The question of if a narcissist will ever give up can be interpreted from a few different perspectives. Narcissists need to feel as though they are in control of everything in their life in order to feel comfortable. Anything they can’t control, they fear because they need to be certain their true nature won’t be exposed.
Narcissists rarely give up control or power without a fight. They usually don’t give up on people in their life unless they have absolutely no further use for them, and they almost never give up power. They will even prefer to destroy their own business rather than have someone else take over.
It’s easy to think that narcissists don’t really care about much in their life, but the truth is they care down to the level of the smallest details. You’ll want to learn more about the narcissist’s compulsive need to control everything and everyone in their life if you are forced to interact with one, and you’ll also learn why they are loath to ever give up.
The Narcissistic Game of Manipulation
To understand more about why a narcissist needs to feel in control of everything in their life, you have to understand their incessant need for adoration and admiration. They don’t have a fully developed sense of self and cannot self-soothe or prop up their own self-esteem, such as it is.
Their true self — that is, their own self-esteem or ego — was buried long ago as the result of trauma in their childhood. In its place, they created a false self which they use to interact with the world around them. This false self, however, is not able to do the work of their ego.
Because the trauma in their childhood made the narcissist feel worthless, they infused the false self with ideas of grandiosity, and they loudly proclaim their grandiosity to everyone who will listen. That’s what makes particularly the grandiose narcissist appear so arrogant.
Vulnerable narcissists feel the same as grandiose narcissists, but they are more subtle in their attempts to get their narcissistic supply. They often will put themselves down just to prompt you to object and tell them how wonderful they are. It’s just another manipulative tactic, however, and narcissists use several to get their narcissistic supply.
How Will Narcissists Manipulate the People Around Them?
As you might imagine, narcissists have an entire repertoire of tactics they use to manipulate their loved ones. It’s essential for them to master these techniques to maintain their narcissistic supply. Here are a few tactics they will frequently use:
- Gaslighting: This is where they make you feel as though you’re crazy and cannot trust your own judgment. They will flat out deny they ever said or did what you say they did or they will tell you that you misinterpreted what they did. Their goal here is to create self-doubt and confusion.
- Projection: This is where the narcissist will project the characteristics they have onto you. If they are cheating on you, for example, they will accuse you of cheating. If they lie, they will accuse you of being dishonest. This is a common distraction technique.
- Triangulation: With triangulation, the narcissist will play one person against another. They may tell your children that they would give them permission to do something they want to do, but you don’t want to allow it. Then they will tell you that you shouldn’t permit them to do it. At work, the narcissist might tell one person that someone else said they would take care of a task, and they will say the opposite to the other person involved. It’s all designed to create confusion and chaos.
- Lying: This is a staple in the narcissist’s wheelhouse. They lie all the time and sometimes for no reason at all. The lying keeps you off guard and can distract you from something else they’re doing.
- Love-Bombing: This is a technique that narcissists use to get you to care about them and to get you to forgive them if they’ve done something wrong. They will go overboard in declaring their love and admiration for you, but it’s all so you will return the favor.
How Does Manipulation Keep the Narcissist in Control?
By using these manipulative tactics, the narcissist is trying to shape their world into a place where they are beloved, admired, and seen as unimpeachable. They want to make sure that everyone’s attention is focused on them in a positive way.
If they can achieve that, they can maintain a constant flow of narcissistic supply, something they desperately need to feel good about themselves. Their fear is that if they don’t control every detail of their life, someone or something will expose them for the fraud they believe themselves to be.
They can’t stand being vulnerable or being criticized, and they interpret even the gentlest dissent as harsh criticism. They won’t show their true feelings because it opens them up to the possibility of being hurt, and if they do something wrong, they will use every manipulation tactic in their toolbox to keep anyone from focusing on their flaws.
To keep the people in their life on their side and from discovering their flaws, they use these manipulation techniques to deny, distract, and devalue anything they have done wrong and anyone who would criticize them. You really can’t win with them, which is one of the main reasons why people like retired psychologist Edward Tierney say, “If you are in this situation, please walk away, and never look back.” The problem is that’s often easier said than done.
Why Doesn’t a Narcissist Just Give Up and Go Away?
Aside from trying to control everything in their life, they see giving up as an admission of guilt and vulnerability. This is not something they can tolerate, and in fact, it can cause a psychological crisis if they can’t avoid facing their own flaws and vulnerabilities.
For this reason, if you’re the romantic partner of a narcissist and you decide to leave, they will often try numerous tactics up to and including stalking you to get you to change your mind. They will also show up sometimes after years of separation to try again. This is particularly true if they still feel they need something from you or if they don’t have another readily available source of narcissistic supply to take your place.
That’s why many narcissists will be unfaithful to their partners. It feeds their ego, but it also means they have someone waiting in the wings should you decide to leave.
If the narcissist is in a position of power at work, they will almost never give up their position without a fight. They usually have to be removed by superiors or a board of directors, and if they are the owner of the business, they are not beneath ruining the business to prevent anyone else from having it.
The bottom line is that they simply can’t face feeling like they have failed or like they are vulnerable because of their feelings or something they have done. It creates a genuine psychological crisis for them.
Narcissists simply can’t face the fact that they are vulnerable to failure or that they have flaws. It would mean facing the truth about their own sense of self, and that’s something they decided to bury long ago. To try and force them to face this is like cornering a dangerous animal; they will fight back.
They will not hesitate to use any kind of manipulation tactic, and if they are genuinely backed into a corner, they can become very unpredictable and even dangerous. It’s why people with narcissists in their life find it so hard to get rid of them or even get them to respect their boundaries.
One way that a narcissist can effectively control is by using your emotional triggers against you. It’s a way for them to distract you and get you to do what they want. You hold the key, however, to stopping them in their tracks. Check out my 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers and find out how you can defuse your emotional triggers so the narcissist won’t be able to continue pushing your buttons.
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