How to Read a Narcissist (& Turn His Ploy to Your Advantage)

why-narcissists-returnEven though a narcissist is a pathological liar, there are those moments where he/she offers riddles of truth amongst the lies. We, as victims, can actually get to that truth – if we would only listen. Yup, that’s right, if we really pay attention to the narcissist’s word garbage, 95% of all of our suspicions about this person would be confirmed and we’d know all we needed to know about exactly what the narcissist is up to at any given moment. In other words, it’s absolutely possible for you to read a narcissist in the same manner that he reads you and no one – especially the narcissist – will be the wiser.

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You see, the reason that a narcissist is so good at what he does (i.e. sucking us in during the Idolize Phase) is because he does something that we quickly forget how to do after meeting him. He listens. From the first conversation, the narcissist begins to process our personal information, listening carefully to our words, drawing out of us the answers to all those questions that he uses to measure a target’s long-term potential. And while he mentally takes notes, honing in on both our weaknesses and strengths and calculating the future reward of each, his charm distracts us. By the time he moves into the Devalue Stage, we’re wound like a fucking top, feeling suspicious about his every word and action yet seemingly unable to dig up a shred of evidence. Like all narcissists, my ex savored this process. Slowly but surely, I transformed into the lunatic he had been cleverly creating and, ultimately, my craziness became his justification for everything he did. Thus, as a Discard approaches and the narcissist starts accusing and twisting, calling us delusional, we switch into desperation mode because we know, without a doubt, exactly what’s going to happen. He will leave or disappear, he will hoover and return, and he will continue to use, abuse, and manipulate. We do in fact, become very in tune with the pattern of the phases and can predict what this person is going to do. The problem is that the narcissist keeps us so busy apologizing for nothing and dodging distractions that we completely miss something very important – that, amidst the narcissist’s word garbage is the missing link we need: the evidence!!!!

Now, it took me quite a few years, but what I discovered was a subtle but sanity-saving flaw in the narcissist’s façade…a crack in the mask, if you will. …and, I have to admit, it fascinated me because, once I figured it out, the method itself was foolproof! You see, narcissists, despite their propensity for lying about everything, are like little children who can’t help but give themselves away when they do something bad. It has little to do with confessing, of course, and everything to do with bragging, accusing, projecting, lying, and gas-lighting all combined.

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For years, just like you, I made myself insane trying to quietly validate a nagging feeling that my boyfriend was always up to no good. This feeling was usually stirred by his uncanny ability to accuse me of the very thing I was thinking about accusing him of. In other words, as soon as I’d gathered the courage to confront him with a suspicion, he’d suddenly accuse me of the very same thing before I even spoke a word. How the hell did he do that? Was he really reading my suspicious mind or was something else going on? Then one day the light bulb went off. In a flash, I realized that he wasn’t reading my mind about what I thought he was doing at all, but he was, in fact, actually giving himself away and telling me exactly what I needed to know. In effect, he was telling on himself in a big way and had been doing it for years. By suspecting himself that I was on to his shenanigans, he would attempt to distract me by accusing me of the very same thing. I finally discovered that if I stopped throwing fits when I recognized a lie or a ludicrous story or when he tossed out a ridiculous accusation…if I just sat back and really listened to what he was saying, I’d know EXACTLY what he was up to. So, I shut the fuck up!!!

In my book, When Love Is a Lie, I discuss the narcissist’s accusatory distraction tactic in detail and I also recommend using it to get a handle on what the narcissist is up to. This is a golden opportunity to turn his ploy into your advantage. Either a narcissist will accuse his partner of the very thing that he is doing at any given time OR he will verbally project this behavior upon exes, friends, co-workers or whoever he happens to be gossiping about while engaging in casual conversation with you. Again, narcissists are like little children who can’t help but tell on themselves. If we stop reacting and start listening, we’ll have the answers.

  1. If he accuses you, out-of-the-blue, of cheating or suddenly begins acting insanely jealous, he’s either cheating or getting ready to cheat.
  2. If he accuses you of lying about something ridiculous, he’s worried about you catching him in a lie that he told recently. Think back and you’ll find it.
  3. If he casually chit-chats about a girl – any girl (supermarket checkout girl, co-worker, neighbor, etc.) – who “really gets on his nerves” or annoys him, you can safely assume he’s getting ready to put the moves on her or he’s already seeing her. Allow me to share two examples: #1 During a six-month period where my ex carried a title loan on his vehicle, he continually bitched to me about the rudeness of the counter girl who took his weekly payments. Although this rhetoric quietly raised my suspicions, the loan was soon paid, he stopped mentioning her, and I never gave it a second thought. Imagine my surprise, a year later, when a peek into his cell phone prompted me to investigate a mysterious reoccurring number which led me to a girl named “Rebecca FXXXX” who happened to be a former employee of – you guessed it – the title loan company! #2 During another period where he drove for a shuttle service based at the airport, he’d go on and on about the “loud mouth fat girls” that worked in customer service and, apparently, did nothing but eat all day. One girl in particular (whose husband also worked there) disgusted him above all the others and he simply “couldn’t stand her”. Much later, long after he either quit or got fired, not only did I discover he’d been to this “fat” girl’s house (sans husband) at least once during a time when I was getting the silent treatment, I would, over the next few years, periodically find that he had contacted her again and again.
  4. If he does something out of the ordinary, wears something out of the ordinary, or says something out of the ordinary, look deep into it. Quietly read between the lines and don’t take it at face value. NOTHING a narcissist says or does is random even if he is not quite aware of this himself.

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I decided to write this article not because I think you should expend all kinds of energy reading the narcissist and guessing what he’s up to but because I want you to STOP expending the energy that you do just trying to validate your suspicions. You do not have to participate in the narcissist’s game a single second longer. If you still have to deal with this person, I am giving you a great excuse to NOT become insane at his accusatory bullshit. I’m telling you that the truth has always been there. I’m telling you, this is a foolproof method for reading the narcissist. Sure, the narcissist appears to be cleverly deceptive but the truth is that he/she is only as cleverly deceptive as the transparency of the bullshit. From now on, stop, look, and listen. Trust your gut feeling – always. Take the monster’s ploy and turn it into your advantage. And then, with the truth by your side, do the right thing and go No Contact, once and for all. Do it for yourself and for the rest of your life.


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  • gina

    April 4, 2017 at 7:19 am Reply

    Thank you for this article. In my head, I’ve been really going over all of my narc friend’s comments since I first met him back in the 1990’s. This article in spot on. I’m a very good listener and remember conversations and specific details within conversations. Some of the stories he would tell me were exactly like you described in this article. I remember just thinking “Well, that was odd of him.” However, I would usually brush questionable things because by nature, I try to avoid confrontation and give people the benefit of the doubt. We lost touch over the years but I recently missed him about three months ago and reached out to him on social media. I found out he was married and told him congrats etc. all in good intentions. He immediately responded back with a round of lies about his wife that he so called separated from and haven’t seen here in a month. It’s hard when you are at a lonely stage in your life and come in contact with a Narc because upon initial contact with you, they immediately start love bombing and because we had a 20+ years and I “thought” I knew him. You brush off these very clear clues that he’s up to no good because he’s constantly messaging you all day and night confessing his love for you. He tells you how beautiful, how sexy, how amazing you are. Hell, mine even said I was an angel sent from heaven….lmao. But, you fall for the baloney and totally miss what is right in front of you on a platter! For everyone here, listen to how he words his stories. It’s always directed at the victim being abused. I got a lot of this: SHE cheats all the time. SHE steals money from ME. SHE is crazy. SHE kicks me out of the house. SHE drinks all day long. SHE is abusive. It’s hard especially when you are an empathetic to think that he is lying. You immediately go into the role of being his savior to all this so called abuse he’s dealing with. I once questioned him during our first cycle of abuse in the devalue stage. I notice he wasn’t messaging me as much. He was becoming distant and not as romantic. I questioned him one night and I got this from him “Why are you thinking I’m talking to girls all of the time. YOU talk to guys all the time. That’s all you do. I’m not being distant, I’m just saving myself for you.” Narcissists LOVE when you defend yourself from these accusations. They love to watch you become uncomfortable and argue that you are not the one cheating. They get off on your actions of getting angry off this and in their messed up brain, they now see us as the crazy ones while he sits back and enjoys the show. It’s not just with saying every single ex or current spouse is psychotic, they give off lies about friends and people that are in your life as well. He hated my ex and knew I was still in contact with him (he’s my boss). My ex had narcissistic traits but he was more of a control freak with a lot of insecurities. But, he had popularity and money and my Narc friend hated that. He would say things like “He’s hiding his porn from you and that is why he’s got a password on his phone.” It was during a rant session I had with Narc friend but porn wasn’t even in the discussion. Again, I thought it was odd and moved on. Now, I realized it was HIM that hides his porn from his wife. It’s so easy to pick up on their lies once you finally stop and navigate through the narcissistic verbal garbage. What was the nail in the coffin was that at the end, I did reach out to his wife and she confirmed my final thoughts on him. Everything he accused her of, he was doing and it was the reason why their marriage fell apart. So, if you are with someone and they are constantly bad mouthing someone, you know damn well, he’s trying to bang them or is banging them or wants to bang them! Whoever a narcissist is talking negatively about, you know now that it’s the narcissist that is doing all the bad stuff. ALWAYS remember that and you will be able to spot a Narc from a mile away.

    • Marina

      April 22, 2017 at 11:25 am Reply

      Thank you; I also used to be an angel sent from heaven..) THEY say the same crap..

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