Even 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.