If you’re like most survivors of narcissistic abuse, you might still be struggling to feel good about yourself. You might also not be very self-accepting, and most of us don’t end up actually feeling like we have any self-love to speak of – not to mention self-confidence. For that reason, I wrote this self-acceptance and self-love inducing guided meditation for you.
I worked with a professional voice artist to create a simple, relaxing, and motivational meditation for self-acceptance that leads to unconditional self-love. You can listen in the morning to get you going or play it while you go to sleep at night. I suggest you use it for at least 30 days for maximum effect.
Not only do they tend to fly under the radar more often than male narcissists, but their toxic behaviors are often attributed to the fact that they’re a mother or that they’re “more emotional” than their male counterparts, among other things. But trust me when I tell you that they are just as toxic as any other narcissist, if not more so. So let’s talk about it.
You might already know that narcissists in general, regardless of sex, will continuously manipulate to get what they want. They usually show certain symptoms pretty universally – grandiosity, an inflated sense of self-importance and they tend to feel “superior” to others around them, whether they say that out loud or not.
Since their feelings of superiority are typically “bloated” versions of the truth, most narcissists, whether they are male and female, will spend a lot of time focusing on reinforcing their fragile self-perceptions – and that leads to their various forms of manipulation.
When many people think about narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder, they think of men who are more often stereotyped as violent, and full of rage.
And most narcissism experts would tell you that these stereotypes will more often manifest in narcissistic males when they feel threatened that their source of supply will disappear – or if we’re being honest – when they feel that they have been crossed in any way.
Despite popular assumption, narcissistic women are just as toxic and nearly as plentiful as narcissistic men. Studies vary on actual numbers and percentages, but in general, researchers estimate that just over half of all diagnosed narcissists are men. But those are DIAGNOSED narcissists – and you and I both know that most people who have the toxic qualities of a narcissist aren’t likely to be diagnosed.
With that being said, I personally think the numbers are most likely fairly equal. In addition to the fact that narcissistic women slide under the radar because they are often mothers, there’s the fact that fewer men are willing to admit to themselves or anyone else that they might be being abused by a woman. For that reason, fewer women are reported and diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.
Key Identifiers of the Narcissistic Female
So clearly, there are plenty of narcissistic women around. And if you are a child of a narcissistic mother, you would most definitely know how true that is, based on your own first-hand experience. But whether or not your mother is or was a narcissist, you may not know the signs of a narcissistic female. Let’s talk about that now.
Women With NPD Express Anger Differently Than Men With NPD
Many people will assume that the malignant narcissist who becomes explosive and aggressive is always male. But that could not be further from the truth. In fact, women with NPD can be the same. There are a shocking amount of physically and emotionally abusive women – and it doesn’t only affect their children. Some women even physically and/or emotionally abuse their partners – male, female, or otherwise. They may also abuse their friends, coworkers or subordinates at work, their siblings, parents, and literally anyone else they feel they have the right to control – or who they feel is less than or otherwise wrong in any way, to put it nicely.
Some common ways female narcissists punish you for not doing what they want is by withholding affection or attention, or by making you feel very guilty to the point that you feel you have no choice other than to beg for their forgiveness. They will gaslight and manipulate you, sometimes covertly, but often blatantly and without remorse. And of course, as I said, many are physically abusive as well.
Women With NPD Appear To Be Martyrs
Women with NPD are more likely to play the victim or the “put-upon” martyr. They might even sacrifice more than is necessary, or appear to, as a play for attention and praise from the people around them. Plus, they are certain (and they expect you to know and recognize) that their pain is worse than the pain that anyone else has and that they suffer more than anyone else. To be fair, this is usually seen in women who might be considered covert narcissists, but any narcissistic woman can display this trait.
Women With NPD Are Extremely Superficial
Male narcissists are just as superficial as female narcissists, and they both care very much about image. They are concerned about their material items such as having the best car, house, and they will brag about how wonderful their kids are – all the while telling their kids the opposite behind closed doors. They do this to hide any insecurities they have just like their male counterparts. They may or may not want designer, name brand everything – and whatever they prefer, they’ll assume the other choice is wrong.
The Female Narcissist Dress Code
One more reason female narcissists slip under the radar so frequently is that most of us would expect a narcissistic female to at least attempt to appear attractive on some level. We might expect that she would appear to be overdone or expensively dressed, and we might think these are the women we would see in the plastic surgeon’s office to get their weekly botox touchups. And in some cases, we’d be right.
But despite this unfortunate stereotype, women who care about how they appear can be narcissists or not. See, the way a woman chooses to present herself really has nothing to do with toxic narcissism. It’s really all about their personality traits and specifically how they perceive and treat others in their lives.
And let’s just put it out here – just as many female narcissists will judge women who focus on their appearance, and in these cases, they will be very “practical” in their attire, or even completely neglect their appearance. This is when you’ll see them calling other women “shallow” or “materialistic” or worse, they’ll imply that these women are somehow beneath or less than them because they are “attempting to get too much attention,” to put it politely.
Then there are female narcissists who are involved with certain types of religion or spirituality who may dress as dictated by their faith. In those cases, they will judge and feel superior to women who dress in other fashions. And they’ll even judge women who are in the same faith but who don’t, in their opinion, follow all of the specific rules their religion requires. For example, if a religion requires a woman to never cut her hair, but someone gets her ends trimmed, the narcissistic female might tell everyone she knows how that woman is a bad person.
In other words, regardless of what her physical look happens to be, this woman will judge anyone who chooses to look different than she does. The narcissistic female is ALWAYS right, no matter what, and she will not hesitate to tell you all about it.
Narcissistic Women Are Extremely Jealous And Competitive
Narcissistic women are highly competitive and will become jealous easily. They must be known as the prettiest, most successful, most endearing, and smartest around – or whatever their particular version of “best” happens to be. And watch out if you’ve got it going on yourself! Because if you are a woman who makes them feel threatened at all in any way, they will viciously bully you and shame you, and exile you from any social group. They will even do this to their daughters – often. You must remember that there are no limits to which a narcissist will not stoop to get their needs met.
Narcissistic Women Will Be Controlling Mothers Or Mothers-In-Law
While there are many neglectful narcissistic mothers who will simply ignore or refuse to take care of their kids, many will also actively control them without concern for how they feel or what they want. They will aggressively (or passive-aggressively) control the lives of their children and this will continue even when their kids are adults, unless and until they do happen to figure them out and go no contact. They might decide your house isn’t decorated right and start rearranging furniture for example, or they will demand that you raise your kids a certain way, or that you discipline them (or don’t discipline) them in the way they prefer. And in many cases, narcissistic mothers-in-law will be painfully cruel to their daughters-in-law as they see them as someone who took their son away or who is trying to “replace” them. They will also actively compete with them in weird ways – just as they will with their own daughters. Also worth noting: the narcissistic mother will often prefer her male children to her female ones for this reason, among others, and she is more likely to scapegoat her female child. But that isn’t always the case – male children can and are scapegoated often.
What Do Research Studies Tell Us About Identifying Narcissistic Females vs. Narcissistic Males?
I read about a study a while back that offered a few key findings of the major differences between male and female narcs, and in my own experience, a lot of the findings were true.
Male Narcissists Use Force, Female Narcissists Use Martyr Act
So, to begin with, men will often use a lot of force, directly or indirectly, to sort of “assert” themselves and their superiority over others, while women who are narcissists will often take a different form – usually a bit more of narcissistic injury or even seduction. So, in other words, they are more likely than males to either use the “poor me” martyr act mentioned earlier or to use their appearance and sexuality to manipulate people to get what they want.
Some of the study findings included some really interesting and telling key differences.
Male Narcissists More Likely to Self-Handicap
For example, male narcissists, but not female narcissists, will use a face-saving tactic called “self-handicapping.” This is defined as “a course of action to protect or enhance one’s self-evaluation in the face of an evaluation threat.”
In layman’s terms, that means that male narcissists will try to appear confident, but if they fear they will fail, they will “self-handicap” to avoid having to perform at all – they use this tactic to avoid feeling or seeming incompetent. So, for example, let’s say they’re a tennis pro and they’re going to play tennis with a new partner. To avoid humiliation (in case the new partner wins) they might claim this is the first time they’ve ever played. Or, they’ll feign an injury to avoid playing at all.
According to the study authors, this kind of manipulation is directly connected to a “failure in empathic responding by the mother, resulting in both males and females developing a deficient internalized structure of self. Strategies developed to compensate for it may take on different forms in the males and female.”
This means, according to the authors, that, “mothers may be responding to boys as a significant other figure (e.g. husband), but to girls as an extension of self. As a result, each gender uses different psychological resources to cope with the same deficient internalized structure of self.”
Male Narcissists Can Be More Blatantly Controlling
The study also noted that while male narcissists are likely to actively and openly assert their superiority over others in order to dominate them and for their own self-interest, they can get away with it because it is more socially acceptable for males in most societies. But this kind of behavior from females is less tolerated and will not benefit them as much, so they will often be a lot more subtle than their male counterparts with their brand of manipulation – another reason they slip under the radar so often.
Other points of note:
Female narcissists will use their bodies to get what they want, in many cases, and this includes their sexuality.
Female narcissists are more likely to have an eating disorder than male narcissists.
Female narcissists are more likely to have issues with getting older, especially when they use their bodies or sexuality to get what they want.
Female narcissists are more likely to secure their supply sources at home by controlling their family directly and using guilt to help secure their control.
Female narcissists tend to be less openly over-confident than male narcissists, who get much of their over-inflated confidence from inside their own heads – but females are more likely to take secret pleasure in their own perceived superiority over others.
Female narcissists are more likely to spend money frivolously while males are more likely to believe that money gives them power, control, status, and related conditions. (Neither concerns himself/herself with shame or remorse, of course).
While both female and male narcs are known to cheat, males are more likely to be serial adulterers. Females are more likely to idealize a guy and then emasculate him when they get him under their “spell.” In both cases, the more their partners give, the more they want and take from them – it’s an insatiable need for supply.
Male narcissists often see their kids as mostly a problem or an annoyance that gets in their way, as well as competition for the attention of their main forms of narcissistic supply (generally their wives and mothers), while females are more likely see the kids as an extension of themselves, even well into adulthood. So when the kid does good things, narcissist moms take credit – and when they do things that mom doesn’t like, she will take it very personally even and maybe especially when whatever they did was obviously not related to the mother or her efforts in any way at all.
Male narcissists are likely to openly treat other men as rivals or competition, while females are more likely to go nose-to-nose with other women in a more underhanded way (which often resembles “friendship” to the untrained eye). In other words, they are lifelong “mean girls.”
While this list isn’t all-encompassing, it does offer you a general overview of both male and female narcissists and their various differences in behaviors.
(Prefer to watch/listen? See video on YouTube) Narcissists have this way of exploiting your need for connection. It’s part of how they get you stuck in toxic relationships and feeling like you can’t leave, even if money or family isn’t an issue.
See, as humans, we are wired to connect with other humans. In fact, according to scientist Matthew Lieberman, author of the 2013 book Social, it is as necessary for us as food and water. He notes that social pain (as in being snubbed or having someone say hurtful things to you in a social setting) is as real to us as physical pain.
Lieberman points out that phrases such as “that breaks my heart” and “that hurts my feelings” are cultural evidence of the fact that emotional pain is so significant. And he says that while we might not like it, our wellbeing as humans is literally directly affected in profound ways by our connections to other people. He says social pain IS real pain – so not connecting can be as detrimental to our physical and mental health as not eating healthy food.
And this is confirmed by the Canadian Mental Health Association, which notes in a 2019 report that connecting with other people is far more important than we might think. In fact, we are told that “social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve our immune systems.”
So literally, by not connecting with other people, we put our health at risk. In other words, the evidence shows that we NEED to connect with people in order to be relatively healthy. But when you’re dealing with a narcissist in a toxic relationship, you might often find yourself isolated and feeling very alone.
Worse, narcissists seem to instinctively exploit our basic human need for connection and use it against us to control and manipulate us. How? Well, let’s talk about it.
Narcissistic Abuse Affects Every Aspect of Your Life
Say the narcissist in your life is a partner or former partner. Do you remember the time when you were with that person and you thought that they were your soulmate? You could not believe that everything you loved, they loved, and everything you didn’t like, they didn’t either. And then they would be so sweet and charming until their narcissistic side came out. They were at first like a dream come true to you and became your worst nightmare.
While the narcissist cannot truly feel compassionate and emotional empathy, they certainly watch and learn what you like and how you want and need a connection. Therefore, the only type of empathy that the narcissist expresses is cognitive, superficial, and agenda-driven empathy. They simply just know that you have a need for connection. And they will do anything they can to exploit it.
But why would they do that? Let’s discuss it.
How Narcissists Exploit Your Need for Connection
How would it benefit a narcissist to exploit your need for connection? Two words: narcissistic supply – they need it. And they will whatever they need to get it – including pretending to care about you and expressing false empathy. Here are five different ways narcissists will exploit your need for connection.
1. Narcissists Idealize You
Most of us who end up in long-term relationships with narcissists have experienced at least some form of trauma in childhood. Often, our childhood experiences led us to become people-pleasers or codependents.
In so many cases, we also don’t truly see our value and we have rarely experienced unconditional love. We don’t know how it feels to have someone who is really “on our side” and we’ve rarely been given the opportunity to be the center of anyone’s attention. If we have, it has often been short-lived and spotty at best.
But when you first meet a narcissist, and they see you as a good source of supply, everything changes. The allure of love bombing and idealization – it’s powerful! Because for those of us who have had difficult upbringings, or who didn’t feel loved and seen by others, the kind of validation and perceived love that we get in the beginning of a toxic relationship is literally like a drug! It FEELS incredible and brings out all kinds of feel-good neurotransmitters in us. And since narcissists are so intense, we think we’ve practically won the lottery of soulmates.
We feel like we are walking on air! Not only will some narcissists go to extremes with wooing you, but during that idealization phase, they can literally make you feel you are the most important thing in the world. And when you’ve spent most of your life feeling like you aren’t important or like no one really “sees” you? Yeah. You’re going to fall in love, and fast. And how can you possibly run away from that since this is all a wonderful dream? This is how they trap you and you cannot help but fall for it because you are simply being treated like royalty. But all that is before the other shoe drops, which brings me to my next point.
2. Then They Devalue You
Once the narcissist has you in their trap, they will then show their true colors. They know you value your side of the relationship and while they’re intent on keeping you as a source of narcissistic supply, this is around the time that they notice that you have flaws – you know, that you’re human.
See, during the love-bombing and idealization phase, the narcissist is enamored with you – they can only see what is good about you. And since they lack object constancy, the moment they decide you are in fact human and they begin to mentally tally your flaws, the person you met initially seems to disappear. They start to criticize you, think less of you, and tell you all about it, one way or another.
You’ll start to be confused. You’ll try to figure out what you’re doing wrong, and you’ll do things to try to change yourself to be better for them. You’ll think it’s all your fault and that is partially because this is exactly what the narcissist wants you to think.
Plus, you’ll find that even when you do “fix” something the narcissist complains about, they’ll find something else that’s wrong. You cannot win. So, as you might imagine, this is when they begin to instill fear into you, make you insecure, and this is where the heavy-hitting manipulation tactics like gaslighting come into play.
All of this ends up confusing you to the point that you literally don’t even know which way is up sometimes. You feel like you aren’t capable of making your own choices and you start to lean on the narcissist more and more for affirmation of any decision you have to make. So, as you might imagine, you become increasingly dependent on the narcissist, despite the fact that they become increasingly cruel and negligent of you and the relationship you’re in.
They will play with your thoughts and feelings but will keep you afraid to do anything against their wishes because they also know at this point that you would never leave them because you just simply need a connection. You are dependant on them and they will abuse that and will abuse you. That means you at some point will fight back and this also provides them with the supply they need because even negative attention is still attention.
3. They Will Discard You If They Find New Supply
Even in a long-term relationship, narcissists always seem to be on the lookout for new supply. And while not all narcissists cheat, many or most do. And sadly, regardless of the level of commitment they’ve promised you and to which they’ve caused you to be obligated, the narcissist can easily disappear if they find a new source of narcissistic supply.
This is true even if they are still in a relationship with you. At this point, they might have even been cheating on you to find the new source. Because they can’t jump from one branch of a tree before they’ve got a good handle on the next – or, to put it more directly, they can’t ever be alone. So in most cases, they’ll hold on to you while they’re looking for their next victim.
And, of course, before they discard you, they will appear to act indifferent to you which will make you even more anxious. And this is another way the narcissist exploits your human need for connection.
See, because they know you fear that they will leave you – and they often do – they will manipulate you by giving intermittent reinforcement during this time. This is where they give you tiny glimpses of kindness, of love, and of that person you originally signed up to be with. You know – little “crumbs of affection,” just enough to keep you hooked and intermittently sprinkled between bouts of gaslighting and other forms of emotional and psychological abuse.
Often, this will lead to the narcissist ghosting you without warning – which will leave you confused, and if you are already dependent on them as it is, it will leave you frazzled, to put it mildly. A lot of times, what they want is for you to chase after them and to beg them to come back. And if you don’t, just wait – many, if not most, narcissists will come back around looking for more supply from you. We call that the hoover maneuver – and it means exactly what it sounds like. Just like a vacuum cleaner, the narcissist will try to “suck you back in.” You might even fall for it, thanks to that need for connection.
How to Deal When a Narcissist Has Exploited Your Need for Connection
With all of that being said, the best thing you can do for yourself if this happens is to never go back to a narcissist that discards you. If you are able to, go no contact. So so block them from your phone and platforms if they haven’t done that already to you. If you can’t go no contact because you have kids with this person, you can always go low-contact, meaning you can just only communicate with them about the business of raising the kids and never about emotional stuff.
(Prefer to watch/listen? See/hear on YouTube) If you’ve ever been in any kind of relationship with a narcissist – a toxic parent, friend or family member – or even a narcissistic ex – chances are that at least on some level, you found yourself feeling pretty alone in the world. If this person isn’t a family member, you might even find yourself thinking back and remembering the good old days when you might have had a best friend or even a whole group of them. And if the narcissist is or was a romantic partner, you may have had a family that cared about you, and other friends who had your back before you had met the narcissist.
But what happens all too often is that we get so wrapped up in these toxic relationships that we miss something really big – the fact that narcissists have this way of pushing people away from us. We are kept away from people in our lives who might either take our attention away from the narcissist or worse, who might support us against them once we realize exactly what we’re dealing with.
How Love-Bombing and Idealization Play Into Self-Isolation in Toxic Relationships
Now, at first, if this person is a friend or especially a romantic partner, this will seem almost natural. You might find yourself sort of foregoing time with others for a while, voluntarily. And this is pretty normal up to a point at the beginning of a new relationship. But when you’re dealing with a toxic narcissist, it isn’t just that you’re dealing with a normal sort of early-relationship infatuation. Instead, something much more sinister is going on.
On a deeper level, whether consciously or not, the narcissist has a goal to isolate you from others, both for the reasons I mentioned, as well as because it causes you to become more dependent on the narcissist. This ensures that not only will you stick around until they’re done with you, but also that you’ll be more easily controlled by the narcissist.
And, in so many cases, you might find yourself self-isolating as a result of emotional exhaustion that you deal with when you are constantly bombarded with the narcissistic manipulation tactics and games they play with your head. As if that wasn’t enough, you might also develop crippling social anxiety after or during a relationship with a narcissist.
Crippling Fear, Shame and Guilt Related to Narcissistic Abuse Leads to Self-Isolation
And, if you’re like a lot of narcissistic abuse victims and survivors, you won’t always feel comfortable discussing it with the people you’re close to, not to mention anyone else. If you’re being honest, the truth is that even though you do your best to put on a good front and generally appear to be totally fine, and even though you’re totally capable of engaging in friendly conversation (and have good social skills), there can be an underlying feeling of isolation when you’re in a relationship with a toxic, controlling narcissist – one that feels sort of like a dull ache. You know it’s there, and you want to soothe it, but you also feel like you’re not really equipped to do so.
You feel like you can’t trust anyone, not even yourself, thanks to months or years of gaslighting and manipulation. And listen, my friend – you’re not alone here. So often, I hear this from my clients – they feel like they don’t even know how to be vulnerable anymore – and they find themselves feeling very gunshy, constantly on alert.
Do you know how it feels? It’s where you carry a lot of tension in your body. You have aches and pains and you’re tired. Your stomach is weird. You’re always in “fight or flight” mode, or worse, you freeze. In fact, I’d venture to guess that you sometimes forget how to even talk about yourself, much less how to connect with others on a deep level. Even the idea of having to put yourself together enough to go to the grocery store might feel like too much.
Narcissistic Abuse Takes a Toll on Your Whole Life
See, emotional abuse (not to mention physical and even deeper forms of psychological abuse such as gaslighting) can really teach us to shut up – to stop talking about ourselves – and this leads to our becoming paralyzed in certain ways – one of which is developing the need to be alone! So, we self-isolate and even though we might feel lonely on occasion, we feel safer this way – or at least we think we’re less stressed. This will prove to be a false sense of peace, on some level, since isolating ourselves can be dangerous for our physical and mental health.
And the really messed up part of all of this is that if and when we do find the strength to leave the narcissist, we look around and find that we’re all alone. Our family might be estranged, our best friends have moved on and we don’t even have anyone to invite out for a cup of coffee.
But how is it that the narcissist is able to have such power over you? Maybe you were previously the sort of person who had decent friends and at least a few connections.
The Underhanded Ways Narcissists Make You Self-Isolate
Just like other kinds of narcissistic abuse and manipulation, it’s all very sneaky and subtle, especially if you aren’t watching for it. And the narcissist rarely just comes right out and says, “You need to dump everyone in your life in order to be with me.” In fact, they might even straight up tell you that they LOVE your friends and family members. They might charm them and get them on their side, even. And at first, the people in your life who go along with the narcissist and fall for their charm might be safe – especially if the narcissist can get them to team up with them against you. This might be a little joke at first, but the narcissist hopes for (and sometimes gets) a good flying monkey out of that deal – you know, someone who will assist them in their smear campaign later.
But there will be many people in your life who, initially or over time, might admit to you that they really don’t like the narcissist, or who actively challenge them. They might refuse to “get” the narcissist’s bad jokes, or actively question them when they sense that the narcissist is lying or hiding details. Or, there might people who will act protective of you, like that one friend who sweetly gets up in the narcissist’s face the first time they meet him or her and says something like, “I really like you but if you hurt my friend, I’ll rain down on you like the wrath of a thousand bumblebees,” or whatever.
These people are a problem for the narcissist, because not only might they point out that you’re being emotionally and psychologically abused or manipulated, but they might even help you stand up to the narcissist and get you away from them. Since this would foil their evil plan to dominate and control you, the narcissist sees them as a threat and needs to eliminate them from the equation. And, as I’m guessing you’re painfully aware of by now, there’s no level to which they won’t stoop to get what they want.
Five Things Narcissists Say to Make You Self-Isolate During a Toxic Relationship
So how do you know if this is happening to you? I know, you’re probably thinking it should be obvious when it’s happening, right? But it isn’t, not always, because narcissists can be very subtle and sneaky – and because narcissistic abuse is so pervasive and confusing that you sometimes don’t even know it’s happening to you WHILE you’re in the middle of it. That’s why I’m going to share five things that narcissists will say and do to cause you to self-isolate during a toxic relationship.
1. You’re my person. I’ll always be there for you.
If the narcissist is not a parent or family member, the love-bombing or idealization phase will be the stuff of legends and romcoms alike. Believe it or not, one of the biggest ways non-family narcissists get you to self-isolate is by promising you that they’ll always be there for you – and that they’ll always have your back. It is often the first thing they will audibly say that will lead to this unfortunate situation.
Why? Because a lot of people who end up in relationships with narcissists were also raised by toxic people and/or suffered trauma during childhood that led to them feeling alone in the world. Without realizing it, this leads us to desperately seek someone who is willing to be “our person,” as in, someone for whom we are the most important person in their lives. And, whether or not this person is toxic, because of our own issues developed in childhood, we are at tremendous risk of becoming codependent. This means that we grew up in such a way that we didn’t feel loved and supported – and we are so happy and surprised that someone wants to be “our person” finally, we allow ourselves to be seduced and hooked by the idea of it.
2. This person doesn’t like me, and you need to choose: me or them.
Ah, yes – the good old “me or them” thing – the ultimate ultimatum that no one should ever have to deal with. But sadly, this is another common thing that narcissists say to make you isolate yourself from your family. Not only do they want you to not be with your friends, but they don’t want you to have anything to do with your family, especially when they might emotionally (or otherwise) support you in any way. They will manipulate you into believing that your family or friends don’t seem to like them – or they will DO something to ensure that this is the case. And whether anyone they’re pushing away actually said or indicated any issues with the narcissist won’t matter. The narcissist will literally say whatever they need to say to get your full and undivided attention – at least when and if they want it. Of course, if you don’t immediately dump the offending person, the narcissist, without remorse, will pull out the old narcissistic injury card and tell you how hurt they would be if they were forced to leave you for not dumping this person. You’re put in a position that leaves you with almost no choice.
3. Your best friend did something awful…I just thought you should know.
As you know, narcissists are pathological liars and at times, they are so good at it that they could even pass a lie detector test. That’s because they have a very limited ability to empathize on a genuine level – and because they aren’t likely to feel remorse. This is especially true when they feel upset and threatened, which they are bound to do when you’re close to someone who isn’t them. And your friends, especially your best friend, can become a serious threat to the narcissist’s sense of control. That’s why the narcissist will do the unthinkable to push them away.
For example, the narcissist might make you isolate from your friends by telling you that they are saying not so nice things behind your back. And you might believe them because since they’ll focus this little campaign on your shortcomings and/or insecurities. For instance, if you have a habit of laughing nervously, the narcissist will pick that up and not hesitate to tell you that your friends make fun of how you do that laugh. You know you laugh that way…and you can’t help yourself at times, therefore, you would immediately believe what the narcissist says. That will make you cut your friends off.
Or, and this is the worst, they might make up a story about a specific friend. It might be a total lie, but the narcissist will throw in enough “facts” and so-called evidence that you’ll at least doubt the person in question, if not totally fall for it. For example, they might say your best friend made an inappropriate move on them in some way. This will follow the narcissist having told you (or your friend) that they found the friend attractive. Then, they might have started little innocent flirtations in front of you and later confided to you that your friend made a comment that turned them on or that they saw or heard something that otherwise got their attention.
Even if you don’t believe it at first, this could cause you to have doubts about them as people which will in the end cause you to pull away from them. And along with your own mind’s ability to connect details and to feel protective of your relationship, this will change the way you feel about your friend – and that will lead to a moment of desperation in which you cut off contact – either directly or indirectly. You’ll lose touch and before you know it, you don’t even know each other anymore. Meanwhile, the narcissist is getting exactly what they want – you, isolated and under their full control.
4. Your family doesn’t think much of you, do they?
Whether your family is amazing and supportive or painfully toxic, the narcissist doesn’t want them in the way. That’s why they will often say things to you about how they notice that your family does not respect you in any way or form. Or they’ll say your family uses you, or that they don’t care about you at all.
They’ll say that they’ve seen this before, and they’ll point out little idiosyncrasies that you’ll start to hyperfocus on (such as the way your mom’s left eye twitches every time you talk about your relationship or the way your sister rolls her eyes when you talk about your dream of writing the great American novel). And to really put the nail in this coffin, the narcissist will do their best to exacerbate and exaggerate actual issues that you have shared with them about different people in your family. They’ll amplify and magnify anything you’ve shared and actively cultivate doubt, anger, and the feeling of betrayal in your mind. This will begin to poke at you over time. The narcissist will keep pushing it, maybe even blatantly lying and saying things that aren’t true, or things that have a whisper of truth to them, such as pointing out how the family is always talking about you behind your back.
And since you already know that every family talks about its members among themselves, you’ll assume they’re telling the truth. Why wouldn’t you? What kind of person would want to intentionally push someone’s family away from them? (Yes, that was a touch of sarcasm.) But, all joking aside, you will find yourself falling for this stuff, especially during the love-bombing or idealization phase. If it happens later, you might even push the family away in order to show the narcissist how loyal you are to them or even to get them off your back. But only rarely will you consciously understand what is going on while it’s happening, because the narcissist can be so sneaky and subtle in their manipulation.
5. I’m the only one who really loves you, you know. It’s us against the world!
This kind of manipulation might look different in different relationships. For example, let’s say the narcissist in your life is your spouse or partner. They pulled you in with promises of having someone “on your side,” of a “soulmate” or whatever your version of that was – but ultimately, you were brought in thinking you were getting your dream person. So, they’ll pull the old “us against the world” thing, which will initially feel really good to you because you’ll feel like you belong somewhere and are a part of something special – maybe for the first time in your life. Or, if your narcissist was your parent or parental figure, it looked more like “I’m the only person who REALLY loves you so you better do exactly what I want or you risk being completely abandoned in the world.”
And in either case, it looks like “if you don’t do what I want, you will be alone” – and the narcissist KNOWS instinctively that everyone’s secretly afraid, at least on some level, of ending up completely alone and unloved in the world – whether we admit it or not. So, in order to properly secure you as a source of narcissistic supply, they’ll play on your very human fear of abandonment. And if you do happen to have a touch of codependency in you, this will feel like a life or death decision, which the narcissist will seduce you into making before you even realize what has happened.
Bottom Line: Narcissists make you self-isolate for control, manipulation and to secure you as narcissistic supply.
In the end, just know that without hesitation or remorse, the narcissist can easily and methodically manipulate you into believing that your friends and family are no good for you for one reason or another. You will believe the narcissist either because you’re head-over-heels in love with them, or you will do it out of fear because you don’t want to lose them. Of course, once you see the truth, that they are abusive and toxic, it’ll be too late, because they have managed to make you push everyone out of your life and you’ll be alone. This will leave you struggling to find support and, if the narcissist has their way, without access to the help you need to get out of the relationship.
If this situation sounds familiar to you and you’re struggling to figure out how to deal with it, you might want to watch this video, which I’ll also link in the description.
Why do narcissists destroy their families?If you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, then you know how damaging it can really become. And if you have or had a narcissist in the family, then you know how distressing their presence really is to everyone involved. If you dealt with a narcissistic ex, whether you got married to them or not, you might also be well-aware of the way they treat their families. If you had a narcissistic parent, you saw that they were not capable of giving you love and care as you needed to grow up healthy and secure.
So my guess is that if you do or did have a toxic family member, you are probably well-aware of the fact that your average narcissist isn’t capable of being consistently kind to their family. And, in so many cases, they will even be worse to certain members of the family, for various reasons.
The Toxic Family Structure
There’s something weird that happens when you’re dealing with toxic parents: a sort of a different kind of family structure evolves – one that is way outside of what you might consider the spectrum of normal healthy families. I call it “toxic family structure.” What that means is that in most cases, a family led by a narcissist will involve a certain cast of players.
This will include, of course, the Narcissist (or the toxic person the family revolves around), Enabler (often the other parent who may willingly or unwillingly support the narcissist), Golden Child (the child who gets all the positive attention and who often lives with extreme pressure from both the parents who want them to succeed or be perfect as well as the siblings who feel jealous or slighted by this attention that is so opposite of the attention they get), Scapegoat (the problem child/the one everyone blames for everything) and Lost Child (the invisible one who doesn’t get in much trouble or who is largely ignored due to attention to the golden child and the direct abuse of the scapegoat).
5 Ways Narcissists Abuse and Neglect Their Families
Yes, narcissists treat their family members terribly. Let’s break down why they do.
1. A Family Member Is Always Scapegoated By The Narcissist
As you know, narcissists do not treat their family members well at all, and if they do have a favorite, it is not for legitimate reasons. They see their favorite as an endless source of narcissistic supply. Even their favorite family member is used and taken advantage of in cruel ways.
With that being said, there is always a family member that is scapegoated by the narcissist. This often happens among narcissistic parents, for example. There is one child that is their favorite, and there is the other child that is their scapegoat. They will not hesitate to blame the scapegoated child for anything and everything and ends up dealing with abuse.
Also known as the black sheep, the scapegoat is the person in the toxic family structure who always gets blamed for everything that goes wrong for everyone, a member of a family, or a group. The black sheep is usually considered the outcast, the “bad kid” or a straight-up disgrace to the family. A scapegoat may have the following traits:
Internalizes blame easily
Protective, or overprotective of friends, strangers, etc.
The scapegoat often becomes the caregiver of the family and they’re likely to question everything – including authority (which adds to their pain in the family). And of course, they seem to be different or to stick out from the rest of the family in some way.
But the “golden” child or the “favored” one has a different cross to bear. The golden child might seem to have a sweet deal, but they live in fear of letting their narcissistic parent down because they could end up with the same type of abuse as well. And it could happen. In fact, in many families, the roles are interchangeable and dependent on the narcissist’s perception of each family member in any given moment.
2. Narcissists Don’t Hesitate To Blame Their Family Members For Things Going Wrong
If a narcissist runs into a problem, they will not hesitate to blame the scapegoated family member for the problem they face even if it had nothing to do with them. And they could also lash out at other family members, but the scapegoated one would take the brunt of it. They deflect, blame-shift, and refuse to take responsibility. It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak.
3. Narcissists Don’t Treat Their Families With Any Respect
Narcissist family members will speak rudely and will speak in any manner they choose to their family members which undoubtedly is in a way that lacks respect. They can appear charming, generous, and kind to those outside of their family who they are trying to impress so they gain something from them which is praise and recognition. And if these individuals ever spoke to the narcissist’s family members, they would not believe how badly they are treated by the individual who is so ‘charming and kind’.
4. The Narcissist Will Not Hesitate To Push Through Boundaries That Their Family Members Put Up
You already know that narcissists do not treat their families with kindness and respect. You know they will speak to them in very unkind and disrespectful ways. That also means that they will push through any boundaries that their family members put up. For instance, if one family member demands privacy while they are on the phone, the narcissist will ignore that request. They will barge into the room where the family member is making the phone call if they need to get something – or even just to prove a point. They will step on anyone and everyone they call family, without regard for the person or their feelings, in order to meet their own wants and needs. in other words, they do not care how you feel and you can tell by the way they treat you.
5. You Can’t Trust Your Toxic Narcissistic Family Member.
While the narcissist in your family will require absolute loyalty and confidentiality from you, you won’t get the same from them. There are several reasons you cannot trust your narcissistic family member.
If you were to go against your narcissistic family member’s wishes, then they won’t hesitate to go out of their way to ruin your reputation. They will share private information about you that can be damaging through their social media platforms and they will even contact your boss and tell them reasons why they should fire you. You cannot trust a narcissistic family member in that way as they will definitely share anything damaging about you.
And don’t share your secrets with them!
You can never confide in a narcissistic family member whatsoever. Even if you did not let them down and they aren’t going to conduct a smear campaign, they will still leak out your secrets. Especially if those secrets are the key to giving them the supply they need. They have no integrity.
You have to remember that narcissists are master liars and will never be truthful about anything unless it suits them in the moment – and sometimes, they lie just for the sake of lying. That’s why you should pretty much always assume whatever they tell you is questionable, at the very least. You cannot consistently expect honesty from a narcissistic family member.
From here on out, just be very careful if you’re dealing with a narcissist in the family. They are bound to hurt you in one way or another, and never think they won’t. Even if they say they won’t and have your best interest at heart, they have no idea what that even means.