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Emotional Rollercoaster: How Narcissists Control Your Emotion

Insidious Ways Narcissists Try to Control Your Emotions

33 Steps to Heal From Emotional Abuse by Som Dutt

Narcissists are often seen as the most attractive people in the room. They’re confident, charismatic and charming. It’s easy to get swept up in their whirlwind of excitement and optimism, but once you realize what they’re really after — control — it can be difficult to let go.

Narcissists have a way of making you feel like everything is your fault. They tear down self-esteem by making comments like “you’re where I’m at because you don’t work hard enough” or “you just need to put yourself out there more.” 

Narcissists also love turning other people against their victims by manipulating situations so they appear blameless while making others look bad or guilty for things they didn’t even do.

Idealization and Love-Bombing

When a narcissist first meets you, they will likely be extremely charming and flattering. They will try to convince you that they are perfect and a great catch, as well as your soulmate or future.

“Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is called love-bombing — it’s when someone showers another person with praise and affection in order to make them like them more quickly than usual (and it works). 

Narcissists often use this tactic because it works so well on people who aren’t aware of what’s happening or why they’re feeling so wonderful about themselves all of a sudden.

The Highs of Idealization: Emotional Euphoria

During this phase, the narcissist will be extremely attentive and loving. They may shower you with gifts and compliments (and even surprise you with them). The idealization phase can also involve a lot of romance — the narcissist will want to spend as much time as possible with you, often doing things together that are fun or exciting.

“You will never get the truth out of a Narcissist. The closest you will ever come is a story that either makes them the victim or the hero, but never the villain.”
― shannon l. alder

You might think this is all too good to be true! But remember: we’re talking about someone who has been damaged by their childhood — and now they’re trying desperately not only to make up for it but also convince themselves that their past doesn’t matter anymore. 

Photo by Jonathan J. Castellon on Unsplash

You represent everything about yourself that’s new and fresh; you represent hope for change in their lives because if anyone can heal them from past wounds, it’s YOU!

Devaluation and Criticism

The narcissist will start to devalue and criticize you. This can be subtle at first, but it will quickly become more obvious. The narcissist makes you feel worthless and unimportant, like nothing you do is ever good enough for them. 

They make you feel like they are better than everyone else in the world, including yourself. They want to make sure that everyone knows how great they are by putting down others around them — and this includes their partner!

“pathological narcissists can lose touch with reality in subtle ways that become extremely dangerous over time. When they can’t let go of their need to be admired or recognized, they have to bend or invent a reality in which they remain special despite all messages to the contrary.”
― Bandy X Lee

Dehumanization is a key part of emotional abuse because it makes it easier for narcissists (and other abusers) to control people without feeling bad about themselves or what they are doing wrong in any given situation (or relationship).

Emotional Turmoil During Devaluation

When you are in the devaluation phase, the narcissist will suddenly withdraw from you. This may be due to a new interest or another source of supply that has come along. The narcissist will make you feel like you are crazy, irrational, or unreasonable for feeling hurt and betrayed by your sudden withdrawal.

The narcissist will also try to manipulate your emotions by making statements like: “I’m not doing anything wrong here,” “If it bothers me so much why don’t I just leave?” or “If this upsets me so much then maybe we shouldn’t be together anyway.” 

These types of statements are designed to make YOU feel guilty about caring about yourself enough to stand up for yourself when something isn’t right between you two (or more accurately between THEM).

Gaslighting: Twisting Your Reality

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the abuser makes you question your own sanity. It’s when the abuser makes you doubt yourself and feel like you are going crazy.

“Narcissists are consumed with maintaining a shallow false self to others. They’re emotionally crippled souls that are addicted to attention. Because of this they use a multitude of games, in order to receive adoration. Sadly, they are the most ungodly of God’s creations because they don’t show remorse for their actions, take steps to make amends or have empathy for others. They are morally bankrupt.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Gaslighting is an insidious form of emotional abuse that can leave its victims feeling confused, manipulated, and even hopeless about their own perceptions. Gaslighting involves a pattern of manipulation used by narcissists to control others with no regard for how it affects them or other people around them.

Photo by Jarritos Mexican Soda on Unsplash

The term “gaslighting” comes from a 1940s play called Gas Light where a husband manipulates his wife into thinking she’s losing her mind by dimming their house lights when she asks him if they’re on or off — he claims that they always look dimmer than normal (which may be true), but then he tells her that she must be imagining things since there aren’t any problems with the lights at all! In this case study we’ll look at how narcissists use gaslighting tactics like these ones:

  • They deny having done something harmful despite clear evidence showing otherwise;
  • They claim something never happened when there are witnesses who can testify otherwise;
  • They blame others for problems instead of taking responsibility for themselves;

Discard and Emotional Devastation

One of the most confusing and painful aspects of narcissistic relationships is discarded. When you are in love with a narcissist, it’s common to feel like your feelings are reciprocated — and even if they aren’t, it can be hard not to believe them when they act like they care about you. 

But at some point in time, the person who seemed so loving and caring will suddenly change their mind: they will leave or disappear without warning or reason (or both).

This sudden change is known as “discard.” This can happen at any point during a relationship with a narcissist; sometimes it happens before there even was an official relationship between two people! In fact, many victims report feeling discarded just days after meeting their abuser for the first time. 

Regardless of when this occurs, however often or rarely it happens…the end result is still devastatingly painful for victims because it leaves them feeling abandoned by someone who once claimed to love them dearly but now seems indifferent toward their feelings altogether

The Crushing Lows of Discard

The emotional rollercoaster of a narcissist is not just something you experience during the relationship, but also after it ends. The highs and lows are more extreme than with any other type of person, and the pain of discarding can be devastating.

“Narcissists will never tell you the truth. They live with the fear of abandonment and can’t deal with facing their own shame. Therefore, they will twist the truth, downplay their behavior, blame others and say what ever it takes to remain the victim. They are master manipulators and conartists that don’t believe you are smart enough to figure out the depth of their disloyalty. Their needs will always be more important than telling you any truth that isn’t in their favor..”
― Shannon L. Alder

The reason for this is that you have invested so much time, energy, and emotion into the relationship that when it ends it feels as if all your hopes have been shattered. 

You feel like nothing will ever be good again — you might even wish that life would just end so your suffering could stop! This strong sense of loss often leads to depression which can last for months or even years after a discard has occurred.

Triangulation: Creating Emotional Jealousy

Triangulation is a tool narcissists use to create emotional jealousy. It’s when a narcissist brings in a third person into their relationship, usually someone who is more attractive than you and makes you feel like you’re not good enough. 

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

This can be done by flirting with them or even making out with them right in front of your face! The idea behind this tactic is that it makes you insecure about yourself, as well as jealous of the other person because they seem to get along so well with your partner/friend/family member.

Having another person around also helps reinforce the illusion that there are many people interested in being involved with or dating the narcissist — which makes them seem more desirable than ever before!

Hoovering: Pulling You Back In

Hoovering is a manipulative tactic used by narcissists to pull you back in after they’ve hurt you. Hoovering can be done by text, phone call, email, or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. 

In other words, there are many ways that a narcissist will attempt to re-engage with you after he or she has caused damage in your life — and this can be very confusing for victims of narcissistic abuse because it feels like no time has passed at all since their last interaction!

Hoovering often begins with an apology from the abuser (usually insincere) followed by some form of attention-seeking behavior such as saying how much they miss/love/need their victim partner; this may include threats about suicide if not contacted immediately within 24 hours or similar manipulative tactics designed purely for selfish gain rather than genuine concern about another person’s wellbeing.”

False Promises and Emotional Hope

The narcissist will make promises they never intend to keep. They may promise you that they will stop drinking, that they’ll change their behavior and attitude, or even that they will leave their current partner for you. 

The problem with these promises is that the narcissist doesn’t see them as commitments; he or she sees them as opportunities for manipulation.

“Often the narcissist believes that other people are “faking it”, leveraging emotional displays to achieve a goal. He is convinced that their ostensible “feelings” are grounded in ulterior, non-emotional motives. Faced with other people’s genuine emotions, the narcissist becomes suspicious and embarrassed. He feels compelled to avoid emotion-tinged situations, or worse, experiences surges of almost uncontrollable aggression in the presence of expressed sentiments. They remind him how imperfect he is and how poorly equipped.”
― Sam Vaknin

Once a person has been manipulated into believing something false by a narcissist (and it doesn’t matter if it’s an emotional or physical manipulation), their hopes and dreams are lifted up just enough for them feel like there might be a chance at happiness again — but then dashed upon reality once again when those promises aren’t kept. 

This process repeats itself over and over again until eventually there’s nothing left but despair and disappointment in your heart regarding relationships altogether.

Fear and Anxiety in the Relationship

When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, there are many fears that can keep you stuck. Some of these fears include:

Fear of abandonment. 

This fear is related to the narcissist’s ability to leave at any time and for any reason, including for no reason at all. You may have experienced this as a child when your parents or caregivers walked out on you without warning or explanation. 

If so, then this type of abandonment will feel very familiar in your adult relationships (even if it isn’t happening anymore). You’ll always be waiting for the other shoe to drop — for something bad to happen next — and it will make it hard for you to relax enough to enjoy being around others comfortably because there’s always an undercurrent of anxiety running through everything we do together.

Walking on Eggshells: Emotional Tension

In a relationship with a narcissist, you may find yourself walking on eggshells. Your partner will make you feel guilty for being angry or upset and make you feel like your feelings are wrong. 

This is emotional manipulation and it’s one of the most common forms of abuse in relationships with narcissists.

A narcissist uses this technique to control your emotions because it gives them power over you — you’re less likely to express yourself when doing so might result in conflict or hurt feelings from them (or even just their disapproval). 

And if they can’t control how their victim acts, their victim might leave them! So no matter what happens between two people who have different needs or preferences — whether they’re friends or family members trying to get along peacefully; coworkers who don’t get along well at work; romantic partners who want different things out of life together — the only way they’ll ever get along peacefully would be if one person allows themselves be controlled by another person’s needs instead of letting themselves express their own needs freely without fear of reprisal from those around him/herself.

Manipulative Pity Plays

Manipulative pity plays are an attempt to get you to feel sorry for them. They will use your emotions to their advantage, and play the victim card, making you feel bad or guilty about how much they have been hurt in life.

If you fall for this trick, then it is likely that you will end up feeling sorry for them even if there is no real reason why you should! The narcissist may tell us about some tragic event that happened when he was younger (which could be true) or maybe he’ll just make something up out of whole cloth just so that we feel sorry for him.

Silent Treatment and Emotional Isolation

Silent treatment is a form of emotional abuse that narcissists use to control their emotions.

Narcissists will give you silent treatment in order to punish you or make you feel bad about yourself and get what they want from you. The purpose of this type of behavior is to control how you feel about yourself, so that when they do speak to you again — and only then — you’ll be more likely to comply with their demands.

You may think that giving someone the silent treatment means ignoring them completely; however, this isn’t always true! Sometimes narcissists will actually talk — just not with any feeling behind their words: “I’m bored” or “Do my homework.” 

These types of statements don’t mean anything because there’s no emotion behind them; they’re just used as tools for manipulation and control over time periods where other forms aren’t working well enough anymore (like when someone has been upset at least once before).

Emotional Blackmail: Guilt and Obligation

Emotional blackmail is a type of emotional abuse that involves one person threatening to withhold something from another person in order to manipulate them into doing something they don’t want to do. 

The threat can be anything from love, affection, or attention all the way up to financial support or even physical violence. Emotional blackmailers will use guilt and obligation as powerful weapons against their victims, who may feel obligated simply because they love the abuser so much — or because they’re scared of losing them altogether if they don’t comply with whatever demands are being made on them at any given time.

Photo by Rahul Jain on Unsplash

Exploiting Your Empathy

A narcissist will take advantage of your empathy by telling you that they are a victim and need help, or that no one understands them. They will make it seem like they are the only person who can understand what you’re going through, so you should listen to them and trust their advice. 

This is known as “gaslighting,” which means making someone question their own sanity by manipulating their emotions and perceptions of reality.

Narcissists have been known to use their own children this way; they will tell their child something like: “If anyone asks about me when I’m gone, just tell them that I died” — even though they aren’t really going anywhere! 

Or maybe they’ll say things like: “You know what happened yesterday? That was terrible! Someone broke into our house while we were sleeping (or whatever), but luckily we weren’t home.” The child believes him/her until later on when he/she realizes something doesn’t add up…

Projection: Blaming You for Their Emotions

Projection is a defense mechanism that narcissists use to avoid responsibility for their own emotions. When you’re with a narcissist, it’s likely that they will project their feelings onto you and blame you for things that are actually happening in their own lives.

This can happen when the narcissist feels angry or jealous because they perceive themselves as being threatened by someone else — and they want to make sure that person knows just how much better than them they are! 

For example: A woman named Susan has been dating Josh for about six months when she discovers some old texts on his phone from another woman he dated before her who lives nearby. 

It turns out this other woman has been texting him recently and asking if he wants to go out sometime soon (which would mean seeing each other outside of work). 

This makes Susan feel very insecure about their relationship since she doesn’t know why Josh would want someone else over her; so instead of confronting him directly about what happened between them, she projects her feelings onto him instead: “You must not love me anymore since all these old flames keep popping up!”

Emotional Rollercoaster of Invalidation

Narcissists will invalidate your emotions. They may tell you that you’re too sensitive, that your feelings are illogical or out of proportion with the situation. 

They’ll call into question whether your emotions are even real by saying things like: “You don’t really mean that,” “I think this is just an excuse for [some other thing],” or “You’re just trying to get attention.”

The narcissist also loves to make people feel crazy by gaslighting them — which means making them doubt their own perceptions and memories so much that they begin questioning themselves on a regular basis. 

Narcissists use this tactic because it’s effective at controlling others; when someone doubts their own reality enough times, they become more malleable in the narcissist’s hands.

If someone has narcissistic traits or is even just mildly selfish/self-centered in nature, chances are high that he or she will make attempts at trying to control how others feel about themselves as well as what goes on inside of other people’s heads (often without thinking twice).

Isolation from Friends and Family

When you’re with a narcissist, it’s important to keep in mind that we are social beings who need support from our friends and family. The narcissist will try hard to isolate you from these people — they want to keep their victims dependent on them so they can control the victim’s emotions and behavior. 

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

If a person tries to leave the relationship or get help for abuse, this can lead to serious consequences for those around them (including those who love them).


We hope that this article has helped you understand how emotional manipulation works in a narcissistic relationship. While it may be difficult to see the signs at first, if you find yourself feeling confused and upset more often than not, it’s worth taking a step back to examine what might be going on behind closed doors. 

Remember: If someone treats you well one day but then suddenly turns on you with criticism or silence the next — especially when these cycles repeat over time — they may not be showing their true colors (or any color at all!).

About the Author :

Som Dutt, Top writer in Philosophy & Psychology on I make people Think, Relate, Feel & Move. Let's Embrace Inner Chaos and Appreciate Deep, Novel & Heavy Thoughts.

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