12 Manipulative Strategies Narcissists Use To Keep You Trapped

Manipulative Strategies Narcissists Use To Keep You Trapped

Many of my SLD/codependent clients have ASPD spouses or partners and wake up to this reality in horror, recognizing this person cannot connect and never has. They also begin to see the dangers of this person because once you take away their backstory, they cannot function in the world or act human.

These covert narcissists can pull off being human because they build these relationships with ASPDs, but once they lose that connection, they have a reaction because they understand what it means for their backstory.

Alternatively, the garden-variety narcissists simply explode outward. People with Borderline Personality Disorder say they hate you and want to hurt you, then they say I love you, don’t leave me. BPDs eventually threaten suicide if you dare to leave them. The fear of abandonment is at the core of Borderline Personality Disorder—whether real or perceived.

Even if this fear is not rational at times, if you do eventually decide to leave them, validating their biggest fear, the next step could potentially be suicide. Many people with BPD will attempt to commit suicide to bring you back.

Unfortunately, this often makes people feel trapped.

I have had many codependent/SLD clients who were trapped because they knew that their partner would kill himself or herself, and they do not want their children to suffer as a result. And it is a hard sell as a psychotherapist to tell clients that they simply cannot stop him or them from killing themselves.

You may even have to deal with their death, and it will be horrible, but you must live your life no matter what happens.

My job is to get my clients to understand that if this does happen, it is not their fault. It is critical to prepare for that to potentially happen. To do this, we examine what type of narcissist they are dealing with, and how they may respond to the end of this relationship while building on the momentum built-in Stage-5.

12 Manipulative Strategies Narcissists Use To Keep You Trapped
12 Manipulative Strategies Narcissists Use To Keep You Trapped

3. Passive or Covert Aggression

If outright aggression does not work, then they will go underground.

4. Sabotage, Triangulation, Poisoning Minds

The narcissist will involve a third person in the relationship in order to violate a boundary, hurt, control, protect, or punish the codependent/SLD. At this point friends, family, and kids are also victims of narcissistic abuse.

Related: What Is Triangulation In Emotional Abuse (With Examples)

5. Willing (Insincerely) to Negotiate

If and when the aggression strategy doesn’t work, they start to negotiate.

Be ready for your partner to suddenly quit drinking, cheating, gambling, or doing any of the things you have been begging them to quit for years. They realize that you are serious. They know they have to pull out all the stops to get you to stay.

But thanks to Stage-4, you are not surprised. You do not wonder if this time it is for real and don’t negotiate. You realize this means nothing and you understand that your narcissist is simply trying to pull you back in, not change.

6. Agreeing to Stop Problems

The next stage is agreeing to stop the problems. Maybe they agree to go to therapy. Every so often my SLD will tell me, “he is finally ready to go to therapy, maybe this is the chance”.

I remind her or him of the narcissistic personality disorder traits, and how the person they are dealing with does not think they have a problem, and this is simply their last-ditch effort.

If my client does not believe me, I ask them to ask their narcissist a question, “Why do you want to go to therapy?” The follow-up question to that is, “What will you do in therapy?”

What do you expect they will say?

They say I want to go to therapy because I want to keep you from leaving me, so I can save our marriage. You will not hear that they want to stop gaslighting you. That they want to work on their selfishness, self-absorption, or grandiosity. Those would be sociopathic responses because they do not believe any of that.

Related: Rationalizing Manipulation: How Narcissists Take Advantage Of You

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Ross Rosenberg M.Ed., LCPC, CADC

Ross Rosenberg M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, is the owner of Self-Love Recovery Institute. He is a psychotherapist, educator, expert witness, and author. Ross is known globally for his expertise in codependency (Self-Love Deficit Disorder™), Pathological Narcissism, Narcissistic Abuse, and Trauma Treatment. He is a keynote speaker and educator who has presented in 30 States/70 cities and abroad. Ross has been regularly featured on national TV and radio. His “The Human Magnet Syndrome” books sold over 120K copies and are translated into 10 languages. His YouTube Channel has amassed 19 million video views and over 200K subscribers.View Author posts