Charm, charisma, and confidence are why we fall for narcissists, whether platonically or romantically. With time, though, you’re probably going to face the dark reality of their controlling, careless, and condemning behaviors, too. What happens when a narcissist loses control, anyway?
Dealing with narcissists can be challenging, especially when you don’t know how to fight the toxic behaviors that narcissists often showcase. We tend to throw the term ‘narcissist’ around, but narcissists are people who suffer from a mental health disorder – rather than just being selfish pricks.
While the media quickly labels narcissists as vain and self-centered, they’re usually deeply tormented by feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and vulnerability that they then try to cover up with their infamous inflated egos and entitlement. Narcissists crave constant validation, too.
Without the validation, they’re ‘forced’ to become control freaks who will do anything to protect their fragile self-esteem and self-worth. When they lose that sense of control, they will stop at nothing to regain it and assert themselves immediately. A narcissist losing control can be truly terrifying.
Narcissism lies on a spectrum, and we do need to underline that different types of narcissists will react differently to losing control over you. With that out of the way, though, we’re bringing you a few of the most common tactics you’ll deal with when a narcissist loses control.
What happens when a narcissist loses control of you?
1. They start love-bombing you
“You mean everything to me, and I would do everything to keep you in my life! Please, tell me how to fix things between us!”
“I can’t imagine my life without you in it, and I won’t take no for an answer!”
“I’ll do anything to make you happy!”
When a narcissist loses control over you, you’ll know. Narcissists tend to resort to different manipulation tactics when they’re backed into a corner, and that’s why they might start showering you with affection and attention when they think you’re pulling away from them. When that happens, ignore them.
Love-bombing might feel great in the moment, but it’s a manipulation tactic used by narcissists to get what they want.
2. They start gaslighting you
“I never did that; you’re imagining things.”
“You’re mentally unstable; that’s the only way I can explain why you feel that way.”
“Everyone thinks you’re being irrational; you’re making a fool out of yourself.”
Gaslighting is one of the manipulation tactics narcissists use, too. When a narcissist feels like you’re slipping away from them, ignoring them, or building a wall between the two of you, they might resort to gaslighting to get you to change your mind.
Gaslighting can make you question your reality, memory, or perceptions, and at the same time, make you wonder whether you’re making a mistake by building walls between you and the narcissist in question.
3. They start manipulating you
Gaslighting and love-bombing might be the two most common forms of psychological abuse and manipulation, but they’re certainly not the only ones.
When you’re dealing with a narcissist, you need to prepare yourself for a whole psychological war that’s going to make you question everything you thought you knew about narcissists.
Whether you’re trying to get away from a narcissistic family member, a friend, or a romantic partner, you need to stay strong and stand your ground.
One of the best ways to stop being manipulated might be to identify your weaknesses and work on making them your strengths. Of course, that’ll take time and effort, but that’s something you need to do to protect your physical, emotional, and mental health.
4. They get aggressive
When a narcissist loses control over you, you might notice signs of something known as narcissistic rage. Narcissistic rage is different from typical anger because it doesn’t stem from a conflict between you and the narcissist – it stems from the fact that the narcissist feels threatened by the lack of control.
When you find yourself on the other side of narcissistic rage, make sure you’re on top of everything that’s going on. You’re probably going to notice signs of verbal, psychological, and even physical aggression, and you need to make sure that these tactics don’t work on you – stand your ground at all times.
5. They get physically abusive
While we’re on the topic of physical aggression, we do need to mention that there are times when narcissists become physically abusive, too.
Whether you’re dealing with a narcissistic colleague or a narcissistic partner, you might push their buttons to the point where they completely lose control and attack you.
Remember – you’re not the one to blame. Narcissists are bad at regulating their emotions, and that’s why these emotional outbursts are common and never the fault of the other person.
Narcissists resort to physical violence when they feel like there’s nothing left for them to do but exert power and control by hitting, slapping, or pushing you around. If (or when) that happens, you need to speak up immediately, get yourself to safety, and alert the authorities.
6. They start a smear campaign against you
Starting a smear campaign against you might be the only way a narcissist can manipulate and control you after you decide to fight back. When a narcissist loses control, the only thing they’re concerned with is how to get it back.
What better way to get back at you and get you to comply with them than with a bunch of lies? A smear campaign refers to a manipulation tactic used to ruin someone’s reputation, oftentimes by spreading rumors, exaggerations, deceptive narratives, and/or personal attacks.
When a narcissist can no longer manipulate you, the only thing left for them to do is manipulate everyone else.
7. They give you the silent treatment
This tactic might surprise you, but when a narcissist loses control, they might simply start giving you the silent treatment, ignoring you, or treating you as if you don’t even exist. That being said, the silent treatment isn’t nearly as innocuous as you might think.
While the silent treatment might feel like exactly what you need after a long-lasting unhealthy relationship with a narcissist, it’s oftentimes a sign that they’re plotting something else against you.
The silent treatment is a way for the narcissist to assert power and control over you, but it’s also a way for them to buy time to come up with a better plan of action.
8. They try to take advantage of your emotions by playing the victim
If everything else fails, narcissists are more than likely to play the victim card. It typically starts with the narcissist spreading rumors and making up stories about how you mistreated them or how you took advantage of them – and it ends with a proper smear campaign.
Narcissistic people are masters at playing the victim because they’re charming and charismatic, and they’re great at getting people to believe every word they say. When a narcissist loses control over you, they might even pull on your heartstrings and try to get you to empathize with them.
9. They try to create confrontation by baiting you
A narcissist might try to get a reaction out of you, too, especially if you’re laying low and trying to make the whole situation go away silently.
When narcissists resort to baiting, they’re typically trying to gain control, start a conflict, or divert attention away from themselves. Baiting refers to another manipulation tactic used by narcissists to provoke a reaction and elicit an emotional response.
Before you become a victim of baiting, know that narcissists can use your emotional outburst to their advantage, either by playing the victim, discrediting you, or gaining the upper hand over you.
10. They try to regain control by hoovering
When a narcissist says and/or does exactly what you want, they’re resorting to a manipulation tactic known as hoovering. A narcissist might reach out to you, apologize for everything, and offer you something in exchange for letting them back into your life.
Generally speaking, though, narcissists have no intention of keeping the promises they make when they’re hoovering you – they’re simply saying or doing whatever they need to do to regain control over you. Rather than letting them stomp all over you, see through their lies and protect yourself.