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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  • ange de la terre

    August 1, 2017 at 1:35 pm Reply

    My current dilemma with a N ex-friend is I’ve communicated my decision to go no contact with two mutual friends. One of which is now investing all of her time and energy into the N and seems to not believe me at all.

    I’ve vented to both of these friends and feel as though I’ve gotten myself into a hole by doing so. The second friend has been very supportive but maintains a friendly connection with the N, which is fine, I will always have mutual friends with the N because of our history. What I’m most worried about now is how to hold strong and wait for them to finally see I -am- the one who was mistreated, or at least come to the realization that the N is putting on an act.

    I know I can’t wait on karma or depend on it; I’m just worried I’ve put myself in poor lighting and can’t use the silent response now because it’s too late?

    • Zari Ballard

      August 2, 2017 at 10:35 pm Reply

      Hi Girl…listen, it is NEVER too late to go silent. The alternative is to keep talking and that is just not an option. Stop talking about it TODAY. Consider booking some time with me and we can work out the kinks of it so that you understand what is happening here. To really cut the ties with the narc, it is best to cut all ties that bind. And no, you don’t always have to have mutual friends with the narc because of your history. I had 23 years of history (10 before we dated and 13 that we were in the “relationship”) with my ex and when it was over, I just vanished for awhile to get my head straight. It was hard enough to have mutual friends while we were together never mind have to hang out with these people after we broke up for good. Why put yourself through that? Maybe down the road but not now. It’s hard to tell by your post if this was a boyfriend, a friend, or what so maybe you could write back and elaborate. Either way, it is never too late to just go silent but it’s even better to cut your losses for awhile and just keep your distance from all of it.

      Zari xo

  • Stephanie

    July 26, 2017 at 8:36 am Reply

    I just left my narc last week. He started the smearing today. I just felt like I had been kicked in the gut….before I reacted I googled smear campaign and your blog was the 1st one I clicked on.
    Thank you so very much!!! I have decided to stay silent. I wasnt sure what to do. Thank you again!

    • Zari Ballard

      August 2, 2017 at 10:03 pm Reply

      Yup, your silence is the only way for the simple reason that it automatically puts you in the better light! A whining narc with a quiet ex ALWAYS looks like a jerk. LOL…xo

  • Jedi

    July 6, 2017 at 4:59 pm Reply

    Hi Zari
    Good article, it is very true. I have dealt with horrors for a decade now ( I have a child with the narc) .. it’s a constant battle or shit speak with him…every time. It’s either about control or validating control..all the time. I get small glimpses of who he was maybe before he embraced ‘the dark side) .. but you cannot bank that that matter how authentic they are in MOMENTS will ever’s so true about the silence…works every time.. people will see after a time the one speaking shit is the shit.. this narc is always projecting awful things at me …things he does and grills me about hypothetical things I do not do or want to do.. it’s because he does them. It’s constant court with him because of the child. I let go and let the state handle things so there are automatic sanctions.. he will purposefully allow the sanctions just to upset me..and more courts blah blah blah… man owes his son $40000… it’s such a joke drives an BMW m7.. makes great money yet he allows his son to wait months and months at times with no support… and sets up the smear campaign while he does it. He uses the situation to garner attention (poor me) from other women who are dumb enough to give him.. just about anything…and I mean anything…so smearing mommy works for him…YET.. I no longer care. I give him nothing these harem women give…I say things like ‘ well I respect/ accept your position…. ‘.. ‘sorry you feel that way’ or The best one ‘I will just shut up and let go..we love you daddy…then I leave him alone in all the silence….it drives him nuts. He knows NO ONE I know anymore… this is key.. when you are ready to really let go..recreate yourself..find new things and tell no one he knows or him about it.. live your life.. even in the depths of the pain the narc is causing.. stay SILENT… live your life…keep moving different things… My daddy narc has resorted to stalking as well which at first was very frightening and paralyzingly my life… now I don’t care. He speaks shit behind my back.. I don’t care. He lets things end up in court.. I tell them everything and him nothing and I DONT CARE & he ends up shooting himself in the foot. These types are Meglo/ego maniacs… they just want to get in Your head and twist up your mind. does it hurt.. hell yes.. crazy pain…don’t show it to them…cry alone.. find Jesus, or something to heal your heart.. like a shark who smells blood, fear pain and tears are the narcs friends and weapons.. staying silent gives you your life back.. this is not no contact either (although that is great, cannot always be done)… silence is YOUR best friend. It is there where you will find the strength to cut the cords with the narcissist energy vampire.. the lengths these types go to to validate their ego and get endless ‘supply’ is just unbelievable..believe it though…and give them nothing..or defunct supply or silence… discard yourself in advance of the next discard phase.. embrace the discard it is your friend be free…that will really make the narc mad…if you have to interact be quiet and answer without revealing much (like they do).. and then wait because like you say Zari..silence works every time . EVERY TIME.

  • BeAnne

    June 4, 2017 at 1:57 am Reply

    The main thing I regret is talking to two women who were my friends. (not mutual friends) At the time I thought they were my friends but the narc had already gotten to them way before we broke up.

    The first one told me about the other woman and the horrible things he was saying about me. She bought the subject up by baiting me by saying -I’ll tell you something when I am sure you are done with him”. She also said that she like the other woman and that my EX needed a nice person, a yes person, and not me.. I was so angry I walked out of the restaurant.

    After that I broke a lunch date with the 2nd women, telling her I broke up with my ex and I was not in a place to see or talk to anyone..She assured me she wanted to be a shoulder for me to lean on and I believed her. I was in a very valuable position and in shock with what #1 woman told me. I never expected a smear campaign.

    Well #2 wasn’t much better…she kept bringing him up and telling what he was doing -even when I asked her not to. I believe that my ex was feeding her husband hurtful messages to let me know he was happy and going on with his life and didn’t care about me at all. Even though my ex was still pursuing me through emails which I didn’t open -. she asked why I didn’t and I said because I can’t believe a word he says. I stopped seeing her too.

    I believe these two were what they call the Narcissist’s Flying Monkeys.

    I have two friends that I can talk to – true friends for many years and both were victims of a Narcissist. So they understand and believe my experience with my ex.

    My ex and I both work at the same place as volunteers. I continued teaching my classes this year and completely avoided him for the last 9 months. But because of the smear campaign I am uncomfortable there now.
    I love doing my classes but I am not sure its healthy for me to sign up for next school year,,, too many memories and mutual friends that I am not sure about now..

    I do believe I needed to talk about my experience to come out of the fog and his web of lies….to make it real. I was so shocked and confused when the discard happened. I needed a reality check.
    Previously I have turned to my friends and he knew I valued my support system and he went right for the juggler.

    I think the worst part for me of this whole Narcissistic experience was the Smear Campaign. It was very hurtful. And still effecting my life. 🙁

    But I remain No Contact and silent.

    • Zari Ballard

      June 21, 2017 at 12:40 am Reply

      Hi BeAnne,

      First, how do you know there is a smear campaign? Because of what these two women have told you? If that’s the case, just see them no more and refuse to engage. Your silence is still the best route to take. As for the classes, do what you think is right. If you still want to participate and can avoid him, then trot on in there with a smile on your face being chipper and happy to everyone and this will have the most impact for those on the fence about what happened. Not that it matters what anyone thinks but silence and a happy front can quickly persuade in your direction. Not only will it make you look better than the narc, it will make these women look like the evil flying monkey bitches that they are if they are spreading gossip.

      You’re going to be okay. Don’t be intimidated. You have to be confident in the truth that you know. If you feel up to it and would like to talk, book some consultation time with me and we’ll figure it out.

      Zari xo

      Zari xo

  • Paula B.

    May 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm Reply

    Firstly your book ‘Love is a lie’ was such an eye-opener for me, thank you for writing it. I recommended it to a friend who also found it such great help.

    I discovered such deceit with my now ex-narc. He was living a double life. Seeing several other women and triangulating me. It makes me feel sick to think of the deception. So I did some research. And I wrote to the woman he discarded me for (over Christmas fabulous timing) and then hoovered me back from. She thanked me for contacting her. And went no contact with him. A second woman I contacted recognised his narcissistic ways having been in a similar relationship and had just cut ties with him. She thanked me for confirming her suspicions.

    Only now I am in the centre of a malicious smear campaign. Because he says I have ‘ruined his life’ and am evil for writing to this woman. I really struggled to know what the right thing to do was but to prevent another individual from the heartache I endured with this man was my motivation. Now I presume I am being slandered and maligned with what were supportive friends. I moved to a new area to be with this man, so now I feel totally isolated and targeted. It’s hard to hold my head high under these circumstances.

    How I want to set the records straight. However I was in denial myself for such a long time over what he was doing, so how would anyone else understand? I so wanted to see the good in him. All along everything was a lie. And a sham. How to survive this storm? Any advice very welcome Zari. Thank you xo

    • Zari Ballard

      June 4, 2017 at 9:31 pm Reply

      Hi Paula,

      Thank you for reading my book! First, I took the initiative of removing your full last name from the post just because you never know what a narc in the middle of a smear might look for. Secondly, I apologize for getting to my response so late. And thirdly, have you read the post that you commented under, girl??? It answers your question about what to do about the smear. You survive the storm by just remaining silent, refusing to engage with ANYONE about the break-up or anything you did after, and you just move along in life. You use the word “presume” so I am guessing that you are assuming there is a smear going on but not sure? I hope you are wrong but the truth is that you shouldn’t worry about it. Stay silent, make friends outside the circle or move to another town when you can.

      What you did apparently do that most of us don’t get a chance to is convince two other women from making the same mistake. For the most part, this never seems to work but if you did succeed, well good for you! You had to have known that exposing him would increase the risk of a smear so at least it worked! Now, just be confident in what you did BUT SAY NOTHING. You don’t have to defend your actions to anyone let alone him and his minions. You’re going to be just fine, sister. Only with your silence, will the storm pass quickly. If you engage it, you will only feed into it (the intention) and drag it out. This is fact so you HAVE to do it. Please re-read the article because I explain it in much detail as to WHY it works:)

      Zari xo

  • Anne

    May 9, 2017 at 5:42 pm Reply

    I was married for almost 6yrs to my now ex-narcissist who has done everything a narcissist does with still on-going smearing campaign. I have changed my phone and number, my email and have no longer attempted at being on facebook. I do not talk to anyone about my split, which I finally stood up and kicked him out of my house, I’m lucky I had a prenup and when I bought the house I put it in one of my family members name, not mine. This, of course, was my second marriage so I knew how to not get into a long divorce and no children together. So, this is what I have done, absolutely nothing! I stick with the no contact rule and I have been asked by a few in front of many people and my answer is it’s no one’s business. I do not engage in any justification nor do I discuss. The truth is, it’s hard but I stand solidly with this and it is who I am. I don’t have to engage nor act out, I am better than that and I will not lower myself to ignorance of others. The truth is not engaging or trying to justify yourself and just be silent actually works! I have seen some people who have told me without me asking, what he has been like in his behaviour and most of the people are seeing who he really is, he is doing himself in on his own, showing his true colours of narcissistic crap. He is losing his own battle cause you know those types, they cannot shut up about it at all. I did, however, have to go to the police recently to feel safe as I found walking alone and going out, and, getting emails, texts (from my old number) was getting out of control. I spoke clearly and showed proof of what was happening and told them also he was stalking me. The officer knew his kind, and he wanted me to get a peace bond but I asked if anything else can be done and the officer said he will call him and tell him that if he steps on my property they will charge him with trespassing and if he continues with harassing emails and texts and anything else, he will be charged with criminal harassment. So far, so good, you know these narcs have a reputation and image to keep. So to anyone who is dealing with all this narc crap just ignore it and be strong and be silent. Smile in town, be yourself and continue your kindness.

    I respect who I am, I love my life and I enjoy my town. I don’t need his friends nor do I care to engage in their act of drama class. NO CONTACT, AND BE SILENT! IT WORKS.

    • Zari Ballard

      June 4, 2017 at 9:15 pm Reply

      Hi Anne,

      What a great post! You GET it and I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for confirming my “be silent and let him dig his own verbal grave” strategy. Many people read that and think I’m nuts – they want to defend themselves against the smear but that never works to our advantage. Leaving the narc to his own verbal devices is a sure winner and thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Wishing you the best…

      Zari xo

  • 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!


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