Being Self-first, narcissists approach relationships with one primary goal in mind…establishing dominance and power.  They do not possess inner peace and steadiness, so they resort to finding significance by keeping you beneath themselves.  This approach is not fair, meaning you are going to find chronic frustration as you remain connected with them.

What is worse, as you strongly disagree with their goal of dominance, you can inadvertently play along with their gamesmanship.  Each time you push against a narcissist’s overbearing mannerisms, they will turn it into a one-up, one-down competition, which is what they want.  They feed off of the energy and will grind away for as long as you participate.

Your task is to understand the nature of their manipulations so you can stay outside their dysfunctions.  To that end, let’s identify seven of the most common mistakes you can make when “invited” into their power games. 

As your self-awareness heightens, you can be freed to pursue a separate path.

  1. You can repeatedly protest their judgmental attitudes.  Being very critical, narcissists are not bashful in explaining how you do not measure up.  You can gripe and complain in reverse, and as you do, narcissists think: “I’ve gotten under your skin…excellent!”
  1. Justify why you are right and the narcissist is wrong.  When you become predictably annoyed by the narcissist’s “better than thou” attitudes, you can argue about how you make sense and the narcissist does not.  Your arguments will not dissuade the narcissist, and in fact, that person will interpret your pleas as an invitation to continue the invalidations.
  1. You can cling to the hope that the narcissist will understand and adjust.  In your quiet moments away from the narcissist, you can fume and talk with yourself about how reasonable you are.  You are probably right, yet by obsessing over something you cannot ultimately control, you remain emotionally tethered to that person.
  1. You might try to appease the narcissist.  Narcissists are often negative and moody, so you might determine to get on that person’s good side by becoming appealing.  You can reason that if you are friendly enough, you can pull them out of their dark place.  Inevitably, you will feel greater frustration when the narcissist predictably remains, well, narcissistic.
  1. You think assertively, then act unassertively.  As you witness the narcissist’s manipulative mannerisms, you can reason within yourself that you need to speak up.  But when the opportune time arrives, you fold.  In that moment, futility settles in as you think: “Why bother?”  That, of course, is precisely what the narcissist wants.
  1. You become temporarily seduced by the narcissist’s pleasant episodes.  When necessary, narcissists can turn on the charm, seeming agreeable and friendly.  They hope to erase (in your mind) the memories of tensions gone by.  Feeling weary, you can heave a sigh of relief, hoping against hope that the tide has turned.
  1. You can cling to resentment and hate.  The ultimate way of giving over your power to the narcissist is to nurse contemptuous emotions.  While you are not wrong to feel agitated, you can become so emotionally twisted that your disgust can overshadow other aspects of your life that are uplifting.

When you find yourself protesting against a narcissist’s efforts to overpower, it can become a classic case of your best traits working against you.  For instance, you can think:

I want to make things work.

It doesn’t have to be this difficult

Surely this person will snap out of it.

I like being a loyal person.  That’s a good thing, right?

I’m assuming that person has a conscience.  Let’s hope so.

I like being both optimistic and honorable.

Your greatest vulnerability to a narcissist’s scheming is that you are not a conniver. 

You don’t think so pessimistically that you would resort to chronic exploitive behaviors.  Narcissists are counting on that.  You’ll need to remember that no matter how strongly you wish the relationship could be different, the narcissist doesn’t care.  Their devotion to Number One will override interpersonal harmony.

Narcissists are not inclined toward the most potent ingredients necessary for relationship success:  humility, fairness, objectivity, empathy, patience, equality, self-restraint, trustworthiness, and more.  You “lose” when you competitively communicate about the need for decency.  

Ultimately, your psychological steadiness will be an individual effort.  When narcissists keep acting upon their need for power, see it for the failed strategy that it is, then move on.  You will find your power by not participation in a narcissist’s rigged power games.

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

To watch the video on this topic, click here.