8 things a narcissist may do when they realize they cannot control you

There’s a fine line between a healthy relationship and one that’s controlled by a narcissist.

A narcissist thrives on power, and when they lose that grip on you, their behavior may change drastically.

Understanding these changes can be tricky, as narcissists can be quite unpredictable. However, there are definite signs to look out for when they realize they’ve lost control over you.

In this piece, we’ll delve into the “8 things a narcissist may do when they realize they cannot control you”. So strap in, it’s going to be an enlightening ride!

1) They become overly critical

Narcissists thrive on making others feel less than them. It’s their way of maintaining control.

However, when they realize they can’t control you anymore, their criticisms may become more frequent and harsher. In their eyes, if they can’t control you, they will try to diminish you.

This is a clear indication of their frustration over losing control. They can’t handle it, so they resort to belittling you in an attempt to regain that lost power.

Remember, though, these cutting words are more about them than you. Their criticisms are a reflection of their own insecurities and inability to handle loss of control.

This sudden increase in negative remarks isn’t just unpleasant, it’s a sign. Be aware of this change as it could be a clear indication that the narcissist in your life realizes they no longer have control over you.

2) They attempt to isolate you

In my own experience with a narcissist, one of the most glaring signs of losing control was their attempt to isolate me.

They started to subtly imply that my friends and family didn’t really care for me. It started with comments like, “I’m the only one who truly understands you.” Or, “Your friends are just jealous of our relationship.”

The goal was clear: to make me feel alone and dependent on them, increasing their control over me.

But I started to see through it. I realized that these attempts to isolate me were not out of concern or love, but a desperate move to regain their lost control.

This manipulation is a common tactic used by narcissists. So, if you start noticing a similar pattern, take it as a sign. It might mean that the narcissist in your life is feeling their control slipping away.

3) They resort to gaslighting

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation technique where the person makes you doubt your own reality and sanity.

Narcissists are masters of this game. When they feel their control slipping away, they may start to challenge your memory of events or your perception of situations.

You might hear phrases like, “You’re imagining things,” or “That’s not how it happened.” This is to make you question your own judgement and eventually rely on them for your version of reality.

Interestingly, the term gaslighting originated from a 1938 play called “Gas Light” in which a husband manipulates his wife into believing she’s going insane. Today, it’s recognized as a common tool in the narcissist’s manipulation arsenal.

So if you find yourself constantly questioning your sanity or reality, it could be because the narcissist in your life is running out of ways to control you.

4) They play the victim card

Narcissists are experts at playing the victim. They have a knack for turning situations around to make it seem as if they are the ones being wronged.

When they feel their control over you waning, they might start to act as if they are the ones being hurt or wronged. This is a manipulative tactic to make you feel guilty and draw you back into their control.

They may say things like, “After all I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me?” or “You’re always blaming me for everything.”

Their aim is to make you question your actions and feel responsible for their emotions. In reality, it’s just another attempt to regain their lost control.

So, be aware. If they start painting themselves as the victim out of the blue, it could be a sign that they realize they can’t control you anymore.

5) They withhold affection

Affection is a beautiful aspect of any relationship. It’s a basic human need that connects us and makes us feel loved and appreciated.

However, in the hands of a narcissist, affection can turn into a manipulative tool. When they feel their control over you slipping away, they might start withholding affection as a form of punishment.

Suddenly, the warmth and love they previously showered on you might diminish or disappear entirely. They may become cold, distant, and unresponsive.

This can be incredibly painful because it plays on our deep-seated need for love and acceptance. But it’s crucial to remember that this is not about you, but about their desperate attempt to regain control.

If you notice this sudden shift in their behaviour, take heart. It’s not your fault. And remember, genuine love and affection should never be used as a bargaining chip.

6) They threaten to leave

Threatening to leave or end the relationship is a common tactic used by narcissists. It’s their way of creating a fear of loss, hoping it will make you fold and give them the control they crave.

I remember going through this with a narcissist in my life. Each time I stood up for myself or didn’t comply with their demands, there was an immediate threat to end the relationship. This was their way of keeping me in check, making me fear losing them.

It took time and courage to realize that these threats were not a reflection of my worth, but instead a desperate attempt to control me.

So if the narcissist in your life starts using threats of leaving to manipulate you, understand it for what it is – another sign of their dwindling control.

7) They start a smear campaign

Narcissists are notorious for their smear campaigns. When they feel their control slipping away, they might resort to spreading rumors or false accusations about you to others.

This is a way for them to regain control and protect their image. By tarnishing your reputation, they aim to isolate you and make themselves appear as the better party.

They may twist facts or outright lie about you to friends, family, or anyone who will listen. This can be hurtful and damaging, but it’s crucial to remember that this is not a reflection of you but a sign of their desperation.

If you notice a narcissist in your life beginning to spread malicious stories or lies about you, take it as an indication of their lost control. It’s not easy, but try to stay strong and remember, truth always has a way of revealing itself.

8) They may try to reel you back in

In their quest to regain control, narcissists may suddenly become very charming and attentive again. This is what’s known as hoovering. They’ll try to suck you back into the relationship, much like a Hoover vacuum.

They’ll promise change, shower you with affection, or remind you of the good times you’ve shared. The aim is to make you second-guess your decision and draw you back into their sphere of control.

But remember, this isn’t genuine change or love. It’s a manipulative tactic born out of their desperation to regain control. Stay strong and don’t fall for this trap. You’ve come too far and deserve so much more.

Final thoughts: It’s about regaining power

The complexities of human behavior, especially when dealing with narcissistic tendencies, often revolve around the concept of control and power.

One such manifestation is the reaction of a narcissist when they realize they cannot control you anymore.

From becoming overly critical to attempting to isolate you, or even resorting to gaslighting, these are all desperate attempts to regain their lost control.

Dr. Craig Malkin, a clinical psychologist and Harvard Medical School lecturer, once said, “Narcissism isn’t about love. It’s about winning.” This resonates well with the behaviors we’ve explored in this article.

The ultimate victory here isn’t about outsmarting a narcissist or becoming impervious to their manipulation. It’s about understanding their tactics, recognizing the signs, and choosing not to play their game.

Remember that each step you take towards asserting your own power and control is not just about distancing yourself from their grasp. It’s also a step towards self-love, self-respect, and reclaiming your right to live free from manipulation and control.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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