Narcissists are selfish individuals who don’t have a strong sense of self. They need other people to feed them a steady diet of love and praise so that they can maintain their grandiose ideas and false self-image they’ve created in place of a real identity. To get that narcissistic supply, they will do almost anything. Additionally, they love drama and will happily create problems within the family dynamic.
Because of the way a narcissist manipulates the people around them, they can create so much disruption within a family that they destroy it. They use triangulation to sow distrust among family members. They also use blame-shifting to scapegoat loved ones. This can completely destroy the family.
It is absolutely critical to understand what a narcissist can do to the family unit if you want to preserve your family. If you don’t understand the kinds of things they can and will do, it can cause a family breakdown. Let’s examine how narcissists can do this and what you can do to prevent it.
How Do Narcissists Disrupt the Family Dynamic?
The manipulation tactics a narcissist uses can completely destroy their entire family. It can leave individual family members with lifelong mental problems, and it can sever the bonds they have with each other. They do this using a number of toxic manipulation tactics. Let’s take a look at some of these techniques and what they do to the family.
They Use Triangulation to Sow Distrust
Narcissists will use triangulation to sow distrust among family members. They will tell one of their loved ones something and then they will tell someone else a completely different story.
For example, they may tell one family member, “Your mother said you’re being selfish, but I really think it’s your sister who is being unfair.” Then they tell the sister, “I don’t care what Mom says, I think you’re in the right.” This pits the two siblings against each other and both against their mother.
If someone tells you something like this, you don’t know who you can really trust even if you do confront the other parties. It’s an extremely destructive technique that narcissists use often.
They Lie as Easily as They Breathe
Narcissists have no compunction about lying to any member of the family whether it’s a parent, a sibling, or some other close family member. They do this routinely and easily. They justify it in their own mind as something they are entitled to do because of their superiority.
Of course, this is disruptive to the family dynamic, particularly if the lies are designed to break strong family bonds. Narcissists do this for that reason and also because they like the drama it creates.
It does create drama too since the players involved don’t know who they can trust or believe. They often won’t speak to the other family members, so they may not ever discover that the narcissist has lied.
They Gaslight to Distort Reality
Narcissists also regularly use gaslighting to distort reality and cause their loved ones to be uncertain of their own perceptions. They deny that something happened or call the loved ones involved overly sensitive. They may even claim that what happened was simply a joke.
They will also make statements like, “That’s not what happened,” or “That’s what you saw?” They minimize the feelings and perceptions of their family members and insist they are innocent of any wrongdoing.
To get the focus off themselves, the narcissist will often also scapegoat another family member and blame them for the misunderstanding. This toxic technique can create so much drama and misunderstanding that it unravels all of the strong family ties.
They Initiate Smear Campaigns
Narcissists will also go on what might be called a smear campaign against family members they feel have wronged them. They will tell everyone who will listen about how their brother or sister or child or spouse is crazy.
They will talk about how they were wronged. They paint themself as an innocent victim of the toxic behavior of the family member they are smearing. When you become the enemy of a narcissist, they want to crush you, and they will stop at nothing to do so.
This smear campaign may even go beyond the family to more distant family members or friends. Narcissists usually initiate a smear campaign when they fear you are close to revealing the truth about them. They want to undermine your credibility before you have a chance to damage their image.
Narcissists Have No Loyalty
While a narcissist will demand loyalty from everyone around them, they will not give any in return. They may make you think they’re with you all the way, but the moment the going gets tough, they will throw you right under the bus.
When they do this frequently enough to family members, it creates resentment. It undermines the relationships between themselves and other family members, but it also damages the relationships between other family members.
The narcissist will demand that other family members take sides, thus damaging the family bonds. As life coach and author Angela Atkinson writes about the time her narcissistic mother lied about her to child protective services, “I would learn later that it was even worse than I thought. She had ‘turned’ my brother on me. He had fallen for the lies and made-up stories she told him about what a terrible mother I was. She had “whipped him up into a frenzy,” as she was prone to saying, and made him believe I was neglecting and abusing my children.”
What Can You Do to Prevent a Narcissist From Destroying Your Family?
Healing begins with you. The first step to stopping the narcissist in their tracks is to heal your own emotional wounds and learn to set strong boundaries to prevent the narcissist from abusing you.
Those boundaries need to include consistently enforced consequences. You don’t have to argue about it, just walk away or refuse to take part in the drama. While that can help you, how can you stop them from turning family members against you?
This is where it is vital to maintain open lines of communication with the other members of your family. You need to be willing to clear the air if the narcissist has been spreading lies about you or other family members.
You need to let your family members know that you value the relationship you have with them, and toward that end, you will let them know any time the narcissist says something about them. Let them know you would appreciate it if they would do the same for you.
You also want to remind your family members that you love them. This can even include the narcissist. You can tell them that you love them, but you won’t permit their abusive behavior. It can set an example for other family members to follow.
Narcissists can destroy your entire family if their behavior goes unchecked. Before you can stop them, you have to get your own house in order and begin the process of healing yourself. With strong boundaries and healthy emotions, you can prevent them from abusing you and take steps to stop their abusive behavior toward other family members.
There is something that can help. This is my 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers, and it can help you begin the process of healing your emotional triggers. This handy guide will help you recognize and heal those emotional wounds so no one can use them against you. To receive a free copy directly in your inbox, just click on this link here.
If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel