It might seem from the way that narcissists act as though they don’t want you to be around them. They manipulate, lie, and often abuse the people in their lives, so it’s natural to think they don’t really care if those people just start ignoring them or leave them behind. They certainly have no problem ignoring you, but their behavior can be deceiving.
The problem is that the narcissist’s seemingly indifferent behavior is nothing more than a bluff. The reality is that they hate being ignored, and they take it as a personal attack and a form of rejection. They’ll stop respecting any boundaries you’ve set since rejection is a huge blow to their ego.
To understand this better, it’s critical to not only understand why the narcissist feels this way, but also how you might expect them to act when they feel they’re being ignored. Knowing more about their behavior is vital for helping you determine the appropriate actions to take.
Why Do Narcissists Act So Indifferent?
The thing you always have to remember about a narcissist is that their behavior is guided by the incessant need to control everything in their life. Their entire sense of identity is based on external validation to get the narcissistic supply they need, and for that reason, they try to manipulate and control the people around them.
They have created grandiose ideas about themselves and insist they are perfect. To admit imperfection or apologize would be a crushing blow for their fragile false self. It could even lead to psychological decompensation and unpredictable behavior.
They can’t show any kind of vulnerability, and admitting that you care about someone is one of the most vulnerable things you can do. For this reason, many narcissists will act as though they simply don’t care about the people in their lives, but nothing could be further from the truth.
They not only care about you, they desperately need you. Other people are required to give them the external validation they need. When they act as though you make no difference in their life, it is simply another lie.
What are the Root Causes of Narcissism?
Narcissism is formed early in life as a result of traumatic childhood experiences. Those traumatic experiences can take two forms: emotional or physical abuse and overpampering.
Many narcissists learned from abusive parents that they are incapable of doing anything correctly. They may have been emotionally abused or this message may have been conveyed through physical abuse. The abusive parent was, in essence, sending a message to the child that they don’t matter, and the budding narcissist internalized that message.
Another way narcissism develops is as a result of overpampering. While the overly protective parent may not mean to traumatize their child, the message is the same. The child learns they are incapable of doing things for themselves whether by not being allowed to try or because they were told they shouldn’t have to, that they are entitled to special treatment.
The message the child internalizes in both of these situations is the same — you are not good enough or capable enough. This damages the child’s developing sense of self to the extent that it fails to develop properly.
What Does Your Sense of Self Do for You?
When we talk about the term ‘ego,’ many people think of someone who is arrogant, but all healthy individuals have a healthy ego or sense of self. A healthy ego helps you strive for success and deal with failures.
A healthy ego helps you soothe yourself when you experience problems. It helps prop up your sense of self-esteem even when you don’t succeed or behave inappropriately. You might have done something you don’t like or been incapable of achieving a particular goal, but your ego will whisper in your ear that even so, you are still a valuable person who tries to do good things.
It helps you form your sense of self-identity, self-confidence, and self-value. Without a healthy ego, people would simply be unable to cope with life’s challenges. That’s the problem for the narcissist.
What Does the Narcissist Do Without a Healthy Ego?
Without a healthy ego, a narcissist is unable to self-soothe or prop up their own self-esteem. When a traumatized child fails to develop a sense of self, they will often bury what they believe to be their inadequate true self deep inside.
Without that healthy sense of self or ego, the child must create a false sense of self to interact with the world around them. Because they have come to truly believe they are bad or not good enough, they infuse the false sense of self with beliefs that are opposite to what they feel is really true.
Therefore, they infuse the false sense of self with grandiose ideas about how they are not only good enough, they are perfect. They are omniscient, and they are omnipotent. But the young narcissist cannot maintain those grandiose beliefs because they don’t have a healthy ego. Instead, they need other people to admire them and fawn over them almost constantly.
To get other people to do that, they manipulate them so that they will see just how great the narcissist truly is and tell them so. That’s what they use to prop up their unhealthy and false ego.
Why Do Narcissists Fear Being Ignored?
The answer to this is found in the house of cards the narcissist has created to prop up their unhealthy self-esteem. If they are ignored by the people in their life, that is the same as telling them they are not important, inadequate, and a failure.
As Allied Health narcissism expert Wayne Hardy notes, “To ignore a narcissist is essentially to cause a narcissistic injury.” This is something that happened many times in their childhood, and it’s extremely traumatic for the narcissist.
The narcissist simply can’t stand the idea that they are not seen in the grandiose terms they have created for their false self. That’s why they can’t stand it when someone ignores them. they need that constant narcissistic supply of admiration and adoration to feel good about themselves.
The need for this narcissistic supply is so desperate that narcissists will do almost anything to get it. They will lie, gaslight, use triangulation, and they will use almost any other manipulative tactic they can to get people to give them the admiration they crave. If you’re ignoring them, you aren’t adoring them, and that’s not something they can allow.
To them, it’s as if you’re telling them they are worthless; they are not even deserving of your attention let alone your love. It is crushing to their self-esteem.
While narcissists may seem to be full of themselves to the point of arrogance, the truth is that they are in a constant state of fear. They can’t prop up their own ego — their own sense of self — and they desperately need other people for that purpose. They will manipulate them and use them in any way they feel will give them the most adoration and admiration.
This dynamic makes interacting with the narcissist a very difficult task. It requires patience and compassion, and it also requires that you be comfortable with enforcing your boundaries and caring for your own needs. It is certain that the narcissist will not be able to give you what you need to feel loved, so if you’re going to continue having a narcissist in your life, you’ll have to learn how to take care of yourself.
While narcissists hate being ignored, they will often ignore you as a manipulation technique, especially if they know it triggers you. Narcissists use your emotional triggers to maintain control over you, distract you from their wrongdoing, and get you to do something they want you to do. But, with my 5 Step Emotional Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers, you can stop that kind of manipulation and free yourself from their control forever. It will help you have better interactions with everyone in your life.
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