Why Do Narcissists Have Such a Strong Desire to Control Others?
Narcissism, simply put, is a personality trait characterised by an inflated sense of self-importance, a constant need for validation, and a lack of empathy for others. Now, you might wonder, why do they feel the need to control those around them? To understand this, we need to explore the underlying motivations and fears that fuel their behaviour.
Firstly, control is a mechanism narcissists employ to maintain their grandiose self-image. They see themselves as superior to others and crave admiration and adoration. By exerting control, they ensure that the people in their lives will conform to their expectations, constantly reinforcing their egotistical perception of themselves. In essence, it becomes a way for them to validate their idealised version of self.
Furthermore, narcissists often feel deeply insecure and harbour a fear of being exposed as less than perfect. They dread any potential loss of control that might reveal their vulnerabilities or flaws. Consequently, they attempt to micromanage the lives of others, manipulating situations and people to maintain the illusion of control and perfection. By controlling others, they can safeguard their fragile self-esteem and shield themselves from criticism or judgment.
Additionally, narcissists crave power and thrive on having influence over others. They derive a sense of satisfaction from manipulating those around them, as it feeds into their insatiable need for dominance. They enjoy being the puppeteer, pulling the strings to shape people’s thoughts, actions, and emotions. This control also provides them with a means to meet their own needs at the expense of others, all while maintaining a façade of superiority.
In conclusion, the strong desire narcissists have to control others stems from a combination of their deep-rooted insecurities, need for validation, fear of exposure, and hunger for power.
Narcissists often exhibit controlling behaviour in their interpersonal relationships as a way to maintain power, dominance, and their grandiose sense of self. Here are several signs or traits that indicate their need for control:
- Dominance and manipulation: Narcissists have a strong desire to be in control of every situation, and they often use manipulative tactics to achieve this. They may use tactics like gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or playing mind games to assert dominance over their partner.
- Need for admiration: Narcissists crave excessive admiration and attention from others. They may control their partner to ensure they receive constant admiration and validation.
- Making all decisions: Narcissists tend to exert control by making all significant decisions in the relationship, such as where to go, what to do, and even what the partner should wear. They may dismiss or belittle their partner’s opinions and desires.
- Isolating and minimising the partner: Narcissists often isolate their partner from friends and family to ensure that their influence remains unquestioned. They may also undermine their partner’s self-esteem by criticising their abilities, achievements, or appearance.
- Jealousy and possessiveness: Narcissists can display intense jealousy and possessiveness as a means to control their partner. They may monitor their partner’s activities, invade their privacy, or accuse them of infidelity without any valid reasons.
- Lack of empathy: Narcissists have difficulty understanding or empathising with others’ emotions. Their controlling behaviour often stems from their inability to recognise or appreciate their partner’s feelings and needs.
- Verbal or physical abuse: In extreme cases, narcissists may resort to abusive tactics like verbal or physical intimidation to control their partner’s behaviour.
- Love bombing and devaluation cycles: At the beginning of a relationship, narcissists tend to engage in “love bombing” where they excessively shower their partner with love, compliments, and attention. However, gradually, they may devalue their partner, using this power dynamic to manipulate and control them.
- Need for perfection and micromanagement: Narcissists have a deep need for perfection and control over their surroundings. They may exhibit extreme micromanagement tendencies, critiquing and dictating how their partner performs daily tasks or duties.
- Fear of abandonment: Underneath their controlling behaviour, narcissists often have an intense fear of being abandoned or rejected. Consequently, they may employ controlling tactics as a defence mechanism to keep their partner emotionally and physically close.
It’s important to remember that not all narcissists exhibit the same behaviours, and some individuals may display a combination of these traits to varying degrees.
Understanding the motivations behind a narcissist’s control-driven behaviour can help us navigate these challenging dynamics with more compassion and detachment, enabling us to maintain healthy boundaries and foster personal growth.
When narcissists lose control over someone, their desperation and manipulative tactics tend to escalate. They resort to a variety of toxic behaviours in an attempt to regain power and influence over their victims. Here, we will explore ten common strategies employed by narcissists when they find themselves losing control over an individual.
- Acting like nothing happened: Narcissists may choose to completely ignore their harmful actions or words, pretending as if nothing destructive occurred. This denial allows them to avoid taking responsibility and deflect accountability for their behaviour.
- Love bombing: To reestablish control, narcissists may switch back to their initial charming and affectionate stage, showering their victim with excessive compliments, gifts, and attention. This technique, known as love bombing, aims to charm and manipulate the person back into their life.
- False promises: Narcissists may make outlandish promises to regain influence, falsely claiming to have changed or promising a better future. These empty assurances are merely tactics to regain control and can rarely be trusted.
- Future Faking: Similar to false promises, future faking involves creating an illusion of a bright future together. Narcissists may paint vivid pictures of shared dreams, goals, and aspirations, only to manipulate their victims into submission.
- Shifting the blame: Instead of acknowledging their shortcomings, narcissists consistently shift blame onto others. They twist narratives and manipulate situations to portray themselves as the victims, absolving themselves of any responsibility.
- Threats: When a narcissist feels vulnerable, they may resort to threats and intimidation. Whether it is threatening to expose secrets, engage in legal battles, or harm the victim’s reputation or loved ones, these actions are geared towards instilling fear and retaking control.
- Exaggerating: In an attempt to discredit their victim, narcissists often exaggerate or fabricate stories about the person’s behaviour or character flaws. They use these distortions to diminish the victim’s credibility and manipulate others’ perceptions of them.
- Fake illness: Some narcissists may feign illness or create physical and mental health issues to garner unwarranted sympathy from their victim and others. This manipulation aims to keep the victim under their control and ensure their continued attention and support.
- Smear your name: Narcissists may engage in a smear campaign, spreading false rumours and lies about their victim to tarnish their reputation. By poisoning others’ perceptions, they seek to isolate the victim and maintain control over the narrative.
- Contacting family: When feeling the loss of control, narcissists may reach out to the victim’s family or friends, portraying themselves as concerned or warning others about the victim’s alleged misconduct. This act aims to foster distrust, further isolate the victim, and regain control over their support system.
Additionally, narcissists may intrude upon the victim’s personal space, appearing unexpectedly or joining their hobbies and activities to exert control and maintain a constant presence in their life.
Recognising these tactics is crucial for individuals who have experienced narcissistic abuse. Understanding that these behaviours stem from a narcissist’s need to regain control can empower victims to establish boundaries and seek support.
Dealing with a narcissist who has lost control can be challenging, but establishing and maintaining boundaries is crucial. Here are some effective strategies and techniques to help you navigate this situation:
- Clearly define your boundaries: Take time to identify and establish clear boundaries for yourself. Understand what behaviours are unacceptable and make sure you communicate them firmly and assertively. Remember, when dealing with narcissists, the best boundaries are physical, psychological and emotional distance.
- Be assertive and calm: When communicating with a narcissist, it’s essential to remain calm and assertive. Stick to your boundaries, express yourself clearly, and avoid becoming defensive or emotionally reactive.
- Limit your interactions: If the narcissist’s behaviour becomes overwhelming or toxic, consider limiting your interactions with them. This might involve reducing contact, setting specific communication boundaries, or even implementing a complete no-contact rule if necessary.
- Don’t engage in power struggles: Narcissists thrive on power struggles and enjoy provoking reactions. Avoid getting sucked into arguments or pointless debates. Instead, focus on calmly asserting your boundaries and disengaging from unnecessary conflicts.
- Seek support: Dealing with a narcissist can be emotionally draining. Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist who can provide guidance, validation, and support. Having a support system can help you maintain your boundaries and stay grounded.
- Build self-care practices: Prioritise self-care to strengthen your emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, practice mindfulness or meditation, exercise regularly, and focus on your personal growth. Taking care of yourself will help you navigate difficult situations more effectively.
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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.