Narcissistic Tactics (It’s All Smoke & Mirrors)

narcissist-smoke-and-mirrorsEverything a narcissist/sociopath says or does is a trick of smoke and mirrors – a narcissistic ploy – intended to distract from the reality of what he’s really up to. If you pay careful attention instead of reacting to his/her behaviors, you can turn these ploys into your advantage.

Many of us already know that the old joke – How can you tell a narcissist is lying? Because his mouth is moving – is nothing short of the absolute truth. Everything a narcissist does and everything he/she says is a fabrication in some way….a sleight of hand, a devious magic trick…used by the narcissist to distract us from what’s really going on. These tricks are also used to manage down our expectations of the relationship so that we expect less and less and he gets away with more. You may be familiar with the narcissistic tactic of gas-lighting where a narcissist or sociopath diminishes the truth of a victim’s own words to make her feel crazy or to convince her that she’s overreacting and/or delusional. You may be familiar with triangulation where the narcissist uses passive-aggressive means to make you feel jealous about every little thing. Simply put, no matter what the victim is thinking, the narcissist will tell her it wrong, wrong, wrong when the truth of the matter is that her intuition is ALWAYS spot-on.

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You can easily turn the narcissist’s ploys into your advantage. If you want to know exactly what your narcissistic partner is up to, simply listen and observe:

  • When a narcissist partner is being nice, it’s typically because he has a devastating discard or, at the very least, a silent treatment planned for you in the very near future. When a narcissist can catch us off-guard, he gets the most bang for his narcissistic buck. It’s no fun hurting his victim if she knows it’s coming. So, beware of narcissists bearing niceties.
  • Whenever a narcissistic partner accuses you of something, it’s because that is exactly what he’s up to at that moment in his life. If you pay attention to this, you will see that it is fool-proof. Oftentimes, we’re too busy getting hysterical over a narcissist’s ludicrous accusation to stop and and listen to exactly what he’s saying. And while an N will never admit to a wrongdoing, he will, in fact, accuse you of what he happens to be doing. Quietly consider every accusation as an admission and do your investigation from there. Trust me, it works.
  • Whenever a Narcissist unexpectedly feigns sickness or throws a fit and stomps off in the middle of a heated conversation or attempts to otherwise distract you from the topic at hand, it’s likely that you’ve just said something or alluded to something that he’s guilty of. His immediate behavior is nothing more than a distraction reaction. Keep this in mind for the next time it happens…what was the last thing you said??.
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When you’re involved with a someone with a narcissist personality, nothing – and I mean nothing – is as it seems and everything is intended to be a distraction from the real thing. When you get that nagging feeling that something is very wrong behind the scenes, don’t doubt yourself or allow him make you feel that you’re being delusional. When he starts creating narcissistic chaos and turmoil, look beneath the actions to see the actual truth that he’s hiding. When it comes to the N, you’re first instincts will always be right.

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Once you realize the smoke and mirrors antics for exactly what they are, you are well on your way to knowing exactly what this monster is up to during any given moment. Turn his narcissistic ploys into your advantage. Like children, narcissists will always give themselves away. In essence, a narcissist will “tell on” himself by accusing you of what he’s really doing behind your back. The more you know what he’s up to, the more likely you’ll be able to give up the need for closure and go no contact without falling apart from the get-go.

You must learn to read between the narcissistic lines.


  • Nicole senior

    December 30, 2016 at 12:54 am Reply

    I was seeing a narc for 6 months it finsihed in Feb this year nd he turned horrible while I felt broken. May I add he got sober up until this Christmas week and guess who he calls … And guess who feels strong enough and told him to do ….me. #feelingproud

  • Lydia

    December 2, 2016 at 10:30 am Reply

    Awesome article! I really needed that, having a really hard time with no one to talk to who can relate..thanks so much

    • Zari Ballard

      December 2, 2016 at 5:53 pm Reply

      Your welcome, Lydia! I’m glad to be able to help:)

      Zari xo

      • Andrew “TheIrishKing” Hickey

        February 23, 2017 at 9:52 am Reply

        Zari, I got a new supervisor in Jan of 2016 and my life has been uterly destroyed since. I didn’t know why until I came across the word narcassist. Another supervisor started 6 months ago and she resigned 2 weeks ago because of him and she delivered HR and upper management emails and documents telling them everything. Me and 15 other employees went to HR as well. He was suspended for 3 days while they investigate. I returned to work yesterday and they called us all together for a huddle and told us he was not fired and will continue to be our supervisor. I’m at a loss why I have to continue to work for this guy after telling them the damage it has done to my health, family and life. I put in a transfer and they said they will see what they can do but it will be a few weeks. I don’t have a few weeks. They don’t believe us and I just need some guidance from a pro. Please anything to let me know what step I should take or am I just dilusional. He came in my room yesterday and talked for 20 min intestinal and I almost felt good but kept reminding myself it’s all lies. I had to record it so my wife could hear. I’ve been looking at many different sites about this but I just came across this one and looked at the comments and saw your responses. I saw that you actually care and it made me want to write this to you. Thanks, Andy

        • Zari Ballard

          February 24, 2017 at 4:26 pm Reply

          Hi Andy,

          First of all, I think it’s great that a group of you would have the guts to go against management – now, THAT is team work. However, the truth is that it’s just not that easy to get a boss fired – it just isn’t. Basically, what you are all doing is going to management to ask that they fire management and that rarely works. Just as you all stick together, so, unfortunately, do they. I wish you had told me more in detail about what he has done so that I could analyze it better. Please do if you care to because I could help you deal with it better.

          Now, my feeling now is that, because he knows whats up, he’s going to be on his best behavior for as long as possible. At this point, if he is trying to give pep talks and make everyone feel better, all you can do is go with it and hope that transfer comes in. You all actually have the upper hand if you think about it. He KNOWS that you all hate him, yet he has to put a smile on and pretend every single day. Narcissists HATE that. I have no doubt he was warned that he better get his shit together and knock it off. I hope that the 15 of you still keep notes and document everything from here forward. If things started spiraling downward again like before and you all take it over his head again, it’s hard for me to imagine that they STILL would not let him go. Believe me, when he was chastised this last time, he likely cried and begged because narcissists are NOT beyond doing that in order to get what they want. Now that he’s back and having to face an office full of people who hate him, he had better step up. I say enjoy this while it lasts, document every single thing, stay in touch with all those who also went against him, and push for the transfer.

          Thank you for sharing and I hope that helps a little. Write me any time, Andy. I’d love updates on this…..


  • Aron Barth

    November 26, 2016 at 6:19 pm Reply

    I had (or still have?) a relationship with a covert narcissist girl. She is identical twin, and her sister shows more or less the same traits. I think this circumstance aggravates the situation. She dumped me early this year, and I don’t know if she’ll ever come back, but she’s using silent treatment and the hoovering tactics. Should I be happy or sad if she will?

    • Zari Ballard

      November 29, 2016 at 5:47 am Reply

      Hi Aron,

      Identical twin narcissists! Good God, brother, run for your life. Block her or she will hoover you forever just to keep you in the queue. Make it through the holidays and start fresh for 2017. Make it a plan…you will not be disappointed.

      Zari xo

  • Sonia.

    August 3, 2016 at 6:53 pm Reply

    We get a lot of research on narcissism and its harmful after effects. There has been said and written a lot about this disorder but there has been very less research on its treatment and recovery. We talk of sociopaths/narcissists living among us and they create a lot of havoc and chaos in families and communities. The government needs to take due consideration to help find out a reasonable recovery technique for narcissism. Since it is a ego problem so spirituality is the only remedy to it. But the hard fact lies that in this world of growing materialism and living life for the purpose of collecting only some materialistic wealth, it becomes a serious grave concern.

    • Zari Ballard

      August 4, 2016 at 5:30 pm Reply

      Hi Sonia,

      Well….I have to differ with you in that the government doesn’t need to be in our business any more than they already are. There is actually plenty on the web about recovery from narcs. Along with over 75 articles that I’ve written on my site alone, I provide consultation services and and have also written four books about recovery. And I’m not the only one, to be sure. The government need not be involved for the simple reason that every government on this planet is run by narcissists and sociopaths!! I’ve always said, recovery is a team effort and you need look no further that all of the wonderful people who share their experiences on sites like mine and others to find the support that you need.


  • Paige Musser

    March 2, 2016 at 4:16 pm Reply

    Reading that I am not crazy, and there are others that have lived the same hell I am living helps so much. I am trying to get away from the Narcissistic Man I unfortunately fell in love with. I feel so humiliated that I still feel love for this monster who is so mean and will turn his infidelities on me, I suffer for finding out he has lied and betrayed me. I’ve never felt so alone and devastated in my life. And I’m 44 by no means an idiot, so why is it so hard to walk away?
    I’ve never experienced such sadness in my life.Help

  • Sarah

    February 27, 2016 at 5:02 am Reply

    I met mine 15 months ago. From the first night we met he told me n horrific lie. It involved his little girl. He is a foreigner. He was charming. Very attentive to all my needs. I was going through a separation from a 20 year marriage . I sold the house and moved in a rented house. He moved in right away never offered me rent. I had a sick sense all wasn’t well he would put on crocodile tears about his daughter whenever he wanted to distract any situation He told me hiis little girl had been killed I had a row 1 morning he went out and I decided to look in his emails something I would never dream of. There in front of my eyes a email from his young wife the one he always called a horrendous mother he emailed her saying he missed her and his daughter and to keep being a good mum and that they would be together soon in this country. I nearly threw up I waited for him to come back to my house then confronted him. Well I actually laughed in his face he said he had 2 daughters with the same name that they named the second child after the 1 who died . Crazy crazy I no he even said I was evil and that he would prove his daughter was dead by getting his mother to email the death certificates. Of course this never came as his family knew nothing of his lie. He would not back down I questioned myself I started to wonder if his daughter was actually dead. I emailed his wife as I was going mad trying to get the truth she emailed me back the next morning saying he left them both he won’t give her a divorce and he has a 15 year old son he abandoned in Germany when he was a baby. He is so sick he even showed me a picture once of his son who is the double of him and said he was his brothers son. On the morning I got the email of his wife he said she was lieing there daughter was alive and the craz bitch wanted to split us up??? Then his sister and mother found out about the evil lie his sister apologised to me by message saying she cannot justify why he did it and that he never admits his mistakes and she made an excuse saying this is how he deals with things going wrong in his life by making up stories?? There’s so much more Stories I cannot put in this 1 message he said he had been shot in a car jack and the bullet went through him and killed his little girl in the back seat. Sick beyond belief.

    • Zari Ballard

      March 1, 2016 at 12:21 pm Reply

      Hi Sarah,

      Good God! Please tell me you kicked him out. You don’t say that but I sure as hell hope you did. They will lie about anything and look you right in the eye even with proof right in front of them. He’s a creep. Send him on his way and never look back, girl. If you haven’t done it yet, do it now.

      Zari xo

      • Sarah

        March 1, 2016 at 12:51 pm Reply

        Yes I have kicked him out long ago he tried to get back in my life a number of times I have blocked him The last time he phoned me I noticed on his call I’d info on my phone under his name he had made a fake Facebook profile a few months before I met him I checked it out he had young teenage girls and a few young boys on his friends list I nearly threw up he has a fake profile saying he worked as a photographer in Ireland he is from South Africa I think he is on the run from some shady business dealings he cannot go back he is a coward a creep and a conman I got drunk last weekend and sent him a text saying I seen his fake profile and I was discusted he was ringing my phone all night wen I got home I ignored it then I woke up to abusive messages turning the tables on me like I had done something bad he said he would get the police on me and that I hacked his phone which I did not by the way he gave hisself away with his Facebook info in his name and that he set the fake profile to find his wife in South Africa . What a pathetic little man as of his wife would befriend someone who had mainly 13 to 15 year olds as friends that is another lie and excuse for his twisted behaviour. I informed Facebook but they havint done anything he is still on there with his fake profile X

        • Zari Ballard

          March 1, 2016 at 6:07 pm Reply

          Hi Sarah,

          Unfortunately, FB doesn’t care about things like that. Yes, narcissists are deviant little creatures…they always have something twisted sexually that we eventually discover. Believe me, we’ve all been there. You need to block him from being able to call or text you or ANYTHING. If you don’t, you will always be looking and checking. No more social media either. It’s just not worth it. Who cares what he’s doing on FB? What more do you need to find out? Forget about revenge because his revenge on your revenge will always be worse. Block his ass and if he comes near you, get a retraining order. He is sick in the head and you need to get started on a new life. That’s all there is to it, girl.

          Zari xo

          • Sarah

            March 2, 2016 at 2:09 am

            Hi and thanks for advice. I hear what you say and O am finally seeing the light. I got so brainwashed with this vile person that I was like a lamb to the slaughter and at first no matter what he put me through I went back for more. He knew I was vunrable as I had split from a long term marriage so I was desperate for any attention . And boy did I pay. They play on good people. It took me over a year to see his games in fact his halo started slipping after a few months into the relationship but you close your eyes and ears because you do not want to believe the crap they throw at you. I gave him everything he enjoyed I got upset with him. Cried a lot . At first I would fight with him . Then beg him not to leave me. But I started to play him at his own games . Started ignoreing him. Playing it cool, going out and getting on with my life and just when you wake up 1 morning and you are feeling good they start the calls the false niceness . His voice would change to me nice guy it as creepy. But no more I have blocked the vile creature it’s scary to think that he will be out there looking for his next victim I wish I could warn others to stay away from this sick individual. Maybe just maybe 1 day karma will catch up to him and he will get what he deserves x

          • Sarah

            March 2, 2016 at 4:50 am

            Thankyou for advice,it sounds mad but It has taken me a very long time to see the light and this fake profile has been the one thing I can never forgive. He still insisted it was for finding his wife. Then whyset up fake profile and have mainly young teenagers as your friends that would really work finding your wife,,, She has moved on by the look of things she is a young 20 something who had a daughter to him. She had 3 years of his nonsense and she found out about what he said about there daughter. He blames me for that for telling her about his daughter being shot. He pushed me into asking her if her daughter was alive because he would not back down and tell the truth that his daughter was in fact alive. I believe he still tells that horrific lie to everyone he meets to get them to feel sorry or him. To use it as a excuse for his behaviour. The number of times In have cried because I belived this story. I felt so sorry for him, I loved him and was there for him and thats the whole point he used that lie to make me forgive him for all the other stuf He still tried to turn things on that poor wife when she wanted nothing to do with him and who would after saying your daughter was in fact dead he had the cheek saying she wouldint let him see his daughter and that she was using her as a tool between them, not hey sorry I said she was dead but you are wrong for not letting me see my daughter. Any way this fake profile I no you said do not get involved and I want to leave it all behind me but how would I forgive myself if he messes some young kids mind up. God knows what he is doing on that facebook. I no he is a coward and probabaly never meet a child but who knows what he is after he is saying he is a photographer for a magazine. That means one thing in my mind. I will not get involved I just hope a mother sees what he is doing online but kids guard there stuf on facebook or I pray someone reports him to the police because you hear things like this but I honestly never seen any signs that he had any intentions towards young peope, in fact he loves woman and he couldint keep his hands of me. It makes my skin crawl I am really struggling with this

          • Zari Ballard

            March 3, 2016 at 10:47 am

            Hi Sarah,

            Oh, we all think that our narcissist/sociopath “loves” women. I had great sex with mine for 13 years without fail. But there is ALWAYS sexual deviance going on behind the signs…they just know enough about society to know that they can’t let the mask fall that far. Social media allows these monsters to be whatever they want to be and he’s going to continue to lie about it. I agree it’s absolutely unforgivable but you say it’s the “one thing” that you finally can’t forgive. I would hope that lying that his daughter had been murdered for all that time would be right up there as well.

            As for the FB, what can you do? Is he soliciting the children or are they sending him friend requests…and, honestly, it doesn’t even matter. FB is FB. Thousands upon thousands of people have fake profiles up for various reasons and they can’t possibly investigate every one. Even law enforcement has been known to put up fake profiles and friend requests to catch certain people or spy on the population. You can’t get him in trouble for pretending to be a photographer and you can’t be the parent for thousands upon thousands who might see his profile. I understand the concern but I’m also thinking right now you are more concerned with how this betrays you…and this is normal as well. We’ve all been there. You’ve got to stay away from it. You simply will never ever move on if you don’t.

            And, btw, you did the right thing by asking the wife about the daughter. Yes, he absolutely forced you into it and I would have done the very same thing. Again, I hope you have kicked this monster to the curb and cut off all communications with him and everyone associated with him and his situation.

            Stay strong!

            Zari xo

          • Sarah

            March 3, 2016 at 5:50 pm

            Hi thank you so much for your reply. I agree and yes I do feel betrayed. It’s shocking it makes me feel dirty that I was close to this monster. And the young teenagers are on his friends list it looks like he has friend requested them. It’s just to weird . I am not saying he would do anything but even if the thought is there it’s sick. Some are young boys too as young as 12 year old but he has mostly teenage girls. I want to thank you so much for your feedback it helps a lot. I have no feelings but pure hate for the man/coward /child that he is .I do not need to take revenge because 1 day he will get caught out because he is not clever enough to cover his tracks. I rue the day I met him and thank god I got rid. The longest 15 months of my life. I wake up now and do not think at all about him I am well and truly getting back to who I was before I met him. Thank you for all your help xx

  • Damien

    January 5, 2016 at 5:56 pm Reply

    Hi guys.
    My name is Damien. I myself am a 26 year old male Narcissist. I find myself looking for help because i myself have done some very hurtful things to a number of people. I really only commented because all i ever find is hate speeches and how to deal with someone such as myself. I am looking for help from all corners of the web as i found therapy did not help me very well and to this day all i find is. “the abusive narcissist” “7 signs your dating a narcissist” “Narcissists are evil”.

    I don’t think of myself as evil or abusive. I think of myself of having too much judgement and morality on the “bad” side of the scales. I have over the past 3 or so years come to realize that through childhood neglect and lack of a father figure (heroin addict) that the time i developed extreme narcissistic personality disorder was a complete fabricated wall of confidence, arrogance and learnt ways to make girls crazy about me. I was bullied heavily in school and with no father or should i say a father there but quite literally looked past us and a very very hard school life eventually crafted me into something quite unbearable after spending enough time with me to see through the cracks of my built up “over confidence”. Just thought i would drop a message in just so you know that i may have done some pretty unacceptable things but if you stripped away the only personality i have left and in some ways truly believe is to be my real personality you would probably find a very pathetic laughable underneath.

    I really want to add that i don’t and maybe i can’t account for every narcissist when i say this but i don’t feel the whole bullets points in this post is very accurate and i before anyone says i have no idea what it is like. Seeing it first hand and seeing the true hurt and pain caused to people by my own actions is close enough to be ashamed of it.

    Ultimately help is what i am looking for or at least just so some people understood that a narcissist suffers extreme self loath and so if you have escaped someone like it just know you will find the right person and that they won’t only be unhappy but since whatever young age to whatever old age they possibly are among the most unhappy people to walk the earth.

    Hope my comment doesn’t offend as it is just a snippet from a narcissistic side also since no where gives help but only criticism.

    • Shirlee

      January 6, 2016 at 3:46 pm Reply

      Thank you for that ——- clears up some things in my mind. Truly hope you can find the help that you are so in need of. Good luck!

      • Sarah

        March 2, 2016 at 2:37 am Reply

        It is good to listen to the other side. And thank you your story helps a lot. I wish there was more people like you who realises what and why they do the things they do and face up to there behaviour. I try to understand and want to understand why a person ends up with narcissist traits. My last relationship was a narc but I tried my best to try and help him I thought because I had a unhappy upbringing I could see he had something in his past that made him that way. We honest to god try to understand you and want to help but you push us away and it’s a shame because you say your not a happy person. But I commend you because you are young and I hope you get help to lead a normal life. Good luck

    • Patti

      May 21, 2016 at 5:58 pm Reply

      This is sooo true. My Narc (whom I currently with and cannot escape due to finances) Is a “cerebral” narcissist. You know them, they are the know it alls, very smug, confindent & cocky. He too, was raised by two alcoholic parents, teased and bullied at school relentlessly, for that I feel bad. So, I totally understand when you say “you had to create this alter personality” it’s something of a coping mechanism. I do appreciate your honesty and candor, recognizing your condition is, like any problem, half the battle. Most if not all, Narcs don’t realize they area Narc…

  • bellablue

    January 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm Reply

    I have written here before about the ex that lied betrayed deceived me and used me until like that I had nothing left even though it has been over for exactly three years now and we both moved on to other relationships recently I was told by a friend they had seen him someplace and for some reason and unstoppable indescribable force of emotions including raging anger and deep sadness flooded over me tears actually came to my eyes upon hearing is ending scene at a store a fleeting story that lasted all of a minute ever since that day I thought of them and it’s driving me insane because of what a horrible person is an old the horrors he caused me and yet here and still regretting my behavior wondering what could have been different wishing things didn’t turn out the way that had how normal is it to think of someone after this much time has passed and after we both moved on I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me this morning something I couldn’t shake and I realized soon enough that it was the anniversary of our break up which was one of the very most devastating days of my life and ashamed to say….. so now here I am obsessing over something I can’t change over a narcissist who nearly wrecked my lifwith am consumed with the idea of revenge for what he did to me and consumed with the idea that after all I have suffered and he suffered nothing I am consumed with knowing that he’s out there may be enjoying life living all I’ve suffered a lot of the consequences of our relationship.

    • Zari Ballard

      January 6, 2016 at 1:07 am Reply

      Hi Bellablue,

      Thank you for writing and I’m sorry that you’re suffering. It’s been three years for me now too and I remember all too well those times BEFORE the final break-up during a time of no contact when I would be doing great and then someone somewhere would mention his name or say they saw him and I would simply fall apart. I would wonder how that could have happened…how could just that one minute conversation or few words just put me over an edge I didn’t even know I was standing on! Girl, it’s normal…it really is. You are going to get past this tiny glitch, I promise. It’s just a glitch in the recovery but it won’t last. Feel what you have to feel and then keep moving. It opens the wound only as far as we allow it to.

      I think that, in order to really get ourselves to a point in the break-up where we can actually function, we almost have to pretend the N is dead. I mean, unless we have to see him every day at work, we can actually do this. If we basically pretend he’s dead, then he can’t be out enjoying life with someone else and we can move a few steps forward and maybe even onto other relationships. While this works at first, the danger is that there will always be someone who spills the beans….who has to say it, even in passing, that he is indeed alive. And when they do, we feel instantly sick because this time we are not part of that memory and, in fact, have no stake to it. Sometimes it will be said around us but not to us because, after all, we’re just another one of those ex’s that he doesn’t care about. We realize suddenly that he is alive and well and has been the whole damn time. No matter how it’s done or how or when it comes up or even if we’re with someone else, it always hurts. What I want you to know is that the first time is the worst. The second time, if it happens, won’t be so bad. It’s okay and you’re not alone.

      Don’t obsess, sister, because he wasn’t worth obsessing about then and he’s not worth obsessing about now. The revenge will be when he hears that YOU are alive as well and that you actually survived the horror despite all his efforts to make the opposite happen. It’s a new year and with each passing year, the memory will get less painful. You deserve to be happy and that has to be your ultimate focus.

      Stay strong and always know that I’m here to support you…

      Zari xo

  • Bonnie

    December 23, 2015 at 3:07 am Reply

    I need help. I need support. He ruined my chances for a job. Maybe a home too. Had my son taken. We are in a small town and ihave nowhere else to go. Im still reeling from the shock. He lied to police and made me a criminal. His reaction when I finally got a face to face confrontation couldnt have been more text book perfect. Im sick at how young he likes them. My kids ages. I feel great fear all the time. He purposely lied about my brakes. He is a mechanic. So he knows. I cant find resources for support. Please help me…

    • Zari Ballard

      December 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm Reply

      Hi Bonnie,

      This is awful, girl, and I don’t know what I can do. I’m going to go to my personal email in a few minutes and send you my books in PDF. It’s not much but at least it will give you some insight in what’s happening and you’ll know you’re not alone. Mine got restraining orders and everything on (and I didn’t even know where he lived)…they will lie about anything. It’s just what they do. Even in a small town, there has to be something…friends where you can go? Are you saying he got you a felony? CPS came and took your son. That’s just awful.

      I will send you my books right now and please update me…..I hate being far away from everyone. I just wish there was more I could do! Look for the books…I will send to the email you used to post your comment.

      Zari xo

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