Debunking the Narcissist’s Smear Campaign

smear-campaignWhen we dump a narcissist or a narcissist dumps us, one of the first things that they do (to make themselves feel better) is embark on a smear campaign. Somehow, running a smear campaign provides the narcissist justification as to why we were never worthy of their presence to begin with. By talking smack around town about the discarded partner…by getting “the word out” about how horrible the ex is…the N feels pumped up and vindicated about however the relationship came to an end.

Most of us who’ve been involved with a narcissist have experienced being the target of a smear campaign at one time or another. It might even be that, with a break-up on the horizon, you’re worried in advance of what you already know will certainly be one. After all, breaking up with a narcissist isn’t exactly like any other break-up or divorce on the planet. If there are mutual friends, co-workers, or children involved, there will always be radioactive fallout but it’s not nearly as scary as it appears to be. In fact, by making one amazingly simple switch within our reaction to it, we can all but instantly change the dynamic of the smear itself. The key, my friends, is to say NOTHING at all…not a single world…and, believe me, there will be power in your silence.

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Naturally, when someone is talking shit about us to others, our first reaction is to want to defend ourselves. In many situations, of course, defending ourselves is the right thing to do but when the person talking smack about us is our narcissistic ex, I have found that silence on our part is the absolute – and only – way to beat him at his own game. In fact, I discovered that our silence during the smear campaign exposes him for the asshole that he really is. Our silence actually creates plausible denial in the smear, ultimately causing the truth to prevail.

The fact is that WE DON’T HAVE TO DEFEND OURSELVES AGAINST DOUCHEBAGS. We just don’t. The fact is that a narcissist will talk bad about us to everyone anyway– his family, our family, our kids, mutual friends, co-workers – and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. The smear campaign is one of the oldest narcissistic tricks in the book. Sure, we can run around behind him doing damage control or talking smack back but we’re dealing with a narcissist here and he will use our defensive reaction as proof that we are exactly as he describes. This is what he is counting on. This is, in fact, a narcissist’s end game throughout the entire relationship!

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I’m here to tell you that, throughout all of the N’s smearing during and after the relationship, all we ever have to do is be quiet and be normal and the N will quickly end up looking like the piece of shit that he is. Yes, it is hard to do but – OMG – the rewards are amazing and they come quickly. This strategy works, by the way, even with narcissists that are well liked and even loved in the community. It always works.

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Think about the scenario objectively. Imagine that you’re part of a group and one of the couples that you know is in a tumultuous relationship. Together or apart, they’re always causing  drama and within the group, everyone is annoyed.  So, the couple finally breaks up and now you start seeing them each separately. You notice that the guy does NOTHING but talk shit about his ex for hours on end but when you see her, she says nothing about him at all. She doesn’t even talk – or want to talk – about the break-up. She just mingles with the group like she always has. It’s awkward at first because her ex is like the elephant in the room, having said some horrible things about her…but everyone soon gets over that. As time passes, who is going to look more favorable in your eyes?  The person who talks all kind of smack about the ex or the the ex that is normal and nice and never even mentions the other one? The answer is obvious. I’m serious, even if the one half is spewing word garbage week after week that his ex is a murderer, the fact that she never utters his name and is as sweet as can be whenever you see her is going to cast doubt on everything he says. It creates plausible denial in her favor and, again, it always works! Eventually, he will have to stop talking.

Wayne – the ex of my book When Love Is a Lie – was a shit talker. It didn’t matter if we were together or broken up or where he was when he did it, if there were people within earshot that knew me or knew of me, he happily talked shit about me. Throughout it all, I said not a word. In fact, I was so silent about him, that most people who knew both of us weren’t sure if we were really even together. One couple pulled me aside and asked if I knew who he was!! Here’s Wayne talking crap about me to a group of people that we both know and they’re all thinking Holy Crap, does Zari even know this guy? She never even mentions him! Because of my silence, when the relationship was really over, these friends automatically gravitated towards me and they had been HIS friends to begin with. As a narcissist knows, silence can be very powerful. Ha-ha!

Was it hurtful to know that my ex never had a nice thing to say about me behind my back? Of course it was. It devastated me. Did I feel embarrassed sometimes to be around people KNOWING what he must be saying when I’m not there? Of course I did. But the truth is this: people really don’t want to hear about your drama and they will WELCOME your silence. We imagine that people hang on the narcissist’s every  word but this just isn’t true. No one loves the narcissist unconditionally like we foolishly did. No one! The narcissist, if you allow him to talk unfettered, will eventually alienate the world. Everything he says inevitably goes out the window.

This strategy is foolproof…and why? Because in the end, the truth really does prevail and our silence allows it to happen. People aren’t stupid and not everyone buys into the narcissist’s shit. We only think they do because we’re the target. I don’t care WHAT he is saying about you or how awful it is…just stay silent! This means when daddy is talking smack about mommy to the kids, mommy, although she wants to, does not reciprocate. The kids will figure it out and so will everyone else – and all without you ever saying a word in your defense. In this case, silence is a foolproof solution to a very big problem and you will have finally beaten the narcissist at one of his own fucking games.

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  • Tom Doremus

    May 1, 2017 at 4:47 am Reply

    I am the victim of a smear campaign by my narcissistic ex wife. There is no speculation in my statement, for it is fact!

    Last year while at a party with close common friends I “share” with my ex wife, a married couple with a child who is very good friends with my daughter, I was asked point blank the reason for why we divorced. After giving my [honest] reply, the wife replies to me “that is not what your ex told me/us… she said that you had 3 extramarital affairs, which caused her to file for divorce”.

    My initial response was the need to defend myself and when I calmed down, I realized the flaw in lie about me was in the story where she claimed she filed for divorce, which was not the case as it was I who did that and then directed this couple to check the state’s judicial page to see that I was indeed the plaintiff in the divorce.

    I had always suspected my ex of telling lies about me, I had heard other similar “rumors” over the years during the separation and since the divorce was made final, so I was not all that surprised to finally get the hard evidence I always knew would eventually surface. I never confronted my ex about this because when I learned of this lie, it was right before my daughter’s 8th graduation, so I did not wish to make a scene that would take away from my daughter’s big day. Unfortunately, something occurred with my daughter and her friends that took precedence, so that took over as my primary concern for a while. Consequently, I wound up just sitting on this information without saying or doing anything about it. I thought this knowledge is powerful and could be useful at some later time.

    I have maintained a congenial relationship with my ex for the benefit of our children, wishing to avoid drama and so on. But just recently, the lies she has told about me have started to take on meaningful consequences that are now impacting me and my happiness.

    I recently connected with a very nice, attractive single woman [a widow] from the same town in which the ex and my daughters live [I live in an adjacent town]. During our conversation I learned this new woman knew a number of the same people I know in town, including my ex wife. Knowing about the lies about me because of the smear campaign the ex established, I decided on taking a gamble this woman would most likely ask about me around town. So, without providing specifics I informed this woman there were lies about me and then asked if she should hear any to please give me the courtesy of addressing them, to which she agreed.

    Our conversation proceeded for a couple of hours more and ended with us setting up a lunch date the followig day. But low and behold an hour or so before the date I received a text from her breaking the date because “her brother had arrived to help with some household chores and it was the only time available for him blah blah blah”. While engaged in that text conversation, I got her to agree to rescheduling the date for another day in the coming week. Not surprisingly, however, a few more texts to this woman later that day and the next day have gone unanswerered, so the damage is done.

    I am ok with the missed date opportunity for I truly believe this is a “dodged bullet”… She has revealed to me a low character in so far as asking me to keep our date a secret from our mutual friends in town, but then failed to live up to her promise of giving me a chance to address the lies she may hear if/when she asks about me. There are plenty of other fish in the sea….

    My true concern is how to address or cope with the effects of the smear camapaing perpetrated by my narcissistic ex wife going forward. She has done a profoundly efficient job of making me look like a total shit in a small New England town, while she has been playing the victim. I have learned a difficult and aggravating lesson that seeking out dating possibilities in the town where she lives is a dead end because of what she has done. However, my true worries are what lies or manipulive behavior she has already done or may attempt in the future with my daughters.

    Do I confront my ex with the story from the party one year ago? How do I learn what she may have told my children?… One daughter is already in therapy for depression and social anxiety, which seemed to have suddenly appeared and are both antithetical to how she was as a younger child [i.e. Before 7th grade].

    I have calmed down as I think of what to do next,,, so your reply/advice is desperately needed.

    • Zari Ballard

      May 7, 2017 at 10:00 am Reply

      Hi Tom,

      Well, your story is yet another example of why I stand strong behind my “do-not-defend” strategy for dealing with a narcissist’s smear. First of all, it’s been a whole year since that JERK of a woman “asked you point blank” the reasons for the divorce so you’ll have to leave it alone. I hope you understand that you were under no obligation to answer that or any other question about your personal business. It was none of her damn business. I would have asked “Why do you need to know that?” and walked on by but that’s just me. At her inappropriate response, you actually could have laughed out loud and told her to believe what she wanted to believe, you’re not talking about it. Friends like that you surely don’t need, daughter’s friend’s mom or NOT.

      Secondly, from now on, when you meet someone, the last thing you ever want to do is volunteer the fact that there are “lies” out there about you. OMG. If I was that girl, I would have seen that as a big red flag and automatically thought you were trying to cover your ass. You can’t do that, brother. Chances are she wouldn’t have heard a thing or asked a thing and the truth is that she probably STILL doesn’t know anything but the fact that you SAID that turned her off. If some guy said that to me, I swear to God I would have gone LOOKING for those lies out of curiosity alone. I don’t want to be harsh but do you know what I mean? Consider it a lesson and never do that again! LOL

      Your story is the perfect example of WHY it is best to just say nothing. And when I say NOTHING, I mean it. Saying NOTHING automatically casts doubt on the lie and puts YOU in a better light…it just does. If you say nothing, people are apt to disregard the smear – that’s the way it works. I used to live in a small New England town too and, believe me, saying nothing and just going about your happy way is the ONLY WAY TO BEHAVE. Everyone knows that divorce is messy and a decent person or friend won’t even bring it up. If people continue to bring it up, cross them off your “friends” list one by one and move along. Who needs mutual friends? Make new ones. New England is small but it’s not THAT small.

      So, no, do not confront the ex-wife unless SOMEONE ELSE brings the lie up again which I doubt will happen. Simply say nothing and then later call the wife out, asking that she refrain from the divorce talk if she can’t get the story straight. As for your daughters, do you have a good relationship with them? If so, don’t worry about what your ex is saying. Chances are, a year later, she’s not saying a whole lot. During a divorce, unfortunately, children will ALWAYS end up hearing something derogatory about one parent from the other and you can’t stop that. But YOU can stop YOURSELF from doing it and that will matter! Just by SAYING NOTING BAD ABOUT THE EX WHEN YOU ARE WITH YOUR KIDS, you will automatically look better in their eyes. Kids aren’t stupid…they’ll get past it and they’ll remember who said what and who said nothing. Now, as for the daughter who is in therapy for depression and social anxiety, you don’t seem to know much about that except that it appeared suddenly. I’d be asking questions, going to therapy and talking to the therapist. You need to find out WHY this is happening. Do YOU believe that she’s depressed and anxious? Do YOU see that? Find out what’s up with that and speak out accordingly. If the child appears normal and happy to you and it’s the EX that’s telling you the diagnosis, I wouldn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it. You have to make the most of your time with them.

      You sound like a very caring, loving, and thoughtful dad, Tom. I also think the fact that you’ve been civil to the wife for the sake of the daughters is much to your credit. Keep it up. The more people see THAT, the less likely they’d be to believe any stories your wife would be telling anyway. Time will make it all fade anyway. In the grande scheme of things, her words don’t mean shit. You know what the truth is – and so does she, believe me. But PLEASE, no more giving potential dates the “heads up” about “lies”…that’s a bad, bad strategy. Date whomever you want and if they happen to hear something, I’m sure that they’ll ask. Until then, offer NO information and just get on with the date.

      Best of luck, Tom!


  • Rachael

    April 14, 2017 at 10:04 pm Reply

    How do I effectively support someone whose ex narc husband is doing a smear campaign and my client believes he is out to destroy her. He may be actually doing a smear campaign, I am not sure, but this is her reality and it is causing great distress. Because she has trauma perceptions could be distorted. And, we do know that narcs do smear campaigns.

    So how do I effectively support someone who believes there is a smear campaign occurring? Client is not in the place to hear that he is targeting her unhealed wounds and that on a vibrational level she is contributing to this reality. So how do I validate her reality and help her through this challenging time without sounding trite? I keep reminding her to keep working on her healing but I don’t think this is enough in the way of support. Also, she still has to see him because they have kids. Finally, anything I say to try and support seems to make her more upset and angry and her response is “you don’t understand, he is the worst of the worst, a covert, malignant narc” as she is crying. Thank you for any input you can provide! I don’t know that suggesting staying silent would be effective, I just don’t think she will take it in because this is causing her so much distress.

    • Zari Ballard

      April 25, 2017 at 3:48 pm Reply

      Hi Rachael,

      I apologize for the delay in responding. You didn’t state what type of “client” this person is and how you are trying to help her. If you are trying to heal her in a spiritual way, she may not be ready for that. If he is indeed a full-on narc, then she probably IS dealing with a smear campaign. However, the best way to deal with it IS to stay silent. There’s no way to defend oneself against the smear except to not engage…it automatically puts the targeted person in a better light. This type of counseling, however, may not be your specialty and that’s perfectly okay. She shouldn’t expect you to understand it fully if this is not what you do. I find it very admirable that you are seeking ways to help her through it…it shows that you truly care.

      I coach people all the time via phone consultations and I’m telling you that there is NO easy fix. It takes a lot of work to get to a place of peace where the narc can not hurt you. Although I am sure that she has already been reading and studying the hurtful behaviors, you should tell her that you are trying to heal her in a different way (if you are…I do not know). I deal with the co-parenting situation everyday in conversations and there ARE strategies for dealing with it and keeping your sanity but she has to be willing to try. All you can do is tell her that you’ve been researching her issues and trying to help. Send her my way or to this website. In the end, you just may have to say that she’s not being proactive and allowing you to do your work. There is no magical answer…it’s all about the passing of time and changing our perspective of what has happened.

      Best of luck to you, sister:)

      Zari xo

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