5 Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head

Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head

Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head by Shahida Arabi. In popular culture, the term “narcissistic” is thrown about quite loosely, usually referring to vanity and self-absorption. This reduces narcissism to a common quality that everyone possesses and downplays the symptoms demonstrated by people with the actual disorder. While narcissism does exist on a spectrum, narcissism as a full-fledged personality disorder is quite different.

People who meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder or those who have traits of Antisocial Personality Disorder can operate in extremely manipulative ways within the context of intimate relationships due to their deceitfulness, lack of empathy and their tendency to be interpersonally exploitative. Although I will be focusing on narcissistic abusers in this post, due to the overlap of symptoms in these two disorders, this post can potentially apply to interactions with those who have ASPD to an extent.

Related: Are Narcissists Evil? Or Are They Just Helpless?

It’s important in any kind of relationship that we learn to identify the red flags when interacting with people who display malignant narcissism and/or antisocial traits, so we can better protect ourselves from exploitation and abuse, set boundaries, and make informed decisions about who we keep in our lives. Understanding the nature of these narcissistic abuse and how it affects us has an enormous impact on our ability to engage in self-care and own our agency and power.

5 Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head

Watch out for covert manipulation tactics when you’re dating someone or in a relationship.

Here are five powerful ways abusive narcissists get inside your head.

1. The Idealization-Devaluation-Discard Phase

Narcissists and those with antisocial traits tend to subject romantic partners through three phases within a relationship.

The idealization phase (which often happens most strongly during the early stages of dating or a relationship) consists of putting you on a pedestal, making you the center of his/her world, being in contact with you frequently, and showering you with flattery and praise. You are convinced that the narcissist can’t live without you and that you’ve met your soulmate. This is the starting point of how narcissists get inside your head.

Be wary of: constant texting, shallow flattery and wanting to be around you at all times. This is a technique known as “lovebombing” and it is how most victims get sucked in: they are tired of the “games” people play with each other in communication and are flattered by the constant attention they get from the narcissist. You may be fooled into thinking that this means a narcissist is truly interested in you, when in fact, he or she is interested in making you dependent on their constant praise and attention.

Related: 22 Stages of Relationship Between An Empath and A Narcissist

The devaluation phase is subsequent to this idealization phase, and this is when you’re left wondering why you were so abruptly thrust off the pedestal. The narcissist will suddenly start to blow hot and cold, criticizing you, covertly and overtly putting you down, comparing you to others, emotionally withdrawing from you and giving you the silent treatment when you’ve failed to meet their “standards.” Since the “hot” aspect of this phase relies on intermittent reinforcement in which the narcissist gives you inconsistent spurts of the idealization phase throughout, you become convinced that perhaps you are at fault and you can “control” the narcissist’s reactions.

Even though the narcissist can be quite possessive and jealous over you, since he or she views you as an object and a source of narcissistic supply, the narcissist is prone to projecting this same behavior onto you. The narcissist makes you seem like the needy one as you react to his or her withdrawal and withholding patterns even though the expectations of frequent contact were established early on in the relationship by the narcissist himself.

You are mislead into thinking that if you just learn not to be so “needy,” “clingy,” or “jealous,”  the narcissist will reward you with the loving behavior he or she demonstrated in the beginning. The narcissist may use these and other similar words to gaslight victims when they react normally to being provoked. It’s a way to maintain control over your legitimate emotional reactions to their stonewalling, emotional withdrawal, and inconsistency.

Watch out this interesting video to know about the narcissist’s favorite tool of manipulation:

25 thoughts on “5 Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head”

  1. OMG while reading this article i was feeling like this is exactly about the same person i knew few days back..so he was a sycho!!!?? your article will help me a lot to come out of that trauma..i was feeling very low these kind of ppl can make u feel unworthy inadequote guilty and so on…nd i was doing exactly the same i was trying to find my mistakes bt did not suceed bcz i did nthg wrong…thankGod its over..your article is like an angelic msg for me so that i can easily let go that mad person…may God bless u with all the hapiness nd gd health.. thanks a lot dear

  2. I feel so sad for the ppl who say they are staying for some higher purpose. It is not righteous to learn to peacefully endure abuse. It is not spiritual to subject yourself to sickness and tell yourself its for your growth. This is codependency. There is no world in which staying with an abuser help us or them. If they want help they will get it. Its not our job to be our partners treatment provider. I hear a lot of justification and guilt and denial. We have all been there. Our integrity is restored by having enough self esteem to not enable these ppl. A lot of us have grown up taking care of others needs all the time. Or confusing pity for love. These ppl are responsible for there own lives and we are for ours.

  3. I know a person that was close to me like that, she ruins people wherever she goes, destroys them, they believed her evil pity stories , got sucked in, then she goes for the jugular.

  4. Spot-on behaviour…. worst case of abuse and takes a long time to come to terms with. If you recognise this behaviour, cut them out of your life forever, concentrate on healing yourself and forget about justice ever being served. People you learned to love whilst with them ( family, friends) is already being “gaslighted” and they have to make a stand themselves. Do not count on their support in the process of healing yourself – the end also means loosing people you loved and respected whilst with such a person.

  5. Thanks for this article. I hope that as many women read it as much as possible! Your description is perfect. I was in a relationship with one and I’m a survival. I went through all the phases mentioned… It was the worst time in my life. After 4 years of abuse I managed to get a room in a friend’s house to run away and report to police. I had a record where he clearly says that he have the right to kill me if I leave him. He got arrested and deported! The “no contact” is exactly what the police told me to do! And I did. Later I was going through almost 3years of depression… Trying to find my place…Feeling lost. Luckily I have met a great man, who helped me move forward. It has been 5 years… Im happy and balanced now ?

  6. I lived this life for quite a while before a college psych class helped me realize what was going on and why I felt so crazy. I moved out but he made it impossible to “move on”.
    There are so many books and articles that boil-down the narcissists and/or emotional abuse to an understandable list, but what next? Please write about breaking free, fixing a broken self image (not your typical version of low self-esteem) and countering the smear campaign….and how to help the children who survive these nightmares too.

  7. Christian Cordero

    It is a great article, indeed. There is another way to see it, though. I am a Regression Past life Therapist and I am in a relationship with someone with most of what is written here, for about three years now. As Edgard Cayce said, there are no problems, only opportunities to solve issues that we have been dragging from past lives. So if I have a partner like that, there is an opportunity for me to step up and if I maintain my integrity, meaning not to be emotional, nothing will stick to me. There is a whole new world out there when you start seeing the energetic side of ourselves as we are more than the physical body. Our emotional body is one of the most difficult to master, so we need time and we usually leave the lesson for another timeline. She is my mirror and I am at awe with the transformation she is having as I have changed into a more grounded and loving standpoint. It is a very tough mirror that I am glad I have faced and being able to bring my partner to my level instead of me coming down to hers. As a practitioner, the lessons that experiencing these events has brought me so much understanding and clarity to pass it on or use it with clients. The astral body we do not see it, we feel it and if the heart is not taking part, new ways to face the mirror will not emerge. An empath lacking grounding has unresolved mother issues. Grounding allows the empath to feel somebody else’s emotions in others without “downloading” them onto you. Thanks for the great article!

    1. I now look at my encounters with Narcissists from ‘where I am today’ as an opportunity to gain an understanding and insight so as to not to become entangled yet another time in a dysfunctional relationship. A Narcissist as suggested in this article (and life experience) has helped me to understand – they have the ability to transform into whomever they feel you want them to be; they are the chameleon’s chameleon! One of the attractions of the narcissist’s supplies might be that they realize we try to ‘recycle and fix’ rather than ‘discard the item that is broken’. Not for nothing, but if my car is broken beyond repair, for what reason would I endure a relationship with it? It’s not a relationship if the other person is incapable, let alone deceitful, of reciprocation. This in no way equates with not being a caring and loving, grounded individual, it only is said to call attention that due to the amount of trauma and havoc a narcissist creates, trying to ‘fix them’ should not be added to the hardships a survivor need take on.

    2. It got powerfully my attention that most comments in this blog agree on one single thing: in order to stay sane one has to run away from the narcissist, but Christian offers a different approach: using the narcissist as a mirror to our own emotions which finally will lead us to a transformation in our lives, an opportunity to grow as spiritual beings. I been always attracted to narcissists and all my relationships have always followed the same pattern. As a matter of fact, I am currently in this kind of relationship (the article amazingly and accurately describes all the stages and characteristics of it) and i have to add this is the hardest one I’ve ever faced. It is so because this time I knew inside me that I had to stay, even though my first impulse was to run away because I was so afraid of all the pain and turmoil l knew it will bring to my life. But this time something very important happened to me: I woke up to a different level of consciousness, my spiritual level. Now, I know we are more than this body we live in. We are beings of light. You are right Christian, the emotional body is very difficult to master, but we have to do so if we want to grow as spiritual beings. The reason why my intuition urged me to stay instead of running away was because my spirit recognized this relationship as a growth opportunity. An excellent one because he is an amazing mirror where my emotions get reflected. Paulo Coelho says in “The Alquemist”: when you want something, the universe conspires for you to get it. I absoluetly believe so.
      I don’t know if I’m going to teach him lessons as he is teaching me, but I consider very important no to seek so very hardly. I don’t concentrate on “fixing him”, l rather pay attention to my issues and, if he is going to learn something from me, he will anyway. As I change without compromising my integrity, I’ve seen some changes in him also. But l dont know if he is ready to appreciate and love me back the way I’d like. This is hard but important to accept ,since my goal is spiritual growth.
      This approach to narcissists is a brave one. It takes guts!! It requires an open mind and heart, and not everyone is ready to adopt it. It depends on the spiritual level they are at, but I would continue stuck in my spiritual growth if i don’s see this narcissist as my opportunity rather than my problem.
      Thanks so much for sharing Christian, I’m not surprised with the kind of work you do.

  8. Oh my God I know this women.She married a close family member of mine!I describes her perfectly.It scared me just reading it.If you get involved with a person like this run don’t walk away!I promise you it has nothing but a horrible ending.

  9. Wow … that’s what is wrong with my husband of 32 years. I’ve been putting up with everything mentioned in this article all these years and just now realized that he’s a narcissist. I knew he had a mental disorder, but thought it was along the lines of mental retardation (for lack of a better term) because of his overtly mean and backward behavior that he expects me to think is normal, while insisting that there’s something wrong with ME. Wow … he’s a classic, alright … a classic narcissist!

    1. I’ve been living with one for 19 years and I feel trapped. Away from my mother country, away from my second country and with no falily around. I am so desperate for salvation and I don’t know how to break free. How have you been feeling about yourself after 32 years?

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