Narcissism and Manipulation: How Does It Work?

Jennifer March, MS

Exploring the types of manipulation and why a narcissist may manipulate you.

The word narcissist is almost synonymous with the word ‘manipulation.’ There are many misinterpretations of narcissism, so it’s essential to know the signs of narcissists and their overused tactics.

Manipulation is the way a narcissist can hold power over you. A narcissist will pull many tricks to get what they want from you. There is no situation, big or small, that would stop a narcissist from manipulating you.

Even under the court’s eyes, my narcissist still chose to manipulate and lie to me.

Clearly, manipulation can look different across the board. Let’s start by exploring what the different types of manipulation are.

Types of manipulation

The various types of manipulation are not exclusive to narcissists. Manipulation can be used by anybody — so don’t be too fast to call someone a narcissist because you recognize their behavior in this article.

There are three distinct types of manipulation that someone can use:

Guilt induction

When a narcissist makes you feel guilty, either by playing on your emotions or insecurities, or they play the victim. Essentially, they will act in a way that plays on your heartstrings, causing you to feel guilty. And just like that, you feel guilty!

Ingratiation

This type of manipulation is more hidden. The narcissist will do all they can to get on your good side. They want to show you that they are helpful and kind in order to use that kindness to get something from you. The narcissist in my life did this all the time when they needed something from it; the kindness never lasted.

Deceit

This may be the most well-known type of manipulation. Deceit is flat out lying or hiding the truth from someone. The truth can be hidden from you by withholding information or lying altogether.

Manipulation can look so different that sometimes it can be hard to see. Suppose the manipulation is concealed in helpfulness (that later leads to deceit). In that case, it may be harder to spot without a closer look.

The narcissist in my life always used guilt induction when their back was against the wall. If you confronted them on their behavior, tried to speak up against their actions, I always had the guilt trip laid on me.

Feel bad for me! It’s all your fault I’m in this situation. — It’s essentially what they’re screaming at you.

Signs of manipulation

Are you left feeling drained, run-down, and overall crappy?

Do you feel like your reality is far different from the narcissist’s?

Does it feel like, over time, their true intentions are clearly shining through? But how can manipulation look?

With the three types of manipulation in mind, here is a list of what manipulation can look like:

  • Gaslighting
  • Belittling tactics
  • Passive aggression
  • Overfriendly and helpful when out of the norm for that person
  • Blaming you for problems in their life
  • Lying by omission

The list can go on and on, but the constant theme is to bother you and stress you out, ultimately to get what they need.

Over time I began to feel like I blended in with the furniture every time they were around. Then other times, the narcissist would be overly friendly with their actions — and quickly that would cycle into deceit and anger.

While through these challenging times I learned that my response only mattered when it was what the narcissist was looking for. It’s stressful to be around the narcissist.

Why do they manipulate you?

A narcissist’s actions are all driven by self-satisfaction. A narcissist wants every one of their needs and wants to be met — without consideration of other people. But there is some ulterior motive behind their actions when they manipulate you.

I once had my narcissist (attempt) to manipulate me into removing my name from the title of my car. They spent a few weeks bringing me coffees and being extra interested in what I had to say.

All the friendly behaviors were washed away when their end goal was clear. And when I refused to take my name off that car title, I was met with destruction; I experienced a smear campaign.

I’ve cycled through their game of manipulation, as they are constantly grabbing for something they want.

I’m stuck--left to figure out what they are going after this time.

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As Originally Posted on Medium

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Psych nerd turned freelance writer | MS in Psychology | Mom of two cats and some house plants | #MentalHealthAdvocate #BeKind

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