9 Ways Narcissists Punish You

We all know narcissists are more than capable of punishing you. One wrong move is all it takes.

In fact… punishment is one of the strongest forms of control, accompanied by the progressing approach to chipping away at your character.

They think you criticize? They punish.

They think you aren’t listening? They punish you.

You express a need? They punish you. 

You try to offer feedback? They punish you. 

There is always a punishment within reach of a narcissist’s covert grip – so what are the top 9 ways they can do this?

Let’s jump in. 

#1 They Withhold

Lack of communication

The painful silent treatment 

Refusing to help you


Short answers (or none at all)

Not giving you any or enough affection.

On the outside, it seems like a peaceful way to live a life with a narcissist, right? You don’t have to worry about conflict or rising voice levels. 

In truth, when you’re in it, it’s an uncomfortable and intense situation, heightened only by other people in the house, such as your children, who may also be picking up on it. 

To the narcissist – withholding attention is a game. 

You Aren’t to Blame

Like all others, this form of punishment does not come as a solid consequence of your own negative behavior but rather as a way to gain control and divert attention back to them (“Are you okay? Did I do something wrong?” etc.).

No. and no again.

Don’t do it, don’t buy what they’re selling; don’t engage.

Chasing them is how you permit them to lash out at you.

#2 Rage

Narcissistic rage is a little like a spectrum. It can range from your usual run-of-the-mill snappy antics to full-on violence – and neither end of the scale should be overlooked.

Rage punishments fall on the person in the narcissistic trap to get them to fall in line with what the narcissist is asking for. It can look like, “I am in charge, you have to listen to me!”, or, “I will not tolerate you pushing me to the point where this is my only option!”

If the narcissist is mad, they will lash out, and yes, it can get scary. The noise is overwhelming and creates a mess you must clear up because they won’t. 

Keep Safe

Safety plans are good if you are around a narcissist who frequently resorts to exhibiting rage – so it’s better to have one for you if that’s the case. 

Rage doesn’t get easier. It will eventually begin to take a toll on you, and you will spend your life walking on eggshells. 

#3 Smear Campaigns

Narcissists don’t see themselves as being enough ways to punish you sometimes, so they will recruit people into their army via smear campaigns.

Smear campaigns look like people you thought you knew and trusted turn their backs on you, going radio silent, and canceling plans they had with you, all from having a conversation with the narcissist that involved them spreading malicious and exaggerated lies about you.

Turning them against you is their sole reason for creating smear campaigns, creating a depth of strong punishment. 

#4 Humiliating You in Public

Public insults come thick and fast when you are in the presence of a narcissist. This can be off the back of something you said or did that they felt was out of line earlier in the day, and the waiting for a moment they can ‘repay’ you can come in front of any audience – including people you know.

It likely won’t be within you to make a fuss about it or correct them in front of everybody. They know they’ve got you and will relish in their moment of glory—at your expense.

You Can’t Win

Whether the humiliation be sharing gossip you shared in secret with others or latching on to how you mispronounced a word and using it to fire up your insecurities, the consequences can be deeply humiliating.

#5 Flaunting Their New “Fantastic” Life in Your Face

In time, you will see this one as a form of relief that you don’t have to be around them any longer (believe me), but initially, when a narcissist flaunts their new life in your face, it will be to say, “Hey, look at all the amazing things I have now that you are no longer in my life!” – with the hope you’ll buy into it and feel terrible.

They might get a new, unsuspecting partner or find ways to show everyone that they’re earning far more than you. If you have children, it can even begin to look like a competition – but it’s up to you not to play the game.

This punishment is to do nothing but destroy your self-esteem and make you feel a worthless ex friend/partner. 

Eventually – you will see the light. 

#6 Money is Their Strongest Weapon

Hey, what a nice gesture. The narcissist is telling you that you can either have or borrow some money. There might not even be a reason, other than to show you their worth on paper.

What happens next is that you realize that their money was a way to prepare you for punishment later.

You’re acting like this after I gave you that money?

After all I have done for you lately.

You’re so unappreciative. 

Yes – the money trap is common – and is a sure fire way a narcissist will be able to punish you when you least expect it. 

#7 Sulking or Being Passive-Aggressive

Different from the silent treatment, the narcissist can also find ways to sulk around you, putting their mood into your world so you take on some of the weight of it.

Punishment often also circles the passive-aggressive acts a narcissist can begin to act out. The jokes at your expense that hurt you, the snide comments as they watch you struggle to do something like put up a shelf.

They will walk away and know they haven’t directly told you that you’re terrible, but that their passive-aggressiveness leaves plenty of room to interpret their opinion of your abilities.

Watching You Squirm is Their Hobby

Narcissists are also very good at leaving things they know are important to you until the last minute. If either or both of you need to be somewhere, you can bet they will wait until the last second before they leave – and enjoy watching you squirm while thinking you will be late. 

#8 Threatening You

Preparing to be punished by the nagging feeling that something is threatening hovering above you, like a still, dark day and a storm cloud overhead. 

You can see them driving by your house slowly to spy on you or turning up where they know you’ll be. They could also set up fake accounts online to try and reach you, trapping you. 

Threats may even look like legal action – which can become terrifying for the person on the receiving end. 

Threats are creepy, and the narcissist wants to punish you by sometimes making you feel unsafe so their control is still over you, even post-break-up.

#9 “I Told You So…!”

Narcissists are waiting for you to fall down, so they can tell you, “I told you so!” as soon as they see you seemingly struggle.

They view it as a way of punishing you for daring to try something without relying on them for support or assistance – and now they get to gloat that it didn’t work out. 

Punishment like this is a part of every relationship, as they constantly want to remind you that you cannot do anything, or be anybody without them.

Of course, this is not true – but it goes against the narcissist’s cold nature to admit that you are fine. 

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