9 Ways to Spot If a Narcissist is Trying to Manipulate You, & How to Handle Them
A narcissist will stop at nothing to get what they want – they sincerely believe that their needs should take priority over those of everyone else.
According to Psychology Today, in their own estimation, they are very special people and therefore entitled to the best of everything.
They are all too willing to manipulate others.
Fortunately, understanding what to look out for can help you avoid becoming a victim.
1. They Are Unusually Charming…
If someone showers you with compliments and gifts, tread very carefully.
Charm is a classic narcissistic move – they lure their victims in by making them feel special.
2. ….Until They Change
Narcissists love the thrill of the chase.
When they feel as though they have won your affections, they start showing less interest in the relationship. They also begin to criticize you.
This can ruin your self-esteem, leaving you wondering what you have done wrong.
3. They Tell Blatant Lies
A narcissist will lie about anything if it means they gain status, attention, or another kind of benefit.
Watch out for stories that don’t quite add up, vague answers, and strange statements that cannot possibly be true.
4. They Gaslight You
To gaslight someone is to deliberately rewrite history so that the victim feels crazy.
For instance, a narcissist may tell their partner that they got drunk and became abusive towards them, even though their partner knows that they rarely drink and can’t remember any of the alleged abuse.
Gaslighting is an effective manipulation tactic, as it makes the victim confused and vulnerable.
Distance yourself from anyone who tries to convince you that your memory is faulty and that only they know what “really happened.”
5. They Pretend to Be Hurt or Sick
This is a tactic intended to gain attention and sympathy.
A narcissist usually believes they are a tragic victim, and may even tell you upfront that they need special treatment as a result.
6. They Keep Score
Think carefully before accepting gifts and favors from a narcissist.
Nothing they give comes for free – they will expect you to give them something in return, and may turn on you if they don’t get exactly what they want.
7. They Use Triangulation
According to expert Bree Bonchay, narcissists sometimes use third parties as tools to help them manipulate their victims.
For example, they may tell their partner that someone at work has been trying to flirt with them.
As a result, their partner becomes jealous, and works harder to keep the narcissist happy.
8. They Turn Everything Back on You
If you try to call out a narcissist on their bad behavior, they may dodge the topic.
One strategy they use is to focus on your supposed flaws instead.
They may also twist your words so that you become so frustrated that you lose your train of thought.
9. They Give You the Silent Treatment If You Don’t Do What They Want
An angry, manipulative narcissist may emotionally abuse you by denying you the chance to express your emotions.
Giving you the silent treatment puts them in a position of power – they get to decide how and when communication will resume.
How to Handle a Manipulative Narcissist
According to psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude whenever you are up against a narcissist.
They often derive pleasure from manipulating others and making them suffer.
A narcissist won’t be so keen to mistreat you if you stay calm in the face of their bad behavior.
Make sure you set firm boundaries in your relationships, and that you defend them at all times.
There is no need to be aggressive, but you have every right to walk away from people who mistreat you or make you feel uncomfortable.
Of course, this is less feasible in some situations.
However, even if you have to work with a narcissist, you can choose to limit the amount of time you spend with them.
Let people know that if they treat you badly, there will be consequences.
For example, if you do not want to tell someone sensitive information about yourself, it’s OK to say, “I don’t want to talk about this, and if you keep pushing the issue, I will leave.”
Just make sure you follow through.
When you prove that you aren’t a pushover, others are less likely to abuse and manipulate you.
Do not share intimate information with a narcissist, because they may use it as fuel against you at a later date.
For example, they may threaten to share your secrets if you refuse to meet their demands.
You cannot “cure” a narcissist by yourself, so don’t even try.
Only trained mental health professionals can help narcissists change their ways – if the narcissist is even able to admit they have a problem in the first place, which is unlikely!
If the narcissist is a close family member or friend, you might feel a strong urge to change them, but the best thing to do is simply to encourage them to seek therapy if they are finding life tough.
Do not drag them to therapy, because they will either refuse to engage with a therapist or deny that there’s anything wrong.
Finally, stay focused on your own goals and values.
Narcissists are great at distracting you from your own life, and are happiest when they are draining you of precious energy.
Take a few minutes each day to tune into your current goals, and to remind yourself of what is most important to you in life.
Do not give a narcissist any more attention than is absolutely necessary.
Always place your mental health first.