Narcissists, with their inflated sense of self-importance, profound lack of empathy, and insatiable craving for admiration, create complex webs of manipulation and control. They thrive on narcissistic supply – a term that encapsulates the attention, praise, and emotional responses they elicit from others to validate their grandiose self-perception and maintain their ego. This is why a narcissist is likely to have an extreme reaction whey he loses control over someone who has been a source of narcissistic supply.
These reactions can range from shock and aggression to manipulative affection and even total discard. Navigating these tumultuous waters can be challenging, but with understanding and fortitude, it is possible to steer towards the shores of healing and recovery.
This journey begins with recognizing the stages a narcissist typically goes through when he loses control over you, and preparing yourself for the emotional turbulence that may ensue.
The Initial Shock
The first reaction of a narcissist when he loses control over you is shock.
He is used to having you around to feed his ego, fulfill his needs, and cater to his whims. So your sudden independence is a startling blow to his sense of superiority and control.
The narcissist will initially be left bewildered when his tried and tested manipulative strategies and mind games no longer work on you.
This is because a significant part of his self-identity hinges on his ability to exert influence over others.
When this control slips away, it disrupts the narcissist’s carefully constructed reality, sending them into a state of shock and disbelief.
The Lashing Out Phase
When the initial shock dissipates, the narcissist enters a stage of intense reaction often referred to as the ‘lashing out’ phase. This is a critical juncture where the narcissist’s true colors surface in full force.
Stripped of their control and threatened by your newfound independence, he will resort to a barrage of tactics designed to destabilize you and reestablish their dominance.
Lashing out can take many forms; it can be overt or covert, depending on the narcissist’s personality and preferred manipulation strategies.
Overt lashing out may involve a torrent of hurtful comments, accusations, and blame.
He will try to undermine your self-worth with derogatory remarks or belittle your achievements to make you feel inadequate.
These are desperate attempts to instill self-doubt, making you question your decision to sever ties and potentially compelling you to return to their control.
Covert tactics include guilt-tripping, invoking the past, imagined debts, or playing the victim to manipulate your emotions.
He will accuse you of being ungrateful or uncaring, trying to provoke feelings of guilt and obligation that could coerce you back into his sphere of influence.
If all else fails, the narcissist’s hostility can escalate to outright aggression.
It’s a defensive mechanism, an extreme response to the narcissistic wound the narcissist incurs when he loses control over you.
The Love Bombing Stage
If the lashing out doesn’t work, the narcissist is likely to turn to a markedly different strategy – the ‘love bombing‘ stage.
This stage is characterized by an abrupt shift from hostility to excessive displays of affection and attention.
The sudden change can be disorienting, but it’s crucial to remember that this is often another manipulative ploy designed to reel you back into their control.
During the love bombing phase, the narcissist will shower you with affection, gifts, compliments, and grand gestures of love.
He might make extravagant promises about the future, pledging to change his ways and painting a picture of a harmonious life together.
These gestures can be incredibly persuasive, especially if you’re still emotionally entangled with the narcissist.
While it can be tempting to believe in their repentance, it’s important to recognize that this is nothing but a calculated move to regain their lost control.
The love bombing stage can be particularly challenging because it plays on your hopes and emotions.
It might rekindle feelings of love and compassion, making it difficult to maintain your decision to break free.
However, recognizing this phase for what it is – a manipulative tactic – can help you stay firm in your resolve.
The Discard Phase
When all his strategies fail to reel you back in, the narcissist is likely to transition to the ‘discard’ phase.
This is the point at which he severs ties, often abruptly and without a clear explanation. The suddenness of this action can leave you feeling bewildered and hurt. It’s a stark contrast to the love-bombing stage where he seemed so desperate to win you back.
However, as difficult as it may be, it’s important to recognize this as the ultimate confirmation that you have successfully broken free from his control.
In the discard phase, the narcissist will cut off all communication or even go as far as to act as if you never existed in his life. This sudden coldness can be deeply unsettling, especially given the intensity of the relationship you may have shared.
He might even start a new relationship quickly, posting a barrage of ‘happy’ photos on social media to further drive your sense of rejection.
However, the discard phase is not about you; it’s about the narcissist’s inability to accept that he no longer has control over you.
His abrupt departure is an attempt to protect his fragile ego from the perceived humiliation of having lost his grip on you.
His new relationship is nothing but an attempt to establish a new source of narcissistic supply, since he is unable to survive without the attention and validation of others.
While the discard phase can be incredibly painful, it also represents a significant turning point. It’s your clearest indication yet that you’re no longer under the narcissist’s control. It’s a chance for you to finally close this chapter and focus on healing and rebuilding your life.
The Hoovering Stage
The ‘hoovering’ stage represents another tactic in a narcissist’s arsenal, often employed after the discard phase.
Named after the Hoover vacuum cleaner, it refers to the narcissist’s attempts to ‘suck’ you back into the cycle of abuse, even after they’ve seemingly cut ties. This can occur weeks, months, or even years after the relationship has ended.
During the hoovering stage, the narcissist will reach out to you unexpectedly, often employing familiar tactics of manipulation.
They might send messages filled with nostalgia, reminding you of the ‘good times’ you shared, or express regret and promise change, mirroring the love-bombing phase.
They could also try to provoke a response by creating drama or feigning crisis, hoping to exploit your empathetic nature.
This stage is not about genuine remorse or the desire for reconciliation. Instead, it’s about the narcissist’s need for attention, an ego boost, or a way to fill the void left by the loss of their narcissistic supply.
A narcissistic hoover can be triggered when the narcissist feels abandoned, unsupported, or senses that you are moving on without them.
It’s their last ditch attempt to regain control and reaffirm their power over you. In some cases, they might even use this as a means to exact revenge, punishing you for asserting your independence.
Recognizing the signs of hoovering and understanding its purpose is crucial in maintaining your boundaries and protecting yourself from further harm.
It’s advisable to remain firm in your decision to keep your distance, regardless of the tactics they employ.
Remember, the hoovering stage is not a sign of their changed behavior; it’s a sign of their continued manipulation.
How to Cope
Coping with the aftermath of a narcissistic relationship can indeed be a monumental challenge. The emotional turmoil and confusion left in its wake can be overwhelming, but it’s crucial to remember that your self-worth is not defined by the narcissist’s reaction.
Firstly, it’s important to remind yourself that you are more than the negative narrative they’ve spun around you.
Their criticism, manipulation, and constant belittling were tactics to control you, not a reflection of who you truly are.
Reclaim your identity and self-esteem by focusing on your strengths, achievements, and personal growth.
Surrounding yourself with supportive people is another vital step.
This could be friends, family, or others who have been through similar experiences.
They can provide understanding, validation, and encouragement when you need it most.
They can also offer a balanced perspective to counteract any lingering effects of the narcissist’s gaslighting.
Professional help can also be invaluable during this healing process.
Therapists or counselors can provide coping strategies, tools for managing stress and anxiety, and guidance on how to rebuild your life.
Support groups can also be a source of comfort, allowing you to share your experiences and learn from others who have been in your shoes.
Learning to set boundaries is an essential part of healing.
During your relationship the narcissist will have repeatedly violated your boundaries.
Reestablishing these boundaries can help protect you from further harm and also aid in rebuilding your sense of self.
Trusting your judgment may seem difficult after being manipulated by a narcissist, but it’s a skill that can be rebuilt over time.
Start by making small decisions on your own and gradually work up to bigger ones. With each decision, you’ll gain confidence in your ability to trust your instincts.
Remember, healing takes time, so don’t rush the process.
Be gentle with yourself. You’ve been through a lot and it’s okay to take the time you need to heal and grow from this experience.
You are stronger than you think, and with each day that passes, you’re one step closer to reclaiming your life.
Final Reflections on When a Narcissist Loses Control Over You
In conclusion, when a narcissist loses control over you, his reactions can be intense and varied. As they grapple with the blow to their ego and the loss of their narcissistic supply, their behavior may range from desperate pleas for your return to aggressive attempts to discredit or harm you.
Regardless of their reaction, it’s important to remember that this is not a reflection of your worth but rather an indication of their inability to engage in healthy, respectful relationships. As difficult as these reactions may be to endure, they underscore the importance of maintaining firm boundaries and prioritizing your own emotional well-being.
Carla Corelli, a writer, advocate, and survivor of narcissistic abuse, draws from her own upbringing with a narcissistic father to shed light on psychological trauma. Fueled by her personal journey, she pursued a degree in psychology and has dedicated herself to shedding light on the complexities of narcissistic abuse.
With over fifteen years of experience in writing and advocating for survivors, Carla is deeply committed to providing support, education, and empowerment to those who have endured similar trauma. Through her articles, Carla aims to offer a compassionate space for healing and growth, while advocating for greater awareness and understanding of narcissistic abuse.
More info about Carla
Our editorial policy