“The narc has been living in denial of their humanity and normal vulnerable feelings for so long there is an entire life time of unexpressed, repressed emotions rotting in the depths of their psyche. This is why they cannot stand to be alone. In that stillness they start to notice the stink coming up from the basement,” wrote Richard Grannon.
A narcissist does not want good things for you. They don’t like you. They don’t like the world. They don’t like themselves.
However, they must have you. They need you – and they will do anything to keep you around.
Here are three things about you a narcissist will not hesitate to exploit – and how they will do so:
1. Your Emotional Needs – As human beings, we all have emotional needs.
For a narcissist, this is one aspect of humanity with which they can easily identify. We need affection. We need validation. We need approval. A narcissist needs these things even more than most people – and for this reason, they deeply understand them. A true narcissist will use your needs to keep you under their control. To do so, they will likely employ the following tactics:
- A narcissist may set high expectations that they know are unattainable. They will subtly let you know when you fail to meet them. They may even raise their expectations if you perform better than expected.
- A narcissist will rarely offer you praise, admiration, or unconditional acceptance.
- When they do praise you, they will do so in a way that is excessive or over-the-top. They couple this with infrequent approval to make their opinion seem more valuable than others.
- A narcissist may withdraw frequently to increase your need for their companionship.
- They will always find a way to shift the blame to you in an argument, even when they know they are in the wrong.
- A narcissist will use guilt to manipulate you.
- They will often compare you to others as a way of keeping you from feeling secure.
2. Your Strengths – Nothing is more threatening to a narcissist than your positive qualities.
This is especially true when your strengths inspire feelings of jealousy or inferiority. With a narcissist, this is not hard to do. A person who is practiced in narcissistic abuse will know how to harness your strengths and use them to bring you down. They will use your best qualities to lower your self-esteem and encourage your dependence on them. Here’s how:
- A narcissist may undermine your accomplishments with backhanded compliments. For example, they may say “That painting’s really good for someone who’s not a professional.”
- They will find ways to spin your strengths into character flaws. Kindness will become people-pleasing. Intelligence will become pretention. Confidence will become arrogance. They will encourage you to downplay and minimize the very parts of your identity that make you great.
- They may discourage you from doing the things you excel at, claiming that they take time and focus away from your relationship.
- They will take credit for your accomplishments whenever they have the opportunity to do so. An especially clever narcissist may even convince you that your strengths would not exist without their help.
- A narcissist will discourage you from chasing your dreams, claiming that they are being realistic or trying to protect you.
3. Your Weaknesses – For most people, confiding in others about their weaknesses is a way to bond.
Doing this helps to build warmth, trust, and a sense of intimacy between friends. Often, our decision to be vulnerable is the turning point when acquaintances become friends. In relating to a narcissist, however, we need to be conscious of how much we reveal. Here are some ways a narcissist may use your vulnerabilities against you:
- They will act extremely sympathetic to encourage you to confide in them. They don’t see this as support – they are acquiring ammunition.
- A narcissist will intentionally put you in a situation they know will cause you to feel insecure. They do this to give themselves the upper hand.
- A narcissist may bring up your mistakes in public to embarrass you, or to bring you down when they themselves are feeling small.
- They may choose to reinforce your insecurities in subtle ways. For example, they may tell a friend who struggles with her body image that her skirt is too tight. They will claim they are only being honest and trying to help.
- A narcissist may share things with others that you told them in confidence, to lower a mutual friend’s opinion of you.
- They will bring up your greatest failures and insecurities when they are upset. Nothing is off limits to a narcissist.
Don’t waste your time trying to win the approval of a narcissist.
You’ll never get it. Deep down, they don’t even approve of themselves. As Shannon L. Alder wrote, “They will hate you if you are beautiful. They will hate you if you are successful. They will hate you if you are right. They will hate you if you are popular. They will hate you when you get attention. They will hate you when people in their life like you…They just hate. However, remember this: They hate you because you represent something they feel they don’t have. It really isn’t about you. It is about the hatred they have for themselves. So smile today because there is something you are doing right that has a lot of people thinking about you.”