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.
If you’re already out and beginning to heal, then you already know! (This video goes into more detail on this topic.)
Question of the Day: Have you ever experienced a narcissist who snapped and lost control? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.
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.
- Free: Join one of our online support groups!
- Low-Cost: Join one of our private small coaching groups!
- Reasonably Priced: Get private, one-on-one coaching!
You might also find these videos helpful:
- Going No Contact with a Narcissist (What NO ONE Tells YOU) -**NEW**
- The Narcissist Underestimates You
- When You See the Narcissist After No Contact
- Narcissists Make You Feel Lonely (THIS is WHY and HOW)
- The #1 Thing a Narcissist Will NEVER Give You (No Matter What)
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 at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.