How to Survive a Relationship with a Narcissist - Part Three
Welcome back to the third segment on my series on narcissism! Last time, we dug a little deeper into the tools that narcissists use to undermine and overpower their victims in relationships.
This time, I’ll share more ways they manage to short-circuit our natural warning systems and infiltrate our life through control and intimidation. Sounds like fun, right?
Well, in all seriousness, there’s nothing fun about being in a relationship with a narcissist. Whether they are a spouse, a family member, dating partner, friend, employee or boss, they can make your life a living hell.
The best way to counteract a narcissist is to understand their go-to methods of manipulation and undermining tactics that they employ to erode whatever sense of well-being and self-confidence you have. As I mentioned last time, self-confidence is their nemesis and they will have none of it!
They desperately need that feeling of power they get over controlling another person’s thoughts and actions, so they can feel a sense of self-worth.
We noted four of them last time. Projection, Gaslighting, Reframing and Isolation.
Their ultimate goal is to undermine your sense of confidence and encourage you to look to them for your sense of self-esteem
The next tool in their toolbelt is the act of Moving the Goal Posts.
Because their ultimate goal is to undermine your sense of confidence and encourage you to look to them for your sense of self-esteem, it’s in their best interest to constantly pick at everything you do.
They’ll dole out praise sparingly, making sure you are always falling just a little bit short of actually reaching the expectations they’ve set for you, either in pleasing them directly or achieving any other important goal you’re focused on. This is done specifically so you’ll develop a dependency on them.
If you finally DO reach the desired goal? They’ll immediately move the bar higher, setting you off on another long and frustrating road toward unattainable acceptance and love. The key thing here is understanding that they want your mind and heart focused solely on things that serve them, not questioning their demeaning or unloving behavior.
One of the pillars of a narcissist’s personality, the role of victim falls neatly in line with their strict avoidance of taking responsibility for their actions.
If, during this period of time, you stray a bit and still question their behavior, you will probably be given a serious dose of ‘Victimhood’. One of the pillars of a narcissist’s personality, the role of victim falls neatly in line with their strict avoidance of taking responsibility for their actions. If they aren’t responsible for negative circumstances in their lives, then they can only be considered a victim, complete with its pain, trials and tribulations.
Their intent is to call on your sense of empathy and protectiveness. Think about it! When you are in a state of empathy, truly worrying about a person’s well-being, the last thing you’re thinking about is holding them accountable for quote, “situations outside of their control”, right?
BINGO! You’re hooked!
This is difficult for those of us who are nurturer’s and just want to help. While we’re doing it for positive reasons, we’re also falling
quickly into the quicksand of a narcissists ploy.
But, let’s say you don’t fall for the victimhood ploy and continue the quest to hold a narcissist’s feet to the fire on the issue of accountability? Well, better strap yourself in my friend, because the fireworks are REALLY going to start flying now!
If they sense you aren’t 100% falling into lockstep with them, they’ll take a sudden and decidedly new tactic.
It’s called “rage aggression”.
This tool can come in various shapes and forms, but they all have one thing in common – to put you in your place.
This can come via verbal threats, name-calling, even physical stalking. Their need to get control over you is so strong that an almost primal panic comes over them.
Toxic narcissists can act like a cornered animal when their excessive sense of entitlement and false sense of bravado are put to the test.
Toxic narcissists can act like a cornered animal when their excessive sense of entitlement and false sense of bravado are put to the test. They will do whatever they have to in order to disempower you (thereby falsely empowering themselves).
They’ll do it by whatever means necessary including undermining your credibility, smearing your personal or business reputation or by physically creating fear for your personal safety.
Essentially a narcissist is a “bully on acid.”
Many LOVE to intimidate through rage. Often, with no warning or reasoning for that level of reaction. It’s meant to take you off guard, confuse you and deflect your thinking into self-protection instead of calling out the REAL source of the behavior. It also gives the narcissist time to re-group and form a new line of defense while you’re still in shock over the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde re-enactment.
After a while, victims become desensitized to questioning the jabs, put-down’s, condescending comments and shaming behavior that narcissists use to demean and they eventually go into an “acceptance phase” where they just try to find peace however, and whenever, they can, while staying under the narcissists rage radar.
But they have another tool in their tool bag that’s just as devastating.
Have you ever dated someone in your life who spent a lot of effort to convince you how nice or trustworthy they were? This tool is what psychologists call a “Preemptive Defense” that narcissists use to artificially develop a sense of trust in their victims.
But, be wary of anyone that tries to rush the process of getting to know you or move you into a deeper relationship than you aren’t truly ready for.
As I’ve said before, narcissists can be extremely charming, with gregarious personalities that draw us in. But, be wary of anyone that tries to rush the process of getting to know you or move you into a deeper relationship than you aren’t truly ready for.
Essentially, narcissists who use the preemptive defense are trying to overstate or misrepresent their tendencies as a compassionate, kind and loving person. It’s meant to add to the confusion once the real personality starts to emerge.
As human beings, we always want to believe in the best of people. If we have at least a few positive experiences with a person, we tend to think that’s the real personality, even if we have more than enough negative behavior to contradict that assumption.
By now, you should be seeing a definitive pattern emerging when dealing with the narcissistic personality. You’ve got some great insight on the tools they use, but what specific practices can you put in play to protect yourself?
Next week, I’ll put this all together for you and create a game plan that can help you stand your ground, counter destructive narcissistic tactics and protect yourself from unwanted and harmful narcissistic relationships.
If you think you’re in a narcissistic relationship that you need a little extra coaching help with, I'm here to help! I conduct coaching sessions by phone or by Zoom session to ensure the health and safety of my clients.
To schedule, go to https://www.turningpointscoaching.com/book-online
In the meantime…stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!