“Nice people don’t necessarily fall in love with nice people,”
wrote Jonathan Franzen. His words may sound harsh, but they are absolutely true. Kindness and generosity often seem to make us even more vulnerable to unhealthy relationships. Toxic people know how to seek out these qualities. They know how to exploit them. A common perpetrator of this behavior is the garden variety narcissist.
HERE ARE SIX THINGS A NARCISSIST MIGHT SAY TO MANIPULATE YOU:
1. “NOBODY ELSE FEELS THIS WAY. YOU’RE THE ONLY PERSON I HAVE THESE KINDS OF FIGHTS WITH!”
A narcissist will try to place the blame squarely and exclusively on you. By singling you out, they are trying to isolate you in your pain. They want to shake your confidence. Don’t let them. Discuss the situation with a friend and ask if they think you are overreacting. When they confirm that you aren’t, take this validation to heart. You have a right to your feelings. Being hurt does not make you wrong.
2. “YOU’RE REMEMBERING THAT WRONG. IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED VERY DIFFERENTLY.”
Gaslighting is an abuse tactic wherein one partner intentionally causes the other to doubt their own reality. It shakes the victim’s confidence in their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. It causes them to question their very experience. This leaves the narcissist free to construct their own version of reality, which can look any way they like. Defend your own memory, and own your perceptions. Don’t allow this abuse to stop you from trusting your own mind.
3. “YOU’RE SO SELFISH/PARANOID/CONTROLLING.”
Often, a narcissist will project their own character flaws onto their partner. This is easier than taking ownership or trying to change them. Psychological projection is extremely common among narcissists and non-narcissists alike. It’s considered to be a basic defense mechanism. We are all prone to using it at times to protect our self image and deny our problems. Narcissists, however, are more adept at this thinking than most.
4. “I LOVE THAT DRESS, BUT ARE YOUR LEGS REALLY YOUR BEST ASSET TO SHOW OFF?”
Narcissists are masters of the backhanded compliment. “Congratulations on the internship! I’m glad you managed to land it, even with those grades.” “That’s a beautiful ring! I’m sure he’ll upgrade to a bigger stone when he can afford it.” These are not compliments. They are insults disguised as such to make the narcissist feel superior without looking mean. They are designed to damage your self-esteem and leave you vulnerable to further abuse.
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5. “COME ON, YOU KNOW I DIDN’T MEAN IT THAT WAY. YOU’RE JUST SO SENSITIVE.”
Nothing is a narcissist’s fault – not even their own words and actions. A narcissist will avoid taking responsibility for hurtful behavior at all costs. Instead, they will place the blame on you. You’re too sensitive. You’re just looking for trouble. You’re always starting fights like this. If you feel guilty and self-conscious for being hurt, it is very likely you are dealing with a narcissist.
6. “THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND OUR RELATIONSHIP. THEY’VE JUST NEVER FELT LOVE THIS STRONG.”
This may sound sweet – however, it is anything but. A narcissist will use this line as a weapon. With this phrase, they discredit family and friends who are trying to show you how damaging your relationship is. These people care about you. There is a good chance they have experienced an unhealthy relationship of their own. Don’t let a narcissist isolate you from these people. They are on your side. Hold on to them tightly.
“When the healthy pursuit of self-interest and self-realization turns into self-absorption, other people can lose their intrinsic value in our eyes and become mere means to the fulfillment of our needs and desires,” wrote P.M. Forni. To a narcissist, even their most valued relationships are mostly about them. They will never be able to treasure you with the same care that a healthy partner would show. This is why it’s best to let them go.