Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where the perpetrator causes someone to question their own sanity by denying the truth and the victim’s experience. While both men and women can engage in gaslighting, female narcissists are more likely to use this tactic to dominate and control their victims.
What are the Main Characteristics of Female Narcissists?
Grandiose sense of self-importance. Women who have narcissistic personality disorder often exaggerate their talents, achievements, and importance. They have an overinflated view of their abilities and accomplishments.
Lack of empathy. Female narcissists have difficulty understanding or caring about the feelings, needs, or perspectives of others, including friends, family, and romantic partners. They view others as objects to be used for their own satisfaction.
Preoccupation with power and success. People with narcissistic personality disorder are often highly focused on attaining power, status, and admiration from others. They tend to be excessively competitive and seek to dominate or control others.
Female narcissists also tend to be obsessed with their physical appearance, and they use their beauty as a weapon to lure and manipulate others, especially men.
Need for admiration. Female narcissists usually have an insatiable need for admiration and attention from others. They become upset if they are not given the attention or admiration they feel they deserve.
Arrogant and entitled behaviour. They are commonly very entitled and expect others to follow to pander to their every need and want. They will also be condescending towards those who they perceive as inferior.
Difficulty handling criticism. Narcissistic personalities may become highly defensive when criticized or confronted. They may lash out or become hostile when their skills or accomplishments are questioned.
Fantasies of ideal love or power. Female narcissists may have fantasies of ideal romantic relationships or scenarios of success and wealth.
Female Narcissists and Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a common tactic used by narcissists in relationships to exert control and manipulate their partners. When it comes to female narcissists, there are several specific ways in which they use gaslighting to manipulate their partners.
Denying the Reality of Their Actions
Female narcissists will deflect blame for their actions and accuse their partner of overreacting or misinterpreting their intentions. This not only serves to invalidate the partner’s experience, but also effectively discredits their partner’s perceptions and often leaves them feeling off-balance in the relationship.
For example, if a man confronts his narcissistic partner about her infidelity, she is likely to respond by accusing him of being jealous, possessive, paranoid, or unreasonable. She may even go so far as to accuse him of being unfaithful, in a cunning twist of projection that is designed to make herself the victim.
Using False Apologies
A frequent tactic that female narcissists use in relationships to manipulate their partners into staying in the relationship, is to pretend that they are sorry for what they have done, through the use of false apologies.
By presenting themselves as remorseful and apologetic, these women create a sense of confusion, conflict and self-doubt within the partner, making it harder for them to leave the relationship.
In reality, the apologies given by female narcissists are more often than not totally insincere. Once the partner is once again on the hook, the narcissist will continue her negative behaviour, without any genuine intention to make a change.
Intense Emotional Manipulation
In addition to the more subtle forms of gaslighting, female narcissists may also use intense emotional manipulation to exert control over their partners. This type of gaslighting can be particularly effective because it can be very difficult for the partner to distinguish between genuine emotions and manipulation.
One common tactic used by female narcissists is to engage in exaggerated displays of emotion. For example, if their partner confronts them about something hurtful they said, they may begin crying uncontrollably in order to distract their partner from the topic at hand. In the process they divert their attention away from the issue at hand and make their partner feel guilty for upsetting them.
Other examples of emotional manipulation could include threatening self-harm or suicide, claiming to be experiencing severe mental or physical distress, or making appeals to the partner’s empathy or loyalty. All of these tactics are designed to manipulate the partner’s feelings, amplify the narcissist’s own importance, and ultimately prevent the partner from questioning the narcissist’s behaviour.
Isolating Their Partner
Another key component of gaslighting employed by female narcissists is the attempt to isolate their partner from friends and family. This can be done through a variety of manipulative tactics designed to maintain control over the relationship and keep the partner dependent solely upon them.
One common method is to depict the partner’s loved ones as a threat to the relationship. The narcissist may attempt to make their partner believe that their friends and family don’t like her or are trying to come between them.
Another tactic that female narcissists may use to isolate their partner is to prevent them from spending time with their friends or family. They may use a wide range of excuses to discourage or sabotage their partner’s social engagements. For example, they may berate their partner for wanting to spend time away from them, or feign illness or other conditions to discourage outings with friends.
By isolating their partner from their social support network, female narcissists create an environment of dependence in which their partner has no one else to turn to. This feeds into the narcissist’s need for control and can make it difficult for their partner to leave the relationship or identify the reality of the abuse.
Withholding is a tactic commonly used by female narcissists.
One common form of withholding is emotional withholding. This occurs when the narcissist withholds love, compliments, and attention as a form of punishment, causing the partner to feel confused and frustrated.
This may also manifest in the narcissist punishing their partner by ignoring them, pouting, or being unresponsive. The goal is to keep the partner on a leash where they are emotionally tethered and fully dependent on the narcissist for their emotional well-being.
Withholding may also take the form of sexual withholding, when the narcissist deprives her partner of sexual intimacy in order to assert control over them.
The narcissist may also use triangulation, bringing a third party into the relationship with the goal of creating conflict. This can include pitting the partner against their friends or family members, making the partner feel as though they have to choose between the narcissist and those who matter in their lives.
Final Thoughts on Female Narcissists
Gaslighting can be a powerful tool for manipulation, and female narcissists are experts at using it to control and manipulate their partners. By distorting the truth, denying their own behavior, and making their partner doubt their own perception of reality, female narcissists can create a sense of confusion and uncertainty in their partner’s mind.
This can make it difficult for the partner to trust their own judgment, leading them to rely on the narcissist for validation and approval. Ultimately, this can lead to a toxic and unhealthy relationship, with the narcissist holding all the power and the partner feeling trapped and powerless.