“Until you realize how easy it is for your mind to be manipulated, you remain the puppet of someone else’s game.” ― Evita Ochel
The most common image people have of a narcissist is that of a snobbish, aggressive male or a self-appearance-obsessed female. Even though these features are closely associated with narcissism, this is just half of the picture. The other half is just as hideous.
Narcissists look like everyone else. He/she might be someone extremely well-spoken, smart, confident, charming, intelligent, and witty. They cannot be identified in one fleeting glance. You have to get to know them deeply, have to get down to play their game, have to surrender to their power and then you will realize, what toxicity you have exposed yourself to.
Narcissistic abuse is spreading like an epidemic just under our noses. People have come up with their traumatic and heartbreaking stories to talk about how they have survived the abuse. Anyone – you, me, or someone close to us, can become the victim of narcissistic abuse if they possess something which a narcissist envies.
It can range from material things, talents, and achievements to reputation, fame, and security. All they want is you to never be content and happy. Because that bugs them. They want the best of everything, and to achieve this end, they can go to unimaginable heights or descend to hellish depths.
They believe that they are entitled to everything wonderful in their lives.
And, other people around them, should always sacrifice, compromise their own needs and wishes to cater to theirs. If you fail to do so, they will be constantly controlled with a number of manipulative techniques that they are armed with or they will simply be dropped. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for them. It’s their way or the highway.
Relationship, as you can already imagine, with such a person is bound to be toxic. There will be a constant power struggle, manipulation, aggression, violence, infidelity, and mental torture that will someday leave you completely devasted, drained, and destroyed. Your life will never be the same again.
You will emerge out to be a whole new person, either stronger and rebellious than ever or vulnerable, damaged and broken in all aspects. Unfortunately, the second option is more probably going to happen.
The bad news is, a narcissist does not come along with a tag.
But you can always take precautions. The good part is, when you look closely, you will notice a number of obvious signs that you are trying to get along with a narcissist and that abuse are surely going to follow.
Here are 7 very common signs that you are being manipulated by a narcissist
1. They Monopolize Conversations.
I call it “owning the conversation”. They are basically conversation hackers.
Here, I will provide you with a sneak peek into a conversation with a narcissist:
“Hi, how have you been?”
“Hi. I am doing fine. What about you?”
“Ah! Life is at it’s best now. Tomorrow I am flying off to Los Angeles to join my dream job. Even though I was quite sure of my prospects, but you can never tell right?”
“Umm…Ya. You are right. You…”
“Bunk. I knew I would get it. Tell me more about how things are going with you.”
“It’s all fine. I have been sick for a few days now.”
“Oh! Don’t tell me. The previous week was disastrous for me. I got down with viral fever and it didn’t seem to leave me.”
You see, how the conversation is entirely centered around them and their concern. They don’t even care if you are interested to listen or not. Every time the other person is about to make a point, the narcissist will somehow turn up with another ‘very urgent’ topic to talk about. Often the urgency is nothing but that of control and attention.
A narcissist loves to be attended to. And if you are naturally a good listener, congratulations, you are officially the narc’s best friend now. They will make perfect use of your ability to their advantage.
A few minutes into the conversation with a narcissist, you will realize that the talk is happening from one end – the narcissist is the speaker and you are an absorbing sponge.
2. They Gaslight You.
This is the worst way to get manipulated because the damage this technique does is beyond recoverable.
Gaslighting is a technique in which the narcissist, will very shrewdly manipulate the environment around you, and then he/she will claim that your perception of the manipulated environment is all delusion and that you have “lost your mind”.
The worst part is, you will end up believing that you are going crazy. You will ultimately be manipulated into doubting your own memory, perception, sense, and your own sanity. It is an insidious, pervasive form of abuse, meant to override and control the other person’s reality.
It can range from simple denying of some true facts, like “I never said that. Don’t make things up.” or it can be an elaborately staged situation to prove your insanity, like, “I told you about my solo trip months ago. We had an elaborate discussion about it. Now that you have forgotten it, you are making up excuses? Tell me that you never really wanted me to go.”
It is a double-edged sword that serves both the purpose of controlling and also helps them cover up their own mistakes, without being caught. In this situation, it is natural for you to feel like you have lost your mind and doubt your own self.
3. They Love Playing The Victim Role.
“A narcissist paints a picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light. Time has a way of showing people’s true colors.” — Karla Grimes
Have you ever encountered a sympathy monger in your life?
A narcissist is one such individual who will never leave a chance to elaborately describe their miserable life stories.
They have been the victim to every type of torture, trauma, intimidation and struggles in life. What is the main intention of playing this victim role?
It gives them the chance to extract everything good from people around them. A narcissist will behave like a victim to gain sympathy, approval, affection, and other advantages from people around them.
If you complain about their ill-treatment and neglectful behavior towards you in a relationship, they might end up telling you, “I have been abused and criticized throughout my entire life and now you have not left a chance to make me feel like am not enough for you too.”
4. They Guilt-Trip You.
They will never leave a chance to find out faults in your behavior. Not just that. If you are gullible enough, they will not leave a chance to make you feel guilty for everything you have done.
Now the question is, “What have you done?”
You have actually not done anything! It is they who will mistreat you, abuse you, neglect you, accuse you and the moment you repercute, you are the evil one, the toxic one totally destroying their mental peace.
Narcissists will destroy your life, erode your self-esteem, and do it with such stealth as to make you feel that you are the one that’s letting them down.
Sounds familiar? Run. Run as fast as you can and never look back.
5. They Use Aggression And Violence To Intimidate You.
One common technique every narcissist use is aggression and violence. It can either be overt physical violence or covert passive-aggressive techniques to exercise their control.
When a narcissist notices that all his mind games are failing, they will actively start intimidating you with threats of physical harm. They will at times use means like hitting, pulling, grabbing, pushing, slapping, kicking, and even stabbing, to establish their point.
6. They Use Triangulation.
Triangulation is possible when the narcissist introduces a third party into the scenario.
This third party will always work in accordance with the narcissist and join hands to smear campaign you. When a narcissist’s every single technique fails to control you, he/she will introduce this last means to control how others view you. They will talk dirty about you, spread rumors and ultimately end up spoiling your image before everyone else – especially among your closest social circle.
7. They Minimalize Your Pain And Distress.
One obvious ritual in every healthy relationship is to express and exchange each other’s emotions.
How will it be if your partner constantly undermines the emotions you are experiencing?
Suppose you have had a disastrous day at work. You came back home, wishing to unburden all your frustrations as you share your concerns with your partner. But once you start telling him/her about it, they simply terminate the conversation saying “It will be all fine. Just ignore.” making you feel unattended and neglected.
Well, the problem is that there is no definite problem here. It simply is a trivial behavior on the part of your partner which leaves you disheartened.
A fulfilling relationship is never characterized by superficiality, lack of communication and warmth.
When days, weeks, or months pass by with you having to tolerate such abusive and toxic behavior from your partner, from whom you expected love, warmth, and understanding, your life feels like a living hell.
The more you are aware of these commonly used manipulative techniques of a narcissist, the more empowered you are. It will help you in identifying and dealing with these people who are only meant to destroy you.
Remember what Ramani Durvasula said,
“Relationships with narcissists are held in place by the hope of a ‘someday better,’ with little evidence to support it will ever arrive.“