Have you ever been in a situation in which you felt like constructing an adequate argument in a heated discussion was impossible for you? Or have you felt powerless to voice your opinions due to knowing severe negative consequences would definitely follow?
In the context of dealing with a toxic relationship with a narcissist, there are three specific ways such a person may lead you to that state of mind.
Although you may not notice them from the beginning, they certainly have the potential to hold a severe grip on you and your ability to express yourself freely.
Therefore, it is of significance to have a healthy awareness of the issue at hand, so that you have the capabilities to potentially recognize and stay away from such behavior (which is, inevitably, a highly individualistic matter).
“A narcissist paints a picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light. Time has a way of showing people’s true colors.” – Karla Grimes
Boundary testing and ‘hoovering’
Narcissists, as toxic people have in common, tend to test a person’s boundaries on a regular basis. They do so in an attempt to calculate which ones they can cross and to what extent. The more they are allowed to overstep, the more they would keep going, pushing you to your limit.
Hence, that is considered the reason why victims of emotional and/or physical abuse experience (in time) even larger amounts of abuse every time they go back to their abuser. Toxic narcissists are inclined to ‘hoover’ their victims back, preying on them with promises, inauthentic ‘deep’ regret and untrustworthy assurance that they will change for the better.
The abuse that follows is almost always worse than it ever was before. In the narcissistic mind, the ‘boundary testing’ is a form of a punishment for the attempted ‘escape’ from his/her abuse and simultaneously for going back to it.
Aggressive remarks disguised as ‘jokes’
“Withhold admiration from a narcissist and be disliked. Give it and be treated with indifference.” – Mason Cooley
Covert narcissists have the propensity to get enjoyment out of making hurtful comments at the expense of their target/victim.
Typically, those remarks are masked as merely innocent ‘jokes’ in order for them to make it possible to get away with such harsh insults, abusive remarks. However, if the victims react badly to said behavior, they would always be characterized as having ‘no sense of humor‘.
This is a frequently used form of verbal abuse. To further my previous point, the narcissists tend to get pleasure out of inflicting pain and being able to get away with it unscathed. Such a gaslighting tactic leads you to believe their (very real) abuse is just a ‘funny’ joke, as they divert their cruelty onto your so-called ‘sensitivity’. A valuable piece of advance in this instance is that whenever this may happen, you should stand your ground and be very clear of your intolerance towards such type of behavior.
This, however, may lead to further gaslighting as the manipulator will not back down from their claims. Therefore, analyze your situation carefully and be sure to end this toxic back and forth as long as you feel comfortable and safe.
Humiliating sarcasm and patronizing tone
In terms of verbal abuse, the tone is also a characteristic worth mentioning, as it is a skillful tool in the arsenal of a toxic person. Therefore, sarcasm is misused in order to enable the narcissist to use it as a method of constant degradation. In a situation you react badly to it, as mentioned above, you will be deemed ‘too sensitive‘.
As a result, you will end up being very careful in your wish to voice your opinions, as well as in your word choice due to the fact that you would almost always want to avoid that toxic confrontation. Understandably so, you will be silenced (evidently by your own self-censorship) and not have the proper right to express yourself. Consequently, the ‘abuser’ is, in fact, the sensitive one to any negative feedback and disapproval.
In addition, whenever a condescending tone or demeanor is present in the communication, you should acknowledge it rationally and take action against it. The belittling taking place due to ‘the superiority complex‘ of an abuser would only lead you to walk an unhealthy path of negative thinking and behavioral patterns.