Whether or not they can be or have been clinically diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), a narcissistic person’s personality is different from that of a psychologically healthy person.
People with narcissistic personality traits are typically more archaic, motivated entirely by selfish needs, and lack basic human qualities such as integrity, empathy, and compassion.
Due to their stunted emotional maturity, their inner motivations are highly pathological. Their thoughts don’t resemble the thoughts of a healthy, psychologically mature person.
One of a narcissist’s favorite weapons — and therefore a glaring sign of emotional abuse in relationships — is gaslighting, defined as “a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group , making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.”
If you suspect you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, what he says may be completely different from what he is really thinking, so it can be hard to know for sure.
4 Less Obvious Signs Of Gaslighting That Most People Miss
1. He devalues your worth.
Why? Because he needs to feel powerful.
What he says: “You don’t know how to manage money. If it wasn’t for me, you would be broke.”
What he really means: “I feel powerful and significant when I can blame you and hurt your self-esteem. I resent you and think you deserve to be treated like garbage, and furthermore, I think I am entitled to make you feel like garbage. I hurt you and I get what I want, which is to make you spin because I need to see the power I exert over you and your emotional wellbeing.”
2. He blames you.
Why? So you’ll try harder to please him.
What he says: “You don’t care about me and never have. You don’t support me and only think about yourself.”
What he really means: “My goal is to make you feel guilty and worry that I have a poor opinion of you. I know that you are going to do everything you can to convince me of how much you care and this makes me feel powerful. ve got you hooked, and I can keep treating you like dirt, because the more I do, the harder you try to convince me otherwise.”
3. He assassinates your character.
Why? To make himself feel superior.
What he says: “You’re lazy, selfish, and self-absorbed.”
What he really means: “I have no evidence or facts to back up my point but that’s inconsequential. The goal is not to prove my point. The goal is to get you spinning. If you’re frustrated, tormented and hysterical with my false claims and misinformation the better I feel. I need to feel omnipotent, all-powerful, like a smiting god taking his wrath out on you, the meaningless human. I experience a superior, cruel enjoyment when I create illusions and witness your pain.”
4. He plays the victim.
Why? To keep you hooked.
What he says: “If you would’ve shown me any love at all, I would’ve given you my heart.”
What he really means: “I’ll never give you a darn thing. You don’t deserve it. All you deserve is to be toyed with and have your head messed with. I dangle a carrot in front of your nose and you actually believe I was going to give it to you! Not a chance. You are only here to serve my need for significance. I will take what I want whether you like it or not. ll give you what you want, which I absolutely will not.”
It’s incomprehensible to a compassionate individual to think that anyone could possibly think like this.
Our minds scream, “No! It can’t be true!”
Sadly, deep in our hearts, we know it is entirely plausible and scarily accurate.
Have you ever spoken to a narcissist when their true self flashed through the veneer of their false outer mask?
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You will see the ugly internal motivations bubble to the surface. You will see the true face of the contemptuous, cruel person within. You will see the seething rage that edges every word and you will know at that moment, deep within your bones, that this person does not care about you one bit.
Sadly, even then, your compassionate character might keep you hanging on to a thin thread of hope that it can’t be possible. Over time, that tiny thread shreds apart with every razor-tipped, sneering word that they utter.
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In those moments, you will realize you are not seen as a fellow human being in their eyes.
You are seen as a thing that they are using to extract narcissistic supply. And maybe you have even come to the realization that you are just another thing they will use along the path of their addictive need for absolute supremacy.
It’s pathetic really, that an abuser will lay waste to everything that comes across their path in order to preserve their own survival against total self-destruction.
To them, their behavior is not an option. It’s a matter of self-preservation.
Don’t be the wretched sheep to cross the wolf’s path. Don’t allow yourself to continue to be victimized in order to supply this unwholesome need for narcissistic supply. Don’t expect the wolf to change into a sheep.
He doesn’t want to change. You must accept this.
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Joanne Erman is a leadership coach that works in private practice in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.