How Targets Respond Emotionally To The Bait & Switch

learned powerlessness
The narcissist doesn’t feel bound by the same rules we do. The tactics they use to manipulate us are unfair and duplicitous. The narcissist’s disordered personality does not allow for open discussion, honest sharing, or the normal give and take of healthy relationships.


When the narcissist is performing the disappearance act, the instability of their mood, the unreliability of their presence left you feeling alone and insecure. These feelings can connect you to another time in your life where you felt alone and insecure, amplifying your anxiety. When you mention your feelings of the impact or the narcissist’s departure, you are shut down. You’re called names, told you are insecure for no reason (as if you suddenly started acting insecure in reaction to nothing) and let you know what a bother your feelings are; which further increase your sense of insecurity. Even though they blame and shame you, this isn’t an internal insecurity, it is insecurity about the reliability of this relationship and the narcissist.


When narcissists ask for your opinion, they do it to engage in battle rather than engage in conversation, they can be downright intimidating. They coax you into the water, only to find that you’re having your toe bit off by a piranah. You start to realize that the narcissist doesn’t ask for your opinion to really HEAR it, they elicit any kind of input from you to do two things: CONTROL AND BELITTLE YOU. This reaction serves to teach you that in the future – your input will not be valued nor required. Just sit there and look pretty. I often told the narcissist that abused me that he treated me like a vase on a shelf. Pretty to look at, well placed and permanently available to him to pick off the shelf whenever he needed something from me. I was not to have a life outside of being that vase that couldn’t move.


When the narcissist goes back and forth between Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde, your anger and resentment go through the roof! How dare he treat you like a subservient object, then waltz back in as if nothing happened, simply because he needs some feel good from you. It’s exasperating. Their pure selfishness and inability to see things from your point of view, is AGGRAVATING! It’s important to get resolve when you’ve had a misunderstanding with a person. You want them to hear your side of things and understand your needs, so that in the future, this hurt can be avoided. With a narcissist, it falls on deaf ears, because their ONLY reason for wanting a disagreement to be over, is so their IV drip of honey from your arm, is uninterrupted.


How does the narcissist manage to turn on the superficial charm again and again while abusing you simultaneously? And why do we fall for it time and time again? It’s not because we’re foolish, it’s because we want to be loved, it feels good to be cared for, to have the love we feel for the narcissist returned to us, its nice to have moments of kindness even if they’re short lived. To suddenly have the narcissist turn on us while we’re least expecting it, is a truly unfair and cruel provocation.


The Devil’s advocate tactic is a way of elevating their unique and special form of knowledge on whatever topic they’re pontificating about. You feel like you’re in a no win situation. If you don’t concede, they’ll keep you up all night proving their point. You just want the madness to stop, so you acquiesce. It just seems easier. Your feelings can resonate back to those of a child, how powerless children are to have any say in matters of importance, and with a narcissist, of non-importance. If you learned to subjugate your voice to a narcissistic person in your past, you’ll surely do it again in the presence of this narcissist’s sheer will to be in control of EVERYTHING; even your opinions.

Posted on October 5, 2013, in Narcissism. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. This is absolutely the best description of how the narcissist works. I have been in two long term relationships with narcissists and always walk away from articles unsure if it defined these relationships. This defined them both to a tee. Thank you.


  2. Your posts are very informative & full of interesting facts & thoughts. I enjoy sharing your thoughts with my friends/readers/followers. Thank you so much for this blog & all the hard work you put into it!


  3. You hit the nail on the head, on all points. Thank you so much. My nine year “relationship” ended in November. I knew it was a bad relationship. The shock to me is that it was an illusion. I (and my therapist) have been questioning why I stayed as long as I did. I have been beating myself up, truthfully. Because I am a confident, fair and loving person. Over the years, my self esteem has been corroded, no doubt. But when I read this, it made me feel so much better. It really answered my question and I will read it to my therapist. I am learning that it would really help if my therapist had a better understanding of narcissism…sigh.
    “And why do we fall for it time and time again? It’s not because we’re foolish, it’s because we want to be loved, it feels good to be cared for, to have the love we feel for the narcissist returned to us, its nice to have moments of kindness even if they’re short lived.”


  4. I have so wanted to articulate what happened to me but have never been able to come close to even one sentence. I was married to someone with NPD for 29 years. It took four years after I escaped to find out what happened. I knew he had a personality disorder but it was never diagnoised. I have been free for 7 years now. Well, I don’t know if I will ever be free. My 5 children also suffer the effects of my carnage for exposing them to someone who could never and will never love them. By all rights I should be in a mental ward. But by the Grace of God go I. I hope one day to come close to telling what happened but after reading this article it has brought a great deal of comfort to me. Since I trust no one, I have talked to very few about what happened to me. When I try to talk about it there are no words.
    Day after day I would say, “God who am I” It’s been a long painful but healing journey to find me again and one I will continue. My children and I are all close. We can kidd and laugh about how crazy we all are but deep inside really know who the crazy one is. They have very little or no contact with their father. How can they, even though they are grown it’s like it was yesterday in his mind and their Mother the great evil and deceived monster has stolen his family from him. I feel sick at my stomache and my heart is racing for even writing this. It’s as if he’s learking around the corner and will stop at nothing to prove how wrong I am and how right he is. Bless you! Diane


  5. You are describing my husband to the T. It’s so true everything written here it’s scary. I’m so happy to know that I wasn’t going crazy and there others out there with this same exact messed up mental disorder.


  6. I have met someone. He doesn’t want to be touched. Reminding me to respect his boundaries. I understand. But at the same time it hurts me. I feel like he is telling me that I am not good enough for him. We both have issues for the exact problem. I don’t know how to help. So I let him go. I figure that he would tell me if he needed me.


  7. I want him to leave me alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This article is very good. I had to separate from my ex-boy friend completely. He had disability issues and always leaned on me and never gave back, and even if I could not give another inch of my soul to keep the household going and all the bills paid, because he was denied disability and he was so poor, but could still smoke cigarettes…. anyway…. I left him and it has been about 9 months since I left him and he still haunts my soul, but I got all of my strength back and even more than I thought I had. I have a new boy friend who is so caring, honest, and not one bone of evil in him. He, also, was treated in the same fashion that I was treated, and still healing, as I am, to this day. We, as two humans, who survived our own hells, and found each other is a blessing, and then some. I never believed in fate, or anything that was not tangible, love was non existent and then even wanting to be hugged or touched by anyone, due to my distress and lack of courage to even try to life a proper life…. anxiety, panic disorder, claustrophobia, etc. fears that were so out there, I did not even believe it, but I could not stand them… I curently am on a lower dose of my treatment for panic and maybe in less than a year I can be drug free. I still have very strong night terrors and visions of my bad memories that haunt me day and night…. one memory that the tv always helps with is the drug issues going on, coke, oxy snorting, etc. I can have a panic attack at any time just thinking of the old days, when he was snorting and abusing something when he should have been following docs orders and not abusing the products and watching him ODing and then I had to pick him up and the pieces. EVERY DAY and it was just something that I cannot believe that I tolerated, but I finally tagged out and moved on. I will never be able to forget the face of someone ODing and almost dying in the house where I resided at, and never forget the feeling of asking myself, do I really care, but then he treated me like shit, but then i did not really love myself. so I am glad I am not there, in that dark time anymore. Please if anyone reads this, god bless you if you survive this horrible feeling, that is a dark cloud that does go away at one time or another , but time must pass and you must learn to love yourself all over again, and it is worth it. a men and have a blessed day. Tonia


    • Tonia, it took imcredible courage for you to take steps to remove this man from your life. When there is a disability, it would be all too easy to not want to “kick them when they are down.” I stayed many, many years through my Ns illnesses, depressions, unemploymemts. YEARS. Waiting for him to get healthy. He got healthy, then completely arrogant, if not manic. He finally got the good job with the good benefits. Bought himself all sorts of expensive toys. Took up hobbies and filled up his time with activities that didn’t interest or include me. Then I noticed dozens and dozens of selfies on his cell phone. Shirt off, seductively gazing at the camera. He never texted any to me. I only saw them all because he wanted to show me a picture he took and had to scroll through them all. Then around labor day, I had a breakdown. I am suffering extreme anxiety/ panic disorder, phobia and ptsd and depression. I have been off work three months. I feel truly alone. He left after his birthday in November. Some of his last words to me were, “I want out of this but I hate to kick you when you’re down.” All I can think is that I should have left long ago. Better me than him. Your story gives me so much hope. Thank you for sharing and may God continue to bless you and keep you on your journey.


  9. You just want the madness to stop, so you acquiesce. It just seems easier………. Yes exactly, it’s sheer madness to anyone who hasn’t been there, but completely rational to those of us who have lived through it. Great article. So strikingly real and spot on, it’s chilling.


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