Opinion: The Psychological Tactics Used by Narcissists in Relationships

Stacy Ann

Photo byScott Broome/Unsplash

Narcissists are often known for their charm, charisma, and manipulation tactics. They can be hard to spot, but their actions can cause significant harm to those in their lives. In relationships, narcissistic individuals often use psychological tactics to control and manipulate their partners. Understanding these tactics can help you identify and cope with narcissistic behavior.

  1. Gaslighting: This is a common tactic used by narcissists to make their partners question their perception of reality. They will deny things that happened or manipulate the situation to make their partner feel like they're losing their mind.
  2. Love Bombing: At the start of a relationship, a narcissist will shower their partner with love, attention, and affection. This is meant to make their partner feel special and desired while also making them more vulnerable to manipulation later.
  3. Triangulation: Narcissists often use other people as a means of control. They will compare their partners to others and use the opinions of others to discredit or undermine their partners.
  4. Projection: Narcissists often project their own negative traits onto their partner, blaming them for things they are guilty of. This can damage the relationship, and it's essential to identify when this is happening and set boundaries.
  5. Silent Treatment: A common tactic used by narcissists is to give their partner silent treatment. This can be incredibly hurtful and confusing for the partner, who is left to guess what they did wrong.
  6. Blame Shifting: Narcissists often refuse to take responsibility for their actions, instead blaming their partner or others for the issues in the relationship. This can make their partner feel like they're always at fault and can damage their self-esteem.
  7. Emotional Blackmail: Narcissists use guilt, shame, and other dynamic tactics to manipulate their partner. They may threaten to harm themselves or use their partner's love for them to get what they want.
  8. Idealization and Devaluation: A classic narcissistic tactic is to idealize their partner at the start of the relationship, but then later on, they may begin to devalue their partner. This can be a sudden change and can leave their partner feeling confused and hurt.
  9. Covert Aggression: Narcissists can be very aggressive in a subtle, passive-aggressive way. They may use sarcasm, criticism, or other methods to hurt their partner while maintaining a façade of politeness.
  10. Using Children: Narcissists may use their children to control their partners. They may manipulate their partner into believing that the children need them more than the partner does or use their children to keep their partner from leaving.

Remember that these tactics are not exclusive to narcissistic individuals; anyone can use them. However, it's important to recognize when they are being used and to set boundaries to protect yourself. Seeking support from a therapist can help navigate and heal from narcissistic relationships.

If you're in a relationship with a narcissistic individual, it's essential to understand their motivations and tactics. By being aware of these psychological tactics, you can protect yourself and work towards a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.

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