Before I go into the mind games that narcissists play, it’s important to understand why the heck they feel the need to play games in the first place. Bottom line: Narcissists are all about self. If they are playing a mind game with you, it’s to draw fuel from you.
Fuel is what a narcissist needs in order to function and can come in a few different forms:
- Praise and admiration from multiple sources
- Feeling power from causing others pain
- Being in complete control of other people’s lives
Here are a few different mind games that narcissists will play in order to get the fuel they need:
- Relationship cycles: The narcissist’s relationships almost always have a certain pattern to them. This pattern allows the narcissist to quickly gain your trust so that in the end, the pain that they inflict will be greater. The greater the pain, the better the fuel. Here’s a quick rundown of the vicious love cycle that a narcissist will take you through:
- Idealization: The narcissist treats you like a goddess.
- Devaluation: The narcissist treats you like crap without you even realizing it.
- The Discard: The narcissist gets rid of you and moves on to the next.
- Gaslighting: This is a game where the narcissist tries to make it seem as though everything is your fault. Even when the narcissist is clearly at fault, (s)he will be adamant that you are the cause of their wrongdoing. If you had just been more this or done more of that, they wouldn’t have gone through with xyz.
- Hoovering: Once you’ve left the narcissist, they’ll try to get you back by implementing a technique called hoovering. Hoovering is when they become your knight in shining armor in order to suck you back into the relationship. Once they’ve got you, they’ll get fuel from you by hurting you again.
- Triangulation: Through a technique that’s justly called triangulation, the narcissist will set things up so that you always feel like you are vying for their attention. This technique is usually implemented via various forms of flirtation, opposite sex “friendships”, and affairs (emotional/physical). It makes the narcissist feel powerful to know that (s)he has multiple sources competing for their love and affection.
The only way to escape any of these methods is to go no contact. If you don’t cut the narcissist off completely, you run the very high risk of falling into one of the traps listed above.
No one deserves to be played with or tossed aside callously. Be very leery of any communication that the narcissist tries to have with you. A few words can mean the difference between staying sane and healthy or suffering from confusion and low self-esteem.