Virtue Signalling and Grandstanding: Narcissist Manipulation Tactics Explained – Narcissists use virtue signaling and grandstanding and pretend to have ethics so they can fool you into thinking they’re decent people.
Narcissists will also use this tactic to give them a stronghold when they do mess up in the future. For example, you may hear a sob story about how an ex cheated on them, and they may say that they would NEVER do such a thing because it hurt them so much. You may totally fall for this story because it’s actually true for you – someone did cheat on you in the past, and you can’t stand the idea of making anyone else feel how you felt.
But in reality, the narcissist only tells you this so that when and if you do catch them cheating in the future, they can scream in your face and remind you of how morally superior they are and ask you how DARE you ask them if they cheated when you KNOW how strongly they feel about it. And then they might even throw in “geez, if I am going to be accused of it, maybe I should really do it.”
Fact: basic human decency should be the default for most people. But narcissists are different: they lack this “basic decency” quality because they do not have empathy – so they don’t care how you feel and how it affects you.
Another reason narcissists do this is because it helps them to set you up for a standard of behavior during the relationship. They may do this by stating their own values, or they may even use stories about their ex or another person hurt them in the past.
Here is a light-hearted example to consider: you may hear about how their ex never did the dishes and how it made them just miserable – and then you may decide that you’ll do the dishes every day of your life in order to show the narcissist that people do, in fact, do the dishes and that you are different from the ex.
Basically, the idea then is to teach you how to treat them during the relationship and to put “sticking points” in place so that if and when the mask falls off and you are able to catch a glimpse of their true selves, they can attack you with these points. The point they make: “I have always told you I’d never do that, so you should blindly trust me.”
In other words, the narcissist claims they’re (insert quality here) honest, faithful, otherwise morally correct, and they expect you to be the same, but they have no problem twisting things and lying to you and/or manipulating you to get what they want.
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.