What is Narcissistic Abuse?

Narcissists exhibit a sense of superiority over others, demanding that they receive special attention.

They need to be admired because they have a strong sense of entitlement.

Since they have no empathy for others, their actions and words are only used to enhance their grandiose illusions of themselves.

Beneath all of the bravado, narcissism has its foundations in shame.

Because those with this disorder don’t want to feel bad about themselves, their behaviors are designed as a defense mechanism to close the gap between who they are and the idealized image that they hold of themselves and of the person that they want the world to see.

They manipulate situations and people to their advantage, but they never take responsibility for any harm they may cause along the way.

This is narcissistic abuse, and it is typically subtle and calculating so that the victim may not even realize that it’s happening until damage has been done.

Narcissistic abuse can take many forms. However, since physical and sexual abuse is fairly clear-cut, the focus will be on the more subtle techniques used by narcissists that are difficult to spot so that you know what signs to watch out for.

It’s no longer a fairy tale

When you first meet up and hang out with a narcissist who’s interested in you, it can seem like this person is everything that you’ve been waiting for.

He or she is always telling you how wonderful you are, and this person may compare you much more favorably to the last partner he or she was with.

Whatever it is, the manipulator will put you on a pedestal to make you feel special and worthy.

Once this individual feels he or she has you, the fairy tale will slowly slip into a nightmare, one negative event after another, until you wonder how things are so different now than they were at the beginning.

Gaslighting is common

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic designed to make you question reality or your mental competence.

This person may alter facts about the past to make you think you have a bad memory, or the abuser may say things to you like, “You’re always so dramatic” or “You’re losing it.”

This technique is used so that the abuser can have more power over you, controlling more and more aspects of your life over time.

Having power over others gives the narcissist a big ego boost, proving to that individual how successful or intelligent he or she is.

The narcissist comes first

Whatever this person wants is the way things are going to be. If you’re going to the movies, you’ll always see what this individual wants to see.

If you’re going out to dinner, the narcissist will always choose the location; even if it’s somewhere you don’t particularly like.

The conversations always revolve around this person, and if you try to interject with a similar story about your experiences, the individual will quickly turn the conversation back to what he or she wants to talk about.

At the beginning of a relationship, this person may listen to you talk about yourself for short periods before slipping into the all-about-me mentality. This allows that person to gain information about you to use against you later.

Double standards apply

Because the narcissist is so much better than everyone else, the rules simply don’t apply to him or her.

Although you are held to stringent standards by this person, he or she will consistently alter the rules as seen fit to gain an advantage over you and others while never adhering to these same standards.

Although double standards occur with all types of people in many areas of life, the narcissist uses this tactic regularly to maintain superiority.

It’s all lies

So much about the narcissist is nothing more than lies. You may notice this person lying to others to make himself or herself look better or to avoid responsibility.

Over time, you may even catch this individual lying to you, usually about something small and insignificant. The narcissist has to make up stories to prove how wonderful he or she is.

This abuser will also use lies to avoid confrontation or consequences due for something he or she did.

Additionally, when the person flatters you, it’s generally done to catch you off guard and get you on the thought path that the narcissist wants rather than giving you genuine compliments.

You have no privacy

Your space is the narcissist’s space.

The manipulator will go through your personal effects, going so far as to check your phone and your computer. This person may even end up stalking you.

He or she will intentionally cross any boundaries you set just to show you who’s the boss. If you ask for some time alone, the request is typically ignored.

However, suppose the narcissist does give you some space.

In that case, this individual will intentionally ignore you until he or she decides, blaming you and making you feel guilty that you’re the one who wanted the time alone.

”No” is never an option

Try saying “no” to a narcissist.

In some cases, this person’s demeanor will devolve into a fit of anger or spontaneous rage.

At other times, he or she will subtly yet insistently pressure you until you give in.

You see, it is the narcissist who makes all the decisions, so it’s never a “no” unless that person says it is.

For example, if this person wants you to go out tonight, but you have finals or an early day at work tomorrow, the manipulator will claim that he or she just wants to spend a little time with you, how he or she needs this connection with you.

Eventually, you may give in to a half hour of your time, but your meeting with the narcissist won’t end until he or she determines the night is over.

You’re to blame

If anything goes wrong in the relationship, of course, it must be you. The narcissist never does anything wrong in his or her eyes.

And if this person does admit to doing something negative, it’s only because you made him or her do it because of something you did or said.

Since the narcissist will not take responsibility for his or her actions, the blame has to fall.

On the flip side, everything good happens because of the narcissist.

You certainly didn’t get that raise at work based on your efforts; it’s because your boss did it to impress the narcissist or because this person is bringing you luck in life.

Everything’s a competition

Because a narcissist has to show that he or she is better than everyone else, activities and events become competitions in which this individual has to prove himself or herself.

The abuser will make claims about how much better he or she is or can do things, especially if you have an achievement that you wish to share with that individual.

Playing games is no fun with a narcissist since this person always has to win at any cost. He or she may cheat, “accidentally” knock the board so that all of the pieces get messed up, or suddenly decide not to play anymore.

If by chance, you do win, this individual will likely pout, become passive aggressive, or may even fly into a fit of rage, claiming that you cheated or some other excuse to explain the loss.

It’s never enough

Whatever you do or say to please this person, it’s never good enough. The narcissist will point out any shortcomings in your execution or claim that it isn’t even what he or she wanted you to do.

He or she may even belittle or shame you for your efforts.

While you may think this would eventually get you to stop trying to please the abuser, the manipulation tactics work so well that you want to do better the next time.

Try as hard as you might to gain the abuser’s approval, but you won’t be able to meet their exceedingly high expectations.

You do things out of “FOG”

“FOG” stands for fear, obligation, or guilt. The narcissist will use FOG as a way of emotionally blackmailing you into going along with what he or she wants.

You’ve probably heard phrases such as “If you love me, you would” or “I deserve this after how you treated me.”

If this person uses intimidation, threats, or punishment as a way to manipulate you, this is a sign that you’re being abused through the use of FOG.

Apologies are meaningless

This person has no problem making apologies when it becomes necessary or can’t be avoided.

He or she will lay it on thick so that the apology is completely believable at the moment. However, once you make amends with this individual, things will go back to the way they were.

The narcissist has no intention of changing his or her behavior. Apologies are only used to keep you under his or her control while distracting you from wrongdoing or harmful behavior.

Withholding is a tool

Another form of manipulative abuse that’s one of the narcissist’s favorite weapons is withholding.

Whether as a form of punishment for alleged wrongdoing on your part or as a way to get you to behave in a certain way, this individual will intentionally withhold affection, intimacy, or money from you.

The person may withhold communication by giving you silent treatment. Whatever it is, you won’t get what you want until the abuser gets what he or she wants.

Promises are empty

If this person thinks that he or she is going to lose you or that giving in will be somehow beneficial to him or her, the narcissist will promise you just about anything.

Yet somehow, these words are never fulfilled.

You must remember that this individual will lie to get what he or she wants, even going so far as to promise you the moon and stars.

If this is a promise to change his or her behavior, don’t believe it for a minute because the narcissist has no intention of changing since this person doesn’t believe that he or she is doing anything wrong or at least anything that he or she isn’t entitled to.

Stories are repeated

The narcissist never tires of singing his or her praises, and you may hear this person revel in the same achievements repeatedly.

Although repetition can occur in any relationship with regular topics returning to conversations, these are specific stories of the past that are repeated by the narcissist to remind you of how great he or she is.

This person will manipulate conversations that are completely unrelated just to reiterate his or her greatness.

You become isolated

The narcissist doesn’t want to lose control over you, and this may mean keeping you away from others who could help you to see the light of the situation.

Although he or she may flat out refuse to let you go hang out with friends or family, it’s usually more subtle than that, at least at first.

He or she may tell you that the other person doesn’t like you or point out how the other person is bad for you to be around, making the abuser the good guy for looking out for your best interests.

However, behind the scenes, this individual may be assassinating your character by telling these other people that you don’t like them, that you said some terrible things about them, or that he or she is worried that you’re starting to lose your mind or control over your life while providing these people with appropriate, yet made up examples.

Your people may stop spending time with you, making you wonder what it is that you did so wrong when all the while it is the narcissist who is pulling the strings.

Narcissistic abuse takes a toll on a person, making you feel confused, less confident, and maybe even isolated and depressed.

If you notice that your partner, friend, family member, or even a boss or coworker exhibits some of these traits, do what you can to protect yourself from the self-esteem-crushing effects of this type of manipulation.

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