Many people throw the word Narcissism around, not sure what it really means.  But if in fact you are or have been living with one, you WILL know that something is not right…..and it’s not you 😊.

Narcissists are self-absorbed. They often dominate conversations, manipulate their loved ones, and engage in deceptive behaviors for profit. In an effort to steer clear of these disingenuous individuals, many fall victim to their manipulation. So, how do they accomplish this? How do narcissists control you? What techniques do they use? Here are 5 methods narcissists employ to control their targets:

1. They target codependents.

Narcissists often find success in controlling others because they target codependents. “Narcissists generally seek out those with codependency characteristics,” Tom Gagliano, Relationship Expert, explains. “The narcissist reinforces the codependent’s shortcomings where they are manipulated to believe everything is their fault or that they are responsible to fix any discomforts in the relationship. The partner becomes afraid of the narcissist to the point where they lose their sense of self by believing all of the narcissist’s criticism.”  You might find yourself asking, “is it me or not?”

2. They make you feel special.

These self-centered individuals also go out of their way to be charming, to make others feel special—not because they genuinely value something about the individual but to manipulate them. “In their personal relationships, narcissists most often gain control over others by playing to a person’s (very understandable) desire to feel special and highly valued,” says Clinical Psychologist Forrest Talley. “The narcissist may say, for example, ‘Although I only just met you, it’s clear to me that you are exceptionally bright and capable. I’d love to get to know you more!”  Sound familiar?

3. They use shock, awe, and guilt.

Narcissists continue to gain control of the people in their life by eliciting difficult emotions. “After going through a period of ‘grooming’ someone for a close relationship, the narcissist moves on to use shock, awe, and guilt to maintain control,” Talley explains. “The shock and awe come from the over-the-top, emotionally charged tantrums that erupt when the friend (spouse or lover) has done something that disappointed the narcissist. Most normal people find such dramatic reactions exhausting and strange, therefore, they begin to work harder to avoid a repeat performance.”

4. They gaslight.

Narcissists are also commonly gaslighters meaning that they are master manipulators. “Gaslighting is a tactic of narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths,” Christine Scott-Hudson, Licensed Psychotherapist, explains. It is a manipulative behavior designed for self-gain, and even for sport. It is designed to weaken, trick, and destabilize the victim. Gaslighters will deny they said something or did something that you know they said or did. They move through the world dishonestly.”

5. They play hot and cold games.

Finally, narcissistic individuals are also known to play games. One of the ways that narcissists try to control you is by playing manipulative hot and cold games. One week, they’ll flatter you to get you to do what they want, and the next week, they’ll use aggression. The negative moments are interspersed with positive ones so that you might not even realize that you’re being manipulated. The only way to defeat this is to be cautious of the flattery and positivity when it comes. Take every action with a grain of salt, and don’t let the love-bombing be a form of bribery towards you. Niceties shouldn’t be conditional.

In summary, how do narcissists control you? What techniques do they use?

  • Narcissists are self-obsessed individuals who control others for their personal gain; they use specific tactics for getting and maintaining control.
  • Narcissists guarantee success by targeting codependents: the narcissist takes advantage of the codependent’s shortcomings.
  • Narcissists also try to make others feel special to gain control; for example, they might complement or flatter the individual to “love bomb them.”
  • They might go on to play with difficult emotions like shock, awe, and guilt to maintain control over their victim.
  • Narcissists also gaslight or practice master manipulation; they weaken and destabilize their victims to gain control. 
  • They then go on to play with difficult emotions like shock, awe, and guilt to maintain control over their victim.
  • Narcissists also gaslight or practice master manipulation to twist things around to make you believe you are at fault.
  • Finally, they’re hot and cold with their target, meaning that they utilize positive and negative emotions or moments to trick others.

Make yourself aware of these common tactics of narcissists. If you think you’ve fallen victim or are being targeted by these manipulators, do what you can to not react to their tactics. This might involve cutting ties with them, but remember, your mental health and wellbeing are on the line, and that always takes priority.   Seek professional help to help you process what you have endured since Narcissists are master manipulators. 

It can take years to get past the mental wreckage they can leave behind.  It is not your fault!!