Respect for narcissists


We have all been told on a regular basis that we should respect everyone.  The things that these great purveyors of broad over generalised statements forgot to add are:

  • If someone behaves badly towards you, showing “respect” for that person only encourages them and gives them permission to do it again. In fact it is very unwise.
  • If you are dealing with a narcissist respect can only come in the form of not doing them harm. It is imperative that you protect yourself from them.  So, if you are insulted or verbally attacked by a narcissist, you do not need to get all introspective and wonder if “they have a point”.  A narcissist can say anything and may very well say two polar opposites with in a very short space of time.  Showing respect for yourself, and to what you know, means that you do not need to follow up all of the crazy notions of the narcissist.  Hold on to what you know about yourself and your own experiences, you do not need to listen to them, nor do you need to defend your position or attack them back.  That is as far as respect can go with a narcissist, otherwise they will hurt you.
  • When you are communicating with a narcissist their words, body language, tone and facial expressions may well all contradict each other. Some people have “bad” body language (inconsistent with what they are saying), so it is easier to follow what they say rather than to try to interpret confused physical signals.  This is not a good idea with narcissists.  There is absolutely no stability in what a narcissist says, and as such, should not be taken seriously.
  • Respect is earned when people take responsibility and are accountable for what they say and do, narcissists do not. The highest and safest form of respect that you can offer them is to resist the temptation to harm them back.  If a toddler was rude to you, you would not try to punish him/her, and so it is with narcissists.  It is confusing because they are in an adult body, but that is where they are emotionally and developmentally.
  • A narcissist will defend their rudeness and abuse by saying that “YOU earn respect you cannot demand it”, it is just their pathetic excuse for defending their abhorrent behaviour.

Narcissists Friendship & Loyalty

Did you ever question whether or not a “friend” was actually a friend or did you have a niggling feeling that they were stabbing you behind your back, only called when they wanted something?  That they act in a friendly way to you but this only a means to an end.  They will flirt, charm and be completely engaged at the beginning and seem like they have to potential to be a great friend.  Once they have harvested the information that they want about you/from you they will disengage if they do not deem you to be useful to them anymore.

Narcissists do not make good friends because they are only showing up for what they can get out of the “relationship”.  They have absolutely no sense of loyalty and will drop the friendship in an instant if someone “better” turns up.  In other words, someone/ or something that they perceive can give them more.   Make them look “better”, offer them social standing/network, be better dressed/looking or indeed make them look virtuous in some way such as church or charities.

At the beginning they can seem absolutely charming, have many shared interests and values and look like a potentially good friend.  However, this is all completely insincere and done to “groom” you, make you like them.  If you are not famous, rich or powerful they will lose interest over time and will expect you to come and visit them, do all of the running in the relationship and make all of the effort.  They will be indifferent about anything going on in your life, interrupt you if you talk about anything that interests you and expect you to listen endlessly to them and be tolerant of their latest obsession.  They are not looking for a friendship like most of us see them, they are looking for your attention and any resources that they might be able to extract from you, by lies and deceit if they think that it would serve them better.

Loyalty doesn’t exist for them as they do not see other people as anything other than objects to be manipulated and mined for resources.  They can easily say vicious things about you behind your back.  However, narcissists do understand the concept of loyalty as they will expect is from you.

If you suspect that your “friend” is a narcissist ask yourself:

  • Do I feel better for having spent time in their presence?
  • What is my energy level like after being with them?
  • Did I just drive for an hour to see them and all they did was talk about themselves?
  • Did they ask about me?
  • If they did, did they wait for you to answer or get bored with what you were saying very quickly?
  • Narcissists see their friends as accessories to prop up their image, are you welcome to some events and not invited to others because you don’t have the right clothes or contacts?
  • Narcissists feel superior to other people and to maintain this feeling of superiority will devalue others (including you).
  • They will not be able to enjoy/sincerely celebrate any of your achievements and if someone else congratulates you, they will behave like you have stolen something from them.
  • Narcissists are cold and manipulative, even if they hide behind a mask. You will feel that you have been walked up a blind alley a lot of the time.  They are incapable of genuine warmth or even considering your needs.

“We have to recognise that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.”

Cornel West, Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life


Triangulation is a narcissist’s indirect form of communication where one person (the narcissist) acts as a conduit to prevent direct contact between two or more people.   It can be used as a way to draw a third party/parties to gang up on their chosen target to benefit their own agenda, as a way to keep secrets, to make individuals suspicious of each other by making false claims about what the other said about them, gas light or to blame others for unpleasant things that they did or said about a victim of their abuse

It is employed by the narcissist specifically to control, dominate, demote and hurt their targets.  Those targets can be anyone they come in contact with ranging from their children, partners, friends, co-workers and other family members.  It is a predatorily tactic and is done by exploiting other people’s vulnerabilities and trust.

If you come from a narcissistic family of origin your parent(s) will have almost certainly used this technique as a means to control and frighten their children.  As every politician knows, frightened people are easier to control than confident ones, a child who comes from a family like this knows that absolute obedience is the safest way of survival, as a small child’s life is at stake if the parent threatens to abandon or hurt them.

The most popular way that narcissistic parents control their children is by splitting/dividing and conquering this involves pitching the siblings against each other so that they don’t trust one another and find it difficult to be in one another’s company.  It is done for two reasons:

  • So the children won’t get together and gang up on the parent
  • So that the children will not compare and contrast the things that the narcissistic parent says and there by expose the lies that they have been telling.

Once the narcissists achieves this goal, all trust will be lost between siblings.

They will do a character assassination on anyone who poses a threat, disagrees with them or dares to disobey them.  They will often invent cruel comments and attribute them to other people to further hurt and lower the self-esteem of their victims. When they have created this dysfunctional non direct communication between the people around them, they can play a pivotal role in the control of information that is supplied within the family unit, group of friends, work colleagues or clubs, filtering and censoring the flow of information to fit their own agenda.  Since most people are unaware of the concept of this deliberate feed of misinformation by narcissists they frequently believe the lies that they are told, they trust their and since they have not had any experience of such deliberate deception.  Narcissists are pathological liars so they will lie about tiny/unimportant things at first to see if they “get away with it” and if they do, like a small child, they will just push the boundaries further the next time.  If they get pulled up on a lie, they will make a petty excuse and realise that it will be too much trouble for them to convince their target of their lies and will move on to the next source of supply.  Children of narcissists will have only had experience of this type of “communication” so it will feel normal that no one talks directly to each other and that they are always told what other siblings/parent or people said about them.  Narcissists do not talk to people they talk at them with the specific goal of control/power.

That is not where the dysfunctionality of triangulation stops.  The narcissist will not talk openly and frankly with anyone including their children as they do not want that level of intimacy or indeed to have their projected image damaged/questioned in any way.  Instead the narcissist will ask one person about another.  So they will say “what is X up to these days”, “Y seemed upset at dinner the other night, what is going on with them”.  To get people to open up to them they will trade other people’s secrets or will invent something unkind that “someone else” said about them to provoke a reaction. This indirect form of communication leaves it wide open for people to shaft each other and create disharmony with in a family or a group as it isolates each individual and increases the levels of insecurity and lack of trust between family members, friends, colleagues etc.  Which in turn makes it much easier for the narcissist to control the people around them.

Another form of triangulation used by narcissists is to be immensely impressed by the success of other people in a specific field – real or imaginary.  They will compare the accomplishments/talents of others and will imply that the person who they are targeting is substandard.  They will do this by undermining the other person by saying things like “of course you dropped out of college”, “it is a shame that your business venture failed”, “well of course you have been divorced twice”, “of course you cannot have children so you wouldn’t know” they will aim to shame their target (including their own children) with the things that they know they feel insecure about. They will imply that just about everyone they know is superior to you and that you will never be able to measure up to (because if you achieve something, that achievement will be dismissed as unimportant and the bar will be raised higher). Even if the target the performance of others is exaggerated/fictional the implications are not lost on you, there is a clear and unambiguous message that simply says “you are not good enough (try harder to please me”, “you are substandard (I am such a good and interesting person to put up with you who are flop as a person”.

This technique is employed by adult narcissists to control their partners and they do it to a pathological level to feed the needs of their disordered agenda.  Any new relationship with a narcissist will start with love bombing.  It doesn’t make any difference how confident you are at the beginning of the relationship the constant attention, flattery and faux declarations of love will blow your mind (literally), you were manipulated into falling in “love” with them and being in “love” with them makes us vulnerable to them and we trust them.

Once they have you hooked they will start slowly with the abuse with a gentle drip drip of deceit, betrayal, disparagement and rage all done with the aim of destroying us.  Because hurting others makes them feel good and more powerful.  They do this by bringing in a third party, this could be constant reference to an ex-lover, the implication that they are having an affair, talking-up the people who you know in common/work colleauges and being disparaging about everything that you do, or simply by spending too much time on a hobby that they exclude you from.

Another way that they use triangulation is to punish or treat a third party badly.  This is done explicitly to let you know that if you do not conform to their control, they will do exactly the same to you.  It can be in the form of making an “example” of someone such as a child or a co-worker and insist that the others bear witness or it can be in the form of openly going on a smear campaign on someone to let others know that if they step out of line the same thing could happen to them.

There is another way in which narcissists use triangulation and it is what I call the Triple Whammy (which means a situation that is bad in three different ways: a situation in which three bad conditions exist at the same time or three bad things happen one after another).

For example, a narcissist could tell their partner that a member of their family, a friend or acquaintance made an incredibly cruel comment about them, the partner will reel with shock, hurt and surprise because they always thought that they had a good relationship with that person.  The narcissist will then expand on the story and say how they jumped to the defence of their partner denying the validity of everything that the “wicked” other person said about them.  The result for the narcissist is 1) delighted by the hurt inflicted on their partner, 2) look like they are a protective, loyal and honourable partner 3) they will also make you think that the people closest to you are talking behind your back and this will be presented as concern about the authenticity of the relationships that you have with these people and as such wedge a gap between you and the people that are closest to you, they will display faux concern about your well-being and so their language will be couched in unchallengeable caring terminology.  It is designed to destroy you and your relationships, to isolate so that they can garner more control.

A final thing that is alarming if you are in an adult relationship with a narcissist is that the narcissist can threaten to “tell Mummy on you” if you don’t do what they say (seriously!).   This is a result of a narcissistic mother who has over cossetted her child, so s/he always considers her his “go to place” when anything goes wrong.  The threat of “telling Mummy” usually comes in the throws of a narcissistic rage when the have completely lost control over themselves, it is however, always difficult to believe that you just heard that comment from an adult.  Basically if you are in a “relationship” with a narcissist you have just been calculatedly manipulated into a baby sitting role and that is why they feel justified in telling Mummy if the “hired help” isn’t doing his or her job properly.

Sense of humour and being teased

Narcissists have a very poor sense of humour especially when it comes to themselves.  They take themselves extremely seriously and expect everyone else to do the same.  This is what they expect from others, not how they treat others.  They consider it completely acceptable to mock others and laugh at them in their face.  They can pull mocking faces and roll their eyes but will take extreme umbrage if they consider that you have even glanced at them in a funny way.

They usually use sarcasm and word play to simulate humour.  It is because they don’t have a sense of humour that they find it very hard to play fun and silly games.  They are usually keen on competitive games and they will play to win, not to have fun, the ones that are just for fun they find embarrassing and it makes them feel self-conscious.  This is different from taking centre stage which narcissists adore, and entertaining an audience as opposed to entertaining each other just for the sake of being together.  It is for this reason that a narcissist finds it almost impossible to play with their children.  When they are teaching a game to a child, they will rarely let them win, even if it is chess or scrabble where the child obviously has much less developed skills set.

The narcissist cannot tell the difference between being teased and being mocked.  Most people know that you don’t really tease someone unless you have a certain affection for them.  The narcissist will feel threatened by being teased because it is a mild form of intimacy and they will think that they are being laughed at so their reaction will be

  • To be offended
  • To walk off in a huff
  • Become aggressive and retaliate by deliberately saying intentionally hurtful things
  • Sulk
  • Use very hostile “humour” to get their own back

In fact, a narcissist seems to be more comfortable in an overtly hostile and aggressive encounter than they are when they are being teased.  If a narcissist is being mocked they will have total sense of humour failure and is highly likely to punish or seek revenge at some later date.  At the same time a narcissist sees absolutely no problem with them pointing their finger at someone else and sneering/jeering/ridiculing and humiliating in a vindictive and malicious way.

Narcissists think that being overtly rude to someone or about someone is a form of humour, because they have very poor communication skills they can make people feel very uncomfortable in social settings, they can carry on saying ridiculous things without any awareness of the discomfort that they are causing others to feel.  They enjoy making people blush as that is an emotional response and it makes them feel good about themselves at another’s expense.

Humour plays an important part in any close relationship, it helps people to bond and to feel close to one another.  When people cannot laugh together (which is very different from laughing at someone or something) that closeness can never evolve as a close connection can never develop and both parties will be on the defensive.  Humour is also a useful tool when approaching a sensitive issue, it can be used to gauge what another person is feeling about a situation.  A narcissist cannot employ this tactic as they don’t care what the other person feels or wants, it is not in their interest and have a tendency to attack things head on from their very self-righteous stand point without giving consideration for the consequences either for the other person or on the outcome of their attack.



When we genuinely say “Thank you” to someone for something what we are really saying is “I do not feel entitled to receive what you have given or have done for me, I see and sincerely appreciate the effort you made”.  Narcissists on the other hand say thank you merely as a social formality (if at all) because they feel entitled to get what was given without being appreciative or having to give anything in return (if only a “thank you”).  This sense of entitlement means that the narcissist takes what they want without bothering to see another person’s needs, their attention is exclusively focused on what they want and they usually want it now!

To say thank you we need step out of ourselves and embrace the generosity, kindness and existence of someone else.  It is a mutual exchange, they did something kind or generous for us because they saw that we needed, wanted or would appreciate something and we acknowledge the fact that they saw what we needed, wanted or would like something and appreciate it, which means that we can see them too.  If we cannot say thank you with any authenticity, it means that we cannot see the other person for who they are and what they have done for us.

Gratitude comes in many forms, it could be for something big like a present or a job promotion or it could be something as small as smiling and waving thanks to someone who stopped their car to let you into the traffic.  These expressions of gratitude create a sense of connectedness.  Narcissists are eternally ungrateful for all acts of kindness and generosity which creates a sense of disconnectedness, loneliness and isolation.  Insincere gratitude is as obvious as a false smile, their eyes don’t light up, there is no indication of their gratitude in their tone of voice and their body language is all wrong.

Gratitude is also very different from approval, narcissists will often substitute thank you for “I approve that you wanted to give me a present, execute an act of kindness for me”, which is completely in line with the narcissists sense of superiority to all those around them.  They feel entitled to whatever you gave or did for them and the only reason that they acknowledge the act at all serves only to encourage you to do something nice for them again (“keep it coming”).

Some narcissists think that if they say thank you and acknowledge that you did something nice for them, that they will be indebted to you.  The narcissist doesn’t feel that they owe anybody anything, so rather than say “thank you” they just ignore what you have done because they do not want to risk you thinking that you are equals or have entered into a give and take/sharing situation.

As always with narcissists there is a twist, they may well reject an act of kindness or a present with a hostile comment.  This is to let you know that they are not only ungrateful for your effort but you have also insulted them by implying that they couldn’t buy the present/do something for themselves.  The message they are giving is “I don’t need you, I am superior to you and I am not going to lower myself to your level by saying thank you and treating you like an equal”.

They might actively punish you if you buy them something/do something for them that they don’t like, such as a present they don’t like or throw them a surprise party.  Like a toddler they will be angry with you for getting it wrong and will make no attempt to hide it ruining the occasion for everyone.  They will not think that your intentions were good and that you thought that you were making a nice gesture.  On the contrary, they will think that you did it on purpose to insult or belittle them in some way.

Similarly, they might ask you to come and pick them up from somewhere because they don’t have transport.  It could be an hour’s drive each way for you each way, but they will be openly angry with you for being five minutes late.

The moral is do not ever expect gratitude from a narcissist unless it is a means to an end and even then it will be totally insincere



If you apologise to a narcissist

They will not accept your apology graciously

  • They will try to get you to repeat the apology time and again, because they see the fact that you are apologising as a win for them.
  • They will expect you to grovel for their forgiveness (even if you did nothing wrong and are just apologising for the sake of a peaceful life).
  • If you did make a mistake of some sort, the narcissist will remind you time and again, even years after the fact, even if you didn’t make the mistake, it is the way that they have decided to remember it.
  • They see an apology as a weakness and will try to dump blame on you for things that they did or didn’t do “while they have you”, as they see it
  • If you accept partial blame for an action they will make it out to be entirely your fault
  • They will try to shut you down (through rage, volume or storming off) if you try to set the record straight
  • The will tell as many other people that they can that you are responsible for their own misdeeds and will play the victim of their own misdemeanours
  • They will use an apology as leverage to make you do something for them that is beyond being a reasonable request
  • They will always see an apology as an excuse to play power games