When you are involved with a narcissist, they are focused on learning about you in order to make you focus solely on them. They often want to isolate you from any family or friends you have so that you will have no one other than them to turn to for love and affection. This is part of their strategy to control you and keep you from abandoning them. That’s why it’s vital to understand how they go about plotting to steal your friends.
The 7 most common ways they plot to take your friends away include the following tactics to identify gullible friends and isolate you from your allies:
- They watch and learn
- They troll social media
- They enlist allies
- They identify enemies
- They get close
- They manipulate and devalue
- They discard and move on
Let’s explore each of these tactics to dive deeper into why the narcissist does this, how they do it, and what steps you can take to protect yourself. It’s critical information when you’re dealing with a master manipulator.
1. They Watch and Learn
This phase usually begins prior to the start of a relationship with a narcissist. They often want to learn as much about you as they can even before they make first contact with you. They want to know what you like, don’t like, what your habits and routines are, and where you like to spend your free time.
With this knowledge, they can more easily integrate themselves into your life, and they know better what to do to get you to like them. They also begin the process of getting to know who your friends are and what they are like.
They do this because their personality disorder is such that they feel they have to control every aspect of their life. If they don’t do that, they fear they will be exposed for the hateful person they believe themselves to be.
2. They Troll Social Media
In our modern world, getting to know you is as simple as clicking on the link. They troll your social media platforms to learn what you like and don’t like as well as who your friends are and what they’re like.
When they are trying to understand who your friends are and what they’re like, they are looking for some very specific qualities. They will spend hours online trying to learn who among your friends is single and of the same gender as you are because these may be future victims after they discard you. They also look to find out who they might be able to triangulate against you and who among your friends might also be narcissistic.
3. They Enlist Allies
As they are trolling your friends, the narcissist is looking for people who may be narcissists themselves – you know, game recognizes game as the saying goes. These might be people they enlist as allies to work against you. It only takes the right kind of manipulation to get another narcissist to work against you.
These also might be people they would be interested in forming relationships with when they discard you or you discard them. They could be a quick replacement for the narcissistic supply they need so desperately.
4. They Identify Enemies
This is another thing the narcissist does as they troll your friends. They want to identify those people who will most likely see through their manipulation tactics. That could cause them big problems, and for that reason, they will try to work on a strategy to turn you against them.
They want to isolate you precisely because they fear you will abandon them. The interesting thing is that tactics like stealing your friends and turning you against them often work to result in abandonment, but the narcissist doesn’t have a healthy enough sense of self to realize this.
5. They Get Close
Once the narcissist has a good idea of your social network, likes, and dislikes, they are ready to get close to you and certain friends of yours. They will begin love-bombing you while at the same time attempting to get close to particular friends in your social network.
They usually want to get to know the friends they’ve identified as being gullible or agreeable; people who don’t want to cause any discord between people and/or who are eager to believe gossip. They will even begin to form their own friendships with these people.
Usually, you are thrilled to have a significant other fit so well in your social network, but the narcissist is not doing it to be a part of the group. They are plotting to work against you. These are the people they can manipulate to choose them over you.
They frequently will drop some not-so-subtle hints that you are being emotionally or even physically abusive. They may tell them they suspect you are cheating on them. They may even say you stalked them. This all works to plant the seeds of doubt in your friends’ minds.
6. They Manipulate and Devalue
After they have situated themselves well within your social network all while love-bombing you, now they begin to devalue you and show their true colors. You’ll likely feel like there is nothing you say or do that is the right thing.
They want to make you feel worthless and like you’re nothing without them. Of course, this is a case of them projecting since they are the ones who truly feel worthless deep down inside.
While devaluing you, they are also outright bashing you to your friends. They’ll be oh so charming to your friends, particularly those who are gullible. Then they’ll start triangulating. They’ll tell you one thing and your friends another to play you against each other. This is where they will also try to get you to distance yourself from your most loyal friends.
They might set you up for seeming rude or uncaring toward your friends. They might bait you into being rude toward them in front of your friends or they may tell them something you supposedly said about them. They are actively trying to destroy your relationship with them at this point.
7. They Discard and Move On
Just when you feel as though you’ve had enough of this narcissistic abuse, they will often discard you and move on…with your friends. By this time, they’ve poisoned those gullible friends against you, set themselves up for finding a new partner who can give them their narcissistic supply, and caused you to distance yourself from your loyal friends.
They’ve also made you feel worthless, and now they’re ready to move on. It’s almost like those scary movies about the friend who wants to step into your life and push you out. This is what it seems like the narcissist has done. They took away your friends, took over the places you love and the things you love to do, and they have left you with nothing.
Why Do They Do It?
The short answer is because it makes them feel powerful. They are able to manipulate the people in their life, and they feel as though they are invincible. They want to have full control over the people around them, but they can only do that with people whose self-esteem they have effectively destroyed.
As a certified life coach, author, and narcissistic abuse survivor Angela Atkinson points out, “…narcissists isolate us from the people in our lives so that they can get more control over us.” In short, it makes them feel more secure and powerful.
When they were young, their own self-esteem was destroyed by trauma in the form of abuse, neglect, or even because they were never allowed to do anything for themselves. In the place of a healthy ego, they constructed a false self and infused it with all kinds of grandiose ideas about their omnipotence and omniscience.
But their false self can’t internally prop up their self-esteem; for that, they need other people. They live in constant fear that the people in their life will find out how worthless they are and abandon them. They decide instead to manipulate, control, and even destroy those people before they can hurt them. That’s the devastating truth about narcissism.
There’s very little you can do to defend against many of the tactics a narcissist will employ in this regard. If you try to strike back, it just makes you look bad to your friends. The best you can do is to stick by the people you know are your true friends regardless of what the narcissist tries to make you believe, and if they are your true friends, they’ll love to have you back in their life if you’ve distanced yourself because of narcissistic lies.
For those gullible friends, you might be better off without them. No matter what else, be sure to practice good self-care techniques to maintain your self-esteem and confidence. This is not your fault; it’s just your bad luck.
As you navigate these murky waters of dealing with a narcissist trying to steal your friends, a free copy of my “Narcissistic Rejection Guide.” It will help you learn how to say no and push back against the narcissistic abuse tactics, and it can help you to push back against a narcissist who is trying to drive a wedge between you and your friends. Just click on the link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox for free!
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