At first, narcissists can appear charming, but when they don’t get what they want, their true colors quickly shine through. Learn how to recognize the 8 ways narcissists react when they can’t control you and how to make sure you stay in control of your life.
Narcissism is a personality disorder that affects an estimated 1% of the population. People with this condition are excessively self-centered, manipulative and lack empathy for others. They require attention, admiration and praise from those around them to bolster their fragile sense of self-worth.
Unfortunately, when a narcissist doesn’t get what they want, they can become quite aggressive or passive-aggressive in order to gain back control over their environment and the people in it.
Learning how to identify these behaviors early on can help you avoid becoming entangled in a toxic relationship with a narcissist or help you break free from one if necessary. In this blog post, we will discuss 8 common reactions narcissists have when they can’t control you.
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Passive-aggressive behaviors are a common way for narcissists to react when they can’t control someone. These behaviors are indirect and often involve manipulating or punishing the victim without directly confronting them.
Here are three examples of passive-aggressive behaviors that narcissists may exhibit:
Giving the silent treatment
When a narcissist can’t control someone, they may resort to giving them the silent treatment. This involves ignoring the victim and refusing to communicate with them, often for an extended period of time.
The narcissist may use the silent treatment as a means of punishing the victim for not doing what they want or for challenging their authority.
Another passive-aggressive behavior that narcissists may use is sabotaging the victim’s plans. This can include canceling plans at the last minute, intentionally making the victim late, or creating obstacles that prevent the victim from achieving their goals.
The narcissist may do this as a means of asserting control over the victim and preventing them from gaining independence.
Narcissists may also use guilt-tripping as a way of controlling someone. They may make the victim feel guilty for not meeting their needs or for challenging their authority.
The narcissist may use phrases like “I thought you cared about me” or “I can’t believe you would do this to me” to manipulate the victim into doing what they want.
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic used by narcissists to control and confuse their victims. It involves manipulating reality to make the victim doubt their own perceptions and beliefs. Here are three ways that narcissists use gaslighting to try and Re-control someone:
Narcissists may manipulate reality to make the victim doubt their own experiences. This can include denying that something happened, insisting that the victim is remembering things incorrectly, or distorting the truth.
The narcissist may do this to make the victim feel confused, disoriented, and powerless.
Dismissing concerns or emotions
Narcissists may also dismiss the concerns or emotions of their victim. They may belittle the victim’s feelings or tell them that they are being too sensitive or overreacting.
The narcissist may do this to make the victim feel like their emotions are not valid or that they are being irrational.
Blaming the victim
When a narcissist can’t control someone, they may try to shift the blame onto the victim. They may make the victim feel like they are the problem, or that they are causing the issues in the relationship.
The narcissist may use this tactic to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.
3. Outbursts of Anger
When a narcissist can’t control someone, they may lash out in anger. These outbursts can be both verbal and physical, and they can be very frightening and intimidating for the victim. Here are three ways that narcissists may exhibit outbursts of anger:
Narcissists may use verbal abuse as a way of exerting control over their victim. This can include name-calling, belittling, and using derogatory language.
The narcissist may do this to make the victim feel small and powerless.
In some cases, narcissists may become physically aggressive when they feel like they can’t control someone.
This can include pushing, shoving, hitting, or throwing objects. The narcissist may do this to intimidate the victim and make them feel afraid.
Another way that narcissists may exhibit outbursts of anger is by throwing tantrums. They may yell, scream, or become verbally abusive when things don’t go their way.
The narcissist may do this to try and intimidate the victim into doing what they want.
4. Deflection and Projection
Deflection and projection are tactics that narcissists use to avoid taking responsibility for their actions and behaviors. These tactics involve shifting the blame onto others, accusing the victim of their own behavior, and playing the victim. Here are three ways that narcissists may use deflection and projection:
Shifting blame to others
When a narcissist can’t control someone, they may shift the blame onto others. They may accuse others of causing the problems in the relationship or of not doing enough to meet their needs.
The narcissist may do this to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions and behaviors.
Accusing the victim of the narcissist’s own behavior
Another way that narcissists may use deflection and projection is by accusing the victim of their own behavior.
For example, a narcissist who is cheating may accuse their partner of being unfaithful. The narcissist may do this to distract from their own behavior and make the victim feel guilty.
Playing the victim
Narcissists may also use deflection and projection by playing the victim. They may claim that they are the ones who are being mistreated or that they are the ones who are suffering in the relationship.
The narcissist may do this to gain sympathy and to make the victim feel like they are the ones who are causing the problems.
5. Smear Campaigns
When a narcissist can’t control someone, they may launch a smear campaign against the victim. A smear campaign is a coordinated effort to discredit and defame someone’s character. Here are three ways that narcissists may use smear campaigns:
Talking negatively about the victim to others
Narcissists may talk negatively about the victim to others in an attempt to damage their reputation. They may make up stories or exaggerate the truth in order to make the victim look bad.
The narcissist may do this to isolate the victim from their support network and to make them feel like they have nowhere to turn.
Spreading rumors or lies
Another way that narcissists may use smear campaigns is by spreading rumors or lies about the victim. They may tell others that the victim has done something they haven’t, or that they are a bad person in some way.
The narcissist may do this to make the victim feel ashamed or embarrassed.
Trying to ruin the victim’s reputation
Narcissists may also try to ruin the victim’s reputation in more public ways. They may post negative comments about the victim on social media or try to get them fired from their job.
The narcissist may do this to make the victim feel powerless and to damage their sense of self-worth.
6. Financial Abuse
Financial abuse is a form of abuse that involves controlling a person’s ability to access and use money and resources. Narcissists may use financial abuse as a way to maintain control over their victims. Here are three ways that narcissists may use financial abuse:
A narcissist may control the victim’s finances by taking control of their bank accounts or by preventing them from accessing financial resources.
They may use this control to limit the victim’s ability to leave the relationship or to assert their independence.
Withholding money or resources
Another way that narcissists may use financial abuse is by withholding money or resources from the victim. They may use this as a form of punishment or to make the victim feel dependent on them.
This can also limit the victim’s ability to make their own decisions and to take care of their own needs.
Using money as a tool of manipulation
Narcissists may use money as a tool of manipulation by using it to reward or punish the victim. For example, they may give the victim money as a reward for complying with their demands or as a way to control their behavior.
Conversely, they may withhold money as a punishment for not doing what they want.
7. Stalking and Harassment
When a narcissist can’t control someone, they may resort to stalking and harassment. Stalking and harassment involve repeated unwanted contact with the victim that causes them fear or distress. Here are three ways that narcissists may use stalking and harassment:
Following the victim
A narcissist may follow the victim in person or online in an attempt to monitor their activities. They may show up at places where the victim is, even if they aren’t invited, or they may use social media to track their whereabouts.
This can be extremely frightening for the victim and can make them feel like they are constantly being watched.
Monitoring their activities
Another way that narcissists may use stalking and harassment is by monitoring the victim’s activities. This can include monitoring their phone calls, emails, and social media accounts.
The narcissist may use this information to control the victim or to gather information that they can use against them.
Threatening or intimidating them
Narcissists may also use stalking and harassment as a way to threaten or intimidate the victim.
They may make threats to harm the victim or their loved ones, or they may use intimidation tactics to make the victim feel afraid.
This can cause the victim to feel like they are in danger and can have a significant impact on their mental health and well-being.
8. Attempts to Regain Control
When a narcissist can’t control someone, they may try to regain control through a variety of tactics. Here are three ways that narcissists may try to regain control:
One tactic that narcissists may use to regain control is love-bombing. Love-bombing involves showering the victim with attention, affection, and gifts.
This can make the victim feel special and loved, and may cause them to let their guard down.
However, love-bombing is often used as a manipulation tactic, and the narcissist may use it to regain control over the victim.
Another tactic that narcissists may use to regain control is hoovering. Hoovering involves reaching out to the victim after a period of no contact.
The narcissist may apologize for their behavior or try to make the victim feel guilty for not talking to them.
This can be a way for the narcissist to regain control over the victim and to continue the cycle of abuse.
Promising to change
Narcissists may also try to regain control by promising to change. They may apologize for their behavior and promise to be better in the future.
The truth is, when narcissists are no longer able to control you, they react in many different ways. While some may try to come back and manipulate you further, others may be more passive-aggressive in their responses.
Whatever the response, it is important that you remain firm and confident in order to protect yourself against manipulation and gaslighting.
By being aware of the tactics narcissistic people may use against you, as well as setting strong healthy boundaries and asserting yourself with confidence, you can ensure that your relationships remain healthy and mutually respectful.