How does a narcissist react when they can’t control you anymore?

Written by Angela Atkinson

How does a narcissist react when they can’t control you anymore? Narcissists need to be in control of you when you’re among their sources of narcissistic supply. This becomes apparent when you look at how they engage in emotional abuse, fulfilling their need to be adored and idolized in a way that keeps their partners (and other loved ones) in check.

So, it’s in a narcissist’s nature to use gaslighting and other forms of manipulation to maintain control. But what happens when someone is so used to having control over everything that they’ve lost all sense of what it means to compromise? What happens when a narcissist loses control completely? 

What is a narcissist?

A narcissist is a person who has an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with themselves. When this self-love and obsession with their own excellence becomes pathological, it manifests in displaying grandiosity, entitlement, and a lack of empathy for others. They may just display narcissistic traits or they could be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder

How does a narcissist react when they can’t control you anymore?

  • The lack of control combined with the thought that you might be going off and having a life that they don’t know about drives them into a fit of narcissistic rage
  • The narcissist may start acting incredibly hostile and manipulative. 
  • They tend to become irrational, emotional, pushy and demanding.
  • They may show signs of physical aggression
  • They might even threaten to take their own life if they feel that they’re being left behind or not getting their way.

And while these may seem like strange reactions, they might make more sense than you expect. In order to fully understand what happens when narcissists lose control, we must first understand the reasons why they need control so badly.
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Why do narcissists need to be in control?

It’s not surprising that narcissists feel the need to take charge of every situation, as well as everyone around them, in order to feel like they’re in control.

Toxic people (including narcissists) also tend to be extremely envious which makes them feel inadequate or unworthy. They constantly seek reassurance from others that they are special.

Because of this, they can’t stand the thought of others being better than them at anything. This is why it’s common for individuals with narcissistic personality disorder to berate their partners, children, and other family members or friends for any reason. In their minds, consciously or otherwise, doing so makes them look superior to everyone else – which, sadly, makes them feel better about themselves.

When someone with narcissistic tendencies begins to lose control over something or someone important to them, they can become extremely upset and angry, eventually lashing out at the person or thing they previously controlled.

Narcissists need control because they feel like they don’t have it in other parts of their lives. This usually begins in childhood, as narcissists are often victims themselves of narcissistic abuse as children. When they can’t control their own lives anymore, they might become very dangerous people.

The psychology of narcissism is very complex but an integral part of narcissistic personality disorder is the need to gain and regain control over others. There’s a standard pattern a narcissist will use when they lose control over you. 

What Happens When A Narcissist Can No Longer Control You?

Let’s say that you have figured the narcissist out, and you have realized the hard way that someone you believed in and trusted turned out to be a complete nightmare, to put it mildly. Now that you have seen through the mask and understand what the narcissist is all about, you have set your boundaries. You are no longer letting that narcissist control you. And while you already know that you should expect some kind of retaliation, you are worried about what comes next. And, given what you’ve been through, who could blame you?

So, what does the narcissist do when they can’t control you anymore? Let’s talk about it.

The Narcissist Will Begin A Smear Campaign Against You

The first thing they will do is utilize the smear campaign tactic. They will never accept the fact that they cannot control you. This means the narcissist will find other ways to be controlling. They will demean you, ruin your reputation, and they might even intentionally expose any sensitive private information about you to everyone who knows you – and even to some people who don’t.

And because the narcissist is so good at believing their own lies, they’ll seem genuine. They will seem like they’re “worried about you” or just so “shocked you’d do something like this.” In other words, they’ll play this game in a way that makes it believable – which means your reputation will be ruined in no time.

The Narcissist Will Play The Victim

During and after the smear campaign, the narcissist will play the victim. They’ll act like you’re the one who caused the whole issue, and/or they’ll pretend that you just went crazy and ran away.

By going to others causing them to feel sorry for them, they reiterate their point: they believe that they have been “wronged” by you. Yes, they will take advantage of that “poor me” act and they will do this without remorse, for as long as they want.

An added benefit of this tactic is that it helps them get some replacement narcissistic supply in the meantime. The people they whine about you to will of course be sympathetic towards them – because, after all, the narcissist actually has convinced themselves that what they’re saying is true.

So even the most skilled empath can’t tell that they’re lying in some cases – which means they will happily dole out the attention that the narcissist craves.

The Narcissist Will Refuse To Take No For An Answer

Some very tenacious narcissists will never accept the fact that they can no longer control you. Rather than just backing off, these particular narcissists will instead step up their game.

They will utilize manipulation tactics such as showing up unexpectedly at your doorstep, or they might even show up at your job to make it clear that they will always be in control.

They might even actually stalk you and literally show up whenever they want in an effort to send the message that they will always be the ones in charge.

They will call you in an apparent emergency and try to get your attention that way.

They’ll make stuff up as to why you need to come back and provide the narcissistic supply they are missing. This is what we call the hoover maneuver – because they are trying to “suck you back into” the toxic relationship.

The Narcissist Will Ghost You

If you can hold out and get through all of that stuff, you’ll finally be rid of the narcissist because, once their little bag of tricks is empty, they’ll ghost you. This is the best-case scenario because the narcissist will be out of your life.

Eventually, you’ll be lucky enough that they will realize you’re truly done, and they’ll just go dark for you. This is because, without another move to make, they might just finally give up and move on to a different source of supply.

You can bet you won’t get closure, though. And you can expect they will continue to tell sob stories and spread lies about you to anyone who will listen. But at least they’ll be leaving you alone. At least you’ll have peace, finally.

Since they realized that the narcissistic supply that you used to give them sort of “ran out,” they will focus on someone else for a while. Fair warning here: don’t be surprised if, at a later date, the narcissist shows up again looking for more supply from you – they’ll try to suck you back in with a standard hoover maneuver. This is usually because they are bored with, angry at, or in some way removed from their new source of narcissistic supply.

How Do You Deal With the Narcissist’s Retaliation? 

So, now that you know what to expect when the narcissist knows they’ve lost control of you, you’re probably wondering what you’re supposed to do next. Well, I want you to keep standing behind your boundaries. I want you to stay focused on yourself and your healing. I want you to keep control of yourself and your own life. If you’ve gone no contact, I want you to stick it out.

Use the Gray Rock Method

Take yourself out of the narcissist’s so-called harem by refusing to give them narcissistic supply. Use the gray rock (grey rock) method – a shockingly simple but effective technique that was named and first published by a writer called Skylar, who advises that you act boring and don’t react to the narcissist’s attempts to engage you in drama. The tactic is highly effective but also infuriating for narcissists to experience. Note: do not use this method if you are dealing with any physical abuse as the narcissist may not react well. Learn more about how to use the gray rock method.

Watch for Flying Monkeys

You should also keep an eye out for flying monkeys – the people who will happily do the narcissist’s bidding for them. These are the ones who try to talk to you on behalf of the narcissist or who try to convince you to see them. They’re the ones who take whatever you tell them and run back to the narcissist with it.

Steer clear of areas you know they’ll be and keep your business to yourself. If you are worried about your physical safety, do not hesitate to contact the authorities and do whatever you need to do to get and stay safe.

Ultimately, though, it’s important to see this for what it is.  For just a moment, I want you to look at this whole thing from a different perspective.

Recognize That You’re In Control

The thing is that if you’ve managed to get away from the narcissist and out from under their proverbial thumb, it means you’ve taken back control of your own life. And if the narcissist pulls all of their standard tricks, you have to know you’re already succeeding in your goal to free yourself from the burden of being their source of narcissistic supply. You have to know that you’re actually already winning this so-called game.

How do I know this? Because the narcissist tells you with their behavior. Think about it for a second: the narcissist has recognized that they can no longer control you, and their reactions are literal proof of that. Do you see what I mean?

Considering that fact, I want you to recognize that you’re the one in control now – even as they desperately try to maintain it. And rather than feel weak and afraid, I want you to feel strong and empowered by these behaviors. Recognize them for what they are: a pathetic attempt to claw their way back into your life. These behaviors – these patterns – are a clear reaction to the narcissist recognizing that YOU HAVE TAKEN BACK YOUR POWER!

And listen, my friend: the only way you can lose now is by letting them back into your life. Not that I’m the sort of person who would ever recommend revenge of a standard nature, but if you ever wished you could get revenge against the person who ruined your life, here’s the key: live your life well and happily without them. Pretend they don’t exist. Live like they don’t matter. Be happy, and be unencumbered by their toxic energy. That is the very, very best way you can win this whole toxic game – by living a life you love, a life that you create and choose. Are you with me?

Embrace Your Power!

Take the time to recognize that you no longer need to give your power away to the narcissist. Recognize that you have every right to make your own choices, to like and love what and who you want, and to be the best, most fulfilled version of yourself in any given moment. It’s an amazing feeling, my friend, and I want you to have it too.

Question of the day: Have you ever experienced seeing a narcissist lose control of you or someone else in their lives? How did it play out? How did you deal with it? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comment section below this video and let’s talk about it.

You might also be interested in this video: What Narcissists Do: 23 Lies They Tell and Secrets They Keep.

Read more: How I Stopped Being Controlled by a Narcissist (Story Time)

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist.

You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s free. Are you looking for more personal support? You might like to join one of our private small-group coaching sessions, or you might prefer to check out our one-on-one narcissistic abuse recovery counseling and coaching sessions. 

Remember that online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

 

Author

  • Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor 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 personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own. Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, 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. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at QueenBeeing.com and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.

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