How Do Narcissists React When They Can’t Control You?

When you expose the narcissist, they realize for the first time that you are slipping out of their control. Their initial reaction is, of course, shameless denial, even if you have solid evidence.

What a narcissist does after that is based on fear rather than revenge.

Finding out they have no power over you creates a primal sense of panic in the narcissist. It is their fear of abandonment and public exposure that leads them to act in such heinous ways.

However, since narcissists can be of six types, not every narcissist reacts to the same degree.

Let’s dive in to know what else can they do.

when a narcissist cannot control you

How Do Narcissists React When They Can’t Control You?

When your narcissist realizes they can no longer control you, they exhibit three reactions: frustration, hesitation, and aggression.

First, it comes as a rude shock that you are no longer their puppets. What actually shocks them is that they have lost their narcissistic supply, which they had painstakingly nurtured over months or years.

1. Use Narcissistic Rage To Attack And Humiliate You.

As soon as they get over that initial reaction, they attack you verbally and even physically. They’ll yell and throw things at you, calling you names.

It is exactly like a despotic king would react if someone in their fiefdom were to defy their decree and refuse to conform.

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Your insubordination comes as an insult to them. They see it as a disrespect to their bloated sense of self-importance.

It’s called narcissistic rage. Its purpose is to intimidate you into returning to their patronage.

When private humiliation does not work on you, they resort to public humiliation. They will expose your weak points and intimate secrets to others.

They may try to shame you by mailing or posting your nude pictures.

They might even reach out to your higher-ups or legal authorities to inform them about your past offenses.

2. Use The Narcissistic Silent Treatment.

When a narcissist loses their hold on you, may start to treat you as invisible.

They cut off all communication with you and behave as if you don’t exist to them. This makes you drown in guilt to have offended them in the first place.

As a result, you may give in to stay back in the relationship. This wicked strategy works far too well if they have already succeeded in isolating you from your family and friends.


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They know that by having no one else to talk to or turn to, you will be forced to turn to them.

For a hurt narcissist, silence is a powerful tool to convince you to hand over your reins back to them.

They will be around you but will not answer your questions. They will have stony expressions, with occasional gestures of displeasure. The next one takes it a step further.

3. Will Disappear And Ghost You.

They will abruptly move out of your reach without any notice or explanation. They disappear from every place you can think of finding them, and even become unresponsive on their messengers and phones. Called ghosting, it is a sadistic act of rejection.

Ghosting is a way of ending a personal relationship by stopping all contact with the other person without providing any explanation.

This is particularly true of the covert narcissists. Their passive-aggressive nature will not make them display any overt anger, but their simmering rage will prevent you from reaching them.

Their goal is to leave you in a state of confusion, whether you are still in the relationship or they have walked out on you.

They very well know the pain that comes from the absence of a “psychological closure.” So they know you will beg them to return and clarify the relationship status.

Of course, you understand that they are upset. What makes you desperate is the unanswered question: what did you do to offend them so much?

According to Urban Dictionary:

“Ghosting is the operative, almost default behavior of choice for conflict avoidant, conflict adverse, self-absorbed, self-centered, or selfish people because it is easier to “ghost” than to deal with conflict.”

4. Smear Campaigns To Defame And Slander You.

Narcissists start a smear campaign against you as soon after they suspect you may expose them in front of others. They will spread rumors about you to protect themselves from losing face in the public.

Their defamation campaign appears to be effective. Often, when people learn about your “evil” nature, they may label you as a liar and refuse to believe your accusations of narcissistic abuse.

They may launch their “Flying Monkeys” at you. These are people who act on behalf of narcissists to expand the reach of the smear campaign against you. They may even insult you to your face in front of a crowd.

Of course, it also makes them feel in control since they are actively luring a mob to victimize you.

A smear campaign also allows them to control the narrative and show others that you were the “actual” victim.

They go all out to falsify your credibility among your friends, family, children, colleagues, police, and judiciary. They may make public the bad and dark parts of your personal life anonymously.

They will try to prove you are insane, unpredictable, and abusive.

You may find that you are suddenly ineligible for private or institutional loans because people believe you are mentally and financially unstable.

5. Stalk And Seek Opportunity To Attack.

They may prowl and stalk you, online and offline.

You may get startled to find them anywhere that you are visiting. If it is a private party that they cannot enter, you may find them lurking outside.

Mostly, they are looking to plant a seed of unpredictable terror in your mind. In fact, that is what most stalkers do.

However, do not interpret their stalking you as love. Rather, see it as a threat looking for an opportunity to attack you.

Immediately let the authorities know if they are stalking you. Don’t wait because you feel they can’t bring themselves to hurt you.

They are capable of causing harm.

They are perfectly capable of designing an accident for you. You can be half-sure that the idea of a “perfect murder” is playing on their minds.

6. Bait And Provoke You To React.

Narcissists typically know how to push their ex’s buttons to make you feel worse than you already are, and trigger you into a nasty reaction.

Once you react, they will have flipped the script. Now, you are the villain, and they, the victim.

They have been studying you carefully, taking mental notes, and underlining your flaws and foibles. Now that you are outside their reach in terms of control, they will deftly use those against you.

They excel at this. And when you react, whether through an outburst or a breakdown, they will have proven that you are unstable and untrustworthy.

7. Restart Love Bombing To Get You Back.

Since narcissists are high on one specific type of empathy, they can almost read your mind even if you haven’t spoken anything. They are skilled at reading your gestures and expressions.

They just know how to seduce people. Their naturally deceptive nature enables them to read people and events and turn them to their advantage. Moreover, they never respect boundaries, so intrude on your personal space to irritate you.

They will restart their love bombing strategy, which they used at the start of your relationship, to make it difficult to resist them. They will pledge to change themselves.

They will guilt-trip you into thinking you misjudged or mistook them. They will praise you and lie at the same time, shutting down your rational mind.

How To Take Control Away From A Narcissist?

You may find some of these suggestions hard to implement because either the narcissist is acting out cruelly or you want your revenge.

1. Forgive and ignore them.

Take the highway. Don’t let their toxicity get to you. Rise above the idea of revenge.

Forgiving them breaks any remaining ties between you and the narcissist.

On the flip side, what happens when you try to punish them is that you keep them in your mind.

Forgive them. Learn why you should forgive them for your own peace. To quote a cliche, by not forgiving, you are letting them live rent-free in your mind-space.

When you forgive the narcissist, you become a Stoic, indifferent to their actions since you accept that you don’t have to try to control them.

Then you can truly ignore them into oblivion.

2. Maintain a positive image.

Project a good impression on others. Just be the opposite of all the narcissist is trying to frame you as.

If they say you are always angry or lose your temper at the drop of a hat, stay cool and composed at all times.

If they say you gossip about others, make sure you never talk ill about people behind their backs, nor accept anyone talking bad about others with you.

Win people’s hearts. Be helpful to others. Thank people for the good things they do for you, especially those who believe and support you.

3. Don’t fight or hide your emotions.

Emotions need processing, not hiding or revolting against them.

Let your emotions flow. Let those tears flow out. Let yourself feel the loss of a relationship that took so much out of you.

Let others know how vulnerable and hurtful you are at this stage of your life.

Seek the help of mental health experts if it gets difficult to handle your negative emotions on your own.

4. Find a new passion.

Add a new activity to your life that you were once passionate about.

You might also pick up a new hobby or a habit. If you are not into a daily habit of exercise, then get into one. Start a gentle exercise routine, like walking, and see significant improvements in your happiness levels.

Take a break from your work and your familiar surroundings. Traveling somewhere on a holiday can make you happier and help you bounce back to normalcy faster.

5. Embrace solo life.

Be ready to lose a few friends. If worst comes to worst, and all your known people abandon you because of the narcissist’s vicious campaign, embrace the solo life.

Learn from those who ventured out into the world after a long time, especially when the pandemic had them get used to living on their own: Escaping Loneliness After A Long Period of Forced Solitude.

Think of it as those who left you were never meant to be in your life. Any relationship can end, and you must not expect people to stay in your life forever.

These lines from a famous song by the Nobel laureate Tagore will inspire you:

If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,
O you unlucky one,
trample the thorns under your tread,
and along the blood-lined track travel alone.
If they do not hold up the light when the night is troubled with storm,
O you unlucky one,
with the thunder of pain ignite your heart
and let it burn alone.

Final Words

When narcissists feel they cannot control you, they will go into a rage and do anything to get you back under their control.

One extreme strategy in their arsenal in this regard is their ability to hurt themselves to hurt or implicate you.

Narcissistic revenge can take the form of malicious narcissism. It is a type of pathological narcissism in which they make it their life mission to bring down their victim at any cost.

Find out more about the cruel narcissists.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, mindfulness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).


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