Do narcissists have a heart?

The answer to “do narcissists have a heart?” is tragically a resounding NO.  They are what we would call skin deep.  They can charm, be pleasant, wear nice clothes, compliment and be witty but this is all an act, underneath the image there is a void, they are not real and not who they pretend to be.  Narcissists tend to see life as a game or a film, where they are always the protagonist and everyone else is orbiting around them (ranging from fellow actors, directors, producers and the wardrobe and make-up people) not to mentions the entranced audience that is full of praise and adulation.  Everyone they encounter is graded in terms of their usefulness to them what counts as useful is admiration, attention, status, fame and money etc.  If you cannot provide them with an attribute that they see as enhancing their world, well then you are of no use to them and they will just dismiss you.  A classic example of this is mistaken identity, they might have been told that someone was really important and they were fawning all over that person maybe for weeks, then they realise that that person is not narcissist’s level of important they just drop them without a word of explanation (what could they say?), leaving the other person, who thought that they had just met a soul mate (narcissists are very good a mirroring what they think the other person wants to hear) reeling from shock and wondering what went wrong?  Was it something I said or did?

Narcissists just love the word “love”, if you start a romantic liaison with a narcissist they will tell you that they love you after a very short period of time.  This is because they see you as a potentially good source of supply for them and they think that if you think that they love you, you will drop your guard and be less analytical of some of their behaviours (which are quirky at best). You will be flattered and blinded by the determination and seriousness that they push the “I love you, you are my soul mate” message home.  You think it must be true since they are saying it with such fervor and conviction. They do love you but only for what you can do/provide for them.  Stop serving their egos and you will see exactly how deeply they loved and were committed to you.  They will cut you from their lives in a heartbeat and will consider you to be an idiot for believing them.  Remember nothing is ever the narcissists fault, so it has to be your fault for seeing them as being authentic.

Narcissists wear the mask of their false self all of the time, except when they are abusing someone.  Abusive people do not abuse everyone, there might only be one person that they abuse and that usually their most intimate relationship because the more you see a narcissist the more you can see the glitter drop off bit by bit. To a narcissist this sort of revelation is like a character assassination (on their false self) and so they would rather be extremely abusive instead of letting their mask drop , they will go on the offensive and everything will be your or someone else’s fault. The lengths that a narcissist will go to protect their image are astonishing because they invest so much time, energy and money into an illusion, an illusion that only matters to them because beneath it all they feel that if their authentic self was seen, they would dissolve like a fizzy tablet and become pedestrian, flat and they would have to face their true self and all of the pain and anger that that person has held at bay with this lifelong performance/dillusion.  The reality is that a narcissist cannot process their emotions because they have got stuck at a very early stage of emotional development.  Therefore, any “feeling” that they don’t know what to call or what to do with they simply project it out on to someone else.  They feel envious of someone therefore, that person is envious of them.  They only really understand the “big” emotions, they are completely unaware of the more subtle emotions and their emotional language is very limited and very black and white.

So narcissists go through life without every truly loving anyone and never being able to feel love from others because in a sense they don’t have anywhere for that love to land.  It is a sad reality for them and those who have to navigate around them – but just because it is sad it doesn’t stop them from being dangerous and ruthless. You could offer them all of the love in the world, but that wouldn’t change a thing, they wouldn’t appreciate it because they are empty inside and when they are not the centre of attention or playing tricks/games on someone all that they can do is look into the abyss.

Narcissists have practically little or no self-awareness, they never question themselves, their beliefs or their lies, so they are who they need to be in the moment.  It is only when one gets to know them in various different settings that you can see the discrepancies in their behaviour, values and so called interests. If they notice that you have noticed because you are giving them a “that is not what you said the last time” look, they will cut you out of their lives unless you try to redeem them and help to reinstate the mask.  They live in a parallel world, they are always right, they always have the answer to everything no matter what, if something is less than “perfect” it is never their fault and they will always tell you who they are, they cannot just be and let you work it out for yourself, because that would be relinquishing control and risk you not seeing the image that they want to portray.  They genuinely believe that they are more talented, clever, beautiful and popular.  There is no point in even attempting to have an argument with a person who believes their own lies.  Never get into an argument with someone who is not emotionally and intellectually mature enough to make it worth your while.  They are still infants and have a Peter Pan complex that never goes away.

Overt traits of covert narcissists

They are extremely judgmental of others.  This is because they have so many insecurities they are hyper critical of those around them.  Their criticism of others bears absolutely no relation to reality, if fact, the more threatened they are of the positive attributes of a person, the more critical they will be and the more inclined they will be “to bring them down a peg”.

They are usually charming to the person’s face and viscous about them behind their back. They are quite capable of all sweetness and light and make horrible comments under their breath as they walk away. That charm will be increased when they want something from a person.  This can include material goods, money and status.  There is absolutely nothing authentic about their relationships with others.

Their motto is “attack is the best method of defense”, so no matter what happens nothing is ever their fault.  This denial of responsibility refers to everything from taking a wrong turn in traffic, a failed relationships, abusive behaviour or even a badly cooked meal. They will project every potential negative feeling about themselves on to someone or something else.  A classic comment from a covert narcissist is “now look what you made me do”.  Their arguments are so illogical and so repetitive that there is no point in giving a counter argument.

You will never have a more isolated or lonely “relationship” than that with a covert narcissist.  They may act like part of a couple but every now and then they will drop a comment that makes you think “they have absolutely no idea who I am”.  They will also constantly tell you “who you are” and “who they are”, they never let actions speak for themselves, they always accompany their behaviour (and yours) with a narrative that paints them as nothing less that flawless and is designed to devalue you, they will often feign pity for you for being so substandard and imply that you are very lucky to have them because not many people would tolerate such an imperfect partner/ friend like you.

Covert narcissists are completely amoral and without conscience or remorse.  They objectify other people and they only see them in terms of what they can harvest out of another for their own gain.  They do not care if they suck someone dry, they will merely cast them aside and go on the hunt for a better resource of attention, money or status.  When a narcissist cheats, lies or abuses another person they see it as a “hit, a point or a score”, it makes them feel powerful and in control.

Narcissists are extremely condescending and they need to be like this because they have to feel superior at all times.  It is as though they think that if they “permit” the freedom of expression of others in their presence that they will completely and disappear.  Because like all bullies they are weak and cowards, so they have a tendency to negate, devalue and disregard the thoughts/opinions and feelings of others almost out of a fear that they will be over shadowed. However, if you listen to the content of what they say, there are no core values/beliefs and their opinions change depending on who is in front of them and how much they think they can “impress”.

They are the people who can walk over someone who is obviously in distress/dying on a busy street and will get annoyed with them for “being in their way” (unless of course there is an audience in which case they will be the epitome of “compassion”). They despise it when people talk about their illness or misfortune but expect 100% attention/empathy when they are talking about themselves.

Their emotional/self-awareness and interpersonal/social skills are extremely low. They also have absolutely no capacity for logic (which is directly related to their inability to take personal responsibility for anything – including things that they say themselves), it is for this reason that you can never have an authentic connection.

The saying goes “if you are looking for offense, you will always find it” and so it is with narcissists.  Their radar is constantly in search of possible slights on their character. Like all highly critical people they are extremely sensitive to even the mere hint of anything other than an accolade. This could include not being at home when they called by (naughty you, you should have known), to laughing at yourself (which they will see as an indirect attack on them).  Everything that happens around them, they revert back to themselves.  For example, if you go on holiday somewhere nice and have a great time, they will see that as you doing it on purpose “to rub their nose in it” because they couldn’t get time off work/spent their money on an extension of their house.  Either way you went on your holiday specifically to insult or make them jealous.  They literally cannot understand that you might have booked your holiday without them in mind.

If they know that you want/would like something from them, they will deliberately withhold it from you because they would see that as you taking advantage of them and that is their job not yours!  This could be anything from old clothes that they are discarding that you admired, a lift to the airport to someone to listen to a problem you are having. The answer will always be “NO” unless there is something in it for them.

They are extremely envious of others (to a pathological extent), they will try to hide it but they will also try to get some of what you have from you.  Even if they have much more for example in material wealth, they will still try to take from those who are less affluent.  This is linked to the fact that they cannot feel gratitude for what they have and are always looking for more even if it means cheating, stealing or lying.

The covert narcissist constantly needs low level attention, they don’t necessarily want to be a pop star but they do expect to be the centre of attention in all of their other relationships, they will constantly charm new people and utterly ignore those who they think that they “have”.

Narcissistic Rage

Narcissistic rage is a manipulation tool that is used by narcissists to frighten, silence, hurt or break their “opponent”.  It can flare up in seconds and is often used against children or innocent people.  It is not genuine anger it is a tool narcissists use to get people to do what they want them to do. It starts off like a dog growling, the message being “I am only growling now, but this could escalate in to a full blown attack if you do not back away”.

Narcissistic rage occurs when the narcissist perceives s/he is being personally “attacked/threatened” by someone or something else. Their rage can be expressed through verbal abuse, physical abuse or by storming off.  An outburst can happen every day, several times a day or every few months but the person who is in contact with the narcissist will never know when it is going to happen, so they are constantly on high alert and will often make huge self-sacrifices to prevent expressions of dissatisfaction escalating into full blown rage.  The sacrifices that other people make to appease the narcissist pleases them because it means that they get to control others.  After a narcissist has had a raging outburst they will be unwilling to discuss the source and appropriateness of their reaction.  When the narcissists self-image is challenged in any way it will nearly always lead to narcissistic rage, if they are in public they might postpone it, but it will emerge at a later date. Narcissistic rage is a reaction to” narcissistic injury”- a perceived threat (a “threat” to a narcissist can very often be something that someone else would not even notice) to their self-worth or self-esteem because it is so fragile the defend it in a totally exaggerated way.

They rage in two ways: they erupt like a volcano getting very heated very quickly.  This can include just randomly ranting and raving, a very personal verbal attack or sometimes even physical (usually in the form of shoving and poking, but it can be much worse) or they can be passive-aggressive. The passive-aggressive reaction includes the silent treatment, sulking and behaving like a whipped dog, like they have just been “attacked” in a most offensive manner.  False weakness and vulnerability are two weapons that narcissists will often pull out of their arsenal if they think that open aggression will not work.

Do not confuse genuine anger with the narcissistic rage. Anger is a natural reaction when exposed to provocation. Anger usually occurs from a rational cause and dissipates when one is able to express it. The fuming rage the narcissist feels is different from the anger that people usually feel; it is irrational and severely blown out of proportion from an often insignificant remark or action.

Narcissists need constant admiration, attention and compliments. They live with the illusion that they are perfect and that other people revere them. That makes them dependent on other people to keep their self-esteem high or at least at an acceptable level for them. Therefore, any challenge, mildly negative remark, or disagreement from another person is considered criticism, rejection and even mockery. They can get upset about the most inappropriate things.  For example, they could say that a two-year old behaved in a certain way to deliberately provoke them, or that someone did something to annoy/hurt them when the narcissist was the furthest thing from their mind.

Causes of Narcissistic Rage

  • Narcissistic always expect more from others than they are prepared to give themselves. This means that they often place unrealistic demands on their partners, children or colleagues. Narcissists rarely make sense, but in a fit of rage they become completely incoherent, so the other person is left thinking that there is no point in engaging in an argument with them.  This in itself lets the narcissist think that they “won” the argument and permits them to continue to feel superior to all those around them.
  • If a narcissists imperfections are pointed out to them, their whole projected image of themselves comes under threat. They might lash back with pure aggression or they might look devastated as though you just crushed them under foot.  If they do the later it is highly likely that they will seek revenge on the person that “attacked” them at a later date.  This can be done by a smear campaign on the person’s character or some sadistic/vindictive act.
  • When a narcissists false persona or projected self-image comes under threat in some way or another their reaction will be excessive and usually explosive. They will say and do things to others that would send they themselves into conniptions.  However, they do not take personal responsibility for what they say or do to others and they do not mind hurting others and/or reducing them to tears.
  • Narcissistic rage is always irrational, infantile and acted upon with impunity. The rage that the narcissist expresses has nothing (or very little) to do with the other person, it is as a result of very low self-esteem, a strong sense of shame and a fragile image of themselves that they project and feel that they have to protect as though their lives depended on it.
  • Narcissists are unstable people and it will never be more obvious than when they are raging because there is no logic and very often no apparent reason for their violent outbursts. After they have exploded they will feel superior and their sense of being in control/stable will return.
  • After they have vented their spleen, gone off in a huff they can come back 15 minutes later and behave as though nothing had happened and will be offended if anyone should mention it to them. They will go on the offensive if the person who they were rude to acts hurt or confused.  They merely wave it off.
  • The insincerity of their rage is often shown up to be what it is if they are roaring insults at someone and then another person walks into the room who they want to conceal this side of their personality from, then suddenly they become all sweetness and light, their rage is on a switch that they can turn on and off in a second. Genuine rage takes much longer to process, hours and sometimes days.  Not so with a narcissist it takes a second because there is absolutely nothing genuine about it

Toxic Love

Toxic Love

The main qualities of all toxic people are that they are:

  • Very judgmental of others and have little or no self-awareness. They will happily strip someone else’s reputation or self-esteem, it is very often the things that they criticise in others that they are guilty of themselves.
  • They live off drama and will drum it up whenever and were ever possible. If you share some vulnerability with them in confidence, they will tell everyone, embellishing the story for dramatic effect.  Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?  If they can weave their way into it for dramatic effect, they will.
  • They will only talk to you when they want something from you. This might be a favour, a job that they want you to help them with (as in do for them), money or support in some argument that they have got into and they are trying to elicit sympathy for themselves.  This is a one- way street and they will be quite annoyed if you thought that you could count on them.  That is not their job it is yours!
  • They keep family/social secrets from you, so that you do not send that “congratulations on your 50th anniversary” card they will also “forget” to mention an informal celebration where invitations are by word of mouth only and you find out about it after the event. Of course they will say “I told you about it”, which is gas lighting because they know very well that they specifically and deliberately did not.
  • They say nasty things about another person and the then attribute it to you. So, if they want to say something nasty to someone’s face they say “Mary thinks that you are …” or “Peter is convinced that you did…”
  • They are never always abusive (unfortunately, it would be so much easier to spot if they were), there is just enough positive reinforcement for you to forgive them again and again making excuses for their behaviour like they are having a bad day or have a problem. Eventually you realise the pattern.

It is for the above series of toxic behaviour patterns that many people seek therapy. However, toxic love brings this type of toxicity to a much deeper level.

Love like narcissism is on a spectrum at the high end of the spectrum is unconditional love.  Unconditional love is only really appropriate for babies and children.  Emotionally healthy adults do not look for unconditional love from another adult because they were taught to love themselves as a child and do not seek to be that enmeshed with another person, they don’t try to extract the emotional support that they never received in their own childhood from an external and inappropriate source.


At the low end of the spectrum is toxic love, toxic love in words looks like “I need you, you’re useless, take care of me, give me everything that you have got and I will always try to force more out of you than you want to give – as proof of your love for me, but I will never love you back because I do not know what love is or means”.  In addition, “I will measure your “love” for me in relation to how much pain you are prepared to take from me.”


The word “love” is used very frequently by people who have absolutely no idea what it means to have a communion or healthy communication with another person.  They see attention as “love” and they mistake the attention buzz for something more meaningful than temporary gratification or as a means to get their needs satisfied whether it is “emotional”, financial or sexual.  This type of “love” is based in fear rather than any desire to truly and authentically connect with another person.

Many people stay in unhealthy relationships because they are afraid either of losing their “security” within the relationship or from fear of loneliness and vulnerability.  Long relationships are considered to be successful ones, but very often it is because both parties feel trapped that they stay together.

The dominant emotions in a toxic love pattern are insecurity and anxiety.  This does not only apply to adults it also applies to children of narcissistic parents.  They can never feel that they are safe, they are never relaxed in the relationship and never feel like they have a home that will always be there for them.  This is because their parents will make sure that their children understand that their acceptance with in the family is determined exclusively on how well they serve their parent(s).  They live in fear of what the consequences might be if they misbehaved (unknowingly) in some way, so they mostly try to be as invisible as possible.

Both adult to adult and parent child toxic love relationships are typified by cycles of highs and lows.  Just when the adult or child is convinced that the person that they love doesn’t love them, they are given brief moments of bliss where they feel completely accepted and an integral part of a very important relationship but then the mistreatment, the abuse, the lies and the manipulation start all over again and they are left wondering what they have done and where did that person that they loved so much just yesterday disappear to and why?  Did they do something wrong?  Should they try harder?

There are some signs that indicate that the relationship that you have is toxic whether with another adult or with a family member:

  • You are constantly second guessing yourself and doubting your own reality. You will probably have been told that you are “too sensitive”, so you question whether you are over reacting or not.
  • Denying your own feelings, telling yourself “it’s not that important, it was only a dinner to celebrate something for me that they didn’t show up for, I  need to let it go”
  • You continually try to “make things better” between you, working hard to make things “right” and are constantly checking to see “how things are going”.
  • Constantly apologising for things that you did or didn’t do or taking responsibility for things that you are not responsible for.

The very definition of a relationship is that  a person can relate to you, show empathy, support and compromise.  We do not merge into one person but I am who I am and you are who you are and we can relate to each other in the whole form of who we are and our relationship develops we both grow from the mutual experience.

Healthy love vs toxic love looks like:

Healthy Love

  • Gives the space and respect for the two individuals to grow and be themselves
  • Celebrates the other person and gives space for that person to grow and develop
  • “Permits” and celebrates the other person’s interests, friends and respects their other relationships without trying to be completely involved with them.

Trusts the other person, without feeling that they have to monitor their behaviour.  They expect the other person to behave in a responsible way.

  • Knows compromise, problem solves together and works together to find a mutually acceptable solution
  • Can see and appreciate the other person’s individuality, they can see the other person’s soul
  • Can embrace all aspects of reality, both the highs and lows. There are no no-go areas for discussion or exploration
  • Allows both parties stand as an individual and their moods are not determined by outside influences or the other person’s “stuff”.
  • There is a healthy concern and investment in the other person without suffocating or trying to control him or her.
  • Permits the other person personal space to be alone or with others
  • Is not in constant competition with the other person and does not have to feel “better than”.

Toxic Love

  • Has an obsession with the relationship and a determination to force it into what “it should be” with a total disregard for the other individual
  • Tries to clip the wings of the other person, stifle their development to ensure security, maintain a comfort zone and resist all change
  • Tries to control all other relationships the other person has such as family, friends, work colleagues, interests, social life and career choices
  • Has no trust, tries to control, pathologically envious, dismissive of relationships with friends and family members
  • Is a power/control dynamic it seeks drama and discord, not solutions. It is manipulative and often cruel
  • Tries to turn the other person into what they want them to be using shame and blame as their primary tools
  • Is based on how things “should be”, not how they are. There is a tape playing in their head that over rides or rewrites anything unpleasant or uncomfortable
  • Expects that the other person will take responsibility for and rescue them when things don’t go according to how they “should be”
  • Is where one person is enmeshed in everything that the other person does. They take independent action and as a personal insult and try to draw that person back into their orbit
  • Cannot be alone, is clingy demanding and invasive
  • Needs to feel superior to the other person at all times and will go to lengths to tell them so





Narcissistic Hallmarks

  • Constant weird lies, a narcissist will lie even when the truth would serve them better
  • Narcissistic rage, they will get into a red faced fury over the slightest little thing. This is a trick they learnt when they were toddlers to try and push their boundaries with their care takers.  They are still testing to see how much they can get away with even as adults
  • Any attention is better than no attention, even negative attention is “good” for them.
  • No one’s ideas, achievements or successes are ever as good as theirs even though there is no physical evidence to support their claims.
  • They are constantly “saving the day”, even if they were not there.
  • They don’t mind their own business, interfering in other people’s dramas makes them feel alive
  • They minimise or make a mountain out of a mole hill depending on whether it is something inappropriate that they have done (minimise or don’t acknowledge in any way) or something that someone else has done “to them”.
  • Will betray anyone or anything at any time, they have absolutely no sense of loyalty or integrity.
  • They backstab, go on smear campaigns and maliciously gossip about others for their own personal gain, or for entertainment.
  • The main motivation of a narcissist is to gain power by controlling people they will do this through lies, splitting up relationships, manipulation, money, charm – the list is very long.
  • They can be charming one minute and turn into a bullying thug the next. This flipping in a matter of moments is a controlling mechanism they use.  This type of behaviour is abusive and aimed at causing confusion and instability because you are never really sure who is going to turn up
  • Once they get a better offer they will discard you without a backward glance.
  • The narcissist violates boundaries: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and financial.
  • At work narcissists are very difficult to work for (narcissists don’t do work with), They are bullies and liars in the work place as in their private lives.
  • They can completely contradict themselves in a very short space of time and not seem to notice
  • They will constantly break their promises and make it sound like you “made” them do it
  • Completely in appropriate reactions to other people’s pain or problems but also their success and happiness (it annoys them)
  • Will try to come between you and other people and try to be “more important” than you in your relationships, even intimate ones
  • They will try to extract any material resources you might have (even by criminal means) with absolute ruthlessness and show absolutely no remorse.
  • Exhibit absolutely no shame when they have been caught doing wrong.
  • They do not listen and try to stop you talking about yourself (unless they are trying to harvest information about you, to use against you)
  • They will hunt through your private stuff opening letters, reading texts and email.
  • They might stalk you to see where you are going and who you are with if you are in a “relationship” with them, even a friendship
  • They think that everyone is profoundly interested in their opinion about just about anything, irrespective of content.
  • Will constantly offer unsolicited advice (and will get angry if you politely reject or ignore it)
  • They are very judgemental of you and everyone else, will make wild suppositions on little or no evidence
  • They will deem that most people are less intelligent, beautiful, popular and talented than they are (on absolutely no evidence)
  • They will suck up to the rich and powerful people they know in a totally shameless and sycophantic way
  • They just love to name drop
  • They will tell you why you shouldn’t feel or think in a certain way
  • They project their motives and intentions on to others
  • They feel like they are above the law as they are special people
  • They do not argue logically so you never get anywhere with them and they can easily change their mind mid argument
  • They inappropriately assume knowledge or intimacy with others far too quickly or take a haughty superior attitude without anything to back it up
  • They can be late for meetings or not show up at all if it doesn’t suit them, but would get into a red hot rage if someone did the same to them.
  • They will lie about their accomplishments or compliments that they claim others have given them.
  • They will very often be dismissive or very rude to serving staff or people he/she does not deem important.
  • They think that everyone else is weak and inferior, that they are always superior and that must always be acknowledged that must never be forgotten
  • They thing that you have no freedom to think independently, I am the only one who knows what is what
  • They think it is everyone else’s job to take care of their needs and feelings. Others are not allowed to have needs or feelings.

Here is how they operate:

  • “No one is allowed to have an opinion that differs from mine”
  • “You must agree with everything that I say, but I can criticise, degrade, mock and sneer at the things that you say”
  • “I can stop speaking to you on a whim but it will turn nasty if you decide to stop speaking to me.”
  • “I can disown you and say vile things about you behind your back but you must always be loyal and faithful to me”
  • “If our rift ends (when I am ready) you have to take me back is though nothing had happened and it must never be mentioned again”
  • “I can vent to other people about you but you must never criticise me to anyone or I will turn nasty”
  • “Your friends are my friends, but my friends are my own and I will do my best to keep you from getting too close to them (they might prefer you).”
  • “I can falsely accuse you of doing thing that you never did and you are not allowed to make me a liar by defending yourself”
  • “You are not allowed to tell the mean things that I really did do to you, you must cover it up and keep it secret.”
  • “You are never allowed to complain (it is boring) that is my job
  • “You are never allowed to confront me about anything, I am the only one allowed to be confrontational.”
  • “I can offend you deeply but you are not allowed to get upset, if you make the slightest criticism of me I will be deeply offended and insulted (and will probably react with rage).”
  • “I am the only one allowed to have feelings (even if they are very limited in scope).”
  • “I am the only one allowed to get angry, you must pretend to be content (not happy because happy is annoying) all of the time.”
  • “I can lie about you to make you look bad, you must lie about me to make me look good.”
  • “I can say anything that I like, you are only allowed to say things that you are sure will not offend me.”
  • “I can do what I want you can only do what I want/would like you to do.”
  • “You must always, always put my needs and wants before your own.”
  • “You must call me regularly to see how I am, I will only call you when I want something or I am bored.”
  • “You have to respect me, I don’t have to respect you and I don’t.”
  • “I never have to apologise to you, you have to apologise to me for everything even things that you did not do”
  • “You must never out shine me”, if you do something kind that they think they should take credit for, they will claim it if they can (without making any effort), if they realise that they are going to have to take some action they will muscle in and try to push you away.”
  • They will ridicule your relationships with other people, even if they have never met that person and have no idea of what they are like “I am the most important person in your life” (even if you do not see them very often)
  • They will accuse you of exaggerating their abuse and completely deny that it “was that bad”, completely devaluing your response to their abusive behaviour
  • They will heap lavish compliments in public and attack you at home for the very thing that they were complimenting you about in public
  • They will say “I only want what is best for you” (narcissistic parents do this as well as partners), but will destroy any thing that you try to create or build. They will clip your wings where ever and whenever they can.  If they cannot sabotage your efforts they will take credit for them for themselves “I always told her/him that s/he should do that”, “I introduced them”.
  • They will assume superior knowledge of your friends and relatives even if they have never met them. They will say things like “well of course Lucy was always very neurotic” !!  They don’t know anything about this person, but they will pass comments that are said with such certainty and confidence that you start to believe that they might know what they are talking about.
  • When you are exhausted from all of their abuse they will call you lazy and unreliable because you cannot function in a healthy way around these toxic people
  • If they are trying to contact you and they cannot get in touch, they will call relentlessly, text message (feigning that they are concerned about your wellbeing), email and even call into your place of work. They can make up to 200 attempts to call you without thinking that they may be a little invasive.  Even though you may not have heard from them in months, they will be furious that you are not available to take their call
  • If you go out with friends alone, they will call you on a false pretence to listen to background noise to make sure that you are where you said you were going to be.
  • They threaten to leave to make you unsure of the relationship (i.e. try harder), but also to try to make you beg them to stay.
  • They will constantly let you know that they are superior to you in every way (without any evidence what so ever) and will knock your confidence relentlessly.
  • They have absolutely no mood control. They will flip in to a rage one minute and thirty seconds later act as though nothing had happened.
  • They might be raging at you when someone else walks into room they will be as sweet as honey to you
  • They try to destroy your happiness/success when they can. If you go away with other people and come back with pep in your step, they will destroy your happiness by guilt tripping you for abandoning them “I was so lonely/depressed without you, please don’t leave me like that again”
  • If you need/want them to do something for you, they will refuse because they will see that as you taking advantage of them (no matter how inconsequential the request)
  • They use the word “love” as leverage to control. They say “I love you”, what they mean is that they have put you in a situation where you have to be very sensitive to their needs because they “Love you”, but they are completely indifferent you your feelings, it is not about you, the relationship is exclusively about them.
  • They gossip endlessly about other people, but are absolutely furious if they find out that someone has been gossiping about them.
  • They are especially prone to professional jealousy and no matter what they do or what you do their job is always more important than yours
  • They will constantly interrupt conversations that you have with other people to bring any conversation back to them.
  • They will negate everything you say (no matter how ridiculous) in order to control.
  • If you say you are going to do something (no matter how minor), they will tell you to do it a different way or not to do it at all.
  • They ruin celebrations that aren’t about them by sulking, fighting, pretending to feel sick or just being rude to everyone.
  • They can make appropriate comments but their facial expression and body language will let you know that they are completely insincere. It is possible that a victim will think that they had other things on their mind at the time but the reality is that they are not pleased when other people are happy or successful.
  • They will try to make their partner jealous by glorifying all of their previous relationships, implying that the one that they are in is substandard and you need to work harder on making it better.
  • Narcissistic parents do the same thing by shamelessly showing favouritism for one or more child, to make the ones who are neglected jump through hoops to try to belong and please them.
  • Their acceptance of you is always conditional on “how well you are performing for them.”
  • They make their victims become very secretive because any doubts, insecurities or mistakes you have/made will be constantly used against you.
  • They are very quick to tell you who you are and what you should do with absolutely no evidence because that is who they want you to be on that particular moment on that particular day. It changes all the time.
  • Their advice will set you up to fail.
  • They are full of advice about how you should change and what you should do but they don’t need to change a thing themselves because they are just perfect the way they are.
  • Their constant lies a peppered with nuggets of truth, designed to make you question yourself.
  • They don’t trust you because they believe that everyone is like them.
  • They are always right and if questioned in any way (even in jest) will bristle with self-righteous indignation.
  • They are quite happy to call you really rude names but if you say something like “I didn’t like what you said about” they laugh at you, will storm off in a huff at the sheer audacity for suggesting that the was something less than perfect about them.
  • If their victim starts to get stronger and grow in confidence, they will up their game and try even harder to wreck their confidence and self-esteem. They will do this ether through sheer aggression or by playing the victim.




FOG Fear, Obligation Guilt

Emotional blackmail is one of the narcissists favourite forms of manipulation.  FOG stands for Fear, Obligation and Guilt, they use it to threaten either overtly or indirectly, to quietly punish you for non-compliance to their demands

  • Such as pretending to be sick
  • Using their own false/exaggerated fears to manipulate you to serve them
  • Weakness and vulnerability to make you take care of them


  • react with a totally inappropriate rage
  • Call in exaggerated favours that they have done for you in the past
  • Pull rank
  • Demean/call names
  • Tell you it is your duty

Remember that you are always dealing with a narcissists sense of entitlement emotional blackmail is the used because they are unwilling or unable to make a direct request for what they want.  Why should they have to bother?  They are entitled to what they want anyway and a direct request would involve you doing them a favour (which to a narcissist means they would be in debt to you in some way).  They cannot negotiate either as that means relating to the other person and their situation and needs.  The narcissist is not interested in either, they just want what they want and they usually want it now!

Emotional blackmail in intangible, there is no logic to it and the leverage that they use will be something that you feel is instinctively wrong (gut feeling) but they will be so convinced that they are right and entitled that it is easy to think “if they are so certain maybe I am missing something” or “if they feel that strongly about it”  The other thing that they do is provide very mixed messages,  such as “you are not making enough money, the Smiths next door have just bought a new car/gone on holiday”, you work harder and longer hours  and you are met with “you are never at home/you don’t spend enough time with the family”.

If you pull them up on the fact that they cannot have it both ways, they will see your standing up for yourself as insubordination/criticism and you will be met with rage, sulking or storming off (followed by some sort of punishment), it is a complete double standard and you will always be wrong in the eyes of the narcissist.  They will use all kinds of “tools” to make you in the wrong in their eyes and make you doubt your sanity and theirs.  The temptation is to just go along with what they say for the sake of a peaceful life.  This approach does not work with a narcissist because they just push the boundaries out further, remember they are always looking for drama and love to evoke emotion in others.  You will never be able to satisfy a narcissist, there may be moments of calm but these are fleeting and if they think that you are relaxing in the relationship they will definitely go on the offensive again.  They want you to be hyper reactive and in a perpetual state of danger management, it makes them feel powerful and it does not happen by accident it is designed to confuse and keep you off balance.

The blackmailing only works if you comply, the narcissist will make a demand either forcibly or subtly “You have to do… ” or they might just say it with their “little voice” peppered with sighs so that you ask “what is wrong” and then they reel you in implying that s/he will get sad, sulky or angry if you do not meet their demand or will make the demand after they have reeled you in “I would feel so much better if you would just do…”

You might not want to rush to their aid (again) but they will manipulate in two ways, you will feel sorry for them or you don’t like neglecting your friends/partner in their hour of need.  Your line of reasoning could be “if I called a friend when I was THAT upset, how would I feel if they turned me down”, the reality is that they are acting and you would never get so upset by trivia like a narcissist does, but the same rules do not apply.  They have just violated your boundaries a little further and this is a win for them.

If you try to get out of what really amounts to obeying them, they will put on more pressure either by being melodramatic or by pushing on one of your vulnerable spots.  Again this can be either direct or indirect depending on what they think will be more effective.

When you obey their demands they know that their manipulation has worked and they will employ it again and again in various ways.


  • Fear of abandonment
  • Fear of upsetting a lonely elderly parent
  • Fear of temper tantrums and confrontation
  • Fear for your own physical safety


  • “After all the sacrifices I have made for you”
  • “You never ….”
  • “You always …”
  • “I can’t do it”
  • “You are so ungrateful”
  • “You did that because..”
  • “Why won’t you?”
  • “I would do it for you”
  • “You are so selfish”
  • “I need your help” (means you do this for me while I do something more pleasurable)
  • “It is your duty”


  • For having done something to upset or offend
  • For being cold hearted
  • For not pulling your weight in a relationship
  • For spending too much time at work
  • Not earning enough money
  • Having interesting/useful friends
  • Being happy/enjoying yourself