What happens when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out?

Written by Angela Atkinson

Have you ever felt like you knew too much – that the narcissist’s façade wasn’t as impenetrable as they would have liked it to seem? There comes a time in every narcissist-victim relationship when the victim becomes aware that their partner is not at all who they “signed up for.” That instead of being compassionate and understanding, loving and kind, the narcissist is actually a selfish, deceitful person who is not only a pathological liar but one who lacks emotional and compassionate empathy and operates from that perspective.

If you’ve been through this the way that I and every other survivor of narcissistic abuse have, this realization rips down many layers of your world since until that point everything had been seen with rose-colored glasses. Almost as if someone has awoken from a dream into reality. You end up having to sit down and figure out if you REALLY believe what you think you believe.

What happens when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out?

If you’re dealing with someone who has narcissistic tendencies, you might suspect they have narcissistic personality disorder. And there might be a big part of you that hopes that if you just TELL the narcissist what you have figured out, they’ll be happy to go to therapy and resolve the issue. Anyone in narcissistic relationship recovery has probably hoped for this at one time or another. But the reality of narcissistic personality disorder is not so simple. In this video, I’ll fill you in on exactly what you can expect when the narcissist learns that you’ve figured them out.

Additional Insight Into the Psychology of Narcissistic Abuse 

When it comes to narcissists and the psychology of narcissistic abuse, there is a LOT to unpack. In addition to the codependency factor, it can help to understand the way the narcissist’s mind works as a result of their narcissistic personality disorder or narcissistic tendencies. In addition to the points made in the video, keep the following in mind.

Narcissists Keep You Off-Balance to Control You

Narcissists are experts at keeping you off balance. They do it by going from blissful to angry, from affectionate to critical, from loving to distant – all at the drop of a hat and without warning. Do they do this on purpose, or is something else going on? That will often depend on a couple of factors: where they fall on the so-called Cluster B spectrum, and how intelligent they are. Plus, some studies suggest, how prominent the “dark triad” traits are in their psychological makeup.

In fact, while they do seem to have a common “narcissist playbook,” one of their favorite games to play with their victims is to throw you off balance by intentionally doing what you won’t expect. In other words, you can expect the unexpected from a narcissist.

If the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out, they will likely react in one of two ways:

  • They may try to become even more charming, flattering and seductive than before. The narcissist will be desperate for your attention, for your admiration, and for your love. They want to convince you that nothing has changed even though it is painfully obvious that something has. Narcissists are a lot like drug addicts in this way: when their narcissistic supply is cut off, they’ll do anything to get more.
  • They may try to go back into “stealth” mode and make up for the lost time. They will act like everything is fine and that there’s no need for concern on your part. But this phase won’t last long either because they have left a trail of broken hearts and devastated relationships behind them. If the narcissist tries this tactic, be on high alert for gaslighting and other techniques used to create confusion and doubt about what happened.

Why do narcissists act the way they do?

  • Narcissism is a defense mechanism that is meant to deflect hurt and rejection. It’s a way of saying, “See, look at all these great qualities I have! You should really be glad to be in my presence and love me. So why aren’t you?”
  • Narcissists survive on attention and positive reinforcement from others. They are highly sensitive to criticism of any kind and are unable to cope well with the feelings of shame it creates for them.
  • When a narcissist gets upset, their feelings get hurt quickly and easily because they lack an empathetic inner voice that we all have that helps us regulate negative emotions.
  • They are easily triggered into feeling self-pity or devolve into narcissistic rage (a very intense reaction).
  • Their extreme sensitivity makes them prone to rage when they aren’t getting the attention they desire or aren’t made out to be the center of attention. While at times it may seem as if they are overreacting, this is provoked by a myriad of factors on the inside that we are not privy to – factors like shame, envy, and more. One way of coping is for a narcissist to resort to blame-shifting tactics so that their ego and false self can be preserved.

Behind the Narcissist’s Mask (False Self)

Let’s take a peek at the narcissist’s “true self,” which is usually only revealed to those closest to them and anyone else with whom they have serious conflict.

When the narcissist’s mask falls away, the matrix of mirrors it provided to the outside world disappears. This can mean the narcissist sort of “reverts” and becomes a less evolved version of who they could be.

While the narcissist may seem quite self-assured, the truth is that their own trauma has likely led them to be secretly afraid of their true self being revealed and either attacked – or perhaps more painfully, completely unseen and ignored.

The narcissist has been sort of “feeding off” the emotional energy (and narcissistic supply) of you and anyone else who was unlucky enough to be close to them for so long precisely because they kept everyone at arm’s length while presenting their false persona to those around them.

The minute they felt that you might have the ability to see through their lies, or that their facade started to show cracks, the narcissist realized that in some way, you were the enemy to their false self. This made them feel entitled to actively and regularly dump their emotional garbage on you, which nearly inevitably leads to more intense and painful emotional damage for you.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

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



  • Angela Atkinson

    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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