Narcissists use different manipulative mind games to covertly gain and keep control over us without us realising. Here are eleven examples of their most common Mind Games Narcissists play.
In a bid to control others as quickly as they can, narcissists often love bomb people, often with pressure for fast involvement of the relationship. Parents, friends and narcissistic bosses can also love bomb by showering you with time, attention, flattery, gifts, grand gestures of what turn out to be false promises in the future, as it’s plans of the future we don’t recognise it in the present as it has not happened yet, narcissists love bomb to lead us into believing in them, often when they don’t deliver they find ways to deflect the blame away from themselves or gaslight us into believing we imagined it, or we don’t deserve it.
Like crossing a road, sometimes in life, we have to stop, take a step back from the situation, listen to what’s happening, look at what’s happening and listen again, when we see no cars, hear no sound, we cross with caution, still looking and listening, we have to do the same with those rushing us into a relationship, showering us with attention, narcissistic people are very good at listening to us, in the beginning, making it all about us, then as soon as they have us figured out those tables turn and it’s all about them. Stop, slow down, listen and see. When something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t. When you’re entering that zone, slow it down.
When a narcissist mirrors, it’s done on a conscious level as they study their targets to purposefully almost collect data, then reflect back what we want to hear, often accompanied by Future Faking. Some will listen to us for hours. As we try to be honest, we can give a little too much information to a narcissist. Some will stalk our social media. Others will ask friends and family about us. They are literally gathering data. As a narcissist lacks in their own authentic personality, they are testing yours. Using borrowed love statements from the movies, borrowed dreams from those around them. They want to build your hopes up, which creates the Trauma Bond. So when their mask slips and their envious face comes out in full force, they will then Project their negative qualities onto us, so we doubt ourselves, they downplay their toxic behaviour, and exaggerate things we haven’t even done to get us to conform to their demands and walk on Eggshells around them.
With their false promises of the future, the future faking to create a vision of an ideal future together, often based from the mirroring stage so that it will be seeming as though all your dreams are coming true, they often bring intermittent reinforcements of the idealisation stage, with the future faking, to give you false hope, keeping you in the relationship way longer than you ever should have been.
Your dreams are for you. If someone is willing to walk with you as you would them, create those memories together if someone wishes to do them all for you, or promise yet never seems to take any action, walk away from them.
A compliment. It is a polite expression of praise or admiration, for quality, an achievement, a look etc., that someone genuinely admires within another person.
Flattery. Giving excessive or insincere praise to meet one’s own purpose.
A narcissist will flatter you. Pay close attention. They don’t give you genuine compliments. They use flattery. They use this tactic during the idealisation stage. They find out your needs, wants and desires, either from checking your social media, talking to others to find information about you. What feels like those sincere hearts to hearts, in the beginning, they are just gathering all information about you, first to mirror you, then love bomb you, idealising the relationship into something it’ll never be, to hook you in. They use your insecurities to exploit you. They will flatter you, give you constant attention, plan a Fake future with you, and they will love everything you do and hate everything you hate. Once you are hooked on their continuous attention, they’ll take it away to make you work harder to get it again. They will get you to tell them all your secrets and insecurities, so they can further manipulate by one day using those very secrets against you, any way they can. They will learn all your strengths, so they can use them against you to make you doubt your own capabilities. We all make mistakes in life. It’s all a part of the learning process. A narcissist will pick out any mistake, real or not, in the things you are great at to bring you down, to intimidate you, to make you question yourself.
They fish for compliments, and they need to boost their self-esteem to help them keep their inflated ego going. They will fish for compliments from family, friends, coworkers, children, anybody they can, social media to support their false selves and ego going. It’s more evident with an overt narcissist, but a covert does it too.
Set the stage.
They will set the environment. They will bait you into a situation or provoke you to get reactions from you, so they can blame you, play the victim or use their silent treatment to get you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do, gaslighting you, so you are no longer sure of reality, often leaning on them for a reality check. They will create a topic or an atmosphere to provoke other emotional responses. They will triangulate you, play you off against those around you, to break down your boundaries or make you feel guilt. They always have a hidden agenda.
Sometimes in these situations, you have to keep diary’s so you can go back to check events, ask yourself, are they my feelings, or are they passing theirs onto me?
They will gossip about everybody, often trying to get others to gossip with them, so they can go to the other and let them know all that you said about them. Triangulation is a way to divide and conquer people. Hence, others only trust in the narcissist and start to distance themselves from friends that may not have said anything in the first place or reacted to what the narcissist told them someone said, which the narcissist will then say to the person your reaction, often with added words, so what starts as the narcissists lies slowly becomes half-truths as the narcissist gets those around them to defend themselves against things that weren’t even said, even though the narcissist was the one who said it. They also want to gain as much information about others, to one day use against them. They will twist the story, so the gossip was all you, even if they were the one doing the taking. As well as triangulation, they will also use jealousy, and narcissists are extremely envious and jealous people. So they may go all out complimenting others in front of you. Especially about things you feel insecure about within yourself. If you question them, you’ll get the gaslighting phrases of. “You’re too sensitive.” Or “you’re overacting.” They will undermine you in front of others, and they have probably already smeared you to others.
Use your empathy against you.
They will bargain with you and pity play to get you to do things you don’t want to or to make you feel guilty. They may compare you with someone else who has done something to try and break down your boundaries or say things like. “If you loved me, you would.” Or “Remember when I did this for you.” Or “You owe me because of that thing I did just for you.” This is all guilt-tripping you and projecting to either make you not feel as good as others, so you conform to their demands, or make you feel like you owe them.
They will guilt trip you in passive-aggressive ways, to get you to break down your boundaries. By the blame-shifting, gaslighting and projecting, creating arguments about what you should have done, or could have done better for the narcissist, then blaming it all on you.
They will either talk you out of doing something or talk you into doing something, and they will make out they know you better than you know yourself and explain through manipulation why you should or should not do something like that. “You’d never do that.” Or the bargaining method of “If you loved me, you would.”
Playing the victim.
They will play the victim, the covert narcissist, more than the overt, but depending on the situation and what they can gain from someone attention wise by playing the victim card, most narcissists will use this tactic at some point. This gets your sympathy and empathy as you can put yourself in other’s shoes, so you want to reach out and protect and help them any way you can, which will lead you to lose who you indeed are over time. They will then play victim to others for how crazy you are and how they’re doing all they can to help you.
They will promise you things and then not deliver, to try and get reactions out of you, for which they can then blame your reactions for why they didn’t do it.
When using false promises, they will also use it to manipulate you more through gaslighting and leave you even more confused about reality with the. “I never said I’d do that. You must be imagining things.” Or the. “I did it last month for you. Do you not remember?” Of course, you don’t as they never did, slowly but surely leaving you doubting yourself more and more.
Suck you back in.
The hoover, when they try to suck you back in, stalking you, reaching out to friends and family, missed calls, messages, a false apology. All because the new person isn’t working out as well as they first hopped, don’t get your hopes up, they will try to discard the new, by leaving the door open so that they can triangulate you both, so you both work harder, to win the narcissists affection.
My best advice when they try this. Let them go. They are not worthy of you. They are not good enough for you. You can do so much better, lose your pride and your ego to save yourself, and pity the fool that ends up with a manipulative twit that’s just using them as they used you. Also keep true to yourself if that person one day needs help to recover, remember just how horrendous the relationship was, and that they just got sucked into a twisted relationship of lies, drama and manipulation, be kind to others who don’t know any better and help them recover, if they ever ask you, even if you just point them in the direction of support groups, as you will get to a happier place. You will be a better person for it. You’ll no longer hold any resentment, and you’ll not wish that ex on your worst enemy, who also happens to be that ex.
The smear campaign.
The smear campaign is the narcissist’s protection as they lie to others about what we’ve been doing to them, which indeed is most often precisely what they did to us.
The smear campaign is when a narcissist wants to destroy you any way they can.
”When they can no longer control you, they will try and control how others see you.”
A narcissist will do this through exaggeration, twisting the story of what they did to you, yet telling others you did to them, lies, slander, spreading rumours and much, much more.
The narcissist uses the smear campaign so that they can keep their toxic behaviours hidden from society, so we look like we’re jealous and either wanting the narcissist back or wanting to seek revenge on the narcissist, they use the smear campaign to make us look like we’re crazy or obsessed with them, they will either play the hero that tried so hard to help us, and we are often left looking and acting depressed a shell of our former selves, or they’ll be playing the victim of how we’ll no longer allow them to see their children or that we abused them, they’ll exploit others by using their empathy against them. They’ll be telling all those who’ll listen to everything that they did to us, only they’ll be making out to others that we did to them. So they shift the blame and walk free from any responsibility.
The best way to beat a narcissist playing game with your happiness, your dreams, your livelihood, your friendships, your family, your career, your health, your name, and your freedom is safely stepping away and no longer play. They find it very difficult when you’re not feeding them the attention they believe they deserve.
Just like the saying (although sometimes there is.), there’s no smoke without fire, theirs no flames without oxygen.
So a narcissist can create a smokescreen without the fire starting to burn because your no longer giving your attention to feed the flames, rumours, gossips etc. quieten down a lot faster when we no longer play, narcissists lose attention a lot more quickly when they’re not getting the attention they believe they’re entitled to.
As always, it’s on a spectrum. Your safety and happiness come first. If you need to go to the authorities, do so, gather any evidence you can.
The narcissists mind games.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
A relationship with a narcissist.