5 Reasons Why Narcissists Call You A Narcissist

If you’ve ever been with a narcissist, you know that before long, they will show a dark side. The relationship might have started as rainbows and butterflies, but chances are, it quickly declined. 

Early on in a relationship with a narcissist, it will become clear to you that there is something off about them. They can switch from over-the-top romantic to cold and callous with little warning.

This behavior leaves you hurt, confused, and perhaps blaming yourself for whatever went wrong. As you try to make sense of their behavior, you may plead with them to change, beg for their forgiveness for whatever upset them, or go to great lengths to please them.

While you try to make the relationship work, there is probably plenty of conflict. At some point, the narcissist may even call you narcissistic. Why do they do this? Are you really the narcissist in the relationship?

When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, and they accuse you of being narcissistic, you’re probably even more confused. Below, we’ll clear up the confusion around this accusation. 

Unpacking the Accusation

It’s not unusual for a narcissist to accuse their victims of being narcissistic. This behavior typically happens for one or more of the reasons below. 

#1 Projection

Narcissists are notorious for having fragile self-esteem. That’s why they go to great lengths to appear superior to everyone around them.

Narcissists cannot take accountability for any of their negative traits, because their egos are too weak to allow it. To protect themselves, they use a variety of defensive tactics.

One such tactic is projection. This involves the narcissist taking their undesirable qualities and attributing them to other people. If they feel they are being criticized for who they are, they just might call you the narcissist! 

#2 Blame-Shifting

Narcissistd cannot rely on only one defense mechanism, so they need more tools than projection in their arsenal. Blame-shifting is another common defense mechanism that allows the narcissist to avoid accountability.

If you bring attention to one of their wrongdoings, they may shift the blame by calling you a narcissist. Perhaps you’ve told them that they’ve hurt your feelings. They might respond, “You’re awfully high and mighty, thinking everyone cares about your feelings! You’re such a narcissist!” 

This allows the narcissist to take the blame off of themselves and shift it onto you. Suddenly, you’ve forgotten what you were even upset about because you’re so shocked by the accusation. 

#3 Gaslighting

Narcissists also love to gaslight. This behavior involves trying to convince you that you’re crazy or having trouble understanding reality. 

If you’re trying to hold the narcissist accountable, they might accuse you of being a narcissist. This causes you to question your own reality, and worry that you might be the problem in the relationship. 

Accusing you of being the narcissist leaves you confused. Now, your head is spinning, and you wonder if it’s really true. You may even begin to question yourself. You thought you were a good person, but maybe that’s not the case! 

When you’re confused and full of self-doubt, the narcissist has you exactly where they want you. You’re much easier to control when you’re unsure of yourself. 

#4 Manipulation

The narcissist may accuse you of being the narcissist simply because they want to manipulate you. The narcissist cannot let you have too much power. If you always felt good about yourself, they’d lose control over you! 

To manipulate you, the narcissist may accuse you of being narcissistic. This can make you feel guilty as if you’ve shown hurtful behavior. It’s also likely to undermine your self-esteem.

Over time, you may even start to believe that you’re the real narcissist. To avoid being perceived as narcissistic, you will likely go to great lengths to prove that you’re kind and genuine.

You’re also likely to shower the narcissist with generosity to show that you’re not what they’re accusing you of being! This leaves the narcissist with all the power, because they learn that some simple name-calling will alter your behavior. 

#5 Invalidation 

Narcissists struggle with empathy, so they don’t have any time for your feelings. If they accuse you of being a narcissist, they could be trying to invalidate whatever you’re saying.

Their goal is for you to believe that you’re too sensitive, or that you’re exaggerating your point of view. If they can get you to believe this, you’ll start to feel badly about yourself.

After they’ve repeatedly invalidated you, you’ll give up on expressing your feelings to the narcissist. Now they no longer have to hear about your complaints and are in a position of power. They can do whatever they want to you, and you won’t even speak up about it.

Am I Really the Narcissist?

When someone accuses you of being a narcissist, it’s hard not to begin to question yourself. This is especially true if you’ve faced repeated accusations. 

So, are you the narcissist? Figuring out the answer to this question should be rather simple. First, take some time for self-reflection. Do you tend to believe that you deserve special treatment or that it is more important than others? Do you think you should be allowed to do whatever you need to do to get people to give you your way?

If you answered, “no” to these questions, you probably aren’t the narcissist. Honestly, if you were willing to take the time to engage in self-reflection, that’s a key indicator you aren’t narcissistic. Most narcissists aren’t capable of true self-reflection, especially if it means looking at their own flaws. 

Since you’ve made it this far, you passed that first test. Now, let’s look at your other relationships. Have all of the people you’ve dated had the same problems with you that the person accusing you of being a narcissist seems to have? Have you been called a narcissist in previous relationships?

Again, if you answer no, you’re probably not the narcissist. If no one else in your life calls you a narcissist, it’s probably not a fair accusation. It’s more likely that the person making the accusation is the narcissist, especially if they show narcissistic traits, like arrogance, a need for constant praise, and a willingness to exploit others. 

Finally, consider your level of empathy. Do you genuinely feel sadness or remorse when you hurt someone? Do you identify with what your loved ones are going through when they’re hurt or upset? If these answers are yes, you’re probably not the narcissist. 

Narcissistic people aren’t capable of admitting their own faults, but they are perfectly willing to criticize others. If you’re in a relationship with someone who shows narcissistic traits, their accusations that you’re the real narcissist shouldn’t be taken seriously. 

Chances are, they’re trying to manipulate you or convince you that you’re the abusive one, so they don’t have to own up to their own behavior. They want to be able to continue to mistreat you, and for you to allow them to do this, they must maintain control.

One way they can achieve this is by making you feel like a self-centered, arrogant jerk. Don’t let them get away with it. 

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