Narcissists like to devise various tactics to lull, manipulate or win back their chosen “victim”. Any person, regardless of gender, can be a narcissist. We use the masculine form here for the sake of simplicity. The following behaviors can be observed in a narcissist:
- He copies your behavior: Narcissistic mirroring
Narcissists like to pretend they have the same interests and opinions as you. But he can also use mirroring to exactly imitate your behavior. He does this because he doesn’t have a stable identity himself and wants you to like him. This behavioral pattern is also known as trust-building in negotiations. Scientific studies have shown that physical similarities automatically build trust and an interpersonal basis. After a certain period of time, this can also be perceived as intimacy, that isn’t real though.
- He showers you with excuses
Narcissists only act out of self-interest and have no problem lying to you, making things up entirely, or using excuses to regain an advantage „over you“. This is all part of the manipulation and clearly calculated, therefore not authentic. The narcissist seldom seriously means an apology. He will not change ever, because narcissism is not „curable“.
- He makes himself out to be the victim
Another typical narcissistic manipulation tactic that is very often observed to arouse compassion, empathy or sympathy, especially in very empathetic people, who then soften towards the narcissist. Remember why you were angry, sad or upset before this manipulation tactic and do not get blinded by his behavior, your feelings are not secondary just because he is now the supposed „victim“. Remember the toxicity that made you feel so bad about yourself. After all, he doesn’t care that he constantly degrades you and therefore destroys your self-worth.
- Indirect criticism of you
You have probably already received enough criticism on your appearance, behavior, interests and overall as a person from the narcissist, and in addition there are often indirect comments that make you feel even worse and since they were not made directly to you, many people fall into a pattern of „I just want to please“ and try to match the given advice. This means that the narcissist is again in a clear position of power and can in turn secure his position of authority in the relationship by complimenting the changed appearance, for example. Do not be fooled by such comments, do not even take them into consideration and express your happiness about the allegedly problematic topic and that you are satisfied with yourself, even if that is not necessarily the case at the time.
- Alternating between love bombing, mirroring and cruelty
At the beginning of the relationship, the narcissist must first determine how far he can go with the chosen “victim”. The more kind-hearted, intelligent and positive this person is, the greater the perceived triumph for the narcissist if he can abuse such a person for his cruel game. When the «victim» withdraws, it is showered with expressions of love and compliments, the behavior is mirrored in order to reawaken trust and as soon as you have fallen into the trap again, you will be cruelly put down again.
- Extreme behavior is tested
The narcissist likes to act weird or deliberately does uncomfortable things to push the boundaries. If you then don’t comment on it, it just becomes more extreme, as the narcissist realizes that he is not facing rejection or clear values or principles and is given free rein.
A classic example: You speak to the narcissist about his tedious behavior and he then reacts by accusing you of cruelty, because he is supposedly not doing well at the moment, which is classic gaslighting. Or also: The narcissist accuses „You are cheating on me“ in order to distract from his own infidelity. Narcissists are experts in this and project everything possible onto the other person.
The only loyalty the narcissist knows is to himself; without any moral compass or compassion. If the narcissist gets away with his incredibly toxic behavior and remains unstopped in his path, he also develops a sense of disgust for the accepting „victim,“ a truly Machiavellian game.
- He reminds you of the good times
This fantasy of the perfect partner that you believed at the beginning has unfortunately long since vanished and this has given way to bitter reality. You may have trouble saying goodbye to this beautiful illusion and you may even consciously try to hold on to this idea. In moments like these, it helps to keep a journal and write down everything that has been said and done that did not do you good, and then in moments of doubt you look at these notes again.
It is best if you try to stay true to stay true to yourself, not to react too strongly to the statements of others and always remember your own values and self-worth. If you do so, even a narcissist can hardly ever become dangerous to you!