10 things that happen when a narcissist can’t control you

One of the most obvious signs of a narcissistic person is their desire for dominance.

They impulsively feel the need to control the world around them, as well as the people in it.

Having authority over everyone and anything is good for their ego, giving them further validation that they’re superior to anyone.

Control tactics used by narcissists can range from subtle and unnoticeable gestures to extremely dangerous behaviors.

When you start keeping your distance from a narcissist, they might retaliate by doing the following:

1) They Pull You Back By Hoovering

When a narcissist starts losing control over a person, there comes a period when they try to hoover – a common manipulation tactic to pull victims back into the toxic relationship cycle.

They act sincerely by saying or doing what victims want to see or hear, tricking them into giving the narcissist another chance.

Some of them do this by love bombing, the act of lavishing a person with affection to manipulate or influence them.

Others get the shorter end of the stick because they experience forceful attempts of hoovering through stalking.

Narcissists might attempt to connect with an individual by calling from unknown numbers or messaging using a new email.

They might even contact the victim’s friends and family to get a chance to talk and manipulate them.

It’s not surprising for some victims to fall for these tactics because they get the impression that the narcissist is remorseful – they often feel like they’re throwing away the chance at a new beginning if they ignore the narcissist.

They’re swept in the whirlwind of attention but if the victim stops falling for the tricks, then there’s a huge chance that the narcissist might retaliate more harshly.

As Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D. says in Psychology Today, it’s important to realize that when a narcissist hoovers, it’s not about their love for you. Instead, it’s simply about their desire for attention. 

“An empathic person would consider how contacting you would upset you. The narcissist doesn’t think about that because it’s not about your feelings and needs—it’s about getting their next attention fix.” 

2) They Start a Smear Campaign Against You

Narcissists are obsessed with the public image they built for themselves – charming, charismatic, and pleasant.

They build their whole world around this facade, so understandably, one of their biggest fears is being exposed to others for their true character.

When a narcissistic person loses control over you, they see you as a threat that can take down their public persona.

To protect themselves, they start a smear campaign against you before you have the chance to tarnish their character.

Smear campaigns are meant to discredit, isolate, and silence the true victim by spreading gossip about them.

Smear campaigns are also a chance for narcissists to rewrite history and spread false stories that support their agenda.

They believe that they can’t be blamed for anything so they always paint their victims as the most terrible person while they’re the amazing ones.

3) They Attempt to Gaslight You

Gaslighting has become a buzzword recently as more people hear about it and understand what it means.

It’s a common form of psychological manipulation that a lot of narcissists use to regain control over other people.

They do this by slowly reducing your self-value and changing your sense of reality through subtle words and gestures.

The goal of a narcissist is to make their victims doubt their sense of self, lose their ability to make good decisions, and alter their perspectives and memories.

They do this by countering, denying, withholding, invalidating, generalizing, and diverting.

One of my friends used to be in an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist who always insisted that he did things because he loved her.

My friend believed every word he said and everything he did because she thought he was acting out of love with her best interest at heart – but my other friends and I saw through it.

It took her a lot of guts, self-reflection, and help from us, but she eventually realized that she deserved better.

4) They Try to Act Like the Victim

Playing the victim is another common tactic that narcissists use once they start losing control.

Once the victim says that they’ll leave, narcissists respond by guilting them into staying through emotional blackmail.

But if the victim decides to stay, there’s a huge chance that the narcissist’s abuse worsens to punish them for even thinking they could escape.

If the narcissist completely loses control of their victim, they start flipping the script and acting like they’re the casualty in the relationship. They claim that the other person is the abusive one who lied to them.

Unfortunately, this tactic works well for most of them.

By the time victims have the chance to talk and defend themselves to other people, it only sounds like they’re getting revenge by accusing the narcissist back.

It can be tempting to rebuff their claims about you, but it’s best to keep your distance from the narcissist and avoid direct name-calling to prevent the situation from worsening.

5) They Go Into Narcissistic Rage

What a lot of people don’t realize is that narcissists are angry creatures and that their boiling emotions are never too far from their charming facade.

They fly into rages to control people and keep their power over them.

Narcissists think they’re entitled to everything and everyone, so they tend to get into fits and tantrums whenever they lose control.

For those who had the unfortunate time to be on its receiving end, narcissistic rage is scary enough to witness that a lot of people try to appease narcissists out of fear.

But remember that these temper tantrums only occur worse and more frequently once the narcissist realizes that it works to help them get what they want.

I understand that narcissists in a rage can be terrifying for some.

But once I realized the ridiculousness of their actions and the cause of the tantrums, it became easier for me to ignore their rage and walk away.

6) They Manipulate You By Triangulation

Triangulation is another manipulation tactic many narcissists resort to when they start losing control of someone.

It involves bringing other people into the picture to support their agenda and worsen the victim’s anxieties.

Some narcissists do this by keeping their ex around, making their partner feel jealous and insecure about the relationship.

This makes them feel powerful because they have another trigger to torment their partner with.

When arguing with a narcissist about the situation, they may even gaslight by saying that everyone around them thinks that the victim is crazy.

While triangulation usually happens in romantic relationships with narcissists, it can also occur in families and work situations.

It’s crucial to remember that narcissists don’t reciprocate the support of affection – they believe they’re entitled to a life of servitude so they use anyone at their disposal to get their way.

7 ) They Use Silent Treatment and Trauma Bonding Tactics

Passive aggressive behaviors like withdrawing and silent treatment are more subtle forms of narcissistic rage, but they’re almost as damaging as violent and aggressive outbursts.

Childish silent treatment from a narcissist involves withholding all forms of communication, preventing their victim to express themselves freely.

They see silent treatment as punishment for behaviors that don’t serve their goals.

Narcissists want to regain control over their victims by making them feel insecure and left out after cutting them off. They expect the other person to come groveling back, trying to appease them.

But while the silent treatment makes some victims want to engage, it’s essential to remember that their abuse only worsens when they see that their tactics work.

It can even lead to trauma bonding with intermittent reinforcement, where the victim ends up feeling loyal to the person abusing them because the guilt and random moments of kindness rationalize their cruelty.

8) They Might Bait You to Get a Reaction

When a narcissist feels ignored by you, they try to bait you to get a confrontation or reaction – which feeds their ego.

Narcissistic baiting comes in many physical or verbal forms. They use different tactics to intentionally provoke you and trigger your deepest emotions.

I used to know someone who poked and prodded me for no particular reason, especially when I’m busy or agitated.

Whenever I snap and tell them to stop, they just laugh at me and talk about how I can’t take a simple joke. I eventually learned how to ignore them completely and cut them off from my life.

But what I learned from being around a narcissist is that huge emotions get them going like it’s their life force energy.

Snapping and giving them any reaction only gives them more leverage – because victims tend to unknowingly hand them “proof” that they use to support their story and paint the other person as the unstable one.

9) They Discard You First

When a narcissist realizes that their victim can’t be fooled into returning to the toxic relationship with them, they tend to discard the other person first.

They want other people to think that ending the connection was their idea in the first place, giving them the advantage of manipulating the story as they see fit.

Cutting their victims off completely gives the power dynamic back to the narcissist’s hands.

They believe that their victim shouldn’t have the privilege of discarding them first so they react aggressively and violently through different means.

Some narcissists also discard their victims, yet string them along so they can get back into the toxic relationship whenever they want to.

But this gives them the upper hand because they can use the connection to abuse the victim again or torment their new prospect by threatening them through triangulation.

10) They Replace You With Someone Else

For narcissists, it’s essential to have at least one person around them at all times to keep their false persona afloat.

When a narcissist completely loses control of you, they likely replace you with another victim before you even have the time to process the relationship – that’s if they don’t already have someone waiting in the wings.

Even if the victims don’t want anything to do with the narcissist again, seeing them move on and be with another person can be heart-wrenching.

They’re left with the wreckage of a toxic relationship.

Most victims are only slowly trying to accept the true nature of the relationship because they were too manipulated and trauma bonded to see through everything.

They often feel too broken to realize that they loved someone who only cared about themselves.

Although new beginnings can be difficult, remember that you’re free from the narcissist and all the abusive things they did – it’s not you who has to wake up every day trying to fill the void in your soul by manipulating everyone for their affection.

If you’re looking more advice on how to deal with narcissists, check out these articles:


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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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