Searching for ways to outsmart a narcissist?
How many times have you engaged in frustrating arguments with a narcissistic individual, only to come to self-defeating “compromises” in which they made you feel utterly responsible for their relationship crimes (and possibly had you apologizing for their errors)?
Have you forgiven the narcissist a ridiculous number of times for lying, cheating, watching porn, and frequent disappearing acts, yet came away with preposterous so-called “resolutions” that you’d be mortified to share with your closest friend?
How often have you settled into a false sense of security after the narcissist apologized and hoovered you, only to get punched in the gut when you discovered they were still cheating, and in fact, never stopped?
If this sounds like your life, following are some manipulation hacks that you can use starting today:
Cheap shots and Blame-shifting
Narcissists are so good at getting away with blame-shifting because their targets actually spend time reflecting on how their own behaviors affect the people in their lives. For example, if the person you love ruthlessly claims that they watch porn because you: gained weight, stopped working out, got pregnant, aren’t adventurous enough – then you probably believed them and started an action plan to correct your so-called flaws.
Manipulation-Hack – The dark truth is that cheating and watching porn are the average narcissist’s favorite things to do. I’ve been working with narcissistic abuse victims for years, and even those who look like models are cheated on, lied to, and experience the humiliation of their partner’s PIED.
Narcissists cheat because they are devoid of morals; they get bored; they like having cyber-sex with an image from the internet catalog; they use sex as a tool to hook their targets. As an added bonus, they use cheating as a form of triangulation to keep you in a perpetual state of fighting for their attention and working overtime to prove your worth.
The bottom line is that they do all of these things because they are utterly incapable of forming a true and sincere bond with their partners. They may be good lovers (at least, in the beginning), but it’s not because they truly love you. They get a thrill from the newness and novelty of having a new intimate partner. Once the novelty wears off, the relationship spirals down very quickly.
This is why you should never, ever jump into a commitment too soon when in a new relationship.
Rehab, Counseling, and Yellow-Brick Roads
Whether it’s promises of getting treatment for their “sex addiction”, anger issues, or lack of employment, Narcissists promise all over themselves that they will change so that the two of you can “get back on track and live the life you’ve been dreaming of”. It all seems so real when they pretend to eat humble pie after you point out how hurtful their actions have been. When they believe you are serious about leaving, it’s all, “I care about you and don’t want to lose you. Let’s find a good counselor so we can fix this. You deserve better”
Manipulation-Hack – Narcissists agree to counseling for a few different reasons, none of them related to making your relationship better.
What typically happens in a “therapeutic setting” is that the Narcissist uses it as a stage to make themselves look like the victim, further invalidating their abused partner. You can read more about why therapy with the narcissist is a lost cause in my article, Why Going to Therapy with the Narcissist is a Bad Idea.
In all my years teaching on the subject of narcissistic abuse and recovery, I haven’t encountered a single instance where a narcissistic individual improved their behaviors long-term. I have, however, had former clients contact me months or years after working with me, lamenting over how they wish they’d followed my recommendations because they’d been horribly fooled by the narcissist in their lives and were in much worse shape than before.
Torn Between Two Lovers
Though Narcissists genuinely enjoy hiding their affairs, there’s another manipulation technique they often enjoy even more – shacking up with a new lover whom they say they just met, but in reality, has been seeing for the past few months behind your back.
They tell you they were so lonely when you broke up with them (over their cheating), that they unsuspectedly fell into the arms of a new lover. But, they still somehow love you and want to make it work. They just have to find a way to let the new supply down easy because they’ve fallen madly in love with the narcissist during the course of a whole three days (as they would have you believe – but in reality, has been seeing for some time).
Manipulation-Hack: What’s happened is that the new supply isn’t fully drinking the Kool-Aid. Right now, they’re sipping it through a coffee straw and the Narcissist isn’t sure they’ll make good supply.
Another possible outcome is that the narcissist has absolutely no plans to leave the new lover, and instead plans on keeping both of you in the “Pick Me” queue, wherein they can extract copious quantities of narcissistic supply, while simultaneously having you believe they’re just a skip away from breaking it off with new person.
Or, perhaps the narcissist simply wants to get in a good devalue and discard before leaving you in a heap of raw nerves on your living room floor.
That’s the extent of all possible outcomes. Don’t fall for the “torn lover” act.
Facebook Fantasy Land
I’d be curious to know how many narcissistic abuse victims have had to go on medications, or worse – lost their jobs – over the Narcissist’s FB postings. Facebook is by far one of the biggest reasons people have a harder time letting go when trying to break free.
There’s the Narcissist, smiling with their new partner in front of a little grass hut in Bora Bora, flashing a fat engagement ring at the camera.
Manipulation-Hack: These posts are premeditated and designed to manage others’ impression of the Narcissist, as follows:
- For You – See how they’re so happy with the new person? So insanely joyful that they ran off and got engaged in less than a week? Maybe the problem was you, after all?! First of all, no healthy person meets, falls in love, and gets married in less than a week, save perhaps arranged marriages in third world countries. This was all being thought out and planned before your relationship with the Narcissist was even over.
- For Friends and Family – Look everybody! I’ve found the love of my life and we’re going to live happily ever after! This is an act designed to complement the smear campaign that the Narcissist began waging against you even before the two of you broke up.
Those without a conscience are able to get away with their sadistic stunts through impression management. Sandra Brown, the author of Women Who Love Psychopaths, describes how Narcissists are able to get away with their pathology in a believable way,
“He social-climbs into everyone’s good graces using charisma, a good sense of humor, and an optimistic outlook (at least on the surface). If his mask should slip a bit, he simply ‘impression manages’ his way right back into positive believability”.
What better way to do that than through everyone’s favorite social media platform?
Crickets and Tumbleweeds
The general modus operandi of the garden-variety narcissist is to hoover into infinity, as follows: They cheat, the two of you break up, they hoover, you forgive…and the crazy cycle continues for sometimes decades unless you put a stop to it by detaching and going No Contact.
However, there’s another demographic who writes into the forums because they’ve heard about how the Narcissist persistently hoovers, but they haven’t seen hide nor hair of them in eight months, so that must mean their ex wasn’t a Narcissist, after all. Maybe they could have changed and I gave up too soon!!
Manipulation-Hack: The most common reason for this scenario is that the narcissist in question was a cerebral narcissist. However, other narcissists may fit these criteria for other reasons including:
- They no longer want to put forth effort for damage control – ergo, they’d rather move on to new supply who won’t figure them out for a while. A fresh slate is an easy slate.
- They had sufficient supply lined up before the two of you split, which may include numerous targets.
- You can’t be of benefit because they already drained you of everything.
In closing, if these manipulations are being played out in your relationship, it’s crucial that you don’t internalize them to mean that you deserve this kind of treatment or in any way caused it. Further, if you find yourself unable to leave your toxic relationship, it’s likely because you’re experiencing high levels of cognitive dissonance and C-PTSD and it’s vital that you find a way to outsmart a narcissist and break free from the nightmare because, the truth is, your relationship will never get better.
Breaking Free From Narcissistic Victim Syndrome
Even if you’re struggling with narcissistic victim syndrome, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to this destiny forever. You can restore your sense of control. You can embrace a healthier way of living and loving.
Whether you’re just discovering you are dealing with narcissistic abuse or are trying to heal from a narcissistic relationship, here are some helpful tips and resources:
1 – The Beginner’s Healing Toolkit is a free resource that includes everything you need to get started on healing your life after narcissistic abuse.
2 – The Essential Break Free Bootcamp – Explore techniques derived from behavioral therapy (vetted by the psychological and neuro-psychological communities) to finally heal your life.
3 – The THRIVE program – Rediscover your lost self after narcissistic abuse (and prepare yourself for true love).
The Bottom Line
Everyone has the innate capacity to heal themselves. But, it’s likely you will need external support to heal the traumas that get in the way of your ability to tune into this gift.⠀Helpful tools and resources can assist you in developing effective ways to break free from narcissistic abuse.
 Narcissists Watch More Porn. (2015, January 10). In PsychCentral. Retrieved 6/23/2015 from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2015/01/narcissists-watch-more-porn-enter-eroticized-rage/