It was the morning after an episode of narcissistic rage from my younger brother.
He had spent the night at the apartment I lived in with my best friend at the time. The evening had started out perfectly fine but had turned into his ramblings and conversations that made no sense.
At one point in the conversation, he had held his finger over my mouth to keep me from speaking. He had been condescending and rude even though we had welcomed him into our house.
Over the years there were moments where my little brother would lay into me for seemingly no reason saying the cruelest things, and then saying I was an inspiration to him the next day.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that he had narcissistic personality disorder and everything clicked about how he had been manipulating our relationship for decades.
This is how a narcissistic will manipulate the relationships they have with the people in their life.
#1. They will position themselves as the expert
For as long as I can remember my brother knew more than anyone else. It didn’t matter if someone was educated, an expert in their field, or extremely successful, he would find a way to disagree with them.
There were moments when I would try to state my feelings/thoughts/beliefs and there would be a brief moment when my brother would listen, and then say all the reasons why I was wrong.
Eventually, I learned to remain silent and to just not engage. It didn’t matter if I came prepared on a subject, if someone ignores logic it’s impossible to argue with them.
#2. They will position themselves as a savior
Years ago I ended up in a serious relationship with a narcissist. At the beginning, he was sweet and charming but slowly the facade fell away and I was left with someone who believed that I was nothing without him.
“You are nothing without me… you’re lucky that you even get a chance to be in my life.”
He said those words to me the morning after being with a group of his friends. When he said those hurtful words I could feel the contempt and hate dripping from them. I truly believed that I didn’t belong there and that I wasn’t “worthy” of being his girlfriend.
He viewed himself as my savior when I didn’t need saving and later wished he had never been in my life at all.
#3. They seek power as a means of control
Whether it’s in their work or personal life a narcissist wants to gain power so that they are able to have full control over the people in every area of their lives.
“Some narcissists purposely select professional endeavors where they can be regularly admired and/or feared. In this case, a major reason for the narcissist’s choice is simply to be “superior,” “important,” and “special,” rather than sincerely desiring to make a contribution for the greater good.”
A few years ago I had a narcissistic boss that did everything he could to make me fear him. From the first day I started, he told me that he “fired whenever he felt like it” and he saw himself as superior to all of his subordinates.
Meetings weren’t about what was good for the company, they were about what we could do to make our boss look good to his leadership.
#4. They will attempt to break down your boundaries
If you have a set boundary and a narcissist is aware of it and can influence you to break them, it gives them a feeling of “winning.”
For example, I set a boundary with my ex that I wouldn’t drink on weeknights because I had a yoga class every morning at 6:00 AM and didn’t want to feel bad.
He would constantly ignore the fact that I didn’t want to drink and would pour me a glass of wine and get frustrated when I didn’t drink it.
Ignoring someone's boundaries even if they seem small is ultimately not respecting them.
It has actually been several years since I spoke with my little brother. We didn’t have an official “falling out” but I made it clear that I was aware of his manipulative tactics.
Even if someone is our family member it doesn’t mean that they have a right to play with our emotions, ignore our boundaries, or manipulate us for our gain.
At the end of the day, you have to put your mental health and emotions first, even if it means cutting out narcissistic friends/family who don’t respect you.