By Katie Bailey, MA, LPC
Working with clients in any kind of narcissistic relationship (marriage, parent, friend, co-worker) is one of my most favorite things. And it seems there are a lot of you out there, because I’ve been getting a lot more questions about this topic lately. Understanding how narcissists work and how to untangle yourself from the toxic relationship is no small task. Narcissists play mind games, and you need to be able to get your head clear and have reality come into focus in order to recover. Here are 10 truths your narcissist doesn’t want you to know. (I will use “he” for simplicity, but women can be narcissists too.)
1. He sees all emotional reaction as attention. Narcissists thrive on getting attention, feeling special, and having control. He is an expert at getting an emotional reaction out of you – good or bad – because it makes him feel powerful and better than you. The best thing you can do is not react. I often tell my clients to use fewer words – don’t bother getting into a discussion or trying to explain your point – it won’t work, and only gets you sucked further into his crazy, which is what he wants. So, say little, walk away, and extract yourself.
2. They try to keep the relationship not to love you, but to control you. When a rift of any kind does occur in the relationship, he tries to get you back – with false promises – not because he really wants a better, healthy relationship with you, but because he wants to control you. He must win. He must have the final say. This is part of the abuse cycle. He wants you back for his own purposes.
3. All his thoughts are focused on getting attention and feeling special. Everything in his life, and I mean everything, are about filling that bottomless pit inside him that needs to feel superior, special, and the focus of attention. Don’t be fooled – what might seem like a kind act almost always has a hidden agenda to serve his own purposes. Nothing is a higher priority to him than feeling special.
4. He says he will change, but he won’t really. He might say he’s sorry, but he won’t change is behavior. He says a token sorry to keep you around, but most likely he is blaming you through the backdoor. It might sound something like this, “I’m sorry that I looked through your phone, but if you were more honest with me, I wouldn’t have to do that.” He’s making it your fault, and his behavior changing is conditional on you changing yours – which likely isn’t the problem in the first place. He won’t really make changes.
5. He doesn’t want you to know you are lovable and have power in the relationship. Your narcissist wants you to feel small, unlovable, powerless, and without value. This is how he controls you. He absolutely doesn’t want you to live in the truth that you are lovable and have the power to make your own choices because then he loses control over you. Don’t believe the lies.
6. It does not hurt him to hurt you. He hurts you all the time – but it doesn’t hurt him. Again, his top priority is himself, feeling important and better than others. If that means he must hurt you to ensure he feels that way he will and won’t think twice about it. He’s not sorry.
7. He does not want you to feel safe and secure in the relationship. The narcissist wants you to feel unsteady and unsafe. This means emotionally unsafe and can include physically or sexually unsafe as well. This gives him more control over you and makes him feel powerful.
8. He wants you to feel like the “bad guy”. He wants you to think that all the problems in the relationship are your fault. You make him the way he is; you don’t love him well enough; you don’t give him what he needs. Maybe you are so negative, you’re never happy, and no one likes you. If he can blame you for everything, he has the upper hand, and again, feels more important and in control.
9. He will never be proven wrong. This goes with saying fewer words. Don’t get into any kind of argument or debate with a narcissist. He is a master at manipulation and will always turn it back on you. He will never say, “Oh, okay, now I see what you’re saying. Yes, I was wrong.” It’s not worth your effort to have the conversation, because you will never win the discussion. You win when you get out of the conversation and set a boundary to protect your own sanity.
10. He doesn’t want to lose control. The greatest fear of the narcissist is to lose control over you. In my work with clients, this is a challenge, because as people get healthier and set firm boundaries, the narcissist will act out more. He knows he’s losing control and can’t handle it. You must be able to tolerate his acting out – it’s not your job to soothe him or make him feel better when he’s upset about your boundary. This is him having to deal with the healthy, appropriate consequences of his actions.
Start Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse Today in Ambler, PA
Our team at Lime Tree Counseling specializes in helping people recovery from narcissistic/emotional abuse. We want to help you achieve an accurate perspective on your situation and create a plan for healing. Please contact us today; we’d be glad to have a free phone consultation with you or schedule your first appointment. We understand asking for help can be difficult. We know how scary it can be to reach out, and we will work with you at your own pace. Don’t wait another minute to start reclaiming your life.