When most people think of a Narcissist, they think of someone who is arrogant, obnoxious and difficult to get along with. And to a point that’s true–however, that description only applies to the “obvious,” or “overt” Narcissists. This is a huge problem, as there is another type of Narcissist called “covert” or “less obvious/hidden.” These types of Narcissists are the opposite of the overt ones. They usually come across as humble, kind, funny, easy to get along with and very, very charming. These are the kind of people who can really work a room. In my opinion, the covert Narcissists tend to do the most damage, as no one sees them coming–and worse, no one believes the victim, as the Narcissist seems like a prince among men.
So what can a victim of a Narcissist do?
Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do, except to go into self-protection mode, and educate yourself on what you are up against. Odds are you will not change other people’s opinion of the Narcissist, or of the story that he’s told them. It’s hard to get other people to understand the damage that a covert Narcissist is doing, or has done, because it’s outside the realm of what they think is even possible. After all, most people who are trusting, decent people, tend to think that other people are the same way they are–and we all like to think that we’d be able to identify abusive or bad people. (Even if we are wrong.)
Narcissists, especially covert Narcissists go to great length to build up and maintain their public image. People like and trust them, and that’s all part of their plan. All of the crazy making and smear campaigns they are launching against you has been strategically planned out. Odds are they launched a smear campaign against you long before you ever realized it.
How to go into self-protection against a Narcissist:
1. Realize that they are playing a game, and that they are playing to win. Everything a Narcissist does is to feed their ego, so a good rule of thumb is to always be asking yourself, how are they feeding their ego by doing this? (Doesn’t matter what they are doing–the dishes, homework with the kids, stalking you, cheating, sending your 30 texts telling you how sorry they are, etc.) They know exactly what they are doing. They are pushing your buttons on purpose, and what’s worse is that they are doing this for fun. What you thought was a real relationship is nothing more than an entertaining game for them. Everything that they do and say is an act. Everything. The sooner you realize this, the more peace you will have about the whole situation, even though you are probably in an immense amount of pain right now.
2. Realize what you are up against:
A smear campaign. Like I mentioned before, at this point in a breakup with a Narcissist, they are already a few steps ahead of you, and their smear campaign is in full-force. They’ve gone to great lengths to break your heart, and while you are trying to wrap your head around what just happened, they are already telling others how horrible you are, and what a victim they are.
Flying Monkeys. When Narcissists launch their smear campaign, they are also in the process of recruiting “flying monkeys.” These are people who the Narcissist had duped into thinking you are this horrible person, and now these people are out to get you.
Really Bad advice. Other people have NO idea what you went through, or are going through. A relationship with a bat shit crazy Narcissist is hard to comprehend, and there are no shortage of people who will try to encourage you to work it out, or to stay for the kids, or because of your religious affiliation. Listen to me very closely, as what I’m about to say will not only save you years of wasted energy and effort, but it may literally save your life: All Narcissists are dangerous, and should be treated as such. They will not change. If you have a therapist that is telling you otherwise, you need to fire them. Your church, your neighbors, and your family and kids may not understand why you need to leave, and never come back, and you’ll just have to get to the point where you value yourself over their opinion.
Hoovering. A relationship with a Narcissist is a lot like stepping in dog shit while you are walking in tall grass: you don’t see it coming, and when you do it’s too late, it’s hard to scrape off the bottom of your shoe, and it lingers for a long time afterwards. Hoovering is the “lingering” part of the dog shit experience with a Narcissist. They will discard you (or you will discard them) and odds are they will come back with promises of making things better, or declaring their love for you. Do not fall for it. Remember, they are playing a game, and they are playing to win–this is especially true if you are the one who ended things. It is not unusual for their hoovering to last months, if not years–or even on and off for decades!
Potentially love bombing. Love bombing is excessive communication and complements. Narcissists really turn on their charm when they are hoovering. It’s not because they are sincere. They are not. It feeds their ego to know that they can trick you back into a relationship with them, so they can feed off you some more.
What you need to do:
Do not let them get a reaction out of you. This is called “going gray rock,” and will probably be the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life. See, unbeknownst to you, they’ve already been telling other people for a while now that you are some combination of bipolar/crazy/addict/alcoholic/bad parent/abusive. You’ll want to scream and yell and cry and make them see what they’ve done to you is wrong–but that’s what they want. The more you suffer, the more it shows them just how much you care–and that feeds their ego, in addition, your highly emotional behavior proves to others that the Narcissist was right–you are crazy. If you really want to piss them off, stay totally cool, and distance yourself as much as possible. This will be hard as hell. I highly suggest you get into a support group, and vent there. You will be with people who know exactly what you are going through, and they can help keep you strong.
Go “No Contact.” If you don’t have any ties to them, such as children, then go “No Contact.” Block them across the board, and do not reopen communication. If you reopen communication–even just a little bit, they will slither back into your life. These people are master manipulators, and know exactly what to say to make you feel guilty. Do not fall for it.
I know that’s a lot to take in, and I know that if you are fresh out of a relationship with a Narcissist you are already feeling a tremendous amount of pain and hurt, and just want to curl into a ball, and don’t have the energy to deal with this crazy war that they have declared on you. You aren’t alone. And you aren’t crazy. During this time, try and be extra good to yourself–you are going through a lot more than just a bad breakup, you are going through hell. Find your support system, and lean on them. I promise you that you won’t always be in this much pain, and that you can get through this. Hang in there, and (((hugs))) to you. <3
My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.
Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.
It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
Latest posts by Dana (see all)
- Episode 55: How Do I Stop My Addiction to the Narcissist? - August 23, 2017
- Episode 53: Strategies to Help Prevent Your Child from Being Manipulated by a Narcissistic Parent - August 21, 2017
- Episode 54: How can we handle victim blaming and revictimization? - August 18, 2017