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How Do Narcissists Control You So Subtly? And Why You Allow Them

A narcissist’s work is often so subtle you hardly realize until the damage is done. So, how do narcissists control you in an under the radar way?

How Do Narcissists Control You

A narcissist is someone who completely lacks empathy, is completely self absorbed, and, it has to be said, a master manipulator. And if you’re wondering how do narcissists control you, oh boy, you’re in for a surprise because they know the most subtlest and dangerous of ways!

This is someone who it is impossible to have a healthy and long-lasting relationship with. They don’t treat people with care and kindness, they treat them in a way which manipulates them to get what they want out of them, completely ruining their self esteem and causing a lasting emotional impact for many years to come.

Put simply, if you suspect that you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you need to start pulling yourself away and making plans to leave. That might sound like a cold and systemic answer to the issue, and you probably have strong feelings for them, but there is no healthy future to a relationship like this and you’re going to suffer for as long as you’re in it.

[Read: How to tell if someone is a narcissist and recognize them instantly]

You might be wondering ‘how do narcissists control you?’ It’s subtle, it’s powerful, and it’s extremely underhanded, but knowing what to look for is half of the battle.

How do narcissists control you in such a powerful way?

For a person who is in a relationship with a narcissist, the range of manipulative tactics they will be subjected to is quite wide-ranging.

Every single narcissist out there is different and they’ll have their own go-to routes that they prefer in order to get their victim right where they want them. Because, unfortunately, that’s what you are – a victim. [Read: How to quickly spot narcissistic traits in a relationship]

I know it sound harsh, but believe me, a narcissist cannot love you because they’re incapable of loving anyone but themselves. They don’t possess empathy, so they’re not going to know that what they say or do hurts you.

They’re also experts at the art of getting what they want in ways which you’re not going to be aware of without prior understanding. That’s why it’s so important explore the question of how do narcissists control you. [Read: 16 subtle signs a narcissist is abusing you in the worst possible ways]

1. They isolate you from your nearest and dearest

The first thing a narcissist will do is turn on the charm, to the point where you’re convinced that you’ve met the ideal partner for you. Then, they’ll slowly start to identify the people who are closest to you.

The narcissists sees these people as a threat, because they’re the people you trust and listen to. As a result, if they tell you that your new partner is a little strange or controlling, you might listen to them. The narcissist doesn’t want that, so they’ll slowly start to isolate you from these people.

They might tell you that your friends don’t like you, that they’ve heard someone talking behind your back, that your sister thinks you’re stupid, or that your parents are trying to hold you back. You want to please the narcissist by this point, because you know that if you don’t do that, they’re going to start giving you the cold shoulder, and that’s something you don’t like.

So, you’ll slowly start to see these people less and less. You won’t do it consciously, but it’s something which often happens. This is step one in how do narcissists control you 101. [Read: 14 most common traits of all controlling people and how to deal with them]

2. They point out your weaknesses and any shortcomings you may have

Nobody is perfect, so there is always going to be something that you perhaps don’t do well, something you’re not particularly talented at, or a weak point which you can’t help but react to. You’re human, and everyone has these. However, a narcissist doesn’t see these as simply part of being human, they see them as ammunition to control you.

As a result, the narcissist will identify your weak points and any shortcomings you have and they’ll use them against you. Making you focus on them more than you ever did before. This slowly erodes away at your confidence and means that you’re starting to be right where the narcissist wants you. [Read: What is gaslighting? How narcissists use this to fuel their fire]

3. They’ll use a mixture of flattery and insults to confuse you

This particular tactic is one of the main routes if you’re wondering how do narcissists control you. And it’s extremely powerful! First, they’ll flatter the life out of you and make you feel special. This gets you firmly on their side and causes you to start relying upon them for the positive remarks.

Then, they’ll slowly start to drip in a few insults. They’ll go back to pointing out your shortcomings, as I mentioned earlier, and then, when they think that you’re perhaps getting a little fed up of it, they’ll go back to flattery.

It’s confusing and it’s a very subtle yet powerful method of control because you start to become dependent upon the rush of elation when the narcissist gives you a compliment, to the point where you ride out the negative elements. As you’re probably starting to see very clearly, the question of how do narcissists control you really comes down to manipulation and mind games. [Read: Blowing hot and cold – The 3 stages to explain why someone does this]

4. They use gaslighting

Everyone has heard of the word ‘gaslighting’, but do you really know what it is? This is a method of making the victim question their own sanity.

For example, the narcissist might agree to meet you after work for dinner at your favorite restaurant, because they know this is something you’re going to look forward to. You go to the restaurant after work and wait, but they never turn up. When you call them, they act shocked and say they never agreed to meet you and that you must have made it up. You know that you didn’t, but their attitude and their mocking remarks make you think that perhaps you are imagining it after all.

The more this happens, the more powerful the cumulative effects. Some victims of narcissistic abuse have a lot of trouble trusting their own judgement for a long time after the relationship has ended as a result of this control tactic. [Read: 14 signs a narcissist is gaslighting and playing mind games with you]

5. They use passive aggressive behavior

By this point, you want to keep your narcissist happy because when you please them, they act in a kind way. Of course, we know that this ‘kind way’ isn’t genuine because they don’t know how to be kind from the heart.

This means you’ll do whatever you can to keep them happy, and they know this. They’ll then use passive aggressive behavior, either giving you the cold shoulder, being verbally abusive, or blowing hot and cold, to make you do more to keep them happy.

These are just five ways which answer the question of ‘how do narcissists control you’. These are the main methods, but everyone is different so it could be that you encounter a narcissist who does things slightly differently. For instance, some narcissists act as though they’re totally lacking in confidence, in order to gain sympathy. [Read: What is vulnerable narcissism and what makes this one so dangerous?]

It’s vital that if you suspect you’re in a relationship with a narcissist that you start to question the way you feel. If you have a nagging feeling that you’re right, when the narcissist tells you you’re stupid and you’re wrong, hold on to that thought. The more you question the manipulation in your own mind, the stronger you’ll become and the more able you’ll be to walk away when the right time comes.

You’ll end up doubting your own sanity and wondering whether you’re making things up, when the truth is that you’re simply being controlled and tricked by mind games. In order to end the emotional abuse that you’re being subjected to, you need to understand the motivation behind it all. A narcissist is a bully, a self absorbed person, a master of disguise, and someone who you are unable to have a healthy relationship with.

[Read: Narcissistic supply – How to stop giving a narcissist the attention they crave]

How do narcissists control you? Through a range of manipulation techniques which are designed to weaken and confuse you. But once you understand their scheming mind, they’ll be so predictable you’ll be surprised you fell for their games in the first place!

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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