The list of behaviors below is the best list I could come up with of the emotionally manipulative tactics used by a narcissistic partner. As you read through each one, remember that the narcissist is a master manipulator because subtlety is his strong point and his best victims are kind, caring women who rarely question another’s behaviors because to manipulate someone emotionally is a foreign concept to them.
13 Behaviors You Can Expect From a Narcissistic Partner:
1. The narcissist demands that you tolerate and cater to his every need and always be available when it works for him. He, of course, never has to be available for you. Moreover, if you dare to even question his unavailability or show a “negative” emotion towards his behavior, you will quickly be punished with narcissistic punishments such as the silent treatment or a cold shoulder or the withholding of sex and affection as a reminder of who has control.
2. To test the mental limits of your patience the narcissist will continually behave in a manipulative manner. The partner of a narcissist that something is slightly off and obsessed with finding answers to the odd experience of being in a relationship with the narcissist. And, in most cases, you will look inward for answers to the questions you have.
3. The narcissist is talented at causing you to question your own sanity and instincts.
4. Most narcissists will cheat…a lot. And when caught cheating will turn their behavior around on you by dismissing your feelings, telling you, you are making big deal out of nothing or, even accusing you of being the one who has cheated. Once again leaving you to question your own sanity.
5. Because a narcissist knows he is emotionally incapable of providing support, sympathy, or empathy to a partner he will use his indifference of your life to keep you unbalanced and confused as to his intentions. For example, the narcissist appears to be incapable of making plans with you and keeping them. If you question this, he will act as if he hasn’t a clue to what you are talking about. The truth, of course, is that to follow through with plans concerns pleasing another person and, therefore, he wants no part of it.
6. The narcissist is always late or, if not late, not clear about when he will be there or forthcoming with definite plans. He keeps you guessing. For example, my ex would forget to tell me about work functions we were expected to attend. He would casually say, “Oh yeah, we have a formal dinner to attend tomorrow night. Ugh!!
7. That meant me finding a dress to wear and a babysitter with 24 hours’ notice. I excused it because I thought he was busy and those were small details to him. It took me years to realize, he enjoyed watching me panic at the last minute.
8. Over time, a narcissist slowly manages down your expectations of the relationship by putting forth only the most minimal efforts required to maintain his part in the relationship. The narcissist’s main motto is “just enough, just in time” to keep you hanging on and hanging in. You become so used to receiving so little that you actually begin to believe you don’t deserve more!
7. The narcissist is very good at mimicking “normal” emotions. When needed, they can appear to be truly genuine and engaged in the relationship. This is one of the things that keeps you hanging on…those glimpses of a normal man, with normal feelings.
9. But it’s all an act to get the desired results he wants. He can play the good guy, get you jumping through hoops because you’re so happy with his apparent caring and concern. It doesn’t take long for him to pull the net out from under you and revert back to the genuine narcissist he is.
10. The narcissist believes that all he must do is show up in a relationship. His mere presence, in his mind, means you should be loyal, loving, kind, and caring toward him. And, you become so addicted to him that you continue to reward him with loyalty, love, caring, and kindness for just showing up.
11. Narcissists have no problem performing normal human obligations in other areas of their lives and with strangers. Therefore, the narcissist appears to get along with everyone except you. The truth is that with he finds the expenditure of civil treatment taxing to his mental reserve and not necessary in the grand scheme of things because you are already his sure thing.
12. Narcissists will never accept blame for anything that happens in a relationship. They will always blame you, his employers, his parents or siblings, co-workers, ex’s, etc. The narcissist is ALWAYS the victim of someone else’s bad behavior!
13. A narcissist, in a very passive-aggressive way, expects to be the center of attention always and have his every wish fulfilled by his partner. And, you feel an obligation to jump through any hoop necessary to please him even if doing so complicates your life or leaves you feeling used and abused. In the back of your mind, you always feel threatened in some strange and often unexplainable way.
Do any of the above narcissistic behaviors trigger you? I can remember doing my research shortly after my divorce and being stunned by the reality of how little my ex had truly cared for his family. I was trying to understand how a man who had seemed so devoted could walk away from his own children. What I finally understood is, he can do so because he had very little emotional investment, to begin with.
Life with a narcissistic partner isn’t easy, divorce can be even harder. The trick is to accept who they are and to keep your expectations low. Doing so will mean less questioning, less stress, and less emotional pain especially should you decide to divorce.