How to Manipulate a Narcissist ~
This isn’t the post I started out writing. In fact, I began by writing a several hundred word tirade about how the Narc is acting like the poor hurt puppy in this relationship and how dare he, after all hes done. Then, I had to take kid one to school and came home again, a little mellowed out. The Narc apologized (hah) and I got to doing some research. I found my answer from others who have lived with Narcs longer than even I have, children of narcissistic parents (my heart goes out to you all! Mine included… ).
Turns out, I really am the perfect narcissistic supply. And even as I have the strength, empathy, and forgiveness innate to my personality that make me a perfect target, these traits are actually a double edged sword. Once the Narc no longer can control my emotions, I can use them to cut him down.
A Narcissist survives by eliciting a reaction form you, usually sadness or anger. He solidifies his sense of control over you when you lose control. This is actually not their primary preference, he would prefer you adore him, though he does not deserve it, and defer to him in all things, including your thoughts and feelings. He believes he can tell you how to think and feel and control your reactions to life and himself, and in that he confirms, in his mind, his god-like status. Do not forget, these actions are not based on logical thought processes, or even conscious thought processes, but on deeply embedded personality traits.
(WARNING: YOU CAN NOT CHANGE THE NARCISSIST. This is not intended to try and help you make him into the man you once thought he was. That is NOT possible. His world revolves around himself and you cannot force him to change his orbit. These insights are ONLY meant to help you manage your life and control your situation while you make your plans to leave. Staying will not benefit you!)
So, my natural reaction to my continued learning about narcissism and how its affected him and seeing the games he has been playing with me is this:
How To Manipulate a Narcissist: Method One
I do not mirror for him any longer, meaning, I do not reflect his moods back to him, I do not react to his rages (mostly, sometimes he does go too far and then I coldly and calmly point out that hes full of crap and here is the proof of why hes lying and then he changes his tune), and I do not let him make me his emotional puppet anymore. In fact, that is now his primary complaint about me, and what he’s whining to me about almost daily, that I don’t love him anymore and what can he do to make me love him again? Obviously, he sees my tears, emotional outbursts, reactions to his anger, and attempts at making up (i.e. trying to get him out of giving me the silent treatment), as love. I can only conclude from this that he is (of course) feeding off my emotions because he is incapable of producing any real ones of his own.
I see him for what he really is. And I think somehow he can tell. I am no longer impressed by his stories, and I no longer flatter him endlessly about why hes so good at his job, how hes does so well with money, and “what can I do to help”. In fact, I am telling him “no” when he asks me to do something he could easily do on his own and calling him out on his crap when he complains that he cant do something like make a simple phone call because he has to work, and hes so busy with his job that he just cant do it. (Never mind that I also work and yet, since I am still at the house most mornings he expects me to do everything for the house as well, and take care of a 14mo old).
Now, for some people this will not solve your problems with the narcissist, indeed, I think this may actually end up being the spark that lights the fire under our divorce. He will probably go find someone else to adore him and then play the poor victim in our separation, saying I just stopped loving him and no matter what he tried, and he tried SO HARD, I would not give him another chance.
Ironically, with my Narc, my using this behavior has resulted in the rather unexpected result of him backing off with the anger and rages. He seems to be going back to trying to be charming and lure me back in. Situations where he would normally rage at me until I caved in, he is backing off and “apologizing” (I use quotation marks because its not a true apology), and though he usually follows up with reasons why he is hurt by my actions, it’s better than the anger.
Basically, in a way, I am giving him exactly what he needs to make his out all about him and let him play “poor little me” (incidentally, that is exactly the tactic he used in telling me about his girlfriend before me). And hopefully, then he will not fight me for a divorce, because honestly, who wants to live with someone who has no feelings? (The irony of that statement has not escaped me). So for me, I feel this is my best option and much easier to stomach than the other method, which I tried first, and was much to hard for me to deal with because I am simply not that good of an actress.
How To Manipulate a Narcissist: Method Two
The second method of manipulating a narcissist is pretty much the exact opposite of the first. Mirror everything positive back to him. Tell him how much you admire him, shower him with praise and affection. Build him up so high he cant even breathe because the air is so thin. Do everything he could ever think the perfect supply would do. Plan your escape in the background, and leave when hes least expecting it.
I would say this method is probably most dangerous for you, simply because it is in our nature to love our partner. We want that to be real, we want that to be forever. And to go through your days being so two faced goes against everything we have inside us as authentic, deep feelers. Narcs are very attracted to empaths, and I think, from my own personal experience, that attempting to live so falsely, is highly damaging to our psyche. In addition, we have already been forced by this monster to live our lives in a total act to the outside world, telling our friends and family we are happy, when in reality we are desperately unhappy and have not been able to understand why, until we learned of narcissism.
So I am taking the more self protective route, and planning as quickly as I can to get my things together, my life in order, my finances set up, and documents in place, so that when this all boils over, I am ready.
Weird title huh? How can an empath be a narcissist? … It just doesn’t sound possible.
But it is.
Empaths by definition are supposed to be so finely “tuned in” to others and their feelings and thoughts that they can literally experience firsthand (or secondhand) what it’s like to be another person. Narcissists on the other hand seem to only care about themselves and their own needs and interests, appearing to be devoid of concern for others.
But here’s the thing: being an empath doesn’t necessarily mean that you actively feel empathy towards others. And being a narcissist doesn’t mean that you don’t have the capacity to feel what others feel on a mental and psychological level.
When most of us think of narcissists we tend to picture obnoxious, extroverted and self-obsessed people, on par with many Hollywood celebrities. But did you know that there are actually two types of narcissism: the overt and covert? Overt narcissists are typically thick-skinned and openly conceited. Covert narcissists, on the other hand, are generally shy, sensitive and introverted. However, both share similar traits of a lack of concern for others, obsessive self-interest, blaming and criticizing, dishonesty and manipulation.
Finally, this article was written in the interests of self-exploration and self-growth, not as an actual medical diagnosis. Fortunately most empaths are empathetic, but if you suspect that you may harbor any borderline or obvious traits, you’re free to keep reading.
10 Signs You’re an Empathic Narcissist
For most of my life I strongly believed that I was a kind, patient, caring and empathetic person. This idealized self-image I had created for myself only served to mask the real truth of who I was: that of a self-centered wounded egomaniac who couldn’t truly empathize with others. Don’t worry, I’m not “dissing” myself – it’s the truth! And you know, sometimes I still can be self-centered, but I have improved a great deal since then. By the way, this breakthrough from unempathetic empath to empathetic empath was all thanks to Sol who shook me up and put the mirror of Clarity right in front of me.
Since then, I’ve come across a great deal of (what I would consider) empathic narcissists. And yet, at the time of writing this article I’ve never read or actively found information on the topic. So I guess this article is a first!
The greatest danger of identifying as a straight-out empath is that it can blind us to our darker underlying traits. Unfortunately we tend to assume that just because we’re sensitive and can “feel” what other people feel, we automatically become empathetic people who can truly understand and feel compassion/concern towards others.
This is absolutely not the case at all. And in fact, I believe empathic narcissism is more pervasive than we think.
Now, I’m not here to demonize narcissism. In fact, as one lovely wolf commented beneath my last article, narcissists can be like angels in disguise. Narcissists are catalysts of change in people’s lives: they stir up all the old wounds, scars and shadow elements in a person and force growth. Many awakened narcissists (i.e. those who have become self-aware) are also sincere about changing their patterns of behavior. So if you think you may be a narcissist, or have been “diagnosed” as one, just know that this is a “safe” place for you to come out and express your perspectives.
As I mentioned in my last article, covert, or vulnerable narcissists, are sensitive and introverted by nature. Yet to disguise their chronic feelings of self-hatred and unworthiness, they overcompensate by creating idealized images of themselves (this is where identifying as an “empath” comes into play). Empathic narcissists tend to believe that they are a victim of everyone’s feelings and thoughts because they feel them so strongly, yet have little genuine tenderness, understanding or compassion towards others.
The essential difference between empathetic empaths and narcissistic empaths seems to be that empathetic empaths permit themselves to feel vulnerable, thus are open to developing empathy for others. On the other hand, narcissistic empaths seem to deny or avoid feeling vulnerable due to their low self-worth, thus are closed to truly caring for others
Below I’ll narrow down some of the most common symptoms narcissistic empaths experience:
- The tendency to seesaw between acting superior to others and feeling hurt
- Feeling more special and fundamentally different from others
- Intensely upset and offended by any sign of perceived (or real) criticism
- Inability to take responsibility for one’s actions and feelings resulting in constant blame
- Frequently becoming completely consumed in one’s own personal affairs to the point of forgetting about others
- Self-martyrdom as a way of manipulating and controlling others
- Feeling that no one can understand one’s “unique” problems
- Always feeling victimized by the world/life/other people (e.g. others “attacking” you with their energy)
- Perceiving others in extremes (e.g. demonizing a person, or thinking they’re an angel)
- Inability to understand, or blatant lack of interest/regard for the alternative beliefs, upbringings, social conditioning and mindsets of others and the way this impacts their behavior
A couple of days ago I read an article that stated: “All empaths have empathy, but not all people with empathy are truly empaths.” However, everything I’ve seen, heard and experienced has shown me that this is incorrect. In reality, not all empaths have empathy. There is a big difference between feeling an emotion as your own (as empaths do) and actively stepping into the shoes of, understanding, and developing forgiveness and acceptance for another (empathy).
What to Do …
Not all narcissists are the same, so there is no black and white here. While some seem to be biologically programmed (born that way), others develop narcissism due to environmental and social conditioning factors. For this reason, I can’t speak for all narcissists. Thankfully, there is a lot of evidence that narcissism can be lessened and often even healed. There is no “one size fits all” solution for empathic narcissism, but a great place to start (in my experience) is the cultivation and development of:
Shadow work inevitably fits into the process above after self-love has been developed. You can read more into shadow work here. Personally, all of these steps, as well as being in the presence of an extremely (and shamelessly) honest partner, helped me to cultivate more empathy. But the process can be very long, so have patience!
What’s your opinion on empathic narcissism? Are you struggling to genuinely empathize with others despite your identification as an empath? You’re welcome to start a conversation below!
Note: When I write about “empathic narcissists” I am referring to a narcissist (or borderline narcissist) who believes themselves to be an empath. Please keep in mind that I am only writing about one type of narcissist here, the vulnerable or covert narcissist. There are also more extreme and violent narcissists that have traits which overlap with antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy – I am not writing about these types of narcissists at all. Due to the sensitivity of vulnerable/covert narcissists, it is easy to idealize themselves as empaths (this is only one of many idealizations). Although this is a touchy subject, I believe it’s important to explore any illusions we may or may not have about ourselves.
About Aletheia Luna (Author)
Based on everything that is known about human nature, that has ever been recorded, chance are: you’ve encountered a narcissist in your life. According to recent research, narcissism is actually running rampant these days. To go ahead and complicate matters, narcissist aren’t all created equally. In our lives we will not only encounter many different individual narcissists, we will encounter many different kinds.
Thankfully, many of these narcissists are easy to spot, and even easier to ignore. I mean, that’s the main goal of the narcissist to be noticed, right? To stand up, and say “hey – look at me!” There are even levels of narcissism that are totally normal, healthy, and functional. There is something to be said about taking pride in who you are and what you do – to an extent. Pride is not an automatic diagnosis of a personality disorder. Hell, I am a narcissist to an extent, I have to be to write for a living.
The type of narcissist that I want to talk about today is one that flies so far under the radar of our lives that we don’t even see them. They sneak into our brains and wreak havoc on levels that we don’t even understand. The “quiet narcissist” is the brain ninja that creates self-doubt, self-loathing, and spreads depression like curdled cream cheese on the bagels of our lives. I can almost guarantee you, you have one of these narcissists in your life and you don’t even realize it.
SO, WHAT QUALIFIES SOMEONE AS A “QUIET NARCISSIST”?
Narcissists, in general, thrive on a couple of basic principles. First off, they need you to feel bad about yourself to build themselves up. This is typically found by pointing out every flaw that you may or may not have. Even jokingly. We all have that friend that likes to make fun of us, but they get away with it because they are your friend. “If a stranger said that to me, I’d react differently,” you might think. That’s true to an extent, and a little ribbing between friends is normal. The quiet narcissist, however, makes these jokes part of who you are to them. It’s almost like they develop a “role” for you and keep you in it. Maybe you are the “lovable idiot” or the “unattractive friend”. Whatever the case may be – the quiet narcissist will put you in a cage that they see fit for you and keep you there.
Another basic aspect of the average narcissist is that they have a constant need to be right. You’ve average narcissist will usually just try to put down anything you say to make you look dumb by sheer conversational will. Narcissists are RENOWNED for their people skills, simply because attention is what they crave. Quiet narcissists accomplish this feat by engaging in passive aggressive tendencies. Things like cleaning up after you without you noticing (obviously before you’ve had a chance to do it yourself) or pointing out simple mistakes with a fixed amount of regularity. They won’t bring it up too often because that would be too upfront and obvious. The quiet narcissist will almost never mention these little things, they just do them in an attempt to make you feel helpless and looked after. Again, the goal is to break you down.
Finally, and most obviously, the quiet narcissist will project any of their own self-percieved imperfection on you. This goes back to the “flashlight” personality that no one needs in their life. Basically, by pointing out the same things that are wrong in you, that are also wrong in them, they lessen the impact of their own faults. You have a cookie, the quiet narcissist will make a passing comment about your diet plans and how you are “off the wagon again” (while they eat the same cookie). Anything to avoid not only facing their own imperfections but maintaining a false sense of dominance over you.
So How Do you Deal With the Quiet Narcissist?
The simple answers to this question might be “hit them in the head with a gardening implement” or “never speak to them again.” Again, I never condone violence, and sometimes you can’t just hack someone out of your life (relatives). So here are Things to do to EFFECTIVELY deal with quiet narcissists:
*When they poke fun at you – POKE RIGHT BACK. Use the same casual tone, light-hearted demeanor, and non-aggressive actions they use when they make fun of you – as to not appear defensive. Then, be ready for them to immediately become defensive. If there is one thing a narcissist doesn’t like, it is having the tables turned on them. The more casual you are about your comebacks, the more unsettling for the narcissist. See how quickly they quit making fun of you.
*When they do things passive-aggressively and don’t say anything about it, SAY SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Ask why they did what they did, if anything, to defend yourself. If you left a glass on the counter and magically find it in the sink, point out to the narcissist that you were going to reuse the glass, that you are not a child, and that you know how to handle an empty glass.
*When they point out a common flaw in you, POINT IT OUT IN THEM. There is no excuse for letting someone be a hypocrite just for the sake of their own ego. Again, see how fast the narcissist quits pointing things out.
If you take these simple actions, you’ll notice an amazing thing starts to happen: you don’t have to remove the narcissist from your life – they remove themselves from yours. It’s like self-healing cancer.
Source: I Heart Intelligence
It took me years to figure out that was an empath. I always kind of assumed that I was “in tune” with other people’s emotions, but I never realized how much they really affected me. Reading about empaths for the first time, I thought, “wow, this explains a lot.” For the record: I am not one for self-diagnosis in the least. In fact, I usually dismiss any type of diagnosis, but when it came to being an empath – the shoe just fit.
For people that don’t understand what it is like to be an empath, it isn’t a matter of simply understanding how someone feels – you actually feel the emotions they are feeling. If someone tells you that their favorite cat died, you don’t just understand their grief – you feel like your favorite cat just died, even if you don’t have a cat. It can be exhausting. I take that back, it IS exhausting.
Me, being the way that I am, am hyper-aware of my empathic nature. I pay attention to the vibes I pick up off of people and work to keep them in check. As manageable as true empathy can be, I have discovered one specific situation that will bring even the strongest, most self-aware empath to their knees every single time: narcissists. As the title implies, narcissists are the empath’s kryptonite, and here is why:
The number one goal of most narcissists is manipulation. That is how they get what they want, or make you think what they want you to think. Not all narcissists have malicious intentions, it is just a control thing for them. Now when an empath and a narcissist cross paths, the empath is susceptible to this manipulation more than most. For a narcissist, this is like having a fun new toy to play with.
GUARDS ARE DOWN
As an empath, we are typically less guarded. It’s not a conscious decision, it is just how we are. That’s what makes us able to pick up on the emotional state of other people so easily because we aren’t trying to figure out if we should trust someone before getting emotionally attached, we just do. For a narcissist, this is like fighting against a boxer who has his hands in his pockets (assuming boxing shorts have pockets). All of those manipulations and controlling activities that take work for other people slide right in like unblocked punches on an empath.
BATTLE OF EGOS
Narcissism is really a product of the ego, and for the most part, Empaths are not egotistical people. Because of this, the narcissist’s ego eventually overtakes the empath’s. Essentially, a narcissist can make an empath into a narcissist over time. For the empath, they start to doubt themselves based on the manipulation of the narcissist, and they begin to feel like a victim. The victim mentality is also a product of the ego, so over time, the empath’s feelings about themselves change. It’s a fundamental shift in ego that can lead to depression.
In the end, being an empath is tough enough as it is. As an empath, you know this. Being aware of the people around us and their influences on us is the most important thing we can do to hold on to our sanity and self-worth. Empaths are special people and deserve to be treated as such. I had to learn the hard way by dating a narcissist, and I can tell you from experience: nothing tears an empath apart quite like loving a narcissist.
There’s a lot of buzz in the media these days about Empaths/Highly Sensitives and Narcissists attracting to one another. One popular theory is that Narcissists prey on Empaths and Sensitives because of their overly giving nature. While that is primarily true, there is another reason that goes even deeper, and it has to do with ego.
First, let’s consider the definition of egotistical as it relates to Narcissists in general:
- Excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself; self-centered.
- Arrogance, selfishness, greed, a sense of entitlement to whatever one wants.
Too much ego can lead to serious problems with treating people as means to ends: such people (i.e., Narcissists) feel entitled to do whatever it takes to get what he/she wants. This leads to abuses of ends/means reasoning (using other people to fulfill ego’s wants).
It’s no surprise that the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (DSM-IV) states that people with the disorder:
- have a grandiose sense of self-importance
- have a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- are interpersonally exploitative, i.e., taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
Empaths do possess an ego to some degree, but don’t operate solely from ego as Narcissists do. For an Empath, ego is experienced primarily in judging others and feelings of anger/resentment. These ego-driven emotions are usually incited in the Empath/HSP after witnessing acts of cruelty and hatred, interactions which they consider unfair or one-sided, and similar incidents.
Empaths operate predominately from love, humility, and giving. They have a natural capacity for healing and teaching others. However, until they learn how to responsibly use those gifts, they are often taken advantage of…not only by romantic partners, but people in general.
Many Empaths don’t realize what they are, and go through life feeling used and unfulfilled. The Empath persona encompasses several personality types and traits and can include:
(**These are the main types, and listed simply as a matter of reference)
The Magnetic Attraction
The Empath’s soul purpose is to facilitate healing in others. Unfortunately, they usually ignore their own needs in doing so. They have a propensity to feel what’s going on outside of them more so than what’s inside. In general an empath is non-violent, non-aggressive and leans more towards being the peacemaker. Any area filled with disharmony creates distress in an Empath. If they find themselves in the middle of a conflict, they will strive to resolve the situation as quickly as possible, if not avoid it all together. Because of these natural tendencies, the unaware Empath often finds themselves staying in a relationship with a toxic personality for too long. Further, Empaths often have a track record of developing codependent behaviors in childhood to deal with the overwhelm of unfairness in the world and to please others, which they usually carry into their adult relationships…until a soul crises happens where they are forced into awakening.
Empaths operate from their authentic self, even if they aren’t aware they are an Empath. Essentially, they associate with the life force, healing, and the urge to create what was not there before, such as when they try to “fix” people or situations, or help others heal and awaken.
Narcissists, on the other hand, don’t have an authentic self. If they had one as a child, it was stifled by ego as a defense mechanism. Their ego demands attention to its hurts, traumas and concerns in a way that insists upon separation and control. This prevents their ability to bond with other people, and explains why their whole concept of reality consists of fulfilling the demands of their ego. Therefore, they use people without concern for the pain and trauma they cause them.
When the Empath and Narcissist enter into a relationship together, it creates a magnetic, yet vibrationally dysfunctional union because the Empath gives to the point of complete and utter exhaustion. They will give every last effort to “fix” the Narcissist and the relationship, but it never happens. The Narcissist cannot assess another’s perspective because their ego won’t allow that, thus there is no motive for the Narcissist to change. In fact, attempts to “help” the Narcissist and draw attention to their dysfunctional behaviors often make the Narcissist worse because it contradicts the cravings of their ego.
It also profoundly disorients the Empath, who is often destroyed by the relationship. However, it’s at this point that the unaware Empath experiences a soul crisis and comes to realize what they are. Though the experience with the Narcissist is painful and overwhelming, the Empath usually learns their soul lessons and undergoes an awakening, whereas the Narcissist remains the same.
I heard a universal ‘sigh of relief’ go out around the world as women read the title of this article. Don’t you feel better knowing there really IS some science backing the whole issue of having way too much empathy?
When we began writing about women who love psychopaths, anti-socials, sociopaths and narcissists, we already ‘assumed’ that maybe you did have too much empathy (as well as other elevated temperament traits). We just didn’t know how much, or why. When we began the actual testing for the research of the book ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’, we learned just ‘how much’ empathy you had.
Do I need to tell you? WAY TOO MUCH!
By now you have probably already suspected that your super-high empathy is what got you in trouble in this pathological relationship. But, did you know there is hard science behind what we suspected about what is going on in your relationship with your super-trait of high empathy? It really IS all in your head – and your genes.
In fact, these genes influence the production of various brain chemicals that can influence just ‘how much’ empathy you have. These brain chemicals include those that influence orgasm, and it’s effect on how bonded you feel, while also influencing some aspects of mental health (No, no! That is not a good mix!).
Other brain chemicals influence how much innate and learned fear you have. However, females don’t seem to assess threats well, and the chemicals then increase her social interactions while at the same time she is not assessing fear and threats well (This is not a good thing!!).
One of the final chemical effects delays your reflexes (like not getting out of the relationship), and also impacts your short and long term memory (how you easily store good memories that are very strong, and how you store bad memories which are easily forgotten). And, since it is genetic, it can run in entire families that produce ‘gullible’ and ‘trusting’ individuals who seem to just keep getting hurt.
Of course, the reverse is also true. Genes can influence the absence of various brain chemicals that influence ‘how little’ empathy a person has. We already know in great detail how this affects those with personality disorders. Personality disordered people (especially Cluster B disorders) struggle with not experiencing, or not having any empathy.
Over the past few years, the magazine has been writing about various aspects of personality disorder and the brain. This has included the issue of brain imaging. What we are finding out is how brain structure and chemicals can affect personality, empathy, behavior, and consequently, the behavior in relationships. As advances are made in the field of neurobiology, we are learning more and more of what The Institute has always believed – that there is a lot of biology behind personality development issues such as personality disorders. Genetics and neurobiology are proving that behavior associated with narcissism, borderline, anti-social personality disorders, along with psychopathy has as much to do with brain wiring and chemistry as it does with behavioral intent.
The Institute has long said to survivors that personality disorders are not merely willful behavior, but brain deficits that control how much empathy, compassion, conscience, guilt, insight, and change a person is capable. Autism and personality disorders share a common thread as ’empathy spectrum disorders’ now being studied extensively within the field of neuroscience. But, in some opposite ways, the women also share a common thread of an empathy disorder – hyper-empathy. We are coming to understand that hyper-empathy has much to do with her innate temperament (you come into the world wired with the personality you have), genetic predispositions to high or low empathy, and brain chemistry configurations that contribute to levels of empathy. The old thinking which assumes women with high empathy are merely ‘door mats’ is not scientifically correct when looking at current studies.
Neuroscience, with all its awesome information, has the dynamic power to blow us all out of the murky waters of assuming that our behavior is merely a reflection of our will. As neuroscience graces our minds with new understanding of how our brains work, it brings with it incredible freedom to understand our own traits, and the pathological traits of others.