How A Narcissist Acts When You Start Seeing Through Their BS

How A Narcissist Acts When You Start Seeing Through Their BS

Narcissists are known for their manipulative behavior and lack of empathy. They can charm with their charisma, but when you start seeing through their behavior, things can (and usually do) change pretty quickly. Here’s how a narcissist might act when you begin to see through their facade — the more you understand them, the easier it’ll be to stand your ground against them.

1. They double down.

Young caucasian man standing in front mirror touching face and looking on himself.

When a narcissist’s manipulative tactics are exposed, they often double down on their behavior rather than admitting their wrongdoings. In fact, they might even try to control or manipulate you more, using more extreme methods in a desperate effort to regain their lost power. This can be confusing and emotionally draining, but it’s important to remember this is about their inability to cope, not your shortcomings.

2. Their gaslighting intensifies.

Young hispanic girl looking at camera outdoor - Focus on face

Gaslighting is a common tactic used by narcissists to create doubt in a person’s mind. They may question your memory, judgment, or sanity to make themselves look better. If you start seeing through their behavior, expect the gaslighting to intensify. Remember, this is a reflection of their need to control, not a reflection of your reality.

3. They play the victim.

Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their actions. When you confront them, they often play the victim and blame everyone else for their behavior. They might even accuse you of being the manipulative one, which is bonkers. This can be frustrating, but it’s crucial to hold onto your truth and not get drawn into their blame game.

4. They get a whole lot more charming.

Loving husband comforting his crying wife

Narcissists are often very charming and use their excessive charisma to win people over. If you start seeing through their behavior, they may turn up the charm in an attempt to win you back over. This can be disarming, but remember, it’s just another tactic to divert your attention from their manipulative behaviors.

5. They give you the silent treatment.

The silent treatment is a form of emotional manipulation that narcissists often use as a power play. If you confront them, they may react by ignoring you, hoping to provoke a reaction or make you feel guilty. This can be hurtful, but try not to let it push your buttons—it’s just another manipulative tool in their arsenal. To be honest, your life will probably be a lot more peaceful the less you listen to anything they have to say anyway!

6. They try to make you jealous.

Narcissists crave attention and validation — they need it to survive. If they feel threatened, they might try to make you jealous by flaunting their relationships with other people. This can be painful to witness, but it’s all about their insecurity rather than your worth. If someone else wants them, let them have them!

7. They try to undermine or discredit you.

woman texting on city street

To protect their image, narcissists may try to discredit anybody who sees through their BS. They might spread rumors or lies about you to other people in order to turn them against you or make you seem untrustworthy. This can be incredibly damaging if people are silly enough to listen, but it’s important to stay true to yourself and not let their lies define you.

8. They get aggressive.

When their manipulations are exposed, some narcissists may become aggressive or even violent. They may even resort to personal attacks or threats in an attempt to regain control. This can be scary and dangerous, so it’s important to prioritize your safety and seek help if necessary.

9. They throw you away like yesterday’s trash.

If a narcissist realizes they can’t control you anymore, they might get rid of you from their life entirely. Narcissists view relationships as transactions, and if they feel they’re not getting what they want, they may cut ties abruptly. This can be heart-wrenching, but it’s important to remember that you deserve a relationship built on mutual respect and empathy, not manipulation.

10. They move on very quickly.

Happy couple talking and flirting on a coffee shop

Narcissists often move on quickly from relationships once they’re no longer useful to them. They might quickly find a new target to control and manipulate, which means they often seem unaffected by the end of your relationship. It feels like a complete betrayal of all the time you spent together and everything you shared, but it’s important to remember that their inability to form genuine attachments is not a reflection on you.

11. They use love bombing.

To regain control, a narcissist might resort to showering you with affection and praise. This sudden shift can be disorienting, but remember, it’s often a manipulative tactic designed to make you question your perceptions and reestablish their control. Don’t fall for it under any circumstances.

12. They project their behavior.

Narcissists may try to put their own manipulative behaviors onto you, accusing you of the stuff they’re guilty of. This is a classic deflection technique. It can be pretty shocking and upsetting, but recognize it for what it is — an attempt to deflect blame and create confusion. Nice try!

13. They rally their supporters.

Fashion portrait of Three best friends posing at street, wearing stylish outfit and jeans against gray wall .

Narcissists are skilled at charming other people and may try to drum up people to their side when they feel threatened by making you out to be enemy number one. This smear campaign can feel very isolating, but remember, those who truly know and care about you won’t be swayed by the narcissist’s manipulations.

14. They pretend to be innocent.

When they get called out, a narcissist might act as if they have no idea what you’re talking about, feigning innocence and acting totally shocked and confused by your claims. This can make you question your sanity, but trust your experiences and your perception of the situation.

15. They threaten to hurt themselves.

In extreme cases, a narcissist might threaten self-harm to regain control or elicit sympathy. This can be very distressing, but it’s crucial to remember that you’re not responsible for their actions, and it’s appropriate to involve professionals who are equipped to handle situations like this.

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Sinead Cafferty is a writer who has authored four collections of poetry: "Dust Settling" (2012); "The Space Between" (2014); "Under, Under, Over" (2016); and "What You Can't Have" (2020). She's currently working on her first novel, a dystopian romance set in the 22nd Century, that's due out in 2024.

Sinead has an MFA in creative writing from NYU and has had residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and the National Center for Writing.