One of the primary identifiers of narcissism is the willingness to exploit and use you. Narcissists are like addicts who constantly seek supply for their fragile egos. Having little inner strength to draw upon, they need you to feed them with ingredients to make them feel significant.

In their minds, it is your job to prop up their ego. You need to agree with their opinions and interpretations. You are supposed to praise them to other people. When they err, you are supposed to overlook the harm they generate and preferably make excuses on their behalf. It also becomes your task to overlook their bigotry, rudeness, condescension, and anger. They want you to back off from your attachments to your allies, letting them be your primary source of well-being. You are not allowed to confront, and you are supposed to rearrange your priorities to suit their needs.

Naturally, this becomes an exhausting task for you, especially as these requirements for supply deepen over time.

You will predictably become anxious, finding it increasing difficult to hide your dismay. You may become argumentative, and as that proves futile, you might shut down and withdraw. Your defenses can become strong as you find yourself retreating behind walls of self-protection. Perhaps you will pursue alliances elsewhere, only to be chided for that. You may find yourself keeping secrets and living in fear of sparking the next round of harshness from the narcissist.

As the relationship predictably shows cracks and falters, narcissists must maintain the upper hand, so they go into full offensive mode to remind you how unacceptable you are. They must remain the power broker who cannot be denied. So, at that point that they become unfiltered in showing it is time to ditch you.

Let’s list seven of the most common signs that the narcissist has decided it is time to teach you a lesson about your unworthiness to them.

  1. Non-stop accusing and complaining. Any early friendliness will give way to multiple criticisms and comments about your disappointing attitudes and behaviors.
  2. Setting you up to argue, then blaming you for arguing. Not at all willing to take responsibility for failed relationships, narcissists will bait you into “proving” how contrarian you are. They desperately want you to unravel emotionally so they can point toward you, saying, “You are an impossible person.”
  3. Blame you for the collapse of the relationship. Overlooking their many dysfunctions, they will cite all sorts of mistakes and miscalculations you have made as evidence that you are truly inadequate and dysfunctional.
  4. Strongly playing the victim card. Because their behavior is so egregious, it is predictable that you will have said or done something that offends them. This becomes their platform for pointing at you as the one who has made their life miserable.
  5. Treat you as an absolute nobody. By claiming victimization, the narcissist feels justified in treating you with total contempt, as if you are unworthy of dignity. You will be ghosted, ignored, and held at bay.
  6. Incapable of disguising their own anger. Despite them blaming you for being combative, narcissists cannot hide the breadth of their own anger. They are prone to rage, sharp comments, passive aggressive treatment, and major rudeness.
  7. Seeking new supply, who (of course) will be an upgrade from you. Being psychologically needy, they still crave admiration, so in due time, you will be replaced by the next dupe who will temporarily give them what they want.

To say the least, when you are on the receiving end of a narcissist’s disdain, your reactions can be all over the board.

Their mannerisms are maddening, insulting, disillusioning, and painful. Yet, over time you can gain enough perspective to move forward.

Keep in mind that narcissists are creators of chaos because they have a chaotic interior. They have poor coping skills and their capacity for healthiness is low. They have committed themselves to an illogical pattern of relating. Their meanness is a commentary about who they are…it is not about you.

Narcissists are psychologically empty people who set themselves up for repetitive failure because they mistakenly presume that happiness is a byproduct of fitting people into their prescribed agenda.

So, when it is clear that the narcissist has deemed you unfit, pull back. Take a deep breath. Then relish in one major notion, “I am free.” Yes, time will be required for you to sift out what has happened, and you may find it helpful to seek therapy and support from appropriate sources. The narcissist will move on with all of his/her dysfunction intact, but that is not your concern.

In their willingness to exploit you for narcissistic supply, the narcissist was wishing to imprison you. But your ongoing resolve can be, “I’ll be held inside no one’s psychological cage.”

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

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