9 things a narcissist does when they realize you see through them

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Narcissists thrive on control and power. When they notice that you’re onto their game, their behavior can take a sharp turn.

This change often comes from a place of fear, as they dread losing the control they’ve worked so hard to establish.

In this journey of understanding narcissists, it’s crucial to know how they react when they realize you’re no longer under their spell.

This article will explore 9 things a narcissist does when they realize you see through them. I’ll share insights on the telltale signs and patterns, so you can identify these changes and respond effectively.

Brace yourself for an eye-opening discussion about the complex world of narcissists and their behavior.

1) They become overly defensive

Narcissists have a fragile sense of self. They’ve built an image of themselves that they believe is infallible. When you start to see through them, it threatens this image.

And when their image is threatened, they react. Their response is often defensive behavior because they want to protect the illusion they’ve created.

Remember, for a narcissist, their public image is their world. When you start to challenge that, you’re challenging their reality.

This defensiveness can manifest in many ways. They may become argumentative, deflect blame, or even lash out with personal attacks.

So if you notice that someone has suddenly become defensive and aggressive in response to your observations or questions, it could be a sign that they’re a narcissist who realizes you’re seeing through them.

While these behaviors can be indicative of narcissism, it’s vital to consider the context and other potential factors before labeling someone as a narcissist.

2) They gaslight you

Gaslighting, a classic manipulation tactic used by narcissists, can become their go-to strategy when they realize you’re seeing through them.

I have experienced this firsthand. I had a friend who was charming and charismatic, but I began to notice a pattern of manipulation and control. When I confronted them about it, they flat out denied it and turned the tables on me.

They told me I was being overly sensitive, that I was misinterpreting their actions, and even suggested that I was the one creating problems. Their goal was to make me question my own judgment and perception so that they could maintain control.

This is classic gaslighting – making you doubt your own experiences to the point where you trust their version of events over your own.

If you’re feeling constantly confused or doubting your own thoughts and feelings in a relationship, it might be a sign that you’re dealing with a narcissist who knows you’re onto them. But remember, it’s important not to jump to conclusions based on one or two signs. Always consider the bigger picture.

3) They play the victim

Interestingly, narcissists often perceive themselves as the ultimate victims. When they realize you’re seeing through their facade, they might resort to playing the victim card.

They put on a show of being mistreated or misunderstood to gain sympathy and attention. This tactic is designed to divert your attention from their manipulative behaviors and make you feel guilty for questioning them.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that narcissists are more likely to portray themselves as victims during conflicts. This allows them to exploit others, avoid responsibility, and manipulate situations in their favor.

So if you notice someone consistently playing the victim, especially when they’re being called out or questioned, it could be a sign of a narcissist who knows you’re seeing through their manipulation. But as always, it’s essential to consider all factors and patterns of behavior before making conclusions.

4) They ramp up their charm offensive

When a narcissist senses that you’re seeing through their manipulation, they might turn up the charm. They’ll put in extra effort to be more charismatic, engaging, and appealing. They do this to distract you from their true intentions and keep you hooked.

This charm offensive is a calculated move. It’s designed to create doubt in your mind about your perceptions and make you reconsider whether they really are as manipulative as you thought.

So if you notice someone suddenly becoming extra charming or attentive after you’ve expressed doubts about their behavior, it might be a narcissist’s attempt to regain control.

But remember, while these signs can be indicative of narcissism, it’s always crucial to consider the context and other factors before making a judgement.

5) They give you the silent treatment

The silent treatment is another common tactic narcissists use when they realize you’re seeing through them. By withholding communication, they aim to punish you for your perceived offense and regain control.

They may ignore your calls, avoid responding to your messages, or give you the cold shoulder in person. The goal is to make you feel guilty, anxious, and desperate to resolve the situation.

This is a form of emotional abuse and manipulation. It’s designed to make you feel powerless and force you to conform to their desires.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of the silent treatment after questioning or confronting someone’s behavior, it could be a sign that they’re a narcissist trying to maintain control.

But as always, it’s crucial to consider all factors before drawing conclusions.

6) They become vindictive

When a narcissist realizes you’re seeing them for who they truly are, they don’t take it lightly. They may resort to vindictiveness to regain control and maintain their inflated self-image.

They might spread rumors about you, try to sabotage your relationships, or attempt to damage your reputation. It’s a hurtful tactic that’s designed to make you feel insecure, discredited, and isolated.

I’ve seen this vindictiveness play out in the lives of those I care about. The pain and confusion it causes can be incredibly difficult to navigate. It’s a heartbreaking reality that many people face when dealing with a narcissist.

If you find yourself being targeted in this way after questioning or confronting someone’s behavior, it could be a sign you’re dealing with a narcissist who’s trying to maintain their power.

While these signs can be indicative of narcissism, it’s always important to consider the full context before drawing conclusions.

7) They attempt to make you jealous

Narcissists often use jealousy as a tool to manipulate. When they realize you’re seeing through them, they might try to make you jealous to regain control and feed their need for attention.

They might flaunt new relationships, successes, or possessions in front of you, all in an attempt to make you feel inadequate or insecure. It’s a game designed to make them feel superior and validate their self-importance.

I’ve been on the receiving end of this game before. It’s difficult not to feel hurt and confused when someone you care about intentionally tries to make you jealous. It can leave you questioning your self-worth and struggling with feelings of inadequacy.

If you notice someone suddenly flaunting their life in a way that seems aimed at provoking jealousy, it could be a sign that they’re a narcissist trying to maintain control. 

8) They try to isolate you

When narcissists sense that you’re seeing through their manipulative tactics, they may try to isolate you from your support network. This is a way for them to regain control and keep you dependent on them.

They might make negative comments about your friends or family, create scenarios that cause conflict, or insist on spending excessive amounts of time alone with you. The goal is to distance you from those who might support you or validate your concerns about their behavior.

Isolation is a dangerous tactic as it can leave you feeling alone and unsupported, making it harder for you to stand up against their manipulation.

If you notice someone consistently trying to distance you from your loved ones or support network, it could be a narcissist trying to maintain their control.

9) They project their flaws onto you

Narcissists often project their own shortcomings and faults onto others, especially when they feel threatened. When they realize you’re seeing through them, they might start accusing you of the very behaviors they’re guilty of.

This projection is a defense mechanism that allows them to deny their flaws and shift the blame onto you. It’s a way for them to maintain their perfect self-image and keep you off-balance.

If you find yourself being accused of behaviors that actually reflect the person accusing you, it could be a narcissist’s projection at play. Be aware of this tactic and remember not to internalize their accusations as your truth.

The final thought: It’s about self-preservation

Understanding the behaviors of a narcissist when they realize you see through them is more than just an exercise in psychology. It’s a means of self-preservation.

These tactics – defensiveness, gaslighting, playing the victim, ramping up charm, the silent treatment, vindictiveness, provoking jealousy, isolation, and projection – are all ways a narcissist tries to maintain control and protect their fragile self-image.

Narcissists don’t break their habits unless they have to. They won’t change simply because it would be the nice or right thing to do.

Recognizing these tactics can empower you to maintain your boundaries, protect your mental health, and make informed decisions about how to handle interactions with a narcissist.

Reflect on these signs, not as a means to label or judge others hastily, but as a tool for understanding complex behaviors and safeguarding your well-being in the face of manipulation.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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