How Narcissists Manipulate With Reward & Punish. (Intermittent Reinforcement.)

One minute you can be living with someone who seemingly cares for you better than anyone ever has, then suddenly, for no apparent reason, it’s like living with a complete stranger who, no matter what you say or do they, seem to get more pleasure out of hurting you than caring for you, we can fall into the trap of asking them ”what’s wrong? What have I done? Have I done something?” As we want peace, we want calm, we want to understand them and them to understand us, we care, and we don’t like pain, however asking the narcissist often leads us straight into the trap of paying more attention to how we can make them happy and less attention to just how unhappy we indeed are around them, believing we are the problem through the narcissists gaslighting, blame-shifting and silent treatments, when in reality if they cared for us in the ways we care for them, they wouldn’t want to hurt us, as it would hurt them seeing us in pain, as it hurts us seeing them in pain, our question isn’t what have we done, our question should be why would they act this way, and our answer in within their behaviour, as they manipulate to exploit others as they feel entitled to get their needs met with a lack the empathy to care for how their behaviour affects you, only how with exposure they might suffer consequences. Therefore they covertly manipulate those around them into taking all the blame for the narcissist’s behaviour, so the narcissist can hide their true intentions, to hide their behaviour, and one way a narcissist will manipulate you is to punish you by withholding. They can withhold anything and everything from compassion, care, communication, friendships, family, love, safety, sleep, money, protection, affection, and privacy.

Narcissists slowly withhold things from you, so you don’t recognise what they’re actually doing to you. If you do start to recognise what they’re doing to you and ask them about this, they will gaslight you into blaming yourself for their behaviour towards you.

Narcissists like to withhold when they’re not getting their own way, when you’ve called them out on their behaviour, when you’ve set a boundary, when they feel criticism, when they fear exposure, they seek to punish you for the very things that they’re actually doing to you, so you end up questioning yourself more and not their behaviour.

Then when you start jumping through hoops to do exactly what they want you to do, they might reward you, and they might show you some compassion, some care, they might communicate with you, they might make you feel safe, they might leave you to sleep, treat you to something and give you that affection attention and support back.

This reward, punishment, is what makes it so confusing when they withhold from you again, as our minds can remember the fact that they treated us right. This is their admiration-seeking face.

The narcissist’s admiration face, I am great, I am special, I am perfect, I know how to handle people, I am powerful, I am better than all the others.

They don’t go straight out and say it. They instead put on their charismatic charm to draw you in, or the woe is me, so you empathise with them, want to help them, as they are treating you so right, you couldn’t imagine they would willingly want to hurt you, if you’ve been hurt in the past you can relate to them.

The love bombing phase and the narcissist’s reward phase are your reality at that moment. It might well be an act and An Illusion, and a trap on the narcissist’s part, as you can not see the act to you. It’s real, and it builds you up to living on such a fantastic high.

Then when they don’t get what they want, their envious face emerges.

The envious face, I am better than all the others, I want others to fail, I need to be the centre of attention, Everyone should take care of me, and they withdraw from you. When they are not getting their own way, as they feel entitled, they take this as an in-depth criticism, and the tantrums begin, slowly breaking down your boundaries, with The Narcissists’ Triangulation. Pity plays, guilt trips, and more are usually done slowly over time, with the added Gaslighting, which is psychological manipulation making you lose your sense of reality. Narcissists seek to take out those they feel are not serving them as they should, not admiring them as they should.

As narcissistic people might feel shame, they do not like the feelings of shame for what they do. Therefore they shift the Blame and Project to escape responsibility, often telling that many lies they believe their own reality.

The more they manipulate us into doing exactly what they want, the more we lose who we are, leaving us hurt, confused and often alone, as the narcissist will have most likely isolated us.

The narcissist slowly Devalues us through their put-downs, either covert. ”are you really going out in that.” To the overt. ”you look awful in that.” Taking us down bit by bit, criticising where we go, what we do, how we treat them, how we treat others, what we do wrong, then when they need you again, they lift you back to you.

Yet when we do get something right for the narcissist, the narcissist will offer intermittent plays of the nice side, rewarding us to confuse us even more.

We can remember when they treated us well, and then they blame us when they took it away from us. Then they reward us when we do something that suits them, so we are influenced into believing we are the problem, and this is reinforced in our mind when they punish us, then when we try to make it up to them, it’s reinforced that it was our fault when they treat us right.

It’s never your fault. It’s who they are.

Another manipulation method narcissists use to get us questioning ourselves and isolated from support is to give you things in public in front of others in front of friends, family, and strangers that they are withholding from you within the home. A narcissist will emotionally murder you within the privacy of your own home. Because they reward you in public and give you those things in public, those around you don’t recognise what’s happening to you then when you try to explain what’s happening to those around you. People don’t believe you as they only see the side of the narcissist when a narcissist is treating you well. 

Sometimes, a narcissist can give the things they’re withholding from you to others in front of you. This often happens with siblings. What the narcissistic parent withholds from one sibling, they will give to another sibling a narcissistic partner will up and abandon their family. Then they will go and give the new supply and the new supplies children the things they’re withholding from their own family.

When people have been hurt because someone has lied, cheated, duped, or exploited them, they can withhold. When the one who hurt them tries to gain forgiveness, they can slowly stop withholding. With a narcissist, their admiration-seeking face got hurt, and they didn’t get their own way, so they withhold to punish and reward when you make it up to them. It’s all in patterns of behaviour and intentions behind the behaviour.

It’s not all about what narcissists do to you. It’s what they don’t do for you and what they take away from you. Narcissistic people train you to expect nothing and give everything. 

The narcissist’s reward punish.

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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.

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