Narcissists are not just selfish people: They completely lack empathy. They use people for their own personal gain and discard them when they no longer have use for them. The worst part? They are master manipulators. They know exactly what to say to make you think they love you, and what they need to do to convince you to do things for them.
So how do you separate out a narcissist from someone who simply self-absorbed? If you are in a relationship with one, how do you know that you are being taken advantage of? Here are a few signs to watch out for.
3 Ways Narcissists Take Advantage of Others
1. Emotional Puppeteering
Also known as triangulation, narcissists use this tactic to maintain control in their relationships. They usually do this by bringing in a third party into the relationship to provoke jealousy or feelings of inadequacy in you so that they have the upper hand. A common phrase you’ll hear from them is “I wish you’d be more like him/her”. This is really just a ploy to get you to act how they want you to or do whatever suits their needs and interests at the time.
2. Cognitive Dissonance
A true narcissist wears a figurative mask around all other people. Often, to those not immediately close to them (for example, their romantic partner) they are charming, charismatic, and an all-around wonderful human being. Typically you won’t realize you are dating a narcissist until well into a relationship. It can then take a long time to finally break away from them, because they will continue to pull you back in by reminding you of the person that you thought they were when you first met. They manipulate your thoughts and emotions so expertly that they will have you convinced that the problems in the relationship are your fault and not theirs.
3. Idealization, Devaluation, Discard
This is the cycle that most people who are close to a narcissist get caught in. First, they make you feel like you are the most important person to them in the whole world. They will allow you to fall deeply in love with them and have you thinking they feel the same way.
After this stage, they will then turn the switch. Flattery will give way to criticism, and you will start working hard to earn back their praise, fearing they are falling out of love with you. They may speckle in some praise to keep you hooked, but for the most part you will constantly feel like you are not enough for them.Finally, once they have taken everything they can from you and you are no longer of any value to them, they will leave you. They will do this in a way that is humiliating to you and often makes them look like the better person in the relationship.
They will then either come back to you later to continue the emotional abuse or they will move on to a new target.
Thanks to their ability to play games with your mind and heart, it can take a while for you to even realize what is happening. It is important to realize that in healthy relationships, though not always perfect, each partner will support the other and take ownership for problems. There is always respect and you build each other up, not down. If your relationship is causing you stress and anxiety, you could be dating a narcissist. In that case, leave before they destroy you. You cannot change a narcissist, but you can protect yourself from emotional and psychological trauma they will cause you.