6 things a narcissist does when you realize they can no longer use you

Narcissists are everywhere. 

You can be living in the most utopian society on the planet, and chances are there will still be a few narcissists in your vicinity. 

Hence, as a general rule, it’s good to stay on your guard when dealing with new people. 

This is because the narcissist can be so cunning, that they can be particularly hard to spot. 

And sometimes we only come to our senses when the damage has already been done. 

When a narcissist doesn’t get their way, for instance, they’ll often lash out and attempt to hurt you. 

Don’t let it get to this point. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through the things a narcissist will often do when you realize they can no longer use you. 

If you notice a few of these red flags, it’s probably a wise move to start walking away. 

Let’s get to it! 

1) They’ll gaslight you 

This is one of the oldest tricks in the narcissist playbook. 

Narcissists tend to have a warped sense of reality; only seeing things how they want to see them, not objectively or from other people’s perspectives. 

Hence, when they feel they can no longer use you, they’ll often resort to gaslighting tactics.

They’ll pull out all the stops to make you doubt your reality, convincing you, themselves, and everyone else that your perceptions and memories are incorrect. That somehow you have it wrong. 

They can be so convincing in their approach, that you end up challenging yourself and your sanity… until you feel completely vulnerable again, which is the narcissist’s cue to swoop back in and try to regain control. 

2) They’ll try to ruin your reputation 

Integrity and narcissism aren’t exactly synonymous. They simply don’t go together. 

So in most cases, you can fully expect a narcissist to employ dirty tactics to get their way when they feel the situation calls for it… which is often. 

They won’t walk away with dignity; they feel the burning need and desire to win. 

Perhaps they’ll engage in systematic smear campaigns to tarnish your reputation–vengeful behavior typical of the more serious narcissists of the world. 

Maybe they’ll heavily exaggerate or completely fabricate lies and rumors about you. 

They’re seeing red and will stay relentless in their quest to turn people against you. Stay wary. 

3) They’ll play the victim

One of the hallmarks of a true narcissist is that they always happen to be a perpetual victim of life

They love to criticize and shift blame to you or others, yet when it comes to taking accountability, they’ll run away faster than an Olympic sprinter. 

Instead, they’ll expertly assume the role of the hapless, innocent victim, and suddenly transform into a Tony-award-winning actor, crocodile tears and all.  

They’ll use a combination of guilt, pity, fear, and so on to masterfully influence their prey.  

Since they are expert manipulators, they’ll use their talents to gather sympathy and support, effectively dodging any responsibility… even when they know full well they were in the wrong. 

Not cool. 

4) They’ll love-bomb you

If you’ve ever dated a narcissist, you’re probably quite familiar with the concept of lovebombing. 

This brings to mind my last ex, a lady who had some pretty heavy narcissistic tendencies.  

When she didn’t get her way, she would often react, even becoming downright mean or abusive towards me. 

But her jabs would be so subtle, so nuanced, I wouldn’t often respond. 

Other times, I’d end up apologizing somehow, even though I wasn’t in the wrong… and knew it. 

When I caught on and began standing up for myself, she’d often transform into a loving and affectionate person again, acting attentively, full of flattery and kindness, in an attempt to regain control. 

And for a while, it worked. 

I was so blindsided by the drastic shift in mood, I was so swept up away by her love-bombing, that I’d give in; and give her the benefit of the doubt–which only gave her back the upper hand, and control over me once again.  

5) They’ll make you jealous 

Occasionally, the narcissist will bring in a third party to rock the boat. 

Maybe they’ll suddenly start bringing up their “work” or “gym” friend far more often than usual; maybe they’ll suddenly start giggling on their phone and when you ask what’s funny, they’ll ignore you, intentionally leaving you guessing.

“Triangulation” is when a third party is brought into your relationship by a narcissist in order to create feelings of jealousy, competition, and all-around emotional and mental discomfort.

They know how powerful an emotion jealousy can be, and will often tirelessly exploit it to their benefit, regardless of how disingenuous their attempts may be.  

When it comes to regaining control, like an addict needing their fix, the narcissist has no limits. 

6) They’ll go quiet 

There are many different types of narcissists in the world; each with their own distinct characteristics and approaches to getting what they want. 

The silent treatment, for instance, is another textbook narcissist way of acting out when they don’t quite get their way. 

It’s the adult equivalent of a spoiled toddler sulking in the corner. 

A narcissist will turn to the cold shoulder when they pick up that you won’t give in to their selfish ways. 

Typically, they will ignore you for lengthy periods in order to make you feel insignificant and insecure about your status with them. 

Maybe they feel you acted too independently of them, say by declining their invite to meet because you had other obligations, or maybe they realize they’re not your priority 24/7.

In certain extreme cases, they might even abruptly end the relationship without any closure, making you feel confused and abandoned. 

They’re most likely bluffing, hoping you come crawling back to them, willing to give in to their demands and atone for those perceived wrongs. 

They act this way because they know they can get away with it. And until they’re proven otherwise, they probably won’t let up. 

Final words

When most normal people are confronted with the extreme behaviors and emotions of a narcissist, they don’t often know how to act. 

And thus sometimes, they’ll give in to the narcissist, feeling confused and bewildered. 

This is what the narcissist wants. It’s up to you to put your foot down and stop enabling them. 

Once you gather the strength and resolve to stand up and walk away, you won’t ever look back. 

You got this.

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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