Narcissism or narcissist are terms that are loosely thrown around in today’s society, and often without the proper context. These are terms that shouldn’t be associated simply with selfishness or self-absorption, but with something much more serious. A narcissist isn’t just selfish or self-absorbed; they lack the ability to empathize, they use people for their own personal gain, and they often discard people when they no longer see a purpose in the relationship, whatever that term means to them.
What’s worse is that they’re good at faking it. They know how to attract others and persuade people into placing misguided emotional investments into a relationship that doesn’t actually exist.
They are gifted when it comes to deceit and exploitation, and no one is exempt from the harm they can cause. If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, friendship or otherwise, here are three ways they can try to take advantage of you.
1. Emotional Puppeteering
This is an act commonly referred to as triangulation, and it’s used by narcissists to maintain control in any type of relationship. In order to manipulate your emotions, they will bring a third party into the relationship dynamic in an attempt to provoke jealousy, and keep the power.
For example, If you have a problem and you go to your narcissist friend for support, they may try to bring in a third party to deal with problem so they don’t have to. They’ll often say things like, “I wish you’d be more like him/her.” If you notice this happening, get out of the relationship before it gets worse.
2. Cognitive Dissonance
Narcissists know exactly who they are and why they do the things that they do. This self-awareness means that they need to put on a mask in order to maintain normalcy in the outside world.
Unfortunately, they’ve learned to do this early in life and it only gets better with time. By the time you find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist, they will have already mastered the technique. This results in people trying to rationalize a narcissist’s terrible behavior with the caring, empathetic, and loving individual they create for the outside world.
3. Idealization, Devaluation, and Discard
This is something more commonly found in romantic relationships with a narcissist rather than friendships, but it can be found in both. This is a cycle that can be extremely damaging to a person, yet it’s something that a narcissist will do without thinking twice.
The beginning of the relationship starts with idealization. They make you feel like you’re the most important thing in their life. This will involve flattery, praise, and telling you they’ve found their soulmate. This will push you deeper into the relationship, and motivate you to reciprocate the praise you feel yourself.
Suddenly, this will change. Instead of receiving praise and flattery, you’ll start to feel criticized for everything you do. You may get some praise here or there, but mostly you’ll be chastised for your actions. During the devaluation phase of the cycle, you’ll feel a great deal of psychological and emotional abuse.
Finally, they’ll discard you. Once they realize they can’t take anything more from you, they will leave you in the most demeaning way possible. Usually this results in leaving you for someone else, or humiliating you in front of others.