Do Narcissists Know They’re Hurting You?

It’s one thing to know something…

…it’s quite another to care.

Narcissists hurt people they encounter – left, right and center. The enjoyment of their inner turmoil being matched by your emotional pain threshold feeds their ego.

Small, intricate and deceptive ways, sure, but they hurt them all the same.

To fall painful victim to the narcissist means you have experienced a way they have put you through something hurtful. Make no mistake – they have a variety of ways – depending on who you are.

But do they know, and do they care?

Healthy Hurting

I don’t want you to mistake ‘healthy hurting’ for a healthy version of inflicting pain. That’s not what this is about.

Healthy hurting is where you unintentionally cause pain to another. You might forget an important milestone, anniversary or date. Perhaps you had a bad day and wasn’t there for them in a moment when they needed you. 

Ultimately, we all slip up. If you’re of a healthy mind, you’ll apologize profusely. You’ll want to make it up to that person and take responsibility for your actions. 

Hurting someone somehow hurts you too, because you know you care about them. You don’t like the idea of them being in pain. 

Normal, right?

Narcissistic Hurting

Narcissistic hurting is a different ball game entirely. There is a lot less conscience involved with a narcissist who causes pain.

It is a frequent emotion that rises in people who encounter narcissists due to the narcissist’s need to constantly stir negative feelings up.

If you think about people in your own life who are narcissistic, how many of them do you feel comfortable around? How many of them do you look forward to seeing because they make you feel positive?

How many do you dread seeing?

…I thought as much.

The Cycle

The narcissistic cycle of abuse is something that once you realize exists – you can spot happening with different narcissists in your life. It’s a cycle that involves pain, and I will talk about that more after I describe each stage. 

Idealization – Everything is rosy. The narcissist is kind and loving. They shower you with gifts, time and compliments. You’re everything to them. 

Devaluation – The narcissist is now beginning to chip away at you. What they’ve built up is now being torn down very slowly, bit by bit. The criticism, the gaslighting, the silent treatment, the mocking. You begin to feel hurt, and that only grows and grows. 

Discard – The narcissist rejects you entirely. You wonder what you’ve done wrong and you’re feeling very hurt at the thought of this ending. You begin to panic and try all you can to make it better. 

Hoovering – The narcissist returns, ready to hoover you back in. They flatter and flutter, as you begin to feel pleased and relieved they still care. This part of the cycle usually rolls back around to the idealization stage. Everything, again, is rosy. 

How the Cycle Affects Both the Narcissist and You


Of course, nobody likes hurting. This cycle goes around and around, and there are such conflicting emotions attached to each stage.

With the idealization stage, it’s almost euphoric. You finally feel as though you’ve met someone who loves and appreciates you. They promise to care and look after you, and never leave. 

The moments you share can be anything from pure romance to pure passion. If it’s friendship, you do everything together. Constant selfies and tags of you both appear on social media. They want the world to know they’ve met someone special.

What’s not to be captivated by? 

So there is a huge surprise when the dynamics shift.

Once the narcissist has earned your trust, they will proceed to chip at you. Most people in this situation don’t leave – because that attachment has already been formed. You’ve become almost codependent on their company and affection. 

You want to do everything you can to make it right. The more they chip at you, the more you try to ‘people please’ your way out of your ‘imperfections.’

Discard = devastation. Just right before you give up, they reappear and hoover you back in.

Phew. What a relief!

The Narcissist

The narcissists don’t consciously know the stages of narcissistic abuse (they don’t even know they’re narcissists…), but they know what they’re doing.

Narcissists are used to applying this cycle and the patterns accompanying it because it aligns with what they need at the time. As they worship you in the first stage, they know you are falling under their spell. With that comes compliments in return, and the feeling that they are safe with them.

What a responsibility to bestow upon someone so egotistical!

Does the Narcissist Know They’ve Hurt You?

The big question…

In short, yes, they do know. They know that how they treat you has consequences that visually confirm your pain or distress. They see it. They understand.

What they don’t know is that it;s anything they;re necessarily doing wrong.

The way a narcissist treats you is solely based on what they know. It’s all they know, in fact. When somebody is in a picture, it’s impossible to see the picture.

The problem is, the narcissist refuses to step out to look because they don’t view themselves as anything other than perfect. 

For that reason, they aren’t going to change. No matter how much pain you’re in, it will never awaken them to reality. 

Their reality is all that matters. They live and breathe in it and expect everyone else to meet them there. 

That’s why it can be so painful for others – their reality is erased. 

…Do They Care? 

The final installment of this subject falls under two parts. You’d think they don’t care that they’re hurting you, and you’d be partially right.

The narcissist doesn’t care because they have no morals. No integrity. No conscience. How they’ve acted has done them well for this long, so why should they change? They are fine knowing they hurt others, as long as it isn’t them being the ones in pain.

Now for the second part…

…Yes. They do care. Now – it’s few and far between, but if you are hurting and start telling people how terrible the narcissist is, you’re going to get their attention.

The narcissist will only care if it looks bad on them. They won’t care about your feelings, they will just care about how your feelings make them look to others. 

So, the next time you think you might just get the narcissist to care about your pain – I wouldn’t waste your time. 

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