Narcissist Behavior Examples – How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Emotional Abuse

Narcissistic individuals are often skilled at hiding their true nature, making it difficult for others to recognize the signs of emotional abuse. In this post, we’ll explore various examples of narcissist behavior, how they can manifest in different relationships, and practical steps you can take to protect yourself from emotional abuse.

Narcissist Behavior Examples

Types of Narcissistic Behaviors


Gaslighting is a subtle and insidious form of manipulation that narcissists employ to gain power and control over their victims.

It can have severe long-term effects on a victim’s mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This form of emotional abuse typically occurs in stages, gradually eroding the victim’s confidence and self-trust. Here are some aspects of gaslighting to be aware of:

Denying events or conversations

Narcissists will not hesitate to outright deny that certain events or conversations took place, even if the victim has clear memories or evidence of them occurring.

This tactic forces the victim to question their own recollection and makes them more reliant on the narcissist for their version of reality.

deny everything

Discrediting the victim’s emotions and experiences

A narcissist will dismiss or belittle the feelings and experiences of their victims, suggesting that they are overly sensitive, irrational, or even crazy.

By undermining the validity of the victim’s emotions, the narcissist further destabilizes their sense of self and reality.

Twisting and reframing information

Narcissists often manipulate information by twisting or reframing it to suit their narrative.

They will selectively focus on certain details while ignoring others, or they may distort facts to depict themselves in a more favorable light.

This constant reshaping of reality can leave the victim feeling disoriented and confused.

narcissistic behavior examples

Using confusion and misdirection

Narcissists deliberately create confusion by giving contradictory information, changing the subject during conversations, or offering vague and evasive responses.

By keeping the victim off-balance and uncertain, the narcissist can maintain control and prevent the victim from recognizing the manipulation.

Isolating the victim from support networks

In order to maintain their hold on the victim, narcissists will try to isolate them from friends, family, or other sources of support.

This can involve disparaging the victim’s loved ones or creating conflicts to drive them away.

By cutting off the victim’s support network, the narcissist ensures that the victim becomes more dependent on them for validation.

It’s crucial to recognize the signs of gaslighting in a relationship and seek support from trusted friends, family members, or professionals to help counteract its damaging effects.

Narcissist Behavior Examples


Manipulation is a core characteristic of narcissistic behaviors, as it allows them to exert power and control over others while maintaining a façade of innocence or charm.

Narcissists use various tactics to manipulate their victims, often playing on their emotions and vulnerabilities.

Here are some common manipulation techniques employed by narcissists:


Narcissists often use guilt as a means to control their victims.

They want them to feel responsible for the narcissist’s unhappiness or problems.

They will accuse the victim of being selfish, uncaring, or disloyal, causing the victim to feel guilty and compelled to make amends or comply with the narcissist’s demands.

Playing the victim

Narcissists are experts at portraying themselves as the victim in any situation.

They manipulate others into feeling sorry for them and offering support.

By presenting themselves as vulnerable or helpless, they can divert attention away from their own abusive behavior and gain sympathy from those around them.

Fear and intimidation

Some narcissists may also use fear and intimidation to manipulate their victims, employing threats, ultimatums, or aggressive behavior to establish dominance and control.

This can create an environment where the victim feels constantly on edge and afraid of angering the narcissist.



Love-bombing is a manipulation tactic where the narcissist showers their victim with excessive affection, praise, and attention at the beginning of a relationship.

This intense display of love and admiration quickly disarms the victim, making them more susceptible to future manipulation and abuse.

Silent treatment

The silent treatment is a passive-aggressive form of manipulation used by narcissists to punish their victims or exert control.

By withdrawing communication and affection, the narcissist creates a power imbalance and forces the victim to chase after them, seeking resolution and validation.

False promises and future-faking

Narcissists may make grand promises or paint vivid pictures of a perfect future together to manipulate their victims into staying in the relationship.

These false promises often go unfulfilled, leaving the victim feeling disappointed and betrayed.

Narcissist Behavior Examples


Projection is a psychological defense mechanism that narcissists frequently use to deflect responsibility for their own actions and feelings.

By attributing their negative traits or behaviors to others, they can maintain their self-image as flawless and avoid confronting their own shortcomings.

Here are some ways projection manifests in narcissistic behavior:

Accusing others of their own misdeeds

Narcissists will not hesitate to accuse others of the very behaviors they themselves are guilty of, such as lying, cheating, or manipulating.

This allows them to shift the focus away from their own misconduct and place the blame on someone else, often leaving the accused party feeling defensive and confused.

two girls

Criticizing others for perceived faults

Narcissists often project their own insecurities and weaknesses onto others, criticizing them for the same faults they refuse to acknowledge in themselves.

For example, a narcissist who struggles with jealousy might constantly accuse their partner of being envious or possessive.

Displacing responsibility for emotions

Narcissists may project their own emotions onto others, blaming them for causing the narcissist to feel a certain way.

For instance, a narcissist who feels guilty about their actions might accuse their partner of making them feel guilty, effectively shifting responsibility for their emotions onto the other person.

Creating a false narrative

Projection can also involve creating a false narrative about another person that aligns with the narcissist’s distorted view of themselves.

For example, by accusing their partner of being unfaithful, the narcissist can cast themself as the wronged party and garner sympathy and support from others.


Triangulation is a strategy used by narcissists to manipulate relationships and create drama.

They may pit two people against each other by spreading rumors or sharing sensitive information, ultimately positioning themselves as the center of attention.


Narcissist Behavior Examples in Relationships

In this section, we will delve into various narcissist behavior examples, shedding light on the subtle and often hidden tactics employed by narcissists to manipulate and control their partners.

Excessive need for admiration

Narcissists have an insatiable desire for admiration and validation, stemming from their inflated sense of self-worth and entitlement.

This excessive need for praise often drives their behavior in relationships, as they seek constant reinforcement of their superiority and importance.

Here are some ways this craving for admiration can manifest in narcissistic behavior:

Fishing for compliments

Narcissists constantly seek out compliments or reassurance from their partners, friends, or even strangers.

They might engage in self-praise or boast about their achievements, subtly or overtly fishing for positive feedback to validate their self-image.

Dominating conversations

In social situations or one-on-one conversations, narcissists often dominate the discussion, steering it towards themselves and their accomplishments.

By monopolizing the conversation, they ensure that the focus remains on them and their need for admiration is met.

Exaggerating achievements and abilities

To garner admiration from others, narcissists tend to exaggerate their achievements, talents, or skills.

They embellish stories, inflate their credentials, or take credit for other people’s work to present themselves as more accomplished and impressive than they truly are.

Becoming envious of others’ success

Narcissists often feel threatened by the success or achievements of others, as it challenges their sense of superiority.

They become envious or resentful, attempting to downplay or discredit the accomplishments of others in order to maintain their own perceived status.

Envy and Competition

Reacting poorly to criticism

Due to their fragile egos and need for admiration, narcissists typically have a low tolerance for criticism or negative feedback.

They often react defensively, angrily, or even aggressively when faced with perceived criticism.

This is because they see it as a personal attack rather than an opportunity for growth or improvement.

Lack of empathy

A defining characteristic of narcissists is their lack of empathy.

This refers to their inability or unwillingness to understand and share the feelings of others.

This emotional deficiency can significantly impact relationships as narcissists prioritize their own needs and desires over those of their partners, friends, or family members.

Here are some ways this lack of empathy can manifest in narcissistic behavior:

Disregarding others’ feelings

Narcissists disregard or trivialize the emotions of others, treating them as unimportant or invalid.

They prioritize their own feelings and experiences, showing little concern for the emotional well-being of those around them.

Lack of emotional support

In times of need, narcissists may fail to provide emotional support or comfort to their loved ones.

They become impatient or dismissive when others express vulnerability or sadness, as they struggle to empathize with their feelings or view such displays as a sign of weakness.

Exploiting others’ vulnerabilities

Narcissists exploit the vulnerabilities of others for their own gain, using sensitive information or personal insecurities against them.

This manipulative behavior can further erode trust and emotional intimacy within relationships.

blame shifting

Blaming others for their problems

Narcissists often refuse to take responsibility for their actions or the consequences thereof.

Instead, they blame others for their problems, accusing them of causing the narcissist’s negative feelings or difficult circumstances.

Showing little remorse or guilt

When confronted with the harm they have caused, narcissists typically show little remorse or guilt.

They rationalize their behavior, deflect blame onto others, or simply deny any wrongdoing, further demonstrating their lack of empathy and inability to connect with the emotional impact of their actions.


Exploitation is a key aspect of narcissistic behavior, as narcissists frequently manipulate and take advantage of others to fulfill their own needs and desires.

They invariably prioritize their interests above those of others, exhibiting little concern for the emotional, financial, or physical well-being of the people they exploit.

Here are some ways exploitation can manifest in narcissistic behavior:

Financial exploitation

Narcissists may use others for financial gain, manipulating them into providing money, gifts, or other material resources.

This can involve guilt-tripping, playing the victim, or making false promises to secure financial support from their partners, friends, or family members.

Emotional manipulation

Emotional exploitation is a common tactic employed by narcissists, as they manipulate the feelings of others to maintain control or achieve their desired outcomes.

This can include using guilt, fear, or shame to influence others’ actions, or exploiting their vulnerabilities and insecurities for personal gain.

Taking advantage of personal connections

Narcissists view relationships as a means to an end, using personal connections to further their own ambitions or status.

They may exploit their partners, friends, or family members for social or professional advancement, taking credit for others’ achievements or leveraging their connections to gain access to opportunities.

Using others for personal fulfillment

Narcissists also exploit others for emotional or psychological fulfillment, seeking validation, admiration, or attention from those around them.

They might engage in manipulative behaviors, such as love-bombing or gaslighting, to elicit a desired response or maintain control over their relationships.

Disregarding others’ boundaries

Narcissists disregard the boundaries and needs of others.

They will push them to accommodate the narcissist’s desires at the expense of their own well-being.

This can involve making unreasonable demands, invading personal space, or violating trust within the relationship.

limit communication

Control and Dominance

Control and dominance are common features of narcissistic behavior, as they allow the narcissist to maintain a sense of power and superiority within their relationships.

Narcissists will seek to dictate the actions, decisions, and even emotions of their partners, friends, or family members, without considering their needs or desires.

Here are some ways control and dominance can manifest in narcissistic behavior:

Dictating personal choices

Narcissists will try to control various aspects of their partner’s life, including their appearance, hobbies, or social activities.

They impose their preferences on their partner, insisting they adopt specific interests, or associate with particular people.

Making unilateral decisions

In an effort to maintain control, narcissists often make decisions without consulting others or considering their input.

This can include making major life choices, without discussing the potential impact on their partner or family.

Good examples include moving, changing jobs or making significant financial commitments.

Restricting independence

Narcissists will also try to limit their partner’s independence.

They will discourage them from pursuing personal goals, interests, or friendships that do not involve the narcissist.

This controlling behavior can undermine the other person’s sense of self and autonomy, leaving them feeling isolated and dependent on the narcissist.

Establishing dominance through intimidation

Some narcissists may establish control and dominance through intimidation, using threats, ultimatums, or aggressive behavior to assert their authority.

This can create a fear-based dynamic within the relationship, leaving the other person constantly anxious about displeasing the narcissist or facing their wrath.

Narcissist Behavior Examples

How to Protect Yourself from Emotional Abuse

Educate yourself. Knowledge is power. Understanding the signs of narcissistic behavior can help you recognize when you are being manipulated or emotionally abused.

Establish boundaries. Clearly communicate your limits and enforce them consistently. Do not allow the narcissist to push or cross these boundaries without consequence.

Seek support. Surround yourself with friends, family, or professionals who can provide guidance and support during difficult times.

They can help validate your experiences and offer advice on how to handle specific situations.

Practice self-care. Prioritize your own mental and emotional well-being.

Engage in activities that promote relaxation and self-reflection, such as exercise, meditation, or journaling.

Recovery Process and Moving Forward

Recovering from a relationship with a narcissist can be a challenging process, as it often involves rebuilding one’s self-esteem and sense of identity.

It’s important to seek professional help if needed, such as therapy or counseling, to work through the emotional trauma and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Remember that healing takes time, and it’s essential to be patient with yourself as you work toward a healthier, more fulfilling future.

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