that leaving the narcissist will make them respect you. While it might be true on some level and in some cases, it won’t cause them to change and become better people. Sadly, leaving a narcissist will only make them angry, sad, desperate, and/or apathetic, depending on whether they have secured alternate narcissistic supply beforehand. In any case, though, they will still not respect you. They will instead start a smear campaign by first lying about you and often projecting their own sins onto you during their ongoing sob story which helps them to secure more narcissistic supply (because people feel sorry for them, as you might have early in your own relationship, and are compelled to support them).
How to Get the Respect You Deserve
You might not like what I’m about to say, but if you know me, then you know I tell it like it is. Here’s the deal. No one is going to respect you if you don’t respect yourself. Okay, maybe some people will. I will. Still, there’s something about a person who lacks self-respect that sometimes causes even the least toxic people to take advantage of them. And there’s just no reason to vibrate this way. When you learn to respect yourself, you teach others how to treat you almost without even trying, because your standards go up and you naturally enforce your personal boundaries.
But am I saying that the narcissist will be among those who respect you when you learn to respect yourself, after all? No, not exactly. Let’s talk about it,
See, while learning to love and respect yourself will help you to stop accepting the abuse the narcissist dishes out so often, it will certainly not cause them to respect you – at least not in any functional way. BUT…all is not lost!
The good news is that if you do manage to develop your self-image to the point that you are okay with – and maybe even love – who you are, you’ll show them that you will no longer tolerate their BS. Then, be sure to take good care of yourself, inside and out. And as you beam with genuine confidence and you move away from your codependency with the narcissist, something crazy might happen. You might find a way to leave.
And then, my friend, you might find a way to create a life that you love, for real.
Just…stop for a second, and breathe. Imagine with me for a moment that you no longer have to put up with the drama and misery that goes along with the narcissist and that you’ve created the life you really want. What does it look like? Who is involved? Where do you live? What do you do? How does your ideal life look? Take a few minutes and journal on it!
The narcissist helped to create your codependency.
Your codependency was at least in part sort of co-created by the narcissist in your life. They taught you to be afraid of them, their moods, and their general presence. They taught you that you didn’t matter without them and that if you didn’t go along with what they wanted, that you were bad and/or invisible. In either case, you’d be punished in various ways and this along with all of the emotional and psychological abuse you deal with throughout your relationship with the narcissist will become the basis for your damage – your trauma. It will become the reason you’ll recognize you might be dealing with C-PTSD symptoms and the reason you literally doubt yourself, your reality, and your ability to function like a normal human in the world.
You have to remember something. Narcissists prey on you by leaning into the trauma they’ve created in you. They’ve caused you to lose your self-confidence, thanks to years of ongoing abuse, and this has caused you to give in to their manipulative ways. They prey on you because they think they can, and because, until now, you may have tolerated it. But, guess what? You don’t have to take it anymore. You deserve to be happy, to feel peaceful, and to feel SAFE in your home. The narcissist takes all of that away from you – and my friend, you deserve better.
How to Deal with the Lack of Respect
If you have struggled with narcissistic abuse, you will want to focus on what you can do to first heal, and then you’ll want to work on becoming the person you truly want to be. This will help you along the path of learning to first accept and then to love and respect yourself. It might feel like letting yourself feel empowered in the narcissist’s presence more difficult at least at first – and that is usually true. So, if you need to, practice with people who you trust and even strangers out in the world.
And remember: Going no contact is a form of self-care. If you were the sort of person who really wanted revenge on the narcissist, remember that the narcissist needs narcissistic supply like a vampire needs blood – and going no contact will remove you (and therefore their source of narcissistic supply, or at least one of them).
So, while the narcissist isn’t capable of functional respect (as in the kind of respect that causes them to treat you compassionately, civilly, and as an equal), leaving them in the dust while you go and have an intentionally created life that you actually love? Well, that’ll make them realize that not only did they lose the best thing that ever happened to them, but also that they’ve underestimated you and maybe even that you’re too good for them. But either way, you’ll be the one winning the relationship, much to their chagrin.
You Have to Respect Yourself First
This part is really important. When we are enmeshed in relationships with toxic people, we often put our own self-respect on the back burner – and that’s IF we’ve ever had any to begin with. See, when we are raised by toxic people or when we experience significant trauma in childhood, we learn that our own self-respect is a problem for other people. We learn that in order to get love and validation, we need to become what others want us to be. And when we can’t become something we’re not, we lose respect for ourselves – but even if we CAN become what others want us to be, we end up putting our own desires, strengths, passions, and talents aside in order to keep those people happy. This leads to a feeling of something being “just not right,” or we feel like something is “missing” from our lives. Even if we’re self-aware enough to know exactly what is missing, we don’t see a way to actually make it happen without upsetting someone – so we just…don’t.
All of that rolled up in a big ugly ball leads us to not respect ourselves. And when we don’t respect ourselves, we are inadvertently accepting unacceptable treatment from people who do not even deserve our time. So when we start respecting ourselves, we STOP accepting that behavior.
But push past that and give it a shot. Make sure you listen carefully to that little “inner voice” that is always taking in your head – your inner dialogue. And correct it when it is wrong. Correct it when it sounds less like you and more like the toxic people in your life. Journal often, and honestly. Speak about yourself kindly or at least without negativity – to yourself and to others.
Don’t assume that someone else’s opinion of yourself is the truth. If you’re worried about what someone else says, look closely and be honest with yourself – is there something you want to change? If not, be okay with who you are and accept that no one is perfect. It is normal and human to have flaws.
Don’t do things to gain the approval of anyone else unless it benefits you to do so. For example, you wouldn’t want to go against your morals and ethics to make a narcissist happy, but let’s say you were given the opportunity to audition for a part in a movie, and that was something you wanted to do. In that case, you might make an effort to gain the approval of the casting director, and that is okay. See the difference?
Ultimately, self-respect begins with how you treat yourself and how you expect others to treat you. When you treat yourself lie you matter, others will begin to do the same. And those who won’t? They’ll see themselves out of your life post-haste. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing!
Question of the Day: Have you ever been able to make a narcissist actually respect you? Have you tried? Share your thoughts, share your experiences, share your ideas in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it!
Narcissists have this way of making us feel responsible for their happiness. After dealing with one of these toxic people for years, you might even allow yourself to feel responsible for keeping them emotionally safe – or at least for making sure they have whatever they want and need at any given moment. And, if you’re anything like I was, you might even have gone to extremes to do so.
For me, this was true even when I had to do something that I didn’t want to do, like pay my bills late in order to make sure my ex had the money he needed to pay for his hobbies or whatever he wanted. Or sometimes, it would mean doing something that is even further outside of your personal ethical standards – and I won’t elaborate here, but I can’t tell you how many people have shared stories like this with me. And I have a few of my own that would knock your socks off, if I’m being honest.
The same thing happened with my narcissistic parent, but in a bit of a different way. In this case, I knew what was and was not acceptable and I’d do whatever I could to try to fit in the mold that she had created for me. Often, this was to my detriment. For example, she would cook food that she knew I did not like, and she would act upset if I refused to eat it – to put it mildly. By the time I was 8 or 9, I had taken to pretending to like food that literally made me sick to my stomach in order to please her. Worse, I would later go sneak into the fridge and eat stuff that I DID like, which would also get me in trouble. And this would lead me to a lifelong struggle with my weight.*
*Side note, I am not blaming anyone but myself for my struggles – and I’m working on getting that under control. But the truth is that my weight issues could cause serious health problems (and have, in the past), and at least the psychological part of them are partially related to the situation I described.
Does any of that ring true for you? Whether you had a narcissistic ex, or a narcissistic friend, or a parent, did you find yourself feeling the need to keep them happy? And if so, have you ever wondered exactly why? What exactly caused you to try to keep them satisfied even if that meant going above and beyond at your own expense?
Logically, if you think about it, it makes sense that you (or anyone who found themselves at the mercy of an abusive narcissist) would, right? Because you knew that if you did not give the narcissist what they wanted and needed, you would face whatever consequences they might enact. You would be the focal point of their narcissistic rage and the narcissist would even devalue you even more. That is a terrifying thought that haunts anyone who has ever been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist.
But starting the moment you realize what you have been dealing with, you’ll start to change. It will seem slow, but before you know it, you will get to the point where you begin to understand that you have been abused. You’ll realize that your boundaries have been violated over and over again by the narcissist.
That will be right around the time when you reach a point where you know that something in your life needs to change – and fast!
That’s When the Narcissist Will Snap.
The narcissist snaps because they lose control – of YOU. See, your understanding of this person and their personality issues will get clearer and more comprehensive as you study them and their typical narcissistic behaviors, checking them against videos and podcasts like this one. As this happens, you’ll find yourself thinking a little differently, and you might even stop trying to coddle and protect them from the disappointment or anger that will inevitably come when they notice you’re no longer tolerating their childish behavior.
When you realize that you’ve been actually enabling the narcissist by giving them narcissistic supply, you might even get a little angry. Your anger might propel you forward and you might cut their source of supply off, whether you do this in a “cold-turkey” fashion or you use a more subtle “fade-away” kind of method.
What to Expect When the Narcissist Finally Snaps and Loses Control
In any case, when you do finally have enough of the mind games and manipulation, you’ve got to know it won’t sit well with the narcissist. They feel like they cannot function without you at this point, and even though you have given of yourself to the point that it has caused you a lifetime of mental and emotional exhaustion, not to mention the possibility of physical health problems, all the narcissist knows is that they aren’t getting what they need. The fact is that there is literally nothing you could possibly do to actually be “enough” for the narcissist anyway.
But they’ll be happy to keep draining you forever if you allow it. And if you don’t – well, that’s when the narcissist will often snap and lose control. If you’ve been there, you already know how scary that can be. And what should you expect when this happens? Well, let’s talk about it.
Narcissistic Injury, Followed by Narcissistic Rage
The very thing that causes the narcissist to snap is when they endure narcissistic injury – which is a painful reminder that they are not as good as they believe. Then they become desperate for more supply. See, in any case where a narcissist gets upset, hurt, or offended – or when they don’t get special treatment or favors – or literally, anytime they don’t get what they want, they will demonstrate narcissistic injury to guilt you into doing what they want.
And once you’ve realized who they are and you’ve stopped trying to please someone who will never, ever really be satisfied…well, that’s when the narcissistic rage will set in.
Narcissistic rage is a tactic the narcissist uses when they know they’re wrong but won’t admit it, or when they don’t get what they want, or when people don’t treat them different or more special than others, or when their sense of entitlement is threatened. Basically, anytime things don’t go their way, they will get inconsolably angry in an attempt to bully or coerce you into giving them what they want.
So, once they see you won’t budge and you won’t do whatever they’re demanding in any given moment, they snap and fly into that narcissistic rage, which is also a sign of them losing control of their emotions. You can compare it to a toddler having a violent tantrum – and while they may be relatively intelligent in other ways, narcissists are about as emotionally mature as that toddler. When they are feeling unhappy, upset or angry, or put-upon in any way, they will spin out of control and stomp their feet and hold their breath, proverbially speaking. Even literally in some cases.
Devalue and Discard
When the narcissist is losing control, you can expect to deal with them tearing you down in any way they can. The devalue phase will be in full effect. This is they will beat you down emotionally, insult you (outright or covertly), and make you doubt yourself and your self-worth.
This is a typical part of the narcissist’s cycle of abuse and when they do it effectively, it can cause you to believe you don’t have a chance of finding someone better, or that you’re not worthy of love or consideration. Don’t fall for it, my friend. The narcissist chose you for a reason – probably because you really are the amazing person they thought you were in the beginning when they were idealizing you.
In fact, it is common for narcissists to use devaluation to keep you from leaving. See, by implanting such ideas in your head, they hope you’ll feel like they’re your last resort. Again, do not fall for it! (And let’s be honest – if you’re anything like me, you realize that being alone would be far less difficult than continuing to be with someone who makes you FEEL alone.)
Loss of Narcissistic Supply Leads to Next-Level Narcissistic Abuse
Now, don’t misunderstand me here. The fact is that the narcissist will devalue you even when they are receiving ample supply from you. But if you cut it off, or even if you simply express that you also need to care for your own needs, that is enough to make the narcissist snap. And that’s when you can expect them to get REALLY mean, while they attempt to further devalue you.
When the narcissist is losing control, expect them to throw a list of insults, mistakes you’ve made, and anything else they can think of to hurt you, at you as they dig deep into your insecurities, saying anything they can think of to hurt you. Remember: there is no level to which they won’t stoop.
Inevitably this will lead to you being discarded, whether they actually leave you or not. Either literally or figuratively, the narcissist will sort of “throw you away,” as in push you out of their life. This can happen as part of a rotating cycle of abuse that can go on for decades if you let it – or it can be a final “break-up” – a sort of “showdown” of sorts which will hopefully represent the ultimate end of a toxic relationship. And despite the fact that you might think otherwise right now, trust me when I tell you that this would be the best possible outcome. Other things that might happen are far more ominous – and yes, that includes that you might actually end up staying with them or getting back together.
And, if you’re still in the relationship or you’re freshly out of it and still hurting, believe me – I know it might not feel that way now. It will feel like your life would be over if you really lost this person completely. But, listen…I promise you that one day, when you finally do get away and you start to heal, you will remember this very moment and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll know I was telling the truth.
Do you need help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery process?
How can you get support in your healing from narcissistic abuse? Start with your friends and/or family members who may understand and be willing to support you. If you don’t have supportive or understanding people around you, which is often the case for survivors of narcissistic abuse due to the fact that narcissists have a tendency to isolate you, you may need to look at some other options. Here are a few to consider.