If you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, you might have noticed they sometimes do things that are difficult to explain. They might not seem to make any sense, but they often can be traced back to their personality disorder. That means that most of what they do is related to their desire to manipulate and control the people in their lives.
Let’s take a look at 11 weird, seemingly unexplainable things narcissists do to gain more control over the people in their life, and some possible explanations for the behavior:
- Competing with Pets;
- Prone to Conspiracy Theories;
- Never Answer a Question Directly;
- Rewrite History;
- Admire Authoritarianism;
- Value the Opinion of Strangers Over Family and Friends;
- Walk Ahead of You;
- Constantly Interrupt;
- Move/Hide Your Things;
- Destroy Property;
To fully understand why a narcissist does the things they do, you need to understand narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and how it develops. That places the strange behaviors in a better context. Read on to discover more about narcissism, and then, we’ll explore these odd behaviors and attempt to better explain them.
Why Does Someone Become a Narcissist?
Everyone has some level of narcissistic behavior, and it is necessary in a healthy person so that they will act in their own best interests. Narcissism exists on a continuum from the healthy level of it to pathological levels.
When narcissism becomes pathological, it is known as narcissistic personality disorder, or as it is more commonly called NPD. Typically, the pathological kind of narcissism develops in childhood, and it results from an incompletely developed sense of self.
Your sense of self is also known as your ego, and it is necessary for helping you to maintain a sense of self-worth even when you make mistakes. It also helps you to soothe yourself when life is challenging.
Without a healthy sense of self, pathological narcissists are unable to do these things for themselves. They are full of shame and self-loathing, and thus, when the narcissist makes a mistake, that shame is triggered, and they have no way to soothe themselves.
To prop up their self-esteem, which is normally the job of a healthy sense of self, the narcissist must construct a false self so they can interact with the world. They need that interaction because they need external validation from the people in their life.
But getting that external validation requires an almost constant manipulation of their family and friends. That is what is at the heart of the pathological narcissist’s strange behavior.
11 Weird and Unexplainable Things Narcissists Do
With that foundation, let’s examine the following weird and difficult to explain narcissistic behaviors.
1. Competing with Pets
Healthy people don’t feel threatened when you give your attention to a pet, but someone with NPD doesn’t want you to pay attention to anyone or anything other than them. They will compete with anyone or anything for that attention.
Narcissists will compete with your children, your pets, and even inanimate objects to which you’re giving your attention. They will often become angry and make unreasonable demands when you’re giving love and attention to even your pets.
They may also take out their feelings of jealousy on the animal or any other person or object of your attention. They may tease or even abuse the animal because they are angry you’re paying attention to it.
They will also come up with something they need you to do right at that moment or otherwise try to distract you from giving attention to your pet. The narcissist wants you focused constantly on them so they can get their narcissistic supply.
Narcissistic supply is that supply of adulation that they need to feel good about themselves. They will manipulate you in every way possible to get it, and among their greatest fears is losing that supply.
2. Prone to Conspiracy Theories
Because of their fragile sense of self, narcissists – particularly covert narcissists – view themselves as victims. They can’t accept responsibility for any mistakes they make, and they project their complex feelings of guilt, paranoia, and cynicism onto others.
Because they view themselves as victims, they are particularly prone to conspiracy theories. Their fear of being exposed as worthless makes them very paranoid, and they are easy to convince that people are purposely trying to hurt them.
They also like to feel like they are in the know when others are still in the dark. This feeds into the grandiose ideas of superiority they infused into their false self when they constructed that at a young age. When they buy into a conspiracy theory, it makes them feel as though they are part of an elite group of people who know the truth, and that, in turn, makes them feel powerful and intelligent.
3. Never Answer a Question Directly
Narcissists are experts at being indirect, and sometimes, downright deceptive. They do this, at least in part, because they like to keep you in the dark. They like to keep you in a state of confusion, and since they may say one thing one moment and the opposite the next, they avoid being direct.
If they aren’t direct, they can claim they meant something other than what you interpreted that they meant. This is a common manipulation technique called gaslighting, and narcissists use it extensively.
They want you to doubt your own perception of reality, and they want you to feel like you’re going crazy. If they can accomplish that, they will claim that anything you think you saw was incorrect. That way, you can’t blame them for anything they have done, and in fact, they can blame you for any problems.
4. Rewrite History
This is a particularly maddening thing that narcissists will do, and it’s another gaslighting technique. It’s not always, however, something narcissists do on purpose. Because of their damaged sense of self, narcissists often dissociate and genuinely can’t remember what happened.
They rely on the other people in their life to fill in the details, and they make revisions to anything that puts them in a bad light. Their revisionist history can be a result of this dissociation, but it can also be the result of an outright lie. As Kay Starr, who has a degree in psychology, notes, “They make up truth and rewrite reality as they go along, to force it to fit their agenda and narrative.”
Narcissists live in an almost constant state of fear that they will be exposed as a worthless, shameful person. This is what they believe is the truth about their true self, and they can’t bear the thought that others will find that out about them.
Therefore, narcissists will often lie if they feel as though you’re hitting too close to home and might expose them for what they really are. This might happen long after the event in question or immediately afterward. Many people involved with narcissists have stated that the narcissist said or did something and then immediately denied it.
5. Admire Authoritarianism
Narcissists will typically admire authoritarian leaders or even tyrants. They see these people as powerful and superior because they were able to achieve such high positions of leadership. They will often applaud the tyrant who can make other people do everything they want because that is exactly what the narcissist aspires to be able to do.
Even those tyrants, like Adolph Hitler, who committed numerous atrocities can be admired by the narcissist. That’s why many in white supremacist groups are narcissists. They are looking to seize power in any way they can so they can continue to feel like they are not only superior but powerful and in control as well.
6. Value the Opinion of Strangers Over Family and Friends
No matter how close you might believe yourself to be to a narcissist, the narcissist is always fearful you will abandon them. They are always looking for the next person who can take your place if you do so.
They need that narcissistic supply of adulation, and they feel they must always ensure they have someone on hand to take over in case you leave. For that reason, they will idealize other people just like they did with you in the beginning of your relationship.
This is their way of drawing that person into their dramatic web, but just like they did with you, that idealization won’t last. They have unreasonably high expectations of the people in their life, and there is really no way you can meet those expectations.
When you fall short of what they expect, they start devaluing you. This will eventually happen with anyone else they draw into their life, but by then, they will already be idealizing another victim.
7. Walk Ahead of You
This is a not-so-subtle way of letting you know that they are superior to you. Narcissists always want to be seen as the superior person as compared to anyone they’re with. Though they might see you as an ally, they still want others to see them as the better, smarter, more powerful person of the two of you.
Walking ahead of you is a way to show they are in the leadership position in your relationship. They will often do other things to show this. They may, for example, make comments that suggest they feel they are better than you.
They might make a negative comment about some trait you possess without saying it is a trait you have. For example, if you never went to college, they might say something like, “I feel sorry for people who never got a university degree because they just aren’t equipped to be successful.”
They’re not making the statement specifically about you, but you can connect the dots and the narcissist hopes other people around the two of you will too. Narcissists often use comparisons like this because, in their mind, the people around you will see how superior they are by comparison.
8. Constantly Interrupt
This is a tactic narcissists commonly use to draw attention to themselves and cause confusion in the conversation. They like to keep you off-balance, and this is one way to achieve that.
If you’re confused, it makes it easier for the narcissist to gaslight you or lie to you. If the conversation meanders all over the place, they can more easily claim they didn’t say something you say they did or that you must have misinterpreted it.
It’s easy for a narcissist to use these kinds of manipulation techniques to cause you to doubt your own perceptions of reality. That is their goal.
9. Move/Hide Your Things
Another thing narcissists will do to create confusion is to move or hide your things. They will usually then claim that you must have forgotten where you put it. It’s a tactic that can drive you crazy.
Narcissists also thrive on the idea that they can give you back what you’re looking for, and in that way, they can feel more powerful. It’s yet another way for them to feel superior to you as well since you couldn’t find it, but they did.
It’s also an indirect way to show you that they are in control and can take or move your things without your permission. They like to feel like they are in the power position.
10. Destroy Property
Narcissists will often destroy your property and even their own. They like to feel powerful, and the fact that they can destroy even their own property makes that statement. They also lack empathy, so they don’t have an understanding of how their behavior affects you.
They see other people as mere extensions of themselves, and as such, they should be (and in the narcissist’s mind are) under the narcissist’s control. That means the narcissist can do as they please not only with your property, but also with you.
They aren’t concerned with the cost of the property, and they fully believe you should bear that burden. They have no compunction about destroying your property, and they have no feelings of guilt or shame that mitigate that type of behavior.
They also tend to think in black and white terms and react emotionally to any situation that feels like an affront to them. Because they are prone to emotional explosions called narcissistic rage, it’s not uncommon for them to react in a destructive manner. That combined with no care for what happens next results in destructive tendencies.
Narcissists are veritable chameleons and will change their personality on a moment’s notice. They can be fully engaged in narcissistic rage one moment and incredibly charming the next. They can also take on a whole new identity if the situation calls for it.
You have to remember that narcissists have damaged identity mechanisms, so it’s easy for them to deconstruct and reconstruct their false image to suit any situation. They can seemingly transform themselves into whoever they want to be or want you to see.
It’s an adaptation skill that comes in quite handy for the narcissist. One minute, they are the kindest, most supportive person you’ve ever seen, and the next, they’re in an explosive rage telling you that you’re worthless.
Narcissists are extremely careful about their public image since they want everyone to see them in a certain way. To prevent anyone from finding out anything different, they will manipulate, lie, and pretend to be someone they’re not.
When you’re alone with the narcissist, however, another person emerges, and this one can be quite abusive. Narcissists can even be physically abusive, and they use their ability to charm everyone in their life to ensure they would never guess.
It’s precisely because of this ability to become whoever they need to be that many narcissistic abusers are not caught until they do something particularly egregious.
What Should You Do When the Narcissist Does Strange Things?
The most important thing you can do when a narcissist is acting weird is to reinforce your personal boundaries. You need to avoid doubting your perception of reality, and you may need to simply walk away until the narcissist can be respectful.
It’s important when you’re interacting with a narcissist that you set strong boundaries with defined consequences for any violations. You also need to enact those consequences every single time there is a violation. If you don’t, the narcissist will see that as weakness and abuse you even more.
Sometimes you can’t calm the situation down, and in those cases, you should be prepared to simply leave until calmer heads prevail. This can be hard to do, but it’s a wise course of action when dealing with a narcissist.
Narcissists do many weird and seemingly unexplainable things that all really relate back to their personality disorder. At the heart of everything they do is the need to feel that they have worth. The problem is that they need other people to make them feel that way since their identity mechanisms – their ego, their sense of self – are unable to do this.
The narcissist needs a constant supply of adulation from the people in their life, and to get that, they employ multiple manipulation tactics. What they do might seem weird or unexplainable in the moment, but it usually relates to their need to feel in control and powerful. It’s a difficult situation for you, and you need to prioritize self-care to really protect yourself from their emotional abuse.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable, given their behavior, for you to wonder if they even care about their family members at all. This post can help you understand how they might feel, and it has some important information you need to know if you’re dealing with a narcissist.
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