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7 Ways A Narcissist Can Manipulate You

A narcissist often resorts to manipulative tactics to hold their victims and keep them stuck in toxic patterns. This form of emotional abuse depletes the individual’s ability to think rationally, clouding their judgments and increasing co-dependency on the narcissist.

Being aware of tactics used by a narcissist can protect you from falling into their trap and remove yourself from the unfortunate relationship at the right time.

This article describes 9 manipulative methods used by a narcissist. It is strictly for informational purposes and we advise you to avoid making any guaranteed conclusions. Instead, consult a certified therapist who can help you process your feelings and navigate the situation carefully.

1. Love Bombing

Love bombing is a manipulative tactic often used by narcissists or individuals with controlling tendencies to gain power and influence over someone else.

It involves overwhelming the target with affection, attention, and gifts early in a relationship, creating a false sense of closeness and intimacy.

The goal of love bombing is to establish a sense of dependency and control. Once the target becomes emotionally attached, the person who used love bombing may start to withdraw their affection, use criticism, or manipulate the target’s emotions to maintain power in the relationship

For example, a narcissist may begin a relationship by showering their partner with gifts, constantly telling them how beautiful and special they are, and professing their undying love after just a few dates. This can make the target feel swept off their feet and quickly invested in the relationship.

Once the partner becomes emotionally attached, the narcissist might start to criticize them, withdraw affection, or make unreasonable demands. The shift in behavior can leave the target feeling confused, anxious, and desperate to regain the affection they initially received.

Recognizing the signs of love bombing and understanding its purpose can help individuals protect themselves from falling into manipulative and unhealthy relationships.

2. Hoovering

The term “hoovering” is derived from the brand name Hoover, known for its vacuum cleaners, as it refers to the narcissist’s attempt to “suck” the person back into the relationship.

In a hoovering situation, the narcissist will try various strategies to draw the target back into the relationship. These strategies may include charm, guilt, promises of change, threats, or emotional manipulation. The goal is to regain control and maintain a sense of power over the target.

Some examples of Hoovering may include:

Promises of change: The narcissist may apologize for past behavior and promise to change or seek help for their issues.

Love bombing: The narcissist may resume love bombing behaviors, such as sending gifts or messages expressing deep affection, in an attempt to win the target back.

Guilt trips: The narcissist may guilt the target into returning by saying that they can’t live without them or implying that the target is being unfair by leaving.

Threats: The narcissist might threaten self-harm, legal action, or harm to the target if they don’t return.

Manipulating shared connections: The narcissist may use mutual friends, family, or children to persuade the target to come back.

Recognizing hoovering tactics and understanding their purpose can help individuals maintain boundaries and avoid being drawn back into a toxic relationship.

3. Gaslighting

In gaslighting, the narcissist makes the victim question their own reality, memories, and perceptions.

For example, a narcissist might repeatedly tell their partner that they never said something the partner clearly remembers them saying. This repeated denial can cause the partner to question their memory and doubt what they know to be true.

Another example is when a narcissist accuses their partner of being overly sensitive or paranoid for expressing concern about the narcissist’s behavior. By dismissing the partner’s feelings, the narcissist can make the partner question their own emotional responses and doubt their own perception of the situation.

Gaslighting can be extremely damaging to a person’s mental well-being and sense of self. Recognizing the signs of gaslighting and seeking therapy support can help victims regain perspective and protect themselves from further manipulation.

4. Triangulation

In triangulation, the narcissist uses the third party as a tool to manipulate the victim’s emotions and perceptions. This tactic can manifest in various forms, including bringing in another person to compare to the victim, spreading rumors or gossip, or even using the threat of infidelity.

“My ex-partner would constantly talk about his sister’s positive qualities and achievements, often stating that I should be more like her. It played with my insecurities and made me feel inadequate” says Dhruvi who suffered from narcissistic abuse for 12 years!

Another example is when a narcissist tells the victim about a supposed admirer who is interested in them, creating jealousy and fear in the victim. The narcissist may use this fabricated situation to manipulate the victim’s emotions and keep them in a state of anxiety and insecurity.

5. Flying Monkeys

Flying monkeys is a term used to describe friends, family members, colleagues, or other associates of the narcissist who are used to support the narcissist’s narrative, isolate the victim, or apply pressure on the victim.

The narcissist uses flying monkeys in a variety of ways to manipulate and control the victim:

  • Spreading rumors: The narcissist might manipulate flying monkeys to spread false information or rumors about the victim, damaging their reputation and creating isolation.
  • Exerting pressure: Flying monkeys may be used to exert pressure on the victim to reconcile with or submit to the narcissist. They might guilt-trip the victim or minimize the narcissist’s behavior.
  • Gaslighting through third parties: The narcissist may use flying monkeys to confirm their false narrative, making the victim question their own reality or perceptions.
  • Attacking the victim: Flying monkeys may engage in harassment, bullying, or other forms of mistreatment towards the victim on behalf of the narcissist.
  • Monitoring the victim: Flying monkeys can be used to monitor the victim’s actions, whereabouts, and interactions with others, reporting back to the narcissist.

Talk to a therapist today to understand how to set boundaries and protect yourself from further manipulation.

6. Silent Treatment

They often use silent treatment to evoke a sense of fear, uncertainty, or desperation in the victim, who may feel the need to beg for reconciliation or comply with the narcissist’s demands.

Piyush was a victim of narcissistic abuse in his last relationship. His girlfriend would ghost him for weeks after a disagreement leaving him confused and unsure of what went wrong. She would also stop communicating with him completely if he ever did something without informing her.

Piyush’s ex-partner resorted to silent treatment as a way of gaining control over his actions and choices. This often drives the victim to comply to the narcissist’s demands or apologize even when they were not wrong.

7. Projection

Projection is a psychological defense mechanism where an individual attributes their own negative traits, emotions, or behaviors to someone else.

Narcissists have a fragile ego and hence projection is a common trait found in them. They often play blame games and deflect responsibility onto their victims.

For example, a narcissist becomes angry and aggressive but accuses the victim of provoking them. By shifting blame onto the victim, the narcissist avoids taking responsibility for their outbursts and instead makes the victim feel responsible for the conflict.


Love bombing, Triangulation, Gaslighting, and other forms of manipulation are often subtle and gradual. They cause immense stress to the victim, often fogging their judgments and fabricating reality. Therefore, it can get extremely challenging to leave a narcissist and detach yourself from them completely.

Therapy can help you untangle your thoughts and think clearly. It empowers you with effective resolution techniques and strategies on how to break free from constant abuse. In therapy you learn to build confidence, set strong boundaries, and prioritize your well-being above everything else.

If you have been a victim of narcissistic abuse or know someone who is then please consult a therapist today. We understand you are exhausted but it is time to take control of your life and keep yourself first.

Call/WhatsApp 91-9321073548 or Click This Link to talk to expert therapists NOW!

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