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Playing with a Narcissist? - Don't Expect to Win

Updated on November 18, 2015

Fold Your Hand and Walk Away

It's estimated that 1 in every 25 people is a malignant narcissist. What this means is that they have no conscience or empathy.

They are much like sociopaths in that they commit unspeakable acts, with no regard for the pain they cause. They are adept at ruining reputations, relationships, jobs and marriages. Their capacity for destruction is seemingly unlimited.

However, they are deeply concerned about one thing. Their own social standing is of paramount importance. This is part of what makes them so dangerous. They seek to elevate themselves at the expense of others.

Narcissists are insanely envious. If you have something, they want it. Because it already belongs to you, it's even more desirable.

Imagine having a $500 bill and a $5 dollar bill. The larger denomination is lying on a table. It's not clear who owns it. You're holding the smaller bill in your hand.

Which one is more attractive to the narcissist? The one in your hand, even if it's not worth as much.

But that's crazy. Yes, it is. It's absolutely nuts. But so is the warped world of a narcissist.

A Narcissist Knows How to Play Her Hand

Narcissists are sneaky and conniving.
Narcissists are sneaky and conniving. | Source

The Sociopath Next Door

What is Malignant Narcissism?

Malignant narcissism is considered a "Cluster B" personality disorder, a category that also includes borderline, histrionic, and anti-social personality disorders. It's considered incurable and there's no treatment.

Actually, it's believed talk therapy makes matters. That's because malignant narcissists are clever enough to fool the most jaded of therapists. They'll also use these sessions to gain added insight into the human condition. This arms them with even more psychological weapons.

However, therapists don't treat many narcissists. Instead, they see the people abused by them.

To better understand how prevalent antisocial personality disorder is, I highly recommend the classic book, The Sociopath Next Door, written by Dr. Martha Stout, PhD.

Narcissists Wear a Mask

Narcissists present a false smiling face.
Narcissists present a false smiling face. | Source

The Warning Signs of Narcissism

Lay people cannot make a formal diagnosis of narcissism. The professionals often have a hard time as well, as a hallmark of the disorder is deception.

However, you don't need a degree to discern a person's character, in order to decide if this is someone you'd like to spend time with.

But there are some distinctive traits of someone with a malicious personality disorder. Grandiosity, lack of empathy and an over-the-top sense of entitlement are some. Malignant narcissists, or psychopaths, tend to look down upon others.

They believe they are elite. So they let you into their world, for a time. Eventually, they'll tire of you and discard you. Typically, this is done in a sadistic fashion. As the relationship unravels, strap on your seat belt. This is when you can expect a narcissistic smear campaign to kick into full throttle.

Narcissists have trouble regulating their anger. If confronted, they'll throw a temper tantrum, as they turn the tables and blame you. Psychologists call this "narcissistic rage."

A Narcissist's Deception

Truth to a narcissist is a very fluid concept. It takes the shape of the vessel that holds it, and it's constantly shifting.

Lying is easy and natural to someone with a personality disorder. They may repeat their lies, exaggerations and half truths so many times they start to believe them.

If locked into a battle, you can never win. Narcissists are connivers. They always have an edge. That's because they're able to make others believe their baloney, no matter how outrageous.

Many professionals, from psychiatrists to police officers, have been taken in by these con artists. They are often referred to as socialized psychopaths because of their superb acting skills.

One of the best books ever written about this disorder was authored by the late Dr. M. Scott Peck, MD. It's called People of the Lie and it aptly describes the inner workings of people with a propensity for doing evil.

Narcissists are Skillful Actresses

Narcissists are always on stage.
Narcissists are always on stage. | Source

A Narcissist has Your Number

Narcissists are very good at sizing people up. They possess superior, almost superhuman, insight into our wants, needs and fears. So they toy with us.

Normally wired people don't operate this way, and their conscience would also prevent them from doing so. That's why playing a cat-and-mouse game with a narcissist is always a bad idea.

Even if you were willing to stoop to their level, you'd still lose. That's because a narcissist is so adept at manipulation. With a seemingly infinite capacity for evil deed, he or she (many narcissists are female), will launch a series of sneak attacks designed to keep you off balance.

You'd never be able to keep up with a narcissist. Nor would you want to.

Narcissists Can't be Trusted

A narcissist knows how to manipulate people.
A narcissist knows how to manipulate people. | Source

Competition that Knows No Bounds

A narcissist plays to win. If they set their eyes on something, they are single minded in their pursuit. They won't stop until they get it. They'll use every under-handed device possible to attain their goal.

They'll put aside everything else to win. But is that something you want to do? It's really not worth it? You're never going to beat a narcissist at his own game anyway.

What is Gaslighting?

One of the cruelest weapons in a narcissist's toolbox is a psychological warfare technique known as gaslighting. This term comes from a 1940s screenplay of the same name starring Ingrid Bergman. The plot line is of a deranged husband trying to drive his wife around the bend.

He rearranges things, and then denies he did so. One of his moves was to tinker with the gas lights, located in the attic, while his wife was up there looking for something. Of course, he didn't own up to this.

A malignant narcissist uses a number of gas lighting techniques to destabilize his prey. For instance, she'll devise an elaborate scenario using a third party. First, she'll lie about you, so the other person thinks you've done something. If they have personality issues themselves, they may decide to mistreat you.

Then, if you happen to complain about this, the narcissist, who pretends to be your friend, will get indignant and insist it's your imagination. It's you with the problem. You need to stop being "so sensitive."

Narcissists and Manpulation

Do you believe you can beat a narcissist at her own game?

See results

Yes, There is One Way to Win

Have you ever heard the expression, "Living well is the best revenge." Perhaps the person who coined this phrase had known a malignant narcissist.

Adopt the "no contact" rule. This means not calling the person who's hurting you, and not returning his telephone calls. The same goes for email. Use the delete button. Don't even read them. Better yet, use the block feature so you don't receive unwanted emails.

Don't ask others how the narcissist is doing either. No contact means just that.

If you're religious, you can still pray for this person. Actually, that's is a good and healthy thing to do because it helps your healing process.

A narcissist craves attention. Ignoring the narcissist, and cutting him out of your life, serves a dual purpose. You'll save your sanity and you'll begin to rebuild your life. It also sends a clear message that he or she is no longer in control.


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  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    Great description. You must've know one or two in your life to be so accurate at describing their behaviors. You are so absolutely right about just folding your hand and refusing to play, walking away from the game. Pinning this excellent hub and sharing, too. Voted up +++.

  • LKMore01 profile image

    LKMore01 3 years ago

    As someone who witnessed an episode of narcissistic rage and was completely floored by the manipulative cruelty, the more we all understand this disorder the better. People who are mean and belittle others just to be mean are beyond my comprehension. Thank you for shedding more light on this subject. ologsinquito.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Thanks so much FlourishAnyway, yes, I've met a couple and I do want to shed light on this subject, so others can recognize the signs and get out of the relationship, or, at the very least, create a safe level of distance.

    LK More01, once you've seen this disorder for what it is, you can recognize it. I do hope more people become aware of this. Thank you for reading.

  • bipolartist profile image

    Amy Magness Whatley 3 years ago from United States of America

    This article is incredibly informative and accurate. I wont go into the hows and whys, but I needed to read this on this day at this hour.

    Mental disorders and personality disorders are never an easy part of a human, no matter if you are the infected or the affected and I think it's so important to get informative, realistic, non-sugar-coated advice out to the world.

    Great article, indeed.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Thanks so much bipolartist, you made my day. I really want to get this information out there.

  • CrisSp profile image

    CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

    What better way to treat them but to simply stay away...thank you for the most informative hub on the subject.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi CrisSp, thank you for reading. There is no upside to getting close to a narcissist.

  • younghopes profile image

    Shadaan Alam 3 years ago from India

    A great hub, made an interesting read, i never knew so much about narcissits before, voted up and shared

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Thanks so much younghopes. With any luck, you'll never have to learn about them firsthand.

  • profile image

    mariewj 3 years ago

    I've only ever, thankfully, known one person who ever fitted this description. Gladly they are long gone from my life. You've provided an excellent insight here into Narcissists.

  • informationshelte profile image

    informationshelte 3 years ago

    Hi ologsinquito,

    Thank you for the colorful description of the problem-generating nature of a narcissistic person. According to Wikipedia, Narcissus was a mythical person who fell in love with his own reflection. He was finally punished by the goddess of revenge, Nemesis. Here is the link to the story:

    As you mentioned in your article, the rate of ill-intended narcissists in society is four percent, which is pretty high. You just need one bad guy to spoil things for everyone.

    In older times those persons were treated as lunatics and they were confined in special asylums, although it was not rare to hold positions of authority. Roman emperors like Caligula served as a prime example of this trend.

    Nowadays, narcissists are again present in all layers of society; however, their ability to hide in the crowd has become more sophisticated.

    Progress in the fields of psychology and psychiatry has made it easier to treat this social problem; this is where the final solution can be derived from.

    It’s unclear whether people are born like that or become malignant narcissists later in life. Greed and arrogance are major sins and unfortunately, we are born with a tendency towards them. We have to fight against them inside us.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi informationshelte, I do wonder if what we're seeing is the accumulation of sin upon sin, which hardens the heart. This is a mystery. Are people born that way, or do they become that way? As a Catholic, I know we're all born with original sin and the tendency to sin. Thank you for this insightful commentary.

    Hi Marie, consider yourself fortunate to have only known one. The only way to stay sane is through distance.

  • profile image

    truLe 3 years ago

    Great information & examples... I especially like the one in the beginning about the $5 & $500 bills.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Thanks for reading truLe, once you've seen this disorder in action, you know what I'm talking about.

  • profile image

    bowlingbride 3 years ago

    This article really got the nail on the head! As a child of a narcissist & an ex-spouse of another, it took me a very long time to let the "why on earth did I fall for that" feeling go. I now know that it want my fault. He was simply an expert manipulator. Unfortunately sharing children with him makes the no contact option impossible. However, not giving any response to communication that is clearly not about the children had allowed me to take some of my control back. Wonderful article!!

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi bowlingbride, unfortunately, many people who've had run-ins with narcissists also have a background of having this disorder in their family. Growing up with it seems to make this behavior seem more normal, when it isn't. I'm glad you liked this article. I hope it helps.

  • Writer Fox profile image

    Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

    You've become quite an expert on this topic. When you said that narcissists have "no regard for the pain they cause", that's true in the sense that they have no empathy. But they definitely know they are causing pain to others and that, unfortunately, gives them their perverted joy. Voted up!

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi Writer Fox, it is very sick and very perverted. You are correct. They have no empathy. But they know what they are doing, as they are in touch with reality. But some (most) of them do enjoy watching others suffer. Thanks for voting up.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Hi savvydating, thank you so much for your feedback. You seem to know exactly what I'm talking about.

  • savvydating profile image

    savvydating 3 years ago

    Yes, I do. I've experienced it firsthand, and it's a horrible thing to go though. BTW, I think you forgot to put my comment through. I wouldn't mind, but I thought some folks might get some use out of the pdf article I submitted. Anyway, thanks for writing this hub and I hope your holidays are truly happy are narcissism free. Lol!

  • dragontek profile image

    dragontek 3 years ago from Vernon, Connecticut

    I was in a relationship directly with a narcissist for a year and a half- and everything said here is true. They are firstly predators who seek out vulnerable people they can dominate and control. So if you are at a point in your life- where you might be a 'broken soul' they will swoop in and make the final kill- eventually. Their behavior is not human- but basically evil. Over time one must realize they are mentally ill people who should be in long term therapy- not that it may accomplish much.

    PTSD is a common aftermath of having a close encounter with someone suffering from NDP. They can also have traits of the Psychopath, making them even more dangerous. Once a victim of these people- therapy is usually needed to help you recover your self esteem and sense of reality. They have sold you as your soul mate- then end up discarding you like a week old newspaper. Know yourself inside and out- every weakness you have- as a buffer against these people. Then over time you will be ale to move on, forgive- but do not forget the pain they once caused you.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    Only someone who has experienced this knows what it means to encounter a malignant narcissist. You are correct, that you can can move on and forgive. The encounter also gives you deeper insights into yourself and others. There are blessings from the encounter, although it is painful.

  • profile image

    Bri Perry 3 years ago

    Guest, you sound like you could be my twin! I'm 22, adopted and my birth family found me about 5 years ago and from day one, it's been complete hell and back over and over again times a trillion plus one. I send them letters, call them repeatedly, I have 14 siblings, I only talk to 2 of them, periodically, here and there, and they're respectful when they want to be but they tell the biological family stuff that’s true about THEM! and put the blame on ME! The entire family does it. Just like I’ve seen on a million other websites, a picture of them has formed in their minds about me and they absolute refuse to let it go no matter what. I get called I’m F’d up in the head, I need to be in an instution, I’m mentally Ill, I have disorders (no I don’t, I’ve been to a million doctors and what have you and nothing has turned up) You name it, they’ve all said it. Over and Over and Over again. They all get in a fight which I’m not even a part of and it’s somehow MY entire fault? How, I dunno! I try to show them links about narassism and scapegoating and I get attacked and told to ‘stop playing the victim’. I could write a million pages about the different Narassistic roles my bio family takes but I’ll spare you all because you all know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m of course, just like you all, naturally, the scapegoat, the mentally healthiest family member but NO! according to my screwed up biological family, I’m the one who needs the help or better yet, nothing can help me, no doctors or medication, because there’s nothing that could possibly help me, I’m so F’d in the head, COMPLETELY! According to my biological family. They all laugh about it, think it’s SO funny how they treat me like shit. I could go on and on and on about these people but I’ll spare you. I would never wish this experience of finding my biological family on anyone, those of you who have never experienced a narassistic family, please realize how lucky and grateful you are because I would turn back the hands of time and never have replied to their messages on Facebook when they first contacted me wanting a relationship. My sister constantly tells me, “If anyone else wanted to talk to you, they would!” and then constantly has to remind me of how she has a relationship with the ENTIRE biological family, a LOVING relationship at that!, and then proceeds to spread more lies and stuff to other family members who are up there in the same state as they all are and yup, a picture that is non-existent and non-true has been formed in their minds for years now and there is NO.CHANGING.IT.WHAT.SO.EVER. Believe me, I’ve tried. Infinity times. The only thing you can do is walk away. FOR.GOOD. I just wish I knew how. Oh and SPOT ON! About Narassistics holding a grude, I haven’t spoken to my other brothers and sisters because they’re still holding unknown grudges for going on close to three years now. I haven’t been able to speak to them at all because they refuse to speak to me until THEY’RE READY. F. THEM. I AM SO THROUGH AND DONE AND OVER WITH THEM AND ALL OF T.H.I.S.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

    That sounds like a good decision to remove yourself from this craziness. Thank goodness you have another family that is probably a lot more loving. These are your real relatives. I have both adoptive and biological relatives as well. I am close to my two parents (one is biological and the other is my adoptive parent), but I have some biological relatives on my mother's side that are quite difficult to deal with. So I don't, unless I have to. They will not change, unless God touches their hearts in a miraculous way.

    Thanks so much for reading. I wish you well in all of this. It's too bad they contacted you, although now you know what they're like.

  • profile image

    barbz 16 months ago

    I just ended a somewhat relationship with a man who I believe is a narcissist, it wasn't real clear when I first met him but the truths soon reveal themselves. I called him out on all his lies and the player I know he is. He was so self absorbed and thought the world of himself and one night he was texting me and I called him out on everything and now we are completely done. We work for the same company but I just pretend he doesn't exist. A narcissist will suck the life right out of you if you don't recognize it, they are good at hiding it so educate yourself, it's your best weapon. Thanks for the your article it will help lot of people out there. Barbara

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 16 months ago from USA

    Hi Barbara, thank you for reading it. A narc is certainly a huge drain on your life. It's good you recognized the warning signs.

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