19 Weird Things That Narcissists Do to Manipulate People

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Have you ever found yourself dealing with someone who appeared to be extremely selfish? Or difficult?

I wager we’ve all been there.

As we go through life, we will likely find ourselves having to deal with people who seem to possess extreme levels of arrogance, manipulation… possibly even destructive behavior.

And these people may be narcissists.

Chances are, you have probably encountered a narcissist at some point in your life. In fact, you may even be in a close relationship with a narcissist and not even realize it.

It’s not your fault.

In this article, we will define what makes a narcissist and review some examples of some weird things narcissists do.

First, what is a narcissist?

A narcissist is someone who's level of self-importance is so extreme that they never believe they can be wrong about anything.

Additionally, a constant need for attention and admiration are telltale signs of a narcissist.

Narcissists are known for an extreme lack of empathy, which makes it difficult to have a real relationship with them.

The worst part is that a narcissist can often hide in plain sight. Sometimes people think they are charming and quirky… they even have a good number of friends.

But, when they become challenged, they can become dangerous and feel the need to get back at the person they believe has done them wrong. 

While even the most normal person can have moments of selfishness or thoughtlessness, a narcissist will take this to a higher level.

There are different types of narcissists.

  • A vulnerable narcissist may have constant anxiety and need a lot of attention. This type of narcissist always has a problem and never takes a minute to think about other people's problems. Although annoying, this type of narcissist may not be harmful to anyone other than his or herself.
  • A malignant narcissist also suffers from anxiety and, of course, needs extreme attention. But a malignant narcissist will often lash out, sometimes dangerously, if they feel slighted. They cannot handle any type of criticism and will hurt people without any remorse. 

So, how do you know which narcissist you are dealing with? Or if you are even in the presence of a narcissist?

Keep reading and I can help with that.

19 Weird Things That Narcissists Do to Manipulate People

1. Turn a Conversation Into a Monologue 

Narcissists are not good at empathizing with people. Don't expect them to care about your bad day… or about something good that happened to you. Any attempt to have a conversation with a narcissist will usually turn into a one-way monologue, which they will dominate. 

This is particularly evident when you tell them about something positive that happened to you. Rest assured, they will find a way to bring up something about their life that is even better.

They need to have a “topper”. For instance, if you tell them how you just ran your first 5K… they will talk about how they ran multiple marathons.  

On the off chance the narcissist simply goes silent when they can't find something better to challenge you with, don’t be surprised. Just take it as a small victory and walk away. They often end conversations quickly once they have run out of ways to dominate it. 

2. Obsessed with Dictators

Narcissists are obsessed with power and control.  According to Anxiety.Org, narcissistic individuals often have an exaggerated sense of self- importance. So they often look up to and quote people who have dominated others throughout history.

They usually feel no remorse about idolizing dictators who have harmed and killed many, such as Hitler. Even if the narcissist does not agree with all the extreme actions of such harsh leadership, they will probably find a way to make excuses for such totalitarian behavior.

In other words, they will find a way to blame the victim. According to a typical narcissist in this situation, the victim must have done something that warranted a declaration of war.

3. It Will Always Be Your Fault

Because a narcissist is never wrong… you must understand that you will always be blamed for anything and everything. Whether you are a so-called friend or lover, you may be blamed for their car accident even though you were in the passenger seat at the time.

They may berate you because it's raining today and you forgot to tell them to bring an umbrella. A malignant narcissist will get off by making you feel bad and destroying your self-esteem. Saying nasty things to you out of the blue or discarding you is par for the course. 

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Since narcissist always believe that they are never wrong, you must understand that you will always be blamed for anything and everything.

4. Projecting Their Worst Qualities

Since narcissists love to blame others for everything, they will often go so far as to project their worst abilities towards you.

For example, if your narcissist is an alcoholic, YOU may get criticized for having one drink at a party. Is your narcissistic partner cheating on you? Guess what? They will assume that every interaction you have with the opposite sex is a sign of your infidelity.

A simple hello to someone else may bring about uncalled for accusations of flirtation. Did you clean the entire house, but forget to pick up the sock your narcissist partner left on the floor? Now you will be accused of being dirty.

5. Practices Double Standards

Narcissists tend to lack accountability. In other words, they are often hypocrites.

A narcissist can cheat on you, but you can’t so much as say “hello” to a member of the opposite sex without scrutiny.

Another one of the weird things narcissists do involves screaming with rage about the most insignificant issue for hours on end… but anything you say against them will be blown out of proportion.

Even if you speak in a calm voice, the very fact that you are disagreeing with them gives them the all the incentive they need to say that you are starting an argument.

  • Warning: according to Psychology Today, a Narcissist can be very ill-tempered behind closed doors; yet, will show their charismatic side in public.

6. Prevents You from Relaxing

One of the weird things narcissists do involves destroying your happiness and relaxing moments. They will purposefully do things to prevent you from doing something as simple as sleep.

Even if you had a long day or are sick, a narcissist may start a fight while you are trying to sleep. They may do something as drastic as trying to get you out of bed. To make matters worse, a narcissist has no problems keeping you up all night arguing… often over something very trite.

7. Can Never Give a Compliment

Because a narcissist has to dominate, there is no room to acknowledge the achievements of someone else.  They may make hurtful remarks about how you did not really deserve a promotion.

They may talk about their ex-lover, saying how great that relationship was and how they only settled for you. They may also simply show no reaction to news or what you are wearing whatsoever… making you feel less significant.  

8. Exaggerating Little Things

Not only do narcissists have a grand sense of self, they can also make a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to an issue that would not be a problem to a healthy individual.

A narcissist that I know loves to tell people to get out of his house for politely disagreeing with him once.  It makes him feel he has all of the control.

A former friend nearly had a meltdown due to a tiny scratch (not a dent) on her car that was barely noticeable. This tiny scratch put an end to our night out when she refused to talk about anything else for the remaining hours.

Narcissistic individuals will often resort to loud, cringe-worthy verbal attacks over these little things. You can go from having a nice conversation with such a person to suddenly being told they hate you over the difference of opinion… as if they flipped a switch.

9. Humiliation or Threatens to Use It

A narcissist will often try to humiliate you in front of others or threaten to use something embarrassing against you. This is their way of trying to control and belittle you. Humiliation is used as a way to keep you in line.

For example, if you are insecure about your body, a narcissist will make fat jokes, skinny jokes, or comments about how unattractive you are. If you have a fear of public speaking, they may force you to do so in front of a large group of people. This is their way of asserting their power over you and making you feel small.

While in a romantic relationship, couples may take intimate photos that are not meant to be shared with others. A narcissist will threaten to share these photos if their partner does not comply with their demands or tries to leave.

In some extreme cases, narcissists have video-recorded female lovers without their concept. These acts have led to a term called “revenge porn”.

10. The Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is when someone completely ignores you as a way to punish or control you. Narcissists love to give their partners the silent treatment. This is their way of making you feel powerless and frustrated.

They know that this will cause you to reach out to them, which will give them a sense of control and satisfaction. The silent treatment can last for hours, days, or even weeks. It is a very painful experience that can leave you feeling confused, anxious, and isolated.

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The silent treatment may go as far as the narcissist completely ignoring you and pretending that you don't exist. They will avoid all forms of communication with you, including phone calls, text messages, and even eye contact.

This can be extremely hurtful and make you feel like you are invisible. However, if you leave, don't be surprised if the narcissist reaches out to you again. They may even act as if nothing happened and expect you to forgive them.

11. Taking Things Out of Context

Narcissists are known for taking things out of context. This is their way of twisting the truth and making you look bad. For example, if you tell them you need some time alone, they may interpret this as you being uninterested in them.

They will then use this against you by accusing you of being selfish and uncaring. Another example is if you make a mistake, they will magnify it and use it as evidence that you are incompetent. This is their way of putting you down and making you feel bad about yourself.

In my experience, I had one narcissist that made it sound like I was insulting them just because I paid a compliment to someone else. They would say something like, “Oh, so you like them more than me?”.

Then I would have to backtrack and explain that I didn't mean it that way. This is a common tactic used by narcissists to make you feel guilty about highlighting the good in someone else.

12. Jealous of Animals

One of the weird things narcissists do is they can get jealous of animals. For example, if you have a pet that you love and give attention to, they may feel threatened by this.

They may say things like, “You love your cat/dog more than you love me” or “You are weird for being so attached to a pet”. This is their way of trying to control you and make you feel guilty for loving someone else.

The movie, “Single White Female” showed how far a narcissist can take this jealousy. In the movie, the unstable roommate named Hedy brings home a puppy to cheer up the other girl, Allie. It works and she bonds with the puppy.

However, things take a turn for the worse when the puppy shows more of a bond with Allie. In a jealous and narcissistic rage, Hedy kills the puppy by staging a “fall” from the window.

13. Competing with Children and Younger People

A functioning adult should feel protective of children and teens to at least some degree – threatened or competitive with them. But a narcissist may feel like every young person is a direct threat to their ego. They may try to one-up them or put them down to feel better about themselves.

I remember an example of one narcissist who got mad at a mother cooking breakfast for her little girl but not him (he was not her husband or lover). He did not seem to grasp the concept that children need caretaking in ways that adults do not.

During my college years, I made the mistake of assuming that certain older female authority figures would provide guidance to younger female students. However, many of them preserved their help and guidance for female students closer to their age or males.

When it comes to children, some narcissistic partners may get mad if you spend time with the kids. It's like they want you all to themselves and can't stand the idea of you being involved with anyone else.

Even if they initially pushed to have kids, they can turn around and be resentful of their presence later on.

14. Flaunting Affairs

Cheating is nothing new. However, most people will be as secretive as possible about their affairs. They may understand that it's wrong and they don't want to hurt their partner. But a narcissist will flaunt their affairs – partially due to a lack of emotional concern. It also plays into humiliating their partner.

They may even brag about it to their friends or post it on social media. There was one celebrity that went as far as driving his wealthier wife's car recklessly while he had another woman in it. He got caught when he crashed the car and it made the news.

Narcissists also have a hard time being monogamous. They may claim that they're “just not the settle down type.” In reality, they just want to keep their options open in case someone “better” comes along.

They may also justify their affairs by saying that their partner wasn't meeting their needs.

15. Assumes Everyone is Jealous of Them

I have known a few narcissists that had very little going for them but assumed that everyone was jealous of them. I knew someone that was convinced that everyone was jealous that he bought a house – even though most of the people he spoke of already owned homes.

He was always making comments about how other people were jealous of him and trying to “bring him down.”

Today, you often hear the term “haters” used to describe anyone who has a different opinion. Unfortunately, if you are on social media, it is hard not to see this word being thrown around a lot.

People who have different opinions are seen as “hating” instead of just having a different take on something. Narcissists will often use this term to deflect any criticism. They may also try to make you feel like you're the one with the problem if you don't agree with them.

16. They Have Zero Interest in What You Say

My mom recently had her favorite doggy die, and when she shared the news with a family member, she was shocked that this person didn’t react to the news or express sympathy at all. It was like mom had never even told her the news. 

A narcissist will have no interest in your thoughts, words, or ideas. In fact, a narcissist will not listen to you when you speak, as they are off in their heads, planning their next victory or fantasizing about things that aren’t real. 

17. Lose Poorly

Narcissists make for bad losers. If a narcissist loses at something (even when it wasn’t a competition), they will instantly blame someone else for their “failure.” For a narcissist, there is no difference between a loser and a failure. They don’t understand or believe that there has to be a loser so there can be a winner. 

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The silent treatment may go as far as the narcissist completely ignoring you and pretending that you don't exist.

Being a bad loser, a narcissist will always twist someone else’s victory so they seem like they cheated, when the match was fair and everyone who participated had a fair shot. 

18. Answers a Question with a Question

Ever ask someone a question, only to have them paraphrase your question and deliver it back to you? Narcissists are mental gymnasts, and they are always ready to twist what you ask so they can answer how they want… or not answer at all. 

While some of us like to rephrase a question so we can deliver the best and most correct answer possible (and to make sure we truly understood what was asked), a narcissist changes a question so they can regain power and continue to dominate the conversation. 

Questioning a narcissist is like trying to catch eels with your bare hands—they quickly wiggle free. 

19. They are Chameleons 

Bob is a real social chameleon. When he’s with the high IQ nerdy office managers, he’ll also show off his geek skills and fit right in. Within minutes, he’s the leader of their conversations, and they will all decide they like Bob. 

Should Bob join the office gym crowd at the Christmas party, he instantly starts talking about what he benches, how many miles he jogs each day, and how leg days are his favorite day of the week. He knows all the lingo, matches his attitude to those around him, and he blends right in.

Final Thoughts on Weird Things Narcissists Do

Dealing with narcissists can be quite draining for a normal individual.

But there good news is… if you have a narcissist in your life, you are not alone.

While not everyone can see it right away, my hope is that they will after reading this.

Once you’ve identified them, you have two choices:

  1. Distance or remove yourself from the situation.
  2. Protect yourself by acknowledging the situation and arming yourself with the tools you need to diffuse it.

By following the tips in this article, you will be more prepared to deal with the weird things narcissists do.

Should you ever find yourself in true danger, be sure to seek help via a therapist or the police.

To learn even more about this issue, be sure to check out our article that gives 41 famous quotes about dealing with narcissists

And if you're looking for more resources on narcissists, be sure to check out these blog posts:

Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.

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