For a narcissist, relationships are like a business transaction: they are trying to get what they want at the metaphorical lowest price. For that reason, they play games with the people in their lives, including those that will cause you to chase them.
When a narcissist is involved in any kind of relationship, they focus on their goal for that interaction. Male narcissists are often looking to get sex or find a wife that will prop up their image.
Female narcissists might be hoping to receive material gifts, sex, or acts of service. They also enjoy extravagant courtships since it feeds their ego.
Narcissists simply see relationships as a means to an end. They don’t really consider the feelings of the other person in the relationship. They are looking to get what they want out of it. That might mean status, power, self-esteem, or just sex. Read on to learn more about their manipulative tactics.
Games Narcissists Play
For a narcissist, the typical things that most people seek in a relationship — things like caring, intimacy, and commitment — are considered drawbacks. They prefer to keep their options open, and they have problems understanding and expressing love.
For that reason, narcissists will often play games with the people in their lives. They will engage in manipulative tactics to get what they truly seek — external validation. Here are some of the signs they are playing games with you.
Seductive at First
Narcissists typically are very charming when you first meet them. They go out of their way to be complimentary, supportive, and very seductive.
They are seeking to move quickly, and you may mistake this for a genuine desire for a committed relationship. If that’s what you’re looking for, this can seem really attractive.
The problem is that this loving, supportive behavior won’t last. How can you distinguish it from someone who really does want a committed relationship?
The clue is that the narcissist moves too fast. If you feel rushed or like you’re not sure if you’re ready for a commitment that quickly, that’s a clue you might be dealing with a narcissist. You might think it’s just meant to be, but there’s no reason not to take a little time to get to know them better.
If you’re dealing with a narcissist, they won’t be able to keep up the facade for very long. That’s why they’re motivated to move so fast. They know their true colors will show through soon. Pay attention to any red flags that you see if the relationship is moving at a rapid pace.
At first, the narcissist will likely seem very charming, but once they feel like you’re really interested in them, they will suddenly become hard to reach. This is called ghosting.
You will typically respond to being ghosted by trying to get in touch with them. It can be hard to understand the sudden change in behavior you’re seeing. You can’t imagine that the charming, supportive, and complimentary person you met is now playing with your emotions.
This is definitely a red flag you’re dealing with a narcissist. When you respond by chasing them, that boosts their self-esteem. The rush they get from that only motivates them further to keep up this kind of behavior.
Runs Hot and Cold
You might also notice that they run hot and cold. Their moods change suddenly and without any apparent reason. One minute they’re pursuing you as if you’re the most important person in the world, and the next they’re cold and distant.
Again, this kind of behavior is confusing because that’s not the person you initially got to know. You might be tempted to make excuses for them, attributing their behavior to a bad day at work or some other problem.
The reality is that they want to keep you on the edge. They want you to need and want them, to always be hungry for their attention. That will cause you to pay more attention to them and keep you hooked.
Refuses to Discuss Your Relationship
This is yet another tactic the narcissist uses to get you to pursue them. You want to talk about the relationship and where it’s going, but they express no such desire. They either refuse to talk about it outright or change the subject.
If the relationship is real and based on true feelings, there should be no problem talking about where it is going. If your partner seems to want to dodge that discussion, that could be a red flag that you’ve got a narcissist on your hands.
Flirting in Front of You
This game serves two purposes for the narcissist. If it makes you jealous, that reinforces your feelings for them in their eyes. They see that you want them, and that boosts their ego.
It can also make you work harder to keep their attention on you. The other benefit they get is the attention of the person with whom they’re flirting. In their mind, they have captured the interest of at least two people, and for them, that is validation of their worth.
Refusing to Call or Text First
If you find it’s always you who has to call or text first, that’s a game to make you chase your narcissistic partner. They see it as you needing them, and it boosts their self-esteem.
If they are the ones to call or text, they see that as an indicator that they need you. In their mind, that equates to weakness. It makes them vulnerable to possibly being abandoned.
By making you call first, they get the ego boost without having to expose any vulnerabilities. If you’re in a relationship with someone healthy, the communication should be a two-way street, but for the narcissist, it’s a game they play to keep you running after them.
It’s very confusing to meet someone you think is the perfect person for you only to have them change suddenly into a cold, distant person you have to pursue to get anywhere. This usually happens without any provocation, and it can leave you feeling as though you’ve done something wrong.
In reality, it’s a big, red flag that you’re dealing with a narcissist. They love to see you chase them because it means they are desirable; it props up their externally validated self-esteem.
While you might be invested by the time you realize the person you care about is a narcissist, your best course of action is likely to leave them behind. Be aware, however, that if you choose this course of action, they will do everything they can to convince you to stay.
These are just a few of the manipulative games narcissists play. To learn about another one, check out the article, “6 Stages of Emotional Blackmail From Narcissists.”
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